Thursday, September 12, 2019

E Pluribus Unum

Out of many, one. 

That’s what our national motto means. And it describes the sense we felt on this day 18 years ago.

The unthinkable had happened. To some specific 3000 people, and to others nearby, and more still who were near and dear to all those lost and affected. And we felt that it had happened to all of us.

On the day after, we felt that we were one.

We weren’t divided by political party, ethnic heritage, sex, or race. We were all one.

Paul Bettencourt, my Texas State Senator, posted a photo from the weekend after 9/11/01. He attended an Aggie football game (Texas A&M University), and the people in the stadium were dressed in red, white, and blue, according to which tier of the stadium they were in. That must have included fans from both teams, because it’s the whole stadium. We were together, then, as one.

Aggie Stadium (Kyle Field), the weekend after 9/11/01
photo from Senator Paul Bettencourt's Facebook page 9/11/2019

I don’t ever want to see another 9/11. That was a life changing moment, the way Pearl Harbor was for my dad’s generation. But the combined sense of mission and oneness is something Americans tend to show after such an event.

Here in Houston we recognize something: when God wants to unify the people of the Gulf Coast, he sends hurricanes and floods. Katrina. Rita. Ike. Harvey. (That’s not a complete list.) At these times, regular people face the challenge and step up to help. The desire to care for one another overrides everything else. We don’t worry about religion, ethnicity, language, race. We just see each other as people in need and people who are there to help those in need.

In our country today, the sense of division is at dangerous levels. I don’t say it’s the worst ever, because we’ve had a civil war. But the divisions cut pretty deep. You can’t compromise with people who want to wield power over you—to deprive you of your religious beliefs, your desire to protect your life, liberty, and property. There’s only standing up against such tyrants. That’s true even of would-be tyrants among us.
I saw this several times on Facebook this week.
I don't know the original source, but I agree.

But there are people who are not meaning to be tyrants, but are simply misinformed, giving in to emotional string-pulling, and a mix of fear and covetousness. Those people can be one with us if they tune out the controlling propaganda and come to see us as people.

I’d like to see that happen organically, by choice. I don’t want some catastrophe to fall upon any of us just to get our attention and force us to see that caring for one another is paramount. But I do know that, in the past, catastrophe has resulted in greater unity. And if God is giving us time to reunite by natural choice and we fail to take the opportunity, allowing a disaster to bring about healing is not out of the realm of possibility. Because that unity is important to the Father of us all.

Recently in our church reading assignment, we covered Paul’s first letter to the saints in Corinth. In chapter 12, he uses the image of the body to represent the saints together in a body—made up of many members, but all important, all able to do their particular assignments. It comes after a section talking about various gifts we all have; no one has them all, so we benefit one another by being together. Here are a few of these verses:

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ….
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?...
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
We suffer together when we must. Wouldn’t we rather rejoice together?

President John F. Kennedy saying "Ich bin ein Berliner."
screenshot from here
There was a time when JFK stood at the Berlin Wall and said, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” meaning that, on that day, he (and we Americans whom he represented) stood in solidarity with the free people of Berlin—which should have included them all—because we stood with the good, the right: the free.

After 9/11, not only were all Americans proudly saying, “I am an American!” but much of the world was saying that with us.

I wish the unity had lasted longer. I wish it had not so badly deteriorated this past decade. I wish for healing into unity by choice, rather than by another life-changing tragedy. I want us to feel the caring for one another that we felt on 9/12/2001—without the calamity that led to it.

E pluribus unum.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Questions to Ask

This was the array of candidate materials
from the last primary election. They're just
beginning to trickle in for 2020.
We’re 177 days away from Primary Election Day (here in Texas—other states may vary), looking beyond this November's election, which locally includes only ballot propositions and possibly school board positions. 

2020 is a presidential election year, plus there may be senators, governors, and other officials on your ballot. And all across the US there will be congressmen on the ballot, since their term is two years.

That means, as a voter, you have a lot of homework to do. I’ve tried from time to time to offer advice on getting the right information from candidates. For example, from the Spherical Model website[i], there are these qualifying questions you might ask a congressional candidate who has to decide on policies in order to make laws:

·       Is the policy being debated something that an individual has the right to do, and therefore has the right to delegate to his/her government?  For example, a person has the right to protect his own life and property. He can, therefore, combine resources with his neighbors and hire a government entity, such as a sheriff, to do that job for him. Similarly, the several states can combine to delegate the power of defending the nation to a national government entity. Conversely, a person does not have the right to take his neighbor’s excess grain production, for example, and bestow it on himself, because his neighbor was more prosperous in a particular season. He can, of course, ask his neighbor for charity, but he cannot coerce the neighbor to give. That would rightfully be considered theft. Therefore, the person cannot delegate the redistribution of wealth to the government to do for him. 
·       Does the policy infringe in any way on the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights? Does the policy infringe on the free exercise of religion or try to establish a particular sect as a state religion? Is political speech hindered? Does the policy infringe on the right of citizens to bear arms? Does the policy constitute an illegal search or seizure? Does the policy deprive a person of life, liberty, or property when the person has not committed a crime for which that deprivation is the just sentence? Does the policy try to claim for government a power that was not specifically granted in the Constitution? etc. If the policy infringes on the God-given rights, then government cannot take that power without usurping power from the people.

·       Is the idea being debated a proper role of government, some aspect of protection (including defense, protection from interstate crime, enabling international and interstate commerce, standardized weights and measures and currency, the judiciary that guarantees the protective laws), as enumerated in the Constitution? If not, then accepting the idea is outside the Constitution and below the northern 45th parallel.
A couple of weeks ago at a townhall, my representative, Dan Crenshaw, mentioned two important questions he asks when deciding on policy:

1.       Is this law going to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens?
2.       Is it going to have the effect you want it to have? 
Let’s add to that something we say here often at the Spherical Model:

Whenever government attempts something beyond the proper role of government (protection of life, liberty, and property), it causes unintended consequences—usually exactly opposite to the stated goals of the interference.
There are some additional guiding questions for asking candidates, divided into the Political, Economic, and Social spheres. It’s a good idea to know your own answers to these questions before you ask them, so you know whether the candidate is a good match to you, and you know you’re not easily swayed by nice sounding words from people who are skilled at that kind of thing, which is how they got into politics.

The three spheres of The Spherical Model

Political Sphere—for preserving or regaining freedom

·       What do you believe is the proper role of government, and what are the limits?
·       Do you have favorite portions of the US Constitution, and/or any portions that you think ought to be changed, clarified, or improved?
·       When the US Supreme Court makes a ruling that you believe is at odds with the Constitution, what do you think the executive and/or legislative branches should do in response to the ruling?
·       What do you believe is the proper balance between public safety and individual freedom, and what do you believe government needs to do to reach that balance?
·       Who are your favorite examples of a good president—since 1900—and what about them do you admire?
·       How do you define extremists, and what views do you think are examples of extreme?
Economic Sphere—for preserving or regaining prosperity

·       What do you believe is the optimum percentage of GNP that should be taken in taxes?
·       What do you believe is the government’s role in contributing to economic health? For example, if there is a sudden recession (as we were hit with in 2008), how should government react?
·       What do you believe is government’s role in the distribution of income discrepancy between the poor and the wealthy?
·       What do you believe should be government’s role in charitable help to the poor and suffering?
·       What do you believe are the purposes and limits of the commerce clause of the Constitution?
·       What do you believe is the role of the Federal Reserve, and how/whether it is benefiting the economy?
Social Sphere—for preserving or regaining civilization

·       What do you believe about the connection between moral values and the law?
·       Which institution is most responsible for raising a generation that will benefit society, and why: schools, government, churches, nonprofit organizations, sports teams, families?
·       Which constituency’s desires is public education best accountable to, and why: US government, state government, local government, teachers, students, parents/taxpayers?
·       What do you believe should be government’s role in homeschooling, private schools, charter schools, and school choice?
·       What do you think is government’s role in defining marriage, and why?
I wrote that list in 2013, at this time of year, when we were starting to have the occasional candidate forum to prepare for the 2014 primary. There were a few additional questions I suggested that were issue based, rather than strictly under the above categories. These questions have held up surprisingly well, which may mean we haven’t made much progress. Again, know your own answers to these questions ahead of time:

·       What are your feelings concerning Obamacare, and what do you think should be done?
·       What do you believe are the motivations of people who support traditional (man/woman) marriage and family?
·       What are your beliefs about border security and immigration?
·       What do you believe is the proper role of government concerning climate?
·       What do you see as the US role in the world, and what is your view of the UN?
·       What are your opinions on national debt, national deficit, tax increases and/or cuts, and national budget?
Here’s an additional clue: you won’t find a major Democrat candidate answering these questions in a way that leads to freedom, prosperity, or civilization. Not a single one of the 20+ Democrat presidential candidates qualifies. I don’t know what you might find among Democrats at a very local level, but their platform basically weeds them out. So then the problem comes down to which Republican candidate can be trusted to understand how to get toward freedom, prosperity, and civilization. At least that simplifies things.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw
screenshot from his Facebook
video August 10, 2019, 12:18 PM

How do these conversations go? You want evidence that your candidate fully understands the principles undergirding our Constitution—that it’s their native language. Here’s an example.

About a month ago, Rep. Dan Crenshaw faced a number of constituents about an issue that needed some further elucidation, because a general term, “red flag laws,” has become incendiary—probably with good reason. And yet, all of us want to figure out how to prevent mass shootings by deranged individuals. We probably shouldn’t use that term at all. And maybe we don’t even need a new law, but some policy for enforcing existing laws. Anyway, he posted a video on Facebook that explained in a way that you will want your candidates (whether already your representatives or not) to do. Fully, and calmly. So emotion doesn’t overtake rationality. Here’s part of his response[ii]:

At its heart, what we’re talking about is the ability to confiscate weapons when there is clear evidence that violence is about to be committed. It’s that simple. And it isn’t that controversial.
What is controversial is how that due process is protected, and I think that’s where a lot of these concerns are. Making sure that due process could not be abused is at the heart of any conservative solution to the supposed “red flag laws,” and our version of what those would look like.
I have laid out specific safeguards that would have to be in place for us to support any type of “red flag law.” Among them would be clear and convincing evidence, punishment for false accusations, right to attorney and cross-examination, and limited standing so that not just anybody can accuse you. For instance, not just a neighbor, not just an ex. It has to be somebody with standing. Maybe a family member, or maybe only police officers. We’ve got a great study by Cato Institute that lays this out exactly.
Here’s the thing: I understand your fears about bad “red flag laws.” “Red flag law” is a general concept; there can be good ones, and there can be bad ones. You should be against the bad ones, as I am.
The whole purpose of what the President did and what I am doing in trying to start a conversation about this is so that we take control of the narrative and propose solutions that actually do protect due process rights, and ensure that we aren’t on the sidelines when Democrats are proposing blatantly unconstitutional laws that would not protect due process.
Last thing is this: no one is saying this is definitely the solution. It’s a conversation. I haven’t come out in support of any particular bill or state law. It’s a conversation that conservatives have actually been having for a very long time; it’s not new at all. And it definitely doesn’t deserve the emotional reaction it has gotten. We are better than that. Let’s be better than that.

[i] From the article “The Political World Is Round,” the last section, “The Principles of the Freedom Zone.” 
[ii] Congressman Dan Crenshaw, Facebook video post, August 10, 2019, 12:18 PM.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Another Study Says No Gay Gene

There’s an ongoing question concerning how to get truth. It’s difficult. Case in point: there’s a new study that confirms old studies; this new study produced these conflicting headlines:

Popular Science: “A massive study confirms no one ‘gay gene’ controls sexual preference” 

Houston Chronicle (Associated Press): “Study finds genetic links to gay sexuality”[i]

They’re talking about the same study, which looked at “the entire human genome scanning, using blood samples from the U.K. Biobank and saliva samples from customers of U.S.-based ancestry and biotech company 23andMe.” Participants from 23andMe had agreed to have their genetic info used, including specifically for this study.

Health/Science section, Houston Chronicle,
Sunday, September 1, 2019, page A23

What did previous studies say? There isn’t a “gay gene.” But there are various genetic influences on behavior, none of which determine behavior, but when combined with culture and behavior can be said to possibly contribute. I would describe this as similar to a predisposition to alcoholism, which might be partly genetic but does not determine behavior.

Even the article that claims genetic links were found said the study “echoes research that says there are no specific genes that make people gay.” And, quoting the Science commentary notes, “the five identified variants had such a weak effect on behavior that using the results ‘for prediction, intervention or a supposed “cure” is wholly and unreservedly impossible.’”

The Popular Science piece reads, “Genetics can’t predict whether a person will engage in same-sex sexual behavior, according to new research published in the journal Science. The study, which tested nearly half a million people, found that while there are some genes that contribute to sexual behavior, they each only play a tiny role—social and environmental factors make up the rest.”

Among the findings of this new study are some overlap with schizophrenia and depression. And, among men, two of the genes thought to be minute contributors to same-sex sexuality are “located near genes involved in male-pattern baldness and sense of smell.” Relevant? Who knows?

But there’s a puzzling question being asked: why is research like this being done when the data it produces goes against the LGBTQ narrative?

Professor Darren Whitfield, of the University of Pittsburgh, not involved in the study, admits “This study puts to rest the notion that there is a ‘gay gene.’” But he adds, “It seemed that the scientists were mindful of the message it might send. In the past, researchers working in genetics in this area really did not think about the consequences work like that might have.”

In other words, he’s glad the scientists involved in the study presented the information in a way that would soften the blow of disagreeing with the LGBTQ lobby. Whitfield says, “These things do have the potential to reinforce homophobia. It can reinforce the idea of any abnormality [connected] to same-sex attraction.”

He’s worried that truth leads to homophobia. Also, he believes a genetic anomaly would not have reinforced the idea of the abnormality of same-sex attraction, but lack of a genetic anomaly does.
Research associate at the Broad Institute, Meagan Olive, didn’t think the authors of the study were careful enough. She is quoted in the Popular Science piece: “I am not satisfied with the authors’ justification for performing this study; they are ultimately jeopardizing the perception and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community.” I don’t know what all those letters, let alone the + sign, mean. But she’s revealing a bias that truth should not be sought if it has the potential to contradict a “perception” that this group of people prefer.

This information has been out for decades[ii] without increasing homophobia. On the other hand, the lie that a person is “born that way” and their behavior must therefore be normalized has led to changes in law and religious persecution of anyone who doesn’t tow that line—to the point of shutting down businesses, suing grandmothers for even their life savings, and removing research from availability online. 

The persecution isn’t aimed at gays; it’s aimed at anyone who doesn’t celebrate their gay-ness.
Family is the basic unit of civilization. That’s how we pass along the necessities of civilization, parents to children. When a family functions as it should, the foundation is love stronger than we experience it anywhere beyond love of God for us.

A standard family, the kind that produces offspring to pass along civilization to, is a married mother and father raising their own children. Civilization requires a critical mass of such families.

The parents want their children to grow up, become contributing members of society, and become parents who will pass along thriving civilization to yet another generation.

Look at this not particularly rare scenario (around 2% of the population). A child comes home and has the talk with his parents, telling them he’s gay. What happens? If the family is functioning, they still love that child and express that clearly—even if (maybe especially if) they are religious and are sorrowful that he may choose to live a lifestyle they don’t approve of.

The big kick-in-the-gut feeling those parents are experiencing is grief—at the loss of the future they had hoped for this child they deeply love. Their genetic line dead ends with him. The hope for a happy family life, like the one they have and have raised him in, is dashed.

It ought to be obvious that LGBTQ issues are reason to mourn, to sorrow for the person whose future happiness won’t include procreation. There must be ways of expressing ongoing love for such a child without rejoicing or celebrating something that reasonably causes sorrow.

A parent might want to help their child find a solution. There are some. But they’re hard to find, and there’s been such prejudice against even the idea of seeking them that people who sorrow about having same-sex attraction feel unhelped and hopeless. And parents feel at a loss.

We’ve gone through about 45 years since studies were curtailed, because same-sex attraction was taken off the list of mental issues—not based on research, but because of political lobbying.
One of the longtime researchers, even after the ban, was Joseph Nicolosi. He helped people by dealing with childhood trauma and other issues, which was called reparative therapy, not conversion therapy. He also wrote books to help parents. But his books have now been banned on Amazon, which doesn’t ban books such as Hitler’s Mein Kampf or even a topic such as glorifying pedophilia. 

His son, Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., has continued in the psychological field in similar research. As most psychologists are aware, there are multiple mental (and often also physical) issues common among people with LGBT issues, depression among them, even in countries that have long embraced homosexuality and removed social stigma.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Jr. (left) and Michael Knowles
screen shot from the Michael Knowles Show, September 21, 2018

Dr. Nicolosi, Jr., and others have found that a therapy called reintegrative therapy can help. Even if clients/patients are satisfied with their orientation, they may want to deal with issues from their childhood, to alleviate depression and other issues. [I wrote about this here.] One possible effect—not the purpose—is sometimes a lessening of same-sex attraction, or even what appears to be choosing to leave the gay lifestyle and maybe even beginning to feel heterosexual attraction.

This is not something that parents or anyone can force someone into. It’s a type of talk therapy that can only work for a person who chooses to engage in it. And the purpose is for the person to gain peace and greater happiness, not orientation change. So far his work is still available here.
There’s fear of truth among proponents of LGBT issues.

Wouldn’t it be kinder to seek even more truth, and make it available?

All the while, we must treat each other with respect. Everyone must have the right to life, liberty, and property. Mixed in there is likely a right to make a living, to run a business as one sees fit, and to seek safe and comfortable living conditions.

I haven’t in my lifetime and places I’ve lived seen where depriving homosexuals of these rights was in any way acceptable. I have, however, witnessed many instances in which pro-LGBT forces deprive proponents of traditional marriage of those rights.

Wouldn’t we all be better off seeking and speaking the truth? This effort is made more difficult when writers about the issue can’t even write a headline that coincides with the story they put beneath it.

[i] Houston Chronicle, Sunday, September 1, 2019, p. 23.
[ii] See, for example, “’Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired,’ Concludes Head of The Human Genome Project,” LifeSiteNews, March 20, 2007. Also, the United Families International blog February 28, 2011, “Myth Buster Monday: Is homosexuality genetic, immutable and unchangeable?” says this: “It is necessary for homosexual advocates to equate homosexual behavior to an immutable and unchangeable trait (like race or sex) in order to claim the “gay rights” movement is a Civil Rights issue.  But can those who deal with homosexual tendencies and behavior change?  Yes, thousands of former-homosexuals are testimony to the fact that change is possible.  Gay advocates and psychological associations are particularly eager and aggressive in their efforts to discredit reparative/reorientation therapy groups who work to aid individuals who wish to escape homosexual behavior and lifestyle.
“The success of the gay movement seems to hinge upon their ability to convince the public that change is impossible.”

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Townhall, Anger, and Fear

For as much as I pay attention and participate in the political process and civic discussions, I still get surprised at what I don’t know.

I attended a townhall event last week, with my US Representative, Dan Crenshaw. (Yes, the guy with the eye patch. I worked hard to get him elected, and I’m proud of the work he’s doing.) I’ve been to townhalls before, with previous congressmen. And I’ve participated (mainly listened in) on telephone townhall meetings with various elected officials. But it has been a while since I attended such an event in person.
I got to meet with my
Congressman, Dan Crenshaw
at a townhall August 28th.

Rep. Crenshaw began with a speech, and mentioned in there that he prefers the less formal meet-and-greet type meeting with constituents, but occasionally he does these more structured ones. The setup was that he would speak and then answer questions. On every chair there was a note card to ask questions on, which we turned in before the start. It’s a pretty orderly way of interacting with constituents and their questions. If he got through all the questions and still had time, then he could take questions from the audience.

I didn’t count attendees, but I’m guessing close to 100. The stack of questions was maybe around 15. (More than one question could be written on a single card, however.)

He began by covering the committees he’s on: Homeland Security and Budget. Budget is irrelevant right now, because, with this Congress (Nancy Pelosi-led) they don’t produce a budget. He talked about a few other things: the Green New Deal—which, even if enacted, would touch only 15% of any problem, because the US is only responsible for 15% of the world’s carbon emissions. He mentioned carbon capture, and a technology company called Net Power that takes in natural gas and produces energy with zero emissions, without the drawbacks of solar and wind. He also mentioned nuclear.
He brought to our attention that Mondays are bipartisan bill days. Worth looking at.

He mentioned healthcare, and suggests approval for Direct Primary Care, an up and coming industry. I think this is similar to concierge care; you pay a monthly fee and go in for what you need. It nearly eliminates emergency room care for what should be basic clinical care.

He talked a bit about some of the water projects Houston is interested in, following Harvey flooding. (There’s a news story about the event here.)

Then he started reading and answering questions.

That should have gone smoothly, but there were people in the audience who could not—would not—hold back their opinions while he was talking. This was my surprise at the townhall setup. Apparently some people ignore the structure and think of it as a free-for-all.

The biggest issues the audience seemed upset about were related to the border and care for detainees, gun control, and LGBT issues.

A man spoke up, telling a story about having a noose left on his desk at work. He knew it was because he is gay. And that is just wrong. Rep. Crenshaw agreed, but what he’s about is making laws. When you’re doing that, you need to make sure the law will actually do what you want it to, for one thing, which isn’t easy, and there are often negative unintended consequences. And you also need to look at whether it would infringe on someone’s rights.

We can all agree, he said, that people shouldn’t do or say mean things at work. But it’s a very different thing to say you want government to come in and make those things not happen. You can’t legislate against people saying mean things.

Somewhere in there, Antifa was mentioned. They’re doing violent things in addition to saying ugly things. Someone in the audience shouted out something about the KKK. And Dan Crenshaw said, “Yeah, but we’re seeing Antifa marches; we’re not seeing KKK marches.” And the audience loudly shouted, “Yes, we are.”

That is factually untrue. There are, nationally, maybe 3 a year, with maybe up to a dozen participants. And none in recent years has produced violence. This fringe is so limited and near to nonexistent that a rational person can hardly sit around fearing them.

Rep. Crenshaw, unruffled, but recognizing his audience, said, “Well, we can agree we don’t like either of them.”

Because the district encompasses the Montrose district of Houston, LGBT issues came up repeatedly. There was a man a few chairs down from me who shouted out his concern. The Supreme Court, he said, just heard arguments three days ago on whether employers have the right to fire people because they’re gay. He said he’s been working since he was 16, except for two weeks between jobs once—meaning he’s hard working. And now, because of this president, he has to fear that he can be fired from his job at any moment just because he’s gay.

First, I was confused because the Supreme Court session ended the end of June. Soon the Court will begin to choose cases for the next session. In August, hearing oral arguments isn’t a thing. And “three days ago” was a Sunday.

So I figured I needed to find out what the issue really was. There was something going on in a Federal District Court. But it didn’t have to do with identifying gays and firing them; it had to do specifically with churches having the right not to hire people whose values don’t align with the beliefs of that church. That ought to be a given. And there is nothing in that that can be logically construed as “let’s change the law so gay people can’t make a living.”

The man on my row had earlier yelled about white supremacists. Then he claimed he’s been called n**r and f**g. And now he’s afraid for his ability to make a living.

This man was black. Effeminate (not all gays visibly are); he wore feminine jewelry, his manner of speech was as is often portrayed in comedy as being flamboyantly gay. His orientation is not a question. This had to be visible when he was hired, and continues to be obvious to his employers, who have hired him this about him. Texas is a right-to-work state; you can be fired essentially for any reason, and you’d have a hard time proving it was in violation of a federal rule, which already includes race and gender.

So the complaint, on the face of it, is false.

Dan Crenshaw says he’s never had an issue with LGBT people. But they nevertheless pushed him to somehow vow to them that he would protect them. In the ensuing conversation, Rep. Crenshaw casually said, we can agree that a baker shouldn’t be forced to make a cake for a gay wedding when one can be bought next door. And people were actually silent. No one vocally disagreed. Dan found the common ground, even where I didn’t think we had it.

One more claim the outsized contingent of LGBT audience members complained about was doctors who refuse to treat LGBT people. Rep. Crenshaw asked for clarification: “You mean doing trans surgery?” No. That was not what they were worried about; apparently they don’t think a doctor should be forced to do that. They worried that doctors would not care for LGBT people in the most basic ways just because they’re LGBT. And they insisted that in small towns here in Texas doctors are refusing to care for kids who are LGBT. Someone claimed they knew someone who had to drive all the way into Houston to get healthcare.

I’ve got kids living in a small Texas town. Beyond the most basic family care, everyone needs to drive to a bigger city for healthcare. And then, except for transgendered children (which are going to be microscopically rare in rural Texas), a doctor can’t see a kid’s LGB status. Typically kids aren’t aware of such a status yet, and it mostly wouldn’t come up in basic care cases anyway. In other words, I don’t believe that anecdote has actually happened—and if there was an outlying isolated incident, it is certainly not representative of some crisis.

Why do these people believe so many things that aren’t true?

Meanwhile, I found myself getting angry and frustrated. Why weren’t people following the structure, instead just shouting out? One woman, whose opinion I did not come to hear, shouted to him, “Well, you have the microphone, so if you’re not going to acknowledge me, I have to shout.”

Also, I felt actually hated by the people shouting in the room. I didn’t need to take it personally, but by implication if you disagree with these people, you’re evil. While my color isn’t exactly white (I got asked recently if I spoke English), my ethnicity is American descended from northern Europeans. And I’m conservative. And I believe there are better ways to help LGBT people than pretending things that are not true. So, even though my views weren’t voiced in the crowd, I did feel hated. I felt as though I had been called a white supremacist in a mob that was ready to retaliate.

But Dan is a good example. I really appreciate his grace under fire. This was only a loud but non-violent interaction with constituents. He’s been shot at. And blown up. This wasn’t danger; it’s just a part of the job.

And when I looked at how easily he handled it, I got some perspective. I looked at the man down the row from me—the loud, black, flamboyantly gay one. I realized he wasn’t easy to love. Or like.

I thought, this is also a child of God, but I don’t feel love for him. Then it dawned on me: like me in that room, he was emotional because he was in fear.

His fears are, in my opinion, irrational. KKK marchers are nigh unto nonexistent and are in every way unacceptable in civilized society. Whoever has told these people that there are sizable numbers of KKK marchers and other white supremacists are out to get them—has lied to them. Racism ceased being a scary danger lurking in every corner decades ago even here in the south. (Where I grew up it never existed.) And tolerance is the norm for gays in work, housing, and healthcare situations in our society.

Dan Crenshaw at a house meeting
during the campaign, October 2018
I don’t know how to say, “Don’t worry, you’re not in danger,” to these loud, frightened people. Coming from a person like me, I’m sure they wouldn’t hear it. But I wish someone would give them that comfort.

On every issue, Dan Crenshaw had a good handle on the necessary information. And he had a calm and rational way of explaining it—even to people who disagree. I’ve been seeing that in him since early in his campaign. I want to emulate that.

Now I realize I also need to emulate his perspective, so I do not feel the anxiety, irritability, and even fear that I felt among that obstreperous crowd.

On the good side, because so many antagonists were attending, those of us who wanted a minute to shake our Congressman’s hand, take a photo, and give him our appreciation were able to do that with hardly a line.

Next time I think I’ll aim for the meet-and-greet events and avoid the townhalls. But, if anyone can handle these in a way that could sway people’s opinions, I think Dan Crenshaw could do it.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Civilization Values, Part VIII: Marriage

This is the final part in the series on the values requisite for civilization. For the first seven parts, here are the links.

·         Part I: Life
·         Part II: Truth
·         Part III: Property Ownership
·         Part IV: God and Freedom of Religion
·         Part V: Civilizing Religion
·         Part VI: Repenting as a Civilization
·         Part VII: FamilyPerpetuates Civilization 

If we start with the values of honoring God, life, truth, and property ownership, family is how we teach and pass along those values. So we need to value family as well. The term “family values” has been tossed around for several decades, but for our purposes we need a more specific definition of what it means to value family. What is family?

As we’ve said, family is the basic unit of civilization. An individual is a unit even smaller, but it isn’t a unit of civilization—because society by definition requires at least two people to associate with one another. And civilization is a particular—good—kind of society. The fundamental relationship leading to civilization and its perpetuation, then, is family. We talked in Part VII about how well family does that.

Today we’ll talk about the relationship that founds a family.

This is not to say that individuals, unmarried people, grandparents helping raise children, foster care situations, and various other-than-the-ideal family structures don’t contribute. If the individuals in these other situations lead intentionally civilized lives, they do contribute to civilization. But the essential relationship—because it means a mother and a father raising their children to be civilized for the next generation—is a married man and woman. And what is essential for this relationship is complete fidelity and permanence.

There’s huge societal upheaval today trying to declare that other relationships are as deserving. But if any other relationship is designed not to produce children, does not require complete fidelity, and is not permanent, it does not offer society what marriage provides.

The section on marriage and fidelity in the Spherical Model website article “Family Is the Basic Unit of Civilization” is long. There’s a large section on why sex outside of marriage is always uncivilized. If there’s something our current society needs to learn, it is that. So here’s a portion of that.

Sex Outside of Marriage Is Always Wrong
This is such a simple concept, and so many problems would be settled if people would believe it. It’s an essential of civilization. Every time a society attempts to “progress” or “evolve” beyond the old-fashioned notion of virtue, it slides into decay. Every time. This decay happens so frequently and is currently so widespread that the need for virtue must not still be self-evident. So we might as well spell out the reasons.
Human Children Take Time and Consistency to Bring to Adulthood
image from here
Human children grow slowly. It takes close upon two decades to get them from birth to functioning on their own, capable of supporting themselves, reproducing, and raising a civilized next generation. It requires consistency and care from someone with a stake in the child’s success. It takes a pair of parents, providing both male and female role models and ways of nurturing.
The best (really, the only) way to plan for children to be raised by the same two (one male, one female) parents throughout their growing up life is for those two parents to be permanently bonded to each other. To be married. (See Why Marriage Matters.[i]) Marriage isn’t as ephemeral as just a declaration of love between two lovers; it is a commitment to each other and to the entire society that they will stay together for life. This commitment establishes a family, the most basic unit of civilization. There isn’t any way to break up a family that doesn’t harm civilization. Therefore, there isn’t any possible way for sex outside of marriage to be acceptable behavior without harming civilization. Without the attitude of its sacredness, it is impossible to maintain virtue (chastity). And without virtue, families are always harmed.
Look, for instance, at what happens when two young people, believing they are in love, give in to sex. They have just admitted to each other that they value their own desires over the needs of the society they live in. They are both lessened for that selfishness. But what if they recognize that, though what they did was wrong, they could marry and move on? Yes, they could alter their course—what religious societies call repentance, change their thoughts and actions for the future. And if it is true that they love each other, they could go forward making a happy home, with very little harm to society. So, while society wouldn’t condone the mistake, it can easily forgive.
What if the couple decides not to marry? What if they realize they were just young and foolish, and gave in to selfish desires? They could stop, and go their separate ways. Again, it would be possible to repent—change their thoughts and actions for the future—without society being very much degraded for their temporary lapse. Because society never approved. Nor did they require society to grant approval. They realigned themselves with civilization’s requirements following their lapse.
What if a pregnancy resulted from their foolish episode? If they have any hope that they actually can love each other, then they can marry quickly, because forming a family in which to raise their offspring is the highest priority (a much higher priority than the honor of a big wedding celebrated by all their friends). Even if they’re too young to know how to establish and maintain a healthy family, the society around them—their parents, their church, their friends, counselors—can give them guidance and assistance as they finish maturing. It makes the beginning of their family more difficult than a more reasoned, more mature decision, but with effort and help they can succeed in sustaining, rather than degrading, civilization. So, again, while society doesn’t condone the sex outside of marriage, it can forgive without being decayed.
If the couple find themselves in the very sad situation of being pregnant while also realizing they are incompatible, then, again, the highest priority is the need for a family for the child. There can be no civilized focus other than that child whom their behavior brought to life. A child needs, and is entitled to, a loving two-parent family. The two young people should do everything within their power to make sure the child gets this entitlement. This is a much greater concern than whether they themselves love the child and want to be near him/her.
[Note: I am not advocating here that some distant government entity step in and make these difficult decisions and insist that the child be adopted out. I am advising that, for the sake of society, the child’s welfare must be of greater importance than what the foolish accidental parents may want. There should be pressure from society—again, from their family, their church, their friends and mentors—to help these young people see society’s need for them to value the child. Societal pressure and expectation, even shame, coming from a truly civilized society, is much more likely to bring about the best choices following mistakes than rigidly written laws could do. But laws should make it possible for society to be supported in the pressure.]
Let’s assume that, if these two people are at all susceptible to civilizing influence, then they want for their child what every child is entitled to. If they themselves cannot provide the child’s family, then adoption is the most likely way to provide it. The least that can be expected from the young mother is to bring the child to term and then give the baby to a loving two-parent family, being willing to grieve at her own loss of the child because the child gains so much. That’s a lot to expect of an immature young woman, but civilization requires that it be expected.
The young man absolutely should be held accountable. (This has historically been a major failing of many attempts at civilization.) Society should decide how. My personal belief is that, if marrying the young mother was not what he could do, then he should, for the next 18 years at least, provide support, possibly a trust for the child’s college or other needs, taken out of everything he earns until that child is an adult. This should be done even though the adopting family is expected to be able to provide; it is necessary for the sake of civilization that the young man be held responsible. And the young biological father should have no expectation of visitation; he gave up that right by giving up the opportunity to be the father in a marriage with the mother. Sexual indiscretion does not entitle a male to being honored as a father; he has to actually be one, in partnership with the mother, to earn that. Individual communities may find other solutions, but civilization requires that the father be held accountable for his actions.
Adoption should never be seen as the mother not loving the child enough. It should be seen as the positive, probable, expected course for such a situation—without prolonged stigma to the mother, and certainly without stigma to the child. As long as both biological parents provide for the child’s needs, society can forgive without civilization being decayed.
Adoption family, image from here
I believe that, in a truly civilized society, there will never be insufficient families willing to adopt. Children are too highly valued, and fertility problems come up frequently in nature. [Note: Undervaluing children and celebrating or causing infertility to avoid inconveniencing adults who choose to be sexually active without forming a family are two signs of a decaying society. The documentary Demographic Winter is a good source.[ii]] But, hypothetically, if the young mother were unable to place her baby in an adopting family, she could, if her parents stepped in to assist, raise the child at home. This is, self-evidently, less valuable to civilization. There’s a child without both parents, and the mother’s choices caused that to happen. So her folly can never be condoned. But it can be forgiven, because civilization, no matter how far advanced, is made up of imperfect human beings. The way society sees the situation is what affects whether society is decayed by it. And if this type of situation were rare (which it would tend to be if there were serious stigma against it), then society could absorb the difficulty for the individual child. While maintaining that adoption should be the usual choice, I believe civilized society can allow the young mother to get her own answer through prayer about whether she should keep her child.

There’s more. I’ve written more about this issue than just about any other. Refer to “Defense of Marriage Collection,” from July 2013.  I’ve now written six more years of posts. Many of these appear to relate to LGBT issues, but to me this is always about defending real marriage in an effort to build civilization and repair its decay. Here are a few additional posts I believe are worth checking out:

·         Family Proclaiming, April 9, 2015
·         Millennia of Marriage, May 7, 2015
·         Another Nail, February 20, 2017
·         Surprise at Old News, August 10, 2017
·         Family Isn’t Extinct, October 12, 2017
·         Normalizing Has Already Gone Too Far, August 2, 2018
·         Stop Throwing Out the Baby, May 23, 2019

That’s it for this series on civilization values. In summary, civilization requires that we value God, life, family, truth, and property ownership—which, coincidentally, summarizes the Ten Commandments. It’s been good guidance for a very long time, and it works every time it’s tried. Simple, not easy, but worth trying from the family level on up.

[i] Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-one Conclusions from the Social Sciences, © 2002 Institute for American Values.
[ii] Demographic Winter, video available at See also the follow-up, Demographic Bomb.