Using "Family" as an Adjective

I started with the assumption that groups who push what they call "traditional values" had interesting thoughts that would be worth examining on an ongoing basis. But my investigations have convinced me they don't have vital thoughts. What most of them have are prejudices they aren't willing either to analyze or discuss. To keep saying that, over and again, is of little value. So, I've decided to drop this topic.
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One of the "frequently asked questions" listed on family.org is "How Can I Get Children to Grasp Who God Is?" The answer, which must come from James Dobson himself, since no other author is listed, is cheery and bracing. One way, if you're a father, is to model God for your kids. This is an effective way to do it because it's a "well know fact" that children identify their fathers with God. I have to admit there was something about my father that never allowed me to mix him up with God. I never held it against him that he didn't come across as god-like.  Still, maybe that's the reason the idea of God as being graspable never occurred to me, either as a child or as an adult. Truth is, it strikes me as being dumb as hell. You reckon that's my father's fault too?
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The educational condition of America is, I admit, a great mystery. There appear to be many reasonably well-informed people among us, but just what percentage of the whole they make up no one knows. I'm beginning to suspect it's smaller than we would hope. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that there are millions who are ignorant beyond what I used to think was possible for sane adults. One of the blessings -- or curses -- of the internet is that ignoramuses have more than ample opportunity to display their wares and, thus, offer us some sense of their numbers. If you would like examples of miserably poor thought served up by people who claim to be defenders of morality (and, consequently, of family values too) you should visit the web site titled NewsWithViews.com. There such patriots as Paul deParrie teach us that the Civil War was caused not by bumbling politicians and paranoid radicalism but, rather, by God, himself. And, furthermore, that the suffering of the great sectional conflict was as nothing compared to what God's got in store for us in the future because of our sexual habits. Or, if you're in the mood for deep intellectual history, you can scurry over to Derry Brownfield, who will explain that Daniel Webster wrote his first dictionary so people could learn to read the Constitution and, evidently -- on this point Derry's not perfectly clear -- take in the truth that the country has to abide by Biblical teaching if it wants to escape God's wrath. I suppose some might say, "Okay, so these guys are not too sharp on historical details, so what? Their hearts are in the right place and they're out there fighting for what they believe. And, besides, who cares any longer about the difference between Daniel and Noah Webster?" One could say that, but if he did, he would reveal a concept that is cankering our politics and public life -- the notion that there are no connections among knowledge, valid thought and good behavior. The idea that one needs no mental power to make decent decisions pervades our public discussion and until it's exposed we're not likely to increase the intelligence of our collective actions.
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The Christmas editions of Time and Newsweek are senseless, according to Robert Knight of the Culture and Family Institute, because in their articles about Jesus they report on the work of Biblical scholars, including those of the Jesus Institute. All this would be fine, says Mr. Knight, if the Bible were a text written by men. But since we know that the Bible is God's word, then research into its origins is useless. I don't know how many dozens of times I've heard this argument, but I do know that on each occasion the effort to find out how the Bible was put together is dismissed as the work of vain and foolish men. Why they are vain and foolish is never explained. Nor are we told how we know that the volumes sold as Bibles are the works God wants us to accept as the final authority on all things that really count. We are not supposed to care when the texts were produced. We are not supposed to care how they were translated. We are not supposed to care how they were compiled into a book called the Bible. We are not supposed to care how other texts, which have been said to be holy, were excluded. None of that counts. You go to the store. You pick up a book called the Bible. And, then, you just know that this is the book decreed by Providence to be the authorized truth of existence. That millions of people 'believe" this is, perhaps, the most striking evidence for the power of human credulity. But the motive for it continues to escape me. Can it be simply intellectual laziness? What do psychologists say about the phenomenon of unexamined belief? Do they think of it as an inherent human mental trait? Or does it come from somewhere? You would expect, given all the conflict it causes, that somebody would be writing a big book on it. Every now and then I consider it a project for my old age. But, just as often, I worry that it's too big for me.
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A recently published study from the National Center of Health Statistics reported that 58% of American adults are married. The other 42% are spread out among the never married, divorced people, people whose spouses have died, and those who live with a partner. I don't know how those numbers compare with statistics from the past, but they don't strike me as indicating a breakdown in family structure. We have an awful lot of doom-saying in this country, and the loudest volume seems to come from those who argue that a system they call traditional values is being undermined. But, I wonder if it's a whole system or simply a few rigid attitudes that are being shaken. Numerical studies are hard to evaluate from a historical perspective because each age picks different things to count. But the numbers we do get lead me to think that core personal relations have remained fairly stable over the past couple generations.
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Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families is glad a California jury recommended that the state kill Scott Peterson. But he says he can't quite see the difference between Peterson's killing of his unborn son and the actions of people -- like judges and physicians -- who permit late-term abortions. Mr. Thomasson appears to be severely distinction-challenged. For one thing, the death of the fetus in this case was secondary to the murder of its mother. You'd think that would make a little bit of difference, at least. Legal abortions, of any sort, are always done to benefit pregnant women. One may be opposed to them, and that's certainly anyone's privilege. But not to be able to see the difference between a legal abortion and the murder of a pregnant woman strikes me as a bit of a stretch. But, then, maybe stretching is what Mr. Thomasson is good at. You can read about Thomasson's other opinions in an article by Jody Brown on the American Family Association's web site (December 14, 2004).
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Writing on the Focus on the Family web site, Nancy Kennedy reminds us that even if a man is a Christian, even if he's a clergyman, he's still a guy. And that means he's going to do guy things. She believes that even Moses burped. Unless women come to understand what men really are, there's still going to be conflict in the family, even when husband and wife are united in spirituality. She has written a very long article explaining the eight ways that guys are guys, which ends by advising women to accept these ways, presumably because that's the way God set things up. She doesn't come right out and say so, but one gets the feeling she thinks God is a guy himself. The marriage of pop psychology and religious apologetics is one way evangelicals are trying to show they're not Neanderthals and are in tune with modern conditions. I think it's a mistake. Not only does it lead them into stupidity, it undermines their basic premise that the modern world has gone astray. If you're going to be doctrinaire, there's no sense in trying to pander to your enemies.
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Yvette Schneider once had a girlfriend. But now she is married to a man and has children. She and her husband conduct a ministry called Living in Victory, which is devoted to helping those who want to get out of homosexuality. Earlier this year (2004), she wrote an essay posted on the web site of Concerned Women For America titled "How Christians Can Talk to Homosexuals." Most of the piece was taken up with how she was treated at work by Jeff, a guy who was a Christian and also knew that she was a Lesbian (how he found out, Yvette does not say). Jeff was always courteous and showed that he cared about her as a person and not just as somebody he might convert. He was also a big citer of Biblical passages, and many of these Yvette mentions in her article. She does not however, include a single passage that has to do with the evils of homosexuality. That was curious, but, then, there's quite a bit that's curious about Yvette's article. She says nothing about her girlfriend or how they came to break up. Nor does she say anything about an ongoing relationship with Jeff or what part he played in the separation. All we need to know about him was that he was nice to her and once brought her a cup of coffee. She's also careful to point out that speaking honestly and respectfully to homosexuals won't always get them to abandon their sinful ways. People, Yvette says, can water a seed. But only God makes it grow. So, I guess if he decides not to raise up the seeds that Yvette waters, that's his business. Being God, he can do anything he wants. All I can get from this piece is that in conversation one ought to be both honest and friendly. I guess that's true but the article seemed to promise more than that.
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I just read a heartwarming deathbed story. Geraldine Kelly, who was about to cash in her chips, told her son and daughter that their father had not died in a car crash in 1990, as she had always said. Instead, his remains were in a storage freezer in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she put them after she killed him. The police went there and found the body, presumably well preserved. I'm not sure why but it's a tale that fills me with happiness -- a woman protecting her children from bad news for that long. It has a holiday flavor about it. It may be one of the year's richest manifestations of family values.
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In the October 2004 online edition of The Family in America, Professor Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University argues that white families are now on the verge of undergoing the same degree of disintegration blacks began to experience in the late 1960s. He says we need a new Moynihan Report for white families that will predict their future as accurately as the late senator did for blacks in 1965. But if we should get such a report, it will be subjected to the same savage and irrational criticism that Pat Moynihan received. Mr. Christensen may well be right. It's probable that any analysis of a large social development would be a target for fierce criticism.  Where he runs off the logical track though is in assuming that criticism, itself, is the prime enabler of social decay. That many families are less than stable is regrettable. Clearly, children fare better in steady, loving homes than in situations where they aren't sure who their caregivers are going to be. But if we're serious about wanting to provide nurturing environments for children we need to start looking for what's actually tearing them apart rather than ranting about the opinions of people who don't share our religious convictions. By hammering away at false threats such as homosexual unions (which appear to be an obsession among persons in Mr. Christensen's camp), right-wingers may well be dissipating efforts that could actually make a difference in children's lives. Whenever something as gigantic as the breakup of traditional family life begins to occur, we need to take a comprehensive look at who we are -- economically, intellectually, religiously, and morally. If we were to do that, it's not likely that so-called "elite attitudes" could be assigned a major part of the blame for miserable family relations.
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On a Focus on the Family web site, Matt Kaufman begins an essay with his regret that Ron Turner was recently fired as the University of Illinois football coach (December 8, 2004) The reason? The same reason any football coach gets fired. He didn't have winning seasons recently. This is a lead-in to an argument that God doesn't value winning above all. God, it seems, is for faithfulness, truth, and humility over popularity, wealth, and pride. It's a heartening point. The trouble is, it doesn't fit very well with the political program supported by the family value legions. They reputedly voted in overwhelming proportions for Republican candidates. Yet, it is the Republican Party who pushes competitive success above all, and argues that the United States should dominate the world because it knows how to compete. This is just one example of the schizophrenia afflicting the current political ascendancy. It would be encouraging if people who supposedly care more about healthy family life than anything else would begin to push their political champions towards policies that actually support families. But, don't expect to see it any time soon.
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Mike Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a writer for FrontPageMag.com, says he is the victim of a hate crime. A student sent him an e-mail which said he is so vile he has no right to reproduce. And then, later, the same student sent him a package of condoms. You can get a sense of Mr. Adams's opinions from this passage which he included in his explanation of victimhood (the condoms came from Planned Parenthood).

As you may know, Planned Parenthood is viewed by some conservatives the same way that blacks view
the KKK or that Jews view the Nazi Party. Of course, such comparisons are invalid, given that Planned
Parenthood has murdered far more innocent people than the KKK and the Nazi Party combined.

Admittedly, Mr. Adams's claim to being victimized is made tongue-in-cheek, to show up what he considers the university's assault on freedom of speech. And I tend to agree with him on that, though I don't share his views of Planned Parenthood. Universities, with their prissy notions of what may and may not be said on campus, are playing right into the hands of ideologues like Adams, who knows there is no way for schools to enforce their speech codes equitably. As for the student who thinks Adams shouldn't be spreading his genes, we have to remember that the indignation of the young knows no bounds -- and, perhaps, that's as it should be. If you want the whole story of Mike Adams's adventures, you can find them in his FrontPageMag article for December 8, 2004.
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Nancy R. Pearcey is a writer on Christian apologetics who has recently published a book titled Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity.  Her basic thesis is that we see everything through the lens of a worldview, and that the worldview being promoted by modern society calls for a split between the sacred and the secular spheres. The sacred should be reserved for our private experiences whereas secularity should rule in public life. This, she says, is irrational and will eventually lead to psychological breakdown. I think she's right about that. A person can't divide himself into two separate beings, -- one public, the other private -- and remain psychologically healthy. Where Ms. Pearcey loses me is in her contention that what she calls the Biblical wordview is grounded in fact whereas all other worldviews are incoherent. It seems to me that defending this thesis requires a selective reading of the Bible that's highly suspect. I'm glad, however, to see Ms. Pearcey make the attempt. Efforts of her sort offer more interesting discourse than the I-know it-because-I know-it stance we get from many self-designated religious people. And if you have a worldview like mine which holds discourse to be a fundamental good you have to be willing to engage people who are willing to engage you.
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You'll remember that last week I told you that I had taken the Nehemiah Institute's test to get a numerical rating of my world view. I've now received the results and I'm sorry to report that I got a fairly low score (below zero, actually, thought not as low as some people have received). If you would like to know the details of my failure and get a report of where I fell most short, you should read my upcoming column for the Harvard Square Commentary. It'll be posted by Sunday night, December 5, 2004. You can reach it by clicking on the name above or through the "Links of Interest" page.
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Bob Waliszewski of Focus on the Family has worked up a system for insuring that family members, and especially kids, "honor God in their media choices." It has an extensive set of warnings and advice, such as that kids are tempted by media junk food, that parents should avoid media hit lists, and that parents need to accept their own limitations. They can't completely control their kids. For the most part, these are reasonable. But the core of Mr. Waliszewski's system is that a family should have a written constitution, which includes a codicil about watching TV, listening to music, going to movies, and so forth. All family members are expected to sign this constitution, but they do it with the warning that signing has no bearing on their salvation (the latter, I guess, is to uphold the Calvinistic dogma about what really counts in living, i.e., that you can't get into heaven by being good). All this is very abstract. No particular films or TV shows are pointed out as works of the devil. Mr. Waliszewski concedes that there are differing views about these things. Yet, he seems pretty hard and fast on the written constitution. It's a notion of family life that's fairly alien to my personal experience. If I were to have approached my wife and daughters with a written constitution, I'm afraid I would have been laughed out of the house. But, who knows? Maybe some families can do stuff like that.
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Family values advocates are down on Planned Parenthood because that agency is sending out a holiday card that contains the phrase "Choice on Earth." According to Jim Sedlak of the American Life League, the card is a "blatant mockery of Christian values -- and of Christ Himself." I somehow doubt that Planned Parenthood's  purpose was to mock Jesus. It might just be that they really believe that family happiness is promoted by preventing unwanted births. But, in the sort of war being waged by Sedlak and his allies, there's no room for either crediting the motives of opponents or subtle criticism. All attacks have to be nuclear. It's a tactic that seems to appeal to members of one's own choir but it has virtually no persuasive potential. The indifference of men like Sedlak to persuasion is a curious phenomenon  -- that is if we accept their stated goals. But, I suspect, we delude ourselves if we come to believe that effectiveness can ever usurp the place of denunciation and self-congratulation in most polemics.
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"Marriage and Procreation: On Children As the First Purpose of Marriage" is a lecture given recently by Allan C. Carlson, under the sponsorship of the Family Research Council. Mr. Carlson's thesis is that the bond between procreation and marriage is "the unwritten sexual constitution of our civilization." It has been under assault for a century, long before there was any argument in favor of same-sex marriage. The key event in its evisceration was the decision in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) in which the Supreme Court invalidated the state's law against contraceptives, saying it was counter to the right of privacy. Mr. Carlson regrets this decision mightily but he's realistic enough to realize it's not likely to be reversed any time soon. Therefore, people who wish to defend the unwritten sexual constitution need to adopt a series of rear guard actions which Carlson spells out in the latter part of his lecture. It's an interesting argument which, I suspect, most people would find a little screwy. Yet, the most fascinating thing about it is the way  Carlson slips from seeing procreation as the first purpose of marriage to the only purpose of marriage. He simply fails to address arguments that marriage, in addition to procreation, provides companionship, personal assistance, and sexual satisfaction (though he doesn't say so, the latter may be a no-no in Carlson's view of things). The notion that caring about the non-procreative aspects of marriage undermines marriage itself lies at the heart of opposition to same sex unions. And the the logic of it is simply that secondary concerns are always hostile to primary goals. If that's the case, then we live in an inherently  narrow, grim and miserable world, which may be, exactly, what the family values people are asserting.

The Christian Answers Network has a web site with a "Christian Spotlight on Entertainment" section, which offers, among other things, movie reviews. I have just regaled myself with a essay by Sheri McMurray on Birth, the recent film starring Nicole Kidman. The movie plays with the idea of reincarnation and Ms. McMurray's main thesis is that the Bible doesn't say there is any such thing as reincarnation. Is it a critical principle that art forms shouldn't deal with anything not mentioned in the Bible? What does that have to do with the quality of a film? As far as I know, Zeus isn't mentioned in the Bible either. Does that mean we mustn't have films that treat Greek mythology? In the lead-in to the review, Birth is announced to be be "very offensive." Evidently, that's because Ms. Kidman's character is shown having sex with the man she intends to marry and because the boy who believes -- at least for a while -- that he is a reincarnation of the main character's dead husband is shown sitting in a bath tub with her. Nothing happens in the tub except some conversation but, still, Ms. McMurray regards the scene as tantamount to child abuse. There seems to be an underlying thesis here that occurrences which displease the reviewer, even though they do happen in life, shouldn't be depicted in films. It's certainly Ms. McMurray's privilege not to like instances of sexual encounter between people engaged to be married. But, surely, she must know that they do occur. And, since they do, they clearly have some effect on the story of the lives being sketched. If we exclude from films everything somebody doesn't like then we can't have films anymore, and Ms. McMurray's career as a film critic will be cut short. This is an attitude so pinched that it gives me the creeps far more than anything people might do sexually with one another.
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Yum!Brands, which owns an astounding number of fast-food companies -- Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, A&W, Long John Silver's -- has announced that it's not going to advertise any longer on Desperate Housewives. The corporation evidently made the decision, at least in part, to try to avoid a boycott being orchestrated by the American Decency Association. The popular ABC series has excited a big wave of disapproval among organizations devoted to restricting sexual expression. It's not clear to me why Desperate Housewives is such a big item among either its detractors or its fans. The best I can say for it is that it's mildly diverting. The worst is that it often descends to silliness. If the main thing the family values forces have against it is that it depicts unwise sexual encounters, you'd think they could find other programs that would rouse them even more. The truth is that healthy sexual linkages are promoted on Desperate Housewives and that questionable ones are shown to be dangerous. But, I don't guess the American Decency Association will ever give credit for that.
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Focus on the Family is down on Alfred Kinsey in a big way and just as much down on Bill Condon for making a film about him. It seems firmly committed to the proposition that Kinsey was a a criminal and should have been tossed into jail instead of being respected as a social scientist. There's not much doubt that Kinsey's sexual curiosity probed into regions that most of us would just as soon not think much about. It's a cultural norm to find other people's sexual proclivities creepy, even when they're of the most common variety. So when somebody sets out to record and publicize what people actually do, it's to be expected that many would feel his revelations were repugnant. On the other hand, it's true that for thousands discovering their own desires to be not particularly bizarre was liberating. I can understand thinking that Kinsey and his work were a little yucky, but the flaming anger his name seems to evoke among the values people makes me wonder if we're not in the presence of what I'm come to call the "Rain" effect. "Rain" you'll recall was a story by Somerset Maugham about a puritanical clergyman who was finally shown to have a passion for a local prostitute. I don't think there is any such thing as an obsession purely against sex. Whenever we find proclamations of that kind, we have the right to suspect lubricity lurking behind them. Kinsey-envy may be a more widespread phenomenon than we imagine.
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An acquaintance asked me whether all the people caught up in the "values" movement are as weak-minded as the ones we commonly see on TV. Surely, she said, there must be some reasonably thoughtful people among them. I should have referred her to Boundless, which calls itself a "webzine" and "exists for the transformation of Christians through the transformation of their deepest beliefs." I'm not sure what Boundless wants to transform Christian thinking into but the web site, which appears to be addressed mostly to college students and seminarians, does contain essays which rise above the stuff you normally see from Louis Sheldon or James Dobson. For example, I just read a piece by J. P. Moreland, dated November 18, 2004, which professes to refute moral relativism. I can't say that Mr. Moreland's argumentation is sterling but it's not completely dopey either. He employs the technique -- which seems to be more popular among right-wingers than other polemicists -- of knocking down a self-constructed straw man. I don't know of anyone who holds all the positions Moreland says moral relativists take. But, in refuting these non-persons, Moreland does manage to raise some of the questions that any serious thinker about morality has to address. He shows the error of believing that right and wrong can be defined only within a discrete culture, but he gives us little help with determining what universal concepts of right and wrong are or where they come from. Still, I have to give him credit for a readable essay that's not a compete waste of time.
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Lewis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said in an essay a few weeks ago (October 5, 2004) that "we're only one generation away from a complete moral and social collapse." That is, of course, unless we mend our ways and embrace the sexual restraints Mr. Sheldon recommends. He seems to be a firm believer in the idea that civilizations collapse mainly because they begin to practice different sexual activities. It's difficult to know exactly what one means by the "collapse" of a civilization. In a technical sense, I guess, anytime a society has one set of habits and changes them for another set, the earlier version can be said to have collapsed because the habits it was based on are no longer current. The historical truth, of course, is that after the  so-called collapse of systems people go right on living. I'm a bit suspicious of the argument that new sexual habits are going to cause collapses  because I don't think there are any new sexual habits. People have been carrying on in about the same way ever since history began and there's little evidence to indicate those activities have varied a great deal. There have, of course, been ups and downs in what is spoken of publicly, but actual behavior has probably been fairly steady.  In any case, I wish Mr. Sheldon and those of like mind would be more specific about the actual effects of a collapse. Then we could know better whether it's anything to get het up about.
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The Nehemiah Institute is a testing organization which administers examinations, mostly to school children, that allows them to be categorized according to their worldview. Depending on the score a student receives from answering seventy questions he, or she, is rated as falling into one of four worldviews -- Biblical Theism, Moderate Christian, Secular Humanist, or Socialist. On the organization's web site, a sample test of twenty questions is offered to let one know where he would tend to fall. I just took it, and I'm to get a score back within ten days. When I find out what kind of worldview I have I'll let you know. Mark your calendars for the first week in December, and be ready.
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The American Family Association wants you to boycott Procter and Gamble and not to buy Crest, Tide, and Pampers. The reason is that P&G sponsors Will and Grace  and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Both these programs, according to AFA, promote the "homosexual agenda." In fact, P&G is so blatant about this that it has  "become a leading advocate for the homosexual lifestyle." Furthermore, P&G actually wants homosexuals to come to work for them, and not only that, their benefits programs cover partners in same-sex unions. and their employee manual contains a written non-discrimination policy. The offense justifying a boycott seems to be that Procter and Gamble is not hostile to gay people and, in fact, is attempting to treat them as though they were ordinary citizens and ordinary employees. I generally find that organizations similar to the American Family Association are eager to say how they don't want gay people to be treated but fairly reticent when it comes to saying how they do want them to be treated. I guess they want somebody to try to talk them out of being homosexuals, but, failing that, they have no advice about interacting with them at all. I don't understand the theory. Is it assumed that if gay people are not depicted on TV and not given jobs or job benefits they'll simply disappear? That seems unlikely. And given that they will continue to appear, what would the AFA have us do?
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The Family Research Council has an item on its web site by Kristin Smith titled "Discerning the Truth: Lies of the Left." The article is made up of charges that Ms. Smith says have been advanced by the "left" and that are untrue. There are seven of these so-called lies designed to support same-sex marriage. I confess that I have not heard some of them. If they are, indeed, part of the "left's" argumentative package I think we have to conclude that the "left" is not very successful in getting them out. The last one, however, is more interesting than the first six. The final lie (in this listing) is that a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage will actually harm marriage rather than helping it. Ms. Smith's refutation of this lie says that the traditional purpose of marriage is "to serve the family and the larger community." By contrast, same-sex marriage "exists only to serve individual desires, not family and community needs." I don't quite understand the logic of this point. Surely, when a young man and lady get married, it must involve some individual desire on their part. We haven't operated for some time on the basis of arranged marriages. On the other hand, if legal unions do serve community needs, why wouldn't they function that way for same-sex bonds as well as for traditional ones? When we consider the goods that stable families are said to promote, such qualities as secure homes, ongoing support systems, personal loyalty, there's no reason why they don't pertain to same-sex as well as to heterosexual couples. It seems to me that arguing against same-sex marriage on utilitarian grounds is a losing proposition. There's no logic which says it will hurt society, and certainly no logic that says it will undermine traditional marriage. If you want to fight same-sex marriage, then you've got to say God's against it, and that's that.
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Family News In Focus -- a web site supported by Focus on the Family -- reported on November 19, 2004, that "a Senate hearing" had received testimony about the effect of pornography on the brain. One of the witnesses, a psychiatrist named Jeffrey Satinover, testified that addiction to pornography is, in its chemical effects, nearly identical to heroin addiction. Therefore, he said, we should stop regarding pornography merely as a form of expression. Who exactly Mr. Satinover is, or where he works, was not explained. Neither were readers told which Senate committee invited his testimony or when it took place. Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania explained "how a pornographic image is burned into the brain's pathways."  She said it stays there forever. It's a terrifying thought, I suppose, until we reflect that many images -- a mother's face, for example -- stay in one's brain forever. It's what we call memory. The article didn't explain how the pornographic image differs from other images in our memory. Judith Reisman, who's the president of the Institute for Media Education, wants law enforcement officers to collect and keep a record of the pornographic materials in the possession of anybody who commits a crime. This would allow us to tell whether pornography is serving as how-to manuals for criminals. Ms. Reisman, perhaps, isn't fully aware of the analytic burden this would place on already over-worked police forces. Having read the article I was left with the feeling that we're not likely to see dramatic Senate action resulting from this hearing. But, then, we have to recall that the workings of the Senate are mysterious.
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