“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness.”
This is a long post, but I believe it is an important one. I hope you will take time to read it.
As a young man I was taught by my parents and my church to be kind and considerate toward everyone. Of course, we had our faults. I grew up in the American South, and racism was institutionalized in that society. Whereas I was civil and polite in my dealings with individual members of the black community, I looked the other way when I saw the signs of blatant discrimination – separate schools, separate drinking fountains in the public square, seating at the back of the bus. I did not like it, but I did almost nothing to change it. I thank God that persons braver than me were willing to fight the systemic injustice.
Now we are in another conflict. Some compare the present struggles to the fight for racial justice and civil rights. But there are vast differences. If you recognize the dimensions of this conflict, it will help you understand the depth of the chasm that divides our body politic on this issue.
Actually, there are two fronts in this struggle. On one front, the fight revolves around economics. How do we achieve greater economic prosperity for our people? Can we achieve a fairer distribution of wealth without putting a brake on productivity? Do we want more state control or less? This basically a fight between supporters of socialism and capitalism.
I will reserve my discussion of that fight for another post.
Simultaneously, even more important campaign is going on. It is a true culture war. On one side of the battle are those who wish to fundamentally change Western Civilization. They reject the old Judeo-Christian ethic to which most of our society once subscribed. They favor globalism over nationalism and promote a progressive, open, liberating approach to social relationships. On the other side of this conflict are the traditionalists, those God-fearing, nation-loving, family-loving citizens who cling to many of the old attitudes and values.
Let me be honest. News and opinion come to us from television, radio, and newspapers with a cloak of objectivity, but that is not true. Everyone’s reporting and commentary is heavily influenced by his or her worldview. For that reason I will state my own worldview before beginning this discussion. Though I will endeavor to be truthful and objective, my worldview colors everything I write.
I am a professing Christian. I am not a Biblical literalist, but I believe that God revealed Himself to man in His holy scriptures and established a moral law. I also believe in the divinity of Christ, and I am a faithful member of an Evangelical church.
Many of the so-called progressives are militant secularists. As Attorney General William Barr recently said in a speech at Notre Dame University, “But where is the progress? We are told we are living in a post-Christian era, but what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the heart of the individual person? And what is the system of values that can sustain human social life?”
Secretary Barr also pointed out that “secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”
This culture war is a bitter fight, and it will go on for decades. It is being waged in the halls of Congress, in cinema, on television, in newspapers, on radio, and in academia. The hostility between progressives and traditionalists frequently results in prevarication, hyperbole, and vitriol, and it has a deleterious effect on civil discourse and personal relationships.
The entertainment industry (cinema, music, the arts) is firmly controlled by the progressives. The progressives also predominate in academia and the news media. They are a powerful voice for those who wish to sever America from what they view as its anachronistically religious, sexually repressed, socially restrictive, chauvinistic roots.
Tolerance has become the watchword of the progressive movement. But the problem lies in their definition of tolerance. Paraphrasing J. Warner Wallace, Christian apologist, “Tolerance was once thought to mean that we should treat each other with respect even though we strongly disagree on a particular issue. Many progressives now deny that there is such a thing as objective truth and say that truth is a matter of perspective. They believe that all truth claims should be recognized and embraced as equally true, and anything other than acceptance is narrow-minded and bigoted.”
This means that Christian views of truth are an anathema.
Jim Denison, a Christian writer, stated it another way. He says that liberal/progressives seem to believe that “all truth claims are subjective impositions of personal power on others. Tolerance of all viewpoints must therefore be mandated, except, of course, for viewpoints deemed intolerant.”
According to Barr, “The problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced – secular values are being forced on people of faith.”
As an example of secular values being forced, on October 16, 2019, the city of San Francisco announced that it is blacklisting 22 states that have restrictive abortion policies, saying that it will no longer do business with those states “because of their severe anti-choice policies.” Nine of the states were already on the city’s banned list because of LGBTQ laws that the city had deemed to be discriminatory. In addition to travel restrictions to those states, the city will not enter into any new contracts with companies headquartered in any of the 22 states.
The battle for America’s soul is being waged on many fronts. The skirmish lines are not always clearly defined, and good people might line up on either side depending upon the particular issue at hand. With that understanding, let me describe a few of the fights.
The LGBT community is relatively small but extremely active. Until the latter half of the 20th Century it had only existed in the shadows of Western society. Now it is in the open. It has strong support from the entertainment industry and the media, and it is influential in Democratic Party circles. It has achieved great things in the past 20 years – legalization of gay marriages, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expansion of anti-discrimination legislation, etc. They want more.
Traditionalists have been set back on their heels. No one wishes to be labeled a bigot. As a member of various Evangelical churches over many decades, I never heard a sermon or serious discussion regarding homosexuality. Nevertheless, the holy books of Christians and Jews (and even Muslims) teach that homosexuality is morally wrong, and I was certainly aware of that fact.
For Bible believers, the conflict appears almost irresolvable. People of faith are often confused and disordered. They favor fairness and goodwill towards everyone, but they are alarmed by the aggressive push of homosexuals, transsexuals, and their allies to foist a new view of sexual norms on society.
Conservatives are especially concerned by the LGBT campaign to indoctrinate our children in this new way of thinking. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books mandating that sexual education be taught in public schools. Communities in the rest of the country have varying degrees of regulations. The progressives are using these sexual education programs to wage a well-organized campaign to indoctrinate our children. This is especially true in California. That state became one of the first to address LGBT issues as part of sex education. California students remain in the bottom tier of academic excellence, ranking 44 out of 50 in K-12 education in a recent survey; but while they may not be faring so well with the basics, children as young as kindergarten are becoming experts in sexual relations, sexual orientation and gender. The new California sexual education curriculum accelerates what can be fairly described as indoctrination to the LGBT worldview at all grade levels.
There has been parental pushback, but it is somewhat disorganized and only partially successful. Much of this pushback has focused not on the sexual education curriculum itself but on the books it recommends students read. One suggested book for California high schoolers is “S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties.” It includes descriptions of anal sex, bondage and other sexual activity. As for primary school students, parents in Orange County, California, were upset to learn administrators were using a graphic study guide to accompany the transgender children’s book, I Am Jazz (recommended for children in kindergarten to fifth grade). In addition to defining various sex terms, the study guide asks students, “What if you don’t have time or money to buy sex toys?” It goes on to offer solutions that include the use of various fruit. The district was also offering a “sexual health toolkit” as a classroom resource.
LGBT activists in other states and the District of Columbia are eager to follow the California example. It is only a matter of time before the matter is being discussed and fought out in our local school districts.
Another area of LGBT activity that concerns social conservatives is the matter of transgender access to bathrooms, showers, etc. To understand the problem you must realize that a transgender is defined by the LGBT community to mean any person who feels and acts as if his or her gender is different from that assigned at birth. The presence or absence of female or male genitalia is of no consequence, nor is it necessary that the person be under treatment for gender dysphoria.
The first great battle in this bathroom access campaign occurred in the state of North Carolina, and it ended in capitulation on the part of the traditionalists. The essential facts are as follows.
In February 2016 the city council of Charlotte, North Carolina, approved a measure whereby anyone who self-identified as male or female could now access a gender restricted public bathroom (including public school showers) based on his or her choice of sexual identity.
North Carolina traditionalists were horrified. They had visions of males identifying themselves as females and charging into girls’ showers in public schools. The state legislature quickly passed a law that would restrict access to gender restricted public bathrooms based on one’s gender as recorded his/her birth certificate, either the original or as amended following sex change therapy
The LGBT community and its allies exploded with rage. They were determined to punish North Carolina for its temerity, and full-scale war was launched against the government and people of the Tar Heel state. The poor citizens of North Carolina never knew what hit them. All sorts of political and economic pressure was exerted. The liberal elite declared North Carolina to be a social pariah, and not a day passed without some politician, business entity, sports figure, or entertainment celebrity slamming the state and proposing some sort of retributive action.
The national media were fully allied with the transgender community. Liberal commentators supporting the LGBT position often made absurd arguments regarding the controversy. One prominent newscaster suggested that everyone carry their birth certificate when travelling through North Carolina. That was a unsupportable and foolish statement. No one was checking birth certificates. The law only gave police the power to respond should problems arise, and I know of no instance where the bathroom access law was actually enforced. But truth was lost in the furor of controversy. The state was increasingly buffeted by economic boycotts, job losses, and public criticism. Sports leagues relocated games, companies canceled expansions, and some tourists decided to spend their money elsewhere. Fiscal losses to the state were calculated to be more than 3.7 billion dollars and rising.
Even basically conservative North Carolinians began to change their minds. Was the fight worth it? In November 2016 a Democrat was elected governor in place of the otherwise popular and moderate Republican who had signed the “bathroom bill”. Two months after the new governor took office, the bill was repealed.
Bathroom access by transgenders remains a controversial issue in various places across the United States.
The fight for transgender access has now moved to women’s shelters. In Anchorage, Alaska, a woman’s shelter ran into problems with anti-discrimination laws. A faith-based women’s shelter had been established to provide a haven for battered women, the victims of abusive husbands and boyfriends. One evening a man, drunk and bleeding from facial wounds, showed up at the facility. He said he was a woman and demanded admittance. Instead, someone from the shelter drove him to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Later, this man/woman (transgender) filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Rights Commission claiming that she was denied housing at the shelter. A shelter spokesman said that the abused women at the shelter were terrified at the thought of admitting transgenders, and, if forced to do so, the shelter would probably close.
More recently Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Benjamin Carson visited California as the Federal government considers possible intervention in that state’s growing homeless problem. During his visit he heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having in women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women and demand entry. In a subsequent meeting with local staff, Secretary Carson said that this made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups had described a situation to him in which ‘big hairy men’ would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable. Several people present at that meeting interpreted Carson’s remarks as an attack on transgender women. A leading LGBT advocacy group denounced Secretary Carson for his comments, and liberal opinion makers in some newspapers branded him as “transphobic.” To see this honorable and compassionate man labeled in such a demeaning way is disturbing. Also, the imbroglio reveals a real conundrum. There is no doubt that some evil men will use any means to gain access to female victims, even to the point of claiming to be transgender. These women shelters were established as a refuge for battered women. It would appear that the protection of these women should be the paramount concern.
In addition to the bathroom and woman’s shelter access issues, transgenders are also causing problems in other areas. Some women are expressing concern about the impact of transgender athletes on women’s sports. Biological males identifying as women are beginning to dominate in certain track and field events and other sports both here and in Europe. Even the International Olympic Committee is attempting to deal with the ramifications of this situation, thus far without any resolution.
The pro-life vs pro-choice (abortion rights) issue is an old battlefield in the wide-ranging and seemingly interminable culture war. This particular zone of combat received news media’s spotlight during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in 2018.
When Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, progressives were concerned that his appointment might tip the court’s balance and lead to a reversal of Roe v Wade. The progressives decided to do everything in their power to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. With Republicans in control of the Senate, there appeared no way to derail the President’s choice. At the very last moment, however, an accusation of moral turpitude was leveled against the judge. The supposed transgression occurred thirty-six years before, when Kavanaugh was 17, and the offense, if it happened, would not have been legally chargeable. The details were so sketchy as to invite serious doubt that it did happen. Any magistrate would have thrown the allegation out of court, and I believe that any disinterested observer would have supported Kavanaugh’s denial of the incident as being much more credible than the charge.
But the nebulous accusation was enough for the pro-choice opposition. Their friends in the Senate and the national media attempted to destroy Kavanaugh, and progressives rallied their base of agitators to put enormous pressure on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Women in handmaiden costumes appeared in silent protest, and legislators were collared in the halls of Congress. It was embarrassing to see so many Democratic committee members, lawyers all, abandon due process and bow to these activists. They evidently considered the opinions of their radical feminist supporters more important than truth and a good man’s reputation. Fortunately, Kavanaugh was finally confirmed.
Early in 2019 the culture war moved to the floor of the United States House of Representatives. During their 2018 campaign to win the House, the Democrats promised that the Equality Act favored by the LGBT community would be at the top of their legislative agenda. True to their promise, the Equality Act was passed by the House of Representatives on May 17, 2019. The act now awaits action in the Senate, but there is no prospect that the Republican controlled upper chamber will give it favorable consideration. The only chance for its early passage is an electoral sweep, House, Senate, and Presidency, by Democrats in 2020.
What would this Equality Act achieve? Why is it so controversial?
Basically, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.”
The following few paragraphs are chiefly based on an article in Decision, a Christian magazine published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in its July-August 2019 issue. I have drawn from it freely.
A great concern among conservative Christian groups is that the act will ensure that LGBT rights will trump religious freedom in every situation. Indeed, the Equality Act explicitly states that the provisions of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was meant to ensure that freedom of religious conscience is protected, cannot be used as a defense in cases in which sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination is in question. If it becomes law, the Equality Act will mean there is no religious freedom defense available to the believer. Even a religious non-profit operation such as a homeless shelter could be sued if it failed to follow the new orthodoxy on LGBT rights, gender identity, and everything else.
There are other concerns.
Pastors’ sermons might be monitored for possible hate speech (this has already happened in a few places).
Religious schools would be required to abide by the Equality Act in their admission and hiring policies.
The rights of parents to make choices for their children on questions of sexuality or gender, including medical treatments, would be superseded by federal law. It is also possible that parents would lose custody of their children if they persisted in indoctrinating them with now non-orthodox religious beliefs about sexuality.
Male-bodied transgender access to women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, shelters, and sports leagues would be legally protected.
Faith-based adoption agencies might be forced to shut down.
And heaven help the Christian who happens to read certain selections from the writings of the Apostle Paul in the public square.
There are many other areas of possible impact. The effects of this legislation could be very wide-ranging, and in this already litigious society the Equality Act would generate a multitude of new legal actions. Bakers, florists, and photographers have already been sued under state and municipal anti-discrimination laws. Federal legislation would open the floodgates. I have managed to avoid courts of any sort for ninety years, but if the Equality Act becomes law it’s not so certain I could do so in the future.
Andrew Walker, professor of Christian ethics and apologetics, stated it this way:
“With the stroke of a pen, pillars of human history—the ideas that marriage is a complementary union of a man and a woman, and that male and female are immutable, biological realities—would be thrown into the dustbin of history.”
What are the political ramifications of the culture war?
When the Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives, 228 Democrats and 8 Republicans approved, 173 Republicans voted against the measure, 7 Democrats and 16 Republicans abstained.
GOP lawmakers said the measure would weaken religious protections for health workers. Many questioned the definition of gender identity in the legislation, explained as “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of their sex at birth.”
President Donald Trump is opposed to the bill, and it is unlikely to be considered in a Republican controlled Senate.
Leaders of the Democratic Party appear unanimous in their support of the Equality Act. In a speech on June 5, 2019, Joe Biden said that the Equality Act would top his list of priorities.
“It will be the first thing I ask to be done.”
Other Democratic Presidential candidates also favor quick passage of the Equality Act. Beto O’Rourke, one of these candidates, has been quite outspoken in his support. At one point he suggested that churches should lose their tax exemption if they did not perform gay marriages. More recently, he said that, regardless of religious values, churches and other religious non-profits should be required to “follow the law” when it comes to discriminating against gay and transgender people.
The immediate future of the Equality Act will be determined by the 2020 elections
Where do I stand?
I am opposed to blatant discrimination of any kind. All persons deserve respect and fair treatment. But I also oppose the heavy hand of the Federal government in this area of human relationships. Indeed, I fear any expansion of the role of the Federal government in our lives.
I believe in the Biblical standard. The Biblical teaching is not arbitrary. It is consistent, and it makes sense. For the true believer, it is not a question of one’s wishes or desires, natural or not, but a question of what is the will of God. His will, as expressed in the scriptures (the ultimate authority for Christians), is for a monogamous heterosexual union (a family) into which children are to be born and in which they are to be nurtured physically and spiritually. I and other traditionalists realize that man often falls far short of living up to God’s standards for sexual morality as well as in other areas of human conduct. However, man’s failure does not invalidate the standards.
For reasons too numerous to detail, the monogamous, heterosexual life-style is to be preferred and promoted by our society. Most importantly, it is the basis of traditional family life wherein our children are conceived, born, sheltered, and nurtured. The future of our society rests in the family, and our nation, state, and community must do everything possible to protect the family. Anything that promotes homosexuality or other sexual aberrations as socially acceptable “alternative life-styles” is a threat to traditional family life and values and must be resisted.
Homosexuals and transsexuals should be treated with compassion as human beings and they must be protected from blatant discrimination and harassment. All people deserve courtesy, kindness, and consideration regardless of their differences, and there is no excuse for violent or destructive acts by persons on either side of the volatile issue of sexual orientation. Nor should there be name-calling. State and local ordinances, along with growing social consciousness, afford adequate protection from oppressive acts against members of the LGBT community
I also join with most Americans in believing that a person’s private life is essentially his own concern, a matter between that person and God, so long as that person’s actions do not adversely impact the health and well-being of those around him. On the other hand, I am also convinced that most of my fellow citizens are with me in believing that the heterosexual majority must resist efforts by LGBT activists to define themselves as a protected minority and to impose their own views of sexual morality upon our society at large, efforts which, if successful, could do irreparable damage to the American family and to our nation.
At this moment in history, Democratic Party leaders are on the opposite side from me in the ongoing culture war. It is the most important issue to me, and they will never have my support as long as they push the Equality Act and similar legislation.
I also believe that most rank-and-file Democrats do not realize where their party leadership is taking them.
Wake up, fellow Americans!