Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where is Truth?

Throughout the course of history humankind has relied on two basic sources for truth-religion and science. Typically people have viewed these perspectives as mutually exclusive -but that is the topic of another blog. My purpose in this musing is to register my concern that as a society as a a whole we have abandoned both. Most major religions don't stand for anything anymore or at least what they preach today is not even what they promoted 20 years ago. Their "doctrines" shift with the ever changing tide of public opinion. Polls and popularity are deciding what the religions will preach, and many worship at the altars of political correctness, ease and materialism. Even sacred texts like the bible are reinterpreted to fit the wants of an increasingly promiscuous and coarse culture. Fortunately, there are a few exceptions to this trend which has been magnified in the battle over Prop 8. The Catholic church, the LDS church, and many Baptist and evangelical congregations, as well as our Muslim and Sikh brothers and sisters have stood firm in their support of time honored teachings about marriage. Unfortunately, even many in those congregations do not support their church leadership but are living lives totally incongruent with their churches teachings. On the other end of the scale are many mainstream congregations who can no longer be relied on to teach truth but only what helps people feel good and feel free of guilt or sacrifice. Religion is no longer about helping people live a higher and better law-Gods law-but creating their own set of beliefs and arrogantly assuming they know better than God. Isn't anything sacred anymore? Is nothing absolute?

Science has also abandoned it's purpose. The whole definition of science is to discover the truth. But on issue after issue supposed learned men and women of science have ignored foundational principles of research to promote certain ideas and agendas. Very little of the research in the social sciences has credibility anymore due to the unbelievable bias, poor methodology and blatant misinterpretation of data. The mainstream media has been complicit in this process of misreporting findings, not reporting data that contradicts their viewpoint and promoting opinions as actual fact. Ironically, most of this questionable"research"is funded with your tax dollars. NIH (The National Institute of Health) and NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) have authorized numerous studies(costing millions of dollars) to uncover a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality. They will not fund and are very hesitant to publish anything that contradicts or questions such assumptions. This is also true of research looking at the effects of same gender parenting on children.

As a qualifier there are religions and individuals who have valiantly adhered to their teachings in spite of tremendous pressure (and even outright intimidation and abuse) to change what they believe and live. Also, there are some scientists who have courageously found funding on their own and even have paid to have their results published-who are actually searching for truth rather than proof.

Can a society long endure that has no boundaries, no moral stability, no stable social definition? I am deeply and profoundly saddened at the shift from the desire for truth and goodness to a culture of pleasure, permissiveness and pride. If we base our lives on falsehoods how can we expect to progress as individuals, families or nations? People who stand for truth are ridiculed, ignored and minimized by those with angry, illogically based mantras. They twist and distort anything that is traditional to appeal to their vanity and ease and all in the name of tolerance, love and equal rights.

So instead of God and prophets and or science we have Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Brad Pitt, etc. People Magazine, the LA Times, Newsweek are now more important sources of morality and truth than the Old and New Testament. And this is intelligent thinking? The values found in the Bible actually are similar to those found in the Koran, and other sacred texts and they have been the backbone for most of known civilization. These should be supplanted by people who seek attention for a living? Who gave such a small group of dysfunctional people so much power and why?

"Oh say what is truth...?"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unintended Consequences

During the last week I have come across many Prop 8 opponents. Most of them have been very angry and have offered only two main arguments for why Prop 8 should be defeated. The first argument is that it somehow denies equal rights and is therefore discriminatory and unfair. The second argument is that allowing same gender marriage won't harm anyone. It is interesting to note that proponents of Prop 8 can provide a much longer list of reasons for preserving traditional marriage, such as:

1. It is better for children
2. It will preserve religious freedoms
3. It will maintain parental rights
4. It will protect our society from other definitional onslaughts on marriage, i.e. polyandry, polygamy, and other marital permutations.
5. It is what is best for individuals and our society
6. It still allows for same gender couples the legal benefits afforded a married couple.

But I digress-what I really wanted to focus on is a response to the idea that same gender marriage is somehow benign and will have no negative consequences for individuals or our society.

Consider the logic behind environmental impact reports. It was determined by environmentalists, and to some extent rightfully so, that before embarking on major building projects, studies should be done to assess the possible impact on the flora and fauna, traffic patterns, air quality, etc. of a community before giving an approval to proceed. These studies usually involved numerous different consultants, lots of time and large amounts of money. In other words every conceivable physical consequence was anticipated and weighed before any digging started. It is utterly appalling to me that we have embarked on the largest experiment in society without even a thought or acknowledgment at how changing the very core bedrock of family structure-marriage-could possible effect us. It might not effect the air but it will change more than just what it purports to change. The question is how profound and damaging the effects will be. Everything on our planet is interrelated.
Remember "No man is an island..." Let's consider other changes to marriage or the family and some of the unintended consequences. The 60's seemed to be a time of openness, of breaking down barriers about civil rights for blacks, women's rights, sexual freedoms. At first glance it may have seemed a productive period in our history. However, while there may have been some good that came out of the 60's that time period also laid the foundation for some of our greatest social ills in 2008. The "make love not war" slogan was the rallying cry of the sexual revolution. Rather than having boundaries about what was appropriate in sexual expression the rule of thumb became "if it feels good do it." What have been some of the societal impacts that we can report:
1. Unprecedented levels of sexually transmitted diseases have flowed from a lack of sexual boundaries. Who can forget the aids epidemic of the 80's and now the almost unbelievably high number of cases of chlamydia, herpes and even the development of new strains of STD's. Also, there has been a new outbreak of Aids in San Francisco which has gone largely unreported because it would harm the same gender marriage movement. Thanks to our popular culture STD"s are not just the bane of adults they have now filtered down to our young adults and youth. What often goes unreported is that STD's are the largest single contributor to infertility.
2. The obsession with sex in our media driven culture. Every single source of information be it television, radio, newspapers, the internet, movies, magazines has an article, program, or advertisement about sex. This has also helped fuel younger and younger children in engaging in sexual behavior before they are cognitively and morally ready to make such important decisions. An additional consequence has been the explosion of pornography in our culture which has frightening ramifications for an increase in sexual assaults, dehumanization of women a weakening of appropriate emotional bonds in relationships, an increase in depression and anxiety, and in illegal behavior. The newest and most rapidly growing addiction-sexual addictions.
3. The weakening of marriage by passing laws to make divorces easier to obtain. This is frighteningly similar to what I think will happen with same gender marriage. Which is that the needs of children get sacrificed on the feelings, needs and wants of adults. The notion of sacrifice is mocked and personal gratification is again put front and center. Freud felt that homosexuality was the ultimate expression of narcissism, and he was hardly conservative about sexual issues.
4. Very high rates of abortion, the majority of which are from irresponsible sexual behavior, not from women being raped or health problems endangering the mother.
5. Higher rates of infidelity and or premarital sexual behavior.
7. Higher percentages of people identifying as homosexual, especially in large urban areas that have significant same gender populations

There are many other consequences that came out of the sexual revolution and many of them influenced each other to create a downward spiral. These outcomes then create other consequences and the cycle of sexual obsession continues to escalate.

None of these consequences were anticipated or desired but they have occurred nonetheless. That is why some of us who have lived long enough to have experienced and studied these social trends have been very concerned about the potential outcomes of championing same gender marriage. Gay activists and others have been either naive or outright deceitful in pushing such a significant change with so little forethought.

There are indicators available for us to study-Massachusetts passed same gender marriage a few years ago, the Netherlands has had same gender marriage for an even longer period of time. We need to observe and take seriously the negative impacts that have occurred there. The concerns about parental rights, religious freedom, rights of doctors, effects on overall marital rates and outcomes for children are all based on real life experiences not on supposition.

I strongly urge you to proceed with caution before voting No on Prop 8 which in effect undermines a bastion of our societal structure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Equal Rights? Definitions Hijacked by Same Gender Activists

Words are powerful tools used to create emotions, define our reality and to elicit behavior. It is no wonder that the same gender movement has carefully crafted the usage of certain terms and phrases. For example, the major argument for same gender marriage is based on the notion that it is denying a person their civil rights to not call a relationship between people of the same gender a marriage. Once same gender marriage was branded a "civil rights" issue, behavior or opinions that contradicted that notion or questioned those assumptions became "discriminatory", "bigoted", "intolerant" and "hateful". Strong words which are designed to intimidate and inhibit disagreement.

Where did the idea that rights should be granted based on an individuals sexual orientation originate? The "born that way" argument, supposedly substantiated by science in the early 1990's was the kick-off point for getting the mainstream public to view homosexuality as a condition-something that you had no control over. There were two well publicized studies-one in 1991 by Simon LeVay and one in 1993 by Dean Hamer which both found some correlation between biological factors and homosexuality. However, both men agreed that homosexual behavior was more complicated, and most likely involved environmental factors as well. The main stream media filtered out the qualifiers and the "born that way" idea became fact . Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of numerous scientists, many of whom happen to identify as "gay" there still is no substantial proof that the nature theory is true. Sexuality appears to fit the model of being a BEHAVIOR rather than a condition. The development of our sexuality is influenced by a number of different variables but exactly how these interact to create same gender attraction is still unknown. This model fits better with the description of other human characteristics like speech, intelligence, physical health, athleticism, etc. There may be predispositions towards certain traits but there have to be specific environmental factors that exist for that characteristic or behavior to be enhanced or diminished. However, the horse was already out of the barn and definitions about homosexuality were squelched as the conclusion had already been announced. The media pronounced that homosexuality was a condition, no choice or responsibility was involved and therefore the arguments for rights and equality could enter in.

This line of reasoning was also supported by changing the way we described or identified homosexual behavior. The terms "gay" and "lesbian" began to be used as nouns to describe a condition of a person in an attempt to make it analogous to gender or ethnicity. Again, this is part of the strategy for strengthening the case for identifying "gay" "rights" with civil rights. Again, to reiterate what was described above, existing scientific evidence is actually more consistent with an interactive model with both nature and nurture influencing sexual development. Therefore, it is more accurate to use the terms gay, lesbian, bisexual. transgender, or heterosexual as adjectives describing an individuals behavior not as nouns indicating an unchangeable condition. There certainly seem to be certain traits that predispose people to homosexual behaviors but there is also an element of choice in whether or not these behaviors are exhibited or identified with.

This idea of choice and responsibility is further substantiated by a growing amount of evidence that individuals have successfully altered their focus of attraction with the help of reparative therapy. The use of the word reparative implies a bias towards viewing homosexuality as less than ideal-which is how it was viewed for thousands of years and across most cultures until very recently. Interestingly enough the type of therapy used to "come out" in the 80's was called affirmative therapy, further substantiating the bias that people with same gender attraction are just validating who they really are.

Gender identity is a phrase that was widely discussed but has now been largely ignored because it doesn't fit with the gay rights model of sexuality. Gender identity refers to how a person sees themself-identifying as either male or female. The gay movement has pigeonholed people into narrow definitions of either being gay or lesbian. Actually a man can identify as a man and be attracted to a man or a woman, and women that might identify as being more masculine can still be attracted to men or they might be attracted to women. Narrow definitions or biases have caused many people with gender identity confusion to then think they also had same gender attraction. Same gender attraction and gender identity are two separate and important differences in human beings. Morphing two definitions into one has actually interfered with some people's feeling of free agency in regards to their sexuality. Just because you think or feel a certain way doesn't mean that your behavior has to follow. Many people have thoughts and feelings that they don't want and have learned how to regulate, moderate or extinguish. The gay movement is a major proponent of not questioning or inhibiting any thoughts or feelings towards same gender attraction. They feel that if you feel attracted you should act, and without restraint.

Another definition that cropped up in the 70's to help confuse and distort the area of sexuality was the idea of being androgynous, or not identifying predominantly with either gender. This actually helped feed into the bisexual and transgender movement which are both just further erosions of traditional boundaries and definitions. Again, the concern should be to ask ourselves what the goal is for blurring parameters that have helped provide structure, order and meaning to individuals and families. Our identity is core to our well being and changing and morphing basic definitions such as male, female, marriage, and families has only served to create more confusion and instability.

We need to step back and carefully consider the words and phrases we hear and use, to make sure they are accurate. The media loves to wield it's clout to control our perceptions. How they decide which ideas to push is beyond me but they tend to have some things in common:
1. They generally aren't completely true.
2. They have an anti-traditional and or anti-religious bias
3. They seem to be driven by the values of a very select group of people living very atypical lives.
4. They would not work well if we all lived that way.

Please be mindful as you continue to study and learn about this important aspect of the human condition. I would hope that the words patience, understanding, coooperation, truth, moderation, discipline, and self regulation can find their way back into our daily vocabularies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Concerns Regarding Same Gender Marriage

I am writing this because I feel very strongly about an issue that I don’t think you are receiving accurate information about. It is fascinating and disturbing that people are so ready to accept information disseminated by the mainstream media, Hollywood or anyone else that is “famous”. Given their track record we should take whatever they report with a bag of salt (not just a grain). Proposition 8 has been at the receiving end of a lot of misinformation as has the whole issue of homosexuality. Let me respond to a number of frequently stated positions.

Myth 1. Gay marriage doesn’t affect anyone negatively. It is their business and we should let them marry.
RESPONSE: We are all interconnected, on a macro and a micro level. Why do you think governments do environmental impact reports? Why aren’t we considering a societal impact report. We do not live in isolation. There is longitudinal data out of Europe regarding the consequences of same gender “marriage”. And the results are not positive for a society-a decrease in the number of marriages overall, increase in out of wedlock births, etc. All societies need rules and boundaries. We should not be altering basic societal definitions that have existed for thousands of years and across many cultures. There must be profound physical, biological, psychological and social benefits in our present definition of marriage as one man and one woman for them to have endured the test of time. Change is not always for the better and just because people say something long enough and loud enough doesn’t mean it’s true. What is the primary purpose of marriage? It is to regulate, provide protection for and promote the rearing of children which is the back bone of civilization. There is a great deal of research supporting the idea that the ideal setting for raising children is to have a father and a mother. We should be seeking for the ideal not what feel is convenient or easy for us. Who is watching out for the children’s rights?

Myth 2. A gay lifestyle is the same as a heterosexual lifestyle.
RESPONSE: Male same gender couples are very promiscuous, typically of shorter duration., and are not likely to involve children. Lesbian couples tend to have higher rates of domestic abuse. Individuals living a same gender lifestyle have higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicidality than individuals living a heterosexual lifestyle. Also, married heterosexual men have a much longer lifespan. Natures’ strategy of pairing men and women together helps to bring a balance-an equilibrium which has a strengthening effect to both genders.

Myth 3. Demanding same gender marriage is about equal rights.
RESPONSE: Regardless of the “rights” that have been granted to gay individuals and couples, gay activists have continued pushing for more. Civil unions and domestic partnerships have the same exact legal right as married couples-no less and no more. If the court ruling on same gender marriage stands there will be other consequences. The “rights’ of religious organizations to preach about their beliefs regarding homosexuality will be denied. Ministers won’t have freedom of choice about marrying couples, doctors--see the suit in San Diego--will not be able to make treatment choices based on their religious beliefs, and therapists will no longer be able to treat individuals who want to overcome same gender feelings and behaviors. The “rights” of same gender individuals will supersede religious freedom. Same gender individuals have the right to engage in whatever thoughts, feelings and behaviors they want but they do not have the right to impose their beliefs on others anymore than I have the right to impose my religious beliefs on them

Myth 4-This is the greatest myth of all. If you are gay or lesbian you were born that way. RESPONSE: SHOW ME THE SCIENCE! At best there is a correlation between biology and same gender behavior-they have done gene studies, hormone studies, twin studies, hypothalamic studies, birth order studies, etc. and the science is inconclusive. The most likely explanation is that it is a complex interplay between environmental factors and biological factors. Each case is different, male and female homosexuality is very different. Gender identity issues are very different than same gender attraction. Other sexual variations such as transgender, and bisexual don’t even agree with each other on causation. We skipped the whole discussion about what homosexuality is and raced right to letting a small group of gay activists define things. All of the original studies upon which the “born that way” myth was based were done by gay men and about gay men. There have not been very many studies about female homosexuality. Sexuality is a human behavior not a condition like race. So this whole discussion of rights is inappropriate. You don’t get certain privileges just because you feel a certain way. By redefining marriage to include people based on their focus of sexual attraction and “love” you open up a huge Pandora’s box. Legally you then have to consider the “rights” of transgender and bisexual individuals. Polygamy and polyandry are fair game, and other boundaries begin to blur. Where do you stop? What has happened to other societies that have embraced and championed homosexual behavior?

Myth 5-People who support Proposition 8 hate gays and are intolerant bigots.
RESPONSE: Just because I disagree with someone about something doesn’t mean I hate them, wouldn’t hire them, wouldn’t socialize with them or would be hurtful, mean or violent towards them. Some of the people who I deeply love have chosen to live same gender lives. I treat them the same as anyone else. As a matter of fact I feel I am discriminated against more by those who live same gender lifestyles than vice versa. I don’t call names, deface their property, flip them off or slam the door in their face like has happened to me in the last few days as I have walked my neighborhood to inform people about his issue.

This country was established primarily to grant religious freedom--to worship who what or where we may. How ironic that a select group of very angry individuals is ready do overturn the very core unit of our society and nation -the nuclear family. Our greatest concern should be to protect the family unit as it is presently constituted and to continue our tradition of free speech and freedom of religion. We should not be bullied, harassed or controlled by judicial fiat. And any changes to basic structures in society should be carefully studied and weighed out over time.

I hesitated writing this letter for fear of how it would be perceived. And then it struck me that therein lies the problem. Why should I be afraid to talk about something with my friends, family and neighbors? How did this issue come to be of such importance in such a short period of time and as if it were something we should champion and embrace rather than be concerned about? Tolerance, equality, diversity, bigotry are all words that are being tossed around freely these days--and they may not have the same meaning that they used to. Maybe more appropriate goals would be love, patience, prudence, discipline, boundaries, moderation, sacrifice, and understanding. I believe that there are a variety of reasons why people have same gender attraction and that most of us experience our sexuality along a continuum. I believe that sexuality is something that definitely needs checks and balances for it to be productive for individuals and societies. I believe that people with same gender attraction have been treated poorly in the past and that they are deserving of the same love, respect and consideration as individuals who choose a heterosexual lifestyle. However, I believe it is a huge stretch to compare the gay movement with the civil rights movement. I don’t think people’s sexuality should be their primary defining characteristic. Gender and race are human conditions while same gender attraction is not. I believe that we have swung the pendulum way too far to the other extreme and that we need to return to center. Our society has become obsessed with sexual things, and excesses and I believe the gay movement is a misguided part of this obsession. The prevalence of homosexuality is estimated to be from 4-10%(higher in industrialized societies) How did virtue and morality become bad words? As a society we need to champion what is good for the society as a whole and not make exceptions the rule of law. All of us have things that we have had to learn to control and manage and this makes us stronger and better people. I highly encourage you to give consideration to some of these thoughts and to let the lessons of history and logic direct your reasoning.