Thursday, June 26, 2008

Matt 24 Watch, 59: On responsibility, our experience as thinking and choosing agents, and atheism

Sometimes, an online forum exchange can be very revealing on the underlying gaps in evolutionary materialist thought.

From reader
I in the US, we can find such a revealing exchange.

The context is a recent news item, in which a woman from the Czech Republic caught up in a cultic group was accused of horribly torturing her young sons. (The instance is so disgusting that I will not give an excerpt, but will warn that the link has very disturbing reading.)

In the forum, the following exchange occurred:
B wrote:

I: So, her behavior was not caused, but rather she chose her acts?

B: Yes.

I: Which means that (pace the "science[^]" of Richard Dawkins) she's not, after all, a "meat puppet" dancing on the strings of "antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment."

B: She is a culpable meat puppet, dancing on those strings. Physiology, heredity, and environment affect us all, and yet many of us choose and or modify the effects on ourselves.
I then commented, very correctly:
You're trying to have it both ways; but that's not how reality works, you know.

There is a vast difference between saying that:
1) "physiology, heredity and environment" (i.e. 'accidents' as such was historically called) may have some greater or lesser degree of influence upon us as we choose this or that;
versus saying that:
2) "physiology, heredity and environment" mechanistically determine our behaviors.
The two statements are polar opposites; they cannot both be true.

The puppet cannot pull its own strings.
B's reply to this summary is utterly, sadly, revealing:
B: Nothing you say can change what I think; that's already been decided.
I then responded:
In which case "think" is entirely the wrong word to use.

You might want to think about this, Anthony Flew's Choice and Rationality[^] (.PDF, 11 pages) in the archives of 'Reason Papers' at This, by the way, was written when he was still an 'atheist.'
The background for the exchange is the evolutionary materialist view on how mind allegedly emerges from meat through chance and mechanical necessity acting on our claimed remote, ape-like ancestors. In Dawkins' words: "We are jumped-up apes, and our brains were only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah."

Going to Dawkins' article as I linked above:
Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software . . . .

Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. When a child robs an old lady, should we blame the child himself or his parents? Or his school? Negligent social workers? In a court of law, feeble-mindedness is an accepted defence, as is insanity . . . .

But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment . . . .

Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions?
Perhaps, Professor Dawkins, because it is utterly and plainly absurd and unworkable, given our most direct experience of the world, i.e. of ourselves as conscious, deciding, thinking, responsible agents. So, very properly, we reject any theory that implies that such is delusional.

For, without the power of real thought and choice -- not driven by forces beyond reason and volition -- knowledge, thought and communication become impossible.

So, we may see how Professor Antony Flew -- even in his atheist days -- neatly dissects such [want of] thinking, in I's linked article. The article is somewhat complex, but its essence is that once we seek to explain away choice as the product of chance and/or mechanical necessity, we automatically undercut the basis for real knowledge and communication, i.e absent responsible choice, we cannot be agents:
. . . choice-choice between at least two real alternatives either of which the agent possibly could take-must be a presupposition of any actual knowledge. For no creature incapable of making choices between alternative possibilities of belief could properly be said "to know something." Second, choices, in this understanding, cannot be causally necessitated. For to say that there was necessitation in one particular sense would be to deny that there were any real alternatives to that particular commitment. Third, we all acquire the crucial and complementary notions both of practical necessitation and of being able to do other than we do in what is, surely, the only way in which such fundamental notions could be acquired. We acquire them from our everyday and utterly familiar experience both of making choices in action, and of bringing some things about while finding it utterly impossible to effect others.
In short, we begin our thought life from our self-experience and growing awareness of real (albeit limited) choice, thus agency. Otherwise, we are simply puppets being played by chance and necessity, with only the delusion of real thought, and real choice.

So, if -- for instance -- we have a claimed scientific account for the origin of the mind, which undermines the credibility of the mind, then it saws off the branch on which we HAVE to sit to function as thinking, choosing, communicating beings. And, the evolutionary materialist account of the origin of mind is precisely such a case:

. . . materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as "thoughts" and "conclusions" can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

Therefore, if materialism is true, the "thoughts" we have and the "conclusions" we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.

As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead . . . .

In short, ideas sprout roots, shoot up into all aspects of life, and have consequences in the real world.
The Apostle Paul is therefore very relevant indeed:
RO 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [One adds: in Paul's day, in Pagan Temples; today in textbooks, in Museums and on TV . . .] . . . .

RO 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity . . .
So, let us think again, very carefully indeed about the implications of evolutionary materialism in the guise of "Science." And, how those implications destabilise the foundations of our thought life and morality, including sexual morality. Indeed, it is highly interesting that precisely as such thinking reaches ascendancy, the precise perversions Paul identifies in Rom 1:26 - 28 as the consequences of turning our backs on God and making up images and stories that reinforce our rebellion, attain unprecedented proportions.

Mere coincidence?

Somehow, I think not. END

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Matt 24 Watch 58: Some follow-up information on biology, choice, moral frame of reference and sexuality

In recent weeks, in this blog we have had the sad duty to address an evident homosexualist campaign targetting Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, to push for decriminalisation of sodomy [which on the evidence of what is now happening in North America and elsewhere, rapidly leads to onward agenda-items such as the further undermining of the value and social benefits of marriage through creating homosexualist "redefinitions" under colour of law, and the censorship of morally based questions directed at homosexual behaviour and advocacy].

In so doing, we have tried -- imperfectly though such a difficult exercise inevitably is -- to walk in the delicate balance that firmly addresses sin and advocacy for what is objectively in error, whilst gently respecting the person. However imperfect our actual behaviour, the underlying intent is: to respect and love the person, but refusing to condone sin and self- or socially- destructive behaviour and advocacy - indeed, to call to repentance, renewal and transformation through the gospel and the power of God.

Now, too, last time, we looked at some key evidence on the "our genes made us do it" model of the cause of same-sex orientation and behaviour.

Dr Robert Spitzer in particular provides significant evidence that through counselling and morally directed effort, often in a context of firm but loving spiritual disciplines, a two- to five- year effort has a significant track-record of helping many caught up in homosexual behaviour and feelings to overcome their unwanted affections and behaviour.

Our task today is to look at some additional evidence on the impact of cultural context on the prevalence of homosexuality, especially in the context of closely-related people-groups.

This becomes significant, as a key issue now on our agenda is the likely effect of the ongoing attempted homosexualisation of our culture and wider civilisation under what has been called the Western Model of homosexual conduct. [There is a classic Greek-Roman model in which pederasty is part of the initiation into manhood at the hands of a mentor; indeed with Jupiter and Ganymede as divine exemplar. Third, there is a Melanesian model in which it is believed that boys can only become men through taking semen into their bodies; so that there is a compulsory homosexual period (in passive and active phases), leading to marriage and exclusive heterosexual conduct.]

In this task, an excerpt from Chapter 6 of My Genes Made Me Do It by Dr Neil and Briar Whitehead of New Zealand will prove helpful:
. . . . If homosexuality were significantly influenced by genes, it would appear in every culture, but in twenty-nine of seventy-nine cultures surveyed by Ford and Beach in 1952, homosexuality was rare or absent. It was very rare in the Siriono, even though there were no prohibitions on homosexual relationships in that culture. The researcher observed only one man displaying slight homosexual traits but apparently not sexually involved with another man. Homosexuality appears to be rare among Orthodox Jews [Orthodox Judaism forbids homosexuality], so much so that learned rabbis, the interpreters of Jewish law, usually allowed men to sleep in the same bed, because likelihood of sexual contact was considered negligible. Kinsey also found very low homosexual incidence among Orthodox Jews.

Some anthropologists have questioned Ford and Beach’s findings, believing that irregular sexual intimacy is not something foreign researchers can easily get information about. One sexual anthropologist, Whitam, thought homosexuality must be genetically enforced because he found it practiced in some isolated groups in South America and East Asia who knew nothing of the practice elsewhere.

But evidence from other remote tribes in New Guinea-all genetically related-suggests differently. This evidence comes from missionaries who commonly spend 25 years of their lives living in one culture, far more than almost any anthropologist. The anthropologist will argue that the sexual practices will never be told to the missionaries and they will get a biased perspective; on the other hand it could be argued that they will be unusually sensitive to practices which transgress Christian norms. Overall they can be considered as reliable witnesses. For example, in contrast to groups like the Sambia in the New Guinea highlands, where homosexuality was compulsory, only about 2-3 percent of Western Dani (also in the New Guinea highlands) practiced it. However, in another group of Dani who were genetically related, homosexuality was totally unknown. Missionaries report that when they were translating the Bible into Dani for this group, their tribal assistants, who knew their own culture intimately, were nonplused by references to homosexuality in Romans 1; they did not understand the concept. Another missionary, with the same group for 25 years, overheard many jests and sexually ribald exchanges among the men, but never a single mention of homosexuality in all that time. When Dani went to help with missionary work among the Sambia, they were astounded at some of the homosexual practices they saw for the first time. Although it is always difficult for a foreigner to be completely sure whether a rare and stigmatized behavior exists, it is certainly true that if three such different experiences of homosexuality can occur in groups of people so closely related genetically, genetically enforced homosexuality is an impossibility. [HT: Conservaspedia article, "Homosexuality." ]
In short, the decisive correlations are plainly cultural, not genetic.

Homosexuality is obviously possible in all cultures, but it is much more prevalent in those cultures that in one form or another condone or encourage it; even among genetically very close cultures such as related people groups in New Guinea. It shows up in culturally -- and even institutionally [so-called situational homo-/bi- sexual conduct] -- distinctive patterns, and in only some cases is the Western, genetic/ inborn nature rationale/ view predominant.

Thus, it would be wise to look a bit more closely and critically at the predominant view among elites and advocates in our own cultures; especially given that we see clear evidence through Spitzer etc. that people can, with significant effort, change their sexual behaviour and associated feelings.

This raises the issue of the ex- ex-gay, the former ex-gay who relapses into his former ways. [In a Christian context, the broader phenomenon of the backslider is very familiar; indeed it is recognised and strongly deplored in the New Testament.]

Such a phenomenon, however, is not at all surprising, once we see the significance and difficulty of choice involved in leaving the homosexual lifestyle. Thus, it is wise -- even if one ultimately disagrees with substance or tone -- to listen to some sobering remarks by Peter LaBarbera, in response to an attempted rebuttal of the story of "John," a sophomore [~ 15 -16 y.o.] US high school student who was moving towards homosexuality but then pulled back and became a born again Christian:
. . . We live in a world in which “the experts,” often with impressive sounding credentials, dismiss healthy change yet put their stamp of approval on homosexual and gender-confused identities . . . Science has been politicized and is being used to guide young people into harmful and unnatural behaviors.

To most Americans, religious or not, leaving homosexuality or gender confusion behind is a good thing. To homosexual and gender-bending activists, any ex-”gay” testimony threatens their central propaganda myth that some people are intrinsically (born) “gay,” bisexual or “transgender.” Some homosexual activists . . . have dedicated themselves to discrediting ex-”gay” change by hyping the cases of people who have returned back to homosexual behavior. (Yes, change is difficult, but why focus exclusively on failed attempts? Imagine if someone tried to “prove” that overcoming drug addiction was impossible by popularizing only those cases of addicts who tried to go clean but fell back into their drug-abusing lifestyle.) [HT, Conservapedia, article "Ex-homosexuals." ]

So, too, let us consider the testimony and remarks of Black American Pastor (and former homosexual), Darryl L Foster in a Charisma Magazine article:

. . . At the core of arguments about homosexuality and various moral issues of our times is whether or not the Bible is a credible authority to govern our lives in light of new "scientific revelations" about humanity. In question is the veracity of the Scripture and its application to human living . . . . In a world in which the winds of societal change blow erratically, our security lies in knowing that the Word of God is forever settled in heaven. Knowing that God's Word is an unchanging source of truth, we should courageously contend for the faith.

Answers to modern attempts to affirm, tolerate and portray homosexuality as a valid expression of the human sexual picture can be found in the Word of God . . . .

In our society there is a prevailing assumption that individuals are "born gay" or that homosexuality is a genetic trait. I believe that my life and the lives of thousands of other former homosexuals and lesbians are in direct contradiction to such an assumption.

Besides, this argument is irrelevant if we take into account the Scripture's clear teaching on transformation and change (see Rom. 12:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Matt. 16:24). Transformation and change, along with freedom from the penalty of sin, are the key fruits of a life submitted to Jesus Christ.

If we cannot expect change from the oppressive Adamic nature that enslaves us, then what need do we have of Jesus? His advent, coming, death, burial and resurrection all guarantee that the new birth is a new start. If it is indeed a new start, how can one continue to practice without remorse something so repugnant to the holiness of God?

Pastor Foster then goes on to note:

We must also take into account where these theories of being "born gay" originated. They did not come from the Bible. They are not part of the historical concerns of the early church fathers. They have not been revealed by any credible prophet of God.

The truth is that in 1991 homosexual activists touting their flawed "studies" began spoon-feeding the notion to the media, who without any critical analysis bought it and began preaching it as fact.

We can see the devastating effects of such cultural lies on the church. Now, less than 15 years later, many prominent churches and church leaders are calling for "full inclusion" of unrepentant homosexuals based on this false premise . . . .

Thus, in Foster's Biblically-anchored view, the issue in the end is fidelity to the Word and our confident standing on the gracious, life-transforming, loving, purifying power of God. That shifts our focus of attention:

In any case, the focus should be the forgiveness and healing Jesus freely offers to every homosexual sinner who will accept it. It is an offer no one can afford to pass up.

The church must shift the dynamics of the discussion to what matters most--Jesus saves! Prolonged debates about genetics will save no one, but the powerful, life-transforming, good news of the gospel will accomplish what God pleases . . . . Prolonged debates about genetics will save no one, but the powerful, life-transforming, good news of the gospel will accomplish what God pleases . . . .

Foster then lays out the foundational biblical context for sexuality [cf the more detailed discussion in ch 2:18 - 25, and Jesus' reference to these texts In Matt 19:3 - 6], and remarks on his own life story:

God created humanity male and female and encouraged them to enter into a sexual relationship. God pronounced that good. There is not even a hint that two males or two females were created and encouraged to have sexual relations together (see Gen. 1:26-28).

Genesis 1:26-28 is the official historical record on the original intent for human sexuality. In other words, God created a "gold standard" for human sexual relationships. Whether you or I reach it, that standard will never change.

People who struggle against same-sex attractions, desires and behavior are not living by this standard. But they can be delivered and healed to live productive and fruitful lives.

I intentionally use the phrase "struggle against" as opposed to "struggle with" because the connotations are important. "Against" says I do not want this as a part of my life. "With" says I am resigned to having it dominate and sidetrack me.

Former homosexuals joyfully point to one definitive Scripture that mentions them and the redemptive process they are embracing: "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites ... will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

When I met and married my wife, Dee, almost 12 years ago, she and I both were clueless about what my post-homosexual life would be like. As painful as my past sin was to me, my wife was not the cause of my change; rather, she was the fruit of my change.

She was the gift of God to a lonely man yearning to please his Deliverer. Now, with our four children, we are living testaments to the wonderful benefits of living life submitted to Christ.

Our responsibility as Christians is to pour love out without measure on those who struggle to overcome homosexuality. Compassion was the hallmark of the Chief Shepherd, and as His disciples, we should be characterized by it too as we encourage them to embrace the freedom Christ offers.

A sobering challenge, from one who has had to walk a very painful path. But one not without hope.

So, again: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

UPDATE, June 17:
Clarification that I am citing Foster [and accepting his credibility to speak, in light of the testimony of the scriptures], and provision of links to key biblical texts.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Matt 24 Watch, 57: Is biology destiny, or is that now widespread claim a delusion, one destructive to freedom and responsibility?

Is mere accident of biology moral destiny, or do we make real, though sometimes difficult, significantly free, moral choices?

This is the underlying issue raised by a major theme of much contemporary homosexualist advocacy, namely the "scientific" claim that there is a gay gene or the equivalent that more or less determines one's sexual attractions and resulting behaviour.

Such deeper issues are particularly connected to an underlying theme in Mr Sackur's challenge to Mr Golding of Jamaica, wherein homosexuality is seen as a genetically rooted, unchangeable -- thus morally neutral -- integral component of personal identity. On such an assumption, to challenge homosexual behaviour and advocacy is to attack persons based on who they inevitably are, thus to manifest bigotry.

In short, the voltage on the discussion on such matters in our civilisation has been turned way up; indeed to potentially lethal levels. That makes it very hard to speak in civil tones, and even harder to be perceived as so speaking -- very dangerous in a situation where there are now increasing numbers of cases where civil rights law is being used to try to shut down questioning of or concerns about the roots, morality of choices involved in and consequences of homosexual behaviour and agendas, such as so-called same-sex marriage. [Indeed, I note a recent headline which speaks against "anti- Gay Marriage" advocacy; which simply turns upside down the plain facts of the history of the nature of marriage; through the tactics of turnabout accusation -- those who seek to preserve the classic and well-tested status quo on marriage are presented as if they are the radicals trying to overturn the long-standing consensus of the civilisation. A sadly classic propagandistic technique that too often finds its way into today's news and views coverage.]

So, we first must pause and plead for a turning down of the voltage, as there is another side to the story!

In so doing, we must also continue to try to walk a delicate balance: addressing issues without condoning sin, while respecting the basic dignity of the person, the struggling sinner. [Which last is what we all are!]

Several observations will help:
1] Contrary to common claims, there is significant and credible evidence that homosexuals who so choose and persist in change efforts can significantly change not only their sexual behaviour but also their pattern of attractions; on a sustained basis. (In short, our common experience of mind, that we can make choices, though some of them are hard to make and make work out [especially where earlier choices have landed us in life-dominating patterns of behaviour, thought and feeling] is real.)

2] For instance, Dr Robert Spitzer of the American Psychiatric Association [APA] -- one of principals in the 1970's declassification of homosexuality as a listed mental disorder -- has gone on record:
"Like most psychiatrists," said Dr. Spitzer, "I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted, but sexual orientation could not be changed. I now believe that's untrue - some people can and do change." In his new study announced May 9, 2001 at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer released the evidence for his conclusions . . . . There is a professional consensus that homosexual behavior can be resisted, renounced or relabeled. However, homosexual orientation can never be changed . . . .

With the help of Dr. Richard C. Friedman, I developed a structured telephone interview . . . . About 90% of [our 200] subjects reported using more than one kind of change effort . . . The mental health professional was most commonly a psychologist (23%),or pastoral counselor (12%). Rarely a psychiatrist (3%). "Other" included repeated meeting with a heterosexual role model, often refer-red to as "mentoring," self help books or what some subjects called "spiritual work" - meaning changing one's relationship with God . . . . The vast majority said religion is "extremely" or "very" important in their lives . . . .

After two years into the change effort, they begin to feel different sexually. The vast majority of subjects reported this change as being gradual, and often starting with diminution of homosexual feelings and gradual emerging or intensification of heterosexual feelings. Three years later, after about five years of the change effort, it ends for 78% of the subjects. The remaining 12% report that the change effort continues up to the present time, usually referring to continuing to at-tend an ExGay support group or having a life-long struggle with the underlying issues that they believe caused their homosexuality . . . .

The gradual nature of the change, and the frequent pattern of less homosexual feelings followed by more heterosexual feelings , indicate it is not a simple made up story. The gender differences - e.g., the greater ease with which the women subjects were able to change, and the women's reports of often being more heterosexual to begin with - are consistent with the literature. It would be difficult to explain why, if no one really changed, the women subjects would report more change than the men.
3] In addressing the underlying mechanisms and results, Dr Spitzer notes:
In answer to the question, "How did you translate what you learned in the change effort to changing your feelings?" subjects reported the following change strategies that are generally recognized in the literature as components of effective psychotherapy efforts: Narratives linking childhood or family experiences to sexual fee-lings. Building on an intense emotional relationship to effect change in sexual feelings, e.g., many men reported that they only developed heterosexual arousal after they became intensely emotionally involved with a wom[a]n. Group or individual support, as in Exgay support groups. Thought stopping, e.g., "when I get such thoughts, I don't go down that route." Avoiding situations that triggered homosexual feelings. These are techniques that are commonly considered effective in psychotherapy, lending plausibility to their claims. We can imagine the mechanisms by which the-se techniques might work.

We conclude that, contrary to conventional wisdom, some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation and achieve good heterosexual functioning. Subjects that made less substantial changes still believed that such changes were extremely beneficial.

Complete change - which is generally considered an unrealistic goal in psychotherapy - is uncommon, particularly in male subjects.
4] In short, the results of such studies on overcoming unwanted sexual attractions line up surprisingly well with the longstanding, classical biblical teachings on spiritual struggle and the overcoming of life-dominating sin and sins, e.g. in Rom 7 - 8:
RO 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me . . . .

RO 8:2 . . . through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

RO 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

RO 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ . . . . RO 8:12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
5] In short, a multi-year, spiritual disciplines- and decisions- based effort -- especially one surrounded by a circle of love and understanding -- has reasonable chances of helping people who find themselves to be trapped in unwanted same-sex attractions. And, the key understanding that such attractions and behaviour are unnatural, self-destructive and/or wrongful before God would be a key motivator for such a sustained effort and for the hope that it will ultimately succeed by God's grace. (In short, the evidence points out that this case fits a very familiar pattern of personal and spiritual growth. Doubtless, it is also the case that such efforts, ideally, should be started in the early stages of finding oneself facing such patterns, as it is much easier to overcome habits and attitudes while they are a-forming, than it is to break and reform long established life-patterns.)

6] When it comes to the gay gene claims, we should first note that, even if there is a genetic predisposition involved in part -- as there is in for instance alcoholism -- predisposition is not destiny. For by God's grace, we have the power of choice. (Contrast how one who is married is expected to remain loyal to his or her spouse, even in the face of temptations to stray. Indeed, we see here the principle that true love is a commitment and indeed eventually a habit much moreso than it is a feeling.)

7] Also, there are significant scientific challenges to the claims that have been advanced. So much so that as Dr Dean Byrd of NARTH cited from a recent APA bulletin:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...
8] Indeed, Byrd goes on to note that Dr. Scott Hershberger, in reviewing Spitzer's findings, declares:
The orderly, law-like pattern of changes in homosexual behavior, homosexual self-identification, and homosexual attraction and fantasy observed in Spitzer's study is strong evidence that reparative therapy can assist individuals in changing their homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one.
The bottomline is plain.

Namely, at length, the much-maligned Apostle Paul -- painful though the following scalpel-like words are --stands vindicated (and not just in regard to homosexuality!):
1CO 6:9 . . . Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1CO 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also . . . .

1CO 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
In short, there is hope, hope by way of tough decisions about our relationship with God and through the spiritual-moral surgery of making tough decisions on our direction in life, and post-surgical work of sustained, tough, disciplined love that follows after the good, the right and the truth. Hope for classical fornicators as well as homosexuals. Hope for former slave traders [I think here of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, in light of 1 Tim 1:8 - 11], drunkards and swindlers.

Indeed, hope for just plain ordinary sinners -- sinners just like you and me.

So, let us at least listen to the experience-based advice of one who has come out of the world of ultimately unwanted same sex attraction and found release in God:
1. Establish and accept for yourself that God’s Word is true AS-IS.

2. Seek the truth within the scriptures about homosexuality

3. Do not resist God’s call on your life

4. Know with certainty that you are loved by God exactly where you are and that your experiences are of great value for kingdom work

5. Say Yes. That’s really all it takes to accept the truth which is accepting Jesus Christ.

6. Make your salvation real . . . We must believe with our hearts AND confess with our mouths.

7. Experience paradise NOW! Consult God first, then go ahead and live your life! . . . Enjoy your life to a new degree, without the burden of sin AND with the confidence of ALL of God’s promises on your side!

8. Walk Carefully or ‘circumspectly’ as the scriptures describe. This is about being careful to keep your spirit clean and fresh.

9. Have fellowship with believers. We know that the church has largely failed gays and lesbians by not being a welcoming place for those who have sought spiritual change. The invitation to ‘come as you are’ seems to be extended to everyone but us. However God has people everywhere who are open, real and willing to walk out with you. Ask the Lord to lead you to a loving, caring, bible-believing fellowship where you can be nurtured, be blessed, grow AND be a blessing. [Hebrews 10:25]

Thanks be to the amazing grace of God!

So, now: why not now? Why not here? why not us? END

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Matt 24 Watch, 56: The Bruce Golding BBC Hardtalk interview segment on homosexuals in Jamaica's Cabinet

A few weeks ago, BBC Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur held an interview with Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica.

The interview was fairly wide-ranging, but there was the now not unusual 'gotcha ambush' in it.

This time, it was on Mr Golding's 2006 promise that there would be no homosexuals in his cabinet. The trigger for this was a recent incident of mob violence against four suspected homosexuals in a house in Manchester, which -- as the Gleaner transcript reports -- Mr Sackur claimed was
"not unusual."

[NB: Blatantly false -- such a case IS unusual in Jamaica. Vigilante-style mob violence against criminals caught in the act, sadly -- and as I noted on in a previous remark on this general topic (in response to the Star's report on a coordinated homosexualist push to attack "homophobia" in Jamaica) -- is what is and has long been unfortunately all too common.]

There were associated comments on Jamaica having the worst case of "homophobia" as observed by an advocate of Human Rights Watch [a
homosexualist lobby group] and an article in the [pro-homosexualist] New York Times. (It is worth noting that BBC itself is strongly influenced by the same agendas, and that the edited clips aired on BBC news radio -- unsurprisingly -- made Mr Golding come across much worse than he does in the linked video clip.)

The following part of the exchange (from the Gleaner transcript) is especially revealing:
SS: . . . you have just told me that Jamaica is on track to give equality before the law to homosexuals - but you yourself have said that "homosexuals will find no solace in a cabinet formed by me?" That has nothing to do with equality before the law? [NB: A code word for so-called same sex marriage and associated agendas.] Do you not have a duty to consider people on their merits - for cabinet positions indeed in any part of government?

BG: No. I consider people in terms of their ability and the extent to which they are going to be able to exercise their function, their independence.

SS: You also clearly and patently consider them in terms of their sexuality.

BG: No. That's a decision that I make. That's a decision that every prime minister makes. A prime minister must decide what he feels would represent to the Jamaican people a cabinet of ministers who will be able to discharge their function without fear, without favour, without intimidation. I make that choice.

SS: What kind of signal does that send about Jamaica to the outside world? Indeed, to potential investors, to countries that look at Jamaica.

BG: One signal that it sends is that Jamaica is not going to allow values to be imposed on it from outside. We are going to have to determine that ourselves and we are going to have to determine to what extent those values will ad[a]pt over time - to change in perception and to change in understanding as to how people live. But it can't be on the basis that lobby groups far and away from Jamaica will define for Jamaica how it must establish its own standards and its own morals . . . .

[Emphases and parenthetical notes added.]

In short, the heart of the exchange hinges on the plainly intended imposition of the homosexualist insistence on legal, national policy-level approval of open homosexuality, versus Mr Golding's point that it is reasonable for Jamaica to move to a situation where people's private sexual behaviour is tolerated and respected as private; but not for Jamaican law and public policy -- including Cabinet appointments -- to be pushed into accepting what is (and is likely to remain) repugnant to the community consensus as a democratic, predominantly Judaeo-Christian country.

(Of course, even in the same breath, we must note that Jamaica's horrendous crime situation and out-of wedlock birth rates are standing rebukes to the nation, and a reason to call for national repentance and reformation.)

That distinction Mr Golding made is critical, in light of the foundational nature of family and associated morality for civilisation.

As a Byzantine Catholic Church site, building on a 2003 statement by Pope John Paul II, aptly notes:
The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all of the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just a relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit that certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human life.

In the first place, man, the image of God, was created "male and female" (Gen. 1,27) Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in His work of creation. Thus, He blessed the man and the woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1,28) Moreover, the union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to marriage and family. Matrimony is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law because they close the sexual act to the gift or life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as serious depravity. (See footnote 1 below) This same moral judgment is found in many of the writings of the Early Church Fathers and is unanimously accepted by Holy Tradition. Nevertheless, we must accept homosexuals with respect and compassion. We must forgive the sinner but can never condone the sin. [5] [Emphases added.]

Here, we see a balanced, creation-anchored framework for humanity, for the complementarity of maleness and femaleness, thence, for family, sexuality and the raising of generations to come under God. Also, for sound but compassionate response to those enmeshed in what is disordered and even sinful. Immediately, we see that we of the Caribbean must repent and seek reformation for our own blatant disregard for God's Creation-anchored sacred order for the family, and of sexuality in family. Then, we may compassionately reach out to help those among us caught up in the entangling mesh of disordered expressions of sexuality that violate the complementarity of man and woman. For, surely, there is no excuse for mob violence!

At the same time, there is no sound foundation for moving from acceptance of person to policy-level approval of personally and socially destructive sin.

So, instead of yielding to the pressure groups who want to put open approval of homosexuality in our laws, cabinets and schools, let us instead heed the wise counsel of that recently deceased pope:

1) Laws in favor of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer to unions of persons of the same sex the legal guarantees analogous to those granted to marriage.

2) Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are unable to contribute to the procreation and survival of the human race.

3) Allowing children to be adopted by persons of the same sex places such children in an unnatural and depraved environment deprived of the experience of real motherhood and fatherhood.

4) Society owes its continued survival to the family founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors of heterosexuality such as procreation and raising of children. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfill the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there is reason to believe that such unions are inimical to the development of society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.

5) Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.

Let us reflect, let us repent, let us seek reformation under God.

Then, let us set out to love and help the enmeshed sinner, even while we refuse to condone the sin. END

UPDATE, June 4: Minor cleanup.