Culture Archives

Wedding Cakes and Conscience

Is it un-Christian-like to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding? If so, isn’t it then hypocritical if the baker doesn’t look into every other wedding ceremony to see if any sin is being committed?

No, says Russel D. Moore. The two questions are completely different issues. The former defies the Biblical definition of marriage. He discusses the difference, complete with citations from the apostle Paul, in "On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?"

    Live By the CBO, Die By the CBO

    Dana Milbank explains that the Congressional Budget Office issued glowing reports years ago about how ObamaCare was going to save money. The Obama administration trumpeted those findings far and wide. I noted at the time that the system was gamed because the administration knows the rules by which the CBO comes up with estimates, and wrote the bill to get the best looking numbers at the start. It wouldn’t matter that later estimates would be worse; it would have already been sold to the American people.

    But now, things are looking much worse.

    The congressional number-crunchers, perhaps the capital’s closest thing to a neutral referee, came out with a new report Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty for Obamacare. The CBO predicted the law would have a “substantially larger” impact on the labor market than it had previously expected: The law would reduce the workforce in 2021 by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers, well more than the 800,000 originally anticipated. This will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.

    This is grim news for the White House and for Democrats on the ballot in November. This independent arbiter, long embraced by the White House, has validated a core complaint of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critics: that it will discourage work and become an ungainly entitlement. Disputing Republicans’ charges is much easier than refuting the federal government’s official scorekeepers.

    The President’s spokesman, Jay Carney, tried to spin it as people who would "spend more time with their family", or perhaps become entrepreneurs. The latter guess is just that; a guess trying to make it sound wonderful. The former is a euphemism for living off the dole because the benefits are better.

    Carney noted that these were "personal choices", but he conveniently neglects to mention that they are personal choices spurred on by the government. People respond to incentives; that’s why things like tax deductions work the way they do. ObamaCare is pushing people to dependency.

    The CBO numbers prove it.

      Next Step: Accepting "Open Marriage"

      Now that same-sex marriage has been accepted by some states, it’s no longer a draw for the evening news, so ABC News in America has decided to move on to the next big thing; open marriage. These are marriages where fidelity is more of a suggestion than anything else. It’s not polygamy, which at least formally acknowledges, in one manner or another, a lasting relationship with more than one spouse. Instead, open marriage, or polyamory, means two people are legally married while continuing to see other people.

      So ABC News decided to present a generally positive quote-unquote “news” piece about those for whom commitment is something only for mentally disturbed people. The most critical thing said in the whole segment was that reporter Nick Watt thought it just wasn’t his thing, and that his wife wouldn’t like it. But the rest of the segment, including questions to a psychologist, was generally positive. Not a hint of an opposing viewpoint.

      This is what passes for “news” in the 21st century; one-sided advocacy journalism. Even if Watt isn’t personally in favor of it, showing one side only, on a controversial topic, on a news show, is advocacy.

      Do other news organizations do it? Yes, on both sides of the aisle. But while Fox News and the Wall Street Journal get lambasted anytime they don’t play it down the middle, so many liberal news watchers have such a blind spot when something like this airs. Conservative media bias is outrageous. Liberal media bias is…hey look, a unicorn!

      The other issue, of course, is that those who said that same-sex marriage would lead to a slippery slope have been, yet again, proved absolutely on target. We aren’t falling for it, but the news media is pushing.

        Can Boy Scouts Ban … Alcoholics?

        Here’s a report about the controversy a private club has found itself embroiled in.

        The Boy Scouts of America will get no reprieve from controversy after a contentious vote to accept alcoholic boys as Scouts.

        Dismayed conservatives are already looking at alternative youth groups as they predict a mass exodus from the BSA. Alcoholics-rights supporters vowed Friday to maintain pressure on the Scouts to end the still-in-place ban on alcoholic adults serving as leaders.

        "They’re not on our good list yet," said Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign, a national alcoholic -rights group. He said the HRC, in its annual rankings of corporate policies on workplace fairness, would deduct points from companies that donate to the Boy Scouts until the ban on alcoholic adults is lifted.

        Now, you may be wondering why you didn’t hear about this particular scandal, and the reason is it hasn’t happened. I just took a news article and replaced every mention of the word “gay” with the word “alcoholic”. All of a sudden, it sounds absolutely nuts, doesn’t it? Should the Scouts be allowed to discriminate against alcoholics? Set aside for the moment that the drinking age is such that it would exclude boys in the Scouts age range, would the Scouts come under fire for not allowing boys who are what you might call “practicing alcoholics” into its ranks? Would any human rights group fault them for having a ban on alcoholic adults as Scout leaders?

        The plain fact is, no, they wouldn’t. The official policy of the Boy Scouts of America is that alcohol is not permitted “at encampments or activities on property owned and/or operated by the Boy Scouts of America, or at any activity involving participation of youth members.” Certainly a troop leader showing up drunk wouldn’t be tolerated. They’ve made that rule, and no one (that I know of) is coming down on them for it.

        And yet the Human Rights Campaign and others have been pressuring the Scouts to set aside their ban on homosexual boys in Scouting. Why? Well, because they’re born that way, as our culture keeps reminding us, so to discriminate against them is unfair and bigoted, right? And yet, there is research that shows conclusively that alcoholism is, in part, genetic as well. In fact, there is more evidence of that than there is evidence of homosexuality having a genetic component. It’s being studied, but right now, nothing is at all conclusive, unlike the way the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describe the genetic link.

        If they’re born that way, and if being born that way means no one can discriminate against that trait for any reason, well, is that a Pandora’s box you really want to open?

        At its core, the ban on gay Scouts was partly a moral stance, with the Scout Oath including a phrase about being morally straight. It was also partly an issue of general sexuality. Would you want your boy sharing tent with a girl? Or, more generally, with someone who may be sexually attracted to him? Consider this.

        And while the Scouts have lifted the ban on gay Scouts, they’ve kept it for Scout leaders. The HRC doesn’t like that, either. Let’s think about this. Those priests that got accused of molesting boys can now trade out their collar for a khaki shirt and become a Scoutmaster. What would the HRC think about that?

          We Hate to Say We Told You So

          That’s the title of John Stonestree’s article about how the folks pushing for polygamy and polyamory are making the very arguments that conservatives made for decades, right up until very recently.

          In a scene from Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, the mathematician skeptical about whether the park is a good idea, watches the T-Rex burst out of its enclosure and says, "I hate being right all the time."

          Princeton Professor Robert George and other defenders of traditional marriage understand these sentiments. For years, they’ve warned that redefining marriage beyond the union of one man and one woman wouldn’t-indeed couldn’t-stop with same-sex unions. The same reasoning that extends marriage to same-sex couples would easily be applied to polygamy and polyamory also.

          The standard response to these concerns was scoffing and accusations of fear mongering.

          Well, the fences are down and the beast is loose.

          He provides 3 examples of recent attempts to argue for them just within the past few months. But these arguments are not new. It’s just who is presenting them that is.

          As Dr. George pointed out in "First Things," when Christians pointed out the logical link between same-sex marriage and polygamy, proponents of same-sex marriage rejected the connection. They insisted that "no one is arguing for the legal recognition of polygamous or polyamorous relationships as marriages!"

          George writes in response, "That was then; this is now." The "then" he referred to was last week; the now is today.

          George predicts that Keenan’s article "will not produce a single serious critique by a major scholar or activist from the same-sex marriage movement."

          Now he would love to be wrong. But defenders of traditional marriage know that the enclosures that kept marriage a "monogamous and exclusive union" are being dismantled. And no one should be surprised by what emerges, least of all those doing the dismantling.

          If George was right about what would happen, would critics also be right about the predicted results of this breakdown?  Marriage is more "for the children" than any other institution or government program that has had that label slapped on it. The best arrangement for children is to be raised by their loving and committed biological parents.

          And yet, we are tinkering and tearing down the one thing that can best protect the next generation. The results have been predicted to be calamitous. If we were right about predicting the slippery slope this far, wouldn’t it be prudent to consider whether we’re right about the rest of the ride?

            The Feminist Case for Polygamy

            The calls for polygamy, especially in the light of changing attitudes on same-sex marriage, are getting louder and more mainstream. Jillian Keenan writing at Slate.com, makes a feminist case for polygamy, as well as demonstrating the slippery slope in action.

            The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults.

            If you don’t think that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, you must refute her arguments that make that link. I don’t have to refute them, because a) I don’t think the definition of marriage is plastic, and b) I do think one leads to the other. If you do think marriage should be…whatever, but don’t think it leads to polygamy, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But if you are up to the challenge, let me hear your argument.

              Marriage "Equality"

              Episode 36 of my podcast, "Consider This!", came out this morning. Here’s the (slightly edited) script for one of the segments regarding the call for "marriage equality".


              When the Supreme Court took up two cases regarding same-sex marriage recently, Facebook lit up with red equal signs of people proclaiming their support for what they call “marriage equality”. And that’s how I’ve heard the debate framed by supporters for years, as an issue of equality. One group gets to do something that another group doesn’t. Where’s the sense of fairness, of everyone being equal under the law?

              Well, to understand the underlying problem here, let’s take two other areas where one could demand equality. Let’s look at voting and driving. Are you for voting equality and driving equality? Should some voting or driving laws be different for different people, or not even available at all to some?

              Let’s take a group of people I’ll call blind people. Now, should they have both voting and driving equality? I’m going to hazard a guess that you said yes to voting but no to driving. I don’t need to be a mind-reader to get that one right. But, but, equality! What about equality? Shouldn’t we really be taking to the streets and demanding the Supreme Court rule on driving equality for the blind?

              No, of course we shouldn’t. But why equality for one thing and not another? Steven Smith, a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, wrote an article using this example of why we treat the two situations differently.

              That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving. Probably there is no disagreement about these particular conclusions. But if you did happen to encounter a good-faith disagreement, you would not be saying anything helpful if you thumped the table and declared that “blind people should be treated equally.” You would only be begging the question.

              You can’t drive if you’re blind, or under a certain age, or haven’t taken a driving test. Heck, you can’t vote if you’re a felon, or under a certain age, or mentally incompetent. So even with voting, there are inequalities. And therefore, just demanding marriage equality, without considering the nature of marriage, is useless.

              And so what, then, is that nature of marriage? That’s the next logical question, and something I will be taking up in a subsequent episode. Until then, I have another link in the show notes to a rather lengthy paper by the Heritage Foundation on what marriage is, why it matters, and the consequences of redefining it. I’ll be pulling points from it for when I tackle this subject later on. You may want to take a look at it and perhaps write or call with your thoughts to be included in the episode.

              But this foundation of the issue of equality needs to be laid first. Suffice to say, for now, that just spouting “Equality” with your fashionable, red equal sign doesn’t really mean much. It’s not an argument. It’s not a reason. It’s just a slogan.


              If you want to let me know what you think, call 267-CALL-CT-0 (267-225-5280) for the feedback line, or e-mail considerthis@ctpodcasting.com.

                Do You Really Own Your Property?

                We were told, point blank, that we don’t, by a local government employee.

                Here’s the story. In the tiny town we live in, apparently there have been an increasing number of code violations regarding, among other things, people parking cars on their lawns, off the driveway. My wife, returning from our town’ s annual Christmas parade, was pulling up to our house with plans to park on the street in front of our house for the moment. She saw a Code Enforcement car coming down our dead-end street, and parked a little bit further off to the side, thinking that maybe this officer might be concerned that she was blocking too much of the street. In doing this, about 1/3 of the tire width was actually on the grass; a few inches.

                When the Code Enforcement office turned around and came back down our street, he rolled his window down and said to my wife that, FYI, he was patrolling for, among other thing, cars on lawns and that, technically, he could cite her for her current parking situation, but wouldn’t this time. In the ensuing conversation, he told her a number of very odd things.

                Now, I understand if a community doesn’t want to live in an area where people regularly park on their lawns. I can see erosion issues, and I can understand that this could lead to people who turn their property into auto mechanic yards. He mentioned that cars can leak fluid and it would get into the water supply. (Of course, those leaks from a car on the road would wind up in the storm drain where it would go directly into the lake behind our house, unfiltered by the ground. But he didn’t seem to realize that.) The community decides that it will make certain rules about how you keep your property, and you might get fined for breaking these rules, but it’s still your property. Not according to this guy. In his mind, since the government can create restrictions on what you can do, then it’s not your property. You only have the license to use it. He didn’t go into who actually owns it or who you’re licensing it from, but he was quite clear that  our ownership of the property was an illusion.

                And, since I can’t, for instance, use my house as a factory, then I don’t really own that, either.

                Really?

                Now, my guess is this is just one, incredibly misinformed, random government worker we ran into. But still, is this indicative of a bigger issue regarding what government thinks? Perhaps folks at higher levels still do, in fact, understand the concept of private property, and that having regulations on the use of something doesn’t mean the regulatory body owns it. But really, this is unbelievable.

                I can be put in jail for child abuse. Wonder what this guy thinks about my kids.

                Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes and podcasts at "Consider This".

                  Death Panels in the UK

                  From the Daily Mail in London:

                  Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.

                  Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

                  But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

                  One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

                  Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

                  The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.

                  The fact is, when a bureaucracy pays for health care, its main focus over time becomes the money, not the lives. This, frankly, must happen when we hand over our freedoms to the government. Human nature fairly dictates that, again over time, our better natures lose to the almighty dollar/pound/euro. When we, individually, determine how and where our money’s spent, we can make better choices than society in the aggregate.

                  Individuals have a conscience. Government entities don’t.

                    Friday Link Wrap-up

                    No, the Bush tax cuts didn’t cause the recession. Yes, Obama’s "recovery" has been the worst in history. These and other economic realities can be summed up in this graph. (Click for a larger version.)

                     

                    A sex scandal involving adults and children under their charge. No, not the Catholic church of the 60s; the public schools of today.

                    While he did get the number wrong, Romney was right in that those who pay the least in income taxes are the least likely to vote for him.

                    The number of scientific papers that had to be retracted last year was a 10x increase over the rate during the previous decade. And a study of those retractions finds that 3/4ths of those retractions were due to misconduct rather than honest mistakes.

                    Good news in the stem cell debate. "Two stem-cell researchers have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work in cellular reprogramming, a technique that unleashed a wave of advances in biology, from cloning to the possible treatment of diseases using a patient’s own cells." That is, there is less of a reason to use embryonic stem cells, when adult ones will do just as well.

                    Hedging their bets? "A survey by the Pew Research Center discovered that 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists and 3.3 percent say they are agnostic. Among the atheists and agnostics, however, 6 percent said they pray daily."

                    Need more money for your school district, by proving how many students attend? Make them wear microchips. Privacy takes a back seat to cash.

                    And finally, some apt scripture for the VP debate last night. (Click for a larger version.)

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