Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Psychiatrist Paul McHugh explains the troubles with transgender activism

In the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

With body dysmorphic disorder, an often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption “I’m ugly.” These disorders occur in subjects who have come to believe that some of their psycho-social conflicts or problems will be resolved if they can change the way that they appear to others. Such ideas work like ruling passions in their subjects’ minds and tend to be accompanied by a solipsistic argument.

For the transgendered, this argument holds that one’s feeling of “gender” is a conscious, subjective sense that, being in one’s mind, cannot be questioned by others. The individual often seeks not just society’s tolerance of this “personal truth” but affirmation of it. Here rests the support for “transgender equality,” the demands for government payment for medical and surgical treatments, and for access to all sex-based public roles and privileges.

With this argument, advocates for the transgendered have persuaded several states—including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts—to pass laws barring psychiatrists, even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor. That government can intrude into parents’ rights to seek help in guiding their children indicates how powerful these advocates have become.

How to respond? Psychiatrists obviously must challenge the solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned. Disorders of consciousness, after all, represent psychiatry’s domain; declaring them off-limits would eliminate the field. Many will recall how, in the 1990s, an accusation of parental sex abuse of children was deemed unquestionable by the solipsists of the “recovered memory” craze.

You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.

We seem to have this popular idea in our culture now that the loving thing to do in every case is to just affirm whatever anyone feels like doing. Want to have sex-reassignment surgery? No problem. Want to be surgically altered to look like a cat? No problem. Want to have an amputation because you don’t like your arm? No problem. Want to have taxpayer-provided heroine injected by nurses? No problem. Want to adopt a lifestyle that involves having risky sex with hundreds of unprotected partners? We’ll wave a rainbow flag for you. Want to get drunk and have sex before you (and they) have even graduated high school? Here are free condoms and free abortions to fix anything that might go wrong.

The really, really bad thing that we must never, ever do, apparently, is to tell someone “it’s wrong”.

I am really struggling to understand why telling people NOT to do things that are bad for them is a bad thing. I set boundaries on myself to keep myself out of trouble. Why can’t I let other people know what they are? Why do I have to pay taxes so that other people can afford to do risky and/or immoral things that I would never do?

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Bowdoin College bans Christian student groups on campus

From the radically leftist New York Times. (H/T Nancy P.)

Excerpt:

For 40 years, evangelicals at Bowdoin College have gathered periodically to study the Bible together, to pray and to worship. They are a tiny minority on the liberal arts college campus, but they have been a part of the school’s community, gathering in the chapel, the dining center, the dorms.

After this summer, the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship will no longer be recognized by the college. Already, the college has disabled the electronic key cards of the group’s longtime volunteer advisers.

In a collision between religious freedom and antidiscrimination policies, the student group, and its advisers, have refused to agree to the college’s demand that any student, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, should be able to run for election as a leader of any group, including the Christian association.

Similar conflicts are playing out on a handful of campuses around the country, driven by the universities’ desire to rid their campuses of bias, particularly against gay men and lesbians, but also, in the eyes of evangelicals, fueled by a discomfort in academia with conservative forms of Christianity. The universities have been emboldened to regulate religious groups by a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that found it was constitutional for a public law school in California to deny recognition to a Christian student group that excluded gays.

At Cal State, the nation’s largest university system with nearly 450,000 students on 23 campuses, the chancellor is preparing this summer to withdraw official recognition from evangelical groups that are refusing to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion in the selection of their leaders. And at Vanderbilt, more than a dozen groups, most of them evangelical but one of them Catholic, have already lost their official standing over the same issue; one Christian group balked after a university official asked the students to cut the words “personal commitment to Jesus Christ” from their list of qualifications for leadership.

[...]The evangelical groups say they, too, welcome anyone to participate in their activities, including gay men and lesbians, as well as nonbelievers, seekers and adherents of other faiths. But they insist that, in choosing leaders, who often oversee Bible study and prayer services, it is only reasonable that they be allowed to require some basic Christian faith — in most cases, an explicit agreement that Jesus was divine and rose from the dead, and often an implicit expectation that unmarried student leaders, gay or straight, will abstain from sex.

“It would compromise our ability to be who we are as Christians if we can’t hold our leaders to some sort of doctrinal standard,” said Zackary Suhr, 23, who has just graduated from Bowdoin, where he was a leader of the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship.

The consequences for evangelical groups that refuse to agree to the nondiscrimination policies, and therefore lose their official standing, vary by campus. The students can still meet informally on campus, but in most cases their groups lose access to student activity fee money as well as first claim to low-cost or free university spaces for meetings and worship; they also lose access to standard on-campus recruiting tools, such as activities fairs and bulletin boards, and may lose the right to use the universities’ names.

Not sure how you are supposed to have a Christian student group, if the leaders don’t accept the authority of the Bible. But maybe that’s a feature, not a bug, from the point of view of these secular administrators and their allies in the judiciary. The really sad thing about this is that Christian taxpayers are paying these secular authorities to curtail their basic rights. It’s only open season on Bible-believing Christians.

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Kevin DeYoung’s article opposing gay marriage has broad appeal

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

In my own secular case against gay marriage from a while back, I argued for 3 points:

  • same-sex marriage is bad for liberty, especially religious liberty
  • same-sex marriage is bad for children
  • same-sex marriage is bad for public health

My hope when I wrote that was that pastors and other Christian leaders would learn to argue for what the Bible says by using evidence from outside the Bible, so that they would be able to appeal to more people instead of only appealing to the minority of people who accept the Bible. I think that Christians who argue for their views by citing the Bible only will only be convincing to people who already accept the Bible. But there is not a majority of people who do accept the Bible as an authority, so I think that pastors have to make another plan. They need to argue using the Bible to those who accept the Bible, and without the Bible to those who don’t accept it.

Now with that said, take a look at this article by pastor Kevin DeYoung that Dina sent me. It’s from earlier this week. The article makes the same exact three points as I made in my article last year. Let’s take a look at how Kevin does that.

My first point was liberty, especially religious liberty. He writes:

[I]n the long run, the triumph of gay marriage (should it triumph as a cultural and legal reality) will mean the restriction of freedoms for millions of Americans.

This will happen in obvious ways at first–by ostracizing those who disagree, by bullying with political correctness, and by trampling on religious liberty. Surely, Christians must realize that no matter how many caveats we issue, not matter how much we nuance our stance, no matter how much we encourage or show compassion for homosexuals, it will not be enough to ward off the charges of hatred and homophobia.

[G]ay marriage will challenge our freedoms in others way too. It’s not just Evangelicals, traditional Catholics, and Mormons who will be threatened. Once the government gains new powers, it rarely relinquishes them. There will be a soft tyranny that grows as the power of the state increases, a growth that is intrinsic to the  notion of gay marriage itself.

My second point was bad for children. He writes:

[T]he state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement which has a mother and a father raising the children that came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together. Hundreds of studies confirm both of these statements (though we all can think of individual exceptions I’m sure). Gay marriage assumes that marriage is re-definable and the moving parts replaceable.

My third point was bad for public health. He writes:

The unspoken secret, however, is that homosexual behavior is not harmless. Homosexuals are at a far greater risk for diseases like syphilis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea, HPV, and gay bowel syndrome. The high rate of these diseases is due both to widespread promiscuity in the gay community and the nature of anal and oral intercourse itself. Homosexual relationships are usually portrayed as a slight variation on the traditional “norm” of husband-wife monogamy. But monogamy is much less common among homosexual relationships, and even for those who value monogamy the definition of fidelity is much looser.

He also talks about the definition of marriage, and more.

I’ve criticized pastors before for dealing with social issues by only citing the Bible, like John Piper does. That approach won’t work on enough people to change society, because not enough people consider the Bible to be an authority in their decision-making. We have to use evidence from outside the Bible – like Wayne Grudem does in his “Politics According to the Bible”.

I think that pastor Kevin’s article is quality work, because it follows the pattern of taking an all-of-the-above approach to persuasion. He uses all means to persuade so that he might win some over to his side. I hope that many more pastors will do the same thing on this issue of marriage and other issues – even fiscal issues. Fiscal issues do have an impact on moral issues – think of how abortion subsidies and single mother welfare lower the penalties of recreational premarital sex. We can do this, we just have to do what works, instead of what makes us feel “holier-than-thou”.

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New study: relationship problems, not family rejection, leading cause of higher gay suicides

Life Site News reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

 While many assume that family rejection is the leading cause of depression among LBGTI individuals, a new study has found that in fact the problem appears to stem predominantly from the higher incidence of relationship problems among homosexuals.

Dr. Delaney Skerrett led a team of researchers from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) in studying suicides in Queensland. He found that a leading cause of suicide among “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” (LGBTI) people is stress from their romantic partners.

“We tend to assume that the psychological distress LGBTI people are often going through is due to family rejection. But it seems that’s not so much the case. The conflict seems to be largely related to relationship problems, with partners,” Dr. Skerrett said.

In fact, he said, “The numbers are telling us there’s a general acceptance at the family level,” something he said is “great” and “really heartening!”

Instead, the study, which was published on April 2 in Asia Pacific Psychiatry, found that “LGBT individuals experienced relationship problems more often” than heterosexuals, “with relationship conflict also being more frequent than in non‐LGBT cases.”

That confirms previous studies finding that homosexuals also face higher rates of intimate partner violence than heterosexuals. A 2007 study in the Journal of Urban Health, which is published by the New York Academy of Medicine, found that 32 percent of homosexuals have been abused by at least one partner during their lifetime.

The researchers with AISRAP also found that a higher percentage of homosexuals took their lives of despondency, rather than other psychological illnesses. While one-eighth of all Queensland suicide victims had been diagnosed with a psychosis that impaired their judgment, Skerrett reports “there were no such diagnoses among LGBT individuals.” The conclusion adds to the consensus that depression disproportionately besets active homosexuals.

Previously, I blogged about a gay activist who thought that disagreement with gay rights caused gays to commit suicide. I wonder what he would do with a study like this? I also blogged previously about the “epidemic” of domestic violence among gays, and the article I linked to for that was from the left-leaning Atlantic Monthly.

But there’s more to say – let’s look at an individual case now, which will put some meat on the bones of the studies.

Here’s an article from the liberal New York Times.

Here’s the set up:

BOB BERGERON was so relentlessly cheery that people sometimes found it off-putting. If you ran into him at the David Barton Gym on West 23rd Street, where he worked out nearly ever morning at 7, and you complained about the rain, he would smile and say you’d be better off focusing on a problem you could fix.

That’s how Mr. Bergeron was as a therapist as well, always upbeat, somewhat less focused on getting to the root of his clients’ feelings than altering behavior patterns that were detrimental to them: therapy from the outside-in.

Over the last decade, he built a thriving private practice, treating well-to-do gay men for everything from anxiety to coping with H.I.V. Mr. Bergeron had also begun work as a motivational speaker, giving talks at gay and lesbian centers in Los Angeles and Chicago. In February, Magnus Books, a publisher specializing in gay literature, was scheduled to print a self-help guide he had written, “The Right Side of Forty: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond.”

It was a topic he knew something about. Having come out as gay in the mid-1980s, Mr. Bergeron, 49, had witnessed the worst years of the AIDS epidemic and emerged on the other side. He had also seen how few public examples there were of gay men growing older gracefully.

He resolved to rewrite the script, and provide a toolbox for better living.

“I’ve got a concise picture of what being over 40 is about and it’s a great perspective filled with happiness, feeling sexy, possessing comfort relating to other men and taking good care of ourselves,” Mr. Bergeron said on his Web site.  “This picture will get you results that flourish long-term.”

But right around New Year’s Eve, something went horribly wrong. On Jan. 5, Mr. Bergeron was found dead in his apartment, the result of a suicide that has left his family, his friends and his clients shocked and heartbroken as they attempt to figure out how he could have been so helpful to others and so unable to find help himself.

Look:

To his friends, Mr. Bergeron maintained a positive tone. He went on vacation, dated some, visited museums.

Still, he privately expressed misgivings about what the future held. Olivier Van Doorne, a patient of Mr. Bergeron and the creative director of SelectNY, a fashion advertising firm, recalled Mr. Bergeron telling him that every gay man peaks at one point in his life.

“He said a number of times: ‘I peaked when I was 30 or 35. I was super-successful, everyone looked at me, and I felt extremely cool in my sexuality.’ ”

Mr. Siegel, the therapist who supervised Mr. Bergeron in the early days of his career, said: “Bob was a very beautiful younger man, and we talked a lot about how that shapes and creates a life. The thesis of his book is based very much on his own personal experience with that. And the book also emphasized what to do when you’re not attractive or you no longer have the appeal you once had. The idea was to transcend that and expand your sexual possibilities.”

And:

With the book about to be printed, Mr. Bergeron became convinced that he’d written too much about the shame and isolation involved with hooking up online; that people weren’t even really doing that anymore, now that phone apps like Grindr and Scruff had come along.

His book, he felt, had become antiquated before it even came out.

[...]Though some of his friends, Mr. Rappaport among them, wondered whether drugs were involved, leading to a crash Mr. Bergeron did not anticipate, the suicide seemed to have been carried out with methodical precision. On an island in the kitchen, Mr. Bergeron had meticulously laid out his papers. There was a pile of folders with detailed instructions on top about whom to call regarding his finances and his mortgage. Across from that he placed the title page of his book, on which he also wrote his suicide note. In it he told Mr. Sackheim and Mr. Rappaport that he loved them and his family, but that he was “done.”

As his father remembered it, Mr. Bergeron also wrote, “It’s a lie based on bad information.”

An arrow pointed up to the name of the book.

The inference was clear. As Mr. Bergeron saw it at the end of his life, the only right side of 40 was the side that came before it.

I think that the problem is that in the gay lifestyle, you have a typically male emphasis on physical appearance, sex and pleasure. There is none of the moderating influence of women, which tends to push men into commitments, responsibility and stability.

If you really love a person, then you don’t tell them that the dangerous thing they want to do is not dangerous. That’s not love. It’s easier for you to approve of them and be liked by everyone, but it’s not love.

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Does holding to liberal social views automatically make you tolerant?

WARNING: This post contains strong language taken from actual messages sent by angry people. Reader discretion is advised.

I just want to quote some of the insults and death threats that social conservative Matt Walsh received. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

To my leftwing friends:

Last night, someone sent me an email threatening to murder me because they disagree with my opinions. It read, in part:

“F*ck you… I will find a way to kill you. Make no god d*mn mistake, you filth.”

Concise. Eloquent. And now on file with the state police.

After I reported the threat to law enforcement, I didn’t pay it much mind. But then, a few minutes ago, I received this message from someone else:

“Matt, you are so filled with hate in everything you write. You are part of the reason why conservative teabaggers in this country are nothing but hate mongers and bigots. Do you want to know why I’m a “liberal”? Because liberals know how to make a point without being hateful and spiteful.”(Emphasis mine).

I laughed quite heartily when I read that. Perfect timing. Mere hours after someone called me ‘filth’ and announced their plan to end my existence all because of my beliefs, I’m informed that these are precisely the people who ‘know how to make a point without being hateful and spiteful.’

At first I dismissed this claim and concluded, as I often do, that the person who said it couldn’t possibly be serious. Does he really not notice the hate and hostility pouring like sewage out of his own ideological camp? Does he really think that hate is somehow a ‘conservative’ thing? No, I thought. Nobody is that oblivious.

Actually, kids on college campuses are being educated in such a one-sided way so that this kind of philosophical fail is not only common but almost universal. Brendan Eich lost his job for making a tiny pro-marriage donation. Pro-abortion terrorists vandalize pro-life displays in the name of “free speech”. Sometimes the pro-abortion activists go as far as assaulting you. Sometimes the gay activists just try to murder you outrightwith guns. Many people on the left have been indoctrinated to believe this sort of intolerance of others is logically consistent and even virtuous. They shout down any attempt to engage them with any view that is not their own.

More Matt:

“Matt, f*ck you. I seriously hope you die.”

F*ck you and your entire website you f*cking douche. I have known I am transgender for a long time… You are very sick in the head and I hope you rot in hell. I will pray Lucifer himself finds you.

“Hey f*ck you. Die. That’s all.”

“You’re a f*cking bigot piece of sh*t…”

“I’ve decided that I’m going to block any friend who reposts your trash on Facebook. You are the worst human being on the planet and the world would be better if you weren’t part of it.”

“Dear Matt, you’re horrible. Kill yourself.”

“Oh, like you don’t already know you’re a piece of sh*t. F*ck you.”

“Matt, I saw a Tweet that said you’re a flaming bag of dogsh*t on the doorstep of the internet. I thought it was great but kind of insulting to dog sh*t.”

“Matt, shut the f*ck up with your hate and homophobia. You are the biggest assh*le I’ve ever seen. Go crawl into a f*cking hole somewhere and die.”

“Anytime someone retweets or shares your posts I die a little inside. Your like a cancer on the internet. You’re an embarrassment bro. Seriously, you’re the worst.”

Look, see? Hatred.

Loathing, despising, detesting, hating.

Not just hatred of my ideas or my actions, but hatred of me personally. A boiling, ungodly rage. A yearning to see me burn in Hell for all eternity. Malicious feelings targeted at me, the human being. A desire to see me dead, hurt, dehumanized. A wish to kill me because of my ideology.

Hatred. Let me assure you that it is a huge problem in the liberal ranks. I experience it everyday. Before you spend another minute lamenting the perceived ‘hatred’ of conservative bloggers and media personalities, I suggest you look into your own souls. I have seen and felt the cold, stinging hatred that lives there, and it is surely the nastiest and most brutal sort.

Personally, I think that this is part and parcel of the embrace of secularism. Look, let’s call a spade a spade. If you think there is no God, then you can’t ground morality rationally, you can’t ground moral duties rationally, you can’t ground human rights rationally, you can’t ground human dignity rationally. Your purpose in life is to have a good time. If someone tells you that you are doing wrong and harming others, then there are no restraints – within the worldview of atheism – on what you can do to stop them from even disapproving of your selfish, destructive behavior.

Matt offers this conclusion about his real motives for standing tall for traditional moral boundaries:

Sometimes I get very angry at the legions of progressive nihilists who stand as staunch advocates for some of the greatest evils mankind has ever witnessed (like abortion, for instance), but beyond anger I always feel pity. I believe that you’ll destroy yourself with your philosophy before you destroy anyone else, and I sincerely wish for you to avoid that fate.

If I truly think that my views are correct, and that the rejection of neo-liberal cultural dogma will lead you to greater joy and fulfillment in life, ultimately bringing you out of the darkness and into the light of truth, why would I try to help you in that process if I hated you?

I wouldn’t. I’d let you drown and die. I’d watch and relish the sight.

That’s how a hateful person would handle the situation. He’d keep his opinions to himself. He wouldn’t bother. He’d let society run headfirst over the cliff, and he wouldn’t care as long as he personally remains standing at the top. The real hateful conservatives and Christians are the ones who say nothing. They see the same truth that I do, and that so many others do, yet they have no interest in opening anyone else’s eyes to it. In fact, they are examples of something worse than hate: indifference.

[...]Indeed, just because someone voices a disagreement with you doesn’t mean they hate you. Often, it means the exact opposite.

What we are seeing now is the resurgence of a worldview of selfishness that will lead to barbarism against the weak. You can see it in the acceptance of abortion, no-fault divorce, gay marriage, and so on. There is no reason to think that it will slow down unless those of us who have rationally grounded beliefs in human rights and objective morality speak out now, while there is still time. This is not a game for the timid, though, so buckle up. Innocent lives, born and unborn, are depending on you to succeed. When you go out to defend the truth, make sure you’ve prepared your arguments and evidence with excellence, at the highest level. Make sure there is love for your enemy in in your heart and the sounds of your prayers for them still echoing around you.

UPDATE: I recognize that there are some secular pro-life people. Here is a good post from Secular Pro-Life. (H/T Well Spent Journey) But they are in the minority – most secularists support abortion, which is, I think just morally and rationally indefensible. If moral goodness means anything, it means protecting the weak from selfish destructiveness. We have to give up our hedonism for the benefit of little defenseless children in the womb. That’s just Morality 101. If you can go all the way, and not engage in sexual activity that puts unborn children at risk, do that. I’m a virgin, and I value love and romance above recreational sex. Follow me.

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