Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What does social science tell us about children raised by gay couples?

The Public Discourse has a post about a new book that summarizes what we know so far.

Here is the introduction:

An important new collection of peer-reviewed scholarly papers entitled No Differences? How Children in Same-Sex Households Fare has just been released by the Witherspoon Institute. The papers included and summarized in the book all study the nexus between children’s well-being and the structure of the families in which they are raised. In particular, the authors focus on the efficacy of families in which the adults are involved in a physically intimate same-sex relationship.

Here are the chapters:

  1. Loren Marks: survey existing studies on parenting by same-sex couples
  2. Mark Regnerus: large-scale study comparing standard parenting vs same-sex couple parenting
  3. Douglas Allen, Catherine Pakaluk, and Joseph Price: analysis of studies based on census data
  4. Douglas Allen: study of educational outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples
  5. Walter Schumm: evaluation of the methodology of the Regnerus study
  6. Walter Schumm: analysis of the stability of standard relationships vs same-sex relationships

Here’s the blurb on one of the chapters:

The first paper included in the volume, by Loren Marks, examines the foundations of the position taken by the American Psychological Association (APA) on what it calls “lesbian and gay parenting.” The 2005 APA monograph setting forth that organization’s position asserts that the question of whether the childrearing efficacy of parents in same-sex relationships is at least the equal of that of heterosexual couples is settled, and that the serious academic literature speaks with a single voice on the matter.

Marks reviews an extensive literature on the topic and finds that most of the studies on the subject rely on “convenience samples”: groups of respondents that cannot be considered cross-sections of the population at large. Convenience samples are a staple of the literature because same-sex parenting is rare, and so recruiting same-sex parents for a study generally involves placing ads at day-care centers and in publications aimed at the LGBT population, or contacting people by way of their network of friends. While they can provide a useful window on the experience of parents in same-sex relationships, Marks notes that convenience samples suffer from two generic problems. First, the sample sizes are very small; one of the better studies might include a dozen or two lesbian families and a comparable number of heterosexual families. In such a small sample, only enormous differences in children’s outcomes will rise to the level of statistical significance. Technically speaking, estimates of the difference between outcomes for same-sex parents and those for heterosexual couples suffer from low “power.” Moreover, because convenience samples do not constitute a random cross-section of the population, they are not representative, and so estimates based on them suffer from a problem known to statisticians as “bias.”

Marks also notes that many of the small studies either fail to identify a comparison group of heterosexual parents, or they compare educated and affluent lesbian couples to single heterosexual parents. He suggests that better comparison groups might consist of married heterosexual parents or of all heterosexual parents. Certainly that would be the case if one wanted to maintain that there was no difference between the status quo outcomes for children of parents in same-sex relationships and those of heterosexual married parents, as some have seemed to want to do.

Marks highlights three studies that avoid small convenience samples and work with much larger random samples, two of which can be found in the new volume, in the chapter by Mark Regnerus and the chapter by Douglas Allen, Catherine Pakaluk, and Joseph Price.

I took a quick look at Loren Marks’ bio:

Loren Marks holds the Kathryn Norwood and Claude Fussell Alumni Professorship in the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education where he teaches family studies classes and conducts research on family relationships. He currently serves as Program Director for Child and Family Studies in Louisiana State University’s School of Social Work. Marks received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from BYU, and his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.  Since beginning his work at LSU in 2002, Dr. Marks has centered his research efforts on religion and families, and has published more than 70 articles or chapters, as well as the book Sacred Matters (with Wes Burr and Randy Day). He has also studied children’s outcomes in various family forms—and strong African American families.  His research has received national media attention from outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal. Loren was honored with college-level teaching awards in 2005, 2009, and 2013.  In 2011-2012, LSU nominated him for the national Carnegie (CASE) Professor of the Year Award—and nominated him again in 2014. He is Co-Director (with Dr. David Dollahite) of the American Families of Faith Project that includes about 200 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families from all eight regions of the United States. Findings from this ongoing project have resulted in over 50 scholarly articles/chapters and two in progress books.

The Kindle edition of the book is currently $7.99. The volume is basically one stop shopping for this issue, so if you ever debate on this, get the book.

The best philosophical book on the definition of marriage is “What is Marriage?” by Girgis, Anderson and George.

I think if you are interested in same-sex marriage as a policy issue, you should get both of these books first.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brian Godawa: what “The Imitation Game” tells us about homosexuality

I usually only go to see about one movie in the theaters per year, because I don’t share the same worldview as most people in Hollywood, and I share Plato’s concern about the power of drama to move me to accept their worldview through my emotions. Art is wonderful when it tells the truth, but most of what comes out of Hollywood doesn’t tell the truth.

This related blog post is from Brian Godawa’s blog. I thought it was very interesting.

He writes:

The story of Alan Turing, the brilliant yet troubled mathematician who led the cryptographic team that defeated the Nazi Enigma code in WWII and created the world’s first computer.

Wow, this Oscar season offers a slew of amazing performances. This one by Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing is a riveting and pathos filled drama that views like a gay version of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind.

This movie is a riveting, solid, well-told story. Brilliant in its machinations and exciting in its imagination. It explores the nuance of moral decisions in war, the complexity of social classes and issues, the alienation of mental illness, and the pain and irony of genius.

Who could have thought that there could be such exciting suspense, such heart-stirring pity, and such powerful moments of cheerful dramatic victories in a movie about a group of weird nerds penciling out mathematics and building a computer? But The Imitation Game is all that.

And it’s a brilliant artistic masterpiece for the homosexual agenda.

How so?

The Imitation Game is a similar timely metaphor. It tells the story of an oddball man who was rejected by the very society that he saved because of his genius. A tragedy of greatness. It is about breaking down our personal and social prejudices by showing that the very kind of people we often reject are the ones who do great things, such as, oh, save the world. History definitely bears out the repeated theme of the movie, “Sometimes, it’s the very people that no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine.” Society too often rejects the misfits, who may offer the most to bring balance to the world. And who of us doesn’t at some time in our lives feel like such misfits and oddballs who feel out of place?

[…]Storytelling does not make logical arguments so much as emotional arguments. It incarnates logic or worldviews which touches us existentially as storied human beings. Story makes its most powerful connections emotionally through such rhetorical techniques as montage. The concept is that by placing two or more disparate images or storylines next to each other, viewers make emotional connections between those things, whether or not they are logically connected.

[…][The movie] shows us Alan’s alleged autistic Asperger’s type social awkwardness. Well, who among us would not feel sorry for such innocent suffering? The poor guy can’t help it, and he’s really quite sweet underneath that rudeness and lack of emotion and sensitivity. Heck, understanding people is like cracking a code for him. And of course, it is precisely that autism that blesses him with the mathematical brilliance to break the Enigma code of the Germans that ended the war early and saved millions of lives. But that is not all. That autism that we would see as “abnormal” resulted in figuring out the world’s first computer, one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

So, you can see the litany of injustices that are laid out, with which the viewers could not disagree.

[…]Americans are suckers for the underdog. If you want to engender sympathy for a character, make them suffer persecution, unfairness, injustice. In other words, make them a victim.

[…]The thematic cleverness of The Imitation Game lies in its montage connection of Turing’s homosexuality with his genius and with all these other civil rights issues with which we have all come to agree upon. The movie creates a touching tragic homosexual love story from Turing’s past to show his deep pain of loss. And then it lays it on heavy with a bookend story of Turing’s tragic arrest and conviction of his homosexual acts in a time and place in British history where it was illegal. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for the suffering of chemical castration that he had to endure as a legal penalty? Again, more victimization, more emotional sympathy.

It will never occur to many viewers that there is no rational justification for claiming sexual behavior as an innate civil right, that there is no logical or rational connection between Turing’s homosexuality and his genius, his saving the world, or other civil rights protections. There doesn’t have to be. An emotional connection was made through montage and analogy, and that is just as powerful on the viewer’s psyche. Emotionally, the viewer feels the connection of Turing’s homosexual identity with greatness and with saving the world. The irrational, yet emotional conclusion is that to be against homosexuality is to be against greatness and saving the world.

When I talk about movies, video games and other forms of entertainment with Christians, I am often told that I am analyzing too much and I need to enjoy art for art’s sake. But my mind works more like Godawa’s does. I am always disregarding the obvious stuff that is happening on the screen, and thinking about what the artist is trying to get me to believe. If it’s good stuff, like in the BBC production of “North and South”, then after a few minutes of watching and thinking, I lower my guard and enjoy. But if it’s bad stuff, then the guard stays up, and it’s no fun for me at all. I don’t play video games where there is a heavy-handed anti-conservative or anti-Christian message, either. Certainly I am not going to pay to be told by Hollywood leftists that my Christian / conservative views are wrong, when all they use to persuade me are emotional tricks.

Something to think about when you decide where to spend your money.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

What happens when erotic liberty conflicts with religious liberty?

A recent episode of Al Mohler’s the Briefing podcast explains the real issue behind the firing of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

The MP3 file is here.

Here is the relevant part of the transcript:

“Mr. Cochran held his own news conference Tuesday. He said that the city’s investigation found that he had not acted in a discriminatory way toward gay people, and said that he had asked for, and received, permission from the proper bureaucratic channels to write the book — an assertion [the Mayor’s] office disputes.”

So gay advocates are cheering the mayors decision, the mayor finds himself in something of a political controversy, but the fire chief is out. He’s out of a job for having written a book that was basically privately published and very narrowly distributed in which he stated something that is fundamental to evangelical moral conviction – something that basically amounts to nothing more, or least a little more, than actually quoting the Bible, quoting the Scriptures.

The mayor described the book, or at least this portion of the book, as having inflammatory content. But once again, looking at the material supplied by the media, the inflammatory content is what is drawn directly from Scripture – especially from very specific biblical verses dealing with homosexuality. So what we’re looking at here is an undeniable case in which religious conviction actually got the Fire Chief of Atlanta fired; fired simply because he dared to write a book in which he stated his Christian convictions.

This raises a host of very interesting and complex, not to say troubling, questions. Can anyone now be an evangelical Christian and serve as a Fire Chief or even in the fire department? This raises the question as to whether one can believe that homosexuality is a sin without discriminating against homosexuals. The clear implication of the Mayor’s decision is that the Fire Chief is out, not because he acted in any way, in any discriminatory fashion toward any gay member of the fire department staff or anyone else for that matter, but simply because he expressed his biblical conviction that homosexuality is a sin.

Now once again, this raises a host of very interesting questions the mayor and furthermore our culture is not going to be able to avoid. Is the Bible itself now going to be defined as hate speech because by any measure the language that the Fire Chief used is drawn, if not immediately from Scripture, then with language that is tantamount to it? Can anyone who holds to a biblical understanding of sexuality, anyone who is a member of an evangelical congregation serve in this kind of political and public role? Or does that moral conviction absolutely mean, in a categorical sense, that discrimination is the obvious outcome? Or is holding the belief itself, is holding that biblical conviction itself a form of discrimination; even if no discriminatory act ever follows?

[…]Let’s look at exactly how the mayor describe his decision as the New York Times reports and I quote,

“Despite my respect for Chief Cochran’s service, I believe his actions and decision-making undermine his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse work force. Every single employee under the fire chief’s command deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions.”

Well let’s just look at that statement and imagine what the Mayor has now not only implied but openly stated by firing the chief. One can’t hold that all persons are of value, one can’t operate in terms of neutrality, in terms of personnel decisions, if one holds to traditional biblical Christianity. Some may argue that it isn’t the problem that the chief held these positions and convictions but it’s a problem that he published them, that he put them in print.

But as the world is supposedly universally affirming the importance of freedom of expression, are we now to be told that evangelical Christians – or for that matter Orthodox Jews and traditional Catholics – simply must hold their tongue and hold their peace? Never putting their biblical convictions into print or into some form of public statement? The action in Atlanta is not only ominous, it’s absolutely frightening. The religious liberty implications of the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage are massive, they are unavoidable, and they are now inevitable. And they’re showing up in this case not in New York City or Seattle but in Atlanta, Georgia – right in the heart of the South, in a city that the New York Times acknowledges includes millions of evangelical Christians and others who would also hold to the Chief’s conviction.

No matter how lavishly people may claim to believe in freedom of expression and no matter how much they may argue this isn’t an issue of religious liberty, the bare facts are simply unavoidable. The Fire Chief of Atlanta has been fired. Not because he acted in any way that was discriminatory, not because any employee brought any grievance against him for acting in a discriminatory manner, but merely for having stated, for having articulated in print, his biblical convictions on issues of morality.

I urge people who want to take a position on homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage to write under an alias. The more serious a sin is, the more people who engage in it will go to any lengths necessary in order to stop criticism of it. The invocation of “tolerance” and “diversity” on the gay left is a smokescreen. Their goal is to make everyone who disagrees with them not only agree but actually celebrate their behavior. That’s one of the reasons why we need to careful about letting our natural compassion cause us to approve of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We have our protect the right to say “it’s wrong”. Al Mohler has a longer article on this conflict between religious liberty and erotic liberty up today, too.

UPDATE: Today’s episode of the The Briefing takes a look at the response from the mainstream media, including the response of a gay New York Times columnist. Mohler’s main point is that secularists want to reduce the religious liberty to worship inside a church and private feelings. But religious liberty is more than that – it is the right to honor and respect God in every aspect of our lives, including freedom to speak our disagreement with immorality, and the right to educate our children in schools that respect OUR values – not the values that the secular left seeks to impose on us. Mohler also links to a response by pro-marriage scholar Mark Regnerus.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Why are Christians allowed to eat shellfish but not allowed to have sex before marriage?

Here’s a wonderful article from Peter Saunders.

The challenge:

An argument frequently advanced by those attempting to defend homosexual practice is that Christians ‘cherry pick’ the commands in the Bible – that is, they chose to emphasise some commands while ignoring others.

The Old Testament may forbid homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:2; 20:13) but it also forbids eating seafood without fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9-12; Deuteronomy 14:9, 10).

So how can Christians then justify upholding laws on sexual morality whilst at the same time ignoring the food laws from the very same books of the Bible? Why may they eat shellfish but not be allowed to have sex outside marriage? Isn’t this inconsistent and hypocritical?

The solution is that God enters into “covenants” with his people, and the terms of those covenants change.

Especially dietary laws:

The answer to this question lies in an understanding of biblical covenants.

A covenant is a binding solemn agreement made between two parties. It generally leaves each with obligations. But it holds only between the parties involved.

There are a number of biblical covenants: Noahic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic (Old), Davidic and New.

Under the Noahic covenant, which God made with all living human beings (Genesis 9:8-17), people were able to eat anything:

‘Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything’ (Genesis 9:3).

But under the Sinaitic (Old) Covenant, which God made with the nation of Israel, people were able to eat certain foods, but not others.

Jesus clearly created a new covenant with his followers, where the dietary laws are lifted:

Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the ‘Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44). He would establish this new covenant with new laws, with himself as high priest based on his own sacrificial death on the cross.

This new covenant would completely deal with sin (Hebrews 10:1-18) and protect all those who put their faith in him from God’s wrath and judgement…

[…]‘In the same way, after the supper (Jesus) took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”’ (Luke 22:20). ‘…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10)

People would come under the protection of this new covenant, not by virtue of belonging to the nation of Israel, but through faith in Christ. In fact the function of the Old Testament Law (Sinaitic covenant) was to point to Christ as its fulfilment.

[…]So what then did Christ say about foods? He pronounced all foods clean for his followers to eat:

‘ “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:18-23)

Jesus was making that point that under the new covenant God required purity of the heart. Internal thoughts and attitudes were as important as external actions.

Food is OK for Christians, but sexual immorality – which includes premarital sex and adultery – are NOT OK for Christians.

I think sometimes when you are talking to people whose motivation is just to get rid of any objective moral law entirely, they tend to ask questions without really wanting a good answer. This is especially true when it comes to the morality of sex. They ask the question not to get an answer, but to justify getting rid of the moral rules governing sexuality. The answers are there for people who are willing to respect God in their decision-making to find. The answers are not found only by people who have a reason to not want to find them.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , ,

FDA now allowing gay men to donate blood

This is from the Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

The FDA will seek to change the ban on gay men’s blood, so long as the donor hasn’t had sexual contact in the last year.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a science-based regulatory agency that works to protect and promote the public health. In this role, it is our responsibility to regulate the blood supply and to help ensure its continued safety for the patients who receive these life-saving products,” announces FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.

Over the past several years, in collaboration with other government agencies, the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men, including the results of several recently completed scientific studies and recent epidemiologic data. Following this review, and taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.

This recommended change is consistent with the recommendation of an independent expert advisory panel the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, and will better align the deferral period with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection. Additionally, in collaboration with the NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the FDA has already taken steps to implement a national blood surveillance system that will help the agency monitor the effect of a policy change and further help to ensure the continued safety of the blood supply.

Here’s a story from the CBC about how the blood supply became tainted in Canada. (H/T Patriactionary)

Why is this a problem? Well, gay men are at a much higher risk for HIV, and other sexually-transmitted infections. The CDC released this report about the elevated risks posed by this lifestyle.

The write:

Sixty-two percent of American men who know they are HIV positive continue to have unprotected anal sex, according to data released last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

This data, which was published Friday, came from the federal government’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System.

The percentage of self-aware HIV-positive men who engage in unprotected anal sex has been increasing, according to the CDC. In 2005, 55 percent did so. In 2008, 57 percent did so. And, in 2011, 62 percent did so.

“Unprotected anal sex is a high-risk practice for HIV infection, with receptive anal sex having the highest risk,” said the CDC report. “Unprotected anal sex also places MSM at risk for other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Although condoms can reduce the risk for HIV transmission, they do not eliminate risk and often are not used consistently. Some MSM attempt to decrease their HIV risk by engaging in unprotected sex only with partners perceived to have the same HIV status as their own. However, this practice is risky, especially for HIV-negative MSM, because MSM with HIV might not know or disclose that they are infected and men’s assumptions about the HIV status of their partners can be wrong.”

And in another report:

Teens and young adults now account for more than a quarter of the new cases of HIV identified in the United States annually, and a clear majority of those cases involve young gay or bisexual men, the federal government said in a major new survey Tuesday.

Of the nearly 48,000 new HIV cases identified in the United States in 2010, the latest year for which complete data are available, more than 12,000 involved teens and young adults, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found in its latest report.

About 72 percent of these new HIV cases in younger adults occurred in young men who are gay or bisexual, according to the CDC report.

[…]According to the CDC figures, black youths accounted for the largest share of new HIV cases, with Hispanic youths and white youths accounting for about 20 percent each.

About 1.1 million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States. Some 47,129 new HIV cases were identified in 2010.

The CDC’s new report, “Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, Risk Behaviors Among Youths, United States,” estimated that youths aged 13 to 24 accounted for 12,200, or 26 percent, of new HIV infections in 2010.

But, this is what we get when we elect a government that is more in service to ideas of “equality”, “diversity” and “non-discrimination” than common sense. It would be nice to think that the only people who will suffer from this decision are Democrats, but that’s not the way it works.Everyone suffers when we elect people who are led by emotional ideology (the vision of the anointed, as Thomas Sowell calls it) instead of reason and evidence. We get to be the test subjects of their little experiments.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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