Sunday, April 27, 2014

The homosexualism debate comes to the Caribbean -- answering Mr Paul Sankar's March 30 2014 article in MNIAlive

A few days ago, I ran across the following short clip at the Montserrat/Caribbean news-mag site,

Human Rights vs Religious Rights. Which Side Are You On?
 Paul Sankar
Human rights should always come before religious rights. Religion is not the truth anyway. Just man made stories used long ago to keep the sheep in line. Do you agree with me and if so why. If not, why not?

 Now, unfortunately, in the Caribbean, we too often tend to confuse being "simple" with being sound and also too often slip into being simplistic rather than sound and clear. From this, it is but a short step to swallowing huge and barbed assumptions and taking up ill-understood positions driven by winds and waves of manipulated opinion and the cunning craftiness of wily schemers.

(For details, kindly cf. the short note on straight vs spin here, and that on straight thinking here.)

In the comments following, I will show how, unfortunately, that is just what is happening here.

First, the obvious subtext of this short article is that "human rights" is code for the homosexualist agenda in our region, and the "religious rights" under challenge have to do with the longstanding moral objections to sexual perversions that are enshrined in the Bible.

It is in that context that we must further understand the dismissive assertion "Religion is not the truth anyway," as both implying dismissal of the reality of the inherently good Creator-God who sanctions morality (indeed, is its foundation), and the dismissal of the core gospel message rooted in the prophesied passion, redemptive death, burial and witnessed resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ as a "myth."

In short, this one-paragraph article is a classic example of the calculatedly destructive, toxically laced, loaded complex question that embeds a raft of damaging assumptions and accusations.

Let us now answer it, point by point, starting with the headline:

>>Human Rights vs Religious Rights>>

(NB: If you need more depth, here is a KF blog series on this subject, written in reply to an article in Jamaica's Gleaner last year. Likewise, the wider issue of Government, liberty -- vs license -- rights and the roots of modern democracy is addressed here in context. )
1 --> This first begs a question by contrasting" human" and "religious" rights, with obvious intent to curtail or even crush the latter. (This is a declared agenda of homosexualist radicals and fellow travellers, seen now in how they are campaigning to rob people who object to attempted homosexualisation of marriage, of their employment/busineses. Literally, boxing bread out of their mouths.) 

2 --> But in fact, the first modern Bill of Rights, the ten amendments passed with the US Constitution in 1789, were in large part motivated by the concerns of dissenter Baptists, over their basic rights.

 3 --> That is why the first amendment recognises and protects freedom of conscience and worship, with a cluster of associated rights that are now usually seen as a cluster of classic core human rights:
[FIRST AMENDMENT]  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
 4 --> Notice, how it first gives the federal congress no jurisdiction to set up a Church of the USA (by contrast with the Church of England or that of Scotland), and restricts it from interfering with freedom of conscience and worship. THEN, it identifies a list of activities commonly associated with religious practice, and similarly protects them: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, peaceful assembly, and petition for redress.

5 --> Indeed, the ten amendments constituting the Bill of Rights were in response to . . . petitions for redress of grievances. Conscience-driven concerns on freedom to worship, speak out, publish views and teachings based on their understanding of Scripture, assemble in worship to God, and the like.

6 --> So, immediately, the attempt to sever "human" and "religious" rights fails, fails in a way that exposes an agenda to crush the human rights of people motivated by reverence for God and by consciences guided by scriptures understood as coming from God.

7 --> So, the next part of the headline also collapses:

 >>Which Side Are You On? >>

8 --> The side of the right, a pivotal concern when one claims to have a right. 

9 --> That is, one needs to ground a claim to a right, on its being in the right. Otherwise, all reduces to a politically backed contest of wills in the end driven by the nihilistic notion that -- there being no other foundation for morality --  might and manipulation make "right."

>>Human rights should always come before religious rights. >>

10 --> This first assertion of the actual article shows the agenda that the headline has already made all too plain.

11 --> However, it surfaces a basic question, what is a right? And like unto it, why should we take "rights" seriously?  

12 --> The simplest, soundest summary I know is: a right is a binding, morally based claim for respect and fairness; rooted in our accepted inherent dignity and worth as human beings.

13 --> In the classic words of the second paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence, July 4 1776, which the later Constitution written signed September 17, 1787 sought to flesh out:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .
 14 --> Self-evident truths are such that, once we understand them, we will see they are true as to attempt to deny lands in immediate, blatant absurdity. And that self-evident MORAL truths exist can be seen from a test case on the right to life:
It is self-evidently wrong to kidnap, rape, torture and murder a little child, and if we see such in progress it is our duty to do all we can to rescue the child from his or her tormentor.
15 --> Plainly, there are unquestionable, foundational moral truths.

16 --> But then, we face a challenge, the IS-OUGHT gap. For, if we OUGHT to do A and refrain from B, why? Then, why again. In the end, we will see that unless there is a foundational IS in the world capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT, morality and rights boil down to pretty words covering up a bare-knuckles battle of wills . . . might and manipulation make "right." The nihilist's cynical credo.

17 --> But in fact, we know from cases like in point 14 above, OUGHT is real, undeniably so. So, there must be and is a foundational IS for the world who properly grounds ought. 

18 --> Atheists, materialists (whether dressed in the lab coat or not) and fellow travellers may not like to hear this, but it is so: there is just one serious candidate to be the IS who grounds OUGHT -- the inherently good Creator God. That is why the US Founders so simply but powerfully declared:
 We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness . . . (For a more detailed working out, cf. here on in context.)
19 --> So also, rights cannot properly be severed from morality, and in particular, the moral order for human sexuality . . . the underlying issue at stake . . . cannot properly be severed from its Creation Order purpose, e.g. as aptly summed up by Jesus:
 Matt 19:4 . . . Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate). [AMP]
20 --> In short, marriage, the act of marital union and its natural procreative function, cannot properly be taken out of the naturally obvious Creation Order and associated mandate to populate and wisely manage and tend the earth. So also, that which twists marriage and the act of union out of that context is inherently disordered and harmful, of which there is in fact abundant evidence. 
(Cf. here and here. The first, "My Genes Made Me Do It," addresses on scientific and logical grounds, the commonly held idea that same sex behaviour is genetically stamped and "natural." It is not. And, contrary to another common talking point, it is quite changeable -- though the change process can be a life-challenge. One that those caught up would be well advised to take up, not least because of the evidence of severe and disproportionate health risks. Also -- on the damaging distortion of marriage under colour of law, equality and justice, cf. Girgis, George and Anderson here, and on the linked assertion of a "right" to marry a person of the same sex, cf. here. [In fact, as no-one owes anyone a duty to marry him or her, marriage cannot be a right, it is a responsible freedom pivoting on mutual agreement within reasonable limits such as closeness of pre-existing biological/familial relation.] It is worth clipping Girgis et al in their landmark paper:
[T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea‐tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law [F/N 10] and replace it with the revisionist [--> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .

[F/N 10:] Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar‐riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws  were not devised to oppress those with same‐sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages]  is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two‐thirds of black vot‐ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. [--> Note, the recent public witch-hunt against the then CEO of Mozilla corp., publisher of Firefox browser, for the thought-crime of daring to personally support this proposition, which forced his resignation; a plain case of "your conscience or your job." ]  See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.

 [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, "What is Marriage?" Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 - 287.])
21 --> So, rights find their foundation in God, and in fact compellingly point to his reality.

22 --> It is therefore utterly unsurprising that one seeking to overturn morality in pursuit of the promotion of what is inherently disordered would next seek to dismiss the reality of God and the legitimacy of the witness to him found in the Scriptures, the gospel and the churches:

>>Religion is not the truth anyway.  Just man made stories used long ago to keep the sheep in line.>>

23 --> This, frankly, is a smear.

24 --> The reality of God as foundation for rights and their requisite, morality, we have already spoken to and linked on. We only need to highlight the bankruptcy of the commonly promoted alternative, evolutionary materialism dressed up in the lab coat. For instance, here we see prof. Richard Dawkins (ret'd.), in a well known 1995 Scientific American article:
Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose . . . . In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85. Emphases added.]
25 --> That is the general ideas context in which Ruse and Wilson said:

Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will  . . . In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external groundingEthics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991.
26 --> Likewise, we must not let it slip that in his 1998 Darwin Day keynote address at University of Tennessee, Cornell University professor of the History of Biology, William Provine plainly stated:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . [Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]
27 -->  In short, we need to have it hammered home and clenched over that it is not just a "cynical dogmatic religionist's say-so" that raises the issue of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism, the evident driving force behind Mr Paul Sankar's article. Not at all. Instead, we must recognise and acknowledge the actual publicly declared implications of a worldview built up from the assumption that matter, energy, space and time interacting by blind chance and equally blind mechanical necessity are all that there is to reality. So declared, by leading advocates of the system of thought.

28 --> Where, indeed, it is obvious that blind matter, energy, space time and forces of chance and necessity have no purpose and can confer no value to the detritus tossed up by the throws of the dice that happen to have had our number come up. Accordingly, such adherents -- unless they are borrowing a sense of purpose and value (often, unacknowledged or even unrecognised . . . ) from our civilisation's historic Judaeo- Christian foundations -- think that we live in a world of blind struggle to survive and reproduce, with no reasonable expectation that others owe us duties of care to respect rights.

29 --> And, similarly,  this actually undermines the foundations of the very rationality and knowledge that such advocates boast of. That is -- demonstrably -- evolutionary materialism is self-refuting. 

30 --> A simple way to see that is to note the following clip from the famous evolutionary theorist J B S Haldane:
"It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]
31 --> In short, the very appeal to rights implies that -- contrary to the lab coat clad teachings of evolutionary materialism -- we live in a world where OUGHT is real and that requires a world-foundation IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT. The only serious candidate is Him with whom ever so many are eager to have nothing to do with: the inherently good Creator God and Lord of the world before whom we will each have to account.

The 64 AD fire in Rome, for which
Christians were falsely accused by Nero
32 --> We must also answer to the cynical dismissal about made up stories meant to gull and fleece the flock. For that, let us first hear the parting words of the apostle Peter, about to be crucified upside down on a cynically false accusation of setting fire to Rome in 64 AD invented by the demonically mad and perverted Nero, seeking to divert suspicion:
2 Pet 1:13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body,[h] to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV]
33 --> This is the final word of the leading witness from 500+, not one of whom could be intimidated to recant, not in the face of dungeon, whips, fire, sword or worse. And this 55 AD summary, from the apostle Paul -- whose gravestone reads: Paulos, apostolos, mart -- sums up that testimony that Mr Sankar (who bears the name of that apostle and martyr) would dismiss so cavalierly:
1 Cor 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
  • that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 
  • that he was buried, 
  • that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and 
  • that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 
  • Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive [c. 55 AD], though some have fallen asleep. 
  • Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me . . . 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. [ESV]
34 --> Here is a video that aptly addresses associated challenges and questions, which we would find it profitable to view:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel from Slaves4Christ on Vimeo.

(And, for more details, cf. here on in context.)

35 --> From the same letter, this report gives a warning but also a strong hope to those enmeshed in various life-dominating entangling sinful patterns of life, including homoseual conduct:
1 Cor 6:Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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. [ESV. Cf here on how this can be applied to life rescue and transformation.]

36 --> Plainly, the dismissal by Mr Sankar is ill-founded and ill-advised.

>>Do you agree with me and if so why. If not, why not?>>

37 --> I disagree, for cause as shown step by step above. END 


PS: The following links may also prove to he helpful:
Answering the porn-perversion agenda: