Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for May, 2008

Leadership and the Federal Government

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

What does leadership mean to you? What kind of leadership do you want to see in our politicians?

Here are my thoughts on leadership and its tension with centralized government:

Leadership inspires and thus motivates. Government coerces and thus causes bitterness.

Leadership is a bottom-up process. Government has become a top-down process, from Washington, D.C. down to the local city and citizen.

Leadership is personal, developmental, and relational. Government at the national level is inherently impersonal, obstructive, and distant.

Leadership teaches and mentors. Government pontificates and condemns.

Leadership is empowering others by giving them freedom to make their own successes and mistakes. Government has become a command and control system that takes freedom away from people in order to punish the successful and reward the inept.

Leadership seeks the empowerment of all. Government is cannibalistic; it “empowers” people by disempowering others.

So the next time you hear a liberal Democrat claim they can bring “change” and “leadership” to Washington, D.C., take a moment to reflect on what real leadership is and what the federal government actually does.

Posted in Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Freedom Creates Diversity, Government Creates Uniformity

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Diversity is inextricably linked to freedom. Economic freedom naturally produces a diversity of income levels. Freedom of speech naturally produces a diversity of speech and opinions. And so on.

Uniformity is inextricably linked to coercion of some sort. Government is inherently an instrument of coercion that reduces freedom.

Therefore, because conservatism is for limited government and thus a champion of freedom, conservatism  (NOT liberalism) is the true proponent of responsible diversity!

Global economic inequality is merely economic diversity; each country practices different economic theories (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) and are free to do so. Seems liberals do not like economic diversity and that is why they despise economic freedom.

Capitalism, because it is inherently a system of freedom, creates a greater diversity of goods and services than any other economic system (a diversity relative to consumer demand). Because capitalism is based on voluntary exchange, it creates a just diversity.

Now conservatives are NOT devotees of every kind of diversity. Unlike liberals, we are not worshippers of the Idols of Difference and Change. Rather conservatives uphold a value system and a moral code. Therefore, a diversity of moralities is abhorrent to conservatism. Serial killing and living in peace, or homosexuality and heterosexuality, may be merely “diverse lifestyles” according to liberalism, but conservatism upholds and proclaims these differences to have absolute normative value. One is bad and one is good. Now, for the conservative, it is a matter of prudence whether certain tenets of his moral code should be imposed on society. The law is a teacher, but sometimes its good intentions can create more harm than good.

Posted in Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Conservative Approach to “International Awareness”

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Conservatives are not opposed to learning about other countries and cultures around the world. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. Americans need to be aware of the diversity of beliefs around the world and what their implications are for international relations. In fact, such knowledge can increase the peace and prosperity of the US.

However, international awareness can easily devolve into cultural relativism, a form of moral relativism. And this is what conservatives vehemently oppose. In an atmosphere of multiculturalism, mere knowledge often devolves into mindless, politically correct, approval and appreciation of morally inferior elements of certain cultures.

Moreover, though, conservatives believe that younger generations of Americans hardly have any knowledge of their own heritage. Young people do not learn about and understand the value of Western civilization that has been passed down to us from Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian traditions. They do not understand the ideas and reasoning that went into the Founding of America. SO, with this in mind, why should young people be traveling abroad and studying other cultures when they don’t even understand their own cultural heritage?

The American, ignorant of his own heritage and the reasoning behind it, is unable to think critically about other cultures. And this inability will lead to confusion and error. And such confusion and error will weaken the US and the values and beliefs that have made it great.

I’d like to end with this very interest commentary on international travel by G.K. Chesterton:
“I have never managed to lose my old conviction that travel narrows the mind. At least a man must make a double effort of moral humility and imaginative energy to prevent it from narrowing his mind. Indeed there is something touching and even tragic about the thought of the thoughtless tourist, who might have stayed at home loving Laplanders, embracing Chinamen, and clasping Patagonians to his heart in Hampstead or Surbiton, but for his blind and suicidal impulse to go and see what they looked like. This is not meant for nonsense; still less is it meant for the silliest sort of nonsense, which is cynicism. The human bond that he feels at home is not an illusion. On the contrary, it is rather an inner reality. Man is inside all men. In a real sense any man may be inside any men. But to travel is to leave the inside and draw dangerously near the outside. So long as he thought of men in the abstract, like naked toiling figures in some classic frieze, merely as those who labor and love their children and die, he was thinking the fundamental truth about them. By going to look at their unfamiliar manners and customs he is inviting them to disguise themselves in fantastic masks and costumes. Many modern internationalists talk as if men of different nationalities had only to meet and mix and understand each other. In reality that is the moment of supreme danger-the moment when they meet. We might shiver, as at the old euphemism by which a meeting meant a duel.

Travel ought to combine amusement with instruction; but most travelers are so much amused that they refuse to be instructed. I do not blame them for being amused; it is perfectly natural to be amused at a Dutchman for being Dutch or a Chinaman for being Chinese. Where they are wrong is that they take their own amusement seriously. They base on it their serious ideas of international instruction. It was said that the Englishman takes his pleasures sadly; and the pleasure of despising foreigners is one which he takes most sadly of all. He comes to scoff and does not remain to pray, but rather to excommunicate. Hence in international relations there is far too little laughing, and far too much sneering. But I believe that there is a better way which largely consists of laughter; a form of friendship between nations which is actually founded on differences.”

Posted in American Culture, Education, Government and Politics, Texas A&M, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Fictional Dialogue on Penance

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2005/11/fictional-dialogue-on-penance.html

By David Armstrong

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

[written in 1995]

Calvin: You know, Joe, you Catholics ought to get rid of penance – punishing yourself to please God. Don’t you know God has already forgiven you?

Joe: We would, Calvin, if the Bible allowed us to, but it teaches that there is a penalty to pay for sin in this life, too. For instance, David had to suffer terribly even though God had forgiven his sin (2 Sam 12:13-14).

Calvin: That’s in the Old Testament, so it doesn’t apply anymore. God is only merciful now.

Joe: That’s just wishful thinking. In Malachi 3:3 God purifies His people “as gold and silver” to make them righteous. He hasn’t changed His mind. In Hebrews 12:6-8 He still “chastens” and “scourges” his “sons.” Jesus commands us to “take up a cross” if we want to follow Him (Mt 10:38, 16:24), and St. Paul wants us to compassionately suffer with fellow Christians (1 Cor 12:26).

Calvin: Well, God can discipline us since that is His prerogative, but the Catholic Church acts like it can give out penalties. Isn’t that an abuse of love and Scripture?

Joe: No, not at all, since the Lord Himself gave St. Peter and the disciples the power and authority to “bind and loose” (Mt 16:19, 18:17-18). St. Paul imposes a penance for the well-being of a straying Christian (1 Cor 5:3-5). Later on, he issues an indulgence by lessening the temporal penance for sin of this same brother (2 Cor 2:6-11). This is all that the word “indulgence” means, despite all the rhetoric against it from Luther and Protestants ever since, absurdly implying that it winks at, or “indulges” sin!

Calvin: But Jesus suffered for us so we wouldn’t have to, as it says in Isaiah 53:4-5.

Joe: He took away the penalty of eternal hellfire for those who obey His will and accept His work as our Redeemer, but not all suffering. That’s a candy-coated gospel. In fact, in a sense, we even
participate in this Redemption, by our intercessory prayers and penitential acts and suffering. St. Paul repeatedly speaks of suffering with Christ, almost in a literal fashion (Rom 8:17, 2 Cor 4:10, Phil 3:10, and especially Col 1:24; cf. 1 Pet 4:1,13). He even considers himself an “offering” (2 Tim 4:6; cf. Ex 32:30-32).

Calvin: Man, you sure quote Scripture like a “Bible-thumping” Protestant! I’ve never seen a Catholic do that! I thought that all your doctrines were gullibly accepted on unquestioned authority and blind faith alone, from the nuns!

Joe: Well, I’ve gotten to know the biblical evidences for my beliefs because I’ve studied the Bible, Catholic catechisms and Catholic apologetic works, which give a biblical defense of Catholic doctrine, along with logical reasons and the history of Christian teaching on any given doctrine. Unfortunately, many Catholics settle for their childhood instruction in the faith and never progress or grow any further by reading and pursuing theological truth on their own.

Calvin: That’s for sure, and many Protestants do the same. But on our subject, I still don’t understand the purpose of penance. Why can’t God just forgive and be done with it?

Joe: He could, but penance is for our benefit, due to our stubbornness and rebelliousness. Sin causes a disorder in the universe, and Justice requires that it be punished. You know, Calvin, even your own life is an illustration of this spiritual principle. You’re in this jail, and have a broken arm and suspended driver’s license due to the sin of drunk driving. This is your “penance,” in a legal, secular sense.

Calvin: But I’m very sorry and the judge believes I’m sincere and will reform my behavior.

Joe: That’s the whole point. You have “repented,” but still a penalty must be paid for your own good and society’s. Even though the judge likes you, he is bound by law to jail you for a time. That’s how it is with God and sin, since He is perfectly holy. Purgatory continues the process after death, until finally we enter into Heaven, for which all our sufferings have prepared us (Rom 8:18, Heb 12:14, Rev 21:4).

Calvin: I still have trouble with this whole idea because it seems to me to be perverting the grace of God and making us do works in order to be saved (Eph 2:8-9). That’s a losing battle because none of us can be good enough (Ps 53:3).

Joe: You’re constructing a false dichotomy: Because God is perfectly good, therefore we cannot be good at all. But the Bible teaches that we can cooperate with God in our salvation, even though all grace and good always comes from Him (Eph 2:10, 1 Cor 3:9, Phil 2:13). Grace is entirely God’s work, but that doesn’t make us mere puppets or robots. The Council of Trent declared that:

“Neither is this satisfaction so our own as not to be through Jesus Christ. For we can do nothing of ourselves; He cooperating strengthens us (Phil 4:13) . . . No Catholic ever thought that, by this kind of satisfactions on our parts, the efficacy of the merit and of the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ is either obscured or in any way lessened.”
(On the Sacrament of Penance, chap. 8, session 14, November 25, 1551)

Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who is More Compassionate: Conservatives or Liberals?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

http://www.arthurbrooks.net/whoreallycares/excerpt.html

“The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to this logic, is a form of charity.

Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how necessary it is for providing public services, it is still the obligatory redistribution of tax revenues. Because government spending is not charity, sanctimonious yard signs do not prove that the bearers are charitable or that their opponents are selfish. (On the contrary, a public attack on the integrity of those who don’t share my beliefs might more legitimately constitute evidence that I am the uncharitable one.)

To evaluate accurately the charity difference between liberals and conservatives, we must consider private, voluntary charity. How do liberals and conservatives compare in their private giving and volunteering? Beyond strident slogans and sarcastic political caricatures, what, exactly, do the data tell us?

The data tell us that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. In most ways, political conservatives are not personally less charitable than political liberals—they are more so.

First, we must define “liberals” and “conservatives.” Most surveys ask people not just about their political party affiliation but also about their ideology. In general, about 10 percent of the population classify themselves as “very conservative”; and another 10 percent call themselves “very liberal.” About 20 percent say they are simply “liberal,” and 30 percent or so say they are “conservative.” The remaining 30 percent call themselves “moderates” or “centrists.” In this discussion, by “liberals” I mean the approximately 30 percent in the two most liberal categories, and by conservatives I mean the 40 percent or so in the two most con­servative categories.

So how do liberals and conservatives compare in their charity? When it comes to giving or not giving, conservatives and liberals look a lot alike. Conservative people are a percentage point or two more likely to give money each year than liberal people, but a percentage point or so less likely to volunteer.

But this similarity fades away when we consider average dollar amounts donated. In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1,600 to $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich.

If we look at party affiliation instead of ideology, the story remains largely the same. For example, registered Republicans were seven points more likely to give at least once in 2002 than registered Democrats (90 to 83 percent).

The differences go beyond money and time. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

The political stereotypes break down even further when we consider age: “Anyone who is not a socialist before age thirty has no heart, but anyone who is still a socialist after thirty has no head,” goes the old saying. And so we imagine crusty right-wing grandfathers socking their money away in trust funds while their liberal grandchildren work in soup kitchens and save the whales. But young liberals—perhaps the most vocally dissatisfied political constituency in America today—are one of the least generous demographic groups out there. In 2004, self-described liberals younger than thirty belonged to one-third fewer organizations in their communities than young conservatives. In 2002, they were 12 percent less likely to give money to charities, and one-third less likely to give blood. Liberal young Americans in 2004 were also significantly less likely than the young conservatives to express a willingness to sacrifice for their loved ones: A lower percentage said they would prefer to suffer than let a loved one suffer, that they are not happy unless the loved one is happy, or that they would sacrifice their own wishes for those they love.

The compassion of American conservatives becomes even clearer when we compare the results from the 2004 U.S. presidential election to data on how states address charity. Using Internal Revenue Service data on the percentage of household income given away in each state, we can see that the red states are more charitable than the blue states. For instance, of the twenty-five states that donated a portion of household income above the national average, twenty-four gave a majority of their popular votes to George W. Bush for president; only one gave the election to John F. Kerry. Of the twenty-five states below the national giving average, seventeen went for Kerry, but just seven for Bush. In other words, the electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar.

These results are not an artifact of close elections in key states. The average percentage of household income donated to charity in each state tracked closely with the percentage of the popular vote it gave to Mr. Bush. Among the states in which 60 percent or more voted for Bush, the average portion of income donated to charity was 3.5 percent. For states giving Mr. Bush less than 40 percent of the vote, the average was 1.9 percent. The average amount given per household from the five states combined that gave Mr. Bush the highest vote percentages in 2003 was 25 percent more than that donated by the average household in the five northeastern states that gave Bush his lowest vote percentages; and the households in these liberal-leaning states earned, on average, 38 percent more than those in the five conservative states.

People living in conservative states volunteer more than people in liberal states. In 2003, the residents of the top five “Bush states” were 51 percent more likely to volunteer than those of the bottom five, and they volunteered an average of 12 percent more total hours each year. Residents of these Republican-leaning states volunteered more than twice as much for religious organizations, but also far more for secular causes. For example, they were more than twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor.

Surely Jimmy Carter would have been surprised to learn that the selfish Americans he criticized so vociferously were most likely the very people who elected him president.

© Basic Books – 2007″

The Statistics

http://www.arthurbrooks.net/whoreallycares/statistics.html

People who are religious give more across the board to all causes than their non-religious counterparts

There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.


Giving supports economic growth and actually creates prosperity

Many studies show that giving and volunteering improve physical health and happiness, and lead to better citizenship. In other words, we need to give for our own good. Cultural and political influences—and the many government policies—that discourage private charitable behavior have negative effects that are far more widespread than people usually realize.


The working poor in America give more to charity than the middle class

The American working poor are, relative to their income, some of the most generous people in America today. The nonworking poor, however—those on public assistance instead of earning low wages—give at lower levels than any other group. In other words, poverty does not discourage charity in America, but welfare does.


Upper level income people often give less than the working poor

Among Americans with above-average incomes who do not give charitably, a majority say that they ‘don’t have enough money.’ Meanwhile, the working poor in America give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and rich.


Plus
:

People who give money charitably are 43 percent more likely to say they are “very happy” than nongivers and 25 percent more likely than nongivers to say their health is excellent or very good.
A religious person is 57% more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.
Conservative households in America donate 30% more money to charity each year than liberal households.
If liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45%.

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Poverty, Socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Which is More Materialistic: Capitalism or its Alternatives?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

Marxism is specifically atheistic. By denying the supernatural, transcendent, and spiritual aspects of reality, it is inherently materialistic and deterministic. The world is atoms, their random motions, and absolutely nothing else. Marxism seeks to satisfy material needs and desires regardless of the moral consequences (because morality, a transcendent thing, doesn’t exist). Communism, socialism, and welfare statism are merely derivatives of this Marxist theory.

Capitalism inherently believes that all human beings have free will and should be free to exercise that freedom without coercion from others in economic matters. Now the very idea of free will and freedom presupposes the divine, the supernatural. Freedom presupposes something more than a mere mass of atoms and random chance. It presupposes something more than the material world. It presupposes something (or someone) that can actually choose, i.e. the soul, and thus presupposes a Soul-Maker too. Thus capitalism presupposes the transcendent and spiritual and thus is less materialistic than any of its alternatives.

There is a distinction between materialism and productive use of the Creation. But of course, if you are an atheist, this distinction necessarily has no meaning for you.

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Socialism, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Defame Islam, Get Sued?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

No religion is beyond criticism and thoughtful examination, even if it takes the form of satire or humor (including my beloved Catholicism). The US should brace itself against any future pressures to outlaw speech that portrays Islam in a negative light.

The European laws against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial have set a dangerous precedent. Europe is more likely to fail against radical Islam because it is more likely to sew its own lips shut, silencing needed criticism of the more violent and questionable aspects of Islam and its traditions and history. (This includes the death penalty for mocking Muhammad, e.g. the poets Abu ‘Afak and ‘Asma bint Marwan along with her unborn child who were put to death at the Prophet’s command.)

And what about blasphemy in the eyes of Christianity? Judaism? Other religions? Will radical Muslims submit to punishment for their anti-Semitic speech? More likely, a double standard is developing.

Of course, I guess getting sued is better than getting killed or assaulted (139 people were killed and 823 injured in the wake of Muslim rage over the Danish cartoon incident). So I guess this is actually “progress.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080314/ap_on_re_af/islamic_summit_islamophobia

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 14, 6:26 PM ET

DAKAR, Senegal – The Muslim world has created a battle plan to defend its religion from political cartoonists and bigots.

Concerned about what they see as a rise in the defamation of Islam, leaders of the world’s Muslim nations are considering taking legal action against those that slight their religion or its sacred symbols. It was a key issue during a two-day summit that ended Friday in this western Africa capital.

The Muslim leaders are attempting to demand redress from nations like Denmark, which allowed the publication of cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad in 2006 and again last month, to the fury of the Muslim world.

Though the legal measures being considered have not been spelled out, the idea pits many Muslims against principles of freedom of speech enshrined in the constitutions of numerous Western governments.

“I don’t think freedom of expression should mean freedom from blasphemy,” said Senegal‘s President Abdoulaye Wade, the chairman of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. “There can be no freedom without limits.”

Delegates were given a voluminous report by the OIC that recorded anti-Islamic speech and actions from around the world. The report concludes that Islam is under attack and that a defense must be mounted.

“Muslims are being targeted by a campaign of defamation, denigration, stereotyping, intolerance and discrimination,” charged Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the secretary general of the group.

The report urges the creation of a “legal instrument” to crack down on defamation of Islam. Some delegates point to laws in Europe criminalizing the denial of the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic rhetoric. They also point to articles within various U.N. charters that condemn discrimination based on religion and argue that these should be ramped up.

“In our relation with the western world, we are going through a difficult time,” Ihsanoglu told the summit’s general assembly. “Islamophobia cannot be dealt with only through cultural activities but (through) a robust political engagement.”

The International Humanist and Ethical Union in Geneva released a statement accusing the Islamic states of attempting to limit freedom of expression and of attempting to misuse the U.N.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that objectionable depictions of the Prophet Muhammad do not “give them the right under international human rights law to insist that others abide by their views.”

Hemayet Uddin, the lead author of the OIC report and head of cultural affairs for the group said legal action is needed because “this Islamophobia that we see in the world has gone far beyond a phobia. It is now at the level of hatred, of xenophobia, and we need to act.”

A new charter drafted by the OIC commits the Muslim body “to protect and defend the true image of Islam” and “to combat the defamation of Islam.”

To protect the faith, Muslim nations have created an “observatory” that meets regularly to monitor Islamophobia. It examines lectures and workshops taking place around the world and prints a monthly record of offensive content.

But some of the summit’s delegates said a legal approach would be over the top.

“My general view would be that the confrontational approach is one my country would avoid,” said Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Iftekhar Chowdhruy. Bangladesh is 90 percent Muslim.

While the Muslim world worries about the image of Islam in the West, the U.S. envoy to the OIC attended the summit to try to tackle the thorny question of America’s image among Muslim states.

Sada Cumber calls his campaign the “soft power” of the U.S. — an effort to find common ground with Muslim nations by championing universal values the U.S. holds dear like religious tolerance and freedom of speech.

“America has a deep respect for the religion of Islam,” Cumber told The Associated Press. “The freedom of faith that we exercise, that we enjoy in America, that is also a very important aspect of the American core values. Anyone who wants to practice any faith is never stopped or discouraged.”

Also during the summit, Chad and Sudan signed a peace agreement to stop incursions of rebels across each other’s borders, and the summit delegates committed themselves to addressing the spiraling violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Posted in 1st Amendment-Free Speech, Government and Politics, Islam, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, The War on Terror | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The McCain Girls Sing

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

This just makes me cringe, haha. It is pretty funny too in an awkward way. But I like the Obama girl better!

Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Straight Talk About Casual Sex

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/JaniceShawCrouse/2008/04/25/straight_talk_about_casual_sex

By Janice Shaw Crouse

It’s not news to anybody these days — not if they watch any television or glance at the covers of the magazines lining the checkout counters at the grocery stores — that we live in a sex-saturated society where supposedly the majority of young people are “doing it,” more often than not without “benefit of marriage.”  The “Playboy philosophy” is trumpeted by a thousand voices that glamorize casual sex, while most of the shrinking mainline churches present pitifully watered-down messages about morality that confuse rather than clarify.  Academic institutions, particularly the women’s studies programs, promote the idea that marriage is optional and young people are advised to “just do it!”  The secular mantra, heard from middle school on up, is that sex will make you popular and happy; it’s great recreation that is free and fun.

There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of casual, risky sexual experimentation; one need look no further than the junk advice featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan to see just how pernicious it is.  Even the “Dear Abby” column in many daily newspapers spreads the expectation of sexual activity even for the youngest of our teens.  This assault will not be neutralized until a brigade of those who know better find their voices to convince today’s Sex in the City generation of young women that only discipline and restraint — it is having an attitude that says, “I won’t mess up my tomorrows by fooling around today” — will open the gateway to achieving their dreams and ambitions.

Well, the time for some straight talk about casual sex is long overdue.  Every young person needs to know the following three truths:

Truth #1: Casual sex impairs the ability to establish a lasting emotion bond.  When natural human emotional responses are repeatedly denied, the person is hardened and the capacity to bond is weakened.  Dr. Donald Joy published groundbreaking research in the early 80s and has updated it periodically in the intervening years.  He chronicles the ways that intimacy produces bonding.  His research indicates that human beings respond to sexual intercourse by bonding, and they are driven to make that bond permanent and exclusive.

Dr. Joy reported on the work of a researcher at a hospital clinic in Detroit who worked with 1,000 couples for 10 years studying their marital problems and recording their sexual histories.  He concluded that sexual intercourse is constructive only within marriage.  His evidence is overwhelming that one or the other of the partners in casual sex (usually the girl or woman) experiences immediate emotional pain even in the absence of acknowledged injury.  The experience of casual sexual intimacy produces memories that can contaminate future relationships and create lingering problems later on, when the person eventually marries.  When the married couples in his research had problems, he said, “The pain in the marriages was rooted in their promiscuity.”

Truth #2: Casual sex leaves young people alone and lonely.  Counselors tell us that sexually active girls are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstinent peers.  Among the boys, sexually active ones are depressed twice as often.  Sexually active teens are more likely than their abstinent counterparts to attempt suicide (girls 15 percent to five percent and boys six percent to one percent).  But the most telling fact is that the majority of teenagers, 72 percent of the girls and 55 percent of the boys, acknowledge regret over early sexual activity and wish that they had waited longer to have sex.  So much for the cultural mantra that “sex is no big deal!”

On another front, replacing marriage with casual sex is especially harmful to young women’s long-term well-being.  The marriage rate in the United States has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1970.  In 1940, less than eight percent of all households consisted of people living alone; now more than a quarter do.  The number of unmarried couples living together temporarily in the U.S. is 10 times as large today as in 1970.

Truth #3: The so-called “sexual revolution” has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).  Sadly, 65 percent of STDs appear in young people under age 25, and fully 20 percent of all AIDS cases are among college-aged young people.  In the U.S., over 15 million new cases of STDs appear annually, a number that is triple what it was six years ago.  Having three or more sexual partners in a lifetime increases a woman’s odds of cervical cancer by 15 times.

The National Center for Health Statistics analyzed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and found two startling facts.  Among young women who used contraception at first intercourse, the probability of giving birth at each age is roughly half that of those who did not use contraception.  Further, the probability of a sexually active female giving birth approximately doubles between 18-20 years of age whether the young woman uses contraception at first intercourse or not.

A young person’s choices about sex reveal his or her attitudes about others.  Is sexual activity merely fun and games?  No.  Treating sex as something casual can never actually make it a casual matter.  The Scriptures raise the age old question, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27, NKJV)

Sexual intercourse can be an intense and pleasurable experience, but it is more — much more.  Sexual intimacy triggers the strongest and deepest, most exhilarating passions in life.  Its purpose is to bond a man and a woman into “one flesh” in the deepest intimacy that human beings can share.  Further, sex is designed to both create life and build a strong relationship to protect and provide for that life.  Little wonder that the Creator fashioned the means of creating life in such a way that it is one of the most awesome forces in our lives and then linked it to marriage so as to signify to us, “Priceless.  Handle with great care.”

It is impossible to ignore or dictate to nature.  Young people need to choose carefully.  Sex can never be free; choices always have consequences.  We cannot expect young people to act responsibly when adults — whose thinking is sometimes clouded by their rationalization of their own hurtful and toxic sexual experimentation — are irresponsible by not providing the best possible information to encourage self-discipline and self-control, which are the surest keys to young peoples’ long-term well-being.

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Feminism, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »