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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Stop Mistaking Evil for Mental Illness

I know almost nothing of the mental condition of confessed mass murderer Nikolas Cruz, and almost certainly, neither do you. There are few, if any, who can give a reliable opinion of the young man’s psychiatric state as he walked into Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and killed 17. Nevertheless, after his killing spree on Ash Wednesday, many in the media, along with the public at large, were willing at least to imply, if not directly describe, Mr. Cruz as someone who was “mentally disturbed,” “mentally ill,” “crazy,” a “nut-job,” a “psycho,” someone dealing with “mental health issues,” and so on.

Those with a wide array of varying political and spiritual worldviews were willing to paint Mr. Cruz as a mental defect. In his Tweet about the shooting, even President Trump noted that there were “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed…” In his official statement the day after the horrific incident, the President declared that he wanted to work with state and local officials to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

As our culture grows more and more secularized, it has become a very common practice to describe those who commit widespread acts of violence—especially if such violence involves the death of multiple human beings—as “crazy.” Some of this is tongue-in-cheek, but much of it is sincere. I believe this is the direct result of the psychiatric community attempting to redefine what is moral.

For decades we have witnessed the psychiatric community take acts that were long considered evil, or at least immoral and illegal, and deem them a “psychological disorder” that needs to be cured. It’s just good for business, I suppose.

However, it’s a disaster for the culture. As C.S. Lewis lamented in his essay, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, when it comes to crime and punishment, we too often are facing off with those who believe “that all crime is more or less pathological.” Thus, instead of the criminal “getting what he deserves”—what used to be called “justice”—we must heal or cure him, and, as Lewis puts it, “punishment becomes therapeutic.”

This “humanitarian” approach removes from punishment the concept of “Desert.” As Lewis puts it:
[The] concept of Desert is the only connecting link between punishment and justice. It is only as deserved or undeserved that a sentence can be just or unjust…Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’.
And when a wicked government has in its hands such a view of crime and punishment, they will possess a “finer instrument of tyranny than wickedness ever had before. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which masters choose to call ‘disease’ can be treated as crime; and compulsory cured.” As Lewis adds,
We know that one school of psychology already regards religion as a neurosis. When this particular neurosis becomes inconvenient to government, what is to hinder government from proceeding to ‘cure’ it?
Joy Behar—and a host of others, I imagine—would not be disappointed with such a government.

What’s more, when certain behaviors go from crimes to be punished to diseases to be cured, we remove the power of sentencing from jurists and place it in the hands of “doctors,” who often know little of truth and justice. Lacking in such critical knowledge, left to their own “wisdom,” it would not be far-fetched to see these “doctors” decide that some diseases—that were once considered crimes—are no longer crimes or diseases. Are we not now witnessing this, especially when it comes to things in the sexual realm?

For example, as I noted several years ago, in spite of the long history of treating “transsexuality” as a disorder that needed to be cured, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the DSM 5) that was released in early 2013 removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of disorders. It was removed because, as the Associated Press recently put it, “a growing faction of medical experts who no longer see this as something to be fixed.”

In other words, with no real science to support its conclusions, by mere decision by its board of trustees, the American Psychiatric Association (APA)—who owns and publishes the DSM—decided that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder.” In other words, our so-called best psychological experts have now decided that there’s nothing wrong with men who wish to pretend they are women, and vice-versa.

I’ve spent many columns detailing the disasters that have resulted from such perverse thinking, but as time moves on and such perversion continues to prevail, the list of disastrous consequences grows. Recent reports reveal that Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Hendon has permanently removed an Ohio teenager from her parents’ home because of the parents’ refusal to support their daughter’s decision to identify as a boy. In particular, they refused to permit their daughter to receive dangerous hormone therapy to aid in her gender “transition.”

Tony Perkins also notes,
What’s especially alarming is that a lawyer representing the child – as well as Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office – cited the parents’ religious beliefs as an argument for robbing them of their rights! The mom and dad are being criticized for seeking out a Christian therapist for their daughter and for daring to send her to Catholic school.
And thus the wicked cycle is complete: what was once considered evil and/or criminal, or at least bad behavior, is now considered sickness; what once was considered sickness is now considered normal and healthy; and what was once considered normal, wise, or moral behavior is now punished by our “enlightened” law.

We were warned of such folly by no less than those within the psychiatric community. Doctor Allen Frances, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University, who chaired the task force that produced the DSM 4, called the release of the “deeply flawed” DSM 5 “the saddest moment in my 45 year career of studying, practicing, and teaching psychiatry.”

In addition to other concerns, Dr. Frances lamented the addition of such “disorders” as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation which, according to Frances, “will turn temper tantrums into a mental disorder.” Also, “Normal grief will become Major Depressive Disorder” and the DSM 5 “will likely trigger a fad of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder [you've probably seen the commercials] leading to widespread misuse of stimulant drugs for performance enhancement and recreation.”

Frances should not be surprised. Practicing psychotherapist Gary Greenburg says that not one of the disorders in the DSM is real. Greenburg claims that the DSM is nothing more than an exercise in rhetoric; an attempt to legitimize the practice of psychiatry. “Can you define mental illness?” The Atlantic asked Greenburg. “No. Nobody can,” he replied.

In a culture that is increasingly more hesitant to use the word “evil,” Greenburg concludes that having the APA classify certain behaviors as “disorders” is a way to remove the moral aspect behind certain behaviors.

After all, if someone is sick, then he or she is not responsible for his or her behavior. (What’s more, he can then be treated—with expensive drugs and therapy, of course.) And if someone’s “sickness” is suddenly no longer a sickness, and if it is no longer immoral, then we can celebrate and welcome him into our ever more tolerant society.

Such thinking has had a devastating effect on parenting. Instead of dealing with their child’s bad behavior as something that required good moral discipline, many parents—who have become increasingly ignorant of what is moral behavior—are simply looking to provide their misbehaving children with medication or therapy. Thus, millions of U.S. children are now on powerful psychotic drugs.

One of the least-reported aspects of these mass-murderers like Nikolas Cruz is how many of them were on psychiatric medications. This isn’t to imply that drugs or mental illness are to blame for their horrific behavior but rather to note that likely instead of a proper moral upbringing, these killers were given drugs and therapy.

A culture that confuses evil for sickness and refuses to see evil for what it is and deal with it accordingly does no favors for those guilty of evil, their victims, the culture at large, or those who are truly mentally ill.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Saturday, February 17, 2018

It’s the Worldview, Stupid (Redux)

If we want to defeat or change those who are wickedly determined to take the lives of other human beings unjustly, it should go without saying that we must look far beyond the killers’ chosen instrument of death. This is why the pro-life community doesn’t put any effort into attempting to ban suction curettes or forceps—which have killed far more people in the U.S. than have guns.

Nevertheless—and seemingly inevitably—whenever a mass murderer goes on a killing spree in the U.S., those who are terrified of the notion of absolute truth (who are determined to rule their own world)—and especially terrified of the Author of truth—ignore the real problems with homicidal deviants and almost always ignorantly insist that the solution is “gun-control.”

This ignorance is particularly—and dangerously—telling when, as FBI stats reveal, over 98% of mass shootings occur in so-called “gun-free zones.” Thus, restricting access to guns has done nothing in America except make certain areas—such as schools—even more dangerous. Yet liberals are unwavering in their desire to restrict Americans’ access to weapons.

This is the case even if the weapon is a truck, but especially if the weapon is a gun. True to their “never let a crisis go to waste” mantra, after Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 individuals at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Ash Wednesday, democrats wasted little time attempting to make political hay from Cruz’s evil act. The usual script was followed: multiple calls for gun-control legislation and frequent pointing of the finger at republicans.

Again, Satan laughs. Tragically, with those corrupted by liberalism, we see this time and again. Whether the problem is poverty, hunger, bad schools, gun violence, crime in general, or even the spread of disease, the liberal answer is always the same: more government. Because most of them have made a god of government, liberals are almost always looking for a political solution to whatever ails us.

Thus, virtually everything in our culture is politicized, and the public at large is subjected to never-ending campaigns. For liberals, nearly any solution to our cultural tribulations that will drive people to vote for democrats is most preferable. Sadly, far too many people are willing to cast their votes for those who promise to “protect” them—from the climate, from corporations, criminals, Christians, disease, pregnancy, and especially from the consequences of their own bad decisions. “Pajama Boy” and “Julia” are the poster children here.

In other words—whether through legislation, executive orders, or rulings from the bench—to cure society’s ills, liberals insist that we heed the words of “enlightened” man instead of the Word of the eternal God. This is why, after a mass shooting with multiple deaths, the idea of prayer is so offensive to liberals. Even the benign “moment of silence” or “thoughts and prayers” (you can keep your thoughts, but I’ll take your prayers!) are now so often derided, mocked, and ignored.

However, in spite of liberal trepidations, prayer brings us to the heart of the matter when dealing with the likes of Nikolas Cruz, Sayfullo Saipov, Devin Kelley, Omar Mateen, Dylan Roof, and so on. As C.S. Lewis taught us, prayer reveals our “bankruptcy,” or, put another way, our powerlessness. Prayer helps us understand who we really are and who God really is. (Note how the Lord’s Prayer begins: “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name…”) And when necessary, prayer leads us up to the vital moment at which we “turn to God and say, ‘You must do this. I can’t.’”

Only the power of God can change the heart of a human. Good government should always remind us of and be rooted in the truth, but we will never be able to legislate away evil. Men like Nikolas Cruz, Sayfullo Saipov, and Devin Kelley did what they did because they ignored God and decided truth for themselves.

Such a self-centered attitude is at the heart of liberalism. This is another reason why liberals want to focus on guns instead of what motivates men to do evil. The perverse worldview of angry atheists, murderous Islamists, and evil secularists shares much in common with the godless worldview of modern liberalism. Again, the most common shared element is a rabid disdain for all things Christian.

When dealing with the immorality that is destroying our nation, good government must recognize what it takes truly to change bad behavior—something that “gets to the heart” of individuals—and, at best, partner with such efforts, or at least, do nothing to hinder them.

In other words, we shouldn’t have a government that seeks to stop mass murderers merely with “gun control.” We shouldn’t have a government that encourages sexual immorality and the destruction of the family—whether through taxpayer funded abortions, promiscuous sexual education, or the promotion of homosexuality—and then wants to pay for the consequences of such immorality with billions in tax-payer funded welfare.

We shouldn’t have a government that seeks to cure poverty or violence with a godless secular education system. We shouldn’t have a government, as Grover Cleveland put it, that “encourages the expectation of paternal care” while weakening “the sturdiness of our national character.”

In other words, we don’t need a government that thinks that it can, through mere secular means, cure all that ails our culture. We need a government (of course that means elected officials) that understands that truly to change someone, truly to change behavior, requires getting to the heart of individuals. And of course, this requires spiritual efforts, and we all know where that leads.

The problems of this nation, of every nation, of every individual who has ever lived are always and ultimately spiritual, and thus require spiritual solutions. Of course, such thinking stands in stark contrast to those who have put their hope in the things and the people of this world. Virtually every dictator to rise to power has done so by promising some version of a leftist utopia. They hailed and promoted “the power of the human spirit”—or some similar bunk—and then millions were murdered. The last two centuries are replete with such tragic examples.

Nevertheless, the worldview of the American left continues to demand that America can become righteous through mere political means. As long as such thinking prevails, students will continue to die, and Americans of every stripe will continue to suffer.

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! And Now, “The Most Excellent Way”

I’ve often said that after our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is that between a husband and his wife. Whether or not you are married, when you were a child, the most important people on earth were your mother and father (or, it should have been this way). Thus, after our love for God, the most important love in the world is the love between a husband and wife.

About a year ago our family said goodbye (for now) to my wife’s beloved grandfather, Horace Fitzpatrick—known to all of the family as simply “Pa.” Nearly three years ago, Pa’s oldest son—my wife’s father—David was tragically killed by a drunk driver while bicycling near his home. When I spoke at David’s funeral, I made note of David’s loving devotion to his wife:
After his relationship with his creator and Savior, David was most devoted to his wife Margie. This was clear to all of us who knew him best. This is perhaps his greatest witness. Of course, David witnessed this devotion in the life of his own father. Thank you for that, Pa.
Pa’s funeral was the best “end-of-life celebration” that I’ve ever witnessed. His generous and loving life made for a powerful end. (We were especially close to “Granny and Pa,” as they played an important role in the debt-free manner in which we built our home.) Four men spoke at the funeral, including Pa’s son Roger. Roger made special note of Pa’s love for his “Beautiful, Sweet, Toony.” Horace and Bertie-Mae were married for 67 years. My wife’s parents, David and Margie (Papa and Mimi) had been married for nearly 46 years when David was killed in 2015. My own parents, Edsel and Carolyn Thomas (Poppy and Nonny), have been married for 49 years.

In other words, I’ve had many excellent examples of what true and lasting love looks like. In today’s sex-crazed, fornicating, adulterating, divorcing culture, such examples were (and still are) immeasurably impactful. With 20 years of marriage already under my belt, I certainly hope to continue such a tradition.

I say all of this with Valentine’s Day in mind. Several years ago, I wrote the following to help paint a picture of “the most excellent way.” I provide it again to remind all of us what it really means to love. (Thank you to all of my family and friends—but especially Granny and Pa, Nonny and Poppy, Mimi and Papa, and Michelle, Caleb, Jesse, Caroline, and Noah—for all the love you’ve given me.)

The Will to Love

I believe that the one most revealing, the most essential characteristic of our Creator is love. By His love He made us, and because of His love He redeemed us. We are closest to His nature and what He created us to be when we are living our lives according to His idea of love.

He also told us that His entire law can be summed up with one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What does that mean? What does it mean to love your neighbor as you love yourself?

First of all, who is our “neighbor?” Most of us have heard of “The Good Samaritan.” Through this parable, Christ taught us that our neighbor means more than those who live near us, or those within our circle of family and friends. In effect, what He was saying was that loving our neighbor also means loving our enemies.

Secondly, how do we “love” ourselves? If we are honest, we should all admit that there are times when none of us is particularly loveable. In fact, most of us have probably been pretty disappointed in and disgusted by our own behavior, and thus, in ourselves. We may even have seen ourselves as downright nasty.

Therefore, loving our neighbor does not mean always having pleasant feelings about him or being happy with everything she does. As C.S. Lewis put it, it does not mean “thinking them nice either.” In fact, love in the Christian sense isn’t a feeling at all. It is a matter of the will.

As Lewis put it, “It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we naturally have about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.” In other words, do not bother so much about how you feel towards someone; act like you love them. In other words, do and say the things that true love requires. Feelings and emotions come and go, but our will can be forever unwavering.

Consider 1 Corinthians chapter 13, where the Apostle Paul reveals to us what true love is.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Patience, kindness, a lack of envy or boasting; humility, politeness, and controlling your temper; keeping no record of wrongs, and so on—these all are matters of the will. As soon as you do these things, Lewis notes, “we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

Jesus said that the greatest act of love is to lay down one’s life for another. What is that if not an act of the will? No one “feels” like doing such a thing. Jesus even prayed that His act of sacrifice, if possible, would pass from Him, but His will was surrendered: “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

Of course, romantic love can generate a torrent of emotions within us. Almost all of us have been tied in knots over one person or another in our lives. But, even in the strongest of relationships, these feelings don’t last—and thank goodness! How would we function day to day and year to year with such emotions?!

Yet popular culture has chosen to highlight this brief and passing aspect of love and held it up as the ideal. Of course, popular culture has also made love synonymous with sex. This is especially true with our youth. They enter relationships—even marriage—with their hearts and minds full of the wrong ideas about love.

Thus, the most important relationship on the earth—that between a husband and a wife—often rests upon a very shaky foundation. If a marriage rests upon this feeling of “being in love” alone, it almost certainly will fail. Couples need to understand that when this feeling subsides, it does not mean that we should stop loving. Love in this deeper sense is about a promise or vow that nearly every couple makes upon marrying. And keeping this promise is a matter of the will.  

However, Christians know that, left to ourselves, our own will is not enough. On our own we cannot love as we should. The selflessness that true love requires runs very contrary to our born nature. That is why, in order to love truly, we must look to the One who is love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Christianity was (and is) Right about Sex and Marriage

On January 31, 2018, my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. At the end of this year, in mid-December, my wonderful parents will celebrate their 50th. Before my beloved father-in-law was criminally taken from us by a drunk driver in 2015, he and my sweet mother-in-law were married for almost 46 years. Taken together, those are rare numbers these days in our slow-to-marry, quick-to-divorce, sex-crazed, hook-up culture.

Like every other marriage in human history, none of the unions mentioned above were, or are, perfect. Each of us has certainly seen our fair share of tough times, but, as far as I know, there has never been even a hint of adultery, and “divorce” has never even been whispered. Of course, if any of us decided to abandon what God has revealed and go our own way when it comes to sex and marriage, disaster would result.

If you are similarly blessed in marriage within your own family, then almost certainly you or your spouse, parents, siblings, in-laws, and the like, subscribe to—or at least are heavily influenced by—Christian teaching on marriage, sex, and the family. Tragically, that is fewer and fewer Americans.

As we broadly examine the condition of and attitudes toward sex, marriage, and the family across the U.S., “disaster” would be a fair description of what exists. U.S. marriage rates continue to remain at record lows, while out-of-wedlock births remain at record highs. Again, the results of these trends are particularly devastating for children. The breakdown of the family is the single greatest cause of poverty in the U.S. As Robert Rector pointed out years ago, “Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.”

In order to further their big government agenda, modern liberals often point to education as the answer to poverty in America. However, marriage is a far better weapon against poverty than is education. Again, as Rector points out, “being married has the same effect in reducing poverty that adding five to six years to a parent’s level of education has.” In addition, a child in a single-parent home where the parent is a college graduate is nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as a child living with his or her married parents whose highest level of education is completing high school.

Along with poverty, children brought up outside of a marriage relationship (with their biological mom and dad) face a significantly greater danger of experiencing physical and sexual abuse. As Marripedia points out:
  • The rate of physical abuse is 3 times higher in the single parent family. 
  • The rate of physical abuse is 4 times higher if mother is cohabiting with the child’s biological father (unmarried). 
  • The rate of physical abuse is 5 times higher if the child is living in a married step family. 
  • The rate of physical abuse is 10 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend. 
The rates for sexual abuse are even worse than physical abuse:
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 5 times higher in the single parent family and when both biological parents are cohabiting (i.e. unmarried). 
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 8.6 times higher if the child is living in a married step family. 
  • The rate of sexual abuse is 20 times higher if the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend. 
As both of the last bullet points above imply, one of the most dangerous places for a child in America is with mom and her live-in boyfriend. However, because modern liberalism teaches that we have the “right” to do whatever we wish in the sexual realm, without any consequences, the most dangerous place for a child in America is in the womb. This is particularly tragic considering that a mother’s womb should be one of the safest places in the universe.

In a wicked attempt to justify the killing of the most helpless and innocent among us, aided and abetted by Hollywood and the Democrat Party, for decades the left in America has de-humanized the unborn. In other words, ignoring what Christianity has long revealed about human life, tens of millions of unborn children have suffered death because liberals in the United States have rejected basic science and morality.

After a half century of denying the irrefutable science of life in the womb, liberals have become quite adept at denial of almost any truth. Thus, we now must debate who is a man and who is a woman—along with pretending that there is all sorts of in-between nonsense along the mythical “gender spectrum.”

As long as American liberals hold any significant amount of political or judicial power—especially within or over the federal courts—don’t be surprised to see the gender debate go the way of the marriage debate. Ignoring the laws of the Law Giver, ruling in favor of the “right” to kill children in the womb (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), the perpetually deceived Anthony Kennedy declared a quarter of a century ago, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Of course, Kennedy reinforced this ignorant thinking with his perverse decision on marriage. Because such folly is almost standard today among the left, it wouldn’t be surprising to read a ruling from a federal judge that declares a man has a “right” to live his life as a woman, because “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence…”

And, if Justice Anthony Kennedy has such a say in the matter, given his previous decisions on abortion and marriage, don’t be surprised to see Hollywood attempt to lionize his life through film. Of course, such a film will likely be at least R-rated, filled with lots of graphic sex—especially homosexual sex. Remember, Kennedy also voted in favor of, and wrote the opinion for, Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned all U.S. laws against sodomy.

Depictions of graphic sex have become the sine qua non of Hollywood productions and have given rise to the massive and deadly porn industry. As U.S. marriage rates plummet and out-of-wedlock births skyrocket, porn use and STD rates are at astronomical levels.

In 2015, viewers watched a shocking 4,392,486,580 hours—equal to over 500,000 years—of porn on PornHub. As millions of Americans have replaced healthy human relationships with porn addiction, no doubt this obsession with fake sex has played a role in the declining rate of marriage in the U.S.

Additionally, and equally shocking, according to The New York Times, 110 million Americans—over one-third of our population—are now saddled with a sexually transmitted disease. Thus, when they’re not watching porn, many Americans are headed to a bar, a club, a house party, a frat party, and the like, looking for their next “hook-up,” and many are paying a steep physical—along with emotional—price.

Because those who rebel in the sexual realm are prone to rebel as it pleases them, individuals steeped in the hook-up culture are prone to a whole host of risky behaviors. As a 2016 study of American high school students published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals, teens who engage in dangerous (and sinful) sexual activity—such as homosexuality or heterosexual promiscuity—were much more likely also to engage in other unhealthy activities.

Teenagers least likely to put their health and lives in danger (along with the health and lives of others) are those who are choosing to follow the moral precepts of their Creator by refraining from sex until they are married. We didn’t used to need a “study” to know such was the case, because waiting for sex until marriage is exactly what Christianity teaches.

If much of America continues to embrace the lies of Hollywood—and the rest of the perverse modern left—on sex and the like, the next study, the next set of data, along with many personal anecdotes more and more of us will witness, will continue to paint a bleak picture for our nation. May those of us who’ve seen the light never stop working to help turn this tide and reverse the damage as we have opportunities, and where we have influence.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America