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Gender and Sexuality News Roundup (02/19/20)

February 19, 2020

One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to [email protected] with the subject “News Roundup.”


Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier, Christianity Today (Preston Sprinkle and Branson Parler)

“A healthy pastoral response will involve clear, proactive teaching. Rather than waiting for specific situations to arise before you address them, church leaders can educate themselves in a biblical view of marriage and sexual ethics and then pass that knowledge along to their congregations. It’s not uncommon for leaders to frantically scramble around scanning resources and shipping in speakers to address a raw situation that just flared up at their church. But instead of educating in “reaction mode,” we can construct a positive vision for what God intends.”

Willow Creek and Harvest Struggle to Move On, Christianity Today (Abby Perry)

“These days, Willow Creek and Harvest are trying to build a bridge of reconciliation with their own members. Willow Creek’s “reconciliation service” in July was heavily focused on moving on—and Hybels has not returned to participate or offer repentance. Harvest Bible Chapel is currently in arbitration with James MacDonald. How, then, will members of these churches—who are full of questions, hurt, and distrust—feel at home again in the churches they love? Lindberg at Willow Creek said that she and others are asking: How do you know when a church is safe? What about its staff? How long does it take? How do you know for sure? What should its governance look like?”

Common Good Conservatism In Action, First Things (Terry Schilling)

“Over the past year, conservatism has changed. At least, the way conservative intellectuals and some politicians talk has changed. Many now speak of orienting our society toward the common good, and about using government power to pursue that good. But has anything really changed within the Republican party? Politics and policy often run a course independent of philosophical debate. Are policymakers ready to go on offense and commit to a different strategy for combatting transgender ideology and the gay agenda? The answer seems to be yes.”

Texas church with sex offender pastor first to be ousted from SBC under abuse reforms, Houston Chronicle (Robert Downen)

“A Texas church pastored by a man who sexually abused two pre-teen girls is the first to be removed from the Southern Baptist Convention under new sex abuse reforms. Ranchland Heights Baptist Church in Midland has for years been pastored by Phillip Rutledge, who was convicted of sexual assaulting 11 and 12-year-old girls in 2003, according to court records and the Texas Department of Public Safety.”

German theologian spearheads transition to a ‘gender appropriate’ Catholic Church, Religion News Service (Claire Giangravé)

“The country’s Catholic bishops recently launched a two-year summit aimed at “newly assessing” long-held Catholic beliefs on sexuality, love and priestly life, including how women are included or excluded by the Church. The “synodal process” began with an assembly held Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 in Frankfurt, Germany, setting the agenda of the controversial topics they aim to discuss for the next two years, from married priests to the recognition of same-sex couples. But in a country with a long tradition of outspoken theologians, one of the most persistent voices challenging the Catholic Church’s current position will come from outside the synod.”

Pastors’ Conference meeting space contingent on program changes, Baptist Press (George Schroeder)

“Since the program was announced earlier this month, many have voiced concerns that not all speakers were Southern Baptist and that scheduled performer Hosanna Wong, a spoken word artist, is also a teaching pastor at her non-Southern Baptist church. Others have also been critical of the inclusion of David Hughes, pastor of Church by the Glades, a Southern Baptist congregation in Coral Springs, Fla. The church has received attention for various performances in its services, as well as sermon series with sensual themes.”


Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

The Woman Taking On Big Porn, First Things (Sorhab Ahmari)

“By touting the pimps’ mantras of autonomy and choice, liberal feminism compounds the marginalization of the majority. “I subscribe to the values of radical feminism,” Mickelwait says, “which is different from liberal feminism. Radical feminism is about the liberation of all women as a class, and you’ll never liberate women from the oppression we have faced historically as long as there is a subgroup of women who are being bought and sold in prostitution and pornography.””

The Queen Opposition to Pete Buttigieg, Explained, The New Yorker (Masha Gessen)

“Again, I am not saying that L.G.B.T. people who don’t pass are somehow morally superior to L.G.B.T. people who do. But these two distinct experiences are in some ways correlated with two divergent tracks in L.G.B.T. politics. One kind of queer politics is rooted in ideas of liberation, revolutionary change, and solidarity. The vision of this politics is a society that is radically changed by many kinds of people fighting many kinds of injustice, a society in which economic, social, political, and sexual relationships have been transformed….The other, more mainstream, and often more visible kind of L.G.B.T. politics aims to erase difference. Its message to straight people is “We are just like you, and all we want is the right to have what you have: marriage, children, a house with a picket fence, and the right to serve in the military.””

Utah senators pass bill to decriminalize polygamy, The Salt Lake Tribune (Bethany Rodgers)

“Sen. Deidre Henderson’s bill would reclassify bigamy as an infraction, codifying the practice of the Utah attorney general’s office not to prosecute otherwise law-abiding polygamists. An infraction, like a traffic ticket, carries no threat of imprisonment….Current Utah law makes polygamy a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It can be up to 15 years if the defendant is also convicted of fraud, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse or human smuggling or trafficking….Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, has argued that decriminalizing bigamy will encourage victims of crime to come out of the shadows and report abuse without fear of prosecution.”

What you need to know about polyamory – including throuples, USA Today (Joshua Bote)

“A recent episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” brought polyamory to the spotlight when a throuple — a type of polyamorous relationship in which all three people are in a relationship with each other — sought to buy a house in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s part of the broader umbrella of consensual non-monogamy, said Crystal Byrd Farmer, a writer based in Gastonia, North Carolina and the online editor of the magazine and forum Black & Poly. Polyamory comes with its own set of guidelines and issues. And to be clear, people in the polyamory community say not everyone should pursue it, even if it sounds appealing. Below are a few questions you may have had about polyamory, but were too afraid to ask.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably just dealt a fatal blow to the Equal Rights Amendment, Vox (Ian Millhiser)

“Ginsburg’s comments on Monday suggest that she believes this 1982 deadline should be considered binding. “I would like to see a new beginning” for ERA ratification, the justice told McKeown….Ginsburg’s comments are likely to be the death knell for the ERA. Without Ginsburg’s vote, it’s tough to imagine that five members of the Supreme Court would agree the ERA was properly ratified. And while Congress could, in theory, start the ratification process over again, it’s also hard to imagine two-thirds of the House and Senate agreeing to do so in an age when Congress often struggles to perform basic functions like funding the government.”

Diana Taylor doesn’t have a name for her relationship with Mike Bloomberg. She just wants him to win., The Washington Post (Robin Givhan)

“Taylor could be referred to in many different ways. And yet, the New York Post regularly called her Bloomberg’s “gal pal.”…“I hate ‘girlfriend’ because it sounds so temporary,” Taylor continues. “It’s very junior high.” Partner implies that theirs is a business relationship; companion has shades of “the other woman”; consort is practically Victorian….While wife and mother are two words that do not apply to Taylor, there are plenty others that do. “I define myself first and foremost as I’ve had a fairly successful career,” she says. “I define myself by my family: my parents or my brother or sister and their families.””


Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake, The Atlantic (David Brooks)

“When we discuss the problems confronting the country, we don’t talk about family enough. It feels too judgmental. Too uncomfortable. Maybe even too religious. But the blunt fact is that the nuclear family has been crumbling in slow motion for decades, and many of our other problems—with education, mental health, addiction, the quality of the labor force—stem from that crumbling. We’ve left behind the nuclear-family paradigm of 1955. For most people it’s not coming back.”

If You Want a Marriage of Equals, Then Date as Equals, The Atlantic (Ellen Lamont)

“Heterosexual women of a progressive bent often say they want equal partnerships with men. But dating is a different story entirely. The women I interviewed for a research project and book expected men to ask for, plan, and pay for dates; initiate sex; confirm the exclusivity of a relationship; and propose marriage. After setting all of those precedents, these women then wanted a marriage in which they shared the financial responsibilities, housework, and child care relatively equally. Almost none of my interviewees saw these dating practices as a threat to their feminist credentials or to their desire for egalitarian marriages. But they were wrong.”

My Husband Is Deconstructing His Faith. How Do I Journey with Him?, Christianity Today (Kimberly Penrod Pelletier)

“For those of us married to a spouse who is deconstructing the faith, their experience can feel like a problem to fix more than an invitation to heed. But more often than not, these problems can’t be solved, they can only be held. As we hold them in open hands, we in turn hold on to God and trust that he is holding on to us. He is the same God who is and always has been able to be and do “more than you could ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).”

More Than Our Appetites, First Things (J. D. Flynn)

“Fr. James Martin, S.J., avers that his advocacy does not challenge Catholic doctrine on homosexuality. He has made a point of publishing an essay delineating Church teaching on the subject. I am happy to take Fr. Martin at face value: If he says he does not wish to challenge the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, even if there is some evidence that this may not be true, I am willing to believe him.”

How to Make Your Marriage Gayer, The New York Times (Stephanie Coontz)

“Here’s where same-sex couples can offer their different-sex counterparts useful tips. Since same-sex couples can’t use imputed male-female differences to sort out who does what, they rely less on stereotypes. Heterosexual parents tend to see tasks such as child care, laundry and dishes as part of a package that is handed to one partner. Same-sex couples are far more likely to each take on some traditionally “feminine” and some “masculine” chores….Even in ordinary daily interactions, people in same-sex unions use more positive methods of influencing a partner, studies find, than individuals in different-sex partnerships, offering encouragement and praise rather than criticism, lectures or appeals to guilt.”

Science, Sex, and Suicide, Public Discourse (Randall Otto)

“Why would Scientific American urge a ban on therapies that may free some from an identity associated with greater depression and suicide, and yet never question “treatments” for gender dysphoria that lead to increased confusion, depression, and suicidal tendencies?”

Transition as Treatment: The Best Studies Show the Worst Outcomes, Public Discourse (Paul Dirks)

“A pattern begins to emerge as we survey some of the best and longest outcome studies on gender transition: the longer the studies and the better the methods, the more negative the results.”

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