Obergefell’s Anniversary Isn’t the One to Focus on

As we approach the first “anniversary” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision on marriage on June 26, I recalled what a wise friend of mine said a couple of years ago—Christians have approached the question of marriage and its meaning and definition like it was a debate when perhaps we should have approached it more like a beauty contest. His comment stuck with me. Something I experienced Monday and a news story yesterday helped me better understand his observation.

Before I get to my personal story and the news, we need to appreciate why his comment has merit. There is a philosophic and historical aspect to his cultural observation that Christians (and conservatives in general) need to appreciate. There was a time when reason and logic ruled the mind, called the Age of Enlightenment. But that way of looking at life seemed, to many, to leave no place for emotion, feeling, and beauty, so what’s known as Romanticism emerged. Consequently, how one feels about what he or she sees or experiences determines the truth about it, its worth, and its value. That worldview seems to have won the day.

If that’s the case, then examples of beautiful marriages between a man and a woman and the natural fruit thereof may be more captivating to the modern mind than logical arguments about the complementariness of the two sexes, the procreative realities inherent in male-female marriage, and the need for connecting children to their biological parents. That brings me to my personal experience and yesterday’s news story.

At a time when some are now arguing for wed-leases (yes, a marriage license would be a commitment for a defined period that could be ended or renewed) because they see marriage not working for the long haul, my wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on Monday.

I’m not bragging about it, and I know that, left unattended, my own marriage could still unravel, but as I reflected back on our 35 years, having just reflected on being a father the day before, I realized what a beautiful journey marriage is.

However, there have been plenty of hard moments, too personal to share in a forum like this. As much as I’d like to say I wish there had not been such moments, the fact is that, having hung in there, they have refined and enlarged us as persons and as spouses. They are a part of what makes me value and treasure my wife and our marriage.

While there are some marriages in which personal safety calls for drastic action, the fact is that the person who perseveres with you during the intimate, intensely personal storms that marital life brings becomes the one you cherish most, the one whose hand you still thrill to hold simply because it means they are there and you know that when they are not there, a part of you is missing.

Then I had breakfast on Wednesday with a friend whose parents were about to celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary, and Thursday morning I read about President and Mrs. Carter celebrating 70 years of marriage. I also learned that President and Mrs. Bush celebrated 71 years of marriage earlier this year. Amazing!

Those of us who want to “defend” marriage need to do more to honor and recognize good marriages that can inspire those who are ready to give up on the idea of marriage or maybe their own marriage. Doing so is part of what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all” (13:4). It’s the reason I chose this topic for today.

So, as we approach the “anniversary” of the Obergefell decision purporting to redefine marriage, I guess my point is this: If Christians want to win the “marriage debate,” then we need to settle in for the long haul and demonstrate to a watching world the beauty of marriage.

That will take more work on our part, as our current track record on divorce makes amply clear. But if we’ll recommit ourselves to God’s design and intention for marriage, then, we can eventually win the debate.

Despite what some folks want us to believe, God—not the U.S. Supreme Court—will decide when the debate is over. It’s not over yet.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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Are Conservative Christians Fueling Terrorism?

Chattanooga City Council member Chris Anderson tried to pin the terrorist act in Orlando on local legislators and other political figures because of their support for sexual mores in line with historic American and Christian values. His assertion is like that of others who immediately tried to blame those murders on conservative Christians. For those who know their history, such an irrational accusation is nothing new.

First, so there is no confusion regarding my response to Mr. Anderson, let me reiterate that the shooting was an act of terror by a Muslim who takes seriously the Koran’s call for individual Muslims to engage in violent jihad against infidels of various stripes. It was murder. It was wrong and would be wrong regardless of what drew the victims to the place where they were murdered.

That being said, Mr. Anderson’s reaction and that of others—blaming some calamity on Christians who don’t go along with current cultural values—is nothing new. If you’ve ever read The City of God by St. Augustine, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. In fact, the parallels are striking.

Here is how the Bishop of Hippo described the blame game that started with the fall of a debauched, utterly pagan Rome:

“Rome having been stormed and sacked by the Goths under Alaric their king, the worshippers of false gods, or pagans, as we commonly call them, made an attempt to attribute this calamity to the Christian religion, and began to blaspheme the true God with even more than their wonted bitterness and acerbity. It was this which kindled my zeal for the house of God, and prompted me to undertake the defence of the city of God against the charges and misrepresentations of its assailants.”

In defense of the Christian worldview, St. Augustine responded to two different wrong-headed assumptions by the blame-the-Christians crowd, both of which are pertinent here.

First, he spent several sections in his work refuting “those who fancy that the polytheistic worship is necessary in order to secure worldly prosperity, and that all these overwhelming calamities have befallen us in consequence of its prohibition.” While the issue then was the fact that Christians didn’t go along with the polytheistic religious beliefs of the culture, the problem now according to folks like Mr. Anderson is that Christians aren’t going along with what we might describe as the “polysexual theology” and its fundamental tenet, tolerance.

Back then the point was that if Christians hadn’t upset the gods of their culture, the Goths wouldn’t have prevailed against Rome, whereas the point now is that if Christians would just be tolerant and not talk so much about homosexual behavior and bathrooms, then the Muslim in Orlando would not have been provoked to do what he did.

The Romans were wrong then, and Mr. Anderson and his ilk are wrong now. But the second point Augustine made further drives home this fact.

St. Augustine pointed out that the Romans who blamed the Christians refused to “admit that such calamities have at all times attended, and will at all times attend, the human race, and that they constantly recur in forms more or less disastrous, varying only in the scenes, occasions, and persons on whom they light … .”

Similarly, there have been public shootings of multiple people in recent years, and not by conservative Christians. More to the point, since Mohammed, Muslims have practiced mass violence against “infidels,” including, in particular, against homosexuals.

Mr. Anderson and those like him need to realize that the homosexual community’s real problem is not conservative Christians, who have never advocated that its adherents randomly execute God’s vengeance for Him on those with whom they disagree. To the contrary, Christianity says that vengeance does not belong to the individual Christian.

The fact is that, like the Goths who invaded a Rome that was rotting from within, radical Islam is invading our country for the same reason. The homosexual community might want to worry more about that than about Christians who advocate for marriage between a man and a woman and the designation of bathrooms on the basis of biological sex.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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Look Who’s the Bully Now

I read an editorial opinion this week about the decision by various organizations sympathetic to the sexual license philosophy to “boycott” Tennessee because the Legislature passed a law that allowed professional counselors to make a referral if they could not, in good conscience, support or affirm a client or potential client’s desired therapeutic goals. In reading it, I came to a new understanding of what it means to be a bully.

To appreciate the editorial’s comment, which I’ll share in a moment, one has to appreciate the situation. The “counselors’ bill” does not allow a counselor to refuse counsel to a person because of their sexual beliefs. The law still says, “Counselors do not condone or engage in discrimination against prospective or current clients . . . based on . . . gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital/partnership status . . . .” So any implication that a counselor can say, “Oh, you enjoy sex with persons of your own sex. Go away,” is wrong.

Further, the law still says a counselor can’t drop a client like a hot potato if, during counseling on a particular issue, the client’s sexual practices are revealed. The law says, “Counselors do not abandon or neglect clients in counseling. Counselors assist in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of treatment, when necessary.”

It is only when the client has a therapeutic goal that the counselor cannot, in good conscience, help the client achieve that the law kicks in. Even then, in keeping with the new law and the preceding paragraph, the counselor must facilitate a referral to another counselor.

However, the sexual license community, which often uses the acronym LGBT, thinks the law is “targeted” at them. They must think that the only goals for which persons might seek a counselor’s help relates to their sexual practices or their sexual identity. And in any event, certainly no counselor would have a problem helping a client achieve the therapeutic goal of getting comfortable with an act of jihad, euthanizing a spouse, or overcoming nagging guilt over intense anti-Semitic feelings, all possible therapeutic goals a client could have. Perhaps knowing no counselor would have a problem with those therapeutic goals explains why neither ISIS, the Hemlock Society, nor neo-Nazi organizations, respectively, have objected to the new law or threatened boycotts of Tennessee.

So the sexual license crowd decided to boycott the state to “punish” the state economically for targeting them. That’s fine. That’s their prerogative. Now for what the editorial said.

It was this sentence regarding the Legislature’s “who cares?” response to those boycotts and threatened boycotts by the sexual license crowd that caught my eye: “By pulling out of Nashville, these professional organizations have empowered the bullies.”

What? The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that a boycott is an activity designed “to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions.” Sounds to me like boycott is a nice word for a “bully.” But does this now mean that one is a bully for not responding positively to a bully’s demand?

Perhaps the editorialist might not have been referring to the Legislature’s response to the bullying by the sexual license crowd. Maybe he only meant that the Legislature was a bully for not forcing counselors to violate their conscience. But that sounds like what a bully would try to do, too.

Either way, it now appears that those who resist a bully or respect another person’s conscientious convictions are bullies.

If that’s what it now means to be a bully, then Target, which has refused to bow to the boycott of its stores and tells me I must violate my convictions regarding sexuality and privacy if I want to shop in their stores, is now a bully.

I can’t wait to read the editorial that condemns Target as a bully for not going back to its old bathroom policy that designates bathrooms based on biology instead of psychology. But I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time for that editorial.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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Will Gender Identity Go the Way of Sexual Orientation?

I have to hand it to liberals and sexual libertines—they come up with great words, and when those words develop certain connotations that may not be helpful to their cause, they change the definition. And if their word “gender identity” takes the same course as “sexual orientation,” then we’re headed for chaos.

You may recall, if you’re old enough, that those who engaged in sex with a person of the same sex were once called sodomites, not pleasant imagery in a culture familiar with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Then the word “homosexual” came along. That word, too, carried a negative connotation. Having sex with a person of the same sex, which is what the word meant, just seemed unnatural to most people. In fact, some state’s referred to such sex as “crimes against nature.”

Then came the word “sexual orientation.” As memory serves me, at first it simply was a nicer sounding word for homosexual behavior. In fact, for many of us, “sexual orientation” was really synonymous with “homosexual.”

Consequently, LGBT advocates came up with the brilliant strategy of rebranding the word “sexual orientation” and joining it at the hip with the evil word “discrimination.” The word “sexual orientation” morphed so that it no longer applied only to homosexuals, but to all persons; everyone, it was now said, had a sexual orientation and none was more “natural” than any other. This meant the laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation now ostensibly protected everyone.

The question is whether the word “gender identity” will someday soon morph, too? Perhaps it must if the gender wars are to be “won.”

Today, “gender identity” seems to carry the connotation of “transgender,” a person with a biological and/or anatomical structure reflecting one sex but who wants to be identified by the sex they think of themselves as being in their head. Even as the word “sexual orientation” was once synonymous with the word homosexual, “gender identity” is currently synonymous with transgendered persons.

The problem sexual libertines have is that most people are not confused about their sex and most people still want their privacy in those intimate settings in which persons of the opposite sex may be present. What has created the firestorm of opposition is the fact that a very small percentage of the population wants everyone else to adapt to them.

How can the gender identity crowd convince the overwhelming majority that laws against gender identity discrimination are good for them, too? What if the word “gender identity” sheds its narrow connotation and, as happened with sexual orientation, becomes something that everyone has? Now a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity ostensibly protects everyone! But there are two problems with that.

First, such a view of gender identity means no one is protected and Title IX’s protections against discrimination become meaningless. If, as a man, I can identify as a man or a woman (or something in-between), then the prohibition on gender identity discrimination means a state or business can no longer have a shower limited to women and to men who think they are women. Such a law would ban me from showering with the ladies simply because I “identify” consistent with my biology.

Such a law would simultaneously discriminate in favor of those who identify contrary to their biology, letting them use the women’s shower, and discriminate against those who identify consistent with their biology, not letting them use the same shower. Ironically, such a law essentially says I have to identify a certain way in order to do certain things, and that’s discrimination based on identity!

If we all have an “identity” and you can’t discriminate based on identity, then all you guys who can’t make the UT men’s basketball teams, don’t let the Lady Vols discriminate against you just because you “identify” consistent with your biology! You don’t even have to fake thinking you’re a woman anymore. Title IX is gone.

But the second problem is all binary distinctions between the sexes are gone, not just Title IX. C.S. Lewis ominously spoke of this day years ago in his book The Abolition of Man. Here is what he said regarding man’s “conquest of Nature”:

The final stage will come when Man, by eugenics, prenatal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be one. We shall have “taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho1” and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?

The plan has all come together. Eugenics, with artificial reproduction, selective abortions, and gene manipulation virtually unrestrained, is now fully in place. Obama’s “guidance letter” is making sure the educational program is in place. Pop psychology today is providing the necessary assistance and, of course, the propaganda from the mainstream media has been in place for years.

Good point, Mr. Lewis. I wish we’d all read your book sooner, because we’re all about to lose.


  1. Clotho, in ancient Greek mythology, was responsible for “spinning the thread of human life.” She also made major decisions, such as when a person was born, thus, in effect controlling people’s lives.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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It’s Not Business as Usual, Governor, and Never Really Was

President Obama’s “guidance letter” asserting the U.S. Department of Education’s view that the word “sex” in Title IX includes gender identity has caused a firestorm in Tennessee. Gov. Haslam issued a rather tepid statement on Monday to which some legislators responded with the idea of a special session. The Governor’s response to that idea was, “Just exactly what are we trying to do, because currently no one is being sued?” Well, that’s not necessarily true anymore. So what’s next?

The Governor’s statement is not necessarily true anymore, because yesterday the Obama administration’s non-governmental enforcement arm, the ACLU, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education asking it to investigate Sumner County’s school system for violations of Title IX. Why? Because it does not allow a boy who identifies as a girl to use the girl’s bathroom. And what does the ACLU cite as grounds for this Title IX violation? The Obama “guidance letter,” of course.

The Governor had previously said that “there’s nothing new” in the “guidance letter” and that schools should just keep on doing what they were doing. Well, obviously, the ACLU had a different interpretation of the Obama “guidance letter,” as did most legislators who were asking him to make it clear that the state would back up the local schools if they were sued.

Well, the Governor grossly miscalculated—not just because of the complaint filed yesterday, but because there has, indeed, been “something new” since the day the Obama letter was issued.

The “something new” that the Governor overlooked is that, as of last Friday, school districts had another factor to add into their locker room shower policy deliberations: “What do we make of the Obama ‘guidance letter’? Might an enforcement action follow? Will the ACLU use the ‘guidance letter’ as leverage in the threat of a lawsuit if we don’t let boys in the girl’s locker room shower?”

The reference in the “guidance letter” to the “condition” upon which schools take Title IX money was a shot across the bow of every school system in the state. The potential of losing perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars cannot be ignored by local schools as easily as the Governor seemed to think.

School boards needed to know if the state was going to “have their back” if they continued to designate bathrooms and locker room showers based on biology rather than psychology and the feds or the ACLU came after them. The Governor did not ever say that, and that is why some legislators started talking about a special session.

Legislators, naturally protective of their local school systems, wondered what would happen if the feds began an enforcement action against their school. Would the state step in and defend them? Sure didn’t sound like it based on what was coming out of the Governor’s office and the office of the Attorney General.

Legislators knew that if the state was not willing to take on the federal government, then local school districts would be sitting ducks. And yesterday the ACLU, as should have been expected, fired a shot at the “duck” swimming in Sumner County.

That complaint, though, was why a growing number of legislators were talking about a special session prior to yesterday—to provide the kind of leadership that had been missing, to let their local school boards know they can keep doing what they are doing with the confidence that the state “has their back” if they do and they won’t fight alone.

Of course, that was the thinking before yesterday. Now, with the complaint going before the Obama administration and not an “independent” federal judge, can anyone really doubt that the Department of Education will not find a violation of federal law? For goodness sakes, they just sued North Carolina for the same thing Sumner County is doing!

Real leadership would put a stop to a foregone conclusion type of investigation by finding a way to sue the Department of Education. And if we were smart, we’d sue in the more friendly confines of the federal district court in East Tennessee.

If that means we need a new law to ensure such a suit can be brought, then so be it. It’s time for some real leadership and maybe the Legislature can provide it.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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