Stephen Measure - News 2017-04-18T20:08:00-07:00 Stephen Measure http://www.stephenmeasure.com http://www.stephenmeasure.com Writer's Dementia http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2016/09/21/writers-dementia 2016-09-21T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/writers-dementia"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/writers-dementia-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">All of the stories I've published so far can more or less be considered message fiction. I still have plenty of "message" I want to say, but I'm at the point now where I'm ready to start introducing stories that are just stories, no deep message parsing required.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify;">This could almost be considered a different genre for me. At times writers will use different pen names when writing in multiple genres so that readers won't be confused about what to expect when they pick up a book or a story by that author. I don't want to go down that route, but I do want to differentiate between my message fiction and my other stories, so I created a new publishing imprint within my indie publishing company Silver Layer Publications named Weird Imprint. Moving forward, anything I publish using Silver Layer Publications can probably be considered message fiction, whereas if I publish something using Weird Imprint, then you know my main goal is to entertain.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">That said, you can expect some gray between the two. People talk about message fiction, or fiction with a message, but I think most (if not all) fiction has at least a little bit of message inside. How could it not? Authors are human beings, with their own opinions and their own concepts of what makes the world go round. Inevitably, the way we think about things will bleed through our stories in the form of message. But I think motivation is important here. For a lot of my stories, I have a very specific message I am trying to illustrate (usually on a controversial subject), and that is why I'm content to refer to them as message fiction. But I think of my Weird Imprint stories differently. Again, there will likely be some gray at times, perhaps a little bit of a (probably noncontroversial) message you might detect lurking beneath an interesting story, but the bottom line is that when I choose Silver Layer Publications vs Weird Imprint, there is a reason why I do so, and you can use that to inform your expectations of what kind of story you are about to read.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">Now with all that out of the way, let me introduce my latest short story, which is also my first Weird Imprint story. To understand the inspiration for this story, just know there is Alzheimer's on both sides of my family tree; and so, in the absence of medical breakthroughs, there is a large chance I'll be dealing with this later in life. But what impact will that have on all the characters running around in my head waiting for their chance to be part of a story? Allow me to introduce <a href="/writers-dementia">"Writer's Dementia"</a>:</p> <p style="text-align:justify;"><em>A character inside a writer's mind, Natasha has been waiting patiently to be put into a story, but when she is infected by the writer's growing dementia, she can't wait any longer and has to take matters into her own hands. With the help of Alter-Simon, a discarded draft of one of the writer's characters, she must find her way into a story before the writer's dementia makes her vanish forever.</em></p> news Religious Freedom and Sexual Identity http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/09/13/religious-freedom-and-sexual-identity 2016-09-13T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Religious freedom and sexual identity are incompatible. Religious freedom requires the ability to treat a behavior as wrong, but sexual identity declares that some behaviors are so intrinsic to one's identity we should not have the freedom to treat them as wrong. Our society can have either religious freedom or it can have sexual identity. It cannot have both.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essay:<br/> <a href="/essays/2016/05/21/how-anti-discrimination-laws-are-used-to-discriminate-against-religion/">How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion</a></small></p> thoughts Dear College Students http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/08/27/dear-college-students 2016-08-27T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Dear college students, as you sit in class, and your professor starts preaching about privilege, or microaggressions, or heteronormativity, or safe spaces, or gender identity, or sexual identity, or intersectionality, or colonialism (in the 21st century!), or social justice, or the exaggerated and misleading gender wage gap, or claims that "racist" is a synonym for "white" or "sexist" is a synonym for "male", or uses the word “cisgender” in a serious manner or the phrase "trigger warning" without an accompanying punch line, or suggests it's reasonable to memorize personal gender pronouns for everyone you meet, or blames everything on "rape culture" and blames "rape culture" on you, or speaks against religion even though they themselves (just like everyone else) hold religious beliefs, or expects people who don't believe in magic to believe a biological male is a woman, or prioritizes feelings over freedom of speech, or speaks against discrimination while simultaneously discriminating against viewpoints they disagree with, or claims every weather occurrence (in any direction) is evidence of global warming, or suggests that racial segregation of college students is an appropriate idea (in the 21st century!), or lectures on affirmative consent without being honest enough to wear a "Sex Police" badge, or justifies mob intimidation to shut up speakers they don't like, or claims there's moral virtue in spending other people's money, or basically makes the classroom feel indistinguishable from what you'd hear at a Democratic/Socialist pep rally—when your college professor does this, I want you to remember something: You don't have to take them seriously. Being employed by a university doesn't make them right, and it doesn't make them wise, and it doesn't mean you have to take them seriously.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">By all means, do your homework, pass your classes, earn your degree—always looking forward to the day when you'll finally turn your back on the temple of progressivism that academia has become and graduate into the real world.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/21/how-anti-discrimination-laws-are-used-to-discriminate-against-religion/">How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age</a></small></p> essays Untolerated Rejection http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2016/08/01/untolerated-rejection 2016-08-01T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/untolerated-rejection"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/untolerated-rejection-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">It's been a while since I've published a new story. It feels good to be releasing something new once again, and I have a number of stories planned for the coming months. I've actually been working on a larger story that will be very different from what I've done in the past, but this little satire popped in my head one night and demanded to be told. I was able to finish the initial rough draft in a matter of hours, which is unusual for me. After some time to edit and revise, it's now ready to be released.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify;">Unlike how I've done things in the past, I'm releasing this story only for the Kindle, at least for now. By doing so, Amazon gives me access to additional distribution options such as the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited, so I'm going to try those out and see if it makes sense to make future titles available only on the Kindle as well, at least initially.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">My latest short satire: <a href="/untolerated-rejection">"Untolerated Rejection"</a>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Paul has slept with dozens of girls at his high school, but it’s the person he keeps rejecting that gets him in trouble.</em></p> news How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/05/21/how-anti-discrimination-laws-are-used-to-discriminate-against-religion 2016-05-21T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine if "shopping day preference" was added to anti-discrimination law. That's innocuous, right? I mean, who would want to discriminate against someone just because of their shopping day preference? And then the following Sunday, Andrew, who fancies himself a Sunday Shopper, strolls down Main Street, visiting store after store, as is his habit, when he comes across a door that won't open and a sign that says "Closed". Furious, Andrew calls his lawyer and a lawsuit is filed claiming discrimination against Andrew on the basis of shopping day preference. Andrew, you see, claims to be a <em>Sunday Shopper</em>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The store-owner is confused. She has nothing against Andrew. She'd be happy to serve him on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. But Sunday, for her, is different. Her religion calls it the Sabbath, and she doesn't want to work on that day. She's not trying to discriminate against Andrew. If he wants to shop on Sunday, then that's his business; but she doesn't want to be involved, not on a Sunday. She wants the freedom to live her life as she sees fit, and to not be involved with activities—such as shopping on Sunday—that she considers to be wrong.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Then Andrew erupts in anger. How dare the store-owner suggest he shop on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. He's a Sunday Shopper! That's who he is! He can't shop on some other day—he's a Sunday Shopper! He was born that way. Sunday is the only day he can shop. The law says she cannot discriminate against him based on shopping day preference, and that means the store has to be open on Sunday because he is a Sunday Shopper. Her business is a public accommodation, and that means she has to follow the law. If that violates her religion, then too bad. She can't use her religion as an excuse for discriminating against him and his fellow Sunday Shoppers. Her store <em>must</em> be open on Sundays because that is the only day that Sunday Shoppers can shop!</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In other words, adding "shopping day preference" to the anti-discrimination law has nothing to do with protecting individuals such as Andrew, who the store-owner would be happy to serve on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. The law isn't protecting him. The law is protecting his behavior: shopping on Sunday. The law claims we cannot accommodate him in the absence of that behavior; therefore, it is the behavior, shopping on Sunday, that the law is protecting, not the individual. It's all about behavior. It's all about shopping on Sunday.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And how do you protect a behavior? You protect it by discriminating against the belief that that behavior is wrong. We treat wrong behavior different from right behavior (according to our own definition of right and wrong). Every one of us does. Do you treat lying the same as telling the truth? Do you treat cheating the same as being faithful? Do you treat bullying the same as being kind? Of course not. If you think a behavior is wrong, then you will treat that behavior like it is wrong. Unless, that is, anti-discrimination law steps in and forbids you from doing so. Put simply: An anti-discrimination law that protects behavior is an anti-discrimination law that discriminates against the belief that that behavior is wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Same-Sex Sexuality</strong><br/> The analogy to same-sex sexuality should be obvious. Imagine if Andrew, instead of claiming to be a Sunday Shopper, calls himself gay instead. He goes to a baker and demands they bake him a cake for his same-sex wedding. But the baker believes that same-sex sexuality is wrong, and she doesn't want to be involved in the celebration of a life-long commitment to it. So Andrew takes her to court. This baker has no problem serving Andrew. She'd be happy to bake him a wedding cake so long as that wedding didn't represent a commitment to a behavior she disagrees with. And she'd be happy to bake him a cake for any other reason: for his birthday, his graduation, his retirement, his May the Fourth Be With You party. But if an anti-discrimination law includes sexual orientation, then what it really includes is same-sex sexuality. It doesn't matter that the baker is perfectly willing to serve Andrew in different circumstances. The law has nothing to do with Andrew. It's all about his behavior. It's all about same-sex sexuality. The law claims the baker cannot accommodate Andrew in the absence of that behavior; therefore, it is the behavior, same-sex sexuality, that the law is protecting, not the individual. And if the baker's religious beliefs get in the way, then too bad. The law has been written to protect the behavior of same-sex sexuality, and it does so by discriminating against the belief that same-sex sexuality is wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Identity Shells Corrupt Anti-Discrimination Law</strong><br/> Why does this happen? How is it that a law that was supposedly written to protect a group of people ends up discriminating against the religious beliefs of others instead? It happens because we are creating groups of people who aren't just people anymore—they are people inseparably tied to a behavior. Sunday Shoppers are people who can only shop on Sunday. Shopping on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday is impossible to them. They are Sunday Shoppers! And gays are people who can only engage in same-sex sexuality, who can only enter into same-sex marriages. Choosing otherwise is impossible to them. Marrying a member of the opposite sex is impossible to them. That is the claim. And so, if you object to same-sex sexuality, the claim is made that you are objecting to the individual themselves, because that individual has been inseparably tied to that behavior.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Sunday Shopper. Gay. Transgender. These concepts are man-made. They are <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">identity shells</a>—artificial labels used to manipulate you into accepting a behavior. And when identity shells are added to anti-discrimination law, they corrupt that law. No longer is it a law about protecting individuals. Now it is a law about protecting behavior—because an identity shell is a person tied inseparably to a behavior. And the way you protect a behavior is by discriminating against the belief that that behavior is wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">By including behavior in anti-discrimination law, governments are enforcing a moral imperative to accept that behavior. They are saying we aren't allowed to discriminate against that behavior, meaning that we aren't allowed to treat that behavior any different than we would treat a moral behavior, meaning that we effectively aren't allowed to consider that behavior to be a sin, or at least we aren't allowed to treat it like one.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's been the goal all along. The only reason why sexual orientation has been added to anti-discrimination laws is to force the acceptance of same-sex sexuality, and the way you force the acceptance of same-sex sexuality is by discriminating against the religious belief that same-sex sexuality is wrong. It's about behavior. It's all about behavior. If you doubt this, try changing the words "sexual orientation" in anti-discrimination law to say "sexual attraction but not behavior" instead, then watch the fireworks erupt in opposition to that change. It's about behavior. It's all about behavior.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yet behavior is the realm of religion. Is a behavior right? Is a behavior wrong? When an anti-discrimination law protects a behavior, it is taking a religious stance on that question. It is declaring that any religious beliefs that disagree are out of bounds. It is establishing a state-enforced limit on religious beliefs. Can't you see? We are lying to ourselves. We claim our anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination against religion, but then we throw in one huge caveat—expect for the belief that protected behaviors are wrong. Those beliefs are out of bounds, and the government itself will discriminate against them. It is religious tyranny. Government sponsored, government enforced, religious tyranny. And it should never, ever be done. Yet it's happening. It's happening, and it won't stop until we make it stop.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>This Could Be Done to Any Behavior</strong><br/> And it won't end here either. Already the push to force the acceptance of same-sex sexuality has expanded to force the acceptance of a different behavior: claiming to be a gender you biologically aren't. Sexual orientation, gender identity, these phrases are being added to anti-discrimination laws, but they aren't being added to protect people. They are being added to protect identity shells, to protect the behavior hidden within that identity shell. And that same trick could be applied to any behavior. Just say that a person <em>is</em> that behavior. Just say that a person has no choice to do anything other than that behavior. Then, if someone disapproves of that behavior, they are disapproving of that person as well—and you can unleash the dogs of war.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why stop with same-sex sexuality or with claiming to be a gender you biologically aren't? Surely there are other religious beliefs you'd like to ban as well? Are you sick of people preaching about the Ten Commandments? Well, the solution is simple: Just translate the behavior into identity shells, insert them into anti-discrimination law, and then sit back while the government squashes any belief in the Ten Commandments in favor of a new government-mandated single commandment: Thou shalt not discriminate against idolaters, against blasphemers, against Sabbath-breakers, against parent-dishonorers, against murderers, against adulterers, against thieves, against liars, or against coveters.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Perhaps you don't care now because the behaviors being protected are ones you don't think are wrong. But what happens when anti-discrimination law moves forward and suddenly starts protecting behaviors you yourself consider to be wrong? How would you like to be legally forbidden from reacting to a wrong behavior? How would you feel if you were told you cannot treat lying different from telling the truth, if you were told you cannot treat cheating different from being faithful, if you were told you cannot treat bullying different from being kind? It's about behavior. It's all about behavior. And you cannot protect behavior without discriminating against belief. The self-righteous activists who are pushing to include behavior in anti-discrimination law claim they oppose discrimination, yet they are designing the law specifically to discriminate against those they disagree with. They are hypocrites. They are tyrants. And they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity should ever appear in anti-discrimination laws or policies. Those phrases are used to protect behaviors, not people—to protect man-made, manipulative identity shells. And they do that by discriminating against religion. That's the whole reason why those phrases are being added: to discriminate against religion. They have no place in anti-discrimination laws.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Open Your Eyes</strong><br/> You are being manipulated. The trick should be obvious, once it's been pointed out to you: By claiming that a person is inseparable from their behavior—by bundling person and behavior together into an identity shell—you can place that behavior off limits for disapproval; you can force everyone to accept it. Gay. Transgender. Sunday Shopper. Those are identity shells. Those are man-made labels designed to manipulate you into accepting a behavior. "Gay rights", "transgender rights", "LGBT rights"—pure manipulation. "Anti-gay", "anti-transgender", "anti-LGBT"—more manipulation. Open your eyes. How much louder do I have to shout? <strong><em>You are being manipulated.</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Freedom Means People Will Do Things You Don't Like</strong><br/> Everyone treats wrong behavior different from right behavior (according to their own definition of right and wrong). You do that. I do that. Everyone does that. And there's nothing wrong with that. You can't prohibit others from discriminating against behavior without discriminating yourself. When you try, you're just replacing one type of discrimination with another—the private discrimination of individuals, based on their beliefs about morality, with the government discrimination against individuals, based on their beliefs about morality. And you claim that is a good thing? It is not.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">You can either allow individuals the freedom to disapprove of behavior they disagree with, or you can instruct the government to discriminate against religious beliefs you disagree with. Choose one or the other. But if you choose the latter, understand this: You are a religious tyrant, and you—yes you—<strong><em>you</em></strong> are discriminating against those who believe differently.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">The War Between Identity and Behavior</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You</a></small></p> essays Magical Words http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/05/19/magical-words 2016-05-19T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">You can prove a man's height. You can prove his weight, his blood type, his skin color, his biological sex. But you can't prove a man is a woman, not without the mystical power of "Gender Identity", not without the magical words "I am a woman".</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And what if I don't believe those words are magic?</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essay:<br/> <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a></small></p> thoughts Divine Authority and "Gender Identity" http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity 2016-05-18T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Everyone has a religion. Yes, I know some people dispute that fact. They claim that because they don't go to church or read leather-bound scriptures, they don't have a religion. But they are incorrect. Religion isn't church. Religion isn't scriptures. Religion is truth. More specifically, our religion is what we accept as truth—the truth about morality, the truth about the meaning of life, the truth about reality itself. Yes, everyone has a religion, and there is no better proof of this than the supposedly secular but actually quite religious ideology of "Gender Identity".</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Have you ever deconstructed your beliefs? Have you ever broken them down to discover where they came from, what they are based on? If you have, then what I'm saying here should not come as a surprise to you, but if you haven't, then now is a good time to start. Down in the midst of all our thoughts and beliefs, you will find there are two main types: secular facts and religious truths.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Secular Facts</strong><br/> A secular fact is something you can prove to others, something you can measure. Basically, it's science. (Real reproducible science, not pseudoscience.) Observation. Results. Gravity is a secular fact. The sun rises in the east—that is a secular fact. Math is full of secular facts. And human reproduction—the human species survives because the sperm from a man unites with the egg from a woman—that's a secular fact.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Religious Truth</strong><br/> And what is a religious truth? A religious truth is something that is true because it is true, not because you can prove it to be true. Generally, it's something completely unprovable—like morality. Is same-sex sexuality morally wrong or is it morally right? The answer to that can come only from religious truth. But religious truth encompasses more than just the unmeasurable. It also includes truth that directly contradicts current secular fact. Consider resurrection. Does secular fact provide support for this belief? Of course not. Yet, millions and millions of Christians the world over believe it anyway. They believe it because it is a religious truth they accept, despite how it contradicts the secular facts they also accept. In effect, religious truth supersedes secular fact. When there is a conflict, we prefer our religious truths because they are true without a need to prove they are true, whereas secular fact is based only on the latest results and is always liable to change. Someday, we all assume, secular fact will catch up with all our religious truths, but in the meantime these two types of beliefs might conflict with each other; and when they do, religious truth always wins because religious truth is something we simply believe to be true, facts notwithstanding.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Divine Authority</strong><br/> Yet if religious truth is true because it is true, not because it is proven, then how do we know it is true in the first place? We know something to be true, something to be a religious truth, because we learn it from a source we recognize as a divine authority. For a standard church-going religious person, the divine authority is God. We learn religious truth from scriptures, from prophets, from the traditions passed down within our church; but ultimately the source of that religious truth, and the reason why it is religious truth, comes from God.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And what about those who don't go to church? What about those who don't believe in leather-bound scriptures, who claim to have no religion? Do they have a divine authority? Do they have a source of religious truth—of things they accept as true not because they are proven, things they accept as true even if they contradict secular fact? Of course they do, just like anyone else. But God isn't the divine authority of those who don't believe in God. Their divine authority is the crowd. What is right? What is wrong? Well, what does the crowd say? That is how they answer that question. That is their divine authority, and they will follow it wherever it leads them despite what secular facts have to say about it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Consider what has happened with same-sex sexuality in recent years. Go back a decade or two and how did people think about it? Did they think it was moral? No. And today? Millions have shifted their moral views on same-sex sexuality. And it wasn't logic that caused that change. It wasn't science. It was their crowd, the Progressive Crowd. They accept the Progressive Crowd as a divine authority, as a source of religious truth, of things that are true without a need to be proven as true. And so, when their divine authority began to loudly shout that same-sex sexuality is morally right, of course they believed. And today they are believing the religious truth taught by the Progressive Crowd about "Gender Identity", even though that religious truth directly contradicts secular fact.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Gender Is Biological Sex (And, if not, it's pointless.)</strong><br/> The terms man and woman, male and female, originate from the reality of biological sex. That's the reason why those words exist. That's the reason why the entire concept of gender exists. Gender is not something different from sex. Yes, some claim that it is. They claim that gender is outward characteristics, that gender is how we appear—like an outfit that we can just put on or take off. Yet, they then use the exact same words for gender as for biological sex, making it a distinction without a difference. They are not asking us to treat a man who makes himself look like a woman like a man-who-makes-himself-look-like-a-woman, they are asking us to treat him like a woman, like an actual biological woman. To them, the "Women's" locker room is the locker room used by people who dress and act like women, not people who actually are. But we do not have single-sex locker rooms to separate people who dress and act like men from people who dress and act like women—we have single-sex locker rooms to separate people who actually <em>are</em> men from people who actually <em>are</em> women. This goes for everything else. The whole reason why we have a separation between male and female is because of biology, not identity. So, no—no matter how you define it— gender is not distinct from biological sex. It's just a synonym for sex. That is how the word is actually used. It's just a way to politely describe the two sides of humanity (man and woman) without using a word that others will mistake for the act of sexual intimacy. Gender is not an outfit. It is reality. It is the reality that someone is actually a man or someone is actually a woman.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And this is part of the problem. You have people using the terms man and woman based on the reality of biological sex, and you have other people pretending to be using the terms man and woman based on their pointless definition of gender; and the two cannot be reconciled together without the aid of religion. Think about it. How else do you magically transform a biological male into a woman? And we're not even talking about "sex changes" either, nor are we talking about the rare cases of actual physical ambiguity. We're talking about someone who is unquestionably a biological male. Strip him and there is no difference with any other male. Yet we're supposed to believe he is a woman, why? More importantly, we're supposed to treat him like he is a woman—not like someone who simply identifies as a woman, but like someone who actually <em>is</em> a woman. Why? Why would we do that? Why would we believe a biological male is a woman? We wouldn't. Not if we're basing our decision on secular facts because the secular fact is that a biological male is a man. That is the whole point behind the word. That is why the concept exists. Yet many people are capable of believing in "Gender Identity", in "transgenders", despite all evidence to the contrary. How is this possible? It's possible because their religion, their divine authority. tells them it is true; and religious truth trumps secular fact.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Religion of "Gender Identity"</strong><br/> Strip away all of the sophistry, and the basic idea behind "Gender Identity" is simply that some people are born with gender-mismatched souls: some men are born with female souls, and some women are born with male souls. Yes, most believers in "Gender Identity" wouldn't describe the ideology using those words, but that's what they actually believe. It's not biology that proves to them that someone is a man, and it's not brains; it's identity. It's the magical words: "I am a man". That is what makes someone a man to them. Nothing physically measurable. Nothing physically observable. In fact, more than just being unmeasurable, their belief is one that actually <em>contradicts</em> secular reality. Take fifty men and fifty men-who-make-themselves-look-like-women and leave them alone on a deserted island with plenty of resources. Then return a century later and find only skeletons. There is a secular reality here that "Gender Identity" believers are ignoring in favor of their religious belief in the mystical power of identity.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The word "man" means something. The word "woman" means something. They mean something concrete, something real. To say a woman is a man if she says she is a man is no different from saying that a woman is a park bench if she says she is a park bench. This is a belief based not in physical reality but in mysticism, in religion. It is a belief that there is an unseeable, unmeasurable part of ourselves that is more <em>us</em> than even our physical bodies, and the standard word for that unseeable part of us is our soul.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Divine Authority of the Progressive Crowd</strong><br/> And so, believers in "Gender Identity" effectively believe in gender-mismatched souls. That is how they get around the contradiction with physical reality. The secular fact is that a biological male is a man. But they believe in the religious truth of gender-mismatched souls, and their religious truth trumps the contradicting secular fact, allowing them to believe that a biological male is a woman or a biological female is a man. And why do they believe in gender-mismatched souls? They believe it because their divine authority, the Progressive Crowd, tells them it is true.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what about the millions of us who don't accept the Progressive Crowd as a divine authority? What about all of us who approach gender based on the secular facts of biology, not the religion of "Gender Identity"? We have no religious truths that allow us to overlook those secular facts. We don't have those religious truths because we don't believe in the divine authority of the Progressive Crowd; and we aren't interested in converting.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Here is the situation that millions of us find ourselves in now:<br/> 1. Secular fact indicates that a biological male is a man<br/> 2. That secular fact can only be ignored if overridden by religious truth<br/> 3. Our divine authority provides us no such religious truth</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that explains the conflict today over "Gender Identity". Those who are comfortable with the idea of "Gender Identity" are those who accept the Progressive Crowd as a divine authority; those who are confused or angered by the assault on reality are those who do not.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that conflict isn't simply going to go away. Yes, many will eventually submit. They will bow to the Progressive Crowd and accept it as their new religion. (Human history, after all, is unfortunately full of cowards.) But many of us will never give in. Many of us will forever view this as a case of someone else's religion being forced upon us even though that religion directly contradicts secular reality, and we will forever view the aggressors as religious tyrants or as fools too blind to realize that 2 + 2 doesn't equal 5.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Hubris of the "Non-Religious"</strong><br/> Those who pretend to have no religion are blind to the religious truths they actually carry within themselves. Having no reason to honestly examine themselves, they mix secular fact and religious truth together, arrogantly assuming that everything they believe is a secular fact rather than a religious truth. But those of us who are openly religious are well familiar with the difference. We believe in religious concepts like resurrection, yet we also believe in secular concepts like chemotherapy; and we understand the different realms of both, the different reasons why we believe.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This arrogance has caused the Progressive Crowd to expose themselves without realizing it. They march under the banner of "LGBT" yet, blinded by their hubris, they don't realize the two very different conflicts inherent in that acronym. The letters "LGB" represent a conflict between the religious truth of the Progressive Crowd versus the religious truth of many conservative religions. Is same-sex sexuality morally wrong or is it morally right? That question falls entirely within the realm of religion, and it is the religious beliefs of both sides that are in conflict. Yet the letter "T" of "LGBT" is very different. It represents an entirely different conflict, a conflict between the religious truth of the Progressive Crowd and the secular facts of biology. The Progressive Crowd have exposed themselves as the religious tyrants they truly are. They are using government power to impose their religious beliefs, not only over opposing religions, but over secular fact itself.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion/">Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/10/05/gender-identity-is-a-self-defeating-ideology/">Gender Identity Is a Self-Defeating Ideology</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender/">Some Connected Thoughts about Gender</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age</a></small></p> essays Psychologists and Biology http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/05/12/psychologists-and-biology 2016-05-12T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Psychologists do not hold precedence over biology. The fact that a man feels more comfortable while pretending to be a woman doesn't mean he is a woman. It just means he is a man in need of a better psychologist.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essay:<br/> <a href="/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender/">Some Connected Thoughts about Gender</a></small></p> thoughts "Transgender" Is a Religious Term http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/05/11/transgender-is-a-religious-term 2016-05-11T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">"Transgender" is a religious term used by a religion I don't believe in.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essay:<br/> <a href="/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion/">Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion</a></small></p> thoughts Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion 2016-04-29T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Many are asking the question "Can religious freedom coexist with 'LGBT rights'?", not realizing the question is a false one that therefore cannot be answered. The two sides here are not religion versus "LGBT rights". The two sides are actually just two separate religious camps, and the phrase "LGBT rights" is nothing more than a battering ram being used by one camp to force its moral views onto the other.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But that is a topic for another day. Instead I want to point out that, while the acronym "LGBT" might make it appear the behaviors it represents are all bundled together and any opposition to those behaviors is also bundled together, that's actually not true. The L, G, and B stand for the words "lesbian", "gay" and "bisexual", all of which are <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">identity shells</a> used to force the acceptance of same-sex sexuality, and it is the religious belief that same-sex sexuality is wrong which causes opposition to that behavior. Yet, the T is very different. T stands for the word "transgender". And what is a "transgender"? A believer in "gender identity" claims a "transgender" is someone whose true gender doesn't align with their biological sex, which means that the religious opposition to that would be the religious belief that … that what exactly? That biology matters? That we shouldn't encourage behaviors which, if followed by everyone, would cause human extinction?</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">The truth is that, like the words "gay", "lesbian", and "bisexual", the word "transgender" is an <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">identity shell</a>, a man-made label used to manipulate people into accepting a behavior, and here's the behavior underneath "transgender": claiming to be a gender that contradicts your biological sex. Put simply, this is a biological man claiming to be a woman, or a biological woman claiming to be a man.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now let's take a step back. Why do we even have the words man and woman, male and female, in the first place? Do we have them because of religion? Of course not. We have them because of the reality of biological sex and because of the fact that biological sex is critical to the survival of the human race. In other words, if it weren't for biological differences, there would be no reason to even have the concept of gender at all. And then here comes "gender identity", preaching that some people are "transgender" so we should ignore their biology and just accept that they are the opposite gender than their biology indicates, even though biology was the reason why gender exists in the first place!</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And where in the paragraph above did I mention anything against "gender identity" that was even remotely religious? I didn't and that's the point: The opposition to "gender identity" is not driven by religion, it's driven by logic. We know what makes someone a biological male. We know what makes someone a biological female. There are objective rules, based on physical reality, and we logically expect them to be followed. And so, when someone claims to be the opposite gender than their biology indicates, it's not our religion that's offended, it's our logic. Which raises the question: If opposition to "gender identity" is driven by logic, what is "gender identity" itself driven by? And here comes the fun part: "Gender identity" is driven by religion. That's right. The very people who claim to be fighting for objective facts over religious belief are actually trying to impose religious belief over objective facts!</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I believe in Noah. I believe he was an actual man, who built an actual ark to escape an actual flood. I'm open-minded about whether it was a worldwide or a limited flood and about what animals actually made the trip with him; but the fact is, due to my religious beliefs, I believe in the story of Noah despite any physical evidence to the contrary. Now let's apply that to the topic of "gender identity". Here we have actual men. Strip them and you'll see there's nothing special about them: They are biologically male just like other men. Yet, because they claim to be women, believers in "gender identity" say those men are women, despite all physical evidence to the contrary. And that, my friends, is some deep mystical s***.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And don't bother saying any nonsense about "male brains" or "female brains". You know as well as I do that if the scientific community ever objectively quantified a "male brain", there would be plenty of women with "male brains" who are quite content being women, thank you very much. In fact, here is a challenge for any who claim there is a brain difference that justifies "gender identity": Should we start using brain scans to determine gender? Should we say that a biological male who has this or that characteristic in his brain is actually a woman despite how he feels about it? Are you so confident in your belief in brain differences that you would be willing to do that? Of course not. Brain characteristics are only used to justify an opinion after the fact. Any brain characteristics that are thought to correspond to biological males who claim to be women will inevitably also be present in some biological males who are happy being men, leaving us with the question: Why the difference? Here's the bottom line: When it comes to the brain, "gender identity" believers are desperately grasping at straws to justify their belief, and when brain characteristics prove fruitless, they'll just keep looking elsewhere because, like a man fanatically determined to scientifically justify his belief of a seven literally-twenty-four-hour-day creation, they want to believe.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But, if it's not brains and it's not bodies that could make a man a woman, what could? I'll tell you: their souls. That's right: their souls, the unseeable, unmeasurable part of themselves, as described by religion, the part of themselves that is more truly them than even their bodies. In other words, believers in "gender identity" effectively believe that some biological males were born with a female soul and some biological females were born with a male soul. And that is a legitimate belief for someone to have, but here's the point that cannot be highlighted enough: That is a <strong><em>religious</em></strong> belief.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why oh why are so many people trying to impose their religious beliefs onto others? Why is the NBA demanding that North Carolina change its laws to accommodate<a href="#update">*</a> the NBA's religious beliefs? Why is Target subjecting its customers to Target's corporate religious beliefs? Both the NBA and Target apparently believe in gender-mismatched souls, but do their fans and customers share that belief?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Some people, including myself, hold the religious belief that baptism washes away our sins. And some people hold the religious belief that "transgenders" were born with a gender-mismatched soul. Neither of those religious beliefs can be physically seen or physically felt. Both of those religious beliefs require faith on the part of the believer. Yet, I'm not hearing any complaints of people being forcibly baptized against their will, so why are so many activists trying to force everyone to pretend that a man is a woman when we don't share the religious belief that allows those activists to overlook all evidence to the contrary?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">One more example: If a stranger on the street grabbed your arm and told you he's a prophet, would you believe him? Not unless you had a religious reason to do so. And if a biological male, naked in a womens locker room, claimed to be a woman, would you believe him? Not unless you had a religious reason to do so. In both situations, there are religious beliefs that might cause you to believe; but without those beliefs, you wouldn't. In other words: <strong><em>In the absence of religion, a biological male is a man.</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">So, yes, the conflict over "gender identity" is a case of religion versus secularism, but the conflict is flowing in the opposite direction from what is being reported. This is a case of the religion of "gender identity" imposing its belief in gender-mismatched souls onto those who believe otherwise. And we shouldn't put up with it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/10/05/gender-identity-is-a-self-defeating-ideology/">Gender Identity Is a Self-Defeating Ideology</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender/">Some Connected Thoughts about Gender</a><br/> • <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age</a><br/> • <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You</a></small></p> <br/> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted" id="update"><small>Errata:<br/> * "Accommodate" probably wasn't the best word to use here. The "accommodation" that the NBA and dozens of other smug, self-righteous corporations are demanding is that North Carolina base its laws around their religious belief in gender-mismatched souls. [April 30, 2016]</small></p> essays The Cognitive Dissonance of "Gender Identity" http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/04/20/the-cognitive-dissonance-of-gender-identity 2016-04-20T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Gender, if divorced from biological sex, is pointless. That's the true core of our society's conflict over "gender identity" today. It's the cognitive dissonance. We're expected to believe that gender actually matters (and therefore we should bother paying attention to it) and to simultaneously believe that gender doesn't matter (and therefore people can claim to be whatever gender they want, despite their biology). It's us staring up at a bright blue sky while activist bullies are screaming in our ears that it's green, and the whole time Darwin is watching from afar, snickering.</p> thoughts "A Modest Proposal ..." Available as Ebook http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2016/04/14/a-modest-proposal-available-as-ebook 2016-04-14T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/a-modest-proposal-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">Reason has left the building. Doesn't it seem that way lately for the topic of gender? This is "the sky is blue", "water is wet", and "the birds and the bees" territory. This isn't religion (which is about the unseen and therefore open to opinion). This is reality. And the reality is that reason, truly, has left the building.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">In 1729, Jonathan Swift, wanting to speak against England's poor treatment of the Irish, turned to satire and "A Modest Proposal" was born. What started as a small pamphlet became a part of history and a time-honored tradition of pointing out the ridiculous and wrong-headed through satire. Following Swift's example, last month I wrote my own modest proposal, <a href="/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">"A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age"</a>, and I've since decided to further follow in Swift's footsteps by distributing it as the 21st-century version of a pamphlet—an eBook. It's now available on Amazon and elsewhere. I've made it free where I'm allowed to, and you can also simply download it from my website as a PDF.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why write this? Why read this? Day after day, celebrities, politicians, and CEOs are demanding that we pretend that 2+2=5. How are we supposed to respond to that? We have no billion-dollar corporation behind us. We have no political power to wield in our defense (and those who do have it have too-often proven cowards when faced against a tsunami of insanity). So what are we supposed to do? What else can we do but laugh?</p> news Skin Color Doesn't Matter http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/04/11/skin-color-doesnt-matter 2016-04-11T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">If telling someone their skin color prohibits them from the hair style of their choice isn't an example of blatant racism, then what is the point of even having the word? We are not our skin color. Skin color doesn't matter. It neither defines nor limits us. Those who disagree, who persist in viewing the world through race-tinted glasses, who judge words by the color of the speaker, who judge actions by the color of the doer, who demand that freedom itself be dictated by the color of our skin—those are today's racists.</p> thoughts I Am the Absence of Homophobia http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/03/28/i-am-the-absence-of-homophobia 2016-03-28T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Things were different in our youth, were they not? Do you remember playing "smear the queer"? Can you imagine playing that game today? And the words we used to describe men who had sex with other men—pervert, faggot, and worse. We built a wall, didn't we? A wall of separation between "us" and "them". We created an other because we needed an other because we couldn't bear the thought of there not being an "us" and a "them". We built a wall. And the wall kept us safe. The wall kept us comfortable. The wall kept us separate.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now, the old insults are gone, lost in the history of forbidden words and phrases, replaced by safer words such as "gay" and "homosexual". We're so careful today, so cautious. We're so desperate to avoid offense. Yet, although the insults might be gone, the wall still remains. Oh, we won't insult "them". We would never dream of it! But they are "them" and we are "us". They are different! They are other! They must be other because we are not the same, no, definitely not the same. We would never insult "them", but we are "us" and they are "them", and the wall remains, as high and wide as ever. We depend on it. We hallow it. We bend our moral standards to accommodate it, to accommodate a wall <em>we ourselves</em> created, a wall we so fear to lose. And the wall keeps us safe. The wall keeps us comfortable. The wall keeps us separate.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">And the wall keeps us fools—so scared of reality, so scared of possibility. But I refuse to live that way, so I have torn down the wall. I have embraced the other, and I have declared we are all the same—the same possibility, the same expectations. Sexual identity, I have rejected. "Gay" and "straight", those man-made labels, I have discarded. I need no wall to keep me safe. I need no wall to keep me comfortable. I need no wall to keep me separate. And here in the open, here with no wall blocking my sight, I understand that all desires are possible to all, that all actions are choosable by all, and—clear as life itself—I understand that wrong will remain forever wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Which brings me to my point: It's curious to be accused of homophobia by those who cower behind a wall of separation. Curious and, frankly, completely backwards. Don't you see? I am the absence of homophobia. I am what you could be if you would tear down the wall. If you would … if you would … are you frightened?</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">The War Between Identity and Behavior</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You</a></small></p> essays Discrimination Against Moral Beliefs http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/03/25/discrimination-against-moral-beliefs 2016-03-25T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Self-righteous activists, who claim to oppose discrimination, are advocating for laws and policies that discriminate against those who hold different moral beliefs.</p> thoughts Giants Beget Dwarfs http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/03/16/giants-beget-dwarfs 2016-03-16T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants, whom I criticize for not seeing as far as I, standing on their shoulders, am able to see.</p> thoughts A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal 2016-03-10T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify"><em>(with a hat tip to Jonathan Swift)</em></p> <p style="text-align:justify">As our society continues its progress into uncharted (and surely good!) territory, we continue to find ourselves stymied by outdated, unnecessary concepts left over from pretechnological ages. Left unchecked, this constant backward clinging to obsolete wisdom will do nothing but stall our growing (and surely good!) ability to mold reality into a shape that better fits our individual preferences.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And so, as others have done in times past, <em>I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection</em>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of all the concepts blocking our absolute control over reality, none are more stubborn or more threatening than the continual, nonstop (and frankly quite aggravating) idea that gender should be based on biology. We have put earnest effort into eradicating this vile ideology, even employing anti-discrimination laws to criminalize wrong thinking. Yet, aided by natural forces and the obstinacy of so-called "common sense", the ideology remains, proving it isn't possible to simply redefine gender, we must completely remove and replace it instead.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">And that is what I am proposing here today: gender must be stricken from our consciousness, the words man and woman, male and female, cut from the dictionary; every gynecologist and urologist jailed; all anatomy textbooks burned; and any instruction on reproduction, pregnancy, or childbirth absolutely and utterly banned.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Then, with that unpleasantness behind us, we will replace the ejected idea of gender with a more flexible (and open-minded) classification: supergender. As the prefix "super" makes clear, supergender is superior to gender. It is a label of self-expression we can choose (and replace) at will. No more will we be tied down by antiquated notions such as purpose or reason. Yes, my friends, it's a new age—a "super" age.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">To escape Mother Nature's "tyranny of two", there will be three defined supergenders, each named after an extinct animal (demonstrating our triumph over nature): passen, dodird, and wooloth—named after the passenger pigeon, dodo bird, and woolly mammoth, respectively.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And let me restate the best part: supergender is based completely on personal preference, which means we are free to identity as whatever supergender we wish. Furthermore, if the three supergenders provided are insufficient to express one's individuality, then the following can be added as prefixes, suffixes, or both: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti. So, one could refer to their supergender as dodirdmi, or solwooloth, or fatisolpassenredo. The possibilities are endless! And if that doesn't prove flexible enough, the naming rules themselves can be customized as necessary, including the one described by this sentence. We must not block in any way the diversity of self-expression that supergender provides. (Say goodbye to the oppressive gender binary!)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I now turn to a few matters of housekeeping. The incredible diversity of supergender will require modifications to our current paper forms and data entry screens. The banned category of gender will, of course, be removed, and supergender put in its place; but I must stress how imperative it is that supergender never be presented as a fixed set of choices. It should instead always be an open text field, large enough to accommodate at least twenty letters; and a truly inclusive organization would provide even more space, perhaps enough for 100 letters, in case someone wishes to express themselves in prose or haiku. (Caution: Haikus are only permitted for those with Japanese ancestry. Anyone else would be guilty of cultural appropriation and publicly flogged.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">While it's true there are no physical characteristics that allow us to distinguish one supergender from another, the lack of any correlation with the material world shouldn't be taken as a negative, rather it should be celebrated. We are throwing off the shackles of what actually is and replacing it with what makes us feel better about ourselves!</p> <p style="text-align:justify">However, it must be acknowledged that a lack of physical cues might cause confusion regarding someone's supergender, which could result in unintended (but severely punished) offenses; and for this reason, it would be best for all of us to start wearing name tags wherever we go, with the top half stating our chosen supergender and the bottom half listing our preferred pronouns.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This list of preferred pronouns should include at a minimum the nominative, possessive, and objective cases, but English majors may wish to include a custom intensive/reflexive pronoun as well. It is recommended each pronoun be no longer than ten letters; however, those who can only express themselves verbosely are allowed to use as many letters as they wish.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">A forward slash should be used to separate each pronoun on your name tag, but if you are offended by forward slashes, a backward slash can be used instead, unless you think backward slashes are too suggestive of reactionary, conservative—and therefore undesirable—thinking, in which case a hyphen could be deployed; but if you use hyphens to separate your pronouns and one of your pronouns itself contains a hyphen, please surround that pronoun with parenthesis; however, if your pronoun is short and your parenthesis extra curly, this might unintentionally create the mental association of a ball; therefore, in that scenario it is highly recommended you tape a piece of paper over your pronoun list (with tape on the top, creating a flap that can be lifted as desired) and write the following on the outside of the paper flap: "Trigger Warning: This pronoun list contains parenthesis which might trigger disturbing childhood memories of dodgeball brutality."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Always remember that humans are fragile, delicate creatures. We must always be cautious. Nothing in life is worse then causing offense or discomfort.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's turn our attention now to a most pressing issue: restrooms. All buildings must, at a minimum, have separate restrooms for each of the three primary supergenders. Ideally, restrooms will be provided for many of the other options as well; however, given the infinite variety, it will be impossible to accommodate every supergender, so any extra restrooms beyond the primary three should be assigned to the most popular alternative supergenders (based on a semi-annual poll taken at your expense).</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Although it is mandatory for society to accommodate everyone in every minute particular, there might still be times when your supergender will not have an available restroom. In the dark ages of gender this would have been a great inconvenience, but in the enlightened age of supergender, such situations need not be an issue at all. Remember that supergender is based entirely on one's selection and we are free to alter our selection at any time, even temporarily. It is therefore recommended you write your supergender on your name tag using pencil. Then, if your supergender lacks an assigned restroom (or your restroom is too crowded, or it's out of toilet paper, or the only free toilet is a urinal and, for some unexplainable reason, your evacuatory organs aren't physically compatible with that style of toilet), you can simply take out your pencil, erase your current supergender, write in the name of the supergender with the most optimal restroom, take care of your business in said restroom, and then return to your preferred supergender once you have exited the restroom (or choose a new one, whatever brings you bliss).</p> <p style="text-align:justify">As social animals whose beliefs are furthered through effective traditions (which are totally fine as long as they aren't conservative), we will establish three annual holidays to celebrate the three primary supergenders. (Tear down the tyranny of two!) Activities will be decided on a regional basis, but some possible ideas include: burning Mother Nature in effigy, acting out the final death throes of your favorite extinct animals in wholesome family skits, or performing stack ranking of your neighbors based on their commitment to social justice and impaling the bottom 5%.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">While I'm sure my proposal so far has excited you (Who doesn't love learning fun new holiday traditions?), before I conclude, we unfortunately must discuss the uncomfortable topic of safe space violations. This is a tender topic. In the wide spectrum of human depravity, the violation of someone's safe space (whether by microaggression or macro) is certainly one of the most grievous acts ever conceived in the dark heart of humankind. In rare occasions, you will be shocked to hear, this violation is done intentionally. But more often than not, it's done unintentionaguilty. (If someone says you are, then you are.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Safe space violations are as varied as the sand of the sea, but this proposal will focus on those related specifically to supergender. A supergender safe space violation consists of two individuals: the offender and the offended. The offender is someone who has said, done, or thought, something that the offended takes as offensive toward their supergender. Whenever an offended claims offense by an offender regarding their supergender, the apology ritual must be invoked, which requires the offender to kneel before the offended and state: "I have defiled your supergender. Please slap me across the face three times."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If the offended agrees with the primacy of three supergenders, they shall slap the offender the required three times and the ritual is thereby ended. If, however, the offended has a more expansive view of supergender categories, they shall slap the offender three times three times three times. (Tear down the tyranny of two!) Then the offended will spit upon the offenders' head and call them a vile bigot. Finally, the apology ritual will conclude as the offender and offended embrace each other and rejoice together in the equality and diversity of supergender.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Having shared with you my proposal, I can conceive of no reasonable objections to anything discussed therein. Countless informal studies, done without the limitations of control groups, have repeatedly proven that people are happiest when we go along with whatever they want, and supergender does exactly that, without any concern for facts or other inconveniences. No longer will we be bound by reality or biology, those vestiges of a pretechnological age. Never again must we listen to that shrill harpy Mother Nature. Let lower animals heed her obsession with coupling. We humans have progressed beyond such banal matters and are masters of everything within our grasp. The sky is whatever color we say it is, and water is only wet if that makes us feel good about ourselves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><em>The End</em></p> <p style="text-align:center" class="small">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Available as eBook:</p> <div class="row"> <div class="col-sm-12"> <div><strong>eBook (Kindle):</strong> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E921S3W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01E921S3W&linkCode=as2&tag=silvelayerpub-20&linkId=HNKUJGIWYF6HRBUZ" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-amazon.com');">Amazon.com</a> </div> <div style="margin-top:5px;"><strong>eBook (EPUB):</strong> <a href="https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/modest-proposal-for-replacement/id1104592063?mt=11&at=1l3v4ii" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-apple.com');">Apple iBooks</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=PbX3CwAAQBAJ" target="_blank" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-google.com');">Google Play</a>, <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XB1W86jyqIw&subid=&offerid=361251.1&type=10&tmpid=9310&RD_PARM1=https%3A%2F%2Fstore.kobobooks.com%2Fen-us%2Febook%2Fa-modest-proposal-for-the-replacement-of-our-outdated-gender-binary-classification-system-with-one-more-suited-for-our-progressive-age" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-kobobooks.com');">Kobo</a>, <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-modest-proposal-for-the-replacement-of-our-outdated-gender-binary-classification-system-with-one-more-suited-for-our-progressive-age-stephen-measure/1123664989" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-barnesandnoble.com');">NOOK</a>, <a href="https://www.scribd.com/book/309782738/A-Modest-Proposal-for-the-Replacement-of-Our-Outdated-Gender-Binary-Classification-System-with-One-More-Suited-for-Our-Progressive-Age" target="_blank" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-scribd.com');">Scribd</a>, <a href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/629770" target="_blank" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-smashwords.com');">Smashwords</a> </div> <div style="margin-top:5px;"><strong>eBook (PDF):</strong> <a href="/files/a-modest-proposal.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'amp', 'click', 'ebook-pdf.com');">Download</a> </div> <div class="text-muted"><small>(I get commissions for purchases made through these links.)</small></div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align:center" class="small"><br />* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/10/05/gender-identity-is-a-self-defeating-ideology/">Gender Identity Is a Self-Defeating Ideology</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion/">Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender/">Some Connected Thoughts about Gender</a></small></p> essays Gender Is Not a Religious Concept http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/03/03/gender-is-not-a-religious-concept 2016-03-03T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Religion is about the unseen. Gender is not. When gender-identity missionaries knock on Mother Nature's door, she unleashes Darwin to chase them off her lawn.</p> thoughts Corrupted Wisdom http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/02/27/corrupted-wisdom 2016-02-27T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Our society seeks wisdom and guidance from those who've been corrupted by fame and fortune. This won't end well.</p> thoughts Behavior Identities http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/02/20/behavior-identities 2016-02-20T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Behavior identities (also referred to as <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">identity shells</a>) are manipulative, artificial labels placed around behaviors to force us to accept what we otherwise wouldn't. When you see a behavior identity being used, replace the false label with the behavior it is hiding and notice how much clearer the situation becomes.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">You are being manipulated. Doesn't that bother you? Because, frankly, it pisses me off.</p> thoughts It's Not Fun to Say No http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/02/12/its-not-fun-to-say-no 2016-02-12T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Because it's not fun (or comfortable) to tell someone no, our moral principles tend to become the lowest common denominator of those we associate with. Oh, that more of us could have the strength to tell family and friends we love them and that's why we expect better of them!</p> thoughts The Discouragement of Wrong Behavior http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/02/06/the-discouragement-of-wrong-behavior 2016-02-06T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Everyone treats wrong behavior differently from right behavior. There's nothing remarkable about that. All of us do it, each following our own definition of right and wrong. Whether the personal disapproval of individuals or the legal consequences of government, the effect is the same: a discouragement of behavior we consider to be wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">There are, unfortunately, some who try to hide certain behaviors behind a <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">facade of identity</a> in an attempt to place those behaviors out-of-bounds for disapproval; but that manipulative tactic is a topic for another day.</p> thoughts Some Connected Thoughts about Gender http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender 2016-01-28T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Think, please think. Why do we have separate restrooms for men and women? Why do we not have everyone use the same restroom? Why do we have separate sports teams for men and women? Why do we not have everyone try out for the same team? Why do we even have the words "men" and "women" at all? The reason should be obvious. Open your eyes and think!</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">There are two competing definitions of gender. One is based on physical reality, while the other is based on feelings and wishes. Why are our elected representatives writing laws that force us to follow a definition that contradicts reality? And more importantly, why do we continue to vote for politicians who enact such ridiculous laws? What does that say about us?</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Mother Nature's definition of gender is based on physical reality. She views it as an extremely important characteristic, a characteristic essential to the survival of the human race; and she has no tolerance for foolishness.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An anti-discrimination law that includes gender identity is an anti-discrimination law that discriminates against reality. That is not the effect anti-discrimination laws were supposed to have. When Mother Nature has been turned into a criminal, the world truly has gone mad.</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine you are selecting the crew for a colony ship traveling to a new world. The colony ship will have 100 colonists, 50 men and 50 women. Which definition of gender would you use when selecting the colonists? Would you define gender based on feelings and wishes, or would you define it based on physical reality?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Prosperity and comfort can corrupt us into idle fantasy for a time, but reality is reality. It will not bend to our wishes. We must bend to it.</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Men are men, and women are women, and psychologists should be ashamed of their profession. Where are you, psychologists? A delusion is sweeping across society, a rejection of solid, objective, physical reality. Where are you? Why are you not screaming? Why are you not ripping out your hair? Anti-discrimination laws are being twisted, forcing us to feed into a delusion. Where are you? This is supposed to be your fight. Where are you!</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/10/05/gender-identity-is-a-self-defeating-ideology/">Gender Identity Is a Self-Defeating Ideology</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion/">Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion</a><br/> • <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age</a></small></p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p><a href="/sysr/"><img src="/img/sysr/sysr-gender-identity-is-self-defeating-small.png" class="img-responsive center-block" alt="Gender Identity Is Self-Defeating. If he can claim to be she, then 'she' means nothing."/></a></p> essays Anti-Discrimination Laws http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2016/01/12/anti-discrimination-laws 2016-01-12T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Anti-discrimination laws, which in the past were used to protect the equality of people, are now being used to impose the acceptance of ideology. "Thou shalt not discourage this behavior"—that is the message of anti-discrimination laws today. It's time for such laws to be relegated to the past. As long as we allow them to remain, they will continue to become more and more corrupted.</p> thoughts Soft yet Steady Resistance http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/12/31/soft-yet-steady-resistance 2015-12-31T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">This essay is for those, such as myself, who see the world according to the Behavior View despite the crushing social pressure in favor of the Identity View. To understand these two opposing viewpoints on sexuality, I recommend you read my essays <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">"The War Between Identity and Behavior"</a>, and <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">"Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You"</a>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The Identity View sees the world clouded by identity shells. An identity shell is a false outer layer of identity placed around a behavior in order to hide that behavior and force its acceptance. Identity shells are designed to change the conversation from whether a behavior is right or wrong to whether a person should be accepted or rejected (with their behavior then forced to be implicitly accepted as well).</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The most obvious example of an identity shell in society today is sexual identity. The same-sex movement claims that to oppose same-sex sexuality (the behavior) is to oppose "gay people" (the identity shell) because it claims that the people and the behavior cannot be separated, that the people <em>are</em> the behavior. What manipulative nonsense! Attraction is something that you feel, not something that you are, and behavior is always a choice.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">But the Identity View is not only about same-sex sexuality. An identity shell could be crafted to force the acceptance of any behavior. We've seen this within our society already as social pressure has shifted from compelling the acceptance of sexual identity to compelling the acceptance of gender identity. And it will never stop shifting further, not until we learn to reject the Identity View and to accept the Behavior View, which is the idea that behavior is a choice, that some behaviors are wrong, and that those behaviors remain wrong even if there are people who wish they were right.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That is enough of a summary of these two moral viewpoints. For more details, I refer you to the previously mentioned essays. Again, this essay is directed at those who follow the Behavior View. It is my attempt to answer the question: What do we do now? Our society is wholeheartedly embracing and evangelizing the Identity View. So what do we do now? Same-sex marriage has been forcibly legalized by five judges who fancy themselves kings. There is no short term cause for us to champion right now. There is no election to campaign for. What now? What are we supposed to do?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">My answer to that question can be found in the title to this essay: Soft yet Steady Resistance. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the conflict is far from over. Yes, the foolish rulings of judges might have corrupted our society's definition of marriage, but remember that if a definition can be changed, then it can be changed back. Due to the mainly negative moral direction of our society these last few decades, it might seem that change only flows in a negative direction, but that need not always be the case. It's possible for society to move in a positive direction as well. Yes, those of us with an apocalyptic belief system might view the fall of society as ultimately inevitable, but it's beneficial to remind yourself that that fall doesn't have to happen <em>now</em>. We don't have to live our lives mourning a continual downward slope. It's possible for us to push things back up the hill, at least for a little while.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So that is what we should do: a constant stand in favor of what is correct. A stand that is soft, not brash. We must be patient with others as they are working through the confusion permeating our society. They will likely think poorly of us at times. They will likely treat us poorly as well. We must be patient for them to realize they are misjudging us, patient for them to realize they are misjudging the entire situation. And, most of all, we must be steady. Determination will be the winner in the end. We must have a constant determination to continue to stand despite social pressure to conform. It would be so much easier to give in, to close our eyes and join the misguided herd. But is that the type of life you want to live, to blindly follow the erratic dictates of the crowd? No, I don't think it is, because if it were, you would probably be living that way already. It would be easier after all.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If our culture continues in its current direction, you will become more and more of an outsider. When a co-worker chooses to be same-sex married, your workplace will erupt in excitement and celebration, just as they do over a normal marriage; but you will not share the sentiment. How could you? Your co-worker is legally committing themselves to a same-sex sexual relationship. For those who consider same-sex sexuality to be morally wrong, a same-sex wedding isn't a cause for celebration; it's a cause for regret, and for the hope that some day your co-worker will change their mind and choose to reject same-sex sexuality. And let's be clear—that would require them to reject the same-sex sexual relationship they are now legally committing themselves to. Yes, you will be an outsider. Learn to be comfortable in that role.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">You can expect to be called a bigot. With a lack of logic on its side, the same-sex movement has no real weapon other than the hijacked emotions of the civil rights movement, and it will continue to wield that weapon so long as society permits it. The good news is there is an obvious defense. The word "bigot" carries expectations. It creates the impression that someone is a bad, mean, cruel person. So betray that expectation. This is about behavior, not people, right? It's about incorrect ideology and wrong actions, isn't it? Then show that truth through how you talk and how you act. Take the high ground. It's naturally yours, after all, isn't it? So take it. Be patient. Be kind. Be respectful. While we can never respect wrong behavior, we should always respect people. Remember, this has nothing to do with "gays" or "lesbians" or "homosexuals" or any other inaccurate, man-made label. This is about same-sex sexuality, a behavior that is morally wrong and that we therefore should reject in ourselves and discourage in others. Separate the behavior from the person in your mind, in your words, and in your actions.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But for some there is more at stake than being called a bigot. Some are being legally compelled to perform actions they believe show support for same-sex marriage, and which they therefore do not wish to do. This is the case for many who work in the wedding industry, whether photographers, bakers, or wedding planners. They sought this line of work because they wish to be part of weddings, but now, due to the change in our culture, they are being forced to take part in same-sex weddings, something they want nothing to do with.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">How should they respond to this legal coercion? Should they say nothing and simply go along with the law, thereby risking they create the unhelpful impression that they support same-sex unions? Or should they take a line of hard resistance and thereby face direct and often draconian legal consequences? (Think of the Oregon baker couple who were fined $135,000 for not baking a same-sex wedding cake.) Ultimately it is up to each individual to decide how they will respond, but I propose a middle path, a path of soft resistance. Yes, you should comply with the law, but you should simultaneously make it clear you support neither same-sex sexuality nor same-sex unions and that you are acting under protest. How you do so is up to you, but here is an idea of a sign that could be displayed to clearly state your beliefs:</p> <p><a href="/img/sysr/sysr-per-the-dictates-v2-large.png"><img src="/img/sysr/sysr-per-the-dictates-v2-small.png" class="img-responsive center-block" alt="Per the dictates of our religion, we believe that same-sex sexuality is morally wrong, and we therefore do not support same-sex marriage. We are, however, legally compelled to provide our services to same-sex weddings, and we will do so; but please understand that our hearts are not in it, and we are acting under protest."/></a></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yes, some will complain about a sign such as this, but given the legal situation, it is entirely appropriate. If you are being legally compelled to act in a way you believe contradicts your religious beliefs, then openly stating your opposition to those actions is certainly within your rights. Besides, we're talking about people who view same-sex sexuality as morally wrong and who therefore view all same-sex unions as impediments to an individual's progress. Why would a same-sex couple want a photographer to take pictures of their same-sex wedding if that photographer will be hoping the entire time that one day that same-sex couple will choose to split up? Let us be open with each other about how we feel about this topic. That way same-sex couples can choose to work with a business that is not morally opposed to the behavior they are legally committing themselves to.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And it's not just those in the wedding industry who should consider being more open about their opinion on this subject. Cultural change advances over the silence of those who oppose it. Can't you feel the aggressive advocacy in favor of the Identity View all around you? If you disagree with that advocacy, why not take a stand against the negative direction our society is being led? If all of us took that stand, perhaps we would be surprised at how many actually agree with us.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But let's be honest. The whole conflict over same-sex sexuality is wearisome. There's nothing special about same-sex sexuality. It's just a wrong behavior like any other wrong behavior, and it has received far more attention than it deserves. We don't want to deal with this. We don't want to even think about this. We just want to go about our lives and avoid confrontation. Yet, as we do nothing, cultural change creeps forward. If we disagree with that cultural creep and want it to stop, we need to make our disagreement known.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Does that mean we must constantly dwell on this topic? No. It doesn't need to be our focus, but our resistance must be steady. We should make it clear that we don't agree with the current moral direction of society and that we will never compromise our principles. How you do that is up to you, but here are some ideas of messages you could share: <a href="/sysr">Soft yet Steady Resistance - Resource Page</a>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The underlying goal is to persuade others to agree that this is truly a matter of behavior, not of identity. As a defender of the Behavior View, you are a uniter, fighting against an ideology that seeks to divide. The Identity View tries to make this a case of <em>us</em> and <em>them</em>. The Behavior View declares it is about <em>we</em>, for we all are under the same moral obligations. Show that truth through your words and your actions. Show it through your soft yet steady resistance.</p> essays Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you 2015-12-03T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">In mythology, Hercules was a half-mortal, half-god with immense strength. Born from one of Zeus' many illicit affairs, Hercules was hated by Zeus' wife, Hera, who tried to kill him but failed due to his great strength; so, instead of confronting his strength directly, she caused madness to fall upon him; and then, in that mad state with his sense of reality twisted, Hercules used his strength to murder his own family.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">You see, you don't have to be stronger than your opponent. You don't have to be faster, or smarter, or wiser. You don't have to face them directly at all. The only thing you have to do is warp their sense of reality. Cloud their vision. Hide the simple truth of reality behind an artificial concept that isn't really there, causing them to mistake good for evil and evil for good. Then you can sit back and watch as they themselves tear their world apart (using their own strength!) while you laugh and laugh and laugh.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That's an apt analogy to describe what is going on in our world today, a world whose own goodness is being used to tear itself apart. As I discussed in my essay <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">"The War Between Identity and Behavior"</a>, there are two opposing worldviews about sexuality: the Identity View and the Behavior View. I recommend you read that essay for the full description of the two different worldviews, but here is a brief summary: The Behavior View is based on the reality that some behaviors are simply wrong and should be rejected no matter how difficult that might be. The Identity View, on the other hand, is ruled by illusion. At its core is the idea that people <em>are</em> their attractions, that humanity is divided into three separate subspecies (gay, straight, and bisexual), that morality itself must be bent to fit within the confines of the Identity View's flawed vision. The Identity View is a fantasy, a powerful fantasy used to manipulate our society, and it has proven very effective these past years. Many of those who hold it are good people, strong people, people whose strength cannot be confronted head on; so instead, like Hercules, their reality has been purposefully twisted so that now they are using their own strength against themselves.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Identity Shells</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">To really understand the Identity View, you must first understand identity shells. The idea is simple: You take a behavior (any behavior) and you hide it within an outer shell of identity. This is the artificial concept I referred to earlier. The identity shell isn't really there. It's only been put in place to hide the behavior, to change the conversation from "What I do" to "What I <em>am</em>."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's where we are in the conflict over same-sex sexuality. The Behavior View says "Same-sex sexuality is morally wrong," but the Identity View responds "Some people are gay. That is who they are. You can't tell them to not be who they are." And then you sprinkle in the weaponized guilt left over from the civil rights victories of the 20th century, and suddenly those who consider same-sex sexuality to be morally wrong become "anti-gay", "homophobes", and "bigots" while those who consider same-sex sexuality to be morally right are fighting underneath such banners as "gay rights" and "marriage equality". Because "love is love", right?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Except there are others watching the drama unfold and thinking "Hey, you could use this trick with any behavior, couldn't you? That gives me an idea ..."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's the point: Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>A Semi-Serious Example</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's take a step back from that and consider an example. In <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">"The War Between Identity and Behavior"</a>, I mentioned the example of the must-lies from my satire <a href="/the-honor-code-on-trial/">"The Honor Code on Trial"</a>, but an identity shell could be created for any behavior, so let's consider a different example.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I have spent a lot of time saying over and over again that what some people are doing is wrong, but there are many today who seem to believe that telling someone that what they are doing is wrong is a sin (the only remaining sin, it seems). So, let's say I continue telling people that what they are doing is wrong, and this bothers someone who considers that action of mine to be a sin. Let's call him Fred. So, once again I tell people that what they are doing is wrong; and Fred, full of righteous indignation, tells me that it's wrong to tell people that what they are doing is wrong. In response, I look at him strangely and wonder how long it will take before he realizes how silly he is being, but, other than that, life goes on. I continue performing a behavior, and Fred continues disagreeing with that behavior.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what if I decide to deploy the tactics of the Identity View and enclose my behavior inside an identity shell? What if I say that I'm not choosing to tell people that what they are doing is wrong? What if I say that I'm someone-who-is-only-happy-when-he-is-telling-people-that-what-they-are-doing-is-wrong? That's what I am! You can't tell me to not be what I am! And suddenly, opposing my chosen behavior has now become an act of unjust discrimination. Before, Fred just opposed my behavior, but now suddenly he opposes <em>me</em>. He's been transformed. Before, he was someone who lacked introspection and the ability to logically think through what he was saying. Now, thanks to my identity shell, he might as well throw a white sheet over his head and join the KKK. Aren't identity shells fun?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">No? Well, welcome to the life of those who subscribe to the Behavior View. We oppose same-sex sexuality, but thanks to the identity shell constructed by the same-sex movement, instead of being considered as people who oppose a behavior, we are wrongly smeared as "bigots", "homophobes", and "anti-gay". It's absolutely ridiculous. And if you disagree that it's ridiculous, may you live long enough to someday have the weapon of identity turned against you. Only then will you understand how incredibly annoying the tactic is. And don't think for a moment that that day will never come. Humanity is synonymous with hubris, and it never stands still. It's constantly moving in one direction or another. We think we are at the end of change, but then society moves one step further than you're willing to go, and suddenly it's you wearing the white sheet over your head. Enjoy.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Identity Shells in Society Today</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">There are two main identity shells being used in society today: sexual identity and gender identity. Let's break this down and separate the behavior from the identity shell that is hiding that behavior and forcing its acceptance.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Behavior: same-sex sexuality<br/> Identity shell: gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Behavior: claiming to be a gender that contradicts your physical reality<br/> Identity shell: transgender</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The term "LGBT" is an identity shell used to encompass both of the above behaviors.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But it won't end with this. Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. If you allow an identity shell for sexual identity, then you will allow an identity shell for other behaviors as well. Haven't you noticed how quickly the social pressure has shifted from compelling everyone to accept sexual identity to compelling everyone to accept gender identity? One identity shell follows another, follows another, follows another ... It never ends. Any behavior can be romanticized. Love! Happiness! Fulfillment! There is always a new identity shell to push, always a new behavior to force you to accept. It won't end until you reject the Identity View, until you realize that people are not behavior, that behavior is a choice, and that wrong choices are wrong even if some wish they were right.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Our Strength Is Used Against Us</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why are identity shells so effective? The answer is a tragic one. They are effective because, like in the example of Hercules, the false vision of reality they provide causes us to use our own strength, our own goodness, against ourselves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Here is the reality: Some behaviors are right, and some behaviors are wrong. If you agree with that, then you must also understand that there will always be some people who want to do wrong, and they will always try to convince you that what they are doing is actually right.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But identity shells hide this reality. They change the conversation. Now, it's not about behavior at all (because the behavior is hidden). Now it's about affirming the person. It's about allowing them to be themselves, to be the person they were born to be. If you accept the identity shell of sexual identity, you likely see nothing wrong with what I just stated, but here is what you are forgetting: Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. One identity shell follows another, follows another, follows another ...</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's consider the example of the must-lies from my satire <a href="/the-honor-code-on-trial/">"The Honor Code on Trial"</a>. The behavior is lying, and the identity shell is must-lies, those who <em>must</em> lie, those who aren't happy unless they lie, those who aren't themselves unless they lie, those whom you must allow to lie or else you are discriminating against them. And here is where the damage comes: You can't both believe in that identity shell and also oppose lying. At least, you can't do so for long. The identity shell is designed to destroy your rejection of lying. It's designed to destroy your moral standard using your own goodness: your compassion; your desire for equality; your recognition of the wrongness of racism, in other words, your recognition of the wrongness of opposing people themselves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And so, bit by bit, your goodness tears apart your moral standard. You want to accept these people. You want to show them love. You want them to be happy. But how can they be happy when you are telling them that a core part of their personality is wrong? How can they be equal when you are forbidding them from communicating in the way they were born to communicate? Bit by bit, your moral standard is chipped away. Bit by bit, the identity shell becomes the only thing you can see. We must affirm the must-lies! We must be their allies! It's bigotry to believe that lying is wrong! Bit by bit, bit by bit …</p> <p style="text-align:justify">"But same-sex sexuality is different!" responds the Identity View. "That is who they are! That is what they were born to be! You are forbidding them from being themselves! You are requiring them to reject a core part of who they are!"</p> <p style="text-align:justify">My reply: You could say that about any behavior. You could say that about any sin.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Smash the Identity Shell</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">When the identity shell of sexual identity is discarded, what are we left with? What is the actual reality that is being hidden?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Here is the reality: There are people who feel the desire (same-sex attraction) to do something that is wrong (same-sex sexuality). There are people who lack the desire (opposite-sex attraction) to do something that is right, and who therefore are trying to convince us it's okay for them to do wrong instead. But that is not something we can agree with, because same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. And a lack of desire to do right does not justify doing wrong. If it did in this case, then it would in all cases, leaving us with no moral standards whatsoever.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Ending on a Personal Note</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine Hercules is your friend. Imagine you are there when madness clouds his vision. You try to reason with him. You try to help him understand that what he is seeing, what he is reacting to, isn't real. But it doesn't work. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, it doesn't work. You try, and try, and try, yet his madness persists. Imagine how frustrating that would feel.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If you can imagine that frustration, then you can imagine how I've felt these past years as I've tried to write reason about same-sex sexuality and tried to convince people that the Identity View offers a false vision of reality.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yet there's something more I've felt recently, something besides the screech of fingernails dragged across chalkboards that fills my mind when people describe the world from the warped vantage point of the Identity View. There's something different now, something more than annoyance or aggravation. I see good people, strong people, people who would never permit a direct attack against their moral standards. I see these good people trapped within the confines of the Identity View. I see them interacting with identity shells as if they were real. And I see the goodness of these people turned against themselves. I see the cracks that are appearing in their moral standards, cracks that they themselves are causing because, with their view of reality twisted, they mistake good for evil and evil for good. I see this and I try to stop it. I try to open their eyes—but I can't. And I want to weep. It's more than frustration now. It's more than aggravation. I feel powerless, and I want to weep.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I am not clever enough. I am not charismatic enough. I am not persuasive enough. I am not powerful enough. These good people are walking beside me, but their eyes are clouded by a false reality, and I'm powerless to do anything about it. I want to weep.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And I wonder if the words I write are capable of changing the mind of even a single person. I wonder if I can cause reality to click for them, if I can help the identity shells to crumble away. I wonder if I can do that for even one of these good people, and I have my doubts. Have they simply gone too far to reach? Is the distance between them and reality too great for my limited talents to pull them back?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Oh, I try. It should be obvious that I try—tens of thousands of words in stories and essays, years and years of effort, thousands of dollars invested in the hope of making a difference. Yet, after all of that, the most I can say of myself is "I try." That's it, just "I try." And so I feel powerless, and I want to weep. These are good people, so many good people, yet there seems nothing I can do, nothing besides try. Still, I continue on—because that's how I was made to be. On, and on, and on into the approaching night.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior/">The War Between Identity and Behavior</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/21/how-anti-discrimination-laws-are-used-to-discriminate-against-religion/">How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/03/28/i-am-the-absence-of-homophobia/">I Am the Absence of Homophobia</a></small></p> essays The War Between Identity and Behavior http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/11/23/the-war-between-identity-and-behavior 2015-11-23T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">There is a war being waged within our culture today, two opposing worldviews about sexuality, both of which offer different visions of right and wrong. One of these worldviews is compatible with the moral beliefs of my religion, the LDS Church, and other religions that share those moral beliefs. The other worldview fights against us.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Identity View</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's discuss the latter first, for this is the worldview that holds sway in the world today. This is the worldview used by the media as they report the news. This is the worldview used by celebrities, politicians, and other elite. This is the worldview used by judges as they twist the law into unrecognizable shapes. The worldview I'm speaking of is the Identity View.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">According to the Identity View, people are defined by their attractions, with humanity divided into what are essentially three separate subspecies: gay, straight, and bisexual. Imagine three gigantic buckets with everyone assigned to a specific bucket, the buckets' walls reaching high into the sky, consigning us to our predetermined fate. You were born in a bucket, and you will die in that same bucket. No escape. No possibility of change.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">The Identity View claims that people <em>are</em> their attractions. You cannot separate the two. If you prohibit someone from acting on their attractions, or if you even discourage it, then you are denying them the right to be themselves, which means you are denying them the right to be happy.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In effect, the Identity View demands that morality should be defined based on the capabilities of each of the three buckets, with moral standards fitting within the constraints it claims each subspecies of human is capable of. If one is gay, the Identity View says, then one feels same-sex attraction and doesn't feel any opposite-sex attraction; therefore, it wouldn't be fair to expect someone like that to reject same-sex sexuality because each and every one of the tens of millions who call themselves gay are completely incapable of anything else.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It is the Identity View that has been used to impose the recognition of same-sex marriage upon our nation. It is the Identity View that shuns any preaching, or even belief, against same-sex sexuality. It is the Identity View that threatens further erosion of religious freedom.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Behavior View</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">But there is an alternative view, a view completely ignored by the media and society in general. This is the view that defends morality despite social pressure against it. This is the view that believes that morality actually matters. I am speaking of the Behavior View.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The Behavior View focuses on choice. It focuses on the fact that, while we might not choose our attractions, we certainly choose our behaviors, and some behaviors, such as same-sex sexuality, are morally wrong; and because they are wrong, they should be rejected. According to the Behavior View, same-sex sexuality is just one sin among many other sins, and same-sex attraction is nothing more than the desire to commit that sin. There is nothing special about them. They don't warrant the attention they've received in recent years. The behavior is wrong, so we shouldn't do it. Why all the fuss?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">According to the Behavior View, people are not gay, straight, or bisexual—because those words imply behavior, and behavior is a choice, not something that you are. People are simply people, not separate subspecies, and all people are expected to live according to the same moral standards. Yes, attractions are felt in varying degrees by each of us, but those attractions don't define us. The Behavior View considers same-sex attraction and opposite-sex attraction separately. To feel same-sex attraction means you feel the desire to engage in same-sex sexuality. This is an improper desire, and just like all other improper desires, it should always be rejected. To not feel opposite-sex attraction is certainly a hardship, but that hardship is not unique to those who call themselves gay, nor is it greater than many hardships that others face within their lives.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The Behavior View treats the presence of same-sex attraction and the absence of opposite-sex attraction as two separate challenges. Put simply: A lack of desire to do right does not justify doing wrong. We all know that simple truth, yet those who follow the Behavior View recognize it applies to sexuality just as much as anything else.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In our society today, the Identity View is demanding that moral standards be abandoned when it claims those standards interfere with some people's happiness, but the Behavior View dismisses that claim as blatant manipulation. Behaviors are right or wrong, and each and every one of us are expected to live according to the same moral standards. Some standards will be easier for some, some standards will be easier for others, but all standards apply to everyone, and it is always possible to find happiness in doing right.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Identity View Conflicts with Reality</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why do so many in our society accept the Identity View? That is a good question given how obviously the Identity View conflicts with reality. It claims that each and every one of us are assigned into a bucket at birth from which we can never leave. It claims that society doesn't impact our sexuality, that society can change in countless ways and people will continue being assigned into the same bucket regardless of the world around them.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what about those, including myself, who are aware that our lives could be very different? What about those who know that, in other circumstances, we might be in a different bucket than we are today? An adherent to the Identity View might try to claim we are part of the "bisexual" bucket, but that's not quite right because I'm not talking about where we are, I'm talking about where we know we could be. It's potential I'm talking about, the potential to be swayed one way or the other; and potential is deadly to the Identity View because if people have potential, then perhaps those buckets don't exist at all, perhaps humanity is one single race rather than three separate subspecies. According to the Identity View, people such as us shouldn't exist. Yet we do.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And what of the changes we see happening in the lives of our youth? We are seeing reports of an increased openness about sexuality, an increased flexibility in how youth view themselves. How can this be if the Identity View is correct? People are supposed to continue being assigned to their predetermined buckets regardless of cultural changes. According to the Identity View, these changes shouldn't be happening. Yet they are.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And what of the past cultures where sexuality was very different? These cultures cannot be explained according to the Identity View. They cannot be explained without recognizing the profound influence culture can have on an individual's sexuality. But the Identity View claims that no such influence is possible. The Identity View claims that our sexuality is predetermined, that it is incapable of change. According to the Identity View, these past cultures shouldn't have existed. Yet they did.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Identity View Is Misleading and Inaccurate</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">To believe in the Identity View, one must believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that everyone's sexuality is completely immutable. Flexibility is catastrophic to the Identity View, for if someone who is gay is not actually locked in that position, why would our society waste time accommodating it? This is true even if flexibility decreases with time and experience. If youth aren't actually preassigned into a specific bucket, why would we place them in one? Why would we subject them to the effects of a self-fulfilling prophecy rather than allow them to reach their actual potential?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yet, because of how damaging the idea of flexibility is to the Identity View, its adherents have been conditioned to immediately dismiss the idea without thought. The bucket walls are too high. The very idea of change is considered ridiculous. Pavlov taught dogs to drool at the sound of a bell. Are your hackles raised at the suggestion that our sexuality isn't locked in place? If so, like Pavlov's dogs, you've been well trained.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But here is a crucial point: Even if, despite all evidence to the contrary, people actually aren't flexible, the Identity View is still wrong. Even in the complete absence of flexibility, the Behavior View is still a better way to look at sexuality. Why? Because, even if people cannot change in the slightest, the Identity View is still misleading and inaccurate.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The Identity View divides us all into three buckets, and with that division comes a significant assumption: Those who are gay feel only same-sex attraction, and those who are straight feel only opposite-sex attraction, and those who are bisexual feel both attractions equally. Can you see the assumption that is being made? Where are the degrees of gray? According to the Identity View, that gray does not exist. The Identity View claims there are only three settings to humanity, so if you feel same-sex attraction, then you either feel it completely or you feel it exactly equal to your opposite-sex attraction. Consider the vast amount of middle ground the Identity View completely ignores.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Think of it like a scale. For simplicity's sake, we'll make the scale from 1 to 7, but it could just as easily have been from 1 to 100 or any other range that allows the gray to be seen. In our scale of 1 to 7, let's say that a 1 indicates someone only feels opposite-sex attraction, a 7 indicates someone only feels same-sex attraction, a 4 indicates they feel both equally, and 2-3 and 5-6 represent degrees of gray in-between:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">1: Only opposite-sex attraction<br/> 2: Mainly opposite-sex attraction but some same-sex attraction<br/> 3: Opposite-sex attraction is greater but same-sex attraction is significant<br/> 4: Equal opposite-sex attraction and same-sex attraction<br/> 5: Same-sex attraction is greater but opposite-sex attraction is significant<br/> 6: Mainly same-sex attraction but some opposite-sex attraction<br/> 7: Only same-sex attraction</p> <p style="text-align:justify">When following the Identity View, if someone calls themselves gay, we automatically assume they are a 7. Consider the inaccuracy. Theoretically, that person could be a 2, yet because they call themselves gay, we would treat them like a 7, the same as someone who feels only same-sex attraction. Consider the vast potential the Identity View has hidden within that person's life.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">More realistically, think about those 5s and 6s on the scale. These are people who feel more same-sex attraction than opposite-sex attraction, but the opposite-sex attraction is still there. These are people who, while certainly more predisposed to a same-sex relationship, would be capable of an opposite-sex relationship as well, yet we deny them the possibility because we allow the Identity View to hide the potential that actually exists within themselves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And how do people decide they are gay? Is there a blood test? Is there some other objective measurement that says: "You're a 7," or "You're a 5." No, there's not. People are gay because they say they are gay. Tens of millions of people, applying tens of millions of different personal judgments, all using the exact same label, and as soon as they apply that label the Identity View claims that each and every one of those tens of millions of people are all identical in potential.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And there's no way for us to actually know each other's potential. No objective test can exist, leaving us with self-reporting, where it is often in someone's self-interest to be less than candid. If someone wants you to accept their same-sex sexuality, then they have a motivation to hide any opposite-sex attraction they might feel. If someone is deeply uncomfortably with same-sex sexuality, then they have a motivation to hide any same-sex attraction they might feel. And in many cases the person simply might not know. Consider what I said in <a href="/essays/2015/11/09/what-if-that-when-had-never-happened/">"What If That 'When' Had Never Happened?"</a> As mentioned in that short essay, many people describe a moment of "realization," where they "discovered" their past assumptions about themselves were untrue. In that case, which of their self-reports is the accurate one, the pre-realization report or the post-realization report? And, when you receive a self-report, how can you know it's not a pre-realization report? How can you know that person won't later "realize" something very different about themselves than they are claiming today? You can't.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Furthermore, those who subscribe to the Identity View will be predisposed to exaggerate their position to one end of the scale or the other. It's hard to admit you are a 5 on the scale (meaning you feel a decent amount of opposite-sex attraction) and simultaneously demand that the world treat you as if you were a 7. If someone wants to do something (same-sex sexuality), it is likely they will describe their situation in a way that will encourage others to permit them to do it (the inability to do the alternative).</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And remember we've been ignoring the possibility of change during this explanation. If 7s are capable of becoming 6s or 5s, and 1s are capable of becoming 2s or 3s, then the Identity View is even more wrong, but even if that change isn't possible, the Identity View is still wrong because it always views people at the extremes, ignoring the possibility toward the middle, resulting in claims such as this: "A gay man has only two choices: either a same-sex relationship or lifelong loneliness." Really? What if that "gay" man is actually a 5 on the scale rather than a 7?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Can't you see? The Identity View purposefully hides the potential that exists for so many of us toward the middle. It artificially limits choices to its desired options. The Identity View is misleading, inaccurate, and manipulative.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Identity View Is Manipulative</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let me repeat that: The Identity View is manipulative. It artificially limits choices to its desired options—the options that will help it achieve its goal. And what is its goal? Its goal is to destroy a moral standard, in this case the moral standard against same-sex sexuality. The Identity View is a weapon, an anti-moral weapon, and it could be used against any moral standard.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">All the attention our society has given same-sex sexuality in recent years might lead one to believe that it's something unique, but it's actually not. Under all the controversy, under all the politics, under all the parades, the speeches, the slogans, under all of that is just a simple, common desire: The want to do something, and the want to have others agree that doing it is okay.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Although the Identity View is currently being used to destroy the moral standard against same-sex sexuality, it could be used to destroy any moral standard. I demonstrated this in my satire <a href="/the-honor-code-on-trial">"The Honor Code on Trial"</a>, where BYU is called before an accreditation committee to answer charges that its honor code discriminates against some students. What part of its honor code is discriminating against students? The part that prohibits lying. According to the Behavior View, lying is a behavior that is wrong and BYU is therefore justified in prohibiting it, but the accreditation committee in my story follows the Identity View, which claims that when you prohibit lying, you are discriminating against the must-lies—those who <em>must</em> lie. As I said, the Identity View could be used to destroy any moral standard. Consider the logic:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I want to lie.<br/> I don't want to tell the truth.<br/> I'm only happy if I lie. If you love me and want me to be happy, then you'll accept my lying.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Sound familiar? It should because that's the exact same way that same-sex sexuality is being justified by the Identity View:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I feel same-sex attraction.<br/> I don't feel opposite-sex attraction.<br/> I'm only happy if I engage in same-sex sexuality. If you love me and want me to be happy, then you'll accept my same-sex sexuality.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It's the same trick, the same weapon, and it can be used against any moral standard:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I want to do wrong.<br/> I don't want to do right.<br/> I'm only happy if I do wrong. If you love me and want me to be happy, then you'll accept my doing wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Can't you see? Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just like any other sin. Same-sex attraction isn't special. It's just like any other desire to commit sin. The Identity View could be used against any moral standard. It's a weapon, nothing more, an anti-moral weapon used to destroy a moral standard.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Summary</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">I hope you understand the different worldviews about sexuality, and I hope you see how false and harmful the Identity View is. Our society continues to describe this conflict according to that false worldview. "Marriage equality", "gay rights", "LGBT", "anti-gay", all these concepts we've been swimming in, all these concepts we've been drowning in, all of them come from the Identity View, a worldview that conflicts with reality, a worldview that is misleading, inaccurate, and manipulative, a worldview that is designed to destroy a moral standard.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Don't let it. You don't have to accept the Identity View. Reject it. Don't even respond to it. It is false. It is manipulative. Embrace the Behavior View instead, and encourage others to do so as well.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Attraction is something that you feel, not something that you are; and behavior is always a choice. Let us encourage good choices, and let us reject false ideologies like the Identity View that would lead us astray.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2015/12/03/identity-shells-and-how-they-are-used-against-you/">Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/21/how-anti-discrimination-laws-are-used-to-discriminate-against-religion/">How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/03/28/i-am-the-absence-of-homophobia/">I Am the Absence of Homophobia</a></small></p> essays Why It's Worse http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/11/11/why-its-worse 2015-11-11T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Those of us who believe sex is only appropriate between husband and wife have grown accustomed to living in a society that says the opposite. Premarital sex is common in movies, books, and TV shows. It's become a lazy way to indicate that a fictional couple is getting serious. Are writers today even capable of showing emotional intimacy in the absence of sex? It doesn't appear so.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Indeed, we live in a society where the assumption today is that sex before marriage is normal and those who choose otherwise are abnormal (and perhaps backwards). Those of us raising children worry about the choices our children will make about sex when such negative influences are pulling them in the wrong direction.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yet humanity never stands still, and the moral landscape has shifted even further. Now it's not sex before marriage that is the main source of friction within society. Now it's same-sex sexuality. And seeing this change, it's natural to ask the question: Is it any worse? We've already been dealing with widespread acceptance, even encouragement, of sex before marriage. Is dealing with same-sex sexuality any worse?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yes, it's worse. Allow me to explain why.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">But first, some ground rules and clarification. As should be obvious by now, I am writing this from the point of view that same-sex sexuality is morally wrong. If you believe the opposite, then you will disagree with many of my conclusions. However, if your mind is open enough to view the world through the eyes of someone with different beliefs, then perhaps you will gain some insight into how others think about this topic.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In addition, let me be clear that I am not comparing the actions themselves. Both sex before marriage and same-sex sexuality are morally wrong. I see no benefit in saying that one act is more wrong than the other. What I'm doing is comparing the situations around the wrong actions, for it is the situation surrounding same-sex sexuality that is worse. Here are three reasons why.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Reason One: The Remedy Is Worse</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">If it's wrong for a boyfriend to have sex with his girlfriend, what is the remedy? How do they correct their moral error? In this case, the remedy is straightforward: They need to get married. Then, once married, the action that was immoral is now moral, and the relationship can continue.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That's why it's possible to cheer for the relationship of a man and woman who fall in love, even if they are having sex before marriage. You can recognize their mistake, yet you can know the mistake will go away if they continue forward as a couple and get married.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Think of it like a path. A moral life involves walking along a specific path in a specific direction. Those who choose to have sex before marriage are not on that path, but they are at least headed in the same general direction. And so, correcting their moral error is a matter of stepping out of the briers and stepping onto the path. They can then continue in the direction they were traveling before, except now they will be walking on the smooth path that was designed for the journey.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Contrast that with a same-sex couple who are engaging in same-sex sexuality. What is their remedy? Can they resolve their moral error through marriage? No they can't, because same-sex marriage is a moral nullity. It's nothing more than a legal partnership that some governments have created (often against the express wishes of their citizens). The moral error remains. Same-sex sexuality is morally wrong whether in a same-sex marriage or not. What then is the remedy? It's a harsh one: The couple must break up.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Consider the example of the path once again. Someone who is engaging in same-sex sexuality isn't simply off the side of the path in the briers, they are actually heading in a completely different direction. If they wish to return to the correct path, they must turn around and reject the direction they were previously going. Same-sex marriage only makes this worse. It creates a roadblock in their way, blocking them from returning to the moral path.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If you disagree with same-sex sexuality, why would you ever support same-sex marriage? Why would you support legally locking someone in the wrong direction? Why would you want them to make it harder to correct their error and live as they were meant to live?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">At the heart of this comparison is a common misconception. When discussing same-sex sexuality, many try to compare same-sex couples to unmarried couples, but that is not the correct comparison. An unmarried couple has a potential moral future, but a same-sex couple does not. The correct comparison for same-sex couples is to an adulterous couple. Just like with same-sex sexuality, adultery has no clean resolution. A relationship must end. The remedy requires pain.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Reason Two: Our Society Forbids Change</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Should a parent worry more about their child having sex before marriage, or should a parent worry more about their child engaging in same-sex sexuality? They should worry about both of course, but they should worry doubly about same-sex sexuality. Why? Because the moment your child has taken one step down that path, our society will forbid them from ever leaving.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine your son is cohabiting with his girlfriend. If they choose to get married, what is society likely to say about it? Nothing really, certainly nothing negative other than corny jokes. In general, everyone will congratulate them. Getting married will be seen as a good thing. The couple certainly won't be told that getting married is denying who they are.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The situation with same-sex sexuality, however, is very different. The moment someone starts to engage in same-sex sexuality, our society will immediately label them as 'gay.' And that label is not something anyone is permitted to ever remove. No, our society claims that that is who they are and they can never change because to change would mean they are denying who they are.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what if they do change? Sure, the attraction might linger, but behavior is a choice, and what if they choose to reject same-sex sexuality? What if they decide they want to turn around and return to the correct path? What is our society likely to say about that? I think you already know, and I think you can imagine how loudly society will scream at anyone who dares even consider the possibility.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Because if one person can change, then that means others can change too, which means the whole idea around 'being gay' is incorrect. Consider the stakes that are involved here. Consider the enormous political weight.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We are not our attractions. We can choose to reject them. But if the attraction you are rejecting is same-sex attraction, then you should expect fierce resistance when you try to do so. And that's why it's worse. Yes, premarital sex is wrong, but at least our society won't declare war against you when you decide to change for the better.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Reason Three: The Magical Cloud Elves</strong></p> <p style="text-align:justify">If an eighteen-year-old college student moves into the dorms of a party campus, isn't it common sense that they will be more likely to engage in the hookup culture than someone living at home and attending a church university? We are influenced by those around us. We know this. Yet, for some reason, we ignore this simple truth whenever the discussion turns to same-sex sexuality.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It's as if we believe everyone is labeled by magical elves in the clouds, making us permanently gay or straight before the stork swoops out of the sky and drops us off to our parents. What nonsense. We aren't magically locked in one position or the other. We're flexible. We're open to influence by others.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But on the topic of same-sex attraction, we turn off our brains. "Yes", we say, "everything else about us might be open to influence, but not our sexuality. No, our sexuality is special. Our sexuality is predetermined. No matter what happens around us, our sexuality will never change. Why? Because of the magical cloud elves, of course!"</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's why it's worse. This is a desire that anyone could have developed. But now when someone does develop it, we declare that they are different from the rest of us and must live a different life from the rest of us even though the rest of us might be in their shoes if only our circumstances had been different.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Is that too much for you to accept? Fine. Let's set the development of the desire to one side and just focus on the reaction to that desire. When a youth first realizes they feel same-sex attraction, how should they react? Should they say, "I feel same-sex attraction. I guess that means I'm gay. I guess that means I should follow the example of X, Y, and Z and live in a same-sex relationship just like they do." Is that what you want youth to say in that situation? Or would you rather they were given examples that would lead them to say: "It's not uncommon for people to feel that attraction to some extent. I should just ignore it like others do. I want to live like A, B, and C, so I'll reject my same-sex attraction and follow in their footsteps instead."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We are not gay. We are not straight. We are people, just people, and people follow each other. People watch how others live their lives, and people model their lives based on what they see. Yesterday, this meant that children would grow up thinking there is nothing wrong with premarital sex, and many would throw themselves into the hookup culture, many would cohabit before marriage, many would see no reason to marry at all. Today this means that children will grow up thinking there is nothing wrong with same-sex sexuality, and many will choose to enter same-sex relationships who would otherwise not have chosen to do so.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">"Don't be ridiculous", comes the mocking retort. "Society can't turn someone gay! People are gay because the magical cloud elves made them gay, not through the influence of others!"</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what if there are no magical cloud elves? What if sexuality really is just like everything else about us? What if it really is open to example and influence? What if our careless actions today are actually causing people to live differently than they might have lived otherwise?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That's why it's worse.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It's worse because we aren't honest enough to admit that we ourselves are causing its increase. The media has opened the floodgates, unleashing a deluge of same-sex-seeking role models, and they will do so more and more, aiming at a younger and younger age, the whole time claiming they are presenting to an unalterable audience, claiming that the same people are going to decide they 'are gay' no matter what anyone does.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Our society believes in magical cloud elves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's why it's worse.</p> essays What If That 'When' Had Never Happened? http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/11/09/what-if-that-when-had-never-happened 2015-11-09T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">In the personal history shared by those who call themselves 'gay,' watch carefully for the word 'when.' Yes, some claim there never was a 'when,' but notice how often there was:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">"I learned I was <em>when</em> ..."<br/> "I discovered it <em>when</em> ..."<br/> "That was <em>when</em> I realized ..."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Then ask yourself this question: What if that 'when' had never happened? What if they had never gone through that experience, or what if they had, but had processed it differently?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The acceptance of same-sex sexuality, encouragement of same-sex relationships, and celebration of same-sex marriage will have an effect. We are creating countless additional possible 'when's.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Think about what that means.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We are human—so flexible, so full of possibility.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Think about what that means.</p> essays Paying the Price http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2015/11/04/paying-the-price 2015-11-04T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">We are paying the price today for mistakes made by prior generations. In like manner, our children and grandchildren will one day pay the price for the mistakes our society is making today.</p> thoughts The Word 'Sexist' http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2015/10/26/the-word-sexist 2015-10-26T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">If the word 'sexist' is used to describe someone who treats one gender differently than the other, then the word is meaningless and should be retired. The word only has meaning when it refers to someone who treats either gender intentionally worse. If nature is sexist, then nothing is.</p> thoughts Racial Strife http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2015/10/19/racial-strife 2015-10-19T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">As long as those who profit from racial strife are allowed to remain in positions of power and prestige, there will always be racial strife.</p> thoughts Gender Identify Is a Self-Defeating Ideology http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/10/05/gender-identity-is-a-self-defeating-ideology 2015-10-05T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Gender identity—the idea that a man is a woman if he identifies himself as such—is a self-defeating ideology. If gender can be shrugged on or off like a garment, then it is meaningless. And if gender is meaningless, why bother identifying with one?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why does he want to be referred to as she? He wants that because the word "she" means something today that he wants for himself; but if he were able to convince everyone that he can become she simply by saying so, then suddenly the word "she" won't mean the same thing it does today. The definition he covets would be destroyed by his own success, leaving him with nothing.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">The ideology of gender identity cannot exist independently. It can only survive in the presence of something that provides meaning to gender, namely the belief that our gender is the same as our biological sex, the belief that our gender doesn't change, the belief that our gender actually matters. Yet, despite gender identity's inability to survive alone, its proponents struggle to pull everyone into their fold, willingly or not. (Using the language of the civil rights movement, of course. What leftist social movement today could exist without weaponizing that legacy for air support?) But every new convert they win diminishes the concepts they are wrestling to control. They are chasing the very thing they are destroying. They are destroying the very thing they are chasing. In the end, if the ideology of gender identify ever declares victory, its next action will be to euthanize itself.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Gender identity proponents are playing dress-up in a ballroom that is maintained by a caretaker they are trying to fire. No caretaker: no ballroom. No ballroom: no more reason to play dress-up. If they succeed, they fail. Gender identity is a self-defeating ideology.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted"><small><br/>Related essays:<br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/05/18/divine-authority-and-gender-identity/">Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/04/29/opposition-to-gender-identity-is-driven-by-logic-not-religion/">Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion</a><br/> • <a href="/essays/2016/01/28/some-connected-thoughts-about-gender/">Some Connected Thoughts about Gender</a><br/> • <a href="http://stephenmeasure.com/essays/2016/03/10/a-modest-proposal/">A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age</a></small></p> essays The Wrong Sort of Stories http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2015/09/29/the-wrong-sort-of-stories 2015-09-29T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/the-wrong-sort-of-stories"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/the-wrong-sort-of-stories-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="The Wrong Sort of Stories - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">The world has gone mad. Reality itself must be denied if one wishes to fit in today. "<a href="/the-wrong-sort-of-stories">The Wrong Sort of Stories</a>" is a collection of stories and satires that describe this madness and argue against it. Some are humorous. Some are dark. Some are deservedly brutal.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Fifteen stories in all, nine previously released and six new: "Talents, Servants, and Government Busybodies", "The Sky Is Blue", "Invest in Oxygen Masks", "The Planner's Utopia", "Dandelion Seeds", and "Fitting In". The collection begins with a Proposition 8 donor and the tactics used against him, and it ends with you, the reader, and your choice whether to bow before the madness or to stand and face the consequences.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">When right and wrong have been turned upside down, it's time to tell the wrong sort of stories.</p> news Logic http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2015/09/28/logic 2015-09-28T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">There is no perfect argument, no logic that cannot itself be torn down by logic. It all sits upon shifting sands of subjectivity, its inputs and weights constantly changing. That which is considered proven today will be disproven tomorrow. Logic does not lead to truth. It only leads to temporary conclusions.</p> thoughts The Reality of the Situation http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/09/24/the-reality-of-the-situation 2015-09-24T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Much confusion has been sown on the topic of same-sex attraction in recent years, causing many to lose sight of what is actually going on. Please allow me to sum up the reality of the situation in two related points:</p> <ul> <li><p style="text-align:justify;">A disagreement over moral behavior is being falsely portrayed as a disagreement over people, allowing the emotional weight of the civil rights legacy to be forced into what is actually a religious conflict over sexual morality.</p></li> <li><p style="text-align:justify">Too many today pretend that our sexuality is predetermined and completely unaffected by outside influence. They refuse to see that it's not only our culture that is capable of change (for good or ill); it's us ourselves.</p></li> </ul> <p style="text-align:justify">You might disagree with me about the immorality of same-sex sexuality. Religion is about the unseen after all, and everyone has a religion, their underlying core of right and wrong; so, it might be that your religion, your moral core, simply disagrees with mine. But the two points I said above are not a matter of religion. They are a matter of reality.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">I cannot say whether or not future society will agree with me about the immorality of same-sex sexuality, but I can say this: One way or another, in the future, when all emotion has been drained from this discussion and reason is allowed to finally hold sway, the summary above will be recognized as an accurate description of what is happening today. It is correct. It is the truth. It is the reality of the situation.</p> essays Our Halfway State of Absurdity http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/09/21/our-halfway-state-of-absurdity 2015-09-21T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Earlier this summer I flew across the country and had the pleasure of going through airport security. The baggy pockets of my jeans seemed threatening, so the TSA agent gave me a brief pat down, which included running his hand right up into my crotch. There was a male TSA agent there and a female TSA agent there. The pat downs were professional and strictly same-sex. But why were they same-sex? Why do we not allow male TSA agents to give pat downs to women? Actually, let me ask another question first: What if the male TSA agent who gave me my pat down is someone who chooses to engage in same-sex sexuality? Would the TSA have prohibited him from giving me a pat down? Now let me return to my prior question: Why exactly do we not allow male TSA agents to give pat downs to women?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's jump to a different, related topic. When learning about the dorm rules at a local public university, I was surprised to hear that the university prohibits a man from sharing a dorm room with a woman. I was pleasantly surprised, but I was surprised nonetheless.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But then I started thinking: What is the logic here? What are the consequences? Does this university prohibit sex in its dorm rooms? No. Does this university prohibit same-sex sexuality specifically? No. So a same-sex couple could share a dorm room, but a boyfriend and girlfriend could not. Isn't that discrimination?</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">And it goes further. If a man claims he is a woman, this university will allow him to share a room with a woman. And what if he himself sleeps with women? What if he calls himself a lesbian? Would the university prohibit him from sharing a room with a woman? What if his female roommate objected? How would the university respond? Let's be clear here: This is a man—a physical, biological man—who sleeps with women, sharing a room with a woman in a university that claims to prohibit men and women from sharing rooms.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Consider the absurdity of it all and then ask yourself: How long before ambitious lawyers start swimming in the fertile waters of this murky swamp?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We know the reason for these rules. For generations, our society has held the expectation that same-sex environments should be safely asexual. But that expectation no longer exists, and organizations that provide same-sex asexual spaces are under attack. The Boy Scouts of America have fallen. Universities that prohibit same-sex sexuality are under threat. Yet, at times we still pretend that the old expectation remains, leaving us in a halfway state of absurdity, with rules that simply make no sense now that we have rejected their foundation.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">How many parents today still allow their children to have sleepovers with same-sex friends? Would those same parents allow their children to have sleepovers with opposite-sex friends? How do they justify the difference? They are playing by rules that applied when the world made sense, but the world doesn't make sense any longer.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why do we separate the sexes in the locker room? You know the reason. As I said above, it's because of the expectation that same-sex environments are safely asexual. But that expectation doesn't exist anymore. What difference is there between allowing a boy who sleeps with girls into the girl's locker room and allowing a boy who sleeps with boys into the boy's locker room? The answer: None. We're just pretending that the old expectation still applies so we can delay facing the consequences of society's changes.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Perhaps you claim that the different locker rooms are justified because boys' bodies and girls' bodies are different. Please. Haven't you been paying attention? If a boy claimed to be a girl, how many schools would allow him to change in the girl's locker room regardless of his physical reality? I can guarantee that number is higher than zero.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Don't get me wrong. I'm happy our bathrooms and locker rooms remain segregated by sex. I'm happy the TSA doesn't allow men to give women pat downs. I'm happy some universities still prohibit unmarried men and women from sharing a dorm room together. These are only half measures, only lingering remnants of a world that made sense, but I'm still happy they exist. Yet, at the same time I'm realistic. The logic that justifies these things has been discarded, and the consequence is inevitable. We are standing on the last good boards of a dock that is rotting away. At some point, we're going to fall in.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And where does this leave us? Can safe asexual spaces exist in this future we have created? No, they can't. We have discarded the logic that would have permitted them. The changes society has accepted have consequences, leaving us with two choices: Either we abandon the very idea of safe asexual spaces, or we choose isolation. This is the path we have chosen.</p> essays Some Connected Thoughts about Religion http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/09/18/some-connected-thoughts-about-religion 2015-09-18T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Everyone has a religion. We might not all go to church, but everyone has a religion. And all of us (even those who pretend to have no religion) believe that our religion is the right one.</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Religion is a set of beliefs about morality and the meaning of life. Sometimes these religious beliefs are formalized through a church, but more often today they are not. And in our day, informal religions—fluid and crowd-following—are imposing their religious beliefs onto formal religions more and more.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The State cannot force an equilibrium between religions. Anything it does only tips the scale from one side to the other. When it bans prayer, it promotes those religions that disbelieve in prayer. When it forcibly legalizes same-sex marriage, it favors those religions that believe same-sex sexuality is moral over those that do not. Any action the State takes to weaken one religion will always strengthen another. The State should therefore do as little as possible. It should allow the people to believe their own beliefs and live their own lives. It should allow religions—whether formal or informal—to rise or fall on their own merits.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In my experience, the people most likely to force their religious beliefs onto me are those who pretend to have no religion. They justify doing this by claiming that their beliefs are not religious and therefore are superior to mine.</p> <p style="text-align:center">* * *</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why do we give preference to informal religions over formal religions? Formal religions have a dependable system of moral beliefs, one generation following after another. Informal religions, on the other hand, do not. They follow the prevailing trends of the day and are inherently undependable. Why would we give preference to the undependable over the dependable?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Or is that the point? Perhaps informal religions are preferred because formal religions stubbornly cling to their beliefs despite fashionable culture whereas informal religions bend this way and that, making them more susceptible to manipulation and control. After all, if crowd-following is at your core, then change is only one well-orchestrated media campaign away.</p> essays Flayed http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2015/09/14/flayed 2015-09-14T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify;">I'm entering the final stretch of the publication process for my short story collection, where I'll finish assembling the eBook and will start working with the printers on the paperback and hardback formats. If everything goes as expected, my collection should be released the last week of September.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">There are a number of essays I've been working on while my short story collection has been moving toward publication, and I expect to release some in the next couple of weeks. But for now, here is the final poem I wanted to share before my collection is published. It is a little darker than the others, but it is what it is: "<a href="/flayed">Flayed</a>".</p> news The Argument in My Way http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2015/08/25/the-argument-in-my-way 2015-08-25T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify;">My short story collection has now been proofread and the manuscript is ready for typesetting. The cover illustration is in process and the cover design is arranged and will follow after. I'll start on the eBook files later this week. All in all, a mid-to-late September release date still seems likely.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">Here is another poem I wanted to share in the meantime: "<a href="/the-argument-in-my-way">The Argument in My Way</a>".</p> news Outside, Standing on a Stake http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2015/08/08/outside-standing-on-a-stake 2015-08-08T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify;">My short story collection is moving forward steadily. The stories are complete and are being proofread right now. There are fifteen of them, nine previously released and six new. I plan to release the collection in both eBook as well as paperback formats. The cover illustration is being worked on, and the typesetting is planned for the end of the month. The final arrangement I must make is for the cover design itself, but based on how things are going, I'm projecting a mid-to-late-September release.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">In the meantime, there are a few poems I've wanted to write that I plan to do while I wait. Here is the first: "<a href="/outside-standing-on-a-stake">Outside, Standing on a Stake</a>".</p> news Killing the Golem http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2015/05/16/killing-the-golem 2015-05-16T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/killing-the-golem"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/killing-the-golem-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="Killing the Golem - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">Imagine a world where slavery, segregation, and racism had never existed. Imagine a world where interracial marriage had never been prohibited. Imagine a world where skin color had always been seen as insignificant as hair color, where the word discrimination still had a neutral connotation, where the idea of discriminating between one thing and another had not become tainted by the injustice of racism.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine yourself in that world and ask yourself this question: Would same-sex marriage exist?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">No, it would not.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Neither logic nor reason is the force driving the cultural upheaval in our society. It is the legacy of the civil rights movement that is tearing our foundations apart, the legacy of the civil rights movement, something once noble and good, now twisted into a weapon and hurled against anyone who refuses to conform.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now imagine if that weapon were taken away.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I present my latest story: "<a href="/killing-the-golem">Killing the Golem</a>", a story not about that imaginary world but about our own.</p> news On Honor http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/02/12/on-honor 2015-02-12T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">These words are directed at men. Society today offers us uncertainty in how we should live our lives. Concepts such as honor have been discarded by the wayside. My purpose here is to stand against that uncertainty and explain how a man can be an honorable man. Women should be honorable women as well, of course, and I'm not saying that the responsibilities discussed here don't also apply in some ways to them. But I don't think it's my place to tell a woman how to be a woman, so I won't. I feel no such unease, however, in telling a man how to be a man—more specifically, in telling a man how to be an honorable man.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>21st-century feminism and the hookup culture</strong><br/> As I said, society today offers men uncertainty on how we should live our lives. There are numerous ideologies and lifestyles competing for our attention, but many of them are contradictory and few of them are good. Consider 21st-century feminism and the hookup culture. These two are entangled in a bitter conflict over sexuality, and men are caught in the crossfire. Some people support one side. Some people support the other side. Frankly, I hope they both lose. There is no point in putting a thin veneer of respectability over the noxious hookup culture, a lifestyle fixated on momentary pleasures; and there is no time to waste on the nonsense offered by 21st-century feminism, an ideology that views men as a threat and seeks to diminish them. Must a consent form be signed and notarized prior to every one-night stand? That's not a fight I care to participate in. Too many are wasting energy fighting about whether males should be permitted to urinate on newspapers laid down in the corner of the room or if they should be trained to go outside on the lawn. I have a higher vision for men. The hookup culture only appeals to overgrown boys, and 21st-century feminism can only produce housebroken males. But I'm not interested in overgrown boys or housebroken males. What I want—what we need—are honorable men.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>An honorable man</strong><br/> What then is an honorable man? Let me start with one word: work. An honorable man's focus in life is work and productivity, not comfort and leisure. He is as self-sufficient as he can be, constantly striving to not be a burden on others. Disability or severe hardship might prevent this from being fully possible, but an honorable man will do the best he can. Yes, all of us have to lean upon others for help at some point in our lives—there is no dishonor in that—but an honorable man is a worker. He is a builder. An honorable man is a net positive on the world around him.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now for another word: integrity. An honorable man is a man of integrity. Whether alone or in front of others, he is honest. People might have many different opinions about him. Some of them might dislike him. (Honorable and popular are not synonyms, after all.) But all of them will know they can trust his word.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man is brave. He might feel as much fear as an ordinary man, but an honorable man chooses to ignore it. He chooses to place his duties in front of his fears. And one of the duties that an honorable man feels is the duty to protect others—his family above all, but his neighbors as well, his community, his nation.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man is a man of humility. He is not filled with pride, nor does he waste time with vain boasting. In our culture today, many seem to believe that men should be flashy show-offs, but such men are nothing but immature boys. May they one day grow up and become the men they were meant to be.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man respects all women. His respects them in how he looks at them and how he thinks about them. No looking at pornography or otherwise thinking of women as sex objects. In addition, an honorable man respects women in how he treats them—his wife, daughters, mother, and sisters especially, but all others as well, even those who do not want to be respected and who revile him for showing them that respect. He shows it to them anyway. How they react is up to them. How he acts is dictated by his honor.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If he is able, an honorable man will marry a wife and they will have children together. It doesn't matter if his children are biological or adopted, either way they are his. What matters is that he sacrifices time and energy in raising the next generation, his portion of it. May that generation be an honorable one. May we strive to ensure that it is. If misfortune prevents an honorable man from having children, surely he will still be involved and provide service and direction to the extent that he is given the opportunity. There is much work to be done in leading youth on to become honorable adults, and many hands are needed for that labor. An honorable man would never turn his back on such an important duty.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man accepts responsibility to ensure his family is provided for. Whether through his income, his wife's, or both, doesn't matter. What matters is that he feels the ultimate responsibility upon his own shoulders and that he does what it takes to ensure it is done.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man leads his family, and an honorable man knows what that actually means. Leadership is not fancy suits or corporate boardrooms. It is not bending someone to your will. Leadership is teaching your daughter to ride her bike. It is helping your son build his Pinewood Derby car. That is what leadership really is, and that is what role an honorable man plays within his family. Someone who incorrectly thinks of leadership as coercive interpersonal power might be bothered by the leadership role men have within their families, but honorable men know it's not about interpersonal power—it's about responsibility.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man understands that the roles and responsibilities of his wife are no less important than his own. He defers to her in some things just like he expects her to defer to him in some things. The division of household responsibility is between a man and his wife, but when all contributions are tallied, an honorable man would never be comfortable knowing he is doing less for home and family than his wife is doing.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man expresses his sexuality only with his wife. No pleasuring himself to porn, no sex or anything similar before marriage, no cheating on his wife, no same-sex sexual relations. There are many reasons why sex should be reserved for marriage: it ensures a man's relationship with his wife will be unique and more powerful than any other, it provides a man motivation to keep that relationship healthy and happy, it ensures that children, the natural result of sex, will be born within an environment of love, responsibility, and commitment. But for honorable men, only one reason is necessary: because that's the honorable way to live. Attractions do not matter; actions do. An honorable man will feel improper desires just like any other man—there is no shame in that—but an honorable man will choose to reject those improper desires. That is what honor demands. Many of us have made mistakes in this area, but dishonor in our past does not have to continue into our present and future. May we all resolve today to live honorably.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man does not inspire fear in his wife or children. He inspires respect. There is never any doubt that he loves them and that he is striving to be the best husband and father he can be, putting his duties ahead of his own personal wants and needs.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man would never harm his own flesh and blood and pretend it was done to preserve his family's honor. That is not honor. That is perversion. Those who commit such acts are the vilest of creatures, undeserving of even being called men. They are lower than the worms that will consume their flesh once the corruption of their bodies matches the corruption of their souls.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An honorable man understands that the standards do not bend to his will; he must bend his will to the standards; and he is honorable whether alone or in front of others. He understands that honor is not just a show he puts on. Honor is what he is, and he lives accordingly, whether in public or private.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Everyone makes mistakes. We all have. We all do. But an honorable man turns his back on his mistakes. He doesn't excuse them. He rejects them and tries to do better.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Rest and recreation</strong><br/> We have spoken much of duty and responsibility, but what about rest and recreation? Should they also be part of our lives? Yes, they should. There is a time for rest. There is a time for recreation. Indeed, our bodies and minds need both, and an honorable man will be responsible enough to take care of the body he was entrusted with. But where is that man's focus? What is his purpose? Rest and recreation should not be a man's goal; they should be the fuel used to achieve his goal of work and productivity.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The ideal</strong><br/> While what I have written above is a good start, it is not everything that honor requires. Yet, even this incomplete list of responsibilities might seem overwhelming. Any man reading it will surely see areas where he currently falls short. I know I certainly do. (One benefit of writing with a pen name is it allows me to offer counsel to myself.) But knowing that you fall short in some ways is no reason to give up. The role of an honorable man is an ideal. It is a direction we should constantly strive toward. Yes, we are imperfect. Yes, we make mistakes. But an honorable man will not allow shame for his imperfections to block him from improving. Everyone is meant to fill the measure of their creation, and for men that means being an honorable man. None of us will do so perfectly in this life. What matters is that we try.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The role of men is in a state of upheaval today. Do not pretend that the demands of honor are the only demands pulling at you and telling you how to live. Consider the different beliefs and decide which vision of yourself you prefer. Will you be an overgrown boy of the hookup culture? Will you be a housebroken male ruled by the dictates of 21st-century feminism? Or will you reject such negative lifestyles and ideologies and strive instead to be an honorable man? It's your life. It's your choice. What then will you choose?</p> essays When the Ship Enters Rough Waters http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2015/01/10/when-the-ship-enters-rough-waters 2015-01-10T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine a giant ship full of people, everyone up on the deck, socializing, talking, laughing, sharing meals together, doing business with each other, parties here and there, everyone weaving amongst each other, everyone fitting in, everyone doing what everyone else is doing. This is society.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The ship might turn to the left. The ship might turn to the right. The direction doesn't matter to the people on the deck because they are all together, and that is what matters to them—getting along, fitting in, being part of the crowd, being agreeable, doing what everyone else is doing.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Then the ship enters rough waters. It used to be stable; now it rocks wildly to and fro. And everyone is stumbling around on the deck, bumping into each other, spilling their drinks, getting sick, vomit on the deck, vomit on each other. Yet, despite the heaving of the ship, they're all still socializing on the deck, doing their best to keep their feet underneath them as the ship rolls violently back and forth. They're still talking and laughing and being together because that's all they know how to do—fitting in with everyone else, getting along, going where everyone else is going, being agreeable, not causing a disturbance. They are part of the crowd, and they are doing what the crowd is doing, and if that means they are stumbling about and sicking up on themselves, then at least they are fitting in with everyone else because that is what matters to them, that is what they know how to do, that is what they want to do.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">But what about you? What do you do? Do you stand there socializing as the ship rocks wildly? Do you laugh at the jokes? Do you join the conversations? Or do you remind yourself of the calm waters from before and wonder how the ship can be steered back to them? You have a choice to make. Being part of the crowd means ignoring the direction of the ship and the state of the water. The crowd doesn't pay attention to which way the ship is going. The crowd only cares about fitting in up on the deck. But you can't fit in when you're trying to change the direction of the ship because doing that causes a disturbance, doing that isn't being agreeable, doing that isn't being like everyone else.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So what do you do? Do you continue socializing with everyone on the deck? Do you continue fitting in? Do you continue doing what everyone else is doing, going along with the flow, just like everyone else? Or do you try to change the direction of the ship? You can't do both. You have a choice to make. What do you do?</p> essays Society's Roles http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2015/01/06/societys-roles 2015-01-06T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">If a society wants to survive, then one of the most important roles of its men must be that of a father, and one of the most important roles of its women must be that of a mother. If a society recognizes this and has any common sense, then the most important role of its men will be that of a husband, and the most important role of its women will be that of a wife.</p> thoughts Stars and Black Holes http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/12/27/stars-and-black-holes 2014-12-27T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Being an emotional black hole is a miserable existence—constantly sucking in energy, a net negative on everyone around them. Fulfillment comes from being like a star instead—always shining outward, intent on being useful to others.</p> thoughts Creation of Persons http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/12/20/creation-of-persons 2014-12-20T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">The greatest thing we can do is create something, and the greatest thing we can create is a person, not just the creation of their body but the development of their mind and soul as well. God feels joy at our progression, and we can feel that same joy at the progression of others.</p> thoughts Melvin the Protester http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/12/09/melvin-the-protester 2014-12-09T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/melvin-the-protester"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/melvin-the-protester-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="Melvin the Protester - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">Another interruption of an interruption. "Killing the Golem" is still on its way, but in the meantime I present <a href="/melvin-the-protester">"Melvin the Protester"</a>, a short, fun look at a man who isn't really cut out for protesting.</p> news New Cover for You Never Had a Brother http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/12/06/new-cover-for-you-never-had-a-brother 2014-12-06T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/you-never-had-a-brother"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/you-never-had-a-brother-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="You Never Had a Brother - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">When I originally released "<a href="/you-never-had-a-brother">You Never Had a Brother</a>", I went the cheap route and made the cover myself. I never liked it much, so I'm happy to be replacing it with this one. I've submitted the update to the relevant eBook stores, but it might be a day or two before the change takes effect everywhere.</p> news On Genetics http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/11/29/on-genetics 2014-11-29T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">It's amusing to watch the timeline of scientific studies on whether or not a particular food is healthy. One day it's great for you, then a new study comes out and says it's horrible, then another comes out and says it's not so bad, then yet another comes out and suddenly it's great again, then horrible, then great, then …</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Isn't science wonderful? Actually, it is. Science is great. There's nothing wrong with recording our observations, sharing them with others, and building upon them. The problem comes with “therefore”. That's the word that gets science into trouble. The more cautious and conservative the “therefore”, the less problematic it will be. Unfortunately, a cautious “therefore” is unlikely to help a scientist win a research grant, capture the public's attention, or help the scientist further their agenda; so don't be surprised to hear wild and crazy scientific “therefore”s that push far beyond the limits of what the observations actually show.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">On that note, let's turn to the topic of same-sex attraction and genetics. From time to time, the media will breathlessly report about a new study “proving” that same-sex attraction is genetic. Hopefully they won't actually use the word “proving” in their headlines since the studies never go near as far as that, but someone who only reads headlines could be forgiven for thinking that science has found a stronger link between genetics and attraction than it actually has. However, once you dig into the stories and look at the details, suddenly the situation is very different from what the headlines lead you to believe.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Let me suggest two questions you should ask whenever weighing evidence of a genetic cause for same-sex attraction. Assume we are talking about a supposed “gay gene”. Here are the questions: First, does everyone who self-identifies as gay have this “gay gene”? Second, does everyone who self-identifies as straight <i>not</i> have this “gay gene”?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The answer to one of those questions, if not both, is going to be no. There will be some people who self-identify as straight despite having the “gay gene”, and some who self-identify as gay despite the lack of it. And what does that tell you? Obviously same-sex attraction is not genetic like hair or skin color. It's just a desire like any other desire. There's nothing special about it. Are your other wants and desires genetic? Do you like Pepsi because of your genes, or were you born to like Coke instead? That's silly of course. But why then do we expect attraction to be mandated by our genes when so many other things about us are not?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now let me minimize the size of my “therefore”. It's reasonable that certain genetic characteristics could make one more likely to develop attractions or wants or desires or tastes—all depending on one's environment. But note carefully the latter part of that sentence. I'm not worried about genes; I'm worried about environment. Why? Because had I been raised in a different environment, I might have decided I was gay—and I'm not unusual in that regard. How many who today consider themselves gay would think otherwise had they lived a different life instead? And what of the future? We are changing the environment of our society. The recognition of same-sex marriage, the celebration of same-sex couples, the normalization of same-sex sex—all those things will have an effect. What sort of effect do you think they will have?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of course, it won't be the end of the world if more people develop same-sex attraction. All of us already feel improper desires we should resist, what's one more? The problem, however, is that society currently tells those who feel same-sex attraction that they <i>are</i> something, that they have to <i>do</i> something. And that's what's troubling about the change in our environment. It's not that more will feel same-sex attraction; it's that more will decide they <i>are</i> gay and live accordingly.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And the conversations around these studies prove that point. At most the studies show a relationship between genetics and same-sex attraction, yet they are often described as showing a relationship between genetics and “being gay”. That's wrong. Same-sex attraction is just an attraction; it's not “being” anything. It's a desire like any other desire, and we get to choose which desires we indulge and which desires we reject. We aren't meat robots. We're humans. We have free will. We can and should choose to reject improper desires. And same-sex attraction, regardless of genetics, is something that everyone should reject.</p> essays Why I Write about this Topic http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/11/28/why-i-write-about-this-topic 2014-11-28T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">“Why do you write about this?” With the “this” being same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage, I find the question surprising. Given the direction of society, it seems to me the reason should be obvious. This is something capable of causing massive societal change, yet some seem to think what I'm doing is equivalent to walking into the woods and kicking a random tree for no reason.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Is that what I'm doing, just kicking a random tree? That's certainly not how I would describe it. For me, it's as if my family and I are being chased through the forest by a lion. I could continue to run, but I've chosen instead to turn around and fire some carefully aimed shots.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Or to put it a different way: After my church has endured years of mortar shelling with no sign of abating, I don't think it strange that I am intent on neutralizing the attacking artillery.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This conflict was not created by me. Whether or not I bury my head in the sand, it will continue on regardless. But I choose to not bury my head in the sand, and that's why I write so much about this.</p> essays Why the Comparison Fails http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/11/26/why-the-comparison-fails 2014-11-26T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Picture yourself about to compete in a footrace. There you are, crouched at the starting line, awaiting the whistle, when suddenly your opponent smashes your kneecap with a baseball bat. Then, as you writhe on the ground in undeserved pain, he goes on to win the race and pretends it was his speed that gave him the victory rather than his cheap tactics.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That's how I feel whenever someone tries to win the debate about same-sex marriage by comparing the opposition to same-sex marriage with the opposition to interracial marriage. It's a cheap shot, like a baseball bat to the kneecap. Let me explain why the comparison fails.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine that John and Mike have decided to be same-sex married. They approach a wedding planner and ask for her assistance, but she declines their business because she doesn't want to participate in a same-sex wedding. Okay, let's dig into her motivations. Why did she decline their business? Is it something against John? Is it something against Mike? There's an easy way to find out. Imagine that those same individuals, John and Mike, had instead both decided to marry women. Imagine that they each approached the wedding planner separately with their female fiance. Would the wedding planner decline the business of either couple? No, of course not. She has nothing against either John or Mike. It's not opposition to people that caused her to refuse to take part in a same-sex wedding; it's opposition to behavior. It's opposition to a choice she disagrees with—namely, the choice to legally lock oneself into a relationship she views as immoral.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Before we go on, ask yourself one final question: Had John and Mike both decided to marry women, would you expect the wedding planner to treat John and his finance any different than Mike and his fiance? Of course not. Once again, she has nothing against either John or Mike. Both of them are equal in her eyes. Her refusal to take part in their same-sex wedding has nothing to do with them; it has to do with their choice. Opposition to same-sex marriage is not opposition to people; it's opposition to behavior.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now, let's consider opposition to interracial marriage. Imagine that Leroy, a black man, and Mary, a white woman, have decided to be married. They approach a wedding planner, but that wedding planner declines their business because she doesn't want to participate in an interracial wedding. How does this differ from opposition to same-sex marriage? It's easy to see if you think through the situation. Imagine a similar alternative as before. Now, Leroy has chosen to marry a black woman and Mary has chosen to marry a white man. Both couples approach the same wedding planner who opposes interracial marriage. Is she likely to accept the business of both couples? Maybe. But ask yourself this: Would she treat both couples equally? Would a person who thinks blacks should not marry whites treat a black couple as well as she treats a white couple? I don't think so. Her opposition to interracial marriage is not about a choice; it's about them; it's about the color of Leroy and Mary's skin, something they can do nothing about. John and Mike have a choice. Yes, they feel same-sex attraction, just like we all feel many inclinations we can and should reject, and they can reject this one as well. But we cannot reject our skin color. It just is. That's the difference. Opposition to interracial marriage is rooted in opposition to people. Opposition to same-sex marriage, on the other hand, is rooted in opposition to a choice, in opposition to a behavior that many view as immoral.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's why the comparison fails.</p> essays The Honor Code on Trial http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/11/22/the-honor-code-on-trial 2014-11-22T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/the-honor-code-on-trial"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/the-honor-code-on-trial-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="The Honor Code on Trial - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">In the summer of 2012, Trinity Western University, a private university in British Columbia, announced plans for a law program. Two years later, their proposal is in jeopardy after several Canadian regional law societies rejected the admittance of TWU students and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education is now considering revoking their consent for the law school.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify;">What is it about Trinity Western University that has led to these challenges against its proposed law school? Why is it that law societies in Canada are discriminating against TWU's students? The answer is that Trinity Western University is a Christian university and therefore their students and faculty abide by a Community Covenant which includes the requirement to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman". In other words, TWU students agree to abstain from same-sex sexual behavior, a standard that is completely in line with Christian beliefs, yet a standard that more and more people are refusing to tolerate.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">And in Massachusetts, Gordon College, another private Christian school, has been called before the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Gordon College's regional accreditation board, to answer concerns about their Life and Conduct policy. And what part of Gordon College's Life and Conduct policy is the NEASC concerned about? I'm sure you can guess. Gordon College, similar to Trinity Western University, forbids "homosexual practice". <p style="text-align:justify;">Note that in both cases there is no mention of same-sex attraction, nor is there any mention of sexual orientation or identity. It's behavior that is prohibited, behavior that is contrary to the religious beliefs upon which those private universities are based.</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">As a Mormon, these examples of academic coercion against religious universities naturally makes we worry about BYU and other Mormon schools. Like Trinity Western University and Gordon College, BYU expects its students to abstain from same-sex sexual behavior. How long will universities be free to set standards based on their own religious beliefs?</p> <p style="text-align:justify;">For those of you who have assumed that all the recent controversy has been about marriage, it's time for you to realize that you're mistaken. This has never been about marriage, not really. Marriage is but a skirmish in a much larger war, a war over who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong. Here, then, is my latest contribution: "<a href="/the-honor-code-on-trial">The Honor Code on Trial</a>". I hope it will be of use.</p> news Deference for Doctrine http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/11/15/deference-for-doctrine 2014-11-15T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Those who follow the doctrines of the crowd do not deserve more deference than those who follow the doctrines of a church.</p> thoughts The Endless Field http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/11/08/the-endless-field 2014-11-08T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify;">The world is full of problems that require resolutions. There is far more work than any one person could hope to even make a dent in. Faced against the impossible demand for our attention, we find ourselves so overwhelmed we become paralyzed and lose the ability to perform the good we otherwise would have been able to do. It is for this reason that I wrote "<a href="/the-endless-field">The Endless Field</a>".</p> news Identifying What Just Bloodied Your Face http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/11/03/identifying-what-just-bloodied-your-face 2014-11-03T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">If you've ever been blindsided by an accusation of bigotry when you thought you were just talking about behavior, here is an explanation to help you understand what just bloodied your face.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Shame of Past Racism</strong><br/> The root of it all is racism; or, more accurately, the shame of past racism. We know it was wrong. We hear about the horror of slavery and segregation, and we are shamed that it happened in our own country and by our own ancestors. We are grateful for the bravery of the civil rights movement, for the heroic men and women who took a stand and helped society turn its back on institutional racism. There is still further to go, but at least now the door has been opened, allowing us to step through once society fully accepts that skin color is no more significant than hair color. We have yet to step through that door, but look at how far we have come.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And this legacy of racism, this mixture of shame for its existence and gratitude for its waning, lingers with us today. When we hear the word bigot, we think of racists. We think of adults barring the way so children with a different skin color couldn't attend school. We think of police officers setting fire hoses against civil rights marchers. And when we hear the word discrimination, we think of racial discrimination, of segregated lunch counters and drinking fountains. We think of hotels that banned people based on skin color, of theaters that wouldn't let some walk through the front door. All of those actions were wrong, and we're grateful they have since been rejected.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Bludgeon</strong><br/> And then we come to today, where we find ourselves in a strange situation. We have a disagreement about a particular sin, but that's not what is strange. Given that everyone is free to believe as they wish, it's common for our beliefs to conflict with each other. But what's strange this time is the way the disagreement is being handled. This time those on one side of the argument have taken the legacy of the civil rights movement and have twisted it into a bludgeon, which they are using to attack any who disagree with them. According to them, their opponents aren't just wrong, their opponents are bigots; and suddenly, given the baggage of racism, it's not just an argument about sin anymore.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I'm speaking, obviously, of the argument about same-sex sex. This is a conflict about an action, but how often do you hear it described in that way? Instead, it is far too often described as a conflict of identity. People declare they <i>are</i> that action. They declare they cannot <i>not</i> perform that action, that to expect them to not perform that action is to strip their humanity away from them. They claim this is a conflict not over what they <i>do</i> but over who they <i>are</i>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that is where the misuse of the civil rights movement comes into play. Racial discrimination is wrong. We know that. But now a claim is being made that discrimination against a behavior—not a person—is wrong. Being a racist bigot is wrong. We know that. But people are now being called bigots not because they preach against a person, but because they preach against a sin. And so, not wanting to be compared to the racist bigots of the past, more and more people are starting to accept that sin or at least to stop preaching against it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Consider these two questions:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">1. If you wanted to force society to embrace a sin, isn't this an effective scheme to do it?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">2. What sin could this not be done with? Lying, stealing, adultery, anything. If that is who some people <i>are</i>, then—given the legacy of racism that lingers with us—how can anyone preach against that sin any longer?</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Stop the Damage</strong><br/> Are you tired of being bloodied by the social apparatus that was constructed to defeat racism? Here is how you can halt the collateral damage:</p> <p style="text-align:justify">1. Reject the idea that people are defined by their sexual attractions. The only reason this conflict is being viewed through a civil right's lens is because some who feel same-sex attraction are claiming they <i>are</i> that attraction. Reject that identity. The wall that has been built is artificial, not natural. We are not gay or straight, we are human. This is not a conflict about identity. It's a conflict about actions. Some actions are wrong, and the presence of people who wish to commit them does not change that fact.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">2. Reject the idea that discrimination is always wrong or always based on prejudice. To discriminate means you treat something differently from something else. Sometimes that is wrong—like racial discrimination—but other times it is not. When you forbid a man from entering the girl's bathroom, that's discrimination. When you refuse to hire a drug user to be your child's nanny, that's discrimination. When you require doctors to be quarantined after treating Ebola patients, that's discrimination. Does it feel strange to refer to those things as discrimination? That's because you have grown accustomed to always thinking of discrimination as wrong when the word is actually neutral. What is being discriminated against and why? That tells you whether it is wrong or not.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Racial discrimination is wrong because it causes people to be treated differently not because of what they do or because of the content of their character but because of the color of their skin, a meaningless, unchosen, physical characteristic. That's why it's wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Discrimination based on sexual behavior, however, is <i>not</i> wrong. Everyone does it. Set aside the sexual behaviors that are controversial today and focus instead on the behaviors that are still considered immoral (or illegal) by most of society. Are those sexual behaviors discriminated against? Yes. And they should be. Wrong behavior should be treated differently than right behavior. To demand otherwise is to demand that the wrongness of a behavior be ignored. Remember, we're not talking about people, we're talking about choices. Never lose sight of that. The goal is not to diminish a person. The goal is for that person to lift themself up by choosing to do better.</p> essays Stare Decisis http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/10/27/stare-decisis 2014-10-27T00:00:00-07:00 <a href="/stare-decisis"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/stare-decisis-front-cover-medium.jpg" alt="Stare Decisis - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">I'm supposed to be writing a story on a completely different topic, but that got interrupted by another story on yet another topic, which got interrupted by another story, which got interrupted by this story, which itself got interrupted by a very short story that I included as a bonus story at the end of this story.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That's the bright side to all the insanity going on right now with same-sex marriage: insanity spurs creativity. Put another way: all this nonsense demands satire, and the ideas are forming faster than I can write them.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Here is my latest: "<a href="/stare-decisis">Stare Decisis</a>".</p> news On Identity - Again http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/10/18/on-identity-again 2014-10-18T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Arizona Falls Beneath the Juggernaut</strong><br/> As a resident of Arizona, I was disappointed by the recent court ruling that imposed same-sex marriage upon our state. Given the current direction of our courts, the ruling wasn't a surprise, but it was disappointing nevertheless. Those who have been placed in a position of honor and authority should be expected to use that honor and authority to do the right thing; and in this case, they didn't.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The result is both frustrating as well as annoying because it is both wrong as well as incorrect. It's wrong because same-sex marriage is a bad idea. My past writing explains why, but for a more comprehensive explanation, I refer you to <a href="http://discussingmarriage.org/" target="_blank">Discussing Marriage</a>, a website which I recommend both for the intelligence of their arguments as well as the civility of their tone. May more people learn to speak about same-sex marriage with such civility. (And may I.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The ruling was incorrect because limiting marriage to male-female couples is not unconstitutional. If the law hasn't changed, then judicial rulings should not change either. The people might have changed, but let them prove that through their votes. That's how a democracy is supposed to work. Instead, our judiciary is disgracing itself. Their faulty rulings will not be forgotten, nor will the names attached to them.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">Unfortunately, too many ignore the judicial activism because they are satisfied with the result. They don't realize there are two separate questions here. The first question is whether or not same-sex marriage should be recognized. Some people think yes. Some people think no. But that is completely separate from the second question: Is it constitutional for a state to limit marriage to male-female couples? And that second question is where our courts are failing. How many millions of Americans have voted their preference about the definition of marriage? How many millions of Americans are now being told by judges: “We don't care what you think. We get to decide what marriage is, not you.” We are witnessing a repeat of Roe v. Wade. Just as was done with abortion, supporters of same-sex marriage are imposing their will through court rulings rather than by persuading the people to agree with them.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>It's Time to Grow Up</strong><br/> We need to become more mature about our Constitution. The fact that we think a law is bad does not mean that that law is unconstitutional. The definition of “unconstitutional” is not “a law I don't like”. It's not even “a law I think is horrible”. Too many treat the Constitution as if it were something that should support all of their viewpoints, but that's not what it's for. The Constitution provides a foundation for our freedoms. The rest is left up to us to decide through our representatives. If we dislike a law, then the remedy is to elect better representatives. Transforming judges into kings is not the solution. All that does is strip the right of self-determination from the people, making all of us less and less free.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We need to learn the difference between “Must” and “Should” when it comes to our laws. “Must” means that something is constitutionally required. “Should” means that something is a good law. There are far fewer “Musts” than we regularly admit.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Must birth control be legal? No.<br /> Should birth control be legal? Absolutely.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Must abortion be legal? No.<br /> Should abortion be legal? Wouldn't it be nice if we were free to discuss this together and write laws that best fit us as a people?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Must same-sex sex be legal? No.<br/> Should same-sex sex be legal? Yes. The time for community standards to be communicated through unenforced laws has past. (But California, apparently, <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/389798/left-storms-californias-bedrooms-jonah-goldberg" target="_blank">didn't get the memo</a>.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Must states recognize same-sex marriages? No.<br/> Should states recognize same-sex marriages? <a href="http://discussingmarriage.org/" target="_blank">No</a>, and if you disagree, at least have the decency to allow the people to decide that for ourselves instead of having it imposed on us by judges who fancy themselves kings.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We need to grow up. The fact that some aren't getting their way at the ballot box is no reason to transform our nation into a judicial monarchy.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Identity - Again</strong><br/> The key to this conflict is identity. Judges are accepting the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage because they are falling for the fallacy that gays are a separate group of people. But that isn't true. The truth is that gays are all of us, just like straights are all of us. Those words are just labels, not groups of people, and those labels are fantasy. Any judicial ruling that is based on them is based on nothing but fantasy. May that fantasy crumble shortly.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Is sexual attraction a core part of our identity? When we ask someone to reject an improper sexual desire, is it like asking them to cut off a leg? No. Asking someone to reject an improper sexual desire is like asking them to reject any other vice. Attraction isn't who we are. Treating it like it is is why marriage is losing in the courtroom.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This make-believe style of identity could be claimed for any behavior. Try it yourself. First, pick a behavior you consider to be improper. Now, identify everyone that wants to perform that behavior. Combine them into a group, give them a name, claim that the behavior is who they <i>are</i>, throw in some good PR, and—presto! Speaking against that behavior is now hate speech. You still consider that behavior to be improper? Well, now you're a bigot.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Can't you see this is nonsense? You could do this with <i>any</i> behavior. Why does our society keep falling for it whenever it speaks about same-sex attraction? Attraction is <i>not</i> who we are.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>A Life of Constant Uncertainty</strong><br/> Have you considered the implications of the stories of those who “discovered” their sexual identity later in life? Let me give you an example. Suppose there is a woman who has been happily married to her husband for a number of years, has a few kids, etc. Life is good. She is happy. But then a new neighbor moves in next door. Let's call her neighbor Mary. This woman and her neighbor Mary develop a great friendship; and, unexpectedly, it doesn't stop there. Friendship leads to other feelings, which lead to more until eventually this woman and her neighbor Mary are having a sexual relationship.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Let's stop there. Now, what will people say about this story? Some will say it is an example of a woman who “discovered” herself, who realized that, unexpectedly, she wasn't straight after all, she was a lesbian. But haven't we forgotten something? Hasn't our rush to embrace same-sex attraction and same-sex relationships caused us to lose sight of an important part of the story?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">What if Mary's name had been Mark? Did we forget the part where I mentioned this woman is married? If adultery isn't wrong when the neighbor is a woman, then adultery isn't wrong when the neighbor is a man. And if adultery isn't wrong, then what is the point of marriage?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But there is another interesting side to this story. What if her neighbor Mary had never moved in next door? Would this woman have lived her entire life considering herself to be straight? What then is she really? Is she straight? Is she gay?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And now comes the fun part. I have a question for you, Dear Reader. Do you consider yourself to be straight? Ah, but according to stories such as these, how can you be sure about that? Perhaps you only consider yourself to be straight because your own “neighbor Mary” hasn't yet moved in next door.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Can't you see how unworkable that point of view is? If sexual attraction defines us, then we are doomed to forever be unsure of who we really are because each time our life changes we can “discover” we are someone completely different. And that's why the idea is so ridiculous. Do you really want to live in such an unstable society? Is that what you want for your loved ones, a life of constant uncertainty?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Attraction isn't who we are. Attraction is something that we feel, now, today. What we feel tomorrow might be completely different, but what we might feel tomorrow isn't important because right and wrong never change, and same-sex sexual intimacy will forever be wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Those Who Should Know Better</strong><br/> It's unfortunately not uncommon to read opinions from those who believe that all churches will one day accept same-sex marriages and will all teach that same-sex sexual intimacy is moral. To hear this from a non-believer isn't surprising, but to hear it from a believer who otherwise accepts the moral code of their church is perplexing. How exactly do they expect such a change to work? Obviously they are falling for the fallacy of sexual identity and are splitting humanity into groups based on sexual attraction; but, more than that, they seem to have no appreciation for the amount of ambiguity that can be present, especially for youth. Do they expect everyone to just magically know? If a teenager scratches their arm, does a tag stating their sexual identity appear? “Oh, look,” the teenager will say. “My tag says 'Gay'. I guess I'm supposed to date boys.”</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But people don't come equipped with tags, and that is where this vision for the future falls apart. What if someone isn't sure? How do you propose they decide? Should they look at porn? Should they experiment sexually until they know what they prefer? What if they still aren't sure? What if a woman marries a man, has children, and then, after her neighbor Mary moves in next door, discovers that maybe she decided wrong after all?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Those who embrace this vision of the future are headed toward a moral wasteland. All moral standards would have to be eliminated because they could otherwise stand in the way of us “being who we are”. There is no reconciliation between same-sex sexual intimacy and moral standards, not in any form similar to how we live today. And what about families? They can't exist in a moral-free world. They can't exist without the structure provided by standards, and standards can't survive unless we're willing to say: “What you want to do is wrong, and you shouldn't do it.”</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Can We Stop the Decline?</strong><br/> In the short term, I'm pessimistic that our decline can be stopped. We are experiencing the consequence of identifying people based on sexual attraction, and the current social inertia is immense. Our main hope in the short term is that some of the remaining appeals court judges will have the integrity and courage to declare: “This is nonsense.” But even if that happens, we are still subject to the decision of the Supreme Court, a court that today has far too many kings and queens and far too few judges. And so, in the short term, inertia might simply have to run its course.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But I am more optimistic in the long term. The judicial rulings in favor of same-sex marriage are nonsense, and the more time that passes, the more people will come to realize that, especially after they realize that the concept of sexual identity is nothing more than fantasy.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Any ruling based on judicial activism, such as all the rulings in favor of same-sex marriage, can be reversed by judges in the future. The Dred Scott ruling is the example to keep in mind. Today, that ruling is viewed with scorn. May that scorn be unleashed soon upon the rulings in favor of same-sex marriage.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>My Main Worries</strong><br/> But for now, we must deal with the consequences of same-sex marriage and what it brings. Of all those consequences, two things worry me the most. First, I worry that those with formal religious beliefs will be more and more marginalized by those with informal religious beliefs. (Everyone has a religion even if we don't all go to church.) The gay rights movement<a href="#update">*</a> has twisted the legacy of the civil rights movement into a bludgeon, and they are swinging it around like mad. Their claim that this is a struggle about civil rights isn't true. That's not what this is about. This is a religious argument. This is a dispute about who gets to define the word 'sin'. I'll have more to say about that in a forthcoming satire.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But I also worry about the youth. Same-sex attraction is a desire that all of us can feel. It is a universal possibility for everyone, man and woman. And yet, society today claims that if you fell same-sex attraction, then you're different. They claim that if you feel it, you're not a normal man or woman. They tell you to lock yourself in a little box and to mark yourself with a rainbow label. They tell you that that is who you are, that this is how you must live. And so, I worry that today those who would have brushed aside their same-sex attraction in the past (or not even noticed it) will find themselves locked in a life where they will be encouraged and expected to do wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that, to me, is one of the most offensive things about same-sex marriage. We are legally locking people in immoral relationships. Why in the world would we want to support that? You may live your life as you wish to live it, but don't expect me to help forge your chains.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><Strong>Be Ready, Parents</strong><br/> The world has changed. The road that was so clear to us has been shattered and our children will have to find their way along the pieces. When your grade-school daughter holds the hand of her friend, you will know it's only innocent friendship. But what will other adults think it is? What will other adults tell her it means? All of us are flexible. None of us are magically locked in place. And our children will have to face possibilities that never even occurred to us at their age. Be ready. Prepare yourself by recognizing the possibility within yourself. Don't be afraid of it. Understand it instead. Know that it means nothing. Then, when your child, confused and afraid, comes to you and confesses they feel same-sex attraction, you will be able to tell them: “It's fine that you feel that. You don't need to be ashamed at all. But I expect you to reject it <i>just like I do</i>.”</p> <p class="text-muted" id="update">* Update: I would replace the words "gay rights movement" with "same-sex movement" were I writing this today. The term "gay rights" is misleading, and I strongly discourage its use. It does not accurately describe what the conflict is actually about. [May 16, 2015]</p> essays Duty to Stand http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/10/14/duty-to-stand 2014-10-14T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Although we might believe the decline of society is inevitable, it remains our duty and privilege to stand against it anyway.</p> thoughts Our Favorite Prophets http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/10/02/our-favorite-prophets 2014-10-02T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Our favorite "prophets" are those who tell us that everything we're doing is perfectly fine. Prophets who preach hard changes? We don't like those.</p> thoughts Repentance http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/30/repentance 2014-09-30T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Repentance is about progress, not avoidance of punishment.</p> thoughts Be Purposeful http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/26/be-purposeful 2014-09-26T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Due to the pervasiveness of Internet pornography, any man who is not taking purposeful measures to resist it is probably looking at it.</p> thoughts You Never Had a Brother http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/09/20/you-never-had-a-brother 2014-09-20T00:00:00-07:00 <!-- Edited to point to original image - 12/6/14 --> <a href="/you-never-had-a-brother"><img style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" src="/img/you-never-had-a-brother-front-cover-medium-old.jpg" alt="You Never Had a Brother - Front Cover"/></a> <p style="text-align:justify; margin-top:20px">The fashionable view claims that our sexual attractions define us but our biological sex does not. Let me repeat that. The fashionable view claims that our sexual attractions—inconstant, unmeasurable feelings—define us but our biological sex—a directly observable, objectively determinable physical reality—does not. The fashionable view is wrong. No, more than wrong, the fashionable view has completely lost its mind.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The opposite is the truth. Our sexual attractions do not define us. They never have. They never will. Our biological sex, however, most certainly does. It is part of who we are. You can deny this, just like you can deny anything else; but doing so only distances yourself from reality.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And so, here is my latest short story, "<a href="/you-never-had-a-brother">You Never Had a Brother</a>".</p> news Communities http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/19/communities 2014-09-19T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Being part of a community allows you to influence others within that community, but it also allows you yourself to be influenced, to come to believe and value what that community believes and values. Choose your communities wisely. Don't join any that would lead you where you don't want to go.</p> thoughts Daily Rhythm http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/17/daily-rhythm 2014-09-17T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">We underappreciate the importance of daily rhythm, the chance to start afresh each morning, to do better than the day before. This is especially true for struggles against compulsions and addictions. Yesterday's mistakes are yesterday's mistakes; today is a new today. How beautiful the sunrise!</p> thoughts Two Realities http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/15/two-realities 2014-09-15T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">There are two realities. There is what is, and there is what we say is. We can bend the latter to our liking, but the former remains firm, and our foolishness can be measured by the distance we create between the two.</p> thoughts Decent Society http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/12/decent-society 2014-09-12T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">You can't kick the decent out of decent society. Well, you can, but the result is a society that isn't decent anymore.</p> thoughts Opponents and Allies http://www.stephenmeasure.com/thoughts/2014/09/10/opponents-and-allies 2014-09-10T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Those who oppose you need not be permanent opponents. Always leave an opening for them to become your allies.</p> thoughts The Mascot http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/08/30/the-mascot 2014-08-30T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Once again I find that satire says it best. I'm releasing a new story today: "<a href="/the-mascot">The Mascot</a>". Here is its description:</p> <p style="margin-left:2em">His first day at a new school, Winston discovers there's something very wrong with his classmates.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This is something I've had rattling around in my head for a while. I originally thought of it as a short humorous video, perhaps a book trailer for a forthcoming book (to highlight the theme, not the actual content), but I decided it would be fun to make it into a short story instead.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Like I did with "<a href="/the-equality-remedy">The Equality Remedy</a>", I'm making this story available as a free download. Unfortunately, neither Amazon nor NOOK allow me to set the price as free, which is why it is $0.99 in those stores. (The same is true for "The Equality Remedy".) Amazon does do price matching, however, so if enough people notify them of the price difference via the link on the story's page, then perhaps Amazon will match the free price available elsewhere.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I have another short story I plan to write next. I'm not sure how I'll classify that one, literary fiction? Then it's back to working on the rough draft of "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>", which continues to move forward slowly.</p> news 20 Truths about Same-Sex Attraction and Same-Sex Marriage http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/08/07/20-truths-about-ssa-and-ssm 2014-08-07T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">After all the words I have written about same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage, I thought it would be useful to create a list of truths to summarize the subject:</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #1: </strong>Same-sex sex—more specifically: same-sex sexual intimacy in any form—is morally wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #2: </strong>Although we should love and support each individual, we cannot celebrate or be happy about a same-sex union because, due to truth #1, we will always want them to split up.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #3: </strong>The gay rights movement<a href="#update">*</a> is an expression of religious tyranny. At its heart is the demand that everyone must agree that same-sex sex is not a sin. Any who refuse to conform are smeared as bigots and are expected to be shunned.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #4: </strong>We are not gay. We are not straight. Those labels are false and misleading. People are flexible and attraction is malleable.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #5: </strong>Any man living today, had he been raised in ancient Greece or Rome, would most likely have been attracted to other men. Yes, I'm talking about you. Stop thinking that you're different. You're not. You are far more influenced by your generation than you realize. This applies to everyone, men and women. Please reread truth #4.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #6: </strong>Due to the promotion of same-sex marriage, the celebration of same-sex couples, and the decline of the stigma against same-sex sex, there are youth today who will decide they are gay who would not have made that decision had they been raised in a different generation. Please reread truths #4 and 5.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #7: </strong>The percentage of our society that calls themselves gay, lesbian, or bisexual (less than 3% based on a recent CDC survey) is not magically locked in place. Please reread truths #4 through 6.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #8: </strong>Most people live how most people live, and how most people live varies with each generation. Please reread truths #4 through 7.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #9: </strong>The problem with slippery slope arguments is that, at the top, you don't believe you'll ever reach the bottom and then, at the bottom, you no longer care. Please reread truths #4 through 8.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #10: </strong>This is a battle of principles, not people. Everyone is our potential ally, and we should think of them as such.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #11: </strong>If your definition of success is having your same-sex attraction go away completely, then you are setting yourself up to fail. Success is having the strength to reject improper desires even if they never fully leave us.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #12: </strong>Attraction doesn't matter. Our choices are what matter. Attraction doesn't define us unless we choose to let it define us. It is therefore not the attraction that defines us but the choice.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #13: </strong>The civil rights movement and the gay rights movement<a href="#update">*</a> are fundamentally different. The civil rights movement was about what people are. The gay rights movement is about what people choose to do.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #14: </strong>Neither love nor any other emotion can justify immoral actions.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #15: </strong>Same-sex attraction is completely unnecessary. Were it to vanish from everyone tonight, we wouldn't miss it tomorrow. Same-sex marriage is likewise completely unnecessary. In the absence of same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage would never have even been considered. Is it wanted by some? Yes. Is it needed by society? No.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #16: </strong>We are men and women. That is the only meaningful separation that exists within the human race. Any individual physical divergence that defies this separation should be considered like other physical defects and met with compassion. Any individual mental divergence that defies this separation should be considered a rejection of reality and should be treated with counseling rather than body mutilation.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #17: </strong>Any society that fails to prefer man-woman couples over other combinations is suicidal. Nature itself constantly testifies in favor of this truth, and any society that rejects it will eventually receive a Darwin Award.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #18: </strong>The judicial activism in favor of same-sex marriage hinges on the false idea that people should be grouped as gay or straight. After society rejects this separation, all judicial rulings in favor of same-sex marriage will be viewed as illegitimate as the Dred Scott ruling.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #19: </strong>The arguments being made in favor of same-sex marriage apply to other existing restrictions on marriage partners as well. The only difference is a lack of social pressure on behalf of those changes. The increase in support for same-sex marriage is therefore not a result of our society logically deciding it's the right thing to do; it's a result of our society being bullied into supporting it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Truth #20: </strong>If sexual orientation were defined solely as sexual attraction, it would cause no conflicts with religion; however, sexual orientation is usually interpreted as including behavior, and the rightness or wrongness of behavior is the realm of religion. It is therefore impossible to simultaneously not discriminate against sexual orientation and against religion because the demand that we not discriminate against sexual behavior is itself a religious dictate. Please reread truths #1 through 3.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">For further discussion of these truths, refer to my posts on the subject:</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/essays/2014/06/18/on-identity/">On Identity</a>: Attraction is something that you feel, not something that you are. If you oppose same-sex marriage, then identifying others based on attraction is like shooting yourself in the foot.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/essays/2014/06/25/on-intellectualism/">On Intellectualism</a>: Reason will always win in a fair fight. Unfortunately, it's rarely ever a fair fight.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/essays/2014/07/10/on-perspective/">On Perspective</a>: Does it seem like the world is burning down? Well, so what? Get up on your feet and go do something useful.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/essays/2014/07/22/on-words/">On Words</a>: If a young man told you, "I'm gay," would you understand what he meant? Are you sure? We need better words, more accurate words—words that describe choices, not attractions.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And to see these truths demonstrated through story, read my fiction on the subject:</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a> provides an explanation for why same-sex marriage should be opposed. This story also offers a criticism of the same-sex marriage movement and its inherent need to portray all opponents as bigots.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a> is a novel about a man who struggles against an unwanted attraction. The goal of this book is to allow you, the reader, to clearly see the difference between the man and the attraction and to understand the choice that is present. This novel is challenging and at times uncomfortable but, I hope, effective.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><a href="/the-equality-remedy">The Equality Remedy</a> is a short satire. Accused of heterosexism, Mother Nature is taken to court where the demand is made that the man-woman process of procreation be abolished in favor of a more egalitarian approach.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>And now, some thoughts about feeling powerless</strong><br /> I understand that ongoing events have left many feeling powerless. In state after state, we have expressed our will regarding marriage through our votes. And now in state after state, judicial activism is mangling the law, stripping away our ability to govern ourselves. When the law is nothing more than what five out of nine judges in royal robes decree it to be, we have no law. And this is not a problem that one individual person can solve, so it's natural to feel powerless, to feel discouraged, to want to bury our heads in the sand and to just ignore the whole topic.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But that is a mistake. Yes, we might not be able to change the course of society, but we can still have an impact on those around us. Sometime in the future, someone close to you is going to realize they feel same-sex attraction. Perhaps a child or a grandchild, a niece or a nephew, perhaps a family friend, perhaps a youth at your church. They are going to realize they feel same-sex attraction and then ... and then ... what? How do you want them to react? Do you want them to think, "This must mean I'm gay. This must mean I need to live my life a certain way, a way that is different from how I was taught to live." Is that what you want them to think? Or do you want them to think, "That's a normal thing to feel. It means nothing. I should just reject it the same way I reject all my other improper desires."</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Which of those reactions do you want them to have? Now, consider this: Which of those reactions are your thoughts and words encouraging in others?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Read through the list of truths again. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you? Shut out the noise, shut out the social pressure, and think. Do you understand? Yes, there is little you yourself can do to halt the corruption seeping through our judiciary, but there is much you can do to mitigate the damage caused by that corruption. Let me give you two ideas.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">First, be diligent in separating attraction from action. Using labels like "gay" or "homosexual" to describe people is misleading because in one moment those labels refer to an attraction, which is not a choice, and then in the next they refer to an action, which <i>is</i> a choice. Don't allow that confusion to cloud the issue. When someone uses those labels, ask them what they mean. Are they talking about attraction? Are they talking about action? Remember, we might not choose our attractions, but action is a choice—and not all choices are right.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Second, you must stand firm against the magical thinking of the gay rights movement. (And to prevent any attraction vs action confusion, let's be clear: the "gay rights" movement is seeking acceptance of chosen actions, not just unchosen attractions.) The changes advocated by the gay rights movement are meeting less and less resistance because of the foolish belief that we all just magically emerge in a predetermined and permanent sexual state. According to this belief, it doesn't matter how much we change the traditions or expectations of society because the same people are going to decide they are gay no matter what we do because ... magic.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Can't you see how ridiculous that is? We're turning the whole world upside down and we expect it to have no effect? What other attribute do we assume is so impervious to outside influence? Of course these changes will have an effect. Please read truths #4 through 9 again.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The best way to understand this is to see the possibility within yourself. Much of what you assume is you is more a product of your generation. The reason you're not racist is not because you're better or wiser than people in earlier centuries. The reason you're not racist is because you're living in the 21st century and this generation, your generation, knows better. It's not you. It's your generation. Think. Understand. Can't you see? We're not just changing traditions or beliefs—we're changing ourselves.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So what are you going to do about it? You can't change the world, but what can you change? Who can you influence? How can you reduce the confusion and error all around you? Do something. Don't just give up. Don't just bury your head in the sand and hope it will all go away. Do something.</p> <p class="text-muted" id="update">* Update: I would replace the words "gay rights movement" with "same-sex movement" were I writing this today. The term "gay rights" is misleading, and I strongly discourage its use. It does not accurately describe what the conflict is actually about. [May 16, 2015]</p> essays On Words http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/07/22/on-words 2014-07-22T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine that a young man walked to the front of your church congregation and announced, "I'm gay!" Suppose this is a church where same-sex sex is considered to be morally wrong. This young man has just declared, "I'm gay!" But what does he mean? You know this boy. You care about him and want what is best for him. So what does he mean? Obviously he is saying that he feels same-sex attraction, but is that all he is saying? Remember, this is a church that preaches that same-sex sex is morally wrong. When he calls himself gay, what is he saying about his choices? Is he saying that he believes the teachings of the church and will therefore resist his same-sex attraction in the same way that others in the congregation, each and every one of them, are expected to resist their desires to do wrong? Or is he saying that he has embraced his same-sex attraction, that he has adopted it as his core identity, that he will live that lifestyle, that he will seek out same-sex partners, that he will engage in same-sex sex?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">What exactly is he saying to the congregation? What exactly is he asking of them? Does he want support through his trials? If that is what he wants, then he will get it. But is that what he is really asking, or is he asking them to change their doctrine? Is he asking them to alter their concept of sin in order to accommodate his personal desires? What is he really saying? We don't know. We don't know because the words don't tell us. They're ambiguous, and the ambiguity is tearing morality apart. We need better words, more accurate words.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Trojan Horse</strong><br /> What does it mean to be gay? It is claimed that being gay is not a choice; yet if this is true, then being gay cannot include any actions or behaviors because actions and behaviors are most definitely choices—we are humans not machines and we choose what we do. Therefore, the claim that being gay is not a choice is only true if being gay only means that one feels same-sex attraction, nothing more. Yet we all know that is not what people mean when they identify themselves as gay, and that is not what they mean when they talk about gay marriage or gay rights<a href="#update">*</a>. They are not just talking about an attraction; they are talking about an action, a behavior, a lifestyle—they are talking about a <i>choice</i>. The term "gay" then is simultaneously both a choice yet also not a choice. It's a Trojan horse. We feel sympathetic to the claim that people do not choose their desires, so we let the Trojan horse through our gates; but then, once safely past our defenses, the hidden truth of action emerges and the moral standards of our society are compromised.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Boy Scouts of America<a href="#update2">**</a></strong><br /> Let's turn our attention now to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and their change to allow "gay" youth but not "gay" leaders. <a href="/about">I'm a Mormon</a>, and my church was in the news when they announced approval of this policy, but how many realize that for Mormon troops this didn't represent a change at all? Again, what does it mean to be gay? Does it just mean to feel same-sex attraction? If so, why would a troop ever exclude a boy for feelings he did not choose to feel? And actions? Remember, we're not talking about secular-sponsored troops, where moral standards might not be clearly defined; we're talking about Mormon troops, where moral standards are clear and not changing. The Mormon church teaches that same-sex sex is morally wrong, and all scouts within Mormon troops will be expected to live up to that standard. Consider the direction the world will push a boy who feels same-sex attraction. Why would we not want him to be part of an organization that encourages him to embrace his full potential rather than to settle for how the world declares he must choose to live?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what about the leaders? Should a man be allowed to be a scout leader if he is "gay"? Let me repeat my earlier question: What does it mean to be gay? Should a man who feels same-sex attraction yet completely rejects it be allowed to serve as a BSA leader? I certainly think so—because that man is <i>not</i> gay. But what about a man who identifies as gay, who embraces the attraction as a lifestyle, who chooses to seek same-sex partners, who chooses to engage in same-sex sex? Should that man be allowed to serve as a BSA leader? Of course not. As an organization dedicated to instilling morality in boys, the BSA has a right to decide what moral standards they will stand for. Same-sex sex is an action. Some consider that action to be morally right, but the members of the BSA consider that action to be morally wrong. Those who are allowed to be scout leaders should be expected to serve as moral examples for the youth within their organization, and someone who chooses to engage in same-sex sex cannot serve as a moral example in an organization that considers same-sex sex to be wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I don't know the official wording of the BSA policy, but if they don't explicitly separate attraction from action, then they are shooting themselves in the foot. Yet this is an example of the confusion caused by the word "gay". When you read in the media that the BSA prohibits "gay" leaders, what do you think that means? We need better words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Californian Tyranny</strong><br /> At the time I write this, there is a proposal underway in California to bar judges from membership in the BSA. Yes, you read that correctly. If the proposal is enacted, membership in the BSA could result in a judge being removed from the bench. Consider that for a moment. How did we get to this point? How did the world get turned upside down? You can thank the Trojan horse. We need better words, more accurate words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Should this proposal in California be enacted, it will be a restriction of religious belief. What is at question is not what someone <i>is</i> but what someone <i>does</i>. Is same-sex sex morally wrong or is it morally right? That is a religious question, and California is considering taking an official stance on that religious question.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If you are upset by the direction our society is going, the remedy is clear: Destroy the Trojan horse. Reject the combination of attraction and action. Force the two to separate. When someone uses words like "gay" or "homosexual", ask them what they actually mean. Ambiguity about this topic is harmful. Make them be specific. Are they talking about attraction only, or are they talking about action? Because if they are talking about action, remember that action is a <i>choice</i>. We might not choose our attractions, but we most definitely choose our choices. Don't allow the ambiguity to damage moral standards any further. Is same-sex sex a sin? That is a religious question. Strip off the mask of civil rights worn by the gay rights movement<a href="#update">*</a> and reveal the religious tyrant hiding underneath.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Civil Rights Mask</strong><br /> And, yes, it's only a mask and an undeserved one at that. Those who advocate gay rights<a href="#update">*</a> often try to equate opposing same-sex sex with being racist, but that makes no sense. Being against the act of same-sex sex is the same as being against a black man for … for what? … for breathing? Same-sex sex is an action. Skin color is not an action. We don't choose what we look like, but we most certainly do choose our actions, and our choices are subject to judgment and correction.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine two separate men who both feel same-sex attraction. One of these men has chosen to reject his same-sex attraction while the other has chosen to embrace and indulge it. What a profound difference these choices would make in the lives of these men. Yet, despite the drastically different choices and lives, both of these men might be called gay. Consider the confusion this causes. Why is it that we have a word to describe the attraction but lack a word to describe the choice? What a mixed up state of affairs. We need better words. Attraction doesn't matter. Choices are what matter. We need words that describe our choices.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Where Should the Separation Lie?</strong><br /> Labels create separation, which is sometimes necessary; but consider the separation caused by labels like "gay" and "homosexual". When it comes to same-sex attraction, there are three relevant groups of people: those who feel no same-sex attraction and therefore choose to reject same-sex sex, those who feel same-sex attraction yet still choose to reject same-sex sex, and those who both feel same-sex attraction and also choose to engage in same-sex sex. Now, consider where the word "gay" separates those three groups. That word insists that those who feel the attraction but reject the action have more in common with those who choose the action than with those who reject the action. Why do we separate people in that manner? If there must be a separation, let the separation fall based on choice, not based on desire.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Imagine if the label "adulterer" were applied both to those who committed adultery as well as those who were simply tempted to commit adultery. In that world you'd be an adulterer whether you chose to commit adultery or not. In that world being an adulterer would simultaneously be a choice (because you choose your actions) yet also not a choice (because you don't choose your temptations). Can't you see the problems that would cause? Can't you see the mischief that could be played against morality? To be an adulterer (in that world) could be said to not be a choice (because temptations are not chosen) and therefore one who preaches against adultery (meaning the action) would be accused of bigotry for preaching against people when they are actually preaching against an action. But one is not an adulterer unless one chooses to commit adultery—the temptation is completely beside the point. Therefore, one cannot be gay—a label which is generally interpreted to include action and behavior—unless one chooses to be gay; the attraction is completely beside the point. To be clear, if you feel same-sex attraction yet choose to reject it, then you are <i>not</i> gay.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">How could it be otherwise? Trying to label people based on their attractions is inevitably inaccurate. Are we mind readers? How many who call themselves straight actually feel some degree of same-sex attraction? How many who call themselves gay actually feel some degree of normal attraction? We aren't mind readers so we don't know. The labels based on sexual attraction therefore don't indicate what one is; they only indicate what one claims to be. But to be <i>what</i>? To be one who feels same-sex attraction? To be one who chooses to have same-sex sex? What are we actually saying we are? We need better words, more accurate words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>A Digression</strong><br /> The claim might be made that being gay consists not only of feeling same-sex attraction but also of not feeling normal attraction. However, once again, we aren't mind readers. Are we really sure that all those who call themselves gay do not—yesterday, today, or tomorrow—feel any degree of normal attraction? We don't know that. We can't know that.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of course, if it is you, the reader, who is in this situation, then that is a different matter. You know what you feel and what you don't feel, and you might claim to not feel normal attraction. Okay, you don't feel any today, but how can you be sure you will never feel normal attraction for someone in the future? Might not the way you think of yourself have an impact on the potential you allow yourself to reach? The mind is a powerful tool. Why would you turn yours against yourself? Why would you confine yourself in a small box through a self-imposed label rather than stand out in the open where you might experience that which you can't imagine today?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But a useful <a href="/essays/2014/07/10/on-perspective/">perspective</a> for this scenario is a topic for another day, so I will end this digression.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Situation Made Simple</strong><br /> This has been written from the point of view that same-sex sex is morally wrong, but perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you see little wrong with adultery as well, causing my earlier example to be ineffective. In that case, let's break this topic down into simple terms to make the situation clear whether you consider same-sex sex to be morally wrong or not.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Think of an action you believe is morally wrong. Then consider this: Wrong or not, some people still want to commit that action, don't they? They feel a desire, an attraction toward it. Are you with me so far? Everyone agrees that some actions are wrong. We might disagree about which actions are right and which actions are wrong, but the existence of right and wrong should be a point of common agreement, as should the fact that some people desire to choose wrong.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now, we have a wrong action and we have a desire to commit it. There are some people who feel the desire to commit the wrong action, and there are other people who both feel that desire and also make the choice to commit the wrong action. How do we talk about these people?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In one approach, we could have a label for those who choose the action but no label for those who only desire it. As previously mentioned, an example of this is adultery. The act of adultery is wrong, and those who choose to commit adultery are referred to as adulterers. But what about those who desire to commit adultery? We don't label them. Some people are tempted by adultery and some people are not, but the action is wrong in all cases. By not labeling those who are only tempted, we don't cause them to think differently about themselves. We are all the same, and we are all expected to not do that which is wrong, whether we desire it or not.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Another approach would be to have one label for those who desire to commit the wrong action and one label for those who choose to commit it. This approach is not ideal because it creates a wall of separation between those who feel the desire and those who do not, which will inevitably cause more to succumb to the desire than would if they were thought of just like everyone else. It's not a horrible approach, however, since it still makes a clear distinction between those who are tempted and those who choose to give in.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now let's turn to the last approach. In this approach, the same label is used for those who desire to do wrong as for those who make the choice to do wrong. As a consequence, people who are attracted to the immoral action are under the incorrect assumption that they can't choose to not commit it. Their humanity is stripped away from them. And those of us who disagree with the action are vilified for speaking against it because people claim it is who they are. "I didn't choose to be like this," they say. And they are right; except, they are also wrong. The desire is not a choice, but the choice is a choice. This approach, the approach our society currently uses for same-sex sex, is a source of confusion. It's a Trojan horse. It is contributing to the moral failure of society and is being used to demolish all meaning out of marriage. We need better words, more accurate words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>Another Digression</strong><br /> Some might try to bring emotions into the mix, claiming that being gay is about more than just same-sex attraction; but that is beside the point. There is no emotional appeal, no matter how deeply felt, that can justify the act of adultery between a married man and his co-worker; and that standard applies equally to same-sex sex. Moral is moral and immoral is immoral.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">"But love trumps all!" too many might claim, foolishly refusing to realize that any argument they use in favor of same-sex sex can be applied to any other action, even actions that they themselves consider to be morally wrong. How long will we live comfortably in this unstable society we are creating for ourselves?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But enough with this digression.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Audience Includes Me</strong><br /> I have now written multiple posts where I encourage readers to not identify people based on same-sex attraction, where I encourage them to think of people as simply men and women and to not call them gay or straight. I mentioned this in my post about <a href="/essays/2014/06/18/on-identity/">identity</a>, in my post about <a href="/essays/2014/06/25/on-intellectualism/ ">intellectualism</a>, and in my post about <a href="/essays/2014/07/10/on-perspective/">perspective</a>. Yet in casual conversations with family or friends, when the topic is obviously about one who has chosen to live their life in a particular way, I too will sometimes use the words "gay" or "lesbian". The context should be clear. It should be obvious that I am talking about choices, not simply about attractions. But how can I be sure of that? How can I be sure that others understand what I'm saying when I choose to use ambiguous words?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The audience of my writing includes me. I need to constantly refocus on my primary <a href="/essays/2014/06/13/on-stewardship/">stewardships</a>. I need to strive to always keep my <a href="/essays/2014/07/10/on-perspective/">perspective</a> a useful one. And I need to do a better job in how I talk about this topic. But what is frustrating is that there is no good way to talk about it. Accurate words simply don't exist. We need to invent them.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>The Action</strong><br /> (Even the action itself lacks a good term. The term "same-sex sex" is the best way to describe it that I am aware of. It would be nice to have a better one.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><strong>What We Need</strong><br /> We need words that describe choices, not attractions. It doesn't matter if you feel same-sex attraction, just as it doesn't matter if a teen feels the desire to look at porn, just as it doesn't matter if a married man finds the flirty waitress sexy, just as it doesn't matter if a girlfriend would really, really like to go further with her boyfriend. None of those desires matter; the choices are what matter. Does the teen choose to not look? Does the man choose to be loyal to his wife? Does the girlfriend choose to reserve what she should until marriage? The choices are what matter. When it comes to same-sex attraction, we need words that distinguish between those who choose to reject the attraction and those who choose to embrace it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Words like "gay" and "homosexual" are useless. When people say them, we don't know what they actually mean. Those words are used to pretend that action isn't a choice and that opposition to an act is the same as opposition to a person. We need better words, more accurate words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Those who have chosen to reject their same-sex attraction do not need to change. We don't need a word to describe them. What we need are words to describe the people who have chosen to embrace their same-sex attraction, who have chosen to live that lifestyle, a lifestyle where they seek out same-sex partners with whom they will have same-sex sex, an action that is morally wrong. We don't need demeaning words; we need describing words, words that describe people who are making choices we disagree with—because those are the people we want to persuade to change.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We need better words.</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted" id="update">* Update: Even when writing about problematic terms I found myself using one. Were I writing this today, I would not use the term "gay rights" but would instead use terms such as "same-sex movement", "same-sex activism", or "same-sex advocacy". The term "gay rights" is misleading, and I strongly discourage its use. It does not accurately describe what the conflict is actually about. [May 16, 2015]</p> <p style="text-align:justify" class="text-muted" id="update2">** Update: To permit youth who struggle with moral issues into an organization that encourages moral behavior makes perfect sense. <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/mark/2.17#17" target="_blank">"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick"</a>. However, that saying assumes the physician is capable of helping the sick become whole, and unfortunately the Boy Scouts of America can no longer make that claim. In July 2015, the BSA decided that adults who choose to engage in same-sex sexuality can serve as BSA leaders, including direct leaders of young boys. Leaders are examples. Leaders are role models. The BSA cannot stand for morals they do not expect from their leaders; and any organization that claims to teach morality yet refuses to take a stand on such a basic part of sexual morality is counterproductive. The situation is incredibly disappointing. The BSA has become one more example of the truth: Everything man-made rots eventually. [August 4, 2015]</p> essays On Perspective http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/07/10/on-perspective 2014-07-10T00:00:01-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">The world is burning down. It certainly feels that way to those of us who oppose same-sex marriage and continue to insist that same-sex sex is morally wrong despite the emotional appeals and social pressure exerted on its behalf. Yes, it's easy to feel despair as we watch institutions and standards crumble around us, yet history suggests we should not let that feeling linger. Waves rise but then fall. What seems unstoppable today is discarded and forgotten tomorrow. Every Goliath will meet a David; every Titanic will strike an iceberg; every behemoth will become a fossil; and every judicial ruling in favor of same-sex marriage will one day be considered as illegitimate as <i><a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/372280/day-liberal-judicial-activism-march-6-ed-whelan" target="_blank">Dred Scott</a></i>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Still, it certainly is an interesting time, when MTV and Rolling Stone parrot the establishment, and those whose morals are attached to something more permanent than transient whim find themselves as the underdog counterculture. Isn't it strange? Rock music in all its varieties, once the anthem of rebels, has faded into elevator music for the trend-following horde.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But strange or not, our times can be distressing. Especially if we view the societal changes as irreversible, meaning that things will never get better. A related message is shared on the <a href="http://www.discussingmarriage.org/" target="_blank">Discussing Marriage</a> website in their "<a href="http://www.discussingmarriage.org/objection-from-bandwagon.php" target="_blank">The Objection from Bandwagon</a>" article and video. They point out that, while those in favor of same-sex marriage prefer to compare their cause to the civil rights movement, a better comparison can be made with the abortion debate, where opinion has shifted over time, proving that change in opinion is not irreversible. This comparison is especially appropriate when you step away from the same-sex marriage debate and instead focus solely on the matter of same-sex sex. Like abortion, same-sex sex is an action. And just like abortion, some people think this action is morally wrong while others disagree.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">As the example of the abortion debate shows, popular sentiment doesn't move in only one direction, and it doesn't always move away from fixed moral standards. Thoughts can change as ideas that were never allowed to be honestly considered are given their due weight. So it is that I have to assume the world will at some point open its eyes and realize how ridiculous the idea of <a href="/news/2014/06/18/on-identity">sexual identity</a> is, an epiphany that will have a profound impact on the state of the debate about same-sex marriage as well as same-sex sex.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We who have been raised in a generation with a stigma against same-sex sex assume that if we only desire normal sex, it is due to something about us rather than something about our generation. We refuse to acknowledge that the removal of the stigma against same-sex sex will inevitably result in an increase in its desirability. Think about it. If you are not currently attracted to same-sex sex, ask yourself: Why not? Do you find it gross or disgusting? Do you consider it unmanly (or unwomanly)? And that opinion came from where?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">If you don't consider same-sex sex wrong, then perhaps you don't care. But if, like me, you consider same-sex sex to be morally wrong, then open your eyes and realize that you are a product of your generation and that those being raised today are also products of their generation. Consider what that means. The stigma against same-sex sex is going away. There is little you can do about that. But what you can do is to stop identifying people based on their sexual attractions. What you can do is to realize that people are only men and women, not gay or straight, and to always treat them as such.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I have to assume that at some point the world will finally get this, that it will realize that sexual identity, sexual orientation, sexual whatever-you-want-to-call-it, does not accurately reflect reality. I have to assume that, once that happens, things will improve as people realize that considering same-sex sex to be morally wrong is no less valid than considering it to be morally right. The activists can yell all they want, but the square peg of behavior will never fit into the round hole of racism. Sooner or later, I have to assume the world will understand.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what if the world never does? What if things only continue to grow worse? We've all seen the scalp collectors roaming throughout society in search of those of us who refuse to conform. What if their numbers only grow larger and their actions bolder? What if your friends all desert you, and the walls close in tighter, and the darkness grows deeper, all reason having fled, foolishness left alone to reign triumphant?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">To that I say: So what? Stop being melodramatic. Get up on your feet and go do something useful.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Perspective is key. Why is it that a person can have such a drastically different attitude from another in the exact same circumstances? Why is it that the first is able to accomplish so much more than the second? Why is it that they're more positive, more happy, and more pleasant to associate with? It's their perspective.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">We often hear this narrowed down to the simple "glass half full" or "glass half empty" comparison, which focuses solely on optimism or pessimism. It's good to be optimistic. It's good, instead of focusing on the shadow, to focus on the light shining behind it. But what if there is no discernible light? What if things really are as horrible as they seem? At times like this, the power of optimism loses its strength. For this reason I suggest, rather than trying to have an optimistic perspective, we should try to have a useful one.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Does your current perspective provide a route for you to accomplish something useful, or does it cause you to shut yourself off, to wallow in anger, bitterness, or despair? Perhaps the feelings are justified, but so what? Your time is finite. Do you want to waste even one day, even one afternoon? No. You're still breathing—go do something useful.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Why, you might ask. Depression and despair come naturally, do they not? Why bother fighting against what comes easiest? I have three reasons for you. Time is the first. As I already said, your time is finite. Picture a clock ticking away above your head. However you spend the next moment of your life, it will be spent. A coffin awaits you, just as it awaits me, just as it awaits everyone with blood flowing in their veins. Does that depress you? Why should it? You're still breathing. Your time is ticking down. The next moment of your life will pass one way or the other. Justified emotions or not, do you want to waste that moment in darkness, or do you want to change the way you think about things? You can sit and mope, or you can do something useful. What will you do?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Goals are the second. What do you wish to achieve? And, in order to achieve that goal, don't you have to struggle against someone or against something? Life is conflict, and psychological warfare is often part of that conflict. Sports competitors get inside each other's heads, politicians work hard to depress the opposition's turnout, armies use tactics that terrorize their enemies into submission. After all, what easier way is there to win than to convince your opponents to give up? Are you allowing your perspective to be negatively manipulated? Does the way you are looking at your situation cause you to stop trying? Why? You're still breathing. Your coffin is yet empty. Why are you giving up? Change your perspective. Stand up and do something useful.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I promised three reasons, but I've only offered two. The third I save for later. For now, I'd like to discuss how we can improve our perspective. If it is natural to feel despair when despair is natural, how can we shift our view to see things in a more productive way? Once again, I have three answers for you.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Comparison is the first. When times are hard, it often seems pitch black. As Harry S. Truman said (and Ronald Reagan later paraphrased), “It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours.” Bad things that happen to us always seem worse than anything that is happening or has happened to others. But are things really that bad for those who oppose same-sex marriage? Of course not. Social ostracism, thoughtless smears, even spectacular flares of fiery Internet rage, what are any of those pains compared to real physical harm or loss of liberty? Things really aren't that bad, not in comparison. Compare your plight to the experience of Michael Keeler, a Proposition 8 donor whose family is subjected to a lethal threat in "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>". That story is fiction. Hopefully it will remain that way.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of course, knowing that others have had it much worse is of little comfort when you find yourself or your views mistreated, but by comparing our situation rationally, we can often discover that the shadow we thought covered our entire world is really not so dark after all, and this realization can allow us to discover ways to think about our situation that do not trap us in useless despair or bitterness.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Comparison is helpful, but it is nothing compared to the negative-perspective-shattering power of gratitude. A 19th-century leader of my church (<a href="/about">I'm a Mormon</a>) named Brigham Young said the following about gratitude and its absence: "I do not know of any, excepting the unpardonable sin, that is greater than the sin of ingratitude." Whether you are Mormon or not, I am confident you can see the wisdom in that teaching. Of what worth are blessings if we are unwilling or unable to recognize them? Gratitude is a powerful attribute, capable of quickly transforming a negative perspective into a useful one. Consider a man returning home from a hard day at work. Are his thoughts on the troubles and anxieties of his day? Does he feel sorry for himself? As he passes the homes of his neighbors, does he feel jealous of what they have and he lacks? Or does his mind turn to gratitude? Does he feel grateful for the job that he has, for the ability to provide for his family? Does he feel grateful for the blessing of his car? We drive miles every day and then gripe about it, not recognizing the amazing gift of transportation and the freedom it gives us. Does he think of his family? What is a job, what is a car, what is a hard day at work compared to a family? Your coffin awaits you. What will you leave behind? Does the man realize this truth as he pulls into his garage and enters his home?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now consider the different perspective the grateful man would have versus the ungrateful man. Consider the different actions that would come as a result of those perspectives. Both the grateful man and the ungrateful man experienced the exact same day, yet which will have a more productive night? Which will have the ability to fulfill his primary <a href="/News/2014/06/13/on-stewardship/">stewardships</a>? It's not about having an easier life. It's about making the choice to be grateful and allowing that gratitude to alter your perspective into a useful one.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I still have a third answer to give, both to the why as well as the how. But first I want to talk about my poem "<a href="/why-do-you-build-what-you-know-will-fall">Why Do You Build What You Know Will Fall?</a>" The title is deceptive. Perhaps you think I'm preaching against wasted effort. Perhaps you think I'm telling you to prioritize and to avoid spending time on things you know will not last. But if so, you don't understand what I'm trying to say. Read <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/eccl/1" target="_blank">Ecclesiastes</a>. Read it again and again until you are thoroughly depressed at the long-term worth of your individual effort. Everything you say will fall apart. Everything you build will crumble to dust. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Now read <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-cor/13" target="_blank">1 Corinthians 13</a>. There you will find the meaning that drives my poem. There you will find the two missing answers from this post. That chapter provides the why, and it also provides the how. We have a duty to do good, yes; but more than that, we are meant to <i>want</i> to do good. We are meant to desire it above all else. What manner of men and women should we be? Ones who require no reward because, with who we have become, the work itself is the reward. That is why we should keep a useful perspective, and that is also how.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So, yes, the world might be burning down, but do not waste your time or energy in despair. Your clock is ticking. Do not give up. Things are never as bad as they seem, and you have been blessed more than you realize. Your time is limited. Make the most of it. Become the person you were meant to be. Help those around you. Strengthen the weak, the lost, the confused. Lift society as high as your strength permits, no—lift it higher. Keep a useful perspective. Why would you not? Perspective is key. Always keep a useful one.</p> essays New Mailing List http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/07/10/new-mailing-list 2014-07-10T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">For those interested in receiving email notifications of my posts along with other news, I have created a mailing list. You can subscribe <a href="/follow#mailing-list">here</a>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In related news, I have added an "Upcoming Posts" section on my "<a href="/other-writing">Posts of Note and Other Writing</a>" page. If you are curious about what posts I will be sharing in the future, take a look there. My latest post was released this morning: <a href="http://www.stephenmeasure.com/News/2014/07/10/on-perspective/">On Perspective</a>.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I'm also still working on "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>", the last story of "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a>". Repeated distractions (posts and other stories) have made the writing slow, but I'm making progress.</p> news On Intellectualism http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/06/25/on-intellectualism 2014-06-25T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">I am not an intellectual. That might seem strange for me to say if you think of intellectuals simply as those who are intelligent, but that's now how I view intellectuals, not anymore. It seems to me that intellectualism claims that arguments can always be compared against each other, the better argument reliably determined through reason. It's as if intellectual conflicts are like gladiator fights in an arena, where the arguments face off against each other and the better argument inevitably comes out the winner.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But that's not how things actually work. The intellectual arenas are filled with artificial obstacles, and those obstacles get in the way of the arguments, at times giving an unnatural advantage to one argument over the other, at times removing any chance for an argument to even win at all. In the end, it's not the better argument that emerges triumphant, it's the argument more suited to the obstacles of the particular arena. I see intellectualism therefore as better at awarding trophies than at discerning truth. That's why I am not an intellectual. Reason will always win in a fair fight. Unfortunately, it's rarely ever a fair fight.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Consider the example of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird". Despite public opposition, Atticus, a lawyer, chose to defend Tom Robinson, a man falsely accused of rape. Atticus made his case effectively, leaving no doubt that Tom was innocent. Yet, Atticus failed anyway and Tom was found guilty of the crime. Why? The two arguments entered the arena, why did the weaker one emerge as the winner?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It was the arena. When those on the jury saw the defendant, they did not see a man, they saw a black man; and their racial prejudice created an impossible obstacle for Atticus to overcome. There was simply no argument that Atticus could make that would allow black innocence to prevail in the face of white accusation, not in the minds of those jurors, not in the arena within which Atticus was forced to make his case.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">But imagine if someone had reached out to the jury before the trial and somehow convinced them of the rightness of racial equality. As impossible as it sounds, imagine if the jury had been previously persuaded that a man was simply a man, not a black man or a white man, but a man. Now imagine that Atticus had appeared before this changed jury and presented his argument in the exact same manner as before. Is there any doubt what the verdict would have been? Of course not. The problem was the arena. Atticus did not need a better argument. Atticus needed a better jury.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">That is why I am not an intellectual. I survey the arenas in which arguments are weighed, and far too often I see situations where the better argument is given little chance to prevail.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Have you ever come across an argument of such stunning composition you can't imagine anyone disagreeing with it? From time to time I will read something where the logic is so clear, the craftsmanship so exquisite, it seems impossible to believe that anyone would dispute what has been said. Then I arrive at the comments section and it's as if I entered the Twilight Zone, as if an interdimensional rift has been opened, allowing people to post comments from a dimension where reason is turned upside down. And isn't it always like this? We have constructed individual arenas, each with different obstacles that favor one argument over another. Is it any surprise that our conclusions, all intellectually reasoned, at times are so radically different?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">There is a new site on the Internet called <a href="http://www.discussingmarriage.org" target="_blank">Discussing Marriage</a>, where arguments in favor of marriage and in opposition to same-sex marriage are presented in a calm, logical, and fair manner. Anyone who opposes same-sex marriage and wants reinforcement for their view should read the arguments on this site. Anyone who supports same-sex marriage yet wants to honestly understand the other view should read the arguments on this site. The arguments are persuasive, the logic is sound, and yet people still disagree with them. Why?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Once again, the problem is the arena. The court Atticus faced was flawed in that it split men into black men and white men rather than viewing them all simply as men. The court of public opinion today is flawed in a similar way, but rather than separating based on skin color, we separate based on sexual attraction—a flexible, malleable feeling that we pretend is permanent and predetermined. As I said in my post last week, it all comes down to <a href="/essays/2014/06/18/on-identity/">identity</a>. Are we men and women, or are we gay or straight? Identifying others based on attraction is why the cause of marriage and morality is failing. Identifying others based on attraction is why so many of us are being smeared as bigots. Identifying others based on attraction is why same-sex marriage is stampeding through court rooms across the nation. Without the obstacle this flawed sense of identity creates, the argument that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right would undoubtedly fail.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The legal arguments in favor of our marriage laws would have prevailed only a few short years ago. But now the juggernaut of judicial activism on behalf of same-sex marriage seems unstoppable. Why? Is it a failure of the arguments in favor of our existing laws? No. The problem is the arena and the obstacles within it, obstacles such as the false idea that our attractions define us. We don't need better arguments. We need better judges.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">But what shall we do while we wait for better judges, who might never arrive? Shall we simply submit to social pressure and embrace what we are told is inevitable? No. What we need to do is to realize that the behavior of these activist judges, while condemning them as unfit for their role, can also give us hope for a resolution. The Constitution provides a solid foundation. What is right in one generation is right in the next, and if anything must change, then the Constitution itself must be changed. But this solid foundation has been rejected by activist judges, our nation set adrift like a feather in the wind. Ah, but must the wind always blow in the wrong direction?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The Constitution has not changed in the time between when our marriage laws would have been found constitutional and when they are now being found unconstitutional. The Constitution hasn't changed, but the people have. Yet, what happens if the people change again? Activist rulings such as those in favor of same-sex marriage are inherently fragile, held up by polls and social pressure, nothing more. Change the people, and then the law, even the law dictated by activist judges, will eventually follow.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yes, this is easier said than done, but are we even trying? Do we talk about same-sex marriage or do we talk about gay marriage? Do we even understand the difference? (If not, read "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>".) When we think of a man, do we recognize that his attractions don't define him? Can we see the thin line of resistance that can separate a man from his attractions if he lets it? (For help in seeing this, read "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>".) When talking about same-sex attraction, do we divide us into gay and straight based on our predominant attractions, or do we recognize that the only meaningful distinction is that between men and women? (If you disagree, <a href="/the-equality-remedy">your fight is with Mother Nature</a>, not with me.)</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Our society is groaning under the guilt of past racism. Not wanting to repeat the same mistakes, we flee from even the hint of bigotry. And so, any argument that can contort itself into a similarity to the civil rights movement is given an incredible advantage. We need to stop allowing weak arguments to claim advantages they do not deserve.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This post is directed toward those who oppose same-sex marriage. I want you to understand that when you identify others based on attraction, you are helping build an arena where your arguments are guaranteed to fail. Just like Atticus in the courtroom, you'll find yourself facing obstacles that are impossible to overcome. When you try to strike with your sword, the terrain itself will block you. When you try to defend with your shield, you will discover that obstructions have knocked it from your hand. This is the fruit of identifying people based on attraction. This is the arena you are forcing your arguments to fight within. Stop shooting yourself in the foot. Stop identifying people based on attraction.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Perhaps you think I'm only asking those who struggle against same-sex attraction to stop thinking of themselves as gay; but if so, you're not seeing the full picture. What I'm asking is for people to stop thinking of themselves as straight. Why do so many of us feel the need to cling to that identity? Can't we see the wall it creates between ourselves and those who struggle against same-sex attraction? Why do we need that wall? Does it make us more comfortable? Do we feel better about ourselves knowing that "they" are on the other side of the wall and "we"—unspotted even from the temptation to commit this sin, we repeatedly proclaim—are safely on our own side? We claim to love the sinner and yet we cast those who struggle to the other side of a wall which we ourselves created. Is that what love looks like?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">What other sin do we treat this way? Do we build a wall for lying? Do we place those who are tempted to tell lies on one side and place ourselves on the other, claiming that not only do we not struggle with lying today but we will never even be tempted to lie in the future? Consider the harm that causes to those we place on the opposite side of the wall from us. When they notice the separation we have built between ourselves and them, will they even believe themselves capable of telling the truth?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Tear down the wall. Throw away the labels. We are men and women, not gay or straight. Attraction does not define us. Attraction is flexible and malleable, not permanent and predetermined. We are not our attractions.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Turn your back on the artificial obstacles and exit the man-made arena. Enter instead the world that nature created for us, a world where we are simply men and women, a world where attractions are only desires and desires don't define us, a world where arguments in favor of marriage and morality can receive a fair fight. Exit the man-made arena and see how much stronger your sword can strike; see what blows your shield can deflect.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Reason will always win in a fair fight. Let's give it one.</p> essays On Identity http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/06/18/on-identity 2014-06-18T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Alternate title: A plea for my allies to please stop shooting themselves in the foot.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I want to elaborate on something I said in my post last week about <a href="/essays/2014/06/13/on-stewardship/">stewardship</a>. In that post I indicated it was a problem for those who oppose same-sex marriage to make statements such as "gay men should be celibate." Can you see why it's unhelpful to word the situation in that way? If you can't, let me explain: The problem is that when you make statements like that, you're making an assumption about identity and are limiting people who struggle against same-sex attraction to only two choices: celibacy or not. But those two choices do not actually reflect what is at issue in this conflict. The issue is whether or not people resist their same-sex attraction. That's it. Sometimes the things we say make it appear we are asking for something very different than we actually are.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It all comes down to identity. Who are we? What defines us? Are we men and women, or are we something else? And is the way we identify others helpful or harmful to them? Does it accurately reflect their potential, or does it artificially limit their choices?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Look at it like this: Would we ever say, "liars should be mute"? Of course not. We wouldn't say that because we know better than to identify people based solely on the action of lying. Instead, we would say that people should not tell lies. We would say that people should tell the truth. Can't you see the difference? Do not identify people based on their preferred sin. Don't fall victim to the trap of preaching against people. (And yes, it is a trap. See my story "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>".) Sin is not who we are. Attraction is not who we are. Do not debase others in that way. Don't fall victim to the appeal of short noun phrases that give a distorted picture of reality. Take the time to accurately explain your point of view.</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">I know that the loudest voices in society today are shouting that attraction defines us, but understand this: They are wrong. Step outside of emotion, step outside of social pressure, and think. Does the claim that attraction defines us actually match the reality of human behavior? Go back ten years, go back a hundred, a thousand, two thousand, go back more, and ask yourself: do people really fit into such tidy little categories that we can appropriately divide them as "gay" or "straight"; or do those labels oversimplify a more flexible truth? Do those labels obscure the possibility inherent in each of us and unnaturally cut us off from a potential that could otherwise have been reached?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Now look forward fifty years. Do you honestly expect that a complete lack of direction about attraction today won't cause a shift in the attractions indulged in the rising generations? How could that be? What other personal attributes do we assume are immune to all outside influence? With what else are we so cavalier? What is it about sexual attraction that makes us think it is less malleable than everything else? Is it magic?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of course it's not magic. It's subject to outside influence, just like everything else about us. And one of those outside influences, a harmful idea preached by many, is the idea that attraction is who we are, that it's a permanent thing about us, and that it will bloom in a predefined manner even if the world is turned upside down. Believing this incorrect idea causes many to cut themselves off from a better potential, cramming themselves into a box created by their self-imposed label instead of opening the lid and standing at their full height.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I see the topic of identity as so critical to the conflict over same-sex attraction that I wrote a book about it: "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>". In this novel the attraction the main character struggles against was chosen specifically to demonstrate why we should never identify others (or ourselves) based on attraction. We need to think about what we're saying. We need to realize that attraction is not who we are, and that it never justifies improper actions.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">At times I've been asked why I put so much effort into writing about same-sex attraction and why I'm so intent on persuading people to my point of view. Oh, there are multiple <a href="/ssa/">reasons</a>, but the best explanation can be expressed in a single word: uncertainty. I have no idea how I would end up, were I being raised today. No amount of activism, no amount of studies, no amount of "expert" opinions can make me unsee the flexibility I see within myself. Perhaps you see it within yourself as well; but if not, know that it is there. If there is anything uncommon about me in this regard, it is only awareness.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And so, I compare my own uncertainty against the unthinking assumption that we just magically emerge in a predetermined state; and, seeing such widespread naivety throughout society, how can I stay silent? Whether I succeed or I fail, how can I not at least try?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And that's why I'm encouraging thoughtfulness in how we talk about this. Just like we don't say "liars should be mute", we need to stop saying "gays should be celibate". Instead, we should say what we really mean: Everyone should resist their same-sex attraction. Same-sex sexual intimacy is wrong, no matter how much you wish to engage in it or what emotions you've attached to it. Those are the messages we should be sharing. If you oppose same-sex marriage, then identifying people based on attraction is like shooting yourself in the foot. If you are my ally in this conflict of viewpoints, please stop hurting the effort through friendly fire. Attraction does not define us. Please stop talking like it does.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Of course, many will disagree with what I'm saying. The idea that attraction is who we are is at the core of some of the most vocal (and at times most vicious) politics in society today. Indeed, the advocacy for same-sex marriage is utterly dependent upon it. Expect intense push back. But, just as with the invisible finery of the Emperor, this mass delusion only works if we all play along; so I'm standing here today and stating clearly: The Emperor has no clothes!</p> <hr/> <p style="text-align:justify">(If you agree with this post or are at least open minded about it, then I recommend you read my story "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>" and my novel "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>". It's easy for me to tell you these things in a blog post, but it's more effective for me to show you them through story.)</p> essays On Stewardship http://www.stephenmeasure.com/essays/2014/06/13/on-stewardship 2014-06-13T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Lately I've been thinking a lot about stewardship. A stewardship is something you are responsible for, something you have a duty to care for, to develop, to preserve, to protect. Some have high-profile stewardships, significant callings in their church, positions of great responsibility in their governments. But, for most of us, our stewardships are more local, more close to us. For me, I see my stewardships as my religion, my family, and then my work, my community, and more loosely my nation and then, even more loosely, mankind as a whole.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I've been thinking a lot about stewardship lately because reading the news makes me angry; and then my frustration at the blind foolishness I see consumes me, tearing away time, energy, and emotion from my primary stewardships, making me the greatest fool of all.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I'm reminded of a talk given by Dallin H. Oaks, one of the leaders of my church (<a href="/about">I'm a Mormon</a>), called <a href="http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best" target="_blank">"Good, Better, Best."</a> Put simply, it's possible for good things to distract us from doing the best things. It's good to be aware of what is going on. It's good to be involved in our communities and our nation. But what if that pulls us away from what is best? What if that pulls us away from our primary stewardships, from our families, from our friends?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Yet, I still feel drawn to what is going on, especially with all the craziness surrounding same-sex attraction. I look at the way people talk about it and the assumptions they make about it, and it's aggravating to me, as if millions of people were simultaneously scratching on a chalkboard together. Even those who seem to agree with me about same-sex attraction—those who agree it should not be indulged, those who oppose same-sex marriage—even they often misunderstand same-sex attraction and how we should approach it. Too often they say things like "gay men should be celibate", not seeing the trap they have created for themselves with their very words. (This trap is explained in my short story "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>").</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="text-align:justify">And now that I have a website up, I can see what queries people type in that lead them to it. (Don't worry, I can't see who types them.) I can see the emotions people are feeling—the desire to be rid of the same-sex attraction they feel, the worry that feeling same-sex attraction means something about themselves, that it makes them different from those around them, different from those whose lives they wish to emulate. This is part of the reason why I wrote my novel "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>". I want people to ignore what the world is telling them. The world claims that our attractions define us, but I'm telling you now that they do not. I want people to realize that attraction can be resisted, that it is resisted, and that the current direction of society will only open the floodgates, requiring more and more to actively resist what would not have been a challenge in the past. I want people to understand that feeling same-sex attraction is normal. That it means nothing about them, nothing more than that they are human. Many feel it to some degree, more than admit it openly, more than admit it to themselves. I want people to understand that feeling it, no matter how deeply, does not change their obligations nor does it change what's expected of them; and, more importantly, I want them to understand that it doesn't mean they cannot live the life they were taught, and they want, to live.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So I want to help. I want to encourage people to turn their backs on the world and to make the most of their lives; yet I also don't want to lose focus of my primary stewardships, especially of my family. That is why I am so grateful for books. I can put forth effort to write one, recording all my thoughts in my best attempt at persuasion, and then after it's published, I'm done. My focus stays with my family, but the words I wrote remain forever, my work now capable of perpetually helping others. I spent years writing "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>", but I've forgotten most of the time that went into it. The work is done, the book is done, and my attention has turned elsewhere; yet my opportunity to help others remains, all thanks to the wonder of books and the written word.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">In the technology industry, we often talk about whether something is scalable or not. To be scalable means that something works on a large-scale rather than just on a small-scale. In this crazy world, it's easy to get lost, to view the whole world as our problem, to be overwhelmed and angry at all the injustices we see and all the things we feel must change; but that simply doesn't scale. We find ourselves so stretched outside of our capacity that we are only capable of sending a hashtagged tweet before turning our attention to the latest outrage, which will also only merit a hashtagged tweet, and on and on. We're spreading ourselves too thin. We need to stop it. We don't have the time to care so much about the triviality of stranger's lives, whether celebrities or not. We don't have the energy to maintain close contact with hundreds (thousands?) of social media "friends." Humans weren't made to be spread so thin. It isn't scalable. It causes us to neglect the best as we chase after the good.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">So what is scalable? Focusing on our own stewardships, on our own families, on our own responsibilities—that is scalable. That is what each of us should do. Imagine if everyone placed their primary focus on providing and caring for their own family and then, and only then, turned their attention outward. Imagine what that would do to the level of want and need within our society.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">And so, I urge you to attend to your own stewardships, to place more of your focus on the best rather than on the good. I cannot take care of all of your families; my energy and ability simply cannot scale that far; but I can take care of my own, and I can take the time to write this post and then leave it forever written, forever counseling and encouraging you to focus on what matters most and to not allow yourself to be distracted by the wider world. Focus on your stewardships. They are yours. Attend to them. Be diligent with them. That is the way to a better life and a better world.</p> essays The Equality Remedy http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/05/26/the-equality-remedy 2014-05-26T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">I rediscovered this gem while searching through my old story ideas. The basic idea and initial sketch were recorded four years ago. When I stumbled across the story again last week, I decided to finish it. It was a fun story to write and hopefully will be a fun story to read.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The name of the short story is "<a href="/the-equality-remedy">The Equality Remedy</a>". Here is its description:</p> <p style="margin-left:2em">Mother Nature is taken to court for being heterosexist. But will we be pleased with the imposed remedy?</p> <p style="text-align:justify">I've once again been distracted away from writing "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>". Back to work. Back to work. Back to work.</p> news The Unneeded Panic Room http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/05/10/the-unneeded-panic-room 2014-05-10T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Many of us have been following the news of Brendan Eich, who was forced to resign as the CEO of Mozilla due to his past donation in support of Proposition 8 (a 2008 California initiative that declared that marriage should remain the union of a man and a woman). There has been a lot of discussion of this troubling event in the media. Unfortunately, most of that discussion has been completely beside the point. Too many in the media are focusing on the question of whether or not a CEO should be punished for his political views, but that's not the problem behind this story. All of us have a line over which, should someone pass, we will no longer accept them as part of respectable society. So, no, the problem isn't that Brendan Eich was punished for holding an unpopular political view; the problem is that Brendan Eich was punished for holding a view that <i>I myself</i> share. And I'm not alone in this regard. Perhaps we didn't donate to Proposition 8 ourselves, but how many of us voted for it or for equivalent laws? And how many of us would do so without hesitation again? How many of us belong to churches that oppose same-sex marriage? And how many of us would stand by those beliefs no matter the personal cost? The problem is not that Mozilla judged their CEO unworthy of it; the problem is that Mozilla made that judgment about so many of us.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This hits close to home for me because, like Brendan Eich, I work in the tech industry and am therefore at risk of the same rejection. While it's true that I publish my work using a pseudonym, the only permanent barrier that provides is one between my ego and success. The thin buffer in front of my identity is only temporary, and it will be pierced the moment someone is motivated enough to run a few web searches. Ideally this won't happen without a simultaneous interest in my work, allowing me to provide for my family in that way, but there are no guarantees.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">It is interesting, however, how everything has come full circle. My novel "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>" was conceived in the midst of Proposition 8 and its aftermath. If there had been no Proposition 8, I might have never written it. If Mormons had not been so involved in Proposition 8, I might have never written it. And now, as I've been struggling for a way to explain why my novel matters and to convince people to read it, this belated backlash to Proposition 8 occurs, providing me inspiration for a short story I hope will demonstrate why this topic is important. The short story I wrote and am now releasing is called "<a href="/the-unneeded-panic-room">The Unneeded Panic Room</a>". Here is its description:</p> <!--end-excerpt--> <p style="margin-left:2em">After he is outed as a Proposition 8 donor, Michael and his young family are stalked by a vengeful activist.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">This unexpected project interrupted my work on "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>", the last short story of "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge Of Earth Collection</a>", and I'm still only partway through the rough draft. But now that I have "The Unneeded Panic Room" off my chest, I'll hopefully be able to return my attention to that story and finish it in a reasonable amount of time.</p> news Why Do You Build What You Know Will Fall? http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/03/15/why-do-you-build-what-you-know-will-fall 2014-03-15T00:00:00-07:00 <p>I published a new poem on my website: "<a href="/why-do-you-build-what-you-know-will-fall">Why Do You Build What You Know Will Fall?</a>" Like "<a href="/not-today">Not Today</a>", I am releasing this poem into the public domain, which means that anyone is free to copy and use it in any way they wish. It is available in PDF and OpenDocument Text formats, and I also decided to make eBook versions in EPUB and Kindle formats (I added eBook versions of "Not Today" as well). One word of caution about the eBook formats: the poems are formatted a specific way and when viewed as an eBook, your eReader might not render them as designed.</p> <p>It's interesting how ideas can bounce around in your head, combine with other thoughts, and then suddenly come to life. This poem isn't something that I planned to write, but it all came together around a week ago, so I got to work. I'm pleased with how it turned out.</p> <p>Now I need to return to "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>", the last short story of "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge Of Earth Collection</a>". I've completed the outline and begun the rough draft. (The rough draft is always the hardest part for me. Once I have something to refine, I can work faster.) Based on the outline, I'm guessing this will end up at novella length, but I'm hoping it won't take as long to write as "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#its-not-my-money">It's Not My Money</a>" did. "The Inner Rot" is more pure story than "It's Not My Money", so I don't have to be as precise with every word. I'm hoping that will translate into a shorter writing time. I'd like to get moving on my second novel, but this must come first.</p> <p>(My earliest news item from 2013 disappeared from my News page recently. This was due to a glitch in my web page code and has now been fixed, so my complete news history should be viewable again.)</p> news Patheos Book Club Promotion http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/03/01/patheos-book-club-promotion 2014-03-01T00:00:00-07:00 <p style="text-align:justify">Now that "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River Is Always Waiting</a>" has been published, my attention towards it has shifted from writing and editing to promotion. With a limited advertising budget, I've tried to target my ads as effectively as possible, and one place where I've run these targeted ads is <a href="http://www.patheos.com">Patheos.com</a>, a website that presents a wide variety of religious and political beliefs through the numerous bloggers who post there. I am running ads on a handful of blogs at Patheos that are mainly read by those who I believe would be interested in reading my book.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">An additional advertising opportunity provided by Patheos is its <a href="http://www.patheos.com/Books/Book-Club.html">book club</a>. The book club's webpage for "The River Is Always Waiting" went live this morning. It will be listed on the book club's main webpage for the next two weeks, and my book's customized webpage will be available for three months afterward.</p> <p>Here is a link: <a href="http://www.patheos.com/Books/Book-Club/Stephen-Measure-The-River-Is-Always-Waiting-AF.html">"The River Is Always Waiting" in the Patheos Book Club</a>.</p> news An Honorable Man upon the Mountain http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/02/21/an-honorable-man-upon-the-mountain 2014-02-21T00:00:00-07:00 <p>I've finished "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#an-honorable-man-upon-the-mountain">An Honorable Man upon the Mountain</a>" and released it in Kindle, EPUB, and PDF eBook formats. Links will be added to the various eBook stores as it becomes available. This is the sixth story of <a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection/">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a> to be completed but only the second to be released. Here is a brief description:</p> <p style="margin-left:2em">Tolan must rescue his sisters from the shades who slaughtered his family, but he cannot save them without first finding an honorable man upon the mountain.</p> <p>As with "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#i-would-sing">I Would Sing</a>", "An Honorable Man upon the Mountain" takes place in the epic fantasy world known as The Unshut World. The final story of The Ridge of Earth Collection, "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-inner-rot">The Inner Rot</a>", will take place within this world as well.</p> <p>At times when I write something, I'm actually talking about something else; but at other times, (to paraphrase Hemingway) a shark is simply a shark. When considering any symbolism to this story, please understand that I have plans to write about many topics, much more than just the topic of my first novel. Also, remember that hubris is an all-too-common flaw found throughout society, and power has always had a tendency to corrupt even the best of us.</p> news Four More Stories Finished http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/01/20/four-more-stories-finished 2014-01-20T00:00:00-07:00 <p>I've finished four more stories from "The Ridge of Earth Collection": "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#somethings-going-on-at-the-strip-mall">Somethings Going On at the Strip Mall</a>", "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#the-last-dance-of-the-pansy-king">The Last Dance of the Pansy King</a>", "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#two-letters-from-a-gentleman">Two Letters from a Gentleman</a>", and "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#its-not-my-money">It's Not My Money</a>". All four of these stories are very different both in terms of content as well as length. Of the four, "The Last Dance of the Pansy King" is the smallest at ~3000 words, and although it was trimmed a bit since its first draft, "It's Not My Money" remains the longest at ~23800 words.</p> <p>The stories are done and their eBook files created (PDF, EPUB, and Kindle), but none of these four will be released at this time because they are not needed yet. I'm posting their covers, however, which provide slight hints about each story.</p> news First Story from The Ridge of Earth Collection http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2014/01/08/first-story-from-the-ridge-of-earth-collection 2014-01-08T00:00:00-07:00 <p>The first short story from "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a>" has now been released: "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection#i-would-sing">I Would Sing</a>". Its eBook has been submitted to all the major eBook stores, and I will add links to each site as the story becomes available.</p> <p>As mentioned on the webpage for "The Ridge of Earth Collection", each of these stories is specially-crafted. They are designed for specific purposes. The reasons behind this story might not yet be obvious, but hopefully as time goes by they will become more clear.</p> news First Novel Is Now Released http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/12/13/first-novel-is-now-released 2013-12-13T00:00:00-07:00 <p>"<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>" has been released in hardcover and eBook (Kindle and EPUB) editions, and a paperback edition should be available sometime next week. Purchase links have been added to the book's <a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">webpage</a> and will continue to be updated as additional online retailers begin to sell the book. While it is unlikely you will find this novel shelved at your local bookstore, it should be possible to request it via special order. The hardcover ISBN is 978-1-940778-00-6 and the paperback ISBN is 978-1-940778-01-3.</p> <p>If you enjoy this novel, then please consider leaving a review on <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19337454-the-river-is-always-waiting" target="_blank">Goodreads</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?ie=UTF8&asin=194077800X" target="_blank">Amazon</a>, or your preferred book retailer or review site.</p> news Cover Is Done http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/12/03/cover-is-done 2013-12-03T00:00:00-07:00 <p>At long last, the cover for "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>" is ready and can be viewed on its webpage. The book's interior is already finished, so now that its cover is done, my novel can finally be released. It should be available for sale within the next week or so.</p> <p>I have also made progress with more short stories from "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a>". The first drafts of "Something's Going On at the Strip Mall", "Two Letters from a Gentleman", and "I Would Sing" are now complete. "I Would Sing" will be the first of my short stories to be released. It should be available shortly after my novel.</p> news Story Status http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/09/14/story-status 2013-09-14T00:00:00-07:00 <p>Although I completed the first draft of "The Last Dance of the Pansy King" without much difficulty, "It's Not My Money" proved to be more stubborn. More than eight-times the size of my first short story, "It's Not My Money" is actually a novella; and its twenty-plus pages of notes, recorded over multiple years, took time for me to wrestle together into a coherent whole. At over 24,000 words, the story is about a third the size of my first novel, "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>", which took me years to assemble and write; so, it's not too surprising in hindsight that the first draft of this novella required a few months to complete.</p> <p>Based on the feedback (and lack of interest) I received back from the query letters I sent this summer for "The River is Always Waiting", I've decided to self-publish my novel through my own publishing company. While working with a traditional publisher would have provided the benefits of time, resources, and reach, self-publishing will give me the benefits of control and schedule. Now, my novel will say exactly what I want it to say, presented in the manner that I believe is most effective; and it will be released as soon as it's ready, which should be within a couple of months. The copy-edit has already been completed—I'll be working through its results in the coming week—and the novel's cover is scheduled to be done in October. Typesetting and proofreading still need to be arranged; but I expect everything to be completed and the novel to be ready for release in November. In the meantime, I have more short stories to write. Next up will be "Something's Going On at the Strip Mall".</p> news Beginning "The Ridge of Earth Collection" http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/06/06/beginning-the-ridge-of-earth-collection 2013-06-06T00:00:00-07:00 <p>Now that my initial query letters for "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>" have been sent, I can turn my attention to the short stories I have planned for "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a>". I have pages of notes written about the stories, and have already tentatively started one, but they now have my focus and I hope to complete their first drafts over the summer.</p> <p>The first two stories I will tackle are "The Last Dance of the Pansy King" and "It's Not My Money", neither of which will require much, if any, further research. I expect to follow those two stories with "Two Letters from a Gentleman" and "Something's Going On at the Strip Mall", which will both require some individual research before writing.</p> <p>My final three stories, "I Would Sing", "An Honorable Man upon the Mountain", and "The Inner Rot", all share the same research requirements and advance preparation, so I will wait to write them until after I have completed the first four, with the last to be written being "The Inner Rot" as it is the only of the seven that I would feel comfortable leaving uncompleted before "The River is Always Waiting" is published.</p> news My First Novel Is Finished http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/06/01/my-first-novel-is-finished 2013-06-01T00:00:00-07:00 <p>The final draft of "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>", my first novel, is now complete. At ~73,500 words it's shorter than the average book, but it's as long as the story requires, and I am content.</p> <p>In the preface to "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", C.S. Lewis shared the discomfort he felt while writing "The Screwtape Letters". Describing the world of the book's narrator as "all dust, grit, thirst, and itch", he said: "It almost smothered me before I was done." After finishing this novel, I believe I understand what he meant. The weakening of a good man is not a pleasant process to dwell on, making the third part of my novel difficult to write (and revise). I believe, however, that all of the effort will prove to be worth it.</p> <p>But, now that it's done, it's time for me to turn my attention to query letters. While it will take a few days to prepare my initial queries, I hope to have them sent by mid-next week. Response times vary, and rejection is far more common than acceptance, but I am optimistic. One way or another, I hope to see this book published within the next year.</p> news Halfway Done with Final Draft http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/05/11/halfway-done-with-final-draft 2013-05-11T00:00:00-07:00 <p>I finished revising the seventh chapter of "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>" today, putting me halfway through the novel's fourteen chapters. The revision has taken longer than I expected, but with limited hours available for writing, the draft is going to take as long as it's going to take. That said, the latter seven chapters are shorter than the ones already completed, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to finish the final draft and send out my initial publishing queries by the first week of June.</p> news Hello World http://www.stephenmeasure.com/news/2013/03/25/hello-world 2013-03-25T00:00:00-07:00 <p>Although I would normally prefer to share nothing personal, I cannot launch this website properly without stating that these past few years have been frustrating. Forced to simply watch, needing more time to prepare, I have waited and I have waited. Because writing is not a path I always expected for myself, gaining the necessary competence has required time, more time than I anticipated when the ideas first began to form. But now, while mastery remains years away, I have what I need to begin and can learn the rest through the work ahead of me.</p> <p>And what I have to share of that work, so far, is a single poem, "<a href="/not-today">Not Today</a>", which I've dedicated to the public domain, and a brief description of my first novel, "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>", its final draft now underway. A poem, the hint of a book, and a whole lot more work in planning. It is, perhaps, strange for me to divulge so many plans when I am only starting; but I think it is useful to reveal my intentions, or at least their outline, from the very beginning. The details will become clear as I continue forward.</p> <p>After I finish the final draft of "<a href="/the-river-is-always-waiting">The River is Always Waiting</a>", I will query literary agents and publishers to test the possibility of traditional publishing. However, the odds of being published, always low, might be even lower for me due to my book's content and my desire to tightly control its presentation. Thankfully, self-publishing has become more effective in recent years, making it a fallback option should the traditional path prove unlikely or untimely. But I won't need to commit to a decision now, or even soon, because I want to complete my collection of short stories, "<a href="/the-ridge-of-earth-collection">The Ridge of Earth Collection</a>" before my first novel is published, and I expect those stories to take at least six months to write and revise, giving me time to carefully consider if traditional publishing will be appropriate for my books or not.</p> <p>I hope to have more news soon.</p> news