The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Archive for March 2008

Homeschooling Update

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On March 11, we wrote about a California court’s finding that there was no constitutional right to homeschooling.

It appears that the winds may be changing, thanks in large part to our ministry allies, the Alliance Defense Fund.  Thanks to ADF’s request, the California court is going to take a second look at this decision.

Read ADF’s press release for more information.

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

What is the Value?

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Two news stories have caught my eye this morning.

The first comes out of Oregon where a “man” claims to be five months pregnant.   The story reveals that this person has been attempting to remove the anatomical portions that made him a her.  But, interestingly, this change left the reproductive organs intact.  When she (he?) stopped taking the testosterone treatments, he (she?) was able to get pregnant.

The story, which is reporting on another story from The Advocate, said that this person claims to have been pregnant once before, carrying triplets.  However, that pregnancy ended soon after it became life-threatening.  Now, this person and his (her?) wife (who really is female) are expecting a new child in July.  The unfortunate irony is that the wife has been unable to have children.

Most interesting is the closing quotation from our hero (heroine?):  writing in the advocate, this gender-confused parent-to-be said that the new life, “sparks legal, political and social unknowns.”

More on that in a minute.

The other story that caught my eye also happens to be out of Oregon (and we thought California had the monopoly for odd stories for the west coast).  In this story, someone perusing craigslist (an online bartering/selling site) noticed that someone was out of “tweak” (that’s methamphetamine) and was offering to sell their baby for $1,000.  No one knows, but sadly hopes, that this is a sick joke.

The two stories independent of the other are equally disappointing.  In one, there are two individuals struggling with their sexual identity, with at least one of the two having had to deal with the pain of not being able to conceive.  The focus, it seems, is not on the creation of a precious life, but what “legal, political and social” impact the birth will force upon society.  In this instance, life has been devalued to a political stunt, a legal brief, or a social experiment.

In the other, we have parents willing to sell their child for a high.  Assuming this is a joke, the story reveals a society that so undervalues life that its humor is found by analogizing life to dollar bills.  But, suppose this is serious.  In that scenario, we have parents who have become so addicted to a chemical substance that they are no longer capable of making independent decisions, but truly see everything in their world in terms of dollars for “tweak.”

While these stories make the obvious point that no one should be permitted to determine whether one life is more valuable than the next, I urge you to think of the story behind the story.  In one we have a barren woman and a sexually confused individual.  Each carry their own series of hurts.  One even lost three children.  In the other, we have parents willing to put a dollar sign on the worth of their child for the sake of their addiction.

The reason we oppose abortion, the reason we promote life, the reason we seek to build strong families is precisely because we believe life to be invaluable.  That is not to say we see no value in it; invaluable means “indispensable” or “priceless.”  Without life, we simply do not have families.  Our concern is not only for the children innocently affected by these events, but also for the lives of the parents.  One has redefined marriage, the other has ignored its import.  Without strong marriages, our families are broken.

You see, the value of life is that it allows our families to live and gives the opportunity for it to be lived in the context of a family.  As we concern ourselves with speaking the Truth of the invaluableness of life, let us also extend grace to all those lives that are affected.

That is a truly valuable experience.

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Life

Good Marriage = Good Health

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A less-than-earth-shattering report out today suggests that happy marriages have husbands and wives with lower blood pressure, while those classifying their marriages as “unhappy” have increased blood pressure – higher than that of singles!

While the report admits that it is far from conclusive, the initial findings are of interest.  Said the news report: 

Analysis found that the more marital satisfaction and adjustment spouses reported, the lower their average blood pressure was over the 24 hours and during the daytime.  But spouses who scored low in marital satisfaction had higher average blood pressure than single people did.

More study is clearly need, if for no other reason than to remove much of the subjectivity inherent in this study.  The study suggests blood pressure in unhappy marriages is worse than being single, but it says nothing about blood pressure in good marriages vs. singles.  The implication is that those in good marriages are more healthy (in terms of blood pressure, anyway) than those who are unmarried. Still, one result ought to be potently clear:  good marriages mean good health.  

Such a result ought to motivate us, our leaders, and our society to encourage marriages to be “good” by any means necessary.  

More than that, if the implication be true, we ought to work very closely with the single community, helping them identify the person they choose for a mate.  Evidently, the decision will affect not only their happiness, but their overall heart-health.

Perhaps all the talk of nationalizing health care or increases in health insurance costs could be reduced if only we, as a society, worked to make marriages strong.    

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 20, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Protecting the Predator

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Planned Parenthood has, rightly, been under some severe scrutiny from the pro-life movement and, even more, from the U.S. Government.  

Stories last week revealed that Planned Parenthood (who is not denying their complicity) is apparently willing to receive donations for the express purpose of aborting minority babies.  Racism and Planned Parenthood is not a new story.  In 2004, black male employees filed suit against their abortion-leading employer, charging that several white women had created a racially hostile work environment for them.

It makes us wonder why the federal government funds them to the tune of $300 million annually.  Event the seemingly insignificant (compared to the feds) state support of more then $300K annually is bad enough.  

Read more about the Kansas prosecution on the “columns” page of this blog. 

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Life

Huh?

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We are not inclined to criticize the Charleston Gazette very often.  After all, they are kind enough to publish several of the op-ed’s we have submitted.  Besides, like them or hate them, they are the largest newspaper in West Virginia.But, in light of the Family Voice post yesterday, we found today’s editorial interesting.  

What was interesting to me was not that the Gazette has now managed to squeeze the words “fundamentalist” and “puritanical” into at least 4 editorials over the past 2 weeks.  What was interesting was this conclusory line:

In addition to abstinence lectures, youths need practical, commonsense, matter-of-fact instruction about birth control and disease prevention.

Much could be made of this line, I suppose.  First, the obvious irony is that IF we as parents managed to instruct our youths to abstain until marriage, both the teen pregnancy rate and percentage of sexually transmitted diseases would plummet.  This, of course, would also require that parents, rather than professional educators and government social workers, assume the lion’s share of the sex education of their children.   

Second, if we as a society would treat the act of sex as something to be treasured, rather something to be shared as casually as a handshake, perhaps we would see a growing reluctance in teens toward premarital sex.

But, I rather like that the author of that op-ed chose the word “commonsense” to describe the type of instruction needed to lower teen pregnancy and the spread of STD’s.  Perhaps a simple syllogism will illustrate just how commonsense abstinence is for both of those issues.

STD’s are contracted by having sex with more than one partner.  Abstinence means having no sex until doing so only with one’s spouse.  Therefore, if one practices abstinence, one cannot contract an STD.

Teen pregnancy results from teens having sex.  Abstinence means having no sex until doing so only with one’s spouse.  Therefore, those teens who abstain will not have a teen pregnancy. 

What could be more commonsense about that? 

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Should HPV Mix with the ABC’s?

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It was disheartening to read the headline yesterday:  1 in 4 Teenage Girls has Sexual Disease.  That’s 25% of our daughters in high school.  25%. The study by the Center for Disease Control reveals some staggering statistics:

The study by CDC researcher Dr. Sara Forhan is an analysis of nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a government health survey. Teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.

That HPV is the largest sexually transmitted disease today is alarming. Undoubtedly, however, this data will be used to make a push for mandatory HPV vaccine for our school age children.  In fact, the article even recommends that girls ages 11-12 get the vaccine, with a follow up shot for young ladies aged 13 to 26.  

 Concerned Women for America has done a lovely job of explaining what HPV is and how to prevent it.  HPV is contracted by direct genital to genital, or genital to anal contact.  Thus, giving the vaccine is almost a fait accompli, the girls will have sex anyway, the government should throw drugs their way to make sure no cancer or sexual diseases come their way.  That treats symptoms, not causes. 

CWA’s article also notes that the HPV vaccine does not prevent 30% of the cancer causing strains of HPV.  Even the data Merck has put out that “supports” the need for the vaccine is largely based on a prediction, not fact.  This isn’t like the measles or the mumps.  You won’t get HPV by sneezing, coughing, or wheezing on someone.   

It was the headline this morning that made my hair really stand up:  Parents May Be Jailed Over Vaccinations.  Granted, this is about Londoners refusing the Polio vaccine, but think of the potential implications.  More than government standing in the shoes parents out to be fitted with, could mandating HPV vaccines over the objections of parents lead to jail?  

Wouldn’t it simply be easier to do as CWA suggests: (1) teach abstinence, (2) vaccinate only by fully-informed, parental consent, and (3) make available affordable, accessible Pap testing for HPV?

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 12, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Marriage

The View from the Back of the Bus

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By now, most of us are aware of the California judge’s ruling that, “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.”  

I agree.

Now, before you misunderstand me, let me qualify my agreement: I agree that parents in California (or any other state, for that matter) do not have aconstitutional right to home school their children; I believe they have a fundamental right to determine the upbringing of their children – including educational choices.  

Our society was founded upon the principle that our rights were “endowed to us by our Creator.”  Government gets what we were endowed with only by “the consent of the governed.”  Sadly, much of our culture has forgotten that our rights were given to us “unalienably” – by no man given, by no man can they be taken.  

The decision by this California-dreamin’ judge worries so many of our families, not necessarily because of the implications it could have upon home schooling (though worthy and valid), but because parents have been forcibly shoved one seat further back in the bus, while government wrests the controls as the “experts” in the rearing of our families.  

We do not disagree that our children ought to be educated by qualified individuals.  We simply disagree on who decides who is qualified.  When professional educators substitute their own agenda for what is best for the family, it is our children who suffer. 

For even better articulation of this issue, see Albert Mohler’s blog entry from last Friday.   

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Legislative Roundup

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It has been a busy couple of weeks for The Family Policy Council of West Virginia.  Since our last post, we have been working out front and behind the scenes to discourage some policies that would significantly harm the family, we changed our name (from the West Virginia Values Coalition to The Family Policy Council of West Virginia), and continued to lay the foundation for this great organization.Still, we promised you regular updates and we are sorry that the administrative realities have prevented our attention to this lot on the real estate of cyberspace.There will be more to come on this issue, but to begin to resolve what has been (by all accounts) an odd legislative session, consider the following thoughts.

  1.  No “life” legislation passed either house this session.  Though 61 bills on the subject of abortion were introduced, 0 moved from their place of introduction.   
  2. Marriages were hardly enriched.  It would be wrong to say that marriages were not even discussed in our legislature.  Certainly, there was some good debate driven by the proposed “Joint Parenting Act,” a bill introduced to wide bipartisan support.  While this bill does much to assist families following a divorce (and is, for that, commendable), little has been done to encourage one man and one woman to life life together at the core of a family.   
  3. Religious freedom afforded ambiguous protection.  While The Family Policy Council of West Virginia recommended (and wrote) a piece of legislation that has been supported by everyone from the ACLU to the National Committee on Amish Religious Freedom, the House Committee on the Judiciary passed.  There is hope, however, that this issue will find some hearing during an upcoming interim session.
So, that’s what did not happen.  There is more, but it is important to highlight two things that DID happen during this session:
  1.  The legislature got richer.  We do not take a position on legislative pay raises; however, we do wish to point out the nepotism involved.  Perhaps it was time for an increase in pay, but we would urge our elected officials to consider this issue only after satisfactorily dealing with those issues of prime concern to the electorate.  We are gravely disappointed that a paycheck was put before life, marriage, or religious freedom.  
  2. The radical homosexual agenda nearly snuck one through.  This is, perhaps, the greatest surprise of any of this legislative session.  That S.B. 600 was introduced is not surprising.  A version of it has been introduced for more than a decade.  In this session, at least 5 bills attempted to provide extra constitutional protection for the homosexual lifestyle.  What is surprising is that it passed the Senate (unanimously), but lost votes in the House.  While we are delighted that our legislature did not pass a measure that would penalize families for simply abiding by their religious convictions, we are concerned how close our society came.  
Clearly, we all have some work to do.  West Virginia is a state that is dominated by leadership that espouses a worldview in conflict with much of its electorate.  While we can work to make changes at the political and policy level, we must also work inform the worldview of our own friends and neighbors.  
 
While this legislative session is disappointing on several levels, we must remember that God is yet on his throne.  Let us remind ourselves of the grace Christ exhibited in his stand for the Truth. 
 
At The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, we envision a society that treats life as preciously as God does.  We work for this vision because, without life, there is no family.
 
We see a society that encourages one man and one woman living within the joy of marriage for life because we know that strong marriages, make strong families, which make strong communities, cities, states, and nations.  Without strong marriages, quite frankly, families are broken.
 
We look to a future that permits West Virginia families to fully and openly practice their faith with the maximum of protection under the law.  Our historical appreciation for religious freedom in West Virginia drives our concern for the future of our families.  Without policies that safeguard religious freedom, families cannot worship.
 
As an integral part of a national effort to defend the local family, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia is poised to make families the first priority of our leadership, not an afterthought.
 
Let us pray as hard as we work for the family of West Virginia. 

Written by Jeremy Dys

March 10, 2008 at 4:29 pm