Ice Bucket Challenge Fosters Camaraderie for Life

Regent University School of Law accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in grand fashion with more than 250 students, faculty and staff dousing themselves with ice water for an important pro-life cause.  

Watch the video from that night at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5AIQu6pIck.


Positive news coverage followed the event at WAVY television at http://wavy.com/2014/08/21/regent-takes-ice-bucket-challenge-with-pro-life-twist/.  Dean Jeffrey A. Brauch noted that "one of my favorite outcomes was how the event fostered camaraderie and community." 

Regent made a generous donation, along with the participants' donations, to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute for their pro-life approach to research, consistent with Regent's values, and for the Institute's research application to a wide variety of illnesses, including ALS.   Christian law leadership toward life-enhancing objectives in research makes an impact for life and restoring families.



ECHR Finds No Human Right to Same-sex Marriage

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the European Convention on Human Rights does not require nations to recognize same-sex marriage.  

This is a significant decision, and could have a major impact as our Supreme Court is expected to take up a marriage case in the coming term, and several Justices look to emerging trends in international law in forming their jurisprudence.

The case arises from a Finnish law that restricts marriage to one man and one woman.  When a married man had sexual reassignment surgery to become female, Finland declined his attempt to change his legal status to female as a violation of their national domestic relations law on the definition of marriage.  On appeal to the European Court of Human Rights the marriage law of Finland was under review. The Court held by a 14-3 vote that under the European Convention on Human Rights, no country is required to recognize same-sex marriage, affirming an earlier similar decision.

One reason the European Court said it reached its decision was based on the fact that there is no ‘European consensus’ regarding same-sex marriage.  Ten countries recognize it, while 37 European nations do not, and the Court concluded that the debate should continue, rather than for it to impose a standard on all 47 nations in Europe. This is a ground-breaking decision from Europe that has largely escaped the notice of the mainstream media. Read more about it at www.LifesiteNews.com "European Court: Gay Marriage is Not a Human Right," or at www.Breitbart.com "European Court Says No Right to Same-Sex Marriage."

This decision supports an international position that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right.  The Supreme Court of the United States would be wise to follow the ECHR lead not try to impose a fifty-state solution on the American people.  To read more about why this is good policy nationally read about how federalism works in the context of marriage law at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462093, and how state domestic relations law on marriage can strengthen states and societies at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2427462.  To learn more about how expanding the definition of marriage affects and impacts marriage read http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=269418.  
Families are strengthened and restored by stable marriage law, in Europe, in the United States, and around the world.


Supreme Court blocks same-sex marriages in Virginia

The Supreme Court of the United States has stayed the 4th Circuit ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, effectively upholding, at least temporarily, state marriage amendments. The practical effect is that gay and lesbian couples will be blocked from marrying in Virginia this week, and indicates that the High Court indeed edges closer to deciding whether marriage should be defined by state law or whether same-sex marriage should be legalized nationwide. Read more at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/20/gay-marriage-virginia-supreme-court/14282579/.

Today's ruling puts on hold the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision last month striking down Virginia's ban on gay marriage. That case, like others that ended similarly in Utah and Oklahoma, is being appealed to the Supreme Court. The request for the stay was litigated by Regent Law graduate David Cortman ('96) among others. That Application to Stay can be accessed at http://www.adfmedia.org/files/SchaeferStayApplication.pdf. The petitioners effectively argued that 1) the question presented regarding marriage expansion is sufficiently meritorious to grant certiorari, 2) there is a fair prospect that the Supreme Court of the United States will reverse the 4th Circuit decision toward forced marriage expansion upon states, and 3) that irreparable harm will likely result from denying the Stay.

Although citizens in nearly 40 states voted to define marriage in their state codes and constitutions as between one man and one woman, nearly all federal and state courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage since the high court issued two landmark decisions in June 2013. To learn more about those cases read the article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462093 for a big picture perspective, and at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2427462 for a Virginia perspective.

Today's Stay by the High Court is an important step toward upholding state regulatory authority in domestic relations regulation toward family restoration.

Christian Future on Sexual Matters Moves Toward Acquiescence

University of Texas at Austin Sociologist Mark Regnerus draws on a survey of over 15,000 adult Americans’ opinions of sex and relationships to discern differences among Christians regarding their views of same-sex marriage, and general attitudes towards sexual and sex-related behavior.  Rod Dreher at the American Conservative has analyzed this study and written a piece on it entitled “Sex, Christianity, & The Slippery Slope.” The entire article is accessible here at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/sex-christianity-gay-same-sex-marriage-homosexuality-slippery-slope/ , but a bit of the research is set forth in this chart below.

 Dreher writes, “His analysis observes that the more you agree with SSM, the more likely you are to accept a wide variety of sexual practices that are antithetical to normative Christianity. Significantly, the numbers above reflect the views of churchgoing Christians, not cultural Christians. Excerpt [from Regnerus]:

Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage look very much like the country as a whole—the population average (visible in the third column). That answers my original question. What would a pro-SSM Christian sexual morality look like? The national average—the norm—that’s what.

While the divisions here are notable, we should maintain some perspective. No more than four in ten Christians who support same-sex marriage agreed with any of the statements above (except the question about children and divorce). The same cannot be said for American Christians who self-identify as gay or lesbian, as the fourth column demonstrates. And that group is clearly distinct from those gay and lesbian Americans who do not affiliate with a Christian tradition (e.g., nonreligious, Jews, spiritual-but-not-religious, Buddhists, etc.).

I’m not suggesting any “slippery slope” sort of argument here, implying that a shift in one attitude will prompt lock-step adjustments in others. In reality, our moral systems concerning sex and sexuality tend rather to resemble personalized “tool kits” reflecting distinctive visions of the purpose of sex and significant relationships (and their proper timing), the meaning of things like marriage and gender roles, and basic ideas about rights, goods, and privacy. Americans construct them in quite distinct combinations, often cafeteria-style. Instead, the results might be better interpreted as a simple story of social learning from quite different reference groups—those sets of people we use as a standard of comparison for ourselves, regardless of whether we identify as a member of that group. Indeed, attitude shifts in this domain are probably far more about reference groups than about any sort of individual “evolution” or rational construction of personal values. And it’s because of reference groups that both sets of Christians tend to perceive themselves as rather embattled, which is an inherently social sensation.

These numbers startled me. I would not have guessed that so many LGBT Christians supported polygamous sexual relationships and no-strings-attached sex — nor that the numbers among pro-SSM Christians would be so high. I think Regnerus is correct here:

I’m not so na├»ve as to think that affirming same-sex marriage is the first significant change to take hold in their sexual and relational norms. More likely, the sexual morality of many churchgoing Christians shifted years ago, and the acceptance of same-sex marriage as licit Christian action follows significant change rather than prompts it.

Still, it seems pretty clear that if you or your congregation has accepted SSM as normative, you have jettisoned basic Christian teaching about the meaning of sex and sexuality. And within one or two generations, I believe, your descendants will jettison Christianity. The Christian future will be orthodox on sexual matters, or it won’t be at all.

Dreher uses Regnerus’ study to make a compelling argument that Christians may not understand the implications of acquiescent love and acceptance, and do not know how to apply unconditional love to a sexual matter.  Rather than simple acceptance, unconditional love does not include acquiescence, but a firmness of love and stability that rescues and restores both individuals and families.  Some of this effect may be due to the notion that media coverage is valid and equitable on this matter.  Professor and Dr. Mark Yarhouse and I have published on this phenomenon in our work entitled “Fairness, Accuracy and Honesty in Discussing Homosexuality and Marriage,” which is available for free download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=317699.  

The Christian future on sexual matters appears to be moving toward social acquiescence, rather than toward salt and light in a world of need. The former will not necessarily win individuals to the love of Jesus Christ, and the latter is absolutely necessary to family restoration.