Welcome to CityofGod.net.

Delivered on March 25, 2006 at the Symposium for Life Issues held at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Mercer Island, WA.

Men & Abortion

First of all, I want to thank all of you for coming. I know many of you are busy, and some of you had to make sacrifices to be here. But you are here to learn, to equip yourselves to become better advocates for the culture of life among your friends and family. And I thank you being here to listen to what I and the other speakers have to say.

I want especially to thank all of those who helped organize this event—Mary Smith, Mike Stergios, and all the others whose names I don’t know. You’ve put together a great event so far, and it’s an honor to be invited to speak.

I

If you knew nothing about human biology, you could listen to most of our debates about abortion and never realize that men are involved in any way. We talk about the woman’s body, the woman’s right to choose. We in the pro-life movement talk about the unborn child’s right to life. But what about the father? Women seldom choose abortion when the father wants the child, wants to help out. But all too often, they demand the “right to choose” because of men who will not take responsibility for their choices.

I use the word responsibilities here deliberately. There’s been a lot of talk of “father’s rights” that’s grown up around abortion. And I think there’s some validity to this, but I’m also very skeptical of the whole framework.

In a way, talk of “father’s rights” is natural. As you know, we tend to frame the abortion question in terms of rights: the woman’s right to choose, the unborn child’s right to life. And within this framework, it’s natural that we should speak of the father’s rights.

Some pro-lifers seem drawn to this approach. When I was researching this speech, I came across several pro-life websites featuring tragic stories of men who wanted to keep their child, but couldn’t prevent the mother from choosing abortion. Should not these men have had the right to be involved in the decision regarding their child’s fate? And would not fathers who had such rights have been better able to protect their children?

And I agree that this approach seems very attractive. But we have to look at it in light of the current confused and corrupted state of our laws.

What the law calls a woman’s right to choose is a virtually unlimited right to terminate her parental responsibilities. She can, of course, also choose to keep the child. And we in the pro-life movement applaud her when she does, and we should do everything we can to support her, materially, but also emotionally and spiritually.

Now, speaking at a pro-life conference, I hardly have to belabor the point that placing the right to choose ahead of the right to life is a terrible inversion. But this is the legal framework we work within today. And if we try to give rights to men within this framework, what will happen? It is true that some men might choose to support their child, and within this framework, have more legal authority to defend their child’s right to life. But it would also, I think, create the opportunity for men to have the same unlimited right to terminate their parental responsibilities that women now enjoy.

II

So, I want to look at the problem in a different context.

I have been asked to speak on the topic of men and abortion. And I think to do this, we have to completely reject the framework in which the unborn child is just treated as a part of her mother’s body.

There is actually a sad irony here. A few decades ago, if a man beat his wife, and the police were called, they wouldn’t interfere. “A man’s home is his castle,” after all, and what right does society have to tell a man what to do in his home?

But a woman is a human being, not a piece of her husband’s property. And an unborn child is also a human being, not just an unwanted growth in the mother’s body.

What we want, then, is a moral framework which respects and protects the human dignity of all parties—men, women, and children. And this means that, although my focus today is on men, I do so within a framework that applies to everyone. This is probably fortunate, since there are a lot more women here than there are men.

There are two basic principles that underlie everything I will say today:

First, that the essential foundation of the culture of life is chastity: men and women who steward their sexuality as God intended, with purity of heart and appropriate self-discipline, grounded in respect for themselves and respect for each other. This is not a call for rigid or arbitrary rules: because cultivating the virtue of chastity is the road to freedom and deeply rooted happiness—a way of living in which human love can grow and flourish.

The second principle is that when a man and a woman have conceived a child, they are responsible for the new life they have brought into the world, at the least until they can find others better prepared to give the child the care it needs. Once again, although there is a burden in this responsibility, there is also the deep satisfaction of knowing that we have fulfilled the responsibility for the gift of life that God has given.

These fundamental principles are not addressed particularly to men. Everyone here today, male or female, should be able to gain something from what I have to say.

However, as a broad generalization, men have done more to undermine these two basic principles. And the primary beneficiaries of abortion have been men who wanted easy sex without commitment and without consequences. So today, I’m going to address my remarks primarily to men, but I do so within a framework that is applicable to all.

III

I want to begin with a very chilling conversation that I had a while back with a women’s studies major who also worked at Planned Parenthood. Not surprisingly, she was an advocate of safer sex, abortion, the whole nine yards, and saw this as the only solution to unwanted pregnancy.

We got into a bit of a discussion. I pointed out that although we have far more information about sex than people had a hundred years ago, far more access to contraceptive technology than they had a hundred years ago, we also have far more out of wedlock pregnancies than they had a hundred years ago.

I made the usual arguments for the superiority of chastity. But her final argument really chilled me: women need contraception and abortion, she said, because there are many men who won’t take no for an answer.

This is an elephant in the room. Reliable statistics on date rape are hard to come by, because many women don’t want to report it.

Still, there seems to be a consensus among the different surveys that I’ve looked at, that about 25% of college women will experience some form of rape, the overwhelming majority of which will be date rape. I’ve spent 7 of the last 13 years in a college environment, and while this 1 in 4 statistic is shocking, it doesn’t entirely surprise me, just based on some of the stuff that I’ve seen. It is believable.

Rape means that sex is non-consensual. It doesn’t have to be violent, doesn’t have to involve force. It just has to be non-consensual. Now, as a legal matter, this gets very hard to prove beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt, and there’s a lot of gray area. I don’t want go into that aspect of it.

But I think we need to speak very bluntly to men here. Now, I’m a man. I understand the progression of what happens to a guy in an exciting situation. I understand how hormones affect judgment. I understand how easy it is to get carried away. But men need to understand that if a woman doesn’t give permission to get carried away, or if she tries to put on the brakes and the man still gets carried away, that’s not just getting carried away: that’s date rape.

A few years ago, one of my closest female friends revealed to me that she’d been date-raped several years before in college. The situation: she, a good Christian girl, had gone out with a good Christian guy. They were alone together in his room, things started escalating. She said they should stop, and he didn’t stop.

And she’s not alone. At least two other friends of mine have also had the same experience. In each case, the experience was traumatic, despite the fact that neither force nor violence was involved.

Date rape involves a terrible betrayal of trust and violation of intimacy. It can undermine the victim’s ability to trust men. It can come up again years later within marriage, creating emotional barriers that make it very difficult for a woman to truly enjoy intimacy with her husband.

Even more shocking: according to one researcher—again, statistics in this are hard to pin down because women don’t want to talk about it. But according to one researcher, 44% of women who are date-raped contemplate suicide. Date rape, mind you. Not masked stranger with a gun rape. Date rape, where what starts out as a fun evening gets carried away.

Why am I dwelling on this? Date rape is an extreme. But it’s nevertheless a logical conclusion of many common male sexual attitudes. In Good News about Sex and Marriage, Christopher West—who many of you will probably have heard of for his work with the theology of the body—relates how the date rape of a female classmate was the catalyst that drove him to see how dysfunctional his “conquest” oriented attitudes towards sexuality were, and led him to read, understand, and embrace the Pope’s teaching on human sexuality.

And though I discovered chastity before any of my female friends told me about their experiences with date rape, listening to them dramatically changed the way that I view the way a lot of other men look at sex.

Our culture suggests that men should prove their masculinity by having sex. It is common for men to boast about—and usually to exaggerate—their sexual conquests. And when men talk this way, they never talk in any realistic way about women’s feelings, other than to boast (whether it’s true or not) that she was amazed at their sexual prowess.

We thus have powerful cultural forces that tell men that they should always be trying to grab any sexual opportunity they can get. Those who do not embrace this attitude will often be subtly or openly mocked. As one guy sneered at me in high school, “Oh, don’t tell me you’ve fallen for that ‘you must love them’ bullshit.” (Don’t worry, they’ll probably bleep that out in the recording.)

At the same time, I encounter Christians who essentially buy into the idea that men are just sexual machines, but because Christians want to promote chastity, they focus almost all their efforts on getting the women to say no, while largely assuming that “boys will be boys.”

There are any number of ways that this is wrong, but I want to focus on two.

First, it’s unfair to women. Why should they be the ones who have bear all the burden of upholding chastity? Especially when men are supposed to be the spiritual leaders within a marriage. Why are we placing all the burden of living love as God intended it on the woman, and entirely neglecting the formation of the man to model God’s love in the relationship?

Second, it’s unfair to men, because it means that many men will never get any help in developing the self-mastery necessary to enjoy a healthy and productive life. The entertainment media and many of their friends encourage them into an ultimately empty and unfulfilling attitude towards sex, while those who ought to speak out and show them the better way—their fathers, their pastors, their religious educators—all too often remain silent.

And then it happens, sooner or later, that a woman tries to tell her boyfriend no, but he has probably never thought seriously about her perspective—he just hears about how sex makes you a man and that women are impressed with sexual prowess. And so he gets carried away. And his girlfriend, desperately afraid lest her life be destroyed by a baby, goes to Planned Parenthood.

IV

Some of you may think that I’m presenting an overly simplified picture, that things are more complicated than that. And I agree. There is a lot more to it than that. But I think that the picture I’m presenting, while simplified, does still broadly describe an important social reality that surrounds us.

The overwhelming majority of men do not date rape their girlfriends. But it is also true that the overwhelming majority of us—by what we say or fail to say, by what we do or fail to do—contribute to the cultural climate in which women are dehumanized, and in which women, fearing the burden of a baby, dehumanize their child.

Before I finish, I will talk about how a man should respond if he has gotten a woman pregnant. But first, I want to talk about how men can promote the culture of life by changing our own attitudes and behavior. Those who assume that “boys will be boys” do not even try to challenge men to a higher standard. But I believe that this attitude is condescending, and, in fact, ultimately, emasculating. It makes us slaves of whatever curvaceous carrot the culture decides to dangle in front of us, and denies that we have the power to discipline ourselves or our sexual impulses. It denies, ultimately, that we have the power to choose a better—and happier—way.

V

There are two points that I want to make under this general heading: first, the importance of our words—the way we talk—in shaping attitudes, both our own and those around us; and second, the necessity of cultivating virtues—good habits—in order to live a pure life.

I am willing to bet that, even for some in this group, you feel two things when you I talk about chastity as a way to freedom and happiness. First, a part of you is really excited by that, thinks it’s true, wants to hear more. And, another part of you thinks I’m a bit of a weirdo who’s probably out of touch with the culture.

We live in a culture that constantly makes fun of chastity and belittles it. It’s repressed, it’s unhealthy, it’s unhip. The result is that those—and there are a lot more than you think—who feel frustrated with the sexual revolution and feel drawn towards chastity feel like they’re the only person who has ever felt that way. So they don’t speak up, for fear of ridicule. And they don’t find out that others have been feeling the same doubts about the culture around them, and have the same hopes for a healthier, better grounded, style of relating to others.

Because pastors are afraid of criticism, afraid of seeming out of touch, they don’t preach the church’s teaching from the pulpit. And this means that there are many young people in the pews who feel attracted to chastity—who feel that chastity might be the answer to the dysfunction they see around them—don’t have that desire validated from the pulpit. Nor do they receive any instruction that would help them to resist the pressure to be sexually active that they get from the media, from sex ed programs at school, from their friends.

Now, I don’t want to pretend that this is easy. I only occasionally challenge this stuff when it comes up, and I’m a chastity speaker: I know the answers and the arguments, and am better prepared to defend myself than most. And I think to some degree you do have to pick your battles. At the same time, silence is not a neutral stance.

If we do not speak out at least some of the time, others will assume that we agree with the values expressed by the culture. And if any of those around us themselves feel attracted to chastity but isolated, our silence means that they will assume that we would join the forces that would mock chastity.

Moreover, our words shape expectations. Because I have spoken and written on chastity, I have a very public commitment to uphold a certain standard. People around me, whether they agree with me or not, expect me to uphold the standard that I talk about. Like everyone else, I have my temptations. But because the people around me know where I stand, that gives me an additional incentive to uphold the convictions that I believe and that I have expressed.

And if we lack the courage to express our convictions, we often will lack the courage to stand by them in action when tested. But if we let people know where we stand, our words often strengthen our resolve to act, and strengthen the resolve of others around us when they feel tempted.

And sometimes, speaking can have a much bigger impact than you would expect. One time, back when I was in college—this is probably almost a decade ago now—an acquaintance invited me to an off-campus party. This was at the University of Washington. It turned out to have more alcohol and wild dancing than I really liked, so I went out in the backyard and was sitting at a picnic table with a group of guys. And in the course of conversation, someone raised the topic of what the first time they had sex was like. So they went around the table, and one by one told their stories in the usual boasting way. So I was sitting here wondering what I was going to say when they got around to me. I was thinking maybe I’d make something up. But, instead, I told the truth, that I was still a virgin, and tried to explain why: that I thought relationships should be based on love and respect, my convictions as a Christian. And when I finished, one guy said, “Wow. I wish I’d had the strength to be like you.” And for the next couple of hours, the whole group was quizzing me about this—genuinely interested, genuinely respectful of the choice that I’d made.

VI

Of course, just talking about chastity, without learning to live it, is useless. Others will see through that kind hypocrisy. Those who dislike chastity will have another reason to dislike it, when they see our hypocrisy. And those who are attracted to it will become discouraged, and more tempted to think it’s impossible, unattainable, and thus themselves be tempted to give up, rather than professing what they don’t believe they can practice.

And I think it is easy to be tempted to give up, to think that the standard that God sets is unachievable. I’ve certainly felt the temptation to rationalize away the demands of the Church’s teaching, or to become frustrated at the slow pace of progress. But I don’t regret continuing to press forward.

Chastity is a virtue, and I think that’s part of the problem, because not many people these days understand the concept of virtue, really at all. The word virtue, in fact, is derived from the Latin word for manly strength—and it has the same root as the English word virile. That is probably a surprise to some: not at all the way most people think of virtue these days.

I’m going to try and unpack the concept of virtue for you. So, first of all, let’s begin with a simple example. Who here has been bowling?

Who has gotten a strike?

Who’s bowled a 300 game?

There’s the difference. Almost everyone gets a strike sometimes, if only by blind luck. But to bowl a 300 game takes a lot of practice and skill. You don’t just hit the strikes by blind luck—you practice so that you develop the habits that help you succeed.

The same is true for every sport. A great player doesn’t just occasionally get lucky—he practices and practices so that he can consistently make the right moves, even in the face of serious opposition.

And when an Olympic athlete takes the gold, it’s not just because he or she put out great effort during the competition itself. That winning performance took years and years of practice to perfect.

Now, virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. That is the product of a lot of practice. And, in fact, just as most athletes don’t start out great, but make a lot of mistakes along the way to mastering their sport, the road to virtue is also often paved by struggles and failures.

One of the mistakes that a lot of people make is thinking that chastity means the absence of temptation. (Of course, it would be easier if it were that way.) So they pray for God to take away their temptations; they keep feeling tempted; and so they give up. But this is sort of like a tennis player who hopes to win Wimbledon unopposed. That’s just not the way sports work, and it’s not the way virtue works, either.

Now chastity can be difficult. But from failures we learn the situations we need to avoid if we want to do the good, and success reinforces good habits and good decisions. With sincere and diligent commitment, with repentance, self-examination, and change of habits after failures, it is possible to develop good, firm habits that will lead to virtuous character.

Now, if this process of developing virtue is understood in purely human terms, many will be tempted to give up. Because, after all, something like athletics depends not just on diligent practice, but on native skill. I’m probably never going to be a great basketball player, no matter how hard I practice.

However, when we speak of virtue, in the sense of Christian virtue, we’re talking not just about our own efforts. We’re talking about the work of Christ. It depends, not on our talents, but on His native talents and abilities. And He’s got ’em. So we have to learn to consistently lean on Him, not on our own strength. That means learning to walk moment by moment in His presence. Now, when we wander away from that presence and fall, we must repent, turn back, ask for His forgiveness, healing, and strength to continue.

I think it’s providential that I should be speaking about this on the feast of the Annunciation, in a Church dedicated to St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.

When the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son, she replied, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” We heard this in the reading this morning at Mass. Gabriel did not tell her, “Well, you’re going to have to try harder.” He simply replied that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. And she replied, “Let it be done to me according to thy word.”

We don’t need to pretend that chastity is easy. In our fallen human state, the purity of heart which forbids even lustful looks, not just sinful actions, is impossible: as impossible as the virgin birth. But what is impossible by human efforts is possible by God’s grace.

Although St. Monica did talk to St. Augustine about her faith, and tell him that he was living a sinful life, that’s not why she’s considered a saint. Far more important than her words to him were the prayers and tears that she poured out to God, for her prayers brought the power of the Holy Spirit into Augustine’s heart, where they could change his life in a way that Monica never could have.

I think much of the confusion that we feel over faith and works results from our failure to understand this concept of virtue in supernatural light. We think either in terms of human virtues—our talents, our effort—or we think that it’s not our abilities, our talents, that we just sort of sit back, and let God do everything.

But this is false. We must rely wholly, completely on Christ’s strength. But in order to do that, we must practice His presence, consistently seek Him out, and repent when we have wandered away. We aren’t saved by our own strength, but wholly by God’s power, God’s ability. But at the same time, though God takes the initiative with us, comes down to us, we still have to respond, and open ourselves to His strength day by day, moment by moment.

I think another thing that we’ve had recently—and by recently I mean the last few hundred years—is that we have an idea of virtue that is wholly negative. It’s defined by a set of prohibitions: virtuous people don’t do X, Y, and Z. But true virtue is positive: it teaches us how to use the powers God has given us to their fullest potential. And this includes our sexual powers and our powers of showing affection and love to others.

Another fruit of the neglect of virtue is that because morality is expressed in terms of obligations, duties, and prohibitions, we neglect friendship, because you can’t have an obligation or duty to become someone’s friend: that is pure gift. However, friendship used to occupy a central place in discussions of Christian ethics. Friendship was seen as a school of virtue, because friends who sought to live in God’s will encouraged each other. Friendship was important because the Church took seriously the idea that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” Christian friends help to make God present to each other. By reminding each other of Christ, we help each other to live day by day in His presence, and rely moment by moment on His strength.

VII

The culture of life is rooted in the virtue of chastity. We bear witness to it by our words and our actions, and by our words and our actions we either strengthen or undermine the commitment of those around us. If we just say, “Abortion is prohibited,” without trying to alter the surrounding culture, we place a disproportionate burden on the woman.

But if we promote chastity, we promote respect between the sexes, and particularly respect for women, which is so often utterly ignored in contemporary culture. Chastity is a challenge for everyone, but also beneficial to everyone.

Now, when I was first invited to speak on pro-life issues, a couple years ago, I was a bit reluctant to do so. Abortion is seen as a woman’s issue, and I (rightly) expected that many women would resent me giving my opinion on how they should react to a difficult situation that I was never going to face. And I expect that a lot of other men feel the same reluctance. That’s probably why there so many more women here today than there are men.

But I have found that when I am willing to raise the hard issues about men’s attitudes towards women, women are more willing to listen to what I have to say about the unborn child’s right to life.

VIII

Before closing, I want to talk about one more immediate problem: what should a man do if he has gotten a woman pregnant? This is obviously one of the most pressing issues relating to men and abortion. But it’s also more difficult for me to answer, because I’ve never been in that situation, and so it’s not as close to my own experience as the issue of chastity.

However, I’ve done some research and talked to women who work in crisis pregnancy centers and elsewhere, and so there’s a few things that I think I can say.

Frederica Mathewes-Green once observed that, “There is tremendous sadness, loneliness in the cry, ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Therefore, it is crucial that if a man has gotten a woman pregnant, he needs to take the initiative to make sure that she knows he’s going to be there to care for her and for their child. Women in this situation often fear that they’ll lose the relationship with the father, that they will have to face the pregnancy alone. This is overwhelming to them, and they just want a way out.

Now, because our culture focuses on abortion as a woman’s choice, many men who are willing to support the child still feel that they should hold back, and see what the woman wants, and then support her in that decision. However, one of the biggest factors in her decision is her perception of the father’s willingness to support her and support the child. If he holds back, she may interpret that as ambivalence, and decide to abort the child, even though she might have kept it had the father decided to take more initiative.

It used to be that if a woman got pregnant, the father would automatically have to marry her: the shotgun wedding. Now while I think a man has a very serious responsibility to support both mother and child, I think the shotgun wedding is a serious mistake, because marriage is a lifelong commitment, and both parents need to discern carefully whether they are ready for that commitment, and whether they believe that they can make a suitable match with this person. Often, the relationships where a child is conceived are not healthy relationships, and you don’t automatically want to pressure a very immature and unhealthy couple to get married.

But, the child is there and there is the necessity for support. What are the options?

First, as I say, they can get married, and raise their child together. And this can be a good option, if the couple is ready for that commitment. But, I would generally say that there is no need to rush to get married right away, before the child arrives. Just dealing with the pregnancy is tough enough. There’s a huge amount of stuff to deal with there, also a great deal of emotional turmoil for the woman. A decision as important as marriage shouldn’t be rushed. And waiting to make sure that it’s the right decision is not a bad idea.

The second option is for the mother to keep the child, and the father to help her support it. This is probably the least preferred option available, since it means the child grows up in a single-parent environment. Still, it is probably preferable to have that versus forcing an unhealthy marriage that later causes problems.

The final option is to put the child up for adoption. Now, from my logical male perspective, this seems like the best option in most cases. If the couple is not ready for marriage, this gives the child the chance to be taken in by a stable couple that wants and is ready to care for the child. However, men in this situation should be aware that women form an incredibly intense bond with the child they have carried in their womb for nine months. When women choose to carry their child to term, the overwhelming, overwhelming majority of them feel such a strong bond with their child that they would prefer single motherhood to giving the child up for adoption by a strange couple.

Ultimately, I don’t have any answer as to which of those options is the best. I think it comes down to prayer, seeking out advice from those who are older, wiser, have a little bit of distance from the situation, and both mother and father trying to do what is best for the child, and for each other. It’s not easy, but I think each circumstance, you have to take it as it comes, and see what’s best for everyone involved.

IX

In conclusion, I want to remind you of the two principles that I started with: first, the essential foundation for the culture of life is chastity; and second, that when a man and a woman have conceived a child, they are responsible for the new life they have brought into the world, at the very least until they can find others prepared to care for it.

These principles help us to see that, instead of being outsiders to the abortion debate, men can play a crucial, crucial role in building the culture of life, because some men will have far more respect for what other men say than they will for what their mothers or their girlfriends say. Men can have this role by resisting the ways that the culture of death dehumanizes women. And this, in turn, gives men the moral authority to address life issues—an authority that the present framing of the abortion debate simply does not allow. And most important, respect for these principles promotes the happiness and human flourishing of everyone: mother, father, and child. Thank you.

 

Articles and Essays:
In 2003, Justin Lee, the founder and Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, invited me to write an essay defending the traditional Christian belief that homosexual activity is wrong, and that gays and lesbians who are unable to marry a person of the opposite sex are called to celibacy. Justin wrote a companion essay arguing that God blesses gay marriage. Justin has made the two essays into a prominent GCN feature called the “Great Debate.”
For the Summer 2004 issue, Notre Dame Magazine planned to do a special issue focused on homosexuality and the Catholic Church. They invited me to contribute an essay describing how I came to accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Rather than focusing on theological arguments, they asked me to focus on telling the story through my own journey and experiences. The whole package won the 2005 first place Press Award for “Best investigative writing or analysis” from the Catholic Press Association. This is a somewhat revised version of the essay. Click here for the original version on the Notre Dame Magazine website.
In late 2002 and early 2003, there was an ongoing controversy in the letters section of the New Oxford Review over the editors’ use of the word “fag” in an article. With encouragement from several members of Courage who were deeply frustrated with the exchange, I wrote this essay, which was published in the June 2003 issue of the New Oxford Review.
This essay was originally written in 2003, in response to the planned protests of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meetings in Washington, DC by Soulforce, a pro-gay group. Edited slightly to remove references to the original protest, it still provides a good overview of some aspects of Catholic teaching related to homosexuality.
Also written in response to the Soulforce protests, this essay examines prejudice against gays and lesbians, and attempts to provide a Catholic Response.
Speeches and Presentations:
This is the keynote speech I gave at the January, 2007 Gay Christian Network Conference in Seattle, WA. It voices frustration at the ways that gays and lesbians are sometimes treated by Christians, and focuses on the importance of obedience to God, even in the most difficult circumstances.
If you knew nothing about human biology, you could listen to most of our debates about abortion and never realize that men are involved in any way. We talk about the woman’s body, the woman’s right to choose. We in the pro-life movement talk about the unborn child’s right to life. But what about the father? In this speech, delivered at the March 25, 2006 Symposium on Life Issues at St. Monica's Catholic Church, I looked at the role of men in building the Culture of Life.
On January 22, 2006, the Knights of Columbus invited me to give a brief reflection at a memorial service for the unborn, held at Mt. Angeles Memorial Park to commemmorate the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
On November 3, 2005, the Philosophy Club at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette invited me to debate Dr. Rick Swanson on the question: “Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?” I do not have a complete transcript of the debate; however, I have made my opening statement available here.
On January 23, 2004, the Washington, DC chapter of Courage and the Georgetown University chapter of the Knights of Columbus invited me to speak at Georgetown about Catholic teaching and homosexuality.

[The responses in this section were originally written in response to questions I received from friends or others. Before posting them here, I edited both question and response in order to enhance clarity and readability.]

Letters:
Question: In God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door, Alan Chambers writes, “This is why I believe that it is so important to clarify that just living a celibate gay life is just as sinful as living a sexually promiscuous one. The sin is in identifying with anything that is contrary to Christ, which homosexuality clearly is” (218). Would you be willing to identify as a “gay Christian”? How do you think such an identity relates to the arsenokoitai of whom Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 6? [ Read response ]