Kristi Hofferber

At 30, I learned that my mother was raped by her father…and I was that child

Kristi Hofferber
By Kristi Hofferber
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In May of 1978, God put forth the plans for my life. I was given up for adoption when I was only three days young. My adoptive parents were unable to have any children of their own, and were ecstatic that their dream of raising a child was about to come true. God placed me in the arms of two very loving people who took me in and provided me with unconditional love, support and opportunities that shaped the foundation of the person that I am today.

I was raised in a Christian home, and attended a Christian school up to the fourth grade, which set the foundation of my faith. Although I remained active in the youth group at church, I still struggled through school, both socially and emotionally. I was not the social butterfly, and often enjoyed my time to myself. I did not make friends easily. This pattern would continue through high school and even into college. I had a few close friends, but that too was difficult. If I began to feel like I was being left out, as I often did, it would put me into a state of depression and panic. I knew deep down what the real issue was, but I did not want to admit it, even to myself. I did not know how to handle the fact that I was adopted. I did not know anyone else who was adopted who I could turn to for advice, and going to the psychologist for my behavioral outbursts with my family did not seem to be much help either. I could not open up to anyone, let alone find someone who understood my frustrations.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have been open with me about being adopted. It was not something that I needed to be ashamed of, but in a way, I was. I was not ashamed of being adopted, I was ashamed of the way it made me feel. I was always angry. I felt like I did not belong in this world. As a matter of fact, I would often ask God “Why am I here?” and “Why did I have to feel like this?”  My high school years were the toughest years of my life. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night, praying to God to take away the pain in my heart. Thank God that I had my faith to turn to, because I felt that I had nothing else. It was only when I was at church that I felt any semblance of peace.  Something told me that I belonged there. 

One particular person at church made an impression on me that will last throughout my life. She is someone I will always look up to. She was my first grade teacher, and she was the one person in this world that I wanted to ask for help and guidance. If only I had had the confidence. Ironically, I now interact with her often. 

My husband is a minister, and is called to the same church where I grew up. God is a marvelous God! I know for a fact that God placed certain people in my life for his purpose, including my first grade teacher. I feel the same way about my husband. He and I have been married almost 10 years, and have one son. As a family, the three of us share something very special, we were all adopted. We are a family stitched together with God’s love and that was God’s plan from the very beginning. God has provided our family with unending blessings, even through the difficult times. 

I had a low self worth, and would often question my very existence. I cannot pinpoint exactly what brought a change to that view. I believe it was a gradual change, beginning with a speaker that I saw while attending a youth gathering in 2004. Her story moved me to the point that I felt something telling me that we had something in common, I just had no idea what it was. She was survivor of an attempted late-term abortion who fought for her life, and now brings awareness of the effects of such procedures. No, I was not an abortion survivor, or an attempted abortion. However, as I would find later, I do indeed have a story to tell!

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In April of 2008, I attended a mission trip to New Orleans to help rebuild homes from Hurricane Katrina. It was there that I made the decision in my life that the time had come for me to know exactly where I came from. I would be turning 30 in a little over a month, and I was going through the reality that I had dreams that were not fulfilled. The “what ifs” were weighing heavy on my mind, as well as many other unanswered questions. There was never a day in my life that went by without me thinking “Is that person related to me?” wherever I went. It was also on this trip that I met a new friend who would be a God sent support in my journey. I am eternally grateful to her for all of her support and the strength she helped me to find. I finally had the courage to face the unanswered questions that I had for a very long time. I knew my adoptive parents had always told me that they would support me if I wanted to research my adoption, but I have always told them I did not want to know. The last thing I have ever wanted was to hurt them. I did try first to get information through the legal system without telling anyone. I have always been told that I would have that option as long as I was 18 years old. However, the judge determined that the case was sealed, and would remain sealed. I was crushed, but at the same time, I knew that God wanted me to do things the right way, not my way. My parents are very important to me, and even though I thought it may bring them a bit of heartache, they deserved to know the truth that I did want the information I had denied numerous times. 

By mid July of 2008, I was very interested in knowing what needed to be done to begin my search. I remember picking up the phone several times with the intention of telling my parents that I wanted to know about my adoption, but I could not follow through. Finally, after a few weeks of anxiety, I brought myself to ask my mom and dad for the information. It was almost as if, in an instant, I went from having no courage, to having more than I ever knew possible. My adoptive mother almost sounded relieved that I had finally asked. She invited me over, and she and my adoptive father were very honest with me. What I would find out was something that had never and would never in a million years cross my mind.  After knowing only that my biological mother was 16 when she gave birth to me, I was told that she was also a victim of incest and rape by her father, and I was likely the result of these actions. I was speechless! It took all I had to keep my composure. I went from having about a dozen questions in my mind, to having hundreds. 

The first question that I remember asking was, “How would you know that if my adoption records were sealed?”  Ironically, my adoptive mother worked at the hospital where I was born. She is unable to remember exactly how she had my birthmother’s name, but having her name is also how she knew about the possible situation with my biological father. The incest was published in 1991 when my biological mother prosecuted her father, for not only the one pregnancy resulting in my birth and adoption, but also for six other pregnancies resulting in five abortions, and one forced miscarry by her father.  Words could not begin to describe the emotions going on inside my mind at that moment.  What kind of monster would do such a thing to his own daughter? Another thought going through my mind was, given the fate of the other six children, why was I spared? 

As a teenager going through the struggle within my mind about being adopted, I had also wondered if my birthmother had thought about aborting me. I did not, however, imagine that my very existence would be so controversial. When I was told the circumstance, I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t I aborted also?” I thank God for showing me where to turn in times of crisis because this question could only be answered through scripture. Romans 9:20, NLV states, “But who are you, O Man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it ‘Why did you make me like this?’” I do not need to ask why. I already know why I survived—I was created intentionally by God for his purpose. He chose me! 

I did have heartache for the others who did not survive, but I had more concern for the true survivor, my biological mother. How could one person be put through such trauma? I also thank God that my faith was strong at the time that I asked to know about my adoption. If my relationship with Christ was not as mature, my view may have been very different. This just reinforces the fact that God’s timing is perfect!

I really stewed on the information I received for about a week, praying and asking God to guide me to do His will. I felt that I was being guided to continue my search for my biological mother and the truth of my existence. I also wanted to consult with my husband before continuing with my search. It did take me a few days to tell him what I had found out also. I did not fear his reaction, but at the time, I was not even sure of my own reaction. After sharing the information with him, he expressed that he was supportive of me continuing my search if that is what I felt led to do, and that where I came from was indeed God’s doing, not man’s. I could not have asked for a better man by my side.

I had many things to consider as I decided how to begin a formal search. First of all, was my biological mother or father still alive? Second, would she want anything to do with me if the circumstances were in fact that I was a child of incest? Another consideration was facing the possibility that my biological father was present in his daughter’s life, and what his reaction to me would be. On the other hand, my strength lies with God and in my faith. No matter how I got here, I know I am his child. Matthew 10:30, NLV states, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” I knew I had to trust in Him, especially now. Ultimately, my thought was that if she has been through so much in her life, does she know that there is someone out there who loves her unconditionally and does she also know Jesus as her Savior?

After only two short days of searching the internet, I came across a popular website that reunites schoolmates, revealing a photo of my biological mother. At this point, I had so many emotions going on in my head that I did not know what to do. The moment that I had imagined for so long was no longer just a dream, it was finally a reality. I could not believe it! My first thought was, “Where do I go from here?” Would a picture and a small amount of information be enough to satisfy my desire to find her? Should I contact her? How do I contact her if I decide that is what I want? There were too many “what ifs” not to try to contact her, but was I really ready? After much prayer and a lot of support from my husband and a close friend, I decided to follow through with the journey I had started. I really felt that if God brought me this close, how could I stop now? I searched again on the internet in hopes of finding some way to contact her, but the only thing I found was a partial email address. At the bottom of the website where I originally found her picture, there was a note that she could be contacted at an email address, but it was only a partial email address. Now I was really confused. The address ended with ym.com. I was not familiar with this particular email, so I searched it online. After finding nothing matching ym.com, the only possibility I could think of is yahoo mail. Since this was the only information I had to go on, I had to try it. It was definitely a shot in the dark, but if I had no guts, I knew I would have no glory. I sent a blind email to a yahoo email address that I believed was the correct one with the intention of never hearing from the recipient. I simply asked if she was the correct person from the area where I grew up. What were the chances that it was really her? But that is just it, there are no chances in life.

Later that night, I had a message back from her stating “Yes, Who is this?”  As I read this, my jaw dropped. It was really her! Now I had to figure out how to tell her who I was, and also ask myself if I was prepared should she tell me she wanted no contact. I knew it was time to face the reality that had bothered me for so long. I brainstormed for an hour trying to decide how I would word my response. Finally, I simply let her know that I thought we had a connection, and asked that she please visit my page on the same website where I found her picture. I also stated that I wanted to honor her wishes if she chose not to contact me again. Ironically, our internet went down that evening shortly after I sent the last email so I had no way to see if she responded back. It was like sitting on pins and needles. First thing the next morning, the internet was working and I immediately checked my email. Sure enough, she had responded. Not only was that a pleasant surprise, but she wanted me to call her right away. I can still remember the feeling I had in my stomach.

It is like having a hundred butterflies fluttering around uncontrollably. I quickly sent her another email letting her know our internet was not working, and that I had just gotten the message. I also told her that I was getting ready to go to work, but she was welcome to call me. She replied back that she would call me at 8:00 that morning which was in about half an hour. I was counting the seconds, as it seemed like the longest half hour of my life. At 8:10, I began to get worried because my phone still had not rung. All of the “what ifs” began to enter my mind, but I quickly reminded myself that God was in control. Patience has long been one of my weaknesses. When my phone did begin to ring at 8: 15, I was frantic. What would I say to her? What would she say to me? As I answered the phone, I could tell she was nervous, as she could tell I was also.  After about the first 5 minutes of conversation, the awkwardness left, and it was smooth sailing. She and I spoke on the phone for well over an hour about some of the family’s history and my upbringing. 

At one point, she told me that both she and my biological father thought I had not survived when I was born. The reason that this was assumed was because of a hospital bill that she had received by accident. I was born with an infection in my body, and was very sick. I was transferred to a bigger hospital that could provide me with the intense treatment needed to recover from the infection. My biological mother received a bill from the hospital for the services I received, and at that time was told by her mother that if a child is taken to this hospital, it is likely not to survive. Not only did I survive, I also completely recovered from the infection.

After our initial conversation, we both agreed that we wanted to meet, along with her younger daughter—my half sister—who I found out was expecting a child in a few days. My half sister was very excited, and asked if I would like to visit when she had the baby. I was thrilled! I made quick arrangements to drive there over the coming weekend, and we were all very excited. That same evening that we had talked, my half sister had her baby. What a day to remember! Three days later, I was on the road to visit. I decided it was a trip that I would take alone, even though my parents were concerned about the drive by myself. I knew that God would guide me and protect me. 

The drive only took about 5 or 6 hours, which went very quickly. We all met for breakfast, including my new nephew. I could not believe that the day I thought about for so long was finally here! We talked briefly at breakfast, and spent the morning together looking at pictures and getting to know each other. I was literally in awe with the resemblance between my biological mother and myself.  Later that afternoon, my biological mother wanted to spend time showing me around the area where she lived. She and I took a drive around the downtown area and eventually stopped at a park to sit and talk. I will never forget this day!  We sat on a bench near a beautiful lake just talking about everything. 

It was also at this time that she felt comfortable enough to tell me about my biological father and who he was. My half sister and biological mother’s fiancé suggested she wait to tell me because they feared I would turn and walk away from her. I had no intention of ending the relationship, and I told her that there was nothing she could tell me that would make me want to run away from her.  My biological mother was unaware that I or my parents knew her name or about the prosecution of her father. As my biological mother began to explain to me who my biological father was, I let her know that I already had an idea about it.  My biological mother was very surprised that I had chosen to find her even after knowing the truth about my biological father. This is when I let her know my faith and how I felt about who I was. He may share my DNA, but God created me. No matter the circumstance, it is of God’s will and purpose that I was conceived.  I do not want anything from my biological father, nor will I ever. 

It is very hard for me to describe the feelings towards my biological father. The sinner in me wants to see him punished for his actions, considering he only served less than 18 months in prison due to lack of evidence, (which would have been me.) However, my Christian upbringing taught me different. Don’t get me wrong—in no manner what-so-ever do I agree with what he has done. It is tough to explain exactly how I feel, and I do not even understand completely how I feel toward him. If I were given the opportunity to speak to my biological father, I really would simply tell him that I pray he has asked for forgiveness in his heart.

The second day of my visit with my birthmother, reality hit me. I woke up early in the morning and sat on the porch for several hours by myself, crying profusely.  No matter how hard I tried, I just could not stop. It was 29 years of bottled emotions that were pouring out. All I could do besides cry at this point was pray prayers of thanksgiving that I finally got to meet the person who gave birth to me. It was truly a miracle! 

That evening, we drove about an hour to visit with my biological mother’s brother and his family. This was something that meant a lot to my biological mother.  Growing up, her brother did not believe that his father had been raping his sister, as his father wanted him to believe she had made it all up. Finally showing her brother that there was relevance to the claims was a form of closure for her. For her brother, it was a shock! He now believed her after all of this time, and this was a good feeling for me to know the truth finally brought them closer again.

A few short weeks after my first visit with my biological family, my biological mother came to visit with me and my family. I was able to introduce her to my adoptive parents and to many of my close friends. Although this was a bit awkward for all of us, it was one of the most precious moments in my life! I also got to meet some of my biological mother’s family who still lived within a 40 mile vicinity from where I live now, as her family is also from the area where I currently reside. It really is a small world! Her family here was also happy that the truth was finally revealed and the family was brought together again. My hope is that the family that was torn apart by secrets and lies can now be brought together and begin to heal by the truth.

There is no doubt in my mind that God was in control of it all. There is no other explanation! I was finally beginning to see the pieces of my life fitting together.  He turned my feelings of being broken and unworthy to that of having unending value. Through Christ, I have gained the confidence necessary to fulfill my dreams after searching for so long on my own. I am not defined by my DNA, but by the calling I have received as a child of God. No one can take that away from me. My calling in Christ Jesus is my destiny!  He is my foundation, and with Him I cannot crumble. Now I am able to share my faith with someone who has had many obstacles to overcome in life, and to help her to move on. 

I have learned something very important in the last year. Life is about the Faith that we have in Christ, the Hope he gives us for tomorrow and spreading his Love to everyone around us!  Look to Christ for strength in everything! Even in cases of rape and incest, each unborn child is created by God for a purpose.  As my story reveals, God can take something bad and make it an opportunity to do something miraculous! The legalization of abortion is nothing short of playing God, and who are we to question God? 

Kristi Hofferber may be reached here. She blogs at speakupforlife.blogspot.com.

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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

‘It’s a miracle’: Newborn girl survives two days after being abandoned in a field

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

The survival of a baby who was abandoned by her mother and left in a field for two days has been described as "a miracle" by the doctor attending the newborn girl.

"She had been left alone naked, and weighed less than a kilogram, in part because she was so severely dehydrated," said Doctor Barbara Chomik at the hospital in the northern Polish city of Elblag, according to a report from Central European News.

"It is a miracle that she survived under those conditions for so long. It is simply a miracle," Dr. Chomik said.

The report said that the child's mother, Jolanta Czarnecka, 30, of Ilawa in northeastern Poland, had concealed her pregnancy from friends and fellow workers, and had given birth in a field during a lunch break, then returned to work.

When blood was noticed on her clothing, the woman at first claimed she had accidentally given birth in the toilet and the baby had gone down the drain.

However, when investigation found no evidence supporting her claims, Czarnecka admitted to having given birth to the child in a nearby field and leaving her there.

When searchers found the child, two days after her birth, the little girl was dehydrated and covered with insects.

Czarnecka is facing charges of attempted murder for allegedly abandoning her child.

Czarnecka, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her, could be sentenced to five years in prison if she is convicted.


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Because nothing says love quite like a whip and restraints, right? Shutterstock
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

To the Christians who think 50 Shades is all sorts of awesome: Please, stop and THINK

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By Jonathon van Maren

It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.

I suppose when I write a column about a book that just sold its 100 millionth copy I shouldn’t be surprised when I get a bit of a kickback. But I have to say—I wasn’t expecting hundreds of commenters, many saying they were Christian, to come out loudly defending the porn novel 50 Shades of Grey, often tastelessly interspersed with details from their own sex lives.

People squawked that we “shouldn’t judge” those who practice bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM), and informed me that “no one gets hurt” and that it “isn’t abuse” and said that it was “just fantasy” (as if we have a separate brain and body for fantasy).

Meanwhile, not a single commenter addressed one of the main arguments I laid out—that with boys watching violent porn and girls being socialized to accept violence and torture inside of a sexual relationship, we have created a toxic situation in which people very much are being hurt.

In response to the defenders of this trash, let me make just a few points.

  1. Not all consent is equal.

People keep trumpeting this stupid idea that just because someone consents to something or allows something to happen, it isn’t abusive.

But if someone consents to being beaten up, punched, slapped, whipped, called disgusting and degrading names, and have other things done to them that I will choose not to describe here, does that make it any less abusive? It makes it legal (perhaps, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less disgusting or violent.

Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey? If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic and sexual assault will tell you that just because someone permits something to happen or doesn’t extricate themselves from a situation doesn’t mean it isn’t, in fact, abuse. Only when it comes to sex are people starting to make this argument, so that they can cling to their fetishes and justify their turn-ons. Those women who defend the book because they think it spiced up their sex life are being incredibly selfish and negligent, refusing to think about how this book could affect other women in different situations, as well as young and impressionable girls.

In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines:

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian [Grey of 50 Shades of Grey] is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatized kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.

  1. 50 Shades of Grey normalizes intimate partner violence…

…and sickeningly, even portrays it as romantic and erotic. Amy Bonomi, Lauren Altenburger, and Nicole Walton published an article on the impact of 50 Shades last year in the Journal of Women’s Health. Their conclusions are intuitive and horrifying:

While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions—including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music—create the context to support such violence.

Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.

Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

  1. Really? Sadism?

I notice that commenters rarely break down what the acronym “BDSM” actually stands for: bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. If they did, they could no longer make the repulsive claim that “love” or “intimacy” have anything to do with it.

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The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone…a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.”

As one of my colleagues noted, we used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal. As one porn researcher noted, some online BDSM porn promotes practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context.

It seems the Sexual Revolutionaries have gone from promoting “safe sex” to “safe words”—just in case the pain gets too rough. And none of them seem to be volunteering information on just how a woman is supposed to employ a safe word with a gag or bondage headgear on.

But who cares, right? Just one more casualty on our culture’s new Sexual Frontier.

  1. “It’s just fiction and fantasy and has no effect on the real world!”

That’s total garbage and they know it. I’ve met multiple girls who were abused like this inside of relationships. Hotels are offering “50 Shades of Grey” packages replete with the helicopter and private suites for the proceedings. According to the New York Post, sales of rope exploded tenfold after the release of the book. Babeland reported that visits to the bondage section of their website spiked 81%, with an almost 30% increase in the sale of things like riding crops and handcuffs.

I could go on, but I won’t. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah noted, “It’s like a juggernaut. You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in. The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”

  1. What does this book and the BDSM movement say about the value of women and girls?

I’d like the defenders of this book to try stop thinking with their nether-regions for just a moment and ask themselves a few simple questions: What does sadism and sexual torture (consensual or not) say to our culture about the value of girls? What does it say to boys about how they should treat girls? The youth of today are inundated with porn and sexually violent material—is nobody—nobody—at all worried about the impact this has on them? On the girls who are being abused by boys who think this is normal behavior—and think it is normal themselves?

Dr. Gail Dines relates that when speaking to groups of women who loved the book, they all grow deathly silent when she asks them two simple questions: Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey?

If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

__

This book and the sadism it promotes are an assault on human dignity, and most of all an assault on the worth and value of girls and women. Please consider the impact you will have on your daughters and the vulnerable and confused people around you when you read and promote this book. Anastasia Steele is, thankfully, a fictional character. But real girls are facing these expectations and demands from a culture that elevates a sexual sadist to the level of a romantic hero. Ask yourselves if you want their “love” and “intimacy” to include sadism and domination, or real respect.

Because you can’t have both.

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Ryan T. Anderson

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New York Times reporter: ‘Anti-LGBT’ people ‘deserve’ incivility

Ryan T. Anderson
By Ryan Anderson

As I recounted Monday at The Daily Signal, The New York Times reporter Josh Barro thinks some people are “unworthy of respect.” Yesterday Barro doubled-down and tweeted back at me that “some people are deserving of incivility.” He argued that I am such a person because of my views about marriage policy. You can see the entire exchange on my twitter page.

What Josh Barro says or does doesn’t really affect me. I’m not a victim, and I’ll keep doing what I do. But incivility, accepted and entrenched, is toxic to a political community. Indeed, civility is essential for political life in a pluralistic society.

It also has deep roots.

The Hebrew Bible tells us that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and have a profound and inherent dignity. Sound philosophy comes to a similar conclusion: as rational beings capable of freedom and love, all human beings have intrinsic and inestimable worth. And so we should always treat people with respect and dignity—we should honor their basic humanity. We should always engage with civility—even when we sharply disagree with them. Faith and reason, the natural law and the divine law, both point to the same conclusion.

Just as I think the best of theology and philosophy point to the conclusion that we should always treat people with respect, so I think they show that marriage is the union of a man and a woman—and that redefining marriage will undermine the political common good.

The work that I’ve done for the past few years for The Heritage Foundation has been at the service of explaining why I think this to be the case. Bookish by nature, I thought the best contribution I could make to public life was to help us think about marriage. So while my early work after college was in philosophy and bioethics, and my graduate coursework was in the history of political philosophy, I put my dissertation about economic and social justice on hold so I could devote myself to this debate at this crucial time.

Along with my co-authors, a classmate of mine from Princeton and a professor of ours there, we set out to write a book making what we considered the best philosophical argument for what marriage is and why it matters. Our book seemed to help the Supreme Court think about the issue, as Justice Samuel Alito cited it twice. The reason I’ve written various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, and traveled across the country speaking on college campuses, and appeared on numerous news shows (including, of course, Piers Morgan) is that I know the only way forward in our national debate about marriage is to make the arguments in as reasonable and civil a spirit as possible.

Some people, like Barro, want to do everything they can to shut down this discussion. They want to demonize those who hold contrary viewpoints. They want to equate us with racists and claim we are unworthy of respect and ought to be treated with incivility. This is how bullies behave. In all of recorded history, ours is the first time where we can have open and honest conversations about same-sex attraction and marriage. This discussion is just beginning. It is nowhere near being over.

All our fellow citizens, including those identifying as LGBT, should enjoy the full panoply of civil rights—the free exercise of religion, freedoms of speech and press, the right to own property and enter into contracts, the right to vote and have a fair trial, and every other freedom to live as they choose, consistent with the common good.

Government redefinition of marriage, however, is not a civil right—nor will redefining marriage serve the common good. Indeed, redefining marriage will have negative consequences.

We make our arguments, in many fora, as transparently as possible. We welcome counterarguments. And we strive to treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve as we carry on this conversation.

One of the most unfortunate parts of my exchange with Barro last night was his reaction toward those who identify as LGBT and aspire to lives of chastity. They freely choose to live by their conviction that sex is reserved for the marital bond of a husband and wife. Some of them also seek professional help in dealing with and perhaps even diminishing (not repressing) their same-sex sexual desires.

I have written in their defense and against government coercion that would prevent them from receiving the help they desire, as New Jersey and California have done. Barro describes my support for their freedom as “sowing misery…doing a bad thing to people…making the world worse.”

There really is anti-LGBT bigotry in the world. But Barro does a disservice to his cause when he lumps in reasonable debates about marriage policy and the pastoral care that some same-sex attracted persons voluntarily seek out as, in his words, “anti-LGBT.” If we can’t draw a line between real bigotry and reasonable disagreement, we’re not helping anyone.

This debate isn’t about restricting anyone’s personal freedom. However it goes, people will remain free to live their romantic lives as they choose. So too people who experience same-sex attraction but aspire to chastity should be free to lead their lives in line with their beliefs, and to seek out the help they desire. We can have a civil conversation about which course of action is best—but let’s leave aside the extremism.

Barro asks, “Why shouldn’t I call you names?” My answer is simple: you should not practice the disdain and contempt you claim to abhor.

All my life, I’ve been educated at left-leaning institutions. Most of my friends disagree with me about these issues. But they’re still friends. And their feedback has made me a better person.

My final tweet to Barro is where I still remain committed: “people on all sides of LGBT debates and marriage debates need to find a way to discuss these issues without demonizing anyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Signal, where you can find Ryan Anderson's Twitter exchange with Barro.


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