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Three ways to kick porn out of your life

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Note: This is part three of a five part series on pornography

Part I: My porn addiction
Part II: Porn, devil or an angel?
Part III: Three ways to kick porn out of your life
Part IV: The fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn
P
art V: The pointlessness of pornography

November 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - But even if we can all agree that porn is a devil, that is only the beginning. That we even come to hate pornography is no guarantee that we will be freed from its allure. Many are those who have believed that they had their porn use “under control,” but who, upon seeking to quit once and for all, have found themselves inexplicably returning again and again, in defiance of their convictions and their good sense. It turns out that the temptation of anonymous, responsibility-free sexual pleasure on demand is a remarkably enduring one, even if we know from experience that all its promises of happiness are an illusion, and that if we give in it will only end in loneliness, bitterness and self-recrimination.

To cut porn out of your life once you have welcomed it in is no easy thing: for many it requires hard work, constant vigilance, and dramatic measures. And many will fight discouragement as they discover that despite their most ardent resolutions, they continue to fall back into a habit which they have come to despise. The first and most important lesson these will have to learn is how to set up realistic expectations, and how to forgive themselves when they fail to live up to them. This is especially important for people who may be part of communities or families that have not yet caught up with the reality of how completely porn has flooded our culture, and where frank discussion about the issue or any hint that any of their members might be struggling with it, is verboten. Part of my hope in writing this series is that we might begin to break open the barriers of communication, to throw unreasonable expectations out the window, and to smash the damaging perfectionism that can lead to a crippling shame. This does not mean that we are in any way compromising our convictions on the issue. What it does mean is that we are willing to give those who feel entrapped by porn the space they need to start taking the practical steps required to heal and overcome.

When I think back over my own years of wrestling with this problem, I can detect clear patterns to my successes and my failures. In particular, I can remember three specific, protracted porn-free periods of my adolescence. Each of these now seems to offer a specific insight into how one might gain the upper hand in the battle for sexual sanity. I offer them not as definitive, or comprehensive techniques for putting porn behind you, but simply as examples gained through personal experience.

The first period of reprieve came when I was 17, when I first went to college – a small private Catholic liberal arts college located in Michigan. As soon as I arrived I fell madly in love with a girl from California, whom I will call Christine. This love had about it all the vehemence and ardor of a first love, and, as Christine professed to return the sentiment, it was not long before we were dating. Like most adolescent relationships, it didn’t last. But what I find instructive looking back is that, in the first place, my love was so vehement and sincere that I honestly could not imagine even wanting to use Christine in any way, and so our relationship was thoroughly chaste. But, even more interesting and to the point, is that this love killed all desire for any sort of illicit sexual pleasure. And this was, I think, for two reasons: firstly, because when set up against Christine all other women, and most especially the uni-dimensional actresses featured in porn, seemed to pale by comparison; and, secondly, because my love made me desire to be worthy of the love I received from Christine, a goal in which a porn habit could have no part.

I am not, of course, saying that everyone who wishes to quit porn must have a passionate romance. But this experience points to a profound truth – that love (true love, and not mere “feelings”) is self-transcendent. Love draws us outside of ourselves, and focuses all our attention on the beloved, and makes us desire the happiness of the beloved even above our own. This is true across the board, whether we are talking about romantic love, or friendship, or the love between family members, or love of God. Love is the exact opposite of selfishness. It makes sense, then, that in love I should have found an antidote for porn. Porn, after all, is essentially selfish: its sole purpose is to gain pleasure for oneself by using someone else, without intention of giving anything in return. There simply is no more noble or constructive goal.

Practically speaking, what this suggests is that if we want to beat a porn habit we should start looking for ways to give to others, rather than focusing on ourselves. This can express itself in a million different ways, even in the most mundane details of our lives, but for the person struggling with porn, it might mean spending more time developing close friendships, or looking for volunteer opportunities, or even developing new and constructive hobbies - for the love of learning or of art, or even of sport, are authentic forms of love. Anything at all, really, but the endless, suffocating hours locked up in our own rooms, far away from people, surfing the internet, watching television or movies, playing video games, and, inevitably, watching porn.

For myself, this insight was confirmed after I met my wife, to whom all I said above applies 100-times over. Earlier this week a liberal social media site linked to the first installment of this essay on porn. Many of the commenters there accused my wife of “forcing” me to give up porn (the implication being, I suppose, that it is selfish of her to ask so much of me). They weren’t entirely wrong. My wife has “forced” me to give up porn, and many other bad habits besides. But only in the sense that any miserable wretch who has ever encountered a woman far more beautiful, pure, and good than himself, has been “forced” to recognize his own wretchedness and aspire to become worthy of her. Love does that. It is a form of bondage, but a bondage that is far more liberating than any of our popular concepts of freedom. To be free to wallow in our selfishness and misery is no freedom at all.

Yes, it is difficult to overstate the role my wife has played in teaching me the remarkable power of love to purify. And yet, she cannot claim first position in this respect, for I have also begun to understand, at least a very little, the Great Lesson: that the only truly reliable Love, the only one that truly has the power in the long run to transform us from the selfish beings we are into something really admirable, is found on our knees, in the silence of a church. But more on that later.

Another seemingly banal, but nevertheless noteworthy period of success, occurred when I later transferred to another Catholic liberal arts college, this one in Virginia, after spending a year working. At this college, the Internet was only available on public computers located in the library – across campus from my dorm. And, as simple as it may sound, the removal of the source of the temptation to a distance, largely killed the temptation itself.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this truth cannot be overstated. The reason that porn use has exploded can be attributed in large part to the advent of this new technology: the Internet. It is true that the Internet itself is neither morally good nor morally bad, but what it has done is give the pornographers a path straight into our bedrooms, so that, at any time, an entire world of sexual fantasy is but a click away. So it is that many a man or woman sits down at a computer with no intention whatsoever of looking for pornography (possibly even with the very deliberate intention not to look for it), and then suddenly “finds” him or herself doing exactly that. It’s too easy. Once exposed to porn, the temptation to look just “one more time” is forever scratching, scratching, scratching, just below the surface of our brains, every time we sit down at a computer, until we feel that we will go mad unless we give in to it.

It was just as I was graduating from college that smart phones were starting to become common. This no longer made it possible to keep the Internet out of the dorms. And frankly, I pity the students who came after me, who will not have the freedom, as I did, to live and learn free from the influence of the primary source of addiction today. Some porn experts say that porn is as addictive as cocaine. Imagine for a moment if all that a cocaine addict had to do was pull his cell phone out of his pocket and press a button to get his next hit, for free?

And so, here is method number two of kicking porn out of your life: put as much distance as possible between you and the Internet. I realize that in the age of Facebook, Netflix, and Google, this will strike many as an impossible, if not insane, suggestion. And for many it may not be necessary. But most of those who have repeatedly tried to put porn behind them, and have repeatedly failed, will be forced to admit that this is because accessing porn is simply too easy. Put down your guard for a fleeting moment while surfing the internet, and voila! You’ve clicked on a link you shouldn’t have. You’ve searched for a word you know will lead you places you shouldn’t go.

If the price of freedom is limiting your access to the Internet, I say choose freedom. If porn is your problem, seriously consider disconnecting the Internet from your house. And if you must have a cell phone, don’t get a smart phone with Internet access. If you do need the Internet, go to your library to use it. And if you absolutely need the Internet at home, install filtering software on your computer, and ask someone else to set the password. Do whatever is necessary to remove the source of temptation to as great a distance as possible. The greater the distance, the less vehement the temptation, and the more space you will have to live your life without this albatross hanging about your neck.

The third period in which I achieved some consistent success in my own battle to cast off this albatross overlaps with the second. It happened at the same time as I began to recover from a protracted period of religious agnosticism, as well as fall in love again - this time with my wife. Both factors added fuel to the fire of my hatred of porn. While I had already been making considerable steps in dealing with the problem, I no longer wanted anything to do with it…ever. And so I decided to take a dramatic step. I decided to do something I had never regularly done before. I decided to start fasting: two days a week I would go without breakfast and lunch.

The results were remarkable. If you have ever fasted you will know what I mean. There comes a point in the day when suddenly the hunger pangs fade into the background, and this is replaced with a real sense of peace. It is a kind of pleasure, but of a completely different - frankly, higher - category than what we normally call “pleasure.” All the clamoring of the body for this and that or the other thing vanishes, the mind clarifies, and there is a strange, buoyant sensation of being “in control.” It doesn’t necessarily happen to the same degree every time, but even when the annoyance of not eating never quite goes away, there is still found a kind of intellectual satisfaction in having given the finger – as it were – to what Francis of Assisi called “brother ass” (the body), and forced it to listen to us for a change.

Every Lent, like clockwork, the media runs a series of bemused articles in which they interview “on-the-street” Catholics to find out what they’re “giving up” (chocolate, Facebook, coffee, TV), as if nothing could be stranger than all this business of self-denial for the sake of Jesus. In reality, the idea of giving something up for the sake of something else is just good old fashioned common sense. Saints and mystics have touted the power of fasting in achieving self-control for millennia. Of course, for various reasons we don’t trust saints and mystics, but really, anyone who has spent thirty seconds in self-analysis will have realized that he often has conflicting desires, and will see that some are good and some bad: and that it sometimes takes a real effort to choose the good ones over the bad.

And so it is not surprising that if we are only ever accustomed to giving ourselves what we want, as soon as we want it, that we so quickly give in to temptation, even when we know doing so will only hurt us in the long run. We cannot isolate one of our habits from another, because our minds are not isolated parts. We are one whole person. And if we have a habit of self-indulgence, or at least of never explicitly denying ourselves anything, when porn comes knocking, it feels natural to open the door. So why not take a cue from the Catholics and “give something up” on certain days of the week, for no other reason than to take control of your own life and prove you can? It hardly matters what, as long as it is something you like, and that you can legitimately do without. Coffee, chocolate, the internet, movies, TV – these are the common ones, and they will do just fine. Or, if you are able, do an all-out fast.

These are just three ways to beat porn, based upon my own personal experience. There are, of course, hundreds of other ways to kick porn out of your life, some of which will be specific to your own unique circumstances in life. However, many of these other ways are ultimately contained within the three I have offered here.

The one thing that absolutely will not work is to do nothing, hoping that temptation will one day just “go away.” Temptation will never just go away. And certainly it will never be overcome, not without a deliberate, concentrated effort. Someone once famously joked that temptation will stop ten minutes after we’re dead. We cannot dream ourselves into the person we want to be. Life is a struggle, and it requires hard work. If we do nothing, we slide backwards. We must always be climbing upwards. So, don’t be afraid to take drastic actions to get your own problem under control. Extreme times call for extreme measures. And when it comes to the battle for sexual sanity, the times have never been more extreme…ever.

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Banning reparative therapy for gay minors is ‘a form of child abuse’: former homosexual (Video)

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGFIELD, IL, February 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Not only would Illinois legislators not be protecting children by enacting a ban on “conversion therapy,” they would be engaging in “a form of child abuse,” according to a man who left the homosexual lifestyle three decades ago.

Stephen Black of the Restored Hope Network told the Illinois Family Institute that reparative therapy helps minors who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction.

While opponents have said that psychological counseling to reduce sexual attraction violates truth in advertising laws and borders on torture, Black described it as little more than “pastoral care for people who want to come out of homosexuality.”

The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act (H.B. 217), introduced by Democratic State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would ban such therapy for minors, subjecting medical professionals to discipline by the licensing or medical review board.

"It would be tragic not to allow someone to have self-determination," Black said. "It's a form of child abuse."

“You've got a teenager...[who] actually believes the Bible. He finds himself same-sex attracted,” Black said. “In the Bible...the loving thing to do is to repent, to turn away from this type of lifestyle.”

“Now, this legislation is going to come in and keep him from getting the help he wants,” Black said.

He added that such legislation undermines the family, which may wish to steer a child away from homosexuality – with its attendant higher risk of STDs, depression, and suicide.

Legislation such as H.B. 217 says that “government knows best,” according to Black, and “conflicts with religious liberties.”

He finds confirmation in an unlikely source – far-Left Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. As a state senator, Lieu introduced the ban on reparative therapy, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lieu said at the time, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill.” Barack Obama endorsed Lieu in his successful race for U.S. Congress in 2014.

Stephen Black says he has benefited from reparative therapy himself. After converting to Christianity, he says he eventually left behind his homosexual attraction.

Today, he's a proud grandpa. And he says other teens should have that same opportunity.

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He knows society is quickly turning its back on traditional moral stands, but he and Restored Hope Network continue to uphold the Biblical standard on all sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage, however unpopular his view.

“It's not politically correct, but it's Biblically correct,” Black said.

The Illinois House rejected a similar ban last April. IFI and Concerned Women for America, among others, have asked citizens to urge elected officials to oppose the bill.  

(Story continues following video.)

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Mark Regnerus

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New research on same-sex households reveals kids do best with mom and dad

Mark Regnerus
By Mark Regnerus

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- A new study published in the February 2015 issue of the British Journal of Education, Society, and Behavioural Science appears to be the largest yet on the matter of same-sex households and children’s emotional outcomes. It analyzed 512 children of same-sex parents, drawn from a pool of over 207,000 respondents who participated in the (US) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) at some point between 1997 and 2013.

Results reveal that, on eight out of twelve psychometric measures, the risk of clinical emotional problems, developmental problems, or use of mental health treatment services is nearly double among those with same-sex parents when contrasted with children of opposite-sex parents. The estimate of serious child emotional problems in children with same-sex parents is 17 percent, compared with 7 percent among opposite-sex parents, after adjusting for age, race, gender, and parent’s education and income. Rates of ADHD were higher as well—15.5 compared to 7.1 percent. The same is true for learning disabilities: 14.1 vs. 8 percent.

The study’s author, sociologist Paul Sullins, assessed a variety of different hypotheses about the differences, including comparative residential stability, experience of stigma or bullying, parental emotional problems (6.1 percent among same-sex parents vs. 3.4 percent among opposite-sex ones), and biological attachment. Each of these factors predictably aggravated children’s emotional health, but only the last of these—biological parentage—accounted for nearly all of the variation in emotional problems. While adopted children are at higher risk of emotional problems overall, being adopted did not account for the differences between children in same-sex and opposite-sex households. It’s also worth noting that while being bullied clearly aggravates emotional health, there was no difference in self-reported experience of having been bullied between the children of same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

Vocal critics, soon to emerge, will likely home in on the explanatory mechanism—the fact that two mothers or two fathers can’t possibly both enjoy a biological connection to a child—in suggesting the results of the study reveal nothing of value about same-sex households with children. On the contrary, the study reveals a great deal. Namely, there is no equivalent replacement for the enduring gift to a child that a married biological mother and father offer. It’s no guarantee of success. It’s not always possible. But the odds of emotional struggle at least double without it. Some critics might attribute the emotional health differences to the realities of “adoption by strangers,” but the vast majority of same-sex couples in the NHIS exhibited one parent with a biological relationship with the child.

Even research on “planned” same-sex families—those created using assisted reproductive technology (ART)—reveals the significance of biological ties. Sullins notes such studies

have long recognized that the lack of conjoined biological ties creates unique difficulties and relational stresses. The birth and non-birth mother . . . are subject to competition, rivalry, and jealousy regarding conception and mothering roles that are never faced by conceiving opposite-sex couples, and which, for the children involved, can result in anxiety over their security and identity.

The population-based study pooled over 2,700 same-sex couples, defined as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” This is a measure similar to that employed in the US Census, but it has the advantage of clarity about the sexual or romantic nature of the partnership (being sure to exclude those who are simply same-sex roommates). Among these, 582 had children under 18 in the household. A battery of questions was completed by 512 of them.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

This is not the first time the NHIS data have been used to analyze same-sex households and child health. A manuscript presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Population Association of America assessed the same data. Curiously, that manuscript overlooked all emotional health outcomes. Instead, the authors inquired only into a solitary, parent-reported measure of their “perception of the child’s overall health,” a physical well-being proxy that varies only modestly across household types. Hence, the authors readily concluded “no differences.”

I’m not surprised.

This juxtaposition provides a window into the state of the social science of same-sex households with children. Null findings are preferred—and arguably sought—by most scholars and journal editors. Indeed, study results seem to vary by author, not by dataset. It is largely a different approach to the presentation of data that distinguishes those population-based studies hailed by many as proof of “no differences” from those studies denounced by the same people as “junk science.”

In fact, population-based surveys of same-sex households with children all tend to reveal the same thing, regardless of the data source. It’s a testimony to the virtues of random sampling and the vices of relying on nonrandom samples, which Sullins argues—in another published study—fosters “a strong bias resulting in false positive outcomes . . . in recruited samples of same-sex parents.” He’s right. Published research employing the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), the ECLS (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study), the US Census(ACS), the Canadian Census, and now the NHIS all reveal a comparable basic narrative, namely, that children who grow up with a married mother and father fare best at face value.

The real disagreement is seldom over what the data reveal. It’s how scholars present and interpret the data that differs profoundly. You can make the children of same-sex households appear to fare fine (if not better), on average, if you control for a series of documented factors more apt to plague same-sex relationships and households: relationship instability, residential instability, health and emotional challenges, greater economic struggle (among female couples), and—perhaps most significantly—the lack of two biological connections to the child. If you control for these, you will indeed find “no differences” left over. Doing this gives the impression that “the kids are fine” at a time when it is politically expedient to do so.

This analytic tendency reflects a common pattern in social science research to search for ‘‘independent’’ effects of variables, thereby overlooking—or perhaps ignoring—the pathways that explain how social phenomena actually operate in the real world. By way of a helpful comparison, I can state with confidence that after controlling for home ownership, residential instability, single parenthood, and neighborhood employment levels, there is no association between household poverty and child educational achievement. But it would be misleading to say this unless I made it clear that these were the pathways by which poverty hurts educational futures—because we know it does.

The academy so privileges arguments in favor of same-sex marriage and parenting that every view other than resounding support—including research conclusions—has been formally or informally scolded. I should know. The explosive reaction to my 2012 research about parental same-sex relationships and child outcomes demonstrates that far more is at work than seeking answers to empirical research questions. Such reactions call into question thepurpose and relevance of social science. Indeed, at least one sociologist holds that social science is designed “to identify and understand the various underlying causal mechanisms that produce identifiable outcomes and events of interest.” That this has not been the case with the study of same-sex households raises a more basic question.

Is the point of social science to win political arguments? Or is its purpose to better understand social reality?

What to Expect from a Topic Emerging from Its Infancy

One byproduct of better data—or perhaps the smell of impending victory by proponents of civil same-sex marriage in America—may be greater intellectual honesty about such relationships. Indeed, researchers have admitted the tendency to downplay “any inequities between same-sex partners . . . in part because of the dominant mantra that same-sex couples are more equal than different sex couples.”

It’s not the only consequential admission. Scholars are increasingly—and openly—squabbling over the nature of sexual orientation itself, signaling the comparative infancy of the social science here. Moreover, there’s a good deal of sexual identity switching being reported among young adults, a fact that does not comport with a honed narrative of immutability.

So should scholars trust self-reported sexual orientations? If people report something different a few years later, should we attribute this to their malleable sexuality or consider them heterosexual “jokesters” bent on messing with survey administrators? It is profoundly ironic that social scientists make strong social constructionist arguments about nearly everything except sexual orientation.

Stanford demographer Michael Rosenfeld’s survey project How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST) reveals that while only 3 percent of heterosexual married persons reported being “at least sometimes attracted” to persons of a gender other than the gender of their current partner in the past year, the same was true of 20 percent of men in same-sex relationships and 33 percent of women in same-sex relationships. While the malleability of self-identified lesbian women is now taken for granted among social scientists of sexuality, the one-in-five figure among men in gay relationships is higher than most would guess.

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In keeping with the data, expect those robust legal arguments leaning on the immutability of sexual orientation to bleed out within the next five years. Indeed, sociologists have never been fans of such biological essentialism, but have kept their mouths shut out of a sense of political duty to a movement they helped birth. No more.

Social scientists will soon wrestle with, rather than overlook, the elevated levels of poverty among well-educated lesbian women in America (as seen in the ACS, NFSS, NHIS, and HCMST). Until now, scholars predictably elected to employ income as a control variable in their studies of child and adult life outcomes, enabling them to avoid confronting the reasons for the unprecedented negative association of education with income among the population of same-sex female couples. Here again, it’s not been about understanding but about winning political battles.

We will also learn much more about the relationship stability distinctions that are common in the data between gay and straight parents. Unpublished research exploring the stability rates of same-sex and opposite-sex couples using data from yet more population-based surveys finds that claims about thecomparability of same-sex and heterosexual couple stability (again, after a series of controls) are actually limited to couples without children. For couples with children, the dissolution rate for same-sex couples is more than double that of heterosexual couples. What remains unknown yet is whether this difference is an artifact that will disappear with legal marriage rights. I doubt it, given that same-sex relationships are distinctive in other ways, too. But it’s an empirical question.

As it turns out, the NFSS was not unique. It was simply more transparent than most datasets and offered a clearer glimpse into the messy reality of many Americans’ household histories. It did the work social science was intended to do—to richly describe and illuminate—but in so doing invited unprecedented hostility.

On a Thursday morning in late June 2015, Americans will be treated to the Court’s decision about altering an institution as old as recorded human history. But one thing that day will not change is the portrait of same-sex households with children. After a series of population-based data-collection projects, we know what that looks like: a clear step down, on average, from households that unite children with their own mother and father.

Biology matters—as new research released this week confirms—and no amount of legislation, litigation, or cheerleading can alter that. Whether the high court will elect to legally sever the rights of children to the security and benefits of their mother's and father’s home is anyone’s guess.

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute. 

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Michael Stokes Paulsen

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The case for imposing gay ‘marriage’ is remarkably similar to that for slavery. But can the GOP produce a new Abe Lincoln?

Michael Stokes Paulsen
By Michael Stokes Paulsen

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- No, of course Old Abe never said a lick about same-sex marriage. The idea would have been unheard of in the 1850s—or even the 1950s. The issue of Lincoln’s day was slavery—in particular, the extension of that peculiar institution into federal territories and even into free states. But in connection with the slavery issue, Lincoln had plenty to say about the use and abuse of judicial authority to propagate social policy and about the dangers of judges usurping legislative authority. The man whose birth we honored two weeks ago thus spoke, indirectly, to one of the central controversies of our own era, and to a case pending before the Supreme Court right now.

Lincoln’s specific concern was the expansion of slavery into federal territories, mandated by the Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, in 1857. Lincoln warned of the prospect of a “second Dred Scott” decision following on the heels of the first, mandating the extension of slavery into (formerly) “free” states where the institution of slavery was banned, like Illinois. “We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free,” Lincoln intoned, in the famous House Divided speech launching his (unsuccessful) 1858 campaign for Senate, “and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois slave State.”

The logic of the Dred Scott case, Lincoln argued, would seem to imply that no state could deny recognition to the property rights of slaveholders coming from another state. Dred Scott had held that a right to own slave property, conferred by the laws of a slave state, bound the federal government, in administering federal territories that had not yet become states. Federal law could not ban slavery in the territories, for that would unfairly and unconstitutionally deprive slave-owners of a benefit they had possessed under state law, and thus deny them “due process of law.”

However convoluted and unpersuasive the Court’s reasoning, Lincoln recognized the implications of its logic: if the federal government had to recognize slavery as a result of some states’ laws, how could a free state (like Illinois) deny recognition to slave status conferred by a slave state’s laws (like Missouri’s)?

A House Divided

Lincoln warned that politicians and judges, like builders working according to a common plan, were preparing the framework to make slavery the uniform national rule: “Put that and that together, and we have a nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to exclude slavery within its limits.” And once that had happened, a state could scarcely deny to all citizens of a state the same “constitutional right” to the institution of slavery that it had to recognize to newcomers or travelers from slave states. A case presenting exactly these issues was kicking around in the New York courts, and seemed at the time destined to make it to the US Supreme Court, presenting the perfect opportunity for such a second Dred Scott.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said, quoting Jesus. Lincoln did not expect the house to fall, but he did expect that “it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” The only way to prevent slavery from becoming the national rule was to resist the decision of the Supreme Court and to seek to prevent its extension—to “meet and overthrow the power of” the “political dynasty” that was seeking to extend slavery to the entire nation.

Lincoln lost that Senate campaign to the incumbent Stephen Douglas, but then beat Douglas in a rematch two years later, this time for the presidency. The rest, as they say, is history: southern states revolted against what they considered a revolting, lawlessly antislavery president; Lincoln considered it his constitutional duty to maintain the Union, faithfully execute the laws, and put down the rebellion; and during a four-year bloody Civil War that tragically claimed 620,000 lives—more than all of America’s other wars combined—Lincoln found it necessary to proclaim the emancipation of slaves held in the states in rebellion. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery throughout the nation, was proposed by Congress 150 years ago this month, and Lee surrendered to Grant 150 years ago this April. Barely a week after that, Lincoln was killed by an assassin’s bullet—having seen, but never entered, the promised land of a nation free of slavery.

Parallels between Dred Scott and Windsor

So what does all this have to do with same-sex marriage? A lot. Two years ago, in the contrived test case of Windsor v. United States, a bare majority of Supreme Court justices held that a legal status conferred by state law had to be recognized within the federal sphere. The court held that to deny such a status, as federal law did, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In legal form and substance, the decisions in Windsor and Dred Scott are surprisingly parallel. Windsor involved a same-sex marriage that was recognized by the state of New York but not recognized by the federal government due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Court held that DOMA denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is exactly the same thing the Court did in Dred Scott. Instead of marriage, Dred Scott involved the status of slavery, which was recognized by the state of Missouri, but not by federal law in federal territory. Scott’s master, a captain in the army, had taken Scott to Fort Snelling, in the free federal territory of present-day Minnesota. The federal Missouri Compromise of 1820 banned the status of slavery in federal territory north of a designated line. Dred Scott held that the Missouri Compromise denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is just what Windsor did with respect to DOMA.

In both Dred Scott and Windsor, the Court’s legal analysis was transparently result-oriented: the justices wanted a particular result, and manipulated the law to reach the outcome they thought preferable as a social-policy matter. In both cases, the majority’s “reasoning” wanders aimlessly before finally settling into the same oft-discredited judicial invention of “substantive due process”—the idea that it is simply morally wrong, or mean, for a democracy to deny a legal right or status conferred under the law of a different jurisdiction. In both cases, the majority opinions were subject to devastating dissents, and they produced greatly divided public reaction. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Dred Scott and Windsor are two peas from the same judicial-activist pod.

A Second Windsor?

Lincoln warned that there could be a “Second Dred Scott” making slavery national. “Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming.”

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Could there be a “Second Windsor” making same-sex marriage national?

Quite possibly yes. A case is now pending before the Supreme Court asking whether four states—Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee—acted unconstitutionally by not recognizing the status of same-sex marriages under their laws. Some of the plaintiffs are same-sex partners who were married under the laws of other states before moving to a state not recognizing such status. Other plaintiffs seek simply to be married in their home states, the laws of which limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Just as with Dred Scott and slavery, the logic of Windsor does not quite require extension to invalidate the laws of every state that denies same-sex marriage status. But an argument will be made that it does. The reasoning of Windsor is that it was gratuitously and indefensibly mean, and therefore unconstitutional, for the federal government to deny recognition to a same-sex marriage recognized under state law. Just as Lincoln asked with respect to Dred Scott, how likely is it the Court will say that a state can then deny to other state’s citizens, or even to its own, the status of same-sex marriage? “Put that and that together,” as Lincoln said, “and we have another nice little niche” for the next Supreme Court decision.

Same-sex marriage is obviously an entirely different social institution than slavery. Reasonable and honorable people today disagree about whether the traditional view of marriage as a conjugal and intrinsically male-female union should be abandoned for an understanding of marriage as embracing any sexual-romantic bond into which two (or more) people might enter. Nobody today disagrees about slavery.

But that is not the point. The point is that, in the structure and logic of the legal arguments made for judicial imposition of an across-the-board national rule requiring every state to accept the institutions, the two situations appear remarkably similar.

If recent lower court opinions on marriage are any guide, the judicial winds may be blowing on the marriage question in the same direction Lincoln seemed to perceive them blowing on the question of extending slavery into northern states by judicial decree. (Lincoln’s prediction probably would have proved right had he not been elected president.) As with slavery in the 1850s, so too with same-sex marriage in 2015: the house very likely will soon cease to be divided. I wouldn’t want to say it’s inevitable, but it is certainly possible that a Second Windsor is coming.

Will the Republican Party produce another Lincoln to stand against it?

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute

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