Christine at TalkWisdom has started up yet another blog. This one is called Protect Biblical Marriage. I’ve been leaving lots of comments over there. But her latest post made me want to make some comments here. She puts up some excerpts from an article written by Michael Craven, at the Center for Christ and Culture: The Teaching Ministry of S. Michael Craven. I don’t know who this S. Michael Craven is, but his ‘article’ is so poorly put together that I am surprised that anyone will read it (except those who just want to hear the anti-gay message and not think about what Craven is writing). If you want my opinion, bad sources makes for bad articles. And in this case, this article is really, really bad.
First of all it is interesting that he doesn’t believe that it should just be ‘the Bible tells me so’ argument that Christians should use to combat gay marriage.
So let’s look at some of the sources this guy uses in his ‘defense of marriage’ article (that he wants people to discuss at their dessert and discussion after church). The first source he uses was written in 1934! Yes, that is 73 years old (Sex and Culture, London: Oxford University Press written by Joseph Daniel Unwin). That, right off the bat, makes the alarm bells go off in my head. I have to ask myself, why is this person using a source for his argument that is that old? Craven uses that old source to show that civilizations 5000 years old which had a strong ‘sexual ethic’ had a stronger culture. In Part Two, Craven states right off the bat:
As discussed last week, the noted anthropologist, J. D. Unwin conducted what is arguably the most exhaustive examination of sexual ethics and their affect upon society.
That is total hogwash. No one would believe this statement–except someone who doesn’t have a clue. Mr. Craven would be laughed out of any academic conference if he dared say that. No one who even thinks about cultures would believe that someone writing in 1935 would be an expert, say, on Roman sexual studies. No one. That alone should show that this whole ‘article’ is nothing but junk science, much like what Paul Cameron writes.
Attempting to promote monogamy among homosexual couples by rearranging marriage ignores the fact that homosexual acts are patently obvious distortions of the human biological design. We are born biologically male or female and as such we are sexually dissimilar but in complimentary ways. The male/female sexual union works, in other words. This is true of every species on earth. Every living organism has a particular way of reproducing and rearing offspring; its anatomy is biologically designed to support that way. If one believes we are products of an evolutionary process, then homosexual acts are a deviation from the procreative design and homosexuality is therefore a genetic defect because it fails to propagate the species. If one holds to the belief that we are created, then it defies the design and intent of the Creator. Either way homosexuality violates the given design.
Wait just a second. I thought this was supposed to be a biblically based argument for straight marriage? I wonder if Mr. Craven has actually read Matt. 19:12, where Jesus, his God, states:
Matt. 19:11 "But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.19:12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
So God has created people who are eunuchs–that is, men who cannot reproduce. Craven claims to be a minister, and claims that this is a biblical defense of marriage. But he hasn’t read his Bible. God made eunuchs. They cannot reproduce. So what Craven is implying is that God has created a deviation, since of course eunuchs cannot reproduce. They don’t propagate the species (in his words). So what Craven is saying is that God’s own design for creating eunuchs violates what he believes is the ‘given design.’
He finishes Part II with this statement:
"Unwin’s research and human history confirms that acceptance of sexual perversion always follows the modification of heterosexual monogamy within marriage."
As I said above, bad sources lead to bad papers. He is relying on a nearly 75 year old published book to make his conclusions. As I said, no one would believe that a 75 year old book could tell us very much about ancient societies. Therefore his conclusions are bad.
And that leads us to Part III, which Craven again quotes from that 73 year old book. A case in point is what he has to say next:
The Greek, Roman, Babylonian, and Sumerian empires are just a few examples of cultures that began with a strong marriage-centered monogamy and later degenerated into liberal sexual practices (including homosexuality), which, according to the sociological and anthropological evidence, was central to their downfall.
He clearly is relying on Unwin for this information. Did the Greeks really start out with monogamy and revert to something else? No. All you have to do is read Homer to see some examples of Greek ‘monogamy’ and to see an example of Greek homosexuality (Achilles and Patroclus). Did the Romans? No. And it is unlikely that Unwin knew very much about the Sumerians in 1935. It wasn’t until the 1940s when there was real movement on understanding the ancient languages used by the Sumerians. So much for using them to show that cultures started off with monogamy and then "degenerated into liberal sexual practices."
Craven then switches sources. He moves to Pitirim A. Sorokin, a Russian born sociologist (working at Harvard) who wrote a book in 1956: The American Sex Revolution). Again, couldn’t Craven find a more up-to-date study on sexual practices in the U.S.? It appears that he is only going to look at sources that agree with him, even though they are amazingly out of date. And Craven does the unthinkable in academics–he uses an out of date source and then extrapolates to what is current. And in this case it is same sex marriage.
He continues in Part IV. From his bad sources he makes bad conclusions:
"Any deviation from this proper relationship for sex (i.e., marriage), as well as its proper biological design (i.e., homosexual), is a perversion of human sexuality; history demonstrates that such deviations will inevitably undo those societal goods associated with marriage and the natural family."
At least to sources that are so outdated they are unusable…
But then Craven uses a source written in 2000–The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially , by Leslie Waite and Maggie Gallager. But does he? No. He cites a bit from a book review written by Robert Browning. Now if he were my student, I would send this paper back because no one should be using a book review for a source. Why didn’t Craven just go to the original source? He calls Waite the "eminent University of Chicago sociologist" but does Craven really know this? It looks like he never even read the book…which I find surprising since Maggie Gallagher is the leader of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, an anti-gay group (she was associated with David Benkof–the so-called gay man who was against gay marriage).
Craven then quotes from a much-used (by the anti-gay crowd) study by Robert S. Hogg et al., “Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, 26 . Craven uses the quote:
“Life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men”
However, the authors of this article state (in their rebuttal to those who are misusing their research):
"In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996," wrote the study’s authors.
The letter from the researchers continued, "It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive measure. Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday."
Stated the study authors, "It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor. If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man’s risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes, then people making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population."
Box Turtle Bulletin has done a good job at looking at the misuse of this article. In fact, the authors of this study have publicly refuted the use of this study by the anti-gay crowd. You can read it all here. The last sentence of this rebuttal makes a clear point that Craven and those who print this article ignore:
Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group.
So Craven uses old, old books and misuses a medical study, all to show the sanctity of marriage is good. Well, so far he isn’t doing such a good job.
And again Craven uses old statistics to make the point that marriage makes women safer:
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the US Department of Justice, of all violent crimes against domestic partners (male/female) that occurred between 1979 and 1987.
Does Craven know what year this is? Why use 20 year old data? Hasn’t the National Crime Victimization Survey made any new updates to its research?
Craven then misuses more statistics. This time he uses a gay and lesbian resource center. He writes:
Abuse within male homosexual relationships is as high as 46 percent (“Domestic Violence in Gay and Lesbian Couples,” http://www.psychpage.com/gay/library/gay_lesbian_violence). Among lesbian couples, some research shows that the lifetime prevalence of physical assault among women living with female partners was 35.4 percent. Given that same-sex “marriage” would exist in name only without its essential defining elements, its application to homosexual couples would, most likely, not serve to arrest the high rates of domestic abuse among gays.
But Craven only reports part of this study. If you look at the introduction to this website, you will read:
On the one hand, these numbers may not be accurate. For example, some research shows that the lifetime prevalence of physical assault among women living with female partners was 35.4%, compared to 20.4% among women living with male partners. However, looking deeper, women living with female partners were almost three times more likely to report having been victimized by a previous male, rather than a female partner (IPARV, 2002). Thus, some sources carelessly misquote research to support their negative views of gays and lesbians, simply to promote their own agenda.
Craven is guilty of misrepresentation (and notice that he doesn’t mention the 20% of heterosexual females that are abused by their male partners!).
His next study does not mention the date that it was published. He just states:
According to studies, couples that cohabitate prior to marriage have substantially higher divorce rates, ranging from 50 to 100 percent higher (Axinn and Thorton, “The Relationship Between Cohabitation and Divorce: Selectivity or Casual Influence?” Demography 29, 357–374).
This was done in 1992. Why doesn’t he mention the date of publication? Methinks that Craven doesn’t want people to know. And when I see a large page range like this, I know that Craven did not read this study. I see this in my student’s papers all the time. Why didn’t he give the exact page number to his specific information? Because he is getting this information from somewhere else (instead of reading the source).
At the end of Part IV Craven states this:
In regards to homosexual couples, the concept of fidelity is a popular myth. In the book The Male Couple, the author reports that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years, “Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships” (McWhirter, The Male Couple [Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall] 252, 253).
Want to take a guess when The Male Couple was published? Just remember that Craven wants you to believe that what he just used is current for the gay male population now, in 2008. The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop was published in 1985. Yes, 22 years ago. He acts like the data found in this book is applicable to gay men now. Can’t Craven find some new numbers? You have to ask yourself why he did not do this. In my view it is shoddy research.
And the shoddy research and sources goes on. Craven then cites a study by Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute ( a conservative think-tank). Kurtz writes:
The Swedes have simply drawn the final conclusion: If we’ve come so far without marriage, why marry at all? Our love is what matters, not a piece of paper. Why should children change that? (Stanley Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia: The ‘conservative case’ for same-sex marriage collapses,” The Weekly Standard, 2 February 2004.)
Craven then states:
Indeed, in Sweden the out-of-wedlock birthrate is 55 percent, Norway is 50 percent, Iceland is approaching 70 percent, and in Denmark 60 percent of firstborn children are born out of wedlock….And what does this have to do with SSM? All of the Scandinavian countries mentioned embraced de facto same-sex marriage, beginning with Denmark in 1989. The out-of-wedlock birth rates mentioned experienced their most dramatic increases in the decade following the acceptance of SSM in these countries. The separation of marriage from procreation and parenting was already increasing, as it is here; SSM only widened the separation. “In Scandinavia, gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood is acceptable” (Kurtz, “The End of Marriage”).
The problem with Kurtz is that his study has been debunked as well. Craven states: "All of the Scandinavian countries mentioned embraced de facto same-sex marriage, beginning with Denmark in 1989. The out-of-wedlock birth rates mentioned experienced their most dramatic increases in the decade following the acceptance of SSM in these countries." However, that is a flat-out lie. Again, you can read about this lie at Box Turtle Bulletin. Here is the chart from Norway (taken from Box Turtle Bulletin):
As you can see yourself, civil unions were enacted in 1993. The chart shows the rates of birth outside of marriage. As you can see, the rate goes up slightly after civil unions were enacted, but from 1976 to 1991, BEFORE civil unions, the birthrate outside of marriage skyrocketed. You could make an argument that civil unions actually stopped the growth of out of wedlock births! And as it turns out, Kurtz has been questioned about this, but could not give an answer.
Well, so much for the Defense of Marriage in Craven’s article. As I said in the beginning, if bad sources are used, bad results will come. And this ‘article’ is bad on all fronts. Old sources. Bad sources. Misrepresented sources. I would think that those who want to make an argument against gay marriage could come up with something better than Craven.
And finally, most of what Craven wrote recently was a rehash of something he had written in 2006.