Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sordid Science

April 2016 Pulse

In its ‘FAQs on Sexuality’, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore seems to base its understanding of human sexuality substantially, although not exclusively, on the studies conducted by Alfred Kinsey in the middle of the last century. HPB not only appears to accept Kinsey’s portrayal of sexuality as orthodox; it also seems disturbingly oblivious to the serious criticisms that these studies have come under.

Alfred C. Kinsey, a zoologist from Indiana University, has been dubbed the ‘father of the sexual revolution’ because of his provocative studies on human sexuality: Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female (1953). These reports were allegedly responsible for turning conservative middle-class values upside-down in American society in the mid-20th century.

Here are some of the shocking findings in the Kinsey Reports: 85 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women had premarital sex; 50 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women had been unfaithful in marriage; 69 per cent of men had been with prostitutes; and 17 per cent of farm boys had sex with animals.

However, the Kinsey studies were seriously flawed, making their findings dangerously misleading.

For example, most of the 5,000 men surveyed were prison inmates, many of whom were sex offenders. The participants were mainly volunteers who were sexually adventurous and therefore out of the mainstream. Other participants were recruited via organisations and magazines that promoted homosexuality.

Stanton Jones and Mark Yardhouse point out that “this is obviously not the type of methodology a person would implement if he or she were trying to get a representative outlook on the sexual behaviour of the general population”.

Some writers opine that no other person in the 20th century has done more to bring homosexuality into the public forum than Kinsey.

Kinsey tried to normalise homosexuality in society by devising the Kinsey Scale and by insisting that 10 per cent of men between ages of 16 and 55 were homosexual. Ronald Bayer has perceptively observed that at the time, “for homosexuals who were just beginning their efforts at organisation and the struggle for social acceptance and legal rights, the findings were emboldening”.

But Kinsey’s findings are wide off the mark!

According to the nationwide studies conducted by the Battelle Human Affairs Research Centres in Seattle, only 1 per cent of the population was homosexual. In 1993, Time magazine reported that “recent surveys from France, Britain, Canada, Norway and Denmark all point to numbers lower than 10 per cent and tend to come out in the 1 to 4 per cent range”.

Kinsey’s materialistic philosophy of sex also profoundly skewed his studies. Sex, for Kinsey, was simply an animal response to physical stimuli and has nothing to do with love or procreation. According to anthropologist Margaret Mead, Kinsey was a radical sexual relativist for whom there is no difference between a man having sex with a woman and an animal.

Kinsey also attempted to normalise paedophilia and child abuse. (The Reports were obsessed with homosexuality and paedophilia.) In his 1948 book, Kinsey chillingly insisted that what most people would consider child rape was in fact “sex play” with children, which was harmless, especially when consent was given by the child.

In his 1953 work on female sexuality, Kinsey wrote: “It is difficult to understand why a child, except for its cultural conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched, or disturbed at seeing the genitalia of other persons, or disturbed at even more specific sexual contacts.”

In 1990, Judith Reisman and Edward Eichel exposed the Kinsey Reports as malicious deception in their book, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud. In a review, The Lancet states: “The important allegations from the scientific viewpoint are imperfections in the (Kinsey) sample and unethical, possibly criminal, observations on children … Dr Judith Reisman and her colleagues demolish the foundations of the two (Kinsey) reports.”

The Kinsey Reports are in reality propaganda for libertine pansexuality masquerading as a work of science.

Nevertheless, because they promote tolerance and sexual liberation, the Kinseyan myths continue to mesmerise the masses. Their influence in America over the decades is disturbingly evident in the legal system, education, psychiatry and culture.

But bad or bogus science is never good for society!

“Demythologising the Kinsey Reports,” insists Christian ethicist Sister Reneé Mirkes, “is absolutely essential” if we are to “stem the humanly destructive tide of sexual revolution”.

Dr Roland Chia

Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College and Theological and Research Advisor of the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity. 

Solidarity and Social Justice

April 2016 Pulse

In an article entitled, ‘Social Justice in Singapore: Some Personal Reflections’, Tommy Koh argues that Singapore is both a social just and a socially unjust society.

For Koh, Singapore is a socially just society because of the following reasons: basic human needs are met; women are not discriminated against; the rule of law is implemented with equity; the absence of racial and religious discrimination; every Singaporean has the right to education; and society is run according to the principle of meritocracy.

But these merits notwithstanding, Singapore, according to Koh, is also a socially unjust society for the following reasons: the widening inequality in income and wealth; the absence of a poverty line, resulting in some earning below a living wage; the absence of a minimum wage and the presence of poverty, especially poor and needy children in our society and schools.

Philosophers, social theorists, economists and politicians have long tried to envision and actualise a socially just world by promoting human rights (however these are conceived) and by pushing for economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation and other strategies to promote distributive justice.

For Christians, the idea of social justice is firmly rooted in the Bible. According to the Bible, the God who created the world and human beings is just (Deuteronomy 32:4). In addition, God has created human beings in his image and likeness (Gen 1:27), each of whom is equally valued by him.

God therefore clearly and repeatedly commands his people to show concern for the poor and the needy, the fatherless, the widow and the sojourner (Deuteronomy 10:18; 24:17; 27:19). The teachings of the Church on social justice are profoundly inspired by and based upon the unequivocal witness of Scripture.

According to the Christian vision, social justice has to do with much more than the possibilities of a social market economy or certain strategies in social legislation, important though they are. In the Christian account, social justice is grounded in human solidarity, a concept that captures a complex of meanings.

At its most basic core, human solidarity has to do with the indisputable fact that people are interdependent, and not only in the sense that they evidently rely on one another for their biological and emotional needs. Every conceivable human achievement – language, art, culture, education, science – testify eloquently to this interdependence.

More significantly, in the Christian account, human solidarity is seen not only as a necessary fact, but also a positive value. This paradoxically means that while solidarity is a given, an indispensable fact of human life and society, it is also something that we must work towards and cherish.

Reflecting on the significance of solidarity, the Catholic moral theologian, Thomas Massaro, S.J., writes: ‘We cannot realize our full potential or appreciate the full meaning of our dignity unless we share our lives with others and cooperate in projects that hold promise of mutual benefit’.

The virtue of solidarity begins with an inner attitude that expresses itself in concrete acts that demonstrate one’s commitment to the wellbeing of others. In this way, the virtue of solidarity is an antidote to the egoism and the selfish individualism that motivate members of modern society to obsessively pursue their own narcissistic agendas and neglect their social responsibilities.

There can be no social justice without a deep sense of social responsibility.

It is only when the concept of human rights – which has become sacrosanct in modern society – is set within the context of solidarity and concern for the wellbeing of the larger community that it will not fall prey to a rampant individualism. The virtue of solidarity enables us to see that in many cases our obligations to our neighbour must take precedence over our rights.

The virtue of solidarity also disciplines the use of power. It prohibits the concentration of power in a single individual or a single group, thereby preventing its abuse.

In addition, some theologians argue that solidarity goes a long way in ensuring that the use of power is ‘rational’. As the Catholic moral theologian Bernard Häring has perceptively put it: ‘Solidarity, expressed by consensus on basic human rights and duties and common concern for social justice and fair processes, strengthens the rationality of the use of power’.

True solidarity ensures that power is exercised according to the principles of justice, law and order.

And finally, solidarity, with its emphasis on the concern for the wellbeing of all – including the poor, the sick and the vulnerable – will not only promote the common good, but will also ensure that the language of common good will not be used to justify a utilitarian or a ‘majoritarian’ ethics (where ‘common good’ reads ‘the good of the majority’).

Social justice is the responsibility of every member of society, not just that of the government. While policies like minimum wages will certainly go a long way in making society more just, they are not enough.

A society is truly just only when there is real solidarity among its members.

Dr Roland Chia

Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College and Theological and Research Advisor of the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity. 


Two Kinds of Secularism, and Social Peace

April 2016 Feature Article

Christians are severely persecuted in many places, including the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia.  Meanwhile, in the West, Christians are also subjected to increasing slander, vilification, and legal assault in all areas of life, both public and private.  Growing legal persecution and hostility to Christianity in the US is amply documented.[1]  Many of the cases represent tactical assaults in the larger cultural revolution in support of same-sex “marriage,” in which Christian individuals, businesses, schools, or ministries that refused to publicly affirm this position were targeted, even before the 2015 US Supreme Court decision that made it the law of the land.

It seems counterintuitive that such a thing could occur in a secular country like the US, because secularism is supposed to result in religious tolerance and harmony.  But sometimes it does not.  Arguably, this is because there are two kinds of secularism, and each tends to produce very different social dynamics in the public square.

Recognizing this distinction is very pertinent for Singaporean Christians as well as adherents of other worldviews who also regard religious questions to be meaningful, and who care about social harmony.

One kind of secularism advocates a non-sectarian state that neither promotes nor penalizes religious adherence, and governs a society in which individuals and religious communities are free to practice and propagate their religion within the bounds of public order and respect for others to do the same.  One’s choice of religion results in no governmentally-conferred advantage or disadvantage. Public servants employed by the state have no less religious freedom than others, but are not be free to abuse their office by propagating their faith on the public’s time or the public’s dime.  The religious identity and place of each individual and community in the public square is regarded as legitimate, yet without that conferring any kind of public advantage over another.  This is the kind of secularism that many in the modern world find it desirable to live under, regardless of their particular worldview or faith.

However, there is another brand of secularism that insists on what Richard John Neuhaus called “the naked public square,” in which religious identity, practice, and speech is purged from the public square.  Religion is thoroughly privatized and tolerated only as a private hobby.  It is rooted in an epistemological belief about what counts as knowledge that is variously known as scientism or empiricism: the empirical sciences are either (a) the only, or (b), the best source we have of the knowledge of reality. Questions that cannot be addressed in this way are therefore of minimal epistemic status at best, or at worst, are not questions of truth and fact at all, but of mere personal belief and opinion.  The inconvenient fact that scientism itself cannot be established scientifically may be why it is most persuasive when it is not examined closely but remains a hidden assumption.

The corrupt root of this form of secularism leads to rotten fruit in the public square.  For if life’s most important questions (e.g., “Is there a God?  If so, what is he, she, they, or it like?  How ought we to live?”) cannot be addressed rationally as matters of truth, then they will be settled by means of power by the group that is able to most effectively marginalize and silence competitors.  As Saul Alinsky said, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”  This is usually accomplished through a campaign of caricature, slander, and delegitimization that progresses to the point that an entire community is systematically blocked from full participation in society.  This process is currently underway in the US, where Christian persons and institutions who refuse to accommodate same-sex marriage are being subjected to punitive legal harassment and the effective nullification of their first amendment rights. The secularist promise of tolerance for Christianity as long as it is practiced in private and not “imposed” on others is not kept, for the zealous activists demand to know one’s views and wage a campaign of destruction against them if they fail to affirm pro-gay position.  Therefore, Jewish social critic Dennis Prager has frequently observed that under this regime, religion is treated like pornography, and pornography like religion.  There is no possibility of social peace under this form of secularism, unless everyone else surrenders the public square to an essentially atheistic worldview.

One hopes that Singaporeans of all beliefs would prefer the first kind of secularism over the second.  Unfortunately, a survey of some of the more vocal secularist Singaporean websites suggests the same Alinskyite tendencies toward slander, caricature, and delegitimization practiced by their Western counterparts.  Who needs a thoughtful analysis of a rival worldview when ridicule is so easy and persuasive to the already-convinced?  As Christian, I confess that I do not recognize anything resembling my faith in the cartoonish distortions presented there.  It seems as if the contributors lack sufficient imagination to conceive how anyone could possibly have a rational reason for believing differently, or to imagine what it is like to do so.  As such, it is hard to imagine them having any kind of meaningful discussion with an intelligent, well-informed proponent of another religion.  Perhaps they should stick with the caricatures and straw men by which they are so comfortably entertained.

Singapore has often fared well as a pragmatic city-state that crafts effective policies.  In this case, Singapore has the benefit of observing the outcome of cultural conflict and disharmony in other nations that has been wrought by ideological secularism and the culture war it has helped to stimulate.  I am thankful that the secularism of Singaporean society in general more closely resembles the first type, and pray that it endures.

Dr. Brian Thomas- SBC photo, cropped

Dr. Brian H. Thomas is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Singapore Bible College (School of Theology English). He received a DTh in New Testament Theology from Trinity Theological College (Singapore), a MA in Christian Apologetics and a MA in New Testament from Biola University (USA), and a BA in History from Christopher Newport University (USA). He has lived in Singapore since 2005 with his wife, teaching and ministering with various Christian ministries and seminaries here and in the surrounding region. They have one son.

[1]Kelly Shackelford, et al., Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2014 ed. (Plano, TX: Liberty Institute, 2014); Family Research Council, Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States, July 30, 2014 ed. (Washington DC: Family Research Council, 2014).