For NC Family’s Raleigh Dinner on May 10, 2022, we welcomed renowned author and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Anderson spoke on what he called “the four most important civilizational truths that shouldn’t be contested, but are.”
On this week’s episode of Family Policy Matters, we’re sharing Part 1 of Dr. Anderson’s address. To watch the complete address, visit the 2022 Raleigh Dinner video page on our website.
These four highly contested truths are “things that we can’t afford not to get right,” says Dr. Anderson. The first truth is “that we’re made in the image and likeness of God. Where is this most at risk today? […] with the 65 million unborn Americans who have been unjustly killed in the 49 and a half years since Roe v. Wade was handed down.”
“Abortion has corrupted everything it’s touched,” continues Dr. Anderson. “It’s corrupted our Constitution. It’s corrupted our courts. It’s corrupted the rule of law.”
The second highly contested truth is that “we are created male and female.” The push of transgender ideology in our culture is “something that is touching every segment of America,” says Dr. Anderson. “This is not something that you can kind of opt out of, that you could hide from. It’s in all of our schools, all of our churches, all of our communities.”
The victims of this ideology are diverse and wide-spread: from middle school girls who have been sexually assaulted in bathrooms by biological males identifying as female; to Catholic hospitals being sued for not performing sex reassignment procedures; to female college athletes not only losing chances to medal but also being forced to share a locker room with a biological male. “It’s permeated everywhere in our culture, and we need people willing to stand up to tell the truth.”
Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Part 1 of Dr. Ryan T. Anderson’s address on the four most controversial truths in our culture today. Be sure to tune in next week for Part 2!
DR. RYAN T. ANDERSON:
When I was texting with John about tonight’s remarks, I said, “What if I speak about what, to my mind, are the four most important civilizational truths that shouldn’t be contested, but are some of the most controversial issues of our culture today?” And yet these things are true, and they’re things that we can’t afford not to get right. They’re truths that J. Budziszewski says, “There are things that we can’t not know,” and yet we now have an entire generation or two denying that they know them, denying that they are true. All four of these truths, they’re knowable by reason, but they’re so important that God reveals them to us in the very first pages of the Bible.
So, the four truths: that we’re made in the image and likeness of God; that we’re created male and female; that male and female are created for each other in marriage; and that all of us are created for God. In a variety of ways, our culture rejects those truths. It denies those truths. It’s built upon their falsehoods. These shouldn’t be partisan issues, right? This isn’t left/right, Democrat/Republican, conservative/liberal. It shouldn’t even be Christian/non-Christian. These things are what St. Paul describes as being “written on the heart,” things that even non-believers should know.
Alright, so let me start with that first one: we’re made in the image and likeness of God. Where is this most at risk today? We already heard John speak a little bit about this. It has to do with the 65 million unborn Americans who have been unjustly killed in the 49 and a half years since Roe v. Wade was handed down. This wasn’t just a Supreme Court case that the Court got wrong. There are lots of cases that we could point to to say, “The Court got that one wrong,” “got this one wrong,” et cetera, et cetera. This was a case that committed an injustice. In getting the Constitution wrong, it permitted a gross injustice to take place for almost 50 years now. 65 million lives lost because of Roe and then subsequent cases like Casey. My wife and I, and our three kids—one of whom was in utero, my wife was 38 weeks pregnant when we marched for life this year—and we pray, and I think we have a firm expectation that this might be the last March for Life in January. If the Dobbs decision goes the way that last week’s leak indicates that it’s going, this could be the end of the Roe and the Casey regime. We could move the annual March for Life to the May or the June date when the opinion gets released.
That said, I think all of us should commit ourselves to prayer for the justices’ safety, for their resolve. It’s very obvious to me that whoever leaked this was doing it to intimidate one of the justices to flip—to join the chief justice in finding some compromise position in which Mississippi’s law would be upheld, but Roe v. Wade would also be sustained. So, for someone to leak not just an indication of how a case might go, but to leak the entire 92-page draft opinion is just…it’s the first time this ever happened. It’s literally unprecedented, and it just shows how abortion has corrupted everything it’s touched. It’s corrupted our Constitution. It’s corrupted our courts. It’s corrupted the rule of law. The leak is just the latest indication of this, undermining one of our few remaining institutions that actually worked. Agree or disagree with the Supreme Court, at least the Court was a functioning branch of government. Not so long ago, Scalia and Ginsburg could be best friends, even while disagreeing and writing dissents against each other. This is poisoning that institution because it needs to rely on trust.
Alright, all that said about the leak, about the Court itself, I want to suggest a couple of things that we could start thinking about, that you could start working on for the day when Roe is finally overturned. God willing, that’ll be later this week or later this month or at the end of next month. And that’s to say, we should avoid a series of false dichotomies. You’ll hear people in the media, particularly pro-choice advocates who are trying to trip us up, try to present the pro-life position as it’s an “either/or” when I think it necessarily needs to be a “both/and.”
So, they will try to make it seem like you either care about the baby, or you care about the mother. Anyone who has spent any time in the pro-life movement knows that it’s always been in the DNA of the pro-life movement to care both about the baby and about the mother, that women are the secondary victims of abortion. I think moving forward, that needs to continue to be our stance; not to pit mother against child or child against mother, to love them both, and to see it even broader than just mother and baby, but there are tertiary and additional victims of abortion. We’ve seen how abortion has corrupted the practice of medicine. We’ve seen how it’s harmed our politics, our culture, our law, et cetera, et cetera. Our response needs to be that we care about all of those things. We care about all of those people. We care about the way that abortion has harmed everything.
Second: people will say, “Well, wait. Is it about a bad ideology, or is it about material need?” And we don’t need to accept the “either/or,” it can be “both/and.” There is a lot of bad ideology that undergirds abortion. Anytime you hear someone say that the unborn child is a clump of cells, or anytime you hear that science doesn’t know when life begins, or when you hear more honest abortion advocates say, “Oh, sure, it’s a human being, but it’s not yet a human person.” Those are all ideological claims at the service of a pre-ordained conclusion. No one really believes the unborn child’s a clump of cells. None of you who text ultrasound pictures to family members when you find out you’re expecting, none of you who have baby books where the very first page is the ultrasound picture, are remotely persuaded by the claim that we don’t know what the life in the womb is. People make those sorts of claims because they already have a preconceived conclusion in mind, which is one that’s based upon a bad ideology of expressive individualism, right? Radical autonomy. “Me, me, me. I want to be able to be free to do what I want to do, unencumbered from sacrifice, unencumbered from duties to others, unencumbered from responsibilities.”
One of the things that I’ve learned since becoming a father is that some of the greatest joys in life are actually as a result of sacrifice, of burdens, of responsibilities. So, there is a deep misguided, corrosive ideology that’s been growing in modern American culture—this rise of expressive individualism. But it’s not just that, there are real material factors. The elites who support abortion, they’re part of a movement known as “Shout your Abortion.” And they say that abortion’s liberating. You talk to ordinary women who have experienced abortion; they did not experience it as liberating, right? They experienced it as the least bad option that they had in front of them. A lot of women do not experience abortion as liberation, but actually as a personal defeat.
So, we should look seriously at both the material causes and the ideological causes, which then the next kind of false dichotomy: do you go after the suppliers of abortion, or do you go after the kind of so-called “root causes”? And I think here, the pro-life playbook has always been “both/and.” We want to defund Planned Parenthood right now, and as soon as Roe is overturned, we want to prohibit lethal violence in the womb. We can both prohibit abortion and provide concrete, tangible support to women facing unplanned pregnancies. And then the last false dichotomy: is it about the law or is it about the culture? And the answer is “both/and.” It’s both about changing the law and about changing the culture, and these things are symbiotic. They’re going to mutually reinforce each other, or they’re going to mutually destroy each other.
So, think about everything I’ve already said about the abortion program moving forward. We need all of the pregnancy resource centers. We need groups like NC Family Policy Council bearing witness to the truth. We need Project Rachel. We need various programs in the culture assisting mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies, assisting women who have had abortions and are suffering from the consequences. We need people working to change hearts and minds. We also need people working to change laws, right? We can’t do it with one or the other. It needs to be “both/and.” And the laws need to be holistic—both about protecting unborn babies from abortion and about providing assistance to mothers.
So, that’s all I want to say about being made in the image and likeness of God. There’s a lot more that we could say, but John has me on a very tight leash to make sure you could all get home on time tonight. The second thing…I’ve spoken at these dinners I think twice before in different cities, and I don’t think I ever uttered the phrase “gender identity” at either of those dinners, because it was at least five years ago that I was here. And as soon as LGBT activist groups redefined marriage, they pivoted from the LGB part of the acronym to the T part of the acronym, and this is something that is touching every segment of America. This is not something that you can kind of opt out of, that you could hide from. It’s in all of our schools, all of our churches, all of our communities, and what I mean by that is not so much that coming from the pulpit, but there are families experiencing this everywhere. Their stories are just utterly tragic, utterly heartbreaking, and I want to mention a couple of reasons why we should be concerned about this. The first thing I’ll say is I live in Louden County, Virginia, and I can tell from some of the vocal reaction that you know what I’m getting at here. Your state was prophetic on this with H.B. 2. You knew what would happen if you allowed people to use the single-sex facility of their choice that aligned with their gender identity. So, where I live in Louden County, Virginia, two different middle school girls were sexually assaulted in the school’s girl’s bathroom by the same boy, identifying as a girl. At the school board meeting, the only person who (at that time) ended up being arrested was the father of one of those girls who went to the school board meeting to publicly say what happened.
Because of the change of the election, my understanding now is that with a new governor in Richmond, a new attorney general, there’s actually going to be a state investigation of the Louden County School Board and of the school superintendent for what went on. But those two Louden County girls are victims of trans ideology. So too are all of the University of Pennsylvania swim team members who were forced this past year to share a locker room with a fully-intact boy, identifying as a girl—forced to shower in the same shower facility, change into their swimsuits in the same locker room. So too were all of the female athletes who didn’t medal, who didn’t get their chance at the podium because of that athlete. They were victims. Their equality, their fairness in competition was violated. And we could give other examples, the UPenn one’s the most recent. So too were the female inmates who’ve been sexually assaulted by men who transferred to female jails because they identify as female. You don’t need to be an Ivy-League-educated person to have predicted what the outcome was likely to be if you have sex offenders now claiming to be female and asking to be transferred to female jails.
So, there are a variety of ways in which you could see consequences. Consequences for medical doctors who don’t want to perform these procedures. There are two Catholic hospitals currently being sued by the ACLU because they decline to perform sex reassignment procedures. But the biggest consequence are to the people themselves who identify as transgender, people struggling with their gender identity, people who don’t quite feel comfortable in their own bodies, or people who get caught up in internet chat rooms and social media memes, and the social contagion aspect to this. This is an entire abuse of medicine. It’s an unethical form of the practice of medicine when we now have children being placed on puberty blocking drugs—7, 8, 9-year-olds—because they “identify as the opposite sex,” being blocked from ever going through their natural biological development. Those are victims of this terrible ideology. Their families are victims. It’s not as if it’s just, “Oh, that only happens to bad parents,” or “Oh, that only happens to people who are secular progressives.” It’s permeated everywhere in our culture, and we need people willing to stand up and to tell the truth.
– END PART ONE –