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Culture Friday: When care becomes carnage

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WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: When care becomes carnage

The American Association of Pediatrics sends mixed messages on the efficacy of so-called gender affirming care for minors


Dr. Meredithe McNamara, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, addresses a conference examining the spread of LGBTQ+ information in the media, policymaking, and academia, at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles campus. Associated Press/Photo by Damian Dovarganes

PAUL BUTLER, HOST: It’s the 11th day of August 2023.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Paul Butler.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. It’s Culture Friday.

Joining us now is John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint Podcast. John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.

BROWN: John, the board of directors of the country’s largest professional association of pediatricians….the American Academy of Pediatrics… voted recently to reaffirm its support for transgender interventions in minors. We’re talking puberty blockers and everything else that goes under that so-called “affirmative care”.

At the same time the AAP board agreed to take on a systematic review of the evidence on these medical interventions for young people.

Those who are against these invasive procedures don’t seem ready to call it a victory just yet, but they do consider the decision to take a closer look as a step in the right direction. How do you see it?

STONESTREET: Well, I mean, look, the ability to actually or the willingness to actually take a closer look is better than the willingness not to take a closer look. And that's really how this whole thing is advanced up until this point, basically, these incredibly dramatic conclusions were assumed to be a particular way. And any evidence that was presented against it, as it continued to stack up were considered to be an episode of bigotry, or hatred, or anti-trans whatever. And the whole thing was progressed around, you know, these kinds of super creative and hugely damaging language games. I mean, even as you put it, so-called affirmative care, I mean, so affirmative care is actually care which intervenes in the normal development of a body that actually doesn't affirm a body or a gender, but actually violates it and leads to damage, and the natural progression of that body, and maybe even in long term, to a surgical mutilation, that will forever wound that body. That's what we call Affirmative, and so-called Conversion care, is actually taking someone who is clearly male or female, and affirming that they're male and female. So it's, it's an example of language that was turned upside down. And anyone who brought any of this up, where it's immediately considered hateful and bigoted and tolerant, and, and so on,

It's just been a bizarre episode. It's an episode that I think, you know, 150 years from now, when all this has kind of come back to normal we're looking at and go, yeah, that that really, you know, fits into the like, I've made this argument on Breakpoint before that this will fit into the category of lobotomies, you know, a treatment quote, unquote, that was widely accepted from a diagnoses that was, you know, pre determined, and against, without any evidence, and and I think in this case, even against evidence, we affirmed a particular way of going forward, which is going to look increasingly bizarre, the more and more people actually do look into it.

I think it's really, really interesting. There's an an Atlantic article, just this past week, saying that this whole conversation is really backpedaling in England. And of course, there are those who have already embraced this way of thinking and are not open to considering any other evidence that are saying England is, you know, kind of an island of trans hate. But you have all of these professional organizations and politicians on both the right and the left saying we got to, we got to at least come back to the center on this at least a little bit. We've got to at least mitigate this wholehearted acceptance, that so clearly is based on a social contagion. And that's really what you have here you have evidence against transgender ideology. And you've got real evidence that suggests that there's a whole lot of psychological disorder when you talk about the explosion in numbers and other things. And that's just got to be taken seriously. So look, I don't know how far this will go. I don't know if this is just kind of an illusory step, designed to make people kind of feel better. But I'll tell you what, it is a dangerous, dangerous thing, when you have doctors pre-concluding what the outcome should be. And then that makes it a really, really vulnerable hard place for a parent. And so, you know, they're kind of the last defense for the protection of their children. And that's, that's really how much is at stake here. When a group of pediatricians basically jumped to the side before the evidence is all considered so let's hope they mean what they say here.

BUTLER: John, earlier this summer California’s Saddleback Church, parted ways with the Southern Baptist Convention over the status of women with regard to pastoral leadership and ministry.

The church is making headlines again. Here’s an audio clip that explains why.

ANDY WOOD: Well, hi Bo Peep. 

STACIE WOOD: Hey Woody, Good to see you. 

ANDY WOOD: Good to see you, too. Are you at church? 

STACIE WOOD: Yes, we are. Welcome to Saddleback everybody.

Saddleback senior pastors Andy and Stacie Wood walked on stage dressed as Little Bo Peep and Woody from the film Toy Story. They explained they were in the middle of a summer series on movies.

Now they’ve taken a lot of heat online over this…including from WORLD Opinions writer Carl Truman. It may well have been well intentioned, but Truman and others see it as yet one more example of a larger problem—mainly trivializing worship. How might we remain a welcoming place for those exploring a relationship with Christ while also holding on to the transcendent?

STONESTREET: You know, I always hesitate a little bit to take a clip, and then, you know, make a judgment on what was happening, although I admit completely to not being completely clear on what was happening. But look, I think the more fundamental question is, what kind of place ought the church to be? You know, it is striking to me, Paul, that this story kind of emerged, at the same time that we're getting more and more data coming about how the church is becoming less and less significant to people's lives, that church attendance is down across the board. And, you know, why, why is that the case? I think one of the reasons that it's the case is that we fundamentally misunderstood church, we've fundamentally kind of seen church as a, according to a kind of a common see model, they come in and see what we're doing here, come in and see what kind of coffee we have come in and see, you know, what kind of set and cool things that we're doing.

And this was just one of actually, you know, many churches that kind of embraced a summer at the movie series. And part of that has to do with what was happening in the culture, which is movies, we're kind of back this summer for the first time. But then to see that through the lens of a church model that is a come and see come and see then it's like, oh, we can use this as a leverage point to get people in the door. I think fundamentally, the church model is not a come and see, it's a go and proclaim, it's a what happens in the church is an equipping so that the ministry can be done by those who are called out to go into different parts of the culture, and different places where God has put them to testify to the Lordship, and the salvation available in Jesus Christ. So it's fundamentally backwards.

So then, you know, I think it's completely valid to look at films. But I do think that there's a difference in seeing in film and in stories and in novels, and in television programs and series and, and popular music, kind of a clue to how our culture is approaching life and its meaning, a clue to how the world understands what it means to be human and basic human relationships, and basically trying to do this as kind of a gimmick. And that's unfortunate, because I think too many churches that have a come and see model, as opposed to a go and proclaim and go and live model tend to see what's happening in the culture is gimmicks in order to advance what's happening inside. Obviously Saddleback has a lot of conversations up in the air right now about male pastors and female pastors. And I don't want to speak further than this than what I know, which was just a clip that came across as a little bizarre, but I do think that there's a whole lot of other stories here that are that are clearly important. First, is this unsustainable model for churches, second, the fundamental reversal from go and proclaim and go and live and go and tell to come and see come and see come and see. And then our understanding of Church itself. And this has to do with the people in the pew. I said this at the beginning of COVID. I'm way less concerned about state officials calling the church not essential than I am about the number of church members who seem to think the church is not essential. And I think that now has carried itself out among Gen Xers and among boomers, not just among millennials and Gen Zs.

BROWN: John, I’d like to turn your attention to what the United States Surgeon General calls the latest public health epidemic: loneliness.

The CDC says 1 in 3 adults in this country, aged 45 and older feels lonely.

To be clear, we’re not debating that. What is at issue is legislation introduced by Senator Chris Murphy, a democrat from Connecticut… His bill would create a White House Office of Social Connection Policy….what amounts to a government program to help solve loneliness. What are we missing here?

STONESTREET: Well, I fear what we're missing here is the wrong idea of the scope of government. So there's things that the government can do and the things that government can't do. And the government can't get into the precision that is required, not only to properly diagnose what is clearly an epidemic of loneliness, and meaninglessness that we struggle with, in American culture, particularly among the middle age, and especially among young men, but that to provide solutions. Look, the government does surgery with a chainsaw, it can't be precise. It's an insane thing to think that they actually that the state actually can do something about this. So the only way that a government office could actually help solve loneliness is by actually actively invest in creating space and freedom, and encouraging, and helping fund finance without strings attached, the sort of social institutions that cure loneliness, which of course, are the family and the church. And of course, you could also point to voluntary associations and neighborhoods and commerce and that sort of stuff. Now is Senator Murphy pointing out something that is a big problem? You bet. And the social cost and the financial costs are going to be astronomical. And we haven't even begun to see the full consequence of this epidemic of loneliness. Will the office of social connection policy pull it off? Color me skeptical, I'm not even close to thinking that they'll have the right framework to approach this much less the right strategy, much less the right execution. After all, this was the same government that gave us the TSA.

BUTLER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast … thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thank you both.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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