MFC Team Blog

Just the Way They Are

By Emily Zinos, Grassroots Coordinator for Ask Me First MN

More and more often, I’m hearing stories of children and young adults wrestling with their sexual identity. Moms reach out to tell me that their teen daughter wants to be addressed with gender neutral pronouns, fathers want to know why three of his daughter’s friends have announced they’re transgender, and grandmothers tell me of grandsons that have been enrolled in school as girls. With the trans trend becoming widespread, it’s more and more likely that you will either encounter someone struggling to accept their sex or have to answer hard questions on the subject from your kids. Are you ready for those challenges?

As a man who lived as a transgender woman for nearly a decade, Walt Heyer can help answer those challenging questions with the sort of perspective only personal struggle can grant. Walt knows all too well that gender confusion is often a symptom of much deeper troubles. His own gender dysphoria was first prompted by his grandmother, who sewed a dress for him to wear in secret when he visited her house. Walt confessed in an article that, “My grandmother withheld affirmations of me as a boy, but she lavished delighted praise upon me when I was dressed as a girl. Her actions planted the idea in me that I was born in the wrong body. She nourished and encouraged the idea, and over time it took on a life of its own.”

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When Walt was in his thirties, he was cross-dressing in public, drinking and abusing drugs, which prompted his wife to file for divorce. Looking for a cure, Walt decided to seek out help from a prominent gender psychologist. The psychologist diagnosed Walt with gender dysphoria and recommended sex change surgery, but ignored the impact childhood abuse and alcoholism had inflicted on Walt’s mental health. Surgery turned out to be a devastating “treatment” suggestion. Walt later recalled that “the reprieve provided by surgery and life as a woman was only temporary. Hidden deep underneath the make-up and female clothing was the little boy carrying the hurts from traumatic childhood events, and he was making himself known. Being a female turned out to be only a cover-up, not healing.”

It was Christ who finally brought healing to Walt. Still living as a woman, he had difficulty finding a church that would accept him and was once even asked to leave by a pastor who discovered that he was transgender. He eventually found a church that welcomed him, identity struggles and all. The pastor of that church told him, "Our job is to love you and it's God's job to transform you." And transformation did happen: Walt began his journey back to wholeness as a man created by God. Today, Walt devotes his time to speaking and writing, and is especially passionate about stopping what he calls “the madness of gender change for kids.” 

Walt is bringing his message of hope and healing to the Twin Cities on November 4th, as the keynote speaker at the daylong "Gender Matters!" event, hosted by Outpost Ministries and Minnesota Family Council.

With sessions throughout the day that will bring clarity to the transgender issue through Biblical truth, legal realities, and Walt’s moving story, you’ll be well-prepared to shine a light in the darkness. Too many young people today are being led down the same path that Walt stumbled along, a path that rushes the vulnerable into confusion and irreversible medical procedures. Register now for "Gender Matters!" here and gather the tools you’ll need to witness to the truth of God’s creation and to show compassion toward those who struggle with gender identity issues.

As Walt says, “Let’s affirm and love our young people just the way they are.”

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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It Wasn't "Just Another Week of Summer Camp"

By Josiah Young, SSI-MN Program Administrator

Here we are on the other side of year FOUR of SSI Minnesota! What a success! With the exception of a spontaneous zombie apocalypse and the first successful student petition in 3 years, the week sailed along smoothly. Fifty-two students arrived at the University of Northwestern on Sunday night to a welcoming crowd of orange t-shirts and smiling faces to kick off an awesome week of summer camp!

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But SSI isn’t just another week of summer camp.

Sure, students have the chance to get away from home for a few days, change up their schedules, and have a ton of fun with new friends and old, but that’s not all. At SSI, many students experience the most condensed week of growth of their entire year. What did it look like? We’ll let the students speak for themselves.

“Jam-packed, fun, challenging, fulfilling.” -Jonathan, 14

“A whirlwind of learning and strategizing and making friends.” -Britte, 15

“It was an amazing experience with new and old friends alike, learning about Jesus and government.” Joshua, 16

“Fun, intensive learning but surrounded by friends and adults who want to see you succeed.” -Jake, 16

“It was so fruitful and welcoming. I enjoyed every minute of it.” -Selma, 16

To give you a better sense of what students are talking about, here are a few highlights from each of the tracks.

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House

Students visited the Capitol three times during the week as they learned the legislative process first hand. Furthering the democratic experience was the successful submission of a talent show petition, spear-headed by mock-Representatives Voit and Summers, which garnered signatures from over two-thirds of the student body.

Senate

This year, SSI mock Senators had a steep hill to climb: a 15 page bill and the amendment process. They persevered and conquered Recreational Marijuana and Real ID bills!

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Their achievement was crowned at the end of the week when they stood on the House floor to debate their bills, an experience that was not possible in past years while the Capitol was under renovation.

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Print Media

Powering through six papers in six days was quite an accomplishment by the SSI Print Media reporters. Based on their smiling faces and glowing reports, their trips to the Star Tribune headquarters and KSTP studio were definitely highlights for them.

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Broadcast

Broadcast reporters may have had a little too much fun during the week, judging by rumors of dance breaks that interrupted work sessions. But mostly, we’re just thankful they made it through the week alive after catching a sudden zombie attack live on camera! Thursday’s broadcast showed it all.

 

There you have it! A lot of work, fun, and friends as they learned about leadership and faith. So is it “just another summer camp”? We will let you answer that one.

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Published on by Christiana Nunez.

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What's the Big Deal? It's Just a Pronoun.

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Pronoun usage in English is based on the male-female binary. We use the pronoun "he" when referring to a male in the third person. We use the pronoun "she" when referring to a female in the third person. This binary distinction reminds us of God's good designs for humans as male and female.

According to the Trump Administration's new memo, teachers and students will soon be in hot water if they refuse to use students' "preferred pronouns". Decisions to use the traditional binary pronouns, "he" and "she", based on a person's biological sex, as opposed to "preferred pronouns" (he, she, zie, sie, ey, ve, tey, e, etc.), based on subjective desires, may get teachers fired and students punished in the very near future.

Unfortunately, this precedent is not the first of its kind in North America. Just last month Canada passed a similar piece of legislation that makes it illegal to use wrong gender pronouns. Canadians who refuse to use others’ preferred pronouns (often inconsistent with biological realities) could face criminal charges from now on.

Although the Trump Administration’s memo only applies to schools, it signals a shift towards policies like Canada’s. Christians must prepare themselves. They will need to carefully consider whether it is ever loving to use someone's "preferred pronouns" when they contradict that person's biological sex. If it signals affirmation of someone's subjective "gender identity", is such speech true?

Last year, Pastor John Piper, founder and leader of Desiring God Ministries, released a podcast addressing this question for his listeners and congregation. Last week, Family Policy Alliance published an assessment of the Trump memo. Groups like The Gospel Coalition did the same. Following their example, many Christian leaders, pastors, and organizations will have to reach a conclusion on this issue and take a stand.

Due to religious convictions, some will be unable to use "preferred pronouns" in good conscience and will need to be prepared to winsomely speak in accordance with their conscience rather than cave to political correctness. How will you live out Ephesians 4:15 by “speaking the truth in love”? 

Published on by Joshua Bailey.

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Lulled to Sleep by a Façade

By Josh Bailey, MFC Communications Intern

For father of five, Brian Stalboerger, integration of transgender policies in schools was not a serious concern. That is, until he and his wife received an email last year from Nova Classical Academy – a St. Paul charter school where four of their five children were and still are enrolled. “We were notified that because there was a child that was gender non-conforming that they were going to read ‘My Princess Boy’ to all of the kids,” he explained. (For those unaware of the book’s contents, it is mother writing about her gender-confused son, a four-year-old who likes to dress as a princess. Written for four to eight year olds, it promotes acceptance of gender fluidity.)

After receiving the notification, Brian and his wife read the book. They were disturbed by its contents. Describing it to me, Brian summarized, “What the book presented was that if you didn’t get on board with a boy dressing like a girl you were either afraid or there was somehow a defect in your character.”

Uninterested in exposing gender fluid concepts to their children at such a young age, the Stalboergers immediately responded to the email voicing their concerns. When they received no response, Brian explained, they attended the next school board meeting. They soon discovered that they were not the only concerned parents. However, despite the fact that many parents were able to voice their concerns, Brian expressed how fruitless the meeting seemed. “The frustrating part was the school board didn’t give any feedback.” he stated, “Meanwhile, the activists brought in a lawyer.”

Soon the discussion became about much more than reading a book. The family with the “transgender” child began pushing the school to allow children to use locker rooms and showers of the opposite sex and even allow students of the opposite sex to room together on overnight school trips.

According to Brian, this had been a major concern of his and his wife’s for some time. “From the beginning the concern was that our daughters would have privacy in their locker rooms and showers,” he recalled, “along with that is the concern for parents being made aware of what kind of ideas are to be presented to the kids.” In Brian’s mind, these were the two central problems with the proposed policy.

Looking back, he recounted, “Basically, it was a year-long process of us showing up to express our concern.” When parents presented their concern that the changes would lead to open locker rooms and showers, the activists responded by calling them bigoted. Brian noted, “But by the end of the school year that’s exactly what happened.”

This spring, the family that started the controversy pulled their child out of Nova Classical Academy, complaining that the school board was not meeting their demands in a timely manner. Currently, they seem to be preparing to file a lawsuit against the school.

When I asked Brian if he had any kind of warning for other parents, he used the Toolkit as an example. “You can’t be lulled to sleep by the pages of text…,” he remarked, “Most of it sounds great but you have to know where to look.” Referring to advocates of the pseudo “best practices” document, he observed, “They won’t just come to the school and say ‘we want girls to shower with boys’… They will only be explicit as they have to to get what they want.” However, he asserted, “Ultimately, they want it to go to the extent that a child of the opposite sex could sleep with yours on a school trip and you wouldn’t know about it.”

As a culture, we have been lulled to sleep by the slow integration of policies like the Toolkit. However, Brian’s story displays that behind the façade of tolerance lies an ugly agenda that seeks to violate the rights and privacy of children and parents alike. Do not let it catch you asleep.

 

Published on by Joshua Bailey.

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The Fight Isn't Easy, But It's Good

by Josh Bailey, MFC Communications Intern

Physician Assisted Suicide may seem like a distant issue to many, limited to places like the Netherlands, however it is quickly becoming a reality in and around the United States. On Tuesday of this week, Life News reported that only “one year after Canada legalized assisted suicide, 970 people have already killed themselves.” Earlier this month Compassion & Choices – a pro-assisted suicide organization – excitedly reported that 504 patients ended their lives via the assisted suicide “Right-to-Die” law enacted a year ago this month in California.

When organizations like Compassion & Choices argue for legalization of physician assisted suicide, they are telling people like Penther, Swenson, and Bakewicz that their lives are not worth living. But nothing could be further from the truth.

This week a story emerged about a 35 year-old woman named Janka Penther who overcame her Cystic Fibrosis and recently completed a 20-mile obstacle course run. Assisted suicide was always an option in her mind as the disease increasingly debilitated her. But in 2013, Penther chose to try a lung transplant instead of suicide. She fought for life and she WON! Penther continues to amaze doctors by her recovery and participation in athletic events.

In 1980 at the age of 28, Jean Swenson was in a car accident that left her almost completely paralyzed. She confesses that if assisted suicide had been legal at the time, she would have taken advantage of it. However, through the encouragement of her friends, family, and faith, she was able to find great joy in life. In an interview published last month she said, “the road has not always been easy, but it’s been good. And it’s definitely been worth fighting for.”

Elizabeth Bakewicz found out in 2008 that she had a brain tumor, and doctors gave her 3-5 years to live. This prognosis gave her the option to end her life, but instead she chose life. Even though she suffers from painful and regular seizures, she is still alive today and thankful for life. She has pointed out, “By refusing to accept physician assisted suicide, my life and others who suffer like me will be affirmed. We will be told we have meaning.”

Contrary to what Compassion & Choices would have you believe, life is worth fighting for. For the hundreds of people who chose to take their own lives in California and Canada, I am afraid it is too late. Let us not depreciate the lives of hundreds more.

Published on by Joshua Bailey.

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