Ohio State Juvenile Reforms

A Brief History of Ohio Juvenile Institutions

Prior to the institution of the Ohio Reform School in 1857, male juvenile offenders were sent to adult penitentiaries. The ORS housed boys between 8 and 18 years old. It adopted the cottage style “open system” rather than a large structure to house inmates. Boys entered the ORS with a number of “demerits” that were based on the nature of their crimes. Bad behavior led to additional demerits, but good behavior led to the loss of demerits. Once a boy reached zero demerits, they were freed and returned to their families (Ohio History Central n.d.).

The Breaking Point

By 1992, the Ohio juvenile prison system was breaking down. The state had 11 facilities with the capacity to house 1,400 inmates. However, there were nearly 2,500 boys held in these institutions. Nine counties instituted a pilot program in 1993 to curb the rising problems within the system. They began to funnel non-violent offenders into community based programs with mental health services, family counseling, and substance abuse treatment, rather than youth prisons (Shaffer 2015).

The immediate results were clear. The number of inmates dropped 40% in the first year, the daily cost per offender in youth prisons was around $550, but community-based programs cost only $200. Recidivism rates were cut in half, and 85% of the courts in the system approved of the reforms. Although a marked improvement, Ohio juvenile corrections facilities suffered from many of the same problems that most institutions do.

 

The Institutional State of State Institutions

            In 2010, the Children’s Defense Fund, in conjunction with the Annie E. Casey Foundation – the organization most famously connected with the uber-successful “Missouri Model” – released a report on the state of juvenile institutions in the state of Ohio. The Missouri Model promotes keeping youths in smaller facilities rather than gigantic institutions. They focus on treatment over incarceration. They promote group therapy over isolation. The staff promotes positive interaction over abuse and intimidation. They encourage education, family involvement, and stay with youths after they are released.

Abuses and Lawsuits

            The Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) faced a federal lawsuit filed in 2004 that was finally settled in 2008, over its unconstitutional treatment of inmates. There were complaints about increased violence and abuse coming from both guards and other inmates. In one incident, inmates were being transferred in a face down position from one facility to another (Prison Legal News 2015). Other accusations involved isolation, and racial bias in mental health treatment.

By 2012, the ODYS filed a motion to terminate a stipulation requiring court-ordered monitoring of the system. The court agreed that no more, or at least, very few unconstitutional actions were taking place within the ODYS, and monitoring ended (Prison Legal News 2015).

In 2014, the ODYS settled another lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department over the unlawful seclusion of inmates. As part of the settlement, ODYS agreed to reduce and eventually end seclusion of youths and increase the availability of mental health treatments to better determine the root causes of behavior that led to such a punishment (Department of Justice 2014).

A 2016 lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) against the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center (MCJDC) in Lancaster, OH for refusing to allow DRO to investigate their facilities with private and confidential access. While given a tour, the MCJDC did not allow DRO to have private conversations with inmates – a confidential discussion that ensures the safety of an inmate who may have concerns about their treatment at the facility. This is a violation of state and federal law (Disability Rights Ohio 2016).

JDAI

The state of Ohio began instituting a national program of Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in the state’s five largest counties in 2010. Prior to the implementation of JDAI, Ohio’s juvenile incarceration rate was among the top third of all states. Only 33% of juveniles were detained for person-offenses, more than 40% for drug offenses, and 25% for violating probation, status offenses, violating court orders, or other technical offenses (Children’s Defense Fund 2010).

The four core goals of JDAI are to: 1) Eliminate the overuse of secure detention; 2) Minimize failures to appear in court and reduce delinquent behavior; 3) Redirect public finances from building new facilities to creating responsible alternative strategies; and 4) Improve conditions in secure detention facilities.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2010), a multi-level approach was proposed for juvenile reforms in Ohio, including:

  1. Continue and Expand County-Based Detention Reform.
  2. Continue State Leadership on Reducing Incarceration Rates.
  3. Create a System of State Oversight, Assistance and Accountability for Detention.
  4. Ensure that All Youth Risking Detention Have Effective Legal Representation.

Results

By 2017, there was a 29% reduction in juvenile admissions across the eight sites that implemented JDAI reforms (Kuhlman 2017), and many other sites were closed. The institution of Community Intervention Centers have been implemented in Cleveland and Dayton, and the state plans to hire more guards and train them in de-escalation techniques (Shaffer 2017). Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of statewide data on the successes (or lack thereof) of JDAI reforms in Ohio’s juvenile facilities. However, one of the five initial reform sites in Franklin County “experienced a 90% success rate at their evening reporting center for youth at high risk for reoffending, with not one participant being readmitted to their Reception Center with a new charge” (Children’s Defense Fund 2015). If we extrapolate these results to the other sites, that is an amazing positive development in Ohio’s juvenile justice system.

The facilities run by the ODYS have instituted reforms over the same period as well. The daily population has fallen dramatically in the ODYS, many facilities have closed, and an increase in behavioral and mental health treatment programs. However, recidivism rates are all over the place – they are up and down depending on the length of stay and age of the inmate. Regardless, they are nowhere near as low as rates in the JDAI facilities (Children’s Defense Fund 2015).

Discussion

            Ohio is a state that is desperately trying to reform its facilities. The long-lasting ODYS has been essentially court-ordered to reform its institutions. Meanwhile, JDAI reforms have been implemented in many other facilities. This is a positive development in both cases, but the JDAI results are outpacing that of ODYS. As mentioned earlier, statewide data from JDAI in Ohio is lacking. However, given the results that we do know from Ohio counties and similar results from other states that have implemented the Missouri Model, we can assume that statewide data would yield similar outcomes.

Closing facilities, eliminating huge detention centers, treating inmates like human beings, focusing on education, lowering recidivism rates, and helping released youths to reintegrate back into society after leaving a facility have made Missouri the most successful state for juvenile reforms in the country. Their results outpace all other states. JDAI in Ohio appears to be delivering similar results. Therefore, I believe that the Missouri Model based JDAI reforms should be the new standard for juvenile reforms in not just Ohio, but in all states.

 

Works Cited

Children’s Defense Fund. 2010. “Rethinking Juvenile Detention in Ohio.” Retrieved from http://www.cdfohio.org/research-library/2010/JuvDetention_Issue_Brief.pdf

Children’s Defense Fund 2015. “Juvenile Justice Fact Sheet Series.”

Department of Justice. 2014. “Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against State of Ohio to End   Unlawful Seclusion of Youth in Juvenile Correctional Facilities.” Retrieved from             https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-lawsuit-against-state-ohio-end-  unlawful-seclusion-youth-juvenile

Disability Rights Ohio. 2016. “DRO Files Federal Lawsuit Against Juvenile Detention Facility for Denying DRO Access to Detained Youth.” Retrieved from     https://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/news/dro-files-federal-lawsuit-against-juvenile-detention-facility-for-denying

Kuhlman, Mary. 2017. “National Model Inspires Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio.” Public News Service. Retrieved from http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2017-04-17/juvenile-    justice/national-model-inspires-juvenile-detention-reform-in-ohio/a57182-1

Ohio History Central. n.d. “Ohio Reform School.” Retrieved from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Reform_School

Prison Legal News. 2015. “Court Ends Injunctive Monitoring of Ohio Juvenile System.” Retrieved from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2015/jan/12/court-ends-       injunctive-monitoring-ohio-juvenile-system/

Shaffer, Cory. 2015. “Ohio’s Effort to Reform Juvenile Prisons is a National Model.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/10/ohios_efforts_to_reform_juveni.html

Shaffer, Cory. 2017. “Reforms to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Will Balance Public Safety with Dignity of Teens, Officials Say.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/courtjustice/index.ssf/2018/04/reforms_to_cuyahoga_county_juv.html

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Take a Stand on Your Knees

Modern American Christians are emotionally and spiritually soft. We believe that society is persecuting us when stores greet us with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. We feel as though society is after us when a baker is fined and put out of business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sure, this is a departure from past traditions, but is this religious persecution?

Is the government burning our churches down during a worship service? Are sales of Bibles illegal? Are any of us afraid to tell our co-workers about our Christianity because they might tell the authorities? Are we being stoned to death in the streets because we prayed in a public space?

There are Christians around the world who literally put their lives on the line to share their faith; and they still do it. We are afraid to ask our colleagues to church because they might stop inviting us over to watch the football game next week.

What happens when someone uses a racial slur among our friends and family? The person using the epithet is chastised, punished, probably even fired. Their reputation is devastated as they are labeled a racist for life. They need not even speak the offensive term to a person of color. The effects are the same.

A similar fate awaits those who use an anti-LGBT slur.

But what happens when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain in front of a Christian? Nothing. Society finds no offense. This is to be expected. However, should Christians not do something or say something about being offended? Are we so afraid to be sanctioned by peers BECAUSE of our faith that we, like Peter, deny Christ in public?

Race and sexual orientation, at least as a means of discrimination, has only been a thing for about 170 years. Christianity, as a means of discrimination, has been around for 2,000 years. Our savior was crucified. His closest disciples were tortured, killed, and exiled. Our religion was born from suffering in the name of love and salvation. Our history is filled with being enslaved and slaughtered. Our forefathers were fed to lions in the Colosseum. Our martyrs have been beheaded, burned at the stake, placed into iron maidens, flogged, drawn and quartered, and faced the worst punishments that human beings have ever devised.

We have as much right to be offended when Christ’s name is used as a joke or a swear as any race has when someone uses a slur.

We have as much right to be offended when society bashes our God and our beliefs as any sexual orientation has when someone refuses to bake them a cake.

No. Not as much. More.

We know that Christianity is losing its influence. We know that society respects us less and less. I think a big part of the reason is how we respond. We take offense and whine. We take to Facebook to complain or we might file an anti-discrimination lawsuit. What would happen if we actually took a stand, or a knee, in the moment?

Philippians 2:10 says, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Imagine the testimony we might have if when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain, we take this verse literally and take a knee and profess our faith. How the LORD would smile upon us at such a powerful display of faith.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job for taking a knee over police brutality. Would you be willing risk your career for God?

How much strength would we show if we were able to muster some fortitude in the face of adversity, rather than slinking away into the shadows? Maybe someone watching us take a stand (or knee) is a Christian who shares our apprehension, but is inspired by our displays of courage. Maybe our colleagues would begin to treat us with as much respect as they do minorities. Maybe someone would see us living our faith and come to salvation.

Christianity is not a joke. Our Savior is not a punchline. Our LORD is not to be mocked. Our God is the creator of the universe. He will punish the unjust and unsaved. He is coming to judge and destroy the world as we know it.

And we allow people we associate with to insult us and our God without mustering one ounce of character. Until we do, we will continue to lose our society. Even if we do not go as far as to literally get on our knees when someone utters the name of our Savior, the least we can do is say “I’m sorry, but I do not appreciate your using the name of my Lord in that way.”

It’s not much, but it’s more than we do now.

Social Suicide and Mass Murder

On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old kid marched into his old high school and opened fire on students who walked out of their classrooms when the killer pulled a fire alarm just before the end of the school day. Reports have come out giving us some insight on his life. The media (both mainstream and social) is focusing on guns and mental illness. Here is why I believe they are looking at the wrong thing.

In Emile Durkheim’s seminal work, Suicide, he looked at death records from several countries in Europe. He found that there are essentially four types of suicide: 1) Egotistic – when someone experiences a lack of social integration or are isolated (widows, hermits, victims of bullying); 2) Anomic – lack of moral regulation or a sudden change in life where the “new normal” feels overwhelming. There is a sense of “normlessness” where all of the social norms we abide by change and the new rules are difficult to grasp (losing a job or loved one; moving to a new country); 3) Fatalistic – overwhelming oppression and hopelessness (prisoners, terminally ill); 4) Altruistic – for the greater good (soldiers, firemen, suicide bombers).
Durkheim found that suicide is not a psychological phenomenon, but a social one. Changes in one’s social integration is a greater indicator of violence against oneself than any psychological condition.

Now, let’s apply this theory to what we know about the Valentine’s Day shooter.

  1. He was social isolated. Most reports are that he was bullied pretty regularly. He had very few friends. He was kicked out of school and other social organizations. This is indicative of Egotistic suicide.
  2. His adopted father died a few years ago, but his adopted mother died just three months ago. This dramatic social event would be a likely catalyst for anomic suicide.
  3. He apparently exhibited numerous histrionic outbursts – I believe these were to draw attention to an otherwise lonely boy – yet still managed to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
  4. Therefore, he was isolated from peers by choice (making numerous threats) or force (expulsion and bullying), as well as dealing with the death of his last remaining parent (and I have to wonder if being adopted started his feelings of social isolation). He also lives in a country where guns are weaved into the fabric of the nation and are constantly depicted in the media in both positive and negative lights.

It seems to me that this is a social recipe for a disaster. Rather than turning the weapon on himself, he turned it on others. Regardless, he follows a similar pattern to other mass murders, serial killers, and the suicidal. Reports are that the Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, lost a lot of money before his rampage and was socially isolated from almost everyone except his roommate/girlfriend. The Columbine shooters were socially isolated and bullied. The same goes for the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, and almost all other mass murderers over the last 20 years.

I truly believe that we need to stop thinking of these events as psychological anomalies. There is something wrong with the SOCIAL fabric of the nation right now.

We have been in perpetual war since 2001. We just experienced a major economic recession. Social media and online video games are keeping kids from face-to-face interactions. We are the most medicated society in history. Our social and demographic categories are being constantly challenged and redefined. Religion is becoming less and less of an effective institution. Our electorate is becoming more and more divided.

Basically, we are in a national state of anomic normlessness that is leading to increasing social isolation. As our institutions continue to crumble, so does our ability to maintain solidarity. Without social solidarity and stability, we feel hopeless. We feel socially suicidal.

Some of us develop depression. Some of us do kill ourselves. Some are committing mass murder. The signs and symptoms are all there.

Since Suicide was published in 1897, data continues to back up Durkheim’s theory. I truly believe that we are experiencing social suicide that is beginning to manifest in social homicide.

These shooters are not “mentally ill”, they are socially constructed monsters. No laws can stop the inevitable destruction brought about by social unrest. Medicating the problem like we medicate our citizenry will not solve the problem.

Less “Reform”, More Revival

In the aftermath of last weekend’s Las Vegas massacre, Democrats came out almost immediately and called for new gun control regulations. Republicans came out and defended the Second Amendment, and back and forth we went.

When a maniac in a Dodge Charger drove into a crowd in Charlottesville, we began fighting over what statues were now deemed too racist to stand. The media blamed Trump for bringing racism back to America, and the GOP reflexively started defending the First Amendment.

These types of reactions and counter-reactions make up the political dance we’ve become accustomed to. Allegations and arguments are becoming so tired and shallow that it takes only a new voice, rather than new idea, to seemingly supercharge political partisan hacks.

Rather than rally for gun control, healthcare reform, or ending racism, why are there no calls for revival?

We live in a nation that, as of last year, claims to be 77% Christian, though only about 20% seem to take it seriously enough to go to church once a week. Yet when a sadistic mass murderer spends $50,000 on weapons and ammo so that he could spray bullets into a crowd of innocent concert goers, not one talking head called for people to get saved. Some on CNN and Fox News called for A savior, but no one called for THE Savior.

Did the evangelical political hero, President Donald J. Trump, mention one word about turning to God? Where was Osteen? He tweeted out a general platitude, like most Christians, saying to trust in the Lord. Other politicians sent “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. This is a lovely gesture, and as a resident Las Vegan, I appreciate prayers. Prayers work. However, prayer is not salvation. While everyone has been concerned with the physical health and safety of all in Las Vegas, it seems like few, if any, have been concerned with our souls.

In a “Christian” nation, millions of people should have been out in the streets witnessing for Christ and sending out invitations to church. Instead, we hit Twitter and started arguing about gun rights with complete strangers.

Jimmy Kimmel, a devout practicing Catholic, used his powerful platform to demonize the NRA and legal firearm owners rather than conduct an altar call and preach the gospel. Many others followed this pattern.

There is no more relevant time to witness to the unsaved than after a national tragedy. It’s never “too soon”, but it is often too late to do so.

You never know when an armed gunman will strike where you are.

You never know when a bomb will destroy the building you’re in.

You never know if you’re on a plane with someone who wants to crash it.

You never know when a drunk driver will come from out of nowhere and take your life.

Last Sunday night’s events were a reminder of our fleeting mortality. Life can end when you least expect it. Are you confident in your beliefs on the afterlife? Are you sure you are just going to become worm food? Are you positive that you will be reincarnated until you reach Nirvana?

I am 100% positive that I will be in Heaven with God and Jesus Christ when I die. I will not waver from that belief.

If you are questioning, at all, what happens when you die, talk to me. Yes, I am being an opportunist. I am taking advantage of fear and tragedy. That’s because I want you all to be as sure as I am that your eternity is secure.

Debate Should Not Lead to Death

I have been in my fair share of arguments. I have debated on Facebook, among friends, and in classrooms full of people. When the situation isn’t resolved, I generally leave the conversation feeling awful. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot convince the other side that I am right. I do not want innocent babies ripped apart in the womb. I do not want speech, no matter how hate filled, to be banned. I do not want anyone to go to hell when they die. I do not want my Constitutional rights taken away.

I do not like being wrong. I come in to every argument with as much knowledge as I can muster. I approach every debate with the mindset that empiricism trumps emotion. I want to be able to point to statistics and use my Sociological training to raise awareness and debunk irrational arguments. When I fail, I take it personally. After all, if I cannot convince an atheist that my religious beliefs are correct, then I’ve just my shot at seeing them saved by God’s grace. If I cannot convince a liberal that abortion is murder, then they will continue to advocate for the slaughter of innocents. If I cannot convince the Left that I have the RIGHT to bear arms, then my family may be in danger one day and I will be weaponless.

These are important arguments to me.

However, there are an increasing number of times when I feel rage from my opposition. Whereas I am saddened by my failure in disagreement, the other person HATES me. When I am disappointed, they want me silenced. They want me to lose my reputation and job. If I were to take social media seriously, I’d think they want me…dead (as a member of the NRA, there have been dozens of calls for my murder).

After this most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, irrationality has become the norm. I know people who were there. I know others who lost someone. I drive past Mandalay Bay several times a week on my way to UNLV. I can see it from school. I can see it from the highway. I can see it when I drive to my home from grocery shopping. No one has to tell me the impact and devastation caused by the actions of an evil mass murderer. I am reminded of it several times a day, and most likely will continue to be so long as I live in Vegas.

Although I am shaken, sullen, and uneasy, I cannot and will not use this tragedy as justification to rid my city or country of firearms. As a matter of fact, I want MORE freedom and LESS restriction on firearms. Rather than feel weakened by the event, I feel my resolve strengthened. When I feel unsafe, I want to increase my own stockpile of weapons. I want to freely exercise my Second Amendment (that is, GOD-GIVEN) right to protect myself and family by any means necessary.

No counter-argument can change my mind. I see the statistics that show the correlation between INCREASED gun ownership and DECREASED crime rates. I understand the scenarios where a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. I know personal instances where having a firearm stopped robberies and sexual assaults from happening. I know that if someone were to come into my home in an attempt to violate the safety of my family, they will be met with lethal force.

More guns save lives than take them, not matter how many mass shootings occur; it’s just not sexy to report them on the news. It’s difficult to know the actual number, as gun saves are not often reported to the police or FBI.

We can disagree on this matter. You can push for gun control, and I will work tirelessly to resist your effort. I can promise you this, while I may be disappointed in our disagreement, I will never wish you dead. I would never want you to lose your job over it. I would never want you to lose your life. I just hope you feel the same.

Notes on Deuteronomy 28-29

Chapter 27 ends with 12 curses for those who don’t listen to God’s commands. Chapter 28 begins with 8 blessings that come to those who “hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” (verse 2). The “balance” is 12 negatives to 8 positives (so far). The “balance” goes even further off kilter (according to what our limited understanding would have us believe), as Deut. 28:16-19 piles on 7 additional “curses.”

That’s 19-8 negatives, which, as I wrote in my Notes on Deut. 21-27, is more evidence that the Bible is a negative book.

The rest of chapter 28 is one of the most horrifying passages in all Scripture. God lays out 53 consecutive verses of curses, destruction, and punishments for the children of Israel if they do not heed the commandments of the LORD.

Students of history can see how many of these came true, as there are descriptions of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar that would occur about 1000 years after this was written. There are descriptions of the reign of Titus that happened almost 40 years after Christ’s death. There are VERY detailed descriptions of Hitler’s Holocaust which came almost 3500 years after the book of Deuteronomy was penned by Moses.

First of all, Israel would be “removed into all the kingdoms of the earth” (Deut. 28:25) in each of these historical periods. Other nations would move into Israel, enjoy the fruits of the land, and the Israelites “shalt be only oppressed and crushed always” (verse 33) and “thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations” (verse 37).

We know from history that this has absolutely come true for hundreds of years. The Israelites were kicked out of their own land for almost 2,000 years, they have been “oppressed and crushed” the entire time. No one wants to be a “Jew” in modern society. Shakespeare’s Shylock is an infamous literary character whose very name has become a racial slur. One would not want to be “Jewed” out of their money. As predicted, the Israelites have become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword. They are a cautionary tale.

Deut. 28:49-50 is an extremely accurate prophecy of the German invasion and Holocaust. It begins with “a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand” (Hitler’s symbol was the German eagle, and they spoke a foreign language). Hitler led “A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young” (verse 50). The Holocaust slaughtered over 6,000,000 Jews, including the elderly and children.

By the end of all these persecutions, the Israelites “shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven” (verse 62). The Israelites have been scattered “from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (verse 64) and “among these nations shalt thou find no ease” (verse 65).

Verse 68 says “there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen and no man shall buy you.” In 1945, Adolf Eichmann and Joel Brand offered to sell 1,000,000 Jews for trucks in an effort they titled “blood for goods”, but no one took them up on the offer.

The warning to Israel in verse 63 is chilling. God says “And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.”

God’s love is so absolute that he totally enjoys dishing out blessings. His wrath is so absolute, that he will enjoy bringing those who disobey him to nothing. All this destruction has been poured out “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (verse 47).

This is not just a warning to Israel, but to all nations.

Notes on Deuteronomy 21-27

This passage gives us some clarity as to what marriage is in God’s eyes. While the debate over legalized same sex marriage still rages on, the Bible says nothing about marriage being recognized by the government as “one man, one woman.” God’s word says nothing about hospital visits or filing your taxes jointly. There’s nothing here about weddings, rings, or whether you need a church or courthouse; a pastor or a judge.

Marriage, in Deut. 21:13 says “thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shalt be your wife.” Sexual intercourse, according to the Word of God, is marriage. This is further explained in the New Testament, for those who want to refute this verse as not pertaining to Christians. Matt. 19:5 is clear that when a man and woman have intercourse, they become “one flesh.” This verse is a quote of Gen. 2:24 spoken by Christ himself.

So those of us who like to be promiscuous are “married” to the person whose name you don’t know because you were drunk when you went home with them. The person you date raped is now “married” to you according to God. The only legitimate cause for divorce is fornication; or if your new “spouse” sleeps with another person.

Of course, if a man rapes a woman, he should die (Deut. 22:25), so please don’t think that rape is a valid way of getting married.

For those who say that the Bible does not speak about homosexuality, I would say that Deut. 22:5 certainly speaks clearly about trans people. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination into the LORD thy God.”

Gender is not a “social construction” in the eyes of God. He made Adam male and Eve female. Period. End of story. There may be some physical deformities (intersex), but someone who is biologically born a man is male and biological women are females.

Furthermore, chapter 23:17 says “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” This verse seems pretty explicit that God is not a fan of rampant sexual conquest. You can take “sodomite” as gay, but Sodom was full of all types of sexual perversion, including, but not limited to, homosexuality.

The bottom line on relationships in the Bible, at least according to these passages, is that marriage SHOULD be between one man and one woman who were both virgins when they had sex. Gay “marriage” is an abomination, because it violates the proper definition of marriage according to God, and the government has no say in what a marriage is, because God defines marriage outside of what the State says.

The end of chapter 27 is interesting, because it ends with a list of curses. It is a very negative passage. The Bible, if you really think about it, is a very negative book. It’s always telling us what not to do. I believe that this is because our sinful human nature is “positive” in that everything is permissible. What separates us from animals is that we do have limitations put on us. Atheists have a difficult time trying to explain where morality comes from.

If evolution were true, then “survival of the fittest” would not account for why we don’t murder strangers who threaten our livelihood or the homeless who are a drag on society. Charity should not exist outside of our hyper-localized clans (e.g. family and neighborhood). The best way for us to survive would be to attack and rob others. We should lie and manipulate people to get what we want. Evolution is to care only for yourself and your gene pool, and if you must harm others to do so, then you must.

For Christians, the Bible answers that question. Morality comes from God. He told us not to kill, lie, or steal which violates our “evolutionary” instincts. The Bible MUST BE a negative book. It MUST put restrictions on human behavior. Nature does no such thing.