Matthews Brings “Hardball” to Louisville

Chris Matthews brought his cable news show “Hardball” to Louisville yesterday. In advance of the mid-term elections next month, Matthews focused on Kentucky politics with students and faculty from the University of Louisville.

But in one segment, the conversation turned to U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck from Colorado. If you missed it, Buck appeared on “Meet the Press” last Sunday and answered a question about whether being gay is a choice. Buck said in no uncertain terms that homosexuality is a choice.

Chris Matthews brings in Representative John Yarmuth and gay activist Nicole Kersting to discuss Buck’s now infamous answer. There are a couple of items in this conversation worthy of brief comment.

1. Ken Buck gave a terrible answer to the question on “Meet the Press.” He was technically correct to say that gay people can “choose their partners,” but he opened himself to criticism when he gave the impression that sexual orientation itself is a choice. If he’s going to speak about this (which a smart politician probably wouldn’t), then he needs to refine the way he speaks about “nature vs. nurture” issues.

2. Even though Buck didn’t give a great response, it goes way over the top to call his answer “hate speech.” Yet that is exactly what Nicole Kersting does in her conversation with Chris Matthews. She goes on to say that speaking of homosexuality as a “sin” is also hate speech.

What caught my attention in this conversation is not the in’s and the out’s of the Colorado senate race (which I haven’t been following). What caught my attention was the casual discussion of what constitutes hate speech. If calling homosexuality a sin is hate speech, then every Bible-believing Christian would be guilty. Though some are concerned that Ken Buck gave a poor answer, I’m more concerned that Christian conviction is seen by many people in our society as hate speech—which is, as you know, a category of speech that many people would like to outlaw.

There’s a lot at stake in the national discourse on homosexuality. This is just one more small example of how high the stakes really are.

23 Responses to Matthews Brings “Hardball” to Louisville

  1. Nate October 19, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Denny,

    I’m not sure I agree with you that Buck gave a poor answer. What would you have said had the question been asked of you in a political debate? Are our actions not choices? And, to compare it to alcoholism (in that some are predisposed via their genes) is not an absurd statement. Buck basically said it is a choice, but your genetic makeup could have a determining factor in your choice.

    If Buck would have given a Christian reply (I don’t know if Buck is a Christian), he would have been assailed as being an intolerant Christian and that religion and state can’t be mixed. Notice also, his opponent wasn’t asked why polygamy should be accepted if homosexuality is accepted. The media consistently is looking to further this cause without dealing with the ramifications of the future.

    But, as you did state, the real issue is that anyone speaking out against homosexuality is now considered a bully or a hate-monger.

    It would have been interesting to ask Matthews or Yarmuth why they weren’t pro-homosexual 25 years ago and writing and speaking in favor of it. Where was their courage then? The times they are changing…

  2. Nathan October 19, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Homosexuals are becoming untouchable in the media.

  3. Derek October 19, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    Yarmuth asks why conservatives “drag these culture issues into the campaign”? Is he serious? He really doesn’t see that the media and the left wing is bound and determined to create gotcha soundbites and drag this issue into political campaigns? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

  4. Nathan October 20, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Over the years Christians have played their cards completely wrong regarding homosexuality. I can’t understand why you are so shocked and horrified by the turn in the debate. You expect homosexuals to turn to you for answers, when historically Christians have made serious mistakes, some listed below, when dealing with homosexuals?

    Homosexuality is made into an ultimate taboo, thus eliminating any kind of honest discussion. STRIKE!

    Hatred, scorn, and ridicule of homosexuals are allowed to permeate society at all levels. STRIKE!

    What it means to be a homosexual is assumed from a heterosexual experience of sexuality and all interaction with homosexuals is based on that false supposition. STRIKE!

    Marriage and family culture is worshipped to the point that singles have great difficulty belonging to and participating in the church community. STRIKE!

    Extreme gender norms are promoted. STRIKE!

    If you don’t immediately and actively address these and other issues in your spheres of influence, you don’t stand a chance in successfully engaging the gay community.

  5. David Vinzant October 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Denny,

    Which of the following, if any, would you regard as hate speech?

    A. Someone saying that interracial relationships are immoral and should be outlawed.

    B. Someone saying that gays should not be allowed to be teachers.

    C. Someone saying that gays should be put to death.

    D. Someone saying that Jews are inferior and should be exterminated.

    E. Someone saying that the enslavement of African Americans was a good thing and should be reintroduced.

  6. Derek October 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I regard most of what comes out of David Vinzant’s mouth to be hate speech. I say that without exaggeration, nearly everything you have to say is mean spirited and intended to inflame, David.

  7. Darius October 20, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Bingo, Derek.

  8. David Vinzant October 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Derek and Darius,

    I think we are best served by staying focused on the discussion at hand rather than engaging in ad hominems.

  9. Darius October 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    So your comment was “staying focued on the discussion at hand”??? How so? It seems like it was merely meant as a red herring.

    I reject the idea of “hate speech” entirely. So while I would find most of the statements you gave above hateful, I wouldn’t want any of them made illegal. Thankfully, we have freedom of speech in this country, but the leftists are attacking it much these days.

  10. Derek October 20, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    David,
    OK, you win. People who think homosexuality is immoral are the same as people who think interracial marriage is wrong. We never saw that undeniable connection until you pointed it out. People who think homosexuality is wrong are evil, twisted degenerates.

    I’ll spare Denny the embarrassment of having to answer your brilliant question and just declare you the winner. Satisfied now?

  11. Nathan October 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    Please read comment #4 which languished awaiting approval for some reason and so you haven’t had the opportunity to read it. I’m guessing most people don’t check the thread to see if any comments magically appear in the middle of a conversation… Thanks!

  12. Nate October 21, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Nathan,

    You and I have gone round about on this before, but I will try and answer your questions. However, before I do there has to be a clarification of historical fact, that you conviently leave out. Up until 50 years ago homosexuality was considered (even by the AMA and pyschologists) as a disease of the mind. Furthermore it was also considered a crime. By the way the bible speaks of it in the same manner. Not that homosexuality is the only sin the bible condemns in this manner, but even so, those are the facts.

    So to your points.

    “Homosexuality is made into an ultimate taboo, thus eliminating any kind of honest discussion. STRIKE!”

    – The lingering reality of history and the majority of the people in this country still consider homosexuality to be immorally wrong, and detrimental to society; hence why states continue to vote against homosexual marriage. Your notion of an honest discussion is confusing considering the media’s push and the liberal agenda to attempt to normalize homosexuality. The country is not buying the argument, at least not in whole. Propaganda is a powerful tool. How about some honesty from the homosexual community on this that they really want to undermine marriage and family – they really don’t want it for themselves.

    “Hatred, scorn, and ridicule of homosexuals are allowed to permeate society at all levels. STRIKE!”

    – This whole notion of hate and hate speec is another ploy to remove our rights. Darius already noted and I agree; there is no crime as hate speech. We have crimes and they should be prosecuted, but speaking your mind is not a crime (although it can be in poor taste, etc). We are seeing our 1st ammendment privileges being removed because the homosexual community only wants their opinions heard. The same could be said for polygamy, bigamy, lowering the age of consent for sex with children, etc, but the homosexual community doesn’t want their rights heard too loudly because they know it will hurt their cause.

    “What it means to be a homosexual is assumed from a heterosexual experience of sexuality and all interaction with homosexuals is based on that false supposition. STRIKE!”

    – This is the norm of history Nathan. There are no false suppositions. Homosexuals are an anamoly. In a Darwinian world, this is a one generation cycle, because they (homosexuals) cannot procreate. It is absurd to say that homosexuals want what heterosexuals have (that is their argument – they want marriages and children, etc.) when biologically that is impossible.

    “Marriage and family culture is worshipped to the point that singles have great difficulty belonging to and participating in the church community. STRIKE!”

    – To bring singles into the homosexual discussion is a red herring argument. A Single and a homosexual are two entirely categories. If you want to start a thread about living single in the current culture, fine. But it is an entirely different topic than homosexuality.

    “Extreme gender norms are promoted. STRIKE!”

    – From who Nathan? In the entire history of the world, heterosexuality is the common gender norm. The exteme genders (homo, bi, bi-curious, transgender, cross-dressing, etc.) have come in through the homosexual movement in order to shade the issue.

    Now, back to the real issue. Where are the HardBall questions for Yarmuth and this law student? Chris Matthews lobbed his agenda in and did not even attempt to have honest dialogue on the issue.

  13. Derek October 21, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Nathan,
    Romans 1 doesn’t provide us with an illusion that people in a homosexual lifestyle will automatically be drawn to Christians or to Christianity. Whenever we are going in a different direction from God and his ways, we are like Adam, who fled from God’s presence. Jesus said that “everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” It seems as if this entire dynamic is missing from your evaluation, but I submit that it is front and center to the dynamic that is at work whenever a Christian bears witness to the Gospel by means of testimony or lifestyle.

    We live in a sexually permissive culture – including an increasingly permissive Christian sub-culture – and so we actually have a responsibility to live and preach a counter-cultural message of chastity and sexual purity. The Puritans take a hard knock for their emphasis here, but Paul’s writings are rife with this same emphasis and if anything he emphasized this more when addressing Christians living in permissive cultures. We need to do this in as winsome a way as possible, but we also need to know that it will never be a popular message. Still, it is a means of grace that we have all heard this call to holiness and so we continue to proclaim the truth of the Gospel along with a command to repent and be separate. It is a peculiar and paradoxical message, offensive to many, but sweet indeed to many who hear the voice of the shepherd.

  14. Nathan October 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Romans 1 shows a road to homosexuality, but the Bible doesn’t state that it is the only way.

    It seems that Christians fall into the trap where they assume they are doing the right thing since they are getting a negative reaction from the world. The world is expected to react negatively toward biblical truth, right? Well, it may not be biblical truth that the world is reacting to. Do you agree the clash could come, at least in part, from sinful actions on part of the church?

    Also, Christians fall into the trap in assuming that homosexuals are necessarily part of the world. I agree that their homosexual actions are worldly, but they themselves may not belong to that camp. A homosexual brother may truly want to repent and live a life pleasing to God. He needs help accomplishing that. The church is far from helpful in that situation. Being ashamed of what you’ve done and fearing the exposing light is one thing, but when that light comes from torches held by a mob wielding pitchforks, that is another thing.

    Never once did I say that the church was wrong in standing on the Bible which says homosexuality is sinful. I’m saying that the church has gone way beyond that, and has added sinful ideas regarding singleness, sex, gender identity, etc. It’s amazing how much supposed truth can come from a phrase like “male and female created He them.” A preacher assumes his ideas of maleness and femaleness are correct and he proves it because God made male and female or because “Jesus was a dude.”

    Derek, you say that my analysis of homosexuals interacting with Christians misses the point that homosexuals are going to naturally avoid the church rather than be drawn to it. I didn’t suggest that they would flock to the church if the church got it right. Maybe I’m thinking the positive response would be better than what would actually happen if the church did get it right. I dunno. I think your analysis of the situation misses the mark on the church’s side. The church has been on the abomination bandwagon because that’s their natural inclination and because homosexuality is an abomination to God, whom we are supposed to reflect. The way I see it though, God has many attributes which include some kind of balance of wrath and grace, love and justice, etc. It seems that Christians pick the wrath and justice part before the grace and love part. Jesus’ example to the church is that He died while we were yet sinners. I don’t see the church reflecting that Example when they interact with homosexuals. Do you?

  15. Derek October 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Nathan,

    The evangelical movement writ large has long rejected the bullhorn style, fire and brimstone method of communicating. Most churches have adopted Billy Graham’s approach, i.e. inviting sinners to come “just as they are”. For the most part, I think this is a good thing. But I think that in some areas, we’ve probably erred too far on the side of accommodation (here I am speaking beyond the specific topic of hand).

    A lot could be said or written, but in the interest of brevity, I don’t agree with your overall assessment. While there are certainly exceptions and media celebrated examples like Westboro Baptist Church (which is really a cult, not a true Christian church), this is not an issue that most Christians even want to discuss, much less go out of their way to address.

    If you want to tell me that our emphasis ought always to be on the transforming power of Christ and the Gospel, I agree here. We don’t want to be defined by what we are against, that is not what I am encouraging at all.

  16. Derek October 21, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Nathan,
    As a postscript, I might suggest that you read Al Mohler’s review of the book “Souls in Transition”.

    http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/10/19/souls-draft/

    Here’s an interesting pullquote from the author, Christian Smith:

    Therefore, emerging adults who are serious about their faith and practice have to do one of three things: choose to reject heavy partying and premarital sex; dramatically compartmentalize their lives so that their partying and sexual activities are firmly partitioned off from their religious activities in a way that borders on denial; or be willing to live with the cognitive dissonance of being committed to two things that are incompatible and mutually denying. Not many emerging adults can or will do any of these things, so most of them resolve the cognitive dissonance by simply distancing from religion.

  17. Thomas Newell October 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Using the phrase “hate speech” is meant to divert from engaging the actual idea or argument that is being put forward. In other words it is a cop-out.

    Just because someone may find something offensive does not automatically mean it is false or wrong. Often we need to be offended as part of a free speech democracy.

    Using the term hate speech is just another tool to silence those you disagree and shut down debate.

  18. Nathan October 22, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    Nate:

    homosexuality = taboo = a mental illness = whatever nasty label you want
    This goes far beyond saying it is sin. Tell everyone you know it is a sin and treat it like one. But to make it into something so extremely heinous to the point where those caught in it can’t come to the church for help – that is what I’m talking about. You don’t seem to see that as being a problem maybe because you don’t care or you haven’t actually seen it. I find it a major problem that churches have stiff-armed gay people over the years. It is getting better, but there is a long way to go. [BTW, your assessment of what the gay community really wants is completely wrong. Why do you “think” that they want to destroy marriage and the family?]

    Hatred, scorn & ridicule…
    I haven’t said anything about hate speech politics. If someone called someone else a f*ggot in your presence, what you do? If someone in church told a gay joke, what would you do? This has nothing to do with legalities, but it has everything to do having the proper attitude. Letting that kind of thing slide alienates the people dealing with those issues. You are not going to the salt and light that you hope to be when that kind of garbage is allowed to take place.

    Homosexuality from a heterosexual perspective…
    The guy in the video (Buck), when asked why he believed that homosexuality was a choice was dumbstruck. Just because Buck would have to choose against his natural inclinations in order to become a homosexual, doesn’t mean that is how it works for the homosexual. There is a complicated dynamic that heterosexuals overlook and they oversimplify the issue, which means that don’t have much of anything meaningful to say from a practical standpoint. Ignorance of the homosexual experience runs deep in the Christian camp which isn’t going to help the interaction between the church and gays.

    Singles…
    Singleness is a huge issue when we are talking about homosexuality and the church because the church teaches that if you can’t be heterosexual (within the confines of a biblical marriage), then you must be celibate – in other words SINGLE. So, if the church has problems helping singles they are going to have problems helping the ones that they advised to be single. Duh! Why should gays have to languish in some over-30 singles group that no one in the church knows what to do with? That’s not a fun life – only those in it will know what I’m talking about.

    Gender norms…
    Being married is a gender norm and according to people like Mohler is a prerequisite to adulthood. So, the church recommends that gays remain single, but then turns around and tells them they aren’t true adults because they aren’t married. Within groups of boys at church, is there room for the less athletic? Do the fathers brag about their sons who aren’t “all boy?” God has created males that have attributes that run the gamut, but only a small subset is respected, celebrated and promoted. The men in the church could win over those boys that aren’t going to live up to those typical male aspirations, but instead they perpetuate those aspirations. Again, not very helpful.

    Conclusion
    So, I see these as areas where the church can make great strides in reaching the gay community. Instead of admitting that these would be good ways and pursuing them, I get arguments. That doesn’t help this gay man whatsoever. I don’t think I’ll ever have an authentic and nurturing relationship within the church. There is just way too much garbage to wade through. I’ll admit some of it’s mine. Now it’s your turn.

  19. Derek October 22, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Any Christian who ridicules or mocks or disparages others because of how sinful they are is dealing with a serious case of self-righteousness. They have either never realized or have managed to forget how depraved they are or were. We need to have zero tolerance for this type of attitude in our churches… and Christian colleges too.

  20. Donald Johnson October 22, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Nathan,

    Great insights.

  21. Nate October 22, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Nathan & Donald,

    What you both fail to realize is that the homosexual community is not espousing what Nathan has commented on. They are a radical, agenda driven organization bent on overriding marriage and family.

    While I agree that Christians should not be mocking or disparaging anyone or any group of people, in no way should people who do be called out on “hate crimes.” If you think for one minute that free speech should be taken away (even from those who preach hatred) then you are opening the door for the rest of the 1st ammendment to fall – namely freedom of religion. It is a crime in Canada for pastors to preach homosexuality as a sin. That is what homosexuals want here as well. And if the Supreme Court would rule in favor of overriding Prop 8 in California, that is exactly what would take place next.

    Nathan: you are running to the edges and extremes on this issue. You should also look at the realities of what the homosexual community is trying to accomplish – and it is NOT simply to blend in – it is to remake society.

    There is a huge difference of speaking the gospel and tolerating sin. The church is attempting (not all, but many) to deal with this situation, but that doesn’t mean that the church or individual believers should simply capitulate to the society that is crumbling around them.

  22. Derek October 22, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Nathan said:

    I don’t think I’ll ever have an authentic and nurturing relationship within the church. There is just way too much garbage to wade through.

    Nathan, I don’t doubt that you’ve had negative and hurtful encounters in the church. Join the crowd, friend. We’ve all been misunderstood and hurt – many of us, very deeply. Churches are like families and are messy. Greater intimacy brings greater pain. The more we get to know each other, the more we realize how fallen we are.
    I don’t believe that there are no churches or Christians who will demonstrate grace and gentleness towards you and others who carry the burden of SSA. Like every one one of us, you need to let go of your resentment/bitterness – not for our sake, but yours – and put your faith in Christ, because I am 100% certain that He is able to bring every Christian into an authentic and nurturing relationship. That includes you, assuming that you have put your faith in Him. If you have not done so, maybe this is a tangible way you can express your trust in Him to do what seems impossible today.

  23. MatthewS October 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Nathan, your comment is well-stated and communicates a lot of content and feeling both.

    FWIW, purityreport.com is a Christian online place where you can talk openly about these kinds of things with fellow travelers, SSA or otherwise.

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