Last April, Brandon Ambrosino authored one of the most compelling articles that I have read all year: “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University.” Appearing in The Atlantic, the essay is his own story of coming out of the closet while he was an undergraduate at Liberty University. What riveted me about his account is how the Christians at Liberty University responded to the revelation of his sexuality. He had feared that they would want to stone him. But instead, he found out that quite the opposite happened. Even though professors and administrators believed homosexuality to be a sin, they loved him and embraced him with open arms. His expectations of these Christians were so low that he realized he had been suffering from “homophobiaphobia.” These fundamentalist Christians didn’t turn out to be the nasty caricatures that they are often made out to be.
Earlier today, Ambrosino released another article for The Atlantic, and I think it is just as significant as the one from last April. The title says it all: “Being Against Gay Marriage Doesn’t Make You a Homophobe.” I have to say that—even though he and I are on opposite sides of this most contentious social issue of our time—I really appreciate what Ambrosino does in this article. Here’s a bit from the conclusion:
As a gay man thinking through the issue of marriage equality, I’ve come to the conclusion that, although it’s a no-brainer for me, this issue is complicated to a great number of people. To demonize as anti-gay the millions of Americans currently doing the difficult work of thinking through their convictions is, in my opinion, very troubling…
We shouldn’t have to resort to trumped up charges of bigotry to explain why opponents of gay marriage are wrong. Calling someone “anti-gay” when his behavior is undeserving of that label doesn’t only end civil discussion – it degrades the foundation that undergirds a democratic, pluralistic society. Though gay rights’ opponents have at times villified us, I hope that we’re able to rise above those tactics.
Ambrosino supports legal gay marriage. He believes that gay sexual relationships are a good and wholesome expression of human sexuality. In other words, he and I couldn’t be any further apart on this substance of these issues. Nevertheless, I really appreciate what he is arguing for in this article. Against the overwhelming opinion of others in his community, he does not believe that opponents of gay marriage should be demonized or considered bigots. His stand is courageous as he is already taking shots from those on the Left. He didn’t have to write this, but I for one am grateful that he did.
Read the rest of Brandon’s article here.
I disagree. I disliked the other article and I feel this guy isn’t actually helping as much as we’d like to think. I have a feeling that he means something more by “anti-gay” than Westboro Baptist. For example, Denny you believe employers should be free to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation right? As do I, and many other conservatives. Pretty sure that would fall under “anti-gay” in Ambrosino’s categorization. We’re still going to have to say things that sound “mean” or “nasty” to his ears, even though we aren’t being hateful in reality.
Sorry to break it to you, but don’t feel too bad about it.
Esther, do you believe employers should have the right to discriminate based on religious affiliation? It’s not like there’s a Mormon or “Catholic gene”, right? It’s not like anyone has to know that you pray to saints or talk in tongues, right?
If we’re only going to protect employees from discrimination based on immutable characteristics, I don’t see why you should be extended protections for your brand of religiosity.
Are you sure you want to go down this road?
I’m a libertarian when it comes to private businesses. If you’re a business owner, as far as I’m concerned you’re the king of your castle and you should be free not to hire someone if you don’t like their TIE. So sure, if you don’t want to hire Christians, that should be up to you. I think it’s caused more harm than good for the federal government to become involved in this realm.
“I think it’s caused more harm than good for the federal government to become involved in this realm.”
There are 116M blacks and minorities in the US who would disagree with you.
Being a Libertarian doesn’t alleviate the moral burden we bear as Christians under Mark 12:31. Invoking Libertarianism is no more a defense for bigotry than George Wallace’s invocation of state’s rights. I remember my freshman year of college when my white roommate said exactly this same thing to our black roommate in 1989. It was wrong then & its even more wrong now.
I’m not defending genuine bigotry. I’m saying it shouldn’t be illegal. Not everything that’s morally wrong should be illegal.
It seems passing strange from a Christian perspective to suggest Jim Crow is immoral but shouldn’t be illegal. It was b/cs of Jim Crow that we have laws preventing segregated lunch counters & the like.
*Why* is that strange?
Actually, yes. As a pure capitalist, I believe the markets would do more to dictate behavioral changes on both sides of the aisle, then any piece of legislation. Let me decide whom I want to do business with and whom I want to hire. If I make the right choices, my business will grow exponentially, if I make the wrong ones, I will go out of business; thus the beauty of free markets and the strength and power of the Internet.
To give a specific example, note how he points to support for civil unions as evidence of “people not being anti-gay” even when they balk at so-called “gay marriage.” But you and I both know that the rights granted under civil unions can be just as devastating to society, because the union is still a fundamental distortion of nature. That’s not what Ambrosino is looking for. He wants way more concessions before you’re considered nice enough in his estimation to not be called “anti-gay.” And while we want to stress that we are not “anti-gay” in the very narrow sense of not wanting to wish damnation on homosexuals, there is a very important cultural sense in which we shoudl be “anti-gay,” and willing to simply not care what people like Ambrosino may think as a result.
Last comment before I go to bed—look at this paragraph:
“Rob Schenck, current chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, told me that while he believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, this belief is a ‘source of internal conflict’ and ‘consternation’ for him. How, he candidly asks, is denying marriage to gay people ‘consistent with loving your neighbor?’ Schenck has no plans to change his social stance on this issue, but he serves as a good reminder that not all gay-marriage opponents are unthinking and bigoted.”
Pretty much puts it in a nutshell—essentially, you are not a loving, thoughtful, feeling person in Ambrosino’s eyes unless you are a muddle-head who second-guesses crystal clear biblical teaching with hackneyed cliches about “loving your neighbor.” If you are not such a muddle-head, you are unthinking and bigoted. So, that’s us, I guess. But WHO CARES?
Esther is right on. Take note all you who approve of Ambrosino’s skewed worldview.
I agree. The ENTIRE man on man thing in scripture has been dealt with at the Cross of Christ. “But” this continuous, illogical non-stop agenda spreading by those in a pasture who really only constitute about 1.55% of the population continues unabated. ANIMALS by nature at least know what goes where. Repeat a lie often enough and loud enough, and your very being is taken over by the deception “in the end.” The mere thought of two men going at it, with all it’s excretions and disease, is likened to a picture of a chopped up aborted child. We aren’t allowed to show such “offending” pictures. or the dumbed-down masses just might become enlightened enough to “stop this holocaust.” In the beginning, God created male and female. The problem is those “Christians” who are deceived enough to believe otherwise. I Cor. 6:9-10, …”homosexuals(the effeminate) shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God.” Maybe they really weren’t Christians in the first place. Sidebar: Christians are more tolerant and nicer than God when it comes to judging and calling out “sin,” and its RAMifications! Get the picture!?
Everybody who is faithfully reading and interpreting the Bible is against homosexuality. One has to go through quite a bit of exegetical gymnastics to say that the Bible condones homosexuality
But after that, there are a number of ways to oppose homosexuality some of which indicate that opposing same-sex marriage indicates, not implicates, that one is homophobic. Perhaps what best indicates homophobia is not opposition but the desire to control. In the past, laws prohibited homosexual relations thus making it a crime. Fortunately those days are gone. But are those who oppose same-sex marriage in society trying to control gays similar to how we tried to control them in the past? And if so, does that desire to control come from fear? We should note here that truth we have learned from intergalactic history: “fear is the path to the dark side.” That is because fear can be used to rationalize a lot of actions that we would otherwise refrain from doing because they are wrong
Those who oppose same-sex marriage in society could be exhibiting a number of fears. These fears include the fear of change, the fear of their side losing control, and the fear that allowing same-sex marriage is part of a fatal slippery slope. We should note here what Paul’s reaction to sexual sin in society. We get this from I Corinthians 5. We should also note the difference in contexts and the responsibilities citizens had in shaping their societies in the two different times.
As a Christian, one of the main issues of Christians opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage is broader than that of exhibiting homophobia. It is whether, in a society that is based on equality and religious freedom, does opposing same-sex marriage in society discredit the Gospel because such might is an attempt to maintain at least a partial Christian hubris over society? I believe it does and this is just one of the reasons why I believe we should rely solely on the preaching of God’s Word, rather than relying primarily on legislation, to respond to the push by some for the acceptance of same-sex marriage in society. That is, we should preach the Gospel and repentance to those who advocate same-sex marriage as equals in society. This means that there should be no societal consequences for those who disagree or practice same-sex marriage.
I’ll give you one concrete fear: Fear for the next generation. Children are being indoctrinated into accepting the homosexual family as a normal, wholesome family unit. And some of them are being adopted by such couples. This is devastating. This is destroying children’s innocence, from a frighteningly early age. And it’s denying some children the mother and father they deserve.
Again, should we rely on preaching the Gospel to combat that fear or do we want Society to act as a supplemental disciplinary arm of the Church? Society teaches many things to be normal that the Bible takes issue with. So we present the Bible’s case. And same-sex marriage couples no more destroys’ children’s innocence than many other sins do.
As Curt & Denny point out there are unequivocal Biblical reasons to call homosexuality sinful. Unfortunately though there are Christians who use the fact that homosexuality is a sin to justify their bigotry.
The thing is tho, we all know those Christians when we see them. Those are the Christians who treat divorcees one way & homosexuals another. Those are the Christians that treat tax cheats one way & gays another. Since all sin is sin hypocrites show their bigotry when they treat homosexuality different than they treat other sin. These are the people who talk abt Christ but don’t act like Christ.
This is nothing new tho. And in “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King taught us how to respond to them.
That’s because divorce is a murky, messy, nebulous thing with many potential causes and possibly only one party to blame, whereas homosexual partnerships are unequivocally sinful for both parties. Sorry, not the same thing. And when one party IS clearly at fault in a divorce (guy cheats on his wife multiple times and runs off with his secretary), I think you’ll find most church-going folks know what to do with him.
It wasn’t murky, messy, or nebulous to Jesus. As He said in Matt 19:8, its only nebulous to those who are hardhearted. Small wonder then that hardheartedness is the essence of bigotry. Bigoted Christians are visible a mile away; by their fruits they are known.
Esther is clearly referring to issues that are not as clear cut as what Jesus speaks of in Matthew 19. There are numerous issues that are grounds for divorce besides adultery: bestiality, homosexuality, murder, kidnapping, blasphemy (all the things that are punishable by death), and abandonment. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. When you meet a divorced man at church, do you ask if it was he or his wife that committed sexual acts with an animal and whether or not he or she repented? Of you course you don’t. Why? “Because divorce is a murky, messy, nebulous thing with many potential causes and possibly only one party to blame.”
If my business does not involve providing services to his wedding I wouldn’t. But if we are going to be consistent with regards to whom I provide services, and I think this Chris’s point, shouldn’t we ask someone on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or more marriages why the previous marriages failed so that, as with same-sex marriages, we don’t sin as we would, according to Esther’s point of view, by providing services for them?
My point in all of this is this, if we are allowed to deny public services to gays as they practice same-sex marriage, then everybody else can as well. And with the shoe being other foot, why can’t nonChristian business people deny Christians public services too? If we allow the denial of public services to same-sex marriages, aren’t we asking society to exercise church discipline over nonbelievers? Have you considered the Church’s history of doing that?
You said: ” But if we are going to be consistent with regards to whom I provide services, and I think this Chris’s point, shouldn’t we ask someone on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or more marriages why the previous marriages failed so that, as with same-sex marriages, we don’t sin as we would, according to Esther’s point of view, by providing services for them?”
Who said that we should actively inquire as to the legitimacy of a wedding? However, if for whatever reason we come to know that a wedding is illegitimate than wouldn’t our conscious dictate against facilitating it?
So no one, I think, is saying we should actively inquire as to whether a wedding is going to be for a same-sex union or a polygamous union or an adulterous union. We give people the benefit of the doubt on that. Rather, but if we know the union is illegitimate (as it would be hard not to in the case of a same-sex union or a polygamous union) then of course we should not facilitate it. Likewise if we came to know that a heterosexual union was illegitimate. But this doesn’t require us to issue a test to customers.
You said: “My point in all of this is this, if we are allowed to deny public services to gays as they practice same-sex marriage, then everybody else can as well.”
Of course. Why is that such a bad thing? Sure under this scenario people could refuse to do business for reasons we deem immoral. But what is the opposite side of the coin? People are forced to do business for reasons we deem immoral! Personally, I’d rather someone refuse me a service I could easily acquire from someone else than be forced to engage in an act I deem immoral.
You said: “If we allow the denial of public services to same-sex marriages, aren’t we asking society to exercise church discipline over nonbelievers?”
How? Spell it out for me.
Whether we inquire or not depends on how consistent we wish to be. Do we believe that ignorance brings innocence and wish to be spared having to make a decision? Then you have a point in saying we should ask.
But what about other issues besides same-sex marriages. Should a Christian taxicab driver be required to drive a Muslim to his or her place of worship? Or how about a Jew instead of a Muslim?
And if we are allowed to do that to others, should they be allowed to do that for us?
Both the Bible and history shows us why letting society punish people for personal sins that only require Church discipline is a bad idea. When we examine the New Testament, we see that Church discipline revolves around the revoking of Church privileges only. Paul, in I Cor 5, says that it is none of his business how a person who merits such discipline is treated by society because he isn’t the judge of the world. His only concern was how sinners are treated by the Church.
If we turn to history, we only need to examine how Luther called on German society to treat Jews who refused to believe helped lay the groundwork for much of the anti-Semitism of his day and afterwards and served as a partial basis for the Nazi treatment of the Jews–the Nazis just upped what Luther suggested a little. Such causes people to blaspheme God and to have scorn for the Gospel. We might as well include the burning of heretics and witches at the stake as what happened in Geneva during Calvin’s day. Or we could include the persecution and even martyring of Quakers by the Puritans.
So how does our society views Christianity when Christians object to treating homosexuals as equals on religious grounds in a country that is based on equality and religious freedom?
You said: “Whether we inquire or not depends on how consistent we wish to be.”
Since it is not *my* principle that we need to provide tests to customers to see if they will use our services for good or evil then I’m not being inconsistent.
My position, Curt, is that if you know that you’re facilitating evil, you should not. But no one is obligated to test every person they interact (inside of business or outside of business) to make sure they are not facilitating evil.
What you need to do is prove that I should hold to the position that tests should be given to every person we interact with. Or else you need to prove that I should hold to the position that tests should only be given to persons I interact with at a business level and then show why I don’t need to extend this to non-business interactions.
Also, Curt, is it your position that Christians can facilitate evil? So, for instance, if a rapist wants to rape a woman but doesn’t have enough rope to tie up his victim properly you think a Christian can lend the rapist rope or, if the Christian owns a rope business, he *should* sell the rapist the rope?
Now if you say that a Christian should be allowed to refrain from selling rope to a rapist, does that mean that you, Curt Day, should be committed to the position that you now need to provide *tests* to everyone to make sure they are not a rapist who will use your rope for rape? Of course not… yet this seems to be the move you’re trying to make in order to achieve a “gotcha”.
You said: “And if we are allowed to do that to others, should they be allowed to do that for us?”
I’ve already answered your question here: yes. Ceteris paribus, I think it’s better to allow someone to engage in acts we deem immoral than to force someone to engage in acts we deem immoral. The immorality of the latter is compounded by forcing someone to violate their conscious. The downside to the former is we allow someone to act immorally, but the alternative that you seem to think is better is that we force someone to act immorally.
You said: “Both the Bible and history shows us why letting society punish people for personal sins that only require Church discipline is a bad idea.”
I have no idea what you’re talking about, Curt. You seem to think that if I refuse to facilitate a homosexual wedding that I am seeking to impose church discipline? Give me an *argument* for that, please, and don’t just assume it to be true–because to me that looks absurd. And if acting according to my biblically informed moral conscience is an attempt to impose Christianity onto people in an unjust way then that cuts both ways! So if you try to *help* someone on the basis of your biblically informed conscience then you’re also guilty of an attempt to impose Christianity onto them in an unjust way.
You said: “So how does our society views Christianity when Christians object to …”
Why should we care about how society views us when we uphold biblical morality? Do you believe it is better to serve God than man? Maybe your question would have great force with those who seek to please men rather than God, but I’m not personally effected by it very much.
You say: “So how does our society views Christianity when Christians object to treating homosexuals as equals on religious grounds in a country that is based on equality and religious freedom?”
I see you’ve boughten into the question begging framing of the issue, hook, line, and sinker. My side of the issue disputes that there is such a right to begin with. You might as well ask me how much I care about how a pedophile society like ancient Rome would have viewed Christians who denied the pedophile the right to engage in his acts in a society based upon such a right. I couldn’t care less, is my answer.
The U.S. was founded on equality… yet it doesn’t give pedophiles equal rights to marry whomever they wish!! Oooo, so sad!
If you can appreciate how absurd the paragraph immediately above sounds to your ears, then perhaps you can appreciate how absurd it sounds to my ears when you claim there is such a right in the case of same-sex marriage and you appeal to the U.S. being founded on equal rights (que the Star Spangled Banner music and a flag dropping into the background).
Since the blog didn’t allow me to respond to your last note directly, I am responding in your way.
Again, if you are truly concerned about Christians facilitating evil, then one you become aware of the fact that someone is getting remarried, shouldn’t you ask about the context of the remarriage? After all, according to your position, it is participation that facilitates the evil you see, not ignorance. And to deliberately remain ignorant doesn’t mean you are not complicit.
Let’s look at the use comparisons here. You are comparing rape with unbiblical marriages, which include remarriage for illegitimate reasons as well as same-sex marriages. Why are they comparable for you? Why not use other examples such as suppose you are driving a taxi and a customer asks you to take him/her to a mosque for worship? Would you be facilitating evil by taking the person to the mosque? And wouldn’t such an analogy be more fitting than comparing unbiblical marriages with rape? And why compare same-sex marriages with pedophilia? Such shows an irrational bend to overstating one’s case against gays. Such does not show viewing gays as equals.
Also, why is it that you don’t know what I am talking about when I mention Christians using society to act as a disciplinary arm of the Church–that is society enforcing Church laws. I just mentioned 3 examples so how is that you don’t know what I am talking about.
If you offer public services as a businessman and you refuse to offer those services to a person whose request is legal, you are establishing a precedent that allows discrimination against this person and others like him/her unless you are confronted by the law. Such was the problem in the South during Jim Crow days and people had Biblical reasons for rejecting service to Blacks. So again, how is it that you don’t know what I am talking about?
Finally, is it biblical morality that drives us to practice discrimination and to promote Christian privilege? We have our chance to challenge immorality through the preaching of the Gospel. And we live that Gospel by how we run our businesses. But when we do either in unjust ways, we should care about what our critics say. That is far different from not caring about persecution for what we say.
Yes, we should firmly oppose same-sex marriage. But should we oppose it in ways that lead to discrimination against gays in society? Should we seek to use society to punish gays for their sins? It seems to me that to do so gives people an unnecessary offense at the Gospel. To act toward one group of sinners as superiors does not help us share the Gospel.
You’re just repeating yourself in areas where I’ve already shared my response to you.
You repeat your assertion that I should inquire into the legitimacy of a re-marriage. I already said that it is not my position that such information needs to be extracted and I provided you with an analogous case where you would seem to be stuck in the same situation regarding rope and rape. I also requested that you provide me with an argument which demonstrates that I should extract such information, you failed to provide such an argument.
You failed to respond to that and, instead, simply complain that I haven’t picked taxi driving. You complain that this is an “irrational bend” but you don’t provide any argument to show me how it is irrational.
You failed to answer whether you think Christians can facilitate evil. You failed to answer whether you think selling rope to a rapist would constitute the facilitation of evil. You failed to answer why, if that facilitates evil, you might not think rope sellers need to test all customers to find out whether they are going to use the rope for rape.
Next, you say I fail to recognize gays as “equal” in my analogies, but you fail to define the relevant sense of equality.
Next, I said that I didn’t know how it is that you thought living according to biblical morality entailed an imposition of church discipline. You failed to show how such an entailment obtains and instead just assume, again, that it does.
Next, you state that I am opting for discrimination, which is obvious. You state that there are laws against such discrimination, which again is obvious. What you fail to do is present an argument against my position.
Finally, you pretend as though the only opposition to same-sex marriage comes exclusively from a biblically based model, ignoring the fact that several non-biblical arguments against same-sex marriage have been offered (e.g., Girgis, Anderson, George, Blankenhorne, and some by homosexuals themselves).
Sorry, Curt, but it looks like you came to the end of your talking-points rope on December 16th and today, finding nothing further to say,have decided to climb back up it a bit and try going down again.
I believe that you and every other business owner can provide services and deny services to whomever you choose. If you want to serve gays, go ahead. There is nothing sinful about conducting business with a reprobate. If you want to deny service to a divorced person, go ahead. If a business owner wants to deny me service for being a Christian, that is his right as a business owner.
You are believing something that is false. You cannot discriminate just as you can demand that people don’t discriminate against you.
What gives me the right to demand that someone not discriminate against me? If a business owner believes that it will hurt his business to allow ugly, white men into his place of business, he should have the right to refuse to offer his services to me. I don’t have the right to force anyone to do business with me. You clearly think that I, and every other human being, have the right to force anyone and everyone to do business with me. What makes you think this?
You do realize that we discriminate in business every day, right? Suppose you have a house that you want to rent to someone. A man applies to rent your house, but he does not have a job and will not be able to pay the rent. Does he have the right to force you to do business with him? What if you are selling a car for $5000? I only have $4000 to spend on a car. Do I have the right to force you to do business with me?
What gives you the right to force another person to engage in a business transaction against his will?
Have to respond to you by responding to my note. The answer to your question is it is called Civil Rights that prevents such discrimination.
Ah, now I understand. You and I are conducting two completely different conversations. Your presupposition is that the state determines what rights people have. My presupposition is that God determines what rights people have. I don’t really care what the state says about the rights of people, so we can end the conversation here if you like.
“There are numerous issues that are grounds for divorce besides adultery”
The Bible is inerrant. And I don’t parse Jesus.
Its ironic that some Christians expend the exegetical gymnastics they do in trying to differentiate their treatment of divorcees from their treatment of gays. Its ironic b/cs it rivals those on the Left who do the same thing in an effort to prove the Bible supports gay marriage! Whenever someone’s words gets away from Scripture that’s usually a good sign that they’re letting the flesh get away from the Spirit.
Your accusation against me is somewhat serious. Is this forum really the place to accuse people of living according to the flesh? If you really want to bring charges against me, I can give you the contact information of the elders at my church who have authority to bring discipline against me. They will be happy to listen to what you have to say. If you are unwilling to bring official charges against me, then I request that you stop making such accusations.
As for the exegetical gymnastics you say that I do in order to differentiate my treatment of divorced people and gays, there are two issues here that must be addressed. First, I am not advocating for treating various groups of people differently. Rather, I am advocating for treating everyone lawfully. In other words, people are to be treated based upon their rights. Within the church, believers have membership rights and are treated one way, and non-believers don’t have membership rights and are treated another way. If there are gays sitting in church on Sunday, most people would assume that they are not believers because of their ongoing engagement in sinful behavior. If there is a divorced person sitting in the church, others cannot know based solely on the fact that the person has been divorced whether or not he is a believer. Of course none of this would be an issue if churches actually practiced discipline and excommunicated people for their refusal to repent. If they did, we would always know who should be treated as a believer and who shouldn’t. Regardless, everyone should always be treated lawfully.
Second, there are no exegetical gymnastics on my part. When a person dies, his marriage covenant comes to an end. When a person is executed, his marriage covenant comes to an end. That is one of the punishments that comes along with execution. It is also a way of escape for the spouse of the person being executed. Therefore, under God’s law, the marriage covenant of any person convicted of adultery, bestiality, homosexuality, blasphemy, murder, kidnapping, or rape would be ended. It should be ended through the execution of the guilty party. Today, however, most governments are unwilling to execute for these capital sins. In this case, why should the spouse of the guilty party be required to remain in a marriage covenant with a person who should be executed? As far as the church is concerned, that person should be dead, and he can be treated as such. This means that his spouse can treat him as if he is dead. In other words, the marriage covenant no long exists.
It’s messy in the sense that one doesn’t know right away who is to blame or if the causes were strictly speaking biblical. Sometimes you have situations where a man is abusive or has an addiction, and the wife gives up and leaves. Who is to blame there, strictly speaking? Was the woman justified? These are complicated questions, and you can’t just drag the woman out to be stoned even if you conclude that she was wrong to divorce.
With a gay couple, there’s no ambiguity whatsoever.
“With a gay couple, there’s no ambiguity whatsoever.” Thankfully, more and more of America disagrees with you. Can you support gay marriage and be a true Christian? Many would argue absolutely yes. Perhaps I’m speaking too soon, but I suspect not too many people who read this blog would feel that way.
Thus, through an article such as this, Evangelicals are conferring a level of discernment and ethical hair-splitting upon themselves that they are unwilling to confer upon others.
In a CNN report, the author recently highlighted a 1958 letter published in Ebony magazine. In the letter, King responded to an anonymous boy who was confused about his homosexuality. “I am a boy,” the anonymous person wrote. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?” King, responded to the boy by calling his feelings toward the same gender a “problem,” but stating that he could find a “solution.” “The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King responded in the 1958 column. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.
Gentiles (as symbols of the godless) and sodomites are called “dogs” in the Bible (Mat. 7:6; 15:26; Deut. 23:17-18; Ps. 22:16; 59:5-6; Phil. 3:2; Rev. 22:15). And Jesus was harsh (not only to the Pharisees, as some believers wrongly assume but) to all the unrepentant (see His use of “hypocrite”). Jesus instructs Christians to not “cast your pearls before swine” (Mat. 7:6). Yet the silly dilemma now is, “Who could Christ possibly have meant by that, for we are too loving, tolerant, polite and respectful to refer to any human being by that mean-spirited term.” Christians are nicer than God! Jesus is the Rock. Most believers are unaware, however, that Jesus used this metaphor to issue a graphic threat against the unrepentant. For Christ said that on whom that Rock “falls, it will grind him to powder” (Mat. 21:44; Luke 20:18). Even the Father said that the Son is the “rock of offense” (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8). Offending unbelievers is Christlike in the deepest sense. Sarcasm stigmatizes destructive behavior and prods people toward righteousness (1 Cor. 4:14). Paul also fell short of today’s compassionate Christianity when he wrote that the government should minister terror, wrath and vengeance against the evildoer and that the sword should be used against them (Rom. 13:3-4). The Apostle also erred by today’s standards calling unbelievers fools (Rom. 1:22) and the Galatians fools (Gal. 3:1, 3). Incidentally, Jesus also called men fools (Mat. 23:17, 19; 25:2-8; Luke 11:40; 12:20) when appropriate but never “without a cause” (Mat. 5:22) according to His teaching. As King David wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Ps. 53:1). Thus, atheists are fools and it is cruel to withhold this knowledge from them.
All sins are NOT equal… Jesus answered Pilate: “the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11 – You who judged your sisters, bear your own shame also, because the sins which you committed were more abominable than theirs…” Ezekiel 16:51-52
– “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” –Jesus, Mat. 18:6 [That is, it would be worse for that one than for the little one whom he tempted to sin.] – “[Some] shall be beaten with many stripes. But [some] shall be beaten with few… For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required… I came to send fire [judgment] on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” -Jesus, Luke 12:47, 49 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” -Jesus, Mat. 23:14 – “Woe to you, scribes… you will receive greater condemnation.” -Jesus, Mat. 23:14
Agree and disagree. The problem is language. Abrosino is correct that not everyone who opposes same-sex marriage also regards homosexuals with hate, fear, or even “dislike” on a personal level. There needn’t be any animus, though frequently there is. However, in opposing same-sex marriage the defender of traditional marriage is arguing for the continuation of a status quo in which homosexuals are specifically denied rights that are guaranteed to heterosexuals. So they’re “something” if not “homophobic”. Maybe we just don’t have a sufficiently nuanced word to describe it.
Thought exercise. What if I told you I’m not a racist. I’m always courteous when I interact with black folk. I love black people, in fact, because God loves them and created them. However, I think they’re genetically inferior to whites in terms of intellect just as whites are genetically inferior in terms of athleticism. For that reason, I think they should not have the vote and, obviously, be barred from holding public office. This is for the good of everyone involved; as much as they are precious human beings beloved by God, they’re just not up to the task of running the country.
In this hypothetical, am I “racist”? I have no animus toward blacks. I don’t hate them. I don’t fear them. I don’t even necessarily dislike them. I just happen to advocate a set of policies that denies them certain rights on the basis of their being black. But not without good reason! In fact, I seek to deny them these rights for the good of the country and for their own good!
If I’m not racist, what am I?
Two problems with your scenario: First, you’re comparing people with a certain skin color to people who are choosing to act out on an immoral urge. Obviously many people have done this, but it bears repeating: Gay is NOT the new black.
Second, I think that your scenario isn’t refined enough. Yes, there are still some crazy pockets out there with people who probably would want to deny blacks the vote, ban them from public office, etc. But you’re lumping those crazies in with people who are simply observing the statistical data. It’s entirely possible to acknowledge some hard facts without leaping to some crazy drastic measure as a consequence. What you’re proposing is analogous to somebody saying that white people should be banned from trying out on the basketball team because they’re athletically inferior. Nobody proposes that because this is America and we believe in giving everybody a fair chance. Similarly, most sane people respect our citizens’ basic constitutional right to vote.
When I say I am opposed to gay marriage I am not arguing for the continuation of a staus quo that denies rights that are guaranteed to heterosexuals. I support the legal right (regardless of what I believe about the moral and ethical) of gay couples to live together, raise children together, get benefits at work etc. What I object to is calling it “marriage”. It isn’t a marriage. It doesn’t fit the definition. You are quite right to say that the problem is language. Marriage, by definition eliminates gay couples. There is no denial of rights in saying “This isn’t marriage, it is something else”. Simply because the language does not have a convenient word to describe a gay couple living together does not mean that we have to take some other word that means something different and change it to mean more. “Gay” used to mean – well – it meant gay. Now it does not. He who commands the language commands the debate. I suspect that proponents of gay marriage have reasons for not wanting to come up with a new term. But the right to cohabitate does not need the word “marriage” to define it. I own a cat – it barks when I come home, it comes when I call and it obeys the commands I give it. Some people insist that I should give in and start calling it a dog. But that is a denial of its rights and mine. Actually, my cat doesn’t care what I call it as long as I don’t demean it with my words or actions and I treat it with the respect and kindness that it deserves. But it is still not a cat. And isn’t that the real issue? I fear that we are getting to the place where intelligent conversation of any kind is threatened because we have become a culture that insists on being able to define everything the way we as individuals want it. Let’s agree that language can have objective definitions that are not discriminatory in and of themselves but which do allow meaningful communication to take place.(Now, in the world we live in someone might conclude that I called gay people dogs or said they have to obey the commands the culture gives it. I am hoping that the real purpose of the illustration is not lost to that kind of nonsense.)
This etymological objection to same-sex marriage has always intrigued me. From your description of yourself, you’re fine with same-sex couples being guaranteed the same rights and obligations we legally confer on heterosexual couples. Your objection is that we just can’t call it “marriage” because marriage has a well-recognized definition that necessarily requires a man and a woman.
This seems like a silly objection. It’s like you’re saying, “It’s our word and you can’t have it!” If the root of your objection is that the civil requirements for “marriage” don’t sync up with the orthodox Christian requirements for marriage then, well, that ship has sailed. Two people can get married without any real covenant relationship. Two people who’ve been divorced umpteen times (for no good reason) can marry one another. In some states first cousins are forbidden from marrying (in the absence of any biblical prohibition). Formerly, interracial couples were forbidden from marrying (in the absence of any biblical prohibition).
There is a set of rights and obligations that we, as a society, have decided to confer on individuals according to some set of rules. At the moment we call it “marriage”, but the word we use isn’t especially important. We could call it “platypus” if you prefer and that would work just as well. What gays insist on is that whatever this conferring of rights and obligations is called, they want access to the same legal designation instead of some alternate legal designation created solely for same-sex couples (e.g. “civil unions”).
This suggest a way forward, though. For those who share your views, at least, if not for others. Let’s make “marriage” a purely ecclesial affair. Make it the purview of churches, synagogues and temples and not the state. Let the government recognize only “civil unions”. Voila, homosexual and heterosexual couples are on equal footing, legally speaking.
That would be a disaster. There are too many legal issues surrounding marriage and all that marriage entails for us to remove the state entirely.
I wasn’t suggesting the state not be involved at all. It would recognize civil unions, which would confer the same rights and obligations that marriage does now. Most couples who enter into an ecclesial “marriage” would also designate themselves with the state as in a civil union.
Buddy says “This etymological objection to same-sex marriage has always intrigued me.”
I think Ken Davis doesn’t present the position very well. It’s not an etymological objection, it is a conceptual objection. The view isn’t that “marriage has in the past meant such and such a thing” but rather that marriage *IS* such and such a thing.
Buddy says, “Your objection is that we just can’t call it “marriage” because marriage has a well-recognized definition that necessarily requires a man and a woman.”
While I don’t want to defend Ken’s position, which as I said I think is poorly stated, I would point out he following: someone recently said to me that soon the word “marriage” will eventually be “used to refer to all loving relationships between 2 people”. I then asked this person if they thought that, therefore, soon a father will be able to “marry” his 2 year old daughter since the father has a loving relationship with his daughter and, therefore, meets his definition of what “marriage” refers to.
The point is that even if we are just talking about conventional word usage, it’s not helpful or desirable to redefine terms based on whatever the whims of the populace happen to decide at the moment.
I would not say that we should not call same-sex unions “marriages” simply because that is not what the term has traditionally referred to, but rather we should not call them marriages because the word is meant to refer to a reality which does not include same-sex unions.
By applying the term “marriage” to same-sex unions you begin to distort the reality of the concept behind the word in the same way that one would distort the reality of the father’s relationship with his daughter if we called that a marriage.
Buddy says, “It’s like you’re saying, “It’s our word and you can’t have it!””
That’s pretty naïve. That fails to recognize that words are very closely associated with the things they signify. Of course there is some arbitrariness to the language process and old words can naturally evolve new meanings over long periods of time. But that’s not what is presently occurring in the same-sex marriage debate. Rather, words are being used on the same-sex union side of the debate as propaganda and rhetoric to obfuscate. That’s exactly what “homophobic” is: a piece of rhetoric inserted liberally as propaganda to shift public opinion and bypass rational discourse. Likewise, to apply the word “marriage” to same-sex unions is to sneak in a conceptual shift for political purposes that have no precedent.
Buddy says “Two people can get married without any real covenant relationship.”
What you mean is that two people can apply the word to relationships that no longer fit the prior thing signified by the word. Yeah, and that is the point of debate. By applying that word to new concepts the same-sex advocates are trying to confer the old values and attitudes directed to the old thing signified to the new thing being introduced. But you’re mistaken to think this is a matter of a biblical idea of marriage being mapped onto society. The marriage debate can be had apart from that as evidenced by Girgis, Anderson, and George in “What is Marriage?” and by Blankenhorn in “The Future of Marriage” and by others, including some homosexuals.
Buddy says, “What gays insist on is that whatever this conferring of rights and obligations is called, they want access to the same legal designation instead of some alternate legal designation created solely for same-sex couples (e.g. “civil unions”).”
Sorry, this doesn’t make sense. First you pretend as though the term doesn’t matter. You assert that calling it “platypus” wouldn’t matter. Then you say that what they care about is having the same “designation” (term) as heterosexual unions. Why do you think homosexuals care more about designation than actual legal rights? Homosexual couples (or rather the majority of homosexual couples) don’t merely want the same *legal rights* otherwise they would have been satisfied with civil unions which conferred the same legal rights. What’s going on, unfortunately, is a broader culture war of *values*. They want their same-sex unions to be seen as exactly the same as heterosexual unions designated as “marriages.” The reasons for this is not merely a set of legal rights, but a set of cultural values which sees same-sex unions as morally (as well as legally) equivalent to heterosexual unions. That’s why they have fought for same-sex *marriage* instead of merely focusing on civil unions having equal legal benefits.
This exposes the fact that there is something significant about the word “marriage” going on in this debate; namely, the obfuscation tactic mentioned earlier. On the one hand, same-sex marriage defenders such as yourself pretend that it’s silly to make a big deal about the word “marriage”, on the other hand same-sex marriage defenders such as yourself insist that it’s imperative same-sex unions get the same word applied to them as heterosexual unions. Ay, politics and rhetoric….
Buddy says, “Voila, homosexual and heterosexual couples are on equal footing, legally speaking.”
Having the same *word* is not what confers equal legal status. And you overlook the fact that sophisticated arguments against same-sex marriage argue that the government has no interest in conferring the same benefits and protections on same-sex unions as it has for marriage.
“The point is that even if we are just talking about conventional word usage, it’s not helpful or desirable to redefine terms based on whatever the whims of the populace happen to decide at the moment. ”
The problem is that “marriage” is used by the state to what are essentially civil unions, and the populace wants to redefine the criteria that govern who can enter into those unions. It would be helpful if “the state of one’s relationship recognized by the state as conferring certain legal rights and obligations” had never been called “marriage” since it’s a fundamentally separate thing.
One can be “married” in the true, spiritual sense without the state conferring the rights and obligations of what it terms “marriage”. Likewise you can be “married” according to the state’s definition but not actually be “married” in the true, spiritual sense.
“What you mean is that two people can apply the word to relationships that no longer fit the prior thing signified by the word. Yeah, and that is the point of debate. By applying that word to new concepts the same-sex advocates are trying to confer the old values and attitudes directed to the old thing signified to the new thing being introduced.”
You seem to argue that the true meaning of “marriage” is “X” and same-sex marriage advocates advocates are trying to redefine it as “Y”. I’d argue the commonly understood meaning of marriage is already “Y” and same-sex marriage advocates are trying to redefine it as “Y-prime”.
“First you pretend as though the term doesn’t matter. You assert that calling it “platypus” wouldn’t matter. Then you say that what they care about is having the same “designation” (term) as heterosexual unions. Why do you think homosexuals care more about designation than actual legal rights?”
The actual word used isn’t so important to them as it is to guarantee that heterosexual and homosexual unions are covered by the same exact law. As soon as you call one “A” and the other “B” you open the door to treating “A” type unions differently (in the legal sense) from “B” type unions. They care about designation because designation can impact legal rights. For instance, I suspect most same-sex marriage advocates would be satisfied with my “civil unions for everyone” proposal. If they were dead set on having their unions designated as “marriages” then that wouldn’t be the case. They’re dead seat on getting “marriage” rights only because heterosexual unions are currently recognized by the state as “marriages”.
You say: “The problem is that “marriage” is used by the state to what are essentially civil unions”
I don’t grant that. Up until pretty much this year, the government has defined marriage pretty much conjugally. Opponents of same-sex marriage have argued that the conjugal view is what is properly described as marriage and the government only has an interest in regulating the conjugal institution.
Now recently the government has gotten very fuzzy on its view of marriage and gone against its former understanding (for no good reason, mind you). But it’s a laughably bad argument to say that since the government has changed its understanding of marriage that it only makes sense for the government to hold to a different understanding of marriage!
You say: ” the populace wants to redefine the criteria that govern who can enter into those unions.”
That’s a nice bit of slight of hand. You can’t just redefine the criteria of a thing without redefining the thing itself. If the criteria for “human” suddenly excludes black people we are no longer talking about the same thing we used to be talking about when we talked about “humans.”
You say: “It would be helpful if “the state of one’s relationship recognized by the state as conferring certain legal rights and obligations” had never been called “marriage” since it’s a fundamentally separate thing.”
Who are you trying to fool here, Buddy? Marriage as understood conjugally is what opponents of same-sex marriage have argued marriage is and that this is exactly what the state has protected and has an interest in protecting.
You say: “you can be “married” according to the state’s definition but not actually be “married” in the true, spiritual sense.”
That’s only true if the state gets it’s understanding of marriage wrong. Of course the argument of same-sex marriage opponents is that the state should get its understanding of marriage right because it really has no interest in non-marriage “marriages.”
It strikes me as rather odd that you’re apparently completely ignorant of the position of those who oppose same-sex marriage! Apparently you’ve only bothered to train yourself in the arguments and rhetoric of those who favor it.
You say: “You seem to argue that the true meaning of “marriage” is “X” and same-sex marriage advocates advocates are trying to redefine it as “Y”. I’d argue the commonly understood meaning of marriage is already “Y” and same-sex marriage advocates are trying to redefine it as “Y-prime”.”
Huh? No idea what you think “Y” or “Y-prime” is supposed to be. Marriage is a certain thing. As you just admitted, same-sex marriage proponents want to change the criteria of marriage. By doing this, they make it into a different thing. Trying to call it “Y-prime” or I guess “marriage-prime” is just a rhetorical trick. Like calling a definition of “human” that excludes blacks “human-prime”… you see because it’s not really a switch from “X” to “Y”, it’s just “Y-prime”: “human-prime” or humans minus blacks.
Do you seriously buy your own games or are you just hoping others will?
You say: “As soon as you call one “A” and the other “B” you open the door to treating “A” type unions differently (in the legal sense) from “B” type unions.”
And since they unions are different (per the conjugalist’s arguments (cf. Girgis, Anderson, George)) they should be treated differently. You don’t seem to understand, Buddy, that the whole point of the debate is that same-sex marriages are not marriages unless you change what “marriage” refers to. Or maybe you do understand that, but are hoping that by ignoring it others will forget it?
You say: “They’re dead seat on getting “marriage” rights only because heterosexual unions are currently recognized by the state as “marriages”.”
They are dead set on getting “marriages” because they are dead set on hvaing the traditional values and estimation associated with normal heterosexual unions conferred onto their homosexual unions.
“I don’t grant that. Up until pretty much this year, the government has defined marriage pretty much conjugally.”
Disagree, depending on what you mean by “conjugally”. The government’s definition of “marriage” is essentially the sum of the criteria for who can get married plus the rights and obligations conferred on married couples. Nothing in that definition stipulates a romantic, sexual or potentially child-bearing relationship.
“laughably bad argument to say that since the government has changed its understanding of marriage that it only makes sense for the government to hold to a different understanding of marriage!”
Agreed. That’s not an argument I’m making.
“You can’t just redefine the criteria of a thing without redefining the thing itself.”
Agreed. Redefining the criteria for who can get married redefines the thing that the government currently calls “marriage”. If, however, the government correctly termed these legal relationships as “civil unions” then changing the criteria for who can enter into them would represent a redefinition of “civil unions” and not a redefinition of “marriage”.
The crux of what I’m saying is that there are two different ways the word “marriage” is used. There’s the legal designation the government calls “marriage” and then there’s true, spiritual, immutable relationship God recognizes as “marriage”.
“Who are you trying to fool here, Buddy?”
You’re free to remain skeptical, but I can honestly say I’m not trying to deceive anyone.
“That’s only true if the state gets it’s understanding of marriage wrong.”
Agreed. The state’s definition of marriage has almost always been wrong. Either it permits access to those who are in fact ineligible or it forbids access to those who are eligible.
“Of course the argument of same-sex marriage opponents is that the state should get its understanding of marriage right…”
No, in general, their argument is that the state should maintain its current version of wrongness instead of adding more wrongness. Of course, its definition is only “wrong” because it uses the word “marriage”. If these legal designations were called “civil unions” then the state could define them however it chose without risk of “wrongly defining” the term.
“It strikes me as rather odd that you’re apparently completely ignorant of the position of those who oppose same-sex marriage!”
With all due respect, I don’t think I am. I think what’s going on is that either 1) you correctly understand my argument and regard it as so weak as to imply that I’m ignorant of what traditional marriage proponents believe, or 2) I failed to clearly communicate my argument and you’ve misunderstood it.
“As you just admitted, same-sex marriage proponents want to change the criteria of marriage.”
I was imprecise. What I admitted is that same-sex marriage proponents want to change the criteria of the legal designation the government currently calls “marriage”.
“And since they unions are different […] they should be treated differently.”
That’s the debate, yes. What I would like to get away from is all the talk about “redefining marriage”, since I think it distracts people from this central point. Changing the criteria for the government’s legal designation is only “redefining marriage” because the government has chosen to call these designations “marriages”. A “marriage”, however, is a God-ordained relationship that exists irrespective of the state and its legal designations.
In that sense, if you’re gay and belong to a church that believes same-sex couples can enter into true, spiritual marriages, then you can already marry. Your same-sex marriage, however, won’t be recognized by the government and, as such, will be meaningless in the legal sense.
“They are dead set on getting “marriages” because they are dead set on having the traditional values and estimation associated with normal heterosexual unions conferred onto their homosexual unions.”
I don’t grant this. Most gays I’ve spoken to are fully aware that their unions will, even if recognized as “marriages” by the government, never be as fully accepted as those of heterosexual couples. They wish this wasn’t the case, but they’re resigned to it. What they insist upon, however, is that their unions be on equal footing with heterosexual unions in the eyes of the law. They further consider that “equal footing” is not possible unless their unions are described (legally) using the same terminology as heterosexual unions. Currently the government chooses to call these legal unions “marriages”, but that needn’t be the case (as I pointed out earlier).
My main point is that if, for some same-sex marriage opponents, the main sticking point is an objection to the government “redefining marriage” (by allowing same-sex couples to marry) then there’s an easy work-around for that. Let the government call its legal designation “civil unions” for both types of couple. Doing so would not “redefine marriage” because the government would no longer be in the marriage business at all. It would be in the “civil union” business.
Buddy said: “The government’s definition of “marriage” is essentially the sum of the criteria for who can get married plus the rights and obligations conferred on married couples. Nothing in that definition stipulates a romantic, sexual or potentially child-bearing relationship.”
Uh, so why can’t children get married? Because you’re clearly trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Children can’t get married because sex is understood to be involved. And the government only gets involved because of its interest in children.
Sorry Buddy, but clearly you’re not even trying to mount an honest assessment. I smell a helpful-troll… Not worth my time.
Sex isn’t inherent to the legal designation of “marriage”. It isn’t defined according to “what most married couples do”. If it were then, yes, it would certainly include sex. Rather it’s what I stipulated above: “the sum of the criteria for who can get married plus the rights and obligations conferred on married couples”.
We don’t allow children to marry for the same reason we don’t allow them to vote, enter into contracts, etc.
Trolling requires intent to deceive. That is to say, in order to be a troll I’d need to not actually hold the views I purport to hold or, possibly, be engaged in advancing arguments I know to be poor in an attempt to provoke a response. I can assure you that’s not what’s going on.
You say: “Sex isn’t inherent to the legal designation of “marriage”.”
Absurd. If marriage didn’t involve sex and sex the natural means for the production of marriage the government would have no reason to recognize marriages in the first place. Read Blankenhorn’s book ‘The Future of Marriage’ for an extended sociological argument along these lines.
You say: ” It isn’t defined according to “what most married couples do””
It wasn’t *defined* into existence at all. It was recognized by the government.
You say: “Rather it’s what I stipulated above: “the sum of the criteria for who can get married plus the rights and obligations conferred on married couples”.”
This is where it’s obvious you’re helpful-trolling. That’s like saying what human is is the set of necessary and sufficient conditions to being human. No, that’s what it takes to arrive at a definition of human, but that’s not what it is to be human–rather it’s leaving it unstated.
You say: “We don’t allow children to marry for the same reason we don’t allow them to vote, enter into contracts, etc.”
We don’t allow children to do those things because we doing those things involves activities that we think children are unsuited for. Of course, if marriage just is a loving relationship between two people–as a same-sex marriage advocate recently told me–then of course a child is suited to enter into a loving relationship with an adult. So the non-conjugalist can’t really explain why children shouldn’t be allowed to marry (whether it be another adult or another child). Of course anyone who hasn’t put blinders over their eyes (or isn’t trying to be a helpful-troll) realizes that marriage was seen as the proper arena for sexual encounters–which is why the government used to have laws against adultery. This is why children weren’t allowed to marry. Because the government understood it to involve precisely those things which you’ve tried to deny: romantic love, sex, (among other things).
You say: “Trolling requires intent to deceive. That is to say, in order to be a troll I’d need to not actually hold the views I purport to hold or, possibly, be engaged in advancing arguments I know to be poor in an attempt to provoke a response. I can assure you that’s not what’s going on.”
Actions speak louder than words. Or in this case, persistently bad arguments speak louder than denials. Had you shown any evidence of being aware what the arguments against same-sex marriage are, I might just say you disagree. Had you not shown a close affinity to the same-sex marriage arguments and *rhetoric* I might, again, just think you were mistaken or confused. But to pretend to be the “Oh yeah, homosexualitys is bad, of course, of course, but …” and then throw out all the standard pro-same-sex arguments and question begging rhetoric while showing zero knowledge of the other side, well that looks like the helpful-troll to me.
This: “If marriage didn’t involve sex and sex the natural means for the production of marriage”
Should be this: “If marriage didn’t involve sex and sex wasn’t the natural means for the production of children…”
If you ‘felt’ this way you COULD NOT be a racist. Ignorant? Yes. Skewed view? Yes. Grossly misinformed? Yes. Prejudiced? Absolutely. Racist? Not even close.
We have so misused the racist word over they years, it has lost its meaning. My Grandfather was a prejudiced man. He would swear up and down a black man could not be a good farmer, but many a time he gave the shirt of his back to those black families in need that he lived close to and that he would see on a daily basis If he was racist, he would have been determined to rid his neighborhood of ‘them,’ but instead, he was prejudiced, because he made generalized prejudgements about a individual based on their skin color rather than actual judgments based on their demonstrated skill sets and contribution to their fellow man.
We are all prejudiced in one way shape or form, but there are very few racists that exist in the US today.
Back to the etymology debate. I’m not sure its profitable to dig in one’s heels and refuse to acknowledge the generally accepted definition of a word in favor of some prior definition. Your perspective is that the word “racist” is almost universally misused these days. My perspective is that its meaning has changed. Words do that. Look up “racist” in a few dictionaries to get a sense of the currently understood meaning.
Buddy says, “I’m not sure its profitable to dig in one’s heels and refuse to acknowledge the generally accepted definition of a word in favor of some prior definition. Your perspective is that the word “racist” is almost universally misused these days. My perspective is that its meaning has changed. Words do that. Look up “racist” in a few dictionaries to get a sense of the currently understood meaning.”
The dictionary doesn’t reflect the connotations and baggage associated with the word racist. Ask someone whether they believe it is ever justified to be a racist. In fact why don’t I just ask you that: Do you, Buddy Glass, think racism is ever justifiable? (Of course your answer may be skewed since you anticipate my introducing some twist, but surely most people, sans expectation of a trap, will say racism is never justifiable.)
Now ask most people to consider the following scenario: in 100 years Chinese people progress in science and technology in ways no one else is able to achieve, due to their education advantages in math and science and the tight-nit structure of their society. Subsequently, they develop the means to genetically enhance their population’s intellectual and physical capacities. Given such a scenario, is it justified to acknowledge that Chinese people are intellectually and physically superior to non-Chinese people? Of course the answer is yes. Now inform such persons that according to dictionary[dot]com they would racist and they would see their racism as justified!
So what’s going on here? On the one hand it seems obvious that most people would deny racism is ever justifiable. On the other hand, it’s easy to construct scenarios which peg people as racist and believe their racism justified.
Obviously the average dictionary definition of the word “racism” doesn’t fit with the negative connotations and cultural baggage the average person associates with the word. The average person views racism as an *prejudice* (that is, as an opinion not based on reason or experience) and not as a matter of empirical data.
So let’s go back to your proposed scenario again: either you are a racist in the inconsequential sense of the term (which no one really brings to mind when they hear the term “racist”) or else you are not a racist (in the sense which virtually everyone in our culture brings to mind when they hear the term). Either way, your scenario doesn’t accomplish what you want it to, because if we then think maybe “homophobe” fits it is suddenly stripped of any of the negative connotations that same-sex advocates want associated with the label when they slap it on their opponents.
Re: China scenario.
This is a great thought exercise. I agree that, in that scenario, it isn’t “racist” to acknowledge that Chinese are genetically superior. Why not? Because it’s entirely credible to believe that the Chinese are genetically superior; you stipulate as much when you frame the hypothetical.
In my hypo its much more murky. It features a guy who, in the presence of conflicting evidence (to put it generously) chooses to believe blacks are genetically predisposed to be intellectual inferior. Moreover, based on that view, he advocates a wholly unreasonable response: disenfranchising all blacks, regardless of individual mental capacity. For those reasons I think it’s reasonable to call the guy in that hypo “racist” despite his lack of overt animus toward blacks.
There are echos of this in the s.s.m. / homophobia situation. Whether a given person is “homophobic” depends largely on whether one considers his concerns about same-sex marriage (and/or civil unions) to be “credible”.
The person who sees the concerns as being credible frames the situation like your China hypo. The person sees the concerns as not being credible frames it like my hypo.
If we accept my definition of “racist” (and “homophobic”) as the commonly understood one, in which animus isn’t a necessary criteria, then the traditional marriage supporter who opposes same-sex marriage (and civil unions) but has no personal animus toward homosexuals may accurately describe himself as not homophobic. At the same time, his opponent, starting from a different set of assumptions w.r.t. the credibility of the concerns about same-sex unions, may accurately describe him as homophobic. Whether he is or isn’t depends on the the credibility of his concerns and the reasonability of his policy response to those concerns.
From dictionary.com, which is a pretty modern dictionary…..
Pre·u·dice [prej-uh-dis], verb, prej·u·diced, prej·u·dic·ing.
an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.
such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.
damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.
Racist: a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that certain human race is superior to any or all others.
Look up “racist” and “racism” at dictionary.com. That’s where I looked them up prior to making that post.
Buddy says, “However, in opposing same-sex marriage the defender of traditional marriage is arguing for the continuation of a status quo in which homosexuals are specifically denied rights that are guaranteed to heterosexuals. So they’re “something” if not “homophobic”.”
But notice that the point being disputed is *whether* homosexuals have such a right to begin with. Likewise, one might say that pedophiles and polygamists are specifically denied rights that are guaranteed to monogamous non-pedophile heterosexuals. So unless Mr. Glass thinks that pedophiles have a right to marry children, and polygamists have a right to marry as many people as they want, he is also “something” if not “phedophobic” or “polygaphobic”.
Buddy says, ” I just happen to advocate a set of policies that denies them certain rights on the basis of their being black.”
Actually in the scenario you present it is *not* their *blackness* that is the grounds for your denial of their having certain rights. Rather, it is that they lack adequate intellectual capacity. Of course, isn’t this part of the reasoning behind denying *children* the right to vote?
The question is not whether your denial of right to vote is racist, but whether your views of black people’s intellect is racist. Now if you had good evidence for that view then it would not be racist. But if your reasoning for thinking they had inferior intellect is irrationally grounded in something regarding the *race* of black people then you would be racist.
“Now if you had good evidence for that view then it would not be racist.” What–or who–defines “good evidence”? Most of the truly successful, high-profile white supremacists were able to assemble a mountain of evidence to support their argument that blacks were intellectually inferior. By that same token, if they truly wanted to, Jewish supremacist groups would have no difficulty putting together a convincing argument that Gentile Christians are intellectually inferior.
I think the very fact that we cannot and will not come up with a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes racism is more than enough proof that racism as any of us define it will never go away. Ever. Same argument applies to prejudice against people who might be sexually abnormal, by whatever metric. Our definitions of what it takes to be “sexually correct” have changed tremendously over the centuries. After all, until the 19th century, it was culturally acceptable to castrate a boy, rendering him sexually incomplete, in order to preserve his high singing voice.
You ask “What–or who–defines “good evidence”?”
In your comment here and in your other comment to Esther you seem to think there is some significant observation to be made from the fact that people disagree about things. Sorry, but I fail to see the significance of this. If you think the fact that people disagree about things somehow cuts against our side of the isle, then it equally cuts against your side of the isle.
I could take anything you assert to be the case about morality, politics, religion, or science and make the observation that there are people disagree and debate evidence, so who defines good evidence anyway?
Anyone can play that game, Lauren.
You assert: “Most of the truly successful, high-profile white supremacists were able to assemble a mountain of evidence to support their argument that blacks were intellectually inferior.”
Sorry, that looks like a rhetorical bluff. Where is the mountain of evidence white supremacists were able to assemble? Do you think this evidence is good or are you undecided about it? If you don’t think the evidence is good and since I don’t think there is such good evidence, why are you even bringing it up?
You assert: “Jewish supremacist groups would have no difficulty putting together a convincing argument that Gentile Christians are intellectually inferior.”
If you think there is a convincing argument to be made, why aren’t you convinced (or are you and if not, why not if you’re convinced it is convincing)? If you just like bluffing your way through issues, why waste our time?
You say: “I think the very fact that we cannot and will not come up with a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes racism is more than enough proof that racism as any of us define it will never go away. Ever.”
No one has even attempted to come up with a universally agreed upon definition. 95% of people never think about the definition of a term. They become familiar with it at a functional level and operate at that level throughout their entire lives, never having to give the definition of the term a deeper thought.
You say: “Our definitions of what it takes to be “sexually correct” have changed tremendously over the centuries.”
Okay. I don’t think that issue is in dispute here in this forum. What significant do you think it has that you raise the issue?
You say: “After all, until the 19th century, it was culturally acceptable to castrate a boy, rendering him sexually incomplete, in order to preserve his high singing voice.”
Perhaps it’s also worth noting that not everyone spoke English a few centuries ago. Also, let’s take note of the fact that wrist watches are a modern invention.
If I didn’t have some of your other comments from which to base an opinion, Jonathan, I’d say you are quite the relativist. And on that polemical approach you and I would be in strong agreement–as you say, it cuts both ways.
But then, somehow, the Bible’s interpretation of a few select (but certainly not all) moral issues is ironclad and unimpeachable. Particularly those that passages that align with your own morals. Sorry but I don’t buy it. Neither you nor I have jurisdiction over the definition of good evidence.
But if I took the argument you posed above on 12/15/13 at 7:48p on its own terms, I’d say your eloquent recontextualization deserves a hat tip.
Jonathan, a pedophile doesn’t have a “right” to marry a child anymore than a man has a “right” to rape a woman.
How is this in any way analogous to gay marriage which entails a civil agreement between two adult individuals?
In terms of polygamy, personally I couldn’t care less about it. The only ones interested in it are generally religious fundamentalists who are seeking it as an expression of religious freedom (a freedom that I thought many on here held as almost an absolute).
Do you also not see a difference between telling someone they can only marry one person who they are romantically involved with and saying they can marry *no one* at all (at least no one they have developed a deep and lasting relationship with)?
Nor does a homosexual have a “right” to marry a person of the same-sex. Of course you can claim that you dispute that there is such a right. And some pedophile could say he disputes your claim that there is no such right in his case! That’s the point I was making, James… It’s question begging to simply assert that some right is being denied in this context.
You said: “How is this in any way analogous to gay marriage which entails a civil agreement between two adult individuals?”
It’s amazing how so many people get hung up on this. There seems to be an immediate, unreflective knee-jerk reaction as soon as they see the word “pedophilia” or “polygamy.” The analogy was that Buddy was begging the question in the same way that my hypothetical pedophile or polygamist could beg the question.
You said: “Do you also not see a difference between telling someone they can only marry one person who they are romantically involved with and saying they can marry *no one* at all (at least no one they have developed a deep and lasting relationship with)?”
Of course I see a difference. There is a difference between Suzy and Dan getting married and Sally and Dan getting married. There is always some difference we can point to between non-self identical states of affairs or agents. The question is whether there is a *relevant* difference in some given context.
So, for instance, there is a difference between telling someone they can only marry an adult as arbitrarily defined by the state and telling someone they can marry *no one* at all (at least no one they have a developed, deep, and lasting relationship with).
Good points. The “phobic” designation is applied only to those who advocate that some group be denied rights for no credible reason. That’s why we don’t describe folks who oppose the marriage of children as “phedophobic”; everybody agrees there’s a credible reason to deny that right.
Back to what I said above, this is a big reason why there’s so much disagreement over whether traditional marriage supporters are homophobic or not. One side sees their case as eminently credible. The other sees it as totally irrational.
Re: #1: No, I’m not comparing gays and blacks. I’m giving an example of a hate-and-fear-free attitude toward blacks (that most folks would nevertheless consider “racist”) to critique the claim that hatred and/or fear may not be necessary components of “homophobia” in the same way they may not be necessary components of “racism”.
Buddy says, “hatred and/or fear may not be necessary components of “homophobia” in the same way they may not be necessary components of “racism”.”
Except your scenario relies upon the dictionary definition of the word “racist” as you admitted above. Yet when we look at the dictionary definition of the word “phobia” we don’t see any disassociation of fear and/or hatred.
Could someone share this guy’s article with Justice Kennedy please?
Well considering that a federal judge just the other day, struck down Utah’s law that makes polygamy a criminal offense and called it unconstitutional and violated the…yep, 14th Amendment.
The judge essentially did not see any difference between a polygamous relationship and an unmarried man who chooses to have intimate relationships with three women.
Didn’t pro-gay marriage groups say that this like this wouldn’t happen/snowball/slippery slope if things like DOMA got overturned? I even recall these groups publically saying they dodn’t condone things like polygamy and wouldn’t support this along their view.
Polygamy predates gay marriage as a practice in the USA. It was part of the Mormon religion. I bet a reasonable religious liberty argument could be crafted for people who retain those beliefs.
It also happens that there’s Biblical precedent for polygamy. I don’t support it for our society but how do you ignore these factors in your attempt to link polygamy to the gay marriage slippery slope argument?
Guess the other show has started to fall Denny.
Hostes humani generis
James, name 1 instance of a precedent for polygamy in the NT that Christians could use for justification.
If you look back to the OT, were the polygamous examples you claim as precedent actually a marriage or were they non-married participants?
The link is clearly visable because the precendent that brought down Prop 8 in California was the issue with the 14th Amendment. The attorney representaing Kody Brown and the Sister Wives family used the same precedent in their argument against the state of Utah. The Judge in this case followed the precedent used to overturn Prop 8 and DOMA and did not mention the 1st Amendment (religious expression) having anything to do with his decision to declare that state’s law against polygamy unconstitutional.
Precedent set and the precedent was followed. The question we should be asking, is who will use that precedent next?
When I wrote precedent I didn’t mean to imply justification but only that it occurred. It’s clear that God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman.
“James, name 1 instance of a precedent for polygamy in the NT that Christians could use for justification.”
There is none but I am not making a case that polygamy is justified but rather that the case against it is somewhat complicated.
As far as examples I think its fairly established that David and Solomon had multiple wives that were not merely concubines.