How the debate over gay marriage is stifled

Here’s how the debate over gay marriage is often stifled. For many proponents, they simply rule out a priori any suggestion that people aren’t free to do whatever they want to do sexually. Of course no one actually believes this in principle (notice that no one is arguing to abolish incest laws), but it nevertheless is the most common argument in favor of legal gay marriage. This notion is now deeply embedded within popular culture, as David Letterman’s words to Rachel Maddow so vividly illustrate. Watch above or read them below:

It is absolutely stupidity. Humans have the right to do what humans do, that’s it. End of the story. There’s no argument. There’s no exceptions. Humans have rights and they get to do what humans get to do. Case closed. Good night. … It’s beyond embarrassing. … It’s exclusionary based on, what? Well, nothing, really, other than the fear people have generated of who knows what.

This is not a conversation starter, but a conversation ender. This approach treats traditional marriage support as if it were not worth even discussing. The morality of gay marriage is so self-evident that it’s not even worth listening to those who would suggest otherwise.

(HT: Politico)


  • Evan May

    “Humans have rights and they get to do what humans get to do.”

    Of course this assumes that the discussion is about “rights” rather than the meaning of marriage. The question is not whether we will deny individuals the right to marry, but what that right to marry entails.

    But bracketing this for a moment and assuming this premise for the sake of argument, from where to do these rights come? If we simply give them to one another as a society, then they have no intrinsic moral value. If they have no intrinsic value, then there isn’t anything wrong with excluding people from them.

    But if we have these rights because they are “endowed by our Creator,” then doesn’t that Creator have the authority to speak to what these rights mean and entail?

  • Nathan Cesal

    “…then doesn’t that Creator have the authority to speak to what these rights mean and entail?”

    Yes, but you don’t get to determine what that is for me, unless you’re my creator.

    • Evan May

      So you affirm, at least in principle, that:

      1) The Creator has the authority to define marriage, and
      2) The Creator is in a position to communicate his intentions to us?

      And, by the way, you are absolutely right. *I* don’t get to determine anything for you. I have no intrinsic authority in this discussion, nor does any other human being.

  • James Bradshaw

    “This is not a conversation starter, but a conversation ender.”

    I can’t believe I’m even reading this from a folks who seek not to discuss or compromise but to stop the conversation with “The Bible says ….”

    Evan May writes: “The Creator has the authority to define marriage”

    Theoretically, yes.

    “The Creator is in a position to communicate his intentions to us?”

    Can He? Sure. Has He? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? What if I don’t believe the Bible is His word? What if I think it’s only the Old Testament or the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita or none of the above? Even if we accept that the Bible IS His word, all our work is still ahead of us. Other than Steve Hays who apparently believes his interpretation is infallible, most people will have to acknowledge that they’ve reached their own conclusions which may or may not be correct. By the way, the Bible implicitly condones polygamy. Should that be legal?

    That’s not the only problem. Even if all Christians came to an agreement on what the Bible meant (which will never happen), God’s mandates may pose challenges to how we view our Constitutional republic. Should divorce only be legal for biblical reasons? Should marriage be denied to interfaith couples? And so forth …

    • Evan May

      Jams Bradshaw,

      To bring the discussion back to where it started, David Letterman said, “Humans have rights and they get to do what humans get to do. Case closed. Good night.”

      Do you agree with him?

      1. Do you human beings have intrinsic rights?
      2. Is same-sex marriage one of those rights?
      3. Where do these rights come from? On what basis are they given? How are they discovered? How are they distinguished?
      4. Who interprets and applies these rights?

      You may attempt to create an epistemological dilemma for my position by raising the questions, “How do you know the Bible is God’s Word?” “How do you know your interpretations of the Bible are correct?” “What about the people who don’t agree that the Bible is God’s Word?” Of course, Christians have answers to these questions, and there is an entire library of apologetic material that seeks to address them. But you need to face the same epistemological challenge.

  • buddyglass

    Because I think these questions are interesting…

    1. Do you human beings have intrinsic rights?

    Yes, but not the ones that come to most peoples’ minds. The only guaranteed “rights” are those guaranteed by the promises of God. For instance, Romans 10:9.

    2. Is same-sex marriage one of those rights?

    No. But, then neither is freedom of speech, freedom to practice one’s faith without persecution or harassment, etc.

    3. Where do these rights come from? On what basis are they given? How are they discovered? How are they distinguished?

    “Intrinsic” rights come only from God, however human governments can decide to establish all manner of rights and attempt to guarantee by way of the force of the state.

    4. Who interprets and applies these rights?

    In the case of man-established rights and the United States, the judiciary.

    • Johnny Mason

      The total lack of understanding of our government, as founded, and the concept of rights on this thread are breath-taking. A real monument to the public education system. Human government does not establish rights. It can only protect them. And the judiciary neither interprets nor applies these rights.

      • buddyglass

        I suspect our disagreement stems more from a different usage of the term “right” than gross ignorance. But, you may disagree with that as well.

        If “right” means something cosmic and intrinsic then of course human governments can’t establish them. On the other hand, if “right” means “the freedom and agency to do a thing”, i.e. in the legal sense, then human governments can and do establish them.

  • James Bradshaw

    Evan, I generally agree with bg. The rights given to us and acknowledged by the US government may not necessarily be within the domain of what God deems to be within our “rights”. The notion of religious freedom isn’t found in Scripture as far as I can tell. Quite the contrary: whole nations were destroyed at the hands of “God’s people” for idolatry.

    This is where Christian Reconstructionism comes in: they seek to align civil law with the law of God (which inevitably leads to tyranny and persecution when administered by men – seen in Calvin’s Geneva as well as Catholic Spain and now perhaps Russia under Putin’s Orthodox leadership).

    It is said that when Christ returns, He will rule with an iron fist. There will be no religious freedom, no freedom to do, say or even think anything that is contrary to His will. Perhaps this will work for a world of Christians where everyone is naturally aligned with Him, I don’t know. In a world such as ours, though, the only analogy can be North Korea which is now ruled by a deceased father incarnated in the son and whose population must praise the dear leader morning, noon and night. It’s an apalling, inhuman travesty that I’d rather not emulate.

  • Michael Lynch

    I think we should start talking about what homosexuality really is. Since it’s being normalized for 2 or 3 percent of the population, it shouldn’t be a problem, right? It’s only a matter of time before the “proper” way to sodomize will be taught in sex ed anyway(if it isn’t being taught somewhere already). I wonder if this will stifle the conversation in a different way.

    • James Bradshaw

      @Michael: We can do that … if you’d like to also talk about the mechanics of heterosexual sex as well. Give us a play-by-play of the sex you have with your wife, for example: the things you say, the things that you ask her to do (and vice versa). What’s to be ashamed about, right?

      • Michael Lynch

        As far as specifics about intimacy, that’s no one’s business. I will point you to Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 7 if you want to know some Bible we turn to.

        This is pretty close to what I was basically taught in sex ed: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-happens-during-intercourse.html
        Of course, it was stretched out over weeks and dealt with in different ways each year we had sex ed (the use of contraceptives and abstinence were discussed).

        For the record, I don’t believe it is the government’s job to teach sex ed. But that’s not going anywhere. My point here is to consider what’s coming. If I’m ever forced by circumstances to send my children to public school, will they learn how to sodomize or be sodomized? I say those who believe in true marriage should beat homosexual “marriage” proponents to the punch.

        Even if I say my children cannot participate in such perverse discussion (before high school) they will hear it second-hand from peers. I will have no problem discussing it with them as sin since the Bible addresses it.

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