Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

Gay Rights Distortions and Aggression

Posted on May 30, 2010 by Tom Gilson

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Manhattan Declaration

Clay Farris Naff asked in the Huffington Post this week, Do We Really Want America to Be a Christian Iran? It only takes a moment’s reflection on that question to realize Naff’s sense of proportion (like Tavis Smiley’s) is askew. Many of his “facts” and his arguments are too. It’s about the Manhattan Declaration, from which he quotes,

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality — a covenantal union of husband and wife — that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow. First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized…

He responds,

What a pantload! This has all the moral suasion of a claim that to salve the conscience of Seventh Day Adventists we should outlaw donating blood.

Wow. I won’t respond with the same scatology, because it’s not civil—not that this claim of his doesn’t reek of stinky thinking. The rest of the article is likewise distorted, but I’ll let this snippet be representative of the whole.

First, he’s really quite misinformed: “Adventists embrace all ethical medical treatments including blood transfusions.” A family friend of ours received a kidney transplant at Loma Linda Medical Center, an Adventist hospital. Maybe Naff was thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult whose views both Adventists and I roundly reject.

Second, and more substantively, this is not about “salving consciences.” Salving is for those who feel guilty. We who have signed the Manhattan Declaration are not dealing with feelings of guilt, we’re dealing with social and legal attacks on a God-ordained institution. Naff’s thinking on this is sloppier than his research on Adventists.

Naff’s most egregious distortion (at least in this snippet) is the parallel he tries to draw between outlawing gay “marriage” and outlawing blood transfusions. To put an end to blood donations would take quite an aggressive legal and public relations campaign to change existing laws and practices. Where’s the parallel? Are Christians doing anything remotely like that?

Here we see the magnificently mixed-up success of the gay rights PR machine. They’ve maneuvered the public into believing Christians are making some kind of assault on gay marriage. We’re doing no such thing. We couldn’t; it would be strictly impossible for us to do that. You see, “marriage” in same-sex context really belongs in quotes. Marriage is “a covenantal union of husband and wife.” There is no such thing as gay marriage. There never was. There’s nothing there for us to campaign against.

Really, Tom? Then why all the fuss? Why write it into this Declaration? Here’s why: a legal and social assault has indeed been launched. But we didn’t launch it: they did. They’re the ones attacking historic laws, customs, and morality. They speak as if we’re the aggressors, when in reality they are. We’ve had to take up a defensive position, to protect an institution as old as recorded history. We didn’t pick this fight, the other side did. Let me re-emphasize: there are those in Western culture who have mounted an offensive. It’s not the Christians who have taken the aggressive stance, though; it is the gay rights activists.

It pays to stay aware of what’s really going on. Regardless of what some PR machine may be trying to tell you.

Series Navigation (Manhattan Declaration):The Manhattan Declaration and the “Culture Wars” >>>

35 Responses to “ Gay Rights Distortions and Aggression ”

  1. SteveK says:

    Then why all the fuss? Why write it into this Declaration?

    See also: “Why does Christianity need so much defending?”

  2. Vegas Tea Room says:

    And the reason the continents were created was to keep the races pure. There is no justice or common good in allowing the races to mix.

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    Vegas, this too is a matter of understanding the facts and knowing when an analogy works and doesn’t work. See here (or straight to the source, here) for the historical background you ought to have on that.

  4. Tom Gilson says:

    Vegas, note especially that while there is no contradiction in the term “interracial marriage,” either in language or in history, there is such a contradiction in the term “gay ‘marriage.’” Note also that anti-miscegenation laws, like the attempted legislation to allow gay “marriage,” had no basis in history when they were introduced; they were an invention, an immoral one at that (see the article linked previously). The historical parallel there is not between anti-miscegenation laws and keeping marriage what it always has been (a man and a woman); it is between anti-miscegenation laws and attempts to re-define marriage.

  5. Tom Gilson says:

    Today is a U.S. holiday. I’m sure you’ll understand if I’m not on the blog all day, immediately releasing comments from moderation.

  6. Vegas Tea Room says:

    I do believe that marriage has traditionally been one man one virgin once. The redefinition that divorce has wrought has made so many adulterers in the eyes of the Lord. It is one of the few quotes in the Bible that Jesus said.

  7. Tom Gilson says:

    Vegas, is this a definition or an ideal? There’s a difference, and the difference matters. Never in history has a marriage to a non-virgin (male or female) been defined as not a marriage, as far as I know. Never has been remarriage after divorce been defined as not a marriage. It has been considered adultery, it has been considered wrong, but it has never been not-marriage. It is definitions of terms, not ideals, that are at issue here.

    (Apologies for the major rewrite of this comment; I realized after my first version that I had misread what you wrote.)

  8. Vegas Tea Room says:

    I do believe that premarital sex is a sin. If it is, then anything else but pre marital virginity is the expected norm. And if Jesus said “let no man put asunder” you can better well interpret this to mean no divorce.

    Also, because the redefinition of marriage has been so accommodating to divorce, you never hear about remarried people being automatic adulterers. This is why Charles and Camilla got a civil union; her ex husband is still alive and she is considered an adulteress. Charles is conveniently a widower.

    There would be no “gay distortions” if it hadn’t been already changed. This is why people have so little care if the gays get civil unions. Hell, God already hates the sight of those remarried.

  9. Tom Gilson says:

    You’re still missing the point that’s at issue. When in history was marriage “redefined” to accommodate divorce? Please be specific, and show us a when marriage after divorce has been legally and/or socially defined as something other than marriage.

  10. Vegas Tea Room says:

    I’m sorry, I thought we were talking about religious Christian marriage. So far the only ones not to embrace divorce is the Catholics.

    Also, people who are married in church get a religious marriage AND a civil marriage at the same time. Hence, my compounded confusion.

    If we are talking ONLY civil marriage, when women got the vote their position as citizens changed and their abilities to enter into civil contracts changed marriage. Then the divorce laws were rewritten in the 20s and 30s, and when it come to civil miscegenation that was changed in the 60s. The the Palimony lawsuits of the 70s changed civil marriage as did the cohabitation trends and movements to domestic partnerships. The word marriage has an ever changing definition. So you can see why I was confused.

  11. Tom Gilson says:

    We are not talking “religious” or “civil” marriage; we are talking marriage, which has always been defined as a union of a man and a woman. Why do you keep changing the subject?

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    Further: we are talking about a concerted, aggressive offensive being mounted against the historic definition of marriage. That’s the topic at issue. The more you change the subject, the less relevant your comments.

  13. Vegas Tea Room says:

    How historic a definition do you want? How about Abraham, his wives and his concubines. You, Tom, have this set in stone idea that the concept of marriage has never changed. If you do not believe that it has, then this conversation is pointless.

    It’s like saying that the only family is a man-wife-child arrangement when close to half of all children are raised in single parent families. There is a disconnect between an idealization and the reality. Are all of there single parents threatening the institution of family?

  14. Tom Gilson says:

    Changing the subject again, Vegas. We’re not talking about the definition of family, we’re talking about the definition of marriage: man and woman. When has that changed?

  15. Vegas Tea Room says:

    OK, now I get it. No matter how many times marriage has changed, no matter how women have gone from property to equal partners, no matter how much divorce had changed marriage you are hung up on marriage only being a HETEROSEXUAL changing thing that only heterosexuals, and delusional homosexuals, partake in. No matter how the rules and definitions of marriage have changed to accommodate heterosexual man/woman combinations, it has always been the prerogative of HETEROSEXUALS to make the rules. NOW I get your point. Well, men were married in ancient Greece and Rome, there are marriage rites labeled obscene by the Catholic Church marrying men in the middle ages. Women weren’t thought of as being significant.

    But because homosexuals, until the advent of the internet, were not able to write and PASS DOWN their own histories without having then obliterated by the surviving procreating heterosexuals, any homosexual history is corrupt. You are reaping the benefits of two thousand years of erasing homosexual history and asking me to prove my point. Again, that is now pointless.

    But it has been interesting talking with you. I finally understand how people think the way you do. Thank you.

  16. Tom Gilson says:

    All I’ve asked for has been some reliable historical data.

  17. Charlie says:

    Better than that, though, in 15 short comments the way people think like you has become understood. Sociology made easy.

  18. Tom Gilson says:

    Something tells me, Vegas, you didn’t “finally” gain any new understanding here about how “people like you” (meaning me, of course, but the way you put it yourself is quite a nicely bigoted phrase, don’t you think?) think the way we do. Your final (?) statement sounds a lot like things you already considered true before we began.

  19. Vegas Tea Room says:

    No, not at all Tom. It is quite remarkable to think that a concept that seems to me to have been so malleable over the millennia could be seen to have absolutes for some. That is eye opening for me.

    What it ultimately boils down to, in modern American terms, is that marriage creates a LEGAL bond that confers legal rights and obligations to the couple. I could not care less what it is called as long as the legal bond is created.

    A dog and its master, a legally defined relationship, have more defined rights and obligations than the average homosexual couple. I think this is wrong especially when they are raising children together.

  20. Tom Gilson says:

    Well, then apparently I surmised incorrectly about what you believed prior to this exchange.

    I agree with you on one thing: there is something wrong going on when homosexual couples are raising children. We disagree about what’s wrong with that situation.

  21. SteveK says:

    Tom,
    Any way you can have the comment # posted next to the comment for easy reference?

  22. Tom Gilson says:

    Good question. I’ll see.

  23. Vegas Tea Room says:

    “I agree with you on one thing: there is something wrong going on when homosexual couples are raising children.”

    Well, because so many states allow single parent adoptions, that horse has left the barn permanently.

  24. Tom Gilson says:

    Yes, apparently so.

  25. thelakeeffect says:

    …To Vegastearoom… if you look at the histories of ancient Greece & ancient Rome, you will find that many (notably some of the leaders or ruling class) slept with men or women as they wished…

    I remember learning that in ancient Greece, (at least late ancient Greece) men (presumably of power) married a wife who would keep up their estate, who would be faithful to the man, and who would bear sons to carry on their name. But they ( the HUSBAND—NOT the wife!!!) could carry on with men or women as they wished.

    And even now, some promote the adult male sleeping with boys as “good” based on Ancient Greek practice (I will not give sources for this but it is around on the net)(Christianity made the MAN also responsible to keep his marital vows and the man’s prayers were NOT to be heard by God if the man neglected his wife!!!)

    Here (in our society today) we see the probable consequence of the male to female relationship getting disrupted…with women further devalued in our media regularly…and it is ultimately a power struggle where the powerful use whatever weak (of either gender) as they wish…

  26. Debra says:

    It sounds as if people just want to redefine marriage by the way people have unions — of any kind. The fact remains, however, that “marriage” is a word that means: A sacred union between one man (husband) and one woman (wife). period. Any other kind of coupling whether it be man to man or woman to woman, etc is only a union of those two consenting people. We do not have to change the meaning of marriage to accomodate every relationship people want to make it. God sanctions a one man with one woman marriage only. There should be no debate about this truth. Make those other relationships be called whatever you like — but leave “marriage” out of it.

  27. Which is why I prefer Civil Unions.

    With the world filled with the Brittany Spears of the world engaging in so much serial sacredness, you can keep what you consider marriage.

    It’s all about the civil rights a civil union endows its citizens.

    How sacred is the marriage of man and a woman who are Hindu and are blessed by both the Elephant god AND the Monkey god?

    Or is this sacredness only a Christian thing?

  28. Tom Gilson says:

    You keep changing the subject, Vegas. Over and over again.

  29. Debra said she did not mind another name for whatever homosexuals use to describe their unions. Debra used a definition of marriage that included the word sacred. Tom, it’s all part of the same discussion. I’m sorry if you cannot follow it.

  30. Tom Gilson says:

    I can follow it. If individuals de-sacralize marriage in the way they treat it, its definition as a union of a man and wife remains.

  31. So marriage can be non sacred. OK, we agree.

  32. Tom Gilson says:

    We agree? On what do we agree, and does it have anything to do with the central issues in this discussion?

  33. [...] “Outlawed,” it says. Where I live in Virginia, bank robbery and kidnapping and burglary are outlawed. You can go to jail for those kinds of things. SSM is simply not recognized; it doesn’t happen. “Outlawed” is inaccurate and tendentious. Once again, our “paper of record” shows us how it’s done. (This is not the first time this has come up.) [...]

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