Posted on May 30, 2010 by Tom Gilson
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…
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.