Tom Gilson

Same-Sex “Marriage” Weaponry?

This LA Times headline is unbelievable: Wielding religion as a weapon against gay marriage.

The first completely irresponsible assumption the writer, Steve Lopez, makes is that opposition to gay “marriage” came first, and religion is just being used as cannon to shoot at it. He discounts the fact that many Christians, myself included,

  • Believe what God said in both the Old and New Testament about sexual practices outside of marriage.
  • Take it seriously that God described marriage as a man being united to a woman
  • Consider this to be a clearly understandable statement (one of many like it throughout the Bible)
  • Believe that what God revealed through the Bible is authoritative, and we all need to yield to God’s word
  • Seek to subsume our agendas under God’s word and the Christian religion
  • Hold this religion to be sacred
  • And therefore could never support “using” religion for any agenda
  • Rather, we seek to discover principles and practices that are taught us through this sacred source, and align our agendas with that source–not the other way around.

Can we get that wrong? Certainly. I don’t think we have in the case of same-sex “marriage” (SSM), because the source is so clear. Still, that question leads us to Lopez’s second mistake, which is more subtle and therefore more interesting. He quotes a few religious spokespersons who oppose SSM, and others who support it. Here he speaks to two supporters:

I told the Rev. Vanessa Mackenzie of the Episcopal Church of the Advent that the other rally was much larger and that those who spoke claimed to know God’s will on gay marriage.

“How can you love God, who you do not see,” Mackenzie asked, “and then hate the brother and sister whom you do see?”

It’s not presented as hatred, I said, but as the word, as written in the Bible.

“Very clearly, that’s an abuse of Scripture,” insisted the Rev. Eric P. Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Opponents of SSM are lampooned for claiming to know God’s will through his word, the Bible. The Rev. Lee apparently knows they got it wrong. How is it that Lopez will accept that Lee knows God’s will, and that he has a direct line to a correct interpretation of the Bible, when just a sentence or two earlier he was laughing at people for saying they can read the Bible and understand what it says?

Well, Lopez agrees with Lee, and with Mackenzie. That’s why he thinks they got their interpretations right. And because he agrees, he doesn’t have to attack their religion. (I’m sure he would if he disagreed with them.) But he is most certainly using SSM to attack conservative religion. SSM is right, he believes, therefore let’s make religious opponents of gay SSM look like mindless idiots. I hope it’s clear enough now what he’s doing: he’s wielding SSM as a weapon against religion.

But maybe it isn’t quite clear stated that way. Let’s try it this way. (This will help those of you who are comfortable with symbolic approaches. Others may want to skip down a few paragraphs.)

Group (a) believes (A)
Group (b) believes (B)

Now we can propose a hypothetical situation (H). The situation in (H) is that (A) and (B) are contrary to each other; therefore each group believes that the other is wrong. (a) sets forth its beliefs as arguments against (B), and (b) sets forth its beliefs as arguments against (A). A newspaper writer is a member of group (a) and claims that (b) is using (B) as a “weapon” against (A).

Now let’s define two other groups:

Proponents of SSM: (s)
Conservative Christians: (c)

(There  are other opponents of SSM who do not share all of Christianity’s core values. Though they oppose SSM they are not members of (c) and should not be confused with (c)).

Now it’s time to substitute (s) and (c) into our hypothetical situation (H). Which group is to be identified with (a), and which with (b)? I encourage you to try it both ways. Let (s) = (a) and (c) = (b). Then let (s) = (b), and (c) = (a). It works equally well both ways! But our writer, Steve Lopez fails to recognize that. He says that it is (c), the conservative Christians, who are using their beliefs as a “weapon” against the other. He does not see that it works both ways.

It gets more interesting yet. There is a third group involved: liberal Christians–(l) for short. Our newspaper writer notes that (l) is not using its form of Christianity against SSM. He pronounces (l)’s theology acceptable, and (c)’s theology unacceptable. On what basis? There is no basis whatsoever, except that (l) agrees with him on SSM, and (c) disagrees. He bashes (c)’s entire belief set, right down to their ability to read and understand (c)’s core documents just on the grounds of (c)’s disagreement with SSM. His entire case for bashing (c)’s beliefs rests on the SSM issue.

As I already said, this is clearly a case of using the gay “marriage” issue as a weapon against Christian beliefs. Pot and kettle.

It’s hardly the first time gay rights activists have attacked biblical Christianity. Read the pamphlets linked from this page, especially “Reading the Bible with new eyes,” which suggests that Jesus lived an “alternative lifestyle” and goes into details of what that might have meant.

Let me clarify what I’m objecting to here. I have mentioned my objection to gay “marriage,” but I haven’t majored on that here. What I have been saying is that I object to Mr. Lopez’s using gay “marriage” to attack religion, and trying to sneak it through as though it were the other way around.

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4 thoughts on “Same-Sex “Marriage” Weaponry?

  1. A similar thing is done when certain skeptics read a passage of scripture, give what they think is the obvious interpretation, and then chide Christianity as a whole for not understanding it that way. What’s worse is that modern day believers get caught up in this too. It’s fine to have disagreements about biblical understanding and try to think spiritual matters through, however it should be done in the spirit of humility and not in the spirit of dogmaticism. The core Christian beliefs are not open for debate though. I’m all for dogmaticism there.

    As for the issue of gay ‘marriage’, Mr. Lopez wants me to think that he and a few others have the correct biblical understanding and that the wisdom behind 2000 years of traditional Christianity has it all wrong. Sorry, Mr. Lopez.

  2. Hi Tom,
    Notice also that Lopez is not only using SSM to attack religion but is also using religion (the religion he will accept) to promote SSM.
    This is a tactic we’ve seen from groups like the NCSE in other arenas. Religious arguments are not valid and should be left out of the discussion – except when they can be used to the challenger’s advantage.

    note: I have not read the article linked, and am commenting on the presentation above.

  3. You may not have read it, Charlie, but you got it right anyway.

    Steve, thanks for your comment too. Our culture has enormous hubris to say that after all these thousands of years, and experience in cultures all over the world, we’ve finally got it right for the first time ever. It’s not just about the biblical view, though you and I hold that to be the true authority. It’s about the way things have been done for virtually the entire history of the world.

  4. Hi Tom,
    I was too lazy to hit the link and lose this page before commenting, but did read the article immediately afterward. I didn’t expect I’d have to withdraw my comment, and, of course, I didn’t have to.

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