Please meet my new friends Phil and Alex! Well, actually they’re a pair of made-up characters who like to debate each other. They’ll be visiting here from time to time, and photos of these two gentlemen will appear in the future, I assure you. Phil is a believer in Christ, and Alex likes to challenge him on his beliefs and principles.
Alex: Hey, Phil, it’s good to see you. Always is–and I say that with all the generosity in my heart.
Phil: It’s great to see you, too! What’s this about generosity? Are you paying for the coffee today?
Alex: You wish. No, I’m talking about the way you and I can be friends, and we can have these conversations even though we disagree. Take your views on marriage, for example. You’re a thorough-going marriage bigot, but somehow I don’t hate you for it.
Phil: Well, thank you, I think, at least in a way. No, I see how you’re smiling as you say that. I can tell you’re yanking my chain; you don’t really mean it—although after a remark like that I really should make you pay!
Alex: Maybe next time. But look, yes, I was kidding in a way, and in a way I wasn’t. You are totally and passionately opposed to marriage equality. Don’t you think that’s at least treading pretty close to bigotry?
Phil: That depends on what you mean by equality, Alex.
Alex: It means letting two people who love each other and are committed to each other be married to each other.
Phil: That’s what it takes to believe in marriage equality? Really? Well, then, my friend, let’s be bigots together! Because you don’t believe in marriage equality, either.
Alex: What?! Sure I do! I’m totally in favor of gays getting married!
Phil: What about if they’re brothers? What about if they’re brother and sister? Or a grown man and his father? What if one of them is already married to someone else?
Alex: Whoa, hold on, Phil, I didn’t mean that kind of equality!
Phil: Right. You meant equality up to a point, right?
Alex: Sure. It has to be a sensible point, like letting gays marry.
Phil: And who gets to decide where that point is?
Alex: Well, like I said, it has to be a point that makes sense.
Phil: And again, who decides where that point is? No, don’t bother, I know that to be fair to you I’d need to hear you through on a fairly complicated discussion. I’d be happy to do that, except that in this case it’s not necessary. Let’s just agree that you and I believe in equality up to a point, and beyond that point, we both believe in marriage inequality. Any sane person would have to believe in marriage inequality, beyond some point or other. So this whole spiel about “marriage equality” turns out to be a PR slogan for a campaign that believes in marriage inequality too! And really, it’s another case of something that only seems to makes sense. It falls apart if you think about what it’s really saying.
So drink up, my friend. And since we both seem to be pretty much equally bigoted—separately but equally bigoted, shall we say?—I won’t expect you to pay for it after all!