“Still Against Gay Marriage?” Good Relational Advice, Bad Practice, and a Solution

Steve Siebold was given a platform at Huffington Post to explain how people should behave, now that the Supreme Court has blessed gay marriage. He’s addressing those of us who are still against gay marriage, and he says (among other things),

While he [Jesus] might not necessarily agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize gay marriage, and while he might not agree with the LGBT lifestyle, ultimately he would still extend his hand in friendship to his fellow man. That is the point that so many Christians are missing. Feel free to disagree all you want, but stop putting people down and spewing your homophobia.

… and,

If someone’s beliefs tell them that gay marriage is wrong, that’s fine because that’s what you believe and after all, this is America and you have the freedom to believe what you want. But leave it at that. We should all be allowed the opportunity and freedom to live life on our own terms as long as we aren’t hurting anyone else in the process. There’s no reason to go on a hate parade and start slamming other people with bigotry, hatred and discrimination.

Good relational advice

Obviously he’s giving this advice to one group, those of us who are still against gay marriage. I’ve got to believe, though, that he considers these principles as to be larger than that, applying to more than just that one matter. So with that in mind, let me draw out some of the apparent principles behind his advice.

  1. Extend your hand in friendship.
  2. Stop putting people down.
  3. Stop spewing your hatred or aversion to those you disagree with.
  4. Believe what you want, but leave it at that.
  5. Don’t hurt others as you live your life.
  6. Don’t slam others with bigotry and hatred.

Those are mostly good principles. (Number 4 seems to imply that we shouldn’t act on our beliefs, which I can’t agree with. Everyone acts according to what they believe.) Now let’s observe his behavior, in the way he describes those who still disagree with gay marriage.

Not such good practice

In the same article he also writes,

  • What we’re doing (we who disagree with gay marriage) is “wrong and won’t be tolerated.” I don’t know in what way that refusal to tolerate will be enforced, but it will be very hard to do anything without acting in violation of principle number 4.
  • “If we’re truly going to evolve on these important social issues, we can’t be a nation of drones programmed to believe everything in The Bible or take the word of anyone no matter who they are or what kind of power they hold.” (This language is really hard to square with principles 1, 2, 3, and 6.)
  • “The bullies and bigots will kick and scream like the small minded manipulators they are, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent Americans from doing the right thing.” (This, too, violates his principles. See numbers 2, 3, and 6)

Obviously there’s a disconnect between Siebold’s advice and his action, unless I was wrong when I said, “he takes these principles to be larger than one issue.” If he thinks his advice only applies to people who disagree with gay marriage, then he’s trying to make rules for others that he doesn’t think he needs to follow himself. I really doubt that’s the case.

Can he see the disconnect?

My guess (and that’s all it is, since I don’t know him) is that he probably just doesn’t see the disconnect. He doesn’t realize that telling his opponents outright that what we’re doing “won’t be tolerated” isn’t an act of tolerance, but of intolerance on his part. He doesn’t see that calling us programmed drones and small-minded manipulators is putting us down. He doesn’t recognize that calling us bullies, bigots is a slam, and that it displays hatred.

If it were only Steve Siebold being blind in this way, his self-contradictions would be a grievous story, but one whose consequences are limited to himself and his circle. It isn’t only Steve Siebold, though. Many others are saying and doing the same kinds of things. The influential HuffPost published it. Few are holding up a mirror to show them their personal inconsistencies.

This isn’t just about being for or against gay marriage.

His blindness isn’t just his problem. We’re all afflicted with it. Long ago, in Romans 2:15-16, the apostle Paul wrote about humans’ conflicted moral reasoning.

They [people without the written law of God] show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We all know what’s right, to a fairly close approximation at least. It’s written on our hearts, even if we’ve never read it in Scripture, and even if we don’t care about anyone’s Scripture. That knowledge won’t excuse us in the end, though, as Paul had already written in Romans 2:1-4:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Steve Siebold shows that he has the law of God written on his heart. His action principles are good. But he judges others for falling short, while at the same time falling short himself.

We all need the same solution

We all do that. Rarely is it so obvious, but we all do it. There is no distinction between us on that. The one solution is found in the message summarized a few paragraphs later in Romans 3:21-25:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

We live in a culture marred by blindness. It’s because we humans, each of us individually, has his or her own blindness. Jesus Christ can open eyes, if we’ll let him.

Comments 9
  1. JAD

    Tom,

    It appear that you didn’t get the memo. Here it is:

    [T]here is no longer a First Amendment as our Founders wrote it, but instead something like an Orwellian Amendment 1.5, which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press — except if someone finds some speech hurtful, controversial, or not helpful.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418201/first-and-half-amendment-victor-davis-hanson

    So let’s try to be more sensitive, okay? It’s no longer enough to turn the other cheek. Now you have to lay down like a door mat and let your critics walk all over you.

    Oh BTW don’t try to do anything like that to them. They’ll throw the golden rule at you. It’s a special rule that applies only to them when they’re being criticized.

  2. SteveK

    (1) Traditional tolerance: you tolerate people but discriminate against views/ideas

    (2) New tolerance: you discriminate against people and tolerate different views/ideas.

    A disagreement under (1) sounds like this:
    “I respect you because you are a valuable person but I have a lot of problems with your view/ideas. Let me explain why they are problematic.”

    A disagreement under (2) sounds like this:
    “I respect your right to hold the views/ideas that you do, because everyone is entitled to believe what they want, but people like you are bigots and full of hate. Love wins, so why can’t you be more loving and just accept me for who I am?”

  3. SteveK

    “We live in a culture marred by blindness.”

    Willfull blindness. How many articles have we seen recently where the non-believing author *claims* to have a very clear understanding of Christianity – hey you, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality – yet cannot understand the most basic tenets like John 3:16-17.

    If the former should be taken seriously by everyone, because Jesus is some kind of an authority figure, then why not the latter too? If you understand Christianity so well how come you’re not a Christian? If it’s because you don’t believe it’s true then why are you quoting Jesus?

    These are the thoughts I have when I hear from a nonbeliever who is trying to teach me what Christianity is all about.

  4. BillT

    “The bullies and bigots will kick and scream like the small minded manipulators they are, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent Americans from doing the right thing.”

    Quite honestly, when I read this, I thought the author was, in an unexpected moment of clarity, talking about himself. Then, snapped back to reality, I realized that the author, that paradigm of tolerance, was exhibiting the kind of intolerance we have come to expect from the very hypocritical “tolerance” crowd.

  5. John Donnelly

    Superb piece Tom. You point out the contradictions so well . The blindness you speak of cannot be penetrated except by Christ .

  6. DR84

    Clearly this is an example of blatant hypocrisy. I cannot help but think it is also an example of those claiming victory also taking the prerogative to dictate the terms of reconciliation. Which, as “victors”, they assume that the work of reconciliation lies all or mostly on the “losers”.

  7. Earl Morton

    I’ve been reading a lot about worldviews lately. I’ve been struck by how often a little bit of reflection shows that non-Christian worldviews self-destruct with internal contradictions, not only within their philosophy, but between their philosophy and their practice. Your post points out an excellent example of the latter.

    Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall into the same trap by rushing to judgment. (I’m not accusing you of that.)

  8. Andrew W

    Before you quote Romans 2, you say: ” That knowledge will excuse us in the end, though …”. I think you mean “will” -> “won’t”.

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