Same-Sex Marriage In 2016: One More Reason the Question Still Matters

Pundits are marking 2015 as the year the same-sex marriage question was settled in the United States. They’re wrong. There’s still plenty to be done about same-sex marriage in 2016.

Defenders of marriage see the question still at issue for marriage, family, and religious freedom. They’re wrong too, if they think those are the big three. Yes, they’re right to place priority there, but if that’s all they see to work on they’re missing one other matter, equally important if not more so.

Marriage and Family

The gay marriage question wasn’t settled in 2015 — and the pundits are wrong — because more than a third of us are convinced the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong. We acknowledge that the court’s decision is in force. We just don’t think it’s good for it to stay that way. The year 2015 marks a turning point in how we address gay marriage, not whether we address it.

Our strategies going forward will resemble the approaches we’ve used to protect unborn lives since Roe v. Wade. On that front we’ve moved forward patiently, not expecting huge, quick wins, remaining content (not satisfied, but content) to see progress through consistent support for women and babies along with ongoing political and legal pressure.

I expect to see something similar with respect to marriage and family. The Church will continue its long-standing support through teaching, counseling, and mutual encouragement, delivered in myriad ways: sermons, classes, books, conferences, one-on-one sessions both formal and informal, and on and on. Winning this battle requires a vision for marriage, not just against same-sex marriage. We’ve known that and we’ve practiced it; now our strategies will reflect it more visibly than before.

Religious Freedom

Various jurisdictions have already been trying to enforce conformity of belief regarding LGBT matters. In the U.S., Christians’ best defense against this tyranny is still the First Amendment. Unfortunately activists have undermined its protections badly. Princeton students by the dozens were willing to sign petitions for its repeal. Residents of Indiana recently voiced their opinion that individuals’ sexual rights trump religious bodies’ First Amendment rights. University speech codes abound, sharply restricting so called anti-gay “hate speech.” Our liberties are under fire.

Issue 4: Christianity’s Moral Standing

The fourth crucial issue raised through gay-marriage activism — the one that many marriage defenders missed — is the collateral damage the marriage battle has inflicted on Christianity’s moral reputation. Gay marriage activists have made themselves seem more Christian than marriage-defending Christians. They’ve done it mostly through rhetorical sleight-of-hand. For example:

  • They’ve set themselves up as the side promoting “marriage equality,” which on closer inspection turns out to be nothing but rhetoric.
  • They’ve camped on the harm done to persons who couldn’t marry, while failing to define the word “marriage” in any consistent or principled sense. This opens them to the same charge of harm done to threesomes or blood relatives who can’t marry. They have no principle-based answer to that accusation.
  • They’ve equated their cause to the civil rights movement when in fact the two movements aren’t even close to being the same.

I could go on. The point is, marriage revisionists have made Christianity look bad. They’ve done it illegitimately, but they’ve done effectively.

For the Glory of God

Their strategies have had a huge impact on the expression of God’s glory and goodness in the present age. If Christianity looks bad to some people, then since Christ is known in the world mostly through his body, the Church, to those people Jesus Christ himself looks bad. Now, that’s just wrong. Jesus is by far the greatest model of other-centered goodness, love, worship, faithfulness, and purity the world has ever known. I grieve at the thought of anyone not seeing him for who he is.

For Our Witness in the World…

When I was a student in the 1960s and 1970s few people doubted Christianity’s basic moral goodness. Their key questions then were, “Is it true?” and “Do I want it?” Those questions have now been pushed to the background. Considering Christianity’s new reputation of being unjust, reactionary, and unthinking, the first question is no longer, “Is it true?” It’s, “Why would I want to think about whether it’s true,  when so many people are telling me how rotten it is ?”

We need to be able to answer that question. Answers exist. For a long time now, marriage’s leading defenders have been explaining why natural (man-woman) marriage isn’t just some religious prejudice, it’s a good idea. It’s good in all the ways that matter: good for today’s society, good for today’s children, good for future generations, and good for married persons. At the same time these marriage defenders been refuting the idea that same-sex marriage is good, too, on similar terms.

… Especially To Our Own Children

It’s no longer enough, however, for marriage’s leading defenders to make that case. This isn’t just about whether the people or the courts or even TV producers will approve of same-sex marriage. It’s about whether our own children and grandchildren will approve of Christianity. The battle lines are clearly drawn, with conservative Christians (Evangelical, Pentecostal, Catholic, and Orthodox) on one side, same-sex marriage and its supporters on the other. To the extent that same-sex marriage looks good and right, Christianity looks evil and wrong.

Critconvcover web 250It looks evil and wrong to our own children, that is. It looks bad in other spheres, too, which will undoubtedly influence how things go for us on religious freedom. But we can’t ignore its impact on our own children. They’re the ones asking themselves and each other, “If Christianity is this bad, I’ll ride it out with my parents as long as I have to, but why would I even think of sticking with it when I leave home?”

It’s a real question. Its premise is completely false, but that doesn’t mean nobody is asking it. Church leaders and parents need to be equipped to answer. That’s why I’ve written Critical Conversations: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens, due for release from Kregel Publications on February 27.

Along with that I recommend other excellent works by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet, Anthony Esolen, Robert Reilly, and especially (if you have the patience to work through it), Girgis, Anderson, and George.

Summary: Same-sex marriage in 2016

Marriage, the family, and religious freedom — three conceptually distinct yet intertwining and overlapping issues — are still at stake. Most of us have seen that much clearly enough since long before this year’s Supreme Court decision. We know it isn’t over with.

Many marriage defenders have missed a fourth intersecting issue: Christianity’s reputation is at stake, affecting our witness to God’s glory and the spiritual lives of future generations. We need to direct our efforts there as well.

The same-sex marriage question isn’t behind us. We must keep standing for marriage, the family, religious freedom, and the goodness of Christianity in 2016 and beyond.

Comments

  1. DR84

    “It looks evil and wrong to our own children, that is. It looks bad in other spheres, too, which will undoubtedly influence how things go for us on religious freedom.”

    Indeed, and it seems that is becoming increasingly clear that the desired sexual orientation/gender identity “anti-discrimination” laws are desired precisely because of how they will impact conservative/traditional/orthodox Christian institutions (churches, schools, etc). I believe it is also becoming increasingly clear that one way or another these laws are probably coming.

    I think we have already seen the preview with the bakers, florists, and photographers. Remember how it has been said over and over that of course there is no violation of religious freedom for these people because if they do not want to make cakes to celebrate homosexual conduct then they can just not make wedding cakes for anyone?

    I suspect the follow up to that is that; of course, it is no violation of religious freedom, if your church/school/organization does not want to follow neutrally applicable “anti-discrimination” employment laws then they just don’t have to employ anyone. You are free to continue operating your churches, schools, etc as all volunteer efforts.

    If anyone questions how serious of a threat this is to our institutions, first look up the proposed Equality Act for 2015…the one I believe Hilary Clinton herself has said would be her top top priority if elected.

    Do you think that Obama and the Democratic party would jump to get this act passed if they were given this compromise?

    It must contain the following two statements:
    1. Beliefs about marriage and sexual morality can be sincerely held religious beliefs and are not indicative of animus or discriminatory intent against any protected class.
    2. Religious organizations will have complete discretion over who in their employment the ministerial exemption applies to.

    Does the question not answer itself? Notice these statements protect them equally and do not contradict a single stated goal of this so called Equality Act. They would not even, I believe, let bakers go back to just baking cakes for couples weddings and not also be forced to bake special cakes to celebrate homosexual conduct. Yet, does anyone doubt this “compromise” would never go over with them? I don’t.

    It seems to me we will be suffering even more reputation loss over the fight against “anti-discrimination” laws. Perhaps even much much more. The marriage question might have just been a warm up.

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  3. Lamar Smith

    You wrote:

    They’ve camped on the harm done to persons who couldn’t marry, while failing to define the word “marriage” in any consistent or principled sense. This opens them to the same charge of harm done to threesomes or blood relatives who can’t marry. They have no principle-based answer to that accusation.

    I respectfully disagree with you. I do think that allowing two people of the same gender to marry will, I believe, open the legal door for appeals from people who wish to practice polygamy.

    Fortunately, we do have enough hard sociological data to support continued banning of polygamy. The societies where it is practiced, even here in the US have been studies to the point where a direct correlation between reduced human well-being based on every significant social factor (teenage pregnancy, literacy, education, etc.)

    We don’t have to THINK polygamist societies have problems, we KNOW they are do.

    I’m sorry to be so blunt, but when a small percentage of men get all the women, you create the so-called ‘Lost Boys’ phenomenon, where you have packs of almost feral teenage boys roaming our cities while their sisters……. well, they have other equally distressing challenges and concerns.

    What about, though, the evidence that same-sex couples adopt at a much higher rate than straight couples?

    I do know that the kids available for adoption really NEED to be adopted. I am not concerned with whether that adopted kid will become gay or straight, I think it’s his/her business, CERTAINLY not mine. Those adopted kids, though, do so much better being with those same-sex parents than in the Child Protective Services System.

    You’ll need to show me some actual, quantifiable data on how same-sex marriage actually makes our society any worse.

  4. DR84

    Lamar-

    Multiple partner so called marriage is not necessarily polygamous. It is very simple, if two people deserve state “marriage” recognition then so do three or more people.

    What makes marriage good for society is already well understood, and simply common sense. Same sex relationships,even if called “marriages, do not and cannot participate in this is good. There is no reason we need to even prove quantifiable “harm” to understand this.

    Yes, it is by and large better for children to be adopted as opposed to being raised in state funded institutions. If it is the case that there are so many children in need of adoption that same sex couples can fill in, doesn’t this speak to there being bigger and more fundamental issues? Perhaps, instead of worrying about trying to increase the number of committed same sex relationships we should instead be concerned with promoting and strengthening real marriages? The more men and women marry and marry well, the less children need to be adopted. In addition, this increases the number if men and women who could be fathers and mothers to adopted children. In short, ultimately any case for same sex adoption refutes itself.

  5. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    What are the statistics comparing adoption rates of infertile opposite-sex couples to infertile same-sex couples?

    The latter is a redundancy, of course. The point cannot be overlooked, however. Do you have that information?

    Continuing:

    Why did you not say you have that information, if you do? Surely you know it makes a difference! If you don’t have it, then what you say about it is completely irrelevant and uninteresting. Why did you bother posting it? Do you know the difference between valid/useful information and invalid/misleading/tendentious information?

    As for the harm done by gay marriage to children, that’s a grand social experiment whose results, even if positive, could not be confirmed until another generation has been raised by those kids. In the meantime it’s the kind of experiment that would never pass institutional review at any respectable university. We know from an awful lot of research that kids do well in a home raised by a loving mom and dad. We do not yet know that they do well in same-sex households. The so-called research that “shows” this is infamous for its convenience samples and it’s tainted self-report methodologies.

    Further, we know that the impulse behind the gay marriage movement isn’t adoption. It’s “you-and-me-babe” marriage. Heterosexual couples have been equally guilty of this inward-looking, future-ignoring form of relationship. It has contributed mightily to broken marriages, and it’s devastated millions of kids’ lives. Now the U.S. and many other countries are enshrining that principle into law–as if it were a good idea. It ain’t, my friend.

    Finally, what on earth is marriage for, anyway, in the eyes of the law? Why does any marriage of any sort need a license? Why not just call it a good friendship with benefits? Why does the government need to get specifically involved in a same-sex relationship if the two are having sex, but not if they aren’t? What business is that of the state?

    I can answer that if marriage is for a man and a woman. If not, well, I’m sure you can’t.

  6. Lamar Smith

    Thank you for your reasoned response, Tom, hope your day is going well.

    Of course it’s not accurate to call same-sex couples infertile. There’s a good chance BOTH of them are fertile……just not with each other.

    I’m befuddled on your contention that same-sex unions can neither participate in the good of society nor add to the good of society.

    You know the statistics about how violent societies with larger percentages of unwed people are. There’s a direct correlation between the incidence of marriage and lower crime rates besides many other benefits.

    On what basis do you exclude same-sex unions from participation in and contribution to those improving conditions?

    The conclusion that ‘marriage is better for a society’ is an argument to expand the franchise and extend it to more, not limit it.

    However, in my first post, I gave a reason why all Americans can be content to not support any FURTHER forseeable inclusion to the institution of marriage. To open marriage to polygamists is demonstrably worse for society. We have data to back that up, therefore, I’d argue it isn’t simple-minded bigotry to exclude the polygamists.

    These aren’t pure philosophical arguments, though, but arguments from practicality and evidence-based conclusions.

    Could I trouble you to explain your ‘same-sex marriage is self-refuting’ comment? You lost me on that one, my friend, sorry.

    Thank you again for responding and in such a thoughtful and eloquent way.

  7. JAD

    From the OP:

    Our strategies going forward will resemble the approaches we’ve used to protect unborn lives since Roe v. Wade. On that front we’ve moved forward patiently, not expecting huge, quick wins, remaining content (not satisfied, but content) to see progress through consistent support for women and babies along with ongoing political and legal pressure.

    I think that is a bad strategy. Our approach should be modeled on the civil rights movement. This battle, after all, is about civil rights. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a civil right. It is also a fundamental right. If it is not defended and protected that is the end of our democracy. We need to have a sense of urgency here. We don’t have 20 or 30 years.

    This coming year (2016) I believe is going to be a very important year in this battle. Being a presidential election year it is a strategic time to raise people’s consciousness and consciences, not only about traditional marriage vs. SSM, but about freedom of thought, conscience and belief (religion). Because of the secular progressives aggressiveness these issues have become inseparably intertwined. If we choose our battles wisely we can make significant gains. To admit that this is going to be a generation’s long conflict is tantamount to admitting defeat. That’s not the kind of thinking I see in the New Testament at the very beginning of the Jesus movement.

    I am astonished that no one else can see the opportunities that I see. That’s what make me feel discouraged.

  8. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Lamar,

    Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate the courtesy you’re extending. In this comment I’m going to lay a groundwork leading toward a request for an even more authentic form of courtesy on your part.

    The groundwork has to do with what we said and how you answered.

    You say you’re befuddled, but you don’t help the situation much when you change the subject. (You don’t help much either when you quibble over whether same-sex couples are infertile. They are. Every-stinkin’-body in the whole world knows that. It’s unseemly—and I would think embarrassing as well—for you to dispute it.)

    Back to the changing of the subject, however:

    I’m befuddled on your contention that same-sex unions can neither participate in the good of society nor add to the good of society.

    I’m befuddled by your contention that this was my contention. I could probably make that case, but it would be very time-consuming. I took the shorter route of disputing your implied contention that there’s good reason to believe kids raised by same-sex couples turn out as well as kids’ raised by a mom and a dad.

    You have no evidence-based conclusions to rely on, in other words, that support your position. Please see my previous comment on that; it’s just as easy for you to read it there as it would be if I wrote it again here.

    Then I made the point that same-sex marriage legally endorses a principle that has undermined millions of marriages and harmed millions of children. I don’t suppose you noticed there might be some connection between that and your rather glib assertion that “The conclusion that ‘marriage is better for a society’ is an argument to expand the franchise and extend it to more, not limit it.” Expanding marriage is not what it’s about. Expanding marriage for the sake of what marriage is for is good. Did you have an answer to my question about that?

    Anyway, if anything I actually wrote about befuddles you, then ask away. Don’t expect me in the meantime to have delivered a clear explanation of a topic I hadn’t discussed.

    As for your “same-sex marriage is self-refuting” question, that seems to refer to DR84’s rather different assertion that “any case for same sex adoption refutes itself.” If I were DR84, my first response would be, “I’ll be glad to explain it further if you show some evidence that you read the explanation I gave the first time.”

    In short, Lamar, I want to commend you for your courtesy in addressing our conversation here. I appreciate that. There is another courtesy I would ask you to exhibit. For me it’s even more significant and telling than that one. Please do us the courtesy of

    (1) reading what we write (which I believe you do);
    (2) responding to what we write instead of to straw man distortions or other misrepresentations (which is really quite rude, don’t you think?);
    (3) not asking us to explain things that we’ve already explained once, at least not without showing that you’ve interacted somewhat with those explanations (which is just tiresome); and
    (4) not ignoring pertinent, substantive questions (which defeats the whole point of a conversation in the first place).

    Thank you in advance for your courtesy.

  9. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    JAD, I agree with pressing forward strongly on civil rights and religious freedom. That’s the immediate and pressing battle. The next year could indeed be determinative on that in the U.S. I’ll be working that issue here and at The Stream.

    I don’t think it’s at all likely that gay marriage law itself will change in the next year or two. That’s the issue on which I’m advising patience, persistence, and what you might call a flanking strategy, rather than a head-on assault at this time.

  10. DR84

    “If we choose our battles wisely we can make significant gains. To admit that this is going to be a generation’s long conflict is tantamount to admitting defeat. That’s not the kind of thinking I see in the New Testament at the very beginning of the Jesus movement.

    I am astonished that no one else can see the opportunities that I see. That’s what make me feel discouraged.”

    I admit I am pessimistic about the religious liberty/free exercise issues as they relate to the law and for the most part it seems to me that we are at their mercy. I do think one way or another they will get the “anti-discrimination” laws they want and that these laws will be just as much of a threat to the viability of religious institutions as we think they will be. I am curious what sort of gains you think we can make and how they can be achieved even. Perhaps my level of pessimism is not warranted.

  11. JAD

    DR84,

    Good question. Here are a couple of my ideas:

    The strategy that I think should be pursued has two prongs: (1) A non-religious or “secular” prong, and (2) a broadly based religious prong.

    There are a couple of keys to the strategy. One is keeping it as specific as possible while the other is keeping it as simple and basic as possible.

    The first goal of the strategy is about finding common ground and building a broad based coalition.

    More specifically it’s about building a coalition around the First Amendment but even more narrowly around a specific historical and traditional understanding of religious freedom.

    On the secular side there are plenty of non-conservatives and non-Christians who believe along with us that the First Amendment is critical to future of our democracy. For example, recently Eric Metaxas (a Christian and a conservative) interviewed Dick Cavett (an agnostic and a liberal) on his radio show. They agreed almost point-for-point that the recent new outbreak of political correctness on the campuses of major universities like Yale goes too far. Do Metaxas and Cavett agree about freedom of religion? I don’t know. They didn’t really wade deeply into that side of the debate. However, I do think there are more than a few self-described liberals and secularists who essentially agree with us. I think there is even a bigger “muddled middle” that can be educated and persuaded that freedom of religion is something that concerns us all (even atheists and agnostics) and must be protected at all costs. My point is that there is a lot of opportunity to find common ground and build a broad based coalition if we’re willing to put some effort into it.

    Unfortunately Christians and conservatives have a poor track record when it comes to coalition building. For my strategy to work it has to be narrowly and specifically focused on First Amendment and freedom of religion kind of issues. It is not about the Second Amendment, abortion, illegal immigration or climate change etc.—regardless how worthwhile and important some of those other issues might be. In other words, this is about creating a coalition not about recruiting (or evangelizing) more conservatives and Christians.

    One way I can think we could implement this strategy is by creating a single issue First Amendment super Pac. The purpose of the PAC would be raise money for a national advertising campaign to inform and educate the public about the current threat to freedom of religion. Of course, I have no idea (nor the money or the connections) how to do something like that. But if we talk about it publicly, maybe someone out there does.

    Of course, we also need to nurture a grass roots movement… A lot of social and political movements begin small but then snowball into something much bigger.

    Let me briefly touch on the other part of the strategy—the religious prong.

    Let’s be honest one of the reasons things have gotten so bad in our culture is that the church has failed in its mission. I wonder if we really even understand it. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:13-16) The church has as part of its mission, a mission of common grace. God expects to have a positive influence on our culture. When the world no longer sees our goodness, is it all their fault? I think we need to do some soul searching. It looks to me like the church is overdue for revival.

    Of course, we’ve also dropped the ball on basic evangelism. It seems the church is doing next nothing evangelistically to confront the persecution that is being directed against it. Here is a suggestion I made last summer in response to the plight of the Oregon bakers who took a stand for religious freedom.

    “One of the things that could be done by a well-known, well respected Christian leader is to hold a Billy Graham style evangelistic outreach in Portland. The Trailblazers arena, in the off season, would be an ideal location. A topic for one of the talks: Marriage is God’s Idea, not Man’s. I think that topic, the right speaker and public support of the Klein’s would be enough to generate opposition from the LGBT community. They’d give the event national publicity. Of course they’d also try to shut it down.”

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2015/07/could-this-restore-christian-bakers-freedom-of-conscience/#comment-116383

    My point is that we can use opposition to our faith not only to defend our rights but preach to a fallen world.

    I have more ideas. Those are a few to get the conversation started.

  12. DR84

    JAD

    What do you think of religious institutions signing onto to some statements like the ones below? These are just a few I put together quickly just as a rough idea. I am thinking the list should be as short and concise as possible. Some of this may already be covered by the Manhattan Declaration, but what I am thinking may be even more brief and focused than that. The basic theme here is churches, schools, and affiliated organizations taking a united stand in defiance of any existing or future “anti-discrimination” laws covering sexual orientation or gender identity. I think this would get publicity similar to your idea of a conference in Portland also could be a starting point to for a First Amendment super PAC of sorts. Just as the lgbt movement has relied on “allies”, something like this could also gather up some of these muddled middle people as allies too.

    In addition, I think this would provoke the broadly speaking elite left and so called lgbt rights activists. If something like this gathered enough support, we may see them split among factions that insist that new “anti-discrimination” laws are needed and that no religious institution can be exempt in any way from them and those that may support the new “anti-discrimination” laws but also think our institutions should be largely exempt from them. The former faction may even openly appreciate having an extensive list of who to start suing when they can. I can even imagine them hoping to use RICO to go after all signees at the same time.

    -We will not employ anyone who we know does not support our mission. This includes all people who we come to know identify themselves with their sexual sin, including but not limited relations outside of a marriage and homosexuality.

    -We will not pretend that any relationship between people of the same sex and/or between more than two persons is a marriage. We will not offer any support or benefits for these relationships as if they were.

    -Marriage is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. The institution was not created or invented by any mere human being. Legal authorities can recognize marriages, but cannot create them. What legal authorities call a marriage has no jurisdiction among us.

    -Biological sex is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. Male and female are not ideas or concepts invented by any mere human. We will not pretend that any biological male can be a woman or any biological female can be a man.

    -We stand by that any differing treatment of us and our institutions because of these beliefs compared to similar institutions that have different beliefs is unjust and unconstitutional. The state cannot treat some religious based institutions differently than others because of the content of their belief. This includes but is not necessarily limited to participation in government programs, accreditation, and tax exempt status.

    -We will treat any legal suit on one of our institutions because of these positions as an attack on all of them. We will share resources accordingly. We will not comply with any judgement that goes against us in these areas with respect to, but not necessarily limited to, the payment of any fines or changing any of our policies or beliefs.

  13. DR84

    Tom-

    I agree that the methodology of the current studies that purport to show that it is just as good to be raised by a same sex couple as by biological parents. That said, do you think social science can even truly answer this question?

    Part of why I am asking is that I have typically responded to these points by saying that being loved and raised by one’s biological parents is a good thing in and of itself, and that scientific methods cannot tell us what is good. This is instead a basic, foundational truth.

  14. JAD

    DR84,

    I’ve never get very excited about position statements or manifestos. They are rather pointless if they are not followed up by a plan of action. For example, I didn’t see a plan of action come out of the Manhattan Declaration. Maybe there was; maybe I missed it. Was it my responsibility to jump through a bunch of hoops to find out what the plan was? If you want to create a movement you need tangible goals and a plan of action. You need to organize, motivate, communicate and educate. I think for 2016, if we are going to have an influence on the political process, we need communicate and educate. I think the American public is poorly educated about First Amendment freedoms and the freedom of religion.

    2016 is already here. We do not have time to do anything complicated or fancy. As far as statements. I think we should take a page out of the lefts play book. We should come up with concise and pithy twitter style sayings or slogans than can fit easily on posters, placards and tee shirts. Here are a few of my ideas:

    There is no democracy without freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    Equality without freedom is oppression.

    The citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have equal rights—well, they’re all treated equally. They also claim to be democratic… yeah, right.

    There are no equal rights without freedom of religion.

    XY + XX does not equal XX + XX or XY + XY

    Rights come from God not man.

    Marriage is God’s idea.

    The government DOES NOT create rights.

    True Marriage is a religious right and a religious r-i-t-e.

    The State cannot sanctify marriages… That violates the separation of church and state.

    True freedom means following the Golden Rule.

    Respecting your rights DOES NOT mean endorsing you moral choices.

    Please do not use your right of free speech to deny me mine.

    STOP persecuting bakers.

    STOP persecuting florists.

    STOP persecuting photographers.

    …etc.

    Just brainstorming. Anyone else have any ideas?

  15. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Lamar Smith emailed to say he was having trouble posting, and asked me to put this here for him:

    I think a case will reach the Supreme Court relatively soon on the religious freedom issue.

    Philosophically it must, no?

    The Supremes have okayed gay marriage, that still leaves the question “What happens when individual people or businesses or organizations claim religious protection in the event their conscience prevents them from participating or supporting that new facet of what it means to be married?”

    It seems to me you’ve set yourself to a course that will be perceived by a significant percentage of your countrymen as exclusionary, mean-spirited and spiteful.

    I’m comfortable that those would not be how you describe yourself or your efforts, but I’m addressing specifically the public perception of what you’re trying to achieve.

    The allegorical coffee shop conversation from an earlier post brings up this definitional issue of marriage.

    You and some of the posters tried to introduce a ‘slippery slope’ roadblock; “Well, if you let the gays, then what’s next?” Polygamy was mentioned, though not polygyny, I noted. Fathers and sons and such.

    You’re pettifogging, my friend. The gay community is, in terms of data collected, a known quantity. We, as a society, can say we know the gay community as well as you can ever know an entire group. Like all populations it’s got a mix of brilliant specimens and those less useful than dog that refuses to be housebroken.

    Your position is just as relative. The line exists where it does today, but because you don’t approve of the redrawing doesn’t mean that there are now no lines.

    At this point, polygamy is not recognized as a legal example under the umbrella we call ‘marriage.’

    At this point the umbrella covers single person to single person of the same sex.

    Your path to victory cannot be won with the shield of religious freedom only. You’re going to have to produce quantifiable data showing that allowing two consenting adults who want to get married should not be allowed. That’s your sword. That’s your war-winner.

    The extreme case someone introduced was a father and son wanting to get married. I think the two populations, gay and father-daters, aren’t even close. If you took a conservative estimate of 10% gay population, then we’re talking numbers in the tens of millions across our land.

    Father dating the son population doesn’t quite compare, does it?

    Part of a legal system is that it’s adaptive. Real cases filed work their way up through the system. Show me the case of the son-dater, if there is one.

    I know you’re passionate about this, but I think the ship has sailed on this one. It’s a statistical reality that everyone knows a gay person or has one in their own family.

    There may be a slope on this issue, but it’s a gentle slope with lots of friction. We’ll have all the time in the world to sort out the father-daters.

  16. DR84

    JAD-

    I agree about the Manhattan Declaration, it does not seem that is much more than a webpage. I also agree with your multi-prong approach. My comments were meant to be in addition to your suggestions, not as an alternative.

    Anyway, it may be a bit late for this slogan since Obergefell happened, but “biology refutes =” would be my top suggestion. Using the equals sign instead of “biology refutes equality” I think is key because a simple = sign is already one of the most predominate slogans they have.

    That all said, I am weary of slogans because it seems to me they have the high ground when it comes to language. They have more power to influence what words and terms mean in common usage. For example, we speak of “religious liberty” and they have made that phrase associated with “right to discriminate (against gays)”.

    Here is another angle on this, can you think about say “traditional marriage” or “religious liberty” without also having some thought about bigotry cross your mind? I can’t, and obviously not because I don’t know with certainty that neither position is actually bigoted, but instead because I have seen those terms linked with bigotry over and over and over again. It is a conditioned a response. I’m thankfully inoculated from it, as clearly are you, but this is what we are up against. I may not have many suggestions for slogans besides “biology refutes =”, but I do think if any take hold it will be because they circumvented these associations.

  17. DR84

    “Your path to victory cannot be won with the shield of religious freedom only. You’re going to have to produce quantifiable data showing that allowing two consenting adults who want to get married should not be allowed. That’s your sword. That’s your war-winner.”

    Who gets to decide what sort of quantifiable data counts? I think it is quantifiable that the more men and women form lifelong/exclusive unions that the more children will be born to and raised by their moms and dads in stable, loving homes. Really, that is just common sense, we do not even need to get the numbers to prove it (even if we can). I am also quite sure this sort of quantifiable data will not be accepted by any ss”m” supporter. It also will not be allowed into any courtroom any more.

    I also cannot help but wonder, did ss”m” supporters need quantifiable data to show that two men or women “marrying” each other *must* be allowed? If so, I do not recall what this data is. I cannot even come up with what such data could even be. It strikes me that, if Lamar is correct, this is a blatant double standard.

    Regardless of how unreasonable and even categorically off base this standard is, Lamar might be right that it will be the standard the courts and court of public opinion holds us to. If so, we are hosed. The fix is in. I hope otherwise.

  18. JAD

    DR84 wrote,

    I agree about the Manhattan Declaration, it does not seem that is much more than a webpage. I also agree with your multi-prong approach. My comments were meant to be in addition to your suggestions, not as an alternative.

    I am sorry. It appears that I didn’t clarify my position sufficiently. I didn’t mean to imply that I was taking issue with any statements that you listed. Rather, the point I was trying to make is that we have think how we are going to communicate a broader audience—the undecideds in the middle. That’s where other efforts, like the Manhattan declaration, have fallen short. Statements, slogans etc. in and of themselves don’t do a thing unless they are effectively communicated. We have to come up with a plan as to how to effectively communicate, educate and persuade people who aren’t already in agreement with us yet are still persuadable. I think our target should be these uncommitted, or softly committed, not the LGBT activists. That is who they have been targeting. Is it not?

    Again as I wrote earlier,

    “This coming year (2016) I believe is going to be a very important year in this battle. Being a presidential election year it is a strategic time to raise people’s consciousness and consciences, not only about traditional marriage vs. SSM, but about freedom of thought, conscience and belief (religion). Because of the secular progressives aggressiveness these issues have become inseparably intertwined. If we choose our battles wisely we can make significant gains. To admit that this is going to be a generation’s long conflict is tantamount to admitting defeat. That’s not the kind of thinking I see in the New Testament at the very beginning of the Jesus movement.”

    If I gave you 50 million dollars to be used in a national T.V. campaign, what would you say, or have your spokesman say in a 30 second commercial (or commercials) to reach the undecideds? Could you adapt any of the statements you listed above to be used in that way? I am not saying you couldn’t. I am asking how you would.

    I have some ideas here, but surely there are some “co-conspirators” out there more talented than me… Those are the kind tangible goals I think we should be pursuing. That’s where we need to come together strategically. We also need to have a sense of urgency here.

  19. DR84

    “If I gave you 50 million dollars to be used in a national T.V. campaign, what would you say, or have your spokesman say in a 30 second commercial (or commercials) to reach the undecideds? Could you adapt any of the statements you listed above to be used in that way? I am not saying you couldn’t. I am asking how you would.”

    My first idea:

    Scene 1: Two men saying their “I do’s” in a same sex relationship ceremony.
    Scene 2: One of those men getting fired Monday morning because his employer find out about his same sex relationship.
    Scene 3: A man participating in a recognize Christian church service.
    Scene 4: This man getting fired Monday morning because his employer find out about his religious life.

    Closing Scene: A statement that says something to the effect that no one should fear for their livelihood because of their relationship of choice or faith.

    I think if we are going to connect with the uncommitted, or softly committed, I would start with a live and let live approach. Something that does not make them feel like they have to take sides, and shows we care about the valid concerns of the lgbt community in addition to our own valid concerns.

  20. BillT

    Your position is just as relative. The line exists where it does today, but because you don’t approve of the redrawing doesn’t mean that there are now no lines.

    I’d disagree. It’s been pointed out numerous times by numerous commemorators that SSM doesn’t really redefine marriage but undefines marriage. The due process arguments used to secure SSM have no apparent legal boundary and certainly could be used to secure marriage right for many unconventional unions. That is not true yet doesn’t mean it won’t or couldn’t be.

    Your path to victory cannot be won with the shield of religious freedom only. You’re going to have to produce quantifiable data showing that allowing two consenting adults who want to get married should not be allowed. That’s your sword. That’s your war-winner.

    And I’d disagree even more so with this. If religious freedom alone doesn’t allow churches to limit who they can choose to marry then religious freedom simply doesn’t exist. If they can’t limit this then what can they limit.

    Church membership would certainly be in question. If churches are required to marry anyone who requests they do so then why can’t anyone request church membership no matter their lifestyle or their beliefs. Why should a say a Christian church be allowed to keep a atheist from being a member, or a Hindu or a Muslim or a satanist. If they can demand a marriage why not membership or even to be hired as a pastor. There are already college campuses where Christian groups had to leave because this exact thing was demanded of them.

  21. Gavin

    DR84,

    In 13 you advocate making this public statement:

    -We will not employ anyone who we know does not support our mission. This includes all people who we come to know identify themselves with their sexual sin, including but not limited relations outside of a marriage and homosexuality.

    In 20 you advocate making this public statement:

    …no one should fear for their livelihood because of their relationship of choice or faith.

    How are those statements consistent? A policy of firing people because of their relationships will certainly case those people to fear for their livelihood.

  22. Gavin

    BillT,

    If religious freedom alone doesn’t allow churches to limit who they can choose to marry then religious freedom simply doesn’t exist.

    Churches are still allowed to limit who they chose to marry. The fight was never about that.

    Churches can now legally marry same sex couples if they chose. Churches have more freedom to chose who they will marry, not less.

  23. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin @22: DR84 was speaking of religious institutions in #13, but not in #20. I don’t know exactly what DR84 would say, but my view is that it’s entirely appropriate for persons persisting in unrepentant sin to fear for their continued employment in institutions whose mission and purpose is to overcome sin through repentance and faith. I don’t think that same standard applies elsewhere. The two statements are consistent in that way.

  24. JAD

    Gavin wrote:

    Churches are still allowed to limit who they chose to marry. The fight was never about that.

    Churches can now legally marry same sex couples if they chose. Churches have more freedom to [choose] who they will marry, not less.

    Clearly Gavin doesn’t understand what the church is. There have already been several priests who have been sued for not participating in a same sex wedding ceremony.

  25. BillT

    Churches can now legally marry same sex couples if they chose. Churches have more freedom to chose who they will marry, not less.

    Gavin,

    I think you’re being naive if you think that choice is going to remain unchallenged as a choice. The ability of churches to make that choice is what is going to be attacked next along with the other choices is I mentioned. And if you doubt that, then what of the places (university campuses, so far) that have already stripped religious organizations of that choice.

  26. DR84

    BillT-

    That did not take long, the choice is already being challenged:

    “My partner and I look forward to a time when we feel free to exercise our right to marry. Our great joy would be to invite one or more of our United Methodist clergy friends to officiate at our wedding worship service, yet all church clergy are forbidden from performing weddings for same-sex couples and hosting such services in our churches.
    (http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/readers-opinion/as-i-see-it/article53192460.html#storylink=cpy)”

    I think that this lady says she wants to “exercise our right to marry” is particularly telling. Can we trust people who believe that to not want to use legal measures to secure their “rights” if they cannot get them any other way? Perhaps this overly uncharitable of me, but I am not sure that we can or even should. Discrimination and denial of (fundamental) rights are usually dealt with by legal means when all else fails, or even before all else fails.

    This is also strikes right at the reputation issue. Most of us here probably are already aware that the UMC is quite wobbly on these issues and is more “progressive” than conservative. This church is getting presented as a hateful, bigoted, discriminatory organization. One that willfully harms and demeans people.

    Here is a real world example…how can the UMC do the right thing while not having their reputation suffer for it? I have no idea. I suppose they can let her go and no one notices. I am not sure what else they can do. My hunch is they will do nothing because they fear they will be taken to task if they fire her (or given the UMC wobbliness her district’s higher ups may already support her anyway).

  27. BillT

    DR84

    It’s been obvious from the very beginning of the SSM movement that there was a significant anti Christian element to it. The organized proponents of SSM have always had churches in their cross hairs and requiring all churches to perform SSM is very much part of their agenda.

  28. JAD

    DR84 @#20,

    I like the concept. However, I think it would be better if we connected the ad to a real life case.

    Here’s my idea:

    INT.— URBAN COFFEE SHOP—DAY

    WIDE SHOT showing that the shop is crowded. Over the din we hear snippets of a conversation. It’s about same sex marriage.

    A TWO SHOT of a couple of friends, ALAN and BOB engaged in a serious conversation.

    ALAN: You’re on the wrong side of history Bob—

    BOB: I don’t care about your view of history, Alan. I care about religious freedom.

    ALAN: But same sex marriage has no effect on people who want to continue to believe as you do. It just broadens freedom for everyone.

    A CLOSE SHOT of Bob’s face. A very pensive expression.

    A SCREEN SHOT showing a picture of former City of Atlanta fire department chief, Kelvin Cochran.

    CAPTION: “Kelvin Cochran… was appointed Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, President Obama appointed him as U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he returned to serve as Atlanta’s fire chief.”

    FADE IN/ FADE OUT SUPERSCRIPT: Cochran was fired in January 2015 for publishing a men’s devotional book for a Baptist church group. In the book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” Cochran addressed issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex from a biblical perspective.

    FADE IN SUPERSCRIPT: “People of any faith, when they’re strong in their faith, they would choose to live out their faith over keeping their job,” Cochran said. “But that should not even be a dilemma for any American in this country.”

    FADE OUT

    The quotes are from the Daily Signal:

    http://dailysignal.com/2015/07/06/atlanta-fire-chief-fired-for-anti-gay-views-absolutely-wants-his-job-back/

  29. DR84

    BillT

    Indeed, there is at least a number of people on that side who openly say they do not want churches to be made to perform ss”m” ceremonies. They are probably sincere. On the flip side, full “marriage equality” cannot exist in a society in which same sex couples are mostly locked out of religious wedding ceremonies and many of the most desirable churches for weddings.

  30. BillT

    DR84

    I’m sure there are opinions on both sides of that in the SSM community. It’s just hard for me to believe after they have been so successful in getting what they want, mostly from the courts, that they won’t continue. Why would they stop. They have a SC decision and state laws to use as ammunition. There certainly must be numerous gay couples who are members of the Catholic Church who could request their priest perform their marriage and file a law suit when declined. It’s too easy to resist, I think.

  31. JAD

    DR84,

    On the flip side, full “marriage equality” cannot exist in a society in which same sex couples are mostly locked out of religious wedding ceremonies and many of the most desirable churches for weddings.

    Genuine equal rights means an equal right to freedom and self-determination or freedom of thought, conscience and belief, as well as, freedom from coercion. It doesn’t mean universal affirmation and acceptance of your personal beliefs. It appears that gay rights/ SSM activists are blindly fixated on the latter, not the former.

    As someone once said (I’m paraphrasing): I may not agree with your beliefs but I will defend your right to hold them. Gay rights/ SSM activists, on the other hand, reject this view. They want total cultural domination. They want their views to prevail, and traditional beliefs about sexual morality and marriage to fail. You can reach a kind of “equality” that way, by passing laws that condemn views that don’t agree with your own or your preferred group think. But that’s not an equality of personal rights, because you’re taking away the rights of those who disagree with you. True democracy can only exist where everyone has the right to dissent and follow the dictates of their own personal conscience. You can only get the other brand of “equality” in a totalitarian state.

  32. DR84

    JAD-

    Indeed, and hence true “marriage equality” is totalitarian. By and large, I dont foresee lgbt activists and allies settling for something less than total “equality”.

  33. Gavin

    DR84,

    Your two part message makes a strong point.

    1) No one should should be fired because of their relationship of choice or faith. (20, 29)

    2) Many Christian institutions fire people because of their relationship of choice or faith. (13)

    I strongly support these statements. If there is anything I can do to help you get the word out, let me know. I understand how Tom views these as consistent—no one except people who work for religious institutions-–but your adds don’t say that.

    Leave them the way they are is my advice. If you wonder what happened to your reputation just keep reading those two points.

  34. JAD

    I have been working on an on-line article about religious freedom. Here are some observations and thoughts that I have based on some of my research.

    According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948:

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

    The U.S. State Dept. affirms the U.N. declaration right and recognizes “five violations of religious freedom… Arbitrary prohibitions on, restrictions of, or punishment…” They are:

    (i) assembling for peaceful religious activities such as worship, preaching, and prayer, including arbitrary registration requirements;

    (ii) speaking freely about one’s religious beliefs;

    (iii) changing one’s religious beliefs and affiliation;

    (iv) possession and distribution of religious literature, including Bibles and other sacred texts;

    (v) raising one’s children in the religious teachings and practices of one’s choice.

    Let’s look at several things that are implied by this internationally recognized right. First of all, notice that the U.N. Declaration is much more explicit about freedom of religion than the way it is defined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” However, it doesn’t go into any detail what is meant by “free exercise.” (There is more I could say here but for now let me say that the short answer is that at the time of our nation’s founding everyone knew what freedom of religion was.)

    Second, notice the U.N. explicitly states that the freedom of religion is interchangeable, if not virtually synonymous, with freedom of thought and conscience. The authors of the First Amendment would have agreed.

    Third, because freedom of religion is interchangeable with the freedom of thought and conscience, it also applies to those who choose to have no religion. In other words, everyone should support religious freedom because religious freedom is for everyone.

    Let me conclude by saying that, in my opinion, anyone who opposes freedom of religion really opposes political freedom and democracy.

  35. DR84

    JAD (#29)

    Seems like we are not running short on ideas. Maybe we should wait for the final verdict, but if it goes against Cochran because the judge basically said he really is a “bigot” and unfit for that job, then yes, that would be a great commercial. At the moment, there is at least some positive signs that case could go his way because the judge did not grant the cities motion to dismiss the case. Of course, those same signs could also point to a judge that is itching to write the “that bigot got what he deserved” opinion too. I assume that had the case been dismissed that it would not have had any significant religious liberty repercussions.

    You had brought up slogans before, and I have been pondering another one: “If gay is good, monogamy is not”

    I am heavily leaning towards the conclusion that any moral principle that justifies the (moral) goodness of homosexuality condemns monogamy. Basically, if they are right and gay is good, then for most people monogamy is immoral…you may even say people that engage in monogamous lifestyles are perverts. If we can persuade people that their view flips common-sense morality upside down, that would be huge.

    I don’t have anything specific in mind, but can you imagine a commercial that supported the slogan “if gay is good, monogamy is not”? I think 30 seconds would be enough to make it, it is the logical conclusion of their “born that way” argument after all.

    1. Modern science has revealed people are born with a fixed sexual orientation
    2. People ought to pursue the desires that correspond to their orientation.
    3. When one chooses monogamy, they are not choosing to follow the desires that stem from their orientation
    4. It is wrong to not do what you ought to do.
    5. Monogamy is wrong because people who choose this are not doing what they ought to do.

    That could probably be articulated a bit better, but I think that gets the point across. #1 and #2 are the “born that way” argument. At least for most people, who do not experience 100% desire for just one person, 3-5 show monogamy is immoral if 1 and 2 are true.

  36. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin @34:

    I don’t think DR84 needs to wonder what happens to his reputation. It’s the same thing that’s been happening for years. He made a statement that could understandably be interpreted as consistent. Someone from your side of the debate nevertheless interprets it as irrationally inconsistent, and plans to keep on interpreting it the same uncharitable way, even egging the person on to “keep on saying it” in that manner so that he can do that.

    That’s what happens to people’s reputations: they get distorted and then smeared.

    Three questions:

    1. Do you not see that this is what you’ve done?
    2. If not, what prevents you from seeing it?
    3. Why is it that your side labels ours the hateful one?

    P.S. Did you notice that #20 really is about religious institutions? I couldn’t tell if you saw that or not.

  37. Philmonomer

    With regard to #30, #31, #32, #33, the State has never made a clergy person marry someone that he/she doesn’t want to marry. It has never happened. It never will.

    I find this kind of disconnect between rhetoric and reality fascinating (what drives it? Fear?). Also, I suspect the authors of #30, #31, #32, #33 honestly believe it. (And my saying otherwise isn’t going to change their minds.)

    The reality is that Christian ministers will never be forced to marry gays. No court would ever require it.

    (see the following link, at page 26, where Justice Scalia tries to raise this point, and Justice Kagan points out that Rabbis don’t have to marry Jews to Non-Jews, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on religion).

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/14-556q1_l5gm.pdf

  38. Post
    Author
  39. Philmonomer

    And Supreme Court opinions rule forever and ever.

    Unless they don’t.

    I’m not following you. The link is to oral argument.

  40. BillT

    (see the following link, at page 26, where Justice Scalia tries to raise this point, and Justice Kagan points out that Rabbis don’t have to marry Jews to Non-Jews, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on religion).

    The problem with this “analysis” by Justice Kagan is that Non-Jews are not considered a “protected class” (under the 5th and 14th amendments) and thus not subject to Equal Protection and Due Process consideration. Kagan is ignoring the facts in the very decision she supported.

  41. BillT

    Philmonomer,

    Your belief that “the State has never made a clergy person marry someone that he/she doesn’t want to marry. It has never happened. It never will.” conveniently ignores what I said and that is that the legal basis to do so has never existed until this decision was made. The legal protections for churches to be excepted from anti-discrimination laws, in general, rests only on the language in those laws. All it takes is a judge to say that the language, and protections it affords, violates Equal Protection and Due Process to completely invalidate those protections. The state doesn’t have to “make” anyone do anything. They can just deny them the protections for their actions to the same effect.

  42. Philmonomer

    The problem with this “analysis” by Justice Kagan is that Non-Jews are not considered a “protected class” (under the 5th and 14th amendments) and thus not subject to Equal Protection and Due Process consideration. Kagan is ignoring the facts in the very decision she supported.

    Religion is considered a protected class. You cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspect_classification

  43. Philmonomer

    Your belief that “the State has never made a clergy person marry someone that he/she doesn’t want to marry. It has never happened. It never will.” conveniently ignores what I said and that is that the legal basis to do so has never existed until this decision was made. The legal protections for churches to be excepted from anti-discrimination laws, in general, rests only on the language in those laws.

    No, it doesn’t. It rests in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/01/opinion-recap-a-solid-ministerial-exception/

    All it takes is a judge to say that the language, and protections it affords, violates Equal Protection and Due Process to completely invalidate those protections. The state doesn’t have to “make” anyone do anything. They can just deny them the protections for their actions to the same effect.

    When that happens, you can tell me you told me so.

    (It’s not going to happen.)

  44. DR84

    Philmonomer-

    Are you aware that it is the highest goal of the lgbt activists and allies, along with the Democratic party, and also widely supported by large corporations for there to be nationwide sexual orientation/gender identity “anti-discrimination” laws in which there are *no* exemptions at all for religious organizations or individuals?

    Do you think such laws will have no effect on what churches teach and how they operate, perhaps even including how they handle wedding ceremonies? Please explain, because that is what I am getting out of your comments. That we have nothing to be concerned about. I think you are wrong, which I have explained in previous comments.

    Again, to re-iterate…no exemptions for religious individuals and organizations. Keep in mind that traditional Christian views are already all but declared “discriminatory” against both sexual orientation and gender identity already. You can also assume they plan on this being supported by the Supreme Court (even if its passed legislatively, the court will get their say after all), so these laws will be in effect what the Constitution says.

  45. JAD

    Philmonomer,

    “The reality is that Christian ministers will never be forced to marry gays.”

    Oh? Something close to that has already happened. As I pointed out earlier @ #25 Christian priests (and priestesses) have already been sued for not participating in a same sex wedding ceremony. BTW I am using priest here in the way it is defined for Christian’s in the New Testament. (See I Peter 2:9)

    The clergy/ laity distinction is an artificial one which was created later in church history. So when a committed and active Christian florist, baker or photographer is sued for not participating in a SSM wedding ceremony you are in fact trying to coerce a Christian priest (no scare quotes required) into helping in the performance of a wedding ceremony. How is that any different from officiating over it?

    Most wedding ceremonies performed in the U.S. are distinctly religious in nature—which is why they are performed by ministers, priests or rabbis in churches, synagogues etc. The role of the state, according to the establishment clause, is to be completely non-religious. You don’t need a ceremony to be married civilly. So even though SS couples have “won” the right to be married civilly that does not give them the right to demand that Christian wedding vendors violate their rights of conscience to participate in quasi-religious ceremony. Please notice that their not participating in a wedding ceremony does not deny a SS couple the right to get married. For that all they need to do is sign a piece of paper.

  46. BillT

    Philmonomer,

    Yes, you cannot discriminate on the basis of religion but this pits two classes against one another. Further, it’s the religion that, ostensibly, is the group exercising the “discriminatory” practice. As I mentioned above, the right for religious groups to limit their membership to members of their own faith has been deemed illegal on some college campus based on that practice being deemed discriminatory. It’s not like there aren’t real world examples of this.

    As to your:

    When that happens, you can tell me you told me so.

    (It’s not going to happen.)

    While your at it, can you give me who’s winning the 5th at Hialeah?

  47. Philmonomer

    Are you aware that it is the highest goal of the lgbt activists and allies, along with the Democratic party, and also widely supported by large corporations for there to be nationwide sexual orientation/gender identity “anti-discrimination” laws in which there are *no* exemptions at all for religious organizations or individuals?

    I’m aware that a lot of people think that the anti-discrimination laws should apply to homosexuals in all the usual areas (housing, employment, etc.) I don’t know of any homosexuals that thinks this means churches should be forced to marry them. Do you have anything you can cite to?

    Do you think such laws will have no effect on what churches teach and how they operate, perhaps even including how they handle wedding ceremonies?

    Sure, some churches will voluntarily change (employment, for example). Whether that’s because of the law, or whether that’s because they think it’s the right thing to do, seems like an unknownable question.

    Some will chose to allow SS marriage ceremonies. Some won’t.

    Please explain, because that is what I am getting out of your comments. That we have nothing to be concerned about.

    Churches are free to discriminate now in marriage. Here’s a quote from a minister which seems applicable:

    Here is how a clergyperson stops a wedding from occurring in their church: they say “no.”

    I know that because I have said “no” to couples wanting to get married in the church I serve.

    The reasons? I didn’t think they were ready. Or I didn’t think they communicated well. Or they asked me not to say “God” during the service.

    The legal recourse I have faced as a result? Nothing. Nada. Zip. That’s because the law already absolutely protects me, as well as every other clergy member in this country, from having to officiate at a wedding I do not believe should occur.

    And clergy have used that law for some pretty heinous reasons. They’ve denied interracial couples a marriage in their church. They’ve kept divorced people from marrying again. They’ve refused weddings to couples where the woman does not agree to submit to the husband.

    Simply put, churches are free to say no to whomever they want, for whatever reason they want. Don’t marry black people? fine.

    Again, to re-iterate…no exemptions for religious individuals and organizations.

    Right, with regard to housing, employment, health care, etc.

    Keep in mind that traditional Christian views are already all but declared “discriminatory” against both sexual orientation and gender identity already.

    Lots of Christians still discriminate on the basis of race (they don’t allow mixed couples/miscengenation). There is nothing wrong with that.

    You can also assume they plan on this being supported by the Supreme Court (even if its passed legislatively, the court will get their say after all), so these laws will be in effect what the Constitution says.

    I showed you how the court won’t support it.

  48. Philmonomer

    JAD,

    As, in your understanding “florist” = “priestess,” we lack a common vocabulary for a discussion.

  49. BillT

    Philmonomer,

    You’re continuing to ignore the fact the Obergefell created and entire new legal right that had never existed before. There just isn’t a way to know how that will play out legally. All those past precedents and laws that you cite could all be changed. In fact, you would expect they would have to be in response to that decision.

  50. DR84

    Philmonomer-

    Mainstream lgbt activists are saying outright that churches must not get exemptions from their sexual orientation/ gender identity “anti discrimination” laws. They are not hiding it. This may be the top goal of the Democratic party too. Again, why should we think this will not have real ramifications on what churches teach and how they operate? Yes, even including how they handle weddings. No exemptions means churches don’t get much, if any, say. Keep that in mind.

    The same people that want these laws are also the same people that are convinced churches discriminate on the basis of orientation and identity and that this is unacceptable. We are simply taking them at their word and also recognizing they are no mere powerless fringe.

  51. Philmonomer

    Yes, you cannot discriminate on the basis of religion but this pits two classes against one another.

    Yes. My point is that it is unrealistic to think that religion will not win. It will. (Indeed, we saw how it won (9-0!) with regard to the firing of a teacher, despite the teacher’s claim of discrimination.)

    Further, it’s the religion that, ostensibly, is the group exercising the “discriminatory” practice.

    Religions are entirely free to discriminate against people in certain scenarios. This is one of them. Indeed, I pointed out where, in oral argument, the Supreme Court agreed this is one of them!

    As I mentioned above, the right for religious groups to limit their membership to members of their own faith has been deemed illegal on some college campus based on that practice being deemed discriminatory. It’s not like there aren’t real world examples of this.

    First, I don’t think any legislature or court has deemed these illegal. Rather, they were decisions by the school administration (I think. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know.)

    Second, at some point, there is a reasonably good chance that some anti-discrimination protections may apply to religious institutions (for example, a Catholic high school fires a gay, married, teacher. The school might lose).

    But these examples are far, far removed from the court requiring clergy to perform specific acts. It simply isn’t going to happen. Religions get to decide who belongs to them. They get to decide who their clergy is. They get to decide who gets married in their church. This isn’t going to change.

    While your at it, can you give me who’s winning the 5th at Hialeah?

    Well, my prediction of the future isn’t some stab in the dark. It’s eminently reasonable (again, I showed where oral argument at the Supreme Court agreed with me. That’s sort-of like showing how the judge at Hialeah had already picked the winner in the 5th.)

  52. Philmonomer

    Everyone,

    On my end, I think I’ve exhausted this topic.

    Thanks for the responses.

  53. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Philmonomer @41: I didn’t have time to read your link, and still don’t. My reference was to what was stated by the majority in Obergefell.

  54. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Correction. I read it. (My real problem right now is the quality of my Internet connection, but it came through.)

    Your source here is considerably weaker than I expected, and I wasn’t expecting much.

    Ms. Bonauto’s assertion here carries the same force of law as if you yourself were to assure us that ministers won’t be forced to perform same-sex weddings.

    The ensuing assurances e.g. by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are somewhat more authoritative, but if you think they provide guarantees against this kind of infringement on religious freedom, you don’t know how the law works now, nor do you know how it tends to change over time.

  55. Post
    Author
  56. Philmonomer

    The ensuing assurances by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are somewhat more authoritative, but if you think they provide guarantees against this kind of infringement on religious freedom, you don’t know how the law works now, nor do you know how it tends to change over time.

    Of course there are no guarantees. But that doesn’t mean the forced-same-sex-marriage scenario is realistic.

    Let’s bookmark this discussion. We can come back to it in 30 years.

  57. Gavin

    Tom @37

    DR84 claims that he wants to build some bridges. To build those bridges he needs some awareness of how his message will be perceived outside of his group. He seems quite unaware.

    Here’s the context we all see. Christians complain about vague hostility towards Christians at secular universities while Christian universities require all employees to sign statements of faith. Christians complain that they can’t pray with their students at secular schools while Christian schools are firing teachers for relationships that are completely outside of school. Christians are making lists of businesses to boycott for saying “happy holidays” at the same time that Christians owned businesses are refusing (some) services to gay customers.

    None of that is irrational or inconsistent. I understand why you want be treated one way in a secular society even as you treat others another way in your religious institutions. It is consistent, rational, and not great for your reputation.

    If DR84 wants to build some bridges he should be aware his efforts further a perception that does not help his cause. He is welcome to go ahead. I’m just letting him know how that will work out.

  58. DR84

    Gavin-

    If a university explicitly had a statement of faith that excluded (orthodox/traditional) Christians, I don’t think anyone here would complain. Secular universities do not have such statements, but to some extent they act as if they do.

    Boycotting businesses that say “Happy Holidays” is silly, is this really a thing? I doubt it. If it is, its a fringe movement.

    I am not aware of any cases of any Christian business owners refusing services to gay customers.

    Building bridges goes both ways. If they still perceive these things poorly, it shows they are unwilling to build any bridge at all. Which would not surprise me in the least. If man gets fired for “marrying” another man, that is unacceptable, there must be laws. If a man gets fired for holding traditional views, that “bigot” got what he deserved. See Kelvin Cochran and Brendan Eich…

    PS This was an idea meant to appeal to the muddy middle, not lgbt activists and allies. We know where we stand with them.

  59. Gavin

    DR84,

    I know how the “muddy middle” will perceive this. You think I’m wrong? Go ahead.

    Also, keep referring to them as “muddy.” That’s genius.

  60. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin @59:

    Think, okay? You wrote,

    Christians complain about vague hostility towards Christians at secular universities while Christian universities require all employees to sign statements of faith. Christians complain that they can’t pray with their students at secular schools while Christian schools are firing teachers for relationships that are completely outside of school.

    Your objection is that we don’t treat apples the way we treat oranges, therefore, we’re hypocrites.

    Christian schools are private schools. Virtually all of the “secular” schools to which you refer are government-run institutions. Different rights and laws apply.

    Christian schools should have the right to expect faculty and staff to be Christian. If there are any atheist (or more broadly non-theist) private schools, they should have the corresponding right to require faculty and staff not to be Christians. This is not something a person turns on or off while entering or leaving campus, so “completely outside of school” is irrelevant. The government should not interfere with private belief- or non-belief-based schools exercising their rights to hire believers or non-believers. That’s what the First Amendment is for.

    But that’s about private schools. The First Amendment applies quite differently to government actions, and administrative decisions at state schools are government actions.

    Government schools are different from private schools. Apples are different from oranges. I’m not a hypocrite for peeling oranges but not apples. I’m also not a hypocrite for treating government schools different from private schools.

    None of this is hard. Or did you not know that different rights and laws apply to private institutions vs. government institutions? Really?

    Now for the look in the mirror I’m going to ask you to take. You’ve made a pretty strong accusation of inconsistency, hypocrisy, or stupidity on our part. Your accusation was falsely based. Will you admit it? Will you look inside yourself to see what led you to make such an obviously false accusation?

    You might say there’s some inconsistency in us in spite of what I’ve just written. Go ahead and state it if you see it. But admit that this one was wrong, okay? And look inside yourself. What is it that blinded you to the obvious reality?

  61. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Also, keep referring to them as “muddy.” That’s genius.

    Ridicule would be genius, too, if it wasn’t so far off the mark. No one here is referring to “them” — the people in the middle— as muddy, but rather the indistinct and undecided middle itself. It’s a metaphor anyway.

    But don’t let that distract you from the look in the mirror you need to take, per my last comment.

  62. DR84

    Gavin-

    You did mention that is how things would be percieved, I assume by who we may call lgbt activists. So, in all fairness to you maybe that does not represent your views exactly. Either way, I hope you can see how monstrously unfair their perception is and how far from reality it is based on. Even more so that you can recognize they want laws to be made based on their unfair and unjust perceptions…and by all appearances seem to be on the path of getting just about everything they want.

  63. DR84

    Gavin-

    Please share how the muddy middle will perceive this. I may not think you are wrong. I am not convinced that the muddy middle is going to be fair to our views either.

  64. Gavin

    Tom

    Your objection is that … we’re hypocrites.

    No, it isn’t.

    You’ve made a pretty strong accusation of inconsistency, hypocrisy, or stupidity on our part.

    No, I haven’t.

    Your accusation was falsely based. Will you admit it?

    I will admit that false accusations that you falsely accuse me of making are false.

    Will you look inside yourself to see what led you to make such an obviously false accusation?

    I will put “return to sender” on this one.

    After asking about the consistency I read your response and understood it. Since then I have repeatedly said that DR84’s position is consistent. Stop debating your straw man; you won.

  65. Gavin

    DR84 @65,

    Please share how the muddy middle will perceive this.

    From 34, per your request:

    1) No one should should be fired because of their relationship of choice or faith. (20, 29)

    2) Many Christian institutions fire people because of their relationship of choice or faith. (13)

    …and whatever logically follows.

    You’re welcome.

  66. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin at #66: I was quoting and responding to something you wrote 5 comments above what I wrote. Where in between those comments did you make the corrections you say you’ve made? I’d be glad to know about them!

  67. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin @67:

    Most people know that it’s rude to cling to negative interpretations of what people say as if no one had made a further explanation of what they really meant when they said it.

    This blog isn’t here for people to be rude to each other.

  68. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I mean, really, can’t you see that when people said “no one should be fired because of their relationships or faith,” and when they also say that religious institutions should have that right, and when they’re talking about religious freedom, they really do mean that religious institutions have a unique position in this debate, and they’re really not contradicting themselves — even if they didn’t say so explicitly in the one post?

    Can’t you see that? Can’t you be the slightest bit charitable about how you read things? Can’t you adjust to what people say as they clarify things?

    Why not?

  69. Gavin

    Tom,

    From 59:

    None of that is irrational or inconsistent. I understand why you want be treated one way in a secular society even as you treat others another way in your religious institutions. It is consistent, rational, and not great for your reputation.

    Emphasis added to help you find the distinction I acknowledged between secular society and religious institutions. You don’t need to keep lecturing me on that. I’ve got it.

  70. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    OK, I’ll admit I missed that. My apologies.

    I don’t know where you think we wanted to be treated one way in secular society and another way in our religious institutions, however. We want to treat unrepentant sin differently in the two settings, to be harder on it among ourselves than among others.

    If that’s bad for our reputation, that’s a story that’s been told for thousands of years. We’re willing to accept it.

  71. Gavin

    I don’t know where you think we wanted to be treated one way in secular society and another way in our religious institutions, however.

    Maybe it’s because I didn’t say that, or maybe it’s because you weren’t paying attention. I’m not going back to check.

    I’m calling it a day.

  72. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    When you return: I thought I was just paraphrasing,

    I understand why you want be treated one way in a secular society even as you treat others another way in your religious institutions.

    I got it wrong, of course. It’s been a very hard week. I was in an airport coming home from a trip last night and as I was approaching baggage claim I honestly couldn’t remember what city I’d spent the entire week in. It was also a very good trip (I recall now, obviously), but it included some very late nights.

    Anyway, I should have written,

    “I don’t know where you think we want to treat people one way in our religious institutions while wanting to be treated another way in secular society.”

    We want our religious institutions to be religious institutions reflecting our beliefs. I cannot imagine how this should be controversial. I really, really can’t imagine it. Meanwhile we do not want or expect non-religious institutions to be religious.

    Did I get your quote right this time? Can you explain it?

  73. Gavin

    Tom,

    We want our religious institutions to be religious institutions reflecting our beliefs. I cannot imagine how this should be controversial. I really, really can’t imagine it.

    I can’t imagine how this should be controversial either. Did someone say it should be controversial? I didn’t. Does it smell like hay in here?

    I don’t know where you think we want to treat people one way in our religious institutions…

    You want to fire people for their relationships or faith in order to ensure that your religious institutions reflect your beliefs.

    …while wanting to be treated another way in secular society.

    You don’t want to be fired for your relationships or faith because freedom of religion is one of the foundation stones of our nation.

    So…the reason I think that you want that is because you have explained to me, about five times now, why you want that.

    I’m glad you had a good trip and I hope you’ve gotten some sleep. Now I’m going to ask you to take a look in the mirror. Read your comment 37. That applies to you. And your comment 62. And 69 and 70.

    Thanks.

  74. Post
    Author
  75. Gavin

    Let me try something different:

    Maddy Muddle identifies as Christian, but doesn’t go to church much anymore. She’s watching news on TV. An adversisement comes on.

    Scene 1: Two men saying their “I do’s” in a same sex relationship ceremony.
    Maddy Muddle, thinking: What a cute couple. They look happy.
    Scene 2: One of those men getting fired Monday morning because his employer find out about his same sex relationship.
    MM: He got fired for wanting to be happy? That’s terrible. That employer is a jerk.
    Scene 3: A man participating in a Christian church service.
    MM: They look happy too. Maybe I should go to that church Chris invited be to….
    Scene 4: This man getting fired Monday morning because his employer find out about his religious life.
    MM: He got fired too! That employer is another jerk. Why do people have to be such jerks?
    Closing Scene: A statement that says something to the effect that no one should fear for their livelihood because of their relationship of choice or faith.
    MM: That’s right. No one should be a jerk like that.

    The news comes on. There’s a report about a middle school teacher who, after announcing her engagement to her partner of 23 years, was fired by the Catholic school where she works. Students and parents are protesting

    MM: Hey that school just like the jerks in that ad!
    Catholic clergy being interviewed: We just want to perserve the religious character of our institution.
    MM: Looks like you want to preserve the character of being JERKS!
    CC: We will not employ anyone who we know does not support our mission.
    MM: Your mission of being JERKS!
    CC: We signed a joint statement with many other religious institutions. It says, in part “We will treat any legal suit on one of our institutions because of these positions as an attack on all of them. We will share resources accordingly….”
    MM: So they are part of a big religous alliance…of jerks! I bet Chris is on of these jerks.
    CC: “We will not comply with any judgement that goes against us in these areas with respect to, but not necessarily limited to, the payment of any fines or changing any of our policies or beliefs.”
    MM: Defiant, lawless jerks too! I’m staying away from them.

    Maddy doesn’t think Christians are hypocrites, inconsistent, stupid, or that their actions should be illegal.

    She just thinks they are jerks. That’s the reputation problem.

  76. JAD

    DR84 (#36),

    Maybe we should wait for the final verdict, but if it goes against Cochran because the judge basically said he really is a “bigot” and unfit for that job, then yes, that would be a great commercial.

    Well, as I said earlier I don’t have the money, the know-how or connections to make a commercial like this. So for now it’s just an example the kind of commercial that could be made.

    But if someone with the means were willing to step forward, I think we should leave it up to Cochran and his lawyer whether or not to wait.

    From what I know this is a clear cut case of discrimination based on religion. It is not something we can afford to wait on.

    The secular progressive left has been very effective in using smear tactics and intimidation to shut down debate and dialogue. Kelvin Cochran has been willing to take a stand for what he believes. I think we need to stand with people like that. As I said at the beginning of this thread, 2016, being a presidential election year, is a strategic year. We need a sense of urgency. We need to take advantage of every opportunity.

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2015/12/same-sex-marriage-in-2016-one-more-reason-question-matters/#comment-120260

  77. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Okay, Gavin I think I finally get it, and I also think you’re spot-on with that analysis.

    Previously I thought you were talking about influences that were well-reasoned and fair. My mistake. Incomplete information, abbreviated sound bites, and image manipulation will undoubtedly have that effect, especially when mixed with existing prejudice.

    There’s nothing new there, really. We will take the risk to our reputation for the sake of what’s best for families, children, and communities in the long run.

  78. Gavin

    Tom,

    From the beginning, we were talking about a TV ad, proposed by DR84 (@20) designed to “connect with the uncommitted, or softly committed.” My point was that the ad would completely backfire with the intended audience. Why you thought we were talking about anything else is a mystery to me.

    Glad you finally get it. I’m done here.

    -Gavin

  79. JAD

    Ironically in trying to raise the issue of Christian prejudice Gavin tells us more about his own.

  80. AWW

    I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, but I don’t think I see anyone addressing the real problem here. The US federal government should not have the authority to define or dictate morality, especially with regard to anyones’ sexual preference, but only to uphold and inforce law. Our forefathers knew this and it’s the reason our nation is a “representative republic” with constitutionally protected rites to freedom of speech and separation of church and state. For the US supreme court to take sides on this issue, and for any judiciary to pen new laws in it’s regard, only means that the government is currently engaged in a power grab to bring them one step closer to possessing such authority; as evidenced by the fact that only 4% of the population is gay!! The real question is if they get away with this, what will they do next?!?!? And the irony is that supreme court justices, and even the president, still swear an oath upon the Bible to defend this nations constitution!

  81. JAD

    AWW,

    The US federal government should not have the authority to define or dictate morality, especially with regard to anyones’ sexual preference, but only to uphold and inforce law.

    Aren’t our laws based on morality? Where does morality come from? Actually, I see the fundamental question as who defines our rights? The government? The Supreme Court? “The people?” According to Thomas Jefferson our rights come from the Creator. In the Declaration of Independence, he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    While Jefferson did not accept what, at the time, were the traditional doctrines and beliefs of orthodox Christianity (he leaned towards Deism and/or Unitarianism) he did accept the idea that there was a transcendent intelligent Being who created the universe and who provides the foundation for mankind’s moral nature and human rights.

    For example, in a letter to John Adams dated April 11, 1823, Jefferson wrote:

    I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition… The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause…

    This is what he meant by Nature’s God. Today we would say that Jefferson clearly believed in intelligent design. But his beliefs about God did not end there. Elsewhere he writes: [C]an the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . .” – Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII

    So clearly, Jefferson conceived of God not as just some disinterested designer or creator but also as the transcendent law giver—whose moral laws provide a true and objective foundation for moral obligations, justice and human rights.

    The problem with a right like the right to same sex marriage is that no how, no way can it be argued that it comes from God. SSM is a blatantly a human creation which in its present form was “created” whole cloth by the secular-progressive left 50-60 years ago.

    My point is that these human created human rights cannot be absolute, universal or morally obligatory. However, the secular-progressive left clearly think that they are. They can only come to that conclusion by co-opting Judeo-Christian truth and doctrine, or presuming that they are god or gods.

  82. AWW

    “Aren’t our laws based on morality?” No, mans law is not! If it was then the question would become who’s morality do we follow, Gods or allahs? And even if the answer were GOD, we would still be doomed to failure as evidenced by what Christ had to do. Don’t forget WHY we declaired our independence, who from, and why our forefathers included in our constitution ammendments to keep religion and government separated! Just as many atrocities have been committed by men in the name of God as any other deity. Again, our forefathers were wise enough to pen our constitution in such a manner as to protect us from such totalitarianism. I also disagree with your premise that “the secular-progressive left are co-opting judeo christian doctrine” as evidenced by the all-out war they’ve waged on christianity in the name of political correctness!! They don’t want to be gods, they want absolute power and authority without accountability absent the name of any God, especially Christ!

  83. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    This is very, very confused, AWW. I don’t think you understand the place of morality and law in God’s economy. But given the frequency of exclamation points in your comments I doubt there’s much room for discussion with you on it.

  84. AWW

    I don’t question your faith or understanding brother, just rember “we are in this world, not of it.” KNOW YOUR ENEMY! Just because you understand Gods morality doesn’t mean they do, or even mean they should. Many times among men, freedom has been defined as simply agreeing to disagree. My point is that the government is now trying to take even that freedom away, in the name of political correctness, and for the sake of only 4% of the population. Seriously, consider what the governments’ true motives could possibly be for this…..

  85. Post
    Author
  86. JAD

    There is no basis on a secular (or an ontologically naturalistic) worldview for absolute, objective or universal human rights. Only Judeo-Christian theism provides such a basis. So when the secular progressive begins claiming– or even implying– that the so-called rights that he has invented are absolute and universal, he is coopting moral claims that are not logically justifiable on his world view. There are other ways secularists coopt Judeo-Christian thinking but without a solid ontological, epistemological or moral foundation he has no place to even begin.

  87. AWW

    Individual rights and freedoms can only be protected by law and constitution, but law is only just if it can be agreed upon and enforced universally. This is why, at least initially, our constitutions main thrust was about freedom and unalienable human rights. It’s easy for everyone to agree that no child should ever be born a slave. But since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, this is hardly the case anymore. Roe vs Wade is mentioned at the top of this page, as if all Christians should be uniquely and emotionally invested in such a decision by the courts. I say this mentality is dangerous and irresponsible; federal courts should never be put in a position to rule with regard to any factions’ emotional investment in any sense of morality. This sets a terrible precedent by lending the courts far too much power and authority to rule over the emotional/moral well-being of the populace. In fact, I believe what we’re seeing now is the back lash from that. You see the gays now endeavor in belief that if the Christians can pressure the courts with regard to abortion, then they can certainly pressure the courts with regard to marriage; besides, what do they have to lose? And now, with this current administrations politically correct, anti-Christian, pro-gay, pro-Muslim agenda firmly in place, America is suffering a huge moral loss; by the authority of the courts and for the sake of only a 4% minority. In order for law to be just it must be universal and cannot take sides. We don’t need any more laws in the books to define marriage any more than we need more laws in the books to define murder; but the more permission we give the courts to debate these issues the more authority the courts will assume to rule over morality. That’s the real battle we are facing today. While we bicker amongst ourselves over the definition of marriage and the natural order of things, our constitutionally protected right to decide for ourselves what is in keeping with our own personal sense of morality is being taken away from us whether we are Christians or not. Those with power and authority don’t care much for morality; they replace morality with their own self-serving ideology and call it “political correctness”, effectively rewriting the natural order of things. I’ve recently read that 70% of Americans still identify as Christian, if this is true then we should be marching on Washington in defense of our rights just as the gays do; but with one minor difference, instead of calling for another rewrite of the law we should be calling to stop it! Every American enjoys a constitutionally protected right to freely live their life as they choose, just not at the expense of others. That’s where the gays cross the line, that’s where the battle front is. I have every bit as much of a God given right to freely live my life as the gays do! And if that means that I disagree with or even frown upon homosexuality then that is also my right and I will not be quiet about it! No, I do not have to agree that “it’s OK to be gay” should be taught to my child in public school! And I certainly refuse to fear my disagreement and distaste for homosexuality being mistaken for “hate speech”! Don’t you see? If by law the courts can make it illegal to even disagree with homosexuality, then those responsible for writing the law can certainly make it illegal for you to even disagree with THEM! Freedom is a precious thing, defend it!

  88. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You go wrong in your first sentence:

    Individual rights and freedoms can only be protected by law and constitution, but law is only just if it can be agreed upon and enforced universally.

    Nothing is agreed universally. Nothing is enforced universally. Not even close. Based on this there is no just law, on paper or in practice.

  89. Post
    Author
  90. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Law is just to the extent that it is in agreement with God’s law and enforced uniformly in line with God’s law. That’s an entirely different definition of justice than the one you gave. Yours would mean there is no justice in law. Mine leads to the conclusion that justice is an ideal that can be approached to a lesser or greater degree.

  91. AWW

    You’re right, only Gods law is absolute!
    And the miracle of grace by faith is in the fact that we as God fearing men at least try to hold ourselves to that standard…………… at least until Christ returns. Until HE returns, this world is governed by evil in high places, and I assure you that evil is trying to rob you of your freedom. If it serves the purpose of mans law to accuse you of being a narrow minded Christian just to shut you up then that’s exactly what it will do.

  92. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You’re not entirely making sense, AWW.

    In #86 you wrote, “I don’t question your faith or understanding brother.”

    In #91 you wrote, “Wow, I’m sorry…. I thought this was a Christian blogg LOL”

    I think you’ve got some right doctrine in mind. That’s excellent. Your understanding of its full implications for law and for human existential circumstances is, well, inconsistent, or incomplete, or maybe not fully developed.

    I speak soberly as one with decades of experience both in study and ministry, in leadership, and in interactions with thinking believers and unbelievers.

    I recommend you take a deep breath, begin some study, and go slow on taking a teaching role until you’ve done so.

  93. JAD

    A number of prominent secular thinkers are willing to openly admit that the western concept of human rights has Judeo-Christian roots. Christian writer Nancy Pearcy, lists a few in an on-line article which she wrote for Evolution News and Views.

    The 19th-century political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said [our modern concept human rights] came from Christianity. “The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece” never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. “Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal.”

    The 19th-century atheist Friedrich Nietzsche agreed: “Another Christian concept … has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the ‘equality of souls before God.’ This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights.”

    A few intrepid atheists admit outright that they have to borrow the ideal of human rights from Christianity. Philosopher Richard Rorty was a committed Darwinist, and in the Darwinian struggle for existence, the strong prevail while the weak are left behind. So evolution cannot be the source of universal human rights. Instead, Rorty says, the concept came from “religious claims that human beings are made in the image of God.” He cheerfully admits that he reaches over and borrows the concept of universal rights from Christianity. He even called himself a “freeloading” atheist: “This Jewish and Christian element in our tradition is gratefully invoked by freeloading atheists like myself…”

    Contemporary atheist Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. “According to Christianity, we were all ‘brothers,’ on the same level as creatures of God,” Ferry writes. “Christianity is the first universalist ethos.”

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/05/for_its_moral_i095901.html

    Here is another quote I found from a noted secular philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, about the influence of Jewish-Christian thought on the modern concept of human rights. (According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Jürgen Habermas currently ranks as one of the most influential philosophers in the world.”)

    “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.” (Jürgen Habermas – “Time of Transitions”, Polity Press, 2006, pp. 150-151, translation of an interview from 1999).

    http://habermas-rawls.blogspot.com/2009/06/misquote-about-habermas-and.html

    In other the words, as I have been arguing above, the modern concept of human rights has been co-opted by from Judeo-Christian teaching and thought. If more people knew their history, this would be more widely understood and believed.

  94. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Yes, freedom, but not to use sexually-charged words gratuitously on this blog. Read the discussion policies. That comment has been removed.

    And I just realized, AWW, how ambiguous the text-term “LOL” is except where there’s an obvious joke. Are you laughing in appreciation? Glee over the way your argument is advancing? Derision? Do you see how wide the range of interpretation could be?

    Do you want people to know what you’re trying to communicate? If so, then communicate. “LOL” doesn’t do the job.

  95. AWW

    WOW! OK, you’re right! I have rudely interjected where I don’t belong and obviously don’t have a clue who I’m dealing with. I’m worse than an overly emotional woman wagging her toung, but I can’t just hide my head in the sand and thank God for the peace and quiet! I wonder how David would approach this. Do you think perhaps he would march on DC and slaughter everything that pisses standing up ?!?!? LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!
    “They have eyes and refuse to see”

  96. Post
    Author
  97. AWW

    You know, I could go into some long winded explanation of how I ended up here to begin with, but that would just be even more “mental m___n” (i.e. self serving deliberation of thought). But sincerely Tom, if you truly see yourself as a “Christian teacher” then who better to challenge you than your Christian audience? Do I even need to mention the irony of you censoring my comment for JAD here??? I learned long ago the difference between an argument and a debate…….. do you know the difference?

    (“Censorship” of a certain word supplied by the siteowner.)

  98. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    There’s always a final reaction. Sometimes it’s instructive to let it appear on the blog.

    AWW, there are challenges and there are challenges. There are indeed arguments and there are indeed debates. I don’t know which difference you are referring to (good debates include “arguments,” properly understood), but yes, in fact I am quite familiar both words’ range of meanings. No need to ask me that. I also know that I have the right to set standards for the kind of debate that happens here. They’re in the discussion policies. Those who comment here agree to abide by those policies, and those who repeatedly flout those policies are banned. It’s all there for anyone to see.

    There was a time when no one would ever have considered it “censorship” to be denied the right to enter into any conversation in any public place whatsoever and say whatever they wanted to say — and anonymously to boot. Then the Internet came along. But this still isn’t a place where any person can enter in and say whatever they want to say. If you consider that censorship, then you have been too much instilled with the spirit of anonymous Internet etiquette, which is to say, hardly any etiquette at all.

    Good day.

  99. JAD

    Here is a very succinct statement of why SSM remains a relevant issue.

    People of faith are also being asked to compromise their beliefs on the issue of marriage. While people of good will have different opinions on same-sex marriage, in a nation as large and diverse as ours, we ought to be able to find sensible compromises that accommodate bakers and florists and photographers who choose not to participate in weddings they find objectionable. The liberal Left in America, however, is unwilling to practice this kind of tolerance.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429806/religious-liberty-must-be-protected

    Coercive laws, especially those enacted undemocratically by judicial fiat, do not supersede our God give rights.

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