Photo: Jen Hatmaker. Credits below. Blog post adapted from a comment I left on Scott Klusendorf’s Facebook feed earlier this evening.
Another Christian celebrity has forgotten to put on her thinking hat. Religion News Service is reporting that Jen Hatmaker has said this about gay marriage:
From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends.
I read that on Facebook, and I decided it needed a bit of analysis.
Yes! Gay people should have the right to choose who they want to love.
1. “From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love.”
That’s absolutely true — and it has absolutely no bearing on whether same-sex marriage should be permitted. Marital love is not the only kind of love. Neither is sexual love. Two adults can love each other intensely without having either a sexual or marital relationship.
She went on,
2. “And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us.”
Again, that’s absolutely true. Again, it has no bearing on whether same-sex marriage should have been invented to accommodate people who are mistaken on 1.
Then she added,
3. “I would never wish anything less for my gay friends.”
Nor should she. Gay friends should be allowed to love whomever they want to love, under the full protection of the law.
Now, if that last statement makes you feel uneasy, re-read 1 and 2. Then ask yourself, “What got into me that made me think love between two people is necessarily sexual/marital love?”
Gay people should be able to love whomever, but that doesn’t imply any conclusion whatsoever about them having sex or being married — unless you mistakenly believe love necessarily involves sex.
But Don’t Be Confused!
So the argument “works,” in a sense. Rhetorically, not logically. Here’s how.
We all feel love is important. Indeed, biblically we know that it’s absolutely crucial (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
And it’s emotionally powerful. Really powerful.
It’s packs such an emotional punch, the very word love can get you responding without thinking. And it’s that nearly-automatic, unthinking level of response that explains how statements like Jen Hatmaker’s can have such rhetorical purchase. That’s the only explanation for its being at all persuasive, actually, since there’s no logical value to the conclusions she comes to.
Love can short-circuit thinking. Sometimes it’s okay if it does that — who wants to analyze everything?!
But when the word “love” is used as part of an argument (as she uses it here), you’d better keep your head about you.
Otherwise you’re going to find yourself pulled, falling hat-over-sandals over the same emotional/rhetorical cliff so many other people have fallen down.
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