SSM round-up

by Jesse Johnson

“Yesterday I wrote about three obvious questions from the recent scrap about gay marriage. Today’s post is for those that have been sleeping for the past week and missed the controversy all together.  If you suffer from gay-marriage-controversy overload, you may have missed the newest twists and turns, which is a shame because you missed some really good writing.  Today I want to give a round-up of what others have written, and direct you to some of the better posts on this issue.

But first a little history: in the past few months gay “marriage” has been legalized in 17 states. Most of these saw marriage legalized by judges, and a few saw the turn at the ballot box. Since then there has been a tidal wave of additional lawsuits in the remaining 33 states that ban it. Every indicator is that those bans will fall as well.

In the meantime, some same-sex couples have sued bakers, photographers, and florists who have declined to provide their services to gay weddings. Denny Burk has a powerful articledetailing one of those examples.  The gist is that the florist served a couple she knew to be homosexual for almost ten years, and she considered them to be her friends. They then asked her business to provide flowers for their wedding, she refused, and was reported to the state, who filed suit against her (I wrote about these cases here).

This took gay marriage to whole new level. No longer is it something that can simply be recognized by the state, but it has morphed rapidly into something that every citizen could be force to actively approve of.  When a Christian DJ, pastor, baker, florist, or photographer refuses to service a same-sex ceremony, they fall on the wrong side of the law.

Tweet from Kevin DeYoung @RevKevDeYoung: “Marie Antoinette to French peasants: “Let them eat cake.” U.S. courts to Christian bakers: “Let them eat cake….or else.””

Some states (including Arizona and Kansas) proposed legislation that would specifically allow Christian business owners to decline service to same-sex marriage ceremonies without running afoul of the law. A good summary of what these proposals would/would not do is found at Christian Post. But these proposed laws were attacked, and eventually were discarded after a tsunami of public opposition. Ironically, some of that opposition was led by Christian columnists, such as Kirstin Powers (USA Today, who compared them to Jim Crow laws) and Jonathan Merritt (Daily Beast, who called these business leaders hypocrites for providing service to people on their second marriages). Together, their main point was essentially a WWJD kind of argument, and they suggested that Jesus the carpenter would have built the stage for a same-sex wedding, had he only been offered the job.

As for a response, I strongly suggest you read Al Mohler who systematically dismantled Powers’ and Merritt’s columns. Douglas Wilson offered his response as well (“Put an egg in their shoe” which is well worth reading for the way he interacts with Romans 1, and also for this sentence: “ I don’t know much about Merritt, but what I have seen seems to indicate someone who is being wafted along by the breezes emanating from the Zeitgeist Wind Farm, which is a bad metaphor because that’s not how wind farms work.”).

Meanwhile, Russell Moore responded to the accusation that it is hypocritical for Christians not to endorse same-sex ceremonies if they would sell their wares to a person on their second marriage.

Telling in most of the articles that compared Christians to racists is that the authors generally missed the distinction between denying service to a person because they are gay, and declining to use their business to promote a same-sex ceremony. I have not heard of any Christian arguing that others should not serve homosexuals (despite the hysteria on the issue), but instead have only heard of Christians arguing that they should not be forced by the government to make cakes for gay marriages. It is a distinction lost on Powers and Merritt, but strangely enough, one that was grasped by what is certainly the best secular post on this issue (here, at The Atlantic; I really recommend you read this, although you do have to get through the author saying, “You might not believe this, but I actually know a few Christians who are not bigots!” Yeah? Well I actually know an Atlantic columnist that isn’t condescending, but I digress).

Finally, if you are going to only read one of these posts, I suggest this one: The Institute on Religion and Democracy has a staff editorial (“Jonathan Merritt, Christian Artistic Expression and the Preferential Option for Caesar”). They summarize this issue quite well, and show the folly of asking the government to compel people’s consciences at the expense of religious freedom. It really is a must read.

Where does this leave us?

Eric Teetsel at the Manhattan Declaration gives a ten-minute crash course in why Christians should care about these issues. But ultimately we are seeing Romans 1 validated and vindicated  right before us.  In a culture ruled by homosexuality and idolatry, it is not enough to simply do evil, but it has to be celebrated and affirmed as moral good. And not being satisfied with the freedom to practice evil, those who are on this road insist that their own evil must be applauded by others. If you refuse… well, as Eric Erickson wrote almost one year ago, “you will be made to care.” Or, as the prophet of our day has said:

Tweet from Church Curmudgeon @ChrchCurmudgeon: “Coexist. Or else.””

-Jesse Johnson, 02-27-14, http://thecripplegate.com/ssm-round-up/

 

I’m a Christian who won’t label sexuality

Christianity’s radical proposition: not to be defined by the things we own or want, be it social status, wealth or sexuality
Cross“‘As Christians, we don’t believe desire is a reliable guide in life. Sometimes it leads us to what is true and good. Sometimes it flickers and deceives.’ Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP

I know very few people who enjoy swimming against the tide. But for centuries, those with same-sex attraction have been forced to do so. They have been marginalised and reviled by society, and by far too many in the church. They didn’t conform, they were different, they were forced to hide or pretend. That attitudes have softened over the last half-century has to be positive. That the church has much to regret, and repent of, is indisputable. As Andrew Brown’s article makes clear, “even among conservative evangelicals, it is no longer possible to deal with gay people, and the problems their existence poses, by simple repression”. Nevertheless, many Christians – especially those with same-sex attraction – fear being greatly misunderstood in current debates.

Labels (like slogans) have, of course, regularly been weapons of oppression or demonisation. They encourage a lazy rhetorical shorthand, which only excites passions and precludes charity (much as “socialist” might in US politics). One defence has been to appropriate the label. This was done with the word “queer”; ironically, it was also done with “Christian” (its first New Testament appearance is in reference to a pejorative usage).

The danger in any conflict is for both sides’ tactics to become indistinguishable, as seems to be happening in the west’s so-called culture wars. So in 1996, American anthropologist and Christian, Jenell Williams Paris produced some joint research with Mindy Michels, a lesbian scholar working in a similar field. They observed how the rhetoric on each side had an uncomfortable symmetry, especially in their common use of bellicose and aggressive rhetoric. Neither were constructive at all. So could not the casual insults like “homophobic”, “bigoted” and “offensive”, serve merely to silence and marginalise, just as “queer” did in the past?

Furthermore, reductionism is always risky – but when human identity is reduced to sexuality labels, there are significant problems. The irony is that “heterosexual” and “homosexual” were both originally coined by 19th-century medics to describe what was then considered an aberration. Archaic and ludicrous though this may seem today, they needed terms for so-called “deviants [who] pursued sexual pleasure without concern for procreation“. Of course, this is not the way they are used now, but this serves to illustrate the shifting sands of meaning. And for many (whether with same-sex attraction or not), they both carry too much baggage. Someone may be married with children – but what is to be gained from being identified as “straight”? The label is reductionistic and (perhaps deliberately) exclusive.

Of course, it’s easy to see why terms like gay, queer, and the ever-growing letters added to LGBT acronyms, are felt to be necessary. An identity based on an orientation offers an understandable route to like-minded and safe communities in the face of real hostility. It’s also difficult to fight political campaigns for rights and tolerance unless there is a clear sense of the identity of those being fought for.

But these labels simply do not do justice to the reality of human identity. This is actually why many Christians are still profoundly uncomfortable with the terms of the debate that is currently raging. I work in a multinational church with members from over 60 different countries, and with links with churches all over the world – but I know no one who wants to see what has been pejoratively described as a “Nigerian or Ugandan view of homosexuality”. I know no one who argues that this behaviour should be criminalised or discriminated against in public life. But disagreeing with someone need not mean rejection. I don’t believe it ever should.

Besides, the real Christian objection is much deeper. We don’t believe desire is a reliable guide in life. Sometimes it leads us to what is true and good. Sometimes it flickers and deceives. Instead, Christianity offers a far more radical proposition: we are not defined by the things we want or own. So we are not defined by our sexuality, social status, wealth, education, looks or even by which newspaper we read. Instead, we are defined by two key things: that we are each created in God’s image, and that in Christ we are redeemed by God’s astonishing love. It is on this foundation that we can surely move beyond a battle of derogatory stereotypes to a real discussion of what it means to be human.”

-Mark Meynell,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/oct/04/christian-label-sexuality

Gay is Not the New Black

by Voddie Baucham

It’s hard to deny that homosexual marriage appears to be a foregone conclusion in America. This is a frightening prospect not only for those of us who understand marriage to be a testimony of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church, but also for all who value the family and its contribution to the well-being of society and human thriving. And while it’s difficult to watch a coordinated, well-funded, well-connected propaganda strategy undermine thousands of years of human history, it’s especially disconcerting to witness the use of the civil rights struggle as the vehicle for the strategy.

The idea that same-sex “marriage” is the next leg in the civil rights race is ubiquitous. One of the clearest examples of the conflation of homosexual “marriage” and civil rights is Michael Gross’s article in The Advocate, in which he coins the now-popular phrase “Gay is the new black.”1 Gross is not alone in his conflation of the two issues, however. At a 2005 banquet, Julian Bond, former head of the NAACP, said, “Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.”2

Nor is this kind of thinking exclusive to the political left. When asked by GQ magazine if he thought homosexuality was a choice, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, replied:

Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”3

Even the California Supreme Court bought in to this line of reasoning. In a February 2008 decision they reasoned:

Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation—like a person’s race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.4 (emphasis added)

The California Supreme Court, like Gross, would have us believe that the homosexual struggle for a redefinition of marriage puts them in the same category as my ancestors. However, they would rather you didn’t take a closer look, lest you see how flimsy the comparison turns out to be.

Unidentifiable Minority

The first problem with the idea of conflating “sexual orientation” and race is the fact that homosexuality is undetectable apart from self-identification. Determining whether or not a person is black, Native American, or female usually involves no more than visual verification. However, should doubt remain, blood tests, genetics, or a quick trip up the family tree would suffice. Not so with homosexuality. There is no evidence that can confirm or deny a person’s claims regarding sexual orientation.5

Moreover, the homosexual community itself has made this identification even more complicated in an effort to distance itself from those whose same-sex behavior they find undesirable. The Jerry Sandusky case is a prime example. Sandusky is accused of molesting numerous young boys during and after his tenure at Penn State. However, try placing the label “homosexual” on his activities and the backlash will be swift and unequivocal. “Pedophiles are not homosexuals!” is the consistent refrain coming from the homosexual community, media, academia, and the psychological/medical establishment.6

Hence, it seems same-sex attraction alone isn’t enough to identify a person as a homosexual. And what about LUGSin college, or same-sex relationships in prison? Are these people homosexual? How about men who are extremely effeminate but prefer women, or those who once were practicing homosexuals but have since come out of the lifestyle (i.e., 1 Cor. 6:9-11)? In short, it’s impossible to identify who is or is not a homosexual. As a result, how do we know to whom the civil rights in question should be attributed? Should a man who isn’t a homosexual (assuming we could determine such a thing) but tries to enter a same-sex union be treated the same as a woman who isn’t Native American but tries to claim it to win sympathy, or casino rights, or votes?

But this isn’t the only problem with the civil rights angle.

Unalterable Definition

An additional problem with the “gay is the new black” argument is the complete disconnect between same-sex “marriage” and anti-miscegenation laws. First, there is a categorical disconnect. Miscegenation literally means “the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.” Ironically, the fact that homosexuals cannot “interbreed” shines a spotlight on the problem inherent in their logic. How can forbidding people who actually have the ability to interbreed be the same thing as acknowledging the fact that two people categorically lack that ability?8

Second, there is a definitional disconnect. The very definition of marriage eliminates the possibility of including same-sex couples. The word marriage has a long and well-recorded history; it means “the union of a man and a woman.” Even in cultures that practice polygamy, the definition involves a man and several women. Therefore, while anti-miscegenation laws denied people a legitimate right, the same cannot be said concerning the denial of marriage to same-sex couples; one cannot be denied a right to something that doesn’t exist.

It should be noted that the right to marry is one of the most frequently denied rights we have. People who are already married, 12-year-olds, and people who are too closely related are just a few categories of people routinely and/or categorically denied the right to marry. Hence, the charge that it is wrong to deny any person a “fundamental right” rings hollow. There has always been, and, by necessity, will always be discrimination in marriage laws.

Third, there is a historical disconnect. As early as the time of Moses, recorded history is replete with interracial marriages. In our own history, the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas in the 17th century,9 along with the fact that anti-miscegenation laws were usually limited only to the intermarrying of certain “races” of people (i.e., black and white), stands as historical evidence of the legal and logical inconsistency of such laws. Thus, unlike same-sex “marriage” advocates, those fighting for the right to intermarry in the civil rights era had history on their side.

Fourth, there is a legal disconnect. One thing that seems to escape most people in this debate is the fact that homosexuals have never been denied the right to marry. They simply haven’t had the right to redefine marriage. But don’t take my word for it; listen to the Iowa Supreme Court in their decision in favor of same-sex “marriage”: “It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex.”

There it is: not only in black and white, but in a legal decision. Homosexuals haven’t been deprived of any right. How, then, do those on the side of same-sex marriage continue to make the claim that this is a civil rights issue? The key is in the next paragraph:

[The] right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation, and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute.

I feel the need to remind the reader that this is a legal decision, since phrases like “gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship” tend to sound out of place in such a document. Further, this is asinine logic. For example, following this line of reasoning, one could argue, “I have the right to join the military, but I am a pacifist. Therefore, I don’t really have the right (since it would be repulsive to me). Therefore, we need to establish a pacifist branch of the military so that I can fulfill both my desire to join, and my desire not to fight.”

However, this reasoning is critically important in order to make the next leap in logic. “[A] gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay and lesbian people as a class—their sexual orientation.”

Unsustainable Precedent

Perhaps the most damning aspect of the civil rights argument is logical unsustainability. If sexual orientation/identity is the basis for (1) classification as a minority group, and (2) legal grounds for the redefinition of marriage, then what’s to stop the “bisexual” from fighting for the ability to marry a man and a woman simultaneously since his “orientation” is, by definition, directed toward both sexes?10 What about the member of NAMBLA whose orientation is toward young boys?11 Where do we stop, and on what basis?

Homosexual advocates are loath to answer this question. In fact, they are adept at avoiding it (and are rarely pressed on the point). However, the further legal implications of court decisions about same-sex marriage are inevitable. Nowhere is this clearer than inLawrence v. Texas. In the majority decision, Justice Kennedy wrote:

These matters [of homosexual marriage], involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.12

I have no legal training, and I recognize the limits of my ability to fully evaluate the implications of such a decision. However, I do take notice when Justice Scalia responds to this assertion by stating:

I have never heard of a law that attempted to restrict one’s “right to define” certain concepts; and if the passage calls into question the government’s power to regulate actions based on one’s self-defined “concept of existence, etc.,” it is the passage that ate the rule of law.13(emphasis added)

Inescapable Confrontation

It is very important for those of us who oppose the idea of same-sex “marriage” to do so not because we wish to preserve our version of the American Dream, but because we view marriage as a living, breathing picture of the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22ff), and because we know that God has designed the family in a particular way. While the design of the family promotes human thriving (Gen 1:27-28), the testimony points people to their only hope in this life and the next. As a result, silence on this issue is not an option.

Unfortunately (and quite ironically), many Christians have been bullied into silence by the mere threat of censure from the homosexual lobby. “Oppose us and you’re no better than Gov. Wallace, Hitler, and those homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard!” is their not-so-subtle refrain. Consequently, we spend so much time trying to prove we’re not hate-filled murderers that we fail to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes. There is no legal, logical, moral, biblical, or historical reason to support same-sex “marriage.” In fact, there are myriad reasons not to support it. I’ve only provided a few.

-Voddie Baucham,  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/07/19/gay-is-not-the-new-black/


1 Michael Joseph Gross, “Gay is the New Black,” The Advocate, November 16, 2008 (available online at http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid65744.asp).

2 Ertha Melzer, “NAACP chair says ‘gay rights are civil rights,'” Washington Blade, April 8, 2005. It should also be noted that the NAACP recently endorsed same-sex marriage (http://graftedthemovie.blogspot.com/p/watch-grafted.html)—significant since the organization exists for the “Advancement of ‘Colored’ People.”

3 Micheal Steele interview in “The Reconstructionist,” by Lisa Paulo, GQ (March 2009), available at http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2009/03/-the-reconstructionist-michael-steele.html.

5 Even if brain studies, twin studies, etc., provided conclusive links (which they do not), one would still be left with the fact that while blackness and maleness are attributes one cannot deny, homosexual behavior is not. Thus, even if there were a genetic connection, it would be insufficient to propel sexual orientation into the same category as race or sex.

7 The term “Lesbian Until Graduation” refers to young women who participate in lesbian relationships only during the duration of their college life.

8 It is important to note that this is a categorical distinction, and not a determination based on fertility. Otherwise, the same could be said about men and women beyond child-bearing years, or those with defects preventing conception.

9 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pocahontas-marries-john-rolfe. Though it is commonly thought that Pocahontas married John Smith, it was actually English tobacco farmer John Rolfe whom she married on April 5, 1614, in Jamestown, Virginia.

10 See Elizabeth Emens’s February 2003 Chicago Law School White paper,MONOGAMY’S LAW: COMPULSORY MONOGAMY AND POLYAMOROUS EXISTENCE,available at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/58-monogamy.pdf.

11 North American Man/Boy Love Association. Their motto is “Eight is Too Late.” http://www.nambla.org

12 Justice Kennedy Majority Opinion, “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas ” in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003).

13 Antonin Scalia Dissenting Opinion, “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas ” in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003).