Colbert on Obama, North Carolina, & Gay Marriage

Two nights in a row last month Colbert had fantastic coverage of the news of Barack Obama’s “evolved” support for gay marriage and the unevolved decision of the people of North Carolina to even further restrict gay rights than they already had. In case you missed either or both of his segments on these subjects, here they are.  I have also transcribed each one’s most memorable takeaway quote below:

My own thoughts on Obama’s “evolution” towards supporting gay marriage are here.

Here is the key takeaway Colbert quote from the video above:

So congratulations, North Carolina. Last night, you struck a decisive blow for loneliness. And tonight, as you go to sleep beside your heterosexual life mate, you can rest assured that all across your great state, a gay man or a lesbian woman is crying themselves to sleep in solitude and making your relationship stronger with every tear.

And here’s the key quote from the video the next night:

Pastor Rober Jeffress (in a video clip): By embracing same sex marriage, President Obama has really contradicted the Jesus that he says he follows.

Stephen Colbert: Yes, Obama is contradicting the Jesus. And now I’d like to read you what the Jesus had to say about homosexuality. I’d like to, but he never said anything about it. Evidently Jesus was so filled with rage, he was speechless!

Last summer I spelled out in some detail my own take on gays and Jesus, which was written in reply to a conservative Christian’s standard apologetics for anti-gay Christianity.

The second Colbert video is below the fold: 

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • had3

    Well, jebus did say that every word in the OT was true, and Leviticus does forbid the man laying with another man…ergo, jebus said it’s forbidden. Conversely, by that logic, exodus 21 means jebus is good with slavery too. Yet the cafeteria Xians don’t seem to pull out that version of “Jesus says.”

    • Daniel Fincke

      Indeed. And Jebus also flouted the Old Testament law outright, by doing things like violating prohibitions about working on the Sabbath. All Christians are “cafeteria Christians”, interpreting according to their own dubious hermeneutical standards. It’s not like the fundies have a perfectly honest and consistent hermeneutic either.

  • Enkidum

    Daniel, given your background you’d probably know more about this than I do. It’s always bothered me that the strongest prohibitions against homosexuality in the bible are in Leviticus, but wasn’t Jesus supposed to have provided a new covenant that overrides the old laws? (I.e. no Christians that I’m aware of have a thing against shellfish or mixed fabrics.) I guess Paul does explicitly condemn it, but it just seems like the fundamentalists are going way overboard, even according to their own internal logic , in condemning homosexuals.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Jesus reaffirms the OT law explicitly. The conservatives distinguish between dietary and cultural rules of the OT on the one hand, which get abolished in the book of Acts as part of welcoming in the Gentiles, and the moral rules on the other. The idea is that all the particularities of ritual were made unnecessary when the sacrificial system became obsolete with Jesus’s sacrifice. All that stuff was preparation for Jesus, it could go away now. But moral prohibitions still stand. We still need to be moral people. So even though Jesus’s sacrifice saves believers from their sins, sins remain sins.

      And they take Romans 1:18ff to be an explicit New Testament reaffirmation that lesbianism is immoral and there is a passage in one of the Corinthians that goes after the effeminate and that’s taken to be gay men.

    • John Morales

      So even though Jesus’s sacrifice saves believers from their sins, sins remain sins.

      It is written:
      “Oftimes, it is easier to beg for forgiveness than to get permission.”

    • laurentweppe

      there is a passage in one of the Corinthians that goes after the effeminate and that’s taken to be gay men.

      Except that it was a deliberate mistranslation from a term wich meant weakling/slothful/overindulging to effeminate/gay.
      A deliberate mistranslation which by the way was not at first meant to reinforce homophobia but to get rid of a passage which sounded too much like a denunciation of the Princes of the Church and the aristocracy they supported and were part of.
      And when you think of it: both the medieval blue blooded higher ups in the clergy and today american right-wing pro-”Job-Creators” politicians are pretty much saying “Don’t blame our class: Blame the sodomites instead!”: the more things change…

    • Enkidum

      Ah, thanks for the clarification.

  • MissMarnie

    Let’s say we accept that
    1. There is a god
    2. The god is the christian god
    3. That jesus upheld the laws of the OT
    4. Therefore homosexuality is a sin

    I believe in none of the above, but let’s go ahead and accept these as true.

    Where does it say that sinners cannot marry? People on death row can be married. People who work on the sabbath can marry. Prostitutes and pickpockets can marry. Adulterers can marry (in fact, they can marry each other, if they like). There only way in which marriage is prohibited is by death, (i.e. if a women has the audacity to get herself raped somewhere close enough to the city that her cries should have brought her help, then she deserves to die instead of getting the honor of marrying her rapist)

    And, of course, there’s also the unending complication that all non-christian marriages are basically “sinful” by the same general standards that would make gay marriage sinful so if we are going to ban gay marriage on account of what christianity says then we have to ban all non-christian-straight marriage too.

    In short, the logic used to prohibit gay marriage is faulty even if we accept the general premises of the hate mongers.

    • Daniel Fincke

      The alleged sin in question is constitutive of the marriage. To morally approve of the marriage would be to morally approve of the alleged sin. It’s not saying, you’re sinning in this one area but we can allow you to do this other thing that’s perfectly fine. It’s saying, you’re sinning by having gay sex and to morally recognize your marriage would be to morally approve of your gay sex.

      From a legal standpoint this is different. They already recognize (and should recognize) the rights of others to do things they think are immoral (like worship other gods even!) as matters of freedom of conscience. On those grounds legally they should accept the right of conscience to marry who one wishes.

    • MissMarnie

      I see what your saying but then, how does adultery fit in? Does allowing two people who were cheating on their spouses, to marry constitute a justification of their behavior or is there some sort of legitimizing of their adultery by marrying?

      And aren’t there some passages in the bible that prohibit keeping company with someone who doesn’t believe in jesus? Wouldn’t interfaith marriages or marriages to atheists still constitute an acceptance of sin?

    • Daniel Fincke

      Yes, allowing the adulterers to marry seems extremely illogical and hypocritical. In that way, they are being seriously self-serving. Same with interfaith marriage. On those points the selective, self-serving ways they read the bible and enforce it in matters of sexual morality are simply transparent and disgusting.

  • carlie

    Does allowing two people who were cheating on their spouses, to marry constitute a justification of their behavior or is there some sort of legitimizing of their adultery by marrying?

    Ah, that’s a funny one. I grew up during a big transition in my local churches (Southern Baptist), at least, regarding divorce and remmariage. When I was a kid, people who had been divorced were forbidden to hold any position of authority in the church, even teaching Sunday School classes. They were considered to not have the moral standing to be a leader, no matter how good of a person they were. It wasn’t just theoretical; there was one family that was a stalwart institution of the church, the couple had been married for 25 years and were the kindest, friendliest, most Christiany (in the good ways) Christians ever, but the husband had in his youth been married for a couple of years and then divorced before he met his current wife, and therefore he could not be a deacon or trustee or Sunday School teacher.

    By the time I was in college, the church wasn’t even talking about divorce as a sin, and pretty much avoided the topic altogether. What happened, of course, was that there ended up being so many divorced people that the church would have gone bankrupt of people if it had kept such a hard line, so somehow it magically became not a moral failing any more.

  • carlie

    …which I just realized is somewhat tangential to the actual question, but is illustrative of the concept: cheating on one’s spouse being a terrible thing and condemned by the church is pretty much dependent on how many people in said church would be affected by it being condemned.

  • anat

    Well, in Jewish law if a woman commits adultery against her husband she is forbidden to both her husband and her lover – the married couple is forced to divorce and the woman’s divorce certificate specifies she can’t marry either of the two men (and any children she has with either is a ‘mamzer’ which makes said child halkhically unmarriageable within Jewish law).

    Of course if a man commits adultery it is a different story, since the rabbis, not God prohibited polygyny.