Three Lessons We Can Learn from The Recent Tim Tebow and Louie Giglio Debacles

 

You have probably already heard of the imbroglio created when Tim Tebow backed out of an Easter speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas. When I saw the original announcement that Tebow made on Twitter, I knew immediately that it was going to be a big deal. FBC Dallas is one of the flagship churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and SBC represents one of the denominations where Tim Tebow is held up as a shining example of what a Christian should be.

But Tim Tebow stood them up.

Why? Why would Tebow cancel like that? Was it because Pastor Jeffress said that homosexuality was sin? Did Pastor Jeffress say it in a particularly uncouth way? Was it because the Pastor said that Jews and Muslims cannot be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ? In an interview I saw with Pastor Jeffress, he did acknowledge that homosexuality is sin, along with any other form of sexual relations outside the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

A short time ago, Pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from praying at the Presidential Inauguration after an outcry over a sermon he preached in the mid 90′s outlining homosexual sex as sin. Now, Tebow has cancelled an engagement at FBC Dallas after there were protests over this same teaching. Have we reached a place in our culture where believing that homosexual sex is sin, and therefore opposing homosexual marriage, is on the same level as being a racist? A bigot?

If it is the case that the protest over the views at FBC Dallas and the sermon of Louie Giglio are issues of substance and not merely style, then nuance will not help the Christian move forward with conversation. The church has to realize that no matter how nicely she tries to say, “This sexual behavior is sin”, people will be offended. So is there any way that the church can say those things without being marginalized culturally? Perhaps, but it will take some wisdom. Here are a few things that we could do for starters.

1) Stop making a big deal out of celebrity Christians. As far as I know, Tim Tebow is not an elder or teacher in any church, and I don’t think he has any sort of theological education beyond his upbringing and personal study. That is not to say he is ignorant. He may very well be educated in theology beyond many pastors. My point is that he is a Christian and a football player, not a pastor theologian. It would be wise if we would stop thrusting celebrities into arenas to speak for the church.

2) Be more consistent in the way we talk about sexual immorality. It is very difficult for a gay person to take hearing about how ‘sinful’ his sex life is when he knows that Christians sleep around and get divorced as much as anyone else. It is a glaring hypocrisy. I am not suggesting that the church can somehow prevent such dalliances from ‘straight’ members, but at the very least, we ought to act like it bothers us just as much. If the church would simply talk about sexual immorality as a blanket category of ‘anything outside of one-man, one-woman covenant’, at least the gay community wouldn’t feel singled out by the church.

3) Many view this issue as the civil rights issue of our day – we ought not respond to that with outrage and dismay. Anyone who holds to the traditional Christian teaching on the matter of sexual immorality is going to be viewed by many as a bigot, and may be reviled as if they were a racist. The church has to be able to respond to that graciously. Above all, we cannot act the part. Despite what is said, holding to a Biblical ethic of sexuality is not bigotry, and the church needs to remain confident of that in the face of strong objection. That is the only way to remain gracious in the midst of a trying circumstance.

About Brad Williams

Brad is the pastor of a Baptist church in a small town in Alabama. Brad has a lovely wife, two children, two dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five bee hives. Besides the incredible fact that he managed to persuade his wife to marry him, he is proud that he served six years in the Army National Guard, managed to graduate college with an English Lit. degree, graduate seminary, and finish the original Bard's Tale as a youngster by making maps on graph paper.

  • Kevin

    NIce post, Brad. I think it is an apt observation that public figures don’t always make the best theologians. All of us fail at some level, and we have grace on others who do the same, but this decision by Tebow certainly does not seem to be a good one. Our best to your family!

  • Brian Sanders

    Your points are well taken, but I would add that we have confused defending our once Christian American culture with denying Christ and they are not the same. The Christian in Iran or China is not beaten or imprisoned for defaming Islam or Marx, but for speaking the name of Jesus. A Christian cannot deny our Savior, but we can differ on when, where, how we stand against abortion or other rampant sins of our culture. I cannot work for an abortion clinic. But must I forsake my employment for being an anti-abortion activist? The same is true of how we address other social issues, no matter how sinful the act.

    Additionally, Tim Tebow out of discretion did not give a reason for cancelling his speaking engagement and I would suggest that it is slander and gossip to ascribe to his actions a meaning he has not defined. I stand with Tim and thank him for his faithfulness to our Savior.

    In light of Matthew 18, I would say many have unquestionably sinned for how the Christian media treated Tim last week and it broke my heart, both for Tim and for our reputation in the culture.

  • Peter

    Maybe I am misreading your article, but you seem convinced that Pastor Jeffress’ teachings on homosexuality is the primary reason Tebow is refusing to speak. Tebow himself has affirmed those views in the past, in addition to Christ being the only way to Heaven and a relationship with God. While I think you make some good points, I don’t think we should make any definite conclusions about Tebow’s reasons for backing out of the engagement.

    Personally, I would be very hesitant to associate with Jeffress as well. In my (admittedly very limited) research into Jeffress, he strikes me as a Bible believing Christian who is very unwise about the way he communicates with the secular world. I do believe he wants to be loving to homosexuals while holding the truth of the Bible, but giving a two part sermon series called “Gay is not OK” isn’t the right way to do it in my mind. I also don’t think his comments on Mormonism, Islam, and Catholicism are productive or even necessarily accurate. I understand that I am latching onto one liners, but he has publicly defended those statements many times. I think he has to be aware of how is comments are perceived and understood by today’s culture.

  • Adam E

    I would also add, the scriptural backing of homosexuality being a sin is also contentious. Especially when studying Greek. Scripture being subject to translation (and the processes involved) forces us to be more humble about presenting it, and understanding alternate opinions.

  • Adam E

    I would also add, the scriptural backing of homosexuality being a sin is also contentious. Especially when studying Greek.

    Scripture being subject to translation (and the processes involved) forces us to be more humble about presenting it, and understanding alternate opinions.

    Humility is as important as truth, in these issues.

  • Pingback: Robert Jeffress Takes Veiled Swipe At Tim Tebow Over Cancelled Appearance … – Huffington Post

  • Rick

    You can be of the opinion that homosexuality is wrong and sinful, while still understanding that plenty of wrong/sinful people are legally allowed to marry. If you protest homosexual marriage I don’t understand why Christians don’t also protest the marriages of Scientologists, occultists, swingers, meth dealers, murderers who marry in prison, and the nice little couple that’s been fornicating for three years and decides to finally tie the knot in Vegas. Christians may not like it that they rub elbows with sinners (and that’s a whole nother topic), but they have to accept that even people they abhor are allowed to get drivers licenses, jobs and bank accounts. In their heart of hearts, evangelicals should admit that they don’t like gay marriage because they abhor the gays and would love it if others did as well.

  • Will

    Not to burst your bubble, but from the perspective of someone on the other side of these matters, you’re only going to make things worse by trying to include gay people in a blanket “sexual immorality” condemnation. The core of your problem is that gay people’s sexuality goes against your religion’s teachings. Period. Re-branding, re-labeling, finding different language to describe the same thing…look, gay people aren’t stupid. They still understand what you’re saying about them. It’s not going to make one bit of difference whether you’re campaigning against “sexual immorality” and lumping them in with adulterers vs. just going after them outright. If I was gay, I think I’d probably be more offended by the latter.

    Furthermore, saying things like “some people consider this a civil rights issue now” (like that should surprise anyone) just cements the idea that your morality is out of touch, not society. Gay rights is the very definition of a civil rights issue; protecting an the rights of an endangered minority from the tyranny of a majority group who oppose them.

    I agree with you regarding celebrity Christians.

    I’m sorry if I come off as hostile; I don’t mean to be. I’m strongly opposed to Christianity, in large part because of this very gay rights issue. I’ve been trying lately to take a more constructive approach to explaining to you guys exactly why you’re losing so badly on social issues rather than just being angry that people still think of gay folks as sinful or wrong. The writing is on the wall here. Gay people deserve the same rights and privileges that the rest of us do, and literally the only effect that struggling against it will have is to drive more people like me away from your churches.

  • WATYF

    [Not to burst your bubble, but from the perspective of someone on the other side of these matters, you’re only going to make things worse by trying to include gay people in a blanket “sexual immorality” condemnation.]

    You don’t need to burst their bubble. The Bible already has. Jesus made it clear that people will hate Christians because they love their sin. Rephrasing that sin in different ways isn’t going to make a difference.

    [The core of your problem is that gay people’s sexuality goes against your religion’s teachings.]

    Are you under the impression that anyone is trying to deny that or somehow isn’t aware of that? And how, exactly, is this a “problem”?

    [Furthermore, saying things like “some people consider this a civil rights issue now” (like that should surprise anyone) just cements the idea that your morality is out of touch, not society.]

    This comment just underlines the weakness of your moral philosophy. “Out of touch” is simply another way of saying “Holding a moral view that is not widely accepted or promoted in popular culture”. In other words, it’s a morality which is based on whatever is most popular on the TeeVee at any given time. I hope I don’t need to point out the historical examples that would demonstrate how terrible of a moral philosophy that is. For example, at one time, the abolitionists were “out of touch” with society.

    Not being “in the majority” means precisely nothing when it comes to what is or isn’t right and wrong.

    [Gay rights is the very definition of a civil rights issue; protecting an the rights of an endangered minority from the tyranny of a majority group who oppose them.]

    Gay marriage is not and has never been a civil rights issue. Calling it one doesn’t make it so. Unlike the ACTUAL civil rights arguments, wherein a white person was allowed to do something that a black person was not allowed to do (i.e. eat at a particular restaurant), gay people most definitely are allowed to do what straight people can do (i.e. marry someone of the opposite sex). Now, you can’t magically wave your hands and change that to “marry anyone they WANT to marry”, because then you’d have to admit that those who can’t marry their 6-year-old cousin and those who can’t marry their dog are also examples of “civil rights abuses”. (No, I’m not comparing homosexuality to pedophilia or bestiality… I’m pointing out a weakness in your logic)

    And this, of course, is ignoring the fact that you’ve assumed that “getting State-sanctioned benefits currently allotted to married couples” is somehow “a human right”. It is not. Gay people can still go to a church (or a wiccan prayer circle, or whatever), stand in front of witnesses, and devote their lives to each other. There is no law against that. What they have a problem with is the State-sanctioned BENEFITS that they can’t get access to. And no one has a “right” to State-sanctioned benefits.

    [I’m strongly opposed to Christianity, in large part because of this very gay rights issue.]

    Then I would suggest that you think through your opposition a little more thoroughly.

    [I’ve been trying lately to take a more constructive approach to explaining to you guys exactly why you’re losing so badly on social issues rather than just being angry that people still think of gay folks as sinful or wrong.]

    I can explain to you exactly why we Christians are “losing” so badly on social issues. It’s not because of our approach. It’s not because our message is “wrong” (as if you have some objective standard by which you can declare it “wrong” in the first place). It’s not because Pat Robertson is such an embarrassment (and make no mistake… he is). It’s not because Jesus just needs to “get with the times”. No… the reason can be summed up in a single line from one of the best sci-fi shows in history…

    All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.

    Western Civilization is in its decline. We have passed through all of the early phrases (just like all of the previous empires) and we’re now in our decadence and decline phase. People are not longer focused on survival, or pioneering, or passing on traditions to future generations, or handing down an inheritance to their posterity…. no, they’re focused on themselves. It’s all about self-gratification (and give me a pill or a gov’t program or something so I can avoid the consequences).

    Now, some might think this is a harsh evaluation, but the evidence speaks for itself. People are having less and less kids (we’re already well below the replacement level). People who DO have kids are leaving less and less (if anything at all) to those kids. People are having more and more divorces (because, hey… if my whims aren’t being satisfied at any given moment, then screw this life-long commitment I made… I’m going for greener pastures). People are going into greater and greater debt for more and more things that they don’t even need. People’s drives are focused more and more on what they can get NOW, and less and less on what they can do for the future.

    The widespread acceptance of deviant sexual behaviors (which are rejected during the other phases of civilization) always occurs once a society has started to decline. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing to fear or wring your hands about. It’s just the same old, same old happening again. Christians would do well to stop obsessing about it and start focusing on having babies and handing down their beliefs to them, because in the end, the “winner” will be the one that has the best grasp on rudimentary math (i.e. “Me + No children = No more people like me”).

    I mean… let’s face it… the demographic that openly embraces homosexuality is a dying one. It has no future. Obviously the homosexuals have no evolutionary future, but even those who are in their “corner”, so to speak, don’t even bother to have enough offspring to pass down those “open-minded” views about homosexuality to the next generation.

    [The writing is on the wall here.]

    haha… indeed it is. It’s just not the writing that you want it to be.

    [Gay people deserve the same rights and privileges that the rest of us do]

    Gay people already have the same rights and privileges that the rest of us do… they can marry someone of the opposite sex and get all the same benefits. What you’re talking about is a NEW benefit that currently doesn’t exist for anyone.

    [and literally the only effect that struggling against it will have is to drive more people like me away from your churches.]

    All you’re saying here is, “If you guys would just give up what you believe in and agree with me, I’d like you”. Well, duh. Of course you’d like them if they thought the same as you.

    But who are you? And why should anyone care what you think? The question here isn’t “do you agree with me”, the question is, “do you agree with what is objectively true”. Figure out what is objectively true, and then we can get somewhere.

    WATYF

  • Reverend Robbie

    I wholeheartedly agree with Will. When I read the statement, “If the church would simply talk about sexual immorality as a blanket category of ‘anything outside of one-man, one-woman covenant’, at least the gay community wouldn’t feel singled out by the church,” I cringed at the lack of awareness. No, they won’t be happy being lumped in with forms of sexual immorality, and yes they will still feel singled out because they don’t think that being outside of a one-man one-woman covenant is sufficient to make something immoral.

    In regard to WATYF’s response: First: The idea that civil rights should be forever restricted to the 1960s Civil Rights movements is bizarre. Just say the words “civil rights” and you’ll realize that it’s a broad topic and isn’t restricted to racial, religious, or feminist issues.

    Second: You say that gay people have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, therefore they have equal rights? Going back to the racial civil rights issues, this guideline clearly fails. By your logic, could we not give everyone the right to marry someone of their same race and then say that they have equal rights? I know you will say that gay issues are different from racial issues, and they are different (that’s a key component of an analogy), but the issues are still analogous because they are similar on all of the relevant premises.

    Third: people may not have a right to any state granted properties or privileges, but it is discriminatory to grant some people certain rights without granting them to others unless you have a rational, consequentialist reason for it.

    Fourth: Pedophilia and bestiality? This is the slippery slope we’re destined for? The distinguishing characteristic is consent. 6 year olds do not have the capacity to consent to marriage or sex, nor do animals.

    Summary: You do need to give up what you believe. There’s nothing wrong with being gay or having a gay partner. I know you hate to hear it, but this actually is bigotry. I don’t see how you can expect us to call it anything else just because you think or say you are doing it out of love. Even though I don’t believe there is a hell or a road to it, some saying about the paving of it comes to mind…

  • Reverend Robbie

    Sorry to post twice in a row, but I have to point out a couple of rhetorical memes that circulate around this discussion. At risk of being redundant, I’ll enumerate once again:

    1. Saying gay rights is different from racial rights does not make it so. You must point out the differences that are relevant to the analogies in question.

    2. Saying that you are not comparing homosexuality to bestiality does not mean you are not doing so. When you are “pointing out a weakness in [someone's] logic” by an analogy, you are making a comparison. And the problem with your comparison is that the two arguments are not just different, but they are different on the relevant premises to the arguments in question.

    3. Saying that your beliefs are not bigoted because you believe God agrees with you doesn’t cut the mustard.

    4. This thing about not having kids is insufficient. It’s a post-hoc argument for bigotry. Just because you’re not contributing to the replacement rate does not suffice for saying that you don’t deserve the very significant rights that married couples get. And if we’re going to apply that to homosexuals (who could, by the way, adopt or have IVF from a donor), then we should apply it to, say, people who are too old to have children.

    I just wanted to tack that on to address some of the recurring memes.

  • George Yancey

    I hope that we can learn from Will and Reverent Robbie, although not what they would want us to learn. I agree that Christians need to work on being gracious. But we should understand that such graciousness is not going to be returned by a unknown precentage of those who criticize us. Read closely what they are saying. Accepting those that disagree with them is not acceptable. All individuals must share their understanding of morality. Surrender is the only option they will accept. In a pluralist society it is important to learn how to get along with each other. That means living among those we disagree with without being disagreeable. There responses indicate that the “meme” that the gay right agenda does not affect the straights is false. Look at what is happening at certain college campuses (i.e. Vanderbilt) where they are attempting to force off Christian organizations unless allow people who disagree with their traditional moral stances as leaders. And before anyone accuses me of saying that this intolerance charcterizes all gay right supporters, I know that it does not. But clearly we see evidence that this perspective is not rare among such supporters.

  • reverend robbie

    George, i’m not saying that it is wrong to disagree with me. I’m saying that it is wrong to discriminate without good consequentialist reasons. If you want to say that I just can’t handle disagreement then you are failing to respond to my arguments.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Sorry, double-posting again. George, let me say that I think I understand your frustration. You and this blogs author are trying to participate in a discussion about homosexuality, are giving ground, and are finding little compromise or positive reinforcement along the way. I’m definitely having trouble being sensitive to this, as are many of us. Not only do we want equal rights (the type of equal rights that actually lets them marry people of the same sex), but we want people to stop telling them that their lifestyle is wrong when it’s not causing any harm in the real world. Now, the first should be legislated, not the second (I’m personally against hate speech laws), but that still does not make it right to berate people’s loving lifestyle as long as it does no harm by its nature.

    So this is where I struggle. Should I be satisfied with achieving homosexual marriage rights? Or should I continue to criticize people’s prejudicial positions, much the way I would if someone makes racist comments? At what point should I stop and say, “thank you for ending legal discrimination, well done, we’ll deal with the prejudice later”?

    Anyway, I’m not doing much to sound any more understanding, but please know that I’m trying to find the right way to dialogue about this. I feel strongly about homosexual equality and it’s hard to be patient.

    Does that make sense? So where do you draw the line? Do you question your belief that homosexuality is immoral, or is that off the table? What practical concerns do you have if we legalize same sex marriage rights? Do we have any common ground from which we can work on this?

  • George Yancey

    I consistantly question my beliefs. But I will not throw away my beleifs merely because it is politically expediant. I also have the disadvantage of knowing how research into homosexuality is done and I am not impressed. So when you state that the solution is that I must change my beleifs then we are at a non-starter for constructive dialogue. I am sorry but your arguments are less than presuasive.
    Race is not sexual preference. 1) No children come from a same-sex marriage. I know you think that this difference is not important but it is an important function of marriage. 2) anti-miscengnational laws provided different rights to different people. A white person was allowed to marry a black woman but a black man could not marry a white woman. In laws forbidding same sex marriage a hetrosexual man can marry a woman and a homosexual man can marry a women. The homosexual man may not want to marry a women but technically he has the same rights as the heterosexual man. 3) racism is not homophobia as people of color face a degree of economic disenfranchisment that is not true with gays or lesbians. Also there is a discernable stigma involved in race that is not true in sexuality issues. To me to say that homosexuality is the same as racial issues dismisses critical differences and minimized how racism impacts people of color. My mind tells me that the comparison to interraical marriage is not relevant. That does not mean that there is not an argument for same-sex marriage but the arguments that justification lies in anti-miscengination laws do not have cognitive support in my opinion. So if I have to agree with an argument that makes no sense to me as a way to compromise then integrity demands that I do not compromise.
    This leads to my real concern for my comments. I have done research on hatred of Christians in the United States. I know that some actions from some Christians can be tied to that hatred. But some of the hatred is beyond anything Christians have done. I am not ready to fully disucss the results of the research right now but I am aware that some of the hostilty in this issue is fueled by that hatred. A real compromise will have to include measures to limit that hostility. I would love to find a way to live together in a pluralist society but asking me to surrender my beleifs simply so that we can have co-existence cannot be the way to that co-existence. When Christians have made such demands in the past they are wrong. So we have every right to expect that others do not place those demands on us.

  • Reverend Robbie

    George, I’ll respond to your three points in order, and then get to your primary point.

    1. If you think that the ability to have children is critical, then how do you justify allowing people to marry who are clearly beyond child-bearing age? What about other clear cut conditions that people are clearly unable, or unwilling, to have children? If this is a relevant point to disallowing gay marriage, then why allow marriage to people who won’t have children?

    2. I wasn’t restricting my hypothetical question to the historical anti-miscengnational laws to which you refer. I was asking: Would it be, hypothetically, granting equal rights to allow people only to marry people of their (albeit broadly defined) race? Technically, by your argument, they have the same rights, right?

    3. I think that you are trying to say that gay people should not be a “protected class” because they do not face the same amount of discrimination as minority races. Agreed, but they still face a tremendous amount of discrimination in this country. Regardless, the “protected class” issue is relevant for certain issues, but even if one is not in a particularly discriminated group, that doesn’t mean that you can, without good secular reason, have laws that unnecessarily discriminate against them.

    Your main concern: I am entirely against discrimination against Christians. I fully believe that nobody should be refused accomodation nor face negative employment action for one’s religious beliefs. That has little to do with whether we should deny equal rights to gay people. As far as I can tell, this is hardly even tangentially related. Perhaps you can explain the connection further.

    Again, there are two different issues here: (1) Should gay marriage be legal and (2) is it prejudicial to say that homosexual activity is immoral. This comment is entirely related to the first question. I think I addressed your four points, but please correct me if I missed something, misinterpreted something, or got something wrong.

  • Reverend Robbie

    *anti-miscegenational*; misspelled in both of our comments.

  • George Yancey

    I appreciate the tone in your response. I do not believe that people always have to come to agreement but understanding where others come from is important. In that spirit I will respond to your points.
    1) I know that having children is not the only point of marriage but it is a critical one. Interracial marriages may produce children. Same-sex marraige can never produce children. In comparing interracial marriages to same-sex marriage the ability to produce children is not irrelevant. It does mean that an important part of marriage cannot be in a same-sex marriage.
    2) The basis for allowing interracial marriages is that blacks and whites are the same. Therefore a person cannot be banned from marriage to someone based on their race. The basis for same-sex marriage is that men and women are the same. Therefore a person cannot be banned from marriage to someone based on their sex. In that way you can argue that their is a similar arguement of equality. But for me here is the problem. I do think that blacks and whites are basically alike but do not beleive the same between the sexes. The arguments for equality in same-sex marriage require that we annouce in our society that men and women are interchangable. If that is the direction society wished to go we should be open about this presupposition.
    3) You seem to agree with my point that sexual preference is not a protected class. My contention is that the automatically connection of racism to homophobia is not cognitively attainable. Even within racism there is differences in the expereicnes and problems faced by blacks and those by Asians. Thus solutions for each group would logically differ from each other. This is even more so the case in the differences between racism and homophobia.

    My main point is not just about discrimination. It is about the source of that discrimiantion which is a hatred and ignorance that preceeds direct and indirect discrimination. You are correct in that there are two issues here. I probably would not have commented if the thread was only on the issue of same-sex marriage. But the second issue of automatically connecting accusations of prejudice to opposition of same-sex marriage can create the type of atmostphere that generates fears that lead to that discrimination. I beleive that well-meaning individuals on both sides of this issues can find solutions but only if it is done in an atmopshere of respect.
    I hope that clarifies my thoughts. I hope I accurately represented your positions as well. If I have not then I apologize in advance.

  • Reverend Robbie

    George, thank you for engaging in this. To be frank (which does not preclude diplomacy nor respect), I think your responses are full of holes, and with no disrepect meant, I think that, for the most part, you did not represent my positions well. This time, I’ll conclude each point by reiterrating my argument as clearly as possible. Again, in the order we’re discussing:

    1. Regarding the issue of having children, I did not compare homosexual marriage to interracial marriage. I compared it to marriages between heterosexuals who choose to get married who are clearly beyond child bearing age and asked why we would not also ban their marriages. I also earlier mentioned IVF for lesbians. To my first point, then, I don’t think you responded at all. I think you just mixed up analogies. So, to reiterate my questions to which I think you didn’t respond: If heterosexuals who clearly cannot conceive children due to age or other factors want to get married, why would they not also be denied the right? And, if lesbians can conceive through IVF, then how does their marriage not contribute to the replacement rate?

    2. Regarding homosexual marriage, you attacked a straw man. Of course, the argument for same sex marriage is not that men and women are the same. I have never heard anyone present that as the “basis” for their argument. Regardless, men and women are equal, men are all equal, and women are all equal. All people are equal, but not the same. Equal much the way that the founders declared “All men are equal”. But ignoring whether women and men are the same or equal, all that we need to pierce your analogy is to acknowledge that all men are equal and that all women are equal, therefore they should have equal rights. But again, this is a nonstarter all the way around, because the argument for men and women being the same is really irrelevant. I would challenge you to present to me why, if women and men are different (as they clearly are), that homosexual marriage should not be legalized. Again, here, I don’t think you even really addressed my question: Would it be, hypothetically, under your reasoning (that heterosexuals and homosexuals already have equal rights) considered equal rights if we allow people only to marry people of their same race?

    3. Ah, first I misplaced my statement when I said, “agreed”. I was agreeing that it could be argued that homosexuals have not faced the same degree of discrimination as some racial minorities, but not that they should not be a protected class. For the purpose of my argument, however, I am hypothetically conceding that they are not a protected class. My point was that, regardless of whether you are in a protected class, that does not justify having laws that, without good secular reason, unnecessarily discriminate against a group of people. Regarding the differences between racism and homophobia, I’m not proposing gay marriage as a solution to homophobia. As before, I stated, “… even if one is not in a particularly discriminated group, that doesn’t mean that you can, without good secular reason, have laws that unnecessarily discriminate against them.” So having hypothetically conceded that homosexuals are not a protected class, then how do you justify laws that unnecessarily discriminate against them?

    To your main point: I think this is the one to which you actually did respond to my objection, but I don’t think that you did so sufficiently. Simply put, granting gay marriage rights is not an attempt to discriminate against Christians. If it is, there are very few people who support that position. People want equal rights, and arguing that some or even all of those who support equal rights are doing so because they don’t like a group of people doesn’t negate the arguments presented for equal rights. They stand on their own. The argument that gay rights is part of a concerted effort to discriminate against Christians… I don’t see how that even gets out of the gate in this discussion.

    Thanks again, please respond.

  • George Yancey

    I apologize for misrepersenting your positions. That is why such a conversation is necessary.
    1) I have recognized that the ability to bear children is not the only thing that makes up a marriage. But historically it is an important one. You point out that elderly couples and others heterosexual couples cannot have children. That is true. Those marriages cannot address this improtant aspect of what marriage is about. These marriages are therefore less consequential than marriages that result in biological children. The framework of marriage has been to meet these improtant needs. Yes people marry who do not want or can have children but they are borrowing from this framework of meeting those needs. Same-sex marriages clearly are not part of that framework. If society wants to alter that framework then that is a decision that can be made. But it does redefine marriage. You may not want to hear that but there really is not other cognitive way to think about it. The fact that others use the framework, but are in the types of couples that can lead to children, does not alter the reality that having couples that cannot, by their very defintion have children, changes what marriage is about.
    2) With all due respect I am not attacking a straw man. I am familiar with the Loving decision and it is based on the fact that race should not be a factor in legal decisions about marriage. Consequently using it to justify same-sex marriage means that sex should not be a factor in legal decisoins about marriage. Your question about whites having equal rights in only being able to marry whites as blacks having equal rights only marrying blacks conflates race and sex in the question of same-sex marriage. The answer is that whites and blacks are legally interchangable while men and women are not. If racial groups are interchangable then limiting oneself to a racial group denotes differencial social places for other racial groups. Thus I think your arugment really only holds water if men and women are interchangable as well. So I probably did not clearly answer your question by spellling it out this way but that is my answer to your challenge. Of course you can disagree with that answer but it seems to me that this is consequence of using the race as an anology to sex.
    3) Let’s set aside whether sexual preferece should be a protected class or not. It is not a central apsect of my contentiona. In face, I would argue that if done correctly it can be a protected class in certain situations (i.e. hate crime laws). My arguments above stands that defining marriage does not discriminate against people base on their sex or race since all men can marry all women. You will point out the unfairness of this since some men do not want to marry any women. I am sympathetic to that. But my challenge is where does this stop. What if a man wants to marry two women, or two other men? Your argument is that without good secular reasons we should not limit marriage. It seems to me that the opposite is just as true in that without good reasons we should not unnecessarily expand marriage or else it becomes a meaningless concept.

    As I look over this discussion the key I see is the comparison of race to sexual prefereces. I see that as a troubling comparison as I see it leading to the charges of bigotry that have ruined such discussions. Even given all I have said I am not unalterably opposed to same-sex marriage. But I am opposed to efforts to paint those who disagree with it equalvalent as being part of the KKK. Fighting for the rights to same-sex marriage is different than fighting for others to be forced to agree that such marriages are a social good.
    Finally, I believe that you honestly do not believe that there are hardly any supporters of same-sex marriage who want to discriminate against Christians. Here I think you misunderstand me. I am talking about the type of hatred that tends to lead to that sort of discrimination. Yes I believe that this discrimination happens against Christians and I have published a research book substanciating my arguments in this. I understand why you have doubts and I realize that this is not the proper forum to go more deeply into the evidence of this concern. Let me just say that the fears many Christians have of certian social powers in society trying to marginalize them are not unfounded and I will probably write about that more in my own blog as some of my research gets published. Given that concern justifying same sex marriage in ways that are not attempts to paint the opponents of it as bigots can ironically allow Christians to feel more comfortable supporting it.
    I will be at work the rest of the day and will not be able to respond until tonight. Have a great day.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Hey George, I’ll likely be able to respond tomorrow. Thanks.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Hey George, I feel like your arguments are built primarily on pointing out irrelevant differences between scenarios and calling them relevant, and on arbitrarily determining which distinctions between scenarios constitute critical premises to the arguments for marriage. Please keep in mind throughout this discussion that we are continuing to talk about whether gay marriage should be legal, and not whether Christians need to consider gays to be married in the eyes of God. We’ve done a good job keeping those separate so far, I just want to reiterate.

    1. The first point that we’ve been discussing has been child bearing ability. You feel that it is one of the important factors in answering the question of whether gay people should be allowed to marry each other. Not the only factor, but one of them, so we should see this one through. You make two points in your comment regarding child bearing, both of which I find lacking due to the fact that you seem to be, simply, making up definitions or rules that allow you to take inconsequential differences and try to make them consequential to the argument. Additionally, you do not address an item that I think is worth addressing and that I’ve brought up twice.

    The first problem is that you seem to be using motivated reasoning to determine where to draw your distinctions. You say that infertile couples who marry are borrowing from the framework of relationships that makes children, but gay couples are not. I don’t see how you determined that one difference leaves a union within the “framework” while another difference does not. If child bearing is an important aspect of marriage, then what elements of marriage actually make up this so-called framework? Apparently, the very item that allows you to exclude gay people (their same sexedness) is the critical difference, while infertility does not place you outside the framework. Why the sex and not just the inability to have children? What about all of the other many similarities that gay marriages have to straight marriages? Do they not put gay marriages within the marriage framework? As far as I can tell, this is an arbitrary (or perhaps convenient) “framework” you’ve defined to suit your needs. I’m not saying you did this intentionally, as on the surface it seems to make some sense, but I am saying that perhaps you are engaged in motivated reasoning and that your position doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    George, you draw another arbitrary line by saying that gay couples, “by their very definition” cannot have children, thereby implying that infertile couples do still meet your criterion of “what marriage is about”. Infertile couples, by their very definition, cannot have children. But, for reasons unstated, they still fall within what marriage is about because they follow your framework for marriage. And again, what is your framework? The framework is whatever includes infertile heterosexual couples but excludes gays. There’s just no substance to these criteria you’ve established. You’re begging the question.

    Lastly on this first discussion topic about child bearing, I brought up the situation of lesbians who take advantage of IVF. Do we now draw the line where they can’t get married if they have to get sperm from a willing donor to give them a child that they will bear and raise in a loving environment? Of course we do. Whatever it takes to exclude homosexuals from the “framework” of marriage.

    This framework that you invoke is just a question begged. Yes, the framework of marriage that has been recognized in the United States has never included homosexual unions, but whether it would be just to include homosexual unions is the very question on the table, and I’m asking for a legitimate reason why they should continue to be excluded.

    2. On the comparison of interracial marriage and gay marriage, you do more of the same motivated reasoning with definitions. You define people of different races as “legally interchangeable”, and note that people of different sexes are not legally interchangeable. Once again, this is the very question, and you seem to be trying to define it off the table. You do give some sort of reason by saying that men and women are not the same, but I don’t see how this precludes them from being legally interchangeable for the purpose of marriage. Do they have to be interchangeable in every possible way for them to be interchangeable in marriage? I mean, you or I may not wish to marry a man, but that’s our preference. Some women may prefer short men to tall men, and while they wouldn’t want their short man interchanged for a tall man, does the existence of that preference mean that tall men and short men are not “interchangeable”? In this context, men and women are perfectly interchangeable in my mind, even though I, personally, only wish to be with a woman. The only real difference, again, would be the ability to have children (for most situations), which I addressed in item #1, and I don’t see why that difference means that they can’t be interchangeable in marriage.

    3. In our third discussion item, you reiterate that you don’t think there is discrimination because all men can marry all women. I still reject this because, as I explain in item #2 above, I still believe that gay marriage rights are analogous to interracial marriage rights on all relevant premises. The differences you point out in the analogy certainly are differences (otherwise it couldn’t be an analogy), but they are not the relevant premises.

    Also in that point, you ask where it will stop, specifically referring to polygamy. From a moral standpoint, I have no problem with polygamy. I recognize that it may be difficult to tackle this because of the revisions it would require to property and taxation laws. I also recognize that many polygamous marriages are abusive and misogynistic, although that may just be a perception I have; I have no data. But in basic principle, I have no problem with polygamy. Pedophilia and beastiality, as brought up by another poster, are over a line (not to mention on a completely different course); one delimited by the ability to consent. Consent is not an arbitrary delineation because sex without consent results in real-world, consequentialist harm related to one’s well-being. Of course, we could debate whether children and animals actually do have the ability to knowingly and understandingly consent to sex, but that would be a different issue for discussion. It’s one that I would be fine discussing, and would assert the negative (in that I would assert that they cannot consent), but I do think that would be a tangent.

    4. This last point we’ve discussed enough that we may as well give it a number. I, too, am opposed to exaggeration to the point of equating gay marriage opponents with the KKK. It’s just inaccurate. But I do believe that prejudice against homosexuals is bigotry. Sure, you don’t manifest it the same way as the KKK (a difference not to be understated), nor do you harbor as much hatred as they do. But bigotry isn’t restricted to the worst of all humans. It happens to many of us, and I have been guilty of it at times. Saying that a position is bigoted or prejudicial may be upsetting, and you may think it’s inaccurate, but it’s far different from calling you the filth of the Earth like I would call a Klansman. And I would state that explicitly if I didn’t think it went without saying.

    George, even if there are a lot of people out there who just want to legalize gay marriage to spite Christianity, I don’t see how this invalidates a population’s right to marry the person whom they love. I want gay people to have the right to marry the person they love, and I’m not about to let the fact that some spiteful hatemongers happen to agree with me make me decide that all these innocent, loving homosexuals don’t deserve their rights. And you, George, just because some people are apparently out to get you and your religion, should not use that a reason to hold the rights of others hostage.

    Although this was a long comment, I think I stuck to the topics that had already been brought up by one of us previously. I would, however, like to introduce one new idea; one that will sound rhetorical but is an honest question. I believe that there are no substantial consequentialist reasons to consider homosexuality harmful, and therefore I believe that there is nothing morally wrong with it. Given that, I believe that two people should have the right to marry the person that they love regardless of their sex. So my question is: If you did not have a religious position against homosexuality, or just a feeling, perhaps, that homosexuality is immoral, would we be having this conversation? I mean, do you have any consequentialist reason why homosexuality is harmful? Were it not for your personal feelings about homosexuality just being wrong, would we really be discussing terms like “legally interchangeable” or discussing whether certain marriages fall within a framework that resembles (in certain ways but not others )ones that create children? Or would we just say: “Who cares if gay relationships have some differences from heterosexual relationships? If two people love each other, shouldn’t they have the right to marry each other?”

  • George Yancey

    This is a good conversation and it is getting quite long. It shows that this is a more complicated topic than people on either side seem to recognize. I think what a lot of this boils down to is that factors you think are irrelevant I think are relevant and vice versa. For example, I do think it changes the framework of marriage to define the child production element of it away. For practical reasons we cannot set an age in which we know that child production is no longer possible since people lose their fertility at older ages and with new technology the age of fertility continues to grow. Some thing with infertile couples. What is infertile today may not be infertile tomorrow. So niether type of couple alters the basic framework of marriage in the way same-sex marriages do. Society may decide that the framework needs to be altered but let us at least admit that this is what we are doing.
    On the second point interchangability is not based on individual preference. Whether I interchange a redhead for a blond is quite meaningless to everyone except me. Interchangability is based on whether what we change with the other is the same. In everyway that matters interchanging whites have no real difference with nonwhites. I think the same cannot be said with men and women.
    The third point is very telling. If I understand you correctly you accept pologamy as moral but perhaps not politically feasiable at this time. Thus marriage becomes whatever people say that it is as long as there is adult concent. Technically brothers can marry sister (or even other brothers) under such a framework. I ask whether we want to make that the basis of marriage. I see marriage as something not just owned by the individuals but the larger society has an interest in it as well. The individualist perspective of marriage is relatively new to our society and we may be overreacting to the abuses of more communial societies. But I am not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    I respect that you say that you have been guilty of bigotry. I have too. I think this conversation (not the one between you and I) of same sex marriage in general have been filled with accusations from mostly one side to the others with charges of bigotry. I think we can have a rational conversation that can find solutions but not with those charges. I think in such a conversation we will see as we have seen here that a lot of the disagreement is based on different visions of society more that hatred and bigotry against homosexuals (Although I know that such hatred is a factor as well as hatred against Christians).
    Finally, and I know I am not dealing with every point but I have to take off soon, to address your honest question I am concerned with a larger framework of what marriage is. But even if I was not a Christian I would not be concern with some of the attitudes of some pressuring for same sex marriage in academia and in our political culture. I have seen some of the research assertions about homosexuality is based on and it is very weak. I have also seen what happens if anyone violates the politically correct line and it bothers me. I have changed my opinons on what seems like traditional Christian positions when convincing evidence has been brought to me but I do not want to change just to fit into society and to avoid being insulted. If there was better research on the potential consequences of same sex marriage, research not driven by political correctness, then I would make adjustments accordingly. So I am trying to keep an open mind but always reserve the right to hold to my beleifs and values unless shown sufficent evidence that they no longer are right.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Hey George, it will be Thursday or Friday evening before I get back to you, but I insist on continuing. My next response will be shorter, as well.

    In the meantime, regarding child bearing, what about lesbians and IVF?

  • Reverend Robbie

    Hey George,

    I was hoping to stick with the enumeration still – I’m such a big fan of it as you can tell – but I found that I was retyping everything you said in order to respond to it. So I’m going to try to go with a different tack; one which I’m not really the biggest fan of, whereby I just copy and paste your comment and respond point by point to exactly what you said. I’m not a big fan of this because it makes it harder for the conversation to continue for too many cycles while still being readable. Unfortunately, I really think it’s the only way to cover all of your points without composing a really awkward essay. I hope you’ll forgive this approach and feel free to respond in kind, although after you respond we may be about as far as we can go with this method. Perhaps that’s merciful. :) Your statements in brackets, my responses between asterisks.

    [I think what a lot of this boils down to is that factors you think are irrelevant I think are relevant and vice versa. For example, I do think it changes the framework of marriage to define the child production element of it away. For practical reasons we cannot set an age in which we know that child production is no longer possible since people lose their fertility at older ages and with new technology the age of fertility continues to grow. Same thing with infertile couples. What is infertile today may not be infertile tomorrow. So niether type of couple alters the basic framework of marriage in the way same-sex marriages do.] *Interesting point. However, I did bring up IVF previously for lesbian couples, and for that matter, we’re not far technologically from a time when two men could create a fertilized egg from stem cells and have it borne by a surrogate. So I guess technology could put gay marriage right within the framework you refer to, just the way you allow infertile couples to be within this child bearing framework because of the potential for future scientific progress. And if infertile couples can be in that framework now, then why not gay men and women? So should we exclude homosexuals while still including infertile couples? Why?* [Society may decide that the framework needs to be altered but let us at least admit that this is what we are doing.] *You’ve already altered your framework by including infertile couples, but you just defined them back into the framework. By the same reasoning, we could just as easily define gay couples into the framework.*

    [On the second point interchangability is not based on individual preference. Whether I interchange a redhead for a blond is quite meaningless to everyone except me. Interchangability is based on whether what we change with the other is the same. In everyway that matters interchanging whites have no real difference with nonwhites. I think the same cannot be said with men and women.] *And in every way that matters, except for the issue of naturally bearing children with each other – an issue that you’ve already disregarded by altering your framework for marriage to include infertile couples – interchanging men with women makes no difference. And I suppose that they are also not the same in the ways that they can physically have sex, but I don’t see how that is a “way that matters”. So sure, there are differences, but should just any difference preclude them from being “legally interchangeable”. Why should not being able to have children not make them legally interchangeable? Well, we could make that argument I suppose, but we’ve already dashed that one by including infertile couples just because the technology might come along to make them fertile. Why should having sex differently make them not legally interchangeable? I see no reason for that. They can still love each other the same way, right?*

    [The third point is very telling. If I understand you correctly you accept pologamy as moral but perhaps not politically feasiable at this time. Thus marriage becomes whatever people say that it is as long as there is adult concent. Technically brothers can marry sister (or even other brothers) under such a framework. I ask whether we want to make that the basis of marriage. I see marriage as something not just owned by the individuals but the larger society has an interest in it as well.] *While we may need to put restrictions on procreation, I have no moral issue with siblings who are of consenting age getting freely married. As far as interests of society are concerned, there is plenty of benefit to society from gay marriage, not the least of which is the benefit derived directly by our very large gay population by having equal rights. Aside from that, gay marriage could make people more comfortable with homosexuals when they see them living similar lives, reducing discrimination or violence or general disgust people hold toward homosexuals, thereby making a better society.* [The individualist perspective of marriage is relatively new to our society and we may be overreacting to the abuses of more communial societies. But I am not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater.]

    [I respect that you say that you have been guilty of bigotry. I have too. I think this conversation (not the one between you and I) of same sex marriage in general have been filled with accusations from mostly one side to the others with charges of bigotry. I think we can have a rational conversation that can find solutions but not with those charges.] *For the sake of this discussion, I will cease any charges of bigotry. You are correct that we can have such a discussion without concerning ourselves over each others’ motives.* [I think in such a conversation we will see as we have seen here that a lot of the disagreement is based on different visions of society more that hatred and bigotry against homosexuals (Although I know that such hatred is a factor as well as hatred against Christians).]

    [Finally, and I know I am not dealing with every point but I have to take off soon, to address your honest question I am concerned with a larger framework of what marriage is. But even if I was not a Christian I would not be concern with some of the attitudes of some pressuring for same sex marriage in academia and in our political culture. I have seen some of the research assertions about homosexuality is based on and it is very weak. I have also seen what happens if anyone violates the politically correct line and it bothers me. I have changed my opinons on what seems like traditional Christian positions when convincing evidence has been brought to me but I do not want to change just to fit into society and to avoid being insulted. If there was better research on the potential consequences of same sex marriage, research not driven by political correctness, then I would make adjustments accordingly. So I am trying to keep an open mind but always reserve the right to hold to my beleifs and values unless shown sufficent evidence that they no longer are right.]

    *I think that you are burden shifting. There are many same sex couples raising children, and there is no significant evidence that these children are caused harm by it. Until such evidence exists, why should not allow gay marriages? In the meantime, what about the harm caused by disallowing gay marriages? The estate tax benefits, the property rights benefits, the hospital visitation rights, the stigma caused by not having their love treated the same way by the state as the love of people whose only difference from them is their sexual orientation?*

  • George Yancey

    Hey Robbie. I want to make a clear and articulate response to you. But right now in the middle of the week I just have too much on my plate to do it right now. I think I would just rush right through it and that would not serve either of us well. I want to continue this dialog but to it justice I will have to wait until this weekend to do it. So I do not want you to think that I have dropped the ball here but I need to postpone my responce to either Satuday or Sunday. Have a great rest of the week.

  • Reverend Robbie

    No sweat, George. It’s kind of nice having an uninterrupted thread. Enjoy your week as well!

  • Reverend Robbie

    Let me tack on a couple of thoughts just to keep in mind. I’m not trying to pile on between responses, but sometimes it can save us a round in the discussion, no? On child bearing, you may suggest that we can’t readily tell whether someone is infertile. Two hypothetical questions address that: (1) Were it possible to readily recognize infertile heterosexual couples, would we find it appropriate to disallow their marriage? And (2) 40 years ago we could have safely set the reproduction age maximum at 60; would it have been okay then to disallow marriages of people over 60?

    Also on child bearing, we have been acting under the assumption that it is critical to the right to marry. I’ve sort of allowed us to go down a rabbit hole because I only concede that point hypothetically for the sake of discussion, and you mention that it is only one of several arguments against gay marriage. I would argue that a primary, if not the primary, purpose of marriage throughout history has been to secure property rights. It would be difficult to quantify any historical “purpose” for marriage, but I think the argument for that would be at least as convincing as the argument for child bearing. On this criterion for securing property rights, gay people have just as much interest in this as straight people. From your perspective, since you mentioned that child bearing is only one of the key aspects of marriage, what are some others, and how would they exclude gay marriages?
    Lastly, on the topic of benefits of gay marriage, I’d like to add the benefit of gay couples raising children, even if they do not give birth to them (e.g., adoption or step-parenting). We can take for granted that children raised by a loving couple likely have advantages over those raised by an unloving couple or just one parent.

    Karen Spears Zacharias recently posted on her blog something that resonates with me on the topic. Pretty straightforward and simple and worth a read.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Well, I’m a little bothered by the course she takes toward the end, but it’s still pretty sensible.

  • George Yancey

    Hey Robbie. Let me try this from another angle. Rather than try to answer all of the questions I rather look at the larger issues. Ultimately this comes down to how one views marriage. By your answers it is clear that you view marriage from an Western individualist perspective. As such the only limitation on marriage is the consent of the adults. This opens up marriage to polygamy and adult incest. I see marriage as a combination of individual and communal interest. Marriage is not just done for the community. When I talk about a framework for marriage I do see an important part of that framework the creation and raising of children. In our society we have used marriage as the primary institution for this.
    Ultimately I believe that the ideal marriage creates and raise children. That does not mean that all marriages do so or that children are not taken care of in non-marital situations. But marriage is our primary vehicle for doing so. We use schools as the primary institution for teaching but not all teaching happens in schools. If we were to redefine our school system we would change society since we would basically change how we educate people. Likewise redefining marriage away from meeting the need of the creation and raising of children will change society. Whether it is for better or worse no one can tell. So I do think it is important to have the framework even though people will not, or can not always use it for those reasons. (As far as infertile and aging couples, it simply is not practical or feasible to exclude them from that framework. So their inclusion can be seen as non-ideal but ultimately a practicality that cannot be eliminated).
    This is why I think there should be a pretty hard bar for redefining marriage. You argue that protection of sexual preference meets that bar. The problem with that argument is that marriage does not have to be redefined to meet that need. Civil unions were becoming rather commonplace before this entire marriage debate comes up. (And I think they take care of those property issues you are concerned about. But I can be wrong about that since this is not my area of expertise) Those rights can be assured without redefining marriage. Now we still may want to redefine marriage. But I think it is something that we should not rush into and should take to anticipate what those changes may be. But I do not see that. I see a political rush that may produce unintended consequences. For example there are issues of the falling fertility rate in western societies and I do believe that an individualist definition of marriage is part of that fall. I cannot prove this but it is a real possibility. But neither can anyone prove that redefining marriages has not contributed to this problem as well.
    Despite the medical procedures you mention same-sex couples are not creating children themselves. They need someone else to contribute genetic material. Maybe in the future they can find ways to merge sperm with sperm or egg with egg but even then lesbians cannot produce a male. So would that be the type of creation we would want? I know that some will argue that sexual preference does not matter in the raising of children. But we do not know that because of the political barriers to doing research in that area (don’t get me started on that). Ultimately redefining marriage is a big gamble to take and there are those of us who are wary about taking that risk.
    I can be persuaded to be okay with same-sex marriage if there are sufficient religious protections built into the legislation. In fact I have been following Dalrymple argument on this. But we in society really need to think about this and not just do it. And if it is done then I believe it has to be done in a spirit of pluralism that respects those of us who see marriage as meeting communal, and not just individual, needs. But I am not there yet but I doubt I will get there until I see a more honest debate on this issue since I have seen thus far.
    I know that I did not answer every single issue you brought up but to be honest I probably do not have the time to go into all of the areas of this debate right now. I have not signed up to be the representative of traditional marriage nor do I want the job. I have other issues that I am dealing with that I see as more important in my life and career. But I hope I represented my concerns and even if you do not agree with them I hope you see where I am coming from on this. Have a great week.

  • Reverend Robbie

    Well, thanks George. I can tell you’re ready to send this one to the archives. Honestly, I would enjoy a few more rounds because it felt like we were communicating well. I’m fairly satisfied that we understand each other, but as you may have suspected, I’m not satisfied that your position is rational, and feel I can explain why. So I suspect I’m going to take the last word (I don’t promise to keep it to one post, either), unless you choose to grace us with your response, as I hope you do. If not, this exchange can end here and go buried in this blog for posterity. As always, I’m going to be blunt because that’s the easiest way to my point. I will attempt to be fair and accurate in my representation of your positions.

    I think your position is riddled with red herring and inconsistency. The red herring occurs when you make irrelevant points – in this case differences between types of marriages and invocation of arbitrary rules or guidelines – and try to present them as relevant points to support your position. The inconsistency results from special pleading or from vague attempts not to take your positions to their logical conclusions. A few comments ago, you stated, “… this is a more complicated topic than people on either side seem to recognize.” I disagree. I think it’s pretty straightforward, but we have to keep dealing with red herring and special pleading, and it takes more time to refute a bad argument than to make one, resulting in the appearance of a complicated discussion.

    In the red herring category, you’ve made attempts to claim that because people of different races are the same, then they are “legally interchangeable” and therefore you can’t restrict someone from marrying someone of a different race, but because people of different sexes are different, then you need a good reason to allow someone to marry a person of the same sex because they’ve already got the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. I believe there are several good reasons, but even if there weren’t, I wouldn’t agree with your argument on the grounds that it’s simply nonsensical. You can see how this conversation starts to appear complicated, but that’s only because this different/same/interchangeable argument is just a lineup of irrelevant premises followed by an unsupported conclusion, unnecessarily complicating the discussion.

    In fact, your argument ends up exactly backward if you follow it to its natural conclusion: if people of all races are the same, then they actually have equal rights by only being able to marry someone of their own race. You see, in the case of interracial marriage and gay marriage, the right to join with someone of your choosing is not just a matter of equality, but of justice and compassion. If it’s no harder to grant someone a right that they desire and it isn’t demonstrated to cause any harm, then grant them the stinking right already. We didn’t have to invent a new institution or a new process to allow interracial marriage, we just lifted the barrier. That’s all we have to do for gay marriage. So if you can’t come up with good reasons not to grant them the right to marry the person they love, then please clear the way.

    Another red herring is the “where will it stop” argument. If we grant a just right, then perhaps other just rights will follow. If we grant a just right, it simply does not follow that we must grant a right that is not just. Many people have trouble with this as they don’t want to reopen discussions about justice. They’re happy with the way things are, just or not, and are afraid of what will happen if we reevaluate our society’s rules. If we grant gay marriage, then we may well have polygamists and kissing-gay-cousins asking why we don’t let them have marriage rights. And we should be prepared to give them an explanation. What harm will inevitably come of such things? What complications will arise that need to be dealt with? Are such complications barriers that we can overcome that will allow people to pursue what they believe will make them happy in ways that won’t harm others? Pointing out situations we may need to address if we come to a just conclusion is not an argument against said act of justice.

    The inconsistencies mainly come from the discussion about child bearing. Now I realize that you said that child bearing was only one of the arguments against gay marriage, but I don’t think I actually saw another argument against it in any of your comments. Frankly, I can’t think of any significant differences between gay marriages and straight marriages other than whether they can, in the right circumstances, breed with each other, and how they can physically have sex with each other. So I’m left believing that this is all we got to work with when it comes to secular arguments against gay marriage. The argument around this is loaded with inconsistencies.

    Attempts to find consistent reasons to exclude gay marriage from marriage generally involve making up rules and terms that define in/out various relationships based on irrelevant standards. While I think that this child bearing standard is far, far insufficient to exclude gay marriages from equal treatment, I at least think it could be relevant. But if we were to apply it, we would, as I’ve said several times, exclude infertile couples under the same standard. You attempted to define infertile couples back into includable types of marriage by saying they were part of the same “framework”. This “framework” simply worked to lump a certain type of infertile union back into marriage and exclude another infertile union. You argued that one union was “by its nature” infertile, but this was again an arbitrary line because all infertile unions are, by their nature, infertile. In your last post, you stated that it is, “…not practical or feasible to exclude [infertile or aging] couples from that framework,” thus suggesting that (a) it would be okay to do so if it were feasible and (b) that there are groups we could not readily identify as infertile (say septuagenarians now, or sexagenarians a while ago) and just make it against the law for them to marry. Done, just the way we exclude homosexuals from marrying.

    The next word that’s used to exclude gay marriage is “redefining”. This can be a useful word, but I don’t see how interracial marriages (again, analogous to this for all relevant premises) didn’t redefine marriage as well. So we may have to discuss what makes marriage meaningful – In other words, what characteristics, if changed, would make the word meaningless or less useful – but I don’t see how marriage is so significantly redefined by allowing gays to marry. The conferral of rights is still there, and that is really what marriage in the eyes of the state does. So we use the word “redefine” to exclude the type of marriages that we don’t want, without really stating what defines marriage, other than that it includes the marriages we want it to include and excludes the ones we want to exclude.

    The biggest inconsistency I found, though, was between these two statements:

    — “redefining marriage away from meeting the need of the creation and raising of children will change society,” and,
    — “Civil unions were becoming rather commonplace before this entire marriage debate comes up. (And I think they take care of those property issues you are concerned about. But I can be wrong about that since this is not my area of expertise) Those rights can be assured without redefining marriage.”

    How could all of your arguments, all along, not be applied equally to gay civil unions and to gay marriages? This whole time you’ve been okay with gay people getting all of the rights of marriage, but we have to seriously consider the societal consequences of using the word, “marriage”? I’m totally lost now, George. What, exactly, do you think is the harm if the government uses the word “marriage” to refer to the same conferral of rights to a couple that you would not personally wish to be married?

    Unrelated to red herrings or special pleading, your arguments attempt to shift the burden. By saying that there isn’t good research into homosexual parenting, you’ve shifted the burden. We would all like good research done on this, but there is no good reason to assume that gay people can’t raise children well, and until such reasons (sufficient ones) are demonstrated, then they should have the right to marry and have children. It’s a bummer that there isn’t good research, but even if that is due to an unwillingness to allow the research to be done (I don’t agree; I’ve read several blogs about “Expelled”-style concerns), then you still can’t hold that against gay couples.

    With that, I’m about done, but I’d quickly like to list the ways that gay people can contribute to the world only as it relates to children:

    1. Gay men can have a surrogate who doesn’t want to raise her own child and can have the DNA of one of the males in the couple used in creation of the child.
    2. They can adopt (more related to child rearing than bearing.
    3. They can raise children after a divorce or widowing from a straight relationship.
    4. Lesbians can be artificially inseminated, again having one of the couple’s DNA used to make a child.
    5. Men, in the future, be able to use stem cells to fertilize an artificial egg.

    Thanks again for the discussion, George. I do appreciate your willingness to talk with me. My words were a bit sharper in this one, but for the sake of precision. I believe that everything I said was fair and accurate. If you choose not to respond, take care and thanks.

  • George Yancey

    Yes Robbie. This will be my last response on this as I need to put my efforts toward other things right now. But I too have enjoyed haveing a civil, but honest, discussion on this issue. It has help me to think more about where I come from. I did not figure that you would agree with me. I picked up on that early on. I appreicte that you do not beleive my concerns to be rational. Rationality is more socially constructed than we believe it to be and subject to the presuppositons we bring into the discussion. You suspect that I bring Christian presuppositions and I am not going to deny that I do. You obviously bring a more humanist, individualist presupposition to this issue. I am comfortable with the rationality of the differnce between race and sex as it concens marriage. I know that you do not beleive that the case has been made for this difference which is a difference that to me is all to obvious. I could take some time and try to go through the points again and address the issues you bring up but I see us at an intellectual impass will leave it at that. I wish you well and perhaps we will meet in the blogs again someday.


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