Should Christians Give Up the Fight on Gay Marriage?

Timothy Dalrymple, an evangelical Christian blogger at Patheos, asks a question we’ve all answered several times before:

Is it time now, or might there come a time soon, when evangelicals should decide that the cost of carrying on the battle against same-sex marriage is simply too high?

His answer is standard evangelical fare — marriage is between a man and a woman, that definition won’t change — but his argument suggests that Christians may be better off not standing in the way of gay and lesbian couples getting equal rights, even if Christians don’t consider their marriages “marriages.”

Personally, I hope they continue to defend their narrow-minded Biblical view of what marriage is. It makes it *so* much easier to convince people that religion is more harmful than good when the evidence is right there standing in line at Chick-fil-A.

No one has ever cared what Christians think marriage is. Their definition isn’t what we’re trying to change. No one’s trying to rewrite the Bible. No one’s taking away anyone’s religious freedom. If you’re a Christian and you work at a church, you don’t have to recognize gay marriage. If you’re a Christian in charge of issuing marriage licenses at City Hall, you don’t get to avoid your job by crying, “Freedom of conscience!” It’s simple.

The fight has always been about legal rights and equality under the law, and Christians have still been opposed to that. Even when they know their churches can hang up signs saying “No Gay Couples Allowed,” even when their pastors continue to rail against same-sex parents adopting children, even though their churches are under no obligation to treat gay people as human beings — they have still tried to prevent the government from legally recognizing same-sex love.

There are no legitimate scientific reasons to oppose gay marriage just as there are no legitimate moral reasons to oppose it. There are only religious reasons — bigoted reasons — and that’s not how we run our society.

The faster marriage equality becomes a way of life nationwide, the faster we’ll push the evangelical church as we know it into obsolescence.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    There are no legitimate scientific reasons to oppose gay marriage just as there are no legitimate moral reasons to oppose it.

    I was with you all the way until here. In fact, religious ideas and biblical interpretations seem every bit as “legitimate” (a word we should all be careful with since the comments of a certain Republican politician…) for forming moral opinions as any other basis (such as humanism).

    Certainly, my morals are not based on biblical interpretation. But I’m not comfortable challenging the basis of other people’s morals. I’m willing to let others oppose gay rights or marriage equality on moral grounds. What I’m not willing to do is let them oppose those rights on legal grounds. We can, and do, all live with our different personal moral systems. What’s important is that we must all live with the same legal system, regardless of the degree to which it harmonizes- or not- with our moral values. In this country, it is largely recognized that arguments derived from religion are not sufficient in themselves to determine law. That concept is where we need to be keeping the focus, not challenging the basis of personal morals.

    • ortcutt

      “In this country, it is largely recognized that arguments derived from religion are not sufficient in themselves to determine law.”

      Most religious conservative people don’t “recognize” this at all.  (I’m not sure that religious liberals accept it either since they often give religious rationales for public policy.)  In fact, they disagree with is strenuously.  I don’t give a damn what they think, so that’s OK with me, but it does no good to imagine that there is broad consensus for this when they isn’t.

      • C Peterson

        I don’t care if most religious conservative people recognize it or not. Most Americans are not religious conservatives. In actual fact, my statement is correct (and codified in the Constitution and by a large body of Constitutional law): arguments derived from religion are not sufficient in themselves to determine law. I think this is supported by a broad consensus.

        • Shouldbeworkin’

          I’ll believe this when I can buy a beer on Sunday morning…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            I can purchase beer on a Sunday morning in Maine. What crazy state do you live in?

            • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

               In Indiana you cannot purchase alcoholic beverages from a retail establishment on Sundays. Nor can beer and other chilled alcohol be sold in grocery stores, gas stations, etc. It has to be warm off the shelf.

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                Note to self: Never move to Indiana :)

            • Shouldbeworkin’

              I’m right on your southern border, my man…

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                Must be one of them crazy blue laws. You cannot purcahse a new vehicle in Maine on Sundays which I find 100% dumb.

                • ortcutt

                  11 states prohibit Sunday hunting, including Maine.  You would think that the hunting lobby would be able to beat the religious lobby, but apparently not.  I guess there are a lot of pastors who worry that their pews would be ever emptier if everyone was allowed to hunt.  

    • Guesty Guest

      Ceding the moral arguments to your enemies pretty much guarantees that your legal victories will be short-lived and easily reversed. As easily, in fact, as a shift in the political wind. Most people base their beliefs in legal rectitude upon whether those laws accord with their own notions of propriety; long term shifts in law follow changes in moral sentiment almost universally.

      Your incredibly bad advice is to abandon the moral argument in favor of legal victories; how did that work out for the opponents to marriage equality when they rushed to disfigure state constitutions in a (it turns out vain) effort to inscribe their prejudices into law as they saw the moral argument slipping out of their fingers? Adopting the strategies of your just defeated adversary is the height of stupidity.

      More the point, legal equality is not, shortly speaking, the actual goal. People don’t want mere legal equality, they desire social acceptance. Gay teens don’t commit suicide because the law won’t let them get married, they commit suicide because the society morally approves of bullying and rejecting them as people; shortly, they are told in every word and deed cast their way that they don’t belong. And here you say you’re “uncomfortable challenging the basis of other people’s morals”. What would it take for you to recognize a moral stance as manifestly wrong? When a group’s basis for their morals encourages them to behave in ways that end in denigration, marginalization and suicide, that isn’t enough? How can you be made comfortable enough to call what is evil, evil?

      • C Peterson

        Laws should follow the moral sentiment of society!

        I’m certainly not ceding any moral arguments. I actively engage people who think differently than I do in an effort to shift their moral views. What I said is that I can find no basis for considering the moral views of another person as either “legitimate” or otherwise. That doesn’t mean I agree with those views, it just means that I recognize that no person’s moral views are more or less legitimate than anybody else’s.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Laws should follow the moral sentiment of society!

          Um, no. Laws should follow logic and basic principles, such as harm vs. benefit, and whether rights are being threatened.

          Take pot legalization, for example. I am for it, not for any moral reasons, but because it makes no logical sense to ban it. It is not physically addictive. It actually has some medically-related benefits (such as increasing appetite, which is good for chemo patients, etc.). Consuming marijuana is a victimless act. It can be regulated and taxed. And so on.

          You can’t base laws on moral sentiments, because those are often highly subjective. Sure, things like “murder is bad” are pretty much universal, but there is an even better logical argument to be made for the banning of murders as well — murder is the ultimate removal of another’s right to life with no other rights taking precedent to justify the act; it is arguably the ultimate harm one could impose upon another; etc.

          • C Peterson

            No disagreement that logic should be an important component of creating laws. But fundamentally, I think laws are the product of the ethics of a society, and nothing else. Laws that are out of sync with societal ethics fail, and frequently cause harm (e.g. current drug laws). Moral sentiments are the only thing that laws can really be based upon- but the sentiments of societal consensus, not of individuals.

          • David Starner

            Logic doesn’t work that way. You speak in terms of rights, but there’s no purely logical argument for rights. Utilitarians, a very logical bunch, spoke in terms of social good, for example.

            How far should the government go to protect us from bad stuff like pot, PCP, cereal made from sawdust or rice with high levels of arsenic? Depending on the weight you put on freedom, that can range from cavaet empetor to active regulation of the consumption of fatty foods. There’s little logic involved, just simple disagreement on the appropriate place of government versus individual rights.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Can we please stop lumping cannabis in with things that are bad/dangerous? It’s a fucking plant, man, and it’s far safer than alcohol (which is legal).

              • C Peterson

                It’s a fucking plant…

                So’s belladonna. Your observation is like suggesting that herbal medicines are safer than synthesized pharmaceuticals.

                (I agree with you about the safety of cannabis, but not because it’s a plant!)

        • Guesty Guest

          What I said is that I can find no basis for considering the moral views
          of another person as either “legitimate” or otherwise. That doesn’t mean
          I agree with those views, it just means that I recognize that no
          person’s moral views are more or less legitimate than anybody else’s.

          Nonsense. If you fail to recognize the illegitimacy of moral views that lead to ghastly consequences, then you fail as a human being.

          Am I to understand from your comment here that you see no way to discard as illegitimate a moral view that approved of chattel slavery? Genocide? Spousal rape? Child abuse? Animal cruelty?

          That you merely disagree with these things, and fail to recognize a fundamental defect in the morality that would approve them? That you would be gobsmacked when a person who held these views pretended towards their legitimacy?

          Come. The. Fuck. On. This is mealy mouthed bull of the rankest sort.

          • C Peterson

            Am I to understand from your comment here that you see no way to discard as illegitimate a moral view that approved of chattel slavery? Genocide? Spousal rape? Child abuse? Animal cruelty?

            Correct. I see none of these things as somehow intrinsically immoral or “illegitimate”. They are certainly contrary to our current societal ethos, and any individuals holding those views might be considered dangerous. They are almost certainly not people I would choose to associate with, and if they acted on their beliefs I’d have no problem isolating them from society.

            But if they honestly held any of those beliefs, I’d not label them as illegitimate moral positions, simply ideas very out of step with society.

            • Guesty Guest

              That’s pathetic.

              • C Peterson

                That’s not a very convincing argument.

                • Guesty Guest

                  It’s an observation, not an argument. If you’d like an argument, I can provide one.

                  But before I can do that, I need to know exactly why you feel it’s impossible to attack the legitimacy of moral systems. Otherwise it’ll just be launching into a general attack on moral relativism which will fail to illuminate just how ridiculous your position is. I’d prefer to argue with a person instead of a strawman, but so far you’ve merely asserted the result of your position, not its justification, and so, so far, I’ve only been able to respond in kind.

                  Notably, I do not think that the determination of the defect in your conclusion is dependent on your particular choice of the possible premises that lead to your conclusion. It will be instructive to see exactly where you’ve gone wrong, but that is not strictly necessary to know that you have gone wrong.

                • C Peterson

                  I see moral systems has purely human inventions. While I accept that different moral systems will produce different societies, I cannot come up with any rational reason to argue that any particular society is better than another, or that any particular moral system is better than another.

                  Certainly, there are moral systems that result in a world I find better, but that’s just my view. I don’t know what can make that view more legitimate than somebody else’s.

    • WoodyTanaka

      Well, all you’ve done here is state that in your opinion morality is an empty concept.  Others disagree.

      • C Peterson

        I have most certainly not made any such assertion!

        • Guesty Guest

          You’ve reduced moral choice to a merely aesthetic determination, like choosing favorite ice cream flavors, because you recognize no means by which to argue over the legitimacy of a moral stance; that is the very essence of the difference in axiology between ethics and aesthetics. The most you care to say is that you personally disagree, but other people can come to equally legitimate determinations regardless of their content.

          Genocide, or human rights? Chocolate or vanilla? No, Woody has got your position nailed exactly right. If you don’t want that to be the conclusion of your position, you best get to work on changing your premises!

          • C Peterson

            You misunderstand me. If you believe that there are things which are intrinsically moral or immoral, that’s fine, but you need to recognize that this is essentially a religious viewpoint, unsupportable by reason.

            • Guesty Guest

              The metaethical position of Moral Realism is not “essentially a religious viewpoint, unsupportable by reason”, but simply a position on how we should understand value and valuation. A cute smear to make on an atheist website, though. “Oh, it came from religion, therefore it must be wrong!” Actually, that would bear one way or another on the matter. For what its worth, metaethical theorists tend to treat religious systems of ethics, such as divine command theory, as being species of moral anti-realism, because the standard of value in those systems is a valuating being (god or gods) rather than being some sort of intrinsic factual inherence.

              And I don’t “misunderstand you” unless you are very poor at communicating what you think on the matter. You have stated, repeatedly, that you see no way to make a determination as to the legitimacy of a moral stance. This reduces all moral determinations to mere personal opinion, hence merely aesthetic determinations, literally matters of taste. If you wish to revise that position, by all means. Else, your objection is merely to the unflattering but accurate characterization of your position as a species of moral nihilism.

              • Bad_homonym

                I love how trolls ( my opinion of course that I’m sure will gladly disprove here ), hang out in rooms like this and practice your idiotic art of insult through vocabulary, philosophy, and douchebaggery! The only real issue of morals that matter apply to the here and now. I’ll bet you could argue either side of this debate to what you call a victory any day of the week! For those of us in the real, here and now world, it doesnt matter so much. Lets argue the moral standards of yet undiscovered alien life forms! What is the point? Maybe we could gain insight into weather morals are objective or subjective! And what would it gain us? The notions of don’t kill each other and don’t take each others shit may mean nothing outside of where we live and in what time. So what! You come here to feel superior to those of us who simply share a common view, and for no greater reason. Sad really! Is there no forum for like minded people like yourself?Maybe you could start one instead of trolling (read bullying) sites like this

    • Coyotenose

       I’m confident asserting that the intention in the quoted statement, considering the context of the overall marriage battle and skeptical arguments concerning it, is that the “Biblical morality” claim lacks legitimacy as a rational argument, because it isn’t based on anything at all. The Biblical god could have outlawed “looking up” as an “abomination” and its modern followers now be trying to legislate against going outdoors and skylights on that basis, and it would make exactly as much sense. What equal marriage opponents do is like a preschooler smashing everyone’s toys, not because he’s in any way put upon, but because he is so overprivileged that he doesn’t know how to behave around other people. That is not a legitimate moral position.

      • C Peterson

        I disagree. To a believer, a biblical commandment is not based on nothing. To suggest that their morals are somehow less valid than ours empowers them, since it provides for them to say the same of us. A person who takes the bible literally and does not base his morals on that belief is acting unethically, not the one who does.

        When we disagree with morals, we should try to convince the holders of those morals why they should change. Telling them that their opinions are invalid or illegitimate, however, is unlikely to ever accomplish that goal.

        • Mattmon

          “I disagree. To a believer, a biblical commandment is not based on nothing.”

          Well I agree that the believer *believes* that it’s not based on nothing, but in reality it is based on nothing, because there’s no evidence for it.

          “When we disagree with morals, we should try to convince the holders of those morals why they should change.”

          Okay.  The reason they should change is because there’s no Magic Man.

          • Coyotenose

             I don’t think that saying that gods don’t exist is the way to attack the legitimacy of their claim to morality. To me it’s more that, even if one were to allow for the possibility of Yahweh being real, there’s just no argument there, not even a bad one. If even God Himself can’t explain it even in the weakest way, then all they’re doing is saying “BECAUSE!” over and over.

            Uh oh, three atheists who all have different viewpoints. We’d better get back in lockstep being strident, fundamentalist militants before someone notices!

            • A Portlander

               DEEP RIFTS

    • Mattmon

      No. The only *moral* reason to oppose it is because they think Magic Man doesn’t like it. And “Magic Man doesn’t like it is not “legitimate” reason.

    • Guesty Guest

      [Moving the argument about moral relativism here, because of the line splits.]

      I see moral systems has purely human inventions. While I accept that
      different moral systems will produce different societies, I cannot come
      up with any rational reason to argue that any particular society is
      better than another, or that any particular moral system is better than
      another.

      Moral systems are indeed purely human inventions, but this metaethically says nearly nothing, for what matters is whether the invention is responding to something real or merely apparent. For example, thermometrers are purely human inventions, but it would not do to argue that therefore temperature is itself a human invention; indeed, thermometers, despite being human inventions, respond to objective physical quantities. Thermometers can be judged on how accurately they respond to those quantities. Being a human invention is no intrinsic impediment to being liable to evaluation.

      Moral systems have, as their object, the domain of possible interactions between conscious agents, and what they seek to evaluate are generally two sets of  valuations that coherently arise from those interactions; namely, the value of the act, and the value of the agent so acting. Some moral systems concentrate more on the act and some on the agent, but all of them include both at some level or other of analysis.

      Lurking behind your rather absolute statement that you can see no logical reason for determination between moral systems is an error that I would identify as implied need for a wholly decisive meta-ethical criteria. In other words, you declaim all possibility of determination because you see no logical reason that can be pointed to to end all argument. This I would liken to saying that it is impossible to choose which thermometer is best amongst thermometers because there exists no perfect thermometer against which to measure.

      What this mistakes is that for this task we are demarcating a domain, not an object. In other words, the task before us is not to produce the perfect ethical system, but rather to delineate which ethical systems amongst possible ethical systems are legitimate as opposed to illegitimate; the domain of legitimacy. This is rather reminiscent of an argument that we atheists see all the time about the legitimacy, in light of our impoverished epistemological position, of actually calling ourselves atheists instead of merely only being able to claim agnosticism, knowing that it is impossible from a strictly logical point of view of knowing for sure that no hypothetical deity might exist. Rather, atheism is defensible as a claim because while we can’t be sure about some hypothetically constructed deity, we can be rather more certain about the non-existence of all actual deities heretofore described by religions, because all those gods have features that make the judgment easier in a qualitative way. The possible existence of the philosopher’s god or of the deist’s god does not constrain the denotation of atheism, because the domain of the claim does not include hypotheticals that are not well-formed for the purposes of the determination; considerations of the philosopher’s god are not legitimate items in the domain of the question. In order to know whether an object does not fit in a certain sized box, we only need to check the dimensions of that object and compare it to the box; we do not need to compare it to other objects that may or may not fit.

      In order to sketch the dimensions of the domain of legitimate moral systems, there need to be available some factual metrics for outcomes. Values may (like many other qualities we take for granted as existing) not be directly available to interrogation, but they are supervenient on facts that are readily apprehended. For a simple example, take the Moriori moral system of absolute pacifism. There is no way to directly interrogate moral facts to see if the Moriori were right, but if moral systems inhere in human beings (they are human constructions that run on human wetware), we know that the Moriori possessed a system of questionable legitimacy because their moral theory directly led to their annihilation at the hands of the Maori. Shortly, if a moral theory leads to no more humans holding that moral theory, then the moral theory is  failure. Notably, it does not tell us anything about the Maori theory, whatever that may be, but that need not bother us because our task is not to find out which system is the right system, but rather to determine whether a given system is illegitimate as a moral system. Survivability is but one minor of several possible physical facts that a person could look to to see if a system falls outside of the domain of legitimacy.

      Which segues into a mystery that your theory cannot solve, but is obvious under moral realism. That is the mystery of mutual intelligibility of moral propositions. Humans are not infinitely plastic in behavior or features or any other measure. Far from it. Humans share features, and so their interactions bear regularities. Likewise, humans share universal reactions to stimuli (witness for example the regularity of human microexpressions for certain internal states, and the mutual comprehensibility of those states such that they are universally recognizable). The independent arising of moral features in locations with no contact also can be brought to bear (for example, societies across the world with no contact somehow all came up with the notion that taking items not designated by the social order to be yours is wrong). Individual moral systems can definitely be tested against the massive intersubjective weight of these commonalities, with those that fail have their legitimacy be questioned. Teh commonalities of human experiences and aspirations, being finite and fairly regular, definitely can indicate the boundaries of the domain in question.

      [To be continued after I get back from seeing Lincoln. Yay, the movies! L:)]

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Except that there are no “moral grounds” for opposing or denying same-sex marriage. On the contrary, opposing same-sex marriage is immoral.

      • C Peterson

        That is certainly my moral outlook, and I understand it to be yours. For either of us to oppose same sex marriage would, indeed, be immoral. However, for a person who believes that the Bible prohibits same-sex relationships, it would be immoral for them to support same-sex marriage. I can’t say that either view is right or wrong; we simply have different world views.

        That’s why individual morality is a poor basis for approaching the issue. Our legal system is based on maximizing rights, and on prohibiting the restriction of rights because of religious beliefs. It isn’t perfect, but in the long run it seems to work. It’s working right now, as laws restricting homosexual behavior have fallen once it was recognized they had no basis except religious belief, and as laws restricting marriage are falling, for the same reason.

      • Mattmon

        The word he was taking issue with was “legitimate”.  Sure there are “moral reasons” (the Bible) for opposing same-sex marriage.  It just that those moral reasons are not “legitimate”.

  • http://twitter.com/ColdDimSum Dark Star

    >>> There are only religious reasons — bigoted reasons — and that’s not how we run our society.

    I think you have confused idealism with reality.

    To the question…
    >>> Is it time now, or might there come a time soon, when evangelicals should decide that the cost of carrying on the battle against same-sex marriage is simply too high?

    It’s time to decide that being hateful bigots who do great harm to other human beings is wrong.   Only then will ceasing the attacks on those who are different come naturally and be done for the right reasons.

    Now I’M confusing idealism with reality.

  • http://www.bartontees.com/ Barton Tees

    My father tells this story about a guy coming to him for whatever reason, maybe he was buying a house, I’m not sure (my father’s a solicitor/lawyer). Anyway, when asked if he’s ever been married before his current partner, the man says no. A little background check says yes he has. In their next meeting my father brings it up ‘John, I thought you said you weren’t married before? It says here you’re still married!’
    His response: ‘Ah but that was in a registry office, not a church so it doesn’t count’
    My father then had to tell him ‘no John, it counts, in fact it’s the only thing that counts’.
    Church weddings may be pretty and have ceremonial significance to believers but they don’t count for jack on there own, it is the LEGAL recognition of the marriage that counts.

    Point is this; they are perfectly entitled to keep whoever they want out of their bigoted little club, the only problem is they cannot do so and hope to maintain what little shred of relavence they still have.
    They are perfectly entitled to set the limits for what they call marriage (let’s call it christian marriage), they are not entitled to set the legal limits for what marriage is.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      I don’t want to give the word “marriage” up to the theists, nor do I want to share it. They can use “ceremonial holy union” instead. Too bad for them if they don’t like it.

      • http://www.bartontees.com/ Barton Tees

         Lately I’ve been proposing that they use the term “Christian Married”. Admittedly it’s a slightly tongue in cheek retort to the isolation of  “Gay Married” as a term.

  • Stev84

    Timothy is an idiot and asshole of the highest order. JT Eberhard tangled with him a couple of times over things such as this

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    Personally, I hope they continue to defend their narrow-minded Biblical view of what marriage is. It makes it *so* much easier to convince people that religion is more harmful than good when the evidence is right there standing in line at Chick-fil-A.

    If I could choose between people having their civil rights unencumbered by religious opposition or having an object lesson to use to dissuade people from religion, I’d pick the former.

    • Teh Lady

       I agree.

    • Coyotenose

       I believe he’s saying that it’s better for you when your enemies lack subtlety. It’s a variation of Voltaire’s grand line: ‘I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.’On a tangent, I once used that quote on another forum, with a dash connecting to Voltaire’s name at the end but without quotation marks, and the Fundies went ballistic about how I supposedly just admitted that I prayed and it was for harm to someone else. Jesus but I can’t decide if they’re so stupid it’s sad, or so stupid it’s funny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JohnFest John Case

       I agree with the sentiment and, at first blush, my response to the article was the same. However, I’m not sure that’s the dichotomy that’s on the table.

      First, it’s really moot because “the evangelicals” aren’t going to unilaterally lay down their arms in this battle, it’s just a thought experiment more than anything.

      Next, we’d have to ask if “evangelicals” means the power centers of the churches which are affecting political discourse and public sentiment, or if we are actually talking about ALL evangelicals suddenly deciding that gay marriage is okay. The latter just isn’t on the table. It’s a fairy tale, maybe interesting for a thought experiment, but not happening. The former is more plausible (after all, Catholics *officially* gave up the fight on evolution), but that doesn’t mean the rank and file will all of a sudden follow suit (I know plenty of Catholics who reject the papal decree re: evolution).

      I just don’t think that religions becoming more and more moderate as PR entities is the path (at least not the best or most efficient one) to more freedom, be it gay rights now or any civil rights initiative of the past.

      What is really being asked, to me, is this:
      Is it better for people to continue blindly following religious dogma as long as that dogma softens up its public position on gay rights OR for people to come around to the fact that the religious dogma is archaic and out of step with modern, enlightened morality, prompting them to abandon dogmatic faith and move toward reason-based morality?

      I tend toward the latter, but I understand the appeal of the former. Being heterosexual, I’m arguing from the broader, sociological perspective, not one where my personal rights are involved, so it’s a lot easier for me to pass on an expedient, if deeply flawed, solution in favor of a glacially slow, but ethically sound, one.

      • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

         

        Is it better for people to continue blindly following religious dogma as
        long as that dogma softens up its public position on gay rights OR for
        people to come around to the fact that the religious dogma is archaic
        and out of step with modern, enlightened morality, prompting them to
        abandon dogmatic faith and move toward reason-based morality?

        I don’t agree that this is the way the quote I responded to framed the issue, but I’ll respond to it anyway.

        I think that private belief follows public practice to a significant extent. That is, if religions ease up on their public attacks on gays and consequently gays get more rights, then what will happen is that many people will see that having gay people openly living among them, getting married, etc. is actually not the end of civilization as we know it, and they’ll start to push back against homophobia. That won’t happen with everyone, but getting to know openly gay people has been a HUGE factor in the rapidly growing public acceptance of gay rights in this country. Even among people who used to oppose them for religious reasons — they may or may not be giving up their religion, but many are coming to see that their religion was just wrong about gay people. For some, that will lead them to question other aspects as well.

        Conversely, the more people are getting away with telling horrible lies about gays in the public discourse, the more people are going to think that there must be something to it.

        Being heterosexual, I’m arguing from the broader, sociological
        perspective, not one where my personal rights are involved, so it’s a
        lot easier for me to pass on an expedient, if deeply flawed, solution in
        favor of a glacially slow, but ethically sound, one.

        I don’t concede that “We’ll compromise on your rights in the short term in the hope of getting (what I consider) a better long term outcome for everyone” is more ethically sound. Especially when the ones saying it aren’t the ones who have to live with getting screwed in the short term.

  • ortcutt

    After reading so much David Barton for so many years, it’s going to be difficult for Evangelical Christians to adjust to religious pluralism (including irreligion) in our society.  They don’t think that their religious rules are just for them.  They think their religious decrees are universal and that people like us are in rebellion against God’s decrees.  The Catholics believe basically the same thing although the specifics differ slightly.  We’re not going to be able to convince them.  They best we will do is containing them.  

    • C Peterson

      We can, and will, convince most of them. Even conservatives cannot resist change. They will change as society changes, albeit slower, and to a lesser degree. We need only look to Europe, where so many countries were deeply religious and even theocratic as recently as a few hundred years ago. They had deeply religious populations into the 20th century. Yet they underwent massive secular shifts, mainly after WW2, and today even the remaining religious conservatives (outside a few extremists) fit in well enough… certainly not because of any “containment”.

      I predict the same thing will happen in the U.S. over the next few decades.

      • Coyotenose

         Yes, on every issue for quite a few centuries, the churches have had to be dragged kicking and screaming forward, but they do eventually get dragged. And each time they do, a few more of their adherents see the other holes and decide to pass through them.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

    The fight has always been about legal rights and equality under the law

    Speak for yourself.  It is not just about legal equality, and never has been.  I would also like for there to be less stigma on LGBTQ people so they can lead happier lives.  So that people don’t look same-sex couples funny on the street even though they have the legal right to do so.  To reduce the higher rates of suicide, homelessness, and drug abuse, and to narrow the wage gap.  I want to raise general awareness so that when kids find out they’re gay and lesbian, it doesn’t come as such a blow to them, and they have an easier time finding a community.  I want to raise general awareness so that when bi, ace, and trans people interact with gay and lesbian communities, it is less terrible to them.

    This is not so different from atheist goals, which also extend beyond mere legal equality.  Do you just want the law to coerce religious people into treating you the same, or do you want more than that?  It would be cool if religious people didn’t see the godless as immoral blights on society, right?  It would be cool if religious people were persuaded that the supernatural doesn’t exist?

    • amycas

       “I want to raise general awareness so that when bi, ace, and trans people
      interact with gay and lesbian communities, it is less terrible to them.”

      Thank you for this. I’ve been drifting out of the lgbt community that I found at school, because it seems to be populated by the l’s and g’s who want to ignore or downplay anything face by the b’s t’s and all other’s. My friend Sam was called “it” one day by the VP of the club after she had left the meeting for the day, because the VP was confused about Sam’s gender (which she had already explained at least once). We also had a short discussion one day about how bi people are treated that started because I said I had never been in a full relationship with a woman and a lesbian said,”that’s why I don’t date bi girls.” I had to explain that the reason was because I was still incredibly religious in high school and didn’t even know what my orientation was, so I didn’t date girls, and after high school, the few chances I had to have a relationship with a woman were ruined because they didn’t like the fact that I had been with men. She just automatically assumed that I had ended the relationship because I’m bi and then used that assumption to justify her own bigotry.

      /rant over, sorry, sore subject right now

  • jose

    Should christians give up burning people alive as a punishment for heresy?

    • Stev84

      Why do you hate religious freedom?!

      [/sarcasm]

  • Octoberfurst

     Eventually gay marriage will be legal all across America. It is only a matter of time & the Religious Right will scream and fight it tooth and nail every step of the way. But in the end they will lose.  Even most young evangelicals are pro-gay marriage.  When all is said and done the Religious Right will be seen as throw-backs to a darker time just like the old pro-segregationists do today.  Don’t get me wrong—the hard core fundies will always be around spewing their anti-gay nonsense, but few people will care.  I, for one, look forward to that day.

    • Sven2547

      And 50 years from now, conservatives will try to take credit for it, just like desegregation.

      • Octoberfurst

         So true. They will pretend they were for gay marriage all along just as they now pretend that it was conservatives who were all for civil rights for Blacks and that it was the liberals who opposed de-segregation. Of course they do this by citing the fact that back in the 50′s & 60′s it was mostly northern Republicans who were for civil rights legislation and southern Democrats who were opposed to it. But they don’t take into account that back then the northern Republicans were liberals and the southern Democrats were conservative. It’s deceptive on their part but it helps them whitewash their past. They will try to do the same thing with gay marriage when it becomes totally accepted in 50 yrs. They will try to find some way of saying they were for it all along.

        • Sven2547

          It drives me nuts!  Like… Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee.  These people expect me to believe those areas were hotbeds of LIBERALISM in the 1950s?!  What a joke!

  • SeekerLancer

    My prediction is that eventually a more liberal-minded pope will replace the current Emperor Palpatine and they’ll ease people into the idea of accepting it. The Catholic church might even pat themselves on the back for being so progressive even though they’ve done some of the most damage.

    They have to do it if they want to remain relevant. They don’t have a choice.

  • jdm8

    They need to understand that they can’t strengthen their own marriages by denying others the right to marry. Marriage is not a zero sum game. I doubt such reasoning would be absorbed though.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Please don’t give up the fight, Fundamentalists. You are making it easier for people to leave their faith behind. 

  • drakvl

    If some denomination doesn’t want to marry gay people, I don’t want them to be forced. I just want them to realize that likewise, they don’t have a say in who other churches marry.

  • Godlesspanther

    They have already lost this one. Game over. 

  • Houndentenor

    The religious right can’t drop this.  More than a decade ago they realized that they had lost the public on the idea that gays should be criminalized or discriminated against.  They drew the line at marriage.  That was their fallback position.  Other than abortion, it’s their primary issue.  If they give up on this what do they have left.  When your core belief is denying the rights of others and you finally accept that you have lost that fight, where do you go from there?  They just can’t let this one go.  Even as they see the ground crumbling beneath them, they will cling to these two issues until they are irrelevant.

  • Robster

    It’s the best entertainment ever, watching the churches and their deluded minions implode over the “issue” of same sex marriage. They expose themselves as hate filled idiots when they speak. They show that hate and bigotry are two important tenents of their belief system. This is why the numbers attending deity worship services are diminishing. As their god is either extremely lazy, useless failure or non existent, they need hate to glue the whole sorry show together.


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