Everyone’s Agenda

Recently there have been multiple references to me by Christians about the ‘gay agenda.’ I want to make one thing very clear:

Everyone has an agenda. I don’t care who you are or what you’re about. You have an agenda – Christian, gay or whatever. And the broader community or population of people you affiliate yourself with (or are just similar to) have an agenda as well.

For years I have said that I don’t believe in a ‘gay agenda.’ It’s a mythical gathering of procedures, that, as the myth goes, is intended for gays and lesbians to take over the world. However, the more I’m around and involved the more I realize there is a gay agenda. Not to take over the world, but because everyone universally and innately has an agenda – person or communal. And it’s no more or less of an agenda than the Christian one.

Here’s a quick note I want to point out from a sociology standpoint:

We have to start realizing that the dominant, majority culture’s agenda is always the acceptable agenda, taken at face value. And it’s always the minority culture’s agenda that gets deemed evil, bad or threatening. Why? Because the minority culture’s agenda is at some level universally asking the majority culture to relinquish some of their power; or at least realize the privledge that comes with their dominant cultural status. Therefore the minority culture’s agenda always gets the negative label because it’s a threat to mainstream culture’s status quo. Status quo can also be renamed as ‘majority culture’s agenda.’

Fear is easier to react to than intentional constructive tension. I am not even talking directly about the Christian/GLBT culture war. This is applicable for any population or culture, in any situation.

I just ask that you please think of your own agenda (because you have one, no matter how well intentioned) the next time you’re about to exclude or speak bad about something or someone because you label it/them as having a negative agenda.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.williampennhouse.org Brad Ogilvie

    Not sure I see narratives and agenda so neatly overlapping (for sure there is overlap, but I think there is much that is different). Of course, we can get into semantics, including where does motivation fit into this? But, I do think that there is one simply question that helps us to uncover our own, and can help us to see others; "Why?" For example, why do I do what I do? then follow that up with two or three "but why?", openly and lovingly, and I think we start to get to the real crux of what we truly believe about ourselves, others and the world, regardless of what we have been taught to believe.

  • Robert

    Interesting. I think you could easily replace “agenda” with “narrative.” You have dominant cultural narratives, meta-narratives, and counter narratives. What narratives are we listening to – or passing on to others? Do we honestly evaluate the narratives (or agenda) we cling to? Just a thought.

  • Robert

    Thanks Brad,
    I didn’t mean a 1:1 replacement, I just mean we can examine narratives along with agenda. And motivation – and I do think they are all different, yet related. But yes! I think your method works for all of this, if we are willing to be honest with ourselves. It’s vital that we are honest about our own actions, beliefs, motivation, etc.

  • Henry Cambridge

    Indeed, everybody has an agenda. Just a simple fact.
    What is often called “the agenda” of a group with which one disagrees, is the consequences of what the group stands for — the claim that the same reasoning used to advocate accepting this, can and will be used for accepting that. It is unfair to accuse people of having an agenda in their hearts that they don’t defend, even though it is or could be the first step or a further step on a slippery slope.
    But the claim of the slippery slope should not be ridiculed or dismissed angrily or cavalierly: one has to have solid reasons to deny the slippery slope effect of a position.
    If we advocate accepting homosexual relationships, other questions can come up such as, “if it is all about love and sexual attraction, why limit it to two? Why not three. or more? Why not polyamory? Why not polygamy?” We have to take such questions seriously. What is our reasoning for accepting one or some of the options named, and not the other ones? We have to have solid answers to the question, Why stop with LGBTQ? There are people who don’t want to stop there.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Maybe we should evaluate plural marriage as its own issue instead of shrugging it onto gay relationships. Most of those who practice or endorse polygamy (particularly those with religious justifications–Mormon sects, Muslim sects) actively oppose gay relationships. They are not the same things. There are different issues involved. And different advocates.

    I’ve always felt that if one denies marriage equality for gay couples because they can’t come up with any excuse to deny plural marriges, then your opposition to both is pretty weak. IMHO.

  • http://www.thediscipleproject@me.com Paul Turner

    agenda |əˈjendə|
    noun
    • a list of items of business to be considered and discussed at a meeting :
    • a list or program of things to be done or problems to be addressed :

    Agenda, as used by many Christians or Secular organizations, is seen as a violent, shoving acceptance of a list of rules or standards. Each side has this element that is true. Agenda, by definition, is not a violent word. Agenda is a soft word, used for discussion, conversation and problem solving. Wouldn’t it be nice if each side adopted this view point of the other side? It boils down to ‘I just want to talk”.

  • Frank B

    One point that seems to be neglected here is that there are good and bad agendas. They can have good or bad intentions, good or bad motives, good or bad methods, etc. which form their agenda. An example from extremes: Hitler’s agenda was bad, Gandhi’s agenda was good.

    Christ also had an agenda. Read any of the gospels from the beginning and that fact is plain as day. And if we believe his agenda to be wholly good, then we must measure our own agendas by that standard. And by that standard, even the conservative Christian agenda fails by a mile.

  • http://www.thediscipleproject@me.com Paul Turner

    I agree with Frank B.. Christ was pretty declarative when he would say, “I have come…” No secrets. We (believers especially) get off track when our agenda overshadows His. It is the praxis of Christ’s agenda that most people disagree upon.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    So many great points and really thought provoking stuff. Here are a few additional thoughts added to yours:

    Robert and Brad – I’m thinking that you could also talk about ‘worldview’ in this post, and why and how one’s worldview is their basis for not only belief, but also the cause of ‘promotion’ – how that relates to how one was raised and in some cases, their different current ideology.

    Paul – I never thought about looking up the word agenda. That is totally sweet! I am reminded of a series I just did about the language in the culture war

    http://www.loveisanorientation.com/category/cultu

    and ‘agenda’ totally needs to be added to that. The premise of the language in the culture war is that the current definition means something completely opposite than its original intent. And you have just shown us how true that is! Thanks so much for the enlightenment brother. That just totally shifted my paradigm of agenda.

    Frank – Your succinct deconstruction of the weight of motivation behind an agenda is right on point, and it’s legitimately something I had never thought of in regards to metrics.

    Pm – Wow. Whenever you comment you have me wondering if you’re a scholar, theologian or what? The deep biblical understanding you have that you can tie so fluidly into such a wide variety of situations is mind-boggling. Thanks again for your profound insight. The following that you wrote is the best understanding of the word ‘why’ in the Bible that I have ever read:

    “The word Why was used as a crowbar to pull up into

    social consciousness a particular behavior that was

    taken for granted as an acceptable means of conduct.

    Why was used in the New Testament as an attack

    weapon battered back and forth between opponents.”

    This is a great reminder to let us never take any means of conduct acceptable just because it’s accepted by culture.

  • pm

    I read Brad Ogilvie’s comments about “Why” which
    really hit home. I hadn’t connected using this word
    as a gentle tool to uncover the intersection (overlapping)
    of narratives, motivation and intentions that supply the
    individual’s agenda-making process.

    A good Jewish man was inculcated into the belief system
    to constantly monitor, watch-out-for, and guard against
    persons who would transgress their adherence to the Law.
    Such men wanted to protect their reputations by showing
    how vigilant they were in matters regarding ‘unclean’ people.
    Psalm 26:4-6
    “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with
    dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers;
    and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash mine hands
    in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD.”

    The word Why was used as a crowbar to pull up into
    social consciousness a particular behavior that was
    taken for granted as an acceptable means of conduct.
    Why was used in the New Testament as an attack
    weapon battered back and forth between opponents.

    Matthew 15:2-3:
    “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?
    for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he
    [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Why do ye also
    transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”

    And Luke 6:2
    “And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye
    that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?”

    The critizism against Christ’s mission was based on the
    failure to following directions as defined by those Temple
    authorities who were in political positions of power. Thus,
    as the crowds/multitudes of the Jewish population were
    increasing and openly attracted to ‘rebelious’ teachings,
    it became a socio-political-economic threat. Adherents
    became a divisive sub-culture that threatened the fabric
    of their ‘approved’ Societal Main-Stream Norms &
    Expectations.

    This agenda-making process might start with self-analysis,
    but it certainly doesn’t stop there. The process needs to find
    a way to connect and converse within the context of love
    in relationships, first with our Maker, and then our neighbor.
    Hence, let’s elevate the conversation, first in our own hearts
    and then with others.


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