Several recent posts (here and here) on the topic of homosexuality and traditional Christian marriage evoked the usual hate mail, and some of it was worth reading. One comment, from a gentleman calling himself Joe Chip, illustrated why this conversation is so treacherous. Although it began with the usual ridiculousness (“Timothy Dalrymple is so wrong on every count it makes ones [sic] head spin”), it assumed ill motives on my part but turned in a more illuminating direction:
Timothy goes out of his way to dress up his animus directed towards homosexuals by using big words and appeals to authority. Increasingly, clear-thinking persons…are rejecting the “sophisticated theology” of the [defenders of "traditional marriage"). All we see is your actions, which really just boil down to making sure our homosexual brothers and sisters are forever classed as second class citizens in the eyes of the state.
Joe may find this impossible to believe, but the truth is that there are many gays I love and respect -- some chaste and many sexually active, some Christian and many not. I consider them brothers and sisters as well. My love for them is no different than my love for my heterosexual friends. But Joe has never understood where people like myself are coming from. It seems irrational to him, and inconceivable that it could flow from loving motives -- ergo people like myself must be driven by prejudice. Which is why, Joe says, it's fitting -- even though I myself have never done anything against the interests of gays except explain why I hold to traditional Christian teachings on sexuality and marriage -- to liken me and those like me to Nazis, slaveowners and the exterminators of Native Americans:
It is absolutely appropriate to lump your ilk in with those who use the power of the State to oppress 'the enemy', at which times in history HAS been the Native American, the Jew, the Black Slave, the interracial married couple, and the Homosexual...I wish you had the courage simply to admit you don't like homosexuals and don't want them to have the same rights you enjoy...We don't care about your words. We look at your actions and the suffering they cause to our friends.
It's these final lines that I find helpful. This is not new to me. I've been a part of this conversation for several years now. But "Joe Chip" states clearly a very important point for the defenders of traditional marriage to understand. He goes on at greater length in a second comment:
[Timothy] works under the assumption that one can support denying fellow US citizens basic human rights (in this case, the right to marry) and yet remain ‘pure’ and should be above being called nasty names. He is shocked, shocked, [NOTE: I'm not shocked at all, I simply think it's wrong] that “we have reached a point where anyone who believes gay sex is wrong or anyone who believes that marriage is ordained by God for the union of a man and a woman is ostracized and condemned as hateful, bigoted, and the equivalent of a racist. ”
Honestly, should a ‘nice person’ who claims to love women but still works to ensure they don’t have the right to vote be above criticism? Should a “kind master” not be condemned for owning slaves? Should a “Christian pastor” who believes a large segment of the citizens of his own country should never have the right to marry be untarnished?
WE DON’T CARE how nice you think you are. We look at your actions, which are devoted to making sure the State does as you think your religious book says and keeps your brothers and sisters from marrying.
Except, of course, (1) that I don’t believe there is a “right to marry,” much less a “basic human right” that any adult should be able to join himself or herself to any other adult and receive the full sanction and rewards of the state, and (2) I’m on record suggesting that Christians perhaps should no longer oppose a legal recognition of gay marriage, even if (I think) they should continue to insist on the moral teaching that acting on homosexual desires is wrong and the theological teaching that only male-female marriage is marriage in the eyes of God.
Yet this comment reflects the unfortunate legacy of draping the American gay-marriage movement in the flag of the civil rights struggle. Disagree on the definition of marriage or the morality of same-sex activity — and you’re some kind of Nazi. Neither your beliefs nor your motives matter. You simply are Bull Connor if your actions are not what the other side would prefer.
Let’s see how this would work in other areas. I believe that the unborn have a right to life. Let’s stipulate that Joe fights for abortion access. I don’t care that we disagree on the fundamental question at hand. I don’t care that he claims to care for life. What matters are his actions. He fights for abortion access — against the unborn’s right to life. Ergo he squashes human rights just like the Nazis. QED.
Or let’s take another example. I believe that business owners should have the religious freedom not to pay (even through insurance policies) for abortions or other services that go diametrically against their religious convictions. Let’s stipulate that Joe Chip does not, and takes actions to the contrary. I don’t care that he disagrees on whether I’m properly interpreting this right, and I care nothing for his claims to love small business owners. I just care that his actions deny my friends their basic human rights. Ergo he’s a human rights abuser on the level of those who slaughtered the Native Americans. QED.
Anybody else see the problem here?