Former Conservative found a list of questions from the group Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) under the title Questions for homosexuals – and those who approve of it. FC attempted to provide brief answers, and Loki at The Black Goat of the Woods attempted more in-depth answers.
Since other people are covering them, I thought it might be useful to turn things around and ask questions of people like CARM. Since I’m pedantic by nature (it’s epigenetic, mama was frightened by an encyclopedia salesman) these will be somewhat wordy. I don’t really intend these to be “gotcha” questions, just broad questions about the reasoning behind the opposition. Not all questions will apply to all opponents.
1. What is natural?
A lot of people like to say that homosexuality is unnatural. I read these statements on my computer, a device made of substances not found in nature and requiring tremendous amounts of human industry to create, maintain and power.
What are our standards for determining what is natural and what is unnatural. Is toilet training natural? Is civilization natural?
2. Is unnatural always immoral?
Consider the old saw, “If God had meant man to fly, he’d have given us wings.” Does the fact that we don’t have wings make flight immoral? Perhaps not immoral, but unwise?
If nature is good and unnatural is bad, how does this square with the common Protestant notion that nature is fallen? To quote Katherine Hepburn, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above. ”
3. Is the Bible the basis for morality?
Perhaps the most common argument I hear among Christians is about how the Bible relates to homosexuality. Is the Bible “against” homosexuality? Let’s leave aside issues of historical context and translation for the moment.
Consider this: sections like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are frequently cited against gay marriage. However, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul advises his readers against getting married at all. He states, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” and while he accepts marriage, it is clearly as the lesser good to celibacy (or perhaps as the lesser evil to fornication.) In my experience, this section is basically ignored.
Is there a systematic means of interpretation that leads to accepting chapter 6 as holy writ but rejecting chapter 7 as irrelevant? Or is it just “common sense”?
4. Why is gender treated differently than race?
Consider the following quote:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” (Judge Bazile, 1965)
The above comes from the Caroline County Circuit Court in Virginia, in one of the cases leading up to Loving vs. Virginia. Judge Bazile was siding with the prosecution, who were using Biblical stories like the Tower of Babel and Noah’s Flood the same way that gay marriage opponents use the story of Adam and Eve.
I’m assuming that most of my readers will disagree with this reasoning. Why?
5. Who defines marriage?
Social historians, like Stephanie Coontz and others, have noted that the institution of marriage has been undergoing major changes over the past two centuries or so. Briefly: marriage is changing from a social obligation to a personal contract within the couple. We now look askance at someone who would try to strengthen their community or family by marrying for money and political connections. Most of us believe that marriage should be for love between individuals.
So marriage is becoming more individualized. This is both subtle and profound; it leaves the outward marriage much the same but changes the very basis of marriage on the inside. My marriage may look like my grandparents marriage, but my understanding of the purpose and what my marriage means is completely different.
One of the consequences of this shift is that marriage has become more of a mutually agreed upon contract between two people than something enforced from outside. That makes it difficult to oppose people who want to marry on their own terms: who are you to tell two people that they can’t be in love?
Social transitions like this are never uncontested, but this one seems to have lots of inertia behind it. Do you feel that this shift is good, bad or indifferent? Would you support laws that attempt to reverse some of the trends, like strengthening anti-divorce laws?