Tokenism, Moral Colonialism, and Gay Marriage

Tokenism, Moral Colonialism, and Gay Marriage July 27, 2015

COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Bestuursambtenaar_van_Seram_tijdens_een_reis_bij_de_Talsetibaai_TMnr_10001632Tokenism is one of the great intellectual plagues of our time, infecting right and left, Christians and non-Christians. Tokenism is making a big deal out of a small example. Tokenism is toxic when a company thinks hiring one person of color solves their “diversity problem.” Tokenism is also debilitating when one pretends that one’s little corner of reality represents a “trend” or another point of view.

Tiny minorities are sometimes correct, but they should not claim “equality.”

I am a creationist (of a sort) but have to concede that almost all scientists disagree with my position. If I were to make a list of scientists that agree with me and then make another list of scientists that disagree and put together a graphic that made the two groups look equal, I would be guilty of tokenism. If creationism is to be discussed, and I think it should be, a good argument for the discussion will not be because “many scientists” agree with it.

A common case of “tokenism” happens when people cite the tiny number of global Christian groups that support same sex marriage and pretend there is a huge controversy or “big change.” I have seen this Pew chart used several places.

Study the chart: it is a classic example of tokenism. The entire religion of Islam (1.6 billion) is placed opposite the PCUSA (1.7 million)! The PCUSA is not even a rounding error in the number of Muslims or Catholics!

Here are several undeniable facts about religious groups supporting gay marriage. They are almost exclusively Western. They are the Christian groups shrinking the fastest. They are cumulatively smaller than African Anglicanism alone! The global church is growing, it is hardening in attitudes against gay marriage, and only a statistically insignificant group of Christians is in favor of it.

In fact, if these groups were not financially rich, privileged, and located in the nations of former colonizers, nobody would notice them. ECUSA, for example, has scarcely a million aging members and has been on a general downward trend for decades. As the US population has increased, ECUSA has decreased, not just in percentage of the population (as some conservative groups have done), but in real numbers. There are at least a million fewer members of ECUSA than once there were.

American obsession with sexual practices is simply not shared by most of the world. We are the number one purveyors of porno to most of the world . . . and most global Christians do not appreciate that or any other form of moral colonialism.

So the next time somebody says this issue is like slavery ask: “Did most of the global Church agree with the American Southern white Christian on slavery?” Note: these people forget that African-American Christians in the South were never defenders of slavery! A quick read will show that the Confederacy could not get recognition from Christian states because the “peculiar institution” was . . . peculiar in a global Christian context.

Gay marriage advocates are demographically and numerically more like Southern slave holders (a tiny privileged elite in a limited location) than the global church. Of course, gay marriage may still be “right,” but any discussion about it should acknowledge the fact that Western, mostly White, mostly non-Christians are raising the issue.

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