“Fundamentalism” of the Left

“Fundamentalism” of the Left May 9, 2012

I put “fundamentalism” in scare quotes to distinguish its use here from its proper, historical-theological use. It’s proper historical-theological use has to do with the movement of conservative Protestants to oppose theological liberalism in denominations and seminaries (etc.) that arose in the early 20th century and with its various manifestations past and present. In that proper sense, there is no “fundamentalism of the left.”

However, many people (including yours truly occasionally) use “fundamentalism” to designate a certain mindset and style of argumentation especially within religious circles. That is, it is often used in popular speech (what the Germans call Umgangsprache) to designate an ethos exhibited by individuals or groups. That ethos is usually understood to include a very black-and-white view of complicated issues, a tendency to absolutize doctrinal and moral beliefs most people would consider secondary (at best), and a tendency to use almost any means to oppose, marginalize, silence opponents’ views.

Let me be clear: I do NOT think most “real fundamentalists” (in the historical-theological sense) are “fundamentalists” in the popular ethos sense. Somehow or other, the label was drawn from the historical-theological phenomenon and applied to a certain mentality and pattern of behavior discernible across the spectrum of theological (and sometimes political) views.

I wish there were a different label for mean-spirited religious absolutism. But perhaps one has to go with the flow of language and accept that “fundamentalism” is now widely understood in that sense. That is the sense I mean here when I speak about a “fundamentalism of the left.”

I have been around Christian people and organizations all of my life. I’ve been peripatetic in that regard–having been involved in religious organizations of many different kinds: Pentecostal, charismatic, “mainline” liberal, moderate, fundamentalist, etc. I have observed that some self-identified liberals (theologically, socially, politically) can be just as “fundamentalist” in the popular-ethos sense as extreme conservatives.

One area where this is apparent is the debate over homosexuality among Christians. There are “fundamentalists” on both sides–among those who oppose normalizing of homosexuality (religiously, ethically, socially, politically) and among those who promote it.

I attended a meeting of a professional society of theologians at which the president of the society took opportunity to stand before the diverse members (conservative Protestants, Catholics, liberal Protestants, etc.) to pass around a declaration about homosexuality for signatures. He more than implied that to decline to sign the pro-gay declaration, which would be disseminated in the name of the society, would be the moral equivalent of racism. He knew full well that some present, including most of the Catholics professors of theology, would lose their jobs if they signed the declaration. In my opinion, at that moment, that professional society president was behaving in a fundamentalist manner (in the ethos sense). This is just one example of what I call “fundamentalism of the left.”

Of course, such “fundamentalist” behavior is common among those who oppose homosexuality including equal rights for gay people. But we hear about that all the time.

It is almost impossible to talk or write about homosexuality without being given the “fundamentalist treatment” by people on one or both sides of the issue.

Not long ago I wrote a column advocating civil unions for any two adults. I argued that “marriage,” being a religious institution, should be left to churches, synagogues and other religious organizations. I was vilified by people on both sides of the homosexuality debate. For many gay rights advocates, that’s not enough. For many anti-gay activists that’s too big a concession.

Recently I have been called an “anti-gay activist” for no other reason than that I argued (here) that IF homosexuality is biological/genetic, which I suspect it is, that does not settle the issue of the moral status of homosexual behavior. I used pedophilia as an example of something that MAY BE biological/genetic that nobody would argue is morally right. I most certainly was NOT comparing homosexuality with pedophilia MORALLY. To say that I was is to demonstrate intellectual weakness or dishonesty. I MIGHT be completely in favor of normalizing homosexuality morally, socially and politically AND STILL argue that science cannot settle the issue morally. Nothing I wrote gave any indication of where I stand on the moral status of homosexuality.

And yet, one visitor here posted to his blog that I compared homosexuality with pedophilia. That’s ridiculous. The only comparison I drew was that both MIGHT BE biologically/genetically determined (as predispositions). That says nothing at all, whatsoever, about my moral estimation of them. That was simply and purely description and not at all prescription. The ONLY prescription I was making was against science being viewed as the arbiter of morality.

All one has to do to experience the “fundamentalism of the left” is tiptoe into the mine field that is the debate over homosexuality. One cannot even make non-prescriptive claims (such as that science cannot settle the morality of the issue) without risking vilification.

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  • Aaron

    Perhaps that is the problem with society today – the attitude always seems to be an “us vs. them” or you’re either “for or against” us. Extremism has taken over and the moderate and/or middle ground is being forced to choose sides if they want a voice. People have a difficult time not being accepted and so regardless of their worldview or beliefs they are forced to join a side (or perhaps they know their job could be at stake). This is one of the things I admire and respect about you, that you aren’t afraid to be honest about your thoughts knowing full well that one side is going to criticize you and get fired up. Something that is easier said than done.

  • Roger – you are right about there being “liberal fundamentalists.” These days it takes wisdom and patience to engage in healthy discourse and dialogue. I also agree with the concept of civil unions and marriage for which you were vilified from both sides. In the past I have argued that the court house should only provide a license for civil unions and leave the authority to grant marriage licenses to churches, synagogues, etc. That way, any couple wishing a religious marriage would have to bring a civil union legal document from the court house (as they are now required to bring a marriage license form the court house). That way, any committed couple, gay or straight, could acquire a legal document for their civil union and all the rights that go along with it. The church where the wedding ceremony is being preformed would then grant a marriage license to the couple that had already procured a civil union license. It would also allow any church to refuse to grant a marriage license for those unions it does not want to bless. That way, the law and the government have what they need and the church does not have to compromise its beliefs.

    I find it interesting that way back in 2004, both presidential candidates – George W. Bush and John Kerry – publicly advocated very similar positions for the right for civil unions to be granted to gay couples so that they could enjoy the same legal benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy. For those who may not remember Bush’s stance on civil unions, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/26/politics/campaign/26gay.html

    • rogereolson

      Very interesting! I had forgotten that Bush advocated that. The one area where you and I may disagree is whether churches and synagogues (etc.) need to see a civil union license before performing a marriage ceremony. I don’t think so. The two things should be disengaged entirely. The government should have no say in what persons churches and synagogues (etc.) marry and churches and synagogues (etc.) should not care about the government’s decisions about civil unions.

  • CGC

    Hi Roger,
    Thanks for some good thoughts. I am amazed that it seems like so many Christians who write blogs all in chorus sing about the woes and failures of conservative Christianity and the religious right all construed as you defined the use “fundamentalism.” Rarely if ever do I find anyone talking about the problems of BOTH the religious right or left and you are the first one I have heard in a long time to even speak about the fundamentalism of the left. Kudos for you Roger.

    Since you mentioned the homosexuality issue, I don’t know if you have said anything or not already but I wonder what you think of all the hubbub over Andy Stanley’s sermon illustration where he is getting a lot of heat for something he did not say (condemning adultery while not focusing on the homosexuality issue). Shalom!

    • rogereolson

      I don’t know anything about Adam Stanley or his sermon. But I do know there are lots of people out there (mostly conservative Christians) who will insist that you take a public stand on homosexuality before they will let you alone. It has become the single issue that really matters for many people, all else falling to the ground as unimportant.

      • Rob

        In fairness to those conservative Christians, this issue has become something of a watershed. Because there is at this point (21st century) so much social pressure on people in this country (from the cultural elites in the news media, hollywood, popular entertainment, academia) to make a morally favorable pronouncement on homosexual behavior and identity, anyone who does not make such a favorable pronouncement has convincingly demonstrated that his/her allegiance is not to the mainstream culture or ethos of modernity/post-modernity but to some combination of scripture/the church/God.
        As there are no serious arguments from scripture or tradition for a favorable moral judgment on homosexual behavior (no one has ever read the bible and then thought “Gee, I guess this is good after all!”) and what there is on the subject unequivocally condemns it as sin, when a Christian makes a pronounces a favorable moral judgment on homosexual behavior it is clear that either 1) the Christian has given in to pressure and lacks the resolve to stand against the culture or 2) the Christian’s true allegiance is to the moral and rational standards of modern and post-modern culture–scripture and church tradition have, at best, been subordinated to the other two.

        So I think this is actually a really important issue to discuss because it reveals where people really stand and who they really answer to. It is easy to be a Christian when your Christian convictions are praised by the surrounding culture, it is hard when they are not. Also, it is easy to accept Christian teaching when it does not receive outright condemnation from the surrounding culture. When our convictions are openly ridiculed, it forces us to take a second look at our sources of authority. Can we make an intelligible argument for our conviction that stands up to scrutiny? So this issue also forces us to stay sharp and take seriously how we interpret scripture and engage in moral reasoning. There is always an issue like this and I am sure it will be a different one thirty years from now, but, for better or worse, this is one for today.

  • Daniel W

    Perhaps all legal domestic unions between two consenting adults should be called “civil unions” instead of “marriages” at the state and federal levels. What is considered a “marriage” should be left to churches and other religious organizations. Each religious organization should be able to decide which individuals they consider to be married in God’s eyes. Obviously, the state should really have no part in that. On this issue, I prefer the model of some European nations, in which church marriage and state marriages are separate. In France, if an elderly woman would lose her deceased husband’s pension by becoming legally remarried, she can still get remarried before God in a church without going to the courthouse to procure a legal marriage.

    • rogereolson

      I have publicly agreed with that and taken a lot of flack for it–including from baptists who would be horrified if the government started deciding which persons are “really” ordained (which was the case in some European countries until recently). I am completely clueless as to the distinction between ordination and marriage when it comes to church and state. Until a century to two centuries ago marriage was always a religious institution. Government only got into the “business” of issuing marriage licenses for the non-religious and to prevent certain persons from being married. We need to take separation of church and state to the next logical level.

      • Patiently Waiting

        Certainly, many people agree that it is possible to address many of the problems by truly separating church and state and taking the word “marriage” out of the government, since it is the word “marriage” more than anything else that seems to bother people. I found this short piece on the history of marriage I saw recently very interesting:


        It points out that prior to the establishment of the church, the Roman Empire actually regulated marriage because there were legal rights associated with marriage, but that Christian marriage was not treated as a sacrament until the thirteenth century. I only point it out to counter the statement, “Until a century or two centuries ago marriage was always a religious institution.” Although that may be true in the last millenium, it was not necessarily true two millenia ago. It does not necessarily answer anyone’s questions about same-sex marriage in the church, but if this information is accurate (and I do not know the extent to which it is), the government was involved in the business of marriage before churches and perhaps that is the more traditional way of viewing marriage.

        • rogereolson

          I was referring to American history only.

          • Patiently Waiting

            I am not sure whether you can argue the government was not involved in marriage in the U.S. prior to “a century or two centuries ago.” Firstly, the country is only 237 years old, so two centuries ago includes most of U.S. history. Even if your dates are accurate, for the vast majority of time the U.S. has been in existence, the government has been involved in marriage (e.g., granting women the right to own property separate from their husband was all about marriage). Secondly, the individual colonies did involve themselves in marriage as well. In 1691, Virginia passed a law banning interracial marriage, causing any violators to be banned from the colony. The government(s) of the United States have always been involved in marriage, if for no other reason than property rights.

            My point was not that the U.S. government specifically should or should not have any involvement with marriage. My point was that governments throughout history have always had some involvement with marriage but that such involvement has changed significantly over time. The Christian sacrament of marriage, however, is much younger.

            I personally think it makes perfect sense to separate the two types of marriage, but I wonder why the government should change the name to civil unions rather than keeping the word marriage but simply calling it a civil marriage rather than a religious marriage. Why is the word change necessary, especially considering the fact that governments have been in this business longer than churches? I do wonder why everyone assumes that the word “marriage” belongs to the church and not to everyone. I am not the kind of person who would get too hung up on such a word change because it truly would solve a lot of issues and is not worth a fight. Just worth a ponder!

          • rogereolson

            In 1691 the church had political power in Virginia. So the law you refer to was probably just as much, if not more, a policy of the church than of the state. My point is simply that for much of American history government licenses to marry did not exist. People were assumed to be married so long as they were joined in marriage by a proper authority. If people wanted government to recognize their marriages, they registered them with a government agency such as the county records office. In American history, anyway, government involvement in marriage became the norm as governments (mostly state) decided certain people should NOT have sex with each other. My argument is not about a word. It is simply that, from a Christian perspective, true marriage is a divine institution. Two people are really married ONLY when God joins them together as “one flesh.” The issue is whether the state can do that. Does God grant the secular state the authority to cause him to join two people into “one flesh.” I don’t see why Christians ever came to think so–except because of a lack of awareness of separation of church and state (a holdover from the medieval synthesis).

  • Rob

    I figured something like that would happen when I read your post. I think we have reached a point where people do not know enough about ethics to identify the foundational points of disagreement in these moral debates. Not understanding the argument makes it easy to vilify the other side and live in a cocoon.

    The real disagreement is over the source of morality and normativity. There is a long tradition of philosophers who have argued that one’s nature is the origin and that we must use an understanding of our nature to correct or modify our desires–they begin by denying the assumption that the desires and inclinations we happen to have are normative or promote flourishing. Another tradition has maintained that we should take desires and inclinations as they come and not attempt to evaluate them. Morality is about pursuing our own ends without interfering with the pursuit of ends by others.

  • Bev Mitchell

    You remind us, “Not long ago I wrote a column advocating civil unions for any two adults. I argued that “marriage,” being a religious institution, should be left to churches, synagogues and other religious organizations. I was vilified by people on both sides of the homosexuality debate. For many gay rights advocates, that’s not enough. For many anti-gay activists that’s too big a concession.”

    How did I miss this? You make exactly the right point – thanks for having stated it so boldly, and stick to your guns! We Christians rightly celebrate Christian marriage – a marriage before the Judeo-Christian God which seeks the blessing of that same God. How can non-believers honestly celebrate this kind of marriage? Why would they want to?  However, and beyond where you may wish to go,  if the word ‘marriage’ has become irreversibly universal (religious, civil, Vegas etc.), so be it. An adjective may well be required and ‘Christian marriage’ should do just fine. Perhaps we should make this small change and get over it!

    I know this will sound like giving in to many. However, we already have all kinds of marriages that make no reference whatever to religion of any kind, let alone The Christian kind. There appears to be little outcry about calling them marriages. How, logically, does the gay issue make any difference. Why fuss now after the horse is well out of the barn and headed for the next county?

    • rogereolson

      I would prefer to call what the government licenses “civil unions.” I am often inclined to stick to the original meanings of words when it’s too late. 🙂 I suspect we agree on the basic issue. I blogged about it way back near the beginning of this blog and I wrote a column about it in the local newspaper. I received harsh e-mails criticizing me for my suggestion. Even some baptists still want our governments deciding about Christian marriage. My question to them is why they don’t want our governments deciding about valid ordinations, baptisms, etc. “Marriage” is a sacrament (in the broadest sense), not a civil institution. In my opinion, churches and synagogues (etc.) should decide whom to marry without government interference or even knowledge. If the couple wants the protection of a civil union, they can add that.

      • Bev Mitchell


        Yes, we do fundamentally agree. We also share the tendency, even strong desire, to insist on keeping the meaning of a word after the majority have arrived at a quite different meaning, or worse, many meanings. It reminds me of a book I used to own, but can no longer find, entitled “Good English, and Other Lost Causes”. And yes, marriage is a sacrament – that is, what we do, what we say and what we mean, as believers before the Lord are indeed sacramental. The word ‘marriage’ used to summarize these sacramental acts nicely. I am simply concerned that it no longer does – indeed, as you say, it has been stolen from the faithful. But, the theft occurred many moons ago, and, I think, largely without complaint from the ‘owners’. 

        It would be wonderful if the state would keep its hands off of the Church’s sacraments. But do we also want people of other faiths, with other sacraments to leave our Christian word alone? Is it indeed a solely a Christian word?  Is it reasonable to complain loudly now, especially based on one issue that has so many confusing overtones? Is it reasonable to re-claim sole ownership, after all these decades of neglect? 

        I’m mostly full of questions today, it seems, but  here is another that you are far better equipped to answer than many. While marriage is clearly a sacrament for Christians, what is it considered to be, by Muslims, for Muslims, by Buddhists for Buddhists, Jews for Jews etc.?

        • rogereolson

          To the best of my knowledge all religions have some form of what we call marriage. I have no objection to them performing those ceremonies and observing those institutions. Christians will call ours marriage whatever they call theirs. Government should offer any two people the opportunity of civil union for specific legal purposes–sharing of property, having the right to visit the other one in hospital and (as assigned by his or her partner) make life and death decisions for him or her, etc., etc. All the rights and privileges of what the government now calls “marriage” would go to civil unions but without any of the religious connotations and without any implications for sex. Laws against abuse would stand. (For example, adults would not be allowed to enter into civil unions with minors. Parents would still have special rights over their children, etc.) However, any two consenting adults could form a civil union solely (in the government’s eyes) for financial purposes and for purposes of decision making. Everything gay people want when they demand the right to marry would be given them in civil unions. They could call their civil union “marriage” or whatever they want to call it. The government would only issue a civil union license which would permit them to file income tax returns jointly, own property jointly, inherit common property without taxation, etc. Churches and other religious organizations would decide without government interference who is married (or whatever they call their arrangement that we call a sacrament). For example, a church might decide it will not recognize gay civil unions as true marriages or it might require a civil union license to marry people (or not), etc., etc. A gay couple can become married by finding a church that will perform that ceremony and declare them married (which would only be valid for churches that recognize it as valid). Or they can simply have a civil union and call it marriage, but they could not expect everyone to recognize their civil union as marriage. The two are entirely separate arrangements–one civil and one religious.

          • Bev Mitchell

            Outstanding. And it’s  all relatively straight-forward except, perhaps, 
            “The government would only issue a civil union license…” If Christians could stick to this point as the thing want in this battle, progress would be more likely. And, if only more Christians would talk and act as if they accept the rest of your points……

          • Patiently Waiting

            It should be noted that many private companies and institutions have already started a practice similar to this one. In states where same-sex unions in some form are legal (and even in some where it is not), some companies have decided to offer what was considered a spousal benefit in the past to any one person. So a person in a same-sex relationship will pick his/her any one person to be his partner. A single person who cares for an elderly relative could choose the relative to receive the benefits. The companies have decided they do not care who the person is. They will let the employee choose the person who will receive what was formerly a benefit for a spouse only. There is no reason this could not work at the government level either, wherein each individual has the right to go to city hall and register one person as his/her dedicated recipient of benefits. Then if the individual passed away or went to the hospital, there would be an automatic assumption that the person who received any death benefits or inheritance or who had hospital visiting rights was the one listed by the person. (This idea is somewhat already available for many, but not all, rights via Powers of Attorney, wills, etc.) It would take a large structural shift (whereas just allowing same-sex couples to marry and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) would be much simpler a transition), but it could be done.

            I am an attorney, and I attended a conference last year in which someone talked about the inefficiency and difficulty corporations have in tracking the books and records in states that do allow for same-sex unions and reconciling those records with federal laws. Because federal laws do not recognize the same benefits as the states, these corporations have to keep two sets of records. All this would be alleviated if DOMA were repealed. But that is an appeal to efficiency. It is obviously not a theological argument either way.

        • Felix Alexander

          Bev, you ask “While marriage is clearly a sacrament for Christians, what is it considered to be, by Muslims, for Muslims, by Buddhists for Buddhists, Jews for Jews etc.?”

          If I may attempt an answer, I would say that even within Christianity, marriage involves an implicit or explicit oath—you swear that you will have a specific type of relationship with this person. All oaths are before something sacred; strictly, an atheist can’t swear an oath and therefore can’t get married. At least: that’s how I’ve come to conceive of marriage, and it seems to suit me well. My atheist friends might be a little unhappy about not being able to get married, but meh.

  • Right on.

  • Steve Dal

    You simply cannot raise any gay issue now without being seen as an ‘anti-gay activist’. The end. Its past discussion now and rational debate over the various aspects of the issue. Even in the ‘church’.

    • rogereolson

      Or, I might add, without being seen as a “gay activist” or “pro-gay.” As with abortion, the middle ground is missing and even vilified when you try to work it out.

      • Steve Dal

        I have to ‘commend’ the gay lobby over the past two decades. They have realised that the ‘fight’ would be long and the means to arriving at the position they ‘enjoy’ to day would be arduous. Nevertheless they have stuck to it and have abliterated ‘the middle ground’ such that, as I said, it is impossible to even the discuss any issues surrounding the possibility that there are shortcomings in their lifestyle. I would say that the future looks bright for them in realising their full inclusion in society in terms of legal rights in such things as marriage. I would still like to discuss concerns that I have in open forums even though that is extremely difficult if not impossible. Yet I cannot see what the problem is with these people. It is relatively easy to discuss other lifestyle choices that people make without the vitriol experienced with gays. I see rampant heterosexuality as problematic for our society. Whats the problem?

  • Dr. Olson, obviously, we had some misunderstanding in both of our posts. In my blog, I make no indication of your moral judgment of homosexuality. Maybe I should’ve clarified a bit more, but where I mentioned “anti-gay activists,” this was in a strictly general sense. I was in no way lumping you into this category. I was providing examples of people who oppose it. Again, maybe I should’ve stated this explicitly.

    Also, I never said that you compared homosexuality to pedophilia or alcoholism morally. Your post used these as analogies/illustrations. I merely disagreed with the use of these analogies/illustrations.

    The main purpose of my blog was to demonstrate that science has more to offer on this issue than you suggest (for reasons explained in my blog). I respect your opinion and enjoy reading your work. I’m sorry for any damage done. I do not consider myself a “fundamentalist of the left,” and honestly, that hurts a bit to be indirectly called one.

    • rogereolson

      I’ll let readers decide what you said at your blog. I think most readers will conclude that you led your readers to believe I compared homosexuality with pedophilia.

      • Okay. Well, I copied over all of your comments to make certain to everyone that you didn’t mean this.

        • rogereolson

          Thank you.

      • I thought there was a direct correlation to Mr Olson being an anti-gay activist, but the discussion of the analogies used was quite clear I thought.

        • rogereolson

          Just to clarify–I am not an “anti-gay activist.” The reference in this comment is to another person’s blog that implied that I am. I am not.

        • Good point EricMichael. I have changed this as well. I clarified in the original post that I am not labeling Dr. Olson individually with either title.

  • Well said, Roger. We do have to be careful in what we say and how we say it to a degree that can seem unfair at times.

  • For every verse about the sin of homosexual behavior there are twenty about greed and hedonism. The only reason I am against abortion or believe homosexual behavior is sinful is because I was born again. I do find it quite curious that a church full of divorce and adultery finds those sins redemptive-ready, while gay sin provides a wonderful platform to trot out our pristine Biblical credentials.

    I endorse orthodox divorce between a man and a woman, and orthodox adultery between a man and a woman. Perhaps a constitutional amendment supporting that? (sarcasm alert)

    • rogereolson

      I am also appalled that so many even evangelical churches say nothing about serial marriage while condemning monogamous, committed gay partnerships.

      • Great point. David Gushee skillfully voices a similar opinion on this issue on many occasions.

  • David

    I think that Baptists have the unique ability to create a middle ground on the issue of homosexuality. I won’t assume that you disagree with homosexuality on a moral level, but even if you do; your position seems to typify what I understand as the middle ground. First, you advocate for a less politicized faith (i.e. separation of church and state). Second, you believe in autonomy of the local church and third, it seems like you are able to listen to others without feeling the need to attack, use vitriolic language, or quit listening to what they are saying.
    Many of my friends belong to Baptist churches that are not open and affirming and while I disagree with their stance, I still respect their right to take it. I believe that the government should offer civil unions for everyone, churches should offer the sacrament of marriage to whomever they deem is within the will of God to be married, and we shouldn’t vilify everyone else who disagrees with us. That last point is what makes or breaks the fundamentalist ethos that you are describing in my opinion.
    You are right, asking people to sign such a statement was both disrespectful and a use of manipulative tactics. Baptists have always stood for freedom and I think that that is a helpful foundation to build this issue upon. Yet, I for one still have questions about how far that freedom should go. Past and present issues like slavery and women’s rights may help inform us about future discussions on homosexuality. Slavery was harmful, complementarian views of women are disrespectful at best and dangerous at worst, and the suicide rates of LGBTQ teens alone ought to be a plea to Christians in our country. Many of those deaths (some of which were friends of mine) could be attributed to hurtful responses from parents and/or pastors to their coming out. I remember when I was volunteering at my church growing up and my pastor refused to give a lesbian couple food from our pantry for the homeless. His response to my criticism was, “well, we must love people but we don’t want to support them and let them think that we are okay with their sinful lifestyle do we?” I was speechless.
    Anyway, I think that your perspective is helpful. I am not sure exactly what role autonomy should have on this issue, because that was a terrible memory and I don’t think people should be allowed to do that, but I do know that autonomy should still play a part.

  • Tim Reisdorf

    I recently had a petition-peddler come to my door and ask me to sign his petition concerning the upcoming vote in MN – constitutional amendment on marriage. He was against the amendment that said that marriage is between one man and one woman and he wanted me to join him. In as much as I pleaded with him that my reasons for supporting the amendment were not religious, he kept hammering me on how we needed to keep religion and religious views out of government – almost like he didn’t hear me. My view is that the State has an interest in families (ie. nuclear groups that produce and raise children). The State ought to promote the healthy creation and raising of children by conferring certain benefits to those groups. In what seems to work best in the most general of categories, that is monogamous, heterosexual unions. (Exceptions abound, but I’m only speaking of the general categories.)

    Some of the ideas floating about already exist – the separation of State marriage and religious marriage. A couple can get married by going to a justice of the peace (how else would atheists get married?) And a church can marry people without the consent of the State. Fine. There it is.

    I think the homosexual lobby wants to erode the difference between a same-sex couple and a different-sex couple, not just to the point where they are legally indistinguishable, but to the point where it is a cultural “crime” (grossly politically incorrect) to think otherwise. (Therein is the “liberal fundamentalism” you speak of.) Yet, they are not the same. They ought be given different names and treated differently.

    Thank you for your post, Roger.