Can You Be Anti-Gay and Nice? Fred Says No

Can You Be Anti-Gay and Nice? Fred Says No June 20, 2012

Slacktivist is sick and tired of evangelicals like Halee Gray Scott, who argues that she’s nice, in spite of the fact that she wants to deny gay persons the right to marry:

Scott shares Worley’s hateful goals, but not his hateful sentiments, so how dare anyone compare them?

Note also that Scott hasn’t quite thought through what she’s arguing here. She says she opposes the civil right of same-sex marriage because her religious beliefs teach that “Homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality.”

OK. But Scott doesn’t believe that, for example, Mormonism is “God’s intent for human spirituality,” and yet she’s not arguing that Mormonism should be illegal. So why is homosexuality different?

Scott can’t say. She seems not to have thought about it. But you mustn’t assume it’s because she’s some kind of hater. That sort of assumption — lumping her in with people like Charles Worley just because she wants the same legal outcome as they do — is hurtful. It wounds her feelings. Being compared to people like that is not nice.

And people should be nice to her, just as she’s being so nice to all the LGBT citizens whose legal equality she wants to nicely deny.

via You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it.

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  • Jim

    The ironic thing to me is exactly what is pointed out in the quote. That these people cling to a small handful of ‘Biblical principles’ to legislate for everyone. Why do they allow divorce? Shouldn’t that be illegal? What if a woman were being abused in that marriage? Well, the Bible doesn’t make exceptions for abuse, deny the right to divorce! No one would stand up in support of this sort of legislation (well, I’m sure someone would) and yet, it’s exactly what is happening to some members of our community.
    As a side note, I also find it ironic that the conservative religious in America attempt to legislate by Biblical code and, yet, are appalled when the same is done in the Middle East (Sharia Law, anyone?)

  • Larry Barber

    There are degrees of hate, though, she doesn’t want to confine gays to concentration camps, complete with electric fencing, like Worley. Being less hateful, though, doesn’t make you “nice”. I suppose she thinks she deserves credit for not advocating putting gays in camps, maybe, but it’s a very weak form of credit, “You’re not as big of a bastard as the other guy”, big deal, maybe we could make her a bumper sticker.

  • I’ve got an ethical sort of post within me that I want to spit out someday. Even if one is opposed to gay marriage or believes that homosexuality is a sin, it seems like the radical way of Jesus according to the Gospels indicates that you should treat your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered neighbors no different than anyone else. Not exclude them from community. Not isolate them. Not speak ill of them. Not become a stumbling block to faith for them. Not single them out in a sermon. I am curious if anyone has already done an article along these lines… and if so, where it is? I figure it would be a useful way to engage in conversation with folks who try to play “nice”.

  • Gay-marriage is an issue of politics, spectrum, cultural structure, sexuality, chemicals, hormones, inpulses, and design. Both sides are populated by “those people.” Those people all live in a democracy and are given the right to shape their government. Governments are always in the business of legislating morality. Unfortunately, it will never be fair or perfect. Those who are against gay-marriage are not stupid, and their agruments are not based on few silly principles – but on a deep and complex philosphy and theology. At the same time, those who are for legalizing gay-marriage are not people who are given to whims or of loose morals, but people who stand on a foundation of grace, love, and justice. Both can be nice, mean, and judgemental. I’m tired of the vilification that goes on in these discussions. God is not on either side of the gay-marriage debate. Eventually we will learn that the way of Jesus is often the dissonant path.

    • Tracey

      Well put each side does the spiritual mud slinging, Bigot, Pervert we have to find some way in christodym to sit side by side eachother even though we hold polar opposite understandings of scripture and theology. They will know we are christians by our love not by our judement and scorn of eachothers view. All that said Justice and Mercy must always be relentlessly pursued.

    • Larry Barber

      Slavery is an issue of politics, spectrum, cultural structure, sexuality, economics, labor rights, impulses, and design. Both sides are populated by “those people.” Those people all live in a democracy and are given the right to shape their government. Governments are always in the business of legislating morality. Unfortunately, it will never be fair or perfect. Those who are for slavery are not stupid, and their arguments are not based on few silly principles – but on a deep and complex philosophy and theology. At the same time, those who are for outlawing slavery are not people who are given to whims or of loose morals, but people who stand on a foundation of grace, love, and justice. Both can be nice, mean, and judgmental. I’m tired of the vilification that goes on in these discussions. God is not on either side of the slavery debate. Eventually we will learn that the way of Jesus is often the dissonant path.

      • Jonathan

        I’m considering naming a new fallacy, the cousin of “Reductio ad Hitlerium.” Maybe “Reductio ad Slaverium,” but I’m not sure I like the ring of that. It’s basically when an proponent of same-sex marriage encounters an argument he can’t rebut, so he shouts “Slavery!” as loud as he can.

        • Frank

          Every other defense of their position falls short so we can only expect the rebringing up of thoroughly debunked arguments.

        • Larry Barber

          There’s any one of a number of other categories I could use, voting rights, Jim Crow, womens’ rights. That you don’t like being compared to slavery supporters is your problem, not mine. If you don’t like the comparison don’t use the same arguments. It’s a valid analogy, the difference between slavery and gay marriage are ones of degree, not kind. Both are social institutions that oppress and dehumanize a portion of humanity, both are/were championed by “conservatives” within the church, and in twenty years or so we’ll be hearing how conservatives were in favor of gay marriage all along.

          • Frank

            Don’t count on that last sentence. God’s word on this issue will stand.

          • Jonathan

            Eric: “Those who are against gay-marriage are not stupid, and their agruments are not based on few silly principles – but on a deep and complex philosphy and theology.”

            Larry Barber: So were slaveholders! So there.

            What I’m saying, Larry, is that shouting “Slavery!” doesn’t constitute an argument, or a rebuttal of Eric’s. You might as well have said, “So were Nazis!” in the classic internet move. Your tactic is to associate your opponent with something generally accepted as reprehensible, in an attempt to discredit them, rather than engaging the actual arguments.

            Your claim that “it’s a valid analogy” is assuming the very claim you are trying to prove. Traditional marriage folks are oppressive, and slavery is oppressive, so traditional marriage folks are just like slaveholders! And since traditional marriage folks are like slaveholders, they must be oppressive!

            Here’s my counter-argument. Same-sex marriage is a threat to western civilization. Hitler was a threat to western civilization. Therefore, SSM is just like Hitler and a threat to civilization! OMG!

          • Larry Barber

            My argument wasn’t really for or against same sex marriage, but the tired pleading that all positions held by self proclaimed Christians should be respected, and yes I could have used a National Church/Confessing Church analogy as well. If I had lived in the 19th century I hope that I would have held those who made pro-slavery arguments in contempt, its not different now. Oppression is oppression and Jesus came to end that, to proclaim release for the captives and the year of the Lord’s favor. That banning gay marriage isn’t quite as oppressive as slavery doesn’t meant that it is OK to favor it or that you can still be a nice person while opposing it.

            One more thing, just because some idiot manages to get his name on “law” doesn’t make the law valid or mean you can’t make valid comparisons to historical events. I get so tired about hearing about “Godwin’s Law” referred to as if it were a legitimate rule of logic, it isn’t, it’s just nonsense and those who refer to it are just betraying the fact that they don’t like to think.

          • Larry Barber

            One other point, Jonathon, before your analogy can be valid you have to demonstrate that gay marriage is, indeed, a threat to civilization, which I don’t think you’ll be able to do. However, you just ask any gay man or woman whether or not not being allowed to marry is oppressive.

          • CM

            How is limiting marriage in the same league as keeping someone in slavery from the cradle to the grave?

  • Carl

    And Eric nails it. End of discussion. You won’t see charity from Tony, so stop looking for it here.

  • Jonathan

    And since when do people like Scott want to make homosexuality illegal, as the excerpt implies with its parallel to Mormonism (a particularly inapt comparison, by the way, since polygamy is, in fact, illegal)?
    Elsewhere the article says, “Forget about grace.” Really?

  • Sara Miles has a great post that speaks into this:

    How your salvation is inextricably bound up with that of an angry, foul-mouthed atheist drag queen. How my salvation’s irreversibly connected with that of a mean-sprited Nigerian bishop or an Indiana housewife who believes gays are going to hell.

  • eric

    Larry, you don’t know if slavery and gay-marriage are connected in anyway. All social constructs are simply man made realities that are chosen and then declared to be true Gay-marriage may not exist in my realm of the real or it may. Your moral journey isn’t mine, and your space I can not inhabit, but I love your heart for the unfairly trampled and your longing to see people, who you believe to be oppressed in your world, freed. The oppression of the other is always in the hands of the those who have power, and all this is a power game. Your community may find power, and if they do, I hope that they will deal kindly with those oppressed conservatives. Of course, you may decide that killing them would be easier than having them try to gain their power back.

    Look, silliness aside. I love your postmodern deconstruction of my little post. It certainly gives you the power you so desire with words. Luckily, I don’t live and think in your space – so I’m happy to be your other. Oppressed by your Footnote.

  • Question: If we disagree on something, does that make one of us “not nice”?

    • Scot Miller

      Interesting question, John. I think that what makes someone “nice” is really determined by a community, which includes people who are affected positively or negatively by the actions or beliefs of that person. If someone holds beliefs and engages in actions that are harmful or detrimental to other people, even if that person holds those beliefs in “kind and gentle” way, it’s hard to say that person is nice.

      For example, let’s say that Abel believes that homosexuality is a sin (or that God disapproves of homosexual acts), but Baker disagrees (i.e., homosexuality is not a sin, and God does not disapprove of homosexual acts per se). Moreover, let’s say that Abel’s belief leads him to preach that homosexuality is a sin, and he encourages homosexuals to change their ways, and Abel refuses to act in homosexual ways. But Abel recognizes that his belief does not have a special privilege in a pluralistic, democratic society (even though he thinks this is God’s will, other believers and other nonbelievers disagree), so he does not advocate for political measures that harm homosexuals or deny them basic social rights and privileges (e.g., nondiscrimination, the right to marry, etc.). So Abel’s belief is that homosexuality is a sin, but it is equally a sin to discriminate against people in a pluralistic democracy who do not happen to share his strongly held (religious) belief. Abel therefore contends, “Homosexuality is a sin, and God tells me not to be a homosexual, but homosexuals in a non-Christian, pluralistic democracy still have a right to be married, a right to housing and employment, etc.” Abel and Baker may disagree, but Abel is still “nice” about it.

      On the other hand, suppose Charlie agrees with Abel that homosexuality is a sin, but Charlie takes steps to oppose homosexuals through the political process. What is the effect of such legislation? If it’s harmful to homosexuals, then regardless of how “kind and gentle” Charlie is, the effect is not so “nice.”

      So Baker may disagree with Abel and with Charlie. Abel can disagree nicely, but Charlie, not so nicely.

      • Frank

        And of course there is reality where it’s not loving nor kind to encourage or sit back and affirm policy that promotes sinful behavior thats damaging to creation, even if someone does not have he same beliefs as you.

        Doing nothing is not nice!

        • Scot Miller

          Frank, you’re now making a factual claim (homosexuality is “damaging to creation”) which is false. There is absolutely no reputable evidence to support that absurd claim (and I’m thinking of the widely discredited Paul Cameron here).

          Since you can only assert that homosexuality is “harmful” or “damaging” without any evidence, your conclusion does not follow.

          • Frank

            Actually Scot all sin is damaging to creation. Nothing good results from sin so my comment and statement stands.

          • The exception, of course, is Romans 1. But, since “Paul did not have a 21st century understanding of homosexuality and/or gender”, Paul was wrong.

            Am I correct?

          • Scot Miller

            John, I think Paul is making a theological point in Romans, not an empirical or scientific or factual point. Theologically, Paul (and Frank) may be right that sin “damages creation,” but there is no well-documented empirical data to establish any unique measurable harm from homosexual practice or heterosexual practice per se. (It’s just like the biblical claims that the earth is a fixed point in the universe around which the sun moves: read literally, these statements are empirically untrue, but they may express a theological truth when not read literally.)

            To be clear, I don’t think that all homosexual activity is “good,” any more than all heterosexual sex is “good.” What makes sex sinful is the degree to which that activity alienates the participant from a relationship with God, with other people, with nature, and with themselves. For instance, promiscuity and unsafe sex may be wrong because of the increased harm of STDs, but that judgment applies to homosexuals and heterosexuals equally.

      • It’s humorous…years ago, conservatives were challenged to allow opposing viewpoints because “believers can differ.”

        Shoe, meet other foot.

  • How appropriate. I read this just a moment ago:

    “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”- Colossians 2:8

    • Scot Miller

      “but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” 1 Thess. 5:21.

  • Scot-

    You wrote, “What makes sex sinful is the degree to which that activity alienates the participant from a relationship with God, with other people, with nature, and with themselves.”

    How might we learn which “activity alienates the participant from a relationship with God, with other people, with nature, and with themselves.”?

    • Scot Miller

      John, another good question. If my understanding of sin is correct, then sin is not about particular actions but the way we do such actions, the motivations we bring to those actions, and perhaps the effects of our actions on the well-being of others. For example, is prayer a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it depends… Jesus said that we shouldn’t pray like the hypocrites who pray to put on a show (Matt. 6:5). The same action (prayer) can be good or bad depending on the way one goes about doing it. (In other words, John, I think my understanding of “sin” actually expands what counts as being sinful. Going to church can be a sin if it alienates me from others or myself or God or nature.)

      In the same way, sexual activity isn’t intrinsically good or bad as such, but depends on the context and the motives of those involved. Is all sex between heterosexual married couples morally good (or not sinful)? If a married man rapes his wife, then being married doesn’t make sex good/not sinful. So I don’t think anyone can come up with a list of “rules” of things that are sinful and those that aren’t.

      If your question is about whether we are to get our moral guidance from the Bible, then I would agree that Christians should be informed by the Bible. But I think Romans 1 teaches that there is a kind of moral knowledge in the universe that is available apart from the special revelation (which is why non-Jews are “without excuse”). Even if we are “fallen,” the fall didn’t damage our moral reasoning to the extent that we can’t “judge all things, holding to the good”.

      • Scot-

        Thanks for the engaging dialogue. I’d agree with you…there is nothing inherent to the act that makes it moral or immoral. Rather, it is the context, even the way, in which it is used. And, it’s not just you that expands the definition of sin, Jesus does the same every time he uses the phrases “You have heard that it was said…” and “But I tell you…”

        Also, I am in agreement with you on the Romans text. Paul indeed writes that there is a general form of revelation (whether it is salvic or not is for another conversation!). Yet, Paul also writes that man, in his “godlessness and wickedness” suppresses the knowledge of this revelation. God still speaks, or reveals, it, but, man because he is wicked, willfully ignores this truth of God’s nature and design. The willful part is important; if I were to “know” the speed limit is 55, and then willfully drive 65, a state trooper can pull me over and hold me to account. My suppression of the truth has no bearing on the “truthiness” of the speed limit. What Paul writes next is astounding: “for though they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

        It is here where we seem to part ways: I read this as not just a rejection, or suppression, of God, but also a damaging of our moral reasoning. How else might one explain an otherwise “good person” performing the worst of sin? It is precisely because our moral reasoning is fallen that we sin, we cannot “hold to the good.” We see evidence daily of this in the news. Elsewhere, Paul refers to this as the “searing of conscience.” Once this happens, our ow wisdom takes over and we look at God’s revelation as foolishness, and then, we get into idol worship. Because God’s revelation and created order is “a lie” man worships and serves self; this is manifested mostly in sexual immorality. Whether this is porn, masturbation…anything beyond the bounds of marital, one man/one woman sex. It’s why Paul talks about natural vs. unnatural. And ultimately, because our moral reasoning is damaged, God allows us to do as we wish and we receive the penalty.

        As far as not coming up with a list of rules, it’s exactly what Christ did when He said, “But I tell you the truth…”. The entirty of the text is filled with lists of what is sinful and what is not. As a parent, I frequently call my children’s attention to what is sin and what is not. If I were cheating on my wife, I would hope that as a fellow believer, you’d call me on it, that you’d call my adultery, my wandering eyes what it is, “sin.” And…I may not even think you were “nice.” Which, I’m not so sure is what we should be aiming for. Was Jesus “nice” when He walked the rich young ruler, or the crowds when He talked about eating His flesh and blood?

        Frankly, “nice” is telling people that they can do whatever the hell they want to do. Or, as Paul closes out Romans 1, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

        I would like to continue this.

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  • CM

    Shouldn’t words have meaning?

    If we decide to include same-sex marriage with traditional marriage…why stop there?

    Why not allow a 50 year old man marry a 15 year old girl? Aren’t the “legal age limits” simply society legislating morality on everyone? Seriously…where do you think this movement will end up? Do you really think it will end with gay marriage? If you open the flood gates, you will them not easily closed. You set a precedent for every other “oppressed” group to follow.

    If gays want to marry…give them a civil union, but why force Christianity to accept it? Let there be a civil ceremony where anyone could do the deed…and why is government involved in marriage again?