I recently participated in a few discussions on Facebook regarding Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Proposition 8. Here are some reflections on those discussions:
*As weird as it sounds, I originally jumped in because I didn’t really want to. A friend of mine recently told me that, “if you want to grow, you must put yourself in increasingly uncomfortable situations.” I didn’t want to get involved in these discussions because I admit I was a bit intimidated. Advocating the biblical point of view when it comes to homosexuality and/or same sex marriage, or many times even asking challenging questions of those who approve of homosexual behavior/relationships, gets mental daggers and verbal rocks thrown your way. I don’t like that any more than the next soft-skinned, comfortable American. I realized my feelings on the matter, and jumped right in.
Most of the people, though, were pretty respectful. There were only a few who spewed vitriol. Not too bad. When folks do that–when they play the ‘ol “you’re ignorant/bigoted/hateful/unloving/judgemental/ugly” card–they need to be called out. Far too often, conservatives and Christians allow themselves to be bullied around by that sort of tactic. We somehow think we have something to apologize about in those situations. The Church has plenty to apologize about, but name calling isn’t an indication of that. People do that so much because it works…it often culls people into silence.
So time to speak up and call a spade a spade. “Calling out” is what I did. Name calling is not an argument…it’s a verbal temper-tantrum because someone disagrees with you, and that’s it. Saying I’m wrong is fine. Critiquing my view with toughness is fair game. But leaninig on the faithful “you’re ignorant!” response shows that you’ve got nuthin.
*This would be a great time for churches to step up and educate their flocks on both the biblical view of marriage in general, the biblical view of homosexual behavior, the public welfare arguments against same sex marriage, and how to advocate for those in a compassionate manner. This is an awesome opportunity for churches to inform and equip, but my hunch is that it won’t happen. Most will sit by and let other outlets woo with rhetoric. Most won’t go near the topic and will stay silent. There are some apologetic organizations out there doing a stellar job on this front, but few churches, though that’s just a hunch. As much as I hate to bag on the church (it is a favorite pass time of Christians and non-Christians alike. Very common for Christians to bash the Church and apologize incessantly, much more rare to encourage and spur it on.), I just gotta say it.
*Many have misunderstood the role religion has played in this, and have also misunderstood the legitimacy of relgion in this debate. First, I, and others, are completely within our bounds to let our views be informed by the Bible or any other holy book, and we are completely within our First Amendment rights in having our voting convictions informed by such Scriptures. This happens all the time with more liberal views, in fact, with virtually no one raising an eye brow. How many times have I seen religious people reference the Scriptures and/or make religiously motivated appeals for health care reform (Obama himself did it!), outlawing capital punishment, offering contraceptives in schools, and, yes, the legalization of same sex marriage? Answer: often, but no one, and I mean no one, cries foul because they violate the Establishment Clause or because they are religious in nature. The debates in those instances are on the merits of the appeals themselves (“does the Bible really call for the outlawing of capital punishment?” for instance), which is right where those debates should be…and it shouldn’t change here regarding Scriptural and religious references against same sex marriage.
A Muslim should be able to vote his conscience. A Hindu should be able to do the same. Ditto with an atheist, the secularist, and, dare I say, the Christian. All are fully within their citizenly rights to vote according to their convictions and worldview. Having a religious “agenda” doesn’t disqualify someone from participating in politics. The First Amendment guarantees it, not outlaws it. If Joe from your local GLBTQ organization wants to address a Metropolitan Church congregation and talk to them about “Same sex marriage and the Bible” to get them to agree with him, more power to him. James from Focus on the Family should be able to do the same when it comes to lobbying the faithful for his point of view. One will be incredibly, horribly mistaken about his case, but not because he references religion in his appeal.
No one should have to shed their worldview and act/vote as a secularist, though I have the inckling that is what Christians are being asked to do, and no arguments should be swept off the playing field because they either comport with Scripture or come from religious people/organizations, though that is what’s happening here. Otherwise, laws against murder, theft, white collar crime (Jim Wallis, anyone?), perjury, and a host of other laws would be suspect.
I do admit, however, that there is a difference between being religiously motivated/allowing Scripture to inform beliefs, and making an argument in the public square of ideas about public policy. If I show up in the California legislature and argue against same sex marriage by opening up to Romans or 1 Corinthians, that is not gonna fly. In that sphere, I must make arguments (and there is a distinction between arguments and motivations, I hope you can see that) based on the public welfare, common morality, and nature, since people from a wide array of backgrounds find common ground with those things.
When it comes to this, folks on both sides of the debate somehow think that the only arguments against same sex marriage are religious in nature. The best arguments do not make reference to Scriptures, though they comport with them. I’ve made such arguments frequently and have seen others make them in the public square, but people just act like they don’t exist. Mostly they are dismissed, twisted into being religious, or ignored completely.
An aside: you can legislate morality, btw. Though Judge Walker scoffed at that, his own decision shows he tried. Legalizing ssm legislates a certain moral point of view.