A few days ago I happened upon the following video titled “A Gay Education:”
I have found, unfortunately, that the “arguments” in this video are all too common.
How should we respond to this?
Notice the subtle way the characters are portrayed: the gay and lesbian man and woman are smiling, while Christian always looks kinda clueless. He also frowns and looks askance when in between the homosexual characters, as if he’s pretty uncomfortable in their presence. His comebacks are never very sophisticated, (“I heard blah blah blah.”), when the narrator talks of science Christian can’t help but disclose his disdain (“oh..that” he says sarcastically), and he dresses sorta, well, uptight.
Make no mistake: the characters weren’t portrayed like that by accident. The maker of the video is trying to communicate certain ideas about homosexuals (happy, well adjusted) and those who object to Christianity (simple minded, they object to homosexuality just out of fear, they are uptight, anti-science etc). But I ask: where’s the argument? Also, are those who oppose homosexuality really like that? Things like this represent unnecessary padding to the arguments being made.
It’s not that there are no happy homosexuals or uptight religious folk. There are plenty. It’s that a) such portrayals set fire to straw men and b) they have nothing to do with the arguments being made; they are there because they need to be. If they weren’t, and if the video just made due with the bottom line arguments it makes, we’d be able to spot the flaws much easier. That’s why I call these subtle portrayals “padding.”
Now, sometimes things like that are ok and legit, *as additions to already strong arguments* (best to avoid such egregious straw men altogether, though), but when people lean on them to persuade rather than the actual arguments, that’s a red flag. We should take note, clear the smoke and mirrors to the side, and deal with the arguments themselves.
Before I get to the arguments, notice one more thing: the reliance upon “science” to make the pro-homosexual case. Did you notice that Christian typically began his responses with something akin to “I heard…” and the narrator’s response often began with something like “scientists say…” That’s another subtle persuasive technique. In our culture, science sells. Morality: not so much.
Just look at commercials; how many commercials feature scientists in lab coats testing something? Oftentimes, all you need to say to sound convincing is “the facts from science are…” But I have to ask: first, is that really the universal conclusion of science, and second, why are scientists coming to those conclusions? Those are two HUUUUGGEE questions the video never addresses. This is another red flag.
Far too often the “conclusions” of science are much more complicated than the persuaders care to admit.
Furthermore, scientists come to their conclusions for all sorts of reasons, and many have nothing to do with the actual evidence: grant money, societal pressure, prejudices of academia, a faulty and narrow philosophy of science (you cannot do science without first formulating a philosophy of science), etc. If you doubt this, the movie Expelled will give you lots of things to chew on.
As to the arguments:
“How do you know you are homosexual? The same way you know you are straight.”
Bottom line, this is an appeal to desire: you know you are homosexual because you have an inclination or attraction to the opposite sex. This comes immediately after the narrator says, “lets see what the latest science says.” Is this the “science” the narrator talks about?
Notice that “attraction” is never defined. This is telling.
Also, this proves too much. How do you know you are a man-boy lover? The same way you know you are straight. How do you know you were made to be with animals? The same way you know you are straight. I could go on, but you get the point.
The point isn’t to suggest moral equivalency between homosexuality and bestiality; the point is that pointing to desire to “know” whether you are anything at all is a horribly faulty argument. It is vague and empty logic.
Secondly, notice the way the environmental-developmental theory (represented by the comical Freud character) is done away with: the lesbian says, “you’re kidding me, right?” All Freud does is shrug.
That’s it…no attempt to engage with the point of view…just a hand waving dismissal.
Third, the video equivocates on its definition of “unnatural.” The definition the narrator uses is “something is natural if it happens in nature.” But this isn’t the definition folks like me use when we say “homosexuality is unnatural.”
Briefly: something is unnatural if it cuts against our design.
Fourthly, as Melinda Penner points out, just saying something occurs in nature says nothing about its morality. All sorts of things happen in the animal world that is immoral for humans. In fact, one thing that separates us from the animals is that we can step back, look at our inclinations, and say “no” to them.
Moreover, observing two male dogs get it on says nothing about whether they are “homosexual.” In fact, much of the animal behavior like that isn’t homosexuality, but dominance behavior. When Coco (my late dog…may she rest in peace) mounts my poor neighbor’s leg, she isn’t sexually attracted to his leg; she’s just, umm, asserting her dominance, lets say.
The scientific studies the narrator points to are much, much more complicated than he suggests. If you read them yourself (I have), you’ll see that many times, the authors themselves admit the results are inconclusive. There have often been published responses that debate the studies as well. As the narrator noted, these are available to all at most university libraries.
Look at how the ex-gay ministries are portrayed! This is simply intellectually irresponsible. The “poor homosexuals” go into some assembly line factory and come out bland and unhappy. Then one whispers, “we’re still gay” and they all get a sly smile on their face. Again, this is just a plain ol ad hominem attack, with no attempt to actually engage the claims of ministries like Exodus International.
The authors of the cartoon would lead you to believe that all those who go into the ex-gay ministries are “still gay,” but refuses to recognize that many do have successful turn arounds. One of my friends, for instance, has a past of same-sex attraction, but today is happily married with two kids. If you take the time to listen to the testimonies (also here…and see Stand to Reason’s podcast on November 2 for an interview with Schneider) of folks like him, you’ll find success is attainable.
I’m not arguing that folks like him have it easy…many, many don’t. But neither does anyone else dealing with sexual dysfunction. I should know. I go to a 12 step group for a behavior that I’ll most likely be battling with the rest of my life. Does that mean I should just give in and “go with the flow?” Will I be unhappy and uptight if I don’t? Heavens no!
All this, though, doesn’t strike at the heart of the video: it says nothing about morality. For this, Melinda’s piece that I linked to above has some very, very salient points. I’ll leave that to her to argue, because she says it better than I can.
This video, when you get past all the padding, is just a bunch of ballyhoo. Can those who advance the pro-gay point of view find better representations of their point of view?
Check out the following related posts:
Same-sex Marriage Series (with links to the previous posts in the series)
Tony Jones Part III: Something I Missed
Balancing Scripture, Reason, and Experience
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