Apologies, a long post coming. But there it is. Some time ago, I had a Facebook conversation with a young man (and some others who chimed in). It’s indicative of the mindset that prevails. It is posted below. But then, in light of recent SCOTUS decisions, I read the following from Erick Erikson. This is truth:
“From Matthew 19:4-6:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
The Christian Left would prefer to view Matthew 19 as a passage on divorce, which is discussed. But they willfully ignore Christ’s definition of what a marriage is — one man and one woman united to become one.
As much as many would ignore, obfuscate, or try to confuse the beginning of Matthew 19, Christ makes it very clear. The Creator made a male and a female and the two become one. That is marriage in Christianity, despite what a bunch of progressive Christians who have no use for the Bible would have the world believe.
Therein lies the problem for the gay rights movement.
As long as there are still Christians who actually follow Christ and uphold his word, a vast amount of people around the world — never mind Islam — will never ever see gay marriage as anything other than a legal encroachment of God’s intent.
So those Christians must be silenced.”
Here is the record (copied from the FB stream of my conversation with a young post-modernist). The context was after North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment concerning traditional marriage. May God give His people grace for the days to come!
Original Facebook post by LTFF (long-time friend of the family):
Ah, North Carolina. You are an embarrassment to this country. Sadly, my state is no better.
MSB: LTFF, affirming the conventions of the last 5,000 or so years of human civilization and society is an embarrassment? We certainly live in a confused and hubristic moment when we are willing to tell the rest of history and the world they were/are all wrong. Just a gentle nudge from the old guy.
LTFF: Mr. Beates, you could have said the same thing to Abe in the 1860s, the suffragists in the early 1900s, or King in the mid-1900s. It wouldn’t have been a valid argument in any of those times either.
MSB: Apples and grasshoppers LTFF. Completely different categories — ironic though that Christians were the ones leading for truth in all your references. Now personal autonomy is the ruling ethic.
LTFF: I’m not seeing how they are much different. Maybe explain to me how this aspect of the gay rights debate is significantly different than the fight against anti-miscegenation laws.
Also, I’d point out that it does Christians no credit to have been at the forefront of these movements, as they were also at the forefront of the opposition.
H. T. (a friend of LTTF unknown to me): Conveniently no one mentions the religious preference of those under the white hoods and robes circa the 1960’s (hint: they were Christians, too).
MSB: Well, of course we have to define what “Christian” means don’t we? Anyone wearing a white hood advocating death or enslavement of another race denies the profoundly fundamental aspects of Jesus’ teaching and historic Christian belief. We can always cite crazies and wackos to try to derail a position. I would humbly maintain that no one in the KKK was ever marginally close to understanding the Gospel of Christ, nor LTFF, those who misguidedly and fearfully advocated anti-miscegenation laws. I have many Black friends who are quite offended and confused that anyone would equate sexual preference or activity with race. Again, you are comparing canaries and kumquats.
LTFF: The good ‘ole no true Scotsman? People will be saying the same thing about today’s conservative Christians in fifty years when homosexuality is a normal and accepted part of our society.
What black people think about homosexuality doesn’t matter especially much to me. They do not own the concept of discrimination or being discriminated against.
I wouldn’t equate, per se, the concepts of race and sexual preference. But they do have many similar properties: lack of harm towards others, largely/completely caused by factors beyond an individual’s control, main causes of opposition include superstitious taboos, misinformation, unfounded stereotypes, and the desire to retain power, etc.
C. K. (another “old guy” friend of mine, not known to LTFF): Sin will never be accepted by biblical teaching.
LTFF (responding to C.K.): That’s quite an optimistic thing to say considering tattoos, women going to church with their heads uncovered, men piercing themselves, varying levels of sabbath rest enforcement, the church’s historical versus present position on slavery, virgins, divorce, inter-religious violence, etc. You only need to examine the increasingly permissive attitude of some sects towards homosexuality and women teaching in church to get a clear look at how things are, sooner or later, going to go.
C.K.: One must believe in God and His Word to understand.
C.K.: When one EVOLVES to think it is OK to kiss the golden calf, it does not make it God’s Word.
MSB: LTFF, so much of what you propose is terribly sad I must gently say. It’s as if I am already on the ash heap of history in your young mind (back to the hubris of my first post). My position, in your mind, must be based upon superstition, taboo, misinformation, and religious bigotry — primarily I suppose because it differs from yours. This could not be further from the truth.
My position is based on nature, reason, and love (far too much to develop here). You are correct in this — the American church has drifted with the culture in so many areas already that little moral authority remains from which to speak — but that does not negate simple physiological truth (what Christian faith calls “creation order”). Even atheistic evolutionists agree that penises and vaginas are complementary — for a fundamentally important purpose that gay unions (no matter what wording one uses) can never satisfy. Sadly the Christian position (and I never mentioned religion in my original comments) is portrayed as what it “opposes” rather than for what it endorses — that most necessary element for any society to thrive — mothers and fathers with children. Nothing superstitious or fear-laden or discriminatory there. . . .
But I fear I have spent too much time in this and numerous other similar discussions — I must finish editing a senior thesis tonight. May God (and reason!) give light in this very confused and dis-ordered time.
LTFF: Personally what I think is sad is that people who love each other can have their marriages interfered with by random strangers. I don’t think your position is superstitious because I disagree with it. For example, I don’t think communism is superstitious — although there are many other reasons why it is probably not the best idea. Sad though it may seem to you, I will not be sad to see these ideas from a bygone era truly bygone, as they certainly will be before too long if current trends continue.
With regard to our sexual bits being procreative in primary purpose, of course I agree. But our bodies aren’t only used the way they evolved. We skydive, sprint, run marathons, swim hundreds of feet under the surface of the ocean, surf waves across the pacific, climb the highest mountains, and launch ourselves into space. You won’t find an environment the human body is much less suited for than space, let me tell you. The point is, saying, “our biology is primarily meant for things to be *this* way” is no argument at all. We don’t respect it outside the bedroom so I can hardly think of why we would respect it inside, at least, I can’t think of an argument that would convince anyone who doesn’t share your religious belief structure. And nature isn’t going to back you up on this one, since homosexuality is commonly observed in dozens of animal species, including our closest evolutionary relatives, the bonobos.
You didn’t have to mention that your position is Christian/religious in nature — there are relatively few non-religious people that reject homosexuals as unequal in right and privilege. Whether you like it or not, the political manifestation of the Christian position has thus far always been *against* — what you *prevent* people from doing. You *can’t* get married, you *can’t* adopt a child, you *can’t* be by your partner on their deathbed. That is why nobody thinks of the Christian position as being in favor of a good family life. If that were *really* the goal Christians would be ignoring the homosexual issue entirely and would be focused on getting marital and family counseling delivered to trouble relationships. But it is not. The reasons why Christians are so relentless about the homosexual issue are far less noble than you seem to believe.
Anyway, as you well know or ought to know, homosexual couples, statistically, are parents at least as good as heterosexuals. So you won’t win any ground with me or anyone who respects scientific evidence by claiming that Christians are doing this for the sake of stable families in America. Sure, there’s nothing discriminatory about wanting a good family life for Americans and American children, the discriminatory stuff is when you pretend against all evidence that homosexual people can’t deliver that.
MSB: “people that reject homosexuals as unequal in right and privilege” — Yes, indeed LTFF, there are many sad people who do just this — and even in the name of God — but when a state population (as this post all started) seeks to define a word that has been commonly understood for centuries, such a definition does not “reject” anyone — it seeks to affirm what has been so commonly understood as not to need further definition . . . until now. But this is (as you saw in a discussion on [another person’s] post) an age of relativism with respect to language and meaning — thus the confusion of our day. I can call my wife a “father” — even believe and lobby to have that accepted in culture. It simply does not make it so. To call any union between any two consenting adults marriage is to practice such deconstruction of meaning on that word as well. To place adjectives like “gay” or “heterosexual” on the word is not a solution. To say that “homosexual marriage” is a confusion of language is not to reject gays as unequal. Nor does it discriminate. Do I discriminate against my wife by telling her she cannot be a father? Do I discriminate against Apple by saying it cannot be Microsoft? Words have meaning. But we live in a day when people want to assign whatever meaning they wish, and they want to live in any manner they wish. Personal autonomy has taken over the psyche of the West.
And again you are right that the religious community needs to attend to family problems it has. But you are wrong to say they are not focusing on this — in fact, over the last decade or two the number of Christians trained for marriage and family counseling has exploded by over 1000% — the church I know is not relentless about homosexuality — rather the homosexuality lobby has been relentless to come after the church pressing it to change its millennia long faith positions regarding creation order.
And LTFF, to say some point “is no argument at all” may have rhetorical flare, but it does not dismiss an argument. You use phrases like “commonly observed” and “normal” to describe homosexual practice — but 2-3% or even some people’s hypothetical 10% does not qualify as “common” and certainly not as “normal” by anyone’s definition — sorry there I go with words having meaning again! 🙂
D.L.(a friend of LTFF, unknown to me): Man, Fox News IS real. Didn’t really think people actually fell for that, but there it is. I feel more like a Frog-in-the-Well than the people that live in North Carolina. Or not.
Personally, I want slavery back. The Bible said it is okay, and I’m 100% sure you can’t contradict that (religious studies major here). And pretty sure homosexuality was practiced throughout history, most prominently starting with the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Japanese.
And if you really want to “protect” marriage, you should start lobbying for a ban on divorces, because damn.
Every bit of progress has their detractors; that much is guaranteed. It’s not worth fighting for unless there are obstacles and people willing to die for their beliefs. Forty years from now, I wonder how those who were conservative today will be like. Probably about the same as those who teach their kids to say “ni**er” and sitting on a porch screaming “GIT OWF MAH LAOWN, YA WHIPPERSNAPPERS!” while brandishing a shotgun.
In other words, backwards as all hell.
LTFF: I think this is where a lot of religious people don’t understand why homosexuals are upset. Nobody cares about your definitions. Nobody cares if you “[tell your wife] she cannot be a father.” The problem comes in when you delineate certain special privileges only fathers can have, such as the ones I mentioned previously, and then deny your wife those privileges. And then you claim that people are trying to infringe on your religious freedom by giving your wife those some privileges. The important thing is the privileges, but because of the way laws are worded the only practical way to give homosexuals those same rights is to use the word “marriage,” because that is the word countless arcane volumes of law use.
> change its millennia long faith positions regarding creation order.
Again, nobody cares about the church’s position. We are fine if you go on thinking it is evil. It’s when you reach into secular life and take certain legal privileges only for those who practice what you preach that the problem comes in.
> may have rhetorical flare, but it does not dismiss an argument
I could say the same of focusing on the rhetorical fire and failing to address the substance of the counter argument. On the words “commonly observed” and “normal,” I mean them in the same sense that red hair is commonly observed and normal — it is not so unusual that anyone would gasp to see it, nor is it so abnormal that anyone should feel bad about having it.
LTFF: By the way, I really hate talking about definitions. Little is more pointless [LTFF provides a web site about disputing definitions]. People when arguing about definitions make all kinds of unfounded inferences. For example, “common” = 2-3%. Yet, any geologist would say that coal is fairly common, even though its proportion of the Earth’s crust is far less than 2%. “Normal” is another word that labels a lot of different concepts. Maybe something is only normal if it is the expected result. But it can also be normal if it occurs only in rare circumstances but is well understood. It is abnormal to be extremely tall, but it’s also normal in the sense that we expect to see extremely tall people occasionally.
My point is that talking about how “words have meanings” and other crap like that is only delaying the inevitable point in the argument where we get underneath the words to the meanings we intend. So it’s best to just ignore when I use a word in a way that doesn’t have your favorite interpretation and focus on what I obviously mean instead.
At the point in question, that was an attempt to discredit your argument from nature. When I say something is “commonly observed” in various animal species, what that means is that we have seen it enough times to know that it wasn’t just a random fluke that would never happen in the wild. The only point of using the term was to show, “Hey, homosexuality is ‘natural’ in the sense that we see plenty of other species — dozens if not hundreds — who also engage in homosexual practice at some low background level. It is not ‘unnatural.’”
MSB: Gosh LTFF, so it has become clear to me that we actually agree completely — you get it now. We see eye to eye that while homosexual people may have sincere and deeply held affections for each other, and seek legal support, it is obviously not a relationship we can naturally call marriage. I am glad we got that straightened out.
LTFF: No, we do not agree. You think your definition is more important than people’s freedoms. That is the ultimate point of contention.
MSB: Whew, so glad we clarified all that and there is no longer contention.
LTFF: Mr. Beates. If you don’t want to talk about a subject any more, that’s fine. You can just say so. It is a bit silly and immature to pretend that we are in accord when we quite obviously are not, and many points remain which you have not adequately addressed. Please refrain from this behavior in the future when commenting on my wall.
MSB: I merely point out, LTFF, that when you speak about “meanings that we intend” and people having “their favorite interpretations,” can we ever have a coherent conversation? I am sorry you see the issue of meaning as silly, but of course I could just as easily say your rejection of common meaning for simple words, redefining them to mean whatever you want is equally immature. Can I ever know what you “obviously mean” when we cannot agree on words? That is the fundamental issue here: what does the word “marriage” mean? If definitions are pointless, we can all hear whatever we want to hear regardless of what the speaker/writer intends. That’s the silly immature point I was making — pretty frustrating isn’t it?
And when you say “nobody” cares about my definitions (well, they aren’t “mine” of course), you seem to discount that 31 states have significant majorities that seem to care deeply. And when you say “nobody” care what the church thinks, obviously that means “you and people who agree with you” don’t care, but ignores the millions of American church people (and billions around the world) who do seem to care.
The divide between us at this point is not merely definition — it is a way of understanding and seeing the world and the source of any authority. I do not create my own meaning not do I presume to have personal autonomy to determine fundamental ideas. I believe meaning and authority are received from an objective source. It requires humility but there it is. Marriage is about many things, but it is fundamentally about how humans create life. And yes, I know, science allows lots of variables for this — we no longer need one man-one woman . . . but then again, we still do.
And please refrain from scolding people on your wall — it is quite unbecoming. And, . . . being east coast, I regret I must once again retire — this old “backwards as all hell” guy needs some sleep. Bless you, my young antagonists!
M. O.: (a friend of LTFF unknown to me): Cut the self-righteous crap and take the graceful exit.
M.O.: To be more polite, don’t use someone else’s wall as a pedestal for your positions when they’ve politely asked you to stop.
LTFF: “can we ever have a coherent conversation?” Yes, we can. You can talk past the referrer words to the referent concepts/empirical clusters. If you’re interested, here’s a tutorial: [LTFF provided a web link]
“31 states have significant majorities that seem to care deeply.” My position is that the people of those states care less about definitions and more about denying the legal privileges of marriage to homosexuals. Anyway, the “nobody” I was referring to was the people on my side. You can have your definition of marriage as long as you surrender the rights you are withholding. Unfortunately, the most practical legal approach to solving the problem is to encompass homosexual permanent relationships within the legal concept of marriage. Don’t worry, no one is going to come around to force you or the church to say the word “married” about people in such a union.
“it is quite unbecoming” I am fine with what it says about me that I will not accept logical rudeness on my wall. Do not claim to have convinced someone when you well know you haven’t. Do not post things you believe to be untrue. Do not change the subject of a debate when it seems like you are failing on a point without first conceding truths or good arguments your opponent has uncovered. Etc. If you can comport yourself to these and similar rules of intellectual honesty, I am glad to listen to you and to strive with your ideas, even when I disagree down to my core. If you can’t, you will need to find another forum to share your thoughts.
MSB: Well, I have battled all day until dark with the yard and when I turn on the computer, I sense that I have offended you. Please accept my sincere apology if this is the case.
You misunderstood or misinterpreted my intent (again to show that if we surrender meaning, anyone can infer whatever they like from anything another person says – a reductio ad absurdum I admit, but there it is). I have no preconception that either of us will change the others minds, and I hope you would give me the benefit of the doubt that I am not the kind of person to try to change the subject if I think I am failing at an argument. If I gave you that impression, I am sorry. I do not think my arguments have failed merely because you have not accepted them or that you dismiss them as somehow antiquated or rude. In fact, what you inferred to be rude was somewhat successful (though I regret that it manifested itself in your frustration).
But LTFF, I am concerned that you seem to presume things about people that, while perhaps not the worst, are certainly far less than charitable — e.g., anyone who disagrees with your position must care most about denying rights to homosexuals; and more personally, you say somewhere above that I can go on thinking homosexuality is evil if I like – but this is something I have never thought, said, or believe. Remember please that my older brother was gay (an ordained clergy himself, who “married” his partner years before this issue became a flash point). I have had gay students and church members. I have loved them all as human beings deserving dignity. I have studied their works, books, professional journals publications, and thought about these things for years.
Thus, I regret that you consider my positions to be discriminatory, illogical, silly, and immature. My goal in dialoging with you has been to understand your thinking. Contrary to your comments above that dismiss my positions, I actually do care about what you think and believe. In fact, contrary to your comment above, I have noted time when you are right in your assessment of the climate of things.
But please LTFF, don’t be so naïve as to think that “no one is going to come around to force you or the church . . .” – it is already happening. I know pastors in Canada who have been arrested for “hate speech” crimes for teaching historic Christian positions on homosexuality. I know an Army chaplain on active duty in Central Asia who says it may only be a matter of time before he is forced to retire because his ordination vows and his conscience preclude him from participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies or “marriage” retreat with same-sex couples. I know Christian adoption agencies in some states that have closed business because of government laws regarding homosexual couples adopting children; and I know you are aware that the government is trying to make Christian hospitals perform services contrary to their historic faith practice, and even my school faces the prospect of having to purchase (or contribute to) such services against our conscience. I wish you were right, but this is no mere “tempest in a tea pot.”
I will say this, then I will honor Mr. M.O.’s hint (above) to “Cut the self-righteous crap and take the graceful exit.” I teach university and high school students that one danger of digital social media is the lack of tone of voice. When deeply held beliefs clash in this forum, we too easily say things to people in a manner we never would if we were with them face to face. I have sought to have a gentle and respectful tone throughout – I am sure you agree that we need all the civil dialogue we can get on this. And I apologize if you thought I was using your wall as a forum to sharer my thoughts – I thought we were having a mutual dialogue. Our conversation has made me think several times of the words of Agur in Proverbs 30:1-14. I recommend it if you are willing. But I assure you (and Mr. M.O.), I will trouble you no further.