“i need a good argument on being against gay marriage” was a search term that led someone to my blog. It must have led him (her?) to one of two of my blog posts in which I present those arguments they’re searching for and then refute them, exposing them for the thinly-veiled bigotry that they are.
When someone types in the phrase “arguments against gay marriage,” I imagine that searcher must be too dumb to think of a logical reason for their prejudice and they’re hoping someone else has come up with a nice sounding rationalization so they can pretend to base their arguments on intelligence.
Still, it’s a rare gem when I see a search term so blatantly admitting that the searcher doesn’t actually have a good argument for their view, they’re just holding to it.
And this is what bothers me so much about the apparently thousands of people lining up for tasteless chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A in order to show support for “Traditional Marriage.” Most of these people believe they are nobly standing up for their faith, but really they’re just blindly condoning prejudice. And no, I don’t mean Chick-Fil-A’s prejudice, I mean their own.
In my original post on the topic, I concluded that there was no good logical argument against legalizing Same Sex Marriage, and thus one could only claim faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if there ever was one) or just admit that they didn’t like homosexuals. Pure and simple prejudice. I ended up writing an Addendum piece because I had been confronted with an interesting counterargument that claimed to be based on facts, not faith. I’m not going to accurately convey the argument here, nor will I be able to sufficiently sum up my rebuttal (read the original post), but needless to say I was not convinced. There is no evidence that Same Sex Marriage in any way hurts society, despite the dire warnings of the prejudiced.
I know plenty of decent, Christian people who oppose Same Sex Marriage as a matter of faith, and I’ve always tried to remain open-minded and believe that, yes, you can oppose this form of equality and not be homophobic or prejudiced. It’s the whole, “Love the Sinner, not the sin,” thing. And while I’ve never really found that aphorism very compelling, I’ve tried to give the benefit of the doubt (because, when I was a Christian, I surely threw that phrase around some).
But I’ve been having this niggling doubt in the back of my head, a kind of cognitive dissonance that always makes me instinctively twitch when people make claims reconciling the obstruction of rights with ‘Christian love.’
Let’s put aside the question of whether America, a secular nation, should base laws on faith. Whether we should or not (not), as long as we have this many Christians in the country, it’s going to happen, at least in part.
I only want to focus on the justifications that each individual Christian must go through to stand against Same Sex Marriage. I’m ignoring the obvious, hate-filled pussbags like Fred Phelps; this is for the Christians who I believe are generally good, loving people. Help me understand my confusion.
The Bible on Homosexuality
Let’s say you’re an intelligent, educated Christian. Most of my friends would fall into this category to some degree or another. As such, you’ve read the Bible (hopefully) and you’ve found that homosexual acts are condemned in various Bible verses in the New Testament, so despite Christ bringing the “New Covenant,” the Old Testament prohibition against it still stands (even though most of the other Old Testament prohibitions don’t).
The reason an intelligent Christian doesn’t pay much heed to Old Testament prohibitions on homosexuality is because if they do they have to explain why they don’t follow the other rules in there, and many of those rules are bizarre if not flat out impossible to maintain in this modern society (there are a lot of acts punishable by death).
The New Testament verses that explicitly mention homosexuality (homosexual acts) are few:
Romans 1:27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 – We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
I’m open to correction, but I do believe those are the only New Testament verses that use the term homosexual or explicitly describe a same-sex act. Other verses that are sometimes lumped into this discussion talk about sexual immorality or depravity, which can be any number of sexual acts (especially considering the Old Testament’s obsession with the subject).
In these passages that mention homosexuality, the author always discusses other sins, too. Liars and perjurers, drunks and slanderers, the greedy and swindlers (there goes Wall Street), and in the fuller passage of the Romans verse above (1 Romans:22-31), gossips, those disobedient of their parents, arrogant people and slanderers (again; must be especially hated by God) are all mentioned in the same breath as homosexuals.
Where are the chicken chains coming out against gossips? I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t enjoy a juicy piece of gossip (because I’ve never met any person who didn’t). And slanderers? In two separate passages, it is placed on par with homosexuality. In fact, bearing false witness against your neighbor (slander) is prohibited in the Ten Commandments. Homosexuality doesn’t justify a mention there.
On a base, human level, I’m bothered by any Christian who spends time pointing out the splinter in the eyes of homosexuals while ignoring the logs of gossip, slander, greed, thievery and other repugnant acts in their own. Take care of your own house, Church, before you come into someone else’s and start rearranging the furniture. I spent years in the church and I can assure you, every single one of those prohibited acts occurs among God’s People (even murder; what is a child’s suicide because of intolerance and mockery if not murder?).
If you went to Chick-Fil-A to show support for ‘Traditional Marriage,’ shame on you. I don’t care if someone eats there. I don’t care if you’re indifferent to the whole subject and you just want your bland fried fa(s)t food to stuff into your lard-excreting gut. But if you went on Wednesday to show appreciation for a chain because of their stance on one (and only one) type of sin, you are deplorable.
Now, most of my Christian friends probably didn’t go (though I know at least a couple did, or tried). Most of my Christian friends who believe homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals should not get married aren’t interested in the petty social battle. They will not vote to allow Same Sex Marriage and they will stand up for their beliefs, but they don’t feel the need to join a herd of sheep for crap food.
Good for you, if you’re one of those. But here is where the conversation turns on you.
As a God-fearing, engaged Christian, you obviously care about studying your Bible. Not just the words in your modern translation, but the words that were actually written. After all, you know that Paul and the others weren’t writing in English.
It would be naive for you to believe that any language can be translated word for word into another. Language translation is never a ‘1 for 1’ proposition. Interpreters take context and concepts and craft a translation that as faithfully as possible represents the meaning the original author intended.
Any person who tries to take a theological stand based on the English translation of the Bible is standing on sand instead of the firm rock.
So, you, the smart, intelligent, well-read and pure of heart Christian know that to understand, Biblically, a contentious issue such as homosexuality, one cannot settle for the shallow English reading of the Bible but must delve into the deep, original texts. Now, I’m not saying one must be able to read Greek and Hebrew to be a true Christian. There are scholars in those languages that can offer you their insights.
So, on the issue of homosexuality, what do those scholars say?
Well, for one, it’s well-established that the term ‘homosexual’ has no exact corollary in Greek or Hebrew. The term ‘Homosexual’ is a compound word taken from Greek and Latin roots, firmly English while being neither Greek nor Latin.
So, any English version of the Bible that uses the term is already committing the sin of shoveling modern bias on ancient texts. Why use the term when it couldn’t possibly have been the author’s exact intent? If you faithfully want to represent the Word of God (and not just your own personal prejudice), shouldn’t you seek the most accurate translation, not the For Dummies version?
The Original Greek: Malokai and Arsenokaites
So, what is the word used in Paul’s original text? Well, there are two, the first being ‘Malokai’ which means ‘soft’ or, essentially, effeminate. The other, more pertinent word is ‘Arsenokoitēs’ (literally male-bedder or male-situater). It’s a word Paul apparently made up, so it doesn’t have an accurate translation. This makes it difficult to know what Paul’s meaning was, precisely.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that the Greeks did have a word for a man who sleeps with another male, it was ‘Paiderasste’. Let’s be clear, this word means sex between a man and a boy. It is not meant to indicate homosexual in the broad way we mean the term. So, does that mean arsenokoitēs was Paul’s attempt to coin a broader term such as homosexual?
I wouldn’t deny that it’s a possibility, but we also have to consider the cultural context. Our idea of a homosexual, a man or woman who exclusively has sex with someone of their own sex, is new. Bisexuality was not uncommon among the Romans and the dichotomy of lesbians and gay males did not exist. Considering that we can’t possibly know Paul’s exact meaning (not helped by him being the Stephen Colbert of his time and coining phrases left and right), this whole issue tends to just go in circles.
In fact, the whole conversation is an unending, raging debate, something that tends to happen when arguing the meaning of 2,000-year-old texts in which we don’t even have third or fourth generation copies, let alone originals. Depending on your personal persuasion (you might even say, orientation) you are going to take one side (Paul meant ‘homosexual’ as we know it) or the other (Paul’s meaning is unclear but it seems unlikely he meant ‘homosexual’ in the English sense).
So, here is where I come at you, my intelligent Christian friend. Why have you chosen your side? Why are you siding with those who argue that homosexuality is a sin, thus requiring you to take a stand against Same Sex Marriage and the happiness of millions of people?
There are intelligent, educated people on both sides of the debate. Maybe you don’t find the argument of the ‘Paul didn’t mean homosexual’ camp particularly compelling. Ask yourself, why? Are you actually taking a stand in this matter because of reasoned, learned interpretations of the Bible, or are you taking the stance that feels most comfortable, perhaps because you were already biased to find homosexuality abhorrent?
How do you know that your principled stance in the face of social pressure is really all that principled? Principles have to be based on something, or they aren’t really principles at all. You are standing up for a Biblical principle, but whose translation of the Bible? Why have you sided with the people who hate homosexuals if you, as you claim, don’t hate homosexuals? Look into yourself and ask why you would want to take any stand at all on something that doesn’t affect you and doesn’t cause any proven economic, social or political detriment.
If you’re a Christian, and you believe God wants you to vote against Same Sex Marriage, explain why. Not to me, to yourself.
Are you really so sure you aren’t the same as the guy who typed in “i need a good argument on being against gay marriage?” Are you biased because of your justifications, or are you justifying your biases?
Don’t stand for hate. Don’t stand for Bible verses that can’t be interpreted with any certainty. Stand for love. Stand for unified families. Stand for the Bible verses that offer no confusion: Love they neighbor.
And if you’re standing up for Chick-Fil-A, maybe take a few laps around the track while you’re at it.
I’m not pulling my information out of thin air. Some of my references:
Meanings of the Greek word “arsenokoitai”
“Malakoi and Arsenokaitai” from Dirt, Greed, & Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today by L. William Countryman
Boswell & Lexicons: Email exchange
Interpretation by Religious Liberals
The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality
15 thoughts on ““i need a good argument on being against gay marriage””
There is another type of Christian that you didn’t really mention here which is the Christian who thinks that homosexuality is a sin but doesn’t oppose same-sex marriage. That’d be this guy. There’s that whole separation of church and state thing. I can find no reason outside of my faith for people of the same sex to marry. Two guys getting married makes no difference in my marriage (if I were to be married). Also, Christians haven’t been doing such a great job of setting the example of what a marriage should like anyway. We have no room to point fingers.
I’ve heard those arguments about whether or not homosexuality is actually condemned in the Bible. I don’t have the energy to get into that debate. That’s weak I know, but I’ve had this discussion so many times before. The bottom line is that there is a lot of things that make me come to that decision. God gave Adam and female as helpmate. That’s just a start. I also heard a doctor (not a Christian either) describe the anatomy involved with sodomy and without going into detail, she was very clear that the body was not designed for that. Again, I’m not saying those are particularly compelling arguments. They are just pieces of the puzzle.
I wanted to punch every Christian I knew in the face who deliberately ate at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday. It was such an antagonistic move and the exact opposite of what Jesus would have done. I do however think it is just as upsetting that mayors of two major cities would actually block a business based on a different view on same-sex marriage. If the situation were reversed, oh man, no one would ever hear the end of it. That precedent makes me nervous.
In all fairness, I left out another major block of Christians, too: Those who don’t believe homosexuality is a sin at all and thus have no problem with Same Sex Marriage.
Yeah, in the creation myth, God gave Adam a wife, Eve. But, first of all, are we supposed to really take that seriously? It’s clearly just a myth, no more a guide on how to practically live our moral lives than the story of Sisyphus. And the Bible isn’t exactly the best guide on monogamous hetero marriages, anyway. Most of the Patriarchs were polygamous, Jesus never married and Paul told Christians not to marry. So, it seems to me, the Bible’s message on marriage is pretty mixed.
As far as the medical side: Well, we are evolved to procreate through penial/vaginal intercourse. There’s no question that is how we formed biologically. But we also have appendixes that serve no purpose other than growing infected and killing us, so I’m not so sure that the ‘natural’ form of our bodies is always in our best interests. (Not to mention that anal sex is only relevant to homosexual males; lesbians get off clean in this area.)
But I do appreciate that you have strong faith Casey and still do not wish to step in the way of Same Sex Marriage. Just because of where we stand on the faith divide, there will always be places we disagree, but mostly I think we find common ground and that is encouraging to me. I’m hoping the newer generation of Christianity is rising up to be more like you.
(I think that whole mayor thing was more about dumb politics than anything. They can’t actually ban a restaurant from a city for that reason, though they can end government contracts with them. It’s a gray area, but like most protest, it’ll all die down in a couple weeks when people get distracted by something else.)
When you started talking about the verses in the New Testament that explicitly talk about homosexuality, I was going to leave a comment saying that the linguistics were more complicated and that it isn’t really safe to say that they’re explicitly talking about homosexuality, and then I finished the post and saw that you were already there.
I try my best to leave no stone unturned, Philip. And if I can’t tackle an issue thoroughly in one post, I do a second (or third). Thanks for reading, man.
Faith can be both complex and simple. I think the tendency in mainstream religions is to simplify faith – it leads to a larger number of believers and a higher level of influence over the beliefs of those believers.
The sound bite will often beat the more subtle explanation.
The other more psychological explanation is that life can be chaotic and people need to choose what to believe without having a mental breakdown. There are many competing worldviews, and life is challenging and painful. Indecision can be quite debilitating. I think the natural tendency is to latch on to one vision of reality – because it lends order to chaos. One can get a grip on determining how to live their life without constantly questioning themself. And as people are built differently in curiosity, intelligence, wisdom, and so on, and as people have various degrees of education, their approach to the deeper issues of life can vary.
Human sexuality is ANYTHING but simple – it’s a deeply complex subject, and even psychologists don’t have a firm grasp on the “nature vs. nurture” debate. But the need to simplify the matter is extremely strong.
As the vast majority is heterosexual, as there are Bible passages that mention homosexuailty in a negative way, as mainstream Christianity has been co-opted by a political agenda (it’s one reason why the “culture wars” are such a hot button in today’s world), and as people aren’t trained or encouraged to think deeply about the matter – the majority response is to think simply about the matter.
I think the need to dictate the actions of others says more about personal insecurity than personal conviction. And forcing others to believe or act differently (besides with caveats of raising your own children) than they themselves would choose is a recipe for disaster. I think both sides of the issue can be guilty of trying to do this.
I think the wisest course is separation of Church and state. Keep religion out of the marriage debate, and keep the state out of religion. This means allow the states to perform gay marriage if they choose it, but do not require religious faiths to condone gay marriage (or perform the ceremonies). Allow elections to decide the matter (let’s not get into the dysfunction of today’s democracy, though).
And I’d also suggest that as a nation (although I think it being discussed in a calm and intelligent way – as it is here – is perfectly fine), we have far more pressing and important issues than the culture wars. It’s deeply distressing to me that issues like this get news instead of Citizens United – they’re used as a political distraction, and it works every time.
Instead of reading and thinking about the matter, though, it’s easier to stand in a line for fast food.
Also, I can tell you what the mainstream Christian response would be (but as you said, not every Christian thinks the same way). As they believe that the Bible is literal truth and inspired by God, they believe that God is against homosexuality (despite translation questions, it’s not unclear what Paul or the writers of Leviticus intended). They also see the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, the times that Israel fell as a result of sin, and not a few have apocalyptic notions of Christ’s imminent return. They see the result of a rising acceptance of homosexuality as a sign of God’s coming judgement.
Therefore, they get to fight as the “good guys” – the ones that fight against sin and for national redemption. They do see it as a matter of extreme urgency.
So, they can fully justify that they are fighting for love, at least to themselves. It is odd how many of them find a difference of opinion, though, when they learn they have a son or daughter who is gay. They start to see that the issue isn’t as black and white as they supposed.
I have no stomach to tell them what to believe, though. They find strength in it, and bless them for it. The vast majority (whether Christian or not) do want to be positive influences in life. It’s just a matter of perspective.
I read most of your post and had a few things I wanted to mention for your consideration.
1. My view: I am a Christian and I do NOT oppose Same-Sex marriage. I believe homosexuality is a sin (equal to other sins that I myself commit on a regular basis) but I don’t believe that non-christians should be forced to follow guide-lines laid out in the Bible. Christ taught love and understanding, not condemnation for those that don’t comply. He allows us the freedom to make our own choices in life (including sexuality) and I think our government should respect that if they want to bring faith into it. As an added note, I think God designed sex to be pleasurable on purpose and I don’t think he regrets it. Sex is not a shameful act.
2. The reason homosexuality is considered a sin: It is opposed to God’s way and plan. God designed us to be with the opposite sex. It is clear in every instance of marriage in the bible that it’s between a man and woman. Marriage is a reflection of Jesus’s relationship with the church (Long discussion). God lays the “rules” out in the bible as a way to tell us how to live the best possible life. A good illustration would be as follows:
If you had a young child, would you tell them to go outside and play without giving them any rules (i.e. don’t play by the road)? We give our children rules to protect them from things they may not fully understand. The actions we take have consequences and often times we don’t know about the pitfalls until will fall into one.
When we choose something that our all-knowing, loving God has forbidden (I do this just as much as anyone else), it’s like spitting in his face and saying I am smarter than you, I know more than you in this situation, and I choose my way instead of yours. We worship ourselves instead of him. Everyone does this, even Christians, the only difference is that we have accepted Christ’s payment for those sins. repenting is like acknowledging that He knows better than I do and that his way is better than mine.
3. Chic-fil-A: It is a privately owned and help organization held completely by the Cathy family. I think that Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinions and his views and think he should be able express those freely as defined by the constitution of the united states. I don’t think he should discriminated against those of the homosexual persuasion in either employment opportunity or if they choose to patronize his business.
I think homosexuals have the right to protest and boycott (and they should) if they feel offended by his comments.
I do NOT feel that city officials have the right to protest by preventing chick-fil-a from coming to their city especially when there is no evidence that his company directly discriminated against homosexuals. Many of the Wednesday patrons, including myself, were there because of this point an none other.
There is no evidence that he has done that. It is worth mentioning that all of the organizations (with the exception of Exodus International) are family focused faith based organizations whose intentions are not solely to oppose gay marriage. Exodus International opposes homosexuality but intends to do so in a loving way. It is intended to take those who want to abstain from homosexuality and attempt to help them with that process. It does not force people into their programs.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Brian. My response:\
1. I’m glad that you do not oppose Same-Sex Marriage regardless of your belief on the matter of homosexuality and sin. It’s your faith, and that’s fine, but you rightfully recognize that you have no place enforcing your personal faith on other people. As concerns this: “He allows us the freedom to make our own choices in life…”
Homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is not a choice. Granted, one can choose whether or not to act on their desire and one can even choose to engage in a sexual act that’s outside their orientation, but sexual attraction and desire are not choices someone makes. No more than you choose to be attracted to your wife/girlfriend, whatever, no one else chooses who they are attracted to. If people could, life would be a whole lot easier for everyone, straight and gay alike.
People who continue to talk about sexual orientation as if it were a choice (despite greater and greater evidence to the contrary) have as much credibility as flat-earthers and Creationists. (I know you may not have meant it that way, I’m just squashing that claim before it goes further.)
2. “It is clear in every instance of marriage in the bible that it’s between a man and woman.” Well, certainly, every marriage in the Bible is between a man and women, but I have a problem with your use of the singular. Polygamy is quite frequently practiced throughout the Bible, and not just by heathens. Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, all polygamous (sometimes with sexual partners outside of their marriages). And besides being Patriarchs of both the Jewish and Christian faith, Hebrews 11 lists the first three of these men as heroes of faith. Then you have Jesus who never married and Paul who flat out told his followers not to get married. In fact, it seems to me monogamous heterosexual marriage is just one of the accepted forms. And to say homosexual marriage doesn’t exist in the Bible, therefore God must not condone it is like saying women’s suffrage wasn’t mentioned in the Bible, therefore God doesn’t approve of women voting. It is by no means clear that God actually cares about homosexuality, at least since the New Covenant. As discussed in this post, there is reason to believe every mention of it in the New Testament was in reference to heterosexuals going against their natural desire; the idea of their being homosexuals (as we know it) didn’t even exist back then. And if you want to go to the Old Testament, well, I hope you didn’t get any bacon or cheese on your chicken sandwich Wednesday.
3. I agree that Chick-Fil-A (and its owners) has a right as a private entity to state their faith. And the LGBT community and it’s forward thinking allies have the right to express their distaste for that sort of bigotry. That those mayors/governors said they would block Chick-Fil-A from their cities is unconstitutional and stupid (and ultimately meaningless; they don’t have the power to do that). That said, if a city has a contract with the company to, say, have restaurants in government buildings or provide to government events and those contracts are revoked because of this, well, that’s fair game. Freedom of Speech doesn’t protect you from repercussions if you say something stupid or hateful (or, in this case, both).
I’d say the majority of people in that line on Wednesday were there not as support for freedom of speech or even to support ‘family values’ (whatever that is), but because they’ve been brainwashed by the men in their pulpits (and Conservative pundits) into believing that “Traditional Marriage” is under attack, which is stupid for two reasons: Same Sex Marriage has no effect on any straight person’s ability to get married, and marriage “traditionally” was about property and cattle, not about love or God’s covenant or anything else.
Marriage in the United States is a government contract (not a religious one), and so for the government to refuse two consenting adults to do what two other consenting adults can do legally, that is discrimination, plain and simple.
I accept your faith, but I’ll only respect it if it stands up for the oppressed, fights injustice and supports love above all else. That is, after all, what Jesus would do.
(On a personal note, I was always amazed how popular Chick-Fil-A was. Their food really isn’t good, just generic fast food chicken, but with a pickle.)
Personally, as a non-homosexual, I don’t think homosexuality is a choice as much as a socialized trait. I don’t think that those individuals have a choice of being attracted to the opposite gender. I think the goal of groups like Exodus International is to socialize that behavior out and to offer that kind of assistance to those who WANT it.
I think the best argument I have heard against “Gay Marriage” has been that once you allow Gay marriage, then other types of marriage would demand legitimacy (i.e. Polygamy, Concentual Incest). I’m not saying I agree with it but it is a legitimate concern that deserves serious discussion.
Rhetorical question: If a homosexual opposes Polygamy, are they a bigot? Often times people are opposed to things they don’t fully understand. Often times this is based on a fear of difference, change, or the unknown. Are some anti-gay-marriage people bigots, absolutley! Are all of them? I would say absolutely not. The difference would be if they approach those of the homosexual persuasion with love or with hate.
You are correct, Jesus would approach most anyone, including homosexuals, with love and understanding and he wouldn’t judge their whole life based on a few things he disagreed with. That is EXACTLY how Christians should be approaching everyone around them. The main reason they don’t is because they are not Christ and they are afraid. Fear is what drives many Christians to take stance stern stances on things that the Bible disagrees with.
To quote Casting Crowns’ song “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners”:
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
I read the above and feel like it describes me. Christian’s are human and just as prone to error as anyone else.
*** It’s a pleasure reading your posts, you are very careful to phrase things that aren’t intended as an attack but instead, seeking understanding. I love discussing things like this and learning from other people’s viewpoints. ***
I’m not sure that I get your distinction between ‘choice’ and ‘socialized trait.’ If all you mean is that with enough manipulation, a homosexual can be convinced to act heterosexual, then sure. But I hardly see the positive in that.
You seem to hold Exodus International in some esteem, but I have to ask you, what exactly are they doing? They’re offering assistance to those who want to be ‘cured’ of their homosexuality. And people want to be cured because they are being told that it isn’t normal. And it’s groups like Exodus International that are the main ones saying homosexuality isn’t normal. How is that a noble service? What if a doctor made up a disease and told all his patients they had it and he could cure them? We wouldn’t go patting that doctor on the back for his great work. We’d arrest him.
As far as homosexuality being normal, well, it is. I mean, in so much as we see it throughout nature in pretty much all species of sexual dichotomous animals. Are those animals sinning? Can animals sin? If we can understand that sometimes a mutation occurs that allows animals to be homosexual, isn’t it only common sense to assume that the same thing is happening in human homosexuals? I’m not saying there is a ‘gay gene’ (that completely misunderstands genetics), but I’m saying that homosexuality is almost certainly the byproduct of a commonly occurring convergence of genetic and inherited traits. If our society (particularly the religious) stopped frowning on homosexuality and just accepted that it happens, then Exodus International would stop needing to exist (and it certainly wouldn’t be admired for its work).
Also, one of the prominent leaders of Exodus International recently came out declaring their work was based on false beliefs: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/us/a-leaders-renunciation-of-ex-gay-tenets-causes-a-schism.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper
As far as your argument about polygamy, etc. That’s a classic slippery slope argument (I addressed the ‘marry my dog’ version in my original ‘Arguments Against Gay Marriage‘ post).
Let’s start with the consensual incest: First off, in some states (more states than allow same sex marriage), you can marry your cousin. So, I’d say that ship has sailed. Besides, with incest there is obvious harm to offspring (harm we understand because of science), which can’t be said of homosexual marriage. They aren’t analogous examples.
As concerns Polygamy. First, while I don’t feel like we should change the law, I actually don’t have any real argument against it. I’ve read that in most cultures that allow it, it leads to the oppression of women and often forced marriages of young girls. So, certainly those are ills we must not allow. But presuming that those things are unfortunate, but not necessary byproducts of polygamy (heck, they’re byproducts of monogamy, too), I honestly can’t take a stand on it. Maybe polygamy shouldn’t be illegal, can’t say. I’m genuinely interested: Why do you feel it should be illegal? (Especially considering the Bible is full of it.)
But keep in mind, polygamy isn’t the same as homosexuality. One is a choice (like, say, religion) and the other is a fact of one’s biology. Outlawing polygamy isn’t discrimination anymore than not allowing people under 21 to drink is discrimination. It’s a law about setting a limit, not oppressing a group.
Ignoring my opinion on it, though, let’s get back to the fact that it’s a slippery slope argument. When this country was fighting to allow interracial marriage, those same kinds of arguments were being made. In fact, if you accept the validity of the argument that Same Sex Marriage will lead to Polygamy, than you have to condemn interracial marriage because it must have led us to Same Sex Marriage. Right? After all, we either accept that every incremental change to social norms necessarily causes the next, or we take the more nuanced view that each individual battle is its own fight. If we take the slippery slope argument, we might as well say that heterosexual marriage led to homosexual marriage (which, technically, it did).
Do you know what the greatest gateway drug is, by the way? Water. Because literally every drug addict in the world has had it. See how slippery slippery slopes are?
Again, I appreciate that you are a Christian wrestling with these questions while being committed to the ‘love thy neighbor’ side of your faith. We may or may not come to a point of agreement, but at least I feel like I’m not talking to a brick wall. That’s a rare bird, indeed.
**As far as my posts go: If you go back far enough, it’ll be clear that I wasn’t always as diplomatic in my writings as I try to be now. That’s not to say that I disagree with what I wrote back then, only that I’ve tried to grow as a communicator in order to reach a wider audience (not just the proverbial Choir) and hopefully affect change. Thanks for the dialogue, these discussions help me clarify my thoughts, and over the years they’ve been instrumental in making me a better communicator.**
I didn’t say I agree with the argument. I don’t agree with the slippery slope argument, I am simply saying that I can understand how some people would be afraid of that. The other big fear is that people think if they accept something they disagree with that their children will embrace it. Again, most people are a slave to how they feel. If they fear something, it controls their actions (i.e. Googleing “I need a good argument against gay marriage”).
The only esteem I hold for Exodus International is that their intentions are our of love. They have been labeled a hate group but what they do in their mind is loving (not in a sociopath kind of way either). I brought them up because Chic-fil-a donated a lot to them. I enjoyed the article and I tend to agree.
I think churches should embrace homosexuals (Again fear holds them back) without judgment just like they embrace others who commit sins that they can understand and relate to. I think it is God’s place to judge and the Holy Spirit’s place to, for the lack of a better word, complete a good work in that person’s life, not mine. Will my life ever be without sin? Only when God changes me into a sinless man. Will that happen before I die? Probably not.
By socialized trait, I mean a few things (Note that I don’t think that a person has a choice in any of these cases, again we are a slave to how we feel):
1. Some people are pushed into it by their peers. Someone has an effeminate voice or likes to play with dolls, for example, and their peers constantly ask and tell them they’re gay. How is that the right approach? Even if it is done in a loving way (i.e. “Man you’re gay, it’s cool, just be yourself”). It’s a product of stereotyping and an attempt to be accepting of something that may not be there. Note that I am completely ignoring the bullying side of this.
2. Many believe that homosexuality is linked to the lack of or a distant Father figure in the home. There are plenty of resources and scholarly articles out there about this and also about the effects of a lack of father figure in general. I think this may be the case for some people.
3. Some people turn to homosexuality after a bad experience (i.e. Domestic Abuse) with heterosexuality. Again, I don’t believe this is a choice on their part.
4. Some men’s attraction to women may be diminished by a controlling or over-bearing mother especially in a home where the father is distant or absent and the mother has to fill 2 roles. Also the opposite may be said for a woman with an abusive father.
5. Some, not all, homosexuals are genetically predisposed to be more feminine/masculine in nature. Combined with other factors, including reason 1, they may be driven towards homosexuality. It is certainly reasonable to say that some of these people are not homosexual.
PERSONAL EXAMPLE: I come from a racist family. My uncle told me once that he didn’t understand how a white man could see beauty in his black wife. I was socialized to be racist and I am still a bit predisposed to think that way until I remind myself how wrong I am. It has taken me YEARS to pull myself away from this kind of mindset.
I wasn’t meaning to mischaracterize your stance. You said “I think the best argument I have heard…” so I just meant to explain why it is not only not a good argument, but it is one of the most transparently illogical arguments against Same Sex Marriage. The Slippery Slope fallacy is pretty much Logic 101 (literally, they teach it on the first day, I think), and it’s sad how often it is used for any number of arguments. Yes, you’re right, it plays to people’s fears, but since fear is an emotional response wrought by ignorance, the only way to fight it is to slowly chip away at it with a barrage of facts and logical reasoning. That is why I provided my counterargument to the Polygamy slippery slope argument. Even if you don’t need to read it, someone does.
As far as Exodus International: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Their hearts may be full of love, but if their actions are leading to homosexuals hating themselves and believing their is something wrong with themselves, then the organization’s work is bad, no matter how noble their intent.
As far as your socialized trait bulletins:
1. It is true, absolutely, that peers sometimes put pressure on others to conform to a certain sexuality. I’ve been both kinds, the mean-hearted kid joining in with the others calling a kid gay (I was never really the namecaller, but I laughed along) and the well-intentioned adult believing I was just being encouraging by suggesting a person come out when they were clearly gay. I’ve actually recently come to the conclusion that I need to stop this behavior altogether and let a person be. If they are obviously struggling with coming out, I want to be available to them, but I do not want to put words in their mouths. That said, I don’t that many people who are practicing homosexuals are really straight people who were peer pressured into it. I can see being peer pressured (especially as a teenager) to try it out once, but it’s not heroin. If you don’t enjoy kissing or sleeping with someone of the same sex, you’re not going to keep doing it (I’m sure there are exceptions, but they are almost certainly rare to the point of being not even a data point).
2. “Many believe…” This is a dangerous way to start a sentence. It’s the Fox News way or reporting. If such scholarly papers exist, actual papers with research and peer reviews, I’d be interested in reading them. As you can see, I provide resources and references. I expect the same of people providing their views.
Furthermore, the lack of a father figure is certainly linked to all sorts of ills in society, but one has to keep in mind the classic “Causation versus Correlation” caveat. There are plenty of children raised in single parent homes who are active, healthy participants in society, no different than anyone else (for that matter, there are plenty of scumbags and societal drags raised in two parent, heterosexual, Christian homes). When looking at the lack of a father in a household, are these phantom studies also looking at economic situations, neighborhood make-up, schooling, etc.? There are so many mitigating factors in the way a child turns out as an adult, and so many related factors that come into play when a father leaves the scene, it’s really hard to pinpoint causation on that one piece of the puzzle. Correlation may exist, sure, but what is the true cause?
3. This again is a case where I’d like to see some data. I agree that for some people, a traumatic experience (like rape) can lead to a dramatic realignment. But you also have to understand that there is such a thing as bisexuality. A person’s sexuality doesn’t always fit into the neat box of “Hetero” or “Homo”, and we have to allow for the fact that some people may be attracted to both sexes, and while they could lean predominantly one way or the other in their sexual activity, that doesn’t meant they didn’t always have at least some pull to the other direction. This is a sticky one, though, and too hard to explore accurately in a comment. I’ll actually write about this in a fuller post later.
4. I think this ties into what I’ve already said under 2 and 3, so I’ll just let it sit. Again, I don’t think being bullied or pressured into a homosexual life if one isn’t already homosexual is a very common phenomenon. Sure, one may go through a phase because of it, but without the real underlying attraction, it’s not going to last long (for most).
5. “It is certainly reasonable to say that some of these people are not homosexual.” I’m not sure how we can say that, really. If you mean that there are effeminate men (or masculine women) who society assumes are gay, but they aren’t really, then yes, that’s true, of course. At the same time, as you said, there is a genetic component to the way people act (component, not control) and I think effeminate characteristics in men are linked to homosexuality exactly for the same reason that stereotypically female traits in women are generally linked to heterosexuality. There is likely a genetic component that each shares which is why they tend to go hand in hand. They are correlated, but one doesn’t (most likely) cause the other.
I’m not sure if your point about racism is meant to illustrate your points about homosexuality or about people who fear homosexuality. Homosexuality and racism aren’t the same thing at all. But, if you mean to say that people are taught from a young age to hate or fear the unknown, then you are right. And that is why it is important to combat that mindset with facts and logic.
There are plenty of examples of people who believe they have been helped by Exodus International and are thankful. There are plenty of people feel guilty and hate themselves because their “re-conditioning” didn’t work. I agree that Exodus shouldn’t push people so hard towards something they believe is beneficial but I wouldn’t go as far as to call them bigots or a hate group. Is a program that attempts to help people who want to get away from unwanted feelings a hate group? Some, including participants, disagree. I think it is a matter of opinion. You could call the Democratic party a hate group for disriminating against Republicans or vice versa.
Here’s an example I was hesitant to use because the two aren’t really comparable and I don’t want to make an association between them or cast an unfair negative connotation on homosexuality but let’s look at Pedophelia. These people are sexually attracted to children and they can’t help it. Psycological studies acctually support that they litterally can’t control it in the same way a heterosexual can’t control their sexual desires towards the opposite sex. Were they born that way? I would say they were socialized to think that way based on their family life and their experiences. My point is that there is no proof that a person’s sexual orientation is genetic or socialized. All we know is that they can’t contol how they feel. Now, we can assume they were born that way without absolute proof, I am a big fan of truthiness 🙂 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness). But it’s hard to find an unbias, scientific study on a political hot-topic these days. If you go against the views of the group that funds your study, you lose funding… don’t want to do that. I can look up references for you (http://www.genderwholeness.com/Pathway/Chapter_3/path_3-07_absent.html) but they will be skewed. You can look at publications about the subject and then look up their subsequent references. I personally got my information from a presentation that referenced multiple sources from a person that I considered to be reputable (you wouldn’t know him).
By my personal note, I meant that people are taught a lot of things from a very young age.
It was good talking to you about this, it really made me think about the other side of things. Thanks for a great conversation. The above is kind of my closing points, I don’t want to take up your whole blog with a conversation like this but it’s good to hear an intelligent opinion (with good references) from the other side of the fence. I will definitly keep reading, your blog is an interesting read!
Hey, I’ve been at work the last few days and without internet access, so I’ve let your comment just sort of sit. I realize you were issuing it as kind of your last thoughts on the subject, so I won’t delve too deep into them.
I will say this: Again, you mention that you see that there are people who find the work of Exodus International to be helpful. I don’t dispute that. There are people who believe that Scientology does amazing work, despite the fact that any person outside of it can see how full of bullock it is. My point being (as I said earlier) that groups like Exodus create a problem and then are praised for ‘solving’ it. If our society stopped putting such a stigma on being homosexual, no one would feel guilty or ashamed of it and then no one would seek out Exodus International or its ilk.
I’m not going to touch on your example because as you clearly realize, it isn’t fair. One causes harm to innocent children and one is the act of consensual adults. In a society that erroneously labels homosexuality a ‘perversion’ those are analogous examples, but we as an evolved society have come to recognize that there is a point when a person is capable of giving their consent. (We don’t all agree on what that age should be, but generally we agree on the concept of ‘age of consent.’) Consensual homosexual relations is not equivalent to pedophilia.
As to your statement: “But it’s hard to find an unbias, scientific study on a political hot-topic these day”… that’s a pretty defeatist attitude, as it implies that there is no truth. I disagree. Unbiased, scientific studies are published all the time. It’s that the people presenting them tend to edit out the parts of the research that don’t fit their narrative.
In the link you provided “Pathways Into Male Homosexuals” I can’t help but notice that he uses the same three references for every point (that should immediately send up red flags), and there doesn’t seem to be any link to any actual research. There’s a lot of “could” “may” and “might”s in there, but very little concrete details. Meanwhile, the biological research into homosexuality is far more complex then such rudimentary psychoanalysis suggests (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation).
I realize you were aiming to say your final words with the last comment, so I’m not trying to challenge you. I’m just offering a final exhortation: Ignore simplistic analogies and hypothetical warnings. Just look at the facts as they are: Consensual homosexual relations harm no one and they exist in pretty much every (if not every) mammalian species, so they are no less ‘natural’ than heterosexuality.
I actually think we should have right to choose whether to accept polygamy, polyandry, or group marriage. I think it’s a good point – if homosexual marriage is okay, why is polygamy not okay?
Incest is too tied in with predatory sex, though. There are some very dark aspects of it – the chances of one person being a victim is extremely high (with years of abuse and psychological manipulation). So, I don’t think it’s the same thing as allowing gay marriage. I don’t think a legal definition of “consensual” can be applied here – both partners can claim it’s consensual, but it’s likely not in actuality.
There is victimization in polygamy, too, though. The obvious example is the fundamentalist Mormons – it also occurs in fundamentalist Islam in some countries, too. It’s worst when the “bride” is a minor – again, you’re likely dealing with predation, plus elements of religious and societal peer pressure. I think it can be called abhorrent for these reasons.
And everything becomes muddy, because the Old Testament has many examples of polygamy. There are even “child brides”. And read Deuteronomy 22:28-29. How horrifying is that? A guy rapes a girl, so he has to marry her. There isn’t a second thought to the living hell that the girl faces. (I know it’s “justified” because the girl would be permanently stained by not being a virgin in that culture. But that leads to questioning whether all of the Bible is inspired by God, or just parts. Wouldn’t God have been against rape in the first place? And after that, wouldn’t God punish the man instead of ruining the girl’s life?)
The mind boggles in it all. Again, I think it’s a matter of the simplicity of the thing. Most people are more comfortable with rules and norms, and our culture has had a norm since its Christian roots. Changing that norm becomes a threat to some people’s worldview.
BTW, if you haven’t heard about it, search “Exodus International Rejects Reparative Therapy for Gays”:
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