Saturday, July 28, 2012

Myths from the Gay Marriage Debate

The gay marriage debate is in full swing once again. There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding this debate, and a few of them will be tackled here. As always, it's important to hold this discussion in respect and love. Chick-Fil-A has been attacked from all sides concerning its support of traditional marriage. I stand with Chick-Fil-A in complete and total support, and several of the myths below have been applied against Chick-Fil-A, and wholly without merit. I call for intellectually honest dialogue on this subject between Christians and homosexuals.

Myth #1: If one is against gay marriage, then he hates/fears homosexuals/homosexuality (i.e., is a homophobe).

The fact is I have never seen an argument even attempted that shows this is true of most (much less all) traditional marriage advocates. This really only serves as a piece of rhetoric designed to avoid debate or discussion of the issue. The idea is that if someone is simply asserting a position because he hates people to whom it applies, we should find such morally reprehensible.[1]

The only argument I can think of is to say that if someone makes a moral judgment concerning some act or behavior that she must hate or fear that person. But in that case, most gay marriage advocates will readily claim such a position is morally bad, which is itself a moral judgment. Would it then follow that these people hate or fear the homophobes? This can be avoided if one asserts there are no moral values. But even if this is avoided, one is still faced with the challenge: why should we think the above claim is true? I see no reason to think it is. Until this challenge is met sufficiently, no one should perpetuate (1).

Myth #2: Advocates of traditional marriage wish to outlaw or limit the rights of homosexual behavior.

Occasionally, I will read an impassioned comment, status, or article defending the rights of homosexuals to live their lives how they see fit. How dare Christians, say these, try to take away the civil rights of other Americans who are minding their own business? Something should be made abundantly clear: the debate is emphatically not about homosexual behavior (or their rights to live the lives they choose). Virtually no one is saying homosexuality should be outlawed. In any case, the strong majority simply wishes to retain the definition of the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Myth #3: To reject homosexual behavior is to reject homosexual persons.

You can't separate "being gay" from who I am. I have often heard this statement made. The fact is that who a person is does not simply come from what they do. That is to say, a homosexual person is more than just homosexual behavior. My wife can love me greatly even if I do some action that she finds to be wrong, annoying, or otherwise offensive. Similarly, one can have great love and respect for a person while morally disagreeing with his behavior.

Myth #4: Advocates of traditional marriage do not want equality for homosexuals.

This myth has the basic argument that everyone should be equal. This line of argumentation is notoriously ambiguous. After all, does this mean that everyone should be treated exactly the same in all situations? Should it mean that everyone has equal opportunity? If the former, why think so? Should we require everyone to pay business income taxes, even if they do not own a business? If not, then not every person in every situation should receive the same treatment. If the latter, then one can easily point out everyone does have equal opportunity for marriage: no one is stopping homosexuals from marrying in the traditional sense—one man, one woman. Most traditional marriage advocates have no problem with civil unions (for things such as tax benefits), and I personally do not have a problem with people going through their own ceremonies and calling it whatever they want; just don't expect it to be recognized by society as a legitimate marriage.

The issue really boils down to two things: first, is marriage fundamentally between a man and a woman? If so, then any other arrangement, whatever it might be, is simply not marriage. Second, if marriage is fundamentally between a man and a woman, whatever the role of government, it should not actively promote the contrary.

                [1] It's worth noting that, in and of itself, this is not a good reason to reject the truth of some position. Simply because someone is acting immorally it would not follow necessarily that the position being asserted is itself incorrect.

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  1. Hi Randy,

    I know this is an old post but I was sort of inspired to comment on it because I heard (part of) a radio debate over here in Engalnd a few days back where the host was talking about how opposing gay marriage is akin to opposing interracial marriage and/or hating someone because they are of a different race. As I say, I didn't hear the whole debate but what I did hear seemed to take the same depressing route as pretty much every other debate on TV or radio in this country; namely, anyone who opposes homosexuality is labelled homophobic, hate-filled etc., and one of the Christian callers who wished to argue that homosexual orientation is a choice was basically ridiculed (to be fair, though, he obviously hadn't read up on the issue) and it was implied that the reason he must be anti-gay is because he was secretly gay himself - which struck me as rather childish and obviously fallacious reasoning, but it's something I hear often. Anyhow, to my point:

    This idea that someone who opposes gay marriage and/or homosexual behaviour is guilty of "hating" gays seems very widespread in the media and I'm just baffled how (and when) it ever got started since it seems you never hear anyone accuse Christians of, for example, hating adulterers, alcoholics, thiefs, fornicators, etc., (maybe because atheists generally agree the first 3 listed there are wrong?) It seems that in those cases non-believers accept it's possible to oppose those behaviours without thereby also hating the persons but in the case of homosexuality they can't seem to accept that one can oppose and yet at the same time also love the person in question. Do you think those in the media (and society) who promote this view are being disingenuous or d'you think they have some sort of blindspot where they cannot see the obvious contradiction in their thinking?. In thinking it through - and being charitable to them - I can only think that since many view homosexual orientation as genetic in the same way as race is genetic they may automatically assume any opposition to gays is by definition hateful since opposition to someone on the basis of race is based on hatred too. Your thoughts?

    1. I think it's a little of both. That is, I think their initial reactions are emotionally based, and I think they're entrenched positions (and attacks) are disingenuous . I think this because I have literally never received an argument (good or bad) for why it must be the case that opposing homosexual behavior is morally wrong or entails hate. I've received attacks (you're gay too!), and maybe we could turn it into an argument. It's sad. It's especially sad since the "born this way" thing has nothing to do with behavior. Let's use the race analogy. Let's say that white people are born with the desire to strangle old ladies. Let's also say that they have a choice about this behavior (just generic free will, nothing special). It would be wrong for us to hold them morally accountable for the mere in-born desire; it would not be wrong for us to hold them accountable for their actions. This is where the interracial marriage breaks analogy breaks down: it assumes two things. 1. That interracial marriage is morally permissible, and that 2. Homosexual marriage (or behavior) is permissible. Christians agree with (1), but not (2). Mere appeal to analogy won't work, since it assumes what it tries to prove.


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