Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why You Say ‘We’ Kemosabe?

In a recent Christianity Today article:

Is The Gay Marriage Debate Over?
What the battle for traditional marriage means for Americans—and evangelicals.
Mark Galli | posted 7/24/2009 10:27AM

I found the following statements:

Gay marriage advocacy was given new life with Massachusetts's historic 2003 high court ruling . . .

But seemingly out of nowhere, gay marriage advocates have won stunning judicial, legislative, and social victories. . .

Even more disheartening has been to witness how, in each mainline denomination, and even in some evangelical seminaries, fellow Christians lobby hard for gay marriage.

The depressing feeling of inevitability is precisely what advocates of gay marriage want to instill in their opponents.

Still, we are at our wits' ends about what to say next, impervious as the gay marriage juggernaut is.

I will say more about the article later, but first this:  when we battle bad ideas, we should not surrender important terminological ground.  The original meaning of ‘gay’ was ‘having or showing a merry, lively mood’ and its synonyms included ‘gleeful, jovial, glad, joyous, happy, cheerful.’  I am still unwilling to concede this word to homosexuality.  There is nothing gay about homosexuality.  There is something evil about it.  Why Christian writers are so willing to give this propaganda term to the opposition is beyond me.

In any case, Galli goes on to conclude in his article:

We are, of all Christian traditions, the most individualistic. This individual emphasis has flourished in different ways and in different settings, and often for the good. . . But it is individualism nonetheless, and it cuts right to the heart of one of our best arguments against gay marriage.

We cannot very well argue for the sanctity of marriage as a crucial social institution while we blithely go about divorcing and approving of remarriage at a rate that destabilizes marriage. We cannot say that an institution, like the state, has a perfect right to insist on certain values and behavior from its citizens while we refuse to submit to denominational or local church authority. We cannot tell gay couples that marriage is about something much larger than self-fulfillment when we, like the rest of heterosexual culture, delay marriage until we can experience life, and delay having children until we can enjoy each other for a few years.

In short, we have been perfect hypocrites on this issue. Until we admit that, and take steps to amend our ways, our cries of alarm about gay marriage will echo off into oblivion.

And here we see an example of when appeal to individualism is needed.  There is no ‘we’ who argues for the sanctity of marriage; only individuals can present arguments.  And hypocrisy cannot be rightly assigned to some collective ‘we.’  Some Christians may be hypocrites in this matter, others are not.  Many have never been divorced.  Some who are were the innocent victims of adultery.  There is no ‘we’ in this matter.

Galli should be very careful in his rhetorical flourish.  The problem with all things homosexual is that they violate the commandment of God.  Matters like delaying marriage, or having children later in a marriage do not necessarily violate any commandment of God.  To lump them together as Galli does is more than presumptuous on his part.

But in spite of the fact that there are some Christian hypocrites (on these and other matters) the matter of marriage – and the exclusion of anything homosexual from it – remains what it is.  It remains that way because it is not a matter of human definition.  It was defined, by virtue of creation, by God.

So when Galli says above that ‘We cannot very well argue for the sanctity of marriage’ or ‘We cannot tell gay couples that marriage is about something much larger than self-fulfillment’ he is flat-out wrong.  Many Christians very well CAN argue from a non-hypocritical position on this matter.

But even those have violated God’s prescription, and who are perhaps truly repentant, need not hold back in announcing God’s proscription on ‘homosexual marriage’ because it is God’s proscription, not ours.  No amount of hand-wringing about how bad ‘we’ are changes that.  If cries of alarm about homosexual attempts to redefine religion ‘echo off into oblivion’ it is because, as the Apostle Paul once said, some prefer to worship the creature rather than the Creator.

No comments: