Gay marriage and the fall of American civilization?

I recently stumbled across a short article of prominent Evangelical philosopher, theologian and apologist William Lane Craig where he laments the inexorable progression of same-sex marriage into the heart of America.

***

https://i0.wp.com/commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/craig-smiling.png

Something very significant happened over this past weekend that we need to be alert to. As you probably know, several weeks ago the Supreme Court refused to hear a case concerning a federal district court’s decision to strike down all of the pro-marriage laws that have been passed by various states – Idaho, Oklahoma, and others out west. These were regarded as unconstitutional because they declared marriage to be between a man and a woman, or in other words, they prohibited same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court refused to hear the decision, thereby in effect ratifying same-sex marriage in the United States by judicial fiat.

When this happened, I just felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. I struck me that the whole American culture had just shifted. Yet there was no outcry; there was no great protest. This event passed almost silently, it seemed. It is astonishing the degree to which people’s thinking about marriage has changed so rapidly. It made me wonder: where is the United States heading morally? The institution of marriage lies at the very foundations of culture. Have we passed a kind of tipping point, now that marriage is no longer between a man and a woman, and is our culture just going to continue to decline from here? It is very disturbing when you think about this sort of trend on into the rest of the century and the next century.

But then I was absolutely stunned to read in the newspaper last Saturday morning that a different federal district court has upheld the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan and Ohio and certain other mid-Western states. This virtually guarantees that the Supreme Court is going to have to take the case now because you have got two federal district courts at least (actually there are more) that are in contradiction with each other on the question whether or not the states have the right to pass laws saying that marriage is between a man and a woman only.

So this is probably going to go to the Supreme Court. According the paper it will probably be heard around next April or so. For me, at least, this is a call for renewed and intense prayer about this Supreme Court case. I have personally decided to covenant with the Lord to pray every day about this decision until the Supreme Court renders it – to keep the Supreme Court in prayer that these justices will make the right decision, or that if God so wills he might remove one of these justices and replace him or her with a different justice who would make a right decision.

This is entirely within God’s power to do. The Lord hasn’t seen fit in the past to save us from our own folly in this way, but I don’t think that is a reason not to pray. I would encourage you to think about this in your own life, too – whether or not this might be a matter about which you would covenant to pray. For this case truly represents a huge cultural watershed for the United States.

I appreciate that Christians differ on the question of whether or not same-sex marriage should be allowed. I think a lot of younger Christians especially have a sort of inclusivist attitude, thinking: how does it affect heterosexual marriages if you also allow marriage between same-sex partners? It doesn’t make any difference. It is just wider and broader, but it doesn’t affect anything, so it is all right. This attitude is very naïve. Since marriage is not a private institution but a civic institution – a public institution –, it carries with it certain civil rights that must be respected in the public square. What this means is that those who continue to regard marriage as exclusively heterosexual in nature are going to have their civil rights infringed or trampled upon. This is already happening. There was a court case in Massachusetts where a wedding photographer declined to film a same-sex wedding ceremony because he didn’t believe in same sex marriage. He was taken to court and had to pay $6,000 for not doing this. There is a wedding chapel in Idaho that is now under threat of being closed because the owners don’t want to perform same-sex marriages in their chapel. Their decision is regarded as civil discrimination.

So the idea that there can be a sort of peaceful co-existence of two concepts of marriage is just naïve; it is not true. When I’ve talked to homosexual activists at academic conferences, they acknowledge this themselves. They say the peaceful co-existence view is a naïve view. If same-sex marriage goes through, it is going to change things. That is exactly the activists’ intention. One of them said to me, “Really, same-sex marriage is old hat. That is not really what this is all about. We don’t think that marriage is an institution that should be recognized by the government at all. It is discriminatory for the government to give special privileges and benefits to people because they are married.”

So the same sex marriage issue is really just a thin-entering wedge to deconstruct marriage altogether. How does one do it? By denying that marriage has an essence or nature. Marriage is not essentially between a man and a woman. Rather, on such a postmodernist view, marriage is a social convention akin to driving on the right-hand or left-hand side of the road. There is no objective truth about it. So you can define it any way you want. If we go that route – if we deny that marriage has an essence and is just a social convention – then, of course, it is completely malleable and can be turned into anything. So the drive for same sex marriage is actually an attempt to deconstruct marriage under the mask of obtaining equal rights, marriage equality, and so forth. But that is not the real issue.

I feel free to speak about this issue because I think it is not merely political. It seems to me that this issue is deeply spiritual and moral and, frankly, does represent a kind of watershed moment in American culture. The institution of marriage itself is under assault. So I hope that some of you will join with me in praying for our Supreme Court as we approach this decision.

https://actsoftheapostasy.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/gay-marriage1.jpg?w=700

****

My response follows.
______

Dear professor Craig,

I thank you so much for allowing comments on your blog. Even if I don’t expect any answer from you, given your overloaded schedule, I want to let you know my own response to what you just wrote.

It is fair to say we’ve very different starting points. You hold fast to Biblical inerrancy (as defined by the Chicago statement) whereas I’m a progressive Christian believing that the different Biblical authors might speak with conflicting voices on some topics.

Nevertheless, both of us are sincerely trying to follow the Risen Christ and we both agree that the entire Christian ethics can be traced back to Love (for God and, which is equivalent, for one’s neighbor).

And this is why I am NOT opposed to Gay marriage.
God made the Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath. It stands to reason that a perfectly good God would not forbid us things arbitrarily , that is to say according to his good pleasure.
Therefore, if something is wrong and forbidden, it must be harmful either for the individual or for society (I don’t limit “harm” to physical pain but also include anything hindering us from becoming better persons and growing in Love).

Therefore, if homosexuality is wrong, it must be detrimental in some ways. But all available evidence shows us that lifelong committed gay couples are not being harmed or impaired in their cultivation of love when compared to heterosexual couples.

https://i0.wp.com/paoladepaolaweddings.com/wp-content/uploads/PaolaDePaola_Alex_Audr_Eng_LR_027.jpg

Since I reject the idea that a morally perfect being could issue arbitrary laws, I reject the idea that God prohibits Gay marriage.

You wrote that you “just felt as if you had been kicked in the stomach”.

Are you feeling the same way towards poor children not receiving any decent healthcare even if they suffer from life-threatening conditions?
Are you grieving about this Christian psychotic man who is going to be put to death in Texas for murders stemming from his sick and irresponsible mind?
Are you saddened by the prison industry which (by using the war on drugs) puts countless black and other socially disadvantaged people into jails, thereby ruining their whole lives?

Should these egregious and tragic states of affairs not be “a call for renewed and intense prayer”?
It seems to me that the priorities of American Conservative Evangelicals aren’t really the same as those of the Biblical writers.

Finally, let me say that I respect Conservative Christians disagreeing with me on homosexuality.

I do NOT approve of resorting to propaganda and judicial power to silence political opponents.

I radically oppose bullying opponents to Gay marriage.

I can’t fully sympathize with the Gay lobby due to all their excesses and lovelessness.

I agree that a part of the movement wants to abolish marriage and promote any lifestyle causing no direct and immediate harm. This is something I am strongly opposed to and I think that any form of relationship not fostering the growth of selfless love, commitment, humility and kindness should be rejected.
This is why I don’t approve of One Night Stands and of polygamy, even if for many Biblical writers, God had no problem whatsoever with the latter.

I am deeply convinced that your belief that combating Gay marriage should be one of the main priorities of modern Christians is profoundly misguided and dangerous for the Church.

To my mind, the greatest wickedness of the American society consists of caring more for the rights of a small wealthy minority while failing to meet the basic needs of the poorest part of the population.

This is objectively wrong and egregious. And this is something which should lead any Perfect Being to disapprove of (or even “curse” if you prefer) a culture.

Sincerely and fraternally yours.

An ongoing cultural genocide in France / E onduernde kulturelle Genozid in Fronkräich

The Germanic part of France (Alsace) has been killed once and for all. AGAINST the will of the overwhelming majority of Alsatians and their MPs.

PARIS decided to dissolve the region into a French-speaking area. That means the language which is already dying out will disappear forever.

I HATE the French State and never want to live there again.

What France did to us is absolutely shameful. They VIOLATED the will of the Alsatian people and IMPOSED them to give up their land. This is totalitarian fascism.  And this is also colonial supremacism.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

De germanische Deel von Fronkräich isch fir immer zerstert wor. Geje de Will von de grosse Mehrhät von de Elsässern und ihre Deputes.

Paris hat dezidiert, de Region in e fronzeschsprochige Zone ufzelese.
Das beditt, dass de Sproch, wu schun gonz schwach isch, endgildisch verschwinn wert.

Ich HASSE de fronzesche Staat un will nie meh dort lewe.

Was Fronkräich uns ongedon hat isch absolut beschämend. Sie hon de Will vom elsässische Volk VERLETZT. Sie hon sie GEZWUNGE, ihr Lond ufzeginn.
Das isch totalitäre Fachismus. Un das isch ah koloniale Supremazismus.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Culture war: On loving one’s enemy and winning an argument

If you had the choice between both options, which outcome would you favor?

Keeping a friendly and respectful tone during the whole discussion, even if this might give to outsiders the impression that your cherished ideas aren’t quite airtight?

Or demolishing your adversaries with your words so that most people would perceive your rhetorical victory as the superiority of your beliefs?

Sadly, countless folks at the left and right side of the Culture War are passionately committed to option 2) and almost never wonder if their attitude might cause serious emotional harm to their opponents.

https://i0.wp.com/www.spiked-online.com/images/culture_wars3.jpg

This happens all the time for hot topics such as abortion or homosexuality where kind and respectful persons are constantly being bashed, insulted, humiliated and bullied on the ground of certain beliefs they hold sincerely.

I was really delighted as I found this refreshing post arguing for Gay marriage but in a spirit of love.

******

God Does NOT Define Marriage as a Man and a Woman

marriage2

“I am sorry if gay marriage attacks the sanctity of your fourth marriage.”

Does God define marriage as only for one man and one woman? You would think so by how often it’s claimed. But the answer is ‘no’ and I am reclaiming that truth today.

As marriage equality becomes the law of the land, pastors are seeking real answers for how to respond. As I said last week, there are people sitting in pews and pastors standing behind pulpits whose hearts are being changed by God. More than you can imagine.

Perry Noble, a pastor in South Carolina said this is one of his most frequently asked questions. He wrote about it on his blog, and I appreciated his loving tone and his focus on Christ. But I differed on his view of marriage equality and thought it worthy of a response, not just on directly to him, but for others working through this issue in their congregations. (Here is a link to his post.)

Here is my response.

Perry,

I appreciate your message about same-sex marriage, your heart of love, and not wanting to legislate morality – that you want to point people, with love, to Jesus. That is the call of a Christ-follower!

But I differed with you when you said, “And as far as we’re concerned, God clearly defined marriage as a relationship between a male and a female in Scripture.”

Biblical marriageIt’s simply not true.

We see various configurations of marriage (multiple wives, multiple wives plus concubines, marrying your dead brother’s widow, etc.) that are NOT condemned. They served a compassionate purpose in a period of time.

I’m not saying this to be a burr in your saddle, but to point out that your conclusion is not foregone. Pastors and scholars who have studied this disagree. I thank you for encouraging your people to love, not moralize. I want to encourage you that love is enough! Being the love of Christ is enough!

Jesus tells us to let the Holy Spirit lead in all truth, not to try it ourselves. We are not to be trusted with correcting. We have a poor track record at it!

Only a little legalism empowers people to take matters in their own hands, and soon you have bullies enforcing those views in the classroom and workplace, and parents kicking kids out of their homes.

I thank you for your kind heart. I implore you to make sure your people get the main message: love, love, more love, when they’re tiring of loving let Jesus love through them, and leave all the correcting and directing to Jesus.

Otherwise, they’re in danger of hurting someone Jesus loves dearly.

Marriage is not about religion. Atheists get married.
Marriage is not about reproduction. The infertile get married.
Marriage is about love. That’s it.

And that’s beautiful.

****

My response fellows.

I’m myself a progressive Christian having coined a very simple argument showing that Gay marriage is NOT against the will of God .

I believe that no law of God is arbitrary and that the whole Christian ethics can be entirely summed up by Love and its consequences, which is the central message of Jesus.

Even during my non-Christian youth, I believed (owing to prejudices) that homosexuality was a harmful and deviant lifestyle. But after having done thorough researches and read the testimonies of real people, I realized it is not a condition one chooses and that committed homosexual relationships are as harmless as heterosexual bonds.

I loudly affirm that two persons of the same sex can be married while fulfilling their God-given commission which is to grow in Love .

I’m bitterly grieved by the fact so many Conservative Evangelicals focus so much on homosexuality while ignoring real and devastating sins.

But I also know that numerous Conservative Christians opposed to gay marriage do NOT hate queer people and that they sincerely try to separate what they view as a sin from the “sinner”.

Therefore I disapprove of John Shore’s strategy (Even if John might be a wonderful person in other areas) and think we should keep harsh words for those truly deserving them, i.e. self-righteous bigots.

Thus your correspondence with Perry was really lovely and I wish all actors of the Culture War would treat their respectful “enemies” in this manner.

As for marriage, I think it is clear that the Bible speaks with conflicting voices on many topics .

It is a culturally-conditioned text which contains both an awesome beauty and a utter darkness. Like our own soul.

Thus I think that enlightened Christians ought to understand it as people reporting their experiences with the Almighty and reflecting on them, in the same way C.S. Lewis and many others did.

Trying to follow an inerrant Bible is not only logically impossible (due its inconsistency) but also  very dangerous since it leads many people to pick and choose evil verses for building up their doctrines.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Willkumme zu Fuchsi / Welcome to Foxy

Lothringisch

English

Das isch ‘s näie Kätzche von miene Eldere.

That is the new kitten of my parents.

Sin Nome isch Fuchsi.

His name is Foxy.

foxy2foxy2 Foxy3Foxy6Foxy8Foxy9Foxy10Foxy8 foxy9 foxy10 foxy12

Er schnurrt viel!

He purrs a lot!

Er hat ‘s ger, fascht iwerall gehemelt ze were.

He likes to be petted almost everywhere.

Ich fräi mich, ihn fir ‘s erschte Mol während de Wihnachtszit bi miene Eldere ze sihn

I’m looking forward to seeing it for the first time during the Christmas time spent with my parents.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

A fleeting greenish comet ascending into the French sky

Some of my readers might have realized by now I’ve a strong interest for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).

Contrarily to a widespread opinion, this phrase is NO synonym for extraterrestrial spacecrafts visiting us but designates any areal phenomenon not explainable through our current (and public) knowledge.

In the following post, I analyzed a strange sighting having involved an apprentice pilot in the skies of Western France.

Here is the link.

I try to show how one should rigorously analyze paranormal phenomena (including religious miracles) without making any kind of unwarranted assumptions in whatever direction.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

The day America will become a true civilization

...

I shall add that universal healthcare should be viewed as a no-brainer as well.

In a modern technological and wealthy civilization worthy of that name, birth contingencies should play no role whatsoever in the way a sick child receives the appropriate treatment.

In that respect, the USA are really akin to primitive, reactionary and callous states having not yet reached enlightenment.

To my mind, this egregious injustice is far more preoccupying than the prevalence of Young Earth Creationism there.

That many Christians summon the name of Christ to justify these ignoble barbarisms is truly beyond me.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Persecuted anti-theists?

I recently came across a well-argued post calling out American Christians to stop viewing atheists as immoral fools.

****

Why Christians Should Stand Up for Atheists

Freedom3I have just spent several hours talking with atheists on one of the blogs here at Patheos. This wasn’t my first time talking with atheists, but this conversation was particularly illuminating and, for the most part, respectful. Several members of this community welcomed me, despite the fact that they disagree profoundly with me. I am grateful for this. This community shared experiences and raised some very thought-provoking questions.

I came away from this conversation challenged that I need to do more to stand up for the rights of atheists (and those of other religions) here in the United States. Not because I agree with them on God and theology, but because they are human beings who deserve respect. Because when we stand up for someone else’s rights, we are appropriately loving our neighbor and treating them as we would want to be treated.

One thing that atheists (and those of other religions) rightly criticize in America is that there is a profound Christian religious privilege that is present here. If you are a Christian, this might not seem like a problem. Or you may be so steeped in religious privilege that you think the predominant mood of America toward Christians is one of persecution. You may even view attempts to level the playing field as being such persecution.

I don’t mind that there are a lot of Christians here in America. If they act like Christians, I think it’s great! In fact, I wish everybody was a Christian. But what I do object to is the wielding of power and dominance over others. I object to the confusion of the two kingdoms–the kingdoms of God’s left and right hand. I object to the idea that we can force everybody out there to conform to our beliefs.

I have argued previously that the Christian worldview as taught by the New Testament is not built on power, but on servanthood. While Christians are free to seek political power in order to serve their neighbor, they are not to seek it to benefit and serve themselves. Not only are attempts to wield power and dominance over others fundamentally unlike the Christ we serve, but they are also a terrible stumbling block to those who are not Christians. Do we want to witness to the saving power of Christ who is strong in our weakness? Then why have we bought into a model that claims earthly power a la James and John (Mark 10)? Why have we begun to believe the lie that our struggle is against flesh and blood, after all (see Ephesians 6)?

And why do we make atheists and those of other religions actually afraid for their lives when they ask for the same freedoms we want for ourselves and our families? I am told that the joke in the atheist community when they challenge our bastions of Christian political power and privilege is, “Cue the death threats.” Now, I understand that most Christians would not make death threats against atheists, but do we enable those who do by failing to call them out? Do we contribute to a hostile, snide, unloving atmosphere of discourse in our country when we tell them their issues with us are merely their perception of Christians rather than acknowledging that we have some serious problems in our community? Do we value those loud, obnoxious voices who are more interested in “sticking it to” somebody they disagree with than treating them with love and respect (I’m looking at you, Matt Walsh, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter)? Are we willing to listen and learn?

I feel blessed to have met these atheists. I don’t agree with them on faith, but I agree with them on the need to treat each other with respect. I agree with them that we need to make room for people who believe differently. Those differences in belief are crucial and important. I’m not about to give up my wish (and even prayer) that everybody come to faith in Jesus. But I am totally willing to give up my “right” to force everybody to be or act like a Christian.

So, how can we stand up for our atheist friends?

We can defend the child who is serious enough about his beliefs that he won’t “fake it” and stand up for the part of the Pledge of Allegiance that says “one nation under God.” We can stand against any instance when the government tries to establish some form of state religion. We can decry death threats against those who are speaking their beliefs, loving them enough to defend them even if we disagree profoundly with them. We can do this by considering that certain governmental expressions of religious faith may not be the greatest idea.

For example, why is it necessary that children in a secular school pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God”? Why is it necessary that schoolchildren have a time of prayer led by the teacher? If we would be willing to listen to the concerns of non-theists and those of other religions about such matters, perhaps we would find that such practices are not necessary after all and that they hinder freedom of religion for everyone–ourselves included. Perhaps we would have to acknowledge that atheists are actually persecuted in this country.

And perhaps we would discover that Christian witness is not best served by a dead, forced recitation, but by allowing freedom to flourish. Perhaps we would discover that authentic Christianity thrives when its focus is not on dominance but on service to neighbor. Maybe, every once in a while, someone who believes differently than we do would actually stop to listen to our perspective because we were willing to listen to theirs.

But even if they don’t, I ask you, which model better serves our humble Lord who emptied Himself for us (Philippians 2): political dominance or service? And isn’t faithfulness to Him more important than “results” or seeing our “agenda” achieved?

American Christianity is at a crossroads these days. We can either continue with our pursuit of power at all cost, or we can release the idolatry of control, surrender ourselves into the hands of God, and humbly serve our neighbor. Doing so will certainly mean that we share our faith with our neighbor (yes, even in words!), but it will not mean that we force them into submission. Such tactics are as far from New Testament Christianity as East is from West.

EDIT on 11/8/14: Several commenters have brought up the point that it sounded like I was describing atheism as a “religion.” I addressed this a few times in the comments, but I understand not everyone has time to wade through the comments. I think a better term would be “belief system,” although I do understand that the basic belief is non-belief in the sense of “I do not believe there is evidence for the existence of God.” The intent of my statement was not to call atheism a religion, but to recognize that Christians in general sometimes have a hard time recognizing the rights of other belief or non-belief groups.

Hopefully, that is helpful.

****

Here is my response.

Dear Rebecca Florence, thank you so much for this marvelous post.

As a Continental European, it’s really hard for me to imagine how it must feel for someone to live along the Christian Right.
I’m really glad that most Christians and atheists discussing with each other on the Old Continent tend to be pretty respectful and can develop a friendly relationship despite some fundamental differences in their most basic beliefs.

I do believe one always ought to be respectful towards a respectful opponent ,no matter how repugnant one might find his or her ideas.

I think that we must constantly remain wary of deeply entrenched psychological mechanisms which lead all too easily to tribalism, an “us against them”-mentality and dehumanizing our adversaries.

I think that my main problem with your article consists of the fact you unwittingly tend to present “atheists” as a homogeneous group.

Of course, it’s really not the case. There are many different types of Christians, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, pantheists, deists and atheist out there.
A SMALL subpart of atheists are anti-theists, i.e. people who believe that all religions ought to disappear.

Having spent countless hours interacting with these folks and their writings, I can truly say they’re no better than nasty religious fundamentalists. (Interestingly enough, in an American context anti-theists often tend to be former fundies ).
They see the Bible in a perfectly binary manner like fundamentalists, and for some of them the presence of atrocities in one text justifies burning the whole book , i.e. also the writings of many completely unrelated authors.

The New Atheists (I use this phrase interchangeably with anti-theists) explicitely advocate the use of emotional bullying, ridicule and mockery against religious persons.

http://alwaysquestionauthority.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/1477717_562936830449947_173279735_n.png

They sometimes even have a cult-like thinking and keep falling prey to binary thinking.

A great number of people present on their forums and blogs are driven by the same kind of hatred which motivates European far right people.

Let me be clear about this. I do believe there are great and respectful atheists out there. ( Here is a good example).

I hate hearing Conservative Christians asserting that atheists (in general) are immoral fools and I if I have the opportunity, I step in against this kind of vicious and groundless attacks .

I do affirm that many atheists are good people, and I believe that many of them dying as unbelievers will accept God’s invitation on the other side of the grave.
I am yearning for a society full of compassionate and humble persons who manage to remain courteous and polite while not denying their convictions.
I congratulate you for being an excellent rule model in that respect.

But we cannot say,in general, that Christians in America are the oppressors whereas atheist are the victims.
No, this country of yours is going through a terrible culture war where one can find assholes and individuals of good will in the different camps.

I see a vicious circle of hatred going on which is very similar to racial tensions in modern France .
It’s vital for everyone to recognize that all atheists and theists are not the same, and that our just anger should be reserved for self-righteous bigots who are the powder keeping alive the fire of the culture war.

I do speak up for the right of anyone to loudly proclaim their metaphysical convictions without having to fear any kind of discrimination.
But I will never encourage groups of people who are driven by hatred and the self-righteous desire to feel superior to all the rest of us.

Lovely greetings in Christ.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)