Talking Points on Homosexual MarriageNovember 18, 2008
After reading yet another debate on the newspaper website (with over 300 comments so far and no end in sight) I had the following reactions. First, I noticed how often proponents of Gay marriage think that Christians are hateful, spiteful and bigoted. They also call us narrow-minded, hide-bound and fanatics. Since none of those adjectives describes me or most Christians I know, I am intrigued at why the so-called “No on 8” crowd has come to these conclusions about us. Second, I am annoyed at how poorly some Christians are debating this issue with those who are not believers in God or the Bible. We need to explain ourselves reasonably and with a good attitude.
Thus, I want to suggest some talking points that Christians can use which may help the “No on 8” crowd at least listen to us instead of throwing epithets at our psyches.
Not About Rights: To us, this debate on homosexual marriage is not about rights. I personally do not object to permanent homosexual relationships having the same legal and inheritance rights as married couples. And this is what we need to emphasize. If it is just about equal rights and not about what we call a homosexual relationship, then everyone should be happy, no? The reason I would start the debate here, is that most homosexuals would not be satisfied with equal rights. This debate is really about recognition. Homosexuals want American society to recognize that their intimate relationship is as valid as a heterosexual marriage. But validity is tricky. If we’re not talking legal validity, what are we talking about? In essence, we are talking about all sexual preferences carrying the same moral weight. And this is something that Christians cannot, and will not, go along with. There are many sexual relationships that we cannot abide. There is only one relationship that Christians validate sexually: That of a man and a woman who have made a covenant to stay together the rest of their lives. This is why divorce is so difficult an issue for us. This talking point at least lets those we disagree with know that we are not against equal rights.
Not just based on the Bible: And this is a tricky one. Where most Christians are having a tough time is that they don’t know where in the Bible it says that homosexuality is not allowed. There are several places in Leviticus where we are told that a homosexual couple must be stoned to death. But that is hardly enough evidence to base a New Testament Church argument upon. The only New Testament passage related to homosexual behavior is Romans 1:18-32. The reason this passage is tricky is that most Christians don’t study the context of what it is saying. The entire message of this chapter is that people who don’t have a relationship with God will exchange that inner need for God for a practice of intimacy in whatever form they can find it. The concept of perversion means to take a legitimate need and desire and to change it into something it was never intended for. Then it gives examples of this in the form of male and female homosexuality, heterosexual promiscuity, idol worship, and perhaps even pedophilia (if one famous interpretation is correct). Therefore, this passage is teaching that when someone does not want a relationship with God, there is going to be a big need unmet. They will try and meet that need with relationships that get further and further from God’s intention.
Here is the difficult part. How do you use that in a debate with someone who doesn’t recognize the Bible as authoritative, or the existence of God as valid? You start out by talking about the rule of law. The American Constitution is not based on the Bible (as some Christians like to think it is) but upon the concept of Natural Law. Read up on Natural Law to get a handle on this debate. Natural Law, in summary, is the idea that human beings are all equal by nature. That we all deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and common good. It is also the recognition that some concepts (such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) are just common knowledge. Natural Law says that all men must agree that there is a higher law which guides us. The difficulty has always been to determine what that “higher law” consists of. The Constitution established three branches of governing to help determine how Natural Law should be applied to each day and age of our country. President, Congress and Supreme Court each seek to do their part to interpret what the people believe at any time.
Therefore, it is proper for the homosexual to say “time is on our side. We will prevail.” By that, they mean that they think most people will eventually come to believe in the validity of homosexuality. They may be right. Or they may not. What history tells us is that public opinion changes based upon three types of events: Financial changes, religious revival, and war. The U. S. is always debating laws with relation to public good and public opinion. By so doing, we have outlawed slavery. That seems like an easy one. But we have also gone back and forth on Capital Punishment. Different generations have seen it differently. There was a day when alcohol was made illegal. Then it wasn’t. Natural Law is a difficult thing, but it is a valid principle. If we don’t recognize a higher principle of law, then the only law left is Survival of the Fittest. Since evolutionary biological law necessitates reproduction, homosexuality is a threat to survival of the species.
Therefore our talking point sounds like this: “It is always appropriate for the public to discuss whether they want a particular behavior to be regarded one of three ways: legal, legal but with limitations, or illegal.” In our history, we have always seen homosexual behavior as a deviation that should be Illegal. In recent decades, it was made legal with limitations. Now, proponents want to make it completely legal. We disagree with that. That is our part of the debate.
Homosexuality is Unstable in Society: Canada legalized homosexual marriage a few years ago. After the initial rush, there has only been a trickle of homosexual marriages being registered. Why? I don’t know for sure. Perhaps it is because homosexuals were getting married more to please their families or to get tax benefits. Perhaps it is because homosexuals change partners more often than heterosexuals. I don’t know for sure. I just know that a much lower percentage of homosexual relationships stay together than heterosexuals. In this talking point, be careful not to get sucked into the “50% Argument”. That is very common in this debate. The homosexual community lambastes heterosexual marriages for their 50% divorce rate. There is no 50% divorce rate. The divorce rate in the U.S. is 34%. The erroneous 50% figure is a statistical miscalculation. It is based upon taking the amount of marriages and dividing it by the amount of divorces. If there are half as many divorces in a given year as marriages, then you have a 50% divorce rate. But wait. Those people getting divorced got married over decades. The real divorce rate is measured by asking people if they have ever been married. If they say yes, then they asked what percentage of these have been divorced. The number is 34%. And that number has been slowly falling for a decade. We are not losing the battle to keep marriages together.
Here is the talking point: Heterosexual marriages and relationships are more stable to the kind of society most people want. If that is not true, then most people will vote to put no restrictions on homosexuality.
Sexuality is not a Right: There are no equal rights when it comes to sexuality. Those who cannot attract a mate because of unattractive features are not guaranteed sex. Those who have biological inability to have sex, or those who have been castrated by accident or disease cannot have sex. Sex is not guaranteed by any part of the Constitution. Also, we have many other laws that govern sexual behavior. Should we get rid of all of those? There are those (like the Ethical Hedonists) who think we should. But the rest of us do not. Society has a responsibility to say what kind of behavior can be sanctioned. And, we have changed our views on some sexual expressions. It used to be legal for sexual congress between an adult and a child of 14. Now it is not. It was legal to have more than one wife. Now it is not. Other sexual habits have been made legal, but society restricts them to certain places and not others. Therefore, a homosexual couple can legitimately claim to want public sanction for their relationship. But it is not a right; it is open for public debate.
These talking points are reasonable and keep us from the charge of being bigoted. But the biggest thing we can do is show respect as we debate and not degenerate into name-calling or using biblical threats of burning in hell as a way to change people’s minds.