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Talking Points on Homosexual Marriage

November 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.

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9 comments

  1. great points.

    I think one thing most Christians can’t seem to grasp is that people actually struggle with homosexuality, it’s a real addiction. Not just something they can switch off. and they need to be loved and embraced even in the midst of their struggle.


  2. Vince: That too is a great point. Unfortunately, laws and Constitutions deal in bigger issues and often leave the desire and struggles of individuals in the dust. That is also the role of the Christian: To befriend, understand and offer love. Thanks for that reminder.


  3. There have been rallies because there was a removal of rights based on religious beliefs that many gays and straights alike do not support. Even though I personally am not a Christian I would never attempt to deny someone the right to practice any religion or belief. I am morally opposed to organized religion as it has been corrupted and used as a weapon throughout history (remember the Inquisition and how the KKK used bible references to convince people that white is the master race). If you don’t support gay marriage simply don’t marry a gay person. Also keep in mind that there are millions of Jews and Muslims in this country who Christians believe are going to hell, but no one has rescinded or denied them any rights. Also divorce is referenced as a sin multiple times in the bible but no one is protesting or attempting to rescind anyone’s right to get a divorce. Please consider this information to understand how gays and lesbians feel that proposition 8 was done out of spite, and not to protect families or the definition of marriage. Marriage has been redefined time and time again from the days of prima nochte to the allowance of interracial marriage in this country. Lastly protecting families would mean the abolition of divorce and outlawing single parents.

    Thanks!


  4. Fozziebare: In a debate, it is very important that we determine the meaning of certain terms. Which particular “rights” were removed by Prop. 8? That would be important for us to continue this discussion. It would also be helpful when you outline those rights that you mention where in the Constitution (either State or Federal) that particular right is mentioned. Thanks: that would help expedite this discussion.


  5. Mike: Great post. There is a lot here and you’ve said it well; I agree with pretty much all of it. I guess when I said in other posts that the gay community is fighting for a legal right, what I should have more accurately said is that they are fighting for societal recognition. That is the paramount issue here, period. If legal status was the real issue here then domestic partnerships would suffice, but it doesn’t.
    I did want to ask you this though: If you don’t personally object to permanent homosexual relationships having the same legal and inheritance rights as married couples but you would be opposed to the idea that all sexual preferences carry the same moral weight, how can permanent homosexual relationships with all of the same rights be legal and not convey the message that this type of sexual preference doesn’t carry the same moral weight? Maybe there is a way to separate the two, but I seriously doubt the average person would be able to parse out that distinction. To most people, legalized gay marriage communicates the idea that any sexual preference is normal with little or no difference, whether homo or hetero.


  6. Jeremiah, that is a good question. However, legality and morality are not equivalent stands in a pluralistic society. I can voice my opinion on morality and legality, but I find I have less of an absolute stance with the latter. For instance, I don’t believe that people should live together without being married, but I wouldn’t want to make it illegal. I am against Theocracy when the majority of the country are not believers. That would be hypocrisy. I do not object to putting restrictions on behavior that I think damages society; but not necessarily to the extent where we completely legislate morality. Legalized Gay marriage would be our society’s way of saying that homo and hetero relationship are both legitimate and accepted sexual expressions. Many agree with that. I do not.


  7. Jeremiah, that is a good question. However, legality and morality are not equivalent stands in a pluralistic society. I can voice my opinion on morality and legality, but I find I have less of an absolute stance with the latter. For instance, I don’t believe that people should live together without being married, but I wouldn’t want to make it illegal. I am against Theocracy when the majority of the country are not believers. That would be hypocrisy. I do not object to putting restrictions on behavior that I think damages society; but not necessarily to the extent where we completely legislate morality. Legalized Gay marriage would be our society’s way of saying that homo and hetero relationship are both legitimate and accepted sexual expressions. Many agree with that. I do not.


  8. Marriage is the foundation of society. I agree with you that property rights could be extended in homosexual relationships.
    Marriage is encouraged because it is the foundation of order of society. Marriage defines family and it is aspirational, held up very high in our society, even by those who may be divorced. Our children read about princesses finding their princes or knights; it is a virtue, and when a parent and his/her children are in a single family situation, a lack of a stable marriage relationship has consequences. We understand authority and order through our first relationship with authority and order; our families. An abusive home can guarantee difficulty in dealing with the authority and responsibility that comes with adulthood.
    Married people enjoy privileges. The government can do very little to infringe on your right to be married once you are legally married. Probably the greatest privilege extended to married persons is a kind of societal respect, a formal boundary, which is an acknowledgment of the importance of marriage to society, maybe comparable to the respect most people will show to a priest wearing a collar, a nun in a habit or a rabbi in vestments. I think that this is what most homosexual people want, and maybe the illusion is that the law will afford this to them. I think they are quite possibly trying to gain the respect that they probably did not get throughout most of their lives because they are gay.
    I have the feeling that two things would happen if gay marriage were actually legalized:
    1. Traditional marriage (between a man and a woman) would necessarily lose some distinction as an institution worthy of respect and honor. I think whether or not most people can put this into words, they have an inherent understanding of it and it is why they oppose legalizing gay marriage.
    2. Gays would be disappointed. The respect that they wish to receive, the respect that perhaps they as individuals refuse to give themselves, will not be theirs. They will not marry in great number. Folks who were really in favor of it might begin to realize how little purpose there really is in permitting gays to enter into a legal marriage.


  9. Kathleen:
    While I completely agree with you on the second point, I can’t quite get my head around the first one. Up in Canada, where they have allowed gay marriage for several years, the gay community is stepping away from it: especially the male community. They are not really all that interested in it any more. They see it as an institution that doesn’t fit their culture.

    But as for gay marriage causing traditional marriage to lose its respect and honor, I have to disagree somewhat. I think that what causes people to dishonor anything is the way that those who practice something go about living. For instance, no one criticizes Christianity because other cults and religions exist. No one disrespects one religion because other religions are legal. It is when Christians act weird and wrong that people do that.

    If marriage is fundamentally more than just a hook-up between a male and a female, then we had better emphasize what the differences are and why we support heterosexual marriage and not homosexual marriage. Admittedly, it will be a tough sell either way.



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