Saturday, June 27, 2015

Going Deeper with a Civil Debate on Gay Marriage

The most important lesson I ever learned in life was to 'look both ways before you cross the street'. In that one lesson, I learned that you follow the truth no matter where it leads. We don't simply pick and choose our beliefs. Now not everything is as clear as whether or not a street is safe for crossing. But the concept of discernment still applies.

This is why I've been so disappointed in how people have supported their views on both sides of this recent SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. This is not going to be another article on supporting or objecting to the decision.

Anias Nin said, "We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as we are." The debate on this issue may well tell us more about ourselves than whether or not it is right or wrong to allow gay marriage.

So here is a summary of the arguments that I've seen both pro and against the SCOTUS ruling:

  • The Bible says it is wrong
  • The Bible says don't judge.
  • Love Wins
  • Live and let live.

The Bible Says It Is Wrong

Imagine arguing from the Koran to a group of Christians to support ANY idea and maybe you'll start to see the problem. That group of Christians is going to say something along the lines of "So what? We don't believe in the Koran." THIS is the chief problem with Christians using the Bible as their primary reference point when speaking to a secular crowd.

Secondly, these folks often quote Leviticus 18.
22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

But Leviticus also says that people should not wear clothing made of two kinds of material, men shouldn't cut the sides of our beards or get tattoos.

Deuteronomy 22:8 says that a fence (parapet) should be built on one's roof to prevent someone from falling off.

Without going into the woods, these Christians pick and choose Scripture, not understanding how to make distinctions between the Mosaic law and the Law written on a believer's heart (Heb 10:16).

They also don't seem to understand the idea that Israel was a theocracy. The Mosaic law was a prescription exclusive for Israel not something God was prescribing on all nations.

Well what about Paul's statements in the New Testament? Romans 1:24-27 clearly indicts homosexuality. I couldn't agree more. However, Paul also says that slaves should not seek freedom, singles should not seek to be married, and in whatever state you find yourself in, you should remain because Christ was coming back soon. Many Christians try to interpret "soon" as to mean within the subsequent 2000 years but if that were the case, then why couldn't slaves seek freedom in their life times (as an example)?

If all this sounds like I'm not a Christian and don't believe in the authority of God's Word, that is not true. Without going any deeper, let me simply say that there are multiple ways to look at the inspiration of the Scriptures. I find that the Christians making these mistakes, aren't aware of them.

Since space doesn't permit me to expound, try a Google on "Plenary inspiration", "Dynamic inspiration" and "Red letter Christians" for some deeper insights. Also, check out how C.S. Lewis viewed Scripture and you'll see that I'm at least in good company.

And by the way, please don't use the fact that there are multiple ways to view the inspiration of Scripture as an excuse to simply conclude that the whole issue is subjective and therefore give yourself an easy way out to simply pick your own morality. It just isn't that easy.

The Bible Says Don't Judge

First off, when people say this, they are usually judging the person on the other end as being 'judgmental'. But secondly, the Bible does NOT say don't judge. It says, "Judge not lest you be judged" in Matthew 7:1. The very next verse says that in the same way you judge, you will be judged. The rest of the chapter doesn't say you can't take a speck out of someone else's eye because you have a beam in yours. It instead says, first take that beam out of yours and THEN you can take the speck out of your neighbors. So it is saying don't judge hypocritically. Feel free to inspect Matthew 7:1-5 for yourself:

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Love Wins

Lots of times, people who say don't judge, think that you are opposed to gay marriage simply because you hate gays. After all, this is how they pick their morality. They try to rule anything or anyone they don't like as being wrong. They essentially set themselves up as a god because if you think about it, only an all powerful God gets to choose truth. Imagine living as God and getting to choose to make that road you are going to cross clear simply because you really want to cross that street.

Unfortunately for these people, unless you can get them to view morality as a human views that street, you won't be able to talk to such people. They will simply dismiss you as a hate-monger and then either ignore you or insult you.

Bottom line is yes there are Westboro Baptists who actually HATE homosexuals. They are the scourge of the earth. But there are also those who think it is wrong who have nothing but compassion for homosexuals and deep down hope that they are wrong, especially if the homosexuals don't change.

Live and Let Live

This argument says that if someone's difference in values and ethics doesn't negatively impact others' lives, we should leave it alone. In one sense I can agree. But how far do we take this? If my house is on fire, the least compassionate thing you can say is "I don't want to ruin his day so I won't tell him". On the other hand, if you are delusional and THINK my house is on fire but it is not, then telling me, even driven by sincere compassion is going to be at least an annoyance on my part.

So how about we try and measure truth?

You say, well when it comes to morality, truth is relative. Quantum mechanics says that an object's specific location cannot be measured by the observer. One can measure either velocity or vector but not both simultaneously. But the limitations of the observer doesn't suppress science. So why should it suppress our attempts to search for truth in morality?

I think we can look at biology, psychology, social studies, history and philosophy to enlighten our understandings on this issue. Amongst Christians, we can also look at Scripture, but are you willing to go deeper subjects on subjects such as epistemology & hermeneutics? Maybe we'll never be able to pin the truth down but we won't know unless we try.

So instead of heated debates full of expletives and unfriending people on Facebook, who is up for having a CIVIL conversation on this subject (and others)? Maybe we'll ALL learn something.

At the deepest level, I think this debate really boils down to the following: Do you believe that personal happiness is the ultimate purpose of life or do you believe that there is a deeper purpose that transcends even that?