5/3/09

A House Built on Sand

Harnessing Atheism to Defend Marriage?
By: Jonathan Harris

Miss California Takes a Stand

On April 25th, a stunning 22-year-old super model from the state of California hesitated as she attempted to answer what would become a national news phenomenon for weeks to come. It was the 2009 Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant, and the question being posed to Miss Carrie Prejean was on the political hot potato of homosexual marriage. The judge, Perez Hilton, an openly homosexual man himself, asked:

“Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex-marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

Carrie, a devoted Christian, started to respond, but in the middle of her answer changed her direction.

“Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. (switch) And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that's how I was raised, and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”1

Little did Carrie know at the time, but that fatal switch would most likely cost her the competition, and immediately boost her “Super-Model” status to “Super-Star” status with the Conservative Christian movement.

Marriage War!

In the days which followed, the issue of homosexual marriage was debated more heavily on a national scale than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Liberals typically attacked the issue from an “equal rights” foothold, while conservatives approached it from a “majority rights”premise. This observation can be detected by viewing almost any news show discussing the topic after the pageant. On the O’Reilly Factor’s April 21st edition, Bill and Wayne Besen, a gay right’s activist, debated the issue. After Besen called Carrie’s views “bigotry” and “anti-gay,” during the course of the discussion, the following exchange took place:

O’Reilly: “I’m not anti-gay!”
Besen: “If you’re against marriage, on some level you are.”
O’Reilly: “Hold it. But I’m against gay marriage because I don’t believe it reflects what the country’s vision is of a stable society.”

Bill went on to use the legitimate “slippery slope” argument (homosexual marriage will lead to other types of deviancies in marriage) to contend with Wayne’s position, but didn’t realize that he in essence had already sawed off the very branch he was sitting on. While his emphasis on “the country’s vision”certainly highlights his political fervor for “popular sovereignty,” it does not accurately portray the way in which a conservative value-system is applied. Majority rule may set legal precedent, but it certainly does not determine ethical truth.

A mere twenty-two days before the Miss U.S.A beauty pageant, Iowa became the first heart-land state to legalize homosexual marriage. Like most of the states that have legalized it, Iowa’s decision was not made by the legislature, but rather by the courts. Five days later, Vermont became the first state to legalize homosexual marriage through the legislature, rather than through the courts, meaning that the conservative requirement for popular sovereignty had been met. In spite of the fact that elected representatives made the decision, Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, responded to Vermont’s decision by stating:

“The Democratic Party has now thrown its lot against the principles and priorities of the majority of Americans in favor of its richly endowed base of gay supporters. Democrats are the party of gay marriage -- a position opposed by 55 percent of the American people in the latest polls.” 3

The conservative movement as a whole reacted using the same tired argument, claiming that since the majority of Americans opposed homosexual marriage, it shouldn’t be legalized. Well, I’ve got news for everyone – The majority of Vermont residents apparently support homosexual marriage, and it won’t be long until a majority of America supports it! A CBS tracking poll last June demonstrated that between 2004 and 2008 there was a 9% increase among those in America who support same-sex marriage. What fortress will those who support a Biblical definition of marriage flee to once the winds of popular opinion shift?

Debate Me on My Terms!

The fact is, most Christians and/or conservatives have done an exceptionally lousy job defending their assertions when it comes to marriage. It’s not like a sensible rationale doesn’t exist in favor of their position, it’s just the reasonable arguments which do exist, aren’t being utilized. What is the reason for this? I believe it has do to with an axiomatic switch from a theistic to an atheistic set of presuppositions. Most conservatives will say that they believe in God, but practically speaking, they may as well not when it comes to some issues. The “Cosmic Cube” philosophy, that nothing outside of the “material world” exists, has taken hold of our culture to such a degree, that virtually every debate takes place within its confines. Traditionalists can debate, but they aren’t supposed to bring up any line of evidence which may lead to something or someone “outside of the box.” Therefore, when it comes to the principle of good and evil, the members of the box are interviewed, while the Creator of the universe is not reached for comment. The evidence for this switch exists all around us. The preoccupation news agencies have developed for “opinion poles” has reached nauseating proportions (especially during election season). Another demonstration of this shift can be viewed when examining etymology. Theologian R.C. Sproul expanded on this aspect when he stated:

“Morality looks at the verb ‘is’. Ethics looks at the word ‘ought’. The distinction has been obscured in our day. People use the term ‘morality’ and ethics as synonyms. That leads to statistical morality. We go around the nation seeing what people are doing, how many
people are cheating on their spouses.” 5

In other words, the term “morality” refers to subjective creatures within the “Cosmic Cube,” while the term “Ethics” refers to an objective standard based in someone outside this system. The fact that we as a society can’t seem to tell the difference between these words says something.

Traditionalists have let secularists set the terms of the same-sex marriage debate for far too long. It’s high time we let God set the terms and leave the results to Him.

12 comments:

  1. Good Read!!! You write your blogs like you write papers. You are obviously not one of those people that get "is" and "ought" mixed up.

    The Bible tells us the answer. We do not need to rewrite the Bible every three years to keep up with the trends. The Bible is timeless and its moral standings are clear. Is there a reason for going with the majority? Didn't the majority of Germany believe that Hitler was a savior? Doesn't the majority of America look at Pornography? Isn't the majority (100% to be exact) of the world sinners, that do no good? Stop thinking that because America has been a moral society in the past that it will stay that way. Atheism makes morals fluid. Fluid morals are quickly done away with... look at China since it has become an Atheist Communist state. The One Child Act is an attempt at making the Chinese people into cattle.

    Most people that see Marriage between a man and a woman see it as that way for one reason... they feel uncomfortable thinking about two men getting married. They have no moral standings just goosebumps. Once you convince people that there is nothing to be afraid of the goosebumps will go your way. Thank you again for this. The Title is suiting.

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  2. Thanks Craig, I appreciate it!

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  3. Johnathan, thanks for a good post. I wholeheartedly agree that christians should engage as christians. Most are afraid.

    I understand the christian view of marriage and as a Catholic, count myself as a believer. But putting aside conservatives for a moment, even Christians have an aweful time convincing anyone else there is a moral argument within Christianity demanding that marriage is between a man and a woman. Their arguments boil down to Paul and Leviticus for the most part and while that's good enough for me, we're not convincing anyone with these arguments as to why Christ and Christianity holds this view.

    I would like to point out that as christians we took away our foundation from which to fight gay marriage. Less than 100 years, starting with the Episcopalians at Lambeth Conference in 1933 mainline christianity and most of protestant christianity began to radically change from the long held universal christian view that sex should be both unitive and generative. We christians were all in agreement that for sex to reflect the gospel message of unconditional love it must also be open to life. Its hard to understate what a radical change this was on such an important issue and yet no one talks about it.

    So the bishops, Pope Benedict and a mnority of lay Catholics are the only ones left to fight it out with a clear moral message that sex should be both unitive and generative. I wish I my fellow christian brothers and sisters would join us in this argument. Not long ago we all believed the exact same thing sex.

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  4. Sorry. I meant to say "its hard to overstate what a radical change this was." up late.

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  5. Thanks for the info Tonio. I'm going to look into that for a post I'm currently working on.

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  6. Sure, go for it use god in your argument. It wont get you far, because you see in this country we have a separation of religion from government. This is essential, for if government made law in accordance to what religion sees fit their would be so many random rules one would go crazy! For example no more pork or beef, or meat at all. Only being able to take so many steps on a Saturday, no button pushing, and don't you dare trim a single hair! You see it just doesn't work out! But there are options for the religious! You see everyone has the option to make their own laws pertaining to them selves! Whoa I know its crazy. "Live by may own laws?" you might say. Yes!! You have the option to make any law you wish for you to live by as long as it does not interfere or contradict with the others freedoms and laws of government, and you're religious institution is free to make it's own laws for its patrons as well under those same conditions. So i say YAY!! go ahead and make a law for YOU that stats that YOU can not marry someone of your same gender! Congratulations you've won the good fight!!

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  7. Dear Ty,
    The principle of Separation of Church and State (I assume this is to what you are referring) is a flat out misinterpretation of a little known quote that has balloon out of proportion...but to be honest I do not know as much as I should regarding it, and so will probably leave that up to my two fellow writers to address that topic. BUT

    I find it tiresome when people use the old testament laws as an argument against all religious morals in government. How easily even we as Christians are willing to just toss aside all the great precepts God has given in the Bible because we don't quite fully understand a couple Levitical concepts.

    Also, you do realize just about all our current laws are derived from religious (Judeo-Christian) laws?

    For instance, there were rules in Old Testament time, just as there are today, in modern society against:

    1. Murder-Exodus 20:13
    2. Rape- Deut. 22:25-27
    3. Incest-Lev. 18:16-18
    4. Adultery/fornication-Ex. 20:14
    5. Theft- Ex. 20:15
    6. Perjury-Ex. 20:16
    7. Prostitution-Deut 23:18

    And let us not forget all the lovely principles regarding how we are to treat fellow man found in both the Old and New Testament (i.e. “love thy neighbor...” etc) which are not actually legislated; which, I am sure if every politition followed, the world would probably be a better place :]

    -Daniel

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  8. Daniel-

    First of all adultery/fornication, incest, and perjury are not against the law. The sky is green , and I'm a devout christian, who has and will continue to have sex out of wedlock, not into the incest though. So now what? Am i going to jail now? NO. Second of all these laws of rape murder theft and prostitution are not laws made due to religious cause rather these are the inalienable rights of man, also theses are protected under the Magna Carta, NOT RELIGION. That being said if in fact these were laws placed in behalf of religion why aren't all of the other religious rules law?

    Here are those quotes you were looking for, be sure to read them carefully.

    "Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together;"
    [Madison, James; Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, "The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]

    "An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too carefully guarded against......Every new and successful example therefore of a PERFECT SEPARATION between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance........religion and government will exist in greater purity, without (rather) than with the aid of government."
    [James Madison in a letter to Livingston, 1822, from Leonard W. Levy- The Establishment Clause, Religion and the First Amendment,pg 124]

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  9. Dear Tyler,

    First off, thank you for finding that James Madison quote! Also, I greatly value your input and opinion, for one cannot have an intelligent debate unless there are two sides! :]

    I think the particulars involving adultery differ from state to state, but I am willing to admit I could be wrong. Incest also depends on the jurisdiction to define the parameters, but it is illegal in most states (in that you cannot legally be married) and I do know for a fact that perjury at the judicial level is a felony.

    Might I humbly suggest that you meant the Declaration of Independence when you mentioned the certain “inalienable rights” instead of the 1215 Magna Carta which, if I remember correctly, was to limit the power of the king, making him no longer above the law.

    Regardless, of the document, might I offer you an alternative view regarding this matter, in the form of my personal opinion?

    I believe that the founding fathers all had Bible based values when they wrought what was to become our great country and its government. The mention of God and Christian principles permeated not only their writings but the society at the time. Granted, we are no longer as “religious” a nation as we were back then, but there is no denying in my mind, their religious values greatly impacted their every doings (even if they themselves did not always adhere to these principles on a personal level). It was their view, that God gave these “certain inalienable rights (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...”-Declaration of Independence).

    Regarding James Madison's writings, which I appreciate your including, I believe these were personal letters and-please show me if I am wrong-but they were never actually implemented into governmental law or policy.
    I think what Madison was trying to communicate was not that he was protecting government from religion, but rather religion from government! The colonies were founded based on freedom from religious oppression (from the government at the time) and later gained their independence from tyranny. Madison was afraid of repeating history.

    BUT, I would agree with both you and he when it comes to some of the ecclesiastical aspects of the laws-particularly those meant for the ancient Hebrews only, and fulfilled in the New Testament; such as all the rules of the priesthood and abstinence from certain meats and things of this nature...but that is for another debate-which actually would make for a good blog, so thank you Tyler!

    I hope I offered some thoughts for your consideration, and again thank you for your input regarding this issue!

    -Daniel

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  10. You're right theses letters were not included in any laws or policies, but when we read the constitution and make laws under that constitution we must under stand the mind set, and opinions of the men who put it together. Again that being said here are some quotes from our founding fathers on religion

    Thomas Jefferson:

    I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.

    SIX HISTORIC AMERICANS,
    by John E. Remsburg, letter to William Short
    Jefferson again:

    Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus.

    More Jefferson:

    The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ.

    Jefferson's word for the Bible?

    Dunghill.

    John Adams:

    Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?

    Also Adams:

    The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.

    Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:

    The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.

    Here's Thomas Paine:

    I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).

    Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible).

    It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.

    Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.

    The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.

    James Madison:

    What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.

    Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote:

    Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

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  11. Hey Tyler. I'm curious to find out where you got your quotes from. The "personal" faith of the founders seems to vary depending slightly, depending on which one you're talking about, and from which period of their life. There are way more quotes to prove the opposite (that the founders were Christians primarily). I've put in a couple (this is the tip of the iceberg)


    "Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness . . . it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof." Continental Congress, 1778 (Ben Franklin. Also remember he called the continental congress to prayer, a practice which they kept up every morning)

    "Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."
    (James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice)

    "[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God." (Governor Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution.)


    If you go back and read the federalist papers you would be shocked at their references to the government responsibility to promote religion. The Federal government could promote religion, it just wasn't supposed to favor a particular church (to avoid what happened in England with the tyrannical Anglicans). Also, READ THE STATE CONSTITUTIONS! At the time of ratification most of them had qualifications for representatives stating that they had to agree to uphold the Bible as God's word, believe in the Holy Spirit, etc.. Think I'm lying? I encourage you to look it up! There's much more that could be said, but I think that's a good start for pursuing this topic farther.

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  12. By the way. I believe this is important. The Treaty of Tripoli is controversial in that the 11th amendment is said to be translated wrongly.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796e.asp

    But regardless, it was the this English version that the senate ratified. I'd like to suggest that this must be viewed in context however. The treaty didn't say that the United States isn't a Christian nation (period). It kept going! Please, if you get a chance, read this article. It does a brilliant job at explaining the authorial intent.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=125

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