Sunday, February 24, 2013

To My Friends Who Make No Claim to Being Christians

Greetings. Every day I see some sort of post or comment or article about homosexuality, with regard to its moral rightness or wrongness, and the moral rightness or wrongness of weighing in on the matter. Much of what is said is in little combox snipes, drive-by commenting, little barbed sound bites tweeted with no substantive argument given, whether pro or con. I do not like that. It is in my own unwritten code of conduct that I shall try to refrain from such. Well, I violated my code of conduct earlier today, and that prompted me to write something lengthy, hopefully with substance and logic. That way, when I am tempted to give a snide drive-by comment I can say to myself, “No, I have said my piece and I have posted it in the place where the only people I actually care about (and not just random strangers) read it. I need not enter the fray again.”
                My purpose in this little letter is not to argue about the morality or immorality of homosexuality, but to argue for the morality of being able to argue for the morality or immorality of homosexuality. Or I might title my argument “You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too.” And I figure I had better do this now because I fear that before too long it will not only be considered immoral for me to express my thoughts, but also illegal. By the way, when I use the word “argue” or “argument” I am not referring to passionate verbal warfare. I am using those words in the technical sense used when discussing logic or debate.
                I shall begin by honestly stating my presuppositions. I believe that the Christian Bible is true and authoritative. Therefore, I believe that homosexual behavior is sin (along with certain heterosexual, gastronomical, economical, etc. sins—I am equal opportunity in reading the Bible). That is my position. Your position may be that I am a bigot in saying this, and I would assume that you would define bigotry as a moral evil. Or to put it another way, you believe that my belief about homosexuality is a sin. Fine and good. We each believe something. The problem arises when you claim that it is intolerant for a person to say that something is a sin. Do you see the problem? Let me diagram it for you, in case you can’t see it.
Statement A: x is a sin.
Statement B: It is a sin to say that something is a sin.
Statement C: Saying Statement A is a sin.
Conclusion: Statement C is in violation of Statement B. This amounts to saying that Statement B is itself a contradictory nonsense statement.
                All I want you to see is that this accusatory knife cuts both ways. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. At this point I am not concerned with whether Statements A or C are right or wrong. What I am stressing is that Statement B is total rubbish and will carry no weight with me if you ever try to use it against me in argument.
                Now let us get back to our specific point of conflict. I do not expect you to agree with me on homosexuality because you do not agree with me on the authoritativeness of the Bible. You do not believe that the Bible is true and authoritative, so why should you care what it says about any number of issues? I understand that. I wouldn’t necessarily believe something from a source that I don’t consider authoritative, either. And I can’t get too upset if you call me slanderous names like “bigot,” “moron,” “Neanderthal,” “hate-speaker,” etc. After all, that Bible that I believe in promised me that I would be reviled for Jesus’ name sake. Indeed, it even commands me to rejoice when this happens. But being the sort of fellow who is more on the logical, bookish side, I get frustrated when reason lies slain in the street and people can boldly proclaim without any sense of irony, “I can’t tolerate intolerance,” and, “It is hateful to denounce anybody or their behavior, and I denounce you,” thinking all the while that you are the paragon of loving-kindness. The knife cuts both ways, you see.
                Let’s summarize: If you declare that it is morally wrong for someone else to declare their belief that something is morally wrong, you are being hypocritical and illogical. If you can, like a certain CBS sportswriter, accuse the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas of being “monstrous,” a “cretin,” and full of “hate-speech”, then you are being hypocritical and illogical. If you can’t see words such as “monstrous” and “cretin” as being hateful, then you are also illiterate. If you call me a hypocrite then (guess what?) you are a hypocrite. This accusatory knife cuts both ways. You can’t have your cake and it, too. I am not saying it is hypocritical to say that my beliefs are wrong, but it is hypocritical to try to silence me.
                But let’s suppose for a moment that you are Post-modern. You don’t care if I say that your statements are illogical because logic is just a false construct of Modernity. There is no such thing as true Truth because all truths are equally valid and there are no moral absolutes. Alrighty then. If there is no Truth, then what you have to say doesn’t make any difference. For you to say that I am wrong and that you are right is, by your own admission, not the truth. Or are all truths equally valid? Then that means that nothing you or I say can be considered hateful or untrue. You should be able to live and let live with us “gay-bashers.” Oops, I guess you don’t believe that tenant of postmodernity either. How about your truth that there are no moral absolutes? Well I guess that means that it is not immoral to say that homosexuality is a sin because there is no such thing as immorality!
                Well, I suppose that none of you truly embrace those postmodern tenants because when somebody robs or rapes you, or proclaims something you like to be sin, you suddenly believe in objective, moral truth. After all, you know that the violation of your person was objectively, truly, wrong. Even Yoko Ono protests the parole of her husband’s killer. She’s not singing “Attica” anymore.
                So let’s go back to the issue of authority for a moment. By what authority is my speech to be declared hateful? Why are you right and I am wrong? Further, why is it wrong for me to declare my wrong belief? It is not my opinion that certain things are sins. This is the word of that which I and many others believe to be authoritative. In other words, my authority is outside of myself. What about you? Who is your authority? Who determines so dogmatically that what I believe or say is wrong? Is it yourself? Why should I or anybody else bow before you? I appeal to the One who created all, and in whom we all live and move and have our being. I don’t have my being in you.  Is it popular opinion that you appeal to? That won’t work. Only a few states have voted to redefine marriage. Most of the eastern world is anti-homosexuality, even considering it to be criminal. But of course they are bigots, too. So now it is not only Christians that are morally primitive. That disgrace belongs to Jews, Muslims, and Communists as well. That just leaves the few, the righteous elite. Perhaps it is social progress that you appeal to. Of course the majority of people in the past disagreed with you, but that is because they were backwards. We are so much more sophisticated now. Good luck with that argument. I guess that means nuclear bombs and world wars are much better than tribal conflicts with spears. And please don’t tell me that your authority is the opinion of Hollywood celebrities or I will just have to check out of this conversation right now, having concluded that you have gone quite insane.
                So what do you appeal to? Apparently to yourself, who is so righteous as to be able to define right and wrong, or to your little group of like-minded westerners, who are so righteous as to defame everybody else as bigoted cavemen. At least, as I had said, my authority is outside of myself. That also means that my righteousness is from outside myself. There is another who is righteous enough to declare what is or is not sinful, and He also loves enough to forgive those who are sinners, of whom I am the chief. All this leads to another slice of cake that you cannot have and eat simultaneously. You can no longer call me self-righteous in an accusatory manner without being guilty of the same, for it is yourself that is so righteous as to accuse me.
                Well, in this little letter, I have made no effort to prove that the Bible is true or that you should believe its testimony. What I have striven for is to convince you of the hypocrisy of calling those like myself slanderous names like “bigot,” and of the illogic of declaring in a public forum  your belief that my belief ought not to be allowed in a public forum.
                As a postscript, I have not, as I said, made any effort to convince you of the Bible’s authority, only that I hold to it. But I would urge you to just read it. And especially, do not dare to quote it to me, thinking you can score some sort of rhetorical points, until you have actually read the whole thing. Oh, I know it is fun to say, “Well, the Bible also says to stone so-and-so, and that we shouldn’t wear polyester, etc.” But until you have read the whole book from cover to cover and can tell me the difference between moral law based upon God’s unchanging nature and the theocratic law given only to ancient Israel, and how to know that difference, as well as other principles of textual interpretation, do not quote the Bible to me.
                Thank you for your time.