I have to admit something: some weeks the blog practically writes itself. This week I could have reviewed the "debate" between Chris Rosebrough and Doug Pagitt. I could have blogged about my thoughts whilst wandering around Southern California. I could have blogged about Al Mohler's on-going quest for justice from the BioLogos cult.
Instead, Sunday, USAToday posted this essay by Kirsten Powers titled "Hypocrisy shrouds the gay marriage debate".
Now, look: before we get going here, first you are obligated as an honest person (if you are an honest person) to read her essay. She said what she said, and just reading my exposition of her thoughts and arguments without reading her words is a little lame. But after you read that, you ought to have also read this blog post by me on the church and "gay marriage", and this essay by me on the problem Christians face when pleading against homosexuality.
So I'll wait here while you get yourself together -- and be forewarned: people who come to this essay demonstrating rank ignorance of those other essays will be subject to both barrels.
Kirsten Powers is an American columnist, blogger, pundit, and political commentator. Powers is a Democratic political analyst on Fox News who appears regularly on shows such as The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Sunday, and Special Report with Bret Baier. She is a regular guest host on the morning Fox News Radio show Kilmeade & Friends and a columnist for the New York Post. She is a regular guest host on Hannity and was rumored to be one of the top contenders to replace Alan Colmes when he left the Hannity & Colmes show in December, 2008. (Thx, Wikipedia) So that is to say: she ought to know better than she demonstrates here.
For example, she says this in her introduction to this essay:
But why did it take multiple suicides to make a Christian group realize that heaping condemnation and judgment on others is not its job? A reading of any of the Gospels would teach you that in about two minutes.Really? I mean: she implies here that she has read the Gospels -- because it's her opinion that there is something there which is utterly transparent. But that thing which is utterly transparent gets a little lost, for example, in Matthew 21, or Matthew 23, or Matthew 25, or Matthew 7, or Mark 6, or Luke 9, or John 5 -- or most importantly, in John 3 where it's clear that some are going to be saved from their sin, and some will be destroyed for their sin. There's no condemnation in the Gospels? That's simply false -- disproven by fact.
My suggestion is that she has not read the Gospels -- not seriously at least. And I say that because it also turns out that the most astonishing affirmation of the source and purpose of true marriage in actually found … in one of the Gospels. It's in Matthew 19, in case Ms. Powers hasn't read it lately, and it goes like this:
The Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?"You know -- that's actually the basis for the Christian (read: western civilization) model of marriage, and it's in the Gospels, and it condemns people who violate it. Perhaps what the Gospels can "teach you in about two minutes" has actually yet to be charted by Ms. Powers, but I welcome her to find out -- I'd even offer to give her a tour of the highlights over lunch; she could bring her husband, I'd bring my wife and we could make an afternoon of it.
[Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."
That said, her point in the essay is that us stupid Christians need to stop being bigots and start being, well, something else -- something more "Constitutional" apparently, which is a bizarre demand from a person who is a strong advocate of Obamacare and a strong advocate of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. It's as if every matter of human endeavor is or should be governed by human law.
Here's how she tells it:
When novelist Anne Rice declared this year that she was quitting Christianity — though remaining dedicated to Christ — in part because she refused to be "anti-gay," it struck a nerve with many Christians.And then again:
Many complained that they weren't anti-gay, that they just opposed same-sex marriage because the Bible, they said, defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Yet, we don't live in a theocracy. The Bible is not the governing legal document of the United States. The Constitution is.
If this movement isn't driven by anti-gay bigotry, then where is the outrage and "Day of Truth" over heterosexuals who are engaging in sex outside of marriage? Why aren't Christians running around confronting their sexually active heterosexual co-workers and friends about their "lifestyle"? I guess because there is no "ick factor," to borrow a phrase former presidential candidate and Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee used recently to describe gay men and lesbians.Which is a terrible place for a political liberal and a religious separationist to go: it turns out that the Evangelical effort of preaching to teens and single people that abstinence is actually the best way to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancy doesn't come up on her radar. It doesn't register that this is actually a manifestation of the Christian inclination for a man to leave his parents and to cleave to his wife -- because she can't frame that as hateful, can she? It would decimate her argument entirely to find out that when Christians are actually thinking about this and acting out their faith, they are pretty consistent -- and also ridiculed for being that way.
This double standard might have something to do with the fact that many Christians also violate the Bible's condemnation about sex outside of marriage with impunity. (I'm still waiting for the constitutional amendment banning extramarital sex.)
So her point is frankly absurd: there's no hypocrisy in the view that marriage is something specific and different from other human relationships in the same way that there's a difference between Baseball and Cricket. But there are moral implications to the difference between the union of man and woman and, as Sam Schulman has said, "men who love men-women who love women-men who can't decide between a wife and 'oh you kid'". That's where the rubber hits the road as far as I'm concerned: the fact of the moral implications of marriage -- and this is where the problem of the advocates for gay marriage find themselves in a tangle.
I brushed up against this back in 2008 when I responded to Lisa Miller's little piece at Newsweek on the religious case for gay marriage, but here's the thing: these folks say that they don't want something like what they will tell you is in the Old Testament they say is described as "marriage". They say they don't want an institution which revolves around pragmatic couplings, multiple partners, polygamy (yet, I will add there), based on weak-willingness toward physical urges and finally luke-warm endorsements from indifferent moral teachers. And they say that to want something which is like what's in the Bible is "bigotry".
But what do they want, really? Do they really want something which at its root is a union intended and created by God that glorifies Him by being for the good of mankind – man and woman both – which creates a permanent and unbreakable bond in which one submits to the other, and the other in turn commits even to die for the sake of the first in order to nurture her as his own body – and that this union is the union where God has ordained to bring more human life into this world?
Well, of course not: what they want is a legal arrangement where the parties involved have obligations the state will enforce -- until such a time that the parties do not want anything from each other but to be gone. The other person has becomes not our own flesh, but merely a room-mate or worse: merely a contractor who we can fire when we aren’t satisfied with their work.
And this, Ms. Powers says, is the moral road to take -- the non-bigoted road. But it is in fact the road in which people are objectified and depersonalized. It is the place where men and women are not valuable in their own right, but only valuable while they have something to give us.
Surely: Kirsten Powers does not want that for herself or anyone. She doesn't want to degrade anyone. She wants to be on the side of love and of the pursuit of happiness. But for that to happen, Ms. Powers has to at last admit that everything does not cause love, and everything one might choose does not cause happiness. In that, there's a difference between what she will get for her trouble and what is available in marriage. The Bible calls it the difference between what is right in our own eyes and what God has done, what God has declared.
There are moral implications behind the act of marriage -- implications which frankly precede the Constitution and cannot be arbitrated by the Constitution. To make these items a matter of "Constitutional" compliance disempowers the human law and forgets what came first -- what came before the course of human events when it became necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them.
There's something in the Laws of Nature and in Nature's God which Kirsten Powers has overlooked. I'll bet if she looked again the Gospels would teach her that in about two minutes. You know: if she read them.