14 March 2013

Homosexual "marriage": Debating a plate of animated spaghetti

by Dan Phillips

If I wanted to attend a doctoral-level course in gracious patience, I would want it to be taught either by Doug Wilson, or Thabiti Anyabwile. (Happily for us, both are beginning a public dialogue on race and slavery; more on that another time, perhaps.)

As to Doug, whenever I've seen him in debate, he's the soul of unflappable patience. This quality is on display in his, er, "debate" with Andrew Sullivan. Now, you'll note I didn't hypertextualize that as is usual in blogs. That's because I do want to issue a warning: I don't particularly recommend that you listen to it. It is painful listening. Most times the case for homosexual "marriage" is given voice here, and every time the audience gives voice, you can feel IQ points gushing out your ears. In my case, I don't have them to spare, so it was less fun than a colonoscopy.

But if you insist, or if you may figure into the public debate on homosexual "marriage," you've been warned: here y'go. Don't blame me.

My purpose isn't to analyze the entire debate, though I'll throw out my impressions. Others have offered post mortems. I would say that Doug Wilson won the debate in terms of graciousness and providing anything resembling a rational case. But... and I can't tell you how reluctant I am to say this... I don't think he won the day. I found myself extremely reluctantly agreeing with Sullivan (ow, that hurt) that Wilson should not have kept  his positive case for his position for the end of the debate. I think he needed a stronger case.

I have to rush to clarify that I am not saying, implying nor thinking "I would have done a better job." I just found myself wishing that Wilson had. But in that Wilson eloquently posed and insisted on an unanswerable question that is rationally devastating for Sullivan's position ("Any argument for your demand that we call homosexual pairings 'marriage' equally validates polygamy"), he scored a body-blow. Also, he kept raising the central "By what standard?" question. And I love that Doug preached the Gospel.

But it's taken a half-dozen graphs to come to my point: I fear Wilson was in an unwinnable situation. He was debating almost sheer emotion, a flood of emotional purging and manipulation. Almost all Sullivan had was (literal) sob-stories, emotion, and untrammeled subjective self-reporting. Witness this fact: with great emphasis and gravity, Sullivan insisted, "Believe me, I have deeply searched my conscience and my heart" — adducing it as if it were the trump-card, the final winning argument. As if it were, in fact, an argument at all. And both he and the audience clearly felt that all this was more than sufficient, while Wilson's emotionally cool responses fell far short of resonating or convincing.


Bringing us to our question: How do you counter that? How do you respond to a mess, to a pile, to a plate of animated spaghetti?

To be clear: I refer to Sullivan's argument; not to Sullivan. Andrew Sullivan is a bright man, articulate and passionate and emotionally very evocative. I refer to his position, his case, his presentation. In terms of truth and content and logic, it's a disaster, an absolute trainwreck. Wouldn't matter if it were enunciated by Buckley or Plato or Shakespeare: it's a mess.

Sullivan insistently repeats a case that I'll paraphrase thus:
"I am a Christian, God made me this way, God loves me as I am. I am happy the way I am, this is my identity. I have hopes and dreams. I am a victim. When I told my father I was a homosexual, he wept and wept [voice breaking]... because of all the suffering he knew I'd been through without his help. So now why do you want to deny me of personhood, of my hopes, of my future, when my God accepts me and wants me to be happy? Why do you want to persecute me and rob me of fundamental rights that you enjoy, that everyone should have — just like people such as you did to blacks, to slaves? Shouldn't I be able to love and live and have hopes and dreams? Aren't I as worthy as anyone? Besides, look at divorced straights. Why do you want to condemn me to misery and hopeless despair and promiscuous irresponsibility and government assistance?"
I know exactly what most of you are thinking. You're thinking the same as I. You want to dive in on the first statement ("I am a Christian"), and dismantle it. Then proceed to the next ("God made me this way"), and then the next and the next and the next...

And in so doing, we come off as uncaring, loveless automatons, religious bigots, the whole nine.

Maybe that's just the way it has to be. Someone has to be the adult in the room. God's truth mustn't, shouldn't and can't be flushed just because it "won't work." But is it simply a doomed enterprise?

It may be. The wise man says, "When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest" (Prov. 29:9). One thinks of this often, listening to the Wilson/Sullivan debate. The wise man is "cool," while the fool is molten passion.

Is the key in the famous paradox of Proverbs 26?
4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
How would that work, in this debate? The entire case for homosexual "marriage" rests on the narcissism that drives our culture: affectio ergo sum, "I feel, therefore I am." We see it in the constant cry, "You must follow your heart." Well, the homosexual's heart tells him all sorts of things. As did Ghandi's. As did Hitler's. As did David Livingstone's. As does the rapist's, the philanthropist's, the child molestor's, the neurosurgeon's. As does yours. As does mine. (This is why in our day any explanation of Christ's true saving Gospel has to involve exposing our culture's false gospel at some length.)

So again I ask: how do we respond to sheer verbalized emotion that fixes on facts and logical arguments like a caddisfly larva does with gravel and twigs? Do we construct a rational argument expressed in emotional terms? How would that go? Like this?
I care very much about the miseries felt by homosexuals. Nobody should live in despair and hopelessness, or be cruelly oppressed. But is giving someone what he asks for always the most loving thing? Here is an addict. All he wants is more meth, more heroin. Shall I give it to him? He will tell me that he needs it, that he is miserable without it. He will tell me that it makes life hurt less, makes him happy. If I withhold the drug, he will be angry with me, he will be in pain... but would I not be more loving? After all, I know that every use moves him closer to illness and death and ruin.
Or again, consider the young man who just doesn't want to get a job. He wants me to support him. He doesn't feel like working. I have enough; aren't I obliged? If he doesn't work, he'll be unclothed, unfed, and eventually homeless.
Or here's the fat person. He hates being fat, he hates being called "fat." He implores me to call him "thin, lean and buff." He would feel so much better if I would just call him "thin, lean and buff." Why won't I? Why won't I give him what he wants? Doesn't he have the right to be happy just like everyone else, just like all the actually thin, lean and buff people? Is it unloving of me to refuse his request? Does my refusal cause him pain?
But is pain always bad and unloving? Aren't those pains motivators? Aren't they built into the universe by God to say in effect, "This is no way to live. There is a better way"? And is it not possible that the pains and frustrations of the homosexual are of the same sort — and that if we remove each obstacle, we are only speeding him towards self-destruction?
I want an answer that is loving, compassionate, and true. The only way to answer those questions is if I have an authority that is itself the epitomy of love, compassion, and truth.
Which I do. So let me explain:... 
Would that move us forward?

One problem: it isn't a secular argument.

So should we simply abandon secular arguments? Is this the watershed issue that shows our culture how bankrupt the path of autonomous narcissistic secularism really is? When (Sullivan to the contrary notwithstanding) the pedophiles and incestuous and polygamous who now cheer the "gay" "marriage" crowd knock at the door for their entrance using the same emotionalism, and we find ourselves fresh out of responses?

As a card-carrying Pyromaniac, I don't much like ending with a question. But there it is.

Dan Phillips's signature


58 comments:

Keith G said...

Dan, thank you for this. As a man with homosexual family members, there is a constant strain between trying to love them like Christ and also standing for the truths of Christ's Book. I think this thought was constantly in the back of my mind, but your post has given words to my unformed thoughts. Thank you for your work.

DJP said...

Thanks so much, Keith.

And as is usual for me, I've edited and added even since you commented.

(c:

DJP said...

Turns out OSH is also "gay." Who knew?

Sarah : ) www.crumbsundermytable.blogspot.com said...

Thus saith the LORD.
Always the best argument, but as someone who has been witnessing to and trying to reach out to a childhood friend who is "gay" and calls himself a Christian, I can tell you that more than once I have been accused of being uncaring and unloving by him. I have prayed that God would break my heart for him, so that he might see that my motives are based on love. He doesn't agree with me or God's Word yet, but I am still praying and trying to reach him with the gospel. In the course of conversations I've had to over and over convince him that I believe with all my heart that if he doesn't repent he is going to hell eternally, just as I would be without Christ, and that it doesn't matter what he believes is true, but what is actually true. I encourage him to read God's Word literally to be sure he really understands what it says. I've tried to let him know that the reason I cannot approve of what he is doing is only because that's what God's Word says, and that I believe and know it to be true, and that alone is my motive. That I love him and don't want hell to be his fate. He wouldn't speak to me for almost a year, but has recently reached out to me again. I am praying God would either give me or someone else the opportunity to be a witness to him every day. I know he may hate me, but I know his hatred would only be misplaced, and that he is truly angry at God and not me. I think it's essential to note that all who are lost in sin, abhor the things of God, and that Scripture always offends them. I've often found that any Scripture that talks about sin or judgement or hell, he has found offensive. So, I guess, we need to treat the homosexual the same as we would treat anyone we are witnessing to, "Law to the proud, and grace to the humble" (Todd Friel). The gospel doesn't change, and our arguments against sin should be the same, too. Social arguments and statistics are never as strong as the infinite power behind the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should be broken hearted for all those around us who are going to die in their sins, and we will have to pray for that kind of a heart, and then we will have to constantly tell those we are witnessing to that those are our motives with sincerity, whether they believe us or not doesn't matter. We have to remember that if God truly regenerates someone, He will break them of the sin of homosexuality just as He broke me and is breaking me over my sins. The only thing that will rid our country or any nation of sin is the blood bought gospel of Christ, and our only hope is to share and preach to the gospel to every creature, trusting God's Holy Spirit to do the rest. That is the only place the power to overcome any sin rests. We will sound crazy. They will say we lose every debate, but we have nothing else solid to stand on. They may pass laws forbidding us to speak against it, but there is no other way. I don't have any answer outside of preach the gospel to them, and I don't think Scripture leaves us with any other answer. I'm not bashing him over the head with Romans 1 every time I speak with him, but I'm not going to avoid it either. Sorry I'm so long-winded.

Robert said...

How did Jesus handle sin? He went to the heart in the Sermon on the Mount and showed that we have a problem rooted in our hearts. And he didn't look at the Samaritan woman at the well and say that it was OK that she had been with all of those men...she knew it was wrong, but left rejoicing that she had met the Messiah. And He didn't tell the rich young ruler that it was OK that he loved his belongings more than God because he was born with the longings for money and things. So all of these appeals to emotion by a professing Christian are just ignoring what Jesus addressed. God didn't create us "like this" - meaning He didn't put sinful desires into us. Those started at the Fall and have only been on the rise since that moment.

There is NO place in the Bible where God looks upon sin and says it is OK because we are born with a natural disposition towards it. And when Paul describes his battles with sin in Romans 7, he doesn't say, "well, I was born with a covetous nature and God loves me and saved me, so it is OK". Back in Chapter 6 he says that we're not supposed to keep sinning so that grace may abound.

Why do we think that Jesus says we have to be born again? Why does Paul say that nobody knows the thoughts of God but the Spirit of God and that Christians have this when the Holy Spirit enters us (at regeneration)? If we're carrying our natural, human thoughts and emotions and being informed by them instead of Scripture, at some point we have to ask the question of the Holy Spirit is at work in us or if we just feel good with the god that we have created for ourselves. And at that point, you are doing nothing better than the Jesus Seminar in picking and choosing which words are inspired or Thomas Jefferson cutting out the parts of Scripture he didn't like.

Want to be Spirit-filled? Read Scripture and follow what God says while taking off the old man. That is what we are called to do. You can't show me ONE PLACE in Scripture where we are told to follow our hearts. What we can see is the love of God to actually save people who are spiritually dead because of the sinful desires in our hearts that drive our actions as we have run away from and been enemies of God.

God saved me from the thoughts, emotions, and desires of my heart that I have pursued with reckless abandon. And when I consider what Jesus endured during His life and death on the cross (attacks from people, demons, Satan, then the wrath of God and separation from the Father and Holy Spirit), how can I not want to follow Him and put off the sinful desires? Which do we love more? Are not the treasures of heaven far beyond the comparison of the pain and struggles we suffer with here on the earth in the trappings of our sin-riddled flesh?

If we look to Jesus instead of ourselves, these problems all seem to fade away. (I probably could have just written this sentence, but you know I do like to ramble on with the thoughts in my head)

Douglas Wilson said...

Dan, thanks for the kind words. The only thing I take issue with is the metaphor. It was actually like debating a plate of spaghetti where the noodles had been boiled for an extra-long time.

DJP said...

Sarah, very good words. (Quantity's fine, but I recommend paragraph-breaks: they're your friend.) Thank you.

We can't conclude we're doing it wrong because it "doesn't work," or we'll have to conclude that Jesus did it wrong.

DJP said...

Yeah, Doug, I stand corrected... but animated. A moving target.

Paul Huxley said...

I have a similar take on the debate.

Wilson was asking questions that probed Sullivan's position - and between him and Hitchen showed, to the careful listener, that Sullivan was engaging in doublespeak.

But they let him speak far too long (which allowed that build up of emotional content) and Wilson needed to have more to say on why it was actually bad.

Christians ought to go beyond secular arguments in public discussion - or we're teaching mere morality without providing the complete answer.

Normally, this means saying that our ultimate authority is from God, but that God's plan for humanity is also the best - and there you can bring in statistics/more secular arguments. That's what I felt Wilson could have done - for example, the effect on children growing up with two 'Dad's.

Easier said than done though. For reference, I work in this area of influencing public policy from a Christian perspective.

DJP said...

Thanks, Paul. So what are your thoughts on my proposal?

Frank Turk said...

DJP:

This is, frankly, the most important issue of our age, and you are (of course) not just on-target: you have nailed the center of the center and buried the arrow to the feathers.

What bothers me about the responses that have hit the comments so far (Keith excluded) is that they simply do not understand what you are saying. You know: you (and I) agree that the right thing to do is to label sin as "sin" with no uncertain terms -- but your insightful point here is not that Doug failed to label sin as "sin". Doug did not fail to label sin as "sin". Doug failed to demonstrate why we love virtue -- why God is not merely to be feared but also to be revered and loved for his provision and his real care for us.

The logic that what justifies gay marriage also justifies polygamy is unassailable. It is utterly without flaw. It also misses the point that Sullivan abhors polygamy, and that somehow we are accusing him of "worse" than what he's advocating for -- and somehow, he walks away looking like the emotionally and rationally sound one while we look like we're trying desperately to win an argument which, if we are honest, we didn't care about 40 years ago when we really lost it.

Yes: call sin "sin". Please, for the sake of Holiness: call sin "sin". But do so in a way which wins the sinner -- they way Hosea did it, the way Jesus did it, the way Paul did it. Somehow they understood the story God was telling and told it God's way -- and people were convicted and repented. When all we do -- as alleged ambassadors of Christ -- is discover a logically-bulletproof argument that makes us look like we just want to win the argument or rattle our opponent and leave the shell casings on the floor, we aren't like those who ought to be our examples.

Paul Huxley said...

I should also add - I was surprised by how it went - Wilson's debates with Hitchens (Christopher), Sexual by Design etc. are really excellent. And I'd have done no better.

DJP said...

Thanks much, Frank. Yes, I didn't think anyone was yet touching the heart of what I was trying to say. But it's early days yet in the meta, so I was hopeful.

It'd be fun to see this one get as viral as the most offensive verse post did. We really need to figure out how to respond to a primarily emotional case made by a generation that's been trained to "think" with their feelings.

Frank Turk said...

Just in case anyone has any doubts about my approach to this issue, look here:

Another Approach

That's my first-draft take on what our approach to this question and all its related issues ought to look like.

Paul Huxley said...

Dan - I take it you mean the emotional argument?

To put it in other terms, Sullivan's approach was 100% rhetoric, 0% logic. your argument has the benefit of the Truth behind it. Certainly worth a try. But it'll only go as far as the speaker can be believed. The emotion has to come across as genuine - and too many Christians who are willing to speak up on this issue don't come across that way.

People like Sullivan (and there are a lot of them) want to hear secular arguments. I want to give them Christian arguments, rooted in God's authority but supplying the evidence (facts, figures, statistics) with which they can more readily engage.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Maybe we can use "secular arguments" to our advantage? As Frank pointed out in his posts on abortion not too long ago, the unbeliever can still make correct change at the register - they have a knowledge of righteousness, flawed and fallen as it may be. So it may be profitable to start there, with what they know, a little like teaching a kid to swim by starting them out in the shallow end and moving toward the end - which it seems that's what you've done with your reply here. We accomplish two things here: we gain a hearing by not talking over them, and we open up a more clear opportunity to declare the gospel to them. God has given us ordinary means, why not use them?

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think you have hit upon a very fundamental principle here, Dan. Essentially it is something like: "evil ideas are a lot easier to sell to sinners, than are righteous ideas."

Evil ideas are appealing, simply and emotionally explained and therefore easily understood. It's a big problem. Wish I had a good answer to your excellent questions!

Michael Coughlin said...

I appreciate your thoughtfulness and genuine humility in ending with a question.

I also read Frank's post to which he linked and it was a worthy read. Thanks for being my cyber friends.

I try to be very careful that the way I judge my preaching/teaching/debating whatever is based on my faithfulness to God and not ONLY on the reactions of my audience. That being said, there is clearly a sense of wisdom God must provide that we must keep an eye on the audience and judge ourselves rightly. But we need to be careful to not become "note from God" folks who, seeing a clear and well delivered biblical gospel presented watch it rejected and decide there must be another way.

Which, I am not saying YOU are saying DJP. But less mature men than you need that warning.

Now, I would also argue that there is a difference between witnessing to your friend or coworker or on the street and engaging in debate. I would argue that Tim Tebow made a lot of people feel bad when he torched the Steelers for John 316 yards in the playoffs last year, and he did it without remorse ... but I'd contend he didn't harm his Xian witness in the process.

I have two sermon audio sermons titled how to witness to a homosexual which may help someone with just 1 on 1 witnessing as well.

Robert said...

Don't we have to abandon secular arguments when it comes to an issue like this? Humanistic secularism seems to have no problem with homosexuality or gay marriage. They don't care to delve into the origin of marriage because most of them think the Bible is a myth and we cling to God as a security blanket because we're to weak to handle how the world is.

Just like Paul said, the Gospel is foolishness to Gentiles, who seek for worldly wisdom. Not much has changed in the 2,000 years since those days when it comes to dealing with the world. The best that we can do is lay out the truth about sin nature and show the love and mercy of God and show how much greater that is than the emotions that run wild in our hearts.

And just as you stated to Sarah, we can't say the approach is wrong because "it doesn't work".

Bill said...

We are Greeks. Better than 85% of people are educated in a system that abhors God, His Word, and anything remotely Christian. I'd posit the vast majority of self-identified Christians do not know the non-negotiables of their own faith. The answer to your question lies in how Paul dealt with the Aeriopagus. Paul proclaimed God. We must proclaim God. Some will mock. Others will join. Yet we know God will not be mocked.

Kerry James Allen said...

My wife's cousin was a homosexual who was soundly converted before he died of AIDS. My cousin is a practicing lesbian. I can't add much to the meta other than to say that these issues are coming to our doorsteps whether we want them to or not. Once Illinois goes full gay marriage the church exemptions here will be nearly impossible to meet. I'm glad Dan is raising questions even though good answers are difficult. Let us unite in prayer for our sovereign God to grant us wisdom as we deal with this.

Sarah : ) www.crumbsundermytable.blogspot.com said...

Sorry for the lack of paragraph breaks, lol. I was trying to type while juggling babies ;)

c5e43728-8cc6-11e2-8a9a-000bcdca4d7a said...

I think the issue is not just that culture abhors God, and God's word, we are also in a milieu in which people abhor logic and reason. That is where the debate is being lost. Thus the question, do we continue to use logical arguments, or do we need to couch our response in an emotional sound byte?

Here is one of my attempts? Jerry Sandusky would say that he "loves" 14 year old boys. But, we are not going to let him marry them.

Carl C. said...

The entire case for homosexual "marriage" rests on the narcissism that drives our culture: affectio ergo sum, "I feel, therefore I am."

Excellent summary statement for your post, and for our society as a whole. It doesn't just apply to the homosexuality issue, either: highly-charged, emotional appeal is par for the course in almost every topic of discussion today. Thanks for trudging through the debate for us Dan!

FDC said...

I appreciate Frank's comments. In addition though, my initial reaction was not to "dive in at the first statement... and dismantle it." I thought, "what are your hopes and dreams? What future do you picture? What fundamental rights are you talking about?" Really??

Since the natural man cares not a whit about "thus sayeth the Lord," perhaps we need to answer these questions truthfully and debunk them. I'm not saying don't present the biblical and logical arguments, but on an emotional level these questions are only smoke screens; the bottom line is sexual gratification, is it not?

Just thinking...

Thanks for the article. You made me think deeper!

Bill said...

c5e4...
Let me ask, what emotional argument can hold a candle to the following:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)

Sheldon Clowdus said...

I agree with you and Frank and others who have echoed it that this is the watershed issue of our time. I think that is why Genesis 1:1 is, as you very aptly pointed out, the most offensive verse in the bible to people who "reason" with their emotions.

Because, ultimately, our view of love will never be accepted by the world as actually being loving since our definition of love comes from the very thing that their denial of makes possible their definition of love.

Our affirmation of Genesis 1:1 and all the implications that follow means that telling the truth about sin and hell and the gospel is the most loving thing we can ever do. The lost person's rejection of Genesis 1:1 and all its implications makes possible a view of love that says "what I feel is right and to contradict that is unloving".

I think the argument Frank linked to in his comment touches on this disconnect. We can try show them that we do what we do out of love as we define it but I fear their denial of the biblical God will all too often lead to them rejecting our view of love and, therefore,our assertion that we act from love.

The answer as far as I can see it when Frank's or Dan's or any other approach fails is to simply proclaim to them the gospel and pray that the Spirit softens their hearts. (I know that the approaches offered are intended to help people see their faulty reasoning and help lead to a proclamation of the gospel. I don't want to imply that Dan or Frank mean to use these approaches as alternatives to the gospel. I think both approaches have merit and can be helpful. When they are not, preach the gospel anyway and pray.)

jbboren said...

This is a question and not a comment; and it is a sincere question and not sarcasm or facetiousness:

Are we really supposed to (try and) win this argument? What does apologia mean? Should we work that hard to find a successful secular argument that works?

I'd really like to have an authoritative answer to this.

Michael Coughlin said...

You can see from Frank's linked to post that he employed the precise strategy outlined in Proverbs 26:4-5.

When asked to respond based on folly, Frank refused to answer (effectively).

When attempting to dialogue, Frank tried to get the HOST to engage in dialogue given the Christian worldview.

I have found that MOST people are still reasonable enough that when asked, "based on my professed beliefs, don't you see how me telling you what I'm telling you is 'loving?'" they will affirm that.

Then that brings you to the heart of the matter, the difference in core belief. And in that case, we are back at the most offensive verse of the Bible blog post which frankly can't be reference enough.

We say frankly. But do you ever hear anyone say Turkly? I think not.

Michael Coughlin said...

Also, Amen to Bill.

Frank Turk said...

You know: I get it that my argument in that link looks like presuppositionalism (because is some sense it is). But what it really hangs on is the idea that the other person has a stake in the argument. Their stake in the argument is to avoid looking stupid at least -- and maybe to actually discover that they are not as hated as they think they are.

There's another post I wrote a LONG time ago about this problem which you can find here:

Worst of All

The real apologetic hurdle we have to cross is not that people think or don't think that there's such a thing as objective morality. The hurdle is that they think we are trying to kill them.

In telling people about Jesus, and about all the necessary consequences related to Jesus, I am hardly trying to kill them. I am in fact doing the opposite, trying to save them. Until they get that, everything else is a waste of time.

Michael Coughlin said...

No argument here. I simply don't separate "presup" from "being kind" and "loving people" when I talk about these things. I need to do all those things to properly be an ambassador. I think too many people think that the emphasis on one particular thing in the post means the poster is throwing out other things.

This is what happens in pyro meta (in case you needed a hand).

DJP or Frank makes a point.

Commenters make a point about a related / similar topic, but not really along the same lines, often seen as a contra-point to the point.

DJP & Frank defend the original point.

Rinse, repeat.

It's like this.

Frank writes: Look we need to talk about the kinds of ketchup we are putting on our hot dogs.

Michael writes: Personally, I prefer burgers; and Heinz or sometimes mustard with my burger.

Frank writes: Michael needs a pounding.

DJP: [SMH]

Chantry: The Puritans were right.

Kerry: Something by CHS (usually the best comment).

Michael writes: Frank hates the Bible. Cogito Ergo Sum.

Frank admits to not knowing latin, revealing his inadequacy to even evangelize Roman Catholics.

My point is this (if you're still reading): That I am not disagreeing,

Ken said...

Dan,
Thanks for a good post - especially the examples of the
1. Drug addict
2. Lazy person who won't go try and get a job
3. The fat person (the sin of gluttony and lack of self control in eating.)

I thought Doug Wilson did a better job in his 2 lectures at Bloomington, Indiana and the almost hour of handling questions from a very hostile audience. (Creation Sexuality and Redemption Sexuality and Question and Answer session.) That was the best cultural engagement I have ever seen that had the clear gospel in it and he never lost his cool or got angry and answered with wit and intelligence.

I love Doug's illustration of the Knight in shining armor who kills the dragon and wins the beautiful princess. (Christ coming and dying and defeating Satan and redeeming and purifying the church, His bride.)

While what you said about Andrew Sullivan was true (emotional stories, victim mentality, etc. ) - I was more frustrated that Doug Wilson not answer the questions by at least one of the audience questioners.

one was by a woman who kept asking what are the negatives to society of allowing same sex marriage, BESIDES it will "grease the skids for polygamy". Homosexuality is worse than polygamy - it seems to me - because God allowed it in the OT - although it was not His ideal, it was practiced by folks like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.

Why didn't Doug fire off a bunch of negatives?
Why didn't he answer?

I asked him by email, and he pointed to some other of his articles, but I couldn't find anything clear. ( If you see this DW, I honestly could not find any other articulated negative consequences of so called same sex marriage.)

I can think of a few.

1. It gives the impression to society that same sex acts and fantasies and desires are ok and a legitimate form of expression of love.
2. It harms the 2 men or 2 women that are engaging in these acts and desires. (Romans 1:27 - "receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error"
3. It harms the children when they adopt; automatically, not matter how "nice" and "loving" they are compared to some heterosexuals who have messed up marriage by fighting, yelling, divorce, and adulteries.
4. They keep telling us we are homophobes and they ask, "why does this bother you?" and "the government should stay out of the bedroom", etc.
-but they are the ones who are bringing it up in public and trying to get the government to sanction their gross and disgusting behavior. It seems one of the problems is that we are not being allowed to call the behavior of homosexual sex something that is perverted, vile, gross, disgusting, shameful, and intrinsically wrong.

Doug makes a point of this sometimes in his material at his blog - that to go the "ew, that's icky" is the wrong approach. While I understand there is some truth to that; there also needs to be a way to objectively show the grossness of it; without also communicating that sentiment of "you have cooties; I don't want to have anything to do with you", etc.

continued

Ken said...

continued - part 2

5. As a practical illustration - when I was young, electricians and plumbers and builders talked about the female and male connectors and screws and bolts and who they "fit together", etc. - water cannot flow through two female pipes or 2 male pipes nor does electricity work when a male part is forced into another male part - there are leaks in the plumbing and shorts and explosions in electricity when they are not connected by one "female" and one "male" part. An electrical socket doesn't work (and will shock you and start a fire possibly) if you jam a screwdriver into the hole.

We are creating leaks and floods and explosions and shorts and fires in our souls and minds all over society by approving of this thing in public, not just in the political battle and legality, etc. but in TV, movies, advertising, etc. They are throwing in our faces all the time in media and forcing us to have to see them kissing, embracing, and other suggestive actions.

Also, there is a great need in the Evangelical world, it seems to me; to have more discussion on what the meaning of "sexual orientation" is. Doug said it was not a sin. I take it that means the initial desire or temptation that is not acted upon nor engaged in, in fantasy lustful thoughts. (Matthew 5:28 makes homosexual lustful thoughts sinful also.)

I would have said that even that desire is perverted and wrong and not the way God created a person; although all sinful proclivities (as in the examples you gave - laziness, sloth, gluttony, lust for pleasure of drugs, etc.) are results of the fall. (Genesis 3; Romans 8:20-22)

your quote about Genesis 1:1 was excellent also.

Kerry James Allen said...

I love Michael and would gladly share a few hits from a helium balloon with him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "We really need to figure out how to respond to a primarily emotional case made by a generation that's been trained to "think" with their feelings."

(1) Scripture
(2) Sripture + Patient Reasoning and Sound Logic + Winsomeness.
(3) Natural Law arguments
(4) Secular Arguments
(5) Equally, if not more, emotionally-based responses citing all the numerous instances of Christians losing their jobs and livelihoods for voicing their Biblical convictions.

Paul Reed said...

"So should we simply abandon secular arguments"

No, but we need to start applying the Bible a lot more. One thing that we have to recognize is that most of the public has a worldview that is either agnostic or very close to it, and that includes most professing Christians. They view literal belief a Just God, Heaven, Hell, and Judgement on the same level as we do belief in astrology, alchemy, and the Tooth Fairy. When a liberal or moderate "Christian" uses words like God, Judgement, and Hell, ask him exactly what he means. Atheists are much more direct than liberal Christians and will often respond, "So gay people shouldn't get married just because your invisible imaginary friend says it's wrong?"

Nash Equilibrium said...

It seems that at least one of the really big issues from our camp's perspective is that secularist academics will always have new scientific "findings" to support their view. For example the finding that people are born LGBT, which is now regarded as unquestionable fact, and the idea that such behavior is a choice and therefore a sin, is obviated.
These findings cannot be disproven very easily, because even if a person did the research to disprove them, they would immediately become a pariah in the research community along the lines of Copernicus and Galileo. In other words, they may eventually be exonerated but probably not in their own lifetime.

Paul Huxley said...

Nash - although you're right about the behaviour of 'academics' the actual findings on the born gay question, in particular, are enormously in our favour!

That's why as apologists for their homosexual lifestyles always appeal to their experience rather than any verifiable facts.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Paul
Really? If you could kindly cite any recognized peer-reviewed sources, I'd appreciate it. This could be a brave new world of information for me.

Unknown said...

Hi,

So I watched the debate, and Dan seemed correct, it was worse than a colonoscopy. Doug and Peter did do a fantastic job though at trying to keep this structured.

I am posting this comment for a specific reason though. at around 1 hour 40 minutes in, the topic of immigration came up for spouses and I wanted to give my 2 cents being an American who married a Canadian this last January.

The contention that Andrew brings up on the topic is completely false. American citizens do not have the right to bring their foreign spouse into the country to live here. In fact, it is made clear, repeatedly, during the immigration process that having a spouse immigrate is a privilege. A privilege that can be, at any time, for pretty much any reason, denied to the couple applying. No refunds, thanks for your time, hard work, and money, but no, your spouse cannot enter the country. In fact, it is very easy for a foreign spouse to be banned from entering the United States for life for something like overstaying another visa, or failing to appear for interviews, or exiting the country without proper paperwork. The list goes on and on and on.

The point is, that everyone seems to have this idea that getting married to someone who is from another country is easy. You just get married and everything is fine. That is completely wrong. It takes, no exaggeration, years for the spouse of an american citizen to obtain a permanent green card, and longer for citizenship. It takes thousands of dollars, and countless hours of work to get all the proper paperwork and proof (yes, there has to be proof of a relationship...a lot of it) to go through this process.

All of this to say, that it seems pervasive in American culture that marriage is some kind of right. It is not. It is, in fact so restrictive, that the United States can deny applications for marriage visas simply based on the foreign spouse's country.

Andrew talks about his lawyers advising him that any indication they were in a relationship would be seen as a bad thing when trying to enter the United States, as if it were different for heterosexual couples. Well, having been through the process (and still in it) I could have assured him that immigration services tends to dislike everyone pretty equally. All of this is because of the type of country the US is. When a person enters the United States, the border assumes that people are entering to stay permanently. If they find proof to the contrary, then they will allow people to pass (which is why they interview everyone, even for a short while). A relationship of any kind is a HUGE red flag and can get people turned away.

More often then not, whenever my wife and I would visit each other before we were married, telling the border we were seeing each other always lead to questions about work and when we would be required to return to our home nation.

Anyway...I just get so annoyed when I hear people speaking on the topic of immigration for spouses when used to try to justify same sex "marriage". It just is not a right in the eyes of the border or immigration services.

/rant

Unknown said...

Hi,

So I watched the debate, and Dan seemed correct, it was worse than a colonoscopy. Doug and Peter did do a fantastic job though at trying to keep this structured.

I am posting this comment for a specific reason though. at around 1 hour 40 minutes in, the topic of immigration came up for spouses and I wanted to give my 2 cents being an American who married a Canadian this last January.

The contention that Andrew brings up on the topic is completely false. American citizens do not have the right to bring their foreign spouse into the country to live here. In fact, it is made clear, repeatedly, during the immigration process that having a spouse immigrate is a privilege. A privilege that can be, at any time, for pretty much any reason, denied to the couple applying. No refunds, thanks for your time, hard work, and money, but no, your spouse cannot enter the country. In fact, it is very easy for a foreign spouse to be banned from entering the United States for life for something like overstaying another visa, or failing to appear for interviews, or exiting the country without proper paperwork. The list goes on and on and on.

The point is, that everyone seems to have this idea that getting married to someone who is from another country is easy. You just get married and everything is fine. That is completely wrong. It takes, no exaggeration, years for the spouse of an american citizen to obtain a permanent green card, and longer for citizenship. It takes thousands of dollars, and countless hours of work to get all the proper paperwork and proof (yes, there has to be proof of a relationship...a lot of it) to go through this process.

All of this to say, that it seems pervasive in American culture that marriage is some kind of right. It is not. It is, in fact so restrictive, that the United States can deny applications for marriage visas simply based on the foreign spouse's country.

Andrew talks about his lawyers advising him that any indication they were in a relationship would be seen as a bad thing when trying to enter the United States, as if it were different for heterosexual couples. Well, having been through the process (and still in it) I could have assured him that immigration services tends to dislike everyone pretty equally. All of this is because of the type of country the US is. When a person enters the United States, the border assumes that people are entering to stay permanently. If they find proof to the contrary, then they will allow people to pass (which is why they interview everyone, even for a short while). A relationship of any kind is a HUGE red flag and can get people turned away.

More often then not, whenever my wife and I would visit each other before we were married, telling the border we were seeing each other always lead to questions about work and when we would be required to return to our home nation.

Anyway...I just get so annoyed when I hear people speaking on the topic of immigration for spouses when used to try to justify same sex "marriage". It just is not a right in the eyes of the border or immigration services.

/rant

Unknown said...

Bah, sorry for the double post >.<

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Dan,

I had read Andrew Sullivan some, and then I saw him recently appear on an RCP online of This Week with Stephanopolous, sitting in as one of the panel. As an observer of schools of apologetics, I am interested in a comparison between a presuppositionalist and evidentialist in debate against an atheist, so I have enjoyed watching Wilson versus Hitchens and then William Lane Craig too versus the latter. I wondered how a presuppositionalist would approach a homosexual "intellectual," so I watched. My evaluation of Wilson was identical to yours. As much as he channels Van Til and Bahnsen, it didn't work for me very well, and I asked why. You are asking why. How would we differ? Is the presuppositionalist way, which I believe is scriptural, left to what Wilson did? I don't think so.

A homosexual (like Sullivan) does have a rebellion problem, not a knowledge one. We assume he knows. Wilson flushed out the knowledge with the acknowledgment of a polygamy problem, but it remained unconvincing. Why? You seem to ask that question. Are we too secular in our thinking that we want more? I don't think so.

Here's my answer now. But I'm very open to critique. The debate was "Is it good for society?" When Wilson agreed to argue that, it said that he needed to do more than flush out faulty premises. Scripture itself says that homosexuality brings other problems that are destructive. The secular data backs this up, as is often the case. There are cultural indicators of destructiveness that point to worse living. Sullivan said that polygamy will divvy out the women in an unfair way that causes civil unrest. Lame, yes, but it sort of answers the question. Wilson didn't have his answer for homosexuality, except that it changes the definition of marry because it changes the direct object. Let's get out our pitchforks against direct object changers. It just doesn't work.

The Bible shows bad effects of alcohol, of adulterous sex, of idolatry, and of fornication. God makes those arguments. So isn't that a case against the rebellion, that is, it's destructive? Then show the destruction, like Paul does in Romans 1. How is that not presuppositional?

JG said...

Dan -

I think I got what you were saying originally as far as the necessity of addressing the emotional side to this issue as well as the moral or biblical sides. I got that because it's the area I see first and quickly avoid. I don't do feelings very well. If someone came up to me and said, "But I just *feel* this is right," I'm the one most likely to go all Borg and say, "Well, what you are doing is wrong, so your feelings are invalid."

Coincidentally, I was having a very similar conversation with a friend the other night, a "What Would You Do" situation if a close friend or family member asked for your acceptance of their homosexuality. And all I could say was, I *hope* that if that happens, I would be able to react the same way I would if that same individual came to me and said they "felt" it was right to tack a couple of extra hours on their time card every week, because no one really looked. Or they "felt" they were in love with a co-worker, even though they already had a spouse. I *hope* I could say with genuine feeling, "I have to tell you that I disagree with your decision here because I care about you and want only the best for your life, and I know this is not the best for your life because this is wrong, and I know this is wrong because of what God has said."

Start from a place of genuine love and point them back to the truth and to Jesus. I know in the past it's been easier to just say "You should know better" and leave it at that. But you are absolutely right, by not addressing the emotional aspects, both theirs and mine, we more often than not fall short. Truth without love...it may be truth, but it's not the whole truth.

Anyway, I thought that was where you were going. Maybe I got there all by myself. Hopefully I expressed it well.

Paul Huxley said...

Nash - I don't have anything immediately to hand but if you get in contact (e.g. through my profile) I can find something.

4 quick points though:

1. There are indicators/genes that indicate a higher possibility of homosexual attraction. But they'd need to show 100% or close to make the point 'born gay' and it's more like 30%.

2. Even adjusting for environmental factors, the identical twins of 'gay' people *are* more likely to also be 'gay'. Same 100% deal as above.

3. Sexual attraction appears to be fluid and can change in many directions. So those feelings Ade not innate and immutable which is what activists imply.

4. I'm sure you know, but 'born gay' is no excuse for acting on the basis of those feelings.

DJP said...

I am catching up on (and appreciating) the comments.

Kent, you remind me of something I meant to say, so I'll put it here. Wilson kept bringing up polygamists and bisexuals, and Sullivan kept brushing it aside, saying they could marry someone, just not the way they wanted.

I wanted Wilson to say, "Well, so can you! Just not the way you want!"

DJP said...

Oh and Kent, I don't think that's not presuppositional. Part of apologetics is demo-work, stepping into the other's circle and showing how it collapses of its own weight.

Kerry James Allen said...

If memory serves me, a number of years ago Tim LaHaye (I know, I know, "Left Behind") wrote a good book on homosexuality called "The Unhappy Gays." The cover pictured a pile of chains. Interestingly, when it was reprinted later, the chains were gone and it was retitled "What every Christian needs to know about homosexuality." LaHaye pastored in CA and counseled hundreds of homosexuals and this book was the result of a lot of his debates and counseling. Amazon has it used, but be advised that some of the reviews are evidently written by militant gays. The book is dated but might have some useful material.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Homosexual "marriage": Debating a plate of animated spaghetti"

Shift the debate over to absolute, objective Truth versus relative, subjective truth.

If you can gain traction there, then the spaghetti may become less animated and more willing to be chased down by the Hound of Heaven.

Jim Pemberton said...

We have three kinds of people here. One kind of person is the kind who desires truth and will respond positively to it regardless of how it is presented. Some may criticise the method ignorantly, but will resonate with the truth.

A second kind is the person who has already denied the truth. no matter how sappily you try to make the truth, they will stubbornly deny it.

A third kind haven't thought about it carefully. Some may become deniers. Some may become believers, but only if the truth is presented gently as mother's milk to a baby. Nevertheless, the whole truth must be presented or they won't have it to believe.

Different Christians in the spotlight are going to be inclined to present it in different ways. It's up to God to put the right person at the right time in the spotlight. This is the balance between the direct work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men and the fact that God uses means.

Peter said...

Thanks for this post...I watched the debate and unfortunately I thought Pr Wilson lost.

It was glorious to hear him preach the Gospel, but when he didn't give a more solid answer to the question about what harm is gay marriage doing to society presently - his case was pretty much shot-up.

I think we need to talk about stuff like mental & physical health and in particular whether it's good for kids to be raised in same-sex households - because gay marriage is only going to further legitimise that.

That's my two cents...again wonderful post. Ta.

Michael Coughlin said...

Just so everyone believes I may still have helium left for Kerry to share I need to tell you my previous comment was cut short before I got to the point - a thought which, as profound as it was in my mind at the time, escapes me now. :-)

Paul Reed said...

One thing I also hated about the debate is how timid our side is and how bold the pro-gay side is. They will call us every name in the book (bigot, idiot, mental midget, slob, close-minded redneck), and we never call them what they are: sodomites. When can we get someone to speak on this subject plainly?

Nav Anand said...

Couldn't agree more with this blog. I had a headache after watching that debate. Over-cooked smushy spagetti sounds about right.
Credit to Dan for his grace and patience while Andrew basically filibustered the whole argument into emotionally charging testimonies.

Larry Geiger said...

You can't debate fog. It's worse than spaghetti.

To add to Bill's comment:

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

"The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

As long as they are an enemy of the Spirit, they will be your enemy. No matter how much you love them.

Sir Aaron said...

@Larry Geiger:

I think your point is illustrated by Stephen who spoke in such a way that his opposition "were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking."

So we have an example of somebody who spoke with charisma and eloquence that only the Holy Spirit could provide. And what did it get him?

Stoned.

"But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me."

Kathy said...

I'm joining this conversation after it's probably over, but that's my life as a mom. . .

One of my favorite passages on this topic is 1 Corinthians 1 and 2: God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise. . .I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom. . .my message was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit. . .

I know that I can never persuade my neighbors on the basis of my intellect, logic, or superior speaking abilities. I am able to simply speak the truth and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and trust that those who are called will recognize the power and wisdom of God in the message of Christ crucified.