03 April 2013

Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

by Frank Turk

First things first: Pack a Lunch, and I am out of the office today -- in Toronto actually for a conference for work.  I have a love/hate relation with Toronto (having grown up in Rochester), and I hope I can at least get out for a bite at someplace fantastic in this multi-cultural city.

Before any of the traditional nay-sayers start frowning at this post, it is an adaptation of a couple of conversations I have had in the last 2 weeks, and then some feedback from the most popular blogger at this site (which always has been, and always will be, DJP).  This is not a hypothetical straw man: this is the guy you talk to when someone says, "I'm not gay, but sure: let them have marriage."

I am the other guy.

I am hesitant to keep the comments open because I will not have time to play hall monitor today, but at the same time this post deserves comments.  What I am going to do is put the comments on moderation so you can have your say, and then wait for them to get approved when I have 20 minutes to comb through the carnage.

Play nice.

FT: Dude -- let me ask you a serious question. If I told you that there is no difference between saying, "Marriage is meant to be a union between a man and a woman," and "marriage is meant to be a union between two people," would you say that I'm being sane and reasonable, or that I am being unreasonable and illogical?

Not-LGBT: Sounds reasonable to me.

FT: Then why is anyone trying to eliminate the first definition for the sake of the second definition? That is: the objective of the current push is to say that the first is wrong – too restrictive -- and the second is right. Why?

Not-LGBT: That's not at all true. The second is inclusive of the first where the first is exclusive of the second. Because one is right doesn't mean the other has to be wrong.

FT: Dude: that's false. While it is true that under the second it doesn't matter if the two people are parts-compatable or parts-identical, the second demands that the first not be the definition of marriage. If the first statement means the same thing as the second statement, no one should have their ideological rainbows in a knot -- they should just marry under the existing definition and move on.

But: what is at stake is that the first is not the same as the second -- and that the second makes the first obsolete, or that the first makes the second impossible.

Not-LGBT: [thinks for a moment] Would you agree that the phrase "All men are created equal" includes women? For a long time it didn't but now it’s generally accepted that it does.  So why didn't the founding fathers allow women to vote? If they intended them to be equal wouldn't they have given them equal rights?

What I'm saying is the meaning behind laws and definitions change over time with society.

FT: The idea that indiscriminate moral change is just a market force and should be welcomed is utterly fatuous.

Are you personally married, Dude?

Not-LGBT: No, I am not.

FT: Since you are not married, let's test your thesis on you: you can marry any person. What if it turns out some fellow at work decides you're the right man for him -- would you accept his proposal? Would you be interested?

Not-LGBT: No, but that would be my choice. There are several women I wouldn't accept a proposal from either.

FT: Dude: but no men, right? If all people are interchangeable, why are there no men possible on your list?

Not-LGBT: If I loved him then I would accept, I guess. You're reaching here Frank, I've answered all of your points and now you're making fatuous suppositions. We'll likely never agree (on a lot of things) but let's not be foolish about it.

FT: I’m not reaching in the least.

Let's remember that the point in contention here is this:

If I told you that there is no difference between saying, "Marriage is meant to be a union between a man and a woman," and "marriage is meant to be a union between two people," would you say that I'm being sane and reasonable, or that I am being unreasonable and illogical?

It's your contention that to say that marriage is simply to be "between any two people" is utterly interchangeable with "between a man and a woman". But your clarification is this: not for you personally. You wouldn't accept "any person."

Not-LGBT: Ok – sure. But let’s not forget choice. I'm free to choose who I love and who makes me happy. Having a right doesn't mean you must exercise it or be opposed to it.

FT: I would say, without any reservation, that whenever what I do requires "my choice" to be justified, that I am probably going the wrong way.

Look: let me help you out here.  What if I said, "I want to be the pastor of a confessionally-centered church, but if someone else wants to be the pastor of a gas station or a strip club, it's a big world --  a big tent.  Live and let live, I say."

You should be right to say, "Well, wait: being the pastor of a Strip Club sounds awesome.  Why won't you do that?"

It sounds less than straightforward to say at that point, "well, that's just a matter of preference."  In fact, it sounds like you're trying to hide something.

Not-LGBT: No.  I reject that.  You're putting words in everyone's mouth now.

FT: I'm willing to say, "maybe."  Maybe I'm putting words in your mouth.  But you're a young fellow -- maybe you feel like you have a lot of time.  What if you're 40 and you don't find the right person of the opposite sex?  What if you're 60?  Would you rather die without a spouse than take a spouse of a the same sex?

You know: I'm asking because you say there's no difference between same-sex unions and marriage.  If there's no difference in theory, in general, why is there a difference for you personally?

Not-LGBT: Because it is my choice.  I already did say, btw, that if I loved the other guy, I would marry him.  Listen: nobody can force me to marry someone ... nobody can force me to marry someone I don't care for.  Just because I don't care for someone doesn't mean I hate them.

FT: True enough -- but you are mixing classes now.  Your attempt to fix the problem here says that somehow the chemistry might just be wrong, given the million variables possible between two people -- you're not a bigot if you fall in love with Rachel and not Leah.

Not-LGBT: Exactly.  That's exactly what I mean.

FT: I might say, "I think you are forgetting that, for you personally, we're not talking about the million variables in the chemistry between two people: you have eliminated a class of people in spite of your affirmation that people are people."  The only reason I won't say that is the reason you paused when you said, "Listen: nobody can force me to marry someone ..."  You were going to say, "someone ugly, or smelly, or who couldn't cook," or something along that line of thinking.  But you realized that saying that really says, "for me, being gay is like being ugly."  You knew you couldn't say that and still maintain that any ol' two people can unite and form a marriage.  You personally are not just looking for the right person.  You personally are looking for the right woman.

Think of it this way: If you were to say, "marriage is meant to be a union between two people" but then add the qualifier,  "except when I think about me personally; I will only marry a person of the correct race," what is that?  If you told me that you would never consider marrying a person who was something other than you idea of racially-fit for marriage to you, how would that sound?  No number of "not that there's anything wrong with thats" would escape the howling objections of 10,000 angry anti-racists.

Not-LGBT: No.  [Thinks a minute] No.  Because heterosexuality is not the same thing as racism.

FT: What?  Wait a minute -- make sure you mean what you say here, because this is critical.  This may be the place where you solve the problem forever.  What do you mean by that?

Not-LGBT: Heterosexuality is not the same thing as racism.  Racism ... racism isn't fair.  It's bad.

FT: Why is racism bad?

Not-LGBT: Because it is.  It means people hate each other.  I don't hate homosexuals if I'm heterosexual.  Just because I prefer women sexually doesn't mean I hate men.

FT: That's it.  That's exactly right.  The dictionary says "racism" is "a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others."  In "racism," is the superiority of one kind over all others real, or imagined?  Does it have a basis in fact?

Not-LGBT: [Thinks for a minute]  No.  If racism is false, saying one kind is better than another is false.  It's an ideology, a lie.

[Thinks for a minute] So wait: you're saying marriage is based on some kind of fact and not based on some kind of preference?

FT: Yes.  I am in fact saying that.  I am saying that the institution of marriage is based on the fact that there are two sexes in our kind, and that they are intentionally, inherently, on-purpose compatible.  You know this: you can't avoid it.  It is not anything like racism to say that you hope to find a woman to marry, and will not even consider a man.

This, for what it's worth, is why advocating for marriage -- one man, one woman, one flesh, not to be torn asunder -- is not any kind of homophobia.  It has nothing to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with the way our kind is made.

You know that marriage isn't for any two people because you personally want your marriage to be with a woman.  You know it's not any kind of sexism or racism or homophobia to say that the marriage for you is as a man to a woman, and inconceivable otherwise.  And here's the thing: that's why marriage exists in every single culture in the world: because the obvious, default setting is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of establishing the basic, self-propagating social unit.  It's a fact that pre-exists all laws.

Not-LGBT: But you are forgetting something: gay people don't feel the same way.  Their feelings tell them that they should be paired with someone of the same sex.

FT: I agree that their feelings tell them that - but you're changing the subject again.  Heterosexuality is not a feeling, but a fact, and marriage is based on the fact of heterosexuality.  Having different feelings doesn't change that.

Not-LGBT: As you say here at your blog, "Aha!"

Now you're saying that Homosexuality is not a fact.  That, my friend, is the problem.

 FT: Well, maybe for your point: not mine. I am completely willing to say that Homosexuality is a fact -- but such a fact has nothing to do with marriage.  I'm not saying Homosexuality isn't a fact: I'm saying that whatever biological fact causes Homosexuality, it's not the biological fact that stands behind marriage and for which purpose marriage is established.

... to be continued tomorrow...


Frank Turk said...

Comments are set to moderation. If you have something to say, go ahead -- but it'll sit in the queue until I can come back and moderate.

Bill said...

Frank, I was with you until the last sentence: "I'm not saying Homosexuality isn't a fact: I'm saying that whatever biological fact causes Homosexuality." I’m willing to grant that acts occur between men and between women that have been labeled “homosexual.” Your sentence is fraught with assumption that many, me included, are not willing to grant. Possibility is not fact. I think most Pyros would agree as to the cause, and that is sin. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Paul Reed said...

"As you say here at your blog, 'Aha!'"

In any exchange with someone who is pro-sodomy, logic and morals quickly go out the door. In other words, this conversation would never happen, and we would be dismissed as a bigot the first time we said homosexuals can't get "married".

Second, there is little cross-examination from the other side. They would ask us questions like, "What should homosexuals do then? Convert to heterosexuality? Fake heterosexuality and get married? Be in a homosexual relationship without marriage. Just be celibate?" The supposed conversation has way too much honest dialogue and lack of hard questions from the pro-sodomy side. These fake dialogues on Pyromaniacs are a form of literary masturbation. Case in point, read the exchange on abortion & rape.

Robert said...


Did you ignore the fact that Frank said that this is "an adaptation of a couple of conversations I have had in the last 2 weeks, and then some feedback from the most popular blogger at this site (which always has been, and always will be, DJP). This is not a hypothetical straw man"

Did you also not notice that tomorrow there will be more posted from the conversations? Unless you are going to say that Frank is being dishonest in his protrayal of these conversations, you should apologize for your comments. Unless you're just here to stir the pot...which would be quite ironic.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Well, interesting. Makes an interesting thought process, for sure. I do kind of wish you had not used a hypothetical conversation format. The trouble with that format is that it never seems to me that the responses from the "other person" are what I actually encounter in real life. In this case, it starts with his very first response, which I think, these days, would be just the opposite of his hypothetical response. (IOW, he would say you're being unreasonable, not reasonable). From there, it's hard to project where the conversation might go, even though the logical stream might be quite similar.
Have a nice time in C-c-c-canada on this chilly morning!

Frank Turk said...

Bill --

What's the meaningful difference between saying, "I am born with a in nature that causes me to sin, and here is my list of sins I deal with," and "I am born this way, which causes me to want and do it?"

If there is one, be specific. I want to learn something here.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Even if this were merely hypothetical (and it's not - hypothetical is different from condensed; the Gospels are condensed but not hypothetical) I appreciate because what if you did have a conversation with someone like this, where you had an opportunity to reason with them about righteousness? Seeing how it might be done is useful because you can't unsee what you've read, and who knows if that conversation came up and you remembered the way Frank laid it out, and it led to that person realizing what is right, even if they still continued in their rebellion.

And I've also had conversations like this with a friend of mine. He's got his heels dug into his belief that it's ok for homosexuals to marry, but it's in rebellion to what he admits makes sense in the truth. And we had these conversations over Facebook, which makes the fact that it didn't devolve into a deathmatch more impressive to me. Lost folks can make correct change, it seems.

Bill said...

The meaningful difference is this: one is supported by Scripture and one is not. You may also be making a category error in that our sin nature and our genetic coding are two different things. Our sin nature is spiritual, requiring regeneration; though it can and does impact and take place in our physical nature. Our “body of death” requires regeneration too, though we have to wait for that glorious day. The world will certainly interpret the latter of your two comments in a way that excuses, nay endorses, almost any behavior. The former of your comments leaves no room for excuses whatsoever. Notice, your first comment actually uses the word sin, the second doesn’t. I may be way off base though.

Frank Turk said...

Bill -- that's my favorite answer to the question I posed. It's not a good answer, but it is my favorite.

The only difference between these two statements is that one uses expressly-theological categories, and the other uses the language of natural revelation.

In that: because we are talking about the decrees of God, I'm satisfied that the latter statement is sufficient -- even though it begs the question, "but is it right?" That is: the natural man knows he is the way he is -- the problem he has is that the justifies it rather than allows it to be subject to review.

In this conversation, that behavior is utterly subject to review. That is the point: the way (you say) you are made doesn't fit in the way all things are made. You can't change the definition of marriage to include something it was never meant to include.

Please consider it, and I'll look forward to you further thoughts.

Daryl said...

So far it seems to me that the biggest contribution to the discussion that this post makes, it clarifying the idea that marriage is an institution based on fact, not feelings. (Something a billion or so foolish straight 20-somethings need to remember as well...)

But what I'm waiting to see tomorrow or the next day, is an addressing of the issue whereby the gay-folk admit that the issue of homosexuality isn't merely feelings but is "who they are", leading them to claim that the fact-not-feeling definition of marriage is what they're after.

After all, even they are arguing for a redefinition of marriage and not merely for permission to get into the game. Aren't they?

I admit that I may not understand precisely how they would word it, in particular because only a few of those folks seem to have actually thought through what it is they are demanding.

Either way, excellent post and I'm looking forward to the to-be-continued parts.

Bill said...

I’m missing something; I don’t see the answer as bad at all. Oh well. Glad it is your favorite at least. Since marriage was originally instituted by God, classifying it in expressly theological terms is not bad. You used the term “natural revelation” yet revelation connotes “from God.” "I am born this way, which causes me to want and do it?" is the world talking and is surely different than acknowledging a sin nature. Leaving out the sin part changes the meaning of the statement. FT: I'm satisfied that the latter statement is sufficient; Bill: I’m not.

I recently went over Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto so I’m a bit focused and admittedly maybe a bit too much. If we leave sin off the table by continuing to argue as though God, and by default sin, does not exist we play into the non-believer’s desire to separate us from our foundation – Christ and His Word. We, the church, have allowed a separation, the sacred and the secular. Christ is Lord of all: my work, my home, my life, my marriage, my behaviors, my bank account - everything.

Here’s DJP from a few weeks ago: “Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.”

Positing things, advancing arguments using expressly non-theological terms may not assist the non-believer in seeing the error of their ways for we have put down the mirror of Scripture, our only offensive weapon. The proponents of SSM, or anti-Biblical marriage, know the truth, they just suppress it in unrighteousness. I desire the rebel to discover the meaning and value assigned by our Creator, not my arguments; and a definition that leaves open the door to pseudo-science that will assuage his/her conscience by telling him/her a gene exists to explain all their ills will not help them to discover Truth. We sin because we’re sinners, not the other way round.

As for your point: “You can't change the definition of marriage to include something it was never meant to include,” I agree yet I’m afraid they (pro-SSMers) won’t care one wit. They look the other way at sin that is a perversion of natural, and God’s law, and then have a light bulb go on when we say Noah Webster would not approve the change of the definition? You give them far too much credit. Maybe tomorrow you’ll unpack it a bit.

Finally, please don’t lose sight of the fact I did say I agree with you up until that point :) .

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

What I don't understand is that somehow a hypothetical conversation is less than useful because it actually tackles thoughtful and more reasonable answers then assuming that everyone who doesn't agree with me is a total nincompoop.

There are some people that still have a remnant of rationality; complaining about the method of a post without considering the implications of the message is just as bad as dismissing a biblical preacher because you think he's a bad public speaker.

...And that's not to say that this post is bad because it is very thought-provoking. The argument drives the nail home, demolishing that obnoxious "not that there's anything wrong with that" mentality.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Had some more think time. It seems to me that the real tragedy of SSM is that increasingly, the church recognizes it (I refer to mainline Protestant churches of course). That the worldly State recognizes it, well... What should one expect from a democratic State majority-populated by pagans? But we ought to expect more from the Church.
Put another way: if even those who claim the name of Christ are divided on this issue, how could one possibly expect the nation at large to hold a Biblical view?

yankeegospelgirl said...

Now you've set me off on a Seinfeld kick. Thanks, thanks a lot.

Frank Turk said...

Bill -- that's why I'm being kind. You do agree with everything except the last point.

Robert said...


I've been listening to Alistair Begg preach about marriage from 1 Corinthians and I'm convinced more than ever that the state of the church in America is pretty much well-aligned with that church in Corinth.

DJP said...

YGG: are you saying there's something wrong with that?

yankeegospelgirl said...

DJP: Maybe, if it's taking up time I could/should be spending on linear algebra.