10 November 2010

in about Two Minutes

by Frank Turk

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.

Done? OK.

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?"

[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."
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.

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.

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.
And then again:
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.

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.)
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.

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.


Steve Berven said...

"Let's remember, Satan wasn't kicked out of heaven for being gay: It was pride."

As I understand it, Satan's pride was insisting that he was no longer under the authority of God. Or, was (or could be) co-equal with God.

In other words, he could make his own rules. The ultimate in self-determinism.

So, in this respect, I agree with Ms. Powers. If we continue to insist that homosexuality isn't really Biblical sin, or that homosexual marriage and homosexual clergy are not only okay, but somehow Biblical, then yes, we ARE guilty of the same sins as Satan.

We want to make our own rules.

"Because it reinforces the idea among Christians that gay people are morally inferior and don't deserve to be treated fairly."

This statement is true only in the context that Ms. Powers needs it to be for her argument to work.

However, it is worded very craftily, in that it equates "equal treatment under the law" as permitting the same the for homosexuals as heterosexuals with regards to marriage law. So you can't insist that you don't want to discriminate against gays, while maintaining your view that the State shouldn't sanction their marriages, because it wouldn't be "fair." Nice rhetorical device, that.

R.C. said...

Very nicely done brother.

Jacob said...

wow that got really muddled and wordy at the end. while reading the first part of it i was looking forward to sending it to a few people but the more i read, the less clarity it had and the more frustrated i became that what started off as a good blogpost ended up a rather muddled stew and didn't go where i'd hoped. :(

one bright spot was the word verification: oring

Merlin said...

What this argument by Ms. Powers does is no different than what we hear from pulpits across the country every Sunday. Topical preaching rather than exegetical preaching of the gospel helps create this mess where Christians don't know how to handle many passages of the Bible. Taking verses out of context is the stock and trade of so many of the pastors out here, that we should not be surprised when non-Christians follow their examples to form arguments against us misusing the Bible as their source.

Perhaps we should refocus our preaching on what the Bible actually says. Let's defend our turf, the ground of what the Gospel actually says, and stay out of this secular argument until we understand the doctrine of original sin and it's implication in justification. I'm not sure what the criminal in Luke 23:40 did, but he was condemned by man for it. And he was saved by God. So, I'm identifying myself with the guys on the sides of that hill in history and hoping I get the same judgment from the guy in the middle as the second one did.

Let this go in the public sector. Keep it Holy in the church. Why is this so difficult?

FX Turk said...

Jacob --

That hurts, bro. Mostly becuase I think you're right ...

Nash Equilibrium said...

I don't have time this busy morning to read anything except what you wrote in this article, Frank. But I still got tons of good advice and sound teaching out of it. Thanks.

FX Turk said...

Also: somehow the work "frankly" god transliterated into "freakily" in the last paragraph. How's that happen?

Nash Equilibrium said...

PS: I also applaud your willingness to unapologetically acknowledge the fact that the Gospel has condemnation as one of its elements. Condemnation of our own sin being a key part of the Gospel, as I understand it.

James Scott Bell said...

Powers has never impressed me with her intellect, and her piece is simply further proof of the assessment. In typical liberal fashion, she sets up a false position on the other side, just so she can knock it down. If one can "show" Christians or conservatives are, at the base, evil or intolerant, then facts and truth don't matter all that much.

That she should be given print or air space would be astonishing in any literate society, if it weren't for the ensconced position of leftist thought in the media. Maybe Fox has her on because she comes off as foolish so much of the time. Clever.

olan strickland said...

Frank: There are moral implications behind the act of marriage -- implications which freakily precede the Constitution and cannot be arbitrated by the Constitution.

Great reminder to all of the foundation of the Constitution.

Frank: Also: somehow the work "frankly" god transliterated into "freakily" in the last paragraph. How's that happen?

Lysdexics are teople poo! We still love you man :)

Nash Equilibrium said...

I suspect Fox has her on because she is an attractive blonde woman, who can articulate a position (even if it is not valid). Anyone who watches them for any time at all knows that is one element of their formula for keeping their ratings high.

One thing that Frank points out here (and it's refreshing) is that the premise KP has about the Gospels not containing condemnation, is false. So if she were forced to confront the fact that the Gospel does contain condemnation (of sin and sinners), she would then have to marginalize not only groups of Christians, but would have to condemn Christianity itself. That would probably put her in a less-comfortable position than attacking Christians for being untrue to the Gospel.

Jim Crigler said...

Once again I don't know whether to cheer or weep. Frank, you've hit this nail exactly on the head. (This after reading all the background stuff and then coming back as you asked.)

Robert said...

While I don't agree with Powers at all and feel she has not seriously read the gospels...I feel that there are too many people who have homosexuality and abortion as their hobby horses and don't realize the people they are shouting out against are in need of the gospel, just like all of us. Are evangelical Christians speaking the truth in love and praying for God to work the miracle of turning the heart of the sinning homosexual to Himself? Or are we too busy throwing stones?

Yes, we need to stand solid upon the foundation of the Bible, but we also need to bring the truth of the gospel to unrepentant sinners with the hopes that they will be convicted of their sin and God will convert them. We need to let them know we are sinners, too, and that our sin is just as bad as theirs...that it is only by the grace of God that we have been saved.

One thing that really bothers me is somebody saygin that you can get anything from the gospels in two minutes. Really? I have to invest a lot of time towards reading through the gospels because I want to read the cross-references in Scripture...I want to read some commentaries and maybe listen to a few sermons...I want to make sure I am keeping my thoughts in check. Maybe Kirsten just has a lot more ability than I do when it comes to reading comprehension or something, though.

Aaron said...

You beat me to it, Strategem. I was going to say that it is obvious why Fox hires her. She's stunningly beautiful and is very good at articulating the Democrat talking points. Her arguments quickly fold when compared to fact, but in two minute segments on O'Reilly, that is not much of a problem.

You also pointed out something else I was going to say. The entire point of the gospel is condemnation. We are all terrible sinners who are under God's wrath and condemnation but fortunately, God sent his Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins that His righteousness might be imputed to us if we will only come to saving faith in Him.

Aaron said...

I also want to say that people want to shout..."separation of church and state" and tell us to keep marriage to the religous realm. The problem is that the Bible gives us matter of fact advice about how to run our lives and the earthly consequences to sinful lifestyles. It's teh equivalent of ignoring a neighbor who decides to light a bonfire in his home next door to yours. It's folly to believe that once his house is on fire, it wont affect you. That's exactly what Christians are saying about homosexuality. It's isn't just about heaven and hell (as if that weren't enough). There are earthly consequences to society when homosexuality is accepted and promoted. Those consequences will affect believers and unbelievers alike.

Robert said...

@Aaron - one only has to look to Europe to see the consequences. I am pretty sure that within the next 30-50 years, we'll see almost all of Europe under Sharia law because the majority of their population will be Muslim. That is what happens when a society falls into the trap of the attacks on family from not just homosexuality, but also from people who want lifetsyles free from responsibilities (i.e. I don't want to have children...just want to have fun).

Anonymous said...

Robert, living in the UK right now, and while I agree that the desire to "just have fun" is probably the underlying cause, the reason that's most often given is that "there's already too many people on the earth - I don't want to add any more." There's a lot more emphasis placed on global overpopulation in the media here than there is in the States, and I'd guess that contributes to the attitude.

And since I read the article by Powers first(as you suggested, Frank!), I actually was fairly pleased with it. I read it as a typical secular article, and while it's true her logic leaves something to be desired at times, her critique of much of modern Christianity is well-warranted. Many so-called Christians do sweep pre-marital sex and selfish divorces under the rug, while blaring forth on the evils of homosexuality. I felt a bit convicted, myself. But you're absolutely right in that she is quite far from the Truth.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Great post!!!

timb said...

In her essay, her comment about Jesus getting ticked off really only works if there is such a thing as sin that angers God. No doubt Jesus & God the Father hate pride and self-righteousness, but singling these out in exclusion to other things that are sins smacks of the same kind of hypocrisy she accuses Christians of. If she is going to be morally consistent she must do what she wants us to do and that is call all sin sin.

It is funny (in a sad way) too though that there are those who love Jesus and the prophets when they are railing against poverty and oppression, but when they rail against those who call evil good and good evil... not much gets said

There is a small point to be made that some Christians do run around saying to whomever "YOU PEOPLE need to repent"-- and when we aren't saying that because we see ourselves as people who have equal need of repentance before God then we are hypocrites. That is why I think Frank can speak credibly on this issue though--he has called for Christians to repent and addressed the other angles of the issue that Powers says no one addresses.

I think next time someone asks me as an obvious trap "Do you believe that homosexuality is wrong?"
I'm going to answer: "I believe all sin needs to be repented of, are you asking me so that if you find out your wrong you can join me in repenting of our sins before God?" (a la John 9:27 and Luke 20:1-8).

Aaron said...

@Robert: The irony of that is that Islam has no tolerance for homosexuality at all.

@sonofthunder: I'm amused by the whole overpopulation argument more so because socialism is a pyramid scheme. A pyramid scheme only continues to exist for as long as there are increasing numbers of participants. In a socialist system, refusing to have children is basically ending your economic security.

Anonymous said...

After reading ALL of this I honestly feel "so now what?" I am a Christian, I am married, and I am an American. I have children to teach so I guess I have to start there. I appreciate how you have put our eyes back upon how God defines marriage and His intentions for it. I plan to be very careful to show my children exactly what it is and not just the contract version many think it is.

The biggest problem with the way people view marriage is our sin. Pride, a refusal to submit (to God, not just to husbands and wives). I do also think that Christians who do not want gay unions to be called marriage by the law can be about winning and not about honoring God first. I don't know the solution in politics, but do believe there is a place for my country to set limits. I believe we all have a "political correctness" about how we talk on this issue (isn't that how it is with most issues) and we're not honest on most sides. What you are saying Frank strikes me as honest. People in the Church need to be honest about what we want here. We *should* want to honor God with our marriages, modeling them after what He says marriage is supposed to be. We do have an agenda, and that agenda is supposed to be to give God glory through our lives, to share the gospel (am I missing something). Because we've made marriage about relationships and "lasting" and spicing it up, we strip it of it's foundation. That's why a gay couple might seek to call their agreement to live in the same house and share expenses marriage, if they only look at how we define it in today's world, and how we often live it in today's churches. So many are grasping in churches knowing it's wrong, but not having the words or understanding to explain why.

Would it be that churches had marriage counseling that taught the truth about marriage...that would maybe be a good way to start. With the proper teaching, then follow with the proper action.

donsands said...

"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."

There is the "ick factor" in Christian's thinking for sure. It's just the way it is.
Yet, we do need to try and understand the homosexual community better, and realize that there is this SSA (same sex attraction).

I think you're spot on Frank, that she needs to look into the Scriptures and search a bit more.

And she needs to define what she thinks marriage is.
It has been defined for many years as a husband and a wife joining together, or a male and a female.

Seems to me Kirsten, by playing the role of a sort of moderate liberal, she can make lots of money being on Fox. That's just a guess.

Eric said...


You said: "There is the "ick factor" in Christian's thinking for sure. It's just the way it is.
Yet, we do need to try and understand the homosexual community better, and realize that there is this SSA (same sex attraction)."

What do you mean when you say that "we need to try and understand the homosexual community better"? It seems to me that Bible-believing Christians understand the predicament of the "homosexual community" (or individual, as it were) better than anyone. As for realizing "that there is this SSA (same sex attraction)", I think it is fairly obvious to the Christian that there exists such a thing as same sex attraction, just the same as there exists various lusts of all sorts. What the Christian rightly refuses to do is to discuss or rationalize this attraction as a merely biological phenomenon.

If you're speaking more generally about interacting with the "homosexual community" in a loving and understanding way as fellow sinners bearing the liberating good news, then I agree wholeheartedly. If you are speaking of better trying to understand or listen to their cries of biological causation and a lack of moral culpability because "God made me this way", then I would have to disagree.

FX Turk said...

Eric --

I think you didn't read my old posts I linked to at the top of the essay, and I think you don't know DonSands very well.

Please review.

Eric said...


I have read your other posts, but was not responding to them. I don't "know" donsands in the classic sense of knowing someone, but have read many of his comments, most of which I would echo and some of which confuse me slightly. His comment struck me as odd, so I sought clarification. I hope that is ok.

Eric said...

In other words, I merely want to understand better what *donsands* (not Frank) thinks we need to understand better about the homosexual community. Perhaps I should have left my question/comment at that without further elaboration.

Rachael Starke said...

Yes, her arguments are misguided, and her logic is flawed by her lostness as much as anything else,

but when the "church" preaches a law devoid of gospel, either by constantly aligning itself with gospel-free political/social action committees, or just doing what they do on Sunday mornings,

what else should we expect?

Maybe it's a dodge on her part. But maybe it's all she's ever heard and seen.

donsands said...

"What the Christian rightly refuses to do is to discuss or rationalize this attraction as a merely biological phenomenon." -Erik

That's what I mean.

The Church needs to listen. Not to everyone, and anyone, for the homosexuals have their fundamentalists.

But I have learned to listen more, and so have a dialogue, and then go to the Scriptures and see what God's Word says.
Some times we need to shake the dust from our cloaks, that's for sure.

But sometimes we are avoided by people, who may really want to know what's on our minds.

And the "ick factor" can be a self-righteous thing going on in the Church. I have heard pastors use different expressions for homosexuals, then they would for heterosexual fornicators.

There's a lot more to this subject, and so I'll leave it at that. maybe I'll post something on my blog, and then you can visit and discuss these things if you want.
"...some of which confuse me slightly." Erik
My comments confusing? Amen to that. I'm not a very good communicator.

Have a blessed evening.

Eric said...


Thanks for your gracious reply. I understand where you are coming from and better understand what your comment was meant to convey. I also agree with you and appreciate what you have to say.

To be sure, my communication is not always as clear as I intend it to be either. Generally I do understand your comments quite well, but sometimes you lose me. It is times like this where I might seek some clarification. I hope my pontificating after my question did not come off as accusatory, for that was not my intent. I'll check out your blog to see if you post anything on the topic and just may join you for some discussion. Thanks.

Jacob said...

Sorry for the blunt opinion earlier, Frank. I guess I was hoping you'd go more along these lines: http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/11/sodomite-christians-oxymoron.html


Aaron said...

Who is she to judge and ram her values down my throat?!

Anonymous said...

Kristen Powers simply doesn't make a lick of sense on this one.

I agree Frank, though I STILL would love to read something about the Rosebrough vs. Pagitt debate since I cannot find audio or video of it anywhere.

Any links you could grace us with?

piluTLight said...

So glad she didn't replace Colmes.. She may be cute but at least his looks warn you of "the crazy" enveloped in skin.

Scott Shaffer said...

She offers four main reasons why Christians are out to lunch on this issue:

Reason #1 – Christians shouldn’t judge others.
Reason #2 – Christians are hypocritical.
Reason #3 – American citizens live according to the Constitution, not the Bible.
Reason #4 – If we are going to live according to the Bible, we better apply it across the board, not just to same sex marriage.

These form a weak argument. Yet, as Christians we need to be able to refute them because these are the most common arguments I hear.

Jacob said...

Interesting, Scott. The most common arguments I hear surround the belief that God loves everyone (or Jesus was all about love and tolerance), and then if you go to Scripture to show where they're incorrect, they reply that what was written 2,000 years ago needs to be culturally interpreted before it can be applied or understood today so a more literal translation is actually less helpful or even dangerous.

Scott Shaffer said...


You're right of course. That argument usually comes from unbelievers. what bothers me about the USA Today author's argument is that she appears to offer it up as an insider, someone who is either a professing Christian or is well informed on the Christian faith.

Aaron said...

@Frank: I totally missed the comment when you put the pointer over the photo. I saw it today and got a good laugh. Looks aren't everything are they?