“Love won today!”
I saw this statement and claim made shortly after the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage.
A couple days later, my wife posted a video on Facebook. The purpose of the video was to once again lay out the case for the traditional definition of marriage. It was not in any way presented hatefully, but it was not apologetic, either. It simply presented the facts about what marriage has been considered forever, why it was considered that way, and why same-sex marriage doesn’t properly fulfill the requirements to be considered marriage.
Responses to her sharing this were that it made someone “sad that you feel that way.” In a followup response, once again the idea that “well, I just choose to love people” came up.
Whether intended or not, these responses and reactions have as a premise that if the Supreme Court did not rule as they did, then love would have lost. Or that thinking about this issue in the traditional sense must mean you don’t love people – at the very least, you don’t love them as much as someone who supports redefinition of marriage. They’ll say “oh, that’s not waht I mean, or what I’m implying.” That’s a shallow retort. You can’t make a statement about love winning and then backtrack and say that you don’t mean that others are haters, or at least not as loving as you. It’s a logical impossibility.
This, of course, is poppycock.
It has long been a tactic of those engaged in policy, social, and moral debate to appeal to emotion and the impugning of character in order to advance an opinion or agenda. And while neither side of any issue is immune to that temptation, I do think there is a definite difference in applicability of that approach. In general, the more “conservative” position on an issue is an argument based on the logical or rational merits of an idea. This may be to a fault in many cases, where the human side of things may not be fully considered, and it’s something that conservatives need to guard against. That is not to say the right cannot get emotional and accuse others of this thing or that, but I would venture to say that the underlying view of an issue has more of a logical train of thought to it. The more “progressive” elements try to paint their side much more as on the side of compassion and tolerance. This is a very emotional plea – one of inclusiveness and love (except for those who disagree, anyway). I am not saying there is never anything deeper to have formed their opinions, but the overriding element is feelings.
The gay marriage argument is really a very easy case study on this, and I’m sure people will disagree with me on it. Well, it’s OK to be wrong, because this is about as simple as it gets. The main argument that the progressives have on this is “we just want people to be happy and have a companion, and be recognized for it so they are not viewed differently and they can get the same benefits other people get. Because we LOOOOVVVVVEEEEE them SOOOOOOOOO much!” It really is that simple. I have yet to hear any gay marriage supporters really even attempt to suggest there’s more to it than that. “We want what you have” is pretty much what it was all about.
Those on the other side of the argument seldom thought all that much about the individuals enough to say that we love, like, dislike, or outright hate any given person or group. The simple fact is, this has never been about emotional and personal feelings as much as it just simply doesn’t make one friggin’ bit of sense to us at any rational and reasonable and intellectual level. It’s about a series of facts and observations: (1) who do we think we are to redefine an institution that’s thousands of years old into something new? (2) Men’s parts are made for women’s parts by natural design or order or however you’d prefer to characterize it; (3) the sexual relationship is pretty much designed for one purpose – procreation. Yes, it feels great, and we’ve turned its purpose into a self-serving thing of pleasure, but most people recognize that the entire reason there are men’s parts and women’s parts is so that there end up being more people.
Of course, morality and religion come into play, and it’s somewhat ironic that this generates protests from the progressives who claim that there should be no place in the debate for religion, when their entire platform is not actually based on anything of substance on any level.
Attempts to bridge this chasm usually do not go all that well. Let’s focus on the Christians who have both purely rational reasons for believing what they believe, and also the affirmation of the good book to boot that really solidifies their position. One of the problems that will occur on the one side of the debate is that, even though the root of the belief is based on sound judgment and logic, the emotional element does kick in for an entirely different reason than the progressive side. It could be a few different reasons, but it’s generally something in this universe: I love God so much and want others to love God, and this is so wrong that my head’s going to explode, and I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW OTHERS CAN’t SEE IT!; or there are numerous reasons and examples already that create a fear/anxiety that my own religious liberty will soon be at risk; or it just flat out makes so much sense that anyone who can’t see it is completely rationalizing in their opinion for some purpose or another (likely to appease the conscience of a loved one, or they can’t bear to believe that someone they know or love may be sinning), or just flat-out stupid. So, because we Christians are not impervious to sin, these emotions do move us past the “hate the sin, love the sinner” frame of mind and we become uncharitable. And this causes all sorts of issues that make us sound like haters.
But before the progressives get all puffy, you’re at fault too. Because you simply cannot tolerate dissent, or anything other than complete complicity in both thought and action, you are unable to have a reasoned and rational debate. A Christian can be utterly loving and charitable, but let’s face it… if we believe something is sinful, there really isn’t a way to say that, even in the most loving way, that isn’t a little bit harsh. And a Christian can present this without talking directly about “you” and recognize that God alone ultimately judges, and can throw all the caveats under the sun in there, but once the word “sin” is mentioned, every other word that has been said is forgotten. All the love, compassion, delicate weaving of the argument or opinion… gone. After all, we dare not use the word “sin” these days. YOU THINK I’M SINNING?!!!! (even though I never said “you are sinning”) YOU HATEFUL BIGOTED CHRISTIAN LOOOOSSSERRRR!!! JUDGER! JUDGER!
Don’t get me started on the perversion of the “Though shalt not judge” scriptural reference, which has been transformed into such a meaning that it eviscerates Paul’s requirement that we admonish the sinner. But that’s a digression I won’t get into right now.
As a Diatriber, I guess I’m a judger.
All we can do as Christians is continue to strive for our balance point. We must love, yet admonish. But we must admonish with utmost charity. But we cannot judge, especially without looking at the log in our own eye. We must not capitulate our beliefs and participate in something that is wrong, but we cannot discriminate against people unfairly in our day-to-day lives, nor should we withhold our assistance and generosity to them either. We must stand firm, publicly if necessary, in favor of what is good and right, while not being unnecessarily confrontation and mean-spirited in the way we make our stand.
That is a tough balancing act, and most of us will stumble around – possibly our entire lives – trying to figure out how to get it right.