Christians, Gays, and Sin

UnknownEven before the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, I wrote that gays (and the left in general), having basically won this fight, should ease up and be magnanimous, allowing their beaten foes some space for living their beliefs – just as, for years, gays begged for that themselves. The principles of tolerance and pluralism run both ways. But many on the left act as though only their freedoms matter.

On the other hand, some anti-gay and Christian advocates seem to have become unhinged. Listening to them you’d think anti-gayness is the very heart of their religion. As if the Bible’s main message is gay-bashing.

imagesMore generally, the Christian side in the “culture wars” of recent decades seems to exhibit an obsession with sex (as David Brooks discusses in an excellent recent column). These folks do a great disservice to their faith. No wonder younger people, with more relaxed attitudes, are abandoning traditional religion in droves.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m no fan of religion, but surely it has a better story to tell that is getting lost in all the noise about gay sex. This meshugass makes religion even more absurd than it was already.

The Obergefell gay marriage decision is not going to become another divisive Roe v. Wade. It wasn’t surprising that Roe provoked a huge backlash, since that ruling was legally, culturally, and morally weak. Legally, because its dicey “privacy” theory was not in the Constitution; culturally because the country wasn’t ready for it; and morally there were reasonable, deeply felt arguments against it.

Unknown-4In contrast, there are no good moral arguments against gay marriage. Just because the Bible says something is wrong doesn’t make it so. Christians choose to ignore many of the Bible’s outlandish, atavistic pronouncements (like gathering sticks on the Sabbath also being a sin punishable by death). The true moral criterion (rationally speaking) is whether anyone is harmed, and gay sex and marriage harm no one.

I do not dismiss the dissenters’ contention that this should have been decided by democratic processes, not judicial fiat; I so argued myself, a few years ago. However, I have come around to the Court majority’s view that “equal protection of the laws” properly applies here. Thus Obergefell has much stronger legal legitimacy than Roe did. As for democracy, it seems more like the court was bending to popular opinion than defying it. The nation was ready for this.

images-1The argument that it opens the door to polygamy and so forth is ridiculous. There are sound social policy reasons to ban polygamy (we wouldn’t want Donald Trump hogging all the women – though perhaps any who would join his harem are best left out of the marriage pool anyway). Gay marriage, in contrast, is a positive societal good, with no downsides. More child-friendly two-parent families will help counter the decline of traditional marriage and the resulting social dysfunction.

All this suggests that Christian resistance is not only a lost cause* but a very bad one. Surely religious believers can find better things to talk about than what married people do in bed. Aren’t there worse sins in the world to get upset about than (a small minority of) people loving the “wrong” partners?

Unknown-3I’ve never understood anyway why Christians get so manic about other people’s sins. If they truly are sinful, they’ll simply go to Hell, no? Why isn’t that the end of the story?

Worry about your own sins.

* Who are they kidding, talking of a constitutional amendment? Hello, it would need ratification by 38 states – whereas nationwide public opinion goes the other way.

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8 Responses to “Christians, Gays, and Sin”

  1. Andrew Semeiks Says:

    I’m still left with several unresolved issues.

    Is homosexuality a genetic or some otherwise predisposition in some people or a learned behavioral feature that can be changed? Perhaps ultimately it doesn’t matter when it comes to the equality under law issue but if it is a predisposition then it crystallizes the discrimination case.

    It does still stretch my credulity when I hear that a same sex couple will have a baby. It still takes a male and a female to make a baby and many of these babies when they grow up will want to know their lineage from both sides. We continuously see this searching in instances of adopted children. Yes, I know that an intact family of same sex adults may be preferable to broken homes of heterosexual parents, but this is not always the case.

    On a related matter the other day the NYTimes had an article about mothers playing in the big time professional tennis circuit. I was interested in reading about the hardships of returning to top competitive form after childbirth while raising an infant particularly for those not at the top of money earnings. Instead the lead woman depicted, the tennis players, was in a lesbian relationship and she did not even bear the child, the other woman did. The article did not mention whether she was the biological mother, just that she did not carry the baby. It also did not state if they were married and no mention was made of the baby’s father. Her hardship regarding tennis playing was that she had to take turns caring for the infant at night. This is no different than a male tennis player who helps raising his child. It is this type of convoluted imaging that rankles me, where the story is basically inconsistent, and not just on the subject of gay marriage.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    1. For males, the evidence is overwhelming that it is virtually never a “choice” but rather a biological predisposition that no amount of mind-over-matter can alter. For females, there seems to be at least a bit more choice sometimes involved.
    2. Gay couples can have children by adoption, surrogacy, or sperm donorship. There is no evidence that children thusly produced fare any worse than those produced by more conventional methods; and children parented by two gays certainly fare better than in one-parent families. (Yet Christians, who constantly argue that children deserve a mother and a father, NEVER suggest banning single parenthood!)
    3. I agree that in a lesbian marriage, the woman who did not physically bear the child stands in exactly the same position as the father in a conventional family.

  3. Rashad Says:

    “I’ve never understood anyway why Christians get so manic about other people’s sins. If they truly are sinful, they’ll simply go to Hell, no? Why isn’t that the end of the story?”

    You really don’t know the reason? It’s simple: They don’t actually believe themselves when they say some of the sins are wrong. In fact, most of them, unconsciously, want to do some of these sins and be free. So, if they are denying *themselves* from doing something they secretly believe is normal, what will stop them from denying other people? It is the same kind of coercion in both cases.

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Cute theory, Rashad, but I don’t think so. The concept of “belief” is very tricky. Read this past blog post about what it means when we say someone “believes” something: https://rationaloptimist.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-psychology-of-the-born-again-syndrome/

  5. esnible Says:

    Regarding genetics. We have many people claiming they were born gay. Others say they have a choice.

    We should we disregard these first person accounts? Is it not more likely that they are telling the truth: that the one who claims it was a choice really had a choice, AND the one who claims to have been born that way really was?

  6. Andrew Semeiks Says:

    One cannot simply assert that children in a two parent homosexual family fare better than children in a single family household. Human relations and family relations are too complex to make such a simple generalization. There will be dysfunctional homosexual marriages just as there are dysfunctional heterosexual ones.

    One test of gay marriages will be how they stick together once the novelty has worn off. Will they approach the divorce rate of heterosexual ones or diverge? Will gay couples stay together “for the children”, where one is not a biological parent, to the same extent as heterosexual, both parent, couples, even with resulting dysfunction which may or may not be detrimental to the children.? Time will tell.

  7. Ashish Says:

    http://www.worldpolicy.newschool.edu/wpi/globalrights/sexorient/twins.html

    Studies on identical twins and homosexuality

  8. rationaloptimist Says:

    To esnible: Virtually no male homosexuals say it was a choice. A few females do.
    Andy: ON AVERAGE children of two-parent families do better than in single-parent families. The evidence for that is incontestable. And where quarreling parents stay together “for the children” it’s far from clear that that’s actually good for the children. But anyhow I have seen no evidence to suggest that gay marriages are more fragile than hetero ones. I can think of factors which might militate the opposite way.

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