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Posts Tagged ‘homosexuality’

The big headline in 1996 was that Barack Obama wrote that he supported same-sex marriage.  Apparently he’s voiced this support again more recently, which I didn’t know because I’ve been comatose in an isolated concrete bunker at the earth’s core for a month.  One particular reaction to his (re)announcement has caught my eye, and I’m submitting it as my entry for this year’s “Most Post-Modern Thing You’ve Ever Heard” contest (or MPMTYEH, pronounced “em-pum-TEE-ah”). For what it’s worth, my entry last year, “All religions are basically the same” narrowly lost to “That’s true for you, but not for me.”  It was a shame, really; I should have won.  MPMTYEH is so subjective now, almost as if there’s no absolute standard by which to judge the entries…

Anyway, the statement?  One supporter encourages Obama after his announcement with the phrase, “Stand in your truth!”  I can probably explain this statement away as simply meaning, “Stand up for the things you believe in” or something like that, against which I take no issue.  However, the word “truth” really bugs me, not unlike last years MPMTYEH winner, “That’s true for you, but not for me.”  The encouragement implies that Obama’s “truth” is distinct from somebody else’s “truth.”  Thus the concept of truth is made subjective, as if we make our own truth.  This is, of course, false.  If you disagree with me, consider that my truth is that we don’t make our own truth. Q.E.D.

My second contest entry this year also (purely coincidentally) involves the issue of homosexuality.  I’m submitting this into the 2012 “Four Words I Never Thought I’d See Together” contest (FWINTIST – “fuh-WIN-tist”).  My entry is “St. Augustine Gay Pride.”  The context is the gay pride day taking place in the Florida city named after Augustine.  Granted, this doesn’t sound alarming.  On its own, however, it is quite shocking.  I was never terribly close to Augustine of Hippo, as he tended to hang out with an older crowd than me (i.e., people long dead), but I’m pretty sure he never thought he’d see his name followed by “gay pride.”

Regarding actual non-snarky commentary about gay marriage, these days I’m most impressed by the prescience of Francis Schaeffer, who back in the 70’s (or perhaps earlier) noted that in a society without absolutes, society becomes the absolute.  For my money, this is precisely what is happening with same-sex marriage.  American societies are gradually reaching the point of saying that they define what marriage is, and many of those societies are concluding that marriage includes same-sex couples.  An ancillary observation by Schaeffer was that erasing absolutes would still leave two: Personal peace and affluence.  In other words, the two things people will continue to cling to in the absence of other absolutes are their own personal peace and affluence.  I have found the personal peace aspect of this relevant to the debates about same-sex marriage as well, since I’ve often heard the (weak) argument, “It’s not hurting anybody; let them marry.”  What’s ultimately being said here, in my opinion, is that it’s not bothering me (personal peace), so let them marry.  Again, the absolute is still rooted in the individual.

We tend to stray from topics like homosexuality here at BBG, but not for lack of conviction about the issue, or for lack of confidence in our position.  Rather, I’ve yet to see any fruitful exchange about such emotionally charged issues take place on a public blog.  If you want to see flame wars, hate speech, deep irony, and a bunch of people writing things they’d never actually say with no real exchange of ideas, look at the comments after a CNN article on homosexuality.  This is what we do not want BBG to become.

It will come as no surprise to our reader(s?) that this author does not support same-sex marriage (cue sound of can of worms opening).  After all, this is Boston Bible Geeks, not Boston Secular-Humanism Geeks, or something like that.  As such, my feelings on the matter stem from the fact that the Bible is authoritative in my life: It defines marriage for me, and I can find no compelling evidence that marriage was purposed for same-sex couples (or polygamy, by the way).  As for whether or not we should legislate Biblical principles, frankly, the best arguments I’ve read about same-sex marriage have nothing to do with the Bible, religion, “the sanctity of marriage” or anything like that, such as the exchanges regarding natural law here, here and here (lots of reading, but also thorough, intelligent writing on the subject showcasing opposing views).   While I’m linking articles, from a Christian standpoint, Collin Hansen at TGC has written a reaction to Obama’s announcement here, which is also worth reading.

I’d be happy to discuss privately over e-mail anyone who wishes for an actual “conversation.”  It would be an interesting social experiment to see if two adults could disagree about something so controversial and remain friendly.  Perhaps we might even learn something from each other, and even grow to understand differing views without the noise of the media, blog trolls, or quick, superficial, straw-man dismissals.  For the subject matter at hand, this would be a good thing.

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I’ve been around the internet for long enough, well before the days when “state-of-the-art” looked like this (flashing N, we hardly knew ye), so I’m not exactly surprised when I come across articles like Jennifer Wrist Knust’s latest opinion article, which dropped my jaw to levels previously reserved only for Dan Brown.  Says Knust about Biblical sexuality, “In Genesis, for example, it would seem that God’s original intention for humanity was androgyny, not sexual differentiation and heterosexuality.”  Where to begin?

While I thoroughly disagree with Knust’s methods, evidence and conclusions in myriad ways, I don’t want to just flippantly dismiss her.  The reason is because she attempts to thoughtfully engage with an issue (viz. homosexuality):  she actually employs (fallacious) methods, offers (shoddy) evidence, and draws (misguided) conclusions.  Discussion can thence proceed.

Not so with many of the “comments” posted after her article, and frankly just about any other comment on a widely read post that deals with the Bible, or Christianity.  I’ll paraphrase a few that typify the genre:

“The Bible is a bunch of bunk anyway, with not a shred of evidence to prove it.”

“Christianity: One small voice away from murdering your entire family.”

“When will Christians get over the fact that Jesus is a myth?  Get out of the dark ages.”

“Why do I care about what a book written 2,000 years ago on the other side of the world says about anything?”

These “comments” ought to irk and embarrass everyone, no matter their world view.  It seems that no world view is free of people who give their world view a bad name.  Christians certainly have their fair share.  Their contributions are noise at best, and the internet, for good or ill, is an amplifier with a very low signal to noise ratio.

It’s easy to recognize the internet as an amplifier of previously existing conditions. For example, there has been bullying in school since school existed.  The internet did not give rise to bullying, it has amplified it, indeed creating the whole new category of “cyber-bullying.”  There was pornography addiction in the days when the words “personal computer” would have been an oxymoron.  The internet didn’t create lust, it has amplified it.  So, it should not surprise me (though it still does) to see naked assertions with inflammatory intent following an article.  Incendiaries are no new phenomenon.

There is no desire for interaction or real discussion among those who comment.  Exchanges between two or more of these people are most often sets of monologues, with no appreciable purpose other than to deride others, and promote oneself; to be heard, regardless of whether there is anything worth listening to.

For some, it seems that their online personality, thanks in large part to the internet’s precious anonymity, is their id: that unrestricted, raw feeling that they might think, but never say to anyone face to face.  This just intensifies issues that are already controversial, and highly flammable.  The result is greater polarization on issues and less tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

As a Christian, it is disheartening for me to read much of the religious discourse on the internet, especially in the blog-scape.  I come away with a (sinful?) feeling of hopelessness: Where to begin?  How in the world could I hope to reach people with Christ if this is indicative of their posture towards Him?  Despite God’s Word, which reminds me how capable He is of reaching the hardest of hearts (e.g., Paul), I can also take solace in the fact that if I were to turn off the amplifier in between the brazen comment and the commenter, more often than not I’d find a person just as broken and needy as anyone else in the world, one whose company I would probably enjoy, and certainly one who needs redemption just as much as I do.

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