Thursday, September 05, 2013

Bad Arguments... Blech!

In this video, a member of Australian parliament, a "devout Christian", allegedly stuns a Christian pastor with his reasoning for why he has changed his mind and chosen to support "marriage equality."

I've known other Christians who, for reasons they believe are entirely Christian, have chosen to drop the fight over the legalization of gay marriage.  That's fine.  But what I can't stand is bad argumentation.

Here are a list of his arguments with my responses:

1. People do not consciously choose their sexual orientation and therefore are born that way; therefore, it cannot be wrong.  God made them that way.  Case closed.

My response:  The question of where sexual orientation comes from is something that mankind, even with our best knowledge, still has yet to definitively answer.  To me, the fact that nobody consciously chooses sexual preference means little to nothing, and to suggest that this fact means that our sexual preference is purely innate and therefore above moral accountability is simply not true.  I've never heard of a sexual predator who said they chose to be sexually attracted to little boys.  You can try to dismiss this comparison with shock, but do we really have any reason to make a distinction here?  Some people have a sexual preference for children.  They never chose it.  They never woke up one day and said, "I think I will choose to think little boys are sexy."  We can say it is "wrong" because it involves children, but really, based on the logic above, who are we to say it is wrong?  "Well, it is just obvious".  Yes, and 80 years ago it was obvious to us that same-sex sexual preference was just "wrong", too, so who are we to believe our miniscule cultural moment in history is so damn right?  Arrogant much?

The Bible says that we are born sinners.  We are born corrupt, with a tendency away from God and away from His design for us as humans.  That does not mean that God "made us" that way.  In fact, the Bible teaches that we are born corrupt because this entire world is corrupt due to man's original rebellion away from God.  You can disagree with the Bible on this, but don't pretend that doing so gives you a "Christian" argument.  Call it what you will, but it is not Christian.

Thus, even if we argue that our sexual inclinations, like many of our other inclinations, are somehow innate, it still does not mean they are above reproach or natural or according to God's design.  I would argue that what is wrong with us is woven into the very core of us, into the fabric of our being, and that won't change until Jesus returns to end this age and bring the new age to fruition.

2. If you accept #1, then it follows that it is not right to deny two same-sex-oriented people who want to love and be together romantically, relationally, and sexually and have it be recognized by the state.

My response:  Yes, if we grant that his starting point is true.  But notice where his starting point leads.  It leads away from the Bible, which is shown when the pastor who asked the question promotes the definition of marriage re-affirmed by the word of Jesus as being one man and one woman.  And if your view contradicts Jesus, then okay, but again... don't call it Christian.  This actually does illustrate the big picture issue.  Both people in the video, the pastor and the parliament member, have two completely different starting points.  The parliament member tries to prose his argument under the guise of Christianity, but his arguments thus far do not come from God's Word.

3. "If I was going to have that view, uh, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition."

My response:  Huh???  Let's see, if he was going to have "that view"... oh, you mean the view that the Bible and, in particular, the words of Jesus, should shape our view and direction on things, the very view that Jesus says is definitional of one of his followers... then that would mean embracing evil things that the Bible allegedly teaches and condones.  His example?  Slavery.

I'm sorry, but this is just ignorant tripe being regurgitated.  It is a common objection that is thrown out there, and people buy right into it.  Note the loud applause by the audience.  The problem is that the Bible nowhere says that slavery is a "natural condition."  What does the Bible say about slavery?

It says that we are all born corrupt and slaves to sin, slaves to our desires that draw us away from God and toward the idea that we are gods who define everything for ourselves (ironic?).  In the Old Testament, slavery was common, just as was polygamy.  Slavery was never condoned, in fact the Law itself condemns capturing a man and oppressing him.  The Old Testament records many things, including illicit sex, murder, affairs, etc.  This does not mean they are taught or condoned.  In fact, chaos and destruction is always shown to be the result.  There is no way you can read the Exodus story, the story of Israel's redemption from 400 years of slavery and oppression under the Egyptians, the centerpiece of the Old Testament, and think for a moment that the Bible teaches that oppression is okay.

But he then does actually try to surmount some proof for his statement by quoting from the New Testament where the apostle Paul instructs slaves to be "obedient to your masters."  "And therefore we should have all fought for the confederacy... blah blah blah."  Really?  It sounds really good, but it comes up short when it comes to facts.  First, first-century Roman-culture slavery was not the same as African slavery in early America.  I learned that in 7th grade Latin class, long before I became a Christian.  Roman-culture slavery was not race-based and did not involve kidnapping people and treating them as animals.  Roman-culture slavery was more like indentured servitude.  Let's not try to compare apples and oranges.  This is a canard that is casually passed off by this Prime Minister either because he is ignorant, himself, or he assumes that his hearers are.  I'm not sure which is better.

Besides, Paul's point was not even that this kind of slavery was "good" or "natural".  Within the same breath, Paul instructed these early Christians to be subject to the governmental authorities, to be good citizens, even though Paul would certainly not accept or condone the Roman oppression of the Jews and the occupation of their home.  His point was to encourage them to find ways to live out their faith, to live out the Gospel of their freedom and acceptance in God's sight for the sake of Jesus and what He did for them, by being a light of love and humility to others.  In other words,

Need I point out how vehemently Paul also taught that in the Gospel, in the Kingdom of God, in the new reality created by Jesus for us, there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female.  All of those man-made distinctions for status and approval and special treatment that were so prevalent in that culture, and are in their own way today, mean nothing. We are all one in Christ.  Using the common tools one uses to understand any document (such as looking at the context), it is easy to see that Paul's point was not to condone oppression or call it "natural" but rather that "you are already free in Christ, so use the present conditions you are in as an occasion to demonstrate the light of that freedom to others."

4. The fundamental principle of the New Testament is one of universal love, loving your fellow man.

My response:  Even if that is true, real love does not mean thinking everything someone thinks or does is right or acceptable.  Jesus died on the cross for us out of love.  Has this man considered that while this is a wonderful testimony of his love toward us, it is simultaneously a stark condemnation of our wickedness?  It says, "You are so beloved, I was glad to do this for you.  But you are so wicked, I had to.  There was no other way."  The cross of Christ both condemns and revives us.  Love does not draw back from being honest about what it sees.

But secondly, is that really the fundamental principle of the New Testament?  Or is "love" something that stands within a much greater context that this man is totally missing in his desire to turn the New Testament into a pick-and-choose selection of instructions that suit his purposes?  After all, 30 seconds ago the Bible condoned and taught that slavery is a "natural condition".  Now, the New Testament, which contains the very passage he quoted to prove his point about the Bible and slavery, suddenly teaches "universal love, love for your fellow man."  Okay, well which is it?  Does it teach that oppression is acceptable, even natural, as you tried to make it say that it did?  Or does it teach universal love?  Those seem pretty different to me, even exclusive.  Could it be, Mr. Prime Minister, that you are trying to pick and choose what you like when it suits your position but then crapping on the Bible when it doesn't?  Could it be that the Bible forms nothing of your opinion whatsoever, and you use it only when it is convenient?  Yes, I think so.  Good show.

Universal love is very important, but the New Testament is not primarily about a principle of love.  Come on, it isn't like we didn't already know we needed to love each other.  Did Jesus really go through all the trouble of coming down here and living and dying just to tell us to be nicer to each other?  Did the early Christians, for the first few hundred years (and today in other parts of the world, still) give up their lives to be tortured and killed for a message of "love everybody and be nice?"  Sorry, something MAJOR is missing.

The New Testament is primarily about how the God who created the heavens and the earth, who then chose to create a people Israel for Himself, through whom He would some day redeem all of humanity and reverse the curse on this entire world, finally came to do so, to live up to all of His promises, but did so in a way that nobody really predicted and few really wanted.  He did so by sending Jesus into the world, born of a woman, born into this world like you and I, to do His Father's business of healing the sick, forgiving sins, loving outcasts, and standing up to the bullies, while eventually giving up his life in the stead of every one of us and then rising from the dead so that sin and death do not have to be the final condemning word for us, for those who by faith embrace Him and His words, and that there is a new age growing out of his resurrection.  It is about the promised Kingdom of God coming, not in a way any of us expected, and not in the way we (or the Jews at the time) wanted.  But it came in Jesus Christ and in His life, death, and resurrection from the dead, and it is coming in its fullness when He returns.  That is what the New Testament is about.  To miss this and focus on just "universal love" in a way you can use to suit your arguments is either ignorant or dishonest.

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