Putting It All Together: Evangelicals, Gays, Blacks, & GMOs

Boromir meme-one does not simply We need each other in order to reach an understanding of viewpoints that differ from our own. Why should we bother to do this? Because no one person or group is right all of the time, and it is a natural human tendency to tend toward arrogance, self-righteousness, prejudice, and the demonizing of those with whom we disagree.

As a guy who traverses the (mostly) conservative world of Evangelical subculture, and the (mostly) liberal world of the secular arts culture, I often feel like a fish out of water.

I’m pretty sure everyone gets the case for “marriage equality”: fairness, equal treatment, non-discrimination. But based on news and commentary that I see, it strikes me that supporters of “marriage equality” almost universally misunderstand the motives of Evangelicals in the debate. The word schadenfreude has entered the mainstream, as the Left gloats over how fun it is to watch “anti-gay” people “lose” the battle. (Schadenfreude means to feel pleasure at another’s misfortune.) I’m curious as to what “marriage equality” supporters think that Evangelicals have to lose in this debate.

There seems to be an assumption that Evangelicals somehow need to hate, in order for their “religion” to work. Or that Evangelicals hope to forcibly impose their “religious beliefs” on everyone else (as if that has ever worked for anyone.) Or that Evangelicals don’t know any gay people that they personally love.

I certainly can’t speak for all Evangelicals, but I’ve had one foot in theologically conservative Evangelical subculture all of my life, and none of the above points are true for most of us. Of course you can find jerks and buttheads on the Left, Right, and Middle of every group. Finding one, giving him press, and making him the poster boy doesn’t promote understanding.

So what do Evangelicals stand to lose in the gay marriage debate?

Nothing. We’re not in this for ourselves.

We believe we’re standing for a public policy that will be the most beneficial for future generations; one that will guarantee the most freedom for the most people, and that will be safest and healthiest for the most vulnerable members of society, namely dependent children, who have zero political power.

There is nothing in our worldview that somehow needs to keep gays, (or anyone else,) down in order to thrive.

It is mainstream Evangelical belief that, in the new covenant of Jesus, we do not have human enemies. The apostle Paul clearly states that our enemies, our weapons, and the battle itself are spiritual in nature (Eph 6:11-17.)

There are many gay Evangelicals who struggle with same sex attraction, but choose to live according to their biblical beliefs. This is their choice. They are not second-class citizens.

Evangelical marriages will be just fine if gay marriage is recognized by the state. This is true because we have an ethic that doesn’t depend upon public policy. But public policy does affect the culture in general. As the institution of marriage is redefined into oblivion, as the incest taboo falls, as monogamy in marriage ceases to be the ideal, as gender in marriage and parenting comes to be seen as irrelevant, the consequences for society at large will be grim. If traditional marriage goes down, it’s going to cost everybody. Government will increasingly need to step in to preserve order and safety, and there will necessarily be a loss of freedom for everyone.

You may be thinking, “Slow down there, cowboy – we don’t really know what will happen if the government redefines marriage to include gay couples.”

Well, technically you would be correct, since, until recently, this has never been done before in the history of the world. But that’s kind of like saying we don’t really know what will happen if we redefine food. We do know. ‘Take GMOs. Genetically modified organisms look like food. They smell like food. But they don’t do what food was designed to do.

SImilarly, we do know what will happen if marriage is arbitrarily redefined.

Changing marriage isn’t like adding another color of socks to the sock drawer. Marriage and the nuclear family is the universal and fundamental organizing societal unit in virtually every culture in the world. The reason it is universal and fundamental is that heterosexual sex universally results in offspring. Gay sex fundamentally doesn’t. When offspring results, it is in every society’s and every government’s interest that the two parents who produced that offspring take care of it. If they don’t, it often costs everybody else in some way.

We happen to have an example of what happens when heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage ceases to be the ideal standard in contemporary culture. We need only look at black subculture in America. I have some personal familiarity with this example as I raised my family in the racially mixed inner city of Kansas City for a couple of decades. I chose to send my two oldest boys to a charter junior high school that was 3% white. The family problem in black America is a widespread failure to form marriages in the first place, and a high divorce rate when marriages do form. The out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks is now over 70%. Think about that. And that’s with black babies being aborted at five times the rate of white babies.

I was struck by the irony that, while the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments about “marriage equality” in DC, blacks were rioting in Baltimore. What’s the connection? I wonder how many of the young men rioting and looting grew up with a loving father raising them and teaching them how to actually be men? I wonder how many of the looters were married men with children at home? I don’t know the answer, but we do know that generally speaking, it’s not gangs of happily married family-men hanging out on the streets at night and raising hell. It’s generally not women committing most crimes and engaging in destructive behavior. It’s mostly single men.

Single men are every society’s concern because of the way men are wired. Marriage is one, pitifully insufficient tool in society’s toolbox to induce single men to commit to one woman, and to any children they may produce together. This is why the government has an interest in monogamous, lifelong, heterosexual marriage. It makes perfect sense for the state to create strong incentives to increase the likelihood that kids will grow up with their biological mother and father if at all possible. Yet “marriage equality” says biology is irrelevant and biological parents are dispensable.

The problem of racism pales in importance compared to the problem of the disintegration of marriage and the nuclear family within black culture. You can’t have a 70% out-of-wedlock birthrate without deep consequences. Through no fault of their own, these kids will grow up disadvantaged compared to kids raised by a mom and dad who love them and who love each other. Thus the cycle will tend to repeat. Single moms, extended families, and black churches are struggling heroically to hold it together, but it’s an overwhelming problem now. Some have argued that black culture is where it is largely because of well-meaning (usually white) people trying to help. Consequently the state has replaced fathers in many black single-parent families. This is the reason journalist Jason Riley has written a book called, “Please Stop Helping Us – How Liberal Policies Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”

So what does the plight of black America have to do with gay marriage?

It highlights the importance of heterosexual, lifelong, monogamous marriage for society. It shows that good intentions don’t necessarily produce good results. Crime and poverty are not racial problems, they’re fatherlessness problems.

Critics counter that “marriage equality” will result in more marriage, not less. Isn’t that what we want? How will allowing other groups to join the legal institution of marriage hurt anyone?

During recent oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts nailed it with his statement, “You are not seeking to join the institution. You are seeking to change what the institution is…”

The disintegration of marriage has been devastating for black America, and thus for the rest of the nation. Similarly, the redefining of marriage at the federal level will change marriage not just for gays, but for the general population as well. If one aspect of traditional marriage can be changed, then so can the other aspects. For example, gay spokesdude, Dan Savage openly argues that gay marriage will help hetero marriage by normalizing the idea of consensual sexual infidelity. He calls this “monogamish” marriage. He feels this will help heterosexual marriage because “monogamy is impossible.” Savage wants to change what marriage is.

There are prominent leftist authors, such as Masha Gessen and Shulamith Firestone, who have openly advocated for the elimination of marriage and the nuclear family for the sake of equality. Whether or not this is the intention of the “marriage equality” movement doesn’t matter. It will certainly be the result. The term “marriage” will eventually be rendered meaningless for society in general, as there is no logic that will limit “equal treatment” to gay couples only.

If this were a religious issue only, I would keep my opinion inside the walls of the church. But the dynamics of marriage and family touch every person on the planet. It’s not the fault of Evangelicals that the welfare of children is inseparably linked to hetero sex and marriage. It remains compassionate, just, and rational to support sexual complementarity in monogamous, lifelong marriage. The legitimate concerns of the “marriage equality” movement can be addressed without redefining an already weak, but indispensable, institution.

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24 comments on “Putting It All Together: Evangelicals, Gays, Blacks, & GMOs

  1. Marlene Schilling says:

    Thanks for explaining how our Faith is based on Reason. I wish that more well established thinkers would publish information like this and pursuade young progressives from their worldview.

    • Thanks Marlene.
      I would say our faith is reasonable, but it’s based on revelation. Rational thought must begin with presuppositions. No matter how intelligent or educated a person is, she or he will reach wrong conclusions if she or he begins with a false presupposition. I think you are right that we are seeing a clash of worldviews around this and many other issues.

  2. I have been in the conservative Christian circle my whole life and the vast majority of people that I know do not have a relationship with any gay people. They know someone perhaps even told them how they believe, but they don’t have a relationship with them. You must be lucky in your church to know a bunch of people who do. Do you find that makes them more understanding?
    Blessings on your journey.

    • SacredStruggler,
      Maybe I have been lucky. I don’t know how to know. I just know my own experience. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, way before it was cool to be gay. Even there, two guys I was close to later identified as gay, as adults, and no one was really surprised. My experience might be a little broader than most because of my art, dance, and theater background, but still, I just haven’t heard hatred preached in any of the churches I’ve been in, either as a member, platform guest, or visitor. I haven’t heard it from the pulpit or in intimate conversation. I don’t see it from groups like Focus on the Family, or the Brushfire Foundation.

      I do think knowing gay people makes us more understanding. It certainly helps me to be more caring. I started following a guy’s blog because he’s a gay Christian and I wanted his voice in my head. I know I need to know how difficult it is for people in his situation. The church, myself included, has a lot to learn about supporting believers who struggle with same sex attraction. I think that realization is one of the good things that will come out of the current “debate.”

      Thanks for taking time to comment. I checked out your blog. Fascinating. ‘Wish we could talk over coffee sometime. Grace and peace to you.

  3. Finally compelled by the growing awareness of a subtle but disturbing War on Christians, the least I can do is to stand in the state of Grace and agree with you. I have felt more and more that I should keep my opinions on social issues to myself because of the large number of socially “progressive” friends that I have. I love them dearly but why must I be silent about my stance in fear of their anger, when they would accuse ME of intolerance… But be silent I will, to them at least, because I love them and there are plenty of other things to have in common and talk about. As Billy Graham said, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to LOVE.” As always, I enjoy your words and your intuitiveness that I have yet to disagree with.

    • Thanks for the kind words Lanette. I hope associating with me doesn’t get you into trouble:)
      I agree, of course – love is foremost! The greatest thing! But I still like to hope that our “progressive” friends are big enough to acknowledge that disagreeing with them does not define one as hateful, a bigot, an idiot, intolerant, a Nazi, or whatever. This is pretty elementary. It’s like middle school all over again, except now gay people are the cool kids.

      I like our job way better than the convicting and judging job.

  4. Arkenaten says:

    If traditional marriage goes down,

    I would like to focus on this if I may.
    Why would you think it might ”go down”? Aside from the stats suggesting the higher rates of divorce are among the more conservative religious groups, especially in the Southern States, so I understand.
    And how are gay people getting married in any way a threat to heterosexual marriage?

    As an aside, although I’m not familiar with American ‘pop’ terminology, the term ”leftist” sounds somewhat like a pejorative or in the manner of a slur the way it is used here? Maybe I’m wrong?

    • Ark,
      No, I try not to use slurs, and I wasn’t using “leftist” as a slur, but as a descriptive term. I hope it was clear that I assume many left wing policies are well intentioned. I just happen to disagree with their means of getting their hoped-for results. (ie, government intrusion.)

      I’m a little bummed that you ask a question which I answered in my post. Which may mean I didn’t communicate very well.

      You ask, “And how are gay people getting married in any way a threat to heterosexual marriage?”

      Please find the paragraph that begins: “Evangelical marriages will be just fine…

      and the part near the bottom that begins: “During recent oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts nailed it…”

      So my concern (in this post, at least) is threefold: Redefining marriage will change marriage as we know it, it will suck for more children, and it will therefore cost the general population. Which is all unnecessary because inequalities for gays can be fixed without redefining marriage.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I still don’t see the issue.
        If gay people can raise kids whether they are married or not, then why is there a problem?
        As for relationship legal inequalities, why must things be ”fixed” and who is redefining marriage?
        Maybe it is simply adopting a new perspective to a currently entrenched tradition?

        • “If gay people can raise kids whether they are married or not, then why is there a problem?”

          Exactly. I have the same question.
          The issue is about the role of government in this: Should the government establish a new, arbitrary definition of marriage and then impose that definition on the rest of the population?
          As things are now, everyone is free to act as they see fit.

          Gays can currently live with whomever they want, raise children together, and even find a church that will “marry” them. None of this is illegal in any state in America. They say they want marriage because state recognized marriages come with tax benefits and other advantages. I’m saying tax law could be changed for them without redefining marriage.

          Should government be involved in people’s sex lives at all? Generally speaking, no.
          But it IS in the interest of government that 2 citizens who make a baby together stick around to raise that baby. Heterosexual marriage performs a critical function for society that no other kind of relationship does, therefore it makes sense for the government to incentivize and even reward heterosexual marital commitment.

          There is no campaign to take kids away from gay couples. But I don’t see a reason to incentivize and promote gay parenting either. I think a kid is better off with 2 loving gay parents than in a dysfunctional family, or in the state system. I applaud the sacrifice gay parents are making, because I know how hard it is. But the fact remains that, by definition, every child raised by a gay couple will be without one, if not both, biological parents. This is intentional motherlessness and/or fatherlessness. It’s just not the same thing as a marriage. The following is from a woman raised by 2 lesbians: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/02/14370/

          • Arkenaten says:

            You keep talking about redefining. Who ”defined” it in the first place?

            • For purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter. You can fill in the blank as to who defined it – god, evolution, nature, society, religion – but we have something today called marriage, and redefining it would be a step backward.
              It looks like this: a biologically unrelated male and female consensually come together to commit to a lifelong, sexually exclusive union to be a husband and wife to each other, and a father and mother should offspring result. (7 defining aspects.)

              I assume you agree that such an ideal exists as the norm for modern marriage today, at least in America and the West.

              Of course various “definitions” have existed throughout history, but we’ve arrived at the above definition as the healthiest and safest configuration, especially for women and children. Even with variations, to my knowledge marriage has always basically been the formation of a new, heterosexual family unit. Biology pretty much dictates this. I’m open to being shown otherwise.

            • Arkenaten says:

              I agree that we are ”mechanically ” evolved to continue the species. This is not debated.
              What I cannot undestand is what you are actually trying to establish or what you are objecting to.
              If homosexuals can legally get married raise kids etc etc what exactly is the issue you have?

            • The US Supreme Court is about to render a decision as to whether or not gay marriages will be legally recognized by the US government. What is at issue is a possible redefinition of marriage at the federal level which will then be imposed on the general public in various ways. I am opposed to the redefining of marriage, especially at the federal level. If someone wants to personally make up their own definition I really don’t give a rip. But if the gov redefines it, it will affect the entire nation, for the worse, in my opinion.

              I’m trying to establish that there are rational, good, just, compassionate, non-religious reasons to support and even incentivize hetero, lifelong, monogamous marriage. These reasons are not hateful, bigoted, or anti-gay. I favor pluralism and freedom, and fixing tax inequalities without redefining marriage.

              I’m not sure how to be any clearer.

            • Arkenaten says:

              Ah, sorry, I was missing the obvious. I think?
              This is, for you, ( and others) a religious issue, I take it?

              You are opposed to government intervention on the grounds that your religion is against marrying gays. Have I got this right?

            • Arkenaten says:

              This article clarifies the issue better than I can and as far as I can see covers all bases.
              If this does not cover your position please say so.

              https://knowledgeguild.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/trivialities-of-gay-marriage/

  5. Ken Gauthier says:

    The Scandinavian nations have legally recognized one form of gay marriage or another for more than 25 years. While their percentage of out of wedlock births is far higher than ours, their standard of living far exceeds ours in every single category. The evidence simply doesn’t support the perceived concerns.

    • Ken,
      I think the evidence in this country supports my perceived concerns, but I’m open to being persuaded that it doesn’t.

      As for Scandinavian countries, I have no firsthand knowledge. My understanding is that out-of-wedlock births there are very different than they are here. Here, out of wedlock births often result in single parenthood, which is a problem. There, couples often wait to get married until they have a kid or two together. But the ideal of monogamy and co-parenting is still intact, and these couples tend to function as committed families. It doesn’t sound like gay marriage is as big a deal there because marriage isn’t as big a deal.

      I think the bottom line is that kids still do best with a biological mom and a dad, and if they’ve found a way to make that happen without marriage, then good for them. I think we all understand that there is nothing magical about a piece of paper issued by the state.

  6. To Arkenaten, who wrote, “You are opposed to government intervention on the grounds that your religion is against marrying gays. Have I got this right?”

    No, I think your prejudice is preventing you from seeing what I’ve plainly stated. (I don’t mean this as an insult to you. I think we are all prone to being blinded by our preconceptions, myself included.)
    Why would I use a religious or biblical argument with an audience that does not consider religion or the Bible to be credible? Why would I petition the government to impose my religious views on people who don’t believe as I do? Even on a personal level, why would I expect people who don’t claim to follow Jesus to behave as followers of Jesus? None of this makes sense to me. I oppose the gov redefining marriage because I favor pluralism and freedom for everyone. I believe in a free marketplace of ideas, where bad ideas can be exposed for what they are.

    I read the article you linked. I think it is a shining example of the “marriage equality” side’s failure to understand the opposing arguments. (As stated at the beginning of my post.) I don’t have time to go point by point, but I’ll address 2 of his points:

    He says, “In order to get a better understanding of the objections that are made by the people who are opposed to two consenting adults expressing their love in front of their family, friends and society at large, let us consider…”

    This is a typical misrepresentation, designed to make it appear that people like me want to criminalize homosexuality or gay marriage. Gay people are free to love whomever they want. I wish them happiness. I’m not opposed to love, I’m opposed to redefining marriage, especially at the state level.

    It is telling that he thinks this is a trivial issue. I think marriage is a fundamentally important civil institution.

    The only real source he cites to back up a point is the Melbourne study. This study 1) did not use a random sample, 2) gay parents self-reported on how their kids were doing, 3) gay parents were compared to the general population which includes single parents, step-parents, and foster parents. But our contention is that kids do best when raised by their married, biological parents.

    All of his other points similarly miss or misrepresent the opposing view, in my opinion. If you think he makes a good point, I’m open to being persuaded.

  7. Will Tapia says:

    This is tough stuff, and you take it on with all the seriousness it deserves and I really appreciate your perspective on the subject.

    My position on this issue as a ‘follower of Christ’ is evolving, but my memory of scripture derived from His story is a lot less specific than what I am hearing from religious sources on the matter. I have found very little to confirm any position C might have had, except to say that we must love one another, as we would have others do in-kind … and very much, to all kind.

    As to the out-of-wedlock birthrate stats, I am more inclined to suggest that as they relate to blacks, the starting points for our African American community was from-the-start ‘severely disadvantaged’, due to the fact that most now living are also descended from people abducted from their villages in Africa by onerous people who had little or no regard for marriage status amongst their ‘commodities’. Much of what followed with captives related to the business of regenerating the owners’ supply of slaves through forced breeding practices … traditions of marriage more-or-less got a late start with subsequent generations who only later acquired a limited and/or stilted form of freedom at the close of the Civil War. We are still struggling to address what real civil freedom is in this country, and it is very difficult to repair issues culturally affecting several generations of human beings.

    People tend to look for mentors with those they most closely relate to personally, so setting better examples is as important as ever, but that opportunity also depends upon how fairly people of various backgrounds thrive and, of course, how they are treated in the eyes of the law … this issue is currently being reevaluated and readdressed, so the potential benefit of mentoring is clearly at its dawn, historically speaking.

    That said …

    I believe that education CAN improve most every situation when and where is is available, though I also think it is true that sex education has been incredibly slow to gain support in schools whether they are private or public … that is the other ‘secular’ effort to change what some perceive as a socio-cultural problem that is literally affecting every ethnic group in our society, without exception.

    In my opinion, we need to be a lot more open about knowledge and learning, whether it is biblical in origin or secular … for maximum benefit to what your and I know are all ‘children of God’.

    I’m sure most or all true followers of Christ our Savior will agree that …

    We need to be more accepting of all the challenges people face, knowing that God had [and has] a direct hand in everyone’s makeup and destiny. What we learn as a group is also a big part of His plan (for all the earth and humanity).

  8. Will Tapia says:

    Of course I meant ‘accepting and sympathetic’ to all the challenges people face …

  9. Hey Will, It’s good to hear from you!
    You raise some interesting points. I have a couple of further thoughts – one clear, one not so clear, in my opinion.

    First the clear one: I often hear people say that Jesus didn’t address homosexuality. Or that there’s no clear concept of “biblical marriage” in the Bible. I don’t think that’s correct. The Torah lays out God’s vision for marriage in the creation story (Gen 2:24.) Then, Jesus later refers precisely to this Torah account where He says this was God’s intention from the beginning. He then explains that the Torah contains concessions because of “hardness of men’s hearts,” but that this does not reflect God’s ideal (Matt 19:4-8.)

    The not so clear point: What is the cause of the astronomical out of wedlock birthrate in black culture? The reason I don’t agree that it has to do with their “severely disadvantaged” start is because unmarried birth rates, as well as crime rates, were much lower in the 1950s and 60s, when racial discrimination was legal and black poverty was much worse than it is today. Should we continue blaming the problem on “the system” when blacks have been part of running the system for decades now? Jason Riley points out that some of the most violent cities in the US are run by blacks. “Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and 80s in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, & Philadelphia under black mayors and police chiefs.” (Notice these are not southern cities.)

    What makes black culture different? I think blacks are the same as everybody else. What is different about black culture is that well-meaning liberals suffering from white guilt have tried to “help,” essentially tempting blacks to become dependent upon the government. Meanwhile, other minority groups have come to this country starting out in poverty, and, by working hard to make a life for their children and grandchildren, have seen subsequent generations rise out of poverty, and assimilate into the general culture. The assimilation aspect is key because it has to do (in part) with valuing education, which you mention. Riley points out that the black ghetto fosters attitudes toward school, work, marriage, and child-rearing that keep kids from succeeding in general. It’s not cool to be smart, or to act or sound “white.” Education can’t be a solution when the culture makes fun of kids for learning.

    It’s a heart and character problem. I’m contending that marriage and family is key to all of this; fathers in particular, because of the role they (should) play in raising boys to men. The culture is broken because the family is broken. Weakening marriage further will further damage the culture in general.

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