Archive for the ‘evangelicalism’ Tag

Freedom of Speech Should Be Free   Leave a comment

I’m a Duck Dynasty virgin. We don’t have cable, so I’ve never seen the show. I heard about it, but I probably wouldn’t have worked very hard to see it except for the Phil Robertson affair.

Like Mr. Robertson, I believe the Bible is pretty clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. If that offends you, please take it up with God. Somewhat like the law that says we in the United States have to drive on the right-hand side of the road or face manslaughter charges if we hit other cars head on when we drive on the left-hand side of the road – it is governed by forces larger than myself and it is so common-sense that I can’t see a reason to argue about it. God says homosexual behavior is soul-sucking behavior. I see evidence for that. As He is God and I am not, I don’t have a problem with accepting what He says.

This is not to say that gays do not have civil rights in our society. They have the same ones I have. Universal acceptance for their sexual conduct is not a civil right and their demand that it is threatens everyone’s fundamental civil rights. Do we need to list those? Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom from involuntary servitude, the right to vote, the right to equality in public places, the right to due process of law, the right to equal protection under the law. I think that’s pretty much it. Constitutional civil rights are inalienable, God-given, based ultimately on the teachings of the Bible. They are also individual. Groups do not have rights. Go read the constitution and get back with me if you don’t believe me. If you find a reference to groups anywhere there, let me know.

Satisfied? Let’s move on, then.

In a free society, respectful disagreement should be expected and allowed. Society cannot avoid conflict. Homosexual sex directly contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Acknowledging that does not automatically lead to hatred of or violence toward homosexuals because the Bible is more than just a list of sins. The Bible is also a manual for love. All humans are sinners. I may not be violating God’s law by having sex with a woman, but I know I’m violating His law by being 20 pounds overweight. Like homosexuality, overeating is a sin because it treats God’s temple – the Christian’s body – disrespectfully. Hetrosexuals commit sexual sins themselves when they have sex outside of marriage, lust after those who are not their spouses, and divorce and remarry. A lot of Christians need forgiveness in those areas. There are also evangelicals who are themselves homosexuals who are challenged to reconcile their faith with their sexual urges in much the same way that Christians who are alcoholics must reconcile their faith with their addiction. Hatred and violence are also sins, according to the Bible. It’s a good thing the Bible teaches forgiveness and reconciliation, which is not acceptance of sin, but acceptance of the sinner.

I know, that term “sinner” is hurtful and offensive. Truths often are, as every alcoholic who has ever been confronted with the consequence of their drinking can attest. Phil Robertson was honest about what he believes. He probably should have not had his Carrie Prejean moment while under the scrutiny of GQ magazine. Who knows how much editing his comments underwent between when he spoke them and when they were printed. He’s clarified his thinking following the release of the comments. He’s said he’s an imperfect human being, a product of the 60s who sinned plenty before becoming a Christian and he believes in the power of forgiveness, but he’s not going to compromise his faith to salve society’s flavor-of-the-month cause. I agree with him, for the most part. Sin is not a concept the secular world really understands, so it’s not surprising that the discussion has turned toxic.

It might surprise some people that I have several lesbian friends. Well, not if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, because I’ve discussed it before. I used to work for a social service agency and there were a lot of lesbians working there. A couple became actual friends. When the Robertson affair hit the press, one of them and I engaged in a conversation about it. She knows I consider her lifestyle to be a sin. She also knows that I don’t hate her and that I pray for her salvation. She “gets” that I’m upholding Biblical principle both by acknowledging the sin and caring for the sinner.

On the other hand, a friend of my daughter – a public-school educated millennial – insists that evangelicals will just have to change our beliefs because there is absolutely no tolerating differences of opinion on homosexuality. “Homosexual rights are absolute, even if they violate your beliefs,” she wrote. “If you belief homosexuality is a sin, then you have no place in American society.” Because I like to argue, I managed to gin her up to suggesting reeducation camps for Christians and other fun moral-realignment activities.

Because my daughter cares for her as a friend, I chose not to post our dialogue. It would be one thing if the 20-something set were the only ones thinking this way, but they have loads of company.

Liberals ignore the downside to pursuing their idealistic visions. Ideally, everyone would believe as I believe, but that takes away the freedom of atheists. Similarly, homosexual rights cannot be absolute without the country sacrificing freedom of conscience, thought and speech. If Phil Robertson must sit down, shut up and be punished because what he believes constitutes “hate speech”, then we no longer have freedom of conscience or speech in this country. No one should want to nullify those freedoms for any reason, but it is a perfect wedge voting issue for the Democratic Party, which has spent the last 30 years using the public schools to proselytize that the gay agenda is civil rights, when in reality it is political manipulation.

Compromise on the issue would cost the Democrats votes because it would make social conservatives look … well, sane. Compromise in the political arena on this issue is possible. Let’s focus on civil rights as opposed to civil control.

Let’s start by getting government out of the marriage business. Whoa! See how easy that was? Government no longer decides who may and may not marry. Civil unions become a matter of contract the particulars of which may be registered with the state, but not decided by the state. Lawyers work out the details between parties who agree to the terms that are acceptable to them. Churches and civic organizations can, if they choose, perform ritualistic ceremonies that solemnize the contract … or not.

If churches don’t want to perform gay “weddings”, then they shouldn’t have to. Secular organizations could provide whatever ritual is desired by those who cannot solemnize their contract in a church. This leaves the individuals in faith communities free to exercise their beliefs while also allowing gays to contract for domestic partnership. Healthy heterosexual families are protected by contract law and homosexual couples are also. Nobody is treated as legal second-class citizens.
While we’re at it, schools (which are paid for by all of us) should get out of the proselytizing business. The viewpoints of GLAAD should not be promoted in public schools anymore than the viewpoints of the Robertson family.

Adoption is a more troubling and difficult problem, but it might be best for government just got out of the whole family business altogether. Let private adoption rule. Religious adoption centers should not be banned from excluding gay couples while secular adoption centers could accept them. The political line, unsupported by evidence, that children are entirely safe and thrive equally well in gay families should not be taught in public schools and should not be supported by the government.

If we got the government out of the way on this issue, we could then have a civil conversation about right, wrong and the role of morality in our society. Maybe if we listened to one another instead of demonizing the other side for political gamesmanship, we’d learn something.

My lesbian friend noted that she didn’t automatically assume Phil Robertson wants to eliminate gays from society because her friendship with me had taught her that I “believe homosexuality is a sin, but you don’t hate me.” That came from talking to one another in a civil manner, exercising our freedom of speech and allowing each other freedom of conscience and association.

Whoa! What an amazing concept! I think they used to call it liberty.

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