April 18, 2014
There is one theme that pervades the discussion on gay marriage: “this debate is the same as the debate we had on skin color in the 1960s.” Memes fly around the internet comparing the two fights. One recently on my newsfeed showed a picture of an interracial couple from the 1950s and a gay couple from today side by side with a statement “both illegal marriages.” When Arizona tried to pass its “religious freedom bill” that would allow the religious to refuse service in some situations to homosexuals, the response was clear: ‘this is the new Jim Crowe’. As a result, Jan Brewer vetoed the bill (probably fearing looking like the new George Wallace).
But the comparison is a bad one. The two causes should not be compared. They are nothing alike. To compare them is not only confusing but insulting to anyone who hates racial discrimination.
The comparison is wrong for one reason: Behavior is not skin color.
People often point to the idea that homosexual desire is innate. If it is innate, they argue, it is like skin color (something we cannot change) and therefore worthy of the same sort of civil protections. But is this true? A moment’s reflection shows the error of this thought. We are all born with a wide variety of innate impulses and desires (sexual and otherwise). Some of our innate desires and impulses are good and some are not. We all judge our desires and make decisions on when, how, and whether to act on them. These innate impulses are not behaviors. The fact that we have an innate desire/impulse in no way means that acting on that desire (behavior) must be accepted, licensed by the state, or endorsed by the public.
This concept is manifestly true based on the fact that we all regularly do not act on a whole host of our innate desires. We don’t because doing so would often be often be socially unacceptable (and sometimes illegal depending on which desire in which context). Only some behaviors are socially acceptable (depending on the culture, legal code, and situation). We all filter our innate desires and choose which behaviors are good and which are bad.
We cannot automatically assume that because a desire is innate the corresponding behavior must be accepted by all…..that is almost never true. Desire is not behavior. Behavior is not innate.
Very few behaviors are established as civil rights in our country and I have a hard time seeing why this one sexual behavior should be classified alongside skin color.
The current debates (i.e. gay marriage, sodomy laws, and conscience laws and etc) are all about behavior. No one is discussing thought control. The innate desires are not being restricted – no, there are questions about behaviors. And such discussions are appropriate and good. There is nothing hateful when we determine to reject certain behaviors as bad (we all do that every day). In fact, behaviors must be evaluated, judged as ethical or not, and rejected (or embraced) as part of living in a civil society.
There is fundamental difference between skin color and behavior. It seems obvious but our society continues to confuse the two. It is time this confusion ended.
December 21, 2013
People love to make the case that Christmas is a pagan holiday that Christians adopted and Christianized. The primary piece of evidence is that the date is December 25 (a day that falls right in the middle of the Winter Solstice celebrations so important to paganism). Others point out that Christ’s actual birthday is either unknown or probably in the spring.
“In the first chapter of Luke, we read that the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would conceive John the Baptist while Zechariah was performing his priestly duties on the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. That feast always falls in either late September or early October.
Luke also tells us that, after Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive Jesus, she went in haste to visit Elizabeth, and that Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her pregnancy. If Elizabeth conceived in late September, and Mary visited her in her sixth month, that means Mary conceived Jesus and visited Elizabeth in late March. If Mary conceived Jesus in late March, that places his birth in late December.”
In the end there is nothing that requires us to know the exact date. There is nothing wrong with picking a day and celebrating his birth then. But I found this interesting.
December 20, 2013
CNN religion writer John Blake wrote this piece marking the 50th anniversary of the death of famed Christian author C.S. Lewis. It would be a generally positive article but Blake seems to give the impression that Lewis was terribly inconsistent in his Christian faith and engaged in wildly inappropriate sexual jokes at parties (asking people to spank him) and lived with a woman outside of wedlock in a strange (and possibly sexual) relationship.
Reading the reactions to this story, I saw more than a few people quote this article with smug satisfaction supposing that it confirmed that yet another Christian is a creepy hypocrite. But there is a major part of the story that is not made clear in Blake’s article: both the salacious revelations (the inappropriate jokes and the alleged premarital sex) were BEFORE HE CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY. Yes, the “shocking” revelation here is that Lewis did not adhere to Christian ethics before he was a Christian.
But that should not be shocking to anyone. The Apostle Paul participated in murder before converting. Saint Augustine was notoriously immoral before converting. And countless other heroes of the faith were not exactly ‘saints’ before becoming saints.
Of course no one is perfect after coming to faith either. In fact, even the most famous saints in history had areas of inconsistency and sin. But Lewis had nothing in his life known to us that would cause us to call him a hypocrite. His only known vices after converting were that he drank beer and he smoked tobacco……and neither of these things are sins if done in moderation.
For further reading, here is an article from a C.S. Lewis biographer who explains all of this better than I can.
October 25, 2013
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
May 10, 2012
Isn’t it rude and closed-minded for Christians to say that Jesus is the only way to God? This is a common complaint that I hear about the Christian faith. People say that Christians should be more open-minded and recognize that there are many ways to God and that all religions are equally valid. I am convinced that, while this may sound nice, there is nothing rude or closed minded about the claim that Jesus is the only way.
Imagine a doctor prescribing a particular medicine that could save the life of your child. On your way home from the doctor’s office you walk past street venders selling, among other things, alternative medicines and remedies. Each vendor claims that your child could be saved by their special mixture of herbs and vitamins. You get home and call the doctor and ask her if her prescription is really the only cure for your child. Is it closed minded or rude for your doctor to insist loudly that the various vitamins and herbs being sold are unable to cure the particular disease that your child has and that only the medicine she has prescribed can cure? Of course it is not. In fact, if she did anything else she might be charged with malpractice. It is important to tell the truth. There is nothing rude or closed minded about it.
All of humanity has a particular sickness called sin. The scriptures tell us that the death and resurrection of Jesus provided the cure to that sickness. And Jesus stated that he was the only way (John 14:6). Like the good doctor we are called to be honest about these facts. It is important to tell the truth. We should do so with kindness and understanding but with the firmness that comes from the conviction that faith in Jesus is what is really needed to heal the wounded soul.
July 26, 2011
I am not a Bill O’Reilly but I appreciated his addressing the ‘Christian Terrorist” lie.
July 9, 2011