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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Planting a firm foot in the Gay Minefield

As a conservative and Christian, one of the many "anti-{insert social issue here}" labels I have to contend with is homosexuality.  It's often presumed that due to my moral and spiritual beliefs that I'm anti-gay.  In a never ending irony highlight reel, liberals with their self proclaimed sophisticated and progressive thinking have attached that label without bothering to dig into the moral and intellectual weeds regarding a conservative and/or Christian's stance on gays.

Granted, there are a number of conservatives and Christians that have a hard time articulating their side that will satisfy a liberal (just as there's a large swath of liberals who rarely think on an issue beyond their emotions).  This doesn't mean that all conservatives and Christians are bigots and hate gays.  In an amusing twist, and I have no numbers to substantially back this up, but I'd posit to say that there are more liberals and leftists who hate conservative gays than there are conservatives who hate all gays.  Why do I say that?  Because leftists have a long standing and documented history of vehemently reviling anyone who opposes their ideology, even (or perhaps especially) if the person is of a minority status that's typically identified with the left (at least by the left's standards).  For example, look how vile leftists are to Clarence Thomas and Allen West, both prominent conservative black men.  Thus, I'd think the biggest haters of conservative gays (and yes, there's a large number of them) would ironically be leftists, including liberal gays.

Alas, I'm straying off topic.  The point above is that the stance of conservatives and Christians on gays is not as simple as stating that we "hate" gays.  In fact, I'd like again to point out that the reason leftists find it so easy to believe this is their own propensity to hate those that oppose their own ideologies.  To them, if you don't agree with them, then you must hate them, so they hate you back.  This is why I call it the Gay Minefield.  From a conservative and Christian standpoint, the stance is very nuanced and requires some clear and calm thinking.  It's very easy to make a misstep that blows everything up.  I'm going to do my best to navigate through this minefield, though I'm not sure if I'll get through it unscathed.

My relationship with Homosexuality

Before I get into my view on specific issues (namely gay marriage), I want to openly talk about myself and my relationship to this social issue.  I've been struggling to find a good way to navigate the minefield, and I hopefully have found it.  But only time will tell.

For starters I don't hate gays at all.  I have a few friends that are gay.  I work with gay people.  I'm perfectly comfortable around them.  They're good people and better than quite a number of heterosexuals I know.  I also have met some gays that I did not like.  Not because they're gay, but because they were rude and nasty people.

I'll openly admit that the thought of two males having sex or making out grosses me out.  And while it does, it doesn't mean I hate the people that might engage in such activities nor am I out to directly prevent them from doing that.  However, if the image was foisted upon me, I'd try to evade it as much as anyone whose grossed out by feet (which btw, I'm shocked at how many people are...they're just feet!) avoids having to deal with feet. What I'm saying is that being grossed out by male homosexual intercourse is not a factor in any of my stances on gay social issues.  It also does not make me a homophobe or make me hate gays.  The reason I admit to it is that the left, because of their penchant for basing their decisions and policy purely on feelings, wrongly assumes that this is why many conservatives oppose gay marriage.  

I'll also openly admit that I dislike the more flippant displays of gay activism.  Again, not because I hate gays or that I'm homophobic, but because I find many of the displays lacking in morality, respect, and taste.  For example, when some heads of gay activist organizations were invited to the White House, what did they decide to do?  Take pictures of themselves flipping off the portrait of Ronald Reagan (whom, ironically, did more for gays than most presidents) and them making out.  Both of these acts are disrespectful and show a lack of moral character.  This is the White House, one of our country's most venerated places (if not the most).  If I were a member of those particular activist organizations, I'd be thoroughly ashamed of my leaders and condemn such actions.  

Continuing on gay avctivism at a more general level, there are the gay pride parades.  While I agree someone should definitely have confidence to believe in oneself, the images from these parades always seems to indicate the parades are more of an excuse to flaunt their intimate sexual tastes and tastes in front of others.  Just do google image search of "gay pride parade" to see what I'm talking about. Is that what being gay is about?  Flaunting in public things that should rightfully be kept private (like normal people, including most gays, do)?  In fact, again irony rearing its ugly head, I'd say that these parades probably do more damage and cause more division than they do help because it sends the message to the public that the gay community has no respect for public decency or morality.  One does not need to publicly flaunt their sexual tastes in order to not feel ashamed of them.  Some things should always remain private.  Not because one's gay, but because no one, regardless of sexual orientation, really wants to know what kind of kinky stuff you like to do in the bedroom.  That's a more intimate interaction between individuals and should be kept that way.

I'll also admit that there was a time not too long ago that I wasn't opposed to gay marriage.  That, much like Vice President Biden, I believed if you loved someone, you should be able to marry.  I talked about how you can't "legislate salvation".  I also had a more liberal mindset about many issues.  So what changed?  I believe God has convicted me on these.  He's shown my arrogance in believing that I know better.  He's shown me how shallow my perceptions were when they're based on my feelings and that there is importance in these morals that progressives continually mock as outdated and nonsensical.  In sum, I was humbled.  Being someone who thinks on things alot, it's easy to have confidence in my own logic and reason.  It's an easy trap for someone to fall into such arrogance.  Like a teenager who believes they know everything, spiritual maturation and conviction have shown me the folly of my shallow views.  

I mention the above as a measure of disclosure to again dispel any accusations of hate.  I dislike many forms of leftist activism (which does include many parts of gay activism) because of their typical open hostility to social norms and lack of morality.  Also, they're generally ineffective.  Take a look at the Occupy movement, which has done nothing aside from leaving trashed and damage property in its wake wherever it marches.  Do you see their rabble rousing effecting electoral changes in this country? Nope.  Yet, take its conservative counterpart, the Tea Party, which mobilized and was instrumental in the historic 2010 mid term elections.  They accomplished something real and did it without breaking the law or being disrespectful.

We're not inherently good, a preface

 Before I start delving into my views, I think it's worth mentioning a basic tenet of Christian faith:  people are not naturally good people.  Our nature, our tendencies are to commit sinful, bad acts.  It's not a person's nature that determines whether they're good or evil or somewhere in between, it's their choices that make the difference.  It's important to understand that because while we all have natural sinful urges, that's not what makes us 'bad' people.  It's indulging in those desires that makes someone "wrong" or "bad".

The above is a preface to my views on the morality of homosexuality.  Because while I believe that participating in homosexual ativities (lying with another man as one would lie with a woman, for example) is immoral, it doesn't mean the person having homosexual urges is a "bad" person because of those urges.  It's bad when they choose to indulge those urges.  It's noble when they're able to resist their sinful nature.  So yes, I believe engaging in homosexual activities is a sin.  Note that I'm not condemning the person to eternal hell fire.  It's a sin, just as much as adultery is a sin and viewing pornography is a sin.

But why do I think it's a sin?  Personally, I think this is where many conservatives and Christians step on a mine.  Many will fall back on the Bible, say "God said so" and be done with it.  And while there's nothing wrong with having absolute faith in God as one's moral authority, there's a couple problems it poses.

First, while having faith in God as one's moral authority is great, I also think blindly following any precepts in Christianity does not make one a strong Christian.  It is my personal belief that every Christian should attempt to reconcile their personal feelings and thoughts on every moral judgment in the Bible.  By doing so, one becomes tempered to the inevitable skepticism and cynicism from exterior forces.  Many beliefs will ultimately loop back to faith, but I firmly believe God wants us to take that journey of self exploration so we can be stronger for Him.  He's blessed us with curiosity and an inquisitive mind knowing fully well that true faith only really comes after it's been tested in the flames of doubt and skepticism.

Second, it's not just a convincing argument to a non believer.  If these people are the people we're trying to convince and/or win over, "because God said so" just doesn't seem very effective.  While it's possible God could work something in someone from that argument, expecting God to do all the heavy lifting as opposed to relying on him to give you the right words to say just seems lazy.   Consider the argument the equivalent of expecting God to dispense a free "spiritual conversion handout".  While it's something he's been known to do, I just don't believe it's something we should expect.  We should expect to have to work for our converts and persuading our naysayers, which involves being more articulate than just "Because God Says So".

The morality of homosexual acts

So back to my beliefs.  Obviously "Because God Said So" isn't enough for me.  It took a bit of searching to reconcile my feelings on this.  Why would God consider it a sin?  It can't because he's grossed out at the image of homosexual acts like I am.  Is it because it's "not natural"?  Yes, and no.  If by "natural" you mean His intent, then yes.  However, as mentioned, we have a sinful nature.  And a person's natural tendencies can range all over the place.  So to say it's "not natural" in that sense isn't right because someone might fully well be naturally inclined to commit homosexual acts.

So what is it?  I believe it's because the act is in direct opposition to his intent for humanity's elevation above the natural and closer to the divine.  One of  Christianity's greatest gifts to mankind is its emphasis and value placed on the family unit.  The family is the nuclear unit which has helped elevate humans above just being animals with bigger brains. Through the family, values are instilled, love is shared, and the sanctity of life is cherished.  Every family unit has a mother and a father.  The mother is female and the father is male.  Aside from the obvious natural ability to produce offspring together, it isn't coincidence that these roles are gender specific.  While Leftists try to eliminate any differences in gender, the fact of the matter is there is a base difference between males and females.  Males are naturally more inclined to be father figures and females mother figures.  While this isn't to say that a gay person couldn't be a good parent, it just means that when it comes to familial unit, having two male or female parental figures is not an ideal situation for a child to be raised.  While one can point to a large array of dysfunctional traditional families, it is not an indictment of the traditional , and intended, family unit having the greatest capacity to produce morally strong and loving individuals.  It just means people are flawed, but doesn't invalidate that the traditional family unit is the best chance at producing individuals with strong moral character.

To distill it down some, God made the traditional family unit humanity's best chance at elevating itself to be more like him, which is another tenet of Christianity - to be more Christ like.  The practice of homosexuality not only hinders the formation of these units (since a homosexual relationship cannot naturally create offspring on its own), it can also form flawed units that are either missing a key component role or have actors of the opposite gender performing a role to which they're not naturally suited.

Again, this isn't to say that there aren't any good gay parents or any good single parents (lacking a key component).  It's saying that the traditional family unit is the best chance in producing the best kind of human beings.  God built us that way.  Practicing anything less than that is inviting moral decline, just as practicing any other immoral act does.  Adultery leads to breaking the familial unit and reduces the chances of producing strong moral individuals.  Viewing pornography degrades the sanctity of sex between a married man and woman.  They all contribute to moral decline.

And while yes, I'm pretty much saying engaging in homosexual acts invites moral decay, this indictment isn't exclusive to just homosexual activity.  Pretty much any immoral activity invites moral decay and there's no one that isn't guilty.

Now the one argument that's come up alot lately is that being gay is genetic.  That they were "born that way".  While that point in itself is under contention  (they've not found the "sexuality gene" despite looking for it and some studies have shown that a large majority of lesbians become so due to psychological influences), let's just pretend that it is true.  This means that they can't help their nature, their homosexual tendencies.  As I mentioned earlier, there's a distinction between one's natural inclination and the choice to act on those inclinations.  So even IF they're born that way, they still have to decide to engage in homosexual activities.

Remember, humans are naturally not good.  It's a constant struggle to fight against our sinful nature to elevates ourselves to be more divine.  And if people cannot be held accountable for indulging in their immoral natural inclinations, then that means you can't blame the pedophiles for being attracted to children or men being unfaithful to their wives because it's their nature to have sex with multiple partners or murderers that have an almost unstoppable desire to kill.  And while a number of homosexuals succumb to their natural desires, it still doesn't mean they're bad people and doomed to eternal hellfire.  It just means they're committing an immoral act which is something we all have done and will do.

Gay Marriage

If you've read this far, it's probably quite clear what my stance is on gay marriage given my views of how important the traditional family is to Christianity and humanity in general, so I'll try not to repeat too much of it.  But while I believe homosexuality is immoral based on primarily familial reasons, the specific issue of gay marriage today covers more than just a debate on homosexuality's morality.

Marriage is the institution from which the core family unit forms.  A man and a woman bond, dedicating themselves to each other and the raising of a family.  And yes, marriage isn't exclusive to just making babies and a family, but that's always been its intent.  The nobility in Europe would arrange marriages for the primary purpose of forging alliances between the two families so they could produce blood linked heirs.  Many cultures where arranged marriages were the norm did so to form a strong coupling that could produce and sustain a good family.  And since forming a family and marriage are so closely linked, I believe it's important to enshrine the definition to represent the traditional family unit (male husband, female wife) that is so important to the elevation of humanity and society.

If marriage is the inroad to forming a strong family and the traditional family gives the best chance to producing moral and good people, then holding the definition of marriage to that standard is highly important.  Just because two people love each other, doesn't necessarily mean they should be married.  Now while I believe homosexuality is immoral, I'm not out to keep homosexual couples from forming and I definitely do not hate them.   If they love each other and want to be together, then I'm not going to stop that.  I just don't believe they should be married.  Marriage should be exclusive to a man and a woman to become husband and wife respectively.

Now some might say it's not fair that a gay couple where both people are good people are not allowed to marry while a hetero couple where both people are "bad" can get married.  I agree.  It is not fair to them.  But when it comes to such an important institution as this, a line needs to be drawn.  If we expand marriage beyond the traditional sense, then we run into a problem.  If we take Vice President Biden's rationale and that it's "all about who you love", then in opening up ourselves to gay marriage, we're also opening ourselves to other forms of "love" and marriage.  Going by the VP's remarks, what if someone really loves their sister?  They should be able to get married, right?  Sandusky reportedly loved those boys, so he should be able to marry them, yes?  What if someone loves their cow?  Basically, if you only put an "all you need is love" stipulation on marriage, then it turns into a union between anything and the sanctity of marriage as an institution for creating a family is lost among the ambiguity of "all you need is love".  So a line has to be drawn.  And given we have thousands upon thousands of years of precedent supporting traditional marriage, drawing the line at traditional marriage makes the most sense.  Civilization has largely considered marriage to be between a man and a woman.

Furthermore, gay marriage also represents a threat to the distinction between genders, a common goal of the left.  The left refuses to acknowledge that there are hard wired difference between men and women.  Redefining marriage would be considered a victory in this area since anyone could be husband or wife, mother or father.  And why is this distinction important?  Because when that distinction disappears, society will continue to morally decline as more flawed and broken familial units form.  Of course, with those on the left, this isn't a concern because moral relativism allows them to escape recognizing immorality and wrong doings.  As long as everyone is "equal", that's all that matters.

But why legislation?

This is probably the part I struggled with the most.  I can believe gay marriage isn't right.  But how can I condone making it a law that only a man and woman can get married?  Separation of church and state, right?  It's a common misconception that the phrase "separation of church and state" is in the 1st Amendment.  In fact, it isn't.  Here's what the 1st Amendment guarantees: 
  1. The state will not adopt an official religion
  2. The freedom for people to practice religion however they see fit
What the 1st Amendment was never intended to do is remove religion from government.  It's evident just by looking on our money or reciting our pledge of allegiance.  You see, the Founding Fathers knew in order for a nation to succeed, it had to have a strong moral foundation.  That foundation was the Bible and Christianity.  As smart as the Founding Fathers were, do you really believe that if they intended for government to not be influenced by religion that they'd make the mistake of printing their currency with "In God We Trust" or have our pledge of allegiance indicate "one nation, under God"?  It's folly to believe so.  This country's founding and its laws are heavily based on Judeo-Christian morality.  And this influence is not in conflict with our 1st Amendment right.  

So why legislation for gay marriage?  Why not legislation for pornography? Why not laws for outlawing swearing?  While yes, all those things are considered wrong and immoral, marriage has a singular importance above swearing or pornography or even just the act of homosexuality.  As described above, it's the institution through which humanity elevates itself through formation of the core family unit.  As legislation, I see it a measure to keep the traditional core family unit intact.  Marriage should have a unique, special, and legally recognized status that honors its importance by signifying it's only between a man and a woman.  

This legal definition isn't mean to punish gays.  It's not meant to be an exclusionary club.  It's meant to act as recognition to the importance of the traditional family unit a traditional marriage forms in American society. 

In Closing

God, morality, and the family unit are the keys to elevating humanity above just being animals.  It enables us to become more like Him, the divine.  If we don't place the highest premium on those and hold them sacred, then we risk slipping back to the animal that just indulges in its natural tendencies.

While maybe the foot I'm planting is firmly on top of a mine, I'm sticking to it.  I know I've said some controversial stuff here.  But know that ultimately I am not judging or condemning gays.  There is a difference between believing something to be wrong and judging someone.  I can believe a homosexual act is wrong and not judge the person committing the act to be bad, evil, or beyond salvation.  I know plenty of people, some really close to me, that smoke marijuana.  I think it's wrong, but I don't judge them to be morally devoid or brain dead futureless pot heads.  I cannot emphasize this enough.

There you have it.  I might incense some readers,particularly friends and family, that read this.  I'm well aware of the possibility.  But I feel it must be done.  Part of taking a stand is having courage to say what you believe.  And I felt it's the time to make that stand.