Monday, November 18, 2013

Ten Things Jim Rigby Gets Wrong about Jesus, the Church and Homosexuality

1) If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings.

The fact is, we don’t know whether Jesus ever mentioned homosexuality or not. “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). But the real error is the implied argument “not essential = irrelevant and disposable”. Jesus’ silence cuts both ways; if he said nothing particularly memorable about the commandment in Leviticus, it means that he neither rejected nor modified it.

2) You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others.

Persecution is “a program or campaign to subjugate or eliminate a specific group of people, often based on race, religion, sexuality, or social beliefs”. To persecute is “to pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death for one’s race, sexual identity, adherence to a particular religious creed, or mode of worship.” Persecution is persecution; persecutors always believe they have some noble social goal which justifies their repressive legislation and litigation. So long as you use the courts to force Christians to play along, you're engaging in persecution; you can call it "counter-persecution", if that eases your over-burdened conscience.

3) Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you’re with.

Which means … nothing, really, unless Rigby is trying oh so gently to argue that anything old must be false, which is nothing more than “chronological snobbery”.

4) You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have.

The essential misdirection in the same-sex marriage argument is that gays have always had precisely the same liberty to marry that straight people have had. It’s just that a same-sex union is not a marriage, and has never really been a marriage, despite desperate attempts to refashion the friendship rituals of other cultures into SSM facsimiles. But the argument as phrased here is nonsense — of course you can call them “special rights”, regardless of whether others ask for them or not.

5) It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else.

It’s still my personal religious view so long as I personally hold it, whether or not someone else doesn’t like it.

6) Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it is a civil right.

The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premiss. So far as it is a civil ceremony — and it is not solely a civil ceremony, nor need a ceremony be involved — the State has always had the right to limit or restrict the grounds upon which a marriage could be legally contracted, which makes it more of a privilege than a right.

7) If how someone stimulates the public nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost.

Which is simply a fancy bumper-sticker way of saying, “If what I do bothers you, it’s your problem, not mine.” Fine; if my refusal to celebrate or cater to same-sex marriage bothers you, put on your big-boy britches and deal with it.

8) To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison.

Except that the condemnation of homosexuality didn’t begin and end with Leviticus; St. Paul also writes against it in Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. If we as Christians are no longer bound to strict observance of the Law of Moses, it doesn’t follow that the nature of sin has changed. (This, by the way, is simply another example of why sola scriptura is bad doctrine.)

9) If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with the same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents.

I highly doubt our ancestors would be troubled by our embarrassment. They did and spoke as they thought right, and the fact that we’ve come to think differently doesn’t take away from their personal integrity. For my own part, if future generations do look back upon us with embarrassment, I look forward with pity upon them, for they will have the society they deserve. All of which is beside the point: legalizing same-sex marriage is not the right thing to do; and it's very possible that, if our descendants are embarrassed by us, it will be because of our idiocy in wrecking the cornerstone of civilization — the family — in the name of social justice.

10) When Jesus forbade judging, that included you.

Try to remember that the next time you call me a hater and a homophobe.