Christian Apologist: Stop Showing Love to Gay People January 27, 2011

Christian Apologist: Stop Showing Love to Gay People

Let me summarize what you’re about to see Christian apologist Sean McDowell say:

Of course we want to show love to our gay friends. But love only goes so far. I knew of a guy who came out as gay. His parents supported his decision. And then he died. Because of homosexual AIDS.

Moral of the story? Christians need to stop “accepting” gay people.

You can see it for yourself:

Good to see Christian kindness is still alive and well…

Do you really need any more proof that religion is harmful? It has convinced McDowell that loving a child is dependent on him having a relationship with only a certain subset of people.

There’s a little more to that clip than what you see — but McDowell doesn’t sound any better in the additional time. He says we must stand in “patient but loving opposition” to people we care about when they make bad choices.

As if being gay was “bad” or a “choice.”

He’s wrong on both counts and he comes off like a completely ignorant jackass in this clip.

The Christian church has no clue what it’s talking about when it comes to homosexuality. They’d be wise to not speak about it at all, but we know that’s not going to happen. They’ll keep talking, providing us with all the sound bytes we’ll ever need to use against them in the future when homosexuality is fully accepted.

I don’t know how anyone who knows a gay person could stand to be part of such a hateful organization. They should be ashamed of how the church treats the GLBT community.

(via Christian Nightmares and Jesus Needs New PR)

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  • Steve

    “The Christian church has no clue what it’s talking about when it comes to sexuality.”

    Fixed!

    They don’t know anything about heterosexuality either. That goes doubly for the Catholic Church whose priests are supposedly celibate.

  • adam

    “What they decided what was loving was to completely support his decision…he died from aids”

    Can someone please tell these people that this is an argument for safe sex not against being gay, aids is not a magic disease that pops into existence whenever gay people have at it.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    22 years alter they could have buried him from heart disease, cancer, or from being murdered by a religious nut case… what is the point here? Backing a personal lifestyle decision you disagree with is a terrible costly mistake. Would there opposition have made him not be gay? What the hell, this is gibbering stupidity…

  • JT

    First off: I’m not going to hold my breath on people who simply know gay people taking part in a hateful organization until those who ARE gay people stop.

    Secondly: The whole “not a choice” meme isn’t really that helpful. I think it’s resonated with those it’s going to and I think it’s time we moved on to “You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or not…it isn’t any of my damn business what consenting adults do.” The whole “not a choice” rhetoric has a slight connotation that gays are pitiable men and women blighted by their curse of same-sex attractions.

    Thirdly: OMG not “Homosexual AIDS”!! That’s so much worse than the malady affecting heterosexuals caused by the same virus! Well, actually yes…it probably was. His “guy he once knew” probably died alone while his partner was kept out in the waiting room.

  • cat

    This just goes to show the fundamentally fucked up notion of ‘love’ that conservative christians have. It is so Orwellian it makes my eyes bleed.

  • Yui

    I knew a couple who supported their son in his unnatural need to drive. They even helped him get a license.
    He died, because of a car accident.
    Moral of the story: We must stop accepting drivers.

    Facts don’t make a difference to this sort of fool. It’s entirely about what morals he’s been socialized to.

  • Silent Service

    I keep waiting for some asshole to tell me to my face about “Homosexual AIDS” so can punch him in the face. Yeah, I know it’s wrong but this is one of those cases where I just don’t care. AIDS is a terrible burden to live with. It isn’t gay or straight or anything else. It’s AIDS, and even with modern medicine allowing people to live mostly normal lives with HIV/AIDS, it’s a death sentence hanging over their heads. Nobody should ever abuse victims of AIDS for their religious and political propaganda.

    Fuck off Sean McDowell. Just fuck off and die, you asshole.

  • Tony

    I would find it far more honest if christians would stop this pretense of “love” and just say this: I disapprove of homosexuality – but it is none of my damn business.

  • Chris

    I cant believe that they still say that being gay is a choice. I always tell those people (if a guy) “So you are attracted to a guy but you CHOOSE not to be with him? Sounds like someone is still in the closet”

  • romo2austin

    Or maybe the moral of the story is straight girls and boys can have unprotected sex as much as they like. Because as we all know god doesn’t afflict straight people with AIDS. [/sarcasm]

  • Dr. Cuddles

    Poor guy died of homosexual AIDS, which, as everyone knows, is ten times worse than heterosexual AIDS.

  • Vas

    “he said I’m gay, he siad I’m homosexual and I’m going to enter into the homosexual lifestyle”

    This is a direct quote from the video, McDowell said this pretending it was a real quote. He didn’t know the guy, it was a friend of a friend having a private conversation with his family, and yet McDowell feels compelled to make this false quote portraying homosexuality as a lifestyle that a person chooses to enter. Then he goes on to say he died of aids.
    And speaking of making up shit…

    Let me summarize what you’re about to see Christian apologist Sean McDowell say:

    Of course we want to show love to our gay friends. But love only goes so far. I knew of a guy who came out as gay. His parents supported his decision. And then he died. Because of homosexual AIDS.

    Lets be 100% clear on this, the term “homosexual aids” came from you Hemant as part of your summary of what McDowell said, it seems an attempt to paint a scumbag as an even bigger scumbag, and really what is the point of that? If you want to summerize fine, but why try to put words in someones mouth? Do I think McDowell is an unmitigated asshole… sure, but your “summary” seems deceitful and inflammatory. McDowell never said “homosexual aids”. Sure the implication was that he contracted aids by way of homosexual sex, but that is not the same as saying “homosexual aids”.

  • Rich Wilson

    @JT exactly
    I’ve said it on here before, but if one could take a pill to change one’s skin color would it make racial discrimination ‘ok’?

  • I knew of a guy who came out as Christian. His parents supported his decision. And then he died.

    Moral of the story? People need to stop “accepting” Christians.

    I don’t actually think that but in the battle of stupid ideas I think that turnabout is more than fair play.

  • Andrew

    Isn’t it nice to have the input of Josh Mcdowell jr. a real chip of the old crock.

    By the way, his friend ‘Frank’ is Frank Turek, apologist and author of I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

    I would invite Josh jr. and other apologists to demonstrate that having sex is a choice by abstaining for a year. Then get back to us.

    Andrew

  • Their only mistake was to not say “you use a condom right? I will kick your ass if I find out you’re not protecting yourself.”

  • OneHandClapping

    I LOVE it when some homophobe refers to sexuality as a choice. When is this choice first made? Is it made every morning when they wake up? Do they open their eyes, squint at the clock radio and say “I think I’ll stick with being attracted to my own sex today”? So, when YOU (addressing the homophobe) wake up you choose to be heterosexual? Every day you consider being homosexual?
    Apply liberally and watch them squirm.

  • Craig

    I say being an evangelical Christian is a dangerous and destructive lifestyle choice, and we should stand in “patient but loving opposition” to people like him and make it known that, out of our love for him, we have to reject his lifestyle and won’t stand silently when he engages in it or talks about it.

  • Toby

    I find it hard to believe its 2011 and we still have people that want to discredit or defame Christians or Christian based organizations. What wrong with teaching diff types of love, looks like he talking about tough love. A true Christian will tell you that we are not here to judge or slander,it goes our teaching to do so.

  • Andrew

    Love that answer, Craig.

    -A

  • Sue D. Nymme

    I really dislike the argument form that goes like this:

    • X is a Christian.
    • X says some really outrageous things.
    • ∴ Christians really are awful, hateful people, aren’t they?

    Would we accept as rational someone pointing to an outrageous, hateful atheist and concluding: “Do you really need any more proof that atheism is harmful?”

  • From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
    Christian 1a one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    I realize this is not a Bible study group, but can someone explain to me how what McDowell is saying is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ? Remember that Jesus Christ is purported to have said, “…all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”

  • Neil

    Sean McDowell and other Christians are quite correct in indentifying their religion’s intolerance towards their fellow human beings.

    Being gay isn’t a choice. It feels more like a gift. Not having been raised Christian, my homosexuality has proved a wonderful barrier to giving the bible the remotest credence. My very being informs me of biblical wrongness.

    To be fair to the bible, its contents are a complex mixture of cultural accretions. What the adherent takes from it reflects the individual concerned. A decent human being will find tolerance, love and understanding. Sean McDowell finds twittery prejudice and comfort in his own imbecility.

  • Sean Santos

    The thing that really struck me about that video was that they didn’t answer the original question. The question was clearly asking about what you should say about gay people who want to get married. The answer came in the form of a dig against the “homosexual lifestyle” and promiscuity.

    There’s a total mismatch here, and I think it comes from the fact that these people actually can’t think of any way to approach a gay couple who are in love and want to get married. They can’t come up with a plausible answer that question. So they absolutely must get the focus off of love and onto a story about sex and disease.

    This reminds me of an evangelical Christian who I talked to about gay marriage. She was one of those who seemed to support civil unions, but mostly out of a grudging acknowledgment that the culture wars would never be resolved without a place for gay people in society. She was adamantly opposed to gay marriage, however, and trotted out all the talking points about how the she thought the state shouldn’t encourage something which was immoral, and how church-state separation was a one-way thing (protecting churches from the state, but not the reverse, as if it was even possible to do one and not the other).

    She did falter, though; what she seemed to struggle with the most was that she knew that there were gay people that had normal, loving relationships, and the only reason she could think of to discourage that was “the Bible said so”. On the one hand, I felt like I was achingly close to winning her over at that point. There was just this one thing left; she knew (at least some) gays were probably born that way, she knew that they could have loving, healthy relationships, she knew that there had to be some civil recognition for that and that it was wrong to stigmatize gay people… yet she still thought that gays were “called to celebacy” and should not be encouraged to form relationships because of the 1900 to 3000 year-old book that she allowed to guide every facet of her life. It was at this point that I realized that, as long as the Bible remained a “moral guide” for millions of people, we would be stuck with “moral” objections to homosexuality.

    I do have to take issue with Hemant’s use of the phrase “Christian church” as describing a single organization. Whatever some Christians may fantasize about, there has never been such an organization in America. It’s this bewildering array of various interpretations and practices that leaves room for gay people in many churches. But the one point where all these churches meet is in the Bible, which is indeed homophobic on its face. Still, it has so many far larger problems that attacking the Bible for that alone is like criticizing a collapsed building for not having enough fire escapes.

    In a sense, I feel like history is backwards here. The gay rights movement has lagged because it needs popular awareness about monotheism, secularism, and the problems with “biblical morality” to catch up. That is, the gay rights movement is making progress, but not nearly at the rate it would have if a more widespread and principled atheist movement had begun earlier. I think even progressivism within the Christian church needs us; whether they think we are OK or intolerably hostile, we represent a stance that a lot of progressive Christians don’t seem like they would dare take. At least, I don’t see that many progressive Christians pointing out how ludicrous it is to take straightforward moral instructions from the Old Testament, whereas it’s almost painfully common to hear about shellfish and mixed fibers from atheists (painfully, because if you know enough about the Old Testament you know that there are much more vulnerable targets in OT morality).

  • P

    You know what’s interesting about that jack-offs story is this; The 22 year old was gay. Which means he contracted HIV through another gay man. Now, if that other gay man’s parents had done as this pastor suggests (i.e. to not support their gay kid and somehow discourage him from the lifestyle or whatever to be straight), then he would most likely have had sex with a girl at some point. If he didn’t use a condom for the man he would have killed, he probably wouldn’t have used one on the girl. So, viewing a telling of that girls life, couldn’t we make the point that her ‘choice’ to be straight is what killed her? He’s making the same claim here but in photo-negative.

  • P.E. in Kentucky

    Pardon my language, but what a fucking asshole.

  • Richard Wade

    For the last couple of years I’ve begun to think that we’re witnessing the birth of a completely new branch of Christianity. Christianity has split and branched again and again, sometimes over differences in emphasis that seem incomprehensibly small to outsiders. But I think now we’re seeing a major division developing.

    These last few years have been just the start of the Hate Fags More Than Love Jesus Church. Fred Phelps (ptui) and the rest of the Westborough Church of the Living Hemorrhoids are just a tiny, early part of this much deeper major historical movement. More and more often we’re encountering Christians who minimize, dismiss, or even ignore the teachings of that namby pamby, sinner-loving guy Jesus if it conflicts with their self-aggrandizing, judgmental condemnation of gays. His inconvenient teachings about loving people is really getting in the way of these new Christians who would much rather center their worship around hatred of gays, so eventually we won’t be hearing them referring to Jesus at all, and it will be called the Church of Hating Fags.

  • JSug

    My attempt to paraphrase:

    A guy I know once knew someone who was gay that died of AIDS because nobody stopped him from being gay. So if you lovingly accept your gay friends, they will get the AIDS and die.

  • Apollo

    Stop talking about whether gay is a choice or not. It is completely irrelevant. Even if gay men woke up every single day and decided, “I’m in the mood for dick today”, there is absolutely no legitimate reason to discriminate against them or prevent them from sharing equal rights.

    If some Christians want to dislike or disapprove of gays, that is their right. There is still no legitimate reason to legally discriminate.

  • Lauren

    To the people who are angry about generalization: It is true that not all Christians are assholes like this guy. However, Christianity’s major text says that homosexuality is wrong. So any Christian who believes that the Bible is a sacred and true text is essentially supporting this idea. If a Christian chooses to ignore that specific verse, he or she still believes in and attempts to follow a God who supposedly wrote the text, so it is still essentially the same thing. No matter how accepting an individual Christian is of a homosexual, he or she is still supporting an institution whose major document says homosexuality is a sin. I am glad that many Christians are not like Sean McDowell about this issue; however, they are still part of the problem.

  • Troglodyke

    So any Christian who believes that the Bible is a sacred and true text is essentially supporting this idea. If a Christian chooses to ignore that specific verse, he or she still believes in and attempts to follow a God who supposedly wrote the text, so it is still essentially the same thing. No matter how accepting an individual Christian is of a homosexual, he or she is still supporting an institution whose major document says homosexuality is a sin. I am glad that many Christians are not like Sean McDowell about this issue; however, they are still part of the problem.

    THANK YOU for explaining this so well.

    I do grow weary of people coming on this blog and whining that “we” all act like all Xtians are the same: ignorant, lazy-of-mind, hypocritical, etc.

    Yes, SOME atheists lump all believers together, but it’s usually a function of the language they are using at the time, or their frustration at the moment. If you asked atheists, during a calm moment, “Do you think ALL believers are hateful, hypocritical, lazy-of-mind, bigoted arseholes?” I’d be willing to bet 99% of them would say, “Of course not. SOME are that way” or “MOST are that way,” or [insert quantifier other than ALL here] are that way.”

    The bottom line is this: if you consider yourself Xtian, you agree with the basic tenets of the Xtian bible. Just because you are “progressive” or “liberal” of theology, you do not get to cherry-pick verses any more than the fundamentalist does. Are you Xtian? Then you support an institution that believes gays are lesser human beings, undeserving of love (“it’s OK to be gay, as long as you stay celibate”–what kind of crap is that? Why would you deny us love for our entire lives?), and sinners who are going to be punished eternally in a lake of fire.

    Trust me, I prefer the company of progressive and liberal Xtians to the company of the fundamentalists, but no matter how much you try to wiggle away from it, and no matter if you yourself are straight or gay, you still support the denigration of a subset of people.

  • Dave

    Here’s a news flash…You can still love a person and not approve of what they are doing.

    How many parents, spouses, siblings and friends love each other and yet don’t approve of everything they do

    Just my $0.02

  • fiddler

    @Toby

    The problem is that:
    1) This christian idea of “tough love” causes people to commit suicide, far too often.
    2) The christian idea of promoting unsafe sex promotes aids and other diseases.
    3) This man was treated horribly (tough loved)by people who should have JUST loved him.
    4) This man is dead and one of the unapologetic asshats that treated him poorly is defaming him and using his life in the twisted attempt to justify his version of christianities own bigotry.

  • Steve

    @Dave

    Being gay isn’t about behavior. It’s not about what people do. Someone could never act on their feelings and pretend to be straight. But they’d still be gay.

    And despite this new-fangled Christian doctrine of gays having to suppress their feelings and stay celibate, they’d still be reviled for it.

  • Sue D. Nymme

    Lauren wrote:

    However, Christianity’s major text says that homosexuality is wrong. So any Christian who believes that the Bible is a sacred and true text is essentially supporting this idea. If a Christian chooses to ignore that specific verse, he or she still believes in and attempts to follow a God who supposedly wrote the text, so it is still essentially the same thing. No matter how accepting an individual Christian is of a homosexual, he or she is still supporting an institution whose major document says homosexuality is a sin. I am glad that many Christians are not like Sean McDowell about this issue; however, they are still part of the problem.

    There is far, far, far more to Christianity than fundamentalism, and you do them a disservice when you lump them all together with the fundies.

    Yes, the Bible is the central, fundamental document of Christianity. But the notion that all (or most) Christians believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God and must be believed in toto is a persistent myth that atheists had better get past.

    Most Christians believe that the Bible is largely inspired by God, but written by humans, and distorted over the generations by translations, copying errors, and so on. Most Christians believe that much of the Bible is allegory, and poetry, and legend, and tribal rituals that no longer apply to modern humanity. Of course, they believe that the central messages and themes of the Bible are true and righteous and Godly — but “gay = evil” is not that message, any more than “slavery = okay” or “jews = Christ-killers”.

    The largest single Christian denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, does not view the Bible as inerrant. Catholic theologians spend much time and energy trying to figure out which parts embody God’s rules and which parts are allegorical or mistaken. This does not make them hypocrites, nor does it mean that they are arrogantly placing their laws above God’s. It means that they are, subject to their own foundational assumptions, attempting to seek the truth.

    Further, but there are many Christian sects that not only accept and love their members who are homosexual, but also marry them and allow them to serve as clergy!

    Do not make the mistake of allowing the loud, obnoxious, hateful Christians to color your opinion of all Christians. Yes, there are a lot of evil Christians in the world. And of course, as atheists, we believe that Christianity’s foundational tenets are completely false. But it is wrong to treat all the sects the same, and wrong to treat Sean McDowell as though he is some sort of spokesperson or canonical example of a Christian.

  • Sue D. Nymme

    Troglodyke wrote:

    The bottom line is this: if you consider yourself Xtian, you agree with the basic tenets of the Xtian bible.

    Do you consider “it’s a sin to be gay” to be one of the “basic tenets of the Xtian bible”?

  • DA

    The Christian bible could really not be clearer in its denunciation fo homosexuals. I appreciate that some (relatively few) Christians will tie themselves in knots trying to ignore this tenet and be decent human beings, but it is RIGHT FREAKIN’ THERE. And ‘moderate’ Christians help enable the fundies and are part of the same deal. Also, in both Christianity and Islam, if you actually look closely most “moderates” are substantially saying the same thing as the “extremists”, just putting a nicer turn of phrase on it.

  • Tony,

    “I disapprove of homosexuality – but it is none of my damn business”

    There you go. I said it.

    I also disapprove of drunkenness, lying, adultery, Paris Hilton, adultery with Paris Hilton, smoking of any sort, food types as colours, and myriad other things…

    The problem is that, Biblically speaking, homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity. Just as greed is. Christians are called to serve one master, called to identify as Christians. If we start wanting to let our desires rule us – Paul talks about a battle between the flesh and the Spirit – then we’re in danger of not being Christians, as the Bible would define them.

    It’s a difficult position to articulate without sounding bigoted. But in one sense to be simultaneously a practicing homosexual and a Christian would be a logical contradiction (you can play all sorts of games with the text and perform all sorts of gymnastics, but at the end of the day the Bible seems pretty black and white on the matter).

    Then we need to decide if belonging to an exclusive group is as repugnant and hateful as Hemant seems to suggest.

    Though I understand, and agree, that when exclusive groups seek to enforce their views on everybody else, and elements of the Christian community have sought to do just that (and should be called out on it), that that is repugnant and hateful, and I hope you remember that when the atheists take over the world and Christians are in the minority.

  • Demonhype

    Actually, there is denigration of gay people in both the Old and New Testaments so…yes. What do you think all that “put to death a man who lieth with another man as with a woman” business was about? And the New Testament included the evils of lesbians in the mix.*

    Now you could say that Jesus’ sacrifice rendered all of those laws null and void, the “kill teh ghey” as well as the “don’t eat at Red Lobster”, but most anti-gay-becuz-Bible types will bend over backwards explaining how the whole sacrifice thing counts for everything else but somehow doesn’t count for homosexuals.

    And seriously, it doesn’t matter if you, personally, believe in those verses if you revere the book itself as holy and inspired and Ultimate Truth. That’s a lot like buying products you know were produced in child-labor sweatshops, but saying “I don’t personally support that practice in my opinions and I’m not directly abusing the child-slaves, so therefore I’m not complicit in any possible way”. It’s impossible to buy that product without being complicit in the abuse associated with it, no matter how you try to justify it. The abuse is part and parcel of the product, and you can’t purchase just the product without also picking up the guilt intrinsically linked to it. Same thing with the ugly Bible verses, at least if you want to claim it’s some kind of Perfect Inspired God-Book of Holy Moral Infallibility That Must Never Be Questioned. Hard to claim that and then try to weasel out of the gay-bashing and gleeful genocide and all the rest.

    Now if you don’t regard it as the Perfect Holy Moral Guide By Which All Must Live, then you might have a little wiggle room. But I’ve encountered precious few believers who don’t regard the Bible as special, moral, and true from cover to cover. The ones who don’t generally have already had their noses shoved into these steaming biblical turds to the point where denial and/or just ignoring it have ceased to be options and have had to re-orient their regard for the tome a bit.

    *I’d dig up the chapters and verses, but I’m on my way out right now and have no time. I know the OT ones were in Leviticus, and the NT ones I think were Paul’s doing, though. Perhaps someone else here who has more time for this eventual tail-chasing exercise** could provide them?

    **These discussions always run in circles. You make a point, you prove your point, but you’ll still get the denials and mental-twister every time.

  • ludovico

    Yeah, yeah, what Sean says is odious (but in a “loving” way–cuz that’s what Jebus would do) but, DAMN! he’s cute! (Though, not as cute as Hemant.)

  • Sean Santos

    It’s a difficult position to articulate without sounding bigoted.

    That would seem to be because the God of the Bible gives every appearance of being a bigot. It strikes me as strange that Christians deplore this burden. In the Bible, God repeatedly mandates bigotry. He must think, at least in the specific situations where it is required, it is OK. Or, given some of the (usually) softer notes of the New Testament that would seem to rule out open hostility, he must at least approve of a basic prejudice.

    Luckily, there is no such being. Unluckily, there is a large population of people who think that there is, and many of them are raising children who already know (or will eventually discover) that they are gay. Even if every Christian was nice to gays and thought only that they should be celibate, this social pressure would still be a substantial evil (though one not evitable through law). Of course, even that “ideal” is unreachable, because once a group starts to be perceived as morally inferior, serious bigotry is bound to follow.

  • AxeGrrl

    Dave wrote:

    Here’s a news flash…You can still love a person and not approve of what they are doing.

    Here’s another newsflash….

    anyone who argues against loving, same-sex relationships between consenting adults is arguing against love.

    Period.

    To argue that some people are ‘supposed to’ or have been ‘called upon’ to live their entire lives without an intimate, loving primary relationship, merely because that loving relationship would happen with a person of the same gender, is so ignorant and/or malicious, it boggles the mind…..

    To devalue or dismiss love between human beings is the closest thing to a real ‘sin’ I can think of.

    I think Dan Savage said it best when he said:

    “when religion gets in the way of love, then religion is the problem”.

  • liz

    I love my friend, i just hate that he’s black. I just REALLY wish he would do something good with his life and not be black anymore…but i still love him. =P

  • Mihangel apYrs

    OneHandClapping
    I make the decision every day. Usually it’s when I get to work and a junior (male) colleague comes in, bends over his desk to switch his PC on, and yep the decision’s made!

    Seriously, we have to start taking the line “WTF business is it of yours who I want to bed or marry?” Otherwise, they will start working (harder) for a cure.

  • DA

    Yes, I can absoultely care for someone and disapprove of what they do…But I try to save my disapproval for when they, you know, actually harms other people or themselves. All I hear from Christians at this point are some claims about teh AIDS, or in the case of more “sophisticated” types some outdated psudo-Aristotilean arguments. I love some pretty shady people and obviously don’t approve of everything they do; but I’d never, ever try to contribute to their misery while telling them that I really love them.

    Also, what Axegrrl said.

  • Dave

    Lauren Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 6:48 pm
    To the people who are angry about generalization: It is true that not all Christians are assholes like this guy. However, Christianity’s major text says that homosexuality is wrong. So any Christian who believes that the Bible is a sacred and true text is essentially supporting this idea. If a Christian chooses to ignore that specific verse, he or she still believes in and attempts to follow a God who supposedly wrote the text, so it is still essentially the same thing. No matter how accepting an individual Christian is of a homosexual, he or she is still supporting an institution whose major document says homosexuality is a sin. I am glad that many Christians are not like Sean McDowell about this issue; however, they are still part of the problem.

    Only a very small minority of the Christians I have met claim that God wrote the Bible.

    Yes, the text says homosexuality it a sin. The text also says that all have sinned. The problem is not that the text says that homosexuality is a sin. The problem is what I call mote and beam syndrome. Too many of us Christians see the mote in someone else’s eye and ignore the beam in our own.

    Please explain to me how I am part of the problem.

    Thanks.

  • AxeGrrl

    Dave wrote:

    Only a very small minority of the Christians I have met claim that God wrote the Bible

    For those Christians who don’t believe that God wrote the bible, then what is their reason for holding it in any special esteem? There are plenty of other intelligent/wise books written by mere mortals….what distinguishes the bible from any of those if one doesn’t believe it was written by a so-called ‘higher authority’?

    Yes, the text says homosexuality it a sin. The text also says that all have sinned. The problem is not that the text says that homosexuality is a sin.

    On the contrary Dave, the precise problem IS that the text says that homosexuality is a sin. Because that causes a whole bunch of believers to dismiss, stigmatize, diminish and/or try to eradicate love between certain human beings.

    And this is all based on a text that, according to you, the ‘majority’ does NOT think has any ‘divine’ origin in the first place!

    Can you give us any more legitimate reasons to dismiss Christian-based discrimination against homosexuals Dave?

  • Sean Santos

    The problem is what I call mote and beam syndrome. Too many of us Christians see the mote in someone else’s eye and ignore the beam in our own.

    Cute, but no. The problem is that homosexuality is not morally inferior, but the Bible says that it is, and people believe it. Even if this affected no one except to make gay Christians feel pressured to not have sex, it would still represent harm done to those people. McDowell just goes one step further and tries to invent a fake and prejudiced reason for this false moral imperative.

  • Dave

    AxeGrrl Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 2:42 am
    Can you give us any more legitimate reasons to dismiss Christian-based discrimination against homosexuals Dave?

    I was not trying to give you a reason, legit or BS, to dismiss Christian-based discrimination. One of the reasons that I discriminate against McDowell is that he is, in my estimation, teaching hate in the guise of love.

    Dave

  • AxeGrrl

    Dave wrote:

    I was not trying to give you a reason, legit or BS, to dismiss Christian-based discrimination.

    Whether you were trying to or not, you did.

    Let’s get down to brass tacks here ~ do you think that believing that homosexual relationships/love is ‘sinful’ is a valid stance Dave? If yes, why?

  • Dave

    Sean Santos Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 2:44 am

    The problem is that homosexuality is not morally inferior, but the Bible says that it is, and people believe it. Even if this affected no one except to make gay Christians feel pressured to not have sex, it would still represent harm done to those people. McDowell just goes one step further and tries to invent a fake and prejudiced reason for this false moral imperative.

    Sean the real issue here is not whether homosexuality is or isn’t morally inferior. The basic issue is whether some one/thing exists that can be called god and to whom mankind is accountable. And that is not an argument that I have any desire to get into.

    I accept that and, as a consequence, my goal is to treat everyone the way I want to be treated. With that in mind, I don’t want anyone trying to force their idea of right/wrong down my throat.

    Dave

  • Dave wrote:

    the real issue here is not whether homosexuality is or isn’t morally inferior. The basic issue is whether some one/thing exists that can be called god and to whom mankind is accountable. And that is not an argument that I have any desire to get into.

    (bolding mine)

    Dave, the issue of homosexuality and how it’s treated/perceived by ‘believers’ is precisely why you should want to ‘get into’ a discussion on the subject.

    The ‘real issue’ IS the labelling of homosexual relationships as ‘morally inferior’ ~ and it’s how/why people arrive at that conclusion that should be of concern to you and to all of us.

    Why are you avoiding the very issue(s) that causes many people to discriminate against loving relationships?

  • Dave

    AxeGrrl Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 3:09 am
    Let’s get down to brass tacks here ~ do you think that believing that homosexual relationships/love is ‘sinful’ is a valid stance Dave? If yes, why?

    I accept that there is a creator to whom mankind is accountable. Thus, if that creator identifies something as being sinful, it is sinful and I should avoid it.

    And, I also don’t give a flying rat’s left testicle whether someone is gay or not. For the last 4-5 years (or more), I have caught heat because I have argued that if we are going to give rights of survivorship, tax breaks, etc. to heterosexual couples, those breaks should be given to homosexual couples. There are no Christian grounds for denying them.

  • Dave

    AxeGrrl Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 3:32 am
    Why are you avoiding the very issue(s) that causes many people to discriminate against loving relationships?

    Axe, for ten or fifteen years after my birth, a number of states discriminated against loving relationships between blacks and whites not allowing interracial marriage. I ain’t found that one in the book yet.

    As for avoiding issues, if we simply crawled out of the primal ooze then there is not truly morally superior or inferior position. On the other hand, if we were brought into existence and have an obligation to that creator, then there is an object standard of morality. Now, if I ever get convinced that I have it all nailed down perfect, I might start teeing off on homosexuals. Until then, I am more worried about getting my act together.

  • Dave wrote:

    I accept that there is a creator to whom mankind is accountable. Thus, if that creator identifies something as being sinful, it is sinful and I should avoid it.

    Let’s drop the ‘if’s Dave. Does this ‘creator’ that you ‘accept’ classify loving relationships between consenting adults of the same gender as ‘sinful’?

    If you answer ‘yes’, then you (by definition) classify those loving relationships as being ‘morally inferior’, yes?

    Given that, can you not see how essential it is to engage in a discussion on whether or not such a ‘creator’ exists?

    If you’re basing your discrimination on the commands of this ‘creator’, can you at least have the guts to try to substantiate the existence of this being?

  • Dave wrote:

    As for avoiding issues, if we simply crawled out of the primal ooze then there is not truly morally superior or inferior position.

    B***Sh**.

    We, as human beings, know that love (and the things that it encompasses, like compassion and empathy) is THE thing to embrace and nurture….

    Why? because it proves itself. When we treat each other with love and kindness and compassion, our world becomes a better place. We don’t need any ‘sacred text’ to tell us this.

    Tell us why some bronze-age, man-written text, that contains rules that go against the above should be given any respect (let alone any special ‘reverence’)….

    Give me love and compassion among human beings that proves itself before our very eyes over some speculative ‘God’ that you’re not even willing to try to defend/prove.

  • stogoe

    what distinguishes the bible from any of those if one doesn’t believe it was written by a so-called ‘higher authority’?

    No, no, no – God didn’t write down the words of tbe Bible, he just gave dictation. And the secretaries screwed it all up. Supreme, All-Powerful God Omnipotent In The Clouds Above couldn’t stop his secretaries from sneaking in their own petty prejudices, apparently. And what’s worse, nobody can be 100% sure which parts are What Supreme, All-Powerful God Omnipotent In The Clouds Above Actually Said and which are What Paul, Lazy Asshole, Snuck Into the Text While God Wasn’t Looking.

  • stogoe

    I acceptassert that there is a creator to whom mankind is accountable.

    fixed for accuracy.
    We’ve already seen you claim that X is Wrong only because God Says it is Wrong. Is the reverse true for you? If God called the slaughter of infants Good, is murdering babies then a Good thing?

  • Sean Santos

    Sean the real issue here is not whether homosexuality is or isn’t morally inferior.

    My lack of gods, do you have no reading comprehension at all? I wasn’t putting “homosexuality is bad” up for dispute. I was saying that, given that I know that it is not (regardless of whether or not you agree), clearly it’s bad to teach people that it is. I’m not saying that you go around oppressing gay people directly. I’m saying that you support a culture (and probably a specific institution) that, whatever its good points, tells gay people that they are not as good as others. If that is not true, this is a great injustice.

    To promote a course of action, and act as if it doesn’t concern you whether or not that course of action is correct, is not something that will absolve you of responsibility; it only means you are shutting your eyes to the consequences of your own actions. So it has to be asked; do you or do you not take actions which could, directly or indirectly, promote the idea that homosexuality is a sin generally, and if so, can you possibly pretend that it doesn’t matter whether or not that’s true?

    The basic issue is whether some one/thing exists that can be called god and to whom mankind is accountable.

    See, I can’t buy this. I’m a moral realist, non-nihilist, objectivist, and universalist, in that I think that there are true, universal moral rules regarding actions. Objective and universal moral rules are by definition not subject to the will of any person or group of people. If God is a person, that includes him.

    To put it more bluntly, I believe that (as the Euthyphro dilemma reveals) it is impossible for universal moral rules to come from a god. If any personal being lays down rules, they may be good or bad rules, but authority can never be the ultimate basis of morality, unless by morality you mean something which is subjective and subject to change on a whim. If your god has good reasons or justifications for declaring one thing to be moral and not another, those reasons are the ultimate source of its morality, not the will of your god itself.

    As for avoiding issues, if we simply crawled out of the primal ooze then there is not truly morally superior or inferior position.

    Some people believe that this is the case, and paradoxically some of them are actually nice people who have been good friends to me. But a lot of us don’t. I personally believe that morality comes from objective considerations about what it means to be a person interacting with other people. That is, if we consider morality to be an obligation binding all persons, then it must arise out of the nature of being a person living in a society. If this is the case, morality is even more inescapable for me than it is for you. For you, it is merely an omnipotent being that enforces it with carrot-and-stick methods. For me, the obligation is a direct consequence of being born a human being.

  • AxeGrrl Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Dave wrote:

    I accept that there is a creator to whom mankind is accountable. Thus, if that creator identifies something as being sinful, it is sinful and I should avoid it.

    Let’s drop the ‘if’s Dave. Does this ‘creator’ that you ‘accept’ classify loving relationships between consenting adults of the same gender as ‘sinful’?

    If you answer ‘yes’, then you (by definition) classify those loving relationships as being ‘morally inferior’, yes?

    Given that, can you not see how essential it is to engage in a discussion on whether or not such a ‘creator’ exists?

    If you’re basing your discrimination on the commands of this ‘creator’, can you at least have the guts to try to substantiate the existence of this being?

    Axe, bear with me for a moment while I give you the way I look at things.

    Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Romans 13:9-10 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    Mark 12:29-31 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    1 John 5:2-3 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

    I started with Matthew 7:12 because that is, to me, the test; if a thought or action leads to my treating someone other than I want to be treated then it is something for me to avoid.

    As far as morally superior/inferior, James 2:8-10 reads, “f you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Applying that to this situation, I don’t see my being heterosexual sexual makes me anyone’s moral superior. Nor do I see that being homosexual, in and of itself, makes anyone morally inferior.

  • ATL-Apostate

    Note on YouTube page:

    “This Video has been removed by the user.”

    Did we shame him into taking it down?

    Yay for us!

  • Sean Santos

    *sigh* And this is the difficulty with dogmatically believing that texts are correct because they just are and you trust them no matter what.

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Transparently false, at least in the literal sense, to anyone who has critically examined the Torah. The Golden Rule is nice, but it bloody well does not summarize more than a fraction of the OT laws.

    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

    Poetic, but a terrible moral guide. One does wonder whether gossiping is as bad as murdering and raping children. Or take the example of someone who is already breaking “the law” (i.e. a normal human being). Should they just give up and then sin any way they want, since they are already breaking the whole law anyway? Surely not; even if all are sinners, surely not all sinners are precisely equivalent.

  • Robert W.

    Sean,

    I was saying that, given that I know that it is not (regardless of whether or not you agree), clearly it’s bad to teach people that it is.

    I’m a moral realist, non-nihilist, objectivist, and universalist, in that I think that there are true, universal moral rules regarding actions. Objective and universal moral rules are by definition not subject to the will of any person or group of people.

    I do hope you see the contradiction in those two statements. On the one hand you believe in objective moral truths then you give us a moral “truth” that is strictly subjective.

  • Robert W.

    Sean,

    Poetic, but a terrible moral guide. One does wonder whether gossiping is as bad as murdering and raping children. Or take the example of someone who is already breaking “the law” (i.e. a normal human being). Should they just give up and then sin any way they want, since they are already breaking the whole law anyway? Surely not; even if all are sinners, surely not all sinners are precisely equivalent.

    If you really want the answer to this look in Romans. Particularly Chapters 1-6.

  • Sean Santos

    On the one hand you believe in objective moral truths then you give us a moral “truth” that is strictly subjective.

    No, I think that the moral truth I gave is quite objective; I just didn’t bother to justify it, because it was incidental to my claim that it mattered whether or not it was true. If I claim that there is no God, you may disagree with me, but you must admit that I am making an objective statement. I may think that it is objectively true, while you may think that it is objectively false, but that’s not because we are not being objective, that’s because at least one of us is objectively wrong.

  • Sean Santos

    If you really want the answer to this look in Romans. Particularly Chapters 1-6.

    Still missing the point. My objection was to the way you were using the passage, which implied that one could not be judged morally better or worse. That’s obviously not what it means in context; rather it’s more of a caution against being judgmental, blah blah only God can judge. I get that.

    But let’s pretend you are a Christian and realize that you are gay. This is no longer about being judgmental. What would you see the Bible as telling you to do? This is my problem, a problem that remains even if every Christian adopts a live-and-let-live non-judgmental attitude. The Bible itself does not take such an attitude and points out moral virtue and vice, and therefore promotion of the Bible as a moral guide (actually, as the best moral guide!) is a moral action which can be debated, no matter how easygoing the people doing the promoting.

    If you are gay, does the Bible encourage you to think of that as something not to be acted on, or not? Does the Bible judge that action?

  • togoe Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I acceptassert that there is a creator to whom mankind is accountable.

    fixed for accuracy.
    We’ve already seen you claim that X is Wrong only because God Says it is Wrong. Is the reverse true for you? If God called the slaughter of infants Good, is murdering babies then a Good thing?

    No, you did not fix anything for accuracy. When I say, “I accept that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West,” I am not asserting anything other than my personal acceptance of a preexisting point of view. So, when I said, “I accept . . . “, I am simply signaling that I have bought into a certain point of view.

    I want to say one thing about the way I view the bible. To use biblical terminology, it contains both wheat and chaff. Put another way, it is contradictory. Thus, if the biblical text has “God” calling the killing of babies good, then my inclination is ignore it because it does not square with Thou shalt not kill or Love you neighbor as yourself, etc.

  • Sean Santos

    To use biblical terminology, it contains both wheat and chaff.

    This is potentially a far better answer to my questions than anything you’ve said directly to me. If you don’t think that accepting the Bible as a moral guide mandates accepting that homosexuality is contrary to God’s will, the situation is rather different.

  • Sean Santos Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    *sigh* And this is the difficulty with dogmatically believing that texts are correct because they just are and you trust them no matter what.

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Transparently false, at least in the literal sense, to anyone who has critically examined the Torah. The Golden Rule is nice, but it bloody well does not summarize more than a fraction of the OT laws.

    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

    Poetic, but a terrible moral guide. One does wonder whether gossiping is as bad as murdering and raping children. Or take the example of someone who is already breaking “the law” (i.e. a normal human being). Should they just give up and then sin any way they want, since they are already breaking the whole law anyway? Surely not; even if all are sinners, surely not all sinners are precisely equivalent.

    Let’s go with your example, a normal human being – me, if you will accord me that status for this discussion. While I could say, “Sh#t, can’t do it, why try?”, I can also say, “This is the goal, let’s go for it!” I opt for the latter.

    “. . . are all sinners precisely equivalent . . .” I think of it as a target. If I am wide left by a foot or wide left by an inch, I still have not hit the target.

  • Sean Santos Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    To use biblical terminology, it contains both wheat and chaff.

    This is potentially a far better answer to my questions than anything you’ve said directly to me. If you don’t think that accepting the Bible as a moral guide mandates accepting that homosexuality is contrary to God’s will, the situation is rather different.

    I am in, a think, about 3 discussions here and I something I say in one also pertains to another.

    I know that the bible did not fall out of the sky as one bound volume. I do not believe that god dictated it in toto and I am not sure that I believe god even dictated any part of it. I don’t believe that god magically preserved the various parts of it against translational errors, editing, etc.

    Lastly, I don’t agree with McDowell that we should stop showing love to gays and I wish he would shut up.

  • ckitching

    Lastly, I don’t agree with McDowell that we should stop showing love to gays and I wish he would shut up.

    Here’s the tricky thing: If you believe that engaging in homosexual acts will condemn someone to eternal hellfire, then doing whatever you can in this world to discourage it is moral, even if it means you cause them anguish in this life. In fact, under this premise, you’re the one being immoral by your live-and-let-live attitude. By not doing everything you can, you’re indirectly contributing to their damnation.

    I’m not saying that McDowell isn’t a grade-A asshole and that he shouldn’t shut up, but it’s not hard to see why people would support him despite (or because of) the venom he spews. If you believe hell is real, nothing you do to homosexuals can compare, so anything you do to discourage it can be justified.

  • Samiimas

    Would we accept as rational someone pointing to an outrageous, hateful atheist and concluding: “Do you really need any more proof that atheism is harmful?”

    Posting a video of Richard Dawkins ranting about the jews being evil wouldn’t prove anything about atheism as a whole since anti-semitism isn’t any more common in this group then the general population. However if atheist groups worldwide were spending millions trying to take civil rights away from jews *or even have them executed* and every single poll showed the majority of atheists opposing civil rights for jews then that video would be a shining example of the disgusting anti-semitism fostered by atheism.

  • ckitching Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Lastly, I don’t agree with McDowell that we should stop showing love to gays and I wish he would shut up.

    Here’s the tricky thing: If you believe that engaging in homosexual acts will condemn someone to eternal hellfire, then doing whatever you can in this world to discourage it is moral, even if it means you cause them anguish in this life. In fact, under this premise, you’re the one being immoral by your live-and-let-live attitude. By not doing everything you can, you’re indirectly contributing to their damnation.

    I’m not saying that McDowell isn’t a grade-A asshole and that he shouldn’t shut up, but it’s not hard to see why people would support him despite (or because of) the venom he spews. If you believe hell is real, nothing you do to homosexuals can compare, so anything you do to discourage it can be justified.

    Yep, I am being immoral by my live and let live attitude. I suspect McDowell would probably voice a very similar sentiment.

    With that said, I will “fold my tent and steal off into the night.” Until the next time I lose my sanity and try to do agree with a Christian on the Friendly Atheist.

  • Drew M.

    Holy crap. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Did any of you actually hear what Dave was saying?

    Who cares, right? Zero Tolerance works so well against illegal drugs, let’s apply it to theism too!

  • Sean Santos

    Who cares, right? Zero Tolerance works so well against illegal drugs, let’s apply it to theism too!

    I don’t recall incarcerating Dave or kicking him out of a job, school, or home. Actually, I don’t even recall purposefully insulting him or addressing anything except what I honestly saw as the implications of what he was actually saying, which I did, in fact, read. Though I can’t pretend that I instantly comprehended the import of every word he set down, and I can also say for certain that he still hasn’t quite gotten everything that I was trying to convey, though perhaps that is my failure.

    So am I forgetting some serious trespass on my own part, or does “any of you” not include me, or was there some other mistake? I’m very wary of people who see passionate disagreement and reach directly for the “more tolerant than thou” message. Sometimes it’s reasonable to step in and moderate, and sometimes it’s just a way to feel superior to all the people who care more than you do. Passionate, hostile, and irrational are related, but definitely not synonymous.

  • Drew M.

    @Sean

    I don’t recall incarcerating Dave or kicking him out of a job, school, or home…

    That was hyperbole, but apparently I wasn’t far enough over the top for you to see it

    And yes, it applies to you as well because you were so “passionate” about debating him that you appear to have overlooked the two most important things he said:

    And, I also don’t give a flying rat’s left testicle whether someone is gay or not. For the last 4-5 years (or more), I have caught heat because I have argued that if we are going to give rights of survivorship, tax breaks, etc. to heterosexual couples, those breaks should be given to homosexual couples. There are no Christian grounds for denying them.

    and

    I don’t see my being heterosexual sexual makes me anyone’s moral superior. Nor do I see that being homosexual, in and of itself, makes anyone morally inferior.

    I don’t give two shits what people believe, as long as they don’t discriminate or attempt to sign bigotry into law.

    There are always going to be Christians, no matter how many of us wish that weren’t so. I would much rather have Daves around than McDowells.

    But yeah, I guess this means I “care” less than you do.

  • Samiimas

    So Drew M is it alright for someone to believe that black people are sinful and that God only approves of decent, moral white people?

    Since you “don’t give two shits what people believe, as long as they don’t discriminate or attempt to sign bigotry into law”

  • I didn’t get that far into the night, so I will unfold my tent for a minute or two.

    Sean, I withdrew from the discussion more because I saw myself involved in an exercise in futility. My initial comment was:

    From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
    Christian 1a one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    I realize this is not a Bible study group, but can someone explain to me how what McDowell is saying is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ? Remember that Jesus Christ is purported to have said, “…all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”

    I might have missed a reply that actually addressed that question, but I wound up being told that I was asserting something when I said I accepted something, et al. In short, what I wanted to talk about was not what anyone else wanted to talk about.

    When I read what Drew said, I started laughing because he expressed something close to what I was feeling. Where I would disagree is in the “Is anyone . . .” In my estimation, you were honestly trying to, as I would put it, “bridge the gap”; ie, find a common point that we could work from.

    Peace unto to you.

  • Sean said:

    “Even if every Christian was nice to gays and thought only that they should be celibate, this social pressure would still be a substantial evil (though one not evitable through law). Of course, even that “ideal” is unreachable, because once a group starts to be perceived as morally inferior, serious bigotry is bound to follow.”

    How about: “gays should only be celibate (or attempt to be heterosexual) if they want to be Christians. Otherwise eat, drink, and by all means be merry”

    The God of the Bible isn’t bigoted so much as he favours those who choose to follow him. Bigoted would be saying “you can’t be a Christian if you are x.” Which Christianity doesn’t do. Even with homosexuals. You can be homosexually inclined and be a Christian. Christianity says “you can’t be a Christian if you don’t submit your life to Jesus”

    Axxgirl said:

    “anyone who argues against loving, same-sex relationships between consenting adults is arguing against love.”

    That is similar to saying “anybody who argues against cannibalism is against eating.”

    It’s a bad argument and a non-starter. It’s just not true. They are arguing against a subset of love. Not love itself.

    There are so many examples of love, and types of love, the Greeks had a bunch of words for such different categories of love, that to limit love to erotic love is a bit myopic.

    Then Sean says:

    “Even if this affected no one except to make gay Christians feel pressured to not have sex, it would still represent harm done to those people.”

    Again. You guys are so hung up on sexual repression. Why is sex such a big deal? Surely gay Christians can choose whether or not to have sex – are you seeking to limit their freedom to choose celibacy because you perceive that such a choice would cause harm?

    Then Stogoe said:

    “If God called the slaughter of infants Good, is murdering babies then a Good thing?”

    Which should surely be some sort of Godwin’s Law thing unless it is actually on topic. Every discussion of morality eventually ends there. And it has been done to death before. Can somebody point me to where God says “I saw that they murdered the infants, and it was good.” He doesn’t – that it happens in the Bible, post fall, is not an endorsement of murdering infants but a corroboration of the idea that the world is broken and humans do bad stuff to each other.

    Then Sean says:

    “I was saying that, given that I know that it is not (regardless of whether or not you agree), clearly it’s bad to teach people that it is.”

    How do you know? That’s based on your own personal experience and your assumption that God isn’t there (which isn’t something you can know for sure, and at this stage is probably best confined to the theoretical, a position you hold with a strong degree of certainty no doubt. Since others don’t share your experience or your certainty it isn’t “clearly bad to teach people” anything on the subject. Especially if you include the caveat “The Bible says homosexuality is bad for people which means Christians should not engage in homosexual practice”… or “My experience and understanding of the world suggest there is no harm in homosexual practice and it’s a freedom many people seem to enjoy”… both of these positions are equally valid, and thus should be represented as such in legal codes around the universe.

    We’ve discussed your position on morality before – I still disagree. Clearly God is not God if he is bound by these universal moral laws. They essentially would then function as God – even if they had no capacity for agency. Your take on Euthyphro is somewhat weakened by refusing to consider a God who takes responsibility for these absolute morals you recognise.

    If there is such a standard – is it not possible that there’ll be certain people who reject it? Perhaps based on experience – and what they enjoy? And is it not possible that homosexuals might fit into that category? Just as any subset of the population who enjoy a particular activity might? And isn’t it likely that if that were the case – homosexuals would be arguing that their actions are completely moral according to the ultimate universal standards of morality?

    And then later:

    “Transparently false, at least in the literal sense, to anyone who has critically examined the Torah. The Golden Rule is nice, but it bloody well does not summarize more than a fraction of the OT laws.”

    Not necessarily – what interpretive lens are you using to assess the Torah? Our views on morality – or the sociohistorical context? Some of these interpretations can be a little anachronistic – so I’d just like to make sure we’re on the same page.

    That’ll do me for now.

  • Drew M.

    So Drew M is it alright for someone to believe that black people are sinful and that God only approves of decent, moral white people?

    Since you “don’t give two shits what people believe, as long as they don’t discriminate or attempt to sign bigotry into law”

    Yep, I knew someone was going to do this.

    Let me throw some of your “logic” right back at you:

    Is it alright for 1984’s Thought Police to become reality since you apparently believe in the concept of thoughtcrime?

    Oh, I’m smart enough to understand your point, as I know you are to understand mine. I just don’t get off on either being a pedantic ass or spelling things out for them.

    @Dave
    Only one person, Steve, posted an @Dave following your first post, and he was addressing something you didn’t say.

    You’re also right, Sean Santos was indeed the most civil person arguing with you. However, I stand on my assertion that he missed your point.

  • ckitching wrote:

    Here’s the tricky thing: If you believe that engaging in homosexual acts will condemn someone to eternal hellfire, then doing whatever you can in this world to discourage it is moral, even if it means you cause them anguish in this life. In fact, under this premise, you’re the one being immoral by your live-and-let-live attitude. By not doing everything you can, you’re indirectly contributing to their damnation.

    If your unsubstantiated beliefs cause you to try to ‘steer’ my life in a certain direction, then you sure as hell better be able to offer something to demonstrate that your belief is true.

    If you can’t, then why should I follow?

  • Nathan wrote:

    Axxgirl said:

    “anyone who argues against loving, same-sex relationships between consenting adults is arguing against love.”

    That is similar to saying “anybody who argues against cannibalism is against eating.”

    It’s a bad argument and a non-starter. It’s just not true. They are arguing against a subset of love. Not love itself.

    Horse pucky.

    Is all eating ‘good’? Not by definition, no. We could eat poisonous things, etc.

    Is all loving ‘good’? If you answer ‘no’ to that, please explain what “subset of love” deserves to be argued against Nathan.

    Does your definition of love involve respect, compassion, support and equality?

    If it does, then I’d LOVE to hear what your possible complaints against it are.

  • Nathan wrote:

    There are so many examples of love, and types of love….to limit love to erotic love is a bit myopic.

    Nathan, are you saying that the love between same-sex couples only falls into the ‘erotic love’ category?

    If so, the only thing you’re demonstrating is your own ignorance.

    The love between committed couples (regardless of gender/orientation) is all the same. If this is news to you, then great, you’ve just learned something.

  • Drew M. (quoting Dave) wrote:

    And, I also don’t give a flying rat’s left testicle whether someone is gay or not. For the last 4-5 years (or more), I have caught heat because I have argued that if we are going to give rights of survivorship, tax breaks, etc. to heterosexual couples, those breaks should be given to homosexual couples. There are no Christian grounds for denying them.

    and

    I don’t see my being heterosexual sexual makes me anyone’s moral superior. Nor do I see that being homosexual, in and of itself, makes anyone morally inferior.

    Dave, if you think there’s nothing inherently moral or immoral about any sexual orientation, then you and I have nothing to argue about 🙂

  • AxeGrrl Says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 4:24 am Dave, if you think there’s nothing inherently moral or immoral about any sexual orientation, then you and I have nothing to argue about 🙂

    You and I may have something to argue about, but not this. My argument is with Sean McDowell and his ilk.

  • AxeGrrl Says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 3:53 am
    If your unsubstantiated beliefs cause you to try to ‘steer’ my life in a certain direction, then you sure as hell better be able to offer something to demonstrate that your belief is true.

    If you can’t, then why should I follow?

    You shouldn’t!!

  • AxeGrrl,

    “Is all loving ‘good’? If you answer ‘no’ to that, please explain what “subset of love” deserves to be argued against Nathan.”

    Please don’t make me do this. Because I’ll give an example and you’ll all shout at me as though I’m comparing it to homosexuality. There are plenty of types of love that we suggest aren’t appropriate behaviours. Lets not go there. I’ve played these games before. Love is not some all encompassing trump card.

    “Nathan, are you saying that the love between same-sex couples only falls into the ‘erotic love’ category?”

    On the contrary – I was suggesting that seemed to be your argument – because it is the only type of love between two men that Christianity seeks to limit.

  • Sean Santos

    Oh dear, very much stuff. From after my last comment, I suppose.

    @Drew M

    That was hyperbole, but apparently I wasn’t far enough over the top for you to see it

    Yeah, I got that. I just thought your criticism was misplaced, and being dismissively sarcastic didn’t endear me to it.

    I also did, in fact, read both of the quotes you listed. The first was the reason why I kept referencing the “even if”s. Examples:

    Even if every Christian was nice to gays and thought only that they should be celibate

    Even if this affected no one except to make gay Christians feel pressured to not have sex

    I’m not saying that you go around oppressing gay people directly.

    I feel somewhat better about Dave since it appears that he didn’t think that the Bible necessarily asked gays to be celibate. But he was certainly leaving the door open for other Christians to say so, and I noticed that he was trying to downplay or evade that issue, which is why I thought it was worth pursuing.

    As for the second quote, why do you think I gave that whole spiel about whether or not some sins were worse than others, and why do you think I kept noting Dave’s support for a broader culture or institutions rather than his personal actions?

    This is my frustration; I do address some of these things and apparently people either only skim what I’m saying, or it’s not very clear and they make assumptions to fill in the blanks, or they just forget. That’s forgivable to a certain extent, but the inaccurate accusations that I’ve just totally missed something are tiring.

    As for your “caring”, yes I do note the scare quotes and I am quite capable of noticing the sarcasm.

    Let me tell you something. You don’t care as much as I do. Not a lot of people do, because I’ve done volunteer work directly with gay youth who were having conflict with their parents and thus were for the moment homeless, who were also going through the related personal identity issues, and some of which were severely depressed or suicidal. Furthermore, a friend of mine is a therapist who has done a lot of work specifically with people who are or were gay Christians and developed unhealthy coping mechanisms or sexual behaviors due to their guilt. This is not an academic or impersonal set of questions to me.

    This doesn’t make me better than anyone else, and it doesn’t mean I actually want everyone else to care as much as I do; we all have our personal pet causes that we realize not everyone else would crusade for. But I am going to be the sourpuss that wants people to think of this as an issue that has some gravity.

    @Dave

    We still disagree, and I still think that you are at risk of contributing to a problem (maybe not the problem). However, I don’t think that you are a bad or bigoted person, you don’t particularly worry me, and I think you genuinely tried to have a good conversation (in which you tolerated my exasperation at, shall we say, certain arguments that I have heard often enough to get too impatient with). Thank you.

    @Nathan,

    “Hello Nathan my old friend.” *hums “The Sound of Silence” to himself*

    For the first quote, you underestimated the breadth of my objection. My objection was to guilt or restriction suffered by gay Christians, even if it’s entirely self-imposed due to nothing else but believing that the Bible is a good moral guide. I think this harms them, and it saddens me because I care about other people’s welfare.

    So you then get it halfway right when you say:

    “[A]re you seeking to limit their freedom to choose celibacy because you perceive that such a choice would cause harm?”

    The latter part of the sentence is fine. I guess we have different estimations of how great that harm could be; OK. The first part is something I’m finding increasingly common, not so much from the Christian playbook, but from anyone objecting to criticism of religion. Telling people that something is a bad idea and they shouldn’t do it is called persuasion, and it’s not a matter of limiting freedom. I think that it’s something that’s a bad idea. But this business about “limiting freedom” is hyperbole, as if criticizing something in a forum like this was the same as haranguing people away from it. I call a foul here.

    Regarding the existence of God, “which isn’t something you can know for sure,” I am a fallibilist, which means I don’t believe in any certain knowledge at all (though certain to within a probability of 10^-100, perhaps). But I’d rate my confidence in the non-existence of God as ranking about the same as my confidence in other basic facts about the universe and my life. I think that I know that the very specific god believed in by Christians is false, to at least the same degree of certainty that I know, say, what zip code I live in right now, or what year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

    This paper gives roughly the same reasons for this that I would, but I’m only providing it to remind people that I really do have reasons and am not just saying this due to dogma (a tiresome accusation thrown at atheists); I’m not asking for an extended debate on this matter.

    Since others don’t share your experience or your certainty it isn’t “clearly bad to teach people” anything on the subject.

    OK, then let me instead say that it is clearly either bad or not bad, that I think it is fairly clear which is the case, and that whether or not I am right matters. I clearly took the wrong approach with that statement; it was only meant to strongly underscore that whether or not homosexuality is wrong clearly has a bearing on whether or not it is justified to claim that homosexuality is wrong. I believe I said as much earlier, though I can’t blame you for missing it in all that.

    They essentially would then function as God – even if they had no capacity for agency. Your take on Euthyphro is somewhat weakened by refusing to consider a God who takes responsibility for these absolute morals you recognise.

    The universal morals that I recognize are of a sort that are binding on all beings; it is logically impossible for them to be subject to any being’s will, whether or not that being would really like to take the credit. Come now, my position has become a bit more refined since last we talked, but we’ve been down this road before. Anyway, I don’t think that God is a useful word, especially if we imbue it with an unusual definition that doesn’t require agency and won’t be recognizable to most believers. If someone wants to take my universal conception of morality and call it God, they can knock themselves out; this sort of redefinition doesn’t interest me.

    If there is such a standard – is it not possible that there’ll be certain people who reject it? Perhaps based on experience – and what they enjoy? And is it not possible that homosexuals might fit into that category?

    Oh come on now. I know where you think gay love stands with respect to God; you don’t have to hold my hand and lead me down the path of doctrine. I don’t buy your premises, so even though I’m aware of this chain of speculation about where homosexuality fits in, I’m not going to buy the conclusion.

    Not necessarily – what interpretive lens are you using to assess the Torah? Our views on morality – or the sociohistorical context? Some of these interpretations can be a little anachronistic – so I’d just like to make sure we’re on the same page.

    We’ve been down this road before, too. I know that you can go through the entire Torah and tie the entire set of rules to the “love” principle by telling just-so stories about why God probably meant the various rules and how he had no better options (otherwise one can always appeal to “I don’t know the reason but I’m sure he had one”). I could do the same for everything said by Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. It’s not a question of whether these rules can in some way be related to loving one’s neighbor, it’s a question of whether all of the commandments actually are summed up in that one principle. I don’t really think that enforcing the Sabbath (much less stoning someone for breaking it) is very well summed up by “love your neighbor”. You need a very elaborate moral and contingent structure with a lot of intermediate steps to get from here to there, and these steps are largely about speculation invented solely to make the thesis fit.

  • Drew M.

    @Sean Santos

    Point taken. In retrospect, I should have been less flippant in my first post.

    However, even with your clarifications, your responses still read (to me) as if you’re either dismissing or missing his point entirely.

    Let me tell you something. You don’t care as much as I do. Not a lot of people do, because I’ve done volunteer work directly with gay youth who were having conflict with their parents and thus were for the moment homeless, who were also going through the related personal identity issues, and some of which were severely depressed or suicidal. Furthermore, a friend of mine is a therapist who has done a lot of work specifically with people who are or were gay Christians and developed unhealthy coping mechanisms or sexual behaviors due to their guilt. This is not an academic or impersonal set of questions to me.

    It is not academic or impersonal to me either, but I’m not going to play “keeping up with the Joneses” with you. I just disagree with passionately debating someone who already “gets it.”

  • Robert W.

    Sean,

    Too many comments to try and paste and block them here. So let me just recall them.

    You mentioned that your statement on morality of homosexuality as being “true” was an objective moral statement just as the statement that God does or does not exist because if we disagree we are objectively right or wrong.

    I disagree. You are mixing facts which can be objectively right or wrong with morality from a subjective viewpoint. You saying that homosexuality is perfectly moral is nothing more then your subjective viewpoint no matter how you couch it.

    As for Romans 1-6, I think you missed the point I was making. I was responding to your question should we go on sinning. Paul specifically answers this in Romans that we should not.

    AxeGirl,

    I think that a moral code based exclusively on love is inherently subjective in practice. Behavior that you think is loving and compassionate someone else may view as not being loving. For example, say one parent thinks it is loving to give their child everything it wants and to never say no. Another parent may think that this is harmful and that it is loving to say no to their child and to teach them discipline.

  • ckitching

    If your unsubstantiated beliefs cause you to try to ‘steer’ my life in a certain direction, then you sure as hell better be able to offer something to demonstrate that your belief is true.

    If you can’t, then why should I follow?

    “But is it true?” It’s quite the powerful argument, and one I’ll use myself sometimes. But today, I’ll going to go in a different direction and quote some poetry:

    To all of us the thought of heaven is dear–Why not be sure of it and make it here?No doubt there is a heaven yonder too,But ’tis so far away–and you are near.

    Men talk of heaven,–there is no heaven but here;Men talk of hell,–there is no hell but here;Men of hereafters talk, and future lives,–O love, there is no other life–but here.

    Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Richard Le Gallienne)

    I’m not sure this could be said any better. Godly or godless, the only life we are completely sure of is the one we live right now. The only heaven or hell we can be absolutely sure of is in the place we live in right now. Of course, since this is not holy writ (and worse, written by a self-described unbeliever), it will never change some people’s minds.

  • Sean Santos Says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 7:02 am
    I feel somewhat better about Dave since it appears that he didn’t think that the Bible necessarily asked gays to be celibate. But he was certainly leaving the door open for other Christians to say so, and I noticed that he was trying to downplay or evade that issue, which is why I thought it was worth pursuing.

    My apologies for not addressing that issue; I missed it.

    I don’t beat the anti-homosexual drum and I try to dissuade those who do. There is a passage in the gospels where Jesus is purported to have said, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” That is how I look at those who beat the anti-homosexuality drum. They pile on the guilt, but don’t do anything to really help.

    I am pretty much, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in that I don’t feel compelled in any way to run around saying homosexuality is wrong and you need to . . . I did state in this series of exchanges that I held it to be wrong, but that was only to identify where I was at in relation to McDowell.

    McDowell “laments” that the man in his story died of HIV or AIDS. I have known people that have committed suicide because of the anti-homosexuality pressure put on them. Some how driving someone to take their own life is preferable to them dying from HIV or AIDS? That does not make sense to me.

    Leaving doors open? Yeah, I probably do because there are just too damn many to close.

  • I wrote:

    “Is all loving ‘good’? If you answer ‘no’ to that, please explain what “subset of love” deserves to be argued against Nathan.”

    Nathan replied:

    Please don’t make me do this. Because I’ll give an example and you’ll all shout at me as though I’m comparing it to homosexuality. There are plenty of types of love that we suggest aren’t appropriate behaviours. Lets not go there. I’ve played these games before. Love is not some all encompassing trump card.

    Don’t make you do it? You mean don’t make you substantiate an assertion that you made Nathan?

    I’m sorry…..either put up or shut up. If you’re not willing to back up something you’ve said, then don’t expect anyone to give it any credence.

  • Robert W wrote:

    AxeGirl,

    I think that a moral code based exclusively on love is inherently subjective in practice. Behavior that you think is loving and compassionate someone else may view as not being loving. For example, say one parent thinks it is loving to give their child everything it wants and to never say no. Another parent may think that this is harmful and that it is loving to say no to their child and to teach them discipline.

    Robert, all moral codes are ‘inherently subjective’ ~ yes, including ‘believers’ moral codes.

    Bringing up differing opinions on disciplining one’s child does nothing to undermine the reality that love, which includes treating another person with respect, compassion, care and equality, is, above all else, the thing that we should seek to nurture and support in ourselves and others.

  • I wrote:

    Nathan, are you saying that the love between same-sex couples only falls into the ‘erotic love’ category?”

    Nathan replied:

    On the contrary – I was suggesting that seemed to be your argument – because it is the only type of love between two men that Christianity seeks to limit.

    Seemed to be my argument? Could you please show me where you got that idea, Nathan?

    And the fact that Christianity seeks to limit anyone’s love, including erotic expression of said love, between consenting adults is the ‘problem’.

    Christianity needs to focus on its own ‘bedroom’, if you will, and keep its presumptuous nose out of everyone else’s….

    especially given the fact that they have ZERO to offer in the way of evidence of the ‘being’ at its core that is apparently directing people how to live their lives.

  • ckitching wrote:

    Godly or godless, the only life we are completely sure of is the one we live right now. The only heaven or hell we can be absolutely sure of is in the place we live in right now. Of course, since this is not holy writ (and worse, written by a self-described unbeliever), it will never change some people’s minds.

    beautifully said, ckitching.

  • Ok Axegrrl,

    I’m not coming back to this thread (because I think I can predict the indignant response to these comments (that you’ve asked for)):

    How about incest? Between two consenting adults?

    How about the cannibal who loves his victim? And the victim who consents to being loved to death.

    How do we measure this “love” you speak of?

    How about a relationship between a consenting teenager and an adult – if they both say they “love” each other?

    How do you measure love? What about if an animal trainer and his gorilla love each other? Are we entering Peter Singer territory here? I heard Dawkins suggest that interspecies relationships were bioethically quite ok. In a question time at a talk he gave in Brisbane while promoting his Greatest Show on Earth book…

    See now you’re all going to say “how can you compare homosexuality to child abuse” – which is clearly not what I’m doing. I’m suggesting that “love” doesn’t trump everything. Like I’ve said above (and previously) – I’m all for gay marriage. I just don’t think you can be a practicing homosexual and a Christian – which is what I think Sean McDowall probably believes too. Having read a little bit of his stuff (but not having watched this video because I’m using mobile broadband and don’t have the data).

    I’ve never seen a Christian say homosexuals shouldn’t be friends with one another, enjoy one another’s company, live in the same house. The hang up seems to me (as part of Christian culture) to be on the issue of gay sex. Not love. Which your argument, as outlined above, seems to equate as one and the same “you say gay people can’t marry which limits love so you are wrong.” There are plenty of examples of “love” that we limit socially and legally. Because “love” isn’t enough.

    You ask for some examples from your comments above. Here you go.

    You said:

    anyone who argues against loving, same-sex relationships between consenting adults is arguing against love.

    Period.

    Which is a strawman if you’re not equating eros with love. Unless you’re equating “marriage” with love – which is another category error. Which is where you seem to go here:

    To argue that some people are ‘supposed to’ or have been ‘called upon’ to live their entire lives without an intimate, loving primary relationship, merely because that loving relationship would happen with a person of the same gender, is so ignorant and/or malicious, it boggles the mind…..

    Nobody is doing that. I’m happy to agree that Christians have no business commenting on morality outside the boundaries of the church – except to say “The God of the Bible disapproves of your rejection of him” (I think that should be broader than an attack on homosexuality. And I agree there are plenty of examples of Christians behaving badly on this front. But to suggest that without sex we can’t have loving and fulfilling relationships with people is to see the concepts as equivalent. And they’re not.

    To devalue or dismiss love between human beings is the closest thing to a real ‘sin’ I can think of.

    That’s probably where you’ve gone the closest to suggest that sex is love.

    But it’s not the only comment where that idea seems to be underpinning your argument.

    You said:

    “We, as human beings, know that love (and the things that it encompasses, like compassion and empathy) is THE thing to embrace and nurture….

    Why? because it proves itself. When we treat each other with love and kindness and compassion, our world becomes a better place. We don’t need any ‘sacred text’ to tell us this.

    Tell us why some bronze-age, man-written text, that contains rules that go against the above should be given any respect (let alone any special ‘reverence’)….”

    The only rules the Bible contains against homosexuality is against homosexual sex. David and Jonathan were said to love one another, and to enjoy all of those positive aspects of love you’ve mentioned above.

    Furthermore – the Bible says we should love everybody. It doesn’t say dear gay person – you can love everybody who is not your gender because we wouldn’t want that love to accidentally lead to sex now would we…

    This type of love, as you described it in another comment earlier:

    “Bringing up differing opinions on disciplining one’s child does nothing to undermine the reality that love, which includes treating another person with respect, compassion, care and equality, is, above all else, the thing that we should seek to nurture and support in ourselves and others.”

    Is exactly the kind of love Christianity would want to see the homosexual community engaging in with one another – and within the parameters of Christians who are homosexually inclined this would look like not leading the other away from God.

    I know this comment was aimed at Dave. But I’ll have a go too…

    “Let’s get down to brass tacks here ~ do you think that believing that homosexual relationships/love is ‘sinful’ is a valid stance Dave? If yes, why?”

    Yes. It is a valid stance. If you believe in God. There is no reason that humans should frame morality thus. But if you’re the creator of humanity and the world you should get a little bit of a say in things. And if you think you’ve found that creator (through the Bible) then it is valid to say “if I’m going to follow God I am not going to be gay”…

  • “especially given the fact that they have ZERO to offer in the way of evidence of the ‘being’ at its core that is apparently directing people how to live their lives.”

    That just isn’t true – or there’d be no Christians. What we don’t have is evidence that you, personally, see as convincing.

    The Bible is evidence, of sorts.
    The universe is evidence, of sorts.
    Jesus is evidence, of sorts.

    There is plenty of circumstantial evidence – and plenty of evidence you dismiss as inadmissible (internal testimony = confirmation bias).

    That’s fine. We are all free to interpret evidence and testimony as we see fit. But testimony is evidence. Courts still accept it in the absence (and even in the presence) of hard scientific data and forensic stuff.

  • Sean,

    I agree we’re largely revisiting old ground. My point is simply that we all often make assertions as though ours is the only valid position – and atheists constantly say “put the shoe on the other foot” – which I think is legitimate. It’s great, from a public policy position, to be thinking from the other’s point of view. It’s not so great to say “your point of view is invalid because I am reasonably sure it is wrong.”

    Here’s what you said:

    “I think that I know that the very specific god believed in by Christians is false, to at least the same degree of certainty that I know, say, what zip code I live in right now, or what year the Declaration of Independence was signed.”

    The problem is that God’s existence is a philosophical question and not a materially obvious question (unless you want to grant the idea that revelation (ie the Bible) is a piece of evidence, or that Jesus is a material example of the manifestation of God – and assess those). While you may be certain that the Christian God doesn’t exist there are plenty of people who disagree – I’d suggest their disagreement is of a different nature to somebody who chooses not to believe your post code is what you say it is.

    I agree that a host of different approaches to knowledge poses problems for legislating – and think we need to be doing better at taking opposing views into account – rather than just blithly or eloquently dismissing them.

    “But this business about “limiting freedom” is hyperbole, as if criticizing something in a forum like this was the same as haranguing people away from it. I call a foul here.”

    Yes. Except it’s the same foul committed when people do it in the reverse. Freedom is such a buzzword. But it’s hard to express how a libtertarian position should be applied to allowing Christians to be Christians when their beliefs clash with other people. I guess I think post-Christendom because I live in Australia (which is post-Christian), and look at Europe, and think that the US will eventually end up like that. These forums are where ideas take shape though – you’re underselling it – especially if the one percent rule applies (ie only one percent of the people reading these comments are actually commenting in the discussion). So these forum discussions have the capacity to limit freedom. I don’t want to overstate their importance – but lots of revolutions began in coffee shops.

  • MTran

    Hmmm,

    I’m surprised to find myself defending the notion that not all Christians are Biblical literalists, that a failure to be a literalist disqualifies any claim to being a Christian, and that there is a “plain meaning” of the Bible that unequivocally condemns homosexuality.

    First, Bibliolatry is a big no-no in the Roman Catholic Church. Yeah, they’ve got their own barrel of pathologies but Biblical literalism is not one of them. The liberal “main line” Protestant churches that I attended in my youth did not subscribe to literalism or Bibliolatry. Many Christians use the Bible as a source of information / inspiration that describes how the idea, ideals, identity and attributes of their deity have been revealed over the ages.

    It’s the crazy fundamentalists who tend to be the Bibliolators, worshiping a book rather than a deity. Other Christians often think these literalists are crazy, misguided and dangerous.

    As for the Bible’s treatment of homosexuality, well the churches I attended when young did not consider those passages to be a blanket condemnation of homosexuality at all. Their analysis went something like this:

    -All interpretations must strive to be consistent with the admonition to love thy neighbor and thy enemy. All interpretations need to consider the relevant context of the writing.

    -New Testament instruction supercedes Old Testament instruction when there is a conflict.

    -Only those actions that have been clearly and explicitly proscribed are prohibited.

    -Men cannot literally lie with another man “as a woman” because men and women are biologically distinct in certain ways. This means that the prohibition is either incomplete or ambiguous at best. Thus homosexuality itself is not cleaerly and explicitly condemned.

    -Under what circumstances could a man be “like a woman”? Well, if he were a eunuch, mangled by another more powerful than himself for that other person’s use or benefit. That puts the admonition into the context of prohibitions on having sex with temple prostitutes.

    Whether you agree with this sort of analysis is a separate matter. But when you tell someone that they don’t really understand the precepts of their own religion, that they don’t read their own religious texts properly, and that if they want to claim to be Christian they must hold certain personal and political positions as you understand them, well — you’re not going to get very far. And often, you will not be correct.

  • Robert W.

    AxeGirl,

    I disagree that all morality is subjective. There are some moral truths that are objective and true even if some people disagree with them. For example, the holocaust was wrong and would still be wrong if the Nazis won and convinced everyone that it was right.

    I agree with Nathan that love is not the ultimate base point. Not everything done in the name of love makes that behavior morally correct. Out of love and compassion a person could smother their grandmother because she had dementia. Out of love and compassion could a person could want to marry their cousin. A person could have love and compassion for the person they are having an affair with while they are married to another. That person couldn’t go their spouse and say “But I love her so its ok”.

    What you are saying without saying it is that homosexual love in a romantic and sexual sense is morally equivalent to other relationships. That is certainly your right to have that opinion just as others think that it isn’t. But couching it in terms of a standard that all morality should be based upon love and compassion is not changing your opinion to an objective moral standard by which all should agree.

    I can say that we should all have love and compassion for others and that we should treat people with respect and equality and still think that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. And in the Christian worldview and in the Bible I believe that it is pretty clear that God instructs that this behavior is a sin that should be avoided. Just like a host of other types of behavior that are sins that should be avoided and which a follower of Christ, dead to their old self, would strive to avoid.

  • Sean Santos

    @Robert W.

    You saying that homosexuality is perfectly moral is nothing more then your subjective viewpoint no matter how you couch it.

    The literal meaning of your words would seem to be “The question of whether or not homosexuality is immoral is inherently subjective.” But I think what you mean is more like “Your reasons for thinking that homosexuality is moral are subjective, even though you think they are objective.” Is this accurate?

    If so, I could point out that the fact-value distinction forbids any morality from being derived out of valueless facts. If there is a God, I could always decide that he wasn’t a good source of morality, that his rules sucked, and that I would rather go to hell than serve him. That wouldn’t be a pleasant outcome for me, but I wouldn’t be objectively wrong about anything, I would just be not very popular with Yahweh and stuck in hell. Or to put it another way, if there was a person who was completely apathetic about the welfare of all beings, including himself, there’s no fact you could tell him that would make him care about anything, whether or not he believed in any gods.

    If you want an objective morality, you need to accept that there is a network of objective facts about value which do not arise out of facts without value. All I’m saying is that the nature of consciousness and of persons is a better candidate for producing objective morality than the desires of some Really Big Guy out there who likes to make universes because he needs someone to order around and stroke his Almighty ego.

    @Drew

    I just disagree with passionately debating someone who already “gets it.”

    Dave says:

    I am pretty much, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in that I don’t feel compelled in any way to run around saying homosexuality is wrong and you need to . . . I did state in this series of exchanges that I held it to be wrong

    He definitely gets something, it’s just that the “it” that I wish people would get is not exactly the same as what he gets. We obviously disagree, but I think that it’s based on different priorities, not different beliefs.

    @Nathan

    While you may be certain that the Christian God doesn’t exist there are plenty of people who disagree – I’d suggest their disagreement is of a different nature to somebody who chooses not to believe your post code is what you say it is.

    I suppose it is. A better comparison would be if 9/11 “truthers” were in the majority. I do, in fact, think that the existence of God should be a materially obvious question, and it’s not a good sign that entire fields of apologetics and philosophy of religion have had to be invented simply to explain the fact that God does not manifest in a clear way.

    It gets very tiring to consider a viewpoint “valid” when it seems clearly incorrect. I don’t even know what the word “valid” means in this context. Clearly theists are allowed to have such a viewpoint without legal persecution. Clearly they are wrong (I’m speaking only for myself here, obviously). I also think it’s a pretty silly viewpoint, but it’s inappropriate to say so because it burns political capital to no positive effect (if you give a speech beginning “Since this God thing was obviously just made up,” it’s not going to win a lot of friends).

    I don’t really know what it means for a viewpoint to be “valid” or not. I think that the arguments for theism are pretty bad, so it’s “invalid” in that sense, but that doesn’t mean that every theist (or apologist) is stupid. In fact, many theists (and 9/11 truthers, and holocaust deniers, and alien abductees) have displayed surprising creativity and intelligence in inventing arguments to prop up or smokescreen an idea that’s at heart rather improbable. The viewpoint is not a sign of stupidity, insanity, or moral decay (at least, not necessarily); it’s just factually wrong.

    Or, if you absolutely insist on using a religious rather than empirical stance, I feel like someone who has been dropped into a society where 80% of the people profess faith in Zeus or Thor or Xenu or something, and still regularly go to make sacrifices or cleanse Thetans or some other bizarre thing related to an unjustified and bizarre, but unfalsifiable belief. I don’t think such beliefs are “valid” in the sense of being remotely plausible, but I can pooh-pooh them without demanding legal backing, or saying “ERADICATE ALL BELIEVERS, GRAAAAAAAH”.

    So these forum discussions have the capacity to limit freedom. I don’t want to overstate their importance – but lots of revolutions began in coffee shops.

    I don’t think one can promote free speech and simultaneously tell people to always look over their shoulders in case the extremists are watching. When I see a reason to think that there is a clear, concrete problem, I’ll be more concerned. But for now, I don’t think saying “I think theism is silly”, or even “I think theism is harmful” on this blog is very dangerous. I also spend a not-so-small amount of my time rebuking the kinds of atheists who don’t respect human rights (though usually in other, more diverse venues). Stuff about how religion is not the root of all evil and should not be banned and is not uniformly bigoted etc. So I don’t think I’m particularly vulnerable to criticism on this point; much like the ACLU, I don’t spend all my time picking on Christians, despite popular perception.

    I also don’t want to belabor this point, but you did bring it up; it’s far more dangerous to be gay than to be Christian, in almost every country, especially the English-speaking ones. So the evidence would suggest that mild Christian anti-gay rhetoric is more likely to have already caused a lot of harm than mild pro-gay anti-Christian rhetoric. I don’t think either message should be outright censored, although I’m clearly more concerned about the impact of one than the other.

    @MTran

    I did want to briefly say that this:

    they don’t really understand the precepts of their own religion, that they don’t read their own religious texts properly

    does actually describe a lot of believers. Not because they refuse to be literalists, but because a lot of people simply just go to church, hear a familiar and nice-sounding message, and don’t concern themselves with what lies beyond it. Or, perhaps even more commonly, only worship during holidays, barely think about the implications their religion, but then identify that religion as constituting their deep personal beliefs anyway. I would love for believers in general to be more acquainted with their holy texts; it would greatly elevate the level of conversation and force atheists to step up their game. (Incidentally, I think a lot more people would abandon their existing religions if they knew more about them.) Unfortunately, quote-mining and literalism are common amongst popular apologetics, even if those who are more serious know better.

  • ACN

    That was well said Sean.

  • Nathan wrote:

    How about incest? Between two consenting adults?

    To which I ask you: what deserves to outweigh such a loving relationship between two consenting adults? One could certainly make the argument that they probably shouldn’t reproduce for health reasons ~ but that different subject aside, what other considerations should override that loving relationship and make that loving relationship fall into the ‘morally wrong’ category?

    How about the cannibal who loves his victim? And the victim who consents to being loved to death.

    If the two people are legally sane, and no harm would come to any other person, and their relationship is entirely mutually agreed upon, on what grounds would you label the situation ‘morally wrong’? What concern or judgement of yours (or anybody else’s) should outweigh the relationship that the two people involved have said is entirely consentual and mutually satisfying?

    I won’t go any further on the above scenarios, because the topic at hand is homosexuality, so….

    If two consenting adults of the same gender find each other, form a loving, supporting relationship that they describe as mutually satisfying and fulfilling, what should override that and substantiate labelling the relationship as being ‘morally wrong’?

    I’m happy to agree that Christians have no business commenting on morality outside the boundaries of the church

    Then we truly have nothing to argue about Nathan. I have absolutely no concern with Christians arguing/debating the issue amongst themselves. And if Christians took absolutely no actions to negatively affect the lives of non-Christians with regard to homosexuality, then there wouldn’t be a topic to discuss here.

  • Nathan wrote:

    But to suggest that without sex we can’t have loving and fulfilling relationships with people is to see the concepts as equivalent. And they’re not.

    Who here has suggested such a thing? I certainly haven’t.

    The ‘problem’, imo, is the suggestion (by some) that a loving, sexual relationship between consenting adults of different genders is ‘morally right’, but a loving, sexual relationship between consenting adults of the same gender is ‘morally wrong’…..

    based on nothing except the fact they’re of the same gender.

    But again, if Christians aren’t asserting such a thing about anyone outside Christianity, then there’s no issue.

  • MTran

    Sean, I agree with you regarding many, if not most, people who claim to be believers in whatever religion are hopelessly ignorant about their own brand of hooey. This usually puts most atheists at a technical advantage in many arguments about religion.

    But I think that because this kind of ignorance is so wide spread among believers of all sorts, it’s easy to forget that there are some believers who really do know their stuff. And if a believer tells me that their religion accepts gay people as they are, then I don’t think it’s helpful or in any way accurate to say “Oh no, your religion does nothing of the sort, your religion actually says you are supposed to reject gays.”

  • Nathan wrote:

    What we don’t have is evidence that you, personally, see as convincing.

    The Bible is evidence, of sorts.
    The universe is evidence, of sorts.
    Jesus is evidence, of sorts.

    There is plenty of circumstantial evidence – and plenty of evidence you dismiss as inadmissible (internal testimony = confirmation bias).

    That’s fine. We are all free to interpret evidence and testimony as we see fit. But testimony is evidence. Courts still accept it in the absence (and even in the presence) of hard scientific data and forensic stuff.

    ‘Evidence’ is, indeed, in the eyes of the beholder. It is your interpretation of facts that cause you to label it as ‘evidence’…..and my interpretation of the same facts lead me to not call that ‘evidence.’

    So, no one side gets to claim the term ‘evidence’ in this situation.

    And in relation to the specific point I was making: if Christians try to affect the lives of others based on their belief(s), they sure as hell better have something that those they’re trying to affect would accept as evidence.

  • Robert W wrote:

    I disagree that all morality is subjective. There are some moral truths that are objective and true even if some people disagree with them. For example, the holocaust was wrong and would still be wrong if the Nazis won and convinced everyone that it was right.

    Without the existence of human beings, morality would not exist. If there were never human beings and the earth was a lifeless rock floating through space, morality would never exist either. Morality arises from human beings, and therefore, it is inherently subjective.

    I think you’re confusing morality that could be described as ‘universal’ (because the vast majority of human beings collectively agree and perhaps have agreed throughout most of history) with ‘objective’ morality. Things like murder and theft are often described as ‘objectively immoral’ only because we have collectively agreed on it for millenia…….not because these things are ‘just wrong’. It may feel that way to us, but that’s only because we (collectively) arrived at the conclusion that these things are ‘obviously’ wrong ages ago……but that doesn’t make them ‘objectively’ wrong.

    I agree with Nathan that love is not the ultimate base point. Not everything done in the name of love makes that behavior morally correct.

    But I never made the assertion that something done “in the name of love” makes behaviour morally correct ~ my point has been that loving relationships between human beings (which involve things like respect and care) are things that we should nurture and support.

    So, the question I put to Nathan, I’ll put to you:

    If two consenting adults of the same gender find each other, form a loving, supporting relationship that they describe as mutually satisfying and fulfilling (and yes, involves a sexual component), what would substantiate labelling the relationship as being ‘morally wrong’?

    If your only answer to that is ‘because I believe what the Bible says and it says it’s wrong’, then that’s not a ‘substantiation’ to those who are non-believers. But again, if you or other Christians take no actions to try to affect the lives of non-Christians based on that belief, then it’s pretty much a non-issue.

  • Dave

    Sean Santos Says:
    January 30th, 2011 at 12:29 am
    Dave says:

    I am pretty much, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in that I don’t feel compelled in any way to run around saying homosexuality is wrong and you need to . . . I did state in this series of exchanges that I held it to be wrong

    He definitely gets something, it’s just that the “it” that I wish people would get is not exactly the same as what he gets. We obviously disagree, but I think that it’s based on different priorities, not different beliefs.

    Sean, shoot the ~it~ my way. My priorities maybe be different or it may be the specific “brand” of christianity that have an affinity for.

  • Sean Santos

    And if a believer tells me that their religion accepts gay people as they are, then I don’t think it’s helpful or in any way accurate to say “Oh no, your religion does nothing of the sort, your religion actually says you are supposed to reject gays.”

    Fair enough. Actually, it would be far more tempting to me to say “Your religion actually says you are supposed to like gays.” I’d far rather that the gay issue not be on the table at all, and thus not have to worry about it. But I can’t tell people what their religion says, neither to make it more or less palatable (unless they say something patently wrong, like “Christianity says that Jesus was a three-headed space alien.”). For people who do believe that their religion is opposed in some way to gay relationships, I reserve the right to point out the discrimination, not as a direct insult, but as a way of emphasizing that it does, in fact, matter what people believe, and that it does directly impact people’s lives.

    Sean, shoot the ~it~ my way. My priorities maybe be different or it may be the specific “brand” of christianity that have an affinity for.

    Sorry; my pronouns were a bit ambiguous. I was saying that Drew and I have different priorities, and this means that we don’t have the same idea of where to draw the line between “worth arguing over” and “meh, close enough”.

    As far as I can gather, the “it” that makes a difference to Drew is whether discrimination is practiced in the law (probably he also cares about public accommodations and such). At the risk of trying to read his mind, I’m guessing that he’s more concerned with public policy (what should be enforced through law) than with what is floating about in the cultural mileu.

    My priority is trying to discuss common beliefs or memes, and what is or isn’t accurate about them. I put on my activist hat sometimes, but I’m actually more interested in personal discussions about ethics than in planning public policy, unless the conversation is very specifically about a public policy issue like gay marriage. The “it” that makes a difference to me is regarding whether one believes that gay relationships(/sex/families) are morally good (or at least neutral) in the abstract. As I think you probably gathered quite early in our conversation, this is a point that I think is worth arguing over, even if everyone agrees on not saying or doing bad things directly to gay people.

  • Sean Santos Says:
    January 30th, 2011 at 2:28 am
    My priority is trying to discuss common beliefs or memes, and what is or isn’t accurate about them. I put on my activist hat sometimes, but I’m actually more interested in personal discussions about ethics than in planning public policy, unless the conversation is very specifically about a public policy issue like gay marriage. The “it” that makes a difference to me is regarding whether one believes that gay relationships(/sex/families) are morally good (or at least neutral) in the abstract. As I think you probably gathered quite early in our conversation, this is a point that I think is worth arguing over, even if everyone agrees on not saying or doing bad things directly to gay people.

    I don’t feel like finding the post, but in one of my early post I think I said something to the effect that someone telling me they were a Christian gave me almost nothing in the way of meaningful information about them. I don’t recall the number or year, but sometime back in the 90’s or early 2000’s, I did something like 4300+ denominations, sects, etc. in this country; xtianity is far from a homogeneous. Just using the issue of homosexuality, you have a range from Fred Phelps to Episcopal Church. You have xtians that believe in verbal plenary inspiration and those that believe “to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

    There are a ton of differences, but the one that is important in this discussion is the ones sometimes characterized as the Peace Churches. Even in that group there is a bit of diversity with one of the elements being involvement in government.

    As I mentioned, I am “live and let live”. That is, in large part, because, while I am not a member of one of the Peace Churches, in this area I find a common understanding with some of time. In short, I don’t try to legislate my worldview; I don’t vote, will not seek any public office, etc. I might sign a petition, but that is about as far as I will go in the political arena.

    I mentioned that what some call the golden rule is the rule that I try to live by. Applying it in this situation, If I don’t want someone cramming their idea of right and wrong down my throat, I damn sure shouldn’t be trying to cram mine down yours.

  • AxeGrrl,

    “To which I ask you: what deserves to outweigh such a loving relationship between two consenting adults? One could certainly make the argument that they probably shouldn’t reproduce for health reasons ~ but that different subject aside, what other considerations should override that loving relationship and make that loving relationship fall into the ‘morally wrong’ category?”

    I would suggest that God – any God – if they exist and created the world and humanity – and if they voiced a preference on the issue – would outweigh the love of two consenting adults. But that’s a philosophy I don’t expect you guys to share.

    My beef with you – since I think we actually agree – is that I think it is valid to say that something is morally wrong from a particular point of view.

    I think there’s a difference between saying “that is morally wrong” and saying “you are not legally allowed to do that” – because I think morals are actually subjective – and determined by God (though each person can make their own moral determinations within the parameters of the law).

    But I never made the assertion that something done “in the name of love” makes behaviour morally correct…

    I think that’s a little disingenuous. You’ve consistently argued that the love-denying Christian view is immoral because it fails to see homosexual relationships as moral and that the problem is that they ignore love. Some examples:

    “To devalue or dismiss love between human beings is the closest thing to a real ‘sin’ I can think of.”

    “We, as human beings, know that love (and the things that it encompasses, like compassion and empathy) is THE thing to embrace and nurture…”

    “Let’s drop the ‘if’s Dave. Does this ‘creator’ that you ‘accept’ classify loving relationships between consenting adults of the same gender as ‘sinful’?

    If you answer ‘yes’, then you (by definition) classify those loving relationships as being ‘morally inferior’, yes?”

    “Is all loving ‘good’? If you answer ‘no’ to that, please explain what “subset of love” deserves to be argued against Nathan.”

    “Don’t make you do it? You mean don’t make you substantiate an assertion that you made Nathan?

    I’m sorry…..either put up or shut up. If you’re not willing to back up something you’ve said, then don’t expect anyone to give it any credence.”

    Those last two – and the way you’ve been so readily prepared to dismiss my arguments make me think that you don’t think there’s any valid argument against love – any argument that makes love immoral. And I think at that point it’s fair to suggest you’ve gone pretty close to equating love with morality – providing it is between two consenting parties.

    Sean,

    I also don’t want to belabor this point, but you did bring it up; it’s far more dangerous to be gay than to be Christian, in almost every country, especially the English-speaking ones. So the evidence would suggest that mild Christian anti-gay rhetoric is more likely to have already caused a lot of harm than mild pro-gay anti-Christian rhetoric.

    I agree. I think Christians have done some absolutely terrible things while we’ve been in power. I think it’s a tragedy that gay people experience the persecution they do because of the Christian lobby. In a sense we deserve whatever we get as the dynamic shifts – but I’d hate to think that non-Christians are going to equate the Christian position on homosexuality with Fred Phelps (or even a less extreme version of Fred Phelps). There’s a sense in which we need to look to our own backyard on this issue (and I spend as much time arguing on that front as I do on this one).

    Clearly theists are allowed to have such a viewpoint without legal persecution.

    But for how long. Here’s my theory. In 20 years you guys will be in the political majority with no love for your nation’s Christian heritage. And a fair bit of anger (that many Christians share) with the way Christians have enforced their views on the majority. What happens then?

    “I do, in fact, think that the existence of God should be a materially obvious question”

    I agree. Which is where I think Jesus comes in.

    “I don’t spend all my time picking on Christians, despite popular perception.”

    I believe you. You’re one of my favourite atheists online. Do you have your own blog?

  • dave

    @Steve

    Being gay isn’t about behavior. It’s not about what people do. Someone could never act on their feelings and pretend to be straight. But they’d still be gay.

    And despite this new-fangled Christian doctrine of gays having to suppress their feelings and stay celibate, they’d still be reviled for it.

    Steve this is a gross misrepresentation of Christianity.

    Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

    Suppressing ones feelings isn’t biblical. Turning to God and allowing Him to change a person is.
    God is the one who changes our desires, He takes away the old ones and gives us new ones.

    @Axegrrl

    anyone who argues against loving, same-sex relationships between consenting adults is arguing against love.

    Period.

    To argue that some people are ‘supposed to’ or have been ‘called upon’ to live their entire lives without an intimate, loving primary relationship, merely because that loving relationship would happen with a person of the same gender, is so ignorant and/or malicious, it boggles the mind…..

    To devalue or dismiss love between human beings is the closest thing to a real ‘sin’ I can think of.

    I think Dan Savage said it best when he said:

    “when religion gets in the way of love, then religion is the problem”.

    True love is directing a person off the path of eternal destruction and directing them toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Besides what kind of love are we talking about here anyways?

    Eros? The kind of love that says me me me give me more more more (Where we get the English word erotica from)

    Or agape? (unconditional love) Which is to say I love and don’t want anything bad to happen to you.

    John 3:16 God so agape the world He gave His only begotten Son…

    BTW I see the video was taken down.

  • Robert W.

    AxeGirl,

    If two consenting adults of the same gender find each other, form a loving, supporting relationship that they describe as mutually satisfying and fulfilling (and yes, involves a sexual component), what would substantiate labelling the relationship as being ‘morally wrong’?

    As I have stated the Bible is pretty clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and should be avoided. But I agree with Nathan that every other aspect of that relationship would be one that the Bible would actually encourage on a platonic level, even to the point of loving another as a brother or sister.

  • Dave

    dave Says:
    January 30th, 2011 at 9:32 am
    True love is directing a person off the path of eternal destruction and directing them toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.

    I would say that “true love” in the sense you are using it would also have to recognize when the other person prefers to stay on the path they are on and allowing them to stay on it.

  • Sean Santos

    I am attempting to reply, but the spam filter keeps catching it, even when I take out the links.

  • dave

    @Dave

    I would say that “true love” in the sense you are using it would also have to recognize when the other person prefers to stay on the path they are on and allowing them to stay on it.

    Yes, I agree. God does not force Himself on anyone, He has given man free will.
    God (who loves us) will not force someone into heaven if they don’t want to be there.

    Having said that I am obligated out of my love for God and my fellow human being to tell people about the love of God and how He wants the best possible thing for them.

  • Sean Santos

    God (who loves us) will not force someone into heaven if they don’t want to be there.

    *obligatorily points out that wanting to go to heaven and believing that there is one are not the same thing*

  • *obligatorily points out that wanting to go to heaven and believing that there is one are not the same thing*

    *obligatorily points out that so-called “wishful thinking” does not necessarily mean that heaven is not there – they’re not necessarily not the same thing*

  • Dave wrote:

    True love is directing a person off the path of eternal destruction and directing them toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.

    And without substantive evidence (by which I mean consequences (for ex) are clearly evident to all) to support the existence of such a thing as ‘eternal destruction’ or a ‘savior’, your point is meaningless to anyone outside of those who believe such things.

    My main point has basically been that the positive ‘consequences’ of loving relationships between human beings can be shown/demonstrated to all and, therefore, that’s more substantial (in the ‘marketplace’ of ideas) than things that can’t be demonstrated to all.

  • I wrote:

    But I never made the assertion that something done “in the name of love” makes behaviour morally correct…

    Nathan replied:

    I think that’s a little
    disingenuous. You’ve consistently argued that the love-denying Christian view is immoral because it fails to see homosexual relationships as moral and that the problem is that they ignore love.

    Actually, I think it’s a little disingenuous of you to conflate love with things done ‘in the name of love’ ~ OJ Simpson claimed to love the woman most people think he murdered. We hear people say things like “i love you too much to stand you being with someone else”….people who would claim that some of their abusive/destructive actions were done ‘in the name of love’.

    That’s very different than real love.

  • Robert W wrote:

    As I have stated the Bible is pretty clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and should be avoided.

    So, your answer to my question is simply “because the Bible says so”. Fair enough. Just wanted to clarify that.

  • Nathan wrote:

    the way you’ve been so readily prepared to dismiss my arguments make me think that you don’t think there’s any valid argument against love – any argument that makes love immoral. And I think at that point it’s fair to suggest you’ve gone pretty close to equating love with morality – providing it is between two consenting parties.

    Not exactly….my main argument all along has basically been the following:

    that loving relationships between consenting adults (which involves mutual respect, equality and care) prove themselves by their positive consequences ~ and for many of those consenting adults, a sexual component only enhances and serves to strengthen their bond. This is something that can be recognized/observed by anyone and everyone. (And any specific ‘negatives’ arising from the sexual component applies to both hetero and homosexual couples).

    Given that, any grounds to label any such relationships (and/or the sexual component of said relationships) as ‘immoral’ should be equally as demonstrable in order to be acknowledged, imo. Bible/God-based ‘grounds’ simply aren’t as demonstrable as the self-evident benefits of such relationships for those involved.

    I acknowledge that, for those who believe in the Bible, the argument-from-authority is ‘enough’, and they accept what the book says about im/morality ~ but for those of us who don’t, the argument-from-authority is inherently lacking; especially in the face of the real-life good we can see arising from the very things the book labels as ‘immoral’.

  • Sean Santos

    *obligatorily points out that so-called “wishful thinking” does not necessarily mean that heaven is not there – they’re not necessarily not the same thing*

    Come on, pay attention. I was objecting to the implication that atheists, by being atheists per se, are deciding that they don’t want to go to heaven (and thus that letting them in would be “forcing” them to go). It was not about whether or not heaven actually exists.

  • Dave F

    AxeGrrl Says:
    February 1st, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Dave wrote:

    True love is directing a person off the path of eternal destruction and directing them toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Clarification – there are two people posting as Dave – one using an uppercase D, the other a lowercase. I, the uppercase, didn’t write that, I responded to it.

  • AxeGrrl,

    “Actually, I think it’s a little disingenuous of you to conflate love with things done ‘in the name of love’ “

    That’s a dodge. The issue here is you suggesting that actual love is enough to make something moral. Are you suggesting you haven’t said or implied that? Because when questioned on it you appear to have denied it – and now you’re moving the goalposts.

  • Sean,

    I know. It just seemed a little more dismissive of heaven than that – I felt like the implication was that heaven is wishful thinking, and thus should be dismissed by right thinkers…

    Sorry if I misunderstood you.

  • Nathan wrote:

    The issue here is you suggesting that actual love is enough to make something moral. Are you suggesting you haven’t said or implied that? Because when questioned on it you appear to have denied it – and now you’re moving the goalposts.

    Read my last post before this one Nathan….it describes my position entirely and responds to this post of yours.

  • Dave F

    Nathan Says:
    February 1st, 2011 at 2:52 am

    AxeGrrl,

    “Actually, I think it’s a little disingenuous of you to conflate love with things done ‘in the name of love’ “

    That’s a dodge. The issue here is you suggesting that actual love is enough to make something moral. Are you suggesting you haven’t said or implied that? Because when questioned on it you appear to have denied it – and now you’re moving the goalposts.

    Not quoting this as an authority, simply something which may have bearing.

    Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    This would seem to support AxeGrrl’s argument.

  • dave

    @ Axegrrl

    And without substantive evidence…

    I do have evidence
    God has put eternity in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11)

    If God did not put eternity in our hearts the word “forever” would not be in our vocabulary.

    “Hell: Arriving at the truth of God when it is to late” ~Tozer

  • Parse

    @dave

    If God did not put eternity in our hearts the word “forever” would not be in our vocabulary.

    By your logic, if God didn’t put them in our hearts, we also wouldn’t have “unicorns” and “zombies” in our vocabulary. I hope you enjoy your undead, sparkly unicorn heart as much as I enjoy mine.

  • ACN

    If God did not put eternity in our hearts the word “forever” would not be in our vocabulary.

    Dave, as Parse has pointed out, this is a meaningless statement. This is very close to saying:

    “Come on, come on, you’ve gotta believe me”.

  • dave

    Acts 20:25-27 google it…peace out

  • ACN

    Don’t need to, used to be a christian, used the line before.

    It doesn’t make your statement any less meaningless.

  • Sean Santos

    I felt like the implication was that heaven is wishful thinking, and thus should be dismissed by right thinkers.

    Actually, I was thinking more about people who wish there was an afterlife, but don’t think that there is one and are sad about that.

    I’m not such a person, but I do have some appreciation for the sentiment.

  • Dave F wrote:

    Clarification – there are two people posting as Dave – one using an uppercase D, the other a lowercase. I, the uppercase, didn’t write that, I responded to it.

    My apologies Dave 🙁 I’m sorry if anyone reading my posts attributed anything to you that wasn’t posted by you.

  • dave (with a lowercase ‘d’:) wrote:

    I do have evidence
    God has put eternity in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11)

    If God did not put eternity in our hearts the word “forever” would not be in our vocabulary.

    “Hell: Arriving at the truth of God when it is to late” ~Tozer

    Read my earlier post about ‘evidence’ dave…..

    what you just wrote may constitute ‘evidence’ to you, but it just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher to a great many of us.

  • Nice way to prove McDowell’s popint, Hemant – equating “I’m your friend, I care about you and I’m here for you, but I think you’re making a bad decision” with “I hate you”.
    Just goes to show that McDowell was right in saying that the prevailing secular view is that love = uncritically supporting my views. Does that mean you ‘hate’ Christians then? After all, you seem to be critical of Christian belief, and not supporting me in my decisions, views and actions is ‘hating’ – clearly, you’re being hateful. Cuts both ways..

  • I am an 18 year old christian and I think that using that mans death is a poor example of the Christian view. “love thy neighbour, as you love yourself” there is no exception to this, gay or not. All sins are equal in god’s eyes “for all have come short of the glory of god”. We all have our own personal crosses to bear, these things are all in gods plan, for we are all made in his image ( again gay people are no exception to this) their sexual inclinations are their own personal burdens. Who is one man to judge another, if he to has also sinned, for all have sinned and the only one who can judge is god. He who is without sin may cast the first stone….. so go ahead !

  • Kaela

    Thank you so much for posting this comment because me and my boyfriend just recently broke up because I’m ok with gay people and him, well he kinda hates them. I told him we’re just the same except for our sexuality and that it’s their choice and he got mad and said I’m rejecting Christ. I tried to tell him that I’m not but he’s as stubborn as a cranberry juice stain on a white carpet and wouldnt listen to me. I’m Christian but I’m open to gay people and their rights cause who am I to bash on someone’s right. Hopefully showing him your comment will hopefully try to make him understand.