Harnessing Atheism to Defend Marriage?
By: Jonathan Harris
Miss California Takes a Stand
On April 25th, a stunning 22-year-old super model from the state of California hesitated as she attempted to answer what would become a national news phenomenon for weeks to come. It was the 2009 Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant, and the question being posed to Miss Carrie Prejean was on the political hot potato of homosexual marriage. The judge, Perez Hilton, an openly homosexual man himself, asked:
“Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex-marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”
Carrie, a devoted Christian, started to respond, but in the middle of her answer changed her direction.
“Well, I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. (switch) And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that’s how I was raised, and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”1
Little did Carrie know at the time, but that fatal switch would most likely cost her the competition, and immediately boost her “Super-Model” status to “Super-Star” status with the Conservative Christian movement.
In the days which followed, the issue of homosexual marriage was debated more heavily on a national scale than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Liberals typically attacked the issue from an “equal rights” foothold, while conservatives approached it from a “majority rights”premise. This observation can be detected by viewing almost any news show discussing the topic after the pageant. On the O’Reilly Factor’s April 21st edition, Bill and Wayne Besen, a gay right’s activist, debated the issue. After Besen called Carrie’s views “bigotry” and “anti-gay,” during the course of the discussion, the following exchange took place:
O’Reilly: “I’m not anti-gay!”
Besen: “If you’re against marriage, on some level you are.”
O’Reilly: “Hold it. But I’m against gay marriage because I don’t believe it reflects what the country’s vision is of a stable society.”
Bill went on to use the legitimate “slippery slope” argument (homosexual marriage will lead to other types of deviancies in marriage) to contend with Wayne’s position, but didn’t realize that he in essence had already sawed off the very branch he was sitting on. While his emphasis on “the country’s vision”certainly highlights his political fervor for “popular sovereignty,” it does not accurately portray the way in which a conservative value-system is applied. Majority rule may set legal precedent, but it certainly does not determine ethical truth.
A mere twenty-two days before the Miss U.S.A beauty pageant, Iowa became the first heart-land state to legalize homosexual marriage. Like most of the states that have legalized it, Iowa’s decision was not made by the legislature, but rather by the courts. Five days later, Vermont became the first state to legalize homosexual marriage through the legislature, rather than through the courts, meaning that the conservative requirement for popular sovereignty had been met. In spite of the fact that elected representatives made the decision, Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, responded to Vermont’s decision by stating:
“The Democratic Party has now thrown its lot against the principles and priorities of the majority of Americans in favor of its richly endowed base of gay supporters. Democrats are the party of gay marriage — a position opposed by 55 percent of the American people in the latest polls.” 3
The conservative movement as a whole reacted using the same tired argument, claiming that since the majority of Americans opposed homosexual marriage, it shouldn’t be legalized. Well, I’ve got news for everyone – The majority of Vermont residents apparently support homosexual marriage, and it won’t be long until a majority of America supports it! A CBS tracking poll last June demonstrated that between 2004 and 2008 there was a 9% increase among those in America who support same-sex marriage. What fortress will those who support a Biblical definition of marriage flee to once the winds of popular opinion shift?
Debate Me on My Terms!
The fact is, most Christians and/or conservatives have done an exceptionally lousy job defending their assertions when it comes to marriage. It’s not like a sensible rationale doesn’t exist in favor of their position, it’s just the reasonable arguments which do exist, aren’t being utilized. What is the reason for this? I believe it has do to with an axiomatic switch from a theistic to an atheistic set of presuppositions. Most conservatives will say that they believe in God, but practically speaking, they may as well not when it comes to some issues. The “Cosmic Cube” philosophy, that nothing outside of the “material world” exists, has taken hold of our culture to such a degree, that virtually every debate takes place within its confines. Traditionalists can debate, but they aren’t supposed to bring up any line of evidence which may lead to something or someone “outside of the box.” Therefore, when it comes to the principle of good and evil, the members of the box are interviewed, while the Creator of the universe is not reached for comment. The evidence for this switch exists all around us. The preoccupation news agencies have developed for “opinion poles” has reached nauseating proportions (especially during election season). Another demonstration of this shift can be viewed when examining etymology. Theologian R.C. Sproul expanded on this aspect when he stated:
“Morality looks at the verb ‘is’. Ethics looks at the word ‘ought’. The distinction has been obscured in our day. People use the term ‘morality’ and ethics as synonyms. That leads to statistical morality. We go around the nation seeing what people are doing, how many
people are cheating on their spouses.” 5
In other words, the term “morality” refers to subjective creatures within the “Cosmic Cube,” while the term “Ethics” refers to an objective standard based in someone outside this system. The fact that we as a society can’t seem to tell the difference between these words says something.
Traditionalists have let secularists set the terms of the same-sex marriage debate for far too long. It’s high time we let God set the terms and leave the results to Him.