Moving further into his opening criticism Dan Savage talks about how the Bible clearly supports and allows slavery, and yet, Christians now consider slavery to be sinful and evil. He says that if Christians can adjust what they believe about the value of human beings on this simple topic that is clearly permitted in the Bible, then they shouldn’t be so dogmatic on the issue of human sexuality, which is far more complex. Brian Brown does address this issue of slavery and the Bible, but in a very poor way (I’ll cover his response, the good parts and the parts where he fails, in a future post).
The next highlight of the debate for me was when Dan very clearly says that this is an issue of civil equality. The civil right to get married, not the religious right. He says that tolerate “doesn’t mean celebrate, tolerate means endure or put up with.” If conservative Christians can tolerate divorce, interfaith marriages, and non-religious marriages (and I’ll add interracial marriages since a great many of the people who opposed that did so based on their interpretation of the Bible) all of which are against Christian theology, then they can learn to tolerate marriage equality for LGBTQ people.
I believe my favorite quote comes at the end of Dan’s little speech before he realizes he has more time and continues talking. “Imposing your interpretation of the Bible on someone else is not religious freedom, as you’ve attempted to redefine it. That is religious tyranny.” This comes back to what I talked about in Part 1 about the importance of understanding differences of interpretation, which is especially true in areas of non-core issues (aka things not having to do with the essential beliefs to be saved). However, as I said before there are a frightfully large number of people (or at least spokespeople) on the conservative Christian side that are claiming rejection of homosexuality is a fundamental belief for being a Christian (ex. Anti-gays: theological disagreement about homosexuality bars you from Heaven and AFTAH: Gay Christians are ‘Satanically Inspired’ and Alan Chambers is like a ‘Green-on-Blue’ Attacker). There are a great many Christians (and Christian denominations) that disagree over this issue, and attempting to use the power of law to force others to accept one religious interpretation is not acceptable. (As a side note, civil marriage equality would not force those who disagree with it to participate, but banning civil marriage equality does force those that believe in it to not participate.)
Dan continues by talking about how the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) bears false witness (a violation of the 9th commandment) against LGBTQ families. One example he gives is how NOM, through surrogates and linking, falsely links homosexuality with pedophilia. Dan mentions how 40% of homeless kids are LGBTQ who were kicked out after they came out to their families, and he says, “’ve heard from scores of kids whose parents threw them out after they found out that they were gay because they were worried that their gay children would—were pedophiles who would molest their younger siblings.” This is a huge problem, and it has very real consequences for very real LGBTQ teens. These parents (who are heterosexuals mind you) are abrogating their parental responsibilities (to their, typically, biological children) because they’ve been told a lie.
Dan also mentions the lies about Mark Regnerus’ “gay parenting” study and the problems with that. I’ll address that issue and Brian’s response in a future part (probably part 3) as it is rather involved and I want to be able to devote enough examination to it to sort out the contending claims.
As his final point Dan talks about how Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant made the argument that gays were a threat because we didn’t marry and have families, but now the argument is being made that gays are a threat because we do marry and have families. I love the way he puts is: “And it can’t be both. We can’t be a threat to the family when we model a life without commitment, a life without children, a life without an investment in the future and a threat to the family when we marry, or we have children, or we do commit to each other and commit to a future and commit to raising our children responsibly.” Of course if a person believes that LGBTQ people are a threat simply by our existence (Homosexuality Is “Man Shaking His Fist In The Face Of God”), then no matter what we do we’re a threat to the family. However, in spite of that caveat, Dan’s point about there being a catch-22 still exists. It’s one or the other, or they do believe we are a threat by our mere existence in which case they should have the gall to stand up and say that’s what they believe. After all they do claim to be the speakers and defenders of truth.
Transcript and video can be found here.