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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 05:24 PM

Gay Bishop Comes Up With the Worst Argument to Support Same-Sex Marriage


The opposition to LGBT rights in general, and to same-sex marriage in particular, overwhelmingly comes from conservative religion, founded in the religious belief that gay sex makes baby Jesus cry. So if same-sex marriage proponents want to persuade religious believers to support same-sex marriage... how can we do that? Should we keep our argument entirely secular, and stay away from the whole question of religious belief? Or should we try to persuade them that God is on our side?

Lots of people make the second argument. Bishop Gene Robinson is one of them. And Bishop Robinson is a man to be taken seriously. The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Robinson has been active in progressive political activism for many years: he is a fellow at the Center for American Progress, is co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, has done AIDS work in the United States and in Africa, and famously delivered the invocation at President Obama's opening inaugural ceremonies in 2009. He's recently written a book, published by Knopf and widely reviewed and well-received: God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage. Aimed at religious believers who oppose same-sex marriage or are on the fence about it, the book makes a Christian case for same-sex marriage: "a commonsense, reasoned, religious argument made by someone who holds the religious text of the Bible to be holy and sacred and the ensuing two millennia of church history to be relevant to the discussion."

And I think this is a terrible, terrible idea.

--snip--

But the argument he makes in his new book, God Believes in Love, disturbs me greatly. I am deeply disturbed by the idea that God, or any sort of religious or spiritual belief, should have anything to do with the question of same-sex marriage. I am deeply disturbed by the idea that any decision about politics, law, public policy, or morality should ever be based on what's supposedly going on in God's head. I agree completely with Bishop Robinson's conclusion about same-sex marriage -- but I am passionately opposed to the method by which he's reached it, and the arguments he's making to advance it.

--snip--

But my problem is not, "God doesn't exist, therefore 'what God wants' is a ridiculous thing to worry about." My problem is this: When we base our political/legal/moral decisions on what we think God wants, we have no way of knowing if we're right. When we base our decisions on what we think God wants, we have no basis for resolving our differences. Religion is based on faith -- and faith, by definition, is uniquely resistant to evidence. Even at its best, faith ultimately comes down to, "I feel it in my heart." And if someone else feels something entirely different in their heart about God's intentions, we have no means of persuading them that they're mistaken. For that matter, we have no means of being persuaded ourselves if we're mistaken. When we base our decisions on what we think God wants, it's ultimately no different from basing our decisions on what we want... reinforced and amplified by the conviction that our wishes dovetail with God's, and made more stubbornly resistant to change by the fundamental irrationality of religious faith.

http://www.alternet.org/belief/gay-bishop-comes-worst-argument-support-same-sex-marriage

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Gay Bishop Comes Up With the Worst Argument to Support Same-Sex Marriage (Original post)
cleanhippie Feb 2013 OP
ForgoTheConsequence Feb 2013 #1
Still Sensible Feb 2013 #2
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #5
ForgoTheConsequence Feb 2013 #14
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #16
Kalidurga Feb 2013 #3
ohheckyeah Feb 2013 #4
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #6
ohheckyeah Feb 2013 #7
Prism Feb 2013 #8
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #9
Prism Feb 2013 #10
kwassa Feb 2013 #11
obnoxiousdrunk Feb 2013 #12
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #13
ForgoTheConsequence Feb 2013 #15
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #17

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 05:31 PM

1. For some people religion plays a role in decision making.

He is a member of the clergy and looking at it from that perspective.

But hey lets count hairs and eat our own. That will definitely move things along. You could use this same argument against Martin Luther King Jr, faith was his foundation.

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Response to ForgoTheConsequence (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 05:38 PM

2. Very good point. n/t

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Response to ForgoTheConsequence (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:27 PM

5. Sure they do. Womens reproductive choice is a good example. Should we give that religious view

credibility as well?

This is not "eating our own", it's removing the nonsense from the conversation.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:55 PM

14. Its not removing "nonsense".

The authors beef was with religion in general. Was Martin Luther King Jr a peddler of nonsense? Be honest.


If I'm a member of the clergy I'm going to look at things from that perspective. Its a simple concept.

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Response to ForgoTheConsequence (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:40 PM

16. And if you look at it, and base your agenda, on a personal religious opinion...

What makes Fred Phelps way of looking at it, and basing his agenda on his personal religious opinion ANY better or worse?


I get what you are saying, though. Are you getting my point?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 06:57 PM

3. I realize we are dealing with the law here and have to have public support.

But, the fact is that the issue shouldn't need an argument. This shouldn't be up for debate. So, I am not concerned about arguments made for it. The pro gay marriage people can say "cuz puppies" and that's good enough for me. The other side can say whatever they want as well, it doesn't matter how they frame wrong, it's still wrong.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 07:32 PM

4. I personally think the only argument that should be made for

same sex marriage is "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

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Response to ohheckyeah (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:28 PM

6. I agree. I think that is all that should needed too!

Unfortunately, because religion gets special treatment, it's not that easy.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:35 PM

7. Yes, unfortunately.

I have this discussion with family members who get upset because I don't go by "what God says". It's exhausting. I have made three converts in the family so I guess that's progress if not perfection.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:02 PM

8. The Bishop isn't talking to us

He's talking to religious people who do ponder the religious and theistic implications on how they see the world.

The author badly misfires here. She's an atheist. Wonderful. I'm a deist/agnostic who gives very little thought to religion. Neither of us are in Robinson's audience here.

I don't get why this author feels the need to throw rotten fruit his way.

I can sum up this article in one sentence. "I'm an atheist and don't want theism involved in public policy discussions." Well, that's very special. Meanwhile, the rest of us understand that to achieve civil rights in this country, we need to involve and speak to as broad an audience as humanly possible to get as many people as we can on our side, on history's side.

The vast majority of America is religious. In that vein, Robinson is doing his bit. The author should do her's. Instead, she craps all over a very good man trying to do a very good thing.

In short, comes off as a brat. And her little critique here isn't helping civil equality. Tearing down people working to build bridges is about the least productive thing I can imagine to help our community.

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Response to Prism (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:15 PM

9. To give a relgious explanation for doing something credibility...

gives ALL religious explanations for doing something credibility.

ALL RELIGIOUS EXPLANATIONS. Such as...

Anti-abortion
Anti-equal marriage
Anti-science


The author is saying more than just "I'm an atheist and don't want theism involved in public policy discussions" , he is saying that if we give any credibility to the religious reasoning for passing legislation, then we have to give credibility to ALL religious reasoning to pass legislation.

What makes this Bishops reasoning for gay marriage and more credible than another Bishops reasoning to oppose it?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:52 PM

10. You fight a battle based on the conditions on the ground

In America, there are many, many people who heed and accept religious arguments. People may not like that, I may not like that, but it is the reality that exists and the construct we must necessarily work within at this particular point in time.

It does no good whatsoever to pretend that very religious people who make decisions using religiously informed logic and reasoning do not exist or can simply be reasoned with using plain secular logic.

I feel the author is being very selfish here by putting her religion (or lack thereof) in front of the entire community's current need - to convince millions of religious Americans to accept LGBTers. It's the religiously influenced who are our greatest oppressor in this country. We need to talk to them as effectively as possible. We need to approach them from a place that they are receptive to.

When I came out to my very Catholic parents, I knew where their heads were. It was wrong, the Church raised them to think it was wrong, it was against God, etc. etc. Sure, I used secular arguments about equality, the Constitution. But I also had long talks with them about God, what God would do ("Why would God make me this way if He thought it was an abomination? Doesn't that strike you as a bit off?"). I needed that religious component of argument to bring them around. I gave them literature from progressive Catholic priests. I offered them writings from prominent Jesuits.

Over time, that worked. They're still Catholic, but now they are accepting as anyone.

That is where Robinson is coming from. Religious people exist and some of them need to be addressed in a religious language.

The author doesn't like it? So what. I love it. I will take any angle of attack humanly possible. He's doing his bit, in the language he knows, in a way that may influence people who we need to achieve equality.

The author comes off as bitter and tantrum-flecked because, gasp, someone's using religion!

(I'm also not thrilled with her implication that somehow religion is separate and apart from the LGBT community. Someone should let her know about all the theistic LGBTers out there. She doesn't state her narrow, tunnel-visioned view outright, but her subtext is marinating in it).

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Response to Prism (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:36 PM

11. I would only add to your excellent commentary ...

Most of the LGBTers I know are theistic, as in Episcopal priests or congregants. Openly gay, I might add.

Gene Robinson is a hero to many Episcopalians as the first gay bishop, for which he was reviled in certain far off parts of the Anglican Communion, and in conservative dioceses in the US. The Episcopal Church is performing same-sex marriages in any state where it is legal, including at National Cathedral in the District of Columbia.

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Response to Prism (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:12 AM

12. Well said.

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Response to Prism (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:11 PM

13. This IS the battle on the ground. It is a fight between ignorance and facts, and I refuse to give

ignorance even an inch of ground.

Religious reasoning for passing legislation of any kind is nonsense. For every religious reasoning, one can offer an equally valid religious counter-reason to oppose it. Why? Because religious reasoning is not based on FACT, it is based on opinion.

If you are unable to grasp the danger in passing legislation based on opinion instead of fact, there is nothing more I can say.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #13)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:57 PM

15. Again your problem is with religion.

The bishop gave a theological rationalization for his opinion, that bothers you, fine.

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Response to ForgoTheConsequence (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:42 PM

17. WHOOSH goes the point, right over your head.




It's been nice talking with you. I'm not sure we have anything left to discuss.

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