Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marriage And Homosexuality: A Christian Response Part 3

Parts 1 & 2 dealt with the uncredited authors' discussion about marriage (Chapter 1) and homosexuality (Chapter 2), along with their dubious attempts at 'facts' and 'truth'. One of their tactics involved something I call linguistic gymnastics, whereby they attack a word (like homophobia) and tell readers the definition of that word isn't quite what they think it is. This has the effect of distracting the reader from the actual topic at hand. The linguistic gymnastics continue here, and the true purpose of this book (in my view) is revealed.


First, there is this statement: "Canadians who speak out against redefining marriage to include same-sex couples are not denying anyone their basic human rights." The authors devote half a page to 'proving' this statement, and they start by pointing out that the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights "makes no mention whatsoever of any rights based on sexual orientation," even though "Article 16 clearly establishes that men and women of full age have a right to marriage." Oh, so... gay people have a right to marry, just not to each other? I don't get it.

For me, it comes down to an issue of semantics. Can straight people get married? Yes. If marriage hadn't been redefined in Canada, would gay people be able to get married? No. It may not be a 'basic human right', but it is something one group of people can do that another group should also be able to do. Saying they aren't being denied something when they are, because the word chosen to define that denied thing isn't necessarily the right one, is slippery, sneaky and underhanded.

Since "there is no proof (gays) have been denied their basic human rights," the writers ponder, what is the real reason they want the definition of marriage changed? "It seems what gay activists are looking for is acceptance and affirmation of their behaviour." Why is that a problem? "Changing the definition of marriage will further erode the freedom of people who view homosexual behaviour as morally wrong to express their views and act on those views in everyday life."

In other words, if gay people gain more acceptance, it will be a lot harder for bigots to express their bigotry. "It's already happening now," the authors warn, citing seven examples in which Canadian religious freedoms were done harm over the gay issue (including a situation from 1999 when "Focus on the Family experienced a similar form of discrimination").

The seven examples are thought-provoking, and raise intriguing issues. Have Christians, in fact, been discriminated against? Is their freedom of speech threatened? After all, if I have the right to write this blog, don't they have the right to produce the material I critique? All very interesting, and fodder for another Focus on the Family book. However, when it comes to this book, all seven examples are irrelevant. This book is about marriage and homosexuality, not freedom of speech. I suspect this section was put into this book simply to score points with devout readers.

The same can also be said for the next couple of pages, where the authors examine a few social experiments (such as the no-fault divorce laws of 1968) that played around with the definition of marriage. In the author's opinion, the experiments were failures. Therefore, they seem to be saying, society will crumble if further changes are made (or kept in place) regarding marriage's definition. "If the opposite-sex definition of marriage is eliminated, what assurances are there that the monogamous definition of marriage will not be next?" Oh, PLEASE!

And "what about the children?" Yep, they have two pages blasting gay people's ability to parent. Luckily, their efforts lead to the best unintended laugh. They quote MP Svend Robinson telling a 2003 House of Commons Justice Committee that you don't need a man to create a family because "a turkey baster will do just fine." The authors actually respond with: "The obvious reality is that in the life of a child, a turkey baster cannot replace a father." I don't know Svend personally, nor was I present when he made the 'turkey baster' remark. However, I feel confident that he was not suggesting a turkey baster could teach kids to ride a bike, help them with their homework, go to PTA meetings, or walk a daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

For me, the entire discussion on whether a man and a woman are the best possible parents is kind of moot. There are plenty of husband and wife teams that suck, where one or both are alcoholics or abusive, or they just plain get it wrong. Okay, I have no studies or statistics to back this up, but I have many friends who've told me of the abuses and neglect they've suffered under the so-called perfect system of one man and one woman. There are no perfect parents out there, but there are plenty of them who do the best they possibly can.

That's it for Part 3. In Part 4 I'll look at 'The Christian Response'.

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