Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments
Aside from the obvious fact that far too many of you are dumber than a box of 1979 Prayer Books as well as hardened bigots besides, why haven’t liberal Christian arguments ever gained any traction in the wider culture? According to Peter Laarman, the reason liberal arguments consistently fail is that liberals keep making them:
When something moves us or provokes us, what do we do? We write a manifesto or a platform statement or a treatise.
We issue declarations. We ask people to sign our statement; join our remonstrance.
And, just as massive rocks along the shore repel the pounding waves and reduce them to mere mist, our adversaries—especially our religious adversaries—pay not the slightest attention to our remonstrance or declaration, no matter how rock-solid our reasoning.
Of course the left is never going to stop arguing with the right, says Laarman, which is a bit of a shame since a far more effective expedient is at hand.
Every poll and every wise observer points out that gay-affirming folks have not been winning on account of superior arguments, whether arguments from the Bible or theology or science. They aren’t winning on account of their superior debating skills. They’re winning by being present and visible in faith communities: by coming out in ways that clergy and congregations can’t ignore. Gay people are winning because straight people who love and respect them are coming out right along with them.
The classic instance is the faithful older church woman—a devoted and beloved member of the community—who, at just the right moment in a congregational meeting, stands up and says, “Well, friends, I guess we can argue about all of this until the cows come home. All I know is that ________, my ________, is as dear a child of God as I will ever hope to be.” She then goes on to tell the story of she found out about ________, how they stayed close, and how her heart was changed. Bingo. Are we ready for the vote?
You’re an Episcopalian of a traditionalist bent and your parish, St. Gigantica’s, has had a great couple of years. You see new faces there all the time, people that you’ve never had a chance to meet, let alone talk to.
One Sunday, you finally get a chance to shake hands with the new seminarian. He’s just finishing up at Episcopal Divinity School and he’ll be coming on board as an assistant rector in the fall.
He’s warm, he’s friendly, he’s outgoing, he’s everything you think a Christian minister ought to be. You know he’s deeply interested in your life and you think that he’ll be an outstanding addition to the staff.
But you’re curious about something. “Going to seminary must cost a lot of money.”
“It sure does,” he replies, smiling that engaging smile of his.
“You went full-time, didn’t you?”
“How in the world did you support yourself?”
“I produced sex tapes. Still do, actually. Fetish stuff, mostly. Bondage, spanking, that kind of thing. Some of my stuff has won awards and I sell them through my web site. I make a ton of money and I tithe it too; I think that’s very important.”
Are you going to attend that guy’s ordination?
Next week, you run into a very good friend of yours who you haven’t seen in a while. As you’re catching up, your friend tells you that he’s decided to put his name forward for St. Gigantica’s vestry.
He’d be a great pick, you think. Lord knows, he puts in enough time in the Food Pantry. He single-handedly organizes the Habitat for Humanity trips. His business is booming so you know he’s got the financial and organizational chops.
“You remember Susan,” he tells you as his new and REALLY hot lawyer wife walks over, smiles sweetly and shakes your hand.
He made a point of inviting you to the wedding, something almost no one at St. Gigantica’s ever does. “Oh, yes, great to see you again,” you tell her.
Then two very attractive girls walk over who can’t be more than seventeen. “And these two,” he tells you, “are my concubines, Susan and Dalia.”
Is that guy getting your vote?
Apples and oranges, Chris. It’s who they are.
According to them. I’ve never seen anything in the way of empirical evidence proving that and it’s irrelevant anyway. The point is that if it’s okay with you that an unrepentant sinner remains in his or her sin simply because you think they’re nice people or you claim to “love” them, then in a way, they’re not the ones with the problem.
You are. Because your religion is a nothing more than an emotion-driven sham.