Posts Tagged 'Rick Warren'

Destroying Marriage

People who wish to be taken seriously will often accuse gay-rights proponents of attempting to ‘redefine marriage’. Those who don’t seem to care about being taken seriously will occasionally go one step further by insisting that we’re trying to ‘destroy’ marriage, often with the implication that this will somehow cause American society to implode spectacularly. Why exactly this would happen is generally not made clear – I guess you need to have a particular mindset to make a connection between gay marriage and anarchy.

I don’ know about you, but I can think of more certain ways to ‘destroy marriage’ than extending its definition to include same-sex partners. For example, one could suggest that, once formed, a marriage should be strictly adhered to even if one of the people involved becomes abusive. One could imply that the mere label of ‘being married’ is more important than the people involved actually acting like a married couple, by stating outright that seperation is preferable to divorce even in cases of prolonged physical violence. But surely nobody would be that stupid, would they?

Audio clips on a “Bible Questions & Answers” section of Saddleback’s website feature a speaker who says the Bible condones divorce for only two reasons: adultery and abandonment.

The speaker is not identified on the page, but a spokesperson for Warren said it is Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at the church in Lake Forest, Calif.

“I wish there were a third [reason for divorce] in Scripture, having been involved as a pastor with situations of abuse,” Holladay said. “There is something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says, ‘If they abuse you in this-and-such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.'”

Holladay said Saddleback’s counseling ministry advises separation and counseling instead of divorce in abusive marriages, because it’s the only path toward healing. “There’s an abusive cycle that’s been set up,” he said. “Separation combined with counseling has been proven to provide healing in people’s lives.”

Holladay said there’s nothing in the Bible that says a spouse must tolerate abuse. “There’s nowhere in the Bible that says it’s an attitude of submission to let somebody abuse you,” he said. “That is not submission. So we recommend very strongly separation.”

He defined what he meant by physical abuse.

“When I say physical abuse, I mean literally somebody is beating you regularly,” he said. “I don’t mean they grab you once. I mean they’ve made a habit of beating you regularly. You need to separate in that situation, because that’s the only thing that’s going to solve that.” (Source; you may need to register to see the story.)

Ah. Never mind.

While there is thankfully religious opposition to this kind of madness, it’s indicative of the ‘traditional’ mindset. Holladay (if he’s actually the one being quoted) seems to think that the content of a marriage is less important than the word ‘marriage’, or else he wouldn’t insist that divorve is impermissable even in cases of physical abuse. It’s difficult to imagine a better reason for divorce, but hey, I guess happiness has to be routinely sacrificed at the altar of Family Values.

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Bisexuality – Here’s What It Isn’t

Warren and Obama should be pretty worried about the tide of hostility that’s been rushing their way lately, mainly because they’ve got people like Mona Charen trying to defend them. I’ve said some fairly disparaging things about the Religious Right in the past, but her latest Townhill article contains some mind-bogglingly stupid arguments that go far beyond the usual ‘traditional values’ nonsense. Spreading misinformation is always dangerous, particularly when your subject is one as volatile as same-sex marriage, yet Charen seems content to do it with reckless abandon.

She begins by giving the usual spiel about same-sex marriage eventually opening the doors for polygamy and paedophilic marriage (and more on that in a minute), but backs it up with what appears to be a profound misunderstanding of what bisexuality is; apparently, the B in ‘GLBT’ sunders all attempts at justifying gay marriage.

But consider the name that many gay activists have adopted. You no longer see gay and lesbian alone. Instead, the new terminology is LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Lesbians and gays say that without gay marriage, they cannot fully express themselves as they really are. But what about bisexuals? I ask this not to poke fun or to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in all seriousness. How does gay marriage help a bisexual? I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women. If you are a bisexual man married to a woman, don’t you need to break the marriage bond to express your bisexuality? If you choose to express just the homosexual side of your bisexuality, then aren’t you gay? Likewise, if you choose to express only the heterosexual side, how are you a bisexual? Why is bisexuality not a recipe for infidelity?

I shouldn’t have to point out that the most erroneous part of this near-incoherent paragraph is ‘I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women’, a sentence to which I would reply ‘You assume wrong’. Bisexuals are people who either have sex with males and females or are attracted to both males and females. A bisexual man married to a woman is probably not going to wake up one morning with a pressing need to immediately have sex with another man lest he spontaneously become heterosexual – if he’s attracted to people of both sexes, he’s bisexual.

Why is it that bisexuality is so frequently misunderstood? And this goes double for homosexuals, who really should know better than to judge someone prematurely based on a scant knowledge (at best) of what their sexual orientation is.

Regardless, bisexuality is only an issue for same-sex marriage proponents in whatever fantasy land Mona Charen resides in, but she does raise some other, potentially more troubling issues. It’s the usual ‘slipper slope’ argument, but it’s something that I haven’t addressed in much detail here.

Where do you draw a line? Once traditional marriage — supported by centuries of civilization and the major Western religions — is undermined in the name of love, there is no logical or principled reason to forbid polygamy, polyandry, or even incest. Gay activists recoil from incest. But on what grounds exactly? Suppose, after we formalize gay marriage, two 25-year-old sterile (to remove the health of offspring argument) twins wish to marry? Let’s suppose they are loving and committed. What is the objection? That it offends custom and tradition? That it offends God? Isn’t that just bigotry?

I have absolutely no problem with polygamous marriages, provided that all involved consent to the union and that there is total equality in how the marriage is arranged – in other words, provided that any number of men and women can be married, as opposed to a single man being allowed to marry multiple women but not the other way around. I’ve seen it pointed out that there are some potential difficulties in extending the legal benefits of two-person marriage to multiple partners, but I don’t see anything insurmountable about that.

I also have no problem with incestuous relationships or marriages in which there is no possibility of childbirth (for example, where one or both partners are sterile or where the couple is homosexual). Things become slightly more complicated when there is a possibility of childbirth, of course, but consider the following: people with a very high chance of passing on genetic disorders are generally not prevented from marrying or having children. (As far as I’m aware, people who are knowingly infected with HIV are also allowed to marry.) On top of that, an incestuous couple that was determined to have children could simply do so without being married; as I’ve pointed out time and time again, there is a complete disconnect between the ability to procreate and the willingness of the state to grant a marriage license. With that in mind ask, yourself this: do we prevent incestuous couples from marrying because of the risk of inbreeding, or do we prevent them from marrying (and shun their relationships) due to knee-jerk disgust? And does that disgust have any sort of rational basis?

Charen does not bring up paedophillic relationships again, but I’ll state the obvious and point out that they’re generally viewed as abhorrent in most societies for good reason. (Note that I’m talking about relationships with prepubescent children or young teenagers; there are of course places where marriage between adults and fifteen or sixteen year olds is acceptable, but I’ll leave that topic for another day.) Young children are simply not mature enough to be in romantic, committed, sexual relationships with anyone, let alone with adults who may be several times older than they are. Curiously, I have yet to see anyone on the Religious Right argue that such marriages should be illegal based on a child’s inability to become pregnant (or to impregnate someone). Given that marriage exists for the purpose of facilitating procreation, shouldn’t this be their number one argument against paedophillic marriage?

Campbell Soup: The New Face of Evil

I was going to say something about Rick Warren’s reply to his many, many, many internet ‘haters‘, but everyone on Earth is apparently covering it at once. (Seriously, type ‘Rick Warren’ into Technorati.) So instead I’m going to report on the latest insanity from the American Famila Association!

In case you’re fortunate enough to be unaware of what the AFA is, they’re one of those organisations that will eventually turn the phrase ‘family values’ into an epithet. Most of their work consists of educating the public about society’s assortd ills: abortion, homosexuality, secular government, pornography and anything else they perceive as ‘anti-family’. I have to say, the sheer amount of attention they place on homosexuality is staggering; their efforts at combating the tide of sodomy don’t just stop at leaflets and internet articles, but include such multimedia delights as It’s Not Gay and the hilariously paranoid They’re Coming To Your Town. (Yes, your town in particular!) They also mantain a list of companies that don’t explicitly mention Christmas in their advertising.

For obvious reasons, it is difficult to take the AFA seriously. Their latest volley in the culture war is to sharply criticise the Campbell soup company for daring to ‘support the homosexual agenda’:

In the December, 2008 and January, 2009 issues, Campbell Soup Company bought two, two-page advertisements in the latest issues of the nation’s largest homosexual magazine, “The Advocate.” The ads promote their Swanson line of broth.

In one of the December ads, the Campbell Soup Company highlighted the lives of two lesbians with their son. The others feature New York City chefs. See the ads here.

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.

(Emphasis in the original)

You are then invited to ‘take action’ by sending whiny e-mails to the company’s president. AFA provides a stock message for your benefit, but I decided to send Douglas Conant an e-mail with the subject line ‘Don’t Cave To Idiots’ instead. I encourage you to do the same.

The offending advertisement (follow the link in the quotebox) is not exactly the kind of thing that wars are started over. Two women are shown enjoying a Campbell product with a young boy, who the associated text identifies as their son. That’s it. How anyone could be offended by this is beyond me, especially given that it’s a simple fact that same-sex families exist. Campbell is not concocting some sort of utopian future in a bid to mobilise militant gays, they’re simply depicting something that a large portion of the ad’s intended audience will alreay be able to identify with. A large portion, you say? Well, yes, since the ad ran in The Advocate, a publication tailored exclusively to GLBTs. This is not a case of Campbell shoving The Gay Agenda down the throats of America’s innocent youth; unless your kids read The Advocate, they’re never going to see these ads.

The simple truth is that companies like Campbell exist to make money, and one effective strategy for doing that is to target specific demographics. I don’t know or care whether the company as a whole has any particular position on same-sex families. I appreciate that this is a smart PR move on their part, but only someone with a serious axe to grind would take this as some sort of show of solidarity towards the gay rights movement. But apparently, the AFA finds offensive the idea that anyone, anywhere might possibly do something that seems to support homosexuality, which says a lot more about them than it does about the Campbell Soup company.

Sunday Round-Up

I probably won’t be blogging too much myself today, but here’s a few links that readers may enjoy. I’ll most likely add to this throughout the day.

  • Atheist Revolution – Obama’s Warren Pick: Not a Big Deal? (While Obama seems to have drawn near-universal criticism for Warren’s invitation from the GLBT blogosphere, the atheist one is characteristically more divided on the issue.)
  • blue linchpin – One Issue Judgments? (Is it ever appropriate to judge a person based on a single opinion? What if that opinion concerns civil or human rights?)
  • Homosecular Gaytheist (Whose tagline is ‘Prepare to be intellectually tea-bagged. Open wide, ignorance, here comes my Scrotum of Reason’. Did that make your day? Because it sure made mine!)
  • Gay Cousin Teddy – The Problem With Rick (Just in case Atheist Revolution didn’t convince you).
  • Daylight Atheism – A Solstice Sermon (A characteristically excellent post from Ebonmusing).

This Is Why We’re Angry

There’s been a lot written about Rick Warren in the past day or so, and much of it is predictable if you know the general opinions of the blogger you’re reading. Pro-gay or are gay themselves? Expect anger and bitter disappointment over Warren’s invitation. Anti-gay or simply not overly interested in gay rights? Expect reactions ranging from derisive accusations of hypocrisy to confusion. I usually hate the kind of special pleading that I’m about to engage in, but it seems as if a sizeable portion of the internet just doesn’t ‘get’ why GLBTs are so enraged at Obama’s decision. Hopefully I can shed some light on things, following in the footsteps of others who have tried to do the same.

Before I do that, however, I’d like to quote Mildred Loving, one of the plaintiffs in the historic Loving v. Virginia court case (and yes, I’m about to compare homophobia to racism).

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about. (Source)

When Loving said this, she was more or less directly comparing the situation she and her husband found themselves in with the situation that thousands of same-sex couples are in today. Yes, there were some major differences, greatest of all the fact that Loving and her husband were actually arrested for their ‘crime’, but she still feels that the comparison is valid. I’m not going to get into a debate over whether the plight of GLBT Americans can or should be compared to the Civil Rights movement, but I will say that, right or wrong, it feels the same to many of us. Plenty of commentators have expressed confusion over the overwhelmingly negative reaction that Warren’s invitation had received, and this is because they can’t seem to put themselves in our shoes.

The great majority of people today agree that racism is wrong. They would also agree that an avowed racist would be absolutely unworthy of being invited to pray at the inauguration of the next president of the United States – particularly at Obama’s inauguration, of course, but that’s beside the point. It is almost universally recognised that racial prejudice is unacceptable. To us, there is no difference between racial prejudice and prejudice based on sexual orientation – they are one and the same. They are both equally unfounded, equally cruel and equally backwards, which is why it’s simply baffling to us when people come out with sentiments like this. These same people would never consider for a moment that it could be appropriate for a racist to be given such a high honour – the phrase ‘self-evident’ springs to mind. They ask why we’re angry, and my reply is this: how could we not be angry, when to be prejudiced against us is still seen as a legitimate, even reasonable stance to take?

Consider how it looks from our point of view: here we have a president who is himself a shining example of the modernity of American society, faced with a choice of speakers at the inauguration of his presidency. It could be unthinkable for him to invite a racist or someone who believes that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote – those are both unreasonable prejudices – yet Warren’s opinions on homosexuality are no impediment at all. In other words, prejudice against us is, at most, the kind of thing that can be swept under the rug and treated as a mere divergence of opinion. It is seen as legitimate and deserving of a level of respect that almost nobody will now grant to other forms of bigotry.

That’s why Warren has drawn such heated criticism – not because we’re collectively moving as a group to sieze political power or because we see an oppurtunity for ‘shrill overreaction‘, but because his presence at Obama’s inauguration will be a sobering reminder of the inequality we still face.

Friday Funnies: Bryan Fischer and ‘Americans For Truth’

It’s time for the first Friday Funnies, a feature with an alliterave and painfully unoriginal title. Enjoy!

I’ve mentioned Americans for Truth About Homosexuality before, but in case you missed that post, here’s all you need to know: they’re nuts. And not just the usual ‘Can’t you see that you’re turning your country into a pit of first-world inequality’ nuts, either – when these guys decide to make asses of themselves, they really go for it. Their latest article to catch my eye is about (of course) the liberal outrage over Obama’s decision to allow Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration. Here’s what they have to say:

By blasting Obama for choosing Rick Warren as an Inaugural speaker — and demonizing Warren as a “homophobe” because he supported Prop 8 — homosexual activists are showing the world just how empty their “tolerance” ideology really is. Click on photo to enlarge.

Here’s an outstanding release from Pastor Bryan Fischer with the Idaho Values Alliance, an affiliate of American Family Association. Poor Barack Obama: he’s promised the world to one of the most demanding and unreasonable special interest movements on the planet. Imagine blasting the gregarious Warren as a “homophobe” because he supported Prop 8 in California. (Note the incredibly elastic, ever-expanding definition of homophobia.) Our favorite lesbian blog-stremist Pam Spaulding chastises Warren for his “sad bigotry” HERE and hits Warren for “bigotry, small-mindedness and downright ignorance” (Pam and friends know a thing or two about small-mindedness).

Holy shit! We’re the worst people in the world, aren’t we? (And yes, all of those links are actually in the original.) The pre-rant rant goes on for quite a while before we’re treated to Pastor Brian Fischer’s luminous prose:

Prediction: for the first time in American history, a speaker at a presidential inauguration may be booed unmercifully, and his remarks completely drowned out by angry jeers from an incensed crowd. We may even see shoes tossed at the inauguration platform by the hundreds. It could be a modern day lynching, only this time the victim of a vigilante mob will be proverbially strung up not because of skin color but creed.

Although Fischer comes across as remarkably optimistic here, he goes too far later in the essay by predicting that Warren will be drowned out by four million people booing incessantly – despite our very best efforts, the numbers are unlikely to top two million at the most. Still, 50% isn’t bad, is it?

Fischer seems to have a rather odd idea of what ‘tolerance’ means. Apparently, GLBT people all over America are expected to not be angry at Obama for favouring a man who doesn’t believe that same-sex relationships are worth state recognition at all and that same-sex marriage is directly comparable to incest and paedophilia (It’s true!). Now, before I’m accused of attempting to ‘silence pastors all over the country’ (that’s stage five of the Gay Agenda; we’re only on Stage Four), I should point out that there is a rather large difference between speaking to beliefnet or a media outlet and speaking/praying at the next president of the USA’s inaugeration. That jackasses of Warren’s calibre exist is no secret, but it is somewhat off-putting when they’re shown such preferential treatment by a man as important as Barack Obama. Fischer doesn’t appear to grasp the distinction, although you need to remind yourself that he’s writing for a website which caters to idiots:

Good Heavens.

Good Heavens.

And, before I’m accused of being intolerant, let me clarify by saying that I don’t think Pastor Fischer is actually an idiot – I’m assuming that, by this point, the Americans For Truth website has some sort of filter that just dumbs everything down to the appropriate level automatically. How else am I to explain such puzzling statements as ‘Warren is about as gracious, compassionate, jovial and kind as you can get’? Only a computerised artifical intelligence, its cold heart blind to the true meaning of a concept like ‘compassion’, could have composed such a grammatically correct yet deeply paradoxical sentence.

In his very last paragraph, Fischer even comes close to playing the ‘I have gay friends’ card, but falls just short by not actually using the word ‘friend’. I guess he didn’t want to get too friendly.

(Pastor Bryan Fischer is currently the executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, whose tagline is “Making Idaho the Friendliest Place in the World to Raise a Family”. Yes, really.)

(For the humour-deficient: the only part of this post that is meant to be taken seriously is where I say that Americans for Truth About Homosexuality is aimed at idiots. The rest is all satire, I swear.)