Resistance is (not) futile

July 3, 2012 — Leave a comment

I’ve been reading coverage of the several denominational meetings that have taken or are taking place this summer. Issues of human sexuality are occupying center stage, especially the definition of Christian marriage. One of the chief arguments being put forward for moving the church to embrace same-sex marriage is what I call the argument from inevitability. It goes as follows:

  • people are increasingly comfortable with gays and lesbians, even with gay marriage
  • eventually the church will become comfortable with it or become irrelevant
  • therefore the church should speed its acceptance of gays and lesbians
  • The strategy can be effective because it shifts the argument to when not if gays and lesbians will be fully affirmed by Christians–it assumes the very thing it is arguing for.

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    The argument is certainly compelling on a merely pragmatic level. Statistical evidence shows us that American culture is becoming more comfortable with homosexuality and more willing to allow gays and lesbians to wed. Of course, almost all referenda on the matter have denied the legal right to wed (but that can simply be written off as bigotry).

    What’s interesting about the argument from inevitability is that it seems to not be compelling to liberal people on issues other than sexuality.

    Apply the rubric to the economy or to the environment and the weight of evidence that points to increasing wage disparity and environmental degradation to fails to be compelling.

    Wage disparity isn’t viewed and embraced as the natural by-product of a technological society that values creativity and technical proficiency. Rising temperatures are not viewed as the inevitable consequence of technological and industrial advancement.

    Quite the contrary–in many cases fairly drastic measures are suggested to take something that appears to be inevitable and reverse it.

    This exposes the argument for what it is–an intellectually shabby attempt to short-circuit honest disagreement and debate and replace vision with simple reaction to cultural trends.

    It’s disappointing that many in the church have chosen to substitute cliche for argument and are declining the chance to enable the church to be faithful to God’s calling to it to be an agent of change in the world.

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