The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

“Gay Marriage”… A Closer Look at the Rhetoric, Part 1

Guest Post by Ben Rossell
We need to reverse these outdated and unfair laws! My sister steals things because she is a clepto. She was born a clepto and she will die one. For her it’s the same as being tall or fair-skinned. For her, NOT stealing would be unnatural … even borderline immoral! Calling her theft “wrong” is naive, judgmental, and cleptophobic! Why don’t these people understand this! Our nation’s laws and our societal stigmas have persecuted robbers for far too long! I stand on the side of love and equality with my sister and every burglar like her! Stop the ignorance and stop the hatred!

This Holy Week*, our Supreme Court is considering whether sexual acts performed between two people of the same gender is something that the United States has an interest in endorsing so much so that it should officially overturn four centuries of legal precedent on this continent, not to mention millennia of cultural norms and moral consciousness as well as to contradict the uniform historic testimony of each of the three major monotheistic faiths.

It is here we see the chink in Libertarianism’s armor .  The system so many Christians thought would be our salvation, is coming up impotent.  Liberals as well as Conservatives-with-a-Libertarian influence both surprisingly find themselves in vocal agreement supporting “gay marriage”.  Their basic argument is the simple one we’ve all heard:
What 2 adults do [sexually] in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of the government’s business [as long as no one is “hurt”].Ben & Jerry
If you can get past the fact that, thinking ethically and epistemo-logically, this is a completely arbitrary pronouncement – a brief, honest consideration of that statement is enough to demonstrate that it is clearly NOT true, nor is it an accurate or fair argument to enlist in the current  “gay marriage” “debate”. Let’s take a turn at the spigot, and see how long it holds water [this is the part where the faint-of-heart may want to skip a paragraph].
First of all, what if the case in question involves a father and his 18 year old son?  Or two brothers?  Or an uncle and his eighteen year old niece?  What if it is a man and woman who are already married to other people?  What if it is a man who has just paid the woman for her part in it?  And those are just the easy ones that come readily to mind. What if it is two men and a goat who are recording it on video and posting it to the internet so that anywhere else in the world other adults can watch, “use”, and mimic “in the privacy of theirown bedroom”.  What if it is a single adult man who is using only computer software to generate pornographic images and videos of children and then post them to the world wide web for the same purposes?
And that is where I’ll stop, hoping that I haven’t already ventured too far into the realm of indecency [please bear with me, I tried to be as euphemistic as possible.]
But this brings me to the second problem which the last two scenarios anticipate – the claim of PRIVACY.  For clarity’s sake, let’s try a thought experiment and instead substitute the word SECRECY.
If this debate is about privacy [now SECRECY], then why can’t I read the internet news for 60 seconds without having it thrust in my face?  Or the radio?  Or Facebook?  Or virtually any TV sitcom, TLC series, etc?  Or local school board curriculum meetings?  Or city council policy manuals? Or corporate onboarding sessions?  Or Major Denominational Assembly Meetings?  Or THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES?!?!?

Gay “marriage” is about anything but privacy because it is the product of gay activism which is about the opposite of privacy.  That’s why we call it “coming OUT”!  Weddings are public events.  Marriage is a public institution.  Activism, by its very nature, is loud and in your face.

If I engage in unseemly acts with animals when no one else is around – that’s private.  That’s a secret.  But if I then begin to have T-shirts made that announce this fact and I wear them around town, it’s not private anymore.  It’s public.  If I then put the word out and form a community of people with similar “interests” and we march through the streets twice a year proclaiming our “common bond” on banners and chanting that everyone else in the town is obligated to accept our behavior or find somewhere else to live, this is not a private thing we’re talking about.  It’s public – VERY PUBLIC!
If two men are in fact engaging in sexual activity behind closed doors in total secrecy year after year [as surely happened in past generations of American history], maybe the neighbors suspect something; maybe they don’t.  Maybe their families wonder; maybe they don’t.  Either way, it’s a secret.  It’s private.
When those two men “come out” to the world and identify themselves – their whole lives, bodies and souls-  by the one distinguishing characteristic of that act that they engage in,  and then demand that society accept, support, and accommodate it; teach their children to accept, support, and consider it for themselves; and even press the nation legally to redefine the ancient institution of marriage to include their version of sexual behavior … that is not a private act in a bedroom. If I drink poison in my bedroom, it’s private.  But if I wave a cup of cyanide in your face or dump it into the village river – it’s not private anymore.
Which brings us to the third problem with our argument: it assumes before-hand that no one is “hurt”.  Which, of course, is sort of the whole debate in the first place: whether a society can simply throw off the order of nature and her God in a matter as deep as this one, with no expectation that harm will follow.This is why everyone should care.  Everyone should be concerned. I’m fond of using the analogy of an airplane.  If there is a problem with the plane at the most superficial level … say the ice dispenser is jammed and we have to drink lukewarm gingerale at cruising altitude … well, hey – feel free to mess with it and see if you can’t fix the problem.  But when we’re all way up in the air with a strong tailwind, I don’t want a team of engineers to undertake a fundamental redesign of the wings.  And that’s precisely what we’re doing culturally.  This plane is not on the ground.  And there is a lot at stake here.

Or to change metaphors, let’s think in terms of the planet – ecosystems with interconnected microclimates at specific ratios in fragile balance. One can hardly listen to five minutes of public discourse without being scolded for not recycling every stray soda can, shrinking our carbon footprint, and denying our various appetites and urges in order to be more responsibly “green”. We are told that as result of our negligence and excess, the average temperature rises globally something like half a degree every decade. And if this trend continues, it will have a radically negative affect on the world of our great, great, great grandkids, not to mention the polar bear cubs.

Let me ask this: Do we really think that nationally endorsing the act of sodomy is not going to affect our society over the next 10 generations? Sure.  If there is no such thing as the human soul, then maybe not. But if we do have souls, and moral natures, and possess developing [or eroding] characters, ethical standards and societal taboos matter gravely over the long run. The sexual drive is one of the most powerful impulses present in a society. And keeping it in check is one of the central challenges any culture can face. To tinker with the fundamental elements of the formula undermines the only means by which this is done.  It drastically and significantly changes the whole moral climate of our culture.

What are the smokestacks pumping into our moral atmosphere? [And please note- most of the pollution is of the heterosexual variety-more on that in Part 2].  This is why the prophetic voices often refer to the dilemma itself as an act of judgment already. Is it in any way truthful to claim that no one is “hurt” by these things?  Can anyone really assert that society as a whole is not “hurting” and further “hurt”?  What do all the numbers say?  What does virtually every collection of health statistics tell us?  What do the suicide fact sheets and mental health data compilations report?

Right or wrong, “gay marriage” is not about a private act which the government has no interest in discouraging and which hurts no one.

*This piece was written before the Easter Season.
Ben Rossell is the the Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Valparaiso, Fl.
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2 thoughts on ““Gay Marriage”… A Closer Look at the Rhetoric, Part 1

  1. Dear Pastor Rossell,
    Thank you for your post. I would encourage you to never put the word “gay” in front of the word “marriage”. Please see my message below.

    Frame the Truth and Stay on Message: Please Just Say “Marriage”

    Do you believe that marriage is, and only can be, between a man and a woman? Do you believe it is the bedrock of society? Finally, do you believe that Nature’s God instituted marriage in the beginning? If you said yes to all of these questions, this article is being written for you. Let me explain. Words matter and how you frame a message matters. In fact, whoever defines the language controls the message and frames it in their favor. This is why I am making the case that if you believe the above statement, then you can never use the word “gay” before the word “marriage”. If you do not believe me, then you should study the word battles in the abortion issue. It was through my work with the Right to Life in Iowa that I learned these important lessons of language—first being that you never repeat your opposition’s message or use “their” language. Please read on before you write again to defend marriage.

    Again, you never repeat your opposition’s message in order to give your rebuttal. Don’t give them free space on your page. This is by far the biggest error of the right. The opposition said what they said to persuade, and they carefully crafted their words. They have the disadvantage since they must “change” culture, so they are not going to use your words. Christians and pro-life people react with very little strategy when they publish an article. To their credit they want to defend truth and are willing to step out of their comfort zone to speak up—great, and thank you. With that said, to their fault, they are not paying attention to how to fight the battle with words. Consider why the liberal papers flip pro-lifers’ words from “pro-life” to “anti-choice”. This is not an accident and has a definite motive behind it. They want their readers to view pro-life people as an “anti” kind of people, which has the subliminal effect of making the reader want to disassociate with an “anti” group, as opposed to reporting us as “pro” life, which would have a drawing effect. Take also into consideration the abortion industry’s use of “pro-choice” instead of “anti-life”. Why do you think the largest abortion group in the United States call themselves Planned Parenthood instead of Abortions Aplenty? The answer is obvious; they do not want people to view them as advancing more abortion. Words really, really, really matter when engaging in social issues.

    Let this be the rule of thumb when you want to engage in the battle of words: Whoever defines the word, frames the issue in their favor. So long as you use their language, you have yielded and helped them without even knowing it.

    My hope is that my friends in this battle for marriage will be persuaded to stop using the opposition’s language. Make no mistake; marriage has been under attack for a long time. You do not have to look far to realize that the younger generation places very little value on the institution. Why is it under attack? I am convinced that marriage is a reflection of the triune God, since he designed and instituted it. So in fact, this is far more than what it appears. Let’s face it; God instituted marriage as his plan to populate the earth by creating each new generation and as a reflection of his love. Marriage is about a life-long commitment that includes bringing children into the world. If a couple is unable to have children, they can either adopt or serve mankind in another way. The order of society should still maintain a mother and a father uniting to pro-create and raise children. This is so obvious that it is a wonderment that so many people are confused today. However, it’s not the first time in history that people have lost their way on this issue. The question is: how did we get here? I believe a good place to start in understanding how America fell so fast as to devalue marriage can be found in Humane Vitae, written by Pope Paul IV.

    I contend that the other side has done a good job dismantling marriage by using propaganda. They took advantage of the fact that most people are lazy thinkers and do not like to be controversial. Reframing the language began with a simple word–“gay”, which at one time meant “happy” or “joyful”, yet now it means someone who has sex with the same gender. Not too long ago this sexual act was called perversion. In fact, because of this perversion God’s judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, and men who engaged in this sexual act were thereafter referred to as Sodomites. Like all sins that lead to eternal death, it should be treated for what it is–sin that can be forgiven. Let’s face it, all of us are sinners and need to repent to be restored to God. However, it is evil to say that a sin is no longer a sin. In the case of sexual perversion, many now say that people are born this way. We are all born with a sinful nature—that is, a desire to sin. Not only is everyone born bent to sin, but we are all born with a sexual drive. The reality is, as sinners, we are all given the choice to act upon all types of sinful inclinations or to reject them to do what is right. No one is without sin. Make no mistake—there is no one without excuse. Nature bears witness to the truth. It is black and white. The problem today is that people are buying into the lie that we can’t help ourselves and therefore it must be okay. It is not okay and we must speak the truth, with love and with the correct words.

    So let’s get back to what language to use or not to use in defending marriage. You must ask yourself again whether or not you truly believe that marriage is, and can only be, between a man and a woman. If so, then we can say with confidence there is only one kind of marriage. Right? Try not to contradict yourself by putting the word “gay or homosexual” with the word marriage. If it can’t be and doesn’t exist then do not speak it into existence. If you choose to use their language, they will use it against you. How? Once you allow them to create a new kind of marriage by using their language, all they have to do is say you are discriminating against “blank-marriage”. See how subtle, and yet so simple. You become your own worst enemy. This information is probably a decade late, but I’m hopeful that at least some will catch on.

    For those of you who have the habit of using their language instead of saying “marriage”, don’t be undisciplined or lazy and think that what I just said doesn’t matter, for not only does it matter, it matters a lot. You must decide what you believe and then speak the words. Marriage stands alone for it is what it is. Do not help your opposition any longer by repeating “their message”. Please! Discipline yourself and stay on message.

    If you were to ask me how I say it, I use these words:
    Defend marriage (number one choice to say over and over again)
    I encourage you to stop the destruction of marriage.
    I support marriage.
    Please support marriage with me.
    Marriage is a blessing.
    Marriage is under attack.
    Rebuild marriage for the sake of our children.
    Marriage has always been male and female, and I might add, will always be and cannot be anything but one man and one woman.
    We must not let marriage be dismantled.
    Encourage our children to marry.
    Society didn’t create marriage and therefore has no power to redefine it.

    Never call it “traditional Marriage” for that implies there is more then one kind of marriage (very subtle). You will notice that your opposition will never say they are destroying marriage or dismantling it. They are very disciplined to use their own language and compel you to use it in rebuttal.

    The objective for both sides is to frame the message to get agreement
    If you ask people if they support marriage, they will say yes. If you ask them if they want to destroy marriage, they will say no. If you ask them if society should help rebuild marriages in the US for the sake of our children, they will say yes. If you ask people if they want to protect marriage, they will say yes.

    Remember to frame the issue or your message in a way that the public will support. So stay on message and love all people, and for the sake of our loving God, never agree with a lie by repeating the lie in order to rebut it. Simply state your message. Why give them free advertising? Frame the truth and stay on message.

    Best wishes,
    Your friend in truth with love,
    Kim Lehman

  2. Kim,

    thank you for your comment and also for the amount of thought you have obviously devoted to this subject, not to mention your channeled passion. Together with your tact, these are most refreshing.
    To address your point, I tend to agree. Which is why whenever I used the term “gay marriage” I bracketed it with quotation marks, [although you did prompt me to go back and recheck to be sure I did every time.]
    This is just ‘part 1’, so I didn’t go into it all, but I have the same problem with the common use of the term ‘homosexual’. It is a very ambiguous word that takes a particular negative trait as the distinguishing qualifier of a person’s identity and -more destructively – fails to distinguish between temptation and behavior.

    Blessings in the Lord Jesus,
    BR

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