On my web travels I found an interesting post by one KC Sunbeam (that name is familiar, and I wonder if we’ve crossed paths before, but I don’t recall for certain). Their post concerns a series of questions asked by a well-known (though I’ve personally never heard of them) atheist by the name of Hemant Mehta. Mr Mehta’s questions relate to the subject of same-sex marriage, and he asked 28 in total. Sunbeam appears to have a strict Biblical take on same-sex marriage and that is reflected in their answers. Where I am quoting Mr Mehta the text shall be blue, and Sunbeam’s text shall be red.
1) “Why insist that we take the Bible literally on the subject of homosexuality, but pretty much ignore what it says regarding all the other sins?”
A: Although some dishonest and ignorant people cherry-pick the Bible in the manner you say, my emphasis on tackling all other sins is well documented.
Naturally Sunbeam can only answer for themselves, whereas Mr Mehta was asking in a general sense. In a general sense, there is a disproportionate to homosexuality from organised religion, often at the expense of other, far more serious issues facing the world. The world would be better if religion stopped concerning itself with same-sex couples and focused on issues like poverty, famine, climate change etc. ‘Sin’ is an interesting concept – the Bible prohibits wearing wool and linen fabrics in one garment (Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11). Is this considered a sin of equal weight to others? Is it readily opposed with the same zeal as same-sex relationships?
The Bible commands Christians to treat others with kindness. Denying same-sex couples rights on the basis that your beliefs override their rights does not seem like an act of kindness.
2) “Why should our nation’s laws follow your interpretation of your holy book?”
A: Because my interpretation is consistent with the interpretation of the earliest churchmen, who were godly de facto.
With respect to Sunbeam, they’re not really answering the question. Regardless of whether the earliest churchmen interpreted the Bible, why should the people of any nation be bound to the rules of one interpretation of one specific religious text? Biblical law cannot and does not represent everyone in the USA (as an example). Therefore why should it be the standard that’s forced down everyone’s throats? Believe what you want, but do not force it upon everyone else and then act surprised if people push back.
3) “What is a bigger problem in your opinion: a gay couple getting married, or a straight couple getting divorced?”
A: A straight couple getting divorced, since it is a breakup of a God-ordained relationship, while in God’s eyes the gay couple made no change whatever in their status.
I include this question and answer for the sake of completeness.
4) “If gay marriage and straight divorce are both sins, why do you spend so much energy fighting gay marriage?”
A: This question does not apply to me since I spend my time and energy fighting other things. Now why do you spend so much energy promoting gay marriage?
I cannot speak for Mr Mehta but there are many flavours of Christianity that do spend a considerable degree of effort in trying to prevent same-sex marriage, even though there are many far more important concerns in the world. I would ask Sunbeam to consider that as a whole, Christianity could focus on these concerns instead of same-sex marriage – the only reason people spend so much time ‘promoting’ it (the more precise term would be fighting for it) is precisely because Christianity and other organised religions fight against it.
In short, when there is no need to fight for same-sex (namely that opponents of it stop opposing it), there will not be time spent fighting for it.
5) “Why are you so obsessed with what other couples do in the bedroom?”
A: I’m not. Ask someone who is.
Again, Sunbeam can only answer for themselves but let’s face facts – Mr Mehta’s point is valid. The religious right has long been obsessed with the sex lives of others. This is part of the justification for the assault on the rights of same-sex couples and on the LGBT community. The religious right does not approve of certain sexual practices and this disapproval extends to a history where things like anal sex were considered illegal as recently as 1990 in the USA, Russia and Australia. There are states in the US that still have laws banning oral sex on their books (even if those laws are unenforceable). Therefore Mr Mehta is entirely right to ask the question of the religious right – there is an obsession with other people’s sex lives.
I’ve experienced this directly. I had a complete stranger ask me if I’d had sex outside of marriage. All I wanted to know was how to find a bank! And yes, he was asking in a religious, Christian context. It was no business of his and it’s not the business of anyone other than me and my wife. What consenting adults do with and to one another is of no concern of any religious institution and no religious institution has any right to interfere.
6) “Do you think children are better off with two loving gay parents, or two straight parents who fight all the time?”
A: To answer your either/or fallacy, two straight parents who fight all the time, on condition that they only fight with each other and do not abuse their children.
A couple that fight all the time will create an unhappy environment. They will struggle to avoid this. It’s not a question of abusing their kids – children are perspective and they will notice their parents bickering and arguing. They’ll pick up on the hostility. It doesn’t matter if the parents are straight or gay, what matters is that the environment the children grow up in is a happy, loving one.
7) “Would you rather a child live with a single Christian parent or a loving mother and father who are hardcore Atheists?”
A: Another either/or fallacy. Okay, the loving Atheist couple, on condition that they do not indoctrinate the child with Atheism.
Atheism is merely the absence of belief. It’s not a system embedded in society that can indoctrinate someone (unlike the Church).
8) “Why don’t you just tell me your hierarchy of ideal parents and tell me where loving gay parents rank on that list?”
A: Instead of giving a hierarchy, here is my ideal: A loving father and mother who are non-hypocritical practitioners of conservative Christianity, and financially stable, intelligent, and wise.
That’s Sunbeam’s ideal and that’s fine! The occasion where it would not be fine is if they tried to manipulate society into having this be the only acceptable form of family. Neither my wife or myself are particularly religious and we love our daughter. What defines intelligence and wisdom in these instances? Religious beliefs? I know some smart and wise religious followers, and I know some rather ignorant and stupid ones.
9) “How many close gay friends do you have? If any, how many do you think consider you a close friend? Because they don’t, trust me.”
A: I don’t see any friends; I’m a loner. But I used to have two close gay friends who knew I opposed same-sex marriage. It is your arrogant presumption to say they didn’t consider me a close friend.
Who can say how a member of the LGBT community feels about someone who is dead set against equality for them? Some might see past it to consider the religious person a friend. Some might see it as a deal-breaker. Sunbeam’s experience is but one experience – I know of many stories of families torn apart because parents and siblings cannot accept a gay son/daughter/brother/sister. Sending the message that the gay relative is not worthy of the same rights is going to be incredibly hurtful and damaging, and it will be the same for the gay friend of someone preaching the same message. Yes, different people will react differently, but Sunbeam should not presume their experience speaks for all experiences.
10) “How has your life changed since gay marriage became legal everywhere?”
A: It has not. And neither has it changed on account of numerous bad things that happen to others and not to me.
This is pretty key isn’t it? Same-sex marriage has had precisely zero impact on Sunbeam, so why do they oppose it? Is same-sex marriage a ‘bad thing’? Who is harmed by it?
11) “Why oppose gay marriage because you supposedly cannot explain that to your kids? I’ll do it for you: two people love each other, so they got married.”
A: What people cannot explain to their children are the questions that arise about how they have sex, not the wedding itself.
Is this relevant? How many children (especially young children) are going to ask how couples have sex?! Usually these sorts of questions don’t start appearing until a child hits secondary school and sex education is introduced. By that point, the child is older and more able to process these concepts, but if they’ve been raised in an environment that’s not oppressive and stilted, I don’t see why they’d have problems understanding how same-sex couples get intimate.
12) “How long do you think it will take before evangelical Christian churches finally embrace gay marriage? Because I give it a decade or less.”
A: It doesn’t matter how long it will take since majority opinion never creates or equals truth.
One person’s truth is another’s falsehood. What is considered infallible to the Evangelical is considered heresy to a Muslim or Sikh or even another form of Christian. To the non-religious, Biblical truth is meaningless, and hardly something to be bound by. Of course, that’s a little outside of the question and the answer, but what is ‘truth’ in this instance? It’s different for the followers of every different version of every different faith. As for when Evangelicals accept same-sex marriage, I have no idea. Some may already do so, but the wider Evangelical Church is likely to resist for some time.
13) “Why do you think you failed so miserably when it comes to convincing everyone else to uphold traditional marriage?”
A: Because most people have no love for the truth and are hellbent on following their own selfish desires.
I would refer back to my previous response. Truth is in the eye of the beholder and the Evangelical Church has no more of a valid claim to it than any other faith. The policy of suppressing the rights of others on the grounds of religious beliefs is merely bigotry in disguise, especially when what Evangelicals fight against has no bearing on their lives whatsoever. Don’t want same-sex marriage? Easy, don’t marry someone of the same sex. No one is forcing you to. Let same-sex couples be, instead of selfishly trying to impose your beliefs upon them.
14) “Do you blame the message or the messenger?”
A: I blame today’s messengers, because they distort the original message.
15) “Either way, why keep using the same arguments? And promoting the same leaders? It’s not working!”
A: I agree. That is why I advocate using different arguments and promoting different leaders: those who uphold Third Position politics.
I included the last two questions more for the sake of completeness and have nothing to add or say about them.
16) “How come the worst stories of discrimination I ever hear coming from Christianity involve a bakery owner being paid to make a cake they didn’t want to make, while like every LGBT person I’ve ever met has a personal discrimination story that is so much worse?”
A: First, you ignore the fact that in other parts of the world Christians have been tortured and killed for their faith. Second, many gay people probably lie about having suffered terrible persecution when they did not.
I can turn this around most thoroughly. ‘In other parts of the world LGBT people have been tortured and killed for who they are. Secondly, many Christians probably lie about having suffered terrible persecution when they have not’.
However, instead of being awkward I’ll try to address this properly. Yes, it’s true that Christians can face persecution in some parts of the world – usually in areas where they come into contact with followers of other religions (since every religion is the truth and therefore no one will yield an inch). The LGBT community also faces persecution around the world – there are countries that imprison or even execute homosexuals, and in other countries they are denied employment and housing. The extent to which the LGBT community and Christians get persecuted is disproportionate – even in countries like the USA the LGBT community faces a battle to hold onto their rights to equality, for the religious right is continuously waging a war to deny them equality.
17) “If the Supreme Court made the wrong decision, and it is unfair for some judges to overturn tradition, then why was it wrong when they overturned segregated schools?”
A: They were also wrong to overturn segregated schools. They should have been kept segregated.
I’m a bit staggered by this one. What part of the Bible upholds racial segregation? Is this part of the wisdom Jesus taught? Is this the truth as per Christianity? Because it doesn’t strike me as a Christian value.
18) “If you say that marriage equality should have been left to individual states and voters, would you really have been okay if every state finally voted in favor of gay marriage?”
A: I never say that *any* moral decision should be entrusted to *any* sector of our corrupt government.
So who gets to make these decisions then? The people who vote? Religious organisations? The rights of minority groups should not depend upon public votes and certainly not upon religious groups.
19) “What if congress voted to make marriage equality legal?” [they did]
A: They are still dead wrong. How about overthrowing our rotten government and installing a righteous government in its place?
Define ‘righteous’. I presume Sunbeam means a good God-fearing Christian government? This would be more like a theocracy and it would violate the First Amendment. The whole purpose of the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause is so that no organised religion can impose its will upon the people, and by now there are millions of Americans who would not be fairly represented by a such a government.
20) “Why do you think God is really angry about gay marriage, but not nearly as upset about other really awful things?
A: I don’t, since I’m not a hypocrite.
Nonetheless, there are people who believe God to be a lot angrier about same-sex marriage than anything else (again, I appreciate Sunbeam can only answer for themselves).
21) “What arguments against gay marriage don’t involve citing Bible verses?”
A: My primary argument is that the great majority of the time, homosexuality is the direct result of the man/woman relationship being broken from things like feminism, “no-fault” divorce, the welfare state, etc.
This is interesting, though it would need clarification from Sunbeam, for I am struggling to make the connection between things like feminism and the welfare state and homosexuality, which has been observed throughout the natural world. It is hard to see how a biological attraction can be caused by divorce and feminism.
22) “Since all churches allow couples to marry if they are unable to have kids, why use this ridiculous argument that marriages only count if kids can be produced?”
A: This is not actually an argument that people use. Rather, it’s a straw man version of it. Their argument is that since natural human reproduction is always heterosexual, never homosexual, and God created Nature, this indicates God’s will on how people should couple.
Maybe it’s not really an argument, maybe it is. I can only assume Mr Mehta brings it up because it’s an argument he’s encountered. However on the ‘God created nature’ point, this would mean God created homosexuality as observed in the animal kingdom.
23) “What do you think the government will force your church to do since gay marriage is legal? Because the correct answer is nothing.”
A: Likely nothing. But in other countries preachers have been arrested and some thrown in jail simply because they spoke out against homosexuality.
In some countries homosexuality is an offence punishable by imprisonment or even death. Historically Christianity (and other organised religions) has persecuted homosexuals.
24) “What will you do with all the Christians who support gay marriage and how do you feel about them?”
A: I will teach alleged Christians what the original Church believed on marriage and homosexuality. I don’t feel anything about them.
Once again Sunbeam can only speak for themselves, though this notion that Christians who support same-sex marriage are ‘alleged’ Christians is an interesting one. Throughout its history Christianity has had many different, overlapping forms, all of which have proclaimed to have the truth. At one point, as enshrined in the Old Testament, homosexuals were to be put to death. Is this the original Church in action? I don’t believe this is what Sunbeam is calling for but in a general sense, early Christianity had such a requirement. Would this be taught?
25) “If you oppose gay marriage, and you oppose divorce, how do you feel about gay couples that get divorced? Is that really upsetting, or do two wrongs make a right?”
A: Neither, as it doesn’t matter whether or not I stay married to a jar of dill pickles or get divorced from it. “Gay marriage” is a self-contradiction.
Well, since same-sex marriage is enshrined in law (marriage has existed as a concept well before Christianity came along), there isn’t a contradiction.
26) “Do you want gay couples to get divorced now that a lot of them are married?”
A: Like I said, they are not married.
Except, they are, in every legal sense.
27) “Will you erect a sign in stone somewhere in your building that says: ‘We proudly oppose marriage equality’ (so as to be permanent). Because I think it won’t be long before a lot of churches come around on this issue. They will have to, to not lose all their members.”
A: I don’t erect signs in stone since I’m not a caveman, do you? And I cannot erect a sign in the church building because it is not mine. If I ever have the opportunity of running my own church group, I will erect a printed sign in a frame declaring my position on homosexuality, divorce/ remarriage, and other issues.
Included for the sake of completeness (I mean come on, we’re on 27 out of 28, it would be daft not to include every question after getting this far!).
28) “What has your church done in memory of all the LGBT kids who committed suicide because of the bullying and suffering they experienced, largely at the hands of other Christians?”
A: Sadly, nothing. But I myself have publicly complained about injustices toward gay and trans people. Secondly, you have no right to label everyone who mistreated an LGBTQ person as Christian, since you have nothing to back that up. Thirdly, what have *you* done in memory of the millions of straight people around the world who have suffered horrible abuses for various reasons? Answer: NOTHING.
Mr Mehta did not say that everyone who has persecuted or bullied an LGBT person is a Christian. However the loudest voices calling for LGBT individuals to lose their rights are often from the religious right. Secondly, straight people are not abused for being straight, so I’m not sure what Sunbeam’s point is here – it feels obtuse and irrelevant.
It is good of Sunbeam to complain about mistreatment of the LGBT community, but to then oppose same-sex marriage is to fall back into a pattern of seeking to deny same-sex couples the same rights as anyone else.