Usually, I do not pay attention to the Huffington Post. Yet, occasionally one of its articles catches my attention, but not in a good way. Such is the case of an article titled “Can Evangelicals Ever Tolerate Gay Marriage?” written by Rob Asghar.
Here is Asghar’s opening comment:
What do astrology, watching movies, charging interest, alcohol, gambling, dancing and divorce have in common?
All have been taboo at some point in Christianity-dominated societies of the past two millennia, but all are accommodated or even celebrated by American Christians today. And there is no philosophical or moral reason that gay marriage will not join their ranks within the next 20 years.
So, now you know where Asghar stands on the topic of gay marriage.
Asghar then begins a straw-man argument:
Yet culturally conservative proscriptions against homosexuality represent a weak, last attempt to pretend to stand for something, while standing for little in actual biblical terms.
I should concede that not all evangelical Christians are politically or culturally conservative. But you can be reasonably sure that when someone volunteers that he’s a “Bible-believing Christian,” he probably opposes gay marriage. Such a person may say that it’s one thing for Christians to come to tolerate the sad reality of divorce (which was explicitly forbidden by Jesus), but it’s another matter for them to have their arms twisted into affirming sex outside of a heterosexual marriage.
Apparently Asghar overlooked what Jesus says about divorce in Matthew 19:9: “I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”* Both here and in Matthew 5:31 Jesus states an exception to the rule against divorce. In short, divorce is permissible if one’s spouse has been engaging in sexual immorality, such as having sex with someone else.
Asghar continues his argument by creating a false dilemma:
When the choice is whether to follow the biblical injunction to affirm the dignity of all human beings or to keep others from exercising their conscience, conservative Christians find it to be no contest.
Asghar’s “choice” is a false choice. Affirming a person’s dignity does not require approval of that person’s sexual behavior.
Asghar goes on to create a false caricature of evangelical Christians:
Mears and many “dispensationalist” peers who dominate the evangelical landscape have typically argued that the many difficult commands of Jesus, which are crystalized in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, are not commands for believers to obey now, but merely a description of the rules of the game after Christ’s return.
That is a key reason why so many devout Christians, in the face of charges of hypocrisy, are able to tune out Christ’s blessings of peacemakers. That is why many are able to rationalize ignoring his command to turn the other cheek and pray for enemies. That is why many can disregard his cautions about accumulating wealth while in fact sanctifying the status of wealthy “job creators.”
Who are these Christians who ignore Christ’s command to turn the other cheek and to pray for enemies? I have never met one. Also, when did Jesus proclaim that it is wrong to earn wealth? I have never found that in the New Testament. It speaks against the love of riches, not against the acquisition of wealth itself. When people use their wealth to create jobs for others, then those with the wealth are using it to bless others, which conforms to the spirit of the New Testament’s teachings.
Asghar’s false caricature continues:
It’s been said that a fundamentalist of any religion tends to be driven by a certain nervousness about the body, which is why rules regarding sexuality are always enforced enthusiastically even when conservative Christians claim that they are not obligated to live up to Jesus’ standards in this lifetime.
It’s been said? By whom? Which conservative Christians claim that they are not obligated to live up to Jesus’ standards in this lifetime? I’ve known numerous conservative Christians, and none of them have ever made such a claim.
Asghar’s straw-man argument and false caricature won’t work on the evangelical Christians that I know. I’d be surprised if his tactics work at all.
Asghar reveals what’s really bugging him in this statement:
Even if culturally conservative Christians cannot bring themselves to bless gay marriage, they could drop their opposition to imposing their political will on the larger secular republic. Given how inevitably they will be on the wrong side of history, it seems wise for them to cut their losses and drop their political posturing sooner rather than later, in order to move on to worthy issues where they’re able to make a more positive impact.
So, it is the political will of conservative Christians that Asghar is opposed to. Although I personally prefer to keep religion and politics separate, I will not deny another person’s right to let one’s politics conform to one’s religious beliefs. Freedom of religion does not end at the ballot box. Someone should remind Asghar of that fact.
[ *Bible verse quoted from the English Standard Version of the Bible. ]