Why can’t we agree to a compromise where you are denied equality, and I’ll agree to pray for you?

A very silly argument put by the anti-gay crowd at ABC’s The Drum:

Contemporary minds are fixed to think of only two possible camps on the gay issue. Either you are pro-homosexual and therefore open-minded, kind and respectful, or else you are a mean-spirited, homophobic bigot. You are either for me or against me. No space is given to a third group, much larger than the current discourse allows, made up of people who sincerely want an end to discrimination and who show nothing but care and respect toward gay friends but whose deeply held convictions prevent them from endorsing same-sex practice. This last clause may get the blood boiling for some, but perhaps that underlines my point. Some of us are unable to imagine how you can care for someone and disagree with their lifestyle at the same time.

Yes, true tolerance tolerates intolerance. In fact, if we were really tolerant we’d support continuing to enshrine their intolerance in law.

I have no problem with Christians believing whatever the hell they want to believe about homosexuality. Where I have a problem with it is where they seek to impose these beliefs on other people.

Where they demand that government discriminate against gays and lesbians. (Which, and let’s be very clear about this, is precisely what denying them marriage equality involves. I may marry my beloved because I’m a man; if I were a woman, the present Marriage Act would arbitrarily prevent me from doing so solely on the basis of my gender.)

Where they demand the right to indoctrinate children to think of gays as lesser people – or, worse, to hate themselves if they discover later that they’re gay.

Where they demand the right to sack people for having lawful private lives they don’t agree with.

That’s what the debate is about. It’s not about stopping Christians or anyone else believing what they want. It’s about them not getting to impose those views on others.

There’s a very easy way to test where the balance lies in the gay marriage debate: take the Christians’ arguments and replace the word “gay” with “Christian”. See the quality of their argument when applied to a group with which you might have more sympathy. And then contrast that with what the equality advocates have actually argued.

It wouldn’t be a “compromise” position to insist that Christians choose a different word for their marriages. It wouldn’t be a “compromise” position to maintain the freedom of secular organisations to sack Christians for their private beliefs and “lifestyle”.

Likewise with gays.

ELSEWHERE: Crikey’s excellent summary of The Australian‘s hysteria-baiting efforts this week, demanding that the ACT and NT be denied the right to pass their own laws without Federal ministerial veto because they might choose to enact marriage equality – you know, just like the already free-of-ministerial-veto States have.

As for Joe De Bruyn – can someone point me to when his union’s members, the 200,000 people who pay union fees to the SDA, were asked their views on marriage equality and euthanasia? And if they weren’t (and they weren’t), then on what basis does he use his (apparently unelected) position as their representative to expend the SDA’s political capital attacking such an issue?

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13 responses to “Why can’t we agree to a compromise where you are denied equality, and I’ll agree to pray for you?

  1. It looks like the Drum has stopped approving comments on that article, which is a shame because I really took that wanker to task over his “don’t confront me” attitude. What I hate most is that while trying to sound like he’s walking the middle-ground he still completely misses the point: we don’t want to talk because there would be nothing to talk about if you just minded your own business. Stay the **** out of lives and we’ll stop calling you delusional arseholes. Simple really.

  2. narcoticmusing

    It is striking the resemblance of the arguments a Christian would use to justify their faith is to homosexuality, including that stupidly obvious part that they shouldn’t have to. Yet again and again Christians demand this of homosexuals. I find it, for lack of better word, inconsistent.

    Christians will claim homosexuality is a choice (thus living in sin); but say that being a Christian isn’t a choice. Considering the correlation between your faith and your parents is much stronger than the correlation between your sexual orientation and your parents, does that not suggest one is learned and the latter is not?

    I’m still baffled that there can be such a selective choice to use scripture while simultaneously pretending other parts that are inconvenient (like tithing and paying tax) are not applicable. The main arguments against homosexuality arise from (arguably misinterpretations) of the old testament, yet the new testament is meant to be a new covenant. This is how the Christians get to not be bound by all that nasty old testament stuff which is really annoying for them…

    It is the selective reasoning of it that pisses me off. The complete blindness to who it was written by and why, the illogical ignoring of context (ie the culture at the time).

    Although, maybe based on Jeremy’s idea of swapping gay with Christian I agree with this person: I really care about many of my Christian friends but cannot, due to my deeply held beliefs, reconcile that with their illogical hate of homosexuals (or as they’d say, homosexuality because of course they love the person, they just hate ‘what’ they are).

  3. As David Marr said, “I have no patience with it anymore. It is just bigotry and cruelty and hatred.” Amen to that, brother.

  4. “That’s what the debate is about. It’s not about stopping Christians or anyone else believing what they want. It’s about them not getting to impose those views on others.”

    In a nut shell. Debating Christians about moral issues has all the equivalence of trying to explain astro physics to a three yr old. They’re all barking mad, end of debate.

  5. I have no problem with Christians believing whatever the hell they want to believe about homosexuality. Where I have a problem with it is where they seek to impose these beliefs on other people.

    In fairness, not all Christians are so myopic. The Uniting Church, for example, offer a perspective more in keeping with the meaning and purpose of their faith.

    It’s the zealots who insist on forcing their views down our throats because they are “right”, who are the problem. Not only on gay marriage but on dying with dignity and other moral and ethical issues too.

    There’s nothing wrong with having faith if that’s your thing. There is, however, a problem when your faith is so shaky you feel you have to drown out someone who views things differently.

  6. narcoticmusing

    My experiences would certainly confirm that autonomy1 – it definitely seems to depend on the type of Christianity and whether they think for themselves or not.

  7. Sometimes even the type of Christianity is not enough. The Anglican Church has permitted ordination of women priests for quite some time, but yet there are still many Anglicans that refuse to take communion when a women is officiating because “there is no biblical evidence for women priests” or some other such excuse for bigotry. Even when a church becomes officially welcoming, it doesn’t always change the minds of the flock.

  8. jordanrastrick

    Sometimes even the type of Christianity is not enough. The Anglican Church has permitted ordination of women priests for quite some time, but yet there are still many Anglicans that refuse to take communion when a women is officiating because “there is no biblical evidence for women priests” or some other such excuse for bigotry.

    Where such Christians are bigoted, it is often because they honestly accept the bigotry of their scripture; in fact they are often actually looking for excuses to be less bigoted, but can’t find them (that is, while still holding the Bible to be inerrant word of God.)

    In this particular case, see 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Even doing the usual New Convenant / Old Covenant contortions, there’s no way to argue the Bible endorses female priests. The only way Christians can honestly embrace female leadership in the church is by the saying “Bible is holy but can be and is wrong some of the time.” To me this is the only way to derive a sane system of beliefs out of these texts… but most people have a very high threshold for cognitive dissonance, and are good at not thinking about things that make them uncomfortable.

    It looks like the Drum has stopped approving comments on that article, which is a shame because I really took that wanker to task over his “don’t confront me” attitude. What I hate most is that while trying to sound like he’s walking the middle-ground he still completely misses the point: we don’t want to talk because there would be nothing to talk about if you just minded your own business.

    dezinerau, I think you and for that matter Jeremy, narcotics and pretty much everyone else, aren’t really fair to Dickson here.

    Its fair enough if you’re mainly used to seeing commentary from the likes of the ACL. But to be honest, despite Dickson being quite an outspoken theologian, I’d be a little shocked if you can find him openly advocating a blanket ban on Gay Marriage in civil society in the way that say Joe de Bruyn does.

    If you’re accustomed reading the political opinion of Christians only in the context of the militantly homophobic/misogynist/etc brigade, maybe this piece comes across as an apologia for Christians imposing their religious beliefs on others. But all he’s actually advocating for here is a recognition that his and his co-religionists beliefs about homosexuality do not mean they are all personally homophobes. Sure, many are, but it does not follow automatically. And for what its worth when it comes to issues on Gay Marriage, the views in the actual communitry of Christians are somewhat, err, broader than the ACL et al would have you believe.

    I think in this case Dickson’s perpsective should be somewhat evident from his article.

    Thoughts naturally rush to other important matters. Why does the church oppose gay marriage? Why should religious schools and organisations be exempt from certain employment laws? And what possible grounds could there be anyway for the Christian critique of same-sex activity? These are good questions which must be tackled carefully.

    Notice that he his entirely conscious of the distinction between “Why do I think as part of my religious beliefs that homosexuality is immoral?” and “Why does (my) church oppose gay marriage (in our society, i.e. seek to impose this belief on others)?”

  9. Yeah jordan his approach is a little more nuanced than many.

    Its great that he recognises the difference between his religious beliefs and the act of imposing them on others but he doesn’t really come out against it.

  10. narcoticmusing

    Jordan, I agree with you, I do not think it is cut and dry that every christian is an intolerant bigot, not by a long shot. I could certainly say I know homosexuals who are intolerant bigots too – intolerant bigotry isn’t a class limited to just one group.

    I suppose, my issue with Dickson (and I admit, I only read Jeremy’s quote, not the full article) is that I find it a little disingenuous – it reminds me of people who say “I’ve got [insert demographic here] friends but I still think they are over-populating [insert apparently over-run area/policy]”. There are some legitimate, understandable reasons to be concerned about a single culture/ideal dominating an area/discourse, but those are rarely the rationale behind the argument, usually it is simply fear.

    It is this idea that their right, due to their belief, should prevail but at the same time, because they attempt to ‘soften’ it, we shouldn’t call them out on it. While I can appreciate where Dickson is coming from, there doesn’t appear to be the chastisement of peers that perhaps is required. Thus, I’d like to call Dickson out and ask why there isn’t the correction of peers. I’m not suggesting Dickson advocate for gay rights, but simply advocate for the cessation of the oppresion of gay rights – if that makes sense.

  11. jordanrastrick

    Thanks for your usual moderate and reasonable approach, narcotic.

    Thus, I’d like to call Dickson out and ask why there isn’t the correction of peers.

    I don’t see why Dickson needs to spend all of his limited time, energy and access to broadcast media correcting his “peers”. Should I spend all my time and energy correcting Lee Rhiannon for being a deluded fool, because I would happen to fall on the “left-wing” of most people’s political spectra?

    I’m not suggesting Dickson advocate for gay rights, but simply advocate for the cessation of the oppresion of gay rights – if that makes sense.

    I suppose, my issue with Dickson (and I admit, I only read Jeremy’s quote, not the full article) is

    Taking these two quotes together, I strongly suggest you read the full article, because it seems Jeremy’s choice of quote and your reading of it has lead you into a misimpression of what was said.

    The piece leads with this paragraph:

    This weekend’s Mardi Gras parade in Sydney reminds us how far Australia has come since the dark days when gays and lesbians were legislated against and openly vilified and when all conversation about the rights of individuals to form their own views about sex were shut down. We no doubt have further to go before homosexuals fully experience the acceptance in society they deserve, but some of us are wondering whether the noble march toward the end of discrimination has inadvertently damaged our moral imagination and limited the public conversation.

    So Dickson:

    1) Endorses the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
    2) Condemns past vilification and discrimination
    3) Openly says society has further to go on the “noble march” to the end of anti-homosexual discrimination (contra so many who love to pull out the “but homophobia doesn’t really exist any more” card.)
    4) Qualifies that he thinks nuance is perhaps being lost in the discussion, presumably because he’s sick of being lumped in with all the strident homophobes on “his” side of the debate.

    I don’t think that’s too bad, really. But maybe I’m just too tolerant of bigots?

    Its illustrative how convinced everyone here is that all Christians are mad, that talking to them about morality is completely pointless, or that they know about the truth of Christianity, about “perspectives more in keeping with the meaning and purpose of their faith” than, errr, Christians do.

    How many of you have spoken to any actual, practising Christians about their beliefs, at any length?

  12. If you read the actual article it is really pretty average. For all his claims of self reflection he fails to acknowledge the whole thing about the Christian version of Sharia Law (thats my latest buzzphrase) being applied in a secular state.

  13. Bill Hicks on Christianity:

    “Christianity has a built-in defense system: anything that questions a belief, no matter how logical the argument is, is the work of Satan by the very fact that it makes you question a belief. It’s a very interesting defense mechanism and the only way to get by it — and believe me, I was raised Southern Baptist — is to take massive amounts of mushrooms, sit in a field, and just go, “Show me.””

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