Exclude Religion Arguments Fail Miserable ~ Illusory Neutrality

In conversations since the decision I get the, “you are defending your religious point of view… what about others religious or non-religious viewpoints?” Firstly, I use — typically — non-Biblical responses. My Same-Sex Marriage Page makes one point using the Bible, the other five and secular worries that should make one consider the issue. I have written an entire chapter in my book dealing with the natural law response to the issue. I also note that at no time in history has this idea of same-sex marriage ever been even contemplated to be of equal value to society. No religious leader or major moral thinker that helped shape sour society or others ever thought different.

So, while I try to stay away from either expressly or even using my faith in the majority of the argument… lets say I were to do so? So What! Here is [lesbian] Tammy Bruce:

Even if one does not necessarily accept the institutional structure of “organized religion,” the “Judeo-Christian ethic and the personal standards it encourages do not impinge on the quality of life, but enhance it. They also give one a basic moral template that is not relative,” which is why the legal positivists of the Left are so threatened by the Natural Law aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic…

…these problems don’t remain personal and private. The drive, especially since this issue is associated with the word “gay rights,” is to make sure your worldview reflects theirs. To counter this effort, we must demand that the medical and psychiatric community take off their PC blinders and treat these people responsibly. If we don’t, the next thing you know, your child will be taking a “tolerance” class explaining how “transexuality” is just another “lifestyle choice”…. After all, it is the only way malignant narcissists will ever feel normal, healthy, and acceptable: by remaking society – children – in their image.

Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values (Roseville: Prima, 2003), 35; 92, 206.

Justice Without Absolutes?

The French Revolution was fueled by rhetoric about the “rights of man.”  Yet without a foundation in the Judeo-Christian teaching of creation, there is no way to say what human nature is.  Who defines it?  Who says how it ought to be treated?  As a result, life is valued only as much as those in power choose to value it.  Small wonder that the French Revolution – with its slogan, “Neither God Nor Master,” quickly led to tyranny accompanied by the guillotine. The American Revolution had its slogan as well, and it goes to show how different the understanding of human nature was in these two revolutions.  The end result of our freedom also goes to show the validity in “the eternal foundation of righteousness” in which they were set.  (Tellingly, the Revolutionary slogan of the U. S. was, “No King But King Jesus!”)

According to C. S. Lewis (professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities, and a philosopher in his own right) one source of the “poison of subjectivism,” as he called it, is the belief that man is the product of blind evolutionary process:

“After studying his environment man has begun to study himself.  Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things.  Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them.  Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenon which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process.  His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective.  There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.”

First mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Why not?”
  • First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
  • Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”

Second Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
  • First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
  • Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”
  • First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”
  • Second Person: “Am I wrong?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”

Third Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”
  • First Person: “You are.”
  • Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

(Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.)

SELF-DEFEATING

“Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager

So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[1] put it, self-deleting.

➤ When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?”

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

…Such “exclude religion” arguments are wrong because marriage is not a religion! When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion. In the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the word “religion” refers to the church that people attend and support. “Religion” means being a Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Jew. It does not mean being married. These arguments try to make the word “religion” in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.

These arguments also make the logical mistake of failing to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law. There were religious reasons behind many of our laws, but these laws do not “establish” a religion. All major religions have teachings against stealing, but laws against stealing do not “establish a religion.” All religions have laws against murder, but laws against murder do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to abolish slavery in the United States and England was led by many Christians, based on their religious convictions, but laws abolishing slavery do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to end racial discrimination and segregation was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, who preached against racial injustice from the Bible. But laws against discrimination and segregation do not “establish a religion.”

If these “exclude religion” arguments succeed in court, they could soon be applied against evangelicals and Catholics who make “religious” arguments against abortion. Majority votes to protect unborn children could then be invalidated by saying these voters are “establishing a religion.” And, by such reasoning, all the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree! This would be the direct opposite of the kind of country the Founding Fathers established, and the direct opposite of what they meant by “free exercise” of religion in the First Amendment.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 31.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

During the history of the church, Christians have had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries). In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.

In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid-1830s were Christian clergymen, and he gives numerous examples of the strong Christian commitment of several of the most influential of the antislavery crusaders, including Elijah Lovejoy (the first abolitionist martyr), Lyman Beecher, Edward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Charles Finney, Charles T. Torrey, Theodore Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, “and others too numerous to mention.” The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.

There was also strong influence from Christian ideas and influential Christians in the formulation of the Magna Carta in England (1215) and of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787) in the United States. These are three of the most significant documents in the history of governments on the earth, and all three show the marks of significant Christian influence in the foundational ideas of how governments should function.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 49-50.

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