Note: Part 4 of this series will be divided into two separate posts.
We return once again to Bob Seidensticker’s rebuttals against the rebuttals to same sex marriage, previous posts in the series can be found here. But, just as a temporary aside, probably the question that is on people’s minds is, why is this necessary? After all same-sex marriage is legal, the battle was lost, can’t we just move on?
To me, that’s a defeatist attitude and one that is already prepared to yield to any other position where what is immoral is prescribed in law. Never mind the fact that no laws have been overturned, it’s just an opinion issued by the Supreme Court. Courts can’t write law, so no, the battle is not over.
Frank needs to study up on how human rights come about. To take one example, voting rights have changed over time in the U.S., and God didn’t play a role at any stage.
Bob is the one needs to learn the difference between what are called “Big-R Rights”, what are often referred to as natural rights and “small-r rights” or legal rights. For example, the natural right to life and property is often enforced in law through self-defense statutes. Americans have this right recognized in its birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, and enshrined in law in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Legal rights can be quibbled about and come and go, but natural rights cannot and must not, lest injustice reign over a land. Now, to go a little farther, my natural right to property does not mean that I have the right to take what legitimately belongs to someone else through force or coercion. That is theft. Property can only be gained through an willing exchange and laws arise in a society to define what those are. Now, for Bob to say that “God didn’t play a role in that” is ridiculous because he gave man a conscience and the ability to reason and articulate. Now, the fact that certain legal rights have been extended to particular groups is not an argument for extending all legal rights to just anyone.
Bob continues along this trajectory,
As for God giving rights, he’s hardly a good moral model …. The Bible isn’t law in the United States; the Constitution is, and Christianity is legal in the United States courtesy of the (secular) Constitution. “Because the Bible says so” is an inherently impotent argument in this country.”
Let me first explain the ellipsis: Bob links to three of his previous posts where he simply doesn’t prove his case in regard to his statement, in fact they’re simply irrelevant to the argument. What’s interesting though, especially if one is an American legal historian, the Bible has often been either directly cited or alluded to in hundreds of decisions because it contains the basic precepts of innocent until proven guilty, trial by jury, evidentiary standards, etc, most of which are found in the book of Deuteronomy that we have been studying, come from the biblical documents. Bob, like so many other ignorant secular humanists, seems to be under the mistaken impression that the US Constitution just appeared out of thin air. It was a document that came out of a particular context—one steeped in a deep Christian ethos—to call it “secular” especially with a modern understanding of the term, is to do its authors a tremendous injustice. In fact, there’s several who would probably look at Bob like he was an idiot, or punch him in the face, because they would argue that there would be no Constitution apart from the Bible. Further, his argument applies equally to his own position, because it’s just his opinion.
But then Bob says this,
But let’s go there anyway and see what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t directly address same-sex marriage.
I’m sorry… what was that? The Bible doesn’t address it directly? So, if it’s not explicit in Scripture then…what…it’s okay? Yeah, that doesn’t follow. But Bob continues,
It does, however, make clear its disapproval of mixed-race (or intertribal) marriage.
Not really (see here). The prohibition was focused on religious matters. It was about loyalty to Yahweh. This is simply a superficial argument based upon not understanding the worldview and cultural background of the Bible, because the authors of Scripture had no modern idea of what we call “race”, so Bob—he goes on to quote a statement from Bob Jones University that commits the same error—is setting up a straw man. Understanding what those prohibitions were about gets carried into the New Testament and echoed by the Apostle Paul. Bob seems to recognize this, because he writes,
The apologist might respond that the prohibitions against intermarriage were meant to avoid temptations to worship other gods. That’s true to some extent but irrelevant—they’re still anti-miscegeny laws. If they’re wrong today, why excuse them back then? The Bible’s version of “God-given” rights and demands isn’t a morality than we can tolerate.
Alright, we have two problems here and they should be glaring. First, the intermarriage prohibitions were purely on a religious basis—as previously stated—so they’re not “miscegenation laws”. Let me repeat this: in the biblical worldview there is only one race: Adam’s. All human beings are seen and understood to be descendants of the primal human. Further, most of the tribes are related: they’re Semites. So, in modern terms, they’re all the same race. Further, even if people in the past justified those laws based upon Scripture, the fact that they did so based upon an error of understanding refutes that application. Second, the conflation of rights and morals. There’s several other errors that could be addressed but I’m trying to keep these responses to a reasonable length.
Bob then slams the argument into emotionalism,
To understand the Bible on homosexuality, consider its stance on slavery. Some Christians say that slavery in the Old Testament was just God adapting to the imperfect, wicked customs of the time. All right, but take the same approach toward homosexuality.
Well, let’s think about this one for a minute. Is there any logical relationship between a socio-economic state (slavery) and a personal behavior (homosexuality)? No, there’s not. This requires unpacking slavery in the cultural context of the Israelites (something done here and here) while contrasting it against a behavior declared an “abomination” that elicited the most severe punishment.
Now, here’s the thing: I can be consistent and bring the underlying principles of what was intended in Hebrew slavery (primarily temporary and voluntary) and bring that into the present and make application to the relationship between employers and employees. If I am consistent with homosexuality, then it’s still a capital offense worthy of death. “Oops” would seem to be the appropriate thing to say here.
Bob lines up for another shot,
“The Bible gives no support to Frank’s “marriage = babies” argument (argument #5 in our critique). One kind of marriage we do see, however, is the marriage of Jesus to the church (as in Ephesians 5:25–27). In this marriage, it’s love that is central, not babies.
Really? Do you want to try to make the analogy the Apostle Paul uses the standard? You can’t get off the first page of the biblical text without having this argument refuted:
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,…(Genesis 1:28, ESV, emphasis added)
Since that doesn’t work, he tries another attack:
Paul is no asset to the Christian position either. He said, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1).
Is that what Paul actually says though?
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1-2, ESV, emphasis added)
So, it wasn’t Paul that was saying that, it was the Corinthians that were saying it and Paul was correcting the error. The English Standard Version makes the point clearly by setting it in quotations. Typical atheist misrepresentation. But Bob thinks that he has an ace up his sleeve,
Marriage wasn’t even a Christian sacrament in the Church until the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. I’m not surprised that Frank hides from this part of the Bible since it defeats his position.
The article that Bob links to, while historically interesting, isn’t an argument against Dr. Turek or “the Bible”. The Roman Catholic Church’s making marriage a “sacrament of the Church” has no bearing on the objective definition of a marriage. The article makes a point of noting that marriage was largely seen as a business arrangement (something I pointed out here). It also notes that the Church made its move in a preemptive form more for political reasons than religious. Again, this doesn’t help Bob’s argument.
I’m going to put a pin in this one for right now because it’s getting so long. But let’s ask ourselves a question: what doesn’t Bob understand here?
He doesn’t seem to understand that there are different kinds of rights, that rights and morals are categorically different things, what a “race” is, or what the Bible actually says.
Until next time.