(The first part of this response can be found here.)
Circling back to the question
Once again, we have to ask what is this position?
GLSEN asserts that, “…only 4% of LGBT students were taught positive information about LGBT people or issues in their health classes.” Okay…what “positive information” is there? If you were going to claim that such exists, wouldn’t you provide a link to some evidence that backs up the claim? If one does a search on their website, one finds some seemingly innocuous lesson plans that are built around Common Core curriculum and goals; however, digging in, we find what is tantamount to viewpoint indoctrination, asking whether a particular behavior is either “visible or invisible”. Now, from a mere historical perspective, a person’s sexual proclivities seems only relevant in a biographical sense, and then only relevant to those who seemed unhealthily focused on the subject.
Ultimately though, the question assumes something that no one seems willing to talk about. I mean, it comes up, as David illustrates.
But if you’re going to make the assertion that a behavior (I emphasize this repeatedly for a reason) is moral, such reasoning must be coherent from the top down and the bottom up. More importantly, you can’t just arbitrarily exclude another behavior because it seems “disgusting”.
The moral question is the first question
Now, the only reason that I’m picking on David here is because he and I have interacted publicly, and he has made his position clear on his show, so this is not because he’s an easy target but a hard target. David is fairly clear in his position in that he’s a consequentialist.
I’ve previously outlined consequentialism and as an ethical theory, it seems to beg the question of necessity: what is necessary to draw moral conclusions about the outcomes of actions? There’s a whole lot of front loading that consequentialism is dependent upon that it cannot seem to justify. I’m not saying that it’s necessary a bad ethical theory, it is just incomplete. All anti-theistic ethical theories suffer from the same problem. The problem is ultimately epistemological: how does one know, in any meaningful sense, what they think they know?
As Cornelius Van Til has stated,
Christian theism’s fundamental contention is just this, that nothing whatsoever can be known unless God can be and is known. And as stated before, by God we mean the triune, self-sufficient God and his revelation of himself to man and his world. In whatever way we put the question then, the important thing to note is this fundamental difference between theism and antitheism on the question of epistemology. There is not a spot in heaven or on earth about which there is no dispute between the two opposing parties. (6)
The fact is that David and I approach the matter from two, diametrically opposed positions. I’m not going to try to read David’s mind or try to articulate his moral position because I can’t tell you, one way or another what it actually is. Any such argument that he can make, his is capable of making on his own. David has said that he’s against “injustice”. The question is, in a universe as described by atheists such as Dawkins, where there is, “…at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference,” what exactly is “injustice”?(7)
Now, I’m not saying that David is incapable of calling things “just” or “unjust”, “good” or “evil”, because we would certainly agree on any number of subjects that such judgments would be true. The problem comes when we try to justify them, when we try to say that “I know that X is unjust”, above “I feel that X is unjust”, we inherently run into a problem, namely the problem of categories.
If we say that these categories are real, that is to say that they are both coherent and necessary, then we have to ask why they exist?
Take this illustration: that the circle represents all of humanity, and the left and right hemispheres are the male and female sexes the compose the constituent parts of what is the human population.
The line that divides the hemispheres represents the clear, genetic and chromosomal distinctions between that which is male and female. Now, the closer that one gets to the dividing line represents the clear distinction between that which is genetically male or female, the expressed physical distinctions may seem to blur, however, the line still exists. In fact, we could divide the circle horizontally and create a scale of masculinity and femininity, which we could call “gender” and “attraction” or even “orientation” now, if we place arrows on this horizontal line pointing to the vertical division, we could call this “sexual attraction”.
This distinction flows from the fact that the only way to get new members of the whole group defined as “humanity” is for the two halves of humanity, that which is distinctly male and distinctly female to combine. The result from that union is either biologically male or female, there is no third option.
The problem is that the closer one on the horizontal line gets to the line that distinguishes one half from the other, the tendency is to look back. One may even be driven to this line of distinction by circumstances. The fact that a person finds themselves at this line of distinction (LD) and looks back along the line of attraction (LA) and becomes confused can be a complicated process and involve lots of rationalizing. One may be so emotionally close to the LD that upon looking back one finds themselves swept up in the emotional backwash of the LA as it slaps into the shore of the LD. As such, one’s orientation can become confused. Moreover, because there’s an inherent rationality that accompanies the emotional backwash one can argue themselves into certain beliefs rather than reflecting upon what they’re supposed to be and do.
Now, I’m speaking psychologically about is ultimately a spiritual problem. Much of this argument assumes two things: that there is a purpose and that from such arises meaning defines accompanying actions. This means that if someone assumes an ultimately meaningless and purposeless universe, then they have no grounds upon which to say that any of my conclusions are either true or false. If meaning and purpose are ultimately self-derived, that is they are subjective, all conclusions are ultimately valid and equal in their invalid and unequal reasoning. Truth and falsity of propositions can only be declared if there is an external, objective basis upon which to draw such conclusions. That is to say that if there is no ultimate purpose and meaning, at least one that can be either discovered or revealed, what should or should not be in any meaningful sense then we can throw all moral considerations for restraint out the door.
The moral dilemma of a free society
Free societies have a moral dilemma. We have to be able to not only distinguish between moral categories, but in making such distinctions that we can make laws that punish immoral acts and encourage moral acts.
Without a coherent justification that satisfies the necessary preconditions of intelligibility to be able to define what the moral categories are, then we have no grounds to say what is or is not immoral. All laws become arbitrary.
Laws prohibiting and assigning punishment for certain behaviors are ultimately meaningless. There is no right or wrong, only desires, and those are fickle. Excuse one behavior enough, other behaviors along that same trajectory begin to collapse and before long there is no moral grounds to condemn any behavior of any kind. For a society to be free in any true sense there must be clear moral lines, or else there can only be the tyranny of desire and fear. That being said, for there to be liberty there cannot be licentiousness. This is something that several founding fathers of the United States noted.
In order to make any meaningful judgement about the categories of humanity, humanity cannot be simply a gene replicating machine. In fact, such a claim about humanity as a whole is absurd since only half of our genome gets passed to the next generation. In fact, for humanity to continue to procreate successfully, there has to be a measure of variety.
One could try to argue that because survival and replicability depends upon a sufficient variation of genetic material that it is wrong for a male to try to have children with his sister or mother. But that is not the same as such an act being “wrong” in a moral sense. Further, it assumes something about the human species. Namely that human beings are supposed to procreate, but that procreative act is supposed to be coherent and variant in order to be successful. For the act to have true moral weight, it assumes something about the male and the female. And because there is such a thing as “male” and “female” there’s a weight to it that requires balance. And it’s not just a physical balance, but an emotional and temperamental balance.
Modern society hates the distinctiveness of female and male because it implies difference, and is under the false assumption that if there is difference then distinction must be made, and if distinction must be made then there has to be discrimination, and if there is discrimination then there must be deficiencies, and if deficiencies then disparities, and if there are disparities then that is evil.
“But discrimination is wrong.”
“But you should treat people equally.”
If you’re going to appeal to law, then there’s going to have to be a standard by which we can look at the law and tell if it is a good law or merely an arbitrary one.
Moral judgements are necessary for making decisions about law.
Moral judgments also depend upon moral categories.
In the end, any claims about “LGBT-inclusion” are ultimately moral claims. And moral claims require justification. David Smalley’s reduction to what is essentially an insult is indicative of the irrationality of his position. He wants to assume the moral high-ground but is not willing to consider where his position logically leads.
I’m also not saying that I have the moral high ground.
What I am saying is that I know where to find it.
6. Cornelius Van Til. A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Volume 2. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. Philipsburg, NJ. 1969. p. 103.
7. Richard Dawkins. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfield & Nicholson Publishing. London, UK. 1995. p. 133.