Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Opposition or Hatred?

I went to the city council meeting last night intending to speak in opposition to a proposed ordinance concerning landlords. I was also aware that a battle was brewing over a proposed LGBT center.

When I arrived I became involved in a brief discussion with, I think, the would be proprietor of the LGBT center. I asked him why there was opposition to the center and he responded that it was all about bigotry and hatred by Christians. I thought that this was not a very charitable assessment of his opponents motives, so I asked what his opponents might offer as a reason for their opposition. He didn't know.

In my previous post I suggested that a council meeting about a conditional use permit was probably not the proper venue for Christians to hold forth on the immorality of homosexual activity. But is this hatred?

No, it is disagreement. And disagreement and hatred are not necessarily synonymous. And disagreement resolved through an open, fair and just process is what we should aspire to as citizens.

I didn't see hatred coming from the Christian speakers last night. I saw strong, though misguided, opposition coupled often with a stated concern (whether sincere or not I don't know)for gay people.

After perusing the JT and Racine Posts blogs on the subject, it seems that many supporters of the LGBT center are quick to declare that hate is what motivates their Christian opponents. Which makes me wonder whether it is hateful to assume that an opponent is hateful.


Preachrboy said...


Thanks for these two posts. I was wondering if you had attended.

I read about this for the first time online this morning, and posted some thoughts on my blog. Here's the gist of them (similar to your own, I think):

I'm glad there was no taxpayer money used to fund this. I think there is an important difference between allowing something and, through use of state or local public funds, actually promoting it. This is what true tolerance is about - allowing something you disagree with.

Still, if I were a local Councilman, I would have voted against it. If you truly believe that an activity is immoral, then wouldn't you oppose it? For instance, if someone wanted to open a community center that helped people learn how to - oh - cheat on their wives. I would oppose that.

I'm sure there are "haters" on both sides of this issue. But I wish that level-headed people who disagree could talk about it without the emotions flying.

Just because I believe something is wrong to do doesn't mean I hate everyone who does it. I know some very nice people who do some things I don't agree with - even some of my closest friends and family. But they know where I stand, and they also know I don't hate them for it.

In fact, everyone I know does a lot of wrong - we call it sin. Nobody is perfect. We all need Christ's forgiveness. But as a Christian and as a pastor, I am especially concerned when sin is normalized, accepted, and even lauded.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks for your post Preachrboy. I guess the one point of disagreement between us would be our hypothetical votes. I would have voted in favor of the conditional use permit. My hypothetical vote should not be interpreted as endorsing the activities inside the center but rather an endorsement of the idea that people should be able to utilize their property for lawful purposes. In other words, the legality or even the morality of sodomy and or the legality of homosexuals gathering was not the issue last night. If Christians want to fight this battle via government they should find an alderman who would propose an anti-sodomy law or an ordinance seeking to criminalize gays associating with one another. I think it would be far more wise for Christians to make their case for moral behavior in other venues. Regarding the education center for aldulterers, (many bars already play this role) I guess I would reluctantly vote in favor of their conditional use permit as well.

Nemo said...

I think what you have here is projection. Many LGBT types openly hate Christians. For proof of the LGBT hate, check out what's happening to Christians in California since Prop 8 passed.

Thanks Denis, Preachrboy, and others not on this thread, for their thoughtful debate and comments at Free Racine. I may not always agree, but arguments counter to mine are usually well reasoned, articulate, and can on occasion give me pause. Especially yours Preachrboy.

In case you were wondering Denis and Urban, I have yet to be banished from Blue Racine despite my best efforts. I am beginning to feel unwelcome though.

Preachrboy said...

While I understand the distinction between that which is legal and that which is moral, is there a reason a councilman would be bound to endorse anything legal? Just because something's's legal it should be permitted, no questions asked?

Isn't it quite common for local officials in all places to block or sign off on various permits for all sorts of reasons? Or am I sounding like a liberal now? (ut-oh)

smallgovsam said...

If allowed, Christians (like Preacher boy) would use the government’s monopoly on force their own subjective morality on other individuals. Even if you want to save one’s soul from eternal hellfire, it is still unethical to force your prejudice onto others and deny others their civil rights.

I would infer that Christians don’t necessarily “hate” homosexuals on the aggregate, but they DO, however, consider their activities sinful. These are where the accusations of hatred come from and they are not all unfounded. Opposition implies a contrary but harmless opinion whereas hatred suggests a strong, active prejudice and animosity. As Christians view the union of two males or two females as a sinful deviation from God and often seek to LEGISLATE that acrimony, I do believe that hatred is not a bad word to describe the Christian view of homosexuality.

smallgovsam said...

"Just because something’s legal it should be permitted, no questions asked?"

Absolutely! And some stuff that’s illegal now should be permitted (marijuana, Blue Laws, paying people below minimum wage, etc.) It’s called “liberty” and the Founding Father’s thought very highly of it.

What you are advocating, Preacherboy, is called ochlocracy, majoritarianism or (what you probably call it) democracy. The quintessential principle of mob rule is that “might makes right.” A politician, if elected by the people, has been given a blank check to impose his will -- until the next election. That politician is free to exercise his ugliest prejudices to deny the people the right of property (what you are advocating) or more.

That is why the Founding Father’s set up a Constitution -- to protect the rights of the people against the tyranny of despotism. When politicians start legislating their morality on the population under the threat of coercion, that is the end of freedom and the beginning of totalitarianism.

Preachrboy said...

I am reconsidering my position - but I don't have time to flesh it out now...

The question for me is, not what is right and wrong (that, we Christians know by reference to Scripture - it's NOT subjective, Sam).

The question is what immorality should be legislated (i.e. murder, rape, yes, I believe abortion too) and what immorality should the government not bother with - (I insulted someone, I lied to my mother, etc..)

So maybe I would allow such a permit - grudgingly -

Sam, I will agree with you on one thing, that some things that are illegal now should be legalized....

Michael Gibson said...

"The question for me is, not what is right and wrong (that, we Christians know by reference to Scripture - it's NOT subjective, Sam)."

Are you saying that the Christian Bible (or any other Bible, for that matter) is not open to interpretation?

Denis Navratil said...

Sam, is there some reason why Christians shouldn't bring their perspective while participating as citizens in public policy debates? Why is it hateful to want to keep marriage as a union between men and women only? If you support a 30mph speed limit in a residential area, are you being hateful towards those who want to drive 85 mph?

Also, Sam and MG, seeing as you both are at Walden and both are curious about interpretation of the bible, why not arrange to have Preachrboy give a lecture or hold a question and answer session at your school? He may or may not be interested and your school leaders might fight the idea, which, if true would be an interesting development in and of itself. Anyway, I think it could be lively and educational. Interested Sam, MG, Preachrboy?

Preachrboy said...

I'm still rethinking my hypothetical vote. I'm trying to come up with a helpful analogy.

Abortion is legal, but morally wrong. If the city wanted to open an abortion clinic, I would vote against it. Does this analogy help?

MG, you ask if the Bible is open to interpretation. I guess my answer to that is, "it depends what you mean".

Of course, lots of people interpret scripture wrongly, but that doesn't nullify its meaning and purpose.

Denis Navratil said...

A good way to think about hypothetical votes might be to ask if they serve to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Granted, pursuing happiness may be immoral, but in my view, so long as it does not interfere with someone elses pursuits, their liberty or their life, I think the goverment should stay out of it. Also individuals should be free to explore and understand their moral responsibilities that fall outside the narrow (in a perfect world)restrictions placed upon them by government. And this is where you come in Preachrboy. I wouldn't want the government taking over your job, that is for sure.

Preachrboy said...

Public immorality does affect other people, though. We have obscenity laws for a reason, for instance. I don't want my kids to have to walk by porn on the way through the checkout line.

Similarly, many homosexuals wrongly assume their actions don't affect other people. But when my 6 year old asks me why 2 men live together when they aren't related, etc... well, they've just affected someone else. Likewise, a community center promoting this activity

I could also argue from purely secular grounds that homosexual activity is risky and unhealthy...

smallgovsam said...

Also similarly, many fundamentalists wrongly assume their actions don't affect other people. But when my little sister asks me why men and women gather to worship to sticks nailed together (Christians) or a rock (Muslims), pick and choose verses to ignore or follow out of an ancient book, and kill each other over these differences of opinion, etc… well, they've just affected someone else. Likewise, a building promoting this activity, some sort of “church,” is deeply distressing to me.

I would without hesitation disallow a man a right to his property so I could avoid having this slightly uncomfortable conversation with my little sister. I would definitely vote against allowing this building as I know how to run other people’s lives better than they do.

smallgovsam said...

I could argue from purely secular grounds that being black is risky and unhealthy...

Blacks in America have a 73.1 year life expectancy at birth - much lower than whites. Blacks also have higher rates of poverty and murder. Most blacks live in Africa. Africa, as we know is cursed with AIDS, famine and political and social upheaval.

I would encourage all minorities to accept Christ in their and try not to be black. Because difference is a sin.

Preachrboy said...

1)being homosexual is not the same as homosexual activity. But nice try with the old, failed comparison of race and sexual orientation - a flawed comparison on many levels.

2)I would hope that Christians affect people for the good.

3) More mass-murderers in the 20th century have been atheists - hmmm... Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot... need we go on? FAR more evil has been done at the hands of non-Christians throughout history. A subjective statement, I admit, but a true one, I believe.

Sam, as I told you on my own blog, I am done arguing with you. This has gone well beyond the topic and it's becoming clear you aren't willing to engage in respectful conversation but are simply trying to toss out "gotchas".

To that I give a hearty yawn, and move on...

smallgovsam said...

Homosexuality and race both purely genetic. Homosexuality has been observed in over 1,500 species of animals, ranging from worms, to birds, to primates like you and me. Scientific studies have shown this. Because all animals rear their young virtually the same which rules out environmental factors, and they obviously don’t have the brain capacity to “choose” to be gay, genetics is the only explanation. Now, one could make an argument that after Adam’s “first sin,” the world went out of whack but this doesn’t explain WHY some animals are gay and others aren’t. With genetics being the only answer, God must have created a gay gene at the point of Creation. Which means God is fallible. And if God is fallible, that means that the Bible is fictitious.

Although it is indeed true that most Communists and Fascists have been atheists (Hitler was NOT an atheist), this doesn’t necessarily make them unreligious. Religion is a of way of life based on tenets (or a belief system) about an ultimate power. Dictators believe they are the ultimate power. Whether you believe that you or a mythical being is master of the universe, that is religion. And religion, by its nature, is a mental illness.

But while we are on the subject of genocidal megalomaniacs, your God seems to have a penchant for smiting innocents.

In Egypt he killed the innocent firstborn sons of not only the pharaoh, but the entire nation. (If God is truly anti-choice, how could he justify the murder of innocent babies already born? Does he have a short memory span? Like a goldfish? Or is he going senile, after billions of-, er, 6,000 years?)

"When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you may nations...then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy." Deuteronomy 7:1-2, NIV

" not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy the Lord your God has commanded you..." Deuteronomy 20:16, NIV

“For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses.” Joshua 11:20

24 “And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword.
25 So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand - all the people of Ai.
26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.” Joshua 8

"They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it - men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." Joshua 6:21

How can you worship such an obviously Evil God?