The Day After: Thoughts on the Response to the Overturn of Prop 8

It has begun. The response from those who supported California Proposition 8 is underway now that:

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice.

What I find fascinating is how similar the comments being made by all of the various talking heads are to one another. They don’t mention that Prop 8 barely passed with 52.2% of the vote, which was down from the 61.4% that the very same measure (Prop 22) passed with only 8 years earlier, they speak about how “over seven million voters voted for the measure.” They don’t speak about how certain groups regularly seek to bypass around our elected representatives (as we are, in fact, a democratically elected representative democracy), and use direct ballot initiatives to place what are now, in fact, unconstitutional measures on California ballots. Rather, we hear speak of how “activist judges” “disregarded the will of the people,” “set aside a democratic vote,” and “legislated from the bench,” as if the popular views of a voting public always produce fair and equitable laws. (Seriously, ask yourself: were the issue of slavery or the equal rights of African-Americans placed on the ballot in a southern state in 1860 – or 1960 for that matter – would the voting public abolished slavery? The fact that a war was fought to, among other things, defend the practice – with guns in the 1860s and water canons in the 1960s – may help answer that question.)

We are also hearing the “slippery slope” argument invoked at every opportunity: if now this, what’s next? Similarly, we are hearing form many Christians appeals to the Bible that Prop 8 supporters dared not make during the campaign for fear of revealing their obviously unconstitutional desire to influence the state with church directives.

Regarding the “illicitness” of homosexuality in the Bible, allow me to make a few brief observations. It is interesting that the other forms of what many refer to as illicit sexual behavior are actually condoned in the bible. Polygamy was all the rage until Paul encouraged Christians in 1 Cor. 7 to stop getting married altogether (unless, of course, you lacked self control, in which case he asked Christians to limit themselves to merely one wife). Marrying a bride-child under the age of 18 was the norm as long as her father agreed to the price he was paid for her. Incest wasn’t frowned upon because staying in the tribe was considered more important than staying out of your half-sister’s pants.

The point is, there are many things sanctioned in the Bible that are today considered criminal (slavery, suppression of women’s rights, etc.). Today we have remedied many of these things, despite what the biblical text says.

Likewise, there are sexual restrictions in the Bible that modern society has maintained because they are exploitative towards marginalized persons. You can no longer marry or have sex with a child, despite the fact it was done legally all the time in the Bible. It is exploitative of children and therefore forbidden. It is argued that many women in polygamous relationships are suppressed and exploited, so after much debate, the U.S. banished it. I am open to having the debate once again, as it is never wrong to revisit issues that were once decided long ago. But I think we’ll find that on both popular and civil rights grounds, polygamy will not pass muster.

The difference with homosexuality is that it is a decision made by two consenting adults with no victim. Because married couples no longer feel the pressure to produce children, and because few Americans no longer feel that sex is only for the “reproduction of children,” a childless relationship is no longer considered inappropriate. And, because there are no data showing that the presumed negative effect on children being raised outside of a relationship consisting of “one mother and one father” is any greater than children raised in families that have experienced divorce (and there is certainly no constitutional amendment barring divorce or barring divorced individuals from remarrying!) the “it’s bad for the children” argument also falls flat.

This generation has witnessed homosexuality depart the category of “illicit activity” (bestiality, polygamy, incest, etc.) and join the category of previously prohibited biblical activities that modern people (Christians and non-Christians alike) now find acceptable (like eating pork, mixing milk and meat in the same meal, planting different crops side by side, allowing divorced people to remarry, mowing the lawn on Saturday, allowing women authority over men, and, you know… not owning slaves!

“It’s icky” is no longer a good argument against gay marriage. Slippery slope arguments (like, “If we allow gay marriage, then what’s next? Polygamy? Marrying a goat?” etc.) also fall flat on a case-by-case basis because they exploit the civil rights of others (not to mention the goats). Appealing to biblical precedent is hypocritical (see slavery, genocide, etc.), and arguing that it’s “unnatural” casts aside hundreds of other human behaviors that are obviously unnatural and self-destructive like overeating, eating processed foods (what other animal does that?), smoking, drinking, and wearing makeup.

In the end, all that’s left is a simple appeal to the way it’s always been: “preserving traditional marriage.” And just like this same appeal to the status quo has time and again been defeated (slavery, women’s rights, etc.), so too has the restrictions on gay marriage. And this is a good thing. Of course, some will object and deny gay marriage, while others will speak out on the side of equal rights for all. But I believe in the end, many Americans will do as Jesus did and not mention the subject at all. Because most Christians and most Americans simply don’t care about what other people do in their bedrooms… unless a video of it can be accessed anonymously via the internet.

23 Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Except you could have also mentioned that those that seek to prohibit gay marriage should also strive to abolish buffet lines and the fast food industry (Prov. 23:20-21, 28:7). Prov. 23:2 ieven instructs one to commit suicide if he were to over eat!

    They should also pull their savings from banks (Deut. 23:19 and Psm. 15:5), speak out against a market economy that rewards the hard workers and winner with great wealth (Matt. 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25), and look to pass a constitutional amendment that will do away with the entire judicial branch of our federal and state governments (Matt. 7:1, John 8:7).

    I guess the list can go on and on to which a book can be written on this matter. Are society seems to be doing just fine by allowing all this to happen.

  2. Bob, I’ve never mentioned to you how much I appreciate your writings on this subject. Bravo, my friend. I’d love to see you debate Maggie Gallagher, or Tony Perkins, or any of the other bigoted clowns that get airtime on this subject…

  3. many thanx!!

  4. Thank you very much for your thoughts and comments on this issue RC. I have been quoting and referencing you (since I am not quite as good with words as you are). I hope you do not mind.

  5. What a cogent, consice discussion of the issue

  6. be my guest. the greatest thanks you can offer is repeating them. :)

  7. I respectfully disagree with you, even though you have put down you thoughts so eloquently.


  8. Of course Jesus DID speak to the issue of divorce, and spoke against it. Why are Prop 8 supporters seeking to ban same-sex marriage but not divorce?!?!?

    And if the reference in Leviticus IS to homosexual sex as an abomination, why in the world are supporters of Prop 8 eating at Red Lobster??? Eating shrimp is an abomination as well!! I propose an amendment to the California Constitution to ban prawn cocktail!!! ;)

  9. Why are Prop 8 supporters seeking to ban same-sex marriage but not divorce?!?!?

    Because Evangelical Christians have a divorce rate of 50%, that’s why.

    We always denounce the OTHER guy’s Horrible Sin. But our own? “Tha’ts DIFFERENT.”

  10. @Jeff

    “And if the reference in Leviticus IS to homosexual sex as an abomination, why in the world are supporters of Prop 8 eating at Red Lobster??? Eating shrimp is an abomination as well!! I propose an amendment to the California Constitution to ban prawn cocktail!!!”

    Nah, I’ve tried this one and it doesn’t work. They come back with a quote from Acts of the Apostles where Jesus tells Peter and the boys that there are no unclean foods anymore. Drat! Those cagey fundies!

    However, I don’t recall him saying that it’s OK to cut your hair, shave your beard, wear linen and cotten, plant tomatoes and peppers in your garden, or any of those other things.

    So we may still have something to shove in their faces. : p


    My Domestic Partner, here in New Mexico, was right with me at the hospital, during and after my lung surgery – by having to lie and stating he was my brother! He practically stayed night and day at my bedside! He came back to our home mainly to take care of our pets!

    Christ taught love, not hatred that bigots are all about ! !

    With admiration, and love, Bob Swearingen

  12. @frank–Good, if frustrating, point!! And blends remain an abomination, even today . . . ;)

  13. I recently discovered you on a National Geographic program and there was just something about you that prompted me to Google you today. Now I think I might have figured out what it was… are an open-minded student of the Bible and a cognizant philospher as well. Bravo!!

  14. […] The Day After: Thoughts on the Response to the Overturn of Prop 8 (Aug. 5, 2010) […]

  15. All I can say is another wonderful post Dr. C. You are so eloquent in your delivery. Thank you so much for your learned commentary on this subject; it is right on par with the issue and leaves little room for those who object to gay marriage to find arguments that will work anymore.

  16. Another on-the-target entry, Dr. C!

  17. Jesus did many things to serve, love and teach others as the “Son of God” and he could have done so much more. He came to lead us to the Father, and “I” would say in creation if a child of God cannot accept His plan from the very first with understanding and appreciation for the Abba’s perfect design….what more could Jesus say..?? It has nothing to do with an individual opinion, likes or dislikes…it all boils down to the heart of the Father, His creation, His design, His idea, His Kingship…..why disobey and hurt the Father who designed you?

  18. and if he ‘designed’ you as gay?…
    (i’m guessing a lot of kids are not choosing to be gay and experience the torture and ridicule on school playgrounds…)

  19. […] I shall continue doing my part (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) to combat the discriminatory hatred that […]

  20. […] a Christian because I advocated so strongly against California’s Proposition 8 (here and here and here and here). And while I don’t let petty, false accusations and/or what other people […]

  21. […] “The Day After: Thoughts on the Response to the Overturn of Prop 8“ […]

  22. […] out what I’ve been arguing here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here for years […]

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