On 12/10 I sent a letter to the editor of The Coldwater Daily Reporter, responding to an op-ed piece by the night desk editor, Chris Worst (see: http://www.thedailyreporter.com/article/20131206/NEWS/131209491/1007/OPINION). I carbon-copied Mr. Worst as a courtesy and have since communicated with him by email. He says that he disagrees with my letter on many point, but was respectful. I am hoping that he and I can have coffee together soon and get to know each other better.
Mr. Worst did express appreciation for the respectful tone of my letter, and mentioned that his paper had received other letters that were negative in tone. I urge Christians, who are to love even their enemies (that is, the people who are enemies toward them) to show respect and kindness even when disagreeing with the views of others. If we do not follow our Master’s instructions in this, we may win a battle or two over some moral issue, but we will surely lose the culture war – and our own joy and peace in the process.
Response to Chris Worst
To the Editor:
Chris Worst, the night desk editor for The Daily Reporter, wrote an op-ed piece in the December 6th issue titled, “Marriage Equality Is Inevitable.” I have appreciated Mr. Worst’s work, but would like to respond to what I believe are inaccuracies or misrepresentations in the piece. I do not believe these were intentional – Mr. Worst was relaying the talking points that the advocates of gay marriage have developed over the past few years – but they are, I believe, misleading.
First, Mr. Worst raises what he terms “the most common argument against gay marriage, that of it going against the Bible.” He admits that gay marriage contradicts Jewish and Christian scriptures, and quotes as evidence Leviticus 18:22, which forbids sexual relations between men. He does not try to argue that this particular command is no longer applicable but that the Bible itself cannot be considered a reliable guide to moral behavior in our day and age.
He does this by comparing the prohibition against homosexuality to a command that comes later in the book of Leviticus: “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard” (Leviticus 19:27, KJV). He makes the point that “… you don’t see Christian zealots protesting at funerals over shaving, do you?”
But this is one of those misunderstandings. The prohibition against cutting off hair or beard made perfect sense in the culture to which it was given. It sits along co-texts on divination and the cultic practice of cutting one’s body in necromancy. Many ancient cultures used hair cut from the head or beard in sorcery and divination, which is what is being prohibited. It is hermeneutical malpractice to compare the two prohibitions without considering their contexts.
Further, Mr. Worst suggests that the “Defense of Marriage Act” is a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” But it is hard to see how the Defense of Marriage Act established religion. It rather was intended to maintain an established tradition that has been practiced by peoples of various religions (and of no religion at all) around the world and across time. I found the comparison to “Sharia law” to be way over the top.
Next Mr. Worst uses what has become the most common argument for gay marriage: that two people who love each other should be able to be married. In other words, marriage is really all about our feelings and desires. But marriage has always been about much more than that. The Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549, states “The union of husband and wife in heart, body and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.”
The fact is that homosexual behavior has been present throughout history. Some cultures, like the ancient Romans, openly practiced pedastry for centuries. But no culture in the history of the world, until very recently, ever considered homosexual relationships to be the same thing as marriage. This was not a religious view – the people involved were from many different religions and some held no religion at all – it was the view of history.
Though I disagree with Mr. Worst on the advisability of gay marriage, I do agree with him on some points: divorce is more damaging to the institution of marriage than the legalization of gay marriage. I also agree – though I wish I didn’t – that the legalization of gay marriage is inevitable. Our culture is (after a propaganda campaign of several decades) moving faster and faster in that direction. Its momentum will likely carry it to fulfillment.
One final thing: I sense from Mr. Worst’s tone that he has encountered “Christian zealots” who, like the people from Westboro Baptist Church, approach the issue with anger and contempt, and with no desire to understand the opinions of others. I have no desire to be one of those zealots. In fact, I, like many other Christians, find it every bit as offensive as does Mr. Worst.