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May 23, 2008

A lesson in ’respectful disagreement’

Not everyone will agree with me -- in fact, I'm going to get blasted -- but all things considered, I think John McCain handled his conversation with Ellen DeGeneres about same-sex marriage pretty well.

Let's face it, it was going to be an awkward moment however he handled it. This is not an easy issue to discuss. First, you're dealing with a topic that is being sold as the big warm-and-fuzzy issue and the big civil rights issue of the day simultaneously. Second and more important, you're dealing with fellow human beings with feelings. As valid as conservatives' reasons are for not wanting to see a radical redesign of marriage enacted into U.S. law, when you come face-to-face with someone for whom this is a deeply important personal issue, there's going to be misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and often anger. Respect and understanding are paramount in any discussion of the sort.

Civil unions aside (though I do have to say that Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse does an excellent job here of offering reasons why that middle ground won't work), I think that calmly stating his "respectful disagreement," wishing her happiness, adding a touch of humor, and leaving it there was probably the best thing McCain could have done, given the nature of the conversation and the format of the show.

What do you think?

(H/T About.com)

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Katharine Eastvold

As much as I hate to admit it, you're probably right. As a political calculation, however, the timing of McCain's appearance on the show (right after the California Supreme Court's decision, and as social conservatives are trying to decide whether they can embrace his candidacy), was disastrous. Of course, he probably already had the appearance on his calendar long before the decision was handed down, and it also would have looked bad and resulted in hurt feelings had he attempted to duck out at the last minute. I guess there wasn't much of a way to win in that situation...




Name calling and disrespectful comments, are a two way street. If marriage is the foundational institution of society, why must you degrade it claiming that same-sex marriage is "being sold as the big warm-and-fuzzy issue..."? Why do you only consider John McCain's feelings? Does Ellen have no feelings? I'm thinking of a quote from the Merchant of Venice. Replace "Jew" with "lesbian".

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge! If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge!


Did you hear that Ellen and Portia are to marry at the Bush family ranch?



Regarding Dr. Morse's article, the statement:

"Any candidate who favors civil unions, is really saying that he favors the continual progress of this train toward the destination of same sex marriage, and perhaps even beyond to the ultimate radical goal of a completely non-gendered society."

falsely assigns a motivation to proponents of same-sex marriage. At risk of being banned for thread-hopping, may I ask why transgender people *are*? Why do they choose to change their gender? If the 'T' in 'GLBT' is the most radical part of the movement, why are transgender people so committed to aligning their gender presentation with their gender identity?

Morse appears to be doing her best to hide the 800 pound gorilla. Does anybody know what it is?

Gina Dalfonzo

When I referred to "human beings with feelings," I was talking about Ellen. And yes, I heard about Jenna's offer.


"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
(Luke 12:49-53)

Jenna's break from her father may be a sign of God speaking.

Regarding "human beings with feelings", I believe that in the article "Innocence Lost", you lamented over a lesbian couple moving next door to a home-schooled Christian family.

"Still, there's no way to protect them completely from the perversion of the world"

In your article, we learned how Amanda instructed her children to deal with "the girl" next door.

"The Witts continued to show hospitality to the girl and let the children play with her--as long as she did not try to persuade them that her mother's behavior was acceptable"

Christian marriage proponents know that spousal relationships have great value and require great effort, yet same-sex relationships are treated in the most crass manner. Ideas about relationship and family are degraded and reframed as as "behavior" and "lifestyle". "Human beings with feelings"? Show us. If you don't do so quickly, our children will.


You have beaten this poor horse to a lifeless pulp but accomplished nothing. What is it you expect, exactly?

The fundamental issue here is that homosexual activity is declared sinful by God as expressly prohibited in Old and New Testaments. Nothing has changed that. Liberals, gay activists, and their supporters have debated the relevant passages over and over, and lost every time. The insincerity of their position is evidenced by their general disregard for the authority of Scripture in other matters. As a political matter, the fact that homosexual practice is sinful does not inevitably mean we should actively oppose "gay" marriage, but there are many excellent arguments for doing so.

We all agree that sinners should be treated with love and compassion, mercy and forgiveness, whereas we apparently part ways regarding Jesus's concluding injunction to "go and sin no more."

No one understands fully what is going on psychologically with GLBT individuals and no one pretends there is magic bullet for treatment. By no means does that suggest we should throw in the towel and falsely embrace it as healthy or normal. Some, indeed, have achieved victory in this area and gone on to lead normal healthy lives.

The reason your repeated posts have absolutely no persuasive impact is that you are just banging your head against the wall of God's Word. The wall remains unscathed, though I might worry about your head.

If you expect to win anyone here over to your point of view, you need to address the fundamental issue. You'd only win over believers like ourselves by proving that Scripture doesn't actually say what it says, which would be a futile undertaking. So we are, and will remain, in a stalemate.

The Bible is not on your side. The science is not on your side. Meanwhile, the propaganda in the public media continues unabated and largely unchallenged, so I fully expect your side to prevail in coming years. I weep for the children who will have to grow up under increasingly bizarre arrangements imposed by narcisstic grownups. Nevertheless, as in the times of old, there will always be a faithful remnant holding fast to the truth that is not of this world.

Bruce Robertson


If scientists could prove that homosexuality was "healthy and normal" in the animal kingdom and for humans, would you reverse your perspective? I would not for the following reason.

As a man, I can tell you that my body does not seem to be constructed for "monogamy". My hormones kicked in when I was about sixteen and I was perpetually horny. My sexual desires were so great that even cartoon characters were able to inflame a burning lust within me. And is this unusual in the animal kingdom? Do not scientific studies show that males "in heat" will even fight to the death for the opportunity to mate?

And this is not the only way in which our flesh makes it difficult to stay on the straight and narrow. Make a few mistakes trying cigarettes, drugs or alcohol and you will become addicted. Once addicted, you will then have a very difficult time quitting.

Before those of you who, like me, have never become addicted to cigarettes, drugs or alcohol get too comfortable, consider what the Bible says about gluttony. When you eat too much, your body craves food in an unhealthy way and anybody who has ever gone on a prolonged diet will tell you how hard it is overcoming *that* sin of the flesh.

God's commands to live sober and pure lives without committing sins of gluttony, therefore, are all extremely difficult and go against the "healthy and normal" tendencies of our flesh. Why did God give us a flesh that was susceptible to such constant temptation? In my view, the answer is given in Romans.

In Romans, Paul tells us that the law (which we know to be good) "brings forth sin" from our members. Why would God give us a law that would "bring forth sin"? In my opinion, God did so that we might see our absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Without the good standard of the law as a reference point, we would not see that we were sinners in need of grace and forgiveness.

Now if God gave us the law to help us to see our need for Jesus Christ, might he not also give us a flesh that was susceptible to temptation that we might see our need for Jesus Christ?

Just some ideas I thought I might share.

Bruce Robertson


I totally agree with you so I'm not quite what you disagreed with....

If science proved that homosexuality was healthy, well then, it would be healthy... but still sinful. In fact it has been shown to be very unhealthy, thus confirming that obedience to God's commands are conducive to one's physical and mental well-being. It's actually pretty hard to come up with a sin that doesn't result in at least some negative personal consequences, but there could be one.

What is "normal" is a little vague in scientific terms. I had a friend who favored the simple heuristic that "normal" was anything "within two standard deviations of the mean", by which homosexuality would be deemed abnormal based on an absolute prevalence of approximately 2%. Still, it's a pretty useless designation without any moral significance. Over the span of human history, violence is normal. Loving one's enemies is abnormal as it gets. (sort of echoing your own comments).

Based on the Pauline doctrines of human depravity and original sin, if it were demonstrated that there were a genetic propensity toward sinful behavior, I would see as independent corroboration of the Scriptural position, not a challenge to it.

Bruce Robertson


I have believed for quite some time that the American church has made the serious error of using political weapons to fight spiritual battles. As a rebuke for this reliance on worldy methods, I believe that God is going to allow the Democrats to win in an unprecedented landslide this November.

The reason I mentioned my ideas concerning the sins of the flesh in my previous post, therefore, was because I do not like the idea of using what science finds to be "normal and healthy" as a way of validating/invalidating the Bible. The Bible says that homosexuality is wrong and I really don't care what science has to say about the subject.

On the other hand, I do not believe that the church should try and enforce our beliefs on those around us using the ballot box. If we want to limit/heal the damage done by homosexuality and by heterosexual promiscuity, let us use the spiritual weapons that we know are effective and not political weapons that are all but useless.

Bruce Robertson


Well, on that last post I disagree with just about everything, but it's getting pretty far off subject.

Except for one thing, and again this isn't my theory, it's a lesson from orthodox Christian theology:

God reveals Himself through special revelation (Scripture) but it is not exhaustive. He also has revealed Himself and His truth in general revelation (nature). General revelation is complementary to special revelation, and being revelation, is equally infallible and equally subject to misinterpretation.

Before Copernicus people really did believe the the sun orbited the earth. The Bible never said such a thing - in fact the tradition relied more on Ptolemy - but they thought it was implied by certain passages, mentioning the sun rising, setting, standing still, or moving backward. It took general revelation (science) to lead to a correct interpretation of special revelation (Scripture).

The word "heart" appears in the KJV 762 times and in nearly every case refers to actions and states of mind whose anatomic substrate is indisputable the human brain, not the four-chambered pump in your mediastinum. Because of science we understand its usage to be metaphorical; a straight literal interpretation of Scripture would mean that a heart transplant would actually transfer the living consciousness of donor to recipient. (Who knows, maybe Ken Hamm believes that too).

Modern science was founded by Christians from a Christian world view. We should embrace it, all the time realizing that scientISTS are just as fallen, biased, prejudiced, emotional, and easily misled as any other group.

Bruce Robertson


As an old earth progressive creationist, I do respect the findings of science. On the other hand, I believe that science has its limitations and telling us what is "healthy and normal" behavior is one of them. I don't care if black widow spiders eat their mates, eating your mate is wrong for a human being. (Though it is not specifically prohibited in the Bible.) I don't care if monkeys exhibit "healthy and normal" homosexual behavior, the Bible is clear on this subject.

For all of the benefits of sciece, it can be very susceptible to fashion. (This is especially true of science that has ramifications on a hot political topic.) For this reason, it is untrustworthy as an indicator of moral truth. When I read what you said above, it seemed as if you were saying that science could sway your opinion on the morality of behaviors prohibited in the Bible and I strongly disagree with that idea.

Because I use the Bible as my guide and not objective science, I cannot argue that everyone else should do according to my beliefs. For this reason, I think that the church should refrain from using worldly political weapons in fighting for moral truth.

I don't see how any of this is far afield from the topic, so I must conclude that I did a poor job of explaining myself. My apologies.

Bruce Robertson


Ok, we're back on the same page.

Agreed, science is "untrustworthy as an indicator of moral truth." But not totally useless. If it is a moral truth that we should take care of our physical bodies, as temples of the Holy Spirit, science (eg. medicine, physiology) provides us with specific information regarding how to care for these temples that Scripture does not.

Yea, a few nuts look at what monkeys do and exclaim "see, that's normal!" but that does not rise to the level of serious thought.

As far as "God's judgment" in your other comment - only He knows. There are a few Christians who actually believe the Dems are truer to certain Biblical principles (personally, I can't think of any - principles, that is, not people). If not, and they win, maybe it's God's judgment on the unbelievers of the country. Maybe its God's judgment on apostasy in the mainline denominations. Maybe it's God's judgment on the superficiality, pride, and laziness within the Evangelical community. Maybe it's God's judgment on the rest of the world by withdrawing the lone [occasional] defender of faith and freedom. Maybe it's just part of God's mysterious ways and He's not judging anybody.

Nobody knows the mind of God as He directs the affairs of this world. Those who publicly ascribe national disasters to gays, or abortion, or whatever, are merely exalting their own opinions, and insult God by doing so.

Bruce Robertson


I did not use the word "judge" in my message but the milder word "rebuke". If a Christian prays for a political victory and does not get it, then that Christian has been "rebuked" by God. (i.e. another way of saying that their prayer was refused) I have never gone in for the "natural disaster" as "judgment" of God because I have been ill and had calamities in my own life which I do not believe were God's judgment upon me.

Bruce Robertson


Yesterday (6/30/08), Mr Colson in his Breakpoint commentary "Defending Traditional Marriage" almost got "the point"; just barely missed it in fact. What he misses is that as a culture we have lost our bearing to such an extent that we are stymied and stammer for reasons to condemn homosexual so-called marriage and defend traditional marriage, as Senator McCain was, because of Christians' acceptance of contraception, which renders contracepting heterosexual unions equivalent to homosexual unions -- since they both defy natural law.

Mr Colson almost hits the point when he looks to Princeton professor Robert George's book and then comments that "By contrast, homosexual acts cannot be procreative [...] which means relationships integrated around them cannot be marriages." Really!?! But how can a Christian make such a claim when Christians support the use of contraception ... at all, even if only in heterosexual marriages?

If by nature the primary purpose of marriage is the begetting of children, and without this, "relationships [...] cannot be marriages." Then Christians have no room to argue against homosexual marriage as long as they support artificially contracepting against nature in their marriages. For logic leads to the conclusion that if a couple may artificially prevent the natural consequence of heterosexual unions, that is children, then there can't be anything wrong with naturally preventing children by engaging in homosexual unions which can't naturally beget children. Natural is after all better than artificial. If Christians can do it artificially then homosexuals are even better because they can contracept naturally!

With the primary purpose of marriage removed in both heterosexual unions (by the support of contraception) and homosexual unions (by nature), that only leaves the secondary purpose of marriage which is mutual aid, and the cultivating of mutual love, etc. And that is what Ellen DeGeneres basis her argument on when speaking with Senator McCain. She says "our love is the same", "we're all the same". The only reason she can say that is because the primary purpose of marriage, the purpose which makes heterosexual unions and homosexual unions different has been removed; removed by Christians themselves no less!

Christians need to wake up and realize the logical consequences of allowing contraception. The acceptance of contraception is what has led to so much of what is wrong in our society today, not just society's acceptance of homosexual unions but even abortion (the ultimate form on contraception). Before Roe v. Wade there was Griswold v. Connecticut and that paved the way.

Respectfully, wake up Christians! You're missing the point.

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