Recently, after a speech defending the traditional view of marriage as being between man and woman, Ryan T. Anderson took questions from the audience on the issue. A homosexual man stood up and asked why Anderson thought it was acceptable to “discriminate” against him and his “partner” by not granting them the legal right to marry. The question was posed under the guise of the federal income tax code. The homosexual man wanted the right to file his taxes “jointly” with his “husband” and thus receive the same potential tax break as a heterosexual married couple that files jointly. (Scroll to the bottom of this article to see the video).
As a Christian, as a Pastor, and as a Logic teacher I appreciated the way Anderson answered the question. Let me explain what I mean, from all three perspectives. First of all, from the standpoint of logic.
Anderson employs two different logical tools in his argument. First he points out the potential fallacy of “special pleading” that the homosexual man is engaging in. The man wants to re-define marriage to benefit himself and his partner. Anderson asks him, if he would also like to extend marital benefits to the “throuple” (group of 3) or the “heterosexual quartet.” Or does he only want to re-define marriage to the extent that it benefits him and go no further than that? The homosexual man has no answer for this and was clearly unprepared for Anderson's line of argumentation. Of course if the homosexual had stated the obvious, that “throuples” and “quartets” are not really “marriages” then he would have also refuted his own argument. Homosexual couples are not “marriages” either. If, on the other hand, the homosexual had embraced the absurd argument Anderson was presenting and said in essence, “Sure, let's grant throuples and quartets the legal right of marriage!” Then he would have been exposed as one who basically wants to do away with marriage all together. This is the very point that Anderson fleshes out in his answer. He tells the man that it doesn't sound like he is really interested in marriage at all. But rather is interested in abolishing marriage all together.
Again, from the standpoint of logic, Anderson presents what is known as a “Reductio Ad Absurdum” (Reduction to Absurdity) argument when he asks about granting marriage rights to “throuples” and “quartets.” Actually, you could press the absurdity beyond that. What about those who desire to enter a marriage relationship with their pets? What about pedophiles who would desire a relationship with children? Truly when you seek to redefine anything in accordance with your own desires, the absurdity knows no bounds.
What is exhibited in this exchange is one man (Anderson) using simple rules of logic to prove a point; and another man (the homosexual) resorting to left-wing, talking point cliches. He continues to throw out words like “discrimination” and “civil rights” and “minority” rather than answer Anderson's counter questions. The reason for this, of course, is that he has no answer.
Anderson's conclusion and ultimate answer for the man as to why he is “discriminated” against is that he is not discriminated against at all. He should be legally allowed to marry..... a woman. Because that's what “marriage” is. The true issue at stake here, as Anderson points out, is that this man isn't really interested in marriage at all. He is interested in a homosexual, romantic relationship with another man. Call that whatever you will; but it isn't “marriage.” Because “marriage” involves two “complementary” parties. Male and female. Husband and wife. And potentially at least, father and mother. And therein lies one of the greatest arguments against so-called “gay marriage.” Regardless of one's religious views (or total lack thereof), nature itself cries out against the same-sex relationship in the complete inability, even theoretically, for two members of the same sex to reproduce. Even an atheist would be forced to admit, based on nature itself, that if homosexuality were normal, then society would soon cease to exist because no reproduction would take place.
This leads to my second reason for appreciating Anderson's argument. I appreciate it from a Christian perspective. While myriads of bizarre beliefs get pawned off as “Christian” these days; the Bible is clear on homosexuality. The fact that it is sinful in the eyes of God. The fact that it is clear evidence of human depravity. And the fact that it will lead to the Lord's judgment. The first chapter of Romans says: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:26-27 NASB) The sinfulness of homosexual behavior is clear in Scripture. Of course the sinfulness of all sexual behavior outside the context of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is clear as well. The Greek word used in the New Testament that we commonly translate as “immorality” or “sexual immorality” is the word “porneia” from whence comes the English word “pornography.” It is a term to describe sexual sin in general, both homosexual and heterosexual in nature.
As it pertains to relationships, my views are probably more accepting than many Christian ministers I know. Because of my “libertarian” political leanings I have no desire to grant the government the legal right to kick down the door of homosexuals and cart them off to prison for their sinful behavior. No more than I would wish to grant government the right to kick down the door of a man and woman living in sin and cart them off to prison. Both situations involve sin. But there is a big difference between a “sin” and a “crime.” While many Christians fail to see this nuance, it would be the height of folly to grant a secular government the power to punish spiritual sins. Some acts are BOTH sinful and illegal; as they should be. Murder and rape for example. These are both violent crimes committed against another individual. Sins between consensual adults are another matter. I have no desire to criminalize such behavior, but I have no desire for the government to endorse and “bless” such behavior either. This is really what the argument for gay marriage is. A desire to grant privilege to a couple that should not have such privileges. A desire to redefine marriage in terms of what it isn't and in essence abolishing marriage all together.
Perhaps a better position to take would be for government to get out of the marriage business all together. While this argument strikes many people as absurd when they first hear it; I think it makes more sense when one ponders on it. Have you ever wondered why you should need the government's permission to get married in the first place? When my wife and I married those many years ago, why did we have to apply for a government license? If we had a church and a pastor who recognized our union as holy in the eyes of the Lord, then what business is that of the State's anyway? Of course I know part of the answer to this is that there are certain benefits, legally speaking, to being married. Certain “tax breaks” if you will. But rather than redefining marriage, perhaps we should just abolish the income tax. Of course, THAT is not a direction the government will ever seek to go in. But re-defining marriage because it “discriminates” will most likely be done eventually.
My final reason for appreciating Ryan T. Anderson's argument is pastoral in nature. To be perfectly honest, I believe he made a complete fool out of the homosexual man who was asking the question. Or rather, I believe the man made a fool out of himself. Yet Anderson's tone was kind and courteous through the entire exchange. From a Christian perspective, I believe there needs to be more of this type of tone. Anderson was adamant about why the man was wrong. He never back-pedaled and he was very clear as to what marriage is and is not. But Anderson was never rude to the man. He commended him for asking a “fair question” then pointed out graciously why the man's position was so dreadfully wrong. He used clear laws of logic to present his case and to discount his opponent. And he did so in a kind and gracious manner. As a pastor, I appreciated that.
Let me close with some words that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB) This passage, I believe, sums up the tone of Anderson's exchange. I know nothing about Anderson's spiritual condition, and I know very little about the homosexual man who he was debating. But I do know this, everything about the homosexual man screamed confusion. He looked confused. His argument was illogical. And he had no answer when counter arguments were presented. He looked confused, but indeed it is worse than that. He is more than just confused, he is lost. Spiritually speaking, he is “dead in his trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1) But than again, according to the Bible, “we all also formerly walked according to the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2) As the passage from 2 Timothy 2 states he is “ensnared by the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” This man needs salvation. This man needs deliverance. This man needs to be born again. He doesn't need a legal right to marry. He needs new spiritual eyes to truly understand what marriage is. And he needs so much more. He needs to know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he needs the grace of God to show him this truth and change his heart. This won't come about by encouraging him to embrace his sin. Nor will it come by shouting him down and calling him names. To the contrary, we are called to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) Ryan Anderson did a good job of answering this man. My complements to him for his honesty and grace in how he handled this controversial question.