Friday, July 17, 2015

Re: Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country

Rod Dreher’s article, “Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country” is a wordy and somewhat rambling essay on the challenges now facing Christians due to the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. He makes numerous claims and offers a variety of anecdotes. Most of them are wrong. He includes some pretty exciting language to describe marriage equality such as “radical”, “extremism”, and “revolution”. He makes reference to phrases like “inventing rights out of nothing” and “a threat to democracy”. Apparently the world is about to end.

I see gay marriage as another victory along the way towards liberty, equality, and justice for all people as imagined by our founding fathers. Our history shows how we get there: slavery was abolished, the right to vote was extended to women and African Americans, segregation was declared illegal, and today all people finally have the right to marry under the law. Still our society is not perfect, but as we continue the slow march forward, at every step of the way those like Mr. Dreher lament how “the old ways” are gone. Despite their protest we eventually look back on the social change and call it what it is: progress.

Mr. Dreher makes specific points about this most recent victory for LGBT equality that I would like to address.

1) That we are a “Post Christian Nation”.

“Post Christian Nation” sounds to me like… ALL THE CHRISTIANS ARE GONE!!! Where did they go?? Did the rapture finally happen? I still see all my friends in my social media but I suppose it is possible that none of my friends are true Christians like Mr. Dreher. I wonder if Mr. Dreher is still here. Mr. Dreher are you still here? Can you see these words? Are you going to Chick-fil-A for lunch today or did they disappear in a puff of greasy holy smoke? Are you going to pick up some art and craft supplies from Hobby Lobby or did Jesus call the fake plastic flowers and decorative trinkets up to heaven where they belong?

Sorry Mr. Dreher, but we are not a “Post Christian Nation” because we never were a “Christian Nation” in the first place. Granted, Christianity is part of our culture and history, but it was never a basis for our government. The US Constitution is the fundamental document of our government and it does not contain any reference to God, Jesus, or Christianity. In fact it specifies that our government cannot establish an official religion and at the same time guarantees the free exercise of religion. All religion, not just Christianity.

2) That “LGBT activists” will really be coming after social conservatives.

So Mr. Dreher, have you noticed how people who enjoy model trains have not been “coming after social conservatives” the way the “LGBT activists” supposedly have? Why would that be? I suppose it’s probably because social conservatives generally have nothing against equality for people who like model trains. Social conservatives, insecure as they are, somehow allow model train enthusiasts to live as they will. They are free to use old fashioned steam locomotives, modern diesel-electric engines, or both. Model train enthusiasts are equal members of society under the law with all the rights and privileges afforded by our Constitution. 

Now imagine if social conservatives also had nothing against this same equality for LGBT people. This is just a guess, but I’ll bet the “LGBT activists” would be happy to live and let live if this was the case. I’ve never heard any LGBT person say that social conservatives should not have the right to marry the person of their choice, raise their kids, and make a train layout in their basement. If we could just get the same courtesy from social conservatives towards the LGBT community, imagine what that would be like. Everyone just living as they wish under the laws of the United States of America. Nobody trying to control which pair of consenting adults can and cannot marry. What a radical concept.

3) That LGBT want to change marriage.

This one is really puzzling to me. I’m not Christian or married, so to examine this I look to my own parents. They are devout Christians who have been happily married for nearly fifty years. Probably the biggest recent change in their lives is the sale of their current house with stairs and construction of a new house that is all on one level. It seems to me that all other aspects of their marriage, and life, are pretty much the same after gay marriage.

I think what is really having an impact on my parents is gravity. They don’t like stairs any more and quite frankly I don’t blame them. My own house has plenty of stairs and I guess they are kind of a pain. I’m trying to think if gay marriage has changed the nature of the stairs in my house. Or the pull of gravity. You know, I don’t think it has. It hasn’t changed marriage, either.

4) That we (Christians) are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution.

And here again is this tired old claim of persecution of conservative Christians. They can no longer force their narrow religious opinions of marriage into the lives of fellow citizens. This somehow ruins their own marriage and makes them “victims” of the day.

I’m reminded of the behavior of a young boy at a restaurant where I recently dined. He went into a tantrum when he was denied some leftover potato chips that were offered to another person at the table. He was so blind in his persecution that he failed to notice the ample number of potato chips remaining on his own plate. The child’s tantrum stopped when I pointed to his own chips.

I wish it was that easy to stop the tantrums of conservative Christians. I’ll point out how they are still free to marry the person they love, and yet they are not happy. There is wonderful diversity of potato chips in this great nation, and we should all be free to eat the chips of our choice. And we should all be free to marry the person we love. This is not persecution. It is simply the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.

Mr. Dreher continues to babble on about “Benedictine monks living amongst cultural darkness”. He wonders how to “build resilient (Christian) communities within a condition of internal exile”. He quotes a fellow in a monastery in someplace called Nursia who declares “how far things have decayed in our aggressively secularizing world” and blah blah blah blah blah… 

He says that the dissenting Supreme Court justices who warn of “the fall of the traditional American social, political, and legal order” are not like “wild-eyed prophets wearing animal skins and shouting in the desert”. Indeed. They are not wearing animal skins.

Mr. Dreher says we live in interesting times. I say we live in a time of progress, and it is good.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent counter points to the argument against the rights of LGBT folks to marry. I would only add two things if I may.
    The right to personal freedom (e.g. marriage equality) has never included the right to discriminate (e.g. denying two consenting adults of any gender the right to marry). Yet it is the right to discriminate that is the basis of the argument against marriage equality.
    The second point has nothing to do with marriage equality at all but more to do with a point of historical fact. Free black men were granted the legal right to vote from the beginning of the 19th century. However, poll tax and severe intimidation kept them from the voting booth. After the end of the Civil War black communities started to face off with the local powers that be to claim that right and for a couple of years they almost got it. Then the Jim Crow Laws came into effect in the South once again keeping black voters from having a voice. Its a small point in an otherwise excellent retort but one I think is important to note.