tml> Is Same-Sex Marriage Good for the Nation?
  [Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Norm Allen] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
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Is Same-Sex Marriage Good for the Nation?
Norm: I'd like to say first that I disagree with all three of those points that you raised. For one, you said if you have gay marriage you're not dealing with the pain and you're codifying, I forget exactly how you put it.

John: You are codifying a relationship that I believe does not deal with the real human pain.

Norm: OK. Well, I believe that they really are dealing with their pain if they want to get married. And I believe that they are the best ones in a position to know what their pain is and how to deal with it. And I think they would feel insulted by someone outside their community telling them how to deal with their pain. So I think that's something that needs to be left to them.

John: But outside of what community?

Norm: Outside of their community. Outside of the gay community.

John: Yeah, but are we not both human beings? Can I not learn from a homosexual person as a person? And vice versa?

Norm: Yes, but you can't talk down to that person and try to tell them what their pain is and how to deal with it.

John: How have I talked down?

Norm: Well I'm quite sure they would say you are talking down because you have just said that you know their pain.

John: I didn't say. I said "at least reasonably understood." I began with the testimony of three lesbians who sought me out. I've done it nothing but in an anecdotal capacity. I've made no statistical claims. I'm saying that this is a real pain that's been identified to me. And I recognize that pain.

Norm: But I don't know how you can deal with it. I don't know how you can tell them how to deal with that pain.

John: Well I can't.

Norm: Well what is the source of their pain?

John: I believe it's the brokenness of mother and father.

Norm: I don't think that's it at all. I think it's homophobia. I think that's the major source of their pain. [audience applause and whoops]

John: OK, let me ask you this question then real quickly. What is homophobia?

Norm: Homophobia is an abnormal fear of gay people, an abnormal fear of their lifestyle. You pretty much seem to have cottoned to it when you're talking about how you fear that it's going to undermine marriage, which is something you didn't deal with. I didn't see anything in your presentation to show me that gay marriage is going to undermine heterosexual marriage or threaten it in any way.

John: Well OK, I can answer that and then come back to my question for you about defining homophobia. I've seen many studies. I've addressed this issue a number of times. And the overwhelming majority, it's very high, ninety-five percent plus of homosexuals in domestic partnership relationships will tell the surveyors that their partnership and their desire for marriage is defined as an open marriage. It's not mutually exclusive. Now I think that's an overwhelming threat when you take marriage and bring it down. And by the way, Norm, I am just as passionately opposed to sex outside of marriage because I think it breaks human relationships.

Norm: But I don't see you protesting against that the way you do with gays.

John: But that's not our topic tonight.

Norm: It's not our topic tonight. I'm just trying to find out why there's no consistency there.

John: Oh, but there is consistency.

Norm: I don't see it, though.

John: Well, then I'll give you volume 1 of my trilogy where I argue it for 588 pages, where I hardly touch the issue of homosexuality and I touch the issue of faithful marriage over and over again.

Norm: But have you written to your congresspersons about any complaints you might have about heterosexual behavior, sex outside of marriage?

John: Oh yeah. The little bit I've done with Congress, absolutely. See, as I tried to say earlier, in my petition I said "Yes to man and woman in marriage." That's where ninety-five percent or more of my work goes to. And it's only because there is an attempt to change the laws that I am now responding to those laws. But I want to come back to the question I asked you a moment ago about homophobia. So you're saying that I'm a homophobe.

Norm: I'm not saying you're necessarily a homophobe.

John: But you said earlier I was verging on it?

Norm: I'd say you're pretty close to it. [audience laughter] I can't come out and say because I don't really know you that well. But from what I heard, and your adamant opposition to homosexuality, I'd have to say yes.

John: So, OK. If I oppose homosexuality, which I do, OK - I don't believe it's healthy, I don't believe it's consistent with God's image - if I oppose that, does that automatically make me a homophobe?

Norm: No it doesn't. But when you start…

Several voices in audience: Yes it does.

Norm: Well I…

John: We're going to have a vital Q&A session, because my question is this: if someone opposes my Christian faith where I say no to homosexuality, does that make them a Christophobe? Or does it make them a heterophobe because I'm heterosexual? You see, we have a charging of accusations. And the power of the gospel is that the Son of God, Jesus' own words, said he came not to condemn but to save. You've seen nothing in my language tonight, nor will you, that condemns. I disagree, but I treat with respect, and I said as well, I don't want one inch of greater liberty to say what I believe than I first give it to those who disagree with me. And I mean that. Anyone who knows my life, your bosses, Paul Kurtz and Ed Buckner, they know me well for many years. They know this is my lifestyle, OK? So my concern here is, if you say that if someone who disagrees with you is a homophobe, or if someone who disagrees with you is therefore dehumanized, then we have war in society. And I have no truck in that whatsoever. I've said from the beginning that those who disagree with me are equal in the sight of the law. And the only concern I have is if people ever forcibly violate life, liberty or property of other people. So I don't think that this definition of homophobia holds up. I mean, I went to the number one homosexual restaurant in Hartford to meet with the lead homosexual activist who invited me to meet him there, so that I could listen to his critique. Now, does a homophobe go and do that sort of thing? No. I don't look at a homosexual as a homosexual, never have. In fact, when I was studying at Harvard and I learned there were so many homosexual students around me, that was only because people told me. I viewed people as people, as image bearers of God.

Norm: Well what you are trying to do is make your views a matter of public policy.

John: Are you trying?

Norm: If gays want to marry, I'm not trying to interfere with their rights or your rights or anyone else's rights. What you're trying to say is they should not have the right to legally marry. And so you're interfering with their rights to pursuit of happiness.

John: OK, let me ask you this, OK? If I'm an advocate of public policy, and they're an advocate of public policy, and we disagree…

Norm: Well they're advocating for their rights. They're not advocating to take your rights away. You're advocating to say they can't do what they want to do. That's the difference.

John: But wait a minute, OK? Then shouldn't they define rights based on the history of rights in this country? And unalienable rights?

Norm: Well that's another point. Your whole notion…

John: That's a foundational point.

Norm: Well your whole notion of unalienable rights really doesn't stand up to critical examination. You say unalienable rights come from our Creator. When Jefferson was talking about the Creator he was talking about "nature's God." He was not talking about the Christian God.

John: Oh, he wasn't talking about Zeus.

Norm: No, he was not talking about the Christian…

John: He wasn't talking about Aphrodite.

Norm: He was not talking about Jesus Christ. He was not talking about Allah.

John: He wasn't talking about Jesus.

Norm: He was not talking about Jehovah.

John: He wasn't talking about Allah, he was talking about…

Norm: He was talking about "nature's God." He was a deist.

John: No he's not. He wasn't. He wasn't a deist.

Norm: He was a deist.

John: He was a rationalist. No, a deist believes that God makes the universe and steps out of the way. He wasn't a deist. Some others might have been. He was a rationalist. And he knew he was…

Norm: He was not a Christian, is my point.

John: He knew he was facing God's judgment for being a slave holder. But if you look at all the people…

Norm: He wasn't worried about the Christian God.

John: Yes he was.

Norm: No he was not. He was not a Christian.

John: If you look at…

Norm: If you look at what he wrote about the Bible…

John: But that's not what I'm saying.

Norm: That's why he's a hero among so many humanists…

John: But Norman, ...

Norm: …because he was so critical of the Bible. He was not a Christian.

John: He was at a supernatural level, not an ethical level. He was part of the committee of six men who drew up this language. He was the one with the great flourish of the pen to come up with the language. They were all theologically orthodox. They all appealed only to the Creator of Genesis 1 and 2.

Norm: No they did not.

John: Absolutely.

Norm: He appealed to "nature's God." If he meant that he wouldn't have said "nature's God." He would have said Jesus Christ. He would have said…

John: No.

Norm: …Jehovah. He would have said…

John: No.

Norm: …Yahweh. He wouldn't have said "nature's God." He made that clear.

John: He would have said "nature's God" because that's the foundational assumption of Genesis…

Norm: No it's not.

John: …and it's inclusive of all people.

Norm: That's just not the way it is.

John: It is. In fact…

Norm: That's just not the way…

John: …in fact…

Norm: He's not defined as "nature's God" in the Bible. He's defined…

John: Oh, the God of nature, absolutely. That's what's so powerful. You know, when I was talking…

Norm: I've never seen that.

John: … to Nadine Strossen at the ACLU conference, when I quoted her in volume 1, she called me back up to confirm the accuracy of the quote. And then she said, but John, I disagree with you. As if I wasn't surprised. And I said, OK, how? She said, surely there must be some other religion that has a source for unalienable rights. I said, name it. She had gone to all the scholars she could find following our forum to find that the statement I said was untrue. And she couldn't find it to be untrue.

Norm: Well the source of alienable rights…

John: Unalienable.

Norm: … is not the Bible. Unalienable.

John: Where is it?

Norm: The source of rights is the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment thinkers did far more to influence Jefferson and the others. Locke was one of his biggest, Locke was one of the men who influenced him most. He wasn't influenced…

John: Locke…

Norm: He wasn't influenced primarily by Christians. He was influenced…

John: Locke…

Norm: …by the Enlightenment.

John: Locke…

Norm: He was influenced by Greek ideals, long before Christianity.

John: Greek ideals?

Norm: Yes, Greek ideals.

John: Greek ideals allowed slavery.

Norm: Well Greek ideals weren't perfect.

John: But they're not unalienable rights, the rights…

Norm: Our country's not perfect.

John: …only of the powerful.

Norm: Our country's not perfect.

John: But we appeal…

Norm: We had slavery in this country.

John: Right, but we appeal to a source that led to the abolition of slavery.

Norm: It was not the source you're talking about.

John: Oh, it is.

Norm: No it is not.

John: There's no other source.

Norm: No.

John: Locke was rooted in unalienable rights from the Bible. He was protesting imposed church and state, and I agree with a lot of his assumptions as well. But you look at the Enlightenment, and the Enlightenment bore its fruit in the French Revolution, which was a rebellion against imposed religion - amen to that - versus the American Revolution which was freedom for religion. One led…

Norm: And freedom from religion, both. It was about having…

John: But you can't have freedom from unless you have freedom for.

Norm: You have them both. You have them both. Freedom for, and freedom from.

John: And it led to our unalienable rights. But in the French revolution it led to the guillotine. It led to the Reign of Terror. And they've struggled with that ever since, because they did not have unalienable rights. They got rid of one despot, and put other despots in place. In fact, you look at George Washington, that's the unique gift to this country, is the opposition to despotic nature. So. But to bring it back to the issue at hand. I am making an argument. You don't have to agree with it. But the argument is a positive concern for the well-being of all people, rooted in unalienable rights. I believe that same-sex marriage will undo that. OK, that being the case, do I have the same liberties to oppose their initiative as they have to oppose the status quo? Absolutely. So for you to say that I'm trying as a person to change something, no. I'm one vote. And everyone else is one vote. I want nothing more.

Norm: How would that undermine unalienable rights? I don't understand that.

John: OK. I'll turn it around with a positive question. Name me one society in all of human history that has affirmed homosexual expression that has a concept of unalienable rights or anything close.

Norm: Well I don't even know if that's even relevant, but I can name you several countries in which people practice gay rights.

John: I'm going to sources. I think it's relevant. Do you know why? Because I respect your life, your liberty and property rights. And I respect the fact that no one has the right to take them away from you. And I believe you have the same regard for me.

Norm: But why?

John: But that's why it matters. Because I believe if we ignore historical foundations, then we open up a Pandora's Box, to get a little Greek philosophy in there.

Norm: Yeah, but see, the problem is we grow up. If you're going to go back in the past, you're talking about a time when, as you pointed out, people were owning slaves. A woman didn't have the right to vote. It doesn't matter about what happened in the past. We have to get past all of that. What we're trying to do is move into the twenty-first century. So at one time…

John: But let me ask you, how can you chart the future without knowing from where you've come?

Norm: You have to know the past.

John: Right.

Norm: You have to know the past, but you shouldn't be wedded to the past to the point that you can't get above and beyond it. That's my point.

John: I am wedded to foundations that unequivocally affirm unalienable rights for all people.

Norm: Well some of those foundations were racist. Some of those foundations were sexist.

John: Oh no.

Norm: Some of those foundations were classist. So you can't just go back to foundations.

John: Not in Genesis 1 and 2. In fact, if you look at every religious origin text in history, they are…

Norm: Genesis was sexist.

John: No, they're not.

Norm: The book of Genesis chapter 3 verse 15. That's clear sexism.

John: That's the diagnosis of sin between man and woman.

Norm: It's sexism.

John: No.

Norm: No, it's sexism.

John: Again, this was my thesis in feminist ethics at Harvard, OK? Where I was in the minority. The only basis there is in every religious origin text in human history for the equality of man and woman, male and female, is Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 3:15 is what happens when they sin against each other and they start to fight against each other. And chauvinism begins exactly at that point.

Norm: No, that's absolute…

John: That's the order of sin.

Norm: The entire Bible, if you look at the Old Testament and New Testament, it's all about patriarchy. So how can you just point to one particular passage, or one particular part of the Bible way back in the beginning of Genesis and say, that's where it all started. It started from the beginning. The originals were patriarchs. The big heroes of the Bible were patriarchs. So why wouldn't their patriarchy be reflected in their ethical system? It logically follows.

John: This is a very good question. I'll try to give you a simple answer, OK? The entire Bible is understood by three doctrines in Genesis 1 through 3: creation, sin and redemption. A good order of creation with the freedom to say yes or no to God's goodness. Sin -- including patriarchal evil, chauvinistic evil, all sorts of other evils - begins when people say no to that good order of creation. And then the rest of biblical history is the contest between God's redeeming love and the reality of sin. Now, if you want a good answer to this, I'll give you a copy of my book, and at your leisure you read and you challenge me if biblically at any point this foundation doesn't hold true. It's the only religious origin text in history that gives equality to all people, of all races, of all sexes. Every other religious origin text - read the Babylonian Genesis, read the Mayan Popol Vu, read the Egyptian Book of the Dead, read the Roman-Greek mythologies - they all start with gods and goddesses beating up on each other and beating up on us. There are no unalienable rights in those sources.

Norm: Well there are no unalienable rights in your source. Not only that, but the entire Bible, cover to cover, it's clearly written by men, and it's clearly sexist. If we're going to look at for example the book of Ephesians, chapter 5, where we're told that wives are supposed to be obedient to their husbands.

John: Nope. You're wrong.


John: It doesn't say that.

Norm: It does so say that.


John: I've translated the whole Greek of it. It doesn't say that. Do you know what it says?

Norm: Well I don't know what you translated or think you translated. But I know what it says.

John: It says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21. Three verses, wives submit to your husbands. Six verses, husbands submit to your wives. And what it says is as Christ died for the church, so husbands should love their wives as their equals. Now here is the real issue, and this goes into deeper biblical language, OK? What does "submission" mean? The Greek word hupostosso means to place yourself under. Now let me ask you a question. Do you like a good backrub? [pause] OK, then we agree. [audience laughter] Now, how can you get a backrub - unless you give it to yourself, but that doesn't work too well for me - how can you get a good backrub unless you place yourself under the person giving it to you? We only place ourselves under those whom we trust. If you place yourself under someone you don't trust, violation happens. The whole predicate from Genesis on following about the power to give and submission is we submit to God because he's good. He let's us judge whether or not he is good. The whole predicate, and the equality between man and woman in Ephesians 5:21 through 33, is submit one to another as equals and as complements.

Norm: It's men are supposed to submit to God. Women are supposed to submit to God. A woman is supposed to submit to men, just as men submit to God. That's what's involved. It's all about sexism. What you're doing is just taking a certain passage and trying to turn it around.

John: No, I put this in the context of every other passage and what that passage says. As Christ died for the church, husbands love their wives. You can't get a stronger metaphor for the man, for the husband submitting.

Norm: Well there's nothing wrong with that passage. That passage is OK.

John: But you started by saying it wasn't OK.

Norm: That's the only passage you're talking about right now.

John: It's the only one you quoted.

Norm: No, I'm talking about the passage…

John: In Ephesians 5:21.

Norm: …where it says the woman is supposed to obey their husband.

John: There isn't.

Norm: It's there.

John: The only place in the entire Old and New Testament…

Norm: It's everywhere.

John: No it's not.

Norm: It's in Corinthians.

John: No it's not.

Norm: It is so in Corinthians.

John: The word "obey" is only used once. It says that Sarai obeyed her husband. You go back to Genesis, she obeyed her faith that they would have a son in their very old age.

Norm: Let's go back to Genesis 3:15, 16…

John: OK.

Norm: …where it says that Eve was cursed with pain during childbirth because she supposedly sinned, and that women are supposed to be obedient -- that wasn't the word.

John: You're right.

Norm: OK. Not the word, but still, women were supposed to serve their men forever and ever.

John: OK, since you mentioned the Bible and…

Norm: Go to that exact passage.

John: I'm going to.

Norm: What Bible is that you're using?

John: New International Version, but we can go back to the Hebrew. You know, it's interesting, this has been a fun event so far tonight because I'm the minister and I never quoted the Bible in my opening comments, but you did all over the place. So I'm grateful. OK, what you have is the man gets cursed with the sweat of his brow, the woman with pain upon childbirth, and this is how it says. To the women he says before he says to the man, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children." Then later, cursed is the ground because of man. He will have painful toil. But here is the passage you're talking about, 3:16b. "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Norm: Right. Sexism!

John: Ah. Do you know what this is?

Norm: Yes. Sexism. That's what it is. [audience laughter]

John: No. This is the diagnosis of how sexism started.

Norm: Ah, come on.

John: No, no, no. Listen. You've got to give integrity to how the text is understood.

Norm: I understand the text.

John: No you don't. In Genesis 1 and 2 it says male and female, he made them in God's image. They are equal. It says, if you eat the forbidden fruit then you will have death come into you. As soon as they eat it, he diagnoses that there is going to be war between the man and the woman. In the Hebrew this is the desire of the woman for her husband, as her desire to be one. His desire to be one is do what I say. And you know something? That is the basis for sexism. But it's the basis of human sin in rebellion to God's order of creation. [scattered audience applause] And this is the Bible's own understanding.

Norm: That's such an off-the-wall rationalization. I would never buy that.

John: Rationalization? I know you can't buy it. You'd have to change your job. The whole point is…

Norm: Because it doesn't make sense, that's why I can't buy it.

John: I'd have to change my job if I bought his argument.

  [Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Norm Allen] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
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