Clay Farris Naff asked in the Huffington Post last week, Do We Really Want America to Be a Christian Iran? It only takes a moment’s reflection on that question to realize Naff’s sense of proportion (like Tavis Smiley’s) is tilted. Many of his “facts” and his arguments are too. It’s about the Manhattan Declaration, from which he quotes,
No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality — a covenantal union of husband and wife — that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow. First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized...
What a pantload! This has all the moral suasion of a claim that to salve the conscience of Seventh Day Adventists we should outlaw donating blood.
To which my first response was, Wow. I won’t respond with the same scatology, because it’s not civil—-not that his claim here doesn’t reek of stinky thinking. The rest of the article is likewise distorted, but I’ll let this snippet be representative of the whole.
First, he could hardly be more wrong about the Adventists. A family friend or ours received a kidney transplant at Loma Linda Medical Center, an Adventist hospital. But that’s hardly the half of it. If they were willing to try a (well-publicized) baboon-to-human transplant, it’s not likely they would have much problem with blood transfusions. In fact, “Adventists embrace all ethical medical treatments including blood transfusions.” Maybe Naff was thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult whose views both Adventists and I roundly reject.
Second, and more substantively, this is not about “salving consciences.” Salving is for those who feel guilty. We who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, and others who have taken a stand for marriage, are not dealing with feelings of guilt. We’re responding to social and legal attacks on a God-ordained institution. Naff’s thinking on this is sloppier than his fact-finding on Adventists.
But Naff’s most egregious distortion (at least in this snippet) is the parallel he tries to draw between outlawing gay “marriage” and outlawing blood transfusions. To put an end to blood donations would take an aggressive legal and public relations campaign, to change existing laws and practices. Where’s the parallel? Are Christians doing anything remotely like that?
No, not Christians. Here we see the magnificently mixed-up success of the gay rights PR machine. They’ve maneuvered the public into believing we’re making some kind of assault on gay marriage. We’re doing no such thing. We couldn’t; it would be strictly impossible for us to do that. You see, “marriage” in same-sex context really belongs in quotes. Marriage is “a covenantal union of husband and wife.” There is no such thing as gay marriage. There never was. There’s nothing there for us to campaign against.
Really, Tom? Then why all the fuss? Why write it into this Declaration? Here’s why: a legal and social assault has indeed been launched. But we didn’t launch it: they did. They’re the ones campaigning to overturn historic laws, customs, and morality. They speak as if we’re the aggressors, when in reality they are. We’ve had to take up a defensive position, to protect an institution as old as recorded history. We didn’t pick this fight, the other side did.
Let me re-emphasize: there are those in Western culture who have mounted an offensive. It’s not the Christians who have taken the aggressive stance, though; it is the gay rights activists.
It pays to stay aware of what’s really going on. Regardless of what some PR machine may be trying to sell you.
Cross-posted from Thinking Christian
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?