Does 1 Corinthians 13 mean what McCaskill thinks it means? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Recently, Senator McCaskill of Missouri came out in support of redefining marriage. Her entry on the topic on Tumblr can be found here. I’d like to look at her entry today and ask the question of it if it works or not.
At the start, the passage is about 1 Cor. 13. I have an interest in this having done a sermon on it that can be found here. In looking at this entry of McCaskill, I find no attempt whatsoever to engage with the text and see what Paul meant. The impression I am getting is as if a bone has been tossed out to those who are religious with an implication that our own Scriptures teach this, but there is no argument for it.
“The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. ”
But what is the question? Is the question “Do we want to treat people unequally?” I do not think people are advocating that. If two things are equal, we should treat them equally. We support equality, but not all claimants are equal. We don’t allow children to marry, for instance. We don’t allow polygamists to marry. This is not a slippery slope argument. What we are saying is that if you want marriage to be redefined, it needs to be done in such a way to allow the group you want and exclude the ones you don’t. I have not seen this done yet.
“Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values. ”
The loaded language is great at this point. The religious people who believe in traditional marriage are the ones who just want to exclude. Fortunately, there are some who are also of strong religious faith who are “open” and think that we “should not limit” but favor “all Americans” and want them to “fully participate in the most basic of family values.”
It never seems to occur to McCaskill that family values are a reason for opposing redefining marriage. To redefine marriage is to redefine the family. It is also not the value of honoring marriage for the sake of marriage. It is about the purpose of marriage. Can the ultimate purpose of marriage be achieved in the new union even if not everyone participates in it?
“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love.”
The problem here is that we in America do marry based on who we love, but all over the world, this is not why people marry. Arranged marriages are still quite common. It is just that it happens that the person we love often fits into the overall scheme of what marriage is. Being in love with someone is not a reason why the government should allow you to marry. If I love a small child, I cannot marry them. If I love my sister, I cannot marry them. If I love two women, I cannot marry them. The government looks at those and says “We don’t care if you love them. It’s not marriage.”
“While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry. ”
With the first part, we may not have to conduct marriages, but will we have to recognize them? For instance, even if you disagree, my Scriptures teach me that participating in homosexual behavior is sin and to have that as a lifestyle is to be “living in sin.” Of course, we all have sins we struggle with, but in those cases, we are to be seeking to free ourselves from them.
So when a homosexual couple comes to the church, do I have to grant them church membership? Do I have to accept them for baptism? Do I have to grant them Communion? When we have photos of church members, do I have to treat them as a couple? These are hard questions.
Of course, they are welcome to attend, but the church by and large is to expect holiness from its members and living a lifestyle that goes against what we believe in is not holy. Could I have a case brought against me then for discrimination just because I am living my religion?
The second part of McCaskill’s saying leads to the suicide approach. If the government should not tell who we have a right to marry, then I suspect McCaskill should be against this going to the Supreme Court. Why should the government recognize a marriage if it can’t have any standards on marriage? Why should it be something we vote on if government is not to tell who we can marry? McCaskill can’t have it both ways.
“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”
This sounds persuasive to several people, but to see if the argument works, you just have to put in another group instead.
“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my incestuous friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for incestuous couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”
“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my polygamous friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for polygamous families is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”
The bottom line in this is it looks like McCaskill has emotional issues when confronting others so to avoid her discomfort, the law of the land needs to be changed. The law of the land frankly should not care about her discomfort or mine. It should care about what is good and right and true.
McCaskill does not give a rational argument here. She gives an emotional one. An appeal to emotions is not always wrong, but it is when it is done without an argument to back it. McCaskill does not give any new evidences to support her position. She does not interact with those who disagree with her. She does not state anything about the purpose of marriage, or the raising of children.
That last point is important. We are making marriage about the people getting married. The people getting married have reason to celebrate, but the institution does not exist just to make people happy and feel good about themselves. Several other things can do that. Marriage does often and should do those things, but that is not why it exists.
“Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”
Frankly Senator, I don’t know why your children should be seen as the authorities on public policy. I am sure some children didn’t have a problem with slavery. I am sure some children have a problem with abortion. In fact, we educate people so they will not have the understanding of children.
You can say history will agree, but so what? Future people will side with you does not mean that future people are right. If the position is an unchangeable moral truth, then it will be true or false in the future just as much as it is today. Also, history has made wrong decisions. All over the world today, world leaders are making wrong decisions that will impact their people for years. Some decisions seem good at the time and have disastrous effects. We cannot appeal to unknown future without warrant. We can make warnings however if we have parallels.
In this case, we do. When no-fault divorce was a debate, we were told it would not harm children in any way. Children would adapt. This was expert testimony. Now we know that we were wrong. What if we make that same mistake again? The question to ask is “Is it worth the risk?” If so, why?
I hope the Senator will give us an argument next time. We have much here in the way of rhetoric, but naught in the way of argumentation. I would hope someone in charge of the laws of the land would base their arguments on more than emotion.
Another excellent response on an excellent blog can be found here.