The following will likely bore most readers, as it's a family fight of sorts. Anyone who doesn't want to argue about the merits of Aunt Deb's lasagna versus those of Aunt Dorothy's is advised to move along. … and if you think Italian food is a pale excuse for the obviously superior Greek / Armenian / German / Nigerian food, this debate will be deeply uninteresting.
In the process of attacking a censorious tyrant ( a stance I entirely back Ken on), Ken wrote:
Chris Broussard is a dinosaur snarling at the oncoming asteroid. Even opposition to gay marriage is doomed in the long term.
Probably true, but "you're on the wrong side of history" was an argument-by-bigger-stick back when communism seemed to be ascendant, and it's not much better now. "May have been the losing side; still not convinced it was the wrong one." and all that.
If one cares about popularity, knowing how the mob votes is important.
If one cares about Truth, not only is the voice of the mob irrelevant, it's downright distracting.
Having a debate about Chris Boussard's beliefs might be interesting, but having a debate about how his beliefs stack up against the latest USAToday poll is not only uninteresting, it's a confusion of categories; it makes comparing apples to oranges seem like an exercise in sanity.
One heuristic I use when someone is making an argument is the presence of absence special pleading – stacking the deck, or outright removing certain cards from it and discarding them. Any politician who argues against gay marriage because it denigrates the sanctity of the sacrament – while on his second or third wife – should have his lips sewn shut before being tossed into the ocean (metaphorically, of course – I don't condone polluting oceans that way).
Conversely, if someone says something like "drugs are bad because they're addictive; I know from my own 20 year struggle with alcohol, where I rose up and fell down a dozen times", I may not be immediately convinced that we should continue the war on drugs, but I do respect the debater for putting evidence on the table, including evidence that does not flatter him and his self discipline.
So, by this heuristic, how does Broussard do?
Well he stands up for traditional Christian sexual morality – whatever you think of that – and was very clear that he considers premarital heterosexual sex to be sinful as well.
That itself is a wildly unpopular position. To use Ken's term, this isn't just snarling against the next asteroid; it's snarling against the one that already hit (and had a detrimental effect on the dinosaurs).
Broussard is not engaged in special pleading – he's declaring that 100% of the population is tempted by the category of sin he'd discussing, 99% have fallen into it, and he's explicitly leaving open the possibility that he himself is a sinner.
So far, so good. We need not be convinced by Broussard's stunning unpopular and uncontemporary stance, but we have, as yet, no reason to think that he's arguing in bad faith.
If they are angered by people like Jason Collins, Broussard and his ilk…
First, let me say that I'd like to ban the word "ilk" from debate by fair minded people. Technically, it merely means "type" or "group", but the connotation is clear – we never talk about "our wonderful mother and others of her ilk".
I cringe when I hear the word – especially from people that I agree with. Arguing for or against Obamacare / abortion / guns / pepperoni pizza is fine. Let's have a rational debate or three. But demonizing opponents shuts down the cerebellum processors and spurs the lizard hind-brain to action.
…his ilk are destined for lives of increasingly marginalized bitterness and resentment.
I didn't detect any anger or bitterness in Broussard's explanation of his beliefs. They were calm and dispassionate. Far less angry, than, say, this:
He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
Ken, and I, Broussard and 273 million Americans identify as Christians. A core theme in Christianity is the concept of the high path and the low, of God's law and the temptations of flesh, of sin and redemption. Coupled with this theme is the idea that that which is identified as sinful should be rejected. Jesus himself is quoted above berating the man who would later become the first pope.
Christians have been fighting about which fruit are forbidden and which are not since 30 AD, and will continue fighting about it until the end of time, but no matter where one draws various lines, the concept of forbidden actions is inextricable from Judeo Christian morality. Further, Christians are explicitly told to call attention to sinful behavior and correct it:
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted
Ken says that Broussard is acting with "bitterness and resentment", but it's pretty clear to me that Ken is wrong, and Broussard is acting like a good Christian.
(side note: speaking as a Christian who is deep in sin – including several mortal ones – I'll say that it's a blessing to have better Christians than myself calling my attention to my deficiencies and reminding me that attonement is a good thing that has wonderful results. I'd rather be painfully prodded to do what I know is right than lied to by a brother and told that black is white.)
Now, perhaps Ken is right that homosexual relations / heterosexual relations outside of marriage / wearing white after Labor Day / mixing dairy and meat on the same plate is not sinful and Broussard is wrong on the matter of theology.
That does not make Broussard wrong to argue his point, and argue it in public (at least, not according to Christian doctrine; I acknowledge that according to Puritan New England Neo-Anglican SWPL doctrine, he's committing one of the worst offenses possible).
Jesus did not much care about unanimity and bowing to the popular opinion.
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
I note that Ken didn't argue that Broussard's theological interpretations are wrong. He argued that they're unpopular. As someone who actively prefers to be out on the intellectual fringes than in the mainstream, I find it weird and suspiciously neurotypical that Ken considers that an insult, but no matter.
Let us look at Christian thoughts on intellectual marginalization:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Oh, horrors. Please, Ken, don't let Broussard be marginalized – tell him what he has to believe and profess aloud in order to travel the broad road and pass through the wide gate!
Last 5 posts by Clark
- An Election is Simply a Festival for the Majority! - April 11th, 2014
- Chilling Effect, Next Steps, Final Steps, Hope - March 21st, 2014
- Takei on Phelps - March 20th, 2014
- "Enter Big G's Command Center Through the Revolving Doors on K Street" - January 27th, 2014
- Cage Fight - January 24th, 2014