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Fallacies of Same-Sex Polemics

My friend, Rob Bowman, at the Institute for Religious Research, provides a nice analysis of the comments by Emergent church leader, Tony Jones, who recently came out in favor of same-sex marriage. Here's an excerpt:

Early in his essay, Jones manages to commit three logical fallacies in one sentence (one of which is repeated twice in the following sentence). Jones reports his mother telling him when he was just seven or eight years old (emphasis in original):

I want you to know that your father and I will still love you no matter whom you love. And you can always bring home, to our house, anyone you love.”

The first fallacy to note here is called the euphemism fallacy. It is a kind of rhetorical fallacy in which a euphemism is used in such a way as to confuse the issue. For those unfamiliar with the term, a euphemism is a more polite, circumspect, or roundabout expression for something often unmentioned in mixed company, typically having to do with bathroom functions (“visit the little girls’ room”), death (“he passed on”), or sex (“spent the night together”). There’s nothing wrong with using euphemisms, but their use as a rhetorical ploy to confuse the issue results in fallacious reasoning. Using the word love to refer to the sex act in this context does just that. Had Tony’s mother said, “…no matter with whom you choose to have sex,” or “no matter with whom you have a sexual relationship,” the meaning would have been plain but the desired rhetorical effect would have been lost. The use of the euphemism is fallacious because its purpose is to make the activity seem inoffensive and even laudable. The fallacy is ubiquitous in the abortion debate, especially when those who are “pro-choice” (Itself a euphemistic term) say that they are simply “defending a woman’s right to choose.” Who wants to oppose a woman’s right to “choose”? Likewise, who wants to reject someone because of the person he “loves”? But articulating the issue in this way confuses it. I encourage my daughter to make many choices for herself, but I do not want my daughter to “choose” to have her unborn child killed. I have “loved” plenty of women, and men, without having sexual contact or engaging in sexual activity with them.

You can read the whole thing here.

(Cross-posted on Southern Appeal and What's Wrong with the World)

Comments (6)

His mother shouldn't have said that to him. Honestly, she shouldn't. What if he brought home a girl he wasn't married to and expected them to provide joint sleeping quarters? Or what if he ditched his wife of thirty years and instantly turned around and brought home to show off to Mom and Dad the lovely young student for whom he ditched her? Parents should think before uttering saccharine to their children. This is worse than teaching him to believe in Santa Claus.

As I read this I thought about the approach to education that C. S. Lewis sets forth in The Abolition of Man. Lewis starts by talking about aesthetics and says that a waterfall caan be objectively praiseworthy. Likewise Lewis thought actions can be objectively good and evil. Lewis believed that the purpose of education was to train kinder in "ordinate affections." Part of raising a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is to train them to like what they ought to like and hate what they ought to dislike.

I'm sure Tony Jones is indeed in favor of Gay Marriage. But he goes much further. There's a difference between pro-gay marriage and believing the act of homosexual sex is a sin. Many Christians who feel govt. shouldn't play a role in defining marriage take this viewpoint, yet believe that homosexual ordination is unscriptural, as well as homosexual marriage performed by their church. I think Tony Campolo takes this position. He believes homosexual sex is a sin, but nevertheless is pro-gay marriage. Also, Greg Boyd.

From what I understand however, Tony Jones doesn't even think homosexual sex is a sin, and has tried getting around the passages in Romans. Brian McLaren, though he hasn't formally declared this yet, is probably getting close to declaring such a thing. I'm getting that idea from reading his blog. He always heartily recommends reading pro-gay bible material. I also think Rob Bell has said the the bible says nothing about homosexuality. I read that from a Ben Witherington blog.

All of these are emergent Church advocates, and unfortunately most of the youth is obsessed with the emerging church. There needs to be something to wake our youth and college age Christians up to where the Emergent Church is headed, and where some of them already are. Because students are likely to follow Rob Bell ANYWHERE. I would get sites for all this information but I'm a little lazy at the moment. Feel free to investigate for yourselves. But I'm pretty sure that what I've said these leaders are advocating is true.

Lydia is quite right: suppose Tony had brought home a married woman? One with whom he had a "love relationship"? Or any of the other slippery slope examples one could imagine?

At a fundamental level, and one not yet addressed in the comments of Mr. Bowman's piece, is the myopia which has been culturally, seductively induced. The definition of "love" in the cases we are talking about here centers around certain natural law principles. One can "love" in our sense only such a one as one to whom one has pledged himself until death and with whom one can (not may) under ideal circumstances reproduce naturally, and with whom barriers of consanguinity pose no obstacle. We have, by and large, stopped even wanting to see the truth of it because so many have for so long exercised the very fallacies Mr. Bowman pointed out.

It isn't "love" for our purpose (marriage) to intend to stay with someone until they screw up. (Or until I screw up!) It isn't love to preclude at least the openness to being blessed with children naturally produced with the other, even if life-long commitment is intended.

And I didn't even get into the issue of whether "love" as we used to define it is even a requisite for marriage. That's another subtle ploy by the Tonys of the world: define love down, then make the emotional aspect the defining characteristic of the larger issue of marriage.

Good comparison, Thomas--Raising children to be men without chests, indeed. And it's funny how truly cold-hearted these sentimentalists can be when it comes to, say, bumping off Grandma. There is nothing crueller in the end than raw sentiment.

Mark Chenoweth, you are so right about the Emergent Movement. I believe it is of the devil. Literally. And I wouldn't give Tony Campolo a pass, either. "Doesn't believe the government should be involved in marriage" is usually in no small part code for "I'm in favor of major parts of the homosexual activist agenda." And Campolo softened up the Christian youth and the church for McLaren over a period of, what, twenty years. Let's not forget who was Bill Clinton's (!) "spiritual advisor."

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