May 13, 2012

I Hate the Culture War Too

It might surprise some of you that I don’t wake up every morning thinking about new ways I can hate on gay people.  Nor do I spend all day making signs of aborted babies.  I  also don’t check the immigration status of the person sitting next to me on the bus.  (Yes, I ride the bus and sometimes I even commute by bike, how’s that for Creation Care?)   I suspect I am like many of you.

I also hate the culture war!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just live in peace.  If we just understood that every idea and action was perfectly acceptable.   We wouldn’t have to draw lines, give labels, make moral judgments, there would not be any for or against, right or wrong, instead we could all just “be.”

I am told that all we (Conservative Christians) should “start washing feet instead of waging war.”

Or as Rachel Held Evans ranted after Amendment 1 passed in NC,

“My generation is sick of the culture wars.

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.”

The absurdity of this argument seems to escape people like Rachel Held Evans who seems to have convinced herself that she is somehow holding neutral ground. The fact is there is no neutral space here and none of us live in a world where lines are not drawn, labels applied, or judgements made.

Let me explain what I mean.  According to the American Psycological Association,

“Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations.”

Back then, very few people, religious or not,  would ever have envisioned the President of the United States saying on national television,

“we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Between 1975 and today there were lots of lines being drawn.  There was the line of “tolerance” then came the line of “acceptance,” then came the line of “affirmation,” and finally the most recent line, the coercive power of the State compels all citizens to accept and affirm same-sex marriage.

So if all those lines have been crossed, why should there be any lines at all?  How about “age of consent” laws?  How about pedophilia? How about polygamy or polyandry?

Before you say, those lines will never be crossed, you should know that there is a group of psychologists and mental health officials looking to de-stigmatize pedophilia. In an article from Fox News,

“The organization, which calls itself B4U-Act, is lobbying for changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the guideline of standards on mental health that’s put together by the American Psychiatric Association.”

“Stigmatizing and stereotyping minor-attracted people inflames the fears of minor-attracted people, mental health professionals and the public, without contributing to an understanding of minor-attracted people or the issue of child sexual abuse.”

Would Rachel Held Evans not join me in drawing a line around pedophiles?  But why there?  Because it hurts children?  Divorce hurts children too.  What about that line?  The real issue, that Rachel and others refuse to identify, is not whether we draw lines, but where we draw the lines.

Is it really the lines that are driving young people from church or is it something else?  Perhaps these younger evangelicals who are abandoning church are simply unwilling to accept the limitations that Jesus, the Bible, and the Church all put on sexual gratification.  As my colleague, Kristin Rudolph noted in a recent blog,

“According to recent statistics reported by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), 80% of unmarried Evangelicals between the ages of 18 – 29 have had sex.”

How many of these young Evangelicals are going to be offended when the church says, homosexuality is sin, sex before marriage is sin, divorce is sin, etc?  It should be of no surprise when the Church is the only institution in society saying, “no” to people’s unrestricted passions and base desires there might be some anger.

Scripture repeatedly assures us that the message of the cross, which in part calls us to self-denial, is both offensive and encouraging.  It also reminds us that we are in a battle, not only for ourselves, but for our families, churches, and ultimately the whole world.  But as St. Paul admonished, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”  So with God’s help, we fight the battle in the realm of ideas, where “arguments and pretensions” hold sway.

Ultimately, I don’t fight in the culture war because I love it, but because I am called to it.  I hate the culture war against families, against children, against fathers, against stay-at-home moms, against people who hold a high moral standard.  What is at stake is not simply personal preferences, it is humanity itself.  If that is not worth fighting for than what is?


30 Responses to I Hate the Culture War Too

  1. Timothy Robinson says:

    And I hate the culture war against gays and those that are pro-choice. Thanks, your article was just another of many that hates on gays while trying to sound “nice” about it by saying you hate the culture wars. What a tired waste of an article that’s been written a thousand times. Hate is hate, discrimination is discrimination, and it is through the very coercion of the state you speak against that is denying equal protections to gay couples.

    Oh, and P.S.: polygamy is a choice, homosexuality is not. That disproves your theory that perhaps gays haven’t even considered this angle (though it’s used in MANY articles such as this that are anti-gay.)

    • Centaur255 says:

      Does anybody else find it odd that Timothy has refused to cite the chromosome or any other factor that makes homosexuality “genetic”? Has a common tie on a particular chromosome been found for all individuals who are homosexual that specifically ties back to their sexual orientation? Short of solid proof from a scientist, Timothy, your post is nothing more than what you claim of the article: hate.

      If you truly want to disprove the article, you need to make a claim supported by evidence — blanket, unconfirmed statements only illustrate where you draw your lines, much like Ms. Evans in the article. In a way, your post purely proves the point that Mr. Moon makes in the article.

      • Lydia says:

        I’m no Rick Warren fan (I think he’s gotten too liberal!) but I recently read that he was asked (I assume, some time ago) whether he would change his mind on the morality of homosexual acts if he were convinced that the homosexual inclination is genetic. He answered “no” on the grounds that he is genetically wired to want to have sex with every beautiful woman he sees, but that doesn’t make it right.

        Good answer.

    • Bill Snyder says:

      Prove that homosexuality is innate, site the research by a non-gay that there is a gay gene. Don’t give me some Newsweek article. Site the actual work that was done by a reputable university by non-gays and I will take notice.

      • tyson says:

        Does anyone mind telling me at what age you chose to be straight? I don’t think I ever made that choice I just was.

      • “If you truly want to disprove the article, you need to make a claim supported by evidence”

        OK, that’s fair. Essential, even.

        “Site (sic) the actual work that was done by a reputable university by non-gays and I will take notice”

        OK, here’s just a small sample. There’s only hundreds dealing with humans (we can’t do many experiments on human children for obvious reasons), and thousands on animals (where we can).

        Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

        The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.

        There’s no “gay gene” any more than there’s a “breast cancer” gene. There are certain gene sequences that make the developing foetus more likely (by a few percent) to be affected by cross-sexed hormones in the womb. Similarly, there are gene sequences that lead to greater likelihood (by more than just a few percent) of developing breast cancer. But most who develop breast cancer don’t have those, and most who are at least partly attracted to the same sex don’t have the relevant sequences either.
        These two papers are about gender identity rather than sexual orientation, but you get my drift.

        A polymorphism of the CYP17 gene related to sex steroid metabolism is associated with female-to-male but not male-to-female transsexualism Bentz E, Hefler L, Kaufmann U, Huber J, Kolbus A, Tempfer C Fertility and Sterility , Volume 90 , Issue 1 , Pages 56 – 59

        Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Hare at al in Biol.Psych. Vol65, Issue 1, Pp 93-96

        One has full control of one’s actions of course, but not of one’s attractions.

        Sexual Orientation often is neither purely to one sex or the other. Neither is gender identity. That’s an inevitable consequence of the causation being anatomical. Anatomy is only *approximately* binary.

        Sexual differentiation of the human brain in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation D.Swaab & A.Garcia-Fulgaras Functional Neurology, Jan-Mar 2009:

        One person we studied had untreated male gender dysphoria (S7), took no hormones and kept his transsexual feelings under wraps. He appeared to have a large INAH3 volume – in the male range – but a female INAH3 number of neurons (68) and a female BSTc somatostatin neuron number (95). Hence, this individual’s hypothalamic characteristics were mid-way between male and female values

        Another factor is foetal hormonal environment. A mother taking female hormones such as DES in pregnancy can have catastrophic effects on an XY foetus.

        Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol(DES) in males and gender-related disorders:results from a 5-year study Scott Kerlin. Proc. International Behavioral Development Symposium July 2005

        In this study, more than 150 individuals with confirmed or suspected prenatal DES exposure reported moderate to severe feelings of gender dysphoria across the lifespan. For most, these feelings had apparently been present since early childhood. The prevalence of a significant number of self-identified male-to-female transsexuals and transgendered individuals as well as some individuals who identify as intersex, androgynous, gay or bisexual males has inspired fresh investigation of historic theories about a possible biological/endocrine basis for psychosexual development in humans, including sexual orientation, core gender identity, and sexual identity (Benjamin, 1973; Cohen-Kettenis and Gooren, 1999; Diamond, 1965, 1996; Michel et al, 2001; Swaab, 2004).

        My field is more gender identity than sexual orientation, I’m afraid, so I’m not conversant with the many studies only looking at the latter. I’m particularly interested in psychosocial sex and gender development of those people who get a “natural sex change” (usually F to M due to 5ARD or 17BHSD)

        See

        Gender change in 46,XY persons with 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency and 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency. Cohen-Kettenis PT. Arch Sex Behav. 2005 Aug;34(4):399-410.

        etc.

        I have no idea of the sexual orientation of the scientists involved, but the institutions involved are certainly reputable! Diamond I know is straight, if that helps, I know both him and his wife personally.

    • Mary Witter says:

      Christians do not hate gays, we hate the act of it . We don’t hate people who have an abortion , we hate the act of it. If you believe homosexuality isn’t a choice , then it isn’t a choice for me to be married to a man , because I am a woman …..Everything is a choice .

  2. David Safina says:

    Yes, because the future of humanity ought to consist of a bunch of ideologically oppressed puritanical authorities forcing their ancient superstitious views down the throats of the entire society? and what do you care about the future of humanity? For evangelicals humanity has no future, only people thrown into a lake of fire for eternity for not believing one thing or another about some guy 2000 years ago, and a few of the good little boys and girls get to go live in the clouds. That’s not a future, that’s a self destructive delusion. but back to my point, unlike same sex marriage, pedophilia and pederasty do not involve consent. And thanks for citing a faux news article about a minuscule group of crazy people as if there views are consistent with marriage equality concerns at all. That slippery slope evangelical argument is bogus and highly offensive to anyone with a brain and a conscience. And no, no one thinks that divorce is Good! the right to divorce is good, and the right to premarital sex is good and the right for a couple to marry regardless of their genders is good. premarital sex is not even addressed in the bible by the way….evangelicals, educate yourselves, for the sake of humanity, because we care about our future, you should too.

    btw… homosexuality is more complicated than a ‘gay gene’ or ‘homo hormones’ like being american is more complicated than being born in the borders. and the fact that you need a study proving that there is a direct, obvious, and simple cause for homosexuality by a ‘non- gay scientist’, which you still might not accept illustrates the depth of your bigotry. You can take for granted that there was a magical hippy named jesus who came back to life and flew into heaven after he took away all the reasons you have for feeling bad about the things you did that hurt people, but the fact that people naturally have an inclination toward members of the same sex is absurd and offensive for you???!
    Its obvious that biology is involved. How many people would actually choose that lifestyle if they were naturally inclined to heterosexual urges? especially with all the abuse they have to put up with from evangelical’s bullying them (many of my friends who are gay have been both verbally abused and physically assaulted by ‘good christian kids’ because of their lifestyle). Maybe you should go actually talk to a ‘gay’ without pushing your agenda and you might be surprised to find that they are people just like you, and they deserve every right to be happy.

    • Dubai McNomad says:

      Does anyone else find it ironic that you write this on a day when New York legalized the viewing of child pornograpghy?

  3. […] by Luke Moon From the Institute on Religion and Democracy […]

  4. Is there a gene for bisexuality? How about pansexual, cis, etc?

  5. Mike D'Virgilio says:

    Notice the tone of those here who hate traditional morality; they are filled with rage and hate. They are your typical bile filled secularist bullies who hate religion and anyone, especially Christians, who actually believe it. Many, probably most of these people have never met or had any meaningful conversation with a thoughtful, knowledgeable Christian, thus all we are to them is a caricature they can cudgel with their ideology. They are the enemies of liberty who will do everything in their power to silence anyone who disagrees with them. The desire many of them have to re-define marriage is really a ruse: what they really want is for society to validate their view of morality, and have society stigmatize anyone who might disagree with them. That’s why they call us bigots, because bigots are persona non grata in American society.

    And we should not fall for the line the liberal/secularist media and politicians are pushing en mass: the re-definition of marriage is inevitable; the American people are inexorably moving in the direction of that re-definition. People know an oxymoron when they see it, and two people of the same gender marrying is simply not marriage. The only reason marriage exists or has ever existed in the history of the world, and the only reason the state has an interest in it, is because the mixing of two people of the opposite gender can produce the next generation of citizens.

    Christians did not start the culture war, but we will not back away from from the continual efforts to try to destroy us.

    • tyson says:

      We (people who believe in the seperation of church and state) do not hate Christians, or even fundamentalists Christians, not all Chrisians agree with you. We are happy to let you live your moral values, we would just rather you left us alone. I would like you to live by your morals and let me live by mine as long as neither of us is hurting other people.

      • Mike D'Virgilio says:

        Tyson, Christians believe in the separation of church and state every bit as much and actually more so than secularists. If you are familiar with the founding of our country, you’ll know that it was evangelical Christians, specifically Baptists, who fought hard to separate church from state. They were the evangelicals of their day. But the founders never, ever intended for their to be a “wall” separating religious values from the public square. Such a view would have seemed absolutely absurd to them. If there was a wall it was to keep Congress from impinging on religious belief and practice.

        We are completely happy to let everyone live by their own moral values. In fact, despite the caricature you see in our media and entertainment, Christians are some of the most tolerant people you will ever encounter. The problem, if you’ll read my comment more closely, the last thing homosexual rights advocates and their allies want is to live and let live.

    • Ned Keitt-Pride says:

      “Many, probably most of these people have never met or had any meaningful conversation with a thoughtful, knowledgeable Christian, thus all we are to them is a caricature they can cudgel with their ideology.”

      “Maybe you should go actually talk to a ‘gay’ without pushing your agenda and you might be surprised to find that they are people just like you, and they deserve every right to be happy.”
      ———————————————————————————————————-

      Maybe the real issue is that people on both sides of this “war” are so firmly ensconced within their own view of the world that we can no longer think in terms of “other” but instead have chosen “enemy”.

      Maybe, just maybe, the desire of gay people to be able to marry has nothing whatsoever to do with hating Christians and trying to “destroy them” but rather comes from a desire to demonstrate love and commitment to one another.

      And maybe, just maybe, the desire of those Christians who wish to prevent gay marriage has more to do with honoring the traditions and faith which form the backbone of their lives than with hatred.

      The problem is that each side is in a position emotionally and psychologically where they CANNOT compromise without believing that they are denying an essential truth upon which they have founded their lives. We want the other party to open their hearts to us and change to suit us, and then we will be happy to accept them.

      Well that’s a bunch of crap. The only way to stop a war is to stop fighting. If both sides are going to claim “love” as their motivation, then why don’t we prove how loving we are by embracing our “enemies”? Or is the real problem that every one of us is so scared of being wrong that we’d rather rip each other apart for the sake of our comfy self-righteousness?

      • Carolyn Davis says:

        The problem with this position is that “gay people” are not abstract entities that we “fight” over. They are actual human beings who suffer as they are condemned by Christian language that sanctions violence and discrimination. So long as my Christian brothers and sisters perpetrate that violence, I intend to vocally speak against their actions and words. Against. And I will be angry when I do it. I will also be going by a principle that your group and others have used over and over again to claim that the UMC should continue active discrimination against non-heterosexual people. You say it’s our job as Christians to call people out on their sin. Well, I am calling you out on yours.

        This “culture war,” as you call it, is a fight because real people’s lives are at stake. One of the most insidious activities that the political Christian Right often successfully undertakes is the act of persuading people that this is a question of values that we can quietly and calmly voice disagreement over (so long as we keep voting to legislate conservative Evangelical values into law). This lets the Right then attribute extremism to those passionate about extending rights and dignity to all people. Nobody is telling you that you have to be gay, or get gay married, or even have gay friends. But they are telling you to leave gay people alone and let them live their lives and practice their faith.

        It is fascinating how often groups like the IRD condemn moral relativism until persons with opinions counter to their own speak out actively and aggressively against them. Suddenly, it’s all “Hey, hey, hey, guys. Let’s agree to disagree here.” Meanwhile, the IRD and others are spending their time agitating a political base towards actions that would legislate utterly irresponsible denials of human rights and protections. It’s easy to say “let’s agree to disagree” while actively working to make it illegal for people to act in ways contrary to your worldview and suffer utter disregard for their basic quality of life.

  6. Carolyn Davis says:

    We should take care not to reduce this conversation to genetics. Is the fact that skin color is “genetic” the only reason we resist racism in all its forms? If people could “choose” their race, would that make racial discrimination ok?

    Further, if I choose to engage in sexual activity with a person of the same gender, does determining that to be a genetically driven activity or a pure choice change whether it is ok for you to discriminate against me? If I am straight identified but decide to engage in sexual activity with a woman, does that affect what right I have to do what I want, consensually, with my body and with my choice of partners? If I decide to commit my life to that woman, what business is it of yours what my motivations have to do with my genetics?

    Finally, people enter relationships for a variety of reasons that have little to do with genetics–financial security, “love”, attraction, romance, compatibility, the resemblance of a partner to an influential family member, getting hammered in Vegas…we don’t ask whether we should recognize those pairings as legitimate based upon genetics. We also don’t ask whether it is necessary or appropriate for us to weigh in on them at all.

  7. Peace? says:

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  8. […] I Hate the Culture War, Too Luke Moon, Juicy Ecumenism Comments (0) […]

  9. Richard Maloney says:

    “I the scientific innovations of the past fifty years, and I *still* associated what two adults do consensually to child-rape! That’s why I fight the culture wars!”

    Seriously, what’s your alternative? Are you saying we don’t redefine marriage every fifty years or so? Are you trying to suggest that things were peachy-keen before the 1960s?

    People were having just as much sex in the 1950s as today; however, because of the tremendous social stigma involved against premarital sex, it led to more children being raised inside broken marriages (teaching children that, say, it was okay to hit your wife if you didn’t like her very much), lower identification rates of STDs (“Oh, there are only, like, THREE of them! Let’s not study them or anything, since the heathens get what they deserve!”), and the introduction of superstitious, supernatural material into scientific journals–precisely what the APA has been trying to correct since 1975.

    This is the sort of bad thinking that on which the culture wars are premised. It also leads people who might otherwise think critically to compare consensual relationships between adults to ‘man on child’ and ‘man on dog’, where no consent can be given. Furthermore, it leads those same people to quote from inherently biased sources like Fox News, which have a long history of trying to generate fake outrage due to focusing on media-seeking fringe groups with no real impact on the actual conversation (New Black Panthers, anyone?).

    It’s pretty simple: if you don’t like divorce, don’t do it; if you don’t like the gays, don’t associate with them; if you don’t like premarital sex, feel free to wait and wait until you find a virgin with whom to fumble around. Don’t get your Bronze Age beliefs in my secular law.

  10. David R. says:

    You don’t hate the culture war, you practise it. you are entitled to your opinions, you are not entitled to impose them on others, demean different values or expect our national policies to impose the culture of one group on another.

    By doing so, you and your like break the common bonds of Americans. You perfer that we are at war with each other than build better communities together. That is un American. Have some respect for your fellow Americans who happen to have SOME beliefs and values different to yours.

    • Luke Moon says:

      David, thank you for your comment.
      I think you fail to grasp the true nature of what is at stake in this “culture war.” The issue is not about whether values will be imposed, it is whose values will be imposed. Again, there is no neutral ground. If the State, whose power is coersive, recognizes SSM, it imposes THAT value on ALL the citizens of that State. This is not simply a matter of letting people love whoever they want and do whatever they want. There is no coersive power being leveraged, but we all know that is not the issue. We don’t live in a world where every idea and action is perfectly acceptable. Nor to we live in a world where we don’t draw lines, give labels, or make moral judgments. Please at least admit you also do all these things and then we can have an even better discussion.
      Also, you don’t know me so please refrain from assuming you do. I believe everyone has exceptional value, which is not in question here. That value is rooted in the fact that each person is made in the image of God. That value is not compromised by any action.
      I look forward to hearing more from you and the others who graciously commented.

  11. RustySkyWater says:

    You missed the point of Rachel’s post entirely. Her point was that by making the church an instrument of the culture war, we cause people to view the church – and Christianity as well – as just another political interest group. When so many people associate Christianity with “anti-homosexuality”, how do you think that affects how people spread the Gospel? And those of us in the church who want to be part of the church but don’t care for the politics… do you WANT to lose us as members?

    I can and do believe you when you say that you don’t wake up with the hatred of gay folk on your mind. The problem is that there are people out there who do this… and the question is: what is your response to that?

    • Luke Moon says:

      RustySky, Thanks for your comment.
      First of all let me be very clear. It is not acceptable for Christians to hate anyone, ever, regardless of what they do or even how they treat us. I know there are people out there who do that, but it is not OK. Jesus says, “love your enemy.” That is easiest to do when you don’t have enemies. But if you do, love them anyways. Rachel and I are probably on the same page there…I hope.

      The Church has always had a perception problem. The issue now happens to be “anti-homosexual” in the first century they were called “atheists” because they refused to worship the emperor. I don’t see this changing any time soon.

      The big issues of the culture war, abortion and homosexuality, are what they are because there is a struggle over how is the coercive power of the State applied on these two issues. Roe v. Wade, threw out the laws of most of the States in the US that restricted abortion. It forced those states, and the citizens of those states to accept and in some cases indirectly fund abortion. Illinois has made it illegal for a baker to refuse to bake a cake for a SSM or for adoption agencies to restrict adoption to heterosexual couples. These issues, unfortunately, have reached the point where they have become fundamentally political.

      I don’t want the church to lose members, but I want those members to understand what is at stake. There is no neutral ground, I wish there was, but there is not.

  12. Michael Currie says:

    I find it amusing that so many people are shocked, shocked I say, that there is resistance to ssm. They act as though it should be accepted as just a branding change like the change from ESSO to EXXON. Though, if truth be told, their fervor reveals just how significant they know the subject is. That marriage has been understood as one of the most significant organizing principle for societies since we were hunter gatherers and though the specifics of how it was expressed varied from culture to culture and over time central to it was and is the joining of men and women in order to continue the human family. The value that attaches to marriage is directly related to that reality which is not to say that there are not other values that attach to marriage but shorn of the first value your just dateing. ssm is a simulacra of marriage, it would presume for itself the significance that marriage has via it’s 1st value while at the same time denying it matters.

  13. […] the culture war. I’m not really much for the metaphor in the first place, but if we’re really serious about protecting marriage, life, and the Western heritage, we ought never to stretch the truth to get our way. Proceedings have already gone underway; it’s […]

  14. […] the culture war. I’m not really much for the metaphor in the first place, but if we’re really serious about protecting marriage, life, and the Western heritage, we ought never to stretch the truth to get our way. Proceedings have already gone underway; it’s […]

  15. […] the culture war. I’m not really much for the metaphor in the first place, but if we’re really serious about protecting marriage, life, and the Western heritage, we ought never to stretch the truth to get our way.    Proceedings have already gone underway; […]

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