Morality and the Gay Debate
Last week, Bryan wrote an article entitled, I’m (Kinda Sorta Yeah Not Really) Gay. As you might imagine, the post got a lot of attention: good, bad, and ugly.
There were many who offered words of affirmation and encouragement, but along with these came comments with a totally different emphasis. The most common and fundamental objection that many readers had towards the post was that “being gay isn’t wrong.” In addition, the most emotional responses went on to say that not only is being gay morally acceptable, but to condemn it as sinful is in itself wrong. And unfortunately, from here, most discussion gets a little bit confusing.
This isn’t the case because people on either side of the debate are ignorant, uninformed, or mean-hearted – despite many accusations to the contrary. Instead of debating on whether or not a particular thing is wrong with those who do not share our most basic presuppositions – regardless of whether or not that act is practicing homosexuality or anything else that could be given moral status – we should instead talk about what makes something right or wrong in the first place.
After reading hundreds of comments and a handful of responses to the post elsewhere on the web, I came to the conclusion that both sides are like ships passing by night. Each is headed in its own direction, intent on arriving at a particular moral destination. So they share that in common. There is, in one sense or another, the concept of morality. And how could one accuse anyone of doing something wrong otherwise? What isn’t shared is how or why something is wrong. In that sense, the ships seem unable to communicate with each other.
Although we are using the same words, our vocabulary isn’t as shared as it appears.
For the typical Christian, morality proceeds from scripture. For those who don’t think Scripture is anything more than an ancient text the idea of it controlling morality in a modern world is absurd – and rightly so if that’s all the Bible is. Because of this clear difference in presuppositions, communication is impeded.
I don’t have an answer to remedy this. Perhaps to begin with, those unbelievers out there – and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way – can help fill out for me what morality looks like for them. Where does it come from? What does it do? How can a group agree on morality? And I am hoping to get some comments here.
Maybe – and I use that word as optimistically as I can – once we begin to sort out some of these question, we can talk together about particular things being right or wrong.