Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shaming the Pastor with a Same-Sex "Marriage" Argument?

A video was posted to Facebook which plays a clip of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd responding to a Christian Pastor who asked how the Prime Minister could justify his stance on Same-Sex "Marriage" while simultaneously identifying himself as a Christian. "Why", the Pastor wanted to know, "should Christians vote for [him]" when he holds values that are contrary to Christian belief. (The title of the video is "A Pastor Asks A Politician Why He Supports Gay Marriage. It Seems He Wasn't Prepared For His Reply" It can be found on YouTube quite easily.)

Prime Minister Rudd responded, first by subjecting Christian Truth to his personal subjective opinions, and then avoided answering the question altogether by throwing out "strawmen" and resorting other fallacious reasoning tactics. While some same-sex "marriage" supporters will think he made some good points (and Christians will think otherwise), I'd like to give an objective view of his arguments. Instead of discussing the Christian position on same-sex "marriage" here, I'm going to focus on the argument made by the "politician". (I'll discuss the Christian perspective another day.)

The Pastor called into question the politician's self-identification as a Christian based on Christian theology. He specifically asked why Christians should vote for this man who self-identifies as Christian, yet supports SSM. Logically, one would expect the politician to answer the question and frame it within his Christian beliefs..."As a Christian, my faith teaches...". But the politician did not address Christian theology.  Instead he introduced a superficially similar topic (a "strawman") and argued that, along with a non-sequitur.

For example, he begins at Christian theology by pointing out that he came to his decision based on his "informed Christian conscience". Had he left it at that, his argument would be logically consistent, though he would then have to define, as a Christian, what a "well formed conscience" is per his particular Christian group's beliefs. While he would ultimately be wrong in his position (since Christian theology is incompatible with same-sex conjugal unions), he at least would have made a logically consistent point that stayed within the topic and would have allowed for the audience to draw their own conclusions as to whether he is right or wrong.

But, he did not do this.  Instead, he left his point on his "informed Christian conscience" up to subjective reasoning, dismissed the pastor's question, and went on to build up a strawman argument, which he then defeated, giving the impression that he had given a strong and reasoned answer to the Pastor's question. Here's what I mean:

He introduced his first strawman by arguing whether or not people are "born gay", which no scientific studies have demonstrated, so I'm not sure where he got his information.  He said that if it was natural/normal, then there is no reason to deny marriage to same-sex couples. But, there is no conclusive evidence that such is normal in the first place. AND, more to the point, it has nothing to do with whether he should attain the Christian vote, because Christianity is not based on what is considered "normal" in the human perspective, but rather, is focused on the Divine...on God's perspective. Instead of arguing what the Christian perspective/teaching is and whether he conforms to it, he side-steps that and introduces this "strawman". Winning the emotional sense of his audience on the perceived desire to fight for the rights of "normal" people, he defeats this strawman argument with ease. However, he has done nothing at all to answer the pastor as to why a Christian should vote for someone who holds views which are contradictory to Christianity.

Then he throws in a non-sequitur, which doubles here as a red-herring - slavery. He states that if we go by the Bible [to say that homosexuality is not normal], then we have to go by the Bible which says [allegedly] that slavery was normal. It's a red-herring because it draws the focus off the initial topic and casts a known hot-point into the mix. This gains him the emotional support of the audience who, obviously, is against slavery (as is the pastor, no doubt). It acts as a strawman in that, having defeated his "opponent" on the horrible issue of slavery, he is perceived to have refuted his opponent's position on human rights in general. And it's a non-sequitur because, regardless of what the Bible says (or doesn't say) about slavery, it does not follow that therefore homosexual carnal unions are okay within Christianity. His point here is invalid on several fronts. Not only does it not follow that, because "slavery" has been considered normal, that therefore homosexuality also should be, but we don't even know the definition of slavery being refuted here. He said that "the Bible says slavery is a natural condition". Yet, he neither provides the context for his claim, nor the citation, nor does he stick with the Biblical definition of slavery that the Jews understood at the time the Scriptures were recorded. "Slavery" back then did not mean the same thing it would mean 2,000-4,000 years down the road when we fought forced slavery in America. But that's not even the main point. The main point is, he has yet to stay on topic and defend his position of saying he is Christian, yet rejecting Chrisitan doctrine and expecting the Christian vote.

Prime Minister Rudd's whole argument was based on logical fallacies. While on the surface it seems the pastor was not ready for what the politician has to say, a deeper look shows that, clearly, the politician was not ready to give a logical defense for his position, he was not ready for what the Pastor asked. But what concerns me more is this: If he relies on the ignorance of his audience and dodges the issues BEFORE he is elected...what's he gonna do in office?  And there is yet an even more troubling issue here.  This man is claiming Christ...he is a Christian.  Yet, here he is attempting to pit the Word of God against none other than...the Word of God!  You see, everyone knows that slavery, as we understand it in the modern era, is a criminal injustice.  This Prime Minister, however, has painted a wrong picture of Scripture by misrepresenting the position on slavery within the Biblical Texts, and then uses that to basically say that we need to reject the Word of God since it has a supposed faulty position on slavery.  "If the Bible says [homosexuality is NOT normal], then we have to accept slavery as normal".  This position of his carries the explicit stance that he believes homosexuality to be NORMAL, which he has just implied the Bible is against, and therefore we need to understand that the Bible is WRONG [per his view].  Now, coming from an atheist, I'd expect a statement like that.  But remember the original context of the question he was asked, and how his supporters have portrayed him (as a Christian that supports SSM).  The final answer that the discerning Christian should walk away from is this:

The question:  "Why should you get the Christian vote even though your views are contrary to Christian values?"

Prime Minister's "Christian" answer:  "Because the Bible is wrong."

I am reminded of a particular passage here:  "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Is 5:20)

8 comments:

  1. Great analysis of the facile argument made by Rudd. Thank you! I stumbled across your blog while researching for my own post on this topic, and "googling" for a transcript, because watching the video multiple times in order to get quotes right is getting painful.

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    1. I got lucky...my computer was on the fritz and kept auto-pausing the video. So, I had plenty time to jot down notes and used those. I hope can find the transcript. On Catholic Answers, there is a member named "josh987654321" who replied in my thread with some detailed quotes. Maybe he was able to find it?

      Anyway, thanks so much for the positive review. :) If anything I wrote is helpful to you, feel free to use it.

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    2. Link to the thread:

      http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=820811

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    3. Thank you. I did write on it, but my blogsite is in the infancy stages so I have kept it private while I attempt to figure out what the heck I'm doing -- all the categories and tags, widgets and hidden HTML stuff are Greek to me. I will send you the link soon,hopefully, but in the meantime, it's rather heartening to know that Rudd lost.

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    4. Haha! I know what you mean about a blog in infancy. I still don't know what half the buttons and "add-ons" are for or how to use them. I try to keep it simple. ;)
      Yes, I would love to read your post when you get it available. Thanks!

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    5. Ok -- I think this is the link to the blog post:
      http://chickcurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/125/
      Let me know if that works. Incidentally, I never did find a transcript, so I had to keep starting and stopping the darn video over and over again.

      Thanks again, lesjimboys

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    6. It worked...and a VERY well written article, by the way. While your blog may be in its infancy...you writing sure isn't!

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    7. Thank you so much -- I really appreciate the kind words -- I did labor over it a bit. It was hard to know where to start . . . so much seemed wrong about the whole thing.

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