Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jack Phillips, Rainbow Cultism, and Culture

If you're seeking arguments against LGBT Fundamentalism, some of my ideas may help. I’ve been fighting this fight for years.

I’m a Christian, deeply opposed to most of the “progress” made by the LGBT movement since 2010. I have gay friends I love and admire, but the movement that claims to represent them--no. If I oppose what I call “Rainbow Cultism”, then, seeing it as a kind of cultural cancer, this is not because I think individual gays or lesbians themselves are a cancer. Far from it. What I oppose in fact are developments in the LGBT movement as a whole, and most especially three things:

1) the attempt by the LGBT movement to censor or punish orthodox religious people for not “evolving” as regards their views of marriage (NOTE: We will not be evolving. Sorry);

2) the LGBT movement’s shift from basic civil rights for gays and lesbians toward the whole sick panoply that is the “trans” movement or the “gender identity” movement;

3) the LGBT movement’s bizarre assumption that it has a mandate to teach Americans as a whole the meaning of sex and gender.

To be clear, as a person who believes in pluralism, I support the right to love whom you want; the right to speak what you believe; the right, in this case, not to be fired or harassed for identifying as gay, etc. I’m an old-school American as regards what is tolerable in a free society. My strong opposition to the LGBT movement derives in part from what I now see: that movement increasingly stepping on the rights of other Americans who do not accept its ever-shoddier ideological dictates. In a free society, people can choose their path in life, but cannot force others to affirm that path. The LGBT movement no longer gets this.

I hope the following dialogue is helpful for those who see the serious problems I see. It came about in the context of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case in the Supreme Court, in which the court ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips (which was clearly the right ruling) but unfortunately declined to clarify certain key questions that, in my view, it should have. Our Supreme Court, though ruling for Jack, kicked the can down the road on the issue of free expression. This is unfortunate.

Though Christian myself, I find it more useful when arguing these issues with secular liberals to cite facts that are more world-historical in nature. Christians who want to defend the Christian understanding of marriage in face of criticism from secular liberals cannot expect to make headway by quoting the Bible. They need a wider historical perspective. The fact is: Our understanding of marriage as Christians has certain fundamentals in common with the understanding of marriage across cultures and religions on every continent. Knowing how to use this wider human picture is essential in weakening the LGBT argument that one we only opposes same-sex marriage because of some "narrow Christian bigotry". Looked at in historical context, it is not in fact our thinking on marriage that is eccentric or narrow, but rather that of the secular liberals.

The dialogue started when a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook as his general takeaway from the Supreme Court decision. I don't find his point all that interesting. The thread, however, allowed me to present, more concisely than usual, my own thinking on the Rainbow Cultism we Americans have been subjected to for at least a decade now. And so I’m posting it here.

Eric Mader

STEVE posts: Let me summarize the issue of refusing service, from a Supreme Court point of view. No shoes, no shirt, no service. A-OK! I refuse to serve you. A-OK! I refuse to serve you because __________ . Anything after the word "because" is subject to laws. Some answers are OK. Some are illegal. This is the complicated nature of our society. Grow up and deal with it.

ERIC: Among the people you know, Steve, who needs to “grow up and deal with it”? I’m guessing you mean, in this Masterpiece Cakeshop context, that we religious people need to grow up. Of course I see all this differently. In my view, it all depends on the nature of the service. If the service involves creative or custom work, and that creative work offends the provider’s deeply held beliefs, then the provider should be able to opt out. Period. Otherwise, no.

And this is why, yes, I would also say it’s "complicated". The problem with liberals is, when it comes to their precious LGBT crowd, they think nothing can be complicated--that "bigots" just must say Yes to everything, or they deserve to be punished. This has become clear as day, and we traditionalists will no longer accept it.

When a few years back a bakery in Colorado (yes, the same state!) refused to bake a custom cake with Bible verses on it, and the customer reported religious discrimination, did Colorado authorities sanction the baker, enroll him in forced “diversity” classes, demand monthly reports back on his progress in understanding civil rights? In fact--surprise!--the Colorado authorities recognized the right of the baker to refuse. On grounds of conscience. They said the bakery had the right to refuse to do work if they disagreed with the message.

But things are very different when we have our precious little gays being offended. Jack Phillips was subject to the full weight of state sanction. It's a glaring double standard, and it can't stand. Because, again, it's complicated; and it is so because we’re dealing here with freedom of conscience and balancing rights. On this front it’s our arrogant liberals who need to grow up. And the Supreme Court needs to get it right. Which they so far did in only half measure.

Myself, btw, I see no problem with allowing a committed atheist designer to refuse to do design work for a religious organization. As I of course see no problem with the reverse. I support liberty in creative work. Period. The main reason the left does not, in these recent cases, is because, again, they have to see their poor little gays always get their way on everything. It’s become unbalanced, un-American.

STEVE: Actually, on this one, Eric, in terms of your main arguments, we more or less agree. I do however think there are “conservatives” that need to grow up, as well as “liberals” that need to grow up.

DAVE L.: What would be great would be if the bigots could just post signs at their places of business, so the rest of us would know which businesses to avoid. Personally, I think discriminating against anyone who offers to pay you for services, is simply bad business. But if you're going to be an asshole toward your fellow human beings, don't cry about it when the rest of us boycott you and put you out of business.

ERIC: The point, Dave, is that "bigot" has become a hollow term. It used to be pretty clear who bigots were--people filled with a visceral hatred of X group--but now the term is used to apply to anyone who maintains some religious or philosophical refusal to ascribe to any of a long list of recently minted liberal platitudes, even if, like Jack Phillips, their refusal to conform is entirely civil. Thus: Some people believe that two women can marry each other. Others, on the basis of a massive, universal human background of belief and practice, believe that, no, marriage is only between man and woman, by definition. The latter are supposedly bigots. But one could just as easily define the former, who get nearly apoplectic in the face of the latter’s belief, as bigots. It's the "marriage equality" people who are ruining careers, who are out to shut down and censor those who disagree with them.

Resentment can be seen coming from either side on this issue, and on others too (cf. immigration) and there's no objective, scientific litmus test to prove who is right. In short, 1) everyone is a bigot and thus 2) the word loses its meaning. Only those who manage to think current liberal ideology is transparently true (i.e. dumbbells with no historical or anthropological depth) think the term is unproblematic.

There should be nothing wrong with standing by one's principles. If one has strong beliefs in one or another direction on any of these questions, and if one has any principles, one isn't going to want one's creative work used to celebrate what offends. And rightly so.

Anyone who wants to refuse to do work for a cause he/she doesn't believe in is, according to you, an asshole. I don't see it that way. Though I do happen to think you are being an asshole here--an asshole operating, as is usually the case, on craven, shallow principles about what is good in humanity. For instance, you seem to think that business, the mere process of bringing in money no matter from whom, is a ”good" to which all else should take second place.

[Follows some rather ad hominem nastiness between myself and Dave L., which I don’t find interesting enough to include.]

JIM R.: Opposition to same sex marriage comes from a massive and universal human background and practice?! In fact, opposition is based almost universally on religious dogma and ignorance. [Jim includes a link, which I won’t include here. You can look it up if you want:]

ERIC: You’re flat wrong, Jim, sorry to say, and it's a direct result of being almost astoundingly myopic in historical scope. Across all continents, for the millennia of recorded history, marriage customs varied enormously, but two things remained virtually universal: 1) marriage was only between male and female; 2) marriage was linked to the legitimation and raising of children. To list the cultural groupings whose understanding of marriage met these two criteria would produce literally hundreds of entries. These criteria even held for many cultures, such as the ancient Athenians, that accepted homosexual love. They never mixed up homosexual love with marriage. Why not, do you think? Because they were “bigots”?

Against this massive historical record, you can count on one hand the pre-1990s cultures that recognized any sort of same-sex unions as marriage--you can count them on a hand missing a couple fingers in fact. Sorry to say, but the very fact that you refuse to accept this "massive and universal human background" and then in the next phrase refer to "religious dogma" as a basis for opposition to same-sex marriage demonstrates how shallow your historical perspective is. Note: Before the 18th c. West, no culture had ever even theorized a clear distinction between secular and religious. The facts are overwhelming: If we look at the total human record and ask "Is marriage only between male and female or is it also, sometimes, same-sex?" the answer we get is literally 99.8% in favor of the former. What's more, still today the large majority of the world's population lives in countries that don't recognize same-sex marriage. But yes, I know: You and many other Westerners, with your HuffPost links, you are liberals, and because you take your liberalism too deeply, you assume for your own relatively young culture a universality that it does not, in my view, actually have. Like many other Americans, you're liable think these other nations and their deep cultural roots are just "ignorant" or prey to "religious dogma". Myself I see something very different. I'd say that most of us Western liberals are prey to our own "religious" sort of dogma, and a narrow dogma it's turning out to be.

Thus: One may try to argue for same-sex marriage on civil rights grounds, given current social conditions in Western societies, but to argue for it on any anthropological or historical grounds can only be a massive fail. Because it is not just "conservative American Christians" that beg to differ with liberals on same-sex marriage. No, it is the whole of human cultural history: Buddhists, animists, Maya, Hittites, Javanese, Confucians, Zulus, Celts, etc., etc. And me with them.

You seem to be friends with D.A. Nice to meet you, Jim.

JIM R.: Civilized societies have also accepted the practice of slavery for longer than they haven't. Does the length of time it was an acceptable practice make it morally on par with those who think it isn't? Are those who oppose it just ignorant of its tradition and history? If something is universally accepted for a certain period of time, can it ever change or do we continue to accept it because that's how it's been for so long?

Nice to meet you too, Eric. I enjoy the dialogue.

ERIC: Yes, mentioning slavery is one way of parrying, though I don't think it's all that persuasive. Those who see marriage as a social institution fundamentally about 1) the biological male/female divide in humanity and 2) the biological facts of where children come from and who should be responsible for those children aren't arbitrarily oppressing people. They're merely sticking to biological grounds. Slavery is quite different, don't you think, or do you suppose slavery had some identifiable biological ground?

We might use your kind of argument in the following way. See if you think it holds water.

1) Motherhood is a fundamental human good.

2) Thus everyone should have the right to be a mother.

So far no problem, right? But what if we take the next step and argue, from the mere fact that motherhood exists, that:

3) Everyone should have the right to be a mother, including men.

Now we have a problem. We are offending against biology and the meaning of motherhood. The fact that some men might desire to be mothers is to me irrelevant. My answer would be: "Tough luck, Dave. Find something else." And I wouldn't feel in the least guilty about giving that answer either.

So to get back to your allusion to "slavery", the way you used it, you might pop in here and say: "Just because only women were mothers in the past doesn't mean we have to restrict motherhood to women in the present. I mean, we also practiced slavery for much of human history. Does that make it right?"

I'd say you were wrong using this kind of argument. I'd say you were mixing fundamentally different phenomena, trying to pass off apples as oranges. Or rather, in this case, plastic apples as oranges.

Why do I lay this out like this? Because in my view this argument for a man's "right" to motherhood is a sleight of hand similar to the arguments for same-sex marriage. They both misconstrue the concept of rights and offend against the meaning of words. And note that my raising this motherhood argument isn't a fanciful slippery slope either--because, voila, following "marriage equality" like Tuesday follows Monday we see just this these arguments appearing. In both cases, we have a rebellion against the meaning of human fundamentals and an assault on language itself.

I think we shouldn't have started on this path to begin with, and I say path because the whole LGBT movement is proving itself to be just that--a path, with same-sex marriage as the major mistaken point of departure for the whole trek. Note how the path keeps extending with the continuous addition of letters: it was LGBT, then LGBTQ, now it's LGBTQIA. I even saw something about how a K was being added. For what? Sex with Kindergarteners? Kangaroos? I don't know and I don't much care. These days, if it has a rainbow flag on it, I'm nine times out of ten going to be opposed. This Rainbow cult is proving destructive on so many fronts. It is unsustainable, glaringly so. Though they preen themselves on their intellectual sophistication, I predict it's going to be Western liberals who are proven "ignorant" in the long run. Too many of us in the West have come to believe that liberal egalitarianism is a Get Out of Jail Free Card for all things, even for nature itself.

In any case, I hope you at least recognize that my initial mention of a "massive and universal human background" on marriage is in fact very tangible.

Cheers. I also enjoy the dialogue.

MARY S.: The important distinction is whether the traits the business owner objects to are immutable or not. So it’s ok to refuse to serve white supremacists, barefoot people, people who are drunk and disorderly, etc. It’s illegal to refuse to serve disabled people, racial minorities, women, LGBT people, etc. because they can’t change those facts about themselves.

ERIC: I do think your distinction is an important one, Mary, though I also think it is a mistake on various grounds to claim that LGBT people possess a trait or traits that are immutable in the same sense that, say, sex or race is. This is especially true in the case of the new warped ideology of "gender identity" as opposed to sex. The degree to which sexual orientation or gender identity is innate vs. acquired is still an open one. Is that true of race or sex? Obviously not. What's more, LGBT is, unlike race, defined more by behavior than by any discernible physical trait. So all in all, I'd say that while your distinction is important, your easy inclusion of the LGBT spectrum within the "innate" side is off-base. You may also have something to say on my arguments above with Jim R.

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MORE COWBELL: Here's some perspective from what seems to me a pretty middle-of-the-road, reasonable Canadian woman. Worth watching:


Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

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