Well, the battle over so-called gay marriage is over, so we conservative Christians might as well accept it and go back to our pews and worry about something else. Otherwise we’ll be seen as mean old gay-bashers, linked forever in history with the likes of George Wallace, Bull Connor, and other “villains" of civil rights history. That’s the conclusion of a disturbing USA Today article by Tom Krattenmaker, a writer who “specializ[es] in religion and public life.”
I will admit I was a bit miffed when first I read the article. Krattenmaker allows that my prison ministry is admirable. But then he puts me and the Manhattan Declaration on the side of the gay-bashers. That would come as a surprise, I suspect, to the hundreds of homosexuals I’ve ministered to in prison, or to prisoners dying of AIDS whom I’ve cradled in my arms.
But when I got beyond miffed, I realized what Krattenmaker was up to. It’s the same tactic used, I am very sad to say, by pro-gay rights advocates. And that is simply to demonize someone who disagrees with you. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it is very effective.
It’s also part of a pattern surrounding so-called gay marriage. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in the Proposition 8 case that Christian beliefs are “harmful to gays and lesbians.” Apple, Inc. said that our Manhattan Declaration was banned from its iTunes App Store because, we’re told, it could expose gays and lesbians to harm.
Krattenmaker suggests that opponents of so-called gay marriage would do well to stop, and I quote, “continue shouting the anti-gay rhetoric that rings false and mean to . . . many Americans . . . .” Excuse me. Traditional beliefs are harmful in our society? Simply holding a position that approximately half the citizens of the U.S. hold is the same as gay-bashing? Disagreeing with the homosexual lobby is homophobia and bigotry?
Secondly, who, after all, is doing the shouting? The pro-gay website that petitioned Apple to remove the Manhattan Declaration app claimed that the signers of the Manhattan Declaration are engaging in a “hate fest.” The headline of one article read, “Want to express hatred toward gay-people, there’s an app for that.” I can’t even say on the air what I’ve been called by some homosexual activists. This, by the way, was the same website that has launched a vitriolic campaign against Chik-fil-A for daring to supply sandwiches to a pro-marriage conference. So, Mr. Krattenmaker, who needs to change their tone?
You have heard me say often on BreakPoint that civil discourse is absolutely essential in a free society. Princeton Professor Robby George says that democracy is a conversation. So-called gay-marriage is a legitimate moral and political topic for debate -- for civil debate, that is. And name-calling, demonization, and intimidation are nothing but attempts to shut off the debate and to shout down the opposition. Democracy isn’t supposed to work that way.
Now let me be plain. Should marriage be reserved for one man and one woman? Yes. Is saying so publicly an act of hate? No. Will I and hundreds of thousands of others continue to press the point and to defend traditional marriage? Yes, we will. And as God gives us the strength, we will not be cowed into silence, which is exactly what the other side is trying to do.