Reframing the Debate

''Gay Marriage'' ≠ Civil Rights

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We could be losing the battle for marriage. But as two U.S. congressmen explain, we can still turn this thing around. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

The first lesson in debating is, “He who frames the issue wins the debate.” It’s absolutely true, and we’ve seen it before.

Recent numbers from Gallup show that pro-life Americans are now in the majority, leading pro-choice Americans by nearly ten percentage points. This is a complete reversal from just a few years ago.

Or take the Civil Rights Movement. Some of you might remember a time when America was bitterly divided on whether to grant blacks equal rights as citizens. Today, by the grace of God and the courage of activists, this question is largely settled.

Tectonic shifts in public opinion like these take place because movements that were once in the minority successfully reframed the debate around the right questions and definitions.

Unfortunately, too many Christians who fought segregation and abortion are staying on the sidelines when it comes to defending marriage against redefinition.

But in an open letter to pastors nationwide, Congressmen Frank Wolf (a Republican) and former Congressman and U.S. Ambassador Tony Hall (a Democrat), explain that the tide of public opinion is turning away from traditional marriage, especially among the young, because advocates of “gay marriage” have reframed it as a civil right.

“Reframing the debate in this way,” write the congressmen, “is a triumph for those who seek to redefine marriage. It follows that those who dare disagree and who align themselves with the historic Judeo-Christian understanding of a God-ordained union are …intolerant, bigots or worse.”

Last month when President Obama endorsed so-called “gay marriage,” he used the Bible and civil rights to justify his position. The Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount, he said, convince him that Jesus would have supported “gay marriage,” despite the fact that Christ defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman in Mathew 19. Just as in the civil rights era, Obama says, we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

But according to many Christians who actually fought for civil rights, this is not a valid way of framing the debate. The Coalition of African-American Pastors, a national group of black clergymen, recently appealed to President Obama, urging him to reconsider his stance on “gay marriage,” and objected to his comparing it with the struggle for civil rights: “…to link [homosexuality] to the righteous cause Martin Luther King gave his life for is abominable…” they say. “There is no civil right to do what God calls wrong.”

These pastors echo the sentiment of much of the black community, which opposes same-sex “marriage” by such a wide margin that one Time Magazine columnist says that it could doom Obama’s hope for reelection.

Would public opinion continue to shift in favor of “gay marriage” if word got out that those who marched alongside Dr. King aren’t buying the “civil rights” comparison? What if we reframed the debate around the right questions?

According to Congressman Wolf and Ambassador Hall, that is exactly what needs to happen, but not just among African-Americans. Christian leaders across the board must confront the illegitimate connection between civil rights and sexual impulses and behavior.

Challenge those in your circle of influence: Is marriage really nothing more than an institution to legitimate one’s feelings, or is it about society reproducing itself and passing on values?

Look, every citizen has the right to pursue marriage with someone of the opposite sex. But does a sexual inclination to the same sex give one the right to redefine what it means to be married?

From across the political aisle, Frank Wolf and Tony Hall remind pastors and all of us that questions like these will be settled in the culture, not Congress or the courts. Come to BreakPoint.org and click on today’s commentary to read both of these letters that I’ve mentioned. Then, let’s talk about the questions we as the Church must be asking if we hope to reframe this debate.

Further Reading and Information

Letter to Pastors
Congressman Frank R. Wolf, Ambassador Tony P. Hall | ManhattanDeclaration.org | June 5, 2012

Will Black Voters Punish Obama for His Support of Gay Rights?
Toure | Time | May 9, 2012

Polls Apart
William Saletin | Slate | May 24, 2012

"Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low 41%
Lydia Saad | Gallup Politics | May 23, 2011

Black Pastors to Obama: Please Rethink Same-Sex Marriage
Religion Today |WORLD News Service | May 29, 2012

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I'm still not certain which hook he's supposed to be on.
driving mocker
Hi Gina,

I get it. If one were to say, "those who mock driving," that's not name calling. But to say "you driving mocker!" That is name calling.

"Those who mock marriage" is not name calling and "You marriage mocker" is name calling. Thank you for the clarification. Do you think the grammatical distinction takes Alan off the hook?
It wouldn't matter how sexist they were or how demeaning their description. It still wouldn't be name-calling. Now if they yelled, "You lunatic!" or something out the window at a woman driver, that would be name-calling.
women drivers
Hi Gina,

If a group of sexist men felt that women should not drive, they might refer to women drivers and "those who mock driving". While that isn't overt name calling, the use of that language is intended to mock women, not their actions. If you can think of a better word, please share.
A grammatical point from the resident English major: "Those who . . . mock marriage" isn't name-calling. Name-calling is, by definition, the directing of an insulting name at a person or group. A dependent clause describing an action taken by a person or group cannot meet that definition.
"mock marriage" lovingly
Hi John,

I think my question has been answered by Alan Terwilleger, the Colson Center president. In an email I just received, he said:

"Between threats to religious liberties and society’s mounting acceptance of those who spurn innocent life and mock marriage, I feel like we’re heading down a slippery slope that we may never be able to recover from."

Alan says that same-sex couples "mock marriage". With all due respect, I don't understand how the name calling can be considered a "loving" response.
How to respond

The letter from Wolf and Hall says:

"this apologetic for marriage must be seasoned with grace, kindness and love while also being grounded in truth."

How do you intend to accomplish that?
Muslims Defend Real Marriage?
@Henry Suh

Another unintended consequence of Obama's "evolution" on marriage is how much it has angered Muslims. Not ONE Muslim scholar has declared "gay marriage" as moral, healthy and holy:



Naturally, Muslims are coming out in force to support marriage amendments like that in Washington state.


This does raise a question: why do Muslims seems so united on the definition of marriage in contrast to Christians in the West?
Why Blacks Resent "Gay Marriage"
@M McGowan

Clearly, you have bought into the "civil rights = gay rights" lie. Here is why Black people, especially Black Christians, (Democrat, GOP, etc.) resent the comparison of a sin like "gay marriage" to our skin color.

First, many Blacks are Christians and thus agree with the Bible that (a) homosexuality is immoral and (b) marriage is one man and one woman. So, they are often baffled when a Christian of any color says otherwise. Also, unlike our White peers, Blacks have NO shame using the Bible to defend marriage. This respect for God's Word is due to how it inspired the likes of Frederick Douglas and Dr. King to fight against legalized evils like slavery and Jim Crow.

Second, Black people have never really bought the "civil rights = gay rights" lie. Homosexuals never endured Jim Crow-style oppression due to their sexual behavior much less slavery.



So, a homosexual shouting "I'm oppressed" sounds as silly to a Black person as Bill Gates complaining to a homeless man "I'm poor!"

Finally, Black people have faced the ugly, even RACIST side of "gay marriage" activists. Whether it's homosexual activists bribing spineless lawmakers to oppose a mostly Black city (Washington DC) the right to vote on marriage. Or tolerating White "gay marriage" activists hurling racial slurs or worse at Black people who disagree or even agree with them. The title of a report of one such attack says it all, ""N****** Better Not Come to West Hollywood":


Given the evidence, can you blame Black people for viewing Obama as a traitor for siding with the "gay marriage" crowd?
Why stop there?
If personal feelings and physical desires become the legitimacy for sanctioning marriage, then why not justify adult incest as grounds for matrimony? Or bestiality? Or even pedophilia? The same rationalizations can easily be repackaged and marshalled for these "causes". And they already each have advocates who undoubtedly are waiting for the chance to "test the waters". When our passions become the sole arbiter for justifying our laws and customs, then our individual self-destruction simply becomes the national norm.
Twisting the Scripture
What makes me upsetting most is the very act of twisting the scripture done by Mr. Obama for his own gain.
It was what destroyed the Garden of Eden, the twisting of the word of God by the deceiving tongue of the talking snake.
It was what the false prophet Mohammad did to destroy the Christian faith.
Now our president is doing the same thing to the Christians in the U.S.A plus whoever in the world believes him as the annointed.

It's a good thing that by his own words out of his own mouth he is proving that he is good at twisting even the scripture, which no doubt will give a wake up call crashing the dream of Mr. Obama being the annointed one.
What is Marriage?
There is no way around the fact that the bible says that marriage is between a man an a woman. This means that any attempt to redefine marriage outside of this scope, is a direct attack on Christianity and God. In other words redefining marriage is not about rights, it's about undermining God's truth. Satan is all to happy to see Christians give into the simple minded belief, "if they're in love they can marry as long as it's not sanctioned by the church." The fact of the matter (see J.D. Unwin's study from the 1930s) is that as soon as a cultures ethical and moral standards begin to decline, so does the country. Christians need to understand the battle that they are fighting and conform, not to the world, but to the word of God.
Same sex Marriage
For most Christians, marriage is between a man and a woman. My Christian position is the same. Marriage is a Christian, religious, and/or state sanctioned activity. With marriage, many benefits are provided to the two that are wed. If two men, women, or transgendered folks want to marry, let the state do it. Do not force a church or pastor marry folks that conflicts with denomination/pastor beliefs. We christians talk about homosexuality is a sin and we can't condone it. Why is homosexuality worst than any other sin. Does God place special emphasis on the type of sin, or his he unhappy with sin in general. I'm not God. It wasn't easy for me to arrive at the acceptance of gay marriage. I prayed about it, wrestled with it, studied the scriptures, read other books on the subject and came to the conclusion, I'm not going to judge. If the state wants to marry folks, let them marry whoever they want. I don't want the state to force churches and pastors to do it because it does go against what I believe the Bible says. If anyone wants to, read Mel White's thesis on gay marriage/homosexual sin and his book The Stranger at the Gate.
Same Sex Marriage
The attempt is not to "redefine" marriage, it is to expand its benefits to those who have been left out. Because there are certain "civil rights" and benefits to the institution of marriage, shutting a segment of the population out of these benefits in 2012 based upon uncertain criteria written by fallable bronze age men is a civil rights issue. Remember that these bronze age men also thought rapaish war was a great idea, killing first born children an acceptable terrorist tactic and holding other human beings in bondage and slavery God's idea. Let's get beyond the ideas of ignorant and superstitious people who thought the roar of a gas flare in the desert the word of god and deal with the human emotional pain and desires of people just like us.