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Why Not to Gush Over Gushee’s LGBT Views

At a LGBT conference on November 8th, 2014 Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee gave a speech encouraging all Christians to become LGBT affirming . Some comments/quotes during the speech via twitter included:

  • Rarely am I surprised by keynote speakers on LGBT Christian issues. @dpgushee is impressive.
  • Current Christian teaching on lgbt sexuality are unChristlike teachings of contempt
  • The churches anti LGBTQ theology must be discredited just as the churches anti Semitic theology was.

The speech used an analogy between the mistreatment of Jews based on Scripture and mistreatment of LGBT people based on Scripture.  Let me first pick on my own position to demonstrate what makes for a valid analogy.

Argument: Marriage is for procreation.

What is the subject? Marriage. What is the point? The purpose of marriage is to produce children. So the LGBT proponent has a choice. They can reply with arguments or analogies. What is more effective? In this case, an analogy is the simplest way to respond.

Analogy: Should senior citizens be allowed to marry?

What is the subject? Senior citizen marriage.  Analogies have to be different yet strongly related to the point of an argument to be effective. What is the point? If senior citizens cannot have children yet can marry, so should same-sex couples. Is this analogy valid and effective? Yes.

It partly pains me to point out that a favorite argument of many on my side of this issue is invalid. But invalid arguments are not helping us. We need to lay them aside, on both sides, and focus on valid arguments so we all can come to truthful conclusions.

Now let’s look at Dr. Gushee’s point that to discriminate against LGBT people is similar enough to anti-Semitism that a valid analogy can be drawn. (Note: No one has a problem with justifiable discrimination – its unjustifiable discrimination that is a problem).

What biblical justification were Christians using to discriminate against Jews? Passages related to the murdering of God’s servants.

What biblical justification are Christians using to discriminate against LGBT people? Passages related to sinful sexual behavior.

Houston, we have a disanalogy. Remember what made the opening analogy valid? It related directly to the point of the argument.  Dr. Gushee’s analogy does not. Attributing sin to people for what other people did 2000 years ago is not analogous to attributing sin to peoples own actions today.  Dr. Gushee himself discriminated between what is and is not biblical sexual behavior when he said in his speech: “What is the sexual ethics standard that applies to followers of Christ? Celibacy outside of lifetime covenantal marriage, monogamous fidelity within lifetime covenantal marriage.” Biblically discriminating sexual behaviors based on ones own actions – something we can all agree on.

I am reluctant to write the following as I do not wish to offend. But Dr. Gushee did communicate in his speech that those with unChristlike teachings should be discredited. I agree and discrediting does involve stepping on some toes. Considering that Dr. Gushee is an ethics professor/scholar with advanced training and education in formal logic:

  1. If he does not know his analogy is fallacious, what does say about his ability to reason?
  2. If he does know his analogy is fallacious, what does this say him as an ethics professor?
  3. What does it say about a Christian ethics professor who calls his own decades-old position an “unchristlike teaching of contempt?”
  4. Why should one be open about how God directs them concerning LGBT issues yet Dr. Gushee “will allow no one to challenge” how God directs him? [1]
  5. What does it say that he calls for engaging the biblical text but when a leading scholar from the opposing view provides him with a chapter from his book to read he doesn’t have the time? [2]

Again, I do not write these things to intentionally offend. I am expressing these thoughts so folks who are greatly impressed with Dr. Gushee realize why others have good reasons not to be.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/04/im-an-evangelical-minister-i-now-support-the-lgbt-community-and-the-church-should-too/ (about 2/3 into the article)

[2] http://www.christianpost.com/news/david-gushees-gay-switch-biblical-scholarship-and-slanted-reporting-128817/

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