My latest at First Things…

…is now up. It’s entitled “Opposing Gay Marriage is Rational, Not Religious.” While I bolt the doors and batten down the hatches, here’s an excerpt:

Many times Christians present our arguments for the traditional family by making arguments from Scripture and speaking of “God’s design for marriage.” For instance, Billy Graham recently issued a statement in support of Chik-fil-A and its owners, the Cathy family, in which he said, “Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God’s word. I appreciate the Cathy family’s public support for God’s definition of marriage.” Dan Cathy himself said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

 

It’s no wonder, then, that the broader population thinks opposition to gay marriage is a matter of religion alone. And as such, it can be marginalized. Indeed, it must be marginalized, for our culture assumes a fundamental split between faith and reason. The roots of this split reach back to the medieval period in William of Occam’s nominalist and voluntarist theology, which conceived of God not as reason but as raw arbitrary will. Religion became regarded as irrational. And most modern Christians—whether Protestant or Catholic—accept that split, having absorbed it from the ambient culture.

Read more…

 

Posted in Blog.

2 Comments

  1. Enjoyed the article, utterly baffled by the title. You argue against a faith/reason split, and then say the argument is “rational, NOT religious”? Say again?

  2. Hi Brian. Let me clarify. A better, but longer, title, may have been, “Opposition to gay marriage in the public square ultimately must be rational, not religious, and should be argued in the public square only on the former [rational] grounds.”

    The confusion — and I think I alluded to it in the last paragraph — comes in because faith and reason overlap to a great degree. So the argument can be both — Christians have real knowledge of God, man and nature using the faculty of faith to read the data of revelation — but we can’t argue in the public square based on the data of revelation, known only by Christians, only the data of reason (reading nature), knowable by all.

    That overlap between faith and reason isn’t total, of course. Faith and reason would agree (in brief) that marriage is between a man and a woman and ordered to procreation and union and the good of society, but then the data of revelation read by faith also means for Catholic Christians that marriage is a sacrament for members of the Church which symbolizes the union of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5).

    I think, however, that the argument is hard to make precisely because the general culture has such a truncated view of reason. Put differently, many folks use the language of Immanuel Kant as warrant for Nietzschean behavior. See my next post, written by a friend responding to my essay, in which he despairs of ever getting through. We’re speaking in rational terms, but those so proud of their “reason” are worshiping their idea of the intellect instead of using it.

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