Apologist Frank Turek writes in an op-ed for The Christian Post that marriage equality is “stealing rights from God.” Wrap your head around that idea: stealing from God. Can you steal from God? An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being, who could, if he is what is claimed, quash you with a thought?
Turek next asks whether marriage equality is really a right.
Is same-sex marriage really a “right”? If so, by what standard is it a right? Who said and by what authority?
Since people have been getting married for a long, long time, long before the Old Testament books were written, I’d say human rights. Marriage is, at its roots, a social contract. Turek’s problem is that he seems to want it to be a religious thing, and it’s not.
So he’s at once asking a goofy question about stealing from God and also proceeding from false premises, which is never a good foundation for an argument.
Look what he tries to do here:
A right is something that a person has even if the majority of people disagree with it. In other words, rights are not based on human opinion, but on an unchangeable authoritative standard beyond human opinion. That’s why human rights cannot exist unless God exists. Without God everything is simply a matter of personal preference.
I could say first, prove God’s existence, but we’ll leave that aside for now. Let me point out instead that it was men who asserted that humans have inalienable rights. God did not. Nowhere in the Bible – Old Testament or New – does God, or any of his agents, assert what men asserted in the very secular Age of Enlightenment.
The Church can’t come along and claim them now, can they, after ignoring them for so many centuries? Sure they can! Just ask Turek:
Some say, “Our laws are the basis for rights!” No they are not. Human laws can only recognize God-given rights-they are not their ultimate justification. To claim otherwise would be to admit that your “rights” would vanish if a majority of humans or a dictator changed the law. No advocate of same sex marriage would agree with that. In fact, those advocates are arguing that in states where the majority is against same-sex marriage, they still have a right to it. They are correct if same sex marriage is actually a right. But since when does God consider same sex marriage a right?
Since when does God consider anything a right? The Bible does not talk about rights. The Bible talks about laws restricting things that offend God. A simple read of the Old Testament tells you right off you do not have the right of free speech or freedom of religion. You’re obligated to have no God before YHWH and if you say the wrong things, you get stoned, and not in a good way.
But Turek next tries to bring the Founding Fathers in to shore up his shaky argument:
Forget about the “separation of church and state” objection. It doesn’t apply here. We’re not talking about establishing a religion through our laws, but we are talking about protecting moral rights through our laws (which is what good laws are supposed to do). Our founders didn’t demand adherence to any particular religious denomination, but they recognized our moral rights come from the Creator and founded the country on “Nature’s Law” consistent with Christianity. Nature’s Law (which Jefferson said is “self-evident”) says that the natural design of the human body and the natural procreative abilities of the man and the woman serve to perpetuate and stabilize society, which same sex behavior cannot achieve. Therefore, there is a right to “natural” marriage, but no right to same sex marriage. That’s not bigotry, that’s biology.
No, no, no. The Founding Fathers did not say that Nature’s Law and Christianity are to be equated. The Religious Right has decided to make that comparison, and they’re completely wrong about it, as is Turek. If Turek wants to talk biology, let’s talk about the thousands of animal species who engage in same-sex behavior.
Unable to gain any real traction here, Turek brings in a deus ex machina and trumps all logic with God:
Homosexual activists say we’re wrong. But we can’t be “wrong” unless there is a real standard of “Right” from which we deviate. So we should ask same sex marriage advocates, “What’s your standard? Who said same sex marriage is a ‘right’?” You and your friends? That’s not a right. That’s an opinion. You’re calling it a right, but you’re stealing the grounding of rights from God and then misapplying it to your own personal preferences. There is no grounding in the God of Nature’s Law for same sex marriage.
There is a real standard, of course, and it’s not God. It is called the United States Constitution, and it doesn’t mention God. That is the standard here, not the Bible. You wonder sometimes, don’t you, why they bothered to write the Constitution in the first place, and you wonder if they would have sweated out all those sessions in steamy Philadelphia had they known some yokels would come along later and pretend it never existed, while misquoting them whenever possible.
But having invented an argument and, very Barton-like having ignored all the facts, Turek now unveils his startling conclusion:
Of course, without God there is no right to natural marriage either! In other words, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on-no matter how passionate you believe in certain causes or rights-without God they aren’t really rights at all. Human rights amount to no more than your subjective preferences. So liberals can believe in and fight for same-sex marriage, but they can’t justify it as truly being a right without reference to the Creator. If they do reference the Creator, then they have the rationally dubious task of arguing that God affirms same-sex marriage.
Oh dear…he’s quite lost himself in the rhetoric, hasn’t he? Since people were getting married before anybody even heard of his Midianite god of Sinai, people were being married, how is it a right only with a God nobody knew existed? You mean all those millions of pre-biblical marriages were invalid? Were they too theft from God?
Of course, Turek wants us to equate objective truth with his religion and his religion only, and his god and his god only, when it is only his opinion that his god even exists (as none of us can prove our gods exist):
“But what about equality?” they say. Absent God, they have no grounding for “equality” either. What objective standard justifies “equality” or anything else as a right if there is no God?
The only objective truth that matters is the U.S. Constitution, which is the law of the land, and which says that we are all equal before the law, that we all have a right of free speech and a right to our beliefs. Turek has a right to say this nonsense and to repeat it at will, but he does not have the right to supersede the belies of others, or to say his religious beliefs about any particular matter trump those of a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist or my Heathen self, let alone an atheist who objects to the notion of God entirely.
The Bible may say not to have any gods before YHWH but the Constitution does not. And it is the Constitution that matters.
Go ahead, say it, Turek. Say “Constitution.” Bet you can’t.
His problem comes down to this constitutional notion of equality, because no religious extremist can accept such an idea. They are offended by the idea that their religion is only “equal” to other religions, when of course, it’s vastly superior:
While homosexual activists are correct that equal treatment under the law is a right, they steal that right from God and then misapply it. Instead of applying equal treatment to people, they misapply “equality” to behaviors. They are correct that all people should be treated equally, but incorrect to imply that all behaviors should be treated equally. It would be foolish to treat all behaviors equally. In fact, the very reason laws exist at all is because all behaviors are not equal and must be treated differently for the benefit of individuals and society.
He think she has us here:
Since same sex marriage and natural marriage are different behaviors with different outcomes, they should be treated differently. One behavior perpetuates and stabilizes society, and the other doesn’t. Promoting one behavior does not deny rights to people who don’t engage in that behavior.
He’s gone and forgotten all about the pursuit of happiness, hasn’t he? The Founding Fathers didn’t put a big stress on perpetuating society, but they did say we’re all equal before the law, and all Turek is trying to do here is to engageing a little Animal Farm social engineering, to justify making some people more equal than others.
Then he launches into the tried and often rebutted angle that justifying same-sex marriage justifies marrying your kitchen table or something equally silly:
In fact, what is often missed in this debate is that all people-whether they have homosexual or heterosexual desires-are equal and already have equal rights under the law. Every human being has the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Homosexual activists want the additional right to marry someone of the same sex, but even they limit the definition of marriage. Most homosexual activists want to limit the definition of marriage in such a way so groups cannot marry. Why are they so “bigoted” to rule out groups and other arrangements they disapprove of? The same logic that seeks to justify same sex marriage-“I should be able to marry whomever I love”-can be used to justify any preferred arrangement.
Which brings us to his opinion of what the truth is, but alas, not to the truth itself:
The truth is, everyone puts limits on marriage. If marriage had no limits it wouldn’t mean anything. But unlike liberals, conservatives have more than a mere preference for their limits. The long-held view that marriage is limited to one man and one woman is rooted in Nature’s Law in accord with the facts of nature. Again, that’s not bigotry-that’s biology.
No…again, that’s no biology. Nature’s Law says homosexuality is natural. Animals do it. Unless you want to subscribe to gay animal demons, you have to accept biology in all its aspects, and Turek won’t do that.
But, after successfully making no actual points here, he wants to insist that,
When we ignore biology and steal rights from God, we inflict very negative long-term consequences on society, and especially on children. That’s what we’ll cover in tomorrow’s column.
So much for truth, when you fill your conclusion with lies. There are no negative long-term consequences on society or on children. No study shows any such thing to be true.
Apparently, the way this works is in apologetics is that you start with a false premise, lie your way through your argument, and then tell another, completely unrelated lie at the end, to seal it all together.
If that’s the plan, Turek has succeeded beyond hsi wildest expectations. But if you’re looking at a cogent argument against something, his op-ed falls flat on its face and proves only that his anti-gay attitudes are indeed bigotry, not biology.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.