Darrow Miller and Friends

Supporters of Traditional Marriage Are Not the New Jim Crows

marriageOur readers are no doubt aware of the pending Supreme Court case regarding same-sex “marriage.” Because of the timeliness and significance of the issue, we will be publishing a series of daily posts this week only, from Scott Allen, the president of Disciple Nations Alliance. 

In part two of his series “Can Gays and Christians Co-Exist in America,” Dan McLaughlin addresses one of the major ways that supporters of same-sex marriage “frame” the issue in the mind of the public. They equate support for traditional marriage to support for the institution of slavery and overt racism.

It is far too common to hear supporters of same-sex marriage claim that there is widespread “discrimination” against homosexuals. They insinuate that they are commonly refused service from Christian business owners, can’t find hotel rooms, can’t get tables at restaurants, etc. And they do this, despite the fact that almost nothing like this actually happens. They do this because it is a very powerful, albeit dishonest, way of framing the issue. It stigmatizes and delegitimizes the proponents of traditional marriage as the moral equivalent of racists, and casts the supporters of homosexual marriage as the oppressed victims.

Watch this video put out last November by TwoCare Center Against Religious Extremism.

It is hard to see this as anything other than a harmful slander against Christians, and a completely dishonest way of framing the issue. Tragically, this propaganda and false-narrative creation has largely been successful. In the minds of a growing number of Americans, holding traditional beliefs on marriage and sexuality is the moral equivalent of holding racist beliefs.

Here’s another example. The graphic below was used as a social media framing device when, in 2014, the legislature of Arizona tried (and failed) to pass a law protecting the rights of Christian business owners from being forced to participate in same-sex commitment ceremonies—the same basic “religious freedom and restoration act” (RFRA) law that led to the firestorm in Indiana earlier this year.

Dear Arizona Republicans

Here is how Dan McLaughlin responds to this in his post today:

[A] major avenue of attack on Christian teachings on same-sex marriage and homosexual sex …is to compare … Christians who defend the New Testament’s teachings on marriage and sex to the defenders of Jim Crow and American slavery.

The … most obvious problem with this line of reasoning is that defenders of Jim Crow and slavery mounted Biblical arguments in their defense because they were contending with powerful religiously-based Christian critiques. The abolitionist movement in the United States was predominantly a Christian movement.

The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was likewise headed by outspokenly Christian figures, many of them (like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) ordained Christian ministers …

The debate over same-sex marriage, by contrast, is overwhelmingly a debate between Christians and non-believers in Christianity … The arguments in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage and same-sex sexual relationships, whether raised by Christians or not, almost all begin with the premise that the Bible … and 2,000 years of unbroken Christian tradition are wrong, should be discarded, and perhaps should be suppressed.

Christianity survived the demise of slavery and segregation without the slightest harm to any doctrine, teaching, or passage of scripture of any significance. Indeed, the end of those unjust institutions freed Christians from the temptation to construct embarrassingly flimsy scriptural defenses of them. By contrast, from a Christian theological perspective, the consistent and longstanding teaching on marriage and homosexual sex … could hardly stand in starker contrast …

…if there is one area of moral teaching in which Jesus is more rather than less strict than the Mosaic Law, it is in the area of sexuality and, in particular, marriage—the abolition of permissive divorce, the insistence on elevating lust to the level of adultery.

Down through the unbroken chain of centuries of Christian teaching and practice …marriage has always had a central place in Christian moral teaching and Christian community life.

To Catholics [marriage] is one of the seven sacraments, along with baptism, communion, confession/reconciliation, confirmation, holy orders (i.e., joining the priesthood or other religious orders) and anointing of the sick; it is the equal of any of those in the solemnity of the vows made before God and before the community and Christian witnesses. Society at large can no more properly punish Catholics for their view of the definition of marriage than for their view of the definition of baptism or communion. Comparing such a central cornerstone of the faith—handed down directly from the mouth of Jesus and preserved unchanged for 2,000 years—to Jim Crow or American slavery is an ignorant obscenity.

Here’s how John Stonestreet puts this matter in a recent post at BreakPoint:

This silly analogy [equating racism to opposition to homosexual marriage] has gone on too long. First of all, marriage literally dates from time immemorial. But legally-mandated segregation, or “Jim Crow,” didn’t last a century, and it only lasted that long because the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, gave the noxious idea of “separate-but-equal” its imprimatur. While marriage is the most ancient and venerable institution known to man, segregation was a modern idea born of modern ideas about race. Similarly, while heterosexual marriage is a universal norm, Jim Crow and Apartheid were local aberrations. Comparing the two isn’t apples and oranges, it’s apples and bricks.

– Scott Allen


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Scott Allen serves as president of the DNA secretariat office. After serving with Food for the Hungry for 19 years in both the United States and Japan, working in the areas of human resources, staff training and program management, he teamed up with Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt to launch the DNA in 2008. Scott is the author of Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide: A Call to Wholistic Life and Ministry and co-author of several books including, As the Family Goes, So Goes the Nation: Principles and Practices for Building Healthy Families. His most recent book is Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice. Scott lives with his wife, Kim, in Bend, OR. They have five children.