Gay Bishop Comes Up With the Worst Argument to Support Same-Sex Marriage
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Now, that's okay when we're just making decisions about our own lives. As long as it doesn't significantly affect others, our private decisions can be impulsive, irrational, based entirely on our own intuitions and desires, and as intractable as we like. But decisions about politics and the law affect people other than ourselves. So they need to be based on sound reasoning, solid compassion, and the best possible evidence about what helps and hurts people... not on people's inevitably biased speculations about what they think God wants.
Let's look at Bishop Robinson's religious arguments for same-sex marriage. If anyone on Earth was going to make a good religious case for same-sex marriage, it'd be Bishop Robinson. But his arguments boil down to this: "Here's the correct interpretation of the Bible. Interpretations of the Bible that oppose homosexuality are wrong: they misunderstand Scripture and God's will. When you interpret the Bible correctly, you'll see that of course I'm right."
We have two problems here. First, we have the whole "correct interpretation of the Bible" thing. As I'm sure Bishop Robinson is aware, interpretations of the Bible vary wildly. Why should we agree with him that his interpretation is the right one? Yes, he's no doubt a Biblical scholar, and has studied the history and social context of the Bible at some length. But other Biblical scholars disagree with him. And they can quote chapter and verse, too, and cite historical context for their claims. In fact, throughout history, Biblical scholars have used their scholarship to defend: slavery, the oppression of women, the rejection of medical care, the systematic subjugation of Jews, the Inquisition, the Crusades... do I need to go on?
In his book, Bishop Robinson acknowledges the intense horrors promoted by the Bible, and the intense horrors that have been committed in its name. In his own book, he acknowledges that interpretations of the Bible need to be influenced by the best evidence that's currently available, and by the best current morality we can muster. So how does he know that his interpretation is the right one? If he's basing his argument on faith, then how is anyone else supposed to know which of the thousands of wildly varying faiths to trust in? And if he's basing his argument on evidence and reason and basic human compassion... then what do we need the Bible for?
Which leads me to a much more fundamental problem: When it comes to questions of politics and law, why should we even pay attention to the Bible in the first place? Can Bishop Robinson (or anyone else, for that matter) make a good case for why the Christian Bible -- as opposed to the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad-Gita, Drawing Down the Moon, The Book of the SubGenius, the Satanic Bible, or The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- is the best representation of God's will?
Yes, Bishop Robinson's Christian Bible says that “where love is, there is God also.” It also says that people should leave their families to follow Christ. It says that divorce is prohibited. It says that even thinking about something bad is just as bad as doing it. It says that listening to Jesus is more important than being helpful to the people around you. It says that anyone who doesn't follow Jesus' teachings is doomed to be tortured in hell for all eternity. It says that I, personally, have committed the one sin that is absolutely unforgiveable: not rape, not torture, not genocide, but denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. And that's not the nasty stuff from the Old Testament. Those are Jesus' own words from the Gospels. (Or rather, since I have significant doubts about whether the historical Jesus even existed: Those are the words of the Jesus character in the New Testament myth.) As I'm sure Bishop Robinson is aware, the Bible is shot through with historical inaccuracies, scientific inaccuracies, internal inconsistencies, outrageous absurdities, and moral atrocities. Why should anyone think that, when we're deciding important matters of public policy that affect millions of people, we should pay special attention to this particular book? Or any attention at all?