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Gay Bishop Comes Up With the Worst Argument to Support Same-Sex Marriage

An atheist says Bishop Gene Robinson's new book, "God Believes in Love" has some major flaws.

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I am not willing to concede that. The presence of religion in public debate is harmful to the point of being toxic. It shifts the terms of the conversation: away from, "What is the most just, what does the most good, what alleviates the most harm, what makes society run the most smoothly"... and towards, "What is my personal interpretation of an inconsistent, wildly inaccurate, frequently barbaric holy text largely written in the Iron Age?"

And I think even Bishop Robinson knows this. In his very own book, he argues that "religious opposition to same-gender marriage is an example of violation of separation of Church and State." He argues that religious bodies should not attempt to impose their will on the civil state, or meddle in its rightful business. So why is he trying to do exactly that?

Why is it not okay for homophobic fundamentalists to insert their personal religious views into public discourse... but it's okay for the nice gay bishop?

It's not like this argument is even necessary. History shows that, when faced with new evidence or better logic or a more compelling moral case, societies do eventually let go of crummy ideas promoted by their religions. Societies have held terrible beliefs, about slavery and science and gender and sex and a thousand other things, fiercely and stubbornly defended by religious institutions... and we've let go of them. It often takes time, but it does happen. And yes, people do typically make these advances by contorting their religious beliefs to fit the new evidence/ logic/ morality... not by letting go of their religion entirely. (Although that's starting to change.) But it's the secular case, the evidence or the logic or the glaring moral horrors, that these new beliefs shape themselves around. It's the secular case that drives the change. So the secular case is the one we need to be making.

The minute we start making religious arguments for same-sex marriage -- or for anything, for that matter -- the debate turns into a series of arguments from authority, an endless and fundamentally unresolvable sequence of "This is what God thinks!" "No, this is what God thinks!" Or, more accurately: "This is what my preacher says God thinks!" "Well, this is what my preacher says God thinks!" And that has nowhere to go but around in circles forever.

So even when we're trying to persuade religious believers, our arguments need to be secular. They need to be based in good evidence, sound reasoning, and basic human compassion. And they need to leave religion out of it. Period.

Greta Christina is the author of "Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why," available in ebook, print, and audiobook. She blogs at Greta Christina's Blog. Follow her on Twitter: @GretaChristina

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