Thursday, July 09, 2015

Is this worse than queer marriage?

According to Arminian theologian Randal Rauser:

Over the last couple days evangelical Christians (at least the ones I’ve been hearing) have expressed a lot of outrage over the US Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a short list of ten things that seem to me to be more disturbing than gay marriage. Here they are in no particular order:

Let's run through the list:

1. Presently there are between 21-36 million people enslaved around the world. 22% are sex slaves. (Source)

i) He doesn't bother to explain why that's more disturbing than homosexual marriage. He doesn't explain what his moral metric is for rating some things worse than homosexual marriage. 

Why couldn't that be just as bad? Why must it be worse

ii) The comparison is misleading. More disturbing in reference to what? Even if we think that's intrinsically worse, that doesn't make it more disturbing in terms of policy. 

American Christians have more influence over domestic events than foreign events. One reason to make domestic policy a priority is that there's more we can do about it. And we're more responsible for our own dependents. So what impacts our dependents take precedence. 

What does Rauser think American Christians should do about human trafficking around the world? Should the US invade those countries? Impose martial law?
2. We are currently in the six mass extinction of earth history, the greatest loss of biodiversity in tens of millions of years. And it’s human caused. (Source)

i) To begin with, that contention is hotly contested. Read some articles at Uncommon Descent.

ii) And even if that was a factual claim, what makes that more disturbing than homosexual marriage? What is Rauser's standard of comparison? Clearly not Biblical ethics. 

3. Over the next several decades, human-induced climate change will produce hundreds of millions of climate refugees. (Source)

i) His source is an economist, not a climatologist. 

ii)The evidence for global warming is disputed. Climatolgists cooked the books. 

What's even worse, they "lost" the original records. That means we can't go back and check their extrapolations against the records.

In addition, they've "adjusted" past records to insert a warning trend. 

ii) Even if we assume global warming is a real trend, climate change is a natural cyclical process. Consider the ice ages.

iii) Although global warming might be bad for some people in some parts of the world, it might be beneficial for others. Some farmers might welcome longer agricultural seasons. 

4. The total value of global military arms trading in 2011 was in excess of $43 billion. (Source)

Even if we think that's worse (based on what?), what can be done about it? Pass unenforcible international laws?

5. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean (consisting of human debris like plastics, chemicals, and other garbage) could be twice as large as the continental United States. (Source)

This says a lot about Rauser's moral priorities, which bear no relationship to Christian ethics. 

6. North Korea is presently facing a famine that could kill tens of thousands. (Source)

Even if that's worse (based on what?), how does that indict the priorities of American evangelicals? We have more influence on national policy than international events. Does he think the CIA should topple the N. Korean regime, like we used to do during the Cold War? Should we then install a puppet regime? 

7. Approximately 15,000 child slaves work in the Ivory Coast. (Source)

i) Even assuming that's worse, how is that relevant to the policy priorities of American evangelicals? Is Randal proposing neocolonialism? Should we annex the Irony Coast to crack down on human trafficking? 

Much of African is dysfunctional. Should we make Africa an American protectorate? 

ii) Consider the track-record of American national-building endeavors in Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 

8. Saudi Arabia has publicly beheaded 84 people so far in 2015. (Source)

Besides wringing his hands, what is Rauser's solution, if any? 

9. In their quest to privatize water supplies, corporate giant Nestlé argues that water is not a fundamental human right (Source)

Assuming that's accurate, how is that more disturbing that homosexual marriage? Rauser acts as if homosexual marriage is simply a private arrangement between two consenting adults.

But the bigger problem is how the state enforces that alleged right. It quashes freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of expression, parental rights, the consent of the governed, &c. It turns teachers into thugs who bully normal students. It becomes a pretext for creating a police state. 

10. While pigs are among the most intelligent non-human creatures on earth, millions of breeding pigs spend almost their entire lives in gestation crates which render them virtually immobilized. (Source)

i) What's his evidence that pigs are among the most intelligent animals?

ii) What makes that more disturbing than how God views homosexuality? 


  1. Something that has to be taken into account is the newness of the same-sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court. To compare the reaction to a major recent development to the current reaction to something that's been happening for a long time, without any recent major developments, is misleading.

    And the Court ruling has gotten such a reaction largely because of its connection to other issues, like judicial activism, state recognition of other types of marriage, societal acceptance of other types of marriage, societal views of sexual ethics in other contexts, and religious liberty. People have been reacting to that combination of issues, not just same-sex marriage or just one Supreme Court ruling on the subject. The recent development with the Court ruling provided an opportunity for that network of issues to be addressed again in a prominent way, but it's not as though people were only responding to that one Court ruling or the one issue of same-sex marriage in isolation. How many of the issues Rauser listed represent a turning point in American history in a way comparable to or greater than the way the same-sex marriage movement does?

    Furthermore, where's the effort to justify something like sex slavery or North Korean famine that's comparable to the effort we've seen to justify same-sex marriage and the Court ruling supporting it? When the Democrats, the mainstream media, Hollywood, much of the business world, and so many other segments of society join together to advocate something like same-sex marriage, how is that comparable to what's going on with something like sex slavery or North Korean famine? Part of the reason why there's been so much said about same-sex marriage in the United States is that there's so much support for it to be responded to. That's not the situation with something like sex slavery.

    (continued below)

  2. (continued from above)

    On a related note, Evangelicals have to make judgments about how to best use their resources, like time and money. If other people are already giving a lot of attention to something like sex slavery or climate change, that factor has to be taken into account. You make adjustments accordingly. Foreign nations and organizations like the United Nations often give a lot of attention to matters like sex slavery and climate change. They aren't going to give so much attention to the same-sex marriage movement in the United States or a particular Supreme Court ruling on the subject. Rauser cites so many issues that go far beyond the borders of the United States, then questions the amount of attention American Evangelicals are giving to same-sex marriage and the recent Court ruling. Who else is going to give the subject attention? Japan? Brazil? Developments in the American same-sex marriage movement require the attention of Americans far more than the attention of non-Americans.

    There's the issue of how much control we have over something that happens in a place like North Korea or Saudi Arabia, as Steve mentioned. Similarly, there's the issue of how easily people can understand a subject. A subject like same-sex marriage is easier to understand than something like climate change or global military arms trading. Part of the reason why people react to same-sex marriage the way they do is that it's something so easy to understand and so relevant to how people live their daily lives. That's true not just with regard to matters like marriage and gender roles, but also related issues, like religious liberty.

    And think about the United States' influence in the world and the importance of Evangelicals in that influence (supporting charitable efforts in other nations; supporting missionaries; producing Christian literature, videos, and other products for other parts of the world; etc.). The same-sex marriage movement has the potential to do a lot of damage to that influence, such as by weakening or shutting down the efforts of Christian individuals and organizations, including churches (removing tax-exempt status; making financial and other types of support for Christian ministries appear comparable to supporting racist groups; etc.). How does something like North Korean famine or beheadings in Saudi Arabia have a comparable or greater impact on the world?

  3. Almost every time I read something written by Rauser I think "This guy isn't even a Christian".

    Deja vu all over again.