Chik-fil-A and the New Standard of No Standards
The antagonists of Cathy and the Bible say that such a position is discriminatory and argue that homosexual marriage is not inferior to heterosexual marital unions, but is every bit as “good and right” as traditional marriage.
Question: who says so? Who has the ability to make the call and validate that homosexual and traditional marriage are on the same playing field? Who says Cathy’s standard is not the correct one?
Please understand that I’m not being flippant, condescending, or argumentative when I ask “says who?” Instead, this is a critically honest and important question that this issue, and in fact all moral issues, need to have answered.
In Search of a Standard and AuthorityCheryl Jacques, the first openly lesbian member of the Massachusetts state senate and one-time president of the Human Rights Campaign (a group championing homosexual marriage), was once asked why polygamy was wrong. Her response was, “Because I don’t approve of that.”
Is that how it works? Is that how the question of what marriages are in and which are out is answered?
Let’s look at the various marital and sexual options open to human beings (my apologies if the below list offends anyone):
- Man + Woman (married/unmarried)
- Man + Man (married/unmarried)
- Woman + Woman (married/unmarried)
- Multiple partners/spouses (married/unmarried)
- Any of the above within same family
- Man or woman + child
- Man or woman + animal
Why? Why “discriminate” against polygamists, man/boy-love relationships or really any “committed” and “consensual” relationship? Further if we’re nothing more than animals, why limit marriage to just human animals? Such questions go far beyond slippery slope fallacies.
For example, Ms. Jacques and others may not approve of polygamy but the people making up the reality show “Sister Wives” strongly disagree. On February 5th of this year, a judge in Utah seemed to side with them and has allowed a suit that Kody Brown and his four wives have filed that challenges Utah’s polygamy law to proceed.
"There's a host of constitutional problems when a state goes into a family and says your family has to look like ours. [That] you have to live your life according to our values and our morals," Brown’s attorney said. He continued to say, “The question is, in this country, is whether you can have a family that's different.”
The rhetoric used by Brown’s attorney should hit home with those opposing Chik-fil-A’s Dan Cathy as it’s the exact same language they’ve used in their arguments. Yet Ms. Jacques and many others draw a line in the sand at polygamy and other sexual/marital combinations, and when challenged as to their ethical reasoning, the best they can muster up is “Because I don’t approve of that.”
If the truth be told, their own individual preference is indeed the only true thing that Ms. Jacques and others that oppose men like Dan Cathy can appeal to.
The Proposition 8 or ‘Human’ StandardThe judges in the Proposition 8 case believed the standard that settles the case is the equal protection clause of the Constitution, which says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Thus, the judges reference no actual standard for marriage, but appeal more broadly to the 14th amendment, which does not address the institution of marriage specifically at all. However, if that is the standard that will be used, Cheryl Jacques and anyone opposing polygamy must bow to the arguments of Kody Brown and his wives, and accept polygamy as equal to two-person marriage; it cannot be classified as “inferior” in any way.
Nor can any of the other possible sexual/marital options. If “liberty” in the 14th amendment encompasses all desired sexual practices, any argument put forward against any practice or wished-for ‘marriage’ must be cast aside due the standard used by the Proposition 8 judges.
Options for a StandardTo be effectively answered, the ethical question concerning homosexual marriage needs to be bumped up to the larger question of: “Is there anything wrong with anything, and why?” To answer that question requires a source for an absolute moral standard and a moral authority.
A standard is needed because a standard determines how something is measured or determined and/or if something is rejected. If those opposing Dan Cathy and the Biblical marriage standard claim it is wrong to say homosexual marriage is inferior to traditional marriage, they need to put forward a standard for marriage that can be used as a reference. As C. S. Lewis correctly observed, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”
Once a standard is established, a moral authority is then needed too so the question of “says who?” can be answered. An authority is necessary because it alone is the entity that has the right to impose the obligation of acceptance for the proposed standard, and therefore enforces that it be adhered to.
Whether it is homosexual marriage or any moral issue, to what standard and authority should we look to answer the question of whether something is ethically “inferior” that therefore should be cast out? Thinking through the question will bring forward four possible answers. The first three are found within the secular humanist worldview and the fourth, the theistic worldview.
The only options available to the secular humanist where a standard and authority are concerned are: (1) the natural universe; (2) culture; (3) the individual. Right from the start, the natural universe can be ruled out because amoral matter cannot produce moral beings nor prescribe moral behavior; something simply cannot give what it does not have in the first place.
Culture cannot be appealed to as there are many cultures throughout the world, all with different moral standards and practices; there is no way to ascertain which culture is morally ‘correct’. Culture merely displays what “is” with respect to morality. Even the famous skeptic and antagonist of religion David Hume stated that humanity cannot derive an “ought” from an “is” where morals are concerned. For example, would those in America championing homosexual marriage say another country that forbids it is morally correct in their position?
Moreover, how does one determine what culture dictates? The voters of California thought that with Proposition 8, the majority should dictate whether homosexual marriage should be permitted, but it turns out they thought wrong. If a majority-rules method cannot be used for culture, what can?
The third choice of the individual deciding what’s morally right and wrong is a disastrous alternative as it only takes the problem seen in using cultures as a moral compass and compounds it exponentially.
What about using science as a moral compass? Some atheists say science should dictate moral behavior.
However, intellectually honest secular scientists admit that science is a descriptive discipline and not a prescriptive one. Its empirical methods are simply impotent to answer such moral questions such as if the Nazi’s were evil. Einstein sums up the correct position in this matter when he said, “You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”
So, in the end, when Cheryl Jacques says polygamy is wrong because “I don’t approve of that”, it really is all she can fall back on.
And that simply won’t do.
God’s StandardThe theistic worldview, referenced by Chik-fil-A’s Cathy, says that the Creator God who brought everything into existence is also the immutable source of morals and ethical behavior. What is good and right comes from His own nature; He is the standard. Further, He alone is the authority, which imposes obligation on His creation. In the case of homosexual marriage, He defined marriage and therefore His standard should not be twisted to be anything other than what He has intended.
Having an unchanging and transcendent source that can be turned to in order to ground morals is the only true way of answering not only the question of if homosexual marriage is morally valid, but if any behavior is ethical or not.
This is something those founding the United States recognized long ago. Our Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Nothing similar can be found in a statement made by any other nation: moral benefits and rights hinged on a divine creative act. Notice also that the statement echoes the 14th amendment in the Constitution: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This, then, leads to the last questions we need to examine, which are (1) what does it mean to be equal and (2) just how much liberty – morally – should a person really possess from a societal perspective?
Correcting Two ErrorsTaking the last question first, if, as the Declaration of Independence says, the rights humans enjoy come from their Creator, then that spawns another question: Does God ever desire the granting of a civil right to do a moral wrong? The answer to that seems as self-evident as the phrase that speaks to all people being created equal.
Which leads to the next issue: are Christians guilty (as homosexual supporters claim) of saying homosexuals are “inferior” as people? The answer is not at all. Instead, the Christian worldview makes this argument: there is a distinction between every person being equal from an innate worth perspective and what moral behaviors a person participates in.
There is a clear separation of the two in Scripture, and truth be told, in society. Those championing homosexual marriage desperately try, however, to conflate the two into one and so does much of the media. But they aren’t the same.
Christians strongly defend the human equality of all people and affirm that all have the image of God. But while the Bible verifies that all people are equal in terms of their worth before the Creator, it makes it quite clear that not all moral acts are.
The Double StandardOpponents of traditional marriage know this, so their goal is simple: redefine the standard of marriage so that it includes them. However, if the arguments that homosexuals rely on to make their case are used to create that redefinition, there can be no opposition to any other form of sexual union or marriage.
All seven combinations previously covered must be admitted. Interestingly, many homosexual and their supporters appear uncomfortable with that. They themselves are not at ease with the fact that the new standard is fast becoming … there is no standard!
However, one standard that is clear as a bell in these situations is a double standard. Those on the side of homosexual marriage decry discrimination yet some of them applaud the discrimination of Boston’s mayor and other politicians who say they will discriminate against Chik-fil-A when they try and open a restaurant in their town.
Christians are accused of hate speech, yet let a Christian voice their opposition to the homosexual agenda and you will be treated to some of the most vicious name calling seen on the planet.
Many championing homosexual marriage call themselves lovers of democracy, yet some will feverishly work with activist judges to overturn the results of democratic elections where the will of the people has been clearly stated on the matter of homosexual marriage.
You will also hear lots of talk about "inclusivism" and tolerance, yet some homosexual marriage proponents appear OK in demanding that Christian businesses like Chik-fil-A be excluded from various locales and universities, thereby appearing quite intolerant themselves.
As G. K. Chesterton remarked once, behind every double standard is a single hidden agenda. Only in this case, the agenda is pretty plain to see.
In the end, they may say that homosexual marriage is not “inferior” to traditional marriage, but they reference no real standard to validate their pronouncement - and they need one. It will be interesting how long it takes for them to assert the same thing about a bisexual man, his homosexual brother, and their 15-year old female girlfriend who want to marry because they all three love each other.
Because after all, who are you to say their intended family is inferior to yours?