Op­pos­ing ho­mo­sex­ual ‘mar­riage’ is not hyp­o­crit­i­cal W

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - DEN­NIS PRAGER

hy did a gay pros­ti­tute tell the me­dia about the ho­mo­sex­ual be­hav­ior of a lead­ing Chris­tian op­po­nent of same-sex mar­riage on the week­end be­fore an elec­tion, an elec­tion in which eight states voted on whether to main­tain the def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage as be­tween a man and a wo­man?

Be­cause he knew, first of all, that the me­dia love to pub­li­cize the sex­ual lives of pub­lic fig­ures. How else to ex­plain the ex­ten­sive re­port­ing by the main­stream news me­dia of the private sex­ual acts of a prom­i­nent sports­caster a decade ago — a bas­ket­ball an­nouncer, not a politi­cian, not a re­li­gious leader?

But the main rea­son was that our gay pros­ti­tute knew the me­dia are al­most unan­i­mously sup­port­ive of redefin­ing mar­riage and there­fore against all the states’ propo­si­tions to de­fend mar­riage’s def­i­ni­tion. He and the news me­dia hoped that pub­li­ciz­ing that a ma­jor Chris­tian op­po­nent of same-sex mar­riage was se­cretly in­volved in gay sex could po­ten­tially un­der­mine the move­ment to main­tain the his­tor­i­cal def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage.

Now, of course, the sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion of a per­son has no rel­e­vance to the mer­its of his pro- or an­ti­same-sex mar­riage ar­gu­ment. But the ho­mo­sex­ual pros­ti­tute was cer­tain that be­cause the Rev. Ted Hag­gard was (al­legedly) gay — or bi­sex­ual — this proved that:

the rev­erend is a hyp­ocrite; and there­fore

the move­ment to keep mar­riage de­fined as man-wo­man is a phony move­ment.

That both ar­gu­ments are false is ir­rel­e­vant to many, per­haps most, sup­port­ers of same-sex mar­riage. Ap­par­ently, they feel that since they can­not rad­i­cally change so­ci­ety’s most im­por­tant so­cial in­sti­tu­tion through in­tel­lec­tual ar­gu­ment, or through the demo­cratic process, or even via sym­pa­thetic judges, they might suc­ceed by ex­pos­ing any op­po­nent who has ho­mo­sex­ual ten­den­cies.

So the first ar­gu­ment goes as fol­lows: Show as many of the re­li­gious op­po­nents of same-sex mar­riage to be hyp­ocrites and you un­der­mine the moral cred­i­bil­ity of their ef­forts to keep mar­riage de­fined as man­woman. As Michael Jones, the gay pros­ti­tute, said (quoted in the Rocky Moun­tain News), “I felt ob­li­gated to get the in­for­ma­tion out about the hypocrisy of peo­ple who make th­ese laws and those who sup­port them.”

This is in­tel­lec­tual non­sense. Even if ev­ery op­po­nent of same-sex mar­riage were a closet ho­mo­sex­ual, it would say noth­ing about the mer­its of their ar­gu­ments. More­over, be­ing an op­po­nent of same­sex mar­riage and a closet ho­mo­sex­ual (if that is what Hag­gard is) has noth­ing to do with hypocrisy.

As de­fined by ev­ery dic­tionary I con­sulted, Mr. Hag­gard is not a hyp­ocrite. For ex­am­ple, the Amer­i­can Her­itage Dic­tionary of the English Lan­guage (Fourth Edi­tion) de­fines hypocrisy as “The prac­tice of pro­fess­ing be­liefs, feel­ings or virtues that one does not hold or pos­sess.”

But we know that Mr. Hag­gard never pro­fessed a be­lief that he did not hold. He be­lieved at the time of his ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties, and he be­lieves now, that ho­mo­sex­ual sex is a sin. He read­ily con­cedes that, in his view, he was sin­ning when he en­gaged in ho­mo­sex­ual sex. He may there­fore be con­sid­ered a sin­ner, a per­son who acted in­con­sis­tent with his own ad­mo­ni­tions and a poor model for a cler­gy­man, but he is no more a hyp­ocrite than a rev­erend who teaches the Ten Com­mand­ments and dis­hon­ors his mother or fa­ther, or bears false wit­ness or even com­mits adul­tery. Hypocrisy re­quires a per­son to be­lieve that he is the ex­cep­tion to the rule that he es­pouses for ev­ery­one else; that be­hav­ior that is wrong for oth­ers is not wrong for him.

If ev­ery­one who vi­o­lates a stan­dard he ad­vo­cates is a hyp­ocrite, the word is mean­ing­less. And worse, it makes it im­pos­si­ble for just about any­one to ad­vo­cate moral be­hav­ior.

The ar­gu­ments against redefin­ing mar­riage, the cen­tral in­sti­tu­tion of so­ci­ety, are pro­found and de­cent, no mat­ter what the sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion of those who of­fer those ar­gu­ments. The sex­ual con­fu­sion we will be­queath to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, es­pe­cially among chil­dren, if the same sex is re­garded from child­hood as equally de­sir­able as mar­riage part­ners, en­dan­gers so­ci­ety im­mea­sur­ably more than global warm­ing.

But while not a hyp­ocrite, the rev­erend was ex­tremely ir­re­spon­si­ble. By not re­sign­ing from his po­si­tion (for “fam­ily rea­sons,” “per­sonal rea­sons” or myr­iad other be­liev­able ex­cuses) the mo­ment he be­gan his ho­mo­sex­ual li­ai­son, he en­dan­gered the en­tire de­fense of mar­riage move­ment, some­thing in­fin­itely more im­por­tant than his stay­ing in power, and, in my opin­ion, more sin­ful than his sex­ual sin.

That said, any­one who changed his mind and voted against a propo­si­tion defin­ing mar­riage as man­woman be­cause a prom­i­nent Chris­tian leader was ex­posed as pri­vately en­gaged in ho­mo­sex­ual be­hav­ior was not think­ing clearly. Worse, he was re­ward­ing the loath­some tac­tic of week­end-be­fore­elec­tions hu­mil­i­a­tions of pub­lic fig­ures. One hopes that even pro­po­nents of same-sex mar­riage can agree that is no way to win elec­tions.

In the mean­time, how­ever, those who ar­gue for redefin­ing mar­riage have their bases cov­ered with ad hominem at­tacks. Ac­cord­ing to same-sex mar­riage ac­tivists, if you’re a het­ero­sex­ual who op­poses same-sex mar­riage, you’re a ho­mo­phobe, and if you’re a ho­mo­sex­ual who op­poses same-sex mar­riage, you’re a phony and a hyp­ocrite. De­fend­ers of mar­riage should not lend cred­i­bil­ity to th­ese char­ac­ter­i­za­tions.

Den­nis Prager is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.