Give him credit: culture warrior Darrel Todd Maurina sure knows which buttons to push. Now he’s made three listserves (OPC, URC, and the Warfield List) blow up over 2k and civil unions. Not content to merely push the “gay” button, he’s just started pushing all of them:
Once we’ve done that, why not allow the contract to be between more than two people? Why not allow the contract to be between fathers and daughters, or mothers and sons, or brothers and sisters? Once abortion has been legalized to “take care of” problems caused by birth defects due to close relatives having children, is there any good secular reason why incest should be prohibited? How about polygamous marriages? And if we’re going to allow 16- and 17-year-old minors to contract marriages with parental consent, which is allowed for good reasons in many states, why not allow lower ages for a marriage contract with parental consent? (OPC list, August 16)
For those of you with culture war scorecards, you can check off abortion, incest, polygamy, and marriage for young teens. I don’t think bestiality has been mentioned yet.
Before we get to the most current topic on the lists, it might be useful to look at some of Mr. Maurina’s views. Taking a peek into the mind of God, Maurina has a theory on why gay unions are now an issue: “The divorce rates among evangelicals are a scandal and the gay marriage battles could very well be a punishment by God of the American church for our weakness on the issue of heterosexual marriage.” Then he describes his basic approach:
I believe all legislation reflects someone’s view of morality, that there is no neutrality in the civil realm, and that it is not Reformed for Christians to leave their faith outside when they enter the statehouse door or the voting booth. We’re called to live 24-7 for Christ, not restrict our faith to what we do in church.
His priority is not theology but culture:
Many conservatives see that as a sign of weakness or willingness to compromise, and it is a major red flag given current cultural issues. I realize you may not want to fight the culture wars, but the culture wars have now come to you in the form of this “homosexual marriage” and “homosexual civil union” debate.
As for the listserves, Maurina’s initial volley was his link to a Misty Irons speech. That conversation hadn’t even ended when he also decided to take on Michael Horton. Maurina found a White Horse Inn article in which he took the most offense from “Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security.” He went on to urge readers to complain to Robert Godfrey at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido.
Horton eventually responded to Mr. Maurina on the URC list:
Thanks for your note—and for your remarks defending my “overall” orthodoxy.
I don’t regret anything I said, interpreted in the context in which I said it. The Free Republic [hyperlink added] simply misinterpreted my point and extrapolated, without the slightest foundation, that I would be willing to officiate at a same-sex union. How ridiculous! When I clearly and repeatedly argued against homosexual practice of any kind, much less a union!
Being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships!!! My point was to say that the gay lobby is not really interested in equal rights, but in equal affirmation of gay and heterosexual marriage. So Christians should NOT treat the marriage debate as if it were equivalent to civil rights. Some Christians do argue that we should allow a pagan state to honor “life commitments” regardless of marriage, but to argue that this should be called MARRIAGE is ultimately not a question of civil rights but of the meaning of marriage itself.
I cannot help the fact that some have apparently overlooked the distinction I’ve made—and the fact that it’s part of an argument AGAINST gay marriage. I can only hope that people would not spread false impressions based on where they think it will lead rather than what I actually argued.
Many more pixels have been spilled on the lists, but much study of the listserves is weariness to the flesh. Suffice it to say there is a lot of noise, and noise is the confusing part of looking at the issue.
The simpler parts of the issue at hand are biblical marriage and civil law. Under the first, marriage is defined in the scriptures. It involves a man and a woman who are bound by all the scriptures say about marriage.
The second part is civil law. Under that law the magistrate decides what laws should attach to marriage. Some of those laws include inheritance, tax status, legal authority and responsibility for children born of the marriage, etc. Reasonable people can disagree on what laws should attach to marriages. Reasonable people can also disagree on whether those laws should only attach to marriages in the biblical sense or if they should be available to other people.
The third part is the noise. Noise is what happens when buttons are pushed. Noise includes people who talk as if being open to gays benefitting from certain civil laws is the same as being open to marrying gays in the church. Noise creates confusion and contention, obscuring the first two parts.
So the conversation is one that we need to have, but let’s keep the noise down.