Thanks, Christians - Liberal Resistance

Thanks, Christians

William B. Turner

We know, we know, not all Christians, but either “Christianity” denotes a coherent set of propositions that all adherents assent to, or it doesn’t. In the history of the United States, the claim, “I am a Christian” is meaningless because, no matter the issue, one can find persons on either side who make that claim for themselves. The first white people to call for the immediate emancipation of all slaves were Quakers who couched their argument explicitly in terms of their Christian belief, but most slave owners were also Christians who found justification for owning slaves in the Bible.

Certainly in the modern United States, the most vocal Christians are good conservatives, as witness this tidbit: “Christian College President compares Gays to ISIS.”

This is pretty standard stuff from Christian conservatives. No doubt many good liberal/progressive Christians would insist that his is not the Christian position, but where is there space within Christianity from which to dispute with him? The obvious choice is to resort to your bible, but we may assume that this man is well familiar with his bible and, like slave owners, is quite sure that the bible endorses, nay requires, his moral position. Arguing the bible will likely avail you nothing.

To win the LGBT civil rights argument, we have to leave behind the realm of Christian “morality,” such as it is – the morality of the men (!), mostly, who stole two continents from Natives and farmed them with African slaves – and find new grounds for our ethics. Actually, the ethics of the U.S. Constitution, post Fourteenth Amendment, works pretty well, but it explicitly abjures Christianity or any other official religion, the approach the Founders chose because they were well aware of the ugly history in Europe of Christians killing each other over what flavor of Christian to be.

We could agree – notionally, we have agreed – all to treat each other with dignity and respect as equals. Well, most of us have. Christian conservatives still want special rights to pick and choose whom they treat with dignity and respect, but they are steadily losing the battle and we can hope they will continue to do so.