Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sowing the Seeds of Our Destruction

Photo: Gary Varvel
Each morning, it seems, I wake up to a new social consensus. Most of these small standards have no bearing on my life, just in so much as I merely recognize their existence. That is how I initially decided to treat the sudden removal of the Confederate flag on the state capital grounds of South Carolina. It was something that happened, and by no means was the act something to praise or disapprove. If the state of South Carolina wanted to show solidarity to the families and communities that were harmed by the dreadful act of racist domestic terrorist Dylan Roof, 21, by means of removing the Confederate flag, then according to the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, they (along with the people) may do so. However I was ignoring one simple truth: humans believe in creating moral and ethical justifications for their actions.

This week the removal of the Confederate flag has become a social fad that has extended itself to imply moral superiority. If you do not take the flag off of your capital grounds, off of your state flag, remove it from your school grounds, and strip the flag off of your memorabilia or merchandise, you will be labeled as intolerant, hateful, and racial bigot. If you disagree, this just solidifies the accusation. Any discussion thereafter becomes mute. End of discussion.

This discussion, or should I say lack thereof, began with the discovery of Dylan Roof's website manifesto, where he laid out his belief in white supremacy, support of segregation with an added array of defamatory language against African Americans. Along with these hateful words, Roof posted photographs of his visit to a South Carolina Confederate Museum, while others show Roof posing with the Confederate flag. Thus while the digging into Roof's manifesto was underway, the question what would cause Roof to have so much hatred for African Americans is answered for us by the State. The answer: proliferation of the Confederate flag.

Why not? What else could spur a man to hate but the historic Southern Confederate flag? You may say a deep seeded emotional or mental disorder, or perhaps some event in his past involving his upbringing could account for his racist and hateful ideology. However, this is ignoring the fact that he had a Confederate flag in his hand, and as we all know symbols like a flag are powerful messages that persuade us more than any event in our lives.

The meaning of the Confederate flag as a symbol has been defined for us by preachers, politicians, and businessmen. Thank goodness! I would have never known the true definition by studying the historical context in which the Confederate flag was used. It's not like that historical context can be found printed online or in a book. So let's move on to the definition:

In a recent editorial "The Cross and the Confederate Flag," Russel Moore (the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention) writes, "The Confederate Battle Flag was the emblem of Jim Crow defiance to the civil rights movement, of the Dixiecrat opposition to integration, and of the domestic terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils of our all too recent, all too awful history." Furthermore, since the flag has been steeped in racist rhetoric, from it being used as a "emblem of Jim Crow defiance" and "Dixiecrat opposition to integration," this flag is incompatible with the teaching of Jesus Christ. His final opinion states, "None of us is free from a sketchy background, and none of our backgrounds is wholly evil. The blood of Jesus has ransomed us all “from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers” (1 Pet. 1:18), whether your forefathers were Yankees, rebels, Vikings, or whatever. We can give gratitude for where we’ve come from, without perpetuating symbols of pretend superiority over others." In conclusion he begs white Christians to listen to their African-American brothers and sisters, and even though these whites can care about their own history, remember it's a shared history.

South Carolina put the Confederate flag to a vote, and it's removal passed 103-10. In Mississippi, Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said in response, "We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us," Gunn said Monday night in a Facebook post. "As a Christian, I believe our state's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi's flag." I guess by begin having conversations, he means "the conversation is over, now to tell people who support the flag that they have been actually supporting segregation and slavery the entire time." How do I know this? Those who could put up an argument against taking down the flag have decided not to. Mississippi's U.S. senator Republican Roger Wicker said, "As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi's current state flag as offensive. However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others."

Forbes recently reported that Walmart has now pulled the Confederate flag from their shelves. Walmart spokesperson Brian Nick, "We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment, whether in our stores or on our web site." He goes on to note, "We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly...this is one of those instances." So, out of all the items they sell, the Roof's actions did not cause them to remove the selling of guns, bullets, or horrible hair cuts from their stores. They decided the Confederate flag was a more integral part of Roof's hate.

There you have it. They have made their decision and now comes mine. If we are going to kill context let us do it elegantly and with grace, not with silly assumptions, accusations, and religious rhetoric. What I find odd about this situation is that the reasons for removal are more of a knee-jerk response to a radical racist taking a picture with it. Am I to believe that the history of the flag suddenly changed, and that everyone just woke up and realized, "hey, this flag we actually had no problem with yesterday is actually a symbol of hate." Will there come a day where we all just wake up, turn to the American flag and realize that it too can be a symbol of hate. America has been accused of racism, irrational war, genocide, and murder. The United States created Japanese internment camps, dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima and the other on Nagasaki. Would it then be appropriate for our Japanese allies to decide to take away any symbol of the American flag from it's country? Would it be appropriate for U.S. citizens of Japanese origin to step on the American flag, or disregard the 4th of July?
I and many others associate the Confederate flag with it's historical context, meaning that it is not necessarily a flag of slavery or hatred, but a rebel flag. I hold it in the same regard as the Betsy Ross 13 Colony flag, which was the flag of the American Revolution. The South made this same claim, saying they had a legal right to succeed from any tyrannical government, and if we consider the American Revolution as precedent, the South was within it's legal right. Many scholars do not believe that the Civil War, or as the South calls it, "The War of Northern Aggression," was about slavery, rather it was about the South's belief that Lincoln (along with the Republican North) were tyrannical because they were denying the South their (immoral) economic model. The South would not have believed that their economic model was immoral, because as we know slaves were considered "property" and not people. They, just like us, believed that damaging one's own property is not a moral offense. The Civil War was fought brother against brother, families from the North and South had to fight each other, we would be ignoring the sacrifice made by both sides if we were to take the Confederate flag down. After the Civil War why didn't the North make it so that any Southern symbol would be deemed traitorous? There are statues, streets, banners, colleges, military forts, and city names all dedicated to Confederate generals. The Confederate Memorial Monument is on the grounds of the Alabama state capital and was been there since 1898. Are they going to change all of these historical names and monuments? In response to this overwhelming moral and political consensus, I let Sir William Wallace have the last word.

“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of their own destruction.”
-Sir William Wallace, 1281

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Modest Secular Proposal for Gay Marriage Supporters

Conservatives have already lost on the topic of gay marriage. Yes, I'm sorry if I burst your bubble my fellow conservatives but according to recent Pew research polls, there are "changing attitudes on gay marriage." Currently 57% of Americans polled support gay marriage, and I highly doubt the Supreme Court will rule against institutionalizing gay marriage as a some sort of constitutional right due to the equal protection cited by the 14th Amendment.

It may come as a shock, but as a conservative Republican, I don't necessarily have a problem with people holding this opinion. Honestly I expected it, although I strongly suggest that when it comes to topics like gay marriage, the 10th Amendment should be upheld (which states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"). However, before they claim victory and begin their protest over at the Christian bakery, I'm still left pondering certain points that are proposed by those who support gay marriage. Let us begin with the term "gay marriage."

According to the progressive revisionist view of the definition, marriage would be defined as, "the union of two people (whether of the same sex or opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of the hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy boy partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear."

Is that the most accurate description of the institutionalized concept of marriage? I would say no, and in doing so I will use the English definition and application of marriage, along with Platonist theories and concepts to say that "gay marriage" is actually an oxymoron, and legally speaking a gay couple could get more benefits if they defined their extended partnership as a civil union.

Firstly, I've never understood why if you support of gay marriage, why would you use the term gay marriage when you believe that gays should be just married. Why would you put the adjective gay in front of the substantive noun marriage? Why not just call it marriage if you believed it to be equal? Which is an odd subject to think about, especially when we conservatives have been told that gays are just like everyone else, and wanted to be treated like everyone else, hence wanting to be married. Nevertheless, their words emphasize my point, because a substantive noun is a noun that exists as a concept that cannot be influenced by factors that are outside from it. Therefore marriage in the practical sense describes a specific instance in which one man and one woman are united monogamously and sealed their union by conjugal acts or reproduction. This is the first instance of a "marriage" from the context of natural bonding that usually results in the production of children.

Furthermore, every concept has certain components within it. When I mention the word chair, you know exactly what I'm talking about, regardless of the chair in question. We both know that chair has intrinsic components that can be viewed by way of nature. If we were to dissect marriage in the same way would we find that it is compatible with pro-gay marriage concepts? Let us say that X=CDEFGH, meaning the concept X (a marriage) has the properties, C (opposite sex), D (vaginal intercourse), E (may result in children), F (social institution), G (union of two persons), and H (economically valued). Supporters of gay marriage support Y=ABCFGH, in which Y (revisionist marriage) has the properties of A (assumption of love), B (same sex), C (opposite sex), F (social institution), G (union of two persons), and H (economically valued). Both of these concepts exist in nature, I will not deny that, but it just so happens X is both natural and statistically normal, while the other includes homosexuals, who only make up about 3.4% of the United States population.

It is here were I and I suspect most non-secular people feel slighted. Pro-gay marriage groups would like Y to equal X, and this bothers me, not from a theological standpoint but from a logical standpoint. They have come to the consensus that X=Y citing their emotions as a catalyst, holding posters like, "all love is equal" or "marriage is about love not gender." Please, don't bring that feelings nonsense here.

Moving on to why most people actually choose to get married today, which is usually for the legal benefits and security provided by the government. Law is founded upon specific concepts, logical reasoning and experiences in nature. In order to have a successful law there must be some experience (or concept) specifically tied to that law. If we agree that X does not equal Y then this would make them separate experiences in nature. The law should then treat them as such. I suggest that anyone who supports "gay marriage" should actually support domestic partnerships because this word succinctly defines the experience of a homosexual partnership.

Now I know what some are going to say, they are going to cite the civil rights experience and mention that the phrase "separate but equal" was found unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, but the way the Supreme Court decided that phrase was unconstitutional is because of the scientific evidence they found due to the fact that it harmed children. Secondly unlike homosexuality or heterosexuality, race should not and could not indicate an action. Can a person act black, or white? No, because an adjective such as black is superficial to the verb/noun before or after it. In order to obtain the label of homosexual or heterosexual, you must engage using a specific set of behavior or actions. Making homosexuality not only an adjective, but a verb. So when dealing with laws that effect homosexuality, it must be crafted in a way that is specific to these actions that could effect instances of divorce, child custody, taxation, etc.

Here's a true dilemma. What do you do when two women divorce and they are fighting for custody of one child? They both have the "motherly aspect," one has given an egg, the other birthed the child. Does the judge do the Biblical ruling and threaten to cut the child in half? From my own experience, homosexual divorces are the most gruelling battles I've ever winessed. The law has to deal with these and other specific issues and define them differently than if they were dealing with a man and a woman fighting for custody of a child, because as we all know the woman would likely get the child in this type of situation regardless of her character. If this were to occur homosexuals would be able to have domestic partnership rights or benefits that are specific to their relationship. In turn this would allow these benefits to have a different title attached to them such as civil union or partnership. It would not infringe Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which is constantly cited by those in favor of gay marriage. 

Some would object saying that a civil union implies that the homosexual partnership is inferior to the heterosexual relationship, but to this I would say I'm not making this claim. Legally they are both natural experiences, to which the law should apply only separately because the different properties and situations that reveal themselves within the distinct relationships.

Some have objected to my proposal citing three reasons; (1) concepts are relative and marriage has become a relative term thus there can be no true concept of marriage, (2) marriage can encompass different actions if society defines this to be the case, and (3) marriage comes with inherent properties that can be applied to the homosexual relationship and therefore there is no difference.

To say that marriage is a concept that is relative ignore it's natural foundation. Relativity in language usually applies to adjectives. If I were to look at a painting and found it beautiful, and you were to look at a painting and find it was ugly, we have both described the same experience of viewing the painting, but we did not agree on a feeling about the painting. This is where adjectives find their value, but our discussion is asking if the painting has changed, not if you feel the painting has changed. Did the experience of witnessing the painting change in both instances? No. Marriage or instance X does not leave room for interpretation. It is a noun for which an adjective could apply such as perfect or poor, but these words that are added are founded upon an opinion.

Some will bring up that there are imperfect marriages, thus marriage is relative or open to interpretation. If an apple has a worm in it, making it imperfect, does it lose it's appleness? No, the specific principles of the apple have not been changed as to destroy the concept of the apple. Thus marriage no matter how you perceive it cannot be changed by instances of imperfection such as divorce, or infertility (because the concept of marriage is fully applicable where procreation may be possible.) As for adoption, this action of adopting a child implies that the couple has the need to obtain a child, so if a couple cannot conceive a child and are married, adoption alone means that their marriage is considered unfruitful, and by correcting this the couple is admitting that their marriage was imperfect.

Society has no power over concepts that appear naturally or in the mind. The concept of marriage is no exception, and has two parts the supporters of the revisionist view must overcome. First, the historical and natural context of marriage will always be there, no matter if society changes. If we were to imagine there is a world that is only the color red. All the persons in this world would not be able to know of the concept of red, but the concept still exists, and the property of that world exists, even if society says it does not. The second problem lies with the fact that if marriage describes a specific set of guidelines found in nature, even if the concept were to add the components of a homosexual relationship, there will always be a specific distinction between the two marriages. It is sad, but no matter how much the LGBTQ movement craves normalcy for it's membership it is statistically impossible at this point. Gay marriage will mostly be used for homosexuals, and marriage will mostly be used to describe heterosexual marriages.

I am not here to cite any Biblical passages against homosexuality, or cite supposed effects a homosexual partnership may have on a child's development, or say that your relationship will threaten the sanctity of my marriage. I am not against your partnership or afraid of it. What I am afraid or should I say tired of, is the overabundance of groups like the LGBTQ whose soul purpose is to make clear that homosexuals should be married because of the yearn for normalcy which can never be attained statistically, and to proclaim gays should be part of an institution that they feel is all about purely about love. Due to my own opinion, I have been labeled countless times as homophobic and bigoted. On that note I want to make this point very clear, I will be flexible or as President Obama puts it, "evolve" on gay marriage if we can all finally agree that this movement is about benefits and not love. The only reason people in favor of gay marriage bring up love is to garner sympathy and tug at your heartstrings. My heart is not a lute. If your movement is about benefits, the best option in my mind is to have your specific relationship with distinct properties be given a new title with legalities that focus on immediate issues that are natural within it.

This is just one honest man's proposal, and although I understand most people will disagree for whatever reason, it stands that those who are pro-gay marriage have already won the million dollar jackpot: societal acceptance and now Supreme Court approval. My advice? Don't go wasting all your winnings on something even more illogical, like feminism.