By Denny Burk
One of the main rhetorical strategies of gay marriage supporters has been to frame the issue as the next phase in the struggle for civil rights in America. As a consequence, they brand traditional marriage supporters as “bigots” who support “discrimination” equivalent to that of Jim Crow. For the most part, that rhetorical strategy seems to be working. This means that if you are a Christian who believes the Bible, there are many who simply believe you to be a morally retrograde bigot.
If you think that I am exaggerating, then you are not paying attention. Just this morning I read another article that makes this point in no uncertain terms. A professor at Lancaster Theological seminary argues that even if your convictions about marriage are rooted in deeply held religious views, you are nevertheless a bigot. This kind of language has the effect of marginalizing and stigmatizing those who agree with what the Bible teaches about marriage.
It’s troubling that this kind of rhetoric has gained such a foothold in the public discourse. It’s even more troubling that it is now being used by the President of the United States. Earlier today, President Obama released a series of Tweets aimed at diminishing Mitt Romney’s newly minted running-mate, Representative Paul Ryan. One of the tweets said this:
FACT: Paul Ryan supports writing discrimination into the Constitution with an amendment banning gay marriage.
Obviously, President Obama’s statement is meant to cast aspersions on Rep. Ryan, but it goes beyond that. What Paul Ryan actually supports is an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. There are many Americans who support such an amendment. Yet in the President’s logic, they too would support “writing discrimination into the Constitution.”
Some will say, “It’s just a single tweet. What’s the big deal?” It’s true that this is just a tweet. But it is a tweet that is fully engaged in the current culture war over marriage. It’s a tweet that makes use of civil rights rhetoric in order to stigmatize and marginalize those who have a Christian view of marriage. The language of “discrimination” with all of its negative connotations is there for a reason.
For those who think that conservatives are the only ones interested in culture war, think again. It’s on both sides, and the President is warring against the Bible’s definition of marriage.