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Yes, Ms. Parker, We Can Control Our Behavior

Rob Tisinai

December 30th, 2010

I think the anti-gays are launching a new assault on us, this time trying to convince people that we’re the ones saying gays and lesbians can’t be moral. Conservative columnist Star Parker writes:

Americans are becoming more prone to believe that individuals cannot take personal responsibility for their sexual behavior. Thirty six percent believe today that homosexual behavior is genetically determined compared to 14% who believed this forty years ago.

Is Star lying or merely confused?  I found the poll she’s talking about:

This poll says nothing about behavior — it’s about identity.  Not what you do, but who you are.

I’ve written before  about those on the Right who claim there are no homosexuals, just homosexual behavior.  The Family Research Council reveals the political motive behind this deliberate obfuscation:

[H]omosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior.  [emphasis added]

Star Parker’s going somewhere else, though.  It’s one thing to say that you can’t control your sexual orientation.  But saying you can’t take personal responsibility for your behavior means you cannot be trusted.  It means you have no power to choose a right action over a wrong one.  It means, basically, that you are amoral.

That’s not just false, it’s insidious.  When we say being gay or lesbian is an immutable characteristic, Star Parker wants people to hear us saying we can’t control our conduct.

What does that accomplish?  Quite a bit.  It creates a climate of fear. If gays claim they can’t control their behavior, then how we trust them as parents, as teachers, as soldiers? If Star Parker has her way, every time we stand up for our rights, we’ll be damning ourselves as amoral creatures.

And she’s doing this by lying.

Or perhaps it’s just confusion.  If so, she’s confused a lot in this piece.  For instance, she writes:

As a Christian, I believe in the truth of traditional morality as transmitted to us through our biblical sources. And I believe, along with George Washington, who stated clearly in his farewell address to the nation, that religion and traditional morality are critical to the maintenance of our free society.

Homosexual behavior is unacceptable by these moral standards.

She’s twisting Washington’s speech here.  It’s true Washington declared the importance of religion and morality.  He even said that religion (not Christianity, not Protestantism, not any specific anti-gay religious doctrine) is necessary for morality.  But he never mentioned traditional morality.  You can see why Star snuck it in, though.  It’s not enough to be moral; your morality has to be traditional — otherwise you’ll end up getting sassed by good and moral Christians who have no problem with teh gays.

Now Washington was no gay liberationist.  He did say this about morality in that speech, though:

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

I’m not sure how Star’s misrepresentations serve the general diffusion of knowledge or the enlightenment of public opinion.  Yet she does seem to be concerned with the nation’s moral condition — though, once again, in a pretty confused way:

When asked… for the principal reason that the moral condition of the nation is worsening, the greatest response – 15% – was “disrespect for others.” Only 2% said teen pregnancy, 3% homosexuality, 3% abortion, and 7% breakdown of family/unwed mothers.

When asked for the principal reason that our moral condition is improving, the largest response – 25% – was “better understanding about other people and cultures/more diversity/less racism.”

It should be clear that what is happening is that any prevailing sense that there are objective standards for right and wrong is disappearing and that this is being displaced with a relativism and nihilism that values nothing other than tolerance of everything.

Hold on.  What does this Christian lady have against Jesus?  You know, the Jesus who said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  And who commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus must really get her steamed  – he sounds like one of those nihilist relativists who think “disrespect for others” is a core moral problem and that “better understanding about other people” could improve our moral condition.

[As an aside, I have to apologize for making this  my most rambling blog post ever.  But when Star jumps from DADT to Christianity to George Washington to Gallup polls on abortion to nihilism to the Declaration of Independence (!)...well, I did my best with the mess that I found.]

At the beginning of her article, Star Parker writes, “I’m feeling increasingly like a minority in our country. Not because I’m black, but because I am a Christian.”  But I can’t see any connection between Jesus in the Bible and the way she’s presented herself.  Still, if it’s making her feel isolated and marginalized, maybe there’s hope for our nation’s moral condition after all.

Comments

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homer
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

How an African-American woman can babble on about the bible and values puzzles me. The Southern Baptists used the bible for years to explain why slavery and then segregation were wonderful things.

BlackDog
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

Honestly, given the bad behavior of so many Christians these days I think if there ever is a time when Christians are a minority in this country it will be a good thing. It will also be their own damn fault, because from what I can see “Christian” is fast becoming synonomous with “Asshole” and “Bigot.”

This is despite the efforts of many Christians who are niether, largely because of a majority in the middle who refuse to tell the retards to sit down and shut up.

I say this as a former Christian, who got very little help from other Christians in efforts to point out that bigotry and acting like an asshole is wrong.

justsearching
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

The subject of this article isn’t the Gallup poll, but I’d contend that the wording in the available answers of that poll is poorly chosen. The answer “born with” seems to preclude the possibility of any later effects from upbringing or the environment. I think this explains why the option “both” is infrequently chosen by those polled. “Genetic factors” should be used in place of “born with.” If someone chose the option “genetic factors” by itself that would be tantamount to saying that he or she believed that people were born with a certain sexual orientation.

Timothy Kincaid
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

Star Parker writes, “I’m feeling increasingly like a minority in our country. Not because I’m black, but because I am a Christian.”

Well, no, actually the vast majority of Americans identify as Christians. They just mean something other than Star Parker means when they use the word.

Parker’s definition of “Christian” is one that is not based on the teachings of Christ, on the sacraments, or even on a born-again experience. Rather, Parker thinks that Christianity is a series of conservative positions on social issues. She feels increasingly like a minority because her definition of Christianity increasing excludes more and more people.

Patrick
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

The FRC is quoted as saying: “[H]omosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior.”

Religion is inborn, involuntary and immutable? That’s news to me. If it’s inborn and immutable, then why do evangelicals, including the FRC, try so hard converting people when they explicitly say it is immutable? Seems like either a massive waste of time and money, they are incredibly ignorant, they are blinded by their own rhetoric, or they are deliberately deceiving people. I vote for a combination.

David
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

“As a Christian, I believe in the truth of traditional morality as transmitted to us through our biblical sources.”

Ha.

The Bible teaches that morality is written directly by God in the hearts of human beings, and so is not contingent on “biblical sources”.

The moral wisdom that repudiates anti-gay theology is grounded in this God given innate sense of justice. In other words, for Christians who reject anti-gay theology, they are relying on what God has written directly on their hearts – per the Bible – to reject what people like Ms. Parker fabricate.

Star Parker is choosing a dubious “moral code” based on human interpretation over the innate hunger for justice that the Bible declares God has inscribed directly in us. She is essentially rejecting God.

Blackdog – your remarks demonstrate bigotry just as much as Ms. Parker’s remarks do. Your personal experience no more defines the lives of Christians than the personal experiences of Maggie Gallagher or Star Parker define the lives of GLBTQ people.

Atheism is intrinsically bigotry, so your accusation about Christianity is ironic.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of all support from civil equality for GLBTQ people comes from people of faith, including Christians, not atheists.

Norm!
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

How is religion a more immutable trait than sexual orientation? Couldn’t religion also be considered an uncontrollable behavior too?

People who dwell on their sexual orientation — especially gays, ex-gays, and ex-exgays — certainly view their sexual orientation and behaviors as a religious expression. Isn’t living as gay, ex-gay, ex-exgay the whole point of having freedom?

BlackDog
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

@ David:

I’m not an Atheist, and I personally find your assumption that I am to be *Quite* offensive. Not that there’s anything wrong with Atheists, I’m just not one. It’s a bit like conflating Jews and Muslims based upon the lack of consumption of pork products, and going over about as well.

I’m more-or-less an Agnostic. I believe that there’s a God or Gods or *Something* out there but I sure as hell don’t know what it is. I believe most religions have merit, yes, but there are some beliefs and sects out there that really hurt people, scam people, or kill people while enriching or holding up only a select few. So I do believe that there is such a thing as false religion.

I happen to know quite a few religious people across the board who support equality, as I do myself. Again, the whole bigotry thing there is highly offensive all the more because it doesn’t make any f*cking sense.

My negative opinion of many Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians not only comes from my personal experience with them, but from having observed their treatment of nearly everyone else who wasn’t part of their immediate tribe over the course of many years. It’s not just my personal experience but my observation of their treatment of large parts of the population.

I realize that the ones doing harm are a (probably small but loud) minority, and a large minority is opposing them, but I see the larger portion of Christians doing nothing at all. The bad behavior of, what? Maybe 25% of the group is poisoning the well for a lot of others. This sucks, but it’s what I can see from where I sit.

As a result of it (and with a little help from life in general) I’ve gone from conservative Christian to angry borderline-Atheist to studying lots of religions, to liberal Christian and finally settled on my own more-or-less agnostic belief system.

Again, I see your comment that I am an Atheist as uncalled for at best, and personally somewhat offensive. I think I’ve managed not to use as much profanity as my initial reaction called for.

BlackDog
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

“Parker’s definition of “Christian” is one that is not based on the teachings of Christ, on the sacraments, or even on a born-again experience. Rather, Parker thinks that Christianity is a series of conservative positions on social issues. She feels increasingly like a minority because her definition of Christianity increasing excludes more and more people.”

Honestly, from what I’ve observed, people like Star Parker will even define Christians who hold different beliefs as being “Not Christian” somehow or other.

It’s because of people like that, that I’m not a Christian anymore. After a while, I just got tired of the BS.

Craig
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

“Atheism is intrinsically bigotry…”

Nonsense. This statement is absurdly ignorant, and defies the etymology of the word. From the Greek, it simply means “without a god” — it doesn’t mean it *includes* any specific thing — nor does it require the *disbelief* of any particular god or gods. Someone who has never heard of a god or gods is atheistic, by default. There’s no bigotry involved.

MattNYC
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

@David

“Atheism is intrinsically bigotry, so your accusation about Christianity is ironic.”

That just has me scratching my head. Not believing in a “supreme being(s)” is bigotry? I won’t be settling on your planet nor should anyone else armed with a dictionary.

“The fact of the matter is that the majority of all support from civil equality for GLBTQ people comes from people of faith, including Christians, not atheists.”

Understand math much? And the majority of anti-racists are white. And the majority of poor people (in the U.S.) are White and Christian. So what? If you took a poll of each religious (and non-religious) segment, I think you’d find atheists near the top percentage-wise of those who are pro-LGBT equality.

Since you were the first to even mention “atheism”, I’d call yours an ad hominem attack.

Frankly, if atheists were not more despised than LGBT people (probably world-wide), a lot more people would come out as such (or at least as agnostic).

Jason D
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

MattNYC, Craig, BlackDog…give up while you’re ahead. David loves to toss baseless allegations against atheists. You’ll find him in many of the religion-related threads making all kinds of Broad Statements.

Even though he doesn’t belong to a group, and demonstrably knows nothing factual about them, he has decided for them what they are, what their intentions are, and mosit importantly that they’re “bad”. Sound familiar?

Richard Rush
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

David said, “Atheism is intrinsically bigotry . . .”

Well, David, I guess that’s one nifty way to insulate yourself from any rational thought that might poke holes in your religious belief system: All challenging ideas or questions can be conveniently dismissed because they are assumed to arise out of intrinsic bigotry. And then you can continue life in your neat and tidy Happy Place.

Priya Lynn
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

MattNYC said “@David

“Atheism is intrinsically bigotry, so your accusation about Christianity is ironic.”

That just has me scratching my head. Not believing in a “supreme being(s)” is bigotry? I won’t be settling on your planet nor should anyone else armed with a dictionary.”.

You see Matt, atheism says religious beliefs are wrong and to David saying someone’s beliefs are wrong is bigotry. Of course by David’s logic theism says atheism is wrong so theism is just as bigoted as atheism. David’s logic only works one way – its bigotry to deny theism but not bigotry to deny atheism.

Timothy Kincaid
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

Let’s not turn this into yet another atheism thread. Rather, let’s be charitable and assume that David confused atheism and antitheism.

Atheism is a belief about the existence of god(s), specifically that there aren’t any. It is no more intrinsically bigoted than are any of the many other belief systems about gods.

Antitheism is not necessarily (or intrinsically) bigoted but its adherents often engage in the same forms of bigotry that anti-anything-else-ism adherents practice (including anti-atheists).

While atheism and antitheism may sound similar (and one can be both) they are not the same thing.

Jonathan
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

Black Dog makes a comment that he is “no longer Christian” then takes offense when someone assumes he is athiest. It wasn’t presumption, Black Dog, when you say “I am no longer Christian” some will assume you are athiest. Your somewhat angry response seems false umbrage.

Timothy (TRiG)
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

And the bee David has in his bonnet about atheists is hardly news. Ignore the troll.

TRiG.

MIhangel apYrs
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

her inclusion of “religion” in the list betrays its bias. A religious belief is the most chosen of possible behaviours, and subject to change, but is seen by these people as requiring exceptional protections.

She defines her items as worthy of protection because they are “inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution”, and she excludes gay behaviour from this on no grounds other than opinion. One can only conclude that she constructed her straw man specifically to meet her pre-determined conclusions -what am I saying!! of course she did: define the “other” then kill it!

dave
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Why do these anti-gay people need to lie to try to make you believe what they are saying? It makes a mockery of their religion and their god. That’s why I don’t believe there is a god because god’s followers need to lie to make him real. This is why I believe religion is a form of mental illness.

Swampfox
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Family Research Council,

“[H]omosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior. [emphasis added]”

Inborn, involuntary, immutable and innocuous………..it would appear to myself that being homosexual (same sex attraction is maybe all four. Being an anti-gay Christian would only be something that would be protected in the Constitution.

Jason D
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Tim, unless I’m confusing David with another poster we have already gone over the difference between atheism and anti-theism. He ignored it. It’s not charitable to assume a mistake when past history shows they have been corrected on their assumption and ignored the correction.

But I do agree, we don’t need yet another thread getting derailed into defining what atheism is and is not.

Getting back to the thread…

Dave I came to a completely different conclusion regarding God’s “gentle people” lying through their teeth at every given opportunity. It proves to me that they can’t be speaking for God. God wouldn’t send liars. He wouldn’t need to. It just confirms to me that not only is there nothing wrong with homosexuality but that God him/herself doesn’t have an issue with it because all the supposed negative consequences are complete and utter BS.

EZam
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Even if most people believe homosexuality is completely the product of upbringing/environment, it doesn’t change the truth. After all, only 39% of Americans believe in Evolution.

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior.

And here is where the rhetoric of anti-gay activists falls apart. They refuse to acknowledge orientation and insist on behavior.

Ironically, orientation has not – to date – been found to be protected in the Constitution. But, as of Lawrence v. Texas, homosexual behavior has.

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Jason,

To pick up on “God wouldn’t send liars”, I’m bemused by those who think they have to lie to protect God’s truth, who have to coerce others into obeying God’s commandments, who throw the heretics out to protect the people from heresy.

Good heavens, what kind of anemic useless god do they have? If your diety is incapable of demonstrating his truth, has no power of persuasion over the heart (what Christians call the Holy Spirit) and will lose the argument to every diverging view, then it may be time to trade your god in for a better one.

Sheila Lynn
February 3rd, 2011 | LINK

She’s ignorant and does not speak for me as a black woman living in California who amongst many people such as myself did not vote for Prop 8 Hate. As in every group or culture we do not all think alike. Thankfully most black people see Star Parker for the charlatan she is. That being a leech on humanity suckling off the government with a non-profit that proposes to foster self reliance and economic vitality. Anyone with half a brain would know that the best poverty program is a job and Star Parker’s non-profit has created four paid positions, herself, her daughter, a preacher and an secretary. She takes 1/4 (about $120k) of the donations to her pimp program CURE as salary for herself. Anyone who donates to CURE is a sucker. Thankfully she lost in my District and hopefully she pulled up her shag carpet and moved out of our District. After all one less ignorant person in a community is a good thing.

Throbert McGee
February 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I have found that crudely saying “your dick just knows what it likes,” and reminding people about the phenomenon of unwanted and often embarrassingly-timed boners in junior high school, is in many cases the best way to cut through the abstractness of “sexual orientation vs. sexual behavior.”

At least, reminding people that “the penis has a mind of its own” can be an effective way to turn on a lightbulb for a lot of heterosexual men, and also for some women who happen to be mothers of boys — it provides a concrete object lesson that makes it easier for people to accept the unchosen nature of male homosexuality.

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