Bigoted, Homophobic… and proud?!

Thought that title would catch your attention! One thing which annoys me about the whole furore surrounding the government’s proposals to redefine marriage (which I’ve blogged about before) is the careless way people use words like ‘bigoted’ and ‘homophobic’. Particularly the first one: these days, if you are opposed to anything which society in general seems to be for, you are ‘bigoted’. For example, Marcus Brigstocke tweeted about a month ago, “Hey The Church – heres a thought – man up and own your bigotry.” Is that fair?

Let me borrow the definition of ‘bigot’ from the online dictionary:

a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

Many say that because the church don’t want the government to redefine marriage, they are bigots. So they are ‘utterly intolerant of a different belief or opinion.’ The problem is… the idea that marriage should be a lifelong partnership between one man and one woman is an opinion – a belief. But the idea that marriage should be ‘egalitarian’ and allowed between any two consenting adults is also a belief or opinion. Unfortunately, the two opinions cannot co-exist legally – in a country such as the UK, it’s up to the government to pick a position and enforce it. In the past, such opinions have largely been drawn from a Christian view of the world (or at least, quasi-Christian). And many people still have that Christian moral framework in place, even if some of the distinctives have slipped out.

Let me twist the example slightly to illustrate. I’m sure there are plenty of people in the country who would like to legitimise polygamous marriage. Why, after all, should marriage be limited to two people? It’s true that ‘traditional’ marriage isn’t owned by the Church (although I think it is owned by God), but there are other religions which do permit polygamous marriage. And if more than two consenting adults want to enter into a marriage commitment, why prevent them? From a naturalistic point of view, surely – whatever they want to do, right? So is it consistent to call people ‘bigoted’ for being against gay marriage, while at the same time being opposed to polygamous marriage? I haven’t gone round and asked the people who have been throwing around the ‘B’ word if they’re against polygamous marriage, so I might be doing them an injustice (they might be all for it), but I don’t think that’s the case.

The point I’m trying to make, in a somewhat roundabout way, is that everybody has a framework by which they judge right and wrong. The church has the Bible, which – as I have argued before – is the only coherent and rational way to make a moral framework. Society – or at least certain parts of it – seems to have decided that it’s absolutely correct to allow gay marriage, it’s so obvious that anyone opposed to it is just doing it because they cannot tolerate other opinions (there is an irony there, by the way).

Everyone has a worldview by which they judge the world and form opinions about it. Things which are ‘obvious’ to one person will not be ‘obvious’ to another person. Rather than calling everyone who disagrees with us ‘bigoted’, why don’t we actually try to discern which worldview is the correct one, if any? I’d rather raise the question about how we decide what is right before looking at specific decisions: this is a matter which will have much greater ramifications than the definition of marriage.

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11 thoughts on “Bigoted, Homophobic… and proud?!

  1. It seems fashionable to be outwardly anti-religion especially anti-Christian as people aren’t scared of the peaceful reaction from Christians but would be scared of being labelled anti-Semitic if they criticise Judaism or be scared of the backlash by certain misguided Muslims if they criticise Islam. This is “militant” or at least “aggressive” secularism within the U.K. pioneered by atheists for the sole purpose of demonising religion in an inaccurate, sensationalist fashion as they cannot logically attack religion’s fixed moral framework.

    The media, notably the BBC is filled with people like Marcus Brigstocke who have said and got away with “bigoted” (according to their own misguided use of the term) statements towards Christians and Christianity – Stephen Fry, Russell Howard, David Mitchell, Stewart Lee to name a few of these people. Their offensive statements are met with rapturous applause and laughter by a morally eroded studio audience.

    Polygamy would never get the same kind of support and sensationalist promotion as gay marriage because firstly polygamy is not as unpleasant as gay marriage to Christians and the Church (perhaps in theory it is but not in practice). Secondly most of society doesn’t care about marriage, my point is that they are deliberately trying to push gay marriage to attack religion. Thirdly adultery and fornication between multiple partners is rife, again hardly anyone cares about the institution of marriage or it’s sanctity, there is no state law to punish this and it is even seen as cool or exciting to do these acts even though it causes so many social problems like family breakdowns, illegitimate children being uncared for, teen pregnancies, tax payer paid abortions etc.

    From an Islamic perspective polygamy is a remedy for social problems and prevents future problems and can only be performed if (1) the first wife allows it (2) there is a social need for it i.e. there are more women than men in a society (which is the case globally) and if there are many single women, mothers and widows which was the case after World War 1 and World War 2 and also (3) if the husband can treat each wife with justly – if he cannot then it becomes forbidden and a major sin to have more than one wife. There may be other rulings but these are ones I definitely know of. In these cases without sanctified polygamy major sin takes place like masturbation, adultery, fornication etc. and other social issues occur where women are left to fend for themselves which is the case in developing countries perhaps not as much in western countries.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent there about polygamy but it would never be a suitable “tool” for this anti-religion group to use against Christians or the Church where as gay marriage is the perfect “tool”.

    • Hi Darren, if you’d care to actually respond to any of the points in my post I actually made I might be able to demonstrate that they are not “drivel”, maybe even show that I am not as much of a plonker as you seem to think 🙂

      Phill

  2. All of your arguments also apply to people who oppose interracial marriage. Is someone who opposes interracial marriage a bigot, or are they, as you suggest, just people with different beliefs and opinions?

    In a poll of Mississippi Republicans, 46% opposed interracial marriage. That is higher than the poll results for opposing gay marriage in the UK.

    Final though: perhaps the government shouldn’t be in the business of regulating civil marriage at all? This whole debate wouldn’t exist if the government-recognised legal partnerships for all and left “marriage” in the pro/anti gay “church” of your choice.

    • “Is someone who opposes interracial marriage a bigot, or are they, as you suggest, just people with different beliefs and opinions?”

      I think part of my frustration with ‘bigotry’ as a word is that it’s easily used to label people in a negative way, but it doesn’t really mean anything (or at least, it’s been twisted). So, in your example, people who are opposed to interracial marriages, you seem to be suggesting those people are bigots, presumably because they are intolerant of those interracial couples. Of course, you might be labelled a ‘bigot’ because you are intolerant of the way they want to see things.

      Do see the problem? It’s unhelpful to see things in those terms. Labelling people ‘bigots’ or not isn’t helpful in terms of finding out the truth. What is helpful is determining how we make those value judgements, i.e. we need to agree on a framework by which we say whether certain things are OK or not OK.

      I agree that this whole debate would go away if the government didn’t legislate marriages. But our current government in the UK don’t seem to want to make that choice, hence the reaction.

  3. […] One of the messages of secularism – explicitly or implicitly – is that the world would be a better place without religion. We wouldn’t be relying on superstition any more, we could make rational decisions – and, what’s more, ethics would be based on reason rather than some ‘old book’. So, for example, no rational person would have a problem with gay marriage: gay people could just get on with their lives without fear of oppression from religious ‘bigots‘. […]

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