Monday, May 4, 2009

Joe the Plumber on Same-sex Marriage

Christianity Today has an interview with Samuel Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. Joe the Plumber. He has drawn the ire of some progressive bloggers for his answer on same-sex marriage. Saith the Plumber:
... I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary—it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing.
Love everybody, accept people, but don't let them near my children. In an interview in which he mentions God a dozen times and asserts his faith repeatedly, I am saddened that he missed the central component of the gospel message. As such, I absolutely love this quote from Andrew Sullivan in response to Wurzelbacher:
One might imagine that a brief reading of the Gospels would lead to an understanding that we should not, as Christians, abhor whole groups of people, or treat them as anathema, or regard their difference as a threat. In fact, a brief perusal might lead one to believe that Jesus emphatically saw this embrace of the other as a core value.
Elegant, classy, and spot on.


Katie said...

To be fair, I wouldn't let Joe the Plumber anywhere near my children...

Also, what's with the sudden uptick in unintelligible hard-right-wing anti-gay marriage rhetoric? First Miss California and now Joe the Plumber? Seems like Dem Bones is the only place left to hear actual discourse on the subject, from both sides, instead of just barely coherent blabber.

Matt F. said...

One would think this would be the end of anyone taking good old Joe the Plumber seriously. You don't have to dig too far beneath the surface with some of these people, do you?

matt said...

serious discussion should involve serious people, not joe the plumber, or miss california. this post seems rather counterproductive in my opinion, and is here just to stoke the fire.

Matt F. said...

I agree that Joe the Plumber is not a serious person. However, it cannot be argued that one of the two major political parties has, and continues to, invokes Joe as a spokesman. He is newsworthy and relevant until his Frankenstein like creators publicly disavow the monster.

Kent H said...

Fellow blogites,
I hold to a pro-family and traditional point of view on the issues of marriage and homosexuality. I am against gay marriage for many reasons. One being that the word "marriage" has a definition that takes into it the sex of both individuals. I am also a libertarian in that I understand in a pluralistic society that many disagree with me and I think the difference is good and discussion (like the sort we promote on this blog) is great. I think homosexuals, are (and should be) granted privileges that include benefits, etc. for their unions.
But I was struck by the quote that my friend Drew touted so much:

"a brief reading of the Gospels would lead to an understanding that we should not, as Christians, abhor whole groups of people, or treat them as anathema, or regard their difference as a threat."

Frankly, that is a ridiculous statement. I have more than briefly read the gospels. I am a Christian college professor and actually teach the Life of Christ at the collegiate level. Jesus Himself did consider a good many things and groups "a threat" (Pharisees for example). We would consider criminals, as a group, a threat. Child molesters, rapists, drug dealers, communists, gang-bangers, etc. are all groups that are considered a threat. Sadly, I have heard some on this blog insinuate that evangelical Christians are a threat to one thing or another. So please, spare me the self interest-promoting spin that uses religious language to make a silly point.
Now, I don't equate homosexuality, and homosexuals as a group, with the threats I listed above. But if a hugely substantial group in America considers the issues of homosexuality a threat and inappropriate for their children to be around to the point they would make the statement, I would like to see the progressives in any group stand up for their right to hold their position. I would like for people on the left to say that both sides of the argument are valid and should be discussed. For some reason in the good ole' USA, political correctness in certain areas (like homosexuality, abortion, etc) is considered the "smart" thing and conservative ideals are the knuckle-dragging, ignorant, and "uninformed" thing. Have we entered the realm of thought-policing now? This country becomes more and more unidentifiable to me every day.

Anonymous said...

Kent H-

The problem is you're not asking for the right to be straight. You're asking to take away the rights of other people who aren't.

How does homosexuality threaten YOU? Or your family? Don't give code about "deviant lifestyles," which is a convenient way of avoiding an actual answer. I want specifics. I don't want to hear that it's a threat - I want to know WHY.

Please answer.

Kent H said...

First of all, I did not state that homosexuality was a threat to me. I stated that there are some who feel it is and that those people should not be simply villifed and criticized as unthinking and simple.
Secondly, I am NOT attempting to take away the rights of others. The point is just that. The homosexual community is not simply asking for the "right" to be gay. They are asking (rather demanding) for the right to have their lifestyle considered right and OK by the culture at large. That is the culture war part of this.
Many in America do not want their children exposed to those ideas because they disagree (in public schools for instance). They have the right to not have their children indoctrinated from any particular group they choose. As such, a "deviant" group of any type does represent a "threat" they wish to avoid impacting their family and they have the right to have that.
Homosexuals have every right to be gay -- that is not the point or the demand by many. They do not have the right to have the public accept their lifestyle in the form of public policy and public school curriculum that lays ideas before children that their parents would never allow.
Hope that answers somewhat your good question.

Jesse said...

(I actually didn't intend the above comment to be anonymous)

Kent H:

I appreciate your response, and understand your distinction.

But let's separate two parts of the issue. On one hand, you mention the promotion of "acceptance" and "tolerance," which you see as dangerous parts of a culture war. You're right that this is an important issue to many people, gay and otherwise. But if you think this isn't an issue of rights for gay people - more so than it is for straight people who feel "threatened" by them - then you obviously haven't experienced life as a minority.

Let's leave that aside, though, and move to the other comment you made: "They do not have the right to have the public accept their lifestyle in the form of public policy and public school curriculum that lays ideas before children that their parents would never allow."

This is pretty ambiguous, so let's talk about what this means in practice.

Gay marriage: does not require anybody to accept "gay lifestyles" except the people getting married and whatever religious or secular organization offers to perform the marriage. There is an active barrier in the form of government restrictions, and asking that those be removed is not "demanding...the right to have their lifestyle considered right and OK by the culture at large."

Right to visit loved ones in hospitals: Yes, this can be denied even to people who have been in partnerships for decades. People who married the night before in Vegas - no problem at all. (Incidentally, the primary reason this right is denied: lack of a marriage license to prove the relationship. See above.)

Rights of inheritance, tax supports for married couples, etc.: How do these hurt straight people, exactly?

Allowing non-straight people to teach: This is where the Joe the Plumber argument comes in. "I don't want them anywhere my children" doesn't mean "I have the right to raise my children as I wish," it means "I have the right to take away their right to engage in the profession of their choice." Tell me honestly: when you say "Many in America do not want their children exposed to those ideas because they disagree (in public schools for instance)," are you saying we shouldn't teach about homosexuality or shouldn't let homosexuals teach about anything? If it's the latter, how is that different from telling your school, "I don't want my son to have a black teacher?" Or, "I don't want my daughter to have a Jewish teacher?" How is it different?

So I don't think you can treat this entirely as a "culture war" issue and ignore the rest of it. Frankly, the culture war aspect is used as a deflection to avoid confronting the real issues. It's so much easier to say how some people will be hurt by changing the status quo than to recognize how devastating and violent the status quo already is for another group that you may identify less with.

Please let me know if I am misinterpreting or misrepresenting your views.

Kent H said...

Jesse, Good points. I have not spent time as a minority (unless conservative, conviction-driven, evangelical is a minority) - couple of addendums.

1) Gay "marriage" does demand cultural acceptance in that every tax payer's tax dollars go to support the benefits you say don't hurt straight people. We all have to accept and support the lifestyle financially (and I would accept this as not even among the 10 worst things we financially support).

2) At what point will people of conviction against the moral issues of homosexuality be forced to perform these weddings, acknowledge the couple in the benefits paid by the employer, etc.

3) On the question of homosexual teachers, I was speaking of teaching about homosexuality (the former) and not a homosexual being a teacher. So I'm out on that one.

4) The rights to visit loved ones is an issue that I think so-called "civil unions" would solve without attaching the gay couple's relationship to a religiously toned and previously defined word like "marriage."

5) I am wholeheartedly opposed to any type of violence - but frankly I don't see that as an issue at all. I think a group that has been previously hidden and had its lifestyle questioned vigorously has finally gotten enough governmental support to have their lobbying cries heard and hearkened in the face of a majority that is extremely uncomfortable with the pragmatic outworkings of a moral and culturally ethical dilemma.

Good chat,

Matt F. said...


You say you hold to a "pro-family" view on the issues of marriage and homosexuality. That alone is a slap in the face to every gay family in this country. I dont' want to spend too much time on this, because it is becoming more clear every day that you are fighting a losing battle on this, just as a losing battle has been fought against many minority groups in this country. To define yourself as pro-family, however, while denying the right of so many families to exist legitimately under the same rights you or I enjoy is ridiculous.

Kent H said...

To Matt F. and his straw man,

Well, let me try this again, because obviously someone was not listening:

1) I refuse no rights to anyone, first of all. I don't hold that authority.

2) I'm not sure what a "gay family" is, so, whatever.

3) The homosexual agenda in America is not a move for simple acknowledgement of their right to exist - they have that and have had it forever. The agenda, dear Matt, is to make every other American accept their lifestyle as normative and to pay the same benefits toward a morally questionable lifestyle and "family" type (in the conservative view) as they do for benefits to the traditional nuclear family. Why not pay medicare benefits to multiple-wife families. We already penalize a woman on welfare if she marries the father of her children. I guess we could find a home of four swingers, call them a family (redefine the word "marriage" while we're at it) and demand the American taxpayer foot the bill for their health care and benefits. The right to exist argument, frankly, is the only "ridiculous" thing I hear.

Try to keep up. No one says, "You don't have the right to exist." They say, "we don't have to recognize your lifestyle as a society by giving public funds to support it." Got it? Good.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Kent. I support homosexual marriage, but I acknowledge your points about forcing others to accept a lifestyle that is against their religion. It's a catch 22 situation.