Ryan Anderson may be the most courageous person in America. Who would willingly place himself in the company of Piers Morgan and Suze Orman for the sole purpose of being their punching bag – something he had to know was going to be the case going in.

I forced myself to watch this video all the way through, and have to confess to having a visceral reaction to its contents: from frustration, to unease, to anger.

Mr. Anderson is not even extended the courtesy of being given a seat at the desk with the host and his other, obviously preferred, guest. He is not given the courtesy of being able to finish his sentences. He is not given the courtesy of the assumption of good faith. Instead he is the victim of moral preening (“I feel compassion for you”) and sneering derision.

In some ways, I find it all emblematic. Part of the liberal project is to marginalize religious belief, push it to the side, either through privatization or through redefinition. Putting Mr. Anderson among hostile audience members, not according him even basic respect, indicates that the host really isn’t committed to the virtues of democratic discourse. Whatever the merits on this particular issue, a few things ought to be clear:

  1. In the conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, the former will be happily sacrificed. Once same-sex marriage receives legal sanction, religious organizations will face overwhelming coercive pressure to abide by such.
  2. One reason why public attitudes have shifted so rapidly on this issue is that the same-sex marriage movement has craftily couched the debate as one involving basic American “values,” as a new civil rights movement: equality, liberty, the harm principle, and toleration. Unless the Christian churches can provide a comprehensive response which both interprets and incorporates more holistically these claims, they will lose the public argument. The cost of losing will not be benign, for traditional Christians will then be regarded as not committed to those principles, and will either be forced to the edges, coerced into compliance, and/or excluded from the discourse altogether.
  3. The arguments before the Supreme Court are designed to accomplish precisely the latter: convince the Court to move preëmptively so as to bypass dissenting voices in public conversation.
  4. Once same-sex marriage is licit, the next move will be to endorse any form of sexual congress justified by “the love” of the participants.
  5. Those who “cling bitterly” to their old-fashioned ideas about marriage will be mocked, berated and, inevitably, legally sanctioned.
  6. Those of us in the Catholic tradition may have reason to be especially concerned: many of the advocates of so-called liberal democracy believe the Church to be anathema to their project. Piers Morgan may be an uninspiring representative of this, but he does represent a powerful impetus.
  7. I wonder what the reaction would be if the roles were reversed: if two “traditionalists” had sat on stage and treated a gay person the way Mr. Anderson was treated. Actually, I don’t have to wonder.
  8. Mr. Morgan’s treatment of Mr. Anderson gives lie to his claim that he believes in equality, liberty, and toleration.

This story will not end when the Supreme Court makes its decision. That will be only the beginning. How many of us will have the courage and equipoise of Mr. Anderson under those circumstances?

 

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.

28 COMMENTS

  1. If and when the predicted “overwhelming coercive pressure” and supposedly inevitable legal sanctions against traditional religious groups take place, I’ll be in your corner defending your religious freedoms. For now, I’m on the side of people asserting their right to equal treatment under the law (not under any church’s sacramental canopy). You are no doubt correct that “Those who “cling bitterly” to their old-fashioned ideas about marriage will be mocked [and] berated,” but so were those who clung bitterly to old-fashioned ideas about racial segregation. It’s tough when the tide turns against you, but it was tough on others, too; maybe if heterosexuals and gays were all in the same boat, we could all cope better with those tides.

  2. “Most courageous person in America” is a lot to deduce from willingly taking fifteen minutes of marginalization and browbeating on the Piers Morgan show, but I do think Mr. Anderson acquitted himself quite well in the face of such appallingly snide interrogators.

  3. Jack: Well, it’s very reassuring that you’ll be “in [the] corner” with us modern day segregationist bigots. Nothing to be worried about, then! Just like how awesome it was a few years ago to hear every single Dem politician state loudly and clearly that DOMA would protect any state from having to recognize same-sex marriage. Good grief.

  4. I suspect that many African-Americans would be insulted by the previous commenter’s unsubstantiated equation of race with the late-modern Western construct “sexual orientation”.

  5. This is my pastor’s response to this:
    What I get a kick out of is Suze Orman (purveyor of common sense money advice) calling Ryan Anderson (high honors grad of Princeton, Notre Dame Ph.D. candidate) uneducated. That tells you where it is really going. We will have re-education camps backed up by the threats of confess this or lose the ability to get a job. The target is really the church and churches would do good to realize that sooner rather than later.

  6. A friend of mine referred to it as a “ritual shaming,” and evidence that human beings haven’t really changed much when it comes to witch hunts and the like. I wish I had said that.

    And I said “may be” the most courageous. Or could perhaps be the most impetuous. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to agree to go on the show. I wouldn’t do so without contractual assurances replete with financial penalties if violated (such as no interruptions, no name-calling, no raising on one’s voice, etcetera).

  7. ~~If and when the predicted “overwhelming coercive pressure” and supposedly inevitable legal sanctions against traditional religious groups take place, I’ll be in your corner defending your religious freedoms.~~

    That’s mighty white a’ ya, Missuh Shifflett. I, however, don’t believe it for a second, not so much about you, whom I don’t know, but about many of your progressive allies, whom I do. Religious freedom is fairly far down the list of freedoms considered important by the irreligious, and will be the first of them to be thrown under the bus.

    ~~You are no doubt correct that “Those who “cling bitterly” to their old-fashioned ideas about marriage will be mocked [and] berated,” but so were those who clung bitterly to old-fashioned ideas about racial segregation.~~

    That’s a harebrained comparison. Marriage between a man and a woman has been pretty much the norm in Western culture (and most Eastern cultures, I might add) for over 2,000 years. Jim Crow, not so much. Religion and the traditional family are seen by progressives as hindrances to their statist utopian dreams; hence both have to go. This issue is especially of interest to them because it involves both religion and family.

    Oh yeah — then there’s this:

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pedophilia-a-sexual-orientation-experts-tell-parliament

    We are likely to hear much more along this line, as all logic and common sense must bow to the omnipotent Boink. In 1973 when homosexuality was deleted from the list of abnormalities by the psychiatrists and social workers very few would have predicted that in a mere forty years society would be pushing for gay marriage. My prediction is that acceptance of pedophilia will follow this same general trend, and that it won’t take 40 years. I also believe that we will see growing acceptance of incest and polygamy along the way.

  8. Never enter into a discussion, debate or conversation with someone who controls the time, place and manner of the encounter and whose understanding of the world is incommensurable with yours; or, as my daddy always warned: Never get into the proverbial contest with someone who is all bladder. One may also learn if one observes that Jacobins are never fair and they never give quarter. They call for compromise, and therein does a fool tread because for them compromise on their terms is weakness; and weakness they will probe until their bayonet meets steel, said once, I believe by the man named “Steel,” and that was not Superman.

  9. All marriage is secular. Without a marriage certificate from the state, you’re not married, despite whatever ritual you and the SO engaged in down at the local church or synagogue. Gays and lesbians just want the same legal status that any JP can confer. Drop the phony sanctimony and get over it.

  10. “All marriage is secular. Without a marriage certificate from the state, you’re not married, despite whatever ritual you and the SO engaged in down at the local church or synagogue.”
    I love how you are effectively making a backhanded argument for an established Church and/or a state that actively professed and believed in one religion or another.

  11. Gays and lesbians simply want what any infertile, atheist, thrice-divorced hetero couple can get from the neighborhood justice o’ the peace, and that’s the legal status that you sanctimonious Christians seem to think is yours and yours alone. Stop whining and do something productive for a change.

  12. “Gays and lesbians simply want what any infertile, atheist, thrice-divorced hetero couple can get from the neighborhood justice o’ the peace”

    True, if you happen to believe that marriage is simply a public stamp of approval on a sex-buddy partnership.

  13. Call it what you want, Rob – if you’re married, you’ve got a marriage license from the state. You have one, so does Mr. Polet, and all the other upstanding Christians on this blog. But then so do the all the other infertile, atheist, thrice-divorced, philandering hetero sex buddies. If you really wanted to ‘defend marriage’ you’d take it away from the ones giving it a bad name, but no, you and the Christian Soldiers want to inspect the genitals of the couple and find out how they plan to copulate before you permit the state to give the license.

  14. “Call it what you want”

    Why does it have to involve genitalia at all, then? Why can’t I just “marry” my best friend and sleep in separate rooms, continue to date women, and reap the benefits of the sham? Or do I have to sign a promissory note stating that I will engage in sexual congress of some sort with my ostensible spouse?

    Can I “marry” my sister if I promise notto have sex? We could save a lot of money that way — pool our resources, etc.

  15. ” Why can’t I just “marry” my best friend and sleep in separate rooms, continue to date women, and reap the benefits of the sham?”

    There’s no legal impediment to that, unless of course you’re gay.

  16. Soon after the Conservative government in the UK legalized Gay marriage, Conservative elected officals Boris Johnson and Michael Gove introduced legislation to formally pressure the Church of England to perform these marriages that are contrary to its faith. In the United States, in the few States that have legalized these marriages there have been about a dozen cases of christian owned businesses (photographers, florists, etc.) who have been targeted for not wanting to provide their services at these affairs.

    For anyone interested in why Judiaism and Christianity have forcefully rejected homosexuality this essay provides many insights: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles2/PragerHomosexuality.php

  17. “There’s no legal impediment to that, unless of course you’re gay.”

    So marriage means anything you want it to mean. Well then, why limit it to the post-pubescent, the human, or the number ‘two’? The hell with these archaic hindrances!

  18. No, Rob. Marriage is not what I want it to mean – it means what the state who issues the marriage license says it means, and your religion or lack thereof has nothing to do with it. It basically means you’re hetero, 18 or older, and have taken a blood test.

  19. C’mon, Bubba — I didn’t mean ‘you’ personally, I meant it generically.

    “Hetero, 18 or older, and have taken a blood test” is totally arbitrary. And religion does have something to do with it, or else ministers, rabbis, etc., wouldn’t have the authority to marry.

  20. I know what you meant, Rob. What you, Ryan Anderson, Dr. Polet and about 40% of America willfully ignore is this: gay and lesbian couples want the same legal status that the state confers to heterosexual couples with the marriage license. The church does indeed have the ‘authority’ to marry, but you and all your religious brethren who have been married by ministers and rabbis have that license from the state, and you have that license for the same reason that gays and lesbians want it. If you were honest, you would admit why it is you seek the license from the state.

  21. Add mind-reading to the accomplishments of “bubba.”

    I am honest and married and I never sought license from the state. Of course the state did require a license, but I never sought it, though I am its benefactor for old theological reasons that have yet to–and apparently can’t–be discussed here.

    Nor is the sought-after “legal status” lost on Rob, Anderson, or Polet. I think they get that.

    Those arguing across purposes would do well to admit that they are arguing across purposes. Such admitting should either alter or end the arguing.

  22. “Religious freedom is fairly far down the list of freedoms considered important by the irreligious”

    Naturally. Even the irreligious that believe in the religious freedom would not give the same content to the term “religious freedom” as one religious would give.

    This is so because the content to the term “religious freedom” is given by one’s beliefs about the supernatural realm. If one simply lacks any supernatural convinction, then that person would naturally have a very thin content of “religious freedom”.

  23. Excuse me, Mr. Peters, you didn’t seek the license, but you have the license nonetheless. Thanks for the religious distinction.

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