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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Swiss Cheese Reasoning

Apr 2, 2006

Sometimes you read something that really gets your juices flowing. An article in yesterday’s Sunday Herald Sun is a case in point. The author made a really illogical case for homosexual marriage. I felt compelled to pen a reply this afternoon. In the light of the new push for same-sex marriage in Australia, the following 1000-word article may be helpful to you in standing up for the real thing.


Fuzzy thinking, mushy moralising

Bill Muehlenberg

There is an enormous amount of sloppy thinking around these days. Especially when it comes to issues of morality. Many of our supposed experts and elites are in fact totally out at sea when it comes to clear thinking and moral clarity. The examples appear on a daily basis.

Consider a column found in the 2 April 2006 Sunday Herald Sun by political correspondent Glenn Milne. From beginning to end it is one long exercise in muddled thinking and moral thickness.

Entitled “Labor’s courage on gay marriage,” Glenn Milne’s article is an attack on John Howard and the Federal Government for its stance on same sex marriage. He makes a number of foolish and oft-repeated arguments. None of them stand up under scrutiny.

First, he claims that Howard is playing “wedge-politics” by taking a strong stand on this issue. He says Howard’s stance is simply meant to split Beazley from his blue collar base in the Labor Party.

The truth is, Howard is standing strong on this issue because he believes in the importance of marriage, and is not willing to redefine the whole institution without a fight. And he also knows that the overwhelming majority of Australians know what marriage is, and do not want activist minority groups and their media supporters to redefine its very nature.

If the blue collar types within the Labor Party do not like radical and trendy agendas like homosexual marriage, then the obvious thing for Labor leaders to do is to reject it as well. The only ones playing wedge politics here are the homosexual activists who wish to decimate marriage for their own ends, and their media supporters, like Milne.

Milne then makes this statement, somehow thinking it strengthens his argument: “Most people either know someone who is gay or of someone who is gay.” The implication seems to be that nearly everyone is homosexual, and that numbers alone determine what is right.

One might as well argue that in Germany in the ’40s everyone knew a Nazi or knew of a Nazi. Does that therefore make that worldview right? Does that mean we as a society need to embrace that activity? Since when does numerical prevalence determine what is right and wrong?

And it may well be the case in fact that many people do not know homosexuals personally, for the simple reason that there are not many around (less than 2 percent of the population). Sure, most people know of homosexuals, since the media in general and people like Milne in particular are so happy to promote their cause, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. But exaggerated media coverage does not equal widespread public support, nor does it mean that homosexuals are ubiquitous.

But one thing Milne does not mention. There are also those people who know of former homosexuals. I know of a number of men and women who once were deeply into the homosexual lifestyle, but have now left it. Many of these ex-homosexuals have gone on to heterosexual marriage and have had children. Of course Milne and his ilk will never want that unpleasant fact to get out into the public.

Milne concludes his piece by offering some pretty shaky advice on how we should formulate social policy on this issue: “Who has the right to get in the way of gays’ happiness if they aren’t hurting anyone?” It appears his advice is simply to allow whatever makes people happy and does not harm others.

If you think about it for a minute, that is a pretty silly bit of advice. Fortunately most politicians – and voters – are wiser than this. They know that mere happiness is not sufficient for formulating public policy, or anything else for that matter.. After all, many people would be quite happy seeing polygamy, polyamory or group marriage legalised. After all, it isn’t hurting anyone and it makes those involved quite happy. Therefore, why not go ahead and legalise it?

And there are those who would argue that consensual relations involving incest are quite alright. If dad and daughter are happy, and are not hurting anyone else, then why not? A little bit of incest never hurt anyone, supporters will argue. And the main thing is, it makes them happy.

The examples are endless. Some people are quite happy to blow their minds using illicit drugs. They are the first to argue it is not hurting anyone else, and they do so very much enjoy it. So let’s legalise all mind-altering drugs. After all, we wouldn’t want to make people unhappy now would we?

Milne is wrong in other ways on this point. Governments have a right to promote what is in the best interests of society and its citizens. Heterosexual marriage is in society’s best interests. Promoting the dangerous homosexual lifestyle is not. And tearing down the institution of marriage by allowing any and every possible sexual combination is definitely not in the national interest.

Therefore governments have every right in the world to restrict behaviours which are not only dangerous to individuals and society at large, but which the majority of the population disapprove of. The real question is, what right do homosexual activists and their sympathizers have to impose their radical agendas on the rest of society?

What right do radicals have who wish to destroy marriage as we know it and to undertake enormous social transformation, just so they can indulge in their own preferences? And given that perhaps a majority of homosexuals do not even want marriage in the first place, as it is too restrictive to their lifestyle, why is this author, and others, so intent on pushing this agenda?

This article is so riddled with holes that it makes Swiss cheese seem quite solid by contrast. But the radical social engineers never let sound reasoning nor sound ethical reflection get in the way of pushing their agenda. What is really surprising is that they are given so much space in the media to do so. But that is another story.

Suffice it to say that clear thinking and moral discernment seem to be in short supply nowadays, especially amongst our intelligentsia and media commentators. Fortunately there is a lot more common sense and level-headedness in the population at large.

12 Responses to Swiss Cheese Reasoning

  • I am a gay man, and I would love to get married one day.

    I went to the wedding of two close (heterosexual) friends of mine last night. I thought it was beautiful, and I wish them happiness in their new life together.

    I think it’s good for people to celebrate love and commitment.

    John Kloprogge, Croyden, VIC

  • Would you have any objections to any form of “marriage”, such as that between a man and an animal? If so, why? If not, is any sort of “coupling” acceptable to you?

    Frank Gashumba, Melbourne

  • “Labor’s courage on gay marriage,” is not courage at all. It takes courage to stand for what is right!

    Frank Jetmar, Melbourne

  • Yes, it does take courage to stand up for what is right.

    It takes guts to stand up for a minority group that has been labelled “shameful”, “vile”, “moral terrorists”, by so-called Christians.

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Him, but a fellow called “Jesus of Nazareth” had a lot to say about standing up for the despised.

    John Kloprogge, North Croydon

  • Hi all,

    Bill, first of all: keep up the good work.

    John: I think you need to re-read the New Testament. It’s not only “about standing up for the despised”, it’s about adhering to the standards of a God who can’t tolerate sin.

    You’ve mentioned that you’re a homosexual. I’m not one who says that homosexuality is a worse sin than any other sin. Sin is sin. Sin is best illustrated and most relieved by the Christian religion. Let me explain.

    Sin is best illustrated by the Christian religion: Supposing the story is true of Jesus Christ dying for our sins on the cross (as I believe it is). Now, I am a father. If it took me to slaughter my own son (a toddler) so that your sins would be forgiven, I’d expect some kind of a grateful response. If you or I could say “Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything wrong, I’m an OK person and all”, then we really need to think about our response to this sacrifice that was made on our behalf. The Christian religion illustrates sin in this way. Mankind has rejected the most precious and costly kind of love that anyone could ever have for another: the sacrifice of a family member for the sake of hostile rebels. You don’t think you are a hostile rebel? Well, I think you are. I certainly am. But I acknowledge it, and trust that the cross of Christ will be my redemption, both now and in the end.

    Sin is most relieved by the Christian religion: This is my second point. I think it has actually been explained adequately in my previous point. The fact is, other religions demand that you follow rules, pray five times a day, slam airplanes into buildings, empty yourself, sing hari hari and set up vegetarian restaurants or whatever. But Christianity has a God that actually gave of himself, so that if you simply trust in him, and live a life that reflects and honours that trust, you will be saved. The ironic thing is, I suspect you haven’t gone to the websites of adherents of other religions to offer your thoughts (if you have, please provide URLs, which will show your name and date of your blog contributions). Is Islam tolerant of homosexuality? What would be the penalty for buggery (for example) in a state under Islamic law? I think you’ve visited the wrong website. You’re majoring on the minors.

    You and I have the same problem. We’re sinners in need of a saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ (regarding whom 4 Gospel writers testified to his life, deeds, death and resurrection) is the answer. This isn’t a verbal answer, or a text answer or a blog answer. It’s a reality answer. He’s a real person who cares about you and me.

    James Forsyth, Wuhan, China

  • Hi John, you mention the labels “shameful and vile.” I remember some time ago I was flicking channels on the t.v. when I switched to SBS and there I saw two homosexuals, one man was sitting on a photocopier while the other man was doing his thing with the guy on the photocopier. This to me was “shameful and vile”. I saw this just after 9:30pm and have since found out that this is a homosexual program screened weekly on the SBS.

    Frank Jetmar, Melbourne

  • John

    the thing with standing up for things, is that we all do it all of the time. Unfortunately, we do it based on what we believe to be right. Now that seems Ok until you think perhaps of some people in the past who have stood up for things that did terrible damage, or even killed millions, or…..

    So standing up for something that we believe doesn’t make it right. And all of us have a difficult time deciding what IS right.

    That’s where God helped me to turn from my many many sins by simply telling me that I was forgiven for them all when I turned away from them and accepted His son as my saviour and allowed Him to show me what HE says is right.

    I spent my life telling people what was what. Looking back now, it was all my own steam and confusion. So nowadays I put my trust in the teachings of the one who was planned from the beginning of time to come and make a way for lost people (all of us) to come back to God.

    The hard part is admitting that you are wrong. Our human nature rebels entirely against that.

    Could you let go of homosexuality? Jesus can help you to let go of anything – if you are willing. I let go of lust , theft, lying, rage, unforgiveness and more… anything and everything, He will cleanse us and forgive us. IF we are willing.

    Ron George, Perth 

  • Personally, I tend to not give my two cents when it comes to these types of message boards. More often then not, unfortuantly, it seems that the two sides become confrontational rather than civil.

    I am a Christian. Do I hate homosexuals? Absolutely not! Christ himself died for everyone hoping that all will come to find the Father.

    Instead of forming my own opinion concerning homosexuality, as a Christian, I find great security in learning how God feels about the issue. I know as a child of God that I am secure if His views and my views agree.

    So how do we know how God feels about the issue. I think the most logical answer would be to look in His Word.

    Before we do so, you must ask yourself one question.

    1. Do you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God?

    If you answered this question with a “yes” then please continue reading. If answered “no” then this posistion will not carry any weight with you.

    First, if you do believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then I suggest reading

    Romans 1:18-32 paying close attention to verses 26 and 27.

    I find it interesting that Paul describes these unnatural relationships as “shamless” and “degrading” passions. However in

    Hebrews 13:4 the Hebrew writer states that marraige should be held in honor by all.

    To me this suggests that the proper bond of marraige is held between a man and woman. Obviously, if God intended for the marriage bed to include two men or two women, Paul would not have stated in Romans that it is a “shameless and degrading” act.

    Other verses regarding homosexual behavior are:

    Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

    Now, if one answered “yes” the the above question, then I’m unclear how one can justify living this lifestyle.

    Please understand that I do not hate homosexuals. God desires for me to have love for them, just has He does. However, even though I do love them and am concerned for their eternal state, I do not love their lifestyle.

    I feel that homosexuality is sin and that it can be forgiven so that one may have the joys of being in God’s presence.

    Knowing God’s will tells me that people are given a choice. It would be unfair of God to command people to live a certain way if they couldn’t have the ability to follow His desires.

    1 Timothy 2:3 – 4

    Kyle Meyers – Wuhan, China

  • Kyle: Let’s take your argument to a logical conclusion.

    1) Since you believe that “the Bible is the inspired Word of God”.

    2) Consider the other parts of Leviticus that tell you that you shouldn’t wear clothing of mixed fibres, or eat meat and cheese, or shellfish, or touch pig skin, or about 100 other ritually unclean things.

    Then:

    3) Wonder how most sportsmen and women can lead that sick and depraved lifestyle when they touch a ball made out of pig skin leather, or how farmers can live a depraved lifestyle of mixed-cropping, or how fast food patrons are living that sick and twisted McDonald’s lifestyle, or….

    You get the idea.

    Cheers,
    Anastasia

    P.S. Being gay ain’t a choice.

  • Thanks Anastasia

    You have been allowed on this time, but you need to follow the rules, which include stating your full name and city. No such mercy next time!

    As to your last remark, are you then accusing homosexual activists like Graham Willett and Dennis Altman of being liars? They have spoken about the very real element of choice in the homosexual lifestyle. As have others. And I personally know of many ex-homosexuals. Of course their existence would threaten your ideology here.

    As to Leviticus, with all due respect, one could cut that entire book from the Old Testament, and the case could still be made. Indeed, you could scrap the entire Old Testament, leaving the New Testament alone to clearly proscribe non-heterosexual relations.

    So I am afraid you have not contributed all that much of use to the discussion thus far.

    Regards
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • John and Anastasia,
    There are two general rules which must be applied to any of the ritual cleanliness laws and moral laws in Levitcus. Firstly the context and situation of the original writing, and secondly the dealing with those ritual and moral laws in the New Testament. No space here for an in depth theological discourse on the matter but in short the New Testament removes the requirement for the ritual laws on non-Jews and strongly reiterates the reqirements for morallity. On a number of occasions the acts of homosexuality are clearly condemned as immoral and as something men choose to do.
    Yes Jesus is famous for hanging out with the outcasts of society forgiving their sins, even preventing an adultress from being stoned. But he wasn’t there to tell them what they did was OK. He never condoned their sins or explained them away but rather said to them ‘go and sin no more’.
    His mission was to save sinners, like me and Ron George, from our sins. Why would he die for our sins if there was nothing wrong about them in the first place?

    Roger Branford, Rowville

  • Roger: I agree with your comments. And as we know John and Anastasia need to make a serious decision based on the historical fact of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. They can use sophistry and selective reasoning from Leviticus and so on. But rather than looking at the “oh, Jesus just came to liberate me” and “Leviticus is all too confusing anyway” cop outs, they needs to get serious.

    John and Anastasia: In short, are you going to take the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ seriously, or are you going to continue to make jokes?

    James Forsyth, China 

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