December 30, 2008
Rick Warren clarifies and confuses
Posted by: Chris
Throughout the outcry over Barack Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, I have taken a lot of heat for defending the megachurch pastor against claims he considers gay relationships the "equivalent" of incest and pedophilia.
As I explained (here and here and here), it was flatly irrational to interpret Warren that way, given that he was making a "slippery slope" argument that depends logically on examples like incest and pedophilia as horrific consequences of recognizing relationships like ours that are much less objectionable. I also interpreted Warren as favoring some forms of recognition for gay relationships, which of course he would never support for incest and pedophila, both illegal.
Now there's confirmation from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In a video available for viewing on the website for Warren's church, the evangelical is ostensibly speaking to his own congregation, but of course he knew that whatever he said on the subject of gay marriage would enjoy a much larger audience.
Here are some highlights (transcribed by me):
I have been accused of equating gay partnerships and relationships with incest and pedophilia. Now of course, as members of Saddleback Church you know, I believe no such thing. I never have. You've never once heard me in 30 years talk that way about that. …
God created sex to be exclusively in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. But I've in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child or, you know, between siblings, things like that. I've just never thought that in 30 years.
However, I understand how some people think that because of a recent Belief.net interview. ... In that interview I named several other relationships, in fact I've done it several times, named several other relationships such as living together, man with multiple wives, or brother-sister relationships or adults with children or common law partnerships -- all kinds of relationships -- I don't think any of them should be called marriage.
I was not saying those relationships are the same thing because I happen to not believe that and I've never taught it.
Just to reiterate my own view, I am not defending Warren's opposition to gay marriage, which is based on imposition of his own theological view in the law and "slippery slope" scare tactics that would fear-monger if they weren't so ridiculous.
I also could not help but laugh at Warren's hypocritical views on civility in public discourse. At one point in the video, he complains that gays treat all disagreement with them as some form of "hate speech," an accusation I think is unfortunately all too true:
Some people today believe if you disagree with them you either hate them or are afraid of them. I'm neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact, I love them, but I do disagree with some of their beliefs and I have that constitutional right just as I would fight for their constitutional right, too.
Then, later in the video, when he answers questions from his congregation about how he plans to respond to the controversy over his role at the inauguration, Warren engages in the same demonization and demagoguery he earlier criticized, and without even a hint of irony:
You've asked, 'What about these hateful attacks? ... How are you going to respond to all these false accusations, attacks, outright lies, hateful slander and really a lot of hate speech -- it's what I would call Christ-aphobia -- people who are afraid of any Christian. You know how I'm going to respond. You already know the answer. ... We return good for evil, we return love for hate.
Just as progressives want Obama to unify the country without including the views of millions who disagree with them, Warren objects to demonization of his views while readily engaging in the same smear tactics. Warren will never gain credence as an advocate for civility as long as he uses such doubletalk.
But again, trying to focus on common ground, Warren does suggest without specifics in the video that he supports legal recognition in some form for gay couples, if not full marriage equality. Whether or not you believe, as I do, that Warren is clarifying his view, or is modifying his position in response to the controversy, he has very clearly left the door open to support for legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Given the proliferation of "bad cops" who have made hay out of this controversy, including gay leaders trying to change the subject from Prop 8, now is the time for "good cops" to reach out to Warren and see whether he would throw his specific support around some level of legal recognition, or perhaps even federal civil unions.
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