ISSUES IGNITE IRE
March 3, 2012
Fallacies of Logic Do Not a Fair Fight Make
Especially throughout this season of campaigning for the highest office in the land, emotions run deep; and folks don’t always see eye to eye. Passionate exchanges are inevitable, even within the faith community. While engaging allies or adversaries, our charge as believers is to employ clear thinking, alongside conviction, because fallacies of logic do not a fair fight make.
Straw Man Fallacy
One way of strengthening a weak position is to respond in advance to the anticipated arguments of one’s opponents. In the straw man fallacy, the arguer sets up a wimpy version of the opponent's position and, then, knocks it down.
Consider, for example, a four-year legal fight in Washington State in which two individual pharmacists and a family-owned pharmacy could be forced out of their profession solely because of their religious beliefs. You see, plaintiffs correctly view moral choice as their constitutional right under the “free exercise” clause of the Constitution. They cannot in good conscience dispense Plan B or Ella because they believe human life begins at the moment of fertilization; and both drugs operate by destroying a fertilized egg, or embryo.
Opponents insist that for plaintiffs to exercise conscientious objection is to deny a woman her right to reproductive health. This is especially true, defendants argue, in the case of rural patients seeking Emergency Contraception. Reasonable as it sounds, this simply is not so. Even in remote, rural areas, resources are available to patients through Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), the prescribing physician, social services, the internet, and/or third party delivery services—e.g., collaborative agreements, remote telepharmacy programs, automated dispensing machines, and/or balancing systems for owners of pharmacy chains.
It can’t be emphasized enough that, with or without referrals, there’s no documented access problem for any drug in the State of Washington (Plan B included). A patient’s need for timely delivery is met effectively by “alternative” facilitated referral.
Summarily dismissing right to conscience, President Obama announced in January 2012 that most religious employers must provide full medical insurance coverage for contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs like Plan B and Ella. Thereafter, the President “softened” his position; but Andrew Jackson understood what our current administration is slow to grasp: “As long as our government … secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
False Dichotomy Fallacy
This election year, another popular fallacy is that of false dichotomy in which the arguer sets up a situation to look like there are only two viable choices when, in reality, many more exist. The arguer then eliminates one of the choices, so it seems that only one remains—namely, the one the arguer posed in the first place.
For example, worshippers at Congregation Kol Shalom on Bainbridge Island in Washington are told, rightly so, that amid “all the howling” on both sides of the issue, few take the time to see what the Bible actually says about same-sex marriage. I agree with the Rabbi, “Reflective Bible study doesn’t come easily.” However, it would seem, his treatment of scripture is more “defective” than it is “reflective.”
In a special article printed in the Seattle Times (21 January 2012), the Rabbi explains what he believes the Bible to say about the matter. First, he distinguishes between the Christian Bible and Hebrew Scriptures. Of the Torah’s nearly six thousand verses, the Rabbi offers two that prohibit a man from lying with another man, as he lies with a woman.
Significantly, in presenting his case on behalf of gay marriage, the Rabbi fails to reference Genesis 19:5-11, 24, 25; Deuteronomy 22:5; 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 22:46; or Judges 19:22; and he dismisses altogether applicable New Testament references.
Instead, he selects two Bible verses, which he presents as comprehensive. The first, Leviticus 18:22, reads, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman.” According to Leviticus 20:13, to do so is a capital offense. Both, of course, cinch the biblical case opposing gay marriage; but these reasonably clear references apparently don’t qualify as definitive in the Rabbi’s view.
Begging the Question
The Rabbi sets up a situation to appear as if the Bible’s treatment of the subject is limited when, in fact, that is not the case. Then, he commences to “beg the question.” An argument that begs the question asks the reader simply to accept the conclusion without providing real evidence. The argument relies either on a premise that says the same thing as the conclusion ("being circular" or "circular reasoning"), or it simply ignores an important (but debatable) assumption upon which the argument rests—namely, that the Leviticus references expressly forbid gay marriage.
Next, the Rabbi rationalizes that, in prohibiting homosexuality, God fails to explicitly prohibit lesbianism. “If the Bible is to be our guide,” he adds, “we’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to forbid women from marrying women.”
In attempting to strengthen his original position, the Rabbi introduces doubt by posing a provocative version of the serpent’s question to Eve, “Hath God said?” Literally, the Rabbi explains, a man isn’t supposed to “woman-lay.” Perhaps the Bible simply prohibits certain sexual positions (like the missionary position?), or maybe God doesn’t want sex between men to be patterned after sex between a man and woman—i.e., as an act of conquest.
Tellingly, the Rabbi grabs at straws by admitting same-sex marriage “hadn’t been invented back then.” In this, he unwittingly accepts its having been birthed from a human (carnal) mind—not as part of God’s plan outlined in the Book of Genesis. Finally, he offers the real crux of the issue: To prohibit same-sex marriage would be as successful as folks today attempting to stop Facebook. In other words, just go with the flow.
Once sanitizing homosexual marriage as inevitable, the Rabbi sanctions it as reflective of loving one another and treating others with dignity and respect. He reasons that, while we’re together on the journey of life, we must be nice and get along.
In this, Rabbi Mark S. Glickman presents a viewpoint popularly held among the religious left. For the sake of consensus, he precipitously dismisses Bible truth for “unnatural selection.” By posing the puzzling question (“Hath God said?”), the Rabbi suggests (wrongly so) that God is more “nice” than He is sovereign.
Problem is, being “nice” doesn’t qualify as fruit of the spirit, and the Bible doesn’t explicitly command adversaries to “get along.” Nor does either solve the same-sex marriage issue. No one argues that traditional marriages are free from attack. Many end in divorce. However, homosexual relationships are not the answer just because the practice is increasingly accepted in a culture that has lost spiritual mooring.
Whereas 85% of married women remain true to their marriage vows for lifetime, and 75% of married men do likewise, numerous studies show that male homosexual relationships are most accurately measured in months rather than years. Specifically, a Netherlands study published in AIDS pinpointed the "duration of steady partnerships" to be 1.5 years. In Male and Female Homosexuality, Saghir and Robins found that the average male live-in relationship lasts between two and three years; and a Journal of Sex Research study of the sexual practices of older homosexual men further found that only 2.7% of homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime (Paul Van de Ven et al). These facts undermine any argument attempting to equate gay marriage with marriage in the biblical tradition.
Tradition Under Fire
Forget that the Constitution never gave final say on constitutional matters to the Supreme Court. By February 2011, President Obama had instructed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), which legally prohibits federal recognition of so-called same-sex marriages.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Any man who is cut off from the past … is a man most unjustly disinherited.” Throughout the course of history, marriage between one man and one woman has been the most fundamental institution of the whole of civilization. It represents the traditional building block of human society.
Embracing a homosexual neighbor or co-worker is not the same thing as normalizing homosexual marriage. For Lawrence v. Texas to protect sodomy under the Constitution’s so-called “right to privacy” demonstrates what a great Christian statesman, Lord Shaftesbury, famously argued: What is morally reprehensible cannot be politically right. Morality is more than a strategy for self-development, and the right to marriage is more than the right to state-defined benefits.
Serving as the prologue to homosexual marriage in America, this 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling was the prelude, as well, to legally sanctioned polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.” Justice Antonin Scalia adds, the decision “effectively decrees the end of all moral legislation.”
Consequences of Moral Confusion
Arguably, our nation’s principles of ethical behavior and criminal justice are firmly rooted in Bible truth. Indeed, founders granted freedom conditionally, based upon a citizen’s constant exercise of religious responsibility.
Unfortunately, America today houses two irreconcilably opposing cultures. One is Bible based; the other, decidedly not. Unless and until our national mind is cleared of the cobwebs of fuzzy thinking, history is destined to repeat itself: Once a society forfeits moral absolutes, totalitarian power inevitably moves in to fill the vacuum and, then, to order resulting chaos.
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Notable historian Arnold Toynbee fingered a clear indication of declining civilization: It’s when the elites mimic vulgarity and promiscuity of a “dominant minority” representing what he describes as “society’s bottom-dwellers.”
Unless Christians expose fallacies of logic, sexual “rights” will triumph over free expression of religion; academia will altogether silence politically incorrect speech; and ministers will be punished for preaching the Bible. In other words, the “grand experiment” we call America will have failed.
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� 2012 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved
Stormans v. Selecky, a landmark case handled by the Becket Fund, a non-profit,
non-partisan law firm that protects the
religious liberty of all faiths. Also on the legal team are lawyers Kristen Waggoner and Steve O’Ban with Seattle-based
law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry. Plaintiffs are challenging the Washington State Pharmacy Board ruling that, despite religious objections, pharmacies must forfeit their prerogative to facilitated referral and stock/dispense early abortifacient drugs, as Plan B and Ella.
2. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, ratified effective 15 December 1791, follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
3. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.
4. Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 7,10.
5. Galatians 5:22-23—The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
6. Charles Colson. “Addressing Sexual Dis-Integration.” The Sky is Not Falling: Living Fearlessly in These Turbulent Times: 2011, p.51.