Friday, June 28, 2013

5 Reasons Why Christians Should Support Same-Sex Marriage

I am a believer. However, the issue of same-sex marriage is a personal one to me for several reasons. It's not so much that I am an ardent supporter of gay rights, it's that I see how people are being oppressed. I see how people are suffering, and I see the way in which christianity is being damaged because people are using the Bible to generate that oppression, and I believe Christ would be horrified by that.

1-You have no good reason to oppose it. 

I understand that Christians use the Bible as a moral guide, and that is totally fine. However, citing "because the Bible says..." is no more valid of a reason to legislate U.S. law than "because the Qu'ran says...." When we are deciding what is fair under the law, religious beliefs do not enter into the equation. Period. When pundits were giving arguments to the Supreme Court why DOMA should be upheld, not a single religious reason was mentioned because they knew the court would not, and could not, accept any reasons for supporting DOMA due to a religious belief.  Basing our laws on any religious belief is expressly forbidden by the Constitution. It is fine for you, as a christian, to believe homosexuality is wrong. But people are going to be homosexual whether or not they receive equal treatment under the law.

2-Because "What will happen if we allow this?" is also not a valid reason.

Dogs and humans will not be permitted to marry if same-sex marriage is allowed. Neither will children and adults be allowed to marry. The reason is because neither animals or children have the capacity to enter into legally binding contracts under the law. Marriage is, and always will be, about mutually consenting adults entering into a contract to receive benefits from the government. The same benefits which are being denied to some because of their sexuality, also known as, discrimination.

Furthermore, saying we should not allow X because Y could happen is a logical fallacy known as "The Slippery Slope". You cannot base what is legal and right on some possible future scenario.  Possible future outcomes cannot be used to determine the morality of the issue at hand. Allowing same-sex marriage is either constitutional or its unconstitutional. What MIGHT happen as a result does not factor into the legality of it.

3-Because people are suffering as a result

In their recent DOMA decision, the Supreme Court listed about a dozen examples of how homosexuals are suffering real, actual harm as a result of not being allowed to marry their significant other under the law.

Did you know under HIPAA laws only family are allowed to be in the room with critical patients? There have been numerous reports of couples who have been together for numerous years who were not allowed to see their significant other in their last dying moments because they "were not married" or family.

Secondly, there have been many numerous instances where the unexpected death of a significant other has had their estate assets transferred to probate or to the deceased persons' parents who opposed the relationship. In short, a significant other never got a chance to receive legal assets that a married person would have no problem being entitled to.

We can cite a number of examples of how the suffering of people could be alleviated by allowing same-sex marriage. You can cite no examples of how you personally would suffer if same-sex marriage were legalized.

4-It's going to happen anyway.

The course of American history has gravitated, without fail, towards the inclusion of previously marginalized groups of people. And every time, the inclusion of the oppressed has been strongly opposed and history has judged the opposers as hateful, small-minded, bigots, fair or not.

Fifty years from now, same-sex marriage will be legal in every state. Your grandchildren will view your opposition to it in the same way you cringe when you hear your grandparents or great grandparents dropping the "N-word" or saying "colored people" without a second thought.

Don't be on the wrong side of history.

5-You are damaging the testimony of Christ

This is probably the most important reason for your consideration. I have heard christians screaming until they are blue in the face, that they are not hateful bigots. To be honest, I sincerely believe you. I understand that you hate the sin and not the sinner. But to reiterate, people will be gay whether you give them equal rights under the law or not. The fact of the matter is, people who are being oppressed and who are suffering as a result look at christians and say "these are the people denying my rights, I want none of what they are selling."

I know that it's probably an unfair label that they are applying to you. Regardless of whether its fair or not, it is how people are perceiving christians. Imagine how differently the world would see christians if they flocked to homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, and food banks the way that they have all flocked to oppose same-sex marriage. Do you think the world would have a different opinion of christianity then? Which do you think Christ would rather you do?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Abusing "Open Mindedness"

One of my pet peeves (and there are many) are people who accuse others of not being open-minded because they refuse to consider a ridiculous hypothesis. Open-mindedness is not the willingness to consider a wild hypothesis. It is specifically defined as examining all of the available evidence with no emotional attachment to the conclusion it points to. Open-mindedness is the willingness to accept whatever conclusion best fits all of the data.

Here are a few examples of the term open-mindedness being abused.

Person A: Aliens convinced President Bush to orchestrate 9/11.

Person B: That's ridiculous.
Person A: Dude, you are not open-minded.

Person A: I think the world is 6,000 years old and God created it in 6, 24 hour days.

Person B: There is a lot of evidence that disagrees with your conclusion.
Person A: You need to be more open-minded.

Person A: All of the Qu'ran is 100% true, inerrant word of God.

Person B: Muhammed did not go to the moon on top of a flying horse and cut it in half with a sword.
Person A: You, my friend, are not open-minded.

In all of these examples, Person A completely misunderstands what qualifies as open-mindedness in a vulgar display of irony, that they themselves are actually the ones who are not open-minded.  Again, it means having no emotional conclusion in mind when beginning to inspect the evidence in order to form a belief. Furthermore, it means once a belief is formed, having no emotional attachment to the conclusion when new information is presented that might necessitate changing said belief.

Often times people approach the process of forming beliefs backwards. They begin with a conclusion and accept evidence that supports their conclusion and reject evidence that conflicts with it. This is how wild ideas like holocaust denial, Illuminati, anti-vaccination, Young Earth creationism, etc. thrive. Humans are deeply emotionally attached to their beliefs, so much so that it often begins to become inseparable from people's identities when it is so far rooted in their psyche. This is exactly why brainwashing is effective. People would rather cling, sometimes violently, to an irrational belief than to change it.

People who begin with a silly conclusion in mind like "9/11 was an inside job" have to ignore a lot of facts in order to maintain that kind of belief. They frequently dismiss conflicting evidence to their beliefs with things like "that's the liberal media just spinning propaganda."  A reasonable belief, like a good scientific theory, must account for all facts and evidence and more importantly be willing to change when new evidence is introduced.

Here is an example of the correct approach to open-mindedness.

Person A: I think aliens constructed the pyramids to be beacons for their spaceships.
Person B: I have a PhD in Egyptology. We have extensive writings from Egyptian history outlining how the pyramids were built, which Pharaohs built which structure and why. We know the pyramids were used as tombs for the deceased Pharaohs to honor their greatness. That was their purpose. The pyramids are certainly marvels of engineering, although we don't have a full understanding of exactly what methods were used in construction, we can say in no uncertain terms that spaceships were probably not involved.
Person A: Oh, I did not know any of that, and the documentary I watched on ancient aliens didn't mention any of those things. I suppose I was mistaken.

The world could use a lot more open-mindedness and a lot less of what people think open-mindedness is.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Are Not Pro-Life

An argument frequently heard from people who are in opposition to gun control is that outlawing guns would create more crime.  Thus, people who are in favor of gun control only want to ban guns, not address the actual problem and would end up doing more harm than good.   People who make the argument that all firearms should be banned are suffering from a cognitive bias known as the attentional fallacy.  It is defined as the tendency to pay attention to emotionally dominant stimuli in one’s environment and to neglect relevant data when making sound judgments or correlation associations.

The same cognitive bias is often applied to other social issues, like abortion.  Many people who are pro-life suffer from attentional bias because they want to ban abortions completely, but that is wanting to ban abortions, not to protect life. If one is truly pro-life, as the writer of this blog is, one needs to take the following information into careful consideration and understand that your perception of what constitutes “pro-life” could be more destructive than helpful.

According to The Medical Journal, abortion rates are higher in countries where abortion is illegal. Unsafe abortions are performed at an alarmingly high rate in countries where abortion is banned completely. The World Health Organization estimates that 70,000 women die each year from unsafe, illegal abortion procedures.  So right off the bat, one needs to understand that wanting a ban on abortion will do more harm than good, put people at risk, and result in the death of mothers from unsafe abortion procedures.

If you are pro-life, as I truly am, your want should be as few abortions as possible.  Making abortion illegal will not accomplish that. In fact, outlawing abortion will probably make things worse.  Here is a simple formula that everyone needs to understand. More unwanted pregnancies equals more abortions.  Fewer unwanted pregnancies equals fewer abortions. It is really as simple as that.

The reason that countries where abortion is illegal have higher abortion rates is because the law is frequently based on religious beliefs which also limit access to contraceptives and comprehensive sex education.  I assert that pro-life people have a moral obligation to be pro-contraceptive.  We need to make contraceptives as available as possible and as inexpensive as possible.

Emergency Contraception versus Abortion Pills

Recently, a federal judge ordered making morning-after pills (an emergency contraceptive) available to girls as young as 15 years of age, without prescription.  This was met with furious resistance from the “pro-life” camp.  This decision was a huge win for pro-life supporters, whether they realize it or not, as it increases access to contraceptives which will reduce abortions.

The outrage from the far right stems from the misunderstanding that an emergency contraceptive, such as the morning-after pill, is the same thing as an abortion pill. They are not the same. In fact the morning after pill is, literally, the exact, same chemical makeup as birth-control pills, just at a much higher dosage.  It is physically impossible for a morning-after pill to abort an embryo that has already implanted into the uterus. It is not an abortifacient like the RU-486 pill which is NOT available, even to pharmacies. An actual abortion-inducing pill is only available to specially-qualified licensed physicians in the United States.

Pro-life people should support pouring as much contraception and comprehensive sex-education into the world as possible.  States and counties in the United States that offer both contraceptives to teenagers and a comprehensive sex education curriculum have the lowest teen pregnancy, abortion rates, and rates of sexually transmitted diseases. That should be the goal of pro-life people.  In contrast, states and counties that teach abstinence-only programs have the highest teen pregnancy, abortion, and rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  An effort to encourage children to be moral and abstain from sex is resulting in significant damage that is in direct contrast to the goals of pro-life groups.

I am pro-life. I want as few abortions performed as possible.  I want people to have a wide-range of contraceptives available to access cheaply. I want children properly educated about safe sex, sexually-transmitted diseases, and the dangers of teen pregnancy. I want no one to die from STD’s. I want no mothers dying as a result of illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. I am pro-life because I care deeply about the sanctity and decency of human life in all facets, not because I oppose abortion.