AUTHOR: Slublog DATE: 2/28/2005 03:41:00 PM ----- BODY: Puppy-Kickin' Time - Mike Heath has responded to his critics, and it isn't pretty.
As it ran in the Portland Press Herald on Thursday, February 17, 2005 Some Maine columnists are disparaging me personally and belittling my Christian beliefs. They wrongly assume that this is the way to undermine the Christian Civic League's work against the homosexual rights movement in Maine. That is why bitter personal attacks and ridicule have finally come to the forefront. Over the past decade, the League has more than once successfully opposed the agenda of the homosexual rights movement, even though every last bastion of elitism in Maine was against us. I don't think this success is attributable to my charming personality or my quick wit. It is attributable to the force of the ideas we have offered.
Last time I checked, the mission statement of the Maine Christian Civic League was "Bringing a Biblical perspective to the dialogue over public policy," not "Fighting the gay rights agenda 24/7." Almost every League statement or policy proposal in the past few years has been about homosexuality. Calling it an obsession of Heath's is not overstating the case. Check this site, and how many of the articles have to do with the subject. Gee, Mike. I can't imagine why "every last bastion of elitism in Maine" would be against you. I mean, how does something like that happen? In the past year, you've threatened to out legislators and accused the governor of having "one of those imaginary gay genes." These hardly count as forceful ideas. In fact, they sound more like crude personal attacks on those who disagree with you. Ever heard the saying about the pot and the kettle?
Now, the left has finally exhausted its supply of arguments and deceptions. The only course of action left open to liberal columnists is to attack me personally. I lead an organization which is concerned with matters of right and wrong, so words like "evil" and "wrong" do have a place in my arguments. I do feel outraged at times and angry at other times. This is a natural reaction for anyone who sees something he loves being harmed. And I do feel "buoyant and youthful" on occasion, when I see the truth winning out.
What you lead, Mr. Heath, is an organization that bears the name of Christ. You may be outraged and angry at what people are saying about you, but those of us who call ourselves Christians often feel the same emotions when you pretend to speak in our name or in the Name of the Savior we worship.
I don't hate anyone; nor do I ridicule or revile my opponents. My heart aches when I think of the brokenness I see in homosexual relationships.
Threating to out your opponents isn't reviling? Saying the governor has a "gay gene" isn't ridiculing? Using the recent mishap of the governor as a way to make a political point is fair game? You and I obviously have a different sense of what constitutes ridicule. And pardon me for asking, but just what the heck do you know about homosexual relationships? We can debate the theological disagreements with homosexuality all we want, but should be careful not to disparage the actual relationships. Focus on the policy implications, not the people. Hate the sin...you know the rest.
Someone very close to me recently told me about riding in a car with his young niece, a little girl without a father - not through an accident or a broken marriage, but through design. Her mother is a lesbian. The little girl asked my friend, "Is it OK if I call you Daddy?" If your heart isn't broken by this, you had better see a minister, and fast - or better yet, check your pulse. It is fascinating to me that this entire issue can be reduced so easily to an argument over one person - me - by so many otherwise thoughtful writers in Maine. They seem indifferent about the future of families in Maine, preferring instead to make the absurd charge that I "hate gays."
Well, my heart isn't broken, but my stomach is sure doing some flops. Ugh. Can't we just agree as conservatives that using children to make our political points should be left to the, uh, left? I agree that children are best raised by a mother and a father, but don't you think some sort of statistic would have worked better here? I repeat: ugh. And I don't think you "hate gays," but you and the organization you lead are certainly obsessed with them.
To those on the left, this isn't about hating the sin and loving the sinner. It's substituting personal attacks for real ideas. It isn't about important theological and philosophical issues. It's about the need to turn a blind eye towards matters of right and wrong, truth and falsehood. And this debate is deeply personal for all of us. The left is hitting closer and closer to more and more homes.
Uh...if this is about real ideas, then shouldn't this article contain some of them? Heath is trying to tell us what his political oppents believe when he obviously has no idea what they actually think. It's not that liberals believe there is no right and wrong, it's that they have chosen to redefine those terms to fit a particular ideological mold. Heath doesn't understand his opponents. When Jesus was on this earth, He would engage his opponents on their own ground, using their own language. Heath is trying to speak the language of mainstream evangelical belief into the secular policy world and wondering why no one is listening to him. If he wants to make a difference, he should learn the language.
We have some very serious work to do on the issue of human sexuality. If we do not, we are going to lose this civilization. Part of being human is to make a distinction between right and wrong. Philosophers call this "the ethical fact." All cultures have done this up to now, except our own, a culture in which liberals have gained the upper hand. They have decided to place sex in a special category where nothing is right or wrong.
Oh, give me a break. "Lose this civilization?" Criminy. Could we cool the rhetoric just a bit? Do I think gay marriage is an issue that needs to be debated? Yes. Do I think gay marriage, if passed, would cause the United States to collapse into a heaping pile of immoral rubble? No. Shrillness doesn't work. Just ask John Kerry. His dour pronouncements about the Bush administration didn't square with what most people saw around them. A lot of people in Maine know someone who is gay or lesbian and don't see them as civilization-destroying fiends. Instead, we see them as friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, etc. Acknowledging this wouldn't be hard, but Heath isn't interested. He would rather preach to the choir who believes as he does.
But allow me to ask a simple question: Wouldn't it be better for all involved if we maintained our traditional understanding of marriage and the family? Every lesbian or "gay" man longs for a loving mother and father. Every mother and father wants to build a family that gives them grandchildren. Why aren't we creating a society with policies, laws, and beliefs that support this obvious truth? Instead, we want to violate common sense, ignore the lessons of history and toss out customs and laws that stretch back thousands of years, all in an effort to place sodomy on a par with holy matrimony.
Okay, quick primer. Scare quotes around gay - bad. The word 'sodomy' - bad. If Heath is trying to convince people of his point of view, he's doing a terrible job. Remember what I said earlier about speaking his own language? That's exactly what's going on here. Heath refuses to moderate his rhetoric, alienating those who might be inclined to agree with him.
Where is the logic in this? Perhaps Bill Nemitz can explain it to you. I can't. It is a form of social insanity with roots that are deep and wide. There is only one solution, and that is for Christians to speak and act like Christians.
Okay. How's this? "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Or this? "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." But maybe you'd rather go on about gay genes and the sexual orientation of legislators.
That means no pornography. It is wrong. It means no sex outside of marriage. That is wrong, too. That means divorce only in the case of adultery, and even then it must be discouraged.
Hey, other issues. What a concept. Too bad it's only cursory.
Christians need to be Christian. What else will they be? From what historic and durable set of ideas will we derive our values? The "Religion and Values" pages of the Portland Press Herald?
Yes, Christians need to be Christian. And organizations that bear the name of the Savior need to have higher standards of behavior and rhetoric than has been shown thus far by the leadership of the Maine Christian Civic League. Remember who you are.
Do we even care? I hope so. Indeed, I pray so. The little girls and boys of the future are all going to want mommies and daddies. They are already calling for them, you know.
End with the appeal to emotion. It's a good fundraising tactic, but a poor debating point. The MCCL is an organization with no clout and no future. If it wants to survive, it should start expanding its focus and look at other issues that impact Christians in Maine. It should also consider a change in leadership. So far, it has shown an unwillingness to do either. If it continues on its present "all gay, all the time" course, then it will (and deserves to) fade from the Maine political landscape. --------