CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – A Christian apologist laid out and responded to some of the most popular arguments for homosexuality in today's culture during Southern Evangelical Seminary's20th annual Christian Apologetics conference in Charlotte, N.C., and deconstructed the argument that people in disagreement with same-sex relationships are "intolerant, homophobic, hate-filled bigots."
"What is good, and what does it mean to be good?" asked Adam Tucker, a certified apologetics instructor and an interfaith evangelism specialist with the North American Mission Board, during a session on the topic of homosexuality on Friday.
"In a classical philosophical sense, good is whatever completes one's purpose according to his nature."
Tucker acknowledged that homosexuality is a very sensitive topic for a lot of people, and highlighted that there are people with good and bad intentions on both sides of the issue.
"We know there are people on both sides of this issue that have pure motives, sensitive hearts, and there are people on both sides of the issue that have very evil motives, are very bitter, and have wrong motives for arguing for what they do," the apologist said. He added, however, that sincerity is not what people are called to make judgment on.
"We can't judge on sincerity, it doesn't matter. We are called to judge ideas."
Bringing up pop culture entertainment that seemingly embraces homosexuality, such as the music of Lady Gaga and the TV show "Glee," he noted that people are bombarded with the issue on a daily basis.
"Unless you live under a rock, you are probably affected by this issue in one way or another," the apologist noted, observing that ideas are usually absorbed into culture.
"And those are usually the most dangerous kind of ideas. The ones we don't think about, the ones we just absorb, and never actually examine critically."
The debate on same-sex marriage took center stage in America in June, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the practice by dismissing an appeal seeking to restore Proposition 8 in California, and by striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied benefits to legally married gay couples.
The decision to rule in favor of gay marriage has been criticized by a number of conservative Christians, including Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, who following the Supreme Court ruling reminded Americans that "Marriage – the union of husband and wife – is timeless, universal, and special, particularly because children need a mother and a father."
On the other hand, major political figures such as President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA in 1997, have said that they have changed their views and now support same-sex marriage.
"Chelsea and her gay friends have modeled to me how we should all treat each other regardless of our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us," Clinton said of his 33-year-old daughter, who works with him at the Clinton Global Initiative.
"Many of them come and join us every Thanksgiving for a meal. I have grown very attached to them. And over the years, I was forced to confront the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else."
Tackling such cultural perceptions, Tucker presented a quote from a previous issue of Parenting Teens Magazine, which looked at some of the reasons people leave the church: "Unfortunately, Christianity is often equated with bigotry, racism, homophobia, and sexism. Today's generation wants nothing to do with that brand of faith."
The apologist used several examples from nature to illustrate that reality is objective and that everyone lives in the same reality. He explained that an apple will always be an apple and not an orange, and that eyes will always serve for seeing, not hearing. As to how this relates to moral goodness, he offered as an example an alcoholic person, who is causing damage to his or her self by drinking, even in a scenario in which it doesn't affect someone else.
"Reason tells us objectively what is actually good for us. The rational person will pursue what is actually good for them, even if that is opposed to their feelings or what they desire."
He then moved into the specifics of sex, noting that it's "undeniable" that the biological purpose of sex is procreation.
"Sex wouldn't exist if it wasn't for procreation," Tucker noted, and added that the second purpose for sex is an emotional one, "for unity between husband and wife."
The apologist argued that the purposes are connected, so that they facilitate an "emotional bond between husband and wife to raise children."
Going back to cultural views of arguments against homosexuality, Tucker offered a statement that many non-Christians accuse Christians of: "You're just an intolerant, homophobic, hate-filled bigot."
He broke down each of the accusations, noting that "we only tolerate things with which we disagree."
"Real tolerance is 'we have a disagreement, but I respect the right to your opinion.' But tolerance presupposes that we disagree. All people are equal, but ideas are not. We can't judge people, but we can judge ideas."
"So homophobia itself – being scared of gay people, or bullying – yeah, it's wrong. But disagreement does not necessarily mean fear or hatred," he continued.
"And I am offering a reasonable argument for my view – you may disagree, and that's fine, but I'm not being a bigot."
As for the argument that people are born gay, Tucker insisted that debating whether or not homosexuality has a genetic component is completely irrelevant, and brought the session attendees back to the example of alcoholism.
Next he addressed the position that homosexual behavior is often seen throughout the animal world, and displayed a slide that read: "Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found only in one."
"Some animals also eat their young," Tucker responded. "Good is determined by our nature. We are rational animals, which sets us apart from other animals. Animals aren't accountable to moral standards."
He also delved into the argument that culture is evolving, morals are changing, and that people not in favor of homosexuality are on the wrong side of history, by stating that such a position assumes that morality is changing for the better.
"That entails an objective statement of morality that you are moving toward," Tucker noted.
In a July 2013 Gallup poll, Americans again showed relatively split opinions on whether same-sex marriage should be legal or not. The poll, conducted in July 10-14, 2013, with a sample of 2,027 adults, found that 52 percent in total would vote for a federal law that would make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, while 43 percent would vote against it – a trend which has risen sharply in the last couple of decades.
Tucker concluded by tackling the argument that homosexuality is a civil rights issue, by stating that gay people's rights are not being taken away, as they are free to marry others from the opposite sex, but are not free to redefine marriage, in the same way that people are not free to call an apple an orange.