Monday, September 13, 2004

Debating in "Secularese"

I just wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper today.

Marriage is traditionally defined as a formal commitment of fidelity between one man and one woman. On September 18, I urge voters to approve the proposed constitutional amendment banning all state recognition of unions that do not meet this definition, not out of bigotry but for the protection and continuation of our society.

The smallest unit of society is the family. For a society to survive children must be raised who value the accepted practices of that society. Nearly every study on the topic has found that children raised in stable environments are less prone to crime and poverty. This means stable families are more successful in producing offspring that not only do not drain our state's resources in terms of financial assistance and law enforcement, but also are more likely to become contributing members of our society.

Civil and homosexual unions are well known for their relative instabilities and this is borne out by most studies on the topic. Even a 50% divorce rate compares favorably to the breakup rate among "alternative" unions. To allow state recognition of such unions is to encourage either a decline in our population, as no children are produced from homosexual unions, or an increase in the poverty and crime rates among children.

Protect and improve Louisiana. Vote Yes to Act No. 926 on September 18th.

Surprisingly, I fell just shy of the upper size limit for submitted letters :-)

One will notice that I included no religious or theological references here, and one may be tempted to ask, Why? The same question was asked several years ago on a college campus when the SGA (Student Government Association) started distributing free condoms on campus. Several area Catholics met to hash out a way to protest this situation. I commented that we should find not only religious but also secular arguments to support our protest, and the deacon was flabbergasted.

What he did not realize or understand is that people are all too willing to write off others who argue points from a religious perspective as religious zealots. This happens even among those who claim religious beliefs themselves. I heard a quote from a tent preacher one time that stuck with me: "A 'Jesus Freak' is anyone who loves God more than you do." How sad, yet how true.

If someone argues a point from a flawless theological basis and is ignored, in one sense that person has done worse than to simply remain silent. That person has been discredited in the eyes of those who might be influenced, and will subsequently be ignored for all further arguments. That person has committed "credibility suicide", if you will.

In order to convince anyone of a particular point, you must be able to speak to them in terms they will understand and appreciate. Most people will respond more readily to secular terms, at least partially because of religion's reputation for being so malleable by anyone with ulterior motives.

I think God has given us several ways to proclaim His Word and do His work here on earth, and not all of them include quoting from scripture. We need to be able to speak as the Romans do while in Rome (to slaughter an old saying) if we are going to make much of a dent in a secular world.


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