Mister Pterodactyl
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Just when I think I'm out, they drag me back in!

I don't know why the gay marriage issue is such a big deal to me. I don't know why it's so grating to me to hear someone insist on religious values as the basis for all morality (though I have some ideas on that one). I was going to leave this whole thing alone; I've done enough on this topic and was starting to repeat myself. Then I read Cal Thomas's column in yesterday's paper.

(I can't link to it directly, but if you want to give your mouse hand a workout, go here, then use the long series of pulldown menus and click on 'commentators,' 'conservative,' 'columns,' 'cal thomas,' and '03-01-2004.')

Here, then, is my open letter to Cal Thomas. I'll send it to him, if only I can find an email address.

Mr. Thomas,
In your column, “Fairness isn’t the issue,” which ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 8th, you call proponents of gay marriage “sentimentalist(s), trying to persuade me to a point of view based on your feelings about the subject and not rooted in the fear of God or some other unchanging earthly standard.“ About that standard you write, “At least we heterosexuals have a reference that is thousands of years old. What's theirs? And how do we know it won't change tomorrow?”
The Christian church has in the past been responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem witch burnings. Forced conversions were once common. God’s law was used to justify American slavery and decades of discrimination. I’m not a Christian but I’m sure modern Christians agree that those things were wrong. The question, therefore, is: have the standards changed, and if not, what happened?

I’m not trotting out these much-used examples just to get under your skin. I’m offering them as evidence that Christian values are not as eternal or unchanging as you claim. Many things once condoned or encouraged by the church no longer are. Can you clarify, please?

This is not merely to criticize. I’m genuinely interested to hear your answer.

Further: “if you tell me you do not believe in God and then say to me that I should brake for animals, or pay women equally, or help the poor, on what basis are you making such an appeal?” I do have a basis. I do have a “standard for objective truth, law, wisdom, justice, charity, kindness, compassion and fidelity.” Call it the Social Contract or the Categorical Imperative or whatever you want. The difference between yours and mine is twofold. You believe yours to be cast in stone, unchanging, while I know that mine is capable of evolving to deal with new, unforeseen situations. You can explain yours with a single three-letter word. Mine takes a bit longer.

Mister Pterodactyl

P.S. If I manage to contact him directly, I will use my real name.
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