Getting ought from is, even when it isn’t
Nothing like a rousing debate via letters to the editor.
On Nov. 9th, the World-Herald published a letter titled “Differing beliefs don’t spell hate.” It says in part:
Some of us simply don’t believe that affirmation or promotion of homosexuality is in the best interests of society. …
If we refer to the Bible, it doesn’t mean we’re calling for a return to the entire Old Testament Jewish law. All divine prescriptions (rules) aren’t universally obligatory.But some rules transcend culture and have universal application because they go to the essence of human nature. Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality and extramarital sex are such prescriptions.
The thing about human nature, or natural law, is that most people employ the terms to describe how people ought to behave, as according to such law. But natural law doesn’t legislate (as much as I’d love to break the law of gravity); it merely describes what is. We would certainly find homosexuality within human nature, and in overall natural law — for example, bonobos often engage the same sex, and so do penguins, and gulls, and dolphins (oh my!).
It doesn’t follow that because only ~10% of humans are homosexual, those 10% should try to emulate the other 90%. You don’t get moral claims from mere observations. To decree that homosexuals should stop being homosexual requires a higher authority, one that “transcends culture and has universal application.” In the absence of evidence-based arguments to this effect, what recourse do we have but to religion, and particularly the Christian Bible?
Let’s continue down this road and see where it leads us. The argument that we can ignore certain parts of Biblical law is simply heretical, and quite frankly, it’s bad for your health. From the same book that condemns homosexuality, we find in Leviticus 26:14-16:
But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.
Ouch. Luckily, Jesus made with us a “new covenant” that frees us from the more mundane of these proscriptions, or allows us to pick and choose from the areas he never really addressed. Except that that’s heresy, too… Matthew 5:18:
For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
So put down that shrimp cocktail, you heathen. God hates shellfish, too.