Gays in the military

by Kim on June 24, 2009

“I am ambivalent about … gays in the military. I see no good reason why gays and lesbians should be excluded from military service … I think it a wonderful thing that some people are excluded as a group. I only wish that Christians could be seen by the military to be as problematic as gays….

“But in some ways this prejudice against gays has worked in their favor. They at least know more about who they are and who their enemy is. If only Christians could be equally sure of who they are. If only the military could come to view Christians as a group of doubtful warriors….

“Christians, for example, might be bad for morale in the barracks. For example, non-Christians may find it disconcerting to have a few people gathering nightly holding hands with heads bowed. God knows what kind of disgusting behavior in which they might be engaged.

“Even more troubling is what they might say to one another in such a group. Christians are asked to pray for the enemy. Could you really trust people in your unit who think the enemy’s life is as valid as their own fellow soldier? Could you trust someone who would think it more important to die than to kill unjustly? Are these people fit for the military?

“Prayer, of course, is a problem. But even worse is what Christians do in corporate worship. Think about the meal, during which they say they eat and drink with their God. They do something called ‘pass the peace.’ They even say they cannot come to this meal with blood on their hands. People so concerned with sanctity would be a threat to the military.

“Having them around is no fun…. Their loyalty is first to God, and then to their military commanders. How can these people possibly be trusted to be good soldiers?

“Finally, consider the problem of taking showers with these people. They are, after all, constantly going on about the business of witnessing in the hopes of making converts to their God and church. Would you want to shower with such people? You never know when they might try to baptize you.

“If gays can be excluded as a group from the military, I hope that it could even happen to Christians. God, after all, has done stranger things in the past.

“However, until God works this miracle, it seems clear to me that gays, as a group, are morally superior to Christians.”

Stanley Hauerwas, “Why Gays (as a Group) Are Morally Superior to Christians (as a Group)”, in John Berkman and Michael Cartwright (eds.), The Hauerwas Reader (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001), pp.519-21.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1

DH 06.24.09 at 6:27 pm

It seems to me that Stanley is promiting this and by the nature of this following passage a response from me is not in order:

2 Tim 2:23-24
23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Here is a Scripture I find appropriate with Stanley being a scholar. I know he might be a Believer but it seems to me that from his statements that he is somewhat deceived in light of what Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6 and the out of context statements of Scripture and nature of Christ being in existent and consistent in the OT and in the NT and thereafter; he quoted:

1 Cor 1:20-21
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

2

Beth 06.24.09 at 6:35 pm

“…a response from me is not in order.”

Yup, I’d agree!

3

DH 06.24.09 at 6:56 pm

However, a response by God with the Scripture references I mentioned as well as Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6 IS in order.

The fact remains that the arguments that Stanley is presenting in the aricle are “foolish and stupid” like it says. Hense my lack of response.

4

Tony Buglass 06.24.09 at 9:14 pm

Couldn’t resist it, though, could you?

5

DH 06.24.09 at 9:21 pm

Tony, it isn’t me saying but God from His Word. “23Don’t have anything to do with FOOLISH and STUPID arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

It seems pretty clear from the tone and the mischaracterizations that it seems pretty clear.

6

Beth 06.25.09 at 12:21 am

There ya have it, folks - Professor Hauerwas is foolish and stupid. Perhaps someone should inform the faculty at Duke that the Almighty has personally denigrated their choice of Professor?

7

Steve 06.25.09 at 4:44 am

DH, I never knew the Bible said gays couldn’t serve in the military. Amazing what you find out online these days, eh?

8

DmL 06.25.09 at 6:26 am

A better question is why, these days, they’d WANT to.

9

Tony Buglass 06.25.09 at 8:38 am

“Tony, it isn’t me saying but God from His Word.”

Hermeneutics, dear boy, hermeneutics. Your argument is a non-empirical faith position. The bottom line is that it IS you choosing to make this point arising from what YOU believe to be the correct interpretation of the Bible. We’ve argued the details elsewhere, and I’m not going through it again, but the texts you cite do NOT say what you argue them to say.

10

DH 06.25.09 at 2:18 pm

I never said that Stanley was “foolish and stupid” but that his arguments promote these things. There is a big difference.

Steve, my response was in relation to his ridiculous statement regarding “gays being morally superior to Christians” which is totally absurd and is totally in line with the 2 Tim. 2 passage I referenced not whether or not gays should be in the military. It seems to me that Stanley is not being kind, is promoting quarrels and seems resentful.

11

Tony Buglass 06.25.09 at 2:50 pm

“his ridiculous statement regarding “gays being morally superior to Christians” … is totally absurd … It seems to me that Stanley is not being kind, is promoting quarrels and seems resentful.”

I suspect Stanley would be the first to say it is an absurd argument - it’s called ‘reductio ad absurdum’ and it fits with the general tenor of the passage, which (far from promoting quarrels) is provocative rhetoric, aiming to stimulate constructive thought and response. But you were distracted by the gay issue, and didn’t spot the kind of argument which was being offered.

12

DH 06.25.09 at 3:13 pm

Tony, and while it may fit the general tenor, the general tenor is one of “attempting to produce quarrels” and shows an attitude of promoting “resentment” that is not an attitude a Christian should have as evidenced by the passages I mentioned. I still don’t believe that it DOES promote “constructive thought and response” and I don’t understand how a person would see that as being the case.

Also the fact that the article is titled as such points to the idea that he he actually believes the absurd idea that gays ARE more superior as a group to Christians as a group.

I wasn’t distracted by the gay issue for I DO believe that gays can be in the military. I just believe in the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. However, that is a side issue in relation to the point I’m trying to make which is Stanley’s article doesn’t deserve to have a response for debate or argument. As you can see I haven’t presented a debate or argument with regard to the article. Only to point out the attitude that is clearly presented by Stanley that goes against the 2 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor 1 passages relating to “vain arguments which only are used to produce quarrels”.

I find it interesting that you believe that the passage is not promoting quarrels when in fact it is. I sense a hostility in Stanley that I don’t see even in myself. I know there have been times I have been that way but everytime I have tried to repent of that type of attitude. Stanley seems to follow the attitude that I was rebuked for on this site a few years back. Can one say “double standard”?

13

Kim 06.25.09 at 3:35 pm

It’s hard to have a conversation with someone about anything when he looks at it through the wrong end of the telescope.

14

DH 06.25.09 at 5:46 pm

Can’t we say that about Stanley with his “off the wall” statements which do nothing to help the Body of Christ but just puts it down?

15

Tony Buglass 06.25.09 at 6:15 pm

OK, let me try again. Do you really think that any theologian would seriously try to argue that gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)? I can think of some who would argue that they are as good as each other, or as bad as each other, but not ‘morally superior’. So he’s setting up an absurd position, which almost caricatures itself in its own statement - why? In order to apply the usual arguments posed against gays in the military on Christians in the military. “Showers? If you think a gay in the shower next to you is a bad thing, what about a Christian?!” Etc, etc.

Do you see what’s actually happening here? This is not about who is actually morally superior, but about the prejudices and arguments people use to try to score their points. THAT is the real target he addresses, and of course if people begin to think about how they argue (or prejudge) that is a postive outcome. Not so much promoting quarrels as provoking a response.

It’s called rhetoric. Preachers use it, teaches and politicians use it, stand-up comedians use it - it’s the way you shape your argument or case to get your audience onto the wrong foot, so they look at things the way you want them to, not the way the’d prefer; you get inside their heads and show them a new insight.

16

DH 06.25.09 at 6:58 pm

Tony, I do believe there are some liberal theologians who might believe that gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians to which I say is obsurd. I also have heard thousands of sermons by hundreds of pastors and I haven’t heard the type of arguments like the one Stanley mentioned. I don’t know if the Rev. Wright sermon is in that category like you mentioned or if there is one on the 180 degree opposite with the same intensity, then it is one I would reject due to the many reasons I mentioned earlier.

I personally don’t see how anyone can equate known gays in showers in the military as being equivilent to Christians in showers in the military especially under a don’t ask don’t tell policy that is currently in place. This isn’t a prejudice but an understanding of the potential legitimate pitfalls that can occur.

Again, I’m not against gays in the military.

17

DH 06.25.09 at 7:13 pm

However, I am for don’t ask and don’t tell which is a seperate thing

Oh gosh, Tony, it took many many replies but I’m starting to go against what the two passages I referenced admonish us not to do. If you could rephrase the words, which you are trying to do to some extent, in this discussion so as not to draw me in to violate what the passages I referenced say it would be greatly appreciated.

I guess I see a difference between “discussion/argument” vs. “ridicule”. Once an argument has “ridicule” it begins to go beyond the scope us as Christians should bear.

I guess for me and what I see of the passages referenced that there is a difference between “ridicule” and “admonishing what is truth”/”stating what a person disagrees with”. I see Stanley attempting to ridicule those who I happen to agree with. While I have done that in the past and repented of it, I desire not to do those sort of things.

I szee what Stanley is saying as being way beyond just “rhetoric”.

18

Tony Buglass 06.25.09 at 10:54 pm

“I do believe there are some liberal theologians who might believe that gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians …”

Which is a long way from the more absolute ” gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)”. However, can you give examples, or is this just a blanket mud-sling at liberal theologians? I can imagine some arguing that some gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians, and I can imagine agreeing with them, but we’re really straying into the realm of extreme and caricature here. Try again with what he actually says, and you will see it as a reductio as absurdum.

“I also have heard thousands of sermons by hundreds of pastors and I haven’t heard the type of arguments like the one Stanley mentioned.”

Fine. Proves nothing, except that in your type of church, pastors have particular styles of rhetoric. Or that you wouldn’t recognise the rhetorical structure of the sermons they preach. If you’re not trained in that discipline, why should you?

“If you could rephrase the words, which you are trying to do to some extent, in this discussion so as not to draw me in to violate what the passages I referenced say it would be greatly appreciated.”

Well, I think you’re halfway there when you can see the differnece between “discussion/argument” and “ridicule”. This is not about provoking discord, but about prodding at ideas, making people question their assumptions, making them think so that they see things differently. That is educative rather than corrosive, if you see the distinction. 2 Timothy is addressing the kind of sectarian arguments which are produced to exclude people, the “I am right so you have to be wrong” kind of argument which belittles people. The kind of prodding which Hauerwas and others use is a teaching method, inviting us to think together and grow together. That’s a different attitude altogther.

19

DH 06.26.09 at 2:51 pm

You say “but we’re really straying into the realm of extreme and caricature here”. and I believe that the caricature that even implying even in this “ad hom” way any remote connection that “gays as a group is more superior to Christians as a group” should not even been used as all.

I even think this is ridiculous “I can imagine some arguing that some gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians, and I can imagine agreeing with them”. However, a person saying they are a Christian and actually being one are two different things. Also, a person who is gay is still in perversion even if they are pure in other areas. I will say that if we use mans understanding rather than God’s understanding of “moral” then that is where we look at the “works” as opposed to Salvation alone by Faith in Christ alone as the sole determinate of being “pure”. “Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.”

I believe the Timothy reference is beyond or may not even be what you are saying. I believe the passage was in reference to arguments which do not involve things that Scripture condemns or supports and using that to exclude. Also with regard to “false teaching and doctrine” we are talking aboiut the things which go against Scripture of which Stanley seems to go against and even indirectly support the things that Scripture condemns or at least is NOT supported in Scripture. Homosexuality is NOT supported in Scripture. While the passages I reference regarding the condemnation of homosexuality include temple prostitution the fact there is no support for homosexuality in Scripture also shows that the Scriptures state that it is beyond just the arguments you have presented.

20

Tony Buglass 06.26.09 at 10:10 pm

“I believe that the caricature that even implying … that “gays as a group is more superior to Christians as a group” should not even been used as all.”

Well, as so often, we come down to “I believe” as if that is the final volley and wins the point. Unfortunately it doesn’t - I believe entirely the opposite, for the reasons I’ve already given. You haven’t addressed those reasons.

“I even think this is ridiculous “I can imagine some arguing that some gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians, and I can imagine agreeing with them”.”

Why? Again, this is bald assertion, unsupported by any intelligent reflection. Let me flesh it out for you: let’s say for the sake of argument a gay group are barracked and attacked by a fundamentalist group - let’s say the Westboro Baptist Church, well-known for this kind of action. In the ensuing disturbance, a gay couple find the windows of their homes smashed and biblical slogans spray-painted in the front of the house. Now, in such a situation (and it really isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility) I can imagine a number of theologians and church leaders who would utterly condemn the actions of the Westboro sect as profoundly unChristian, while offering their support to the oppressed gay group. If that were to happen in my pastoral area, I would be one of the church leaders offering support and shelter to those who might have been scared out of their homes by such violence - and I would affirm that the behaviour of those Christians in that instance was morally and ethically inferior to that of the gay community. Whatever views I hold on their sexuality being right or wrong does not entitle me to take the law into my own hands and destroy someone’s home.

Now, knowing something about Westboro Baptists, I suggest such a scenario is entirely possible. So the example I give is far from ridiculous. I will not repeat my arguments with you about what scripture does or does not say about homosexuality, because you simply are not listening to them. I will say that most of what you have written in this last contribution is a very blurry smokescreen which evades the points I have made and doesn’t even follow up the questions you asked before that. Go back and read it again, and then try to engage with what I actually said, instead of being sidetracked - again - into your well-worn groove about gays.

21

DH 06.29.09 at 3:24 pm

Tony, your “Westboro Baptist” analogy is a red-herring in the discussion we have had.

You mention this: “Whatever views I hold on their sexuality being right or wrong does not entitle me to take the law into my own hands and destroy someone’s home.”

Come on I totally AGREE with you on this one. Your use of this analogy lumps me in with groups which you believe have the ability to do this sort of thing. Just because two seperate groups of people unrelated happen to agree that homosexuality is wrong doesn’t mean they should be lump in together. It is the classic “over-generalization”. Also I find it in the opposite direction an over-generalization to say that no gays have or will do what the Westboro baptist did in your analogy. Would your answer be the same if the groups were switched?

22

DH 06.29.09 at 3:28 pm

The passages in Timothy I referenced were in the same conversation Paul had regarding “false teaching and false doctrine” so the statements regarding Stanley ARE consistent with what Scripture says. I too am not getting into the discussion regarind approval or disapproval of homosexuality only the tenor of the statements made by Stanley which should be rejected in light of the passages I referenced.

23

Tony Buglass 06.29.09 at 6:10 pm

“your “Westboro Baptist” analogy is a red-herring in the discussion we have had.”

How come? I said: “I can imagine some arguing that some gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians, and I can imagine agreeing with them” to which you replied “I even think this is ridiculous.” The Westboro Baptist scenario, far from being a red herring, is a perfect illustration of the case which you rejected.

“Also I find it in the opposite direction an over-generalization to say that no gays have or will do what the Westboro baptist did in your analogy. Would your answer be the same if the groups were switched?”

Of course. But that isn’t the point, is it? This line of argument goes back to your comment “I do believe there are some liberal theologians who might believe that gays are morally superior to some groups of Christians to which I say is obsurd;” you were moving away from the actual point, that arguing about the moral superiority of groups is deliberately absurd, in order to highlight the rhetoric rather than the case.

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