SSM Pt. 1 (Jesus, Pacquiao, and the view of Tolerance)

Few days ago, Facebook page Bilang Pilipino just released a snipped-out twenty-second-video of the boxer Manny Pacquiao expressing his views regarding Same-Sex Marriage (SSM). To see the video-clip, please click here. The video went viral of course. Given over 2M views, 13K comments, and over 20K shares in less than 24 hours of its publish.

Although a lot has been going on around the internet, Pacquiao then posted another video expressing his regrets of using particular words contrasting same-sex couples to animals. There he pleads forgiveness to the offended. Nonetheless, he never changes his views into it.

But since Pacquiao’s lines already drawn heated comments against him, and not against his views (e.g. “Mr. birdbrain,” “big words from a peabrain,”  “ipinipilit sayo ang diploma mo, kaya graduate na mangmang,” “we have something you do not have, a brain and a common sense,” “you tiny little brain, ” “your head has been pounded a zillion times,” “#notopacquiao,” “#BoboKaManny Pacquiao”), this blog will try to respond to some the comments of the first clip that brought my attention. Although a short blog won’t do justice, but let’s try to navigate with some.

But I want to start by dragging the classical view of tolerance to the table: disagreeing the idea yet accepting the person as a fellow with intrinsic worth.

Why do I say that? Because the common and distorted view of tolerance now means: in order to accept the person as a fellow with intrinsic worth, you have to agree with his ideas[1]Or as Rick Warren puts it:

Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Note that this blog isn’t against any person, but about some of their views and arguments for SSM. So let’s try to address some[2]:

View #1 Jesus the Christ is a revolutionary person who went against an oppressive empire to forward social justice and spoke of love[3]

This is how I see the reasoning goes, let me state it: (1) Jesus Christ went against an oppressive empire to forward social justice; (2) Being against SSM is oppressive, promotes social injustice, and unloving; (3) Hence, to be a follower of Jesus is to accept SSM at face value.

Premise (1) has no Scriptural basis. Jesus’ main goal was not social neither political. Although his disciples thought of him as the Davidic Messiah that would come with a political power to overturn the oppressive political empire at their time. That’s why their response is their wanting to sit at his left or right position, for they conceive that if Jesus will die (as he reminded them a lot of times that he will), somebody has to take his royal position, and that would be one of them (Mk. 10:35-37; Matt. 20:20-21). Because to sit to the left or the right is – to sit next to the highest place in a Jewish royal court[4]. Hence, Jesus rebuked them, for they are missing the point of his coming.

His main concern was not social justice, but rather saving the people from their sins to be reconciled with God. That is, to have an eternal life of joy in communion with God. Or as the famous saying: Jesus came here not to make bad people good, but to make dead people live. Man is spiritually dead. So in the fullness of time, God came down to save and to give life to the rebellious people who are wasting away and are walking in condemnation. Or as C. S. Lewis wonderfully puts it – the Author became the Actor in the scene through his death on the cross.

On premise (2):

Regarding oppression (2a): It cannot be used to promote SSM, since the other party could also claim that SSM is also oppressive and a mockery against the unique role of a man/woman of the historically recognized hetero-complementarian relationship as to be replaced by a same-sex partner.

To go even further, since same-sex couples could not procreate, arguably civil union will give them the privilege to adopt. Which means, SSM not only redefines marriage – it will subconsciously redefine parenting also. It trumps the child from his supposedly right to be raised by a father and a mother. In the words of a thirty-eight year old parent who was raised in a same-sex-headed household – “the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child” (See her full letter to Justice Kennedy here, the issue is not even religious).

So the premise (2) does cut both edges, thus cannot be used as an argument for SSM.

In regards to social injustice (2b) and being unloving (2c): I don’t disagree that Jesus promotes justice and spoke about love (Matt. 23:23). He even embodied love in the first place (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). But that doesn’t mean his gentleness represents Barney’s language of “just-get along friends!” Because Jesus also spoke boldly in the Gospels against sin, punishment, hell, and etc., and demands people to repent with urgency lest they forfeit their lives – and those are big words! So, does that mean that he is unloving for saying those things?

But here’s what I say: Just because one is not given the right to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s being unloving. What would be more appropriate to be called unloving, I would argue, is depriving the person the right he has in the first place. But that is not the issue here. Let me give you a parable.

Suppose a poor village boy named Pete went to a near city where people go on to trade. He then met a rich business owner named Rick. Seeing the privilege of Rick’s children enjoying their father’s profit, Pete shockingly approached Rick.

Sir, I want to inherit a part of your business,” Pete interrupted.

But you are not a child of mine,” Rick retorted, “I have only three children, and they already have their own part without anything left. And you can’t have any.

So Pete offended and upset about Rick’s response, paused for a while, and then exclaimed to everybody’s attention, “But that is so unloving and selfish!”

So the poor Pete went back to their village, offended by his confrontation of an oppressive capitalistic lifestyle, which only promotes social injustice, and at the same time rejects love.

Now, although I only made up that humorous story, but it expresses a general truth – only an heir has the legal rights in receiving the inheritance, and it’s not unloving to say that. Since Pete didn’t have the right of inheritance in the first place to be deprived with, Rick’s denial is not unloving. Not unless Pete would argue that he should have the right to be an heir and redefine the legal aspect of inheritance only because he wants it. Hence, we know that would be absurd.

Same goes for SSM. History is our witness where marriage was recognized as a union between a man and a woman, regardless of where they are coming from, that is, religious or irreligious background[5].

Now, showing the two premises to be false, the implicit conclusion that to be a follower of Jesus is to accept SSM at face value would therefore be impossibly true[6].

But now liberals come along and protest that: Freedom is doing whatever we want, whenever we want as long as we’re happy, and to prevent that from being so, is to be nothing less than unloving.

Although this blog may not try to respond to that bumper-sticker sentence (maybe not for now), but since I’m now more experienced than who I am when I was a kid, I can boldly say that I want to thank my parents for preventing me from doing whatever I want whenever I want, because they love me[7].

[Only one comment has been addressed in this blog, responses to other comments would be on another blog].

[1] I argue that this view itself is self-contradicting. For to accept it, is to disagree with the other person’s idea of rejecting it. Which means to accept this view is to reject the one who opposes and regard him as a person without an intrinsic worth.

[2] Here I will be using the term “SSM” to include civil same-sex union (as they try to remove any religious affiliation), although there would be distinction if you may. Don’t focus on this usage, or else you’ll miss the whole point of the blog. I’m just trying to generalize the two to save some space.

[3] This is an edited comment the represents some of the other comments against the clip.

[4] Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 6.11 .9.

[5] It’s true for Christianity, Islam, Pantheistic religions, etc. So to single out Christianity would be absurd.

[6] This blog has not addressed whether or nor Jesus condones SSM. That would be reserved for another blog, in response to the comment that Jesus forbids us to judge.

[7] Please forgive me if I go beyond my 700-word rule. The issue is too complex.