David Schraub makes an interesting remark over at The Debate Link, which I think is wrong in principle. Hopefully he will point out where he thinks I am wrong. He writes:
Can I just highlight this statement, by the way? “Perhaps our dissenting colleague believes that one can condemn homosexuality without condemning homosexuals. If so, he is wrong.” That is very powerful language–rare to see in a Court opinion. It also is absolutely right, and in many ways the crux of the analysis Reinhardt is making. This line of reasoning may be uncomfortable for many, but I think that they are the ones who should be doing some soul-searching if they can’t find a meaningful distinction between anti-gay and anti-Semitic or racist speech (see below).
The crux of this is the categorical statement that one “cannot condemn an act X without condemning the actor”. J. Reinhardt (and a consenting Mr Schraub) it seems are at odds with and dissenting with basic canonical Christian doctrine. So that leaves us with three possibilities,
- J. Rienhardt and Mr Schraub are wrong and that a statement about an action X can be made without condemnation of the actor.
- Their statement is right and Christian theolgians are all wrong
- Or of course, I am wrong and misunderstand both J. Rienhardt and Christian theology.
One of the essential doctrines we are taught common to Christian ethics is the teaching “love the sinner, hate the sin”, which means one must explicitly do the opposite as inferred by the statement, that is to put it in parallel form to the above, “one is to condemn the act X but cherish the actor.” Thus I’m going to assume that #3 is not the case (my misreading of Christian teaching). So it seems that the Christians are exhorted by their teachers (and preachers) to do what Mr Schraub and J. Reinhardt claim is impossible. If Mr Schraub is right, and this is the crux of J. Reinhardt’s analysis then … somebody is wrong and that error might be an important point.
What is it that informs the Christian logician that his statement condemn + love is tenable, when condemn => condemn is unavoidable. How might a Chrisitan logically condemn a sin without condemning the sinner. Well, the axiom which makes this possible is that the Christian believes that all are so condemned in the same manner. Thus the condemnation assumed by J. Reinhardt and Mr Schraub is avoided in that the condemnation does not single the actor out but merely classifies the individidual as belonging to the category of mortal human, which to say the least is not a very elite group. So the result is that J. Reinhardt and Mr Schraub are right unless one assumes that the condemnation applied is universally applicable to all and therefore not condemnation per se, in that the condemnation amounts to saying that I condemn the act X and therefore the actor is like me, in that he/she does things which I condemn.
For the Christian there is some confusion in this particular clash of worldviews. On the one hand, we have groups of people participating and celebrating actions which are viewed by (many or some) Christians are sinful. The confusion arises in wondering why individuals choose to celebrate such actions. How, in the public square, to confront such activities and celebrations is something Chrsitians are enjoined (by their love for the actors/celebrants) to do. How to do that in a loving fashion is the challenge. But I think it is clear that the syllogism proposed by these two legal scholars is wrong and the theologians win this hand. How that impacts our the legal case I will not presume to muse … but that might be an interesting question better handled by the gentlemen at, say, Mirror of Justice. It is likely that in the syllogism is wrong (one can condemn X without condemning the actor) but that in the case in question this was not done and that the actor was condemned alongside the action.
Finally, I’ll close with a comment on the particular case at hand. I think it the actions of the student are not particularly well in line with a Chrisitian approach to the issue at hand. While I myself am not versed in the teachings on homosexuality in the Church and Scripture so I cannot comment in any useful way on whether homosexuality is sinful/shameful or not. But, it would seem to me if a person did feel that homosexuality is a sin, then the slogan on a T-shirt “Homosexuality is Shameful” would better be replaced with the two phrases “Homosexuality is Sinful” and “I am Sinful”, which at the very least would confuse the reader as to what the person was trying to say and engender some level of discourse on the topic. While it is well known that satire and humor can be a more effective weapon in brining a message across than many other more confrontational approaches, I am partial myself to obfuscation and confusion as a method of getting people to think new thoughts.