An Open Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

Many years ago, in Ancient Greece, philosophers and poets (that is to say, artists) were in a constant battle. In fact, they often walked to an alternate route if they saw someone from the opposite ‘faction’ on that way. For the most part, this enmity has fallen out of favor these days. For one, I think singers and philosophers can peacefully coexist if both groups keep to their respective spheres. Now, there’s been trespassing on both sides, but this new fad with singers and artists in general is something that I cannot help but address.

I was annoyed way back when when Lady Gaga posted a video which I happened to come across, where she was, I think, addressing Congress or something in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Now, I was completely for repealing it, but she did not make one good argument, rather it was all rhetoric and b.s. I have mentioned this is another post, but I find it very enraging when people 1) ‘argue’ for positions without offering proper arguments for them (“I want to repeal X, because I’m famous and I can sing, pretty please bend over for me.”) 2) speak outside of their field of expertise (being a celebrity/artist/singer/w.e. does not make you a guru nor give you perfect wisdom). Imagine how silly it would be if I, having absolutely no experience in music, were to start arguing that Macklemore needs to do this or that in order to make his product better. I think we’d all see the stupidity of that scenario.

Well, a similar thing has happened on reverse. I am picking Macklemore at this point in lieu of all the singers and artists who think it good to speak out and, by that act, exert their influence over their whole fandom without themselves understanding the issues at hand. Of course, it could be that some of them are doing it as a publicity stunt and I think that is even more lamentable, but I digress.

What often confuses me about people (in general) who are involved in the gay marriage debate is that they do not keep it strictly in civic and legal terms, but, instead, take the offensive into arguing against the Christian principles which many people accept in order to deny gay marriage. The question is then, not whether it is acceptable to make gay marriage legal, but whether it is consistent with Christian theology and morality to allow gay marriage. If that is what Macklemore and others want, then that is the issue we are going to argue.

I find it extremely amusing that, in the end of the video, they say “love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4), because it seems that Macklemore and the people around him do not understand that it is this same St. Paul, in the same letter,  very clearly states that gay sex is not permissible (1 Cor. 6:9-10). It’s almost funny to think that people presume to make arguments (a stretch, I know) from the Bible, when most likely they have heard the one verse of Scripture they are going to use either in some sermon in passing or otherwise have googled for it, without bothering to read what is going on around that one particular verse.

That said, let’s go into proper arguments for why, under Christian morality, homosexual sex could never be permissible.

First of all, as mentioned above, St. Paul explicitly presents as revelation that anyone who has homosexual sex (and does not repent) cannot enter Heaven. Now if he was literally wrong in this case and he presented it as revelation, there are two options to explain this: 1) he did not know what he was doing, i.e. he was crazy, or 2) he knew exactly what he was doing, i.e. he is evil. It is quite easy to drop off the crazy idea, because someone who was crazy could not done what he did nor written what he has written. That said, if you think he were evil and the people who compiled the Canon of the New Testament were wrong about picking his letters to be included in the Canon, then what keeps us still sure that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the right choices for Gospels? If they made a mistake once, why could they not make a mistake again in including one of those four Gospels instead of, say, the Gospel of Truth, or the Gospel of Judas, or the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, or the Gospel of Mary, and so on and so forth. Then, the question becomes not about homosexual sex, but about whether we know anything about Christ and, if not, whether anyone today is a Christian.

Second, within Christianity, marriage and sex in general is not seen as a means of recreation, but a means of procreation. This is the principle behind the Church’s stance against contraception. Because homosexual sex cannot be a means of procreation, it cannot be permissible.

Third, specifically about gay marriage,the Church is in disagreement in terms of parental imagery. One thing we often confuse in our minds is that we are not, in fact, the concrete entities to which God is being compared in the Bible, it is the other way around. That is to say, when God is called Father, it means that the earthly father is supposed to be a symbol and an image of the Father. In a similar way, our earthly mother is supposed to be an imagery of the Church. You can see how that could be a problem when two males adopt a child. As far as Christianity goes (and we may be able to treat the question in secular terms either, but this is not how Macklemore framed this debate), the ability for gay married couples to adopt and raise children would be a big problem.

That said, in the song, Macklemore talks about how some people think homosexual tendencies can be cured. I do not know whether it is possible for a person to wholly get past those tendencies, but I think people who argue that gay people need to be “cured” either don’t understand the issue or don’t understand human psychology. Even if homosexuality is a natural tendency, that does not mean that it is good. I have a natural tendency toward anger and pride, but I work (though admittedly not enough) to suppress those feelings. Of course, many people would agree that this would be the correct path to take against feelings of anger and pride, but if feelings have to do with sex, then they’re sacred? How silly. By definition, feelings are irrational. They must be judged by reason and only be allowed to become actions if they benefit the person (eating, for example is a very good feeling to hold on to). However, if, as any Christian would, you believe that sin damages your soul (and thereby your whole person and even the whole world) then it is a no-brainer to suppress those feelings.

Finally, a word to other people who oppose gay marriage. There are many out there who are preaching the Christian dogma as is, which, since last time I checked, included the separation of the sinner from the sin and hating the sin, not while, but because you love the sinner. Nonetheless, gay people are being treated as if they are guilty of a sin that is somehow special. I find that hypocritical and un-Christian. If you look at the quote from St. Paul (there are others, but 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the most direct), gay sex is condemned together with fornication, adultery, thievery, greed, drunkenness, etc. I do not know of one person today in the US who can say they have steered clear of all of these things, especially consider that in Matthew 5 Jesus says that if you have ever thought of adultery with someone else’s woman or fornication and the like, it is the same as if you had actually done it. If there is such a person, another response form the Gospels is indicative, specifically when Jesus tells the rich young man to give up everything and follow him. Long story short, if you think Christianity is comfortable, you are doing it wrong. Myself, I have more than one gay friend, which may sound very surprising to some people reading this post. They know my position and I respect the fact that they kindly decline to accept my views. After all, there is no forceful conversion into Christianity, they may choose not to obey the tenants of the faith. Of course, I pray that they will see the light of Christ sooner or later, but I am not going to stop being their friend or stop loving them simply because they are not Christian and neither should you, that also was ordained in the Bible.

For those who disagree with this last paragraph, I invite to offer me a Biblical argument (since I don’t think you can go anywhere in this direction with Tradition) to show where it says that it is not permissible to hate both the sin and the sinner in any other case, but that this case is somehow special. In the meantime, I would humbly advise them to pray for discernment in the choices they are making and, as a consequence, misrepresenting the Church. It goes back to what I was talking about in the beginning, namely, if you are not qualified to do something, wether that be to argue either for or against gay marriage, you should not do it, if only just to spare the side that you presumably support face when your arguments are refuted and your hypocrisy is revealed.

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5 comments on “An Open Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

  1. A. Robz says:

    I’m sorry, but your argument is offensive and flawed in several (if not all) aspects. As a male who identifies as homosexual that was raised in a Catholic household, I have strongly debated internally the nature of homosexuality as a sinful choice versus the nature of homosexuality being genetically predetermined. In addition, I have dedicated a lot of time to trying to understand the relationship between my religion and my sexuality.

    As you have mentioned, based on scripture open to interpretation that was written thousands of years ago – my sexual orientation is sinful by literal interpretation. However, my sexual orientation is in no way comparable to the emotions to which you attempt to equate it. It is not my choice to be attracted to and want to love another man in the same way you feel attracted to women. If it was a choice, why would I choose a life of uncertainty, persecution by the religion I was raised on, numerous social obstacles to overcome, and a lifestyle plagued by adversity? Actually, a better question, when did you choose to be straight? It must have been an easy choice, right? Why not make a choice that aligns with your religious beliefs? Why not make a choice that makes your life socially more simple – especially if you are a white male/female? You (hopefully) get my point. Don’t ever equate homosexuality to emotions all humans share, let alone claiming homosexuals should work to taint their urges as you attempt to control your emotional impulses.

    Instead of leading a life of repentance, I choose to believe that by being the best person I can possibly be I am making the most of my time here. My time here, which I also believe, is a gift I should fully try to utilize through the human experience. Tell me how I – a charitable, compassionate, generous individual – can possible be doomed/damned simply for my sexual preference.

    Furthermore, if I was one of your “gay friends” I would not only be upset, but highly offended. Your whole argument is very condescending, belittling, and written with an incredible tone of superiority over not only homosexuals but also over advocates of homosexuals having basic civil/human rights – especially those with any religious background or those who try to incorporate scripture into the argument you are trying to snuff with the very same scripture.

    In addition, I think it was pretty cowardly to not only attack Mackelmore but to also use his song as the basis for your article/argument. Here is an artist aiding the progression of human rights, and you are criticizing his actions and attempting to discredit said actions by arguing the definition of scripture and questioning his understanding of said scripture at the same time. Mackelmore aside, addressing your disapproval of same-sex parenting, is any parent(s) not a better scenario than no parenting at all?

    I just think you have a lot of gaps/holes/flaws in your argument. I think it is overly forced to be based on religion. Not to make accusations, but it also comes across that you are using religion to justify your issues with homosexuality. Be it a fear of what you don’t understand, blatant bigotry, or just intolerance fueled by whatever catalyst relevant to your life and beliefs – it very much comes across as a struggle to persuade your audience of your emotional argument by incorporating religion/scripture as a basis for justifying your dogmatic, ignorant tendencies.

    • Thank you for the response!

      Right off the bat, I think it is useful for me to clarify that arguments cannot, by definition, be offensive. They are either sound (i.e. right) and uphold logic, or unsound (i.e. not right) and do not uphold logic. They are not meant to be either nice or not nice. Imagine how fruitless it would be if I, as a theist, argued that any argument which seeks to disprove the existence of God is disrespectful and offensive. Let us leave off the rhetoric that plagues our culture (from both sides, unfortunately) and argue instead on the basis of logic (and, because this is meant to be a Christian argument, the Bible and Tradition).

      First of all, Scripture is not open to interpretation, whether you identify yourself as part of the tradition-conscious Churches or the Protestant Churches. St. Paul made it very clear in Romans that the figure of Christ is the interpretive key (hermeneutic) to Scripture, which entails a hermeneutic of continuity, i.e. reading the Bible with the understanding that it is the evolving and ever greater revelation of the unchanging and unchangeable God to His people. That said, as someone who embraces the Catholic tradition, you have to agree to the Living Tradition of the Church, which serves as commentary to the Bible. That said, I would find it interesting to see how Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 can be interpreted anything but literally (adding Matthew 19:1-12 as background). Of course, the verse in 1 Corinthians mentions fornicators in addition to the other offenses that preclude on from the Kingdom, so don’t think that I feel any more exalted than you by it, or that I see my own path to salvation as easy, though I will concede to you that yours is, in my mind at least, harder (for me, but it is exactly as hard as you can bear form the eyes of God).

      As a sidebar, your sexual orientation is not what is sinful. We cannot help how we feel. I did not mean that same-sex attraction was a choice, just as my heterosexual attraction is not a choice. However, they are both feelings. I hold my own attraction (or anyone else’s) in no higher ground than I hold same-sex attraction. It is, for the most part, irrational. My own heterosexual attraction as well as same-sex attraction can lead (not be, but lead) to sin. It’s made quite clear by Aquinas (as others before him) that attraction itself is not a sin (you see a beautiful man/woman down the street and so on). What is a sin is giving into that attraction. The Bible (and ensuing teachings, from the Didache onwards) say that there are many cases where giving into heterosexual attraction is sinful.

      That said, both the Bible and ensuing commentaries teach us that, unfortunately, because of what sex is to mean to the Christian, one can never give in to same-sex attraction. I understand that you can find this very harsh and, for my part, I know that it would be very hard, if not impossible, for me to keep that same rule. However, as a Christian, one must believe that Christ never gives one a cross harder than they can bear and that, if Christ calls you to celibacy, it is the same Christ that will not leave your side while you battle with not giving into that desire.

      St. Gregory Palamas (a Saint who is not recognized in the Catholic tradition, but who has some deep insights, just like C. S. Lewis) says that there are three kinds of theologians in the world: the Saints, who are the good theologians, those who trust in the teaching and testimony of the Saints, who are the adequate theologians, and those who do not trust in the Saints, who are bad theologians. Let us ever be the second group striving to be the first group and never the third group. If, as the history of the Church abounds with examples, there have been Saints that have given up everything in their lives, including their own lives for the sake of Christ and, in so doing, found perfection, then let us not fear that if we follow their example we will not be afforded the same merits. I have no problem accepting that for you or someone who feels same-sex attraction, it is the second most important thing in your life, as long as, as a Christian, you will accept that God, the Triune God, is the single most important thing in your life and that, for His sake, you would be willing to give up everything else, as the Saints have done.

      In addition, salvation is not something that we get for being “good enough.” In, perhaps, the most chilling verse in the Bible, Matthew 5: 48, Christ instructs, “be ye perfect, therefore, as your Father Who is in Heaven is perfect.” Clearly, being a generally good person is not enough. In fact, salvation goes far beyond being a good person. As St. Paul point out, it is not actions, but a binding relationship (faith) with Christ that saves us. This relationship is to be so intense that our will and Christ’s will be so in harmony that we can even say, “it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” It’s not a matter of whether one will fall short of the glory of God because they did 99% of the things needed and just didn’t do this one thing. As Christ clearly points out to Martha in Luke 10:41-42, there is only one thing needed and that is to seat at the feet of Christ and adore Him. For the Christian, all his actions do not come as some “justification” for Heaven, but are rather all completed out of the self-giving love for Christ. No action, therefore, is “good enough” to get you into the Kingdom, only complete love of Christ and, as He reminds us, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

      I attacked Macklemore because I am sick and tired of musicians who do not have any perceivable expertise in philosophical/theological debates trying to rhetorically argue for their position. If I, as a Platonist, decided to write and sing music, I’d fully accept Macklemore telling me it was whack, even if it had a good message. When he brings himself outside of the world of music and into philosophy or Theology, then he is open to my critique.

      In addition, I do have a second “part” to this post, where I make arguments on this theme without presupposing the truthfulness of Christianity. I am fully aware that these arguments hinge on that truth. My point in making a Christian argument was to show that Macklemore (and other people who choose to pursue this issue with a Christian assumption) are making their argument much easier to disprove.

      As a quick addendum: I find it harrowing that you think that the only two possibilities are either that I am ignorant or otherwise bigoted. One can be on the wrong side of the truth but still be a good person (as I believe about you). This tendency to say that one either must agree with an argument or otherwise be consciously working for evil is rather harsh and akin to the beliefs of fundamentalists.

    • Two more things that I forgot, regarding my gay friends and about living a penitential life:

      First, the reason why my gay friends, though they disagree with me, can live with it is partly because they are, at varying degrees, familiar with philosophy and they understand that there is never a debate where all the people in one side are good and all the people in the other side are evil. In addition, I don’t treat them any differently for their being gay, because I am a sinner and I too have given into a vast array of feelings that I should not have. In other words, I, too, stand in agreement to St. Paul’s saying, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” For this reason, my gay friends are no different than me, so I don’t see them as “dirty” or “evil” or “impure.” These kinds of views are much more common to be found in fundamentalist establishments, which besmirch the Bible and Christianity in general and are, objectively, guilty of greater sin than people who give in to same-sex attraction.

      Second, about living a penitential life. The first thing I want to clarify is that being penitential does not mean being a prisoner. Penance is not punishment, because the just punishment for any sin is not to say three “Hail Mary”‘s, but death. Penitential prayers and sacrifices are prayers offered in hope of repairing the original evil caused by one’s sins (so, the greater the sin, the more extensive the penance). That said, I strongly believe in a “weird” idea that is displayed in The Brothers Karamazov as “sobornost,” usually translated as “solidarity,” which says that we should do penance not only for our own sins, but for for the sins of the whole world. Though this outlook is very hard, it does not lead to a dour, downcast life, but a life full of joy from the fact that one is doing something to counteract the evils of our age on the spiritual level as well as on the physical level.

      That said, I want to share with you an episode out of the life of one of Our Fathers of the Desert, Abba Sisoe.

      When he was on his deathbed, his fellow monks were all gather around him and they say him talking, but it wasn’t with them, so they asked whom he was talking to. The Abba Sisoe told them he was speaking to the angels, asking them to give him a little more time, so that he could repent. The other monks told him that everyone knew he was holy, so he, of all people, would not have need of more time to repent. He answered, “I do not think that I have even begun to repent.”

      After these words, he announced that he saw the Lord and died with an expression of joy on his face.

      If you’ll remember the quote from St. Gregory Palamas above, I hope you understand why I hope I may have this outlook on life.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Enjoyed the entry! It bothers me when people mix two things of separate realms. Let people keep their morality. Morality and liberty/rights do not always need to mingle, and they do not always have to hinder each other.
    The only bit that I’d differ with you on is the concept of sexuality in Christianity. Sex is not only for procreation in Biblical Christianity, though traditionally it is. Paul advises that married couples do not deprive each other sexually so that they do not go and perform sexually immoral actions. So sex within marriage is regarded as an intimate action and sometimes recreational, not just procreational. In addition, it is believed that the phrase “the two shall become one”, refers to the idea that during sex, the two bodies are joined into one. So sexuality is more dynamic than just procreation. That is why the contraceptive debate still rages on. And there is really no literal biblical basis for either, so there is no official 100% stance. The Church has no official stance, though various sub sects hold their own beliefs on the matter.
    I group everyone proclaiming Christ into the Church. I’m not sure if Orthodox and Catholics group themselves with each other or Protestants. I’ve grouped all 3 together b/c I am writing from a Non-denominational standpoint.

    • Thank you for your thoughts!

      First, I’d hope that you’ll side with me in refraining from not using proper titles. That “St.” in front of “Paul” makes a lot of difference. Cratylus aside, I think Confusius hit the nail on the head when he said that if there were one law he would force on the whole world it would be that things (and people) be called by their proper names/titles. The metaphysical implications are immense.

      Second, I agree with the idea that morality and need some degree of operation, but with some qualifications. On the one hand, we must understand what the proper place of “law” in society is. A good country (or even civilization) is a country that makes its citizens good. Understood under this light, there is a very strong link between law and ethics (and the following of ethics, which is morality), so much so that Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics that ethics is to the person what politics is to the state (politics understood together with the fruits thereof, which are laws). That said, despite the fact that I think (as I pointed out in Part II of this response) that a purely philosophical (i.e. non-religious) case can be made against gay marriage, I would be perfectly okay if the state withdrew from the use of the term “marriage” and agreed to only advocate on civil unions, for the straight as well as the “gay” population. In fact, I am very much in favor of that system. You fill out the documents to be united legally and then, if you choose to, you may be married in whatever religious institution you so choose, or none at all. However, I cannot agree that, considering the connotation of the word “marriage”, it would be fine for the state to change its meaning, considering the historical (Chesterton’s democracy of the dead), religious and philosophical tradition behind the word.

      Third, I think the contraception debate was closed when the Didache came out. I understand that as a non-Apostolic tradition you may not see this document as authoritative, but, if only for its historical values, it should have an exalted position. The Christians in the first century were not confused on this issue and, though techniques and methods are very different today, the issue is one and the same and it would be a departure from authentic Christianity for us to consider the debate still open. Nonetheless I agree that sex does not have to be specifically focused on procreation within the marriage. The union of the husband and the wife is blessed by God and they are blessed to enjoy the full meaning of marriage. That said, however, though the couple does not necessarily have to follow strict rules about having relations only when conception is most likely (unless they really want a kid), that does not mean that they can pursue a completely recreative sexual life. In other words, I think that sex within the marriage should be recreative with the open possibility of procreation as opposed to artificially erasing the possibility of procreation.

      That said, I’d like to draw your attention to the richer meaning of the Greek word σάρξ, which means far more than body. It is often translated as “flesh,” which is sort of a code word which a lot of people who don’t know the connotations of σάρξ often miss. σάρξ does not simply mean “body,” but rather refers to human nature as a whole, body and spirit together. When Christ says that man and woman become one σάρξ, he means a bodily and spiritual unification. In fact, St. Paul follows this same idea in advising couple where one of the partners is not a Christian to not separate, since the non-Christian partner is sanctified through the Christian partner. That connection, therefore, though it starts with a corporeal union, is meant to go farther and deeper than that.

      I dislike taking denominational labels too far. I am Eastern Orthodox myself, but I am highly ecumenical when it comes to reconciliation with the Western Church (i.e. the Roman Catholics) and I have many dear friends who are Protestant. C. S. Lewis is one of the authors that I most admire from the last century and most definitely a role model, so I don’t see myself as particularly against any group of Christians, provided that they are Christians. However, I am very much against statements like the one the presiding Bishop(ress) of the Episopal Church of America made that we are saved not by Christ but by belief in diversity, against the anti-Christian teachings of the WBC, and against groups like Catholics for Equality or (much worse) Catholics for Choice, who would impose upon themselves an inaccurate title despite harboring non-Christian (and some times anti-Christian) beliefs. In other words, I see myself in union with Christians and in disunion with Christian impostors, who would rather embrace trendy heresies than the totality of the teaching of Christ.

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