One of the big news items of the past few days has been the debate in the US Senate over the proposed Constitutional amendment defining marriage. There has been a lot of noise about how the senators took the chicken way out by killing the issue before they would have to declare themselves in a specific vote. There has been an equal amount of noise labeling those in favor of defining marriage “traditionally” as being between one man and one woman as bigots, homophobes, etc. Shrill voices on both sides. Angry name-calling and lots of angst have been stirred up by this issue.
Just to be clear, I believe that one man and one woman is the absolutely right formula for marriage as defined by our Creator. But I see all the energy exerted to decry views on both sides as dancing around the edges of the real abyss. This issue, along with many others that the current evangelical culture seems willing to go to its death over, is peripheral to the real core issue. What we are facing is a clash of worldviews, and it’s even more basic than the debate over the truth or falsehood of Christianity that is raging, most recently as a result of the DaVinci Code book and movie. The first issue is whether God exists or not; the real fundamental argument is between the theistic and the non-theistic worldview, and this is the essential abyss that separates the sides on all these questions.
What all this boils down to is whether there is any source of absolute right and wrong. It is the root of the epistemological question post-modernism raises: is there truth and is it knowable. Until we address this fundamental issue, all we are doing on the issues of gay rights (including the definition of marriage), abortion, faith in the public square, etc. is shouting at each other across the barricades. There can be no real, meaningful debate, because we aren’t even agreed on the terms we use. Truth, right, and wrong mean different things to the two sides, so even though we think we’re having meaningful discussions, they are meaningless, as if one person is speaking English and the other an obscure tribal dialect from the deep Amazon jungle.
Until we in the evangelical Christian culture wake up to this and make the attempt to get at the real issue of whether and who God is in our culture we will continue to shout meaningless threats across the barricades, dancing on the edges, rather than begin the long, hard work of breaking them down and using the pieces to build a bridge across the abyss.