How do we give loving answers to questions about faith and social issues that create interest in Jesus?
- Pray. “Come Holy Spirit, grant me wisdom, insight and love for this person.”
- It’s a conversation not a debate.
- Ask Questions / Ask “Why?” Seek to understand. You never need to feel stumped.
- “I’m curious, may I ask why are you asking?” ( best response to any question you may be asked)
- “I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that?”
- “That’s interesting, why do you think that is so?”
- Active Listening. Eye contact. Don’t rush to respond. Don’t interrupt. No cell activity.
- Respond Naturally. What is a loving response to what they have shared with you?
- “I’m so sorry to hear that. How are you doing?”
- Introduce a new subject. Create an opportunity to direct the conversation.
- “I’ve been meaning to ask you, what you think about Pope Francis?”
- “Have you seen the movie Noah? Wondered what you thought about it.”
- Answers / Perspective. Expect them to ask questions, to ask what you think.
- Sound-Bites: Short, rationale & reasonable. “I am not in favor of redefining marriage.”
- Stories / Testimony: Personal- “May I share with you what happened to me?”
Borrowed- “Wait till I tell you what happened to a friend of mine!”
- Feel, Felt, Found – “I understand how you feel, there was time I felt the same way you do, what I have found is that . . .”
- Their view is valid. Show kindness and respect for their position- it is real for them.
- They are not likely to change their minds- that is ok.
- We are establishing trust for future conversations.
- Introduce Jesus. Listen to the Holy Spirit for the right moment, a word of knowledge.
- “Thanks for sharing that with me. May I ask? Where is Jesus in this for you?”
- No pressure on you. It’s all a work of the Holy Spirit
- Closing the Conversation. Offer them something of God.
- “Thanks for sharing that with me, I’ll pray for you.”
- “One thing I know for sure, God is real and he loves you.”
- “Would you like me to pray with you?”
Same-Sex Marriage (a non-religious dialog)
Framing the conversation: What we have come to call the same-sex marriage debate is not directly about homosexuality, but about marriage; the re-definition of marriage. We do not address the morality of homosexual acts or their heterosexual counterparts. (from “What is Marriage?,” Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George) and an article by Brandon Vogt, “Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage.”)
What is your personal sound-bite regarding same-sex marriage? When asked what you believe about same-sex marriage what are you going to say? We need to respond to a question like this with a sound- bite. A simple statement that is short and easy to remember. We need to practice it so we can share it in a very natural, pleasant manner.
“So, what is your position on same-sex marriage?”
“I am not in favor of redefining marriage.”
“Why not?” “What is your definition of marriage?”
“Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.” from Standwithchildren.org
“The core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union.” from Robert P. George
“Marriage is a faithful, exclusive, life-long union between one man & one woman.” from Catholic Church
“For me it’s all about the family – marriage exists to unite a man and woman in a life-long commitment, to create new life, and provide children with their right to be raised by their biological parents. This is the fundamental building block for a healthy society.”
“To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant, and that marriage is essentially an institution about adults, not children; marriage would mean nothing more than giving adults recognition and benefits in their most significant relationship.” from Archbishop Cordilione
“I embrace the historical conjugal view of marriage versus the current revisionist view.”
“The conjugal view, defines marriage as a loving, emotional, bodily and spiritual bond, between a man and a woman, which sustains the world through the creation and nurture of children.”
“The revisionist view, defines marriage as a loving, emotional bond only, one distinguished by its intensity, with no reference to a duty beyond its partners.”
“A man and a woman are called to give themselves entirely to each other in the love that creates marriage and homes and calls into being children more dear to parents that all else.” from Scott Hahn
Some of their sound-bites:
- Every person has the right to share their love with whomever they choose.
- This is about the freedom to make our own decisions about our lives.
- Equality and love versus injustice and hate.
- The right to marry whom you love.
Some of our sound-bites:
- Despite all the rhetoric, this is really about the redefinition of traditional marriage as it has always been understood.
- It’s common sense that the ideal environment for every child is having a mother and father committed to each other and to their children in marriage.
- This strikes at the very heart of family, community and human nature.
- Marriage is not an emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the dictates of culture and the wants of adults.
Questions / Comments we will encounter:
- “This is about equality.” “Everyone has the right to marry whomever he or she wishes.”
– Really? How so? May I ask why you think that is the case?
– Why do you think the government even bothers with marriage? (It’s because marriage is likely to result in a family with children).
– Same-sex marriages are fundamentally flawed in their social construct and treatment of children.
(Redefining marriage denies children their fundamental right to be raised by their mother and father.)
– Do you think there should be at least some limitations on marriage for social or health reasons- like marrying underage children or close relatives?
– Since the government is deeply interested in the propagation and stabilization of society, it has historically promoted and regulated traditional marriage
- “It doesn’t affect you so what’s the big deal?”
– Really? Don’t you think that redefining this timeless public institution would have to have some effect on all of society?
– The data indicates it will weaken marriage. In Spain and the Netherlands- marriage rates have plummeted- it has discouraged people from taking it seriously.
– The data indicates that it affects education and parental rights. In Canada, the Toronto School Board mandated an education curriculum teaching homosexual and polygamous relationships as equivalent to marriage. Parents could not remove their children from this instruction.
– The data indicates it would threaten moral and religious liberty. In Mass and DC, Catholic Charities can no longer provide adoption services based on the new definition of marriage. Canadian Bishop Frederick Henry was investigated for simply explaining the Church teaching on homosexuality in a newspaper column.
- “Opposition is based on bigotry, homophobia and religious hatred.”
– Really? What makes you think that is true?
– As you have seen there are strong, rationale, reasoned arguments against the redefinition of marriage without touching any of those reasons you have mentioned.
– Do you think this has been true throughout history? If so, that would mean that the majority of the most profound thinkers of all time would likewise be, intolerant homophobic bigots. This list would include thinkers in many different traditions, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Musonius Rufus, Xenophanes, Plutarch, St.Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Mahatma Gandi. I don’t think that was the case, do you? Do you think we are somehow now more enlightened on this subject than these previous thinkers?
– Regarding bigotry, it means “unwilling to tolerate opinions different than your own.” Tolerating opinions doesn’t require enshrining them through law. I can tolerate advocates of same-sex marriage, seriously engage the idea, while still rejecting it for compelling reasons.
– Regarding homophobia, it means a fear of homosexuality. I can disagree without having a fear of it. I think I have demonstrated that my opposition is not irrational.
– Regarding religious hatred, some people do disagree with same-sex marriage for religious reasons. And I too believe there is faith-based truth to consider here. But as you have seen, I can disagree for many other reasons than the bible, divine revelation, or any religious authority.
- “It will not lead to other marriage redefinitions.”
– Really? Why wouldn’t it?
– Procreation is the main reason civil marriage is limited to two people. When sexual love replaces children as the primary purpose of marriage, restricting it to just two people no longer makes sense – wouldn’t you agree?
– If we redefine marriage as simply a loving, romantic union between committed adults, what principled reason would we have for rejecting multiple person relationships as marriages?
– Do you have any data to back up your claim?
(I do. In Brazil and the Netherlands, three-way relationships were recently granted the full rights of marriage. In Canada a polygamist launched legal action to have his relationships recognized by law. The California Legislature passed a bill to legalize families of three or more parents.)
- “If it’s all about procreation, why can infertile couples marry?”
– Good question, regarding young couples, it’s not generally known prior to marriage if they are able to conceive. We do know that every same-sex couple is not able to conceive.
– It’s true most elderly couples can’t reproduce. But they still represent the right combination of a man and woman needed to make children and as such offer a healthy model for the rest of society. Elderly couples are still capable of offering children a home with a mother and a father.
- “Children are not affected. No difference between same-sex and opposite-sex parents.”
– Really? It’s really not logical to say there would be no differences, is it?
– Is there data that you have seen that supports your position?
– To be fair there is not a lot of good data available. The American Psychological Association (APA) statement in 2005 that “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents” was questioned in June, 2013, by a peer reviewed paper in Social Science Research. It examined the 59 studies cited by the APA and found them all serious lacking in their process of gaining the data. In July, Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus released a comprehensive study titled “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents who have Same-Sex Relationships?” His work used large random and National samples and its scope was unprecedented among prior work in this field. He found that for a majority of outcomes, these children drastically underperformed children raised in a household with married, biological parents. More data will come out, over time, once it is more widely accepted.
– Don’t you think it makes more sense to think there would be differences?
- “It’s just like the civil rights movement of the 60’s.”
– How so?
– Do you think that sex is similar to race, and therefore denying marriage for either reason is wrong?
– Isn’t interracial marriage and same-sex marriage significantly different?
– Nothing prevents interracial couples from fulfilling the basic essence of marriage.
– Do you think African Americans, who suffered the most from marital discrimination, would liken the same-sex marriage struggle to the interracial marriage struggle?
(When Californians voted on Prop 8, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, 70 percent of African Americans voted in favor. “Likening same-sex marriage to interracial marriage is puzzling and offensive to most African- Americans, who are shocked at such a comparison.” Peters)
- “It’s inevitable- so let’s stand on the right side of history.”
– Do you really think it makes sense to look at a moral issue and say, “Well, people are eventually going to accept it so we might as well get in line?”
- “The Church is homophobic.” Or “I don’t understand the Catholic Church position.” (It is so bigoted, unloving, unjust). Or “Jesus’s message was of love, forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance. He would have approved of same-sex marriage.”
– Really? What makes you think that?
– What don’t you understand about the Catholic churches position?
– Ok, I could understand how you might feel that way, but why don’t we agree to put the church and faith based rationale on the sideline for now. Let’s just look at the subject in a rational and reasoned approach- are you ok with that?
10. “Marriage has evolved throughout history, so it can change again.” (arranged marriages, tying marriage to dowries, political reasons.”
– Really? How has the essential definition of marriage changed throughout history?
– Would you agree that in all those instances they still embraced the fundamental, unchanging essence of marriage – a public, lifelong partnership between one man and one woman for the sake of generating and raising children.
– Are you aware that this understanding of marriage predates any government or religious institution? It is evident even in cultures that had no law or faith to promote it.
– When in history where same-sex marriages legal and what was the result?
Remember our Mission: At some point in the conversation, assuming you have an established relationship with this person, led by the Holy Spirit, you might say something like:
“I have enjoyed our conversation, thanks for sharing how you feel regarding this sensitive subject. Would you mind taking a bit of detour? May I ask where God is in all of this for you?”