Ministers say the darnedest things. In a sermon to his congregation at Knollwood Church in Mobile, Alabama, Pastor Aaron Fruh declared that God caused the Great Flood to punish the people of Earth for practicing gay marriage. For ULC wedding officiants and other ordained ministers, it may seem pointless debating such claims, but there are several crucial flaws in Fruh’s argument that deserve to be nipped in the bud before they do any real damage.
The first problem with Fruh’s argument is that gay marriage is not mentioned in the Bible as a reason for the Great Flood. The Bible does say that God viewed humanity as wicked (Genesis 6:5), but same-sex unions are not specifically mentioned as the reason for God’s punishment. (The Bible does condemn homosexuality elsewhere, but it also commands may things we ignore, like non-virgin brides must be executed.) Ordained ministers and online churches should be pointing out this inconvenient truth to individuals like Fruh who claim to know their Bible.
Also problematic is Fruh’s claim that there is no historical precedent of gay marriage other than that which supposedly caused the Flood. This is simply incorrect. There is solid historical evidence that the practice existed in China during the early Zhou dynasty , the Chinese province of Fujian during the Ming dynasty , ancient Europe , ancient Rome , and medieval Galicia, Spain . It is the responsibility of wedding officiants ordained in online churches like the ULC to shed like on these important truths.
Besides, even if Fruh were correct and there were no historical precedent for same-sex marriage, this would not make same-sex marriage wrong. By assuming there must be an existing tradition of same-sex marriage to justify the practice, Fruh commits what is called an argumentum ad antiquitatem. This is a fallacy because it states that a thing is right just because it is traditional, but a thing is not right just because it is traditional; it is right because it is reasonable. As ordained ministers and ULC wedding officiants, it is our duty to expose this sort of fallacious thinking.
Finally, Fruh implies that a flourishing civilization is a righteous one, and a righteous civilization, a Judeo-Christian one. If so, we should see no examples of Christian civilizations in decline. But we do. In 312 Rome adopted Christianity as its official religion, and by the end of the century passive homosexual acts became punishable by burning , but in 410 the Visigoths sacked the capital, and by 476 the last emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed by the barbarian king Odoacer. Obviously, then, Judeo-Christian societies which criminalize homosexuality do not necessarily earn God’s favor.
Fruh’s sermon betrays a lack of intellectual responsibility. It over interprets the reason for the Great Flood as given in the Bible, it incorrectly posits that the antediluvian civilization was the only historical one in which same-sex marriage was practiced, it presents an appeal to tradition fallacy, and it incorrectly implies that God favors Judeo-Christian civilizations. It may seem
absurd to dispute Fruh’s preposterous claims, but it is vital we do so, otherwise we give people like him free rein in the same-sex marriage debate, and this is not good for justice and equality.
1. Hensch, B. (1992). Passions of the cut sleeve: The male homosexual tradition in China. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
2. Neill, J. (2011). The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
3. Boswell, J. (1995). Same-sex unions in premodern Europe. New York, NY: Vintage.
4. Eskridge, W. N. (1993). A history of same-sex marriage. Virginia Law Review, 79 (7).
5. Callón, C. (2011, February 27). Callón gaña o vicente risco de ciencias sociais cun ensaio sobre a homosexualidade na Idade Media. Retrieved from http://www.galiciae.com/nova/78210.html
6. Groneberg, M. (2011). Reasons for Homophobia: Three Types of Explanation. In M. Groneberg and C. Funke (Eds.), Combatting homophobia: Experiences and analyses pertinent to education (p. 193). Berlin: LIT Verlag.