Responding To Dobson

Ken AshfordConstitution, Godstuff, Sex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

Via Daily Kos, we get some Dobson quotes from his interview with Larry King:

DOBSON: Those again on the liberal end of the spectrum are those who have no value system, or at least they say there is no moral and immoral. There’s no right or wrong. . . . But when a religious leader, or especially an evangelical, falls, guess who is the most judgmental of him and calling him a hypocrite? . . . Those that said there is no right and wrong in the first place. The truth of the matter is there is right and wrong. And we all within our midst have failures, and they do occur.

As for religious leaders like Haggard — you don’t need to have a foot in any political camp in order to recognize hypocrisy.  If a religious leader preaches against something in one setting, and practices that very thing in another setting, he is a the dictionary-definition (not to mention the biblical-definition) of a "hypocrite", and the fact that other people are liberal/conservative/moderate doesn’t enter into the equation.

M19immoralSecondly, what is the basis for Dobson’s assertion that liberals "say there is no moral and immoral"?  Liberals have a strong sense of morality — it is just at odds (sometimes) with what Dobson thinks is moral and immoral.  Just take a look at the picture on the right.  I’m guessing she’s a liberal, and it’s pretty clear what her moral views are.  There isn’t a dirth of moral viewpoints among liberals, and Dobson knows that.  This is a perfect example of building a straw man, and then tearing it down.

What evangelicals of Dobson’s stripe don’t "get" is that liberalism and Christianity are actually better bedpartners than conservatism and Christianity.  Jesus was, after all, a liberal.  And more and more Christians are embracing those moral liberal values esposed by Christ, or at least warming up to those who speak those values.  Witness, for example, the meeting of the minds between Rev. Rick Warren ("The Purpose Driven Life") and Barack Obama.

But Dobson of the Dark Ages doesn’t get it, since his theology is rooted in ignorance of truth.  Take his views on homosexuality:

KING: We discussed this before in the past, but not recently: Do you still believe that being gay is a choice rather than a given?

DOBSON: I never did believe that.

KING: Oh, you don’t believe it.

DOBSON: I don’t believe that. Neither do I believe it’s genetic. I said that…

KING: Then what is it?

DOBSON: I said that on your program one time and both of us got a lot of mail for it. I don’t blame homosexuals for being angry when people say they’ve made a choice to be gay because they don’t.

It usually comes out of very, very early childhood, and this is very controversial, but this is what I believe and many other people believe, that is has to do with an identity crisis that occurs to early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.

It’s a very important developmental task and if his dad is gone or abusive or disinterested or maybe there’s just not a good fit there. What’s he going to do? He remains bonded to his mother and…

KING: Is that clinically true or is that theory?

DOBSON: No, it’s clinically true, but it’s controversial. What homosexual activists, especially, would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic, that they don’t have any choice. If it were genetic, Larry — and before we went on this show, you and I were talking about twin studies — if it were genetic, identical twins would all have it. Identical twins, if you have a homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other.

Dobson’s logic is this: if homosexuality was caused by genetics, then in every case where you have one homosexual identical twin, then the other identical twin would be homosexual, too. 

Of course, is Dobson willing to apply that logic to his own theory?  Dobson argues that homosexuality is caused when kids have daddy issues at a certain stage in development.  But we have literally hundreds of thousands of children growing up without fathers or father figures, and certainly not all of those children become gay (in fact, I would venture to say that the majority of them don’t).  So since it doesn’t happen in every case, shouldn’t we discount Dobson’s theory as well?  Or does he set the bar lower for himself?

The facts are these: Studies show that this occurs 52% of the time with identical twins (i.e., if one identical twin was gay, the chances are 52% that the other one is gay.  In fraternal twins, this happens 22% of the time.  To an objective person, this suggests that genetics clearly play a role in homosexuality, although there are clearly other factors as well.

Dobson’s decision to reduce the causes of homosexuality to a "it’s-this-and-only-this" mentality is what makes him the most ignorant man on the planet.  Like so much in life, nothing — and I mean nothing — is black and white, even science.

Finally, Dobson esposes his views on church and state:

KING: But we have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Beg your pardon?

KING: We have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Who says?

KING: You don’t believe in separation of church and state?

DOBSON: Not the way you mean it. The separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. No, it’s not. That is not in the Constitution. That was…

KING: It’s in the Bill of Rights.

DOBSON: It’s not in the Bill of Rights. It’s not anywhere in a foundational document. The only place where the so-called "wall of separation" was mentioned was in a letter written by Jefferson to a friend. That’s the only place. It has been picked up and made to be something it was never intended to be.

What it has become is that the government is protected from the church, instead of the other way around, which is that church was designed to be protected from the government.

KING: I’m going to check my history.

Clash of the intellectual titans.  No Larry, "wall of separation between church and state" — those exact words — are not in the Constitution.  In fact, there are a lot of words that are NOT in the Constitution: "marriage", "privacy", "innocent until proven guilty", "democracy", "It’s a free country", and so on.  But that does not mean that the Constitution has nothing to say on those issues.

The Constitution says that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".  One of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, tells us what that means.  In his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, then-President Jefferson said:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, [the people, in the 1st Amendment,] declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

And there you have it.  The operative word there is "thus".  The purpose of the First Amendment — and the reason it was written the way it was  — was to create the "wall of separation between church and state".  People like Dobson choose to overlook the intent of the Founders, because the Founder’s original intent makes it harder for people like Dobson to twist the words into an entirely different meaning and outcome.

Dobson believes that the First Amendment protects the church from government, but not the other way around.  But he doesn’t follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion.  If, for example, his church was allowed to wield power through government, then doesn’t government diminish my church, or yours?  In Dobson’s make-believe world, walls are one way.  But take a look at the walls in your house — they’re two-way.

Thus endeth the lessons about Dobson.