Whenever there’s a discussion about some hot-button issue between Christian conservatives and their opponents, there are certain things that one can expect to hear from the latter. Their side, after all, does not consider itself to be bound by the Biblical prohibition against “bearing false witness.” So, inevitably, they will put forth lots of misrepresentations, misinterpretations and fallacies.
There’s one particular category of falsehood, though, that I would like to address here: the common claims that we Christian conservatives have all kinds of evil, selfish motivations for the positions we hold.
These are the kinds of claims our opponents make: We want to “use our religion to control people.” We want to “force everyone to live by our rules.” We want to oppress and punish whoever is “different from us.” We “hate science.” We’re puritanical prudes who want to spoil everyone’s fun. And so on.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize this kind of thing for the cheap propaganda trick that it is. A person might hold the noblest of convictions for the best of reasons, but someone who opposes them can portray them as being downright evil just by accusing them of having deep, dark, ulterior motivations.
I notice this tendency a lot in discussions about abortion, for example. Now, I would personally have a hard time imagining any motivation for being “pro-life” that would be self-serving or ignoble on any level. But there are people who clearly have a lot more imagination than I have. According to them, we “pro-lifers” have all kinds of ugly and evil motivations. We “hate women.” We want to deny them “choice,” “reproductive rights” and “control over their own bodies.” We want to “punish women for having sex,” “force women to have babies,” and “scare women into not having abortions.” We “only care about children before they’re born,” but afterwards would tell them “sorry, you’re on your own.”
Of course, there’s nothing in all of this that comes within an intergalactic distance of being true. If someone could search every abortion opponent on earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t find a trace of any of these supposed motivations. These are simply not what drives being “pro-life,” and nothing remotely like them ever has been or ever will be.
The same kinds of accusations are heard in regard to other issues as well. Because we recognize the great harm that comes from sexual confusion, we “hate LGBT people and want to keep them from having basic rights.” Because we reject the philosophically-driven pseudoscience of evolutionism, we’re “anti-science.” Because we recognize Islam as a system that really does want to “force everyone to live by its rules,” we’re “phobic.”
These accusations are made because those who disagree with us want to convince others, and themselves, that we’re evil and therefore should be opposed. But there’s another important reason that these false “bad guy” motivations get invented by our opponents: they cannot acknowledge our real motivations. To truly recognize and comprehend the reasons we have for the positions we hold would leave one little choice but to admit that those positions are valid.
What’s really interesting about these accusations, though, is how often they get made right to our faces. Many a Christian conservative has been told by someone, who apparently actually meant it, that they “want to control women’s bodies” or “hate gays and want to kill them.” If otherwise intelligent people have to resort to claims like those – made directly to the very people who would know that there’s no truth to them – that doesn’t speak well for the defensibility of their own positions.
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