“Some people are gay. Get over it” : An example in the “is-ought” problem.

Posted: September 26, 2013 in General

A new set of banner ads on buses caught my attention today when driving (seen below). I thought I’d take this great opportunity to examine what it says, and how to think about it as an apologetics example!

So, the statement is “Some people are gay. Get over it!”

Obviously looking at the way it has been designed it is quite an ‘in your face’ statement, and on first glance, it may not be quite so clear as to what is actually being said. Lets examine it:

The first part is “Some people are gay.”.

Let us, for the sake of argument, take the position that is being put forward (like a good presuppositionalist), and say that being gay is actually an identity, it is an aspect of the persons being – why? From this part: “some people ARE gay” [are referring to ‘being’] – rather than “some people do homosexual acts” [referring to ‘doing’]. The latter would be the Christian position, that all people are sinners, and each persons particular struggle may be different from someone else’s struggles, but no one is intrinsically ‘gay’ just as no one is intrinsically a thief or a murderer – all people are intrinsically sinners who express their sin in differing ways.

But we’re taking their position on for sake of argument, so lets run with it!somepeoplearegay

What this is, is simply a description of a state of affairs that there are people in the world who are gay. So what? Yes,  those people exist in the world… And?

The second part says “Get over it”.

This is the crux of the matter. The second part is a prescription of what a person OUGHT to do based on a description of a state of affairs. But there is a pretty glaring problem here. How does someone reason from a description of what is the case (gay people exist), to a statement about what OUGHT to be the resultant behavior?

The answer is obvious – there can be no reason based on this statement alone – it needs to be put into the context of a moral system, and larger, in to a worldview. So the standard questions apply, what moral system can make prescriptive moral statements that all people should abide by?

Let’s create some examples of the logic that is being used here in this post, to show how absurd it is, and actually, how dependent on a person’s worldview the statement is:

The form is as follows:

X is the case, therefore Y should be the behavior/moral obligation.

Some examples:

1) “Some people are cheese-lovers. Get over it!”

Fine, doesn’t really carry any moral force does it? However, it highlights in a way what is being said – ie, that the person who has to ‘get over it’ perhaps has an irrational fear, or irrational belief that they simply need to give up and get past – to move on from.

Lets do some more:

2)” Rain falls out of the sky, get over it!”

Again, no one really has a problem with this…

Lets change things up a bit though, using the same form of argumentation:

3) “Some people are murderers, get over it!”

Now we have a problem don’t we? This of course would be considered a ridiculous statement by most! Why? Because most people consider murder to be a terrible thing. So you can see that the form of the argument itself presupposes a certain view of what is in question morally (in the main case ‘ some people are gay’).

Lets look at some more examples though to show how absurd it really is, using a similar form of : ” [state of affairs], [moral obligation/ought]”:

4) “Cars exist, you shouldn’t use them!”

Now, does the idea that “cars exist” prescribe the idea that they shouldn’t be used? No, it doesn’t even prescribe the idea that they should be used either! It simply states that cars exist – it is a total non – sequitur – there is nothing in the statement that ‘cars exist’ that determines what behavior should be enacted by everyone. Zero. Nothing. Nada. In the same way, the bus ad could be easily re-stated:

A: Gay people exist
B: Get over it!

What is the problem? It is missing a mediating premise that adds moral content:

A1: Being gay is not wrong and you shouldn’t see homosexual behavior as being bad

Shown as the following:

A: Gay people exist
A1: Being gay is not wrong and you shouldn’t see homosexual behavior as being bad
B: Get over it!

But that sort of loses its ‘punchiness’ a bit, but at least it wouldn’t be logically fallacious!

So, given the additional moral consideration that is missing from the statement, lets look at a contrasting position:

“God, in the old testament, says that homosexuality is an abomination, get over it!”

Now how would this be taken by those who wrote their bus ads? Clearly there would be outrage! Why? Because it is against what they consider to be morally right. Why do they think that their statements would be any different to those of a contrary position, especially Christians? But I guess it isn’t morally wrong to offend those people, but it is morally wrong to offend the people who write the bus ads! Inconsistent much?

So, we’ve shown that in its present condition as presented on the bus ad, the statement is incoherent. But let’s look at the earlier aspect we spoke about, the ‘worldview considerations’.

First of all, the idea that homosexuality is not wrong is an idea that does not come from the Christian worldview, therefore we know it must come from another worldview. However, we know that there can be no other worldview that can account for the preconditions of intelligibility and moral absolutes combined to make objective moral statements.

If we were to consider the present philosophical climate in the UK, we would have to estimate that it would come out of some kind of secular post-modern worldview that was relativistic in its view on morality.

As i quoted here, we can see why this cannot work:

“If there was a person who believed that sexual promiscuity was totally fine, and that really, in regards to morality, ‘anything goes’ and its all up to personal choice. However, if that person then came out and protested against pro-choice advocates, or against those who believed in the traditional view of marriage, and wanted to get them to abandon those views in favor of the persons own moral system, that person would be being radically inconsistent. Why? Because in one hand, they are saying that morality is ‘anything goes’, yet on the other hand, is passionately against people who hold contrary views to them. One one hand they are pushing for radical subjective morality, and on the other hand, they are pushing for radical objective morality that everyone should abide by. This is inconsistent.”

Not only that, but if a person was an atheist, where could they appeal to in regards to morality? They cannot appeal to innate intrinsic desires that dictate good and evil, because they differ between people, and they cannot appeal to general societal norms or consensus, because they differ over time and different cultures.  What obligation does a person have to adopt those two standards any way? A person could say ‘well, they can’t just deviate from societal norms!’. Why not? Says who? To give any answer in an atheistic worldview is simply to make yet another subjective, and thus arbitrary, assertion.

The only worldview that can prescribe objective absolute standards is the Christian worldview, because of God’s law which does not change, and is universally binding on all people. According to this worldview, homosexuality is wrong, and no, we shouldn’t just ‘get over it!’.

  1. Rick Baker says:

    To express your thoughts logically about moral conduct requires an ultimate standard outside of our universally immoral nature. What is desperately needed is an enlightend mind, renewed spirit, and freed will to comprehend, believe, and obey its teaching. Most deliberately suppress the knowledge of God (and His standard) in a self-deceiving effort to escape His rule and rules so that they can satisfy their inordinate desires displaying the irrational bent of their minds.

  2. […] 7.) “Some people are gay. Get over it” : An example in the “is-ought” problem. […]

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for this. Thanks to Jim for the link. Re-Blogged it.

  4. Mike says:

    Reblogged this on Exercised to Discern and commented:
    Here’s a good article on yet another Bus Ad campaign to get us all to capitulate to the ‘Gay’ agenda.

  5. SLIMJIM says:

    I linked this article a few weeks ago, and I think you did a good job. Sorry I took so long to get around to commenting and letting you know =)

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