Undoubtedly, America’s most famous Sunday school teacher is former President Jimmy Carter, who has taught his adult class at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, for decades. You may recall that he served as President for one term and was succeeded by President Reagan. This fact alone gives me great hope for the future. Former President Carter has made controversial statements over the years, including his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and favorable comments regarding the Occupy Wall Street protestors. Former President Carter most recently observed in an interview with the Huffington Post:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things—he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.
Whether homosexuals should be free to marry in state-sanctioned arrangements is an open question in most of our society, pitting traditional notions of marriage between one man and one woman against more esoteric and non-traditional combinations. However, former President Carter’s support for homosexual marriage is based upon two weak arguments.
First, Carter uses an appeal to authority by saying that since Jesus didn’t condemn homosexual marriage, then he shouldn’t either. And then to buttress his argument, he uses an argument from silence. Such an argument is never a strong support for any controversial position. We also don’t have any recorded words of Jesus in the Gospels regarding the use of child labor in sweatshop factories, the production or viewing pornography on the internet, third-trimester abortions, slavery, abortions for any reason throughout the term of pregnancy, euthanasia, pederasty, the sale and consumption of illegal drugs, whether the Roman Catholic Church should provide free contraceptives for law students at its institutions of higher learning, and countless other issues.
From former President Carter’s perspective, the silence of Jesus on these matters affirmatively supports their moral propriety. In fact, I don’t recall ever reading the teachings of Jesus on individual human rights or economic liberty or the appropriate amount of “fair” taxes on the wealthy. But then, He never contradicted His Father’s teachings in the Torah, but rather affirmed every jot and tittle until all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).
Of course, for most non-Touchstone and non-Salvo readers, former President Carter’s arguments in support of homosexual marriage will be illuminating. However, for many of us, whether former President Carter’s faith informs his political views or vice versa is a question for the former President to consider prayerfully. To me, it just seems he has a politically acceptable result he wishes to convey, and then seeks to back into some form of biblical support to reinforce his arguments. The fact that former President Carter’s argument supporting homosexual marriage civilly is from silence actually is quite deafeningly.