Joe Carter in his Wednesday column, this time on gay marriage and a book by a gay rights Democrat who is not on the bandwagon to redefine marriage. It is powerful stuff... He writes:
In his book The Future of Marriage, David Blankenhorn, a liberal, gay-rights-supporting Democrat and self-professed “marriage nut,” offers this sociological principle: “People who professionally dislike marriage almost always favor gay marriage.” As a corollary, Blankenhorn adds: “Ideas that have long been used to attack marriage are now commonly used to support same-sex marriage.”
But underneath the sociological principle of Blankenhorn about marriage, another author has done some work on how things move from the fringes of our thought to acceptability and even promotion within the mainstream. Perhaps his words may explain how a bunch of Scandinavian Lutherans could end up being among the first church bodies to accept and promote gay and lesbian clergy and marriage as well as how this got on the fast track to acceptability in the US political and cultural conversation...
The Overton Window, developed in the mid-1990s by the late Joseph P. Overton, attempts to explain adjustments in the political climate as the window becomes bigger and ideas that were once outside the window gradually move inside and even to the center of that window. And I quote:
If the goal were to undermine cultural institutions, the process for getting from Unthinkable to Policy would follow these five easy steps:
Step #1: From Unthinkable to Radical — The first step is the easiest—provided the issue can become a fetish or the topic of an academic symposium. Since both the professoriate and the perverts have a fascination with the faux-transgressive (the truly transgressive [i.e., Christianity] tends to terrify them) all you need to do is get the attention of one of these groups. It doesn't matter which you start with since the politics of the bedroom and the classroom inevitably overlap.
Step #2: From Radical to Acceptable — This shift requires the creation and employment of euphemism. Want to kill a child exiting the womb? Call it "dilation and extraction” and infanticide becomes a medical procedure. Want to include sodomitic unions under the banner of “marriage?” Redefine the term “marriage” to mean the state-endorsed copulation of any two(?) people who want to share a bed and a tax form. Be sure to say it is about “love”—in our culture, eros excuses everything.
There will naturally be a few holdouts, of course, but those who reject the shift from Radical to Acceptable can be shamed into approving. All that is required is to deploy a stingingly suitable insult. The word “bigot”, for instance, is more effective than a billy club at beating the young into submission. There are few core beliefs they won’t change to avoid being called a bigot. The disapproval of their Creator is unfortunate; enduring the disfavor of their peers is unimaginable.
Step #3: From Acceptable to Sensible — There is nothing more sensible than to submit to one’s god. And while Americans may profess to worship Allah, Jehovah, or Jesus, we mostly worship an American Idol—ourselves. That is why social libertarianism has become our country’s fastest-growing cult. It has tapped into this self-idolatry by preaching a gospel of the Individual. It’s a pragmatic and accepting message. You were, as its chief evangelist Lady Gaga says, “born this way”: “It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M / Just put your paws up /'Cause you were born this way, baby.”
Step #4: From Sensible to Popular — This step merely requires personalizing the issue. Do you know someone who is LGBT? Divorced? Had an abortion? Sure you do, they are in your family, in your school, at your church.
Do you hate them? If not, then how can you still disapprove of their actions? (Note: Be sure to talk fast so that no one follows the logic.) As it says in the Good Book (or maybe in a Lady Gaga song), judge not lest God judge you for judging. You want people to like you, don’t you? Then express popular approval for what your cultural betters (e.g., people on reality TV) believe should be popularly approved. Then you’ll be popular and it won't be necessary to call you a bigot.
Step #5: From Popular to Policy — Commission a public opinion poll. Show it to a politician. They’ll do the rest.
My words: This whole model depends upon the basic inaction of people and their willingness to ignore things that they do not favor as long as they do not occur within their own back yards. In order to stop this movement, it requires people who are willing to stand up and be hated for the truth and to be persecuted for the truth. That is the weakness such a movement exploits. Few folks do this. We can only hope that there will be such folks now and in the long term future or who knows what we will find acceptable down the road....
BTW.... this model could explain a great deal of the movement from conservative Biblical and confessional churches to those no longer bound to what the Scriptures, their confessions say, or what they held to before...