Home to Roanoke last weekend, I picked up a copy of the Roanoke Times Opinion page and found this gem:
I figured that this liberal relic deserved a response, and so I sent the following letter to the Times, though they (as of yet) have not seen fit to post my response. Read Professor Ryan’s article first, then help yourself to my letter.
Thirty years after leaving the Roanoke Valley, I still enjoy receiving daily headlines from the Times via email. It is, however, only when I come back to visit my dear parents that I read the Opinion page, and visiting this past weekend, I was treated to the editorial written by Halford Ryan, former professor at Washington & Lee. Professor Ryan’s main point seems to be that for Christians not to embrace any (every?) alternate sexual choice is to engage in hypocrisy, self-righteousness, intolerance, and, of course, that favorite liberal ad-hominem-du-jour, bigotry. He finishes by challenging Christians to “refute (his) essay”, though he warns that any such attempt would only “validate (one’s) Bible Belt bigotry”, apparently because to his superior intellect, the matter is settled, and further debate is futile.
Space does not permit the refutation of every point Professor Ryan makes; his assertion, for instance, that the Bible “was and still is a pro-slavery book” entails the employment of a dubious hermeneutic and betrays an ignorance of the role Biblically-committed Christians played in slavery’s elimination both here and abroad. Nor does space allow the addressing of his twice-quoted concept that “God changed his mind” (which of course He did not do) in a way that is “at variance with the Bible” (which of course He cannot do).
We can, though, raise some questions in answer to his assertions:
- Professor Ryan suggests that all those who believe “different sexuality” to be sinful also see themselves as “without sin”, chauvinist stone-casters oblivious to their own failings. In that this hardly squares with my experience, can he give the name of even one Christian who would declare himself “sin-free”? Just one will do, Professor.
- Professor Ryan indicts those Christians who hold to a Biblical sexual ethic as “lack(ing) love for humans of a different sexuality”. Must one accept any/every other sexual choice others might make in order to love those people? Does the Professor lack the imagination to envision even the possibility that some motive other than bigotry or hatred might animate our beliefs?
- Professor Ryan suggests that because God made all people, it is intolerant to question others’ sexual choices; though he doesn’t mention homosexuality, it seems safe to assume that he refers primarily to this. Would Professor Ryan have any qualms about polygamy? Polyandry? Group marriage? Bestiality? Incest? Aren’t those who practice such things “God’s creatures”? Some of “God’s creatures” today argue for the normalizing of adult-child sexual relationships. Would the dear Professor approve? If not, why not, and if not, does this not make the professor a hateful bigot as well? Please enlighten us, Professor Ryan.
If one is a fan of straw men, ad hominem attacks, and red herrings, this article joins the preponderance of contemporary progressive writing in failing to disappoint. One is left to wonder, though, if such a mediocre, fact-deficient-but-smear-heavy screed reflects the type of education currently being provided at such an august institution as W&L.