South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, recently took to the national stage to attack Vice President Mike Pence and, by association, tens of millions of America’s orthodox Christians.
“My [homosexual] marriage ” said Mr. Buttigieg, “has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God If being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far above my pay grade. That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
This is not an isolated rhetorical cheap shot. Earlier this year, Mr. Buttigieg said, “Who would think that this Uber-Evangelical Christian would go down in history as the midwife of the porn star presidency? If he were here you would think he’s a nice guy to your face, but he’s also just fanatical. How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in the scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump?”
Mr. Buttigieg’s ridicule of the vice president’s religious convictions has persisted, in spite of the fact that Mr. Pence has done nothing but show grace and respect at every turn. “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard,” said Mr. Pence. “I see him as a dedicated public servant and patriot.” There is no record of Mr. Pence ever insulting Mr. Buttigieg or returning his mockery with similar derision. Mr. Pence has shown remarkable restraint and nothing but civility and a generous spirit of true tolerance.
While our vice president may find it politically imprudent to respond to such provocations, some of us see less reason to remain so circumspect. Presumptuous as it might be to offer a response on behalf of our vice president, I am going to venture a try.
Mr. Buttigieg, has it ever occurred to you, that the “Mike Pences of the world” don’t have a problem with “who you are,” but rather we just disagree with what you do? We believe human identity is much more than the sum total of someone’s sexual inclinations. In fact, the “creator” whom you so boldly reference makes this pretty clear.
There is no place in His entire biblical narrative where He defines us by our desires. All of us, however, are known by our choices. We are made in His image, we have moral awareness and moral culpability. We can and should choose to not do some things we may be inclined to do. God help us if we don’t. One’s appetite for porn, polyamory, and any other heterosexual or homosexual act does not define you. Your decision as to whether or not you satiate such an appetite does.
You see, Mr. Mayor, this is a matter of your proclivities, not your personhood. What you don’t seem to understand is that when it comes to your personal peccadillos, most all of the “Mike Pences of the world” really don’t want to know. Your sexual appetites are your business. The thing about obedient and faithful Christians is this; we consider someone else’s private life to be just that — Private. Please stop telling us what kind of sex you like. We don’t want to know. If you want us to stay out of your bedroom, please shut the door. Stop opening it up and forcing us to applaud and celebrate.
Before I close, Mr. Buttigieg, I have to point out one more thing. Surely you are aware you just implicitly admitted you agree with all of us “Mike Pences of the world” and you, too, think sexual behavior is, indeed, a moral issue? Otherwise, why include your derogatory remarks about porn stars and those who engage in their services? Why do you disparage them? By your own logic, isn’t “your quarrel, sir, with their creator” and not them? How is it that you blame others for their sexual behavior but you hold yourself guiltless before your own sex tribunal and morality police?
Oh, I can hear your reply before you even open your mouth, Mr. Buttigieg. It is as predictable as the sunrise. “You’re missing the point” you say. “This is not about sex. It is about marriage.” Well, aside from the transparent incongruity of this claim, let’s cut to the chase and close with this: What gives you the right to redefine a sacrament of the church? You don’t get to make up your own Christianity. You also don’t get to make up your own Jesus, and in case you missed it, He is explicitly clear on His definition of marriage: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
No, our quarrel really isn’t with your creator, sir. Our quarrel is with you.
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).