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The nature of this month’s article is of a very serious nature. I see a growing trend in our nation toward the abuse of a very thin and wispy minority. It’s really rather sick. People will line these folks up for the lone purpose of physically abusing them. What’s that? No… the Nazi’s haven’t risen up and started a renewed quest to purify humanity of non-Arian peoples. No. This hated minority is actually being mistreated by many people of diverse persuasions. Who are the victims? Straw men of course! Everyday people put up straw men and waylay them like Rocky Balboa on Drago in Rocky IV (I’m sorry if you didn’t get the reference. I’m also sorry if you didn’t see the movie. It was great!).

In response to the mistreatment of our chaffy brothers, I have created a new organization: P.L.A.S.M.A. It stands for “People Literally Against Straw Men Abuse.” My first inclination was to name it “People Against Straw Men Abuse”, but when I read the acronym P.A.S.M.A and thought, nah! P.L.A.S.M.A sounds a lot cooler!

All kidding aside, the problem is as old as human history itself. But it is serious nonetheless. The basic issue is one of intellectual dishonesty. When defending a position, human beings are tempted to resort in what is called a “straw man” argument. A straw man argument is when someone, wishing to win an argument, someway misrepresents the opposing view in order to discredit it. For example, recently I saw a meme on Facebook (for those not in the know, a meme is a picture to which a caption is attached to make a statement). The top part of the picture showed two homosexual men being married on a beach and the bottom of the picture showed a starving child in Africa. A paraphrase of the caption was something like, “Why are people spending money to prevent this?” (Imposed over the picture of the two homosexual men) “Yet do nothing to stop this? (Which was on the picture of the starving child) Check your priorities!” Can you see the logical fallacy? The author of this meme assumes that people who oppose homosexual marriage care nothing for starving children and are heartless bigots. There is also another fallacy in this picture. The fact that there are starving children is a consequence of living in a sinful world, but is not a sin in itself. However, homosexuality is explicitly prohibited by God. The question is not whether we disapprove of homosexuality more than we care for the poor. It’s not an either or proposition. Of course, Christians care that that little child is starving. There are many Christian organizations that work diligently to relieve the suffering of such children. I dare say there are far more organizations concentrating on feeding poor children around the world than organizations working prevent homosexual marriage. That meme is simply not true.

Secondly, Christians didn’t just grow a wild hair and begin speaking out against homosexuality out of the blue. Christians have been forced to speak out because society at large has taken up the cause of forcing everyone to approve of homosexuality as a normal sexual practice between consenting adults. By their militant actions they are saying, “Conform or die!”

Simply stated, we live in a society that no longer trains people in the art of logic and debate. As a result, tired and logically dishonest practices, like erecting straw men to destroy, grow more popular by the day. To rightly win an argument one must have an accurate understanding of the facts on both sides of the fence. One needs a good grasp of the opposing viewpoint before one can reasonably argue against it. And when the opposing view is criticized, it should be done methodically, using logic to expose why the position is invalid. If you misrepresent the other side you have discredited yourself. Know the facts man!

As Christians, we too must make sure we are not engaging in the abuse of straw men. We can be equally as guilty. We must seek to be blameless in our conduct and thoughts. How can we be faithful witnesses otherwise? Nonetheless, we will be ridiculed for the stances we take and will continue to be misrepresented. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” I guess in this case we must suffer alongside our straw brothers and roll with the punches (no pun intended).

- Jordan McGehee