“But there are poor people!”

Well…it turned out about the way I thought it would.  And, surprise surprise, it’s a song and dance we’ve already heard.

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day has come and gone, and surprised pretty much everybody by the sheer turnout, but one particular response was waiting in the wings.

Almost immediately, memes and soundbytes started showing up on Facebook and elsewhere, all with one theme:









And that is supposed to settle that.

Sad to say, it doesn’t.  Here’s why.

This is not an argument.  It is a preposition masquerading as an argument.

An argument requires at least another preposition and a conclusion.  There is neither a second premise, or a conclusion, to this; it is adrift, bereft of force and consequence, and we are left to our own devices to figure out where this is rhetorically supposed to lead.

As rhetoric, it is perhaps clever, but it is not an argument.

But let’s treat it like the argument it’s pretending to be, and see where it leads, to see if it might be salvaged.  Ignoring for the moment a second premise, let’s say that the conclusion is “Therefore, Christians shouldn’t speak out on issues like Same-Sex Marriage until they help the homeless/poor/oppressed/etc.”

Oh.  Well.  So much for salvaging it.  Turns out it’s a red herring.

But it’s a guilt-trip red herring.  And it hinges on an assumption that no one in their right mind would agree to: that Christians cannot speak at all about controversial social issues, or whatever issue is at hand–frequently this ‘argument’ is made regarding abortion, too–until XYZ issue, completely unrelated to the issue at hand, is “satisfactorily” or permanently resolved singlehandedly by Christians.

In case that doesn’t look absurd enough: How many homeless/poor/whatever people must be served before someone can make a statement about a moral issue?  One?  Five?  Ten?  One hundred?  Every last one?

Yeah, it really does look that absurd to those of us who see it for the bad argument it really is.  But let’s not end there.  I love a good argumentum ad absurdam as much as anyone, and since this one is already absurd, let’s make it as absurd as possible.

Let’s say that every last chicken sandwich, waffle fry, and lemonade were given away to the hungry and homeless.  How would that affect what someone who supports SSM think of Christians who oppose SSM?  It wouldn’t.  It’s a completely separate issue.  Does the Muslim practice of Zakat, or alms-giving, temper our reaction to the regional practice of female genital mutilation?  And if they help as many of the poor as they can, does that mean that they can practice FGM?  No.  It’s another issue.  Don’t fall for a (questionable) premise posing as an argument.

Are Christians inconsistent?  You bet.  Do Christians fail, a lot?  You bet.  Does it mean they’re wrong about SSM?  There’s no way to know from the recipient of a chicken sandwich.

Did Jesus say to feed the hungry and care for the poor?  Yes.  But He also reiterated the ordination of marriage as given by God, ideally and only between a man and a woman, as given in Genesis 1.

3 thoughts on ““But there are poor people!”

  1. Funny, I don’t see anywhere on that little meme that says “here, this is an argument”. It is a statement. An observation. And it seems as though you would like to go ahead and pretend that someone has used this meme as an argument for debate, just so that you could treat it like a poorly compiled argument, and argue with it. Way to go waste you time, my time, and even more of my time to tell you that you’ve wasted it. There are just as many pointless memes with a picture of some Caucasian guy covered in blood to represent Jesus of Nazareth and has some inspirational words along the lines of “like and share if you love Jesus, keep scrolling if you love Satan.”. So, are you prepared to argue that this is valid argument? If not, are you then prepared to argue that you do not knowingly and intentionally ignore those Christian memes to attack anything which would disagree with your beliefs? Just curious….
    The real question is this,”How many of these “Christian” chicken lovers spread the gospel every day, rather than when it is convient to jump in line and appear holier than thou for an afternoon before returning to their normal, utterly God forsaken lives?”

    • If you’ve written a response that thought-out, I would hardly say it’s a waste of time. That said…

      “So, are you prepared to argue that this is valid argument? If not, are you then prepared to argue that you do not knowingly and intentionally ignore those Christian memes to attack anything which would disagree with your beliefs? Just curious….”
      Those memes aren’t worth my time, sorry. I’m under no obligation to answer all the stupid in the world, nor is it under the particular ethical spectrum that I prefer to deal with. I also cannot be said to “intentionally ignore them,” since I have commented on them on Facebook. They’re a guilt trip, to be sure, but a very simple guilt trip. This one is more complex…but not by a whole lot. I think it’s worth my time to speak out on things, particularly ethical issues, and prevent my friends from falling for horrible argumentation. I think I’ve achieved that objective this time, judging from the responses I’ve gotten elsewhere.

      Now, I want to know two things.

      1. What constitutes an ‘attack’ on the beliefs of others?

      2. How would you answer your own question?

  2. It’s called the “all-or-nothing” fallacy – Christians (or at least the people in the photo) are said to spend all of their time protesting homosexual bigotry or none at all. The meme, of course, also ignores any negative social consequences of homeless shelters, including the subsidization of poverty (lowering the opportunity cost of homelessness).

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