In his book The Black Swan, Nicholas Nassim Taleb discussed what he calls the “narrative fallacy.” This refers to our “limited ability” to look at a sequence of facts “without weaving an explanation into them.”
While this tendency helps us make sense of the world around us, it can and often does mislead us. It creates a mistaken impression that we understand things better than we really do. And, it often causes us to view the facts in ways that are consistent with the narrative we ourselves have created.
Case in point: the recent news – or in this case, news blackout – out of Illinois.
A few weeks ago the state legislature took up the issue of same-sex marriage. The outcome was regarded as a foregone conclusion. Illinois is President Obama’s home state, and his party enjoys commanding majorities in both houses. Same-sex marriage enjoyed the support of both the governor and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The president had even personally lobbied state legislators.
Given all that, the vote in favor of gay “marriage” in Illinois was inevitable, right?
Well, no one bothered to tell the state’s African-American pastors. As Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage wrote in the National Review, the pastors “worked hard to reach and convince African-American legislators to stand tall for the truth of marriage.”
The pastors demanded that legislators acknowledge that marriage “is an institution created by God to bring men and women together for the benefit of children that can only be created through the union of men and women.”
Their efforts paid off: Illinois did not succumb to the “inevitable.” They defeated “gay-marriage advocates and their supporters in the legislature in the bluest of blue states.”
If you haven’t heard about this important victory, you’re not alone. Until we here at BreakPoint read Brown’s piece, we hadn’t heard about it, either. Not that the lack of media attention is any surprise, because on this issue I'm sorry to say, the mainstream media are cheerleaders and activists, not reporters.
That’s not only my opinion: a study by the Pew Research Center found that in the run-up to the Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex “marriage,” “the news media coverage provided a strong sense of momentum towards legalizing same-sex marriage.” How strong? It said that “Stories with more statements supporting same-sex marriage outweighed those with more statements opposing it by … roughly 5-to-1.”
That kind of coverage bears no resemblance to actual public opinion on the subject. Instead, it presents same-sex marriage as an idea whose time has come and those who insist otherwise as relics from a less enlightened age.
What happened in Illinois cuts across the grain of this worldview and the narrative it produces. Instead of considering the possibility that the story they are telling is not true, the tellers of this story in the media completely ignore facts that contradict the narrative.
That doesn’t make their story any more true. There is nothing “inevitable” about the redefinition of marriage. While we face an uphill battle, what else is new?
In this battle, the church matters. All of the church. What happened in Illinois was the result of African-American pastors taking the lead. In other states it may require the leadership of Latino ministers. What matters is that all of God’s people “stand tall for the truth of marriage.”
Please be sure to tune in to BreakPoint again this week, as John and I will share our thoughts on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decisions regarding marriage.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: June 25, 2013