Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

“Same-Sex Spin”

Posted on Jun 30, 2011 by Tom Gilson

From Chuck Colson:

We’ve been told so many times that same-sex “marriage” is “inevitable” that we’re tempted to stop fighting it. But a newly released study tells a different story….

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73 Responses to “ “Same-Sex Spin” ”

  1. Raj Rao says:

    Here is the thing.

    Even if marriage was inevitable, we Christians are required to oppose it. This is just a matter of obedience to God. It is not a matter of what the results will be.

    Look at Jeremiah. For all the prophesying that he did, how many people listened to him?

    Zip.

    Yet the fear of the Lord demands that we obey God. We cannot fall prey to a fear of man which is a snare.

    One other thing… I have seen a lot of people challenge the illusion created by the press. However what I have observed – and I am a New Yorker – is that many people in the last four years have changed their minds on this issue. They now believe its ok. Its this way in my own family. So Colson’s challenge will be only a temporary salve.

    Christians need to pray hard and be bold as the situation demands. Most of all we need to share the faith.

  2. Holopupenko says:

    See here.

    See this as well.

  3. After centuries of oppressing gays, it is time that Christians stood up for those who are oppressed. There are plenty of biblical verses that can be selectively applied to continue persecuting gays, just as many verses as condemn other things that the church now accepts.

    It’s long overdue to be a light to the world – a light of compassion. I just cannot imagine Christ picking up the stone to condemn – he would have taken the side of those that the religious called “unclean”.

  4. Tom Gilson says:

    Kid Charlemagne,

    I am sure that Christians could do a much better job than we are of being a friend to sinners, as Jesus was. His friendship with them was an expression of God’s love, and without that love and friendship none of us would be freed from sin. We all stand in the same place of needing his love, his grace, his redemption.

    Nevertheless in his friendship he never said that sin was not sin. He re-affirmed the meaning of marriage. Though he did not condemn the woman taken in adultery, he did tell her to stop it (“Go and sin no more”). Jesus initiated fellowship with Zaccheus in spite of his sin of greed and theft, but he led him to repentance.

    The “oppressed” in the Bible are those who are widows, orphans, the poor, the enslaved, and yes, those caught up in their own sin. They are those who cannot by their own resources stand up against some more powerful person who is denying them their rights. Your comment implies that the Bible recognizes some right to the free expression of homosexual behavior and of same-sex marriage. It does not; there is no such right. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Gays do not lack resources to stand up to others; they are not oppressed in that manner at all. If they are caught in anything, it is their own desires. Now, I am not among those who think most of them could just change those desires if they would only try. I have compassion for the difficult bind in which this places them. (I have written on this under the title, To Treat One Another as Humans.) Jesus came to liberate us all from sin, though, and to empower us to live a godly life. For some that means celibacy, with a rich future of total freedom from sin and from that bind to come in eternity.

    I have a different view on gay-rights advocacy. Besides being a campaign in favor of sin (which Jesus never did, I repeat), it is a dangerous insurgency into both freedom and stability, and it is its own oppressive act. It is ludicrous to regard gays as oppressed today, in any sense analogous to how the poor and the powerless are in the biblical use of that term.

    To support homosexual practice is not to be a light to the world, it is to rename the darkness and call it light. “I didn’t think I needed my headlights on tonight, officer; all my friends and I agreed it wasn’t dark out.” It doesn’t work, my friend.

  5. Um… last time I checked a spate of suicides caused by bullying, the refusal of the state to recognize life-long relationships as legally equal to heterosexual relations thereby denying people the right to qualify for medical aid and other financial benefits count as discrimination.
    Far too many suicides have occurred through bullying under the guise of “love the sinner not the sin”. “Love the sinner not sin” translates into its ok to discriminate against people who “not like us” as soon as it falls upon human ears.
    Jesus didn’t throw stones, and he didn’t hunt down sin trying to stop it wherever he could, calling out sin wherever he saw it. Instead he ministered with compassion. The people he reserved his contempt and anger toward were those in the church who thought they had the perfect understanding of the law and could divide people into clean and unclean.
    For the record, Jesus broke many commandments and laws that were “clearly written” in order to show that he did away with human religious distinctions of clean and unclean. We are called to love, not to point out sin.

  6. Raj Rao says:

    Kid C,
    Bullying is rough. I had a bully in Jr. High. Gym and the hallways were a traumatic experience, in particular before and after class when the teacher was not looking.

    How do these studies establish a connection “love the sinner and not the sin” ethic and bullying?

    I was not a Christian back then in Jr. High. It would be many many years before that would come about. However the thing is that if someone, a friend said to me that something I was doing was not right – a sin – I may not have appreciated it right then and there, but eventually would see that he said it for my benefit. If he were right, then I would have to accept it.

    What I am saying is that just because someone perpetrates abuses while stating that we ought to “love the sinner and hate the sin”, does not mean that we ought to punish the principle.

    Also… A minor aside from a nitpicky Indian, I believe the statement came from Gandhi, not Jesus. Although the principle is there in the Bible and Gandhi read it a lot.

    God Bless ~ It is the Sunday ~ the Lord’s Day. If you attend church, then I hope you have a blessed Sunday today.

    Ciao,
    R. Rao

  7. Charlie says:

    Jesus told us to remove the mote from our own eye so that we could see clearly to help remove the speck from our neighbor’s eye. He did not tell us to leave the speck in our neighbor’s eye.

  8. So Charlie by that logic the ultimate aim of bettering oneself is to be able to correct the faults of others?
    You don’t think that Jesus was being ironic in pointing out that the sins of “religious folk” was enough to keep them busy, they really shouldn’t need to go find faults in their brothers and sisters too?

  9. Charlie says:

    It does not follow, KC. Very poor use of logic, there.

    No, I don’t think Jesus was being ironic, at least, not merely so.
    Jesus clearly taught that we are to recognize sin, rebuke it, and even call others to point it out. Sort of like you seem to be attempting here, on this blog, right?
    (catch the irony?)

  10. Only hypocrisy – not sin.

  11. Tom Gilson says:

    KC,

    Bullying that leads to suicide is tragic. It happened last year at a school a mile from my house. Homosexuality had nothing to do with it, but if it had, then it would have been wrong on that count. I have nothing good to say in support of bullying anyone for any reason. That’s why I wrote the series I mentioned in my last comment, “To Treat One Another As Humans.” I suggest you read it, including the first article in that series, which has to do with the hate spewed upon those who disagree with homosexual practice. It’s a two-way street, and hate going either direction is wrong.

    But that doesn’t mean that homosexuality is right.

    The state’s refusal to grant the benefits you mentioned does indeed count as discrimination. I have a policy here, though, of never allowing the use of the word “discrimination” without making explicit its implied modifier, “on the grounds of …,” followed by the questions, “are those grounds relevant?” You see, if you don’t actually think about it, you can let your reason be swayed by the emotional associations we attach to “discrimination.” In fact we discriminate all the time. I had shoulder surgery last January, and I was very discriminating concerning who I let do it! The surgeon was not an Anglo, by the way.

    But discrimination even on the basis of skin color is perfectly proper and moral if skin color is relevant. Would you cast Harrison Ford as Martin Luther King, Jr.? Would you cast Denzel Washington as Martin Luther? So you see that “discrimination” alone is not necessarily an evil. It’s only evil if it is on grounds that are irrelevant to the case (as skin color almost always is in the case of housing, employment, etc.; the exceptions are very few). To say the state discriminates, as you have said, simply returns us back to the starting question, which is whether there is good reason to do so.

    Your picture of Jesus is incomplete. He was so dead set against sin he died for it.

    “Only hypocrisy—not sin,” you say. Now, that’s a fine distinction.

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    Hypocrisy, you say.

    Do you believe in slander? Do you believe in using hate language? Do you believe in name-calling?

    Just curious.

  13. Tom Gilson says:

    “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is not just theory, I want to add. It’s not Christians loving gays in the manner some amorphous entity having positive feelings toward another amorphous entity. Love is a person-to-person thing, not a group-to-group thing.

    The one man with whom I have spent the most time over the past six months is openly gay. We have shared some intensely emotional moments, some very difficult decisions, and a whole lot of warm experiences.

    He knows where I stand on homosexuality and I know where he stands. There is no need for us to talk about it often; we’ve had the conversations already. But not long ago in context of another issue he said, “I just can’t stand it when people won’t accept other people.” I asked him, “Do you believe that I accept you?” He said yes. And our friendship has continued to grow.

    I might add that although I haven’t spent the same kind of time with his gay friends, I have spent some time with them over the years (I’ve known this man for a long time; it’s just that over the past six months our time together has increased considerably). I am quite confident they know where I stand, and they know that we can be friends.

    It happens person to person, one to one. It’s real. And if it’s real, it’s not hypocrisy.

  14. Charlie says:

    Only hypocrisy – not sin.

    Whatever this fragment is meant to say, the distinction drawn between hypocrisy and sin is fallacious.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07610a.htm

  15. Victoria says:

    @KC

    There are plenty of biblical verses that can be selectively applied to continue persecuting gays, just as many verses as condemn other things that the church now accepts.

    You have committed the ‘saying but not citing’ misuse of Scripture.

    If you want to use this rationale for your position in this forum, you will have to:
    1) tell us which verses you are referring to,
    2) how the Christian community has justified the alleged change in interpretation and appliation of said verses, and
    3) how those verses provide justification for changing our views on same-sex relationships.

    Don’t get me wrong – I do have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for the LGBT community’s plight, but I am also bound by the authority of God as revealed in His Word.

  16. @Victoria
    The verse cited was Leviticus 11:44. But if we skip to the New Testament we can also find examples like 1 Corinthians 11:6, Acts 15:20, and Mark 9:43 all of which modern churches choose to interpret symbolically or metaphorically rather than literally (as they may or may not have been interpreted in the past).

    The point is that you have to apply your mind and judgement to what you read otherwise one ends up in a completely crazy place (see the year of living biblically). It is not a simple straight forward magic 8 ball process to try to interpret what the scriptures mean, one needs to engage and grapple with the texts.

    And where human reason is involved, I would rather err on the side of loving too much than judging too much. We are called to love, not to judge. If I am wrong, I want to be on the side of love, not the side of condemnation that calls itself love.

    I sense that I am coming at this from a very different background than the readers here, but
    I would caution against the kind of language the church often uses (abomination etc), because they help provide a cover for discrimination against gays in a similar way that the some people misquoted scripture in the past to justify anti-Semitism, the continuation of slavery as an institute etc.

  17. I am not trying to argue or win over anyone to “my side” of the debate. I just want to comment that we should approach this topic with a spirit of love and compassion, not with a spirit of heresy-hunting or a quest for purity before the law.

  18. Charlie says:

    Hi KC,
    I admire your tone in your last couple of comments. Might I suggest you try to employ one similar when next introducing yourself to a new group?

    Love is a great responsibility. But it is not our only responsibility:
    http://bible.cc/acts/20-26.htm

  19. Tom Gilson says:

    KC, as one who is not on the side of condemnation but of love, do you reject the use of name-calling and hate language? I asked you this once before.

  20. Tom Gilson says:

    Love is indeed not our only responsibility: Jesus came full of grace and truth (John 1:14, John 1:17).

  21. Victoria says:

    @KC
    Mark 9:43 was *never* interpreted literally by anyone – this is hyperbole, exaggerated language for emphasis – eternity is so important that a person should stop doing anything and everything that would prevent him/her from entering the kingdom. You should compare this with Matthew 5:27-30 for additional context.

    Acts 15:20 simply refers to the minimum requirements for Gentile Christians (read the entire context!) – it was not necessary for Gentiles to embrace the whole of the Mosaic Law and its requirements in order to become members of the Body of Christ. It still required them to not be involved in idolatrous practices, sexual immorality, and consumption of blood, both directly, or indirectly (as in the case of eating meat from a strangled animal). There is no reason to suppose that this has changed in the last 2000 years.

    1 Corinthians 11:6 is, of course, more problematic – most modern Christian churches, even evangelical ones, don’t require it (Brethern Assemblies do); however, Paul’s rationale for a woman covering her head is based on both the created order and because of the angels It could be equally well argued, as do the Brethern Assemblies, that we should be doing this. But what does it have to do with sexual immorality or purity?

    Leviticus 11:44 is a dietary law, and is a reference back to Leviticus 11:29.

    Acts 15:20 is the key to understanding the situation – in fact, it strengthens the Biblical Christian viewpoint on sexual purity.
    None of the verses you refer to do anything to support a change in our understanding of what constitutes proper sexual conduct.

    Male + female is the design ideal (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:18-24, referenced again by Jesus Himself in Matthew 19 (see Matthew 19:4) and Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33; unfortunately, the design ideal has been corrupted by sin (see Romans 1:18-3:1).

    You said:

    The point is that you have to apply your mind and judgement to what you read otherwise one ends up in a completely crazy place (see the year of living biblically). It is not a simple straight forward magic 8 ball process to try to interpret what the scriptures mean, one needs to engage and grapple with the texts

    I agree, but taking verses in isolation, without regard to their immediate and broader contexts is not the way to do this – that is the sure way to end up in a crazy place. You have basically committed the very error that you hoped to avoid.

    You said:

    And where human reason is involved, I would rather err on the side of loving too much than judging too much. We are called to love, not to judge. If I am wrong, I want to be on the side of love, not the side of condemnation that calls itself love

    Yes, but not if by ‘not to judge’ you mean something like ‘not to discern the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error’. We are not to pass sentence on others (for we are not the Judge of all the earth), but as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:6 : ‘love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth’.

    I agree that Christians need to do better by the LGBT community than to just condemn, and offer no compassion, and certainly not to be a contributor to explicit discrimination or mistreatment. The Christians who I know and worship with, for the most part, would agree with that, and that they would also agree that this is a two-way street…

  22. So the church has been wrong on a number of social/political issues before: the Crusades/papal infallibility/treatment of Galileo/the stance on slavery/forming corrupt alliances with immoral governments/civil rights issues/persecution of “heretical” ideas that are now considered orthodox/etc etc, but there isn’t ANY chance that is wrong on this issue too?
    That’s what causes me to pause. You can cite scripture, but so did people who supported those ideas. I’m not saying that opposing gay marriage is the same as the Crusades, but only trying to make the point that it is very difficult to see when you are wrong until one has the benefit of hindsight, that’s the nature of being human. That should make us very cautious in pronouncing what is clean and unclean as it comes to others.
    Even if we think we have a biblical basis for it. The religious authorities of Jesus’ day also had a biblical basis for their position of opposing his ministry. You must allow for the possibility that the church is making the same mistake it made in Jesus’ day.

    @Victoria, that’s impressive. I don’t know too many Christians that stick by trying to follow the dietary practice of Acts 15:20 to the point where it is considered a spiritual/sin issue. Most skip straight passed it and go to the verse where Jesus says that is is not what goes into a person’s mouth that makes them unclean, it is what comes out of their heart (Matt 15:11).

  23. Charlie says:

    but only trying to make the point that it is very difficult to see when you are wrong until one has the benefit of hindsight, that’s the nature of being human. That should make us very cautious in pronouncing what is clean and unclean as it comes to others.

    This is as sound a philosophy when you are pointing at the mirror as it is when you are pointing at others.

  24. Tom Gilson says:

    Kid Charlemagne,

    I have asked you twice now whether your stand against condemnation means you reject name-calling and hate language. Since you have ignored me both times, I will have to ask you more specifically.

    Do you consider it love, and non-condemnatory, to call someone a bigot? Do you think it is sensitive to use that description, say, four times in just a few paragraphs? Do you consider it also sensitive to speak of “excitable members in the congregation who are looking for a biblical excuse to step on [those who are different]“? Do you think it’s an act of neighborliness to accuse people of wanting to make others “feel miserable in their own skin”? Do you think it’s unifying, drawing-together kind of language to say these people are persecuting others? How about describing their house as filled with stench?

    Is it likewise non-condemnatory to accuse them of “the kind of thinking that would smash a boy down“? Or to call them prejudiced, and to tell them their entire belief system is prejudiced?

    Someone I read somewhere wrote,

    The New Testament is clear in its condemnation of those who would divide people into groups “clean” and “unclean”.

    It seems to me the person who wrote this has divided people into groups “clean” and “unclean,” and falls under his own pronouncement of condemnation, unless he rejects what the NT says on that. But it does rather seem that he thinks this part of the Bible at least speaks something good and true.

    What’s amazing is that in the same blog post, that person railed against hypocrisy. He has even done it here on this thread.

    I’m against hypocrisy, too, believe me. That’s why I wanted that person to understand that “hate the sin but love the sinner” is not a “rallying cry for bigots” as he said it was; it can be quite real. (I’m a little surprised he ignored what I wrote there.)

    I’m suggesting that the person of whom I speak examine his heart and see for himself whether he is who he thinks he is.

  25. Victoria says:

    @KC

    Victoria, that’s impressive. I don’t know too many Christians that stick by trying to follow the dietary practice of Acts 15:20 to the point where it is considered a spiritual/sin issue. Most skip straight passed it and go to the verse where Jesus says that is is not what goes into a person’s mouth that makes them unclean, it is what comes out of their heart (Matt 15:11).

    Well, I don’t know anybody, Christian or not, who knowingly eats meat that has been sacrificed to idols (maybe because that is not a common practice these days, although there are plenty of modern day idols that the world bows down to). I don’t know anyone who drinks blood or eats meat from a strangled animal (our modern practice is to drain the blood from animals) – I know that there are cultures which take that drained blood and turn it into something that they call edible – but I suspect that is in direct violation of both this command and the command given to Noah (Genesis 9:4-6) as well as that of the Law of Moses. I do know plenty of Christians who take very seriously the command to stay away from sexual immorality (I notice you did not even mention this one – why?)

    If you read the full context around Matthew 15:10-20, Jesus goes on to list those things which come from the heart that defile a person…(Matthew 15:18-19)

    But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person. 15:19 For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 15:20 These are the things that defile a person;

    You are still committing the error of ignoring the full context….both the immediate and the larger scope.

    You completely failed to address the issue of the Creation design ideal (male and female) and that this is the natural order of things.
    If you want to use the argument that the Church has misinterpreted Scripture before to justify particular positions, you will have to convince Christians that the Creation mandate has been misunderstood all this time. You are going to have to show us how same-sex relationships do not fall into the category of sexual immorality after all, how Paul was wrong in Romans 1. Show us the hindsight that says we are wrong in this understanding.

  26. olegt says:

    New York journalist A. J. Jacobs attempted to follow—for a while—all of the Bible’s prescriptions as literally as possible. Including such sensible advice as Leviticus 15:20 and Leviticus 20:27. In the process, he wrote the book The Year of Living Biblically. You can find an excerpt on his web site.

  27. Tom Gilson says:

    But of course! Read Romans 7:7-25.

  28. Tom Gilson says:

    Victoria wrote,

    If you want to use the argument that the Church has misinterpreted Scripture before to justify particular positions, you will have to convince Christians that the Creation mandate has been misunderstood all this time.

    I agree. I would add this as well: you would have to demonstrate some awareness of how Christians have come to the positions that we have. Simply to puff verses as you have done is not the way.

  29. Charlie says:

    Thanks for your insightful remark, Olegt. Are you recommending the book based upon your reading of it?
    Ben Witherington does, but I have not had a chance myself.
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/04/year-of-living-biblically-ode-to.html

  30. SteveK says:

    Re #24

    Wow, Charlie, that article documents some serious hate speech. Scary.

    Makes you wonder if one day those same comments will be made when the country is discussing whether or not to let a man “marry” the child he loves, or a woman “marry” the dog she loves.

    All you need is to express genuine love and that justifies anything, right? No! A disordered love should not be tolerated. Love of self comes to mind. Love of power too. That kind of love should be resisted, not put up on a pedestal and celebrated.

    That doesn’t mean we treat these people badly, out of a self-serving disordered love of our own. No, we treat those people with the love that we are taught to model (1 Cor 13) while at the same time refusing to accept the disordered love – which is sin – that they want everyone to accept and celebrate.

  31. lambda.calc says:

    For Victoria, while it’s not everyone’s taste, I’ve had this before, as well as blutwurst and similar products:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_pudding/

    While it’s not mainstream, it’s pretty culturally broad.

  32. Victoria says:

    @lambda.calc
    Yeah, so what? Are you trying to say that because it is a culturally broad practice that it should be considered OK to do so, even though it explicitly goes against this command? To follow such ‘logic’ to its conclusion, then, it must be OK for the Christian community to be involved in idolatry and sexual immorality? I don’t think so!

  33. lambda.calc says:

    Victoria, why the snark and immediate leap to a strawman? There was no deeper agenda, just an attempt to broaden your horizons with respect to certain cuisines.

    Especially given your comments here:

    I don’t know anyone who drinks blood or eats meat from a strangled animal (our modern practice is to drain the blood from animals) – I know that there are cultures which take that drained blood and turn it into something that they call edible

    And to clarify that the use of blood in cooking was a broader practice than your remarks suggest. If you want to argue that consuming blutwurst (or any other number of similar dishes from around the world) is wrong, you’re free to do so. I disagree with you, but I personally don’t care to actually present an argument to that effect.

    Though to be fair, it would be the most absurd argument I’ve ever participated in!

  34. Holopupenko says:

    More from Weigel, on “homophobia.”

  35. Tom Gilson says:

    ISP logs show that Kid Charlemagne has visited here at least twice since the last comments directed to him were posted, including some direct questions we asked him. Obviously we don’t know what might be affecting his schedule or time available to respond.

    I do hope, though, that he is thinking through what was said to him. It seems to me there’s a lot there for a person to think about.

  36. Holopupenko says:

    Doesn’t that apply to olegt, DI, lambda, etc.?

    Thinking something through… what a concept.

  37. olegt says:

    Oh, come on, Tom. What else can be behind such sweeping statements?

  38. Tom Gilson says:

    Yours was considerably more sweeping, more ad hominem, less supported with reasons or reasoning. It doesn’t belong here.

  39. olegt says:

    Enough, olegt. My assessment of your previous comment still stands. (Edited by Tom)

  40. olegt says:

    It’s your blog, Tom. Do as you please.

  41. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the link at # 35, Holo.

  42. SteveK says:

    I can see it coming. Soon they will demand to be “married” in a church – by a pastor/priest – because it would be a violation of their civil rights (not really) if their only option was to be “married” via a civil ceremony in some government building.

  43. Charlie says:

    Of course that is always the first move, SteveK. Get the law and then go create a lawsuit.

  44. BillT says:

    “Get the law and then go create a lawsuit.”

    But you have to understand they don’t have any other authority. In a world of nothing but power, the law is as good (or bad) a tool as any other. It’s great when you can use it to your advantage and despicable when it goes against you.

  45. Crude says:

    I’ve brought this up before, but I’ll ask it again since I don’t recall many responses from the regulars here.

    What do you think about the idea of defending traditional marriage by purposefully expanding the definition of state marriage to the absolute limit?

    By that I mean, instead of trying to fight gay marriage, why shouldn’t the orthodox Christian run in dead opposite direction: Demand that polygamy be legalized. Demand that men and women be allowed to marry boxes of Coca-Cola if they wish. Demand that two straight men, or two straight women, or any combination thereof be allowed to marry each other (no need for sex to be involved, or even assumed). To ultimately demand that every and any relationship be recognizable with marriage, as far as the state is concerned – including a person marrying themselves.

    And in response to the question of ‘Why do that? Wouldn’t that just make the problem worse?’, my advance response is: If marriage has been defined into a farce, at least as far as the state is concerned, why should Christians be committed to the care and maintenance of said farce? At least in those states where gay marriage is legal and unlikely to be repealed, it more and more seems sensible to me to assist in broadening the definition of marriage as much as possible.

    I’m sure there are holes in this idea, but I’d love to hear them.

  46. BillT says:

    Crude,

    Your proposal has merit on an intellectual basis. Like taking an idea it to its logical conclusion to test its validity. However, unlike the gay marriage movement which has political allies, public relations momentum and funding, your idea has none of the above. As Tom has noted, the homosexual rights movement has been a well planned and coordinated effort. That on top of the cooperation of the MSM and Hollywood. The redefinition of marriage should be shown to be without ethical or realistic limits. However, the reality is that it would be very difficult to accomplish.

  47. Crude says:

    BillT,

    You’re right. At least, it has no allies or funding or momentum yet. However, you could say the same thing about gay marriage until fairly recently. The idea I’m advancing here is pretty novel, I think – it’s something which could be built on, which could spread. Call it a strategy, a new way for orthodox Christians to approach this issue.

    Imagine for a moment what the counter-arguments to this suggestion would look like. Could you picture the sheer amusement of seeing defenders of Gay Marriage wanting to restrict the definition of marriage in all these other cases?

  48. SteveK says:

    Crude,
    I would suggest instead that churches stop performing civil marriages and only perform spiritual marriages for church members, or those that profess the same faith. Those outside the church, including those that are hostile to it, can get married by a government official at City Hall.

  49. Crude says:

    SteveK,

    I would suggest instead that churches stop performing civil marriages and only perform spiritual marriages for church members, or those that profess the same faith. Those outside the church, including those that are hostile to it, can get married by a government official at City Hall.

    I’m tempted to agree, Steve. But then, that’s not an idea that would be in opposition to my idea. In fact, I think it could work in tandem with it.

    Think of it this way. Let’s say your suggestion is taken universally: Christians who want a Christian marriage go to their respective churches for it, and those Churches perform marriages for professed believers.

    Well, you still have this thing ‘thing’ called State Marriage to deal with. It’s out there, it exists. Will Christians who subscribe to the suggestion you make have any reason to consider Civil Marriage as sacred in and of itself – especially when Civil Marriage recognizes gay marriages?

    I’m suggesting that perhaps orthodox Christians would have a strong and valid interest as something that is not sacred. And part of recognizing that it’s not sacred is not treating it as such. Which in turn would suggest saying, to heck with it – Civil Marriages for anyone, in any number, and any combination.

  50. Crude says:

    Let me add this thought.

    Let’s say that tomorrow a lawmaker in New York proposes to allow polygamy. Let’s also stipulate that there’s a chance this bill will pass, depending on the support Christians show for either its passage or denial – but there is no short-term chance for gay marriage to be eliminated.

    What reason can an orthodox Christian have for opposing the bill? Because state marriage is sacred? State marriage sanctifies gay marriages in New York. To not do further damage to marriage as a general institution? But wouldn’t pretending such civil marriage is sacred enough to defend itself be harmful? And does that commit us to, if polygamy, bestiality, gay marriage, and similar are all legalized in a civil marriage, to fight tooth and nail against allowing a person to marry a lamppost? At what point do we decide that what we’re defending no longer is worthy of our defense, or actually counter-productive to defend?

  51. olegt says:

    Wasn’t polygamy allowed, or at least tolerated, by God in the past? (Exodus 21:10).

  52. BillT says:

    Crude,

    You’re right about this but you have to remember there are millions of homosexuals in the US who supported gay marriage. You’re asking people who have no personal interest in polygamy or marriage to a lamp post to spend their time and resources on this.

    I think that it will be very soon that we will see a lawsuit to force churches to perform gay marriages. Then we will have a moment that will create some publicity and public interest. It would be good to have a plan on what to do with that.

  53. Crude says:

    BillT,

    You’re asking people who have no personal interest in polygamy or marriage to a lamp post to spend their time and resources on this.

    But I’m arguing that there is a reason for orthodox christians to have personal interest in what I’m advocating. Particularly in situations where one of their interests – opposing gay marriage – becomes politically hopeless, or even impractical.

    What I’m really wondering about – and what I wish someone would respond to – is whether there are any good moral reasons to not take the route I’m suggesting. Issues of practicality and current public support don’t concern me so much, since as I said I see it as a novel idea so of course it doesn’t have much support yet.

    I think that it will be very soon that we will see a lawsuit to force churches to perform gay marriages. Then we will have a moment that will create some publicity and public interest. It would be good to have a plan on what to do with that.

    I’m leaning towards “develop special ceremonies for gay marriage, for a man marrying a lamp post, for a woman marrying herself, and otherwise” personally. Keep in mind that any hypothetical lawsuit demanding a church perform a gay marriage would mean ‘Darn it, we’re going to force you, the pastor, to preside over this thing!’

    So? Preside over it. And have fun with. Let’s see if they can sue to make sure you’re respectful too, eh?

    “Dear Lord, we are gathered here today to boost the self-esteem of people who are plagued with anxiety over their sexual behavior, and who desperately seek forced approval as a result. In your infinite goodness I assume you have a sense of humor, so let’s indulge them in the hopes that they shall someday realize the mistake they make…”

    And charge them for the privilege.

    I want to stress here that I’m not answering you sarcastically, Bill. I really am putting forward ideas – perhaps terrible ones! – on how to deal with this. But I don’t think they are terrible. Call it thinking outside the box. Maybe call it trying to maintain humor under fire.

    But I’m sincere, and would honestly like to hear your (and other’s) feedback on this. I’m outlining a way to protest this insanity that I think has serious bite to it, and I really am entirely willing to be convinced that I’m wrong.

  54. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Crude:

    Your proposal smacks too much of doing evil in order that good come about.

  55. Charlie says:

    I thought so as well, Rodrigues. It feels like a lie.

  56. Crude says:

    G. Rodrigues,

    Thank you. But here’s my question: What’s the evil? And to Charlie: What’s the lie?

    I ask this sincerely. When civil marriage becomes an institution for recognizing gay ‘marriage’ (to begin with), then what’s evil – pretending that civil marriage is still sacred and worthy of defense by Christians, or recognizing it as little more than a state-sanctioned contract that in principle can cover what we like?

    From my perspective, there is the sincere worry that treating civil marriage as a thing to be protected – even when gay marriage is thrown into the mix – smacks of idol worship, or something oddly similar. One common argument against gay marriage that I hear is that there is no such thing – that no matter what the state does, it is in the end a farce. And that sentiment sounds persuasive to me. But if the institution – the specifically civil aspect of it – has become a farce, then why act otherwise? Or are we now at the point where we’ll treat marriage as sacred, even when it’s gay marriage?

    The question seems valid. And I want to thank G. Rodrigues. Challenge me on this. If I’m wrong, I want to know it, and I want to know why. But more and more I think this is a valid way to act. It’s akin to eating food sacrificed to idols. Should we treat the food as special? Or do we eat it like any other food, precisely because it’s not special?

  57. BillT says:

    Crude,

    Again, it’s not that your idea has anything wrong with it morally or intellectually. The problem is that it has something wrong with it realistically. Not only what I’ve pointed out in prior posts but you’re asking actual pastors, men of God, to make a joke of marriage ceremonies that they are actually performing. Can you really imagine your pastor performing the ceremony you suggested? Doesn’t that make fools of them as well as the people they are “marrying”. Is this something that you would really want your pastor to do?

  58. Crude says:

    BillT,

    Again, it’s not that your idea has anything wrong with it morally or intellectually.

    Well, I suspect Charlie and G. Rodriguez will disagree.

    Not only what I’ve pointed out in prior posts but you’re asking actual pastors, men of God, to make a joke of marriage ceremonies that they are actually performing.

    I’m asking them (hypothetically) to make a joke of what is, in a fact, a joke. Mind you, this is tangential to my larger point, but you asked ‘What happens if churches are forced to perform these marriages?’ and I’m giving one possible response: Perform them with all the respect and solemnity they deserve. Not a bit, not a drop, not an ounce.

    It’s not a marriage ceremony. How could it be? If – to use an extreme example – the PETA managed to get a pig elected to the presidency, what should the justice do during the swearing in ceremony? Take it seriously? Swear the pig in with utter solemnity and seriousness, in the desperate hope that he’s somehow retaining the dignity of the office?

    Or should he treat it as a joke? And if not, at what point is the office worthy of respect well and truly gone?

    Yes, if the state forces the church to celebrate a ceremony, I – unless someone can persuade me otherwise – advocate making a joke of the ceremony. Use it as a moment to protest.

    Can you really imagine your pastor performing the ceremony you suggested? Doesn’t that make fools of them as well as the people they are “marrying”. Is this something that you would really want your pastor to do?

    Why would it make a fool of the pastor? Because he’s not being appropriately respectful during a legally coerced sham? What, he’s not rising to the level of civility the (in this case) court-ordered theatre deserves? How much does it deserve again?

    You can’t be telling me that, if the state decides that legally churches are required to marry a homosexual couple, that the pastor or priest should do it as professionally as possible. What would the point be? Professional dignity?

    Save the dignity and solemnity for actual marriage. For nonsense like this, who cares? Isn’t care-by-force part of the problem to begin with?

  59. Charlie says:

    Hi Crude,
    Here’s why it feels like a lie to me. Unfortunately, I’ve only read your first proposal and not further discussion. Perhaps you’ve nullified some oft his already:

    What do you think about the idea of defending traditional marriage by purposefully expanding the definition of state marriage to the absolute limit?

    I don’t like this idea. We do not consider it a marriage.

    Demand that polygamy be legalized.

    But we don’t want it legalized. Showing that falsely calling SS unions “marriages” opens the door to legalized polygamy is one thing, asking for the legalization of what we don’t want legalized is another.

    Demand that two straight men, or two straight women, or any combination thereof be allowed to marry each other (no need for sex to be involved, or even assumed).

    Of course this is what calling SS unions “marriages” leads to, but we don’t need to lie and call these marriages. We can point this out, and we can withdraw from blessing any union other than a church-sanctioned marriage, in effect, quit being and arm of the government , but I don’t like the idea of arguing for what we do not believe.

    To ultimately demand that every and any relationship be recognizable with marriage, as far as the state is concerned – including a person marrying themselves.

    This is the end-result, and we can point that out. But it ought not be our goal.

    If marriage has been defined into a farce, at least as far as the state is concerned, why should Christians be committed to the care and maintenance of said farce?

    This is a good point. So we should withdraw our support of whatever the state is doing which is sinful and ungodly.

    At least in those states where gay marriage is legal and unlikely to be repealed, it more and more seems sensible to me to assist in broadening the definition of marriage as much as possible.

    I haven’t read your defences of this notion, but I do not agree. The state sanctions lots of ills, which, as we slip further down the road, leads to more ills. But that doesn’t mean we go out and ask them to accelerate the process just to prove a point.

  60. SteveK says:

    Olegt,

    Wasn’t polygamy allowed, or at least tolerated, by God in the past?

    Sin continues to be tolerated by God to this day. He is patiently waiting for you and others to come to him.

  61. SteveK says:

    Crude,
    I don’t like your idea either for some of the reasons Charlie stated. I do like my idea (naturally!) as a way of changing the rules of the game, so-to-speak. The Christian community gets what they want and secular society gets what it wants.

    The next step might be to differentiate the two unions in the context of everyday discussions (we outnumber them), with the hope that society will pick up on the distinction once again. Off the top of my head here — a person might say “We were married in church on Oct 17th” or “When did you have your civil ceremony?” or “I heard your son had his civil ceremony last Saturday. You must be so happy.”

  62. Crude says:

    Charlie,

    I don’t like this idea. We do not consider it a marriage.

    Neither do I. That’s largely the point here: It’s not marriage. So why treat it as such by limiting the participants and generally trying to structure it as marriage? Especially when the advocates of SS marriage are trying their best to make it look like and call it marriage?

    But we don’t want it legalized. Showing that falsely calling SS unions “marriages” opens the door to legalized polygamy is one thing, asking for the legalization of what we don’t want legalized is another.

    But they’re not marriages. Why call them it or treat them as it, regardless of what the legal term is?

    A lot of your concern of the idea seems to come down to the idea that ‘these things aren’t marriage’, it seems. And I agree, they’re not. But oddly, that’s exactly why it’s suddenly come to me that this is a potentially viable path: They’re not marriages. Why regard them as such? Now, you’ve focused on the language – let’s not call these things marriages. Again, I agree.

    But here’s the other way of ‘regarding these things as marriage': Treating them like it in our behavior. Acting as if, even after SS “marriage” becomes legal, civil marriage is this thing we have to fight tooth and nail for and keep from being subverted, or to try and ‘reclaim’ as if there’s anything sacred there.

    So my thought is, is SS marriage really “marriage”? Is civil marriage really “marriage” in and of itself? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then the route to me seems to be this: Then let’s stop calling or treating civil and SS marriage like marriage. And part of that means not trying to defend it anymore, at least in these states that have walked down the SS marriage road.

    I mean, I agree with SteveK. In fact, his approach – the idea of drawing a sharp division between real Marriage and the abominations the State has gotten involved with – is a large part of the point. Except my idea takes what I think is the obvious step and not only draws a division in vocabulary but also attitude. Or should we differentiate these two unions – yet still defend ‘civil ceremonies’? “Did you hear? They want to legalize civil ceremonies between humans and inanimate objects!” I find myself thinking the Christian response should be a shrug and a “So? It’s not like a civil ceremony really means anything. It’s a contract you hire a caterer to celebrate when you sign.”

  63. Crude says:

    By the way, I’d like to thank those of you criticizing the idea for doing so politely and thoughtfully. This is a new idea I’m experimenting with, in the hopes of thinking up new approaches Christians can use when engaging society at large. I’m welcome to being shown that the idea has drawbacks, or is even immoral. But I do offer it sincerely.

    To self-criticize my idea, here’s one potential problem: First, it at the least runs risk of complicating the Christian approach to legitimate marriages. (I recall that in most churches, civil marriages are considered ‘real’, or they were.) But then again, there are problems with some heterosexual marriages that Christians also need to address… and in a way, this would kill two birds with one stone.

  64. Charlie says:

    Hi Crude,
    I think we pretty much agree on the principles but my objections to your original proposal stand.

    Then let’s stop calling or treating civil and SS marriage like marriage. And part of that means not trying to defend it anymore, at least in these states that have walked down the SS marriage road.

    I don’t disagree here. I think this is a valid choice and there are lots of Christians who propose the same thing. Where did I just read that in Poland (?) the state marriages were a joke and Christians would do it for the formality, but then really get married in their churches? Was that another post here on TC?

    Our jurisdiction tried something like what you are proposing about a decade ago. Yes, maybe let’s recognize these unions in some way. And let’s recognize all equivalent to SS unions in the same way. I think the law passed, and you could register as co-dependent relatives or friends with no regard for any romantic relationship.
    This provided complete equality, if it ever were lacking, but, as any thinking person could guess, that just wasn’t good enough for the lobby.

  65. Charlie says:

    Here was our law:
    http://www.freealberta.com/latest_news.2004.html

    In that sense, Alberta’s law has leapfrogged beyond mere gay marriage and is arguably more “progressive” in its recognition of non-sexual life couplings. Supporters of same-sex marriage, however, feel that Alberta’s expansion of spousal rights was merely a coded insult to their aspirations. For better or worse, they now insist on nothing short of the real thing by its proper name. You could argue that they’re tacitly arguing for the sanctity of marriage by insisting on access to it — and that Alberta’s radical response actually cheapened the coin of marriage somewhat.

    Not many years later our provincial government was forced by new federal laws and the threat of court action to issue SS marriage certificates.

    What’s interesting is how quickly the debate moved, and how fast the courts acted to ruin Klein’s attempted compromise; by the time Alberta was ready to introduce civil unions, civil unions were no longer good enough.

    As you suggest the churches may decide to quit solemnifying marriage, even the state in this case considered that option:

    His government gives the appearance of having been surprised by the result of the gay-marriage reference to the Supreme Court, as it ponders the outright elimination of marriage licences and tries to devise a response that will satisfy the Tory rank and file.

    So we come full circle. Marriage itself will have no recognition in terms of its value to society and no offset to the costs of being the building block and fabric of civilization. The recognitions built in, after-the-fact will be removed, and as a civil institution it will cease to exist. And society can only suffer.
    We should tell people this, but we should not hasten its demise and destabilize society intentionally.

    On the other hand, real marriages will continue to take place, because it is God’s plan and He has built it into our nature.

  66. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Crude:

    Here are my half-baked thoughts on this.

    For starters, marriage is not just a meaningless word that can be redefined at will. Rather, it is an institution pre-ordained by God and prior to the state, and it has a metaphysical status rooted in our biological natures.

    The state acknowledges such relations, as much as it acknowledges other human realities, and has a vested interest in regulating them (as opposed, for example, to regulating friendships) because they have the most disrupting, destructive and tragic potential: that of bringing forth new life. We as a society, delegate to the state certain powers so that for example, it can protect the children. What the state does not have is the right to redefine marriage; doing so is an abuse of authority and an unjust act. After all, if the state has the power to overturn metaphysical realities and redefine human nature, there is no practical limit to what it can do.

    Let me add that the modern libertarian war against marriage and traditional family is not new, it goes back to at least the nineteenth century. Chesterton battled against it all his life. I am already old enough to have the memory of a bearded guy, sitting down in front of a camera, and saying in all seriousness that marriage is “just a piece of paper” and no one dowsed him with a bucket of water. Same-sex marriage is just another battle in this war.

    I have to stress this cultural point: the devaluation of words, the seizing of their power, the implied nominalist presuppositions, is just the beach-head of the assault. It is also a fatal consequence of the typical modern libertarian mindset. I realized this all too clearly, all too painfully, in the abortion and same-sex marriage debates here in Portugal — if we can call what we had here “debates”, but this is not the place to carp on Portugal’s cultural miseries. It has always been a consistent characteristic of utopian schemes, from Plato’s time onwards, that some supposedly enlightened elite refashions humanity from the top down for the sake of progress; what exactly we are progressing towards to nobody knows exactly, but as long as progress is equated with evolution and the latter with the Good, no matter how diffuse, we have already lost the cultural battle. The libertarians trying to shove down our throats their views, since they have much less children than religious families in general, can only win the war if they seize the education centers of power, become the regnant priests of culture, and finally, by indoctrination and propaganda convert everybody to their own way of thinking.

    With this lengthy background in place, my response should now be clear. To “purposefully expand(ing) the definition of state marriage to the absolute limit” is contributing to a lie, and thus it is immoral, and thus it is evil. And what practical benefits could we draw from this strategy, besides looking very foolish and give even more fodder to the opposition (“Look at those hypocrites, officiating ceremonies they believe are immoral!”)?

    I would like to be able to offer some practical strategies, but unfortunately I have none. There are times when the only possible course is to hold the line, not give in to the lies and refuse to join in the farce. Modern society wants to call sodomy marriage? Let them do it, I for one adamantly refuse to call marriage the civil union of two men or two women or whatever fanciful combination we will end up having. Christian churches should fight tooth and nail to prevent the state to coerce them to perform these sham ceremonies. As much as it pains me to say it, probably the only course of action is to let modern society run down its inane, irrational and self-destructive path and just prepare ourselves to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the implosion. Christianity has survived the decline and fall of the Roman empire; I am pretty sure it will survive the (possible, eventual) downfall of the modern one.

  67. Crude says:

    Charlie,

    Our jurisdiction tried something like what you are proposing about a decade ago. Yes, maybe let’s recognize these unions in some way. And let’s recognize all equivalent to SS unions in the same way. I think the law passed, and you could register as co-dependent relatives or friends with no regard for any romantic relationship.

    That would be civil unions, yes? But legally, there’s a difference between civil unions and civil marriage, otherwise to pass civil unions would have been to end the issue immediately. And when I say that legally there’s a difference, I mean that there exists in the laws some difference – even if only in name (this is important, and I’ll mention why in a moment) – between a civil union and a state marriage. Even if the two are contractually and legally identical for all practical purposes, it still remains that they’re not identical because at the end of the day one is called this and the other is called that. And when a cultural movement is basically animated but some huge and frantic inferiority complex, the tiniest difference will be monumental.

    But once civil marriage is had, what’s left? There is no other legal alternative. And if civil marriage is made to embrace the SS combination, then I question whether civil marriage is worth defending anymore. And I note: You seem to question this too. You’re already saying, unless I read you wrong, “Christians should abandon civil marriage – let’s treat marriage in the church as the only real marriage”. I’d agree, perhaps with the stipulation of “let’s define what we consider marriage to be, and go by that rule – civil marriage be damned”.

    But then you’re turning around and talking about how to do what I’m saying with regards to civil marriage will destabilize society. And my response is, but it seems that the best way to protect marriage with marriage as under fire as it is is to A) Clearly define marriage, B) Define civil marriages out of this definition, C) As a result, see religious marriage – NOT civil marriage – as the stabilizing pillar of society, and D) Treat civil marriage accordingly (which involves reducing it to a mere contract, and promoting this move with legislation.)

    And I think the benefits of pursuing that route are considerable. Wouldn’t you enjoy seeing defenders of gay marriage struggling to explain why so many various combinations should not be counted as ‘marriage’? Wouldn’t you think that promoting the difference between civil marriage and religious (aka, real) marriage would be desirable? Wouldn’t the practical teaching opportunity be worth it, and the only cost of it being the devaluation of a civil contract that has been sapped of its value anyway?

    G. Rodrigues,

    For starters, marriage is not just a meaningless word that can be redefined at will. Rather, it is an institution pre-ordained by God and prior to the state, and it has a metaphysical status rooted in our biological natures.

    I agree entirely.

    What the state does not have is the right to redefine marriage; doing so is an abuse of authority and an unjust act. After all, if the state has the power to overturn metaphysical realities and redefine human nature, there is no practical limit to what it can do.

    The state doesn’t have the power to overturn metaphysical realities. But clearly it has the power to change legal definitions and rules. It’s an unjust act? Probably – they’re doing it anyway.

    To “purposefully expand(ing) the definition of state marriage to the absolute limit” is contributing to a lie, and thus it is immoral, and thus it is evil. And what practical benefits could we draw from this strategy, besides looking very foolish and give even more fodder to the opposition (“Look at those hypocrites, officiating ceremonies they believe are immoral!”)?

    But civil marriage != marriage. That’s the point. I want to point out something here: If a state can keep marriage properly defined, even civil marriage, then what I’m suggesting here does not apply. I stipulated that the suggestion I’m advancing should really only be considered once it’s clear that A) A state is going to pass “gay marriage” anyway, and B) There is no real short-term hope of turning this back.

    As for looking like hypocrites, please read what I said again. I was pointing out the response of what should be done if churches/priests/pastors were forced, by law, to perform ceremonies for gay marriages, etc. And my response was, “Do them with sarcasm and contempt. Make a joke, an obvious joke, out of the entire procedure.” I don’t think any honest person would regard that as hypocrisy, anymore than A Modest Proposal being written by a promoter of the welfare of poor people is an incident of hypocrisy.

    I for one adamantly refuse to call marriage the civil union of two men or two women or whatever fanciful combination we will end up having.

    Same here. But I also refuse to defend civil marriage as “marriage”, to think of it as “marriage”, once civil marriage has been legally redefined to include those unions, and once it’s become clear that – for whatever reason – that cannot be undone. I refuse to protect and defend something that is not worthy of such.

    You’re right: Marriage is metaphysically prior to the state. But that’s precisely what gives my suggestion power as a strategy. Marriage’s reality comes from God, and the state can’t change that. The state cannot change what is marriage in God’s eyes, so to speak. But we can damn well change what’s marriage in the state’s purview. And if civil marriage becomes an abomination, we have at least some amount of power to gut it – because actual marriage won’t be harmed by this act. Arguably it will be highlighted – civil marriage will stand in contrast to actual marriage.

    Let me spell out a problem I have with your position as I understand it. Let’s say gay marriage becomes law in a state. Then along comes a man who wants to marry two women. On what grounds do we refuse him? “Because marriage is a sacred!”? But that can’t be said without imbuing civil marriage with authority, with treating it – and therefore gay “marriage” – as sacred itself, to whatever degree. It’s like defending Paris from the Russians – after Paris has been occupied by the Germans.

  68. Crude says:

    I’ll throw another thought experiment out.

    Let’s say that a scenario similar to what I’ve said comes to pass: Gay marriage is legalized in a state, there’s no short-term prospect for reversing it, and some maverick christian orthodox group makes the move I’m saying. Soon, a new piece of legislation is offered that would extend marriage to cover polygamous groups, people marrying inanimate objects, and people marrying themselves.

    At this point I want to point out: This isn’t some clandestine move with false arguments. Those christians in favor it are saying: “Civil marriage is a sham now. We’re supporting these laws precisely because to do otherwise, to try and limit civil marriage, would be to improperly imbue it with a sense of decency and sacredness it is not owed. Not wanting to sanctify that unsanctifiable, we intend to treat it as the mere legal contract it is.”

    Now, imagine other Christians oppose them. They reason, same-sex “marriage” is a sham, and civil marriage has been made into a farce for authorizing SS “marriage” – but they’re only making the problem worse. So these other Christians decide to hold a rally next week, opposing this legislation. And then they get a call from another group supporting their move, and asking to be a part of their rally.

    And it happens to be a group in favor of same-sex marriage.

    They say, “We’re on your side: This law should be opposed. After all, they’re doing it to illustrate that civil marriage is a joke – but we find it important to retain civil marriage as a sacred arrangement. We want same-sex marriages to be respected, not thought of as a mere contract. How about we hold a joint rally?”

    Do you support their holding the joint rally?

    I’m going to go ahead and guess the response would be: Of course not. We may be against the same law, but our reasons couldn’t be more different.

    So they reply, “Okay, no joint rally. We will, however, be endorsing your position in public, and proclaiming that our groups are both on the same side no matter what you say. We’re going to cast our selves as defenders of marriage, and propping up civil marriage as a sacred and special thing – and pointing to your defense of it as evidence of this. Because it’s now in our interests to build as much respect for civil marriage as can be had.”

    What do you do at that point?

  69. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Crude:

    A couple of hasty replies to your post #68.

    I want to point out something here: If a state can keep marriage properly defined, even civil marriage, then what I’m suggesting here does not apply. I stipulated that the suggestion I’m advancing should really only be considered once it’s clear that A) A state is going to pass “gay marriage” anyway, and B) There is no real short-term hope of turning this back.

    One problem I have with this is that as I have pointed out in my previous post, this is also a cultural war; who gets to define (or deconstruct) the meaning of the words seizes the power to shape culture, for good or ill. Once the word marriage gets devalued and a caricature is enshrined in law, it is the caricature that will be seen as normal. And by that point, I fear ridiculing the caricature will do us no good.

    As for looking like hypocrites, please read what I said again. I was pointing out the response of what should be done if churches/priests/pastors were forced, by law, to perform ceremonies for gay marriages, etc. And my response was, “Do them with sarcasm and contempt. Make a joke, an obvious joke, out of the entire procedure.” I don’t think any honest person would regard that as hypocrisy, anymore than A Modest Proposal being written by a promoter of the welfare of poor people is an incident of hypocrisy.

    My concern was not so much looking like hypocrites (although it was that too), but giving even more ammo to the opposition. And writing A Modest Proposal is distinctly different from acting it out. In literature, there is a lower limit that should not be crossed, the condition of savagery where comedy consists in inflicting pain on the helpless victim and tragedy in enduring it. The element of free play in literature is the barrier that separates art from savagery. But our lives are not literary works, *that* is a boundary that should not be crossed.

    To be less cryptic, suppose we see a man sinking. We lend a hand but he refuses our help; instead he inveighs, insults and kicks us. I am not sure what we should do in such a situation, but cheering him on to sink even lower in the hopes that he will come to his senses does not seem the most humane and reasonable course of action. Similarly, with your proposal.

    If churches are forced by law to celebrate such ceremonies, they should refuse. Period. The state wants to send us to jail? We will go to jail. I hasten to add that I am far from being a brave man and the prospect of persecution does not exactly fill my heart with joy, but if it comes to that, so be it. It is not like we were not warned by our Lord that such a thing would / could happen.

  70. G. Rodrigues says:

    Off-topic, but Crude’s mention of A Modest Proposal, immediately set my mind on rereading by the umpteenth time “An Argument against the Abolishing of Christianity”. It is a small piece, about the size of the Proposal. Here is Jonathan Swift, the greatest satirical genius of the English Language, three hundred years ago (you can read the full text at http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/swift/jonathan/s97ab/):

    First, one great advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity is, that it would very much enlarge and establish liberty of conscience, that great bulwark of our nation, and of the Protestant religion, which is still too much limited by priestcraft, notwithstanding all the good intentions of the legislature, as we have lately found by a severe instance. For it is confidently reported, that two young gentlemen of real hopes, bright wit, and profound judgment, who, upon a thorough examination of causes and effects, and by the mere force of natural abilities, without the least tincture of learning, having made a discovery that there was no God, and generously communicating their thoughts for the good of the public, were some time ago, by an unparalleled severity, and upon I know not what obsolete law, broke for blasphemy. And as it has been wisely observed, if persecution once begins, no man alive knows how far it may reach, or where it will end.

    In answer to all which, with deference to wiser judgments, I think this rather shows the necessity of a nominal religion among us. Great wits love to be free with the highest objects; and if they cannot be allowed a god to revile or renounce, they will speak evil of dignities, abuse the government, and reflect upon the ministry, which I am sure few will deny to be of much more pernicious consequence, according to the saying of Tiberius, DEORUM OFFENSA DIIS CUROE.

    And to urge another argument of a parallel nature: if Christianity were once abolished, how could the Freethinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning be able to find another subject so calculated in all points whereon to display their abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of from those whose genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would therefore never be able to shine or distinguish themselves upon any other subject? We are daily complaining of the great decline of wit among as, and would we take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left? Who would ever have suspected Asgil for a wit, or Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them with materials? What other subject through all art or nature could have produced Tindal for a profound author, or furnished him with readers? It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorns and distinguishes the writer. For had a hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would have immediately sunk into silence and oblivion.

    Replace Asgil, Toland, etc. by your favorite new-atheist buffoons.

  71. Crude says:

    G. Rodrigues,

    One problem I have with this is that as I have pointed out in my previous post, this is also a cultural war; who gets to define (or deconstruct) the meaning of the words seizes the power to shape culture, for good or ill. Once the word marriage gets devalued and a caricature is enshrined in law, it is the caricature that will be seen as normal. And by that point, I fear ridiculing the caricature will do us no good.

    I agree with you that this is a cultural war. But that’s precisely why I’m arguing that we should consider the route I’m offering. I’m not saying we should let the word “marriage” be defined by secularists – in fact, I’m saying the opposite. Christians should be defining marriage, and making it clear that civil marriage isn’t the standard.

    You say that once the word marriage gets devalued and a caricature is defined in law, the caricature is what will be seen as normal. But realize: This is exactly what happens when SS marriage becomes legal. And I am arguing – and again, doing so conditionally, waiting to hear responses – that when this becomes the case, and if it becomes clear that the option to legislatively correct it is not available in the near-term, Christians should consider throwing their efforts behind obliterating civil marriage as carrying any cultural weight.

    To be less cryptic, suppose we see a man sinking. We lend a hand but he refuses our help; instead he inveighs, insults and kicks us. I am not sure what we should do in such a situation, but cheering him on to sink even lower in the hopes that he will come to his senses does not seem the most humane and reasonable course of action. Similarly, with your proposal.

    But there’s a key difference. Under my proposal, all that’s being jettisoned is an idea, a legal fiction. I’m not saying “destroy marriage”, I’m saying what SteveK is in large part – defend and define marriage in the context of the church, and make sure its cultural competitor (civil marriage) is treated as the joke it is.

    I’ll even throw you a comparable example. Let’s say a state decided to legalize first trimester abortion. I would not say ‘We should, as Christian conservatives, vote in favor of third trimester abortions to show them the horror of what they endorse!’ Abortion is murder, first or third trimester. I would not consider it justifiable to play a game like that.

    But what we’re dealing with here is a legal fiction, period. If tomorrow the government was banned from recognizing any marriage whatsoever, that would not mean that marriage no longer existed in the state in question. Marriage before God and in the church would still remain, regardless of what the state recognizes. Just as, if the state passed a law declaring that chickens do not exist, chickens would not vanish just because of that law.

  72. Crude says:

    I think it may help for me to, at least in one comment, put aside what I’m suggesting for a moment and simply ask another question.

    What should the attitude towards civil marriage be for Christians? Keeping in mind not only SS “marriage” being legalized in several states, but also other questions – what if a person marries for money? For citizenship? What if they marry but have no children, want no children, and their relationship is entirely secular? What if it’s an open marriage? What if they’ve been divorced 5 other times?

    And I fully recognize that some of these types of marriage happen even in the church. How should we approach that? I think SS “marriage” is the breaking point, the point where that should mark a great shift in how Christians view civil marriage in their state. But perhaps there are other views here.

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