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SSM, Reason, and the Religious Divide: More Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose SSM

Posted on Apr 29, 2012 by Tom Gilson

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series SSM, Reason, and Religion

I am continuing my extended answer to the charge, “there are no non-religious reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.” The following comes from a two-part tour de force by Anthony Esolen in Touchstone Magazine in 2010. I wish I could direct all of you to the original articles, but they are available only to subscribers. It’s one of my two or three favorite magazines, and well worth paying for, but I can’t expect all will do that, so I’ll summarize as best I can.

Esolen wrote ten arguments in defense of marriage. I will not be able to fully defend them in the space available. I’m not sure I’ll even be able to begin to defend some of them in this space, because they call upon a certain sensibility that I cannot assume among my readers, and for which I cannot offer the full argument. He refers, for example, to Spenser’s Epithalamion, and draws from it the conclusion, “Here we have an understanding of marriage infinitely deeper than the meager expression of will we are now left with.” It’s a powerful argument, but it’s open to a brutish sort of “Oh, yeah, well, so what?” from those who think the wisdom of the past twenty years exceeds that of the ages. Much as I would like to be, I am in no position to try to talk anyone out of that mindset.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the Epithalamion; but I have at least an openness to the idea of “understanding of marriage infinitely deeper….” I don’t hear much of the language of depth being spoken in this debate. So for reasons like that I’ll stick with a few of the more contemporaneously obvious points instead.

1, 2. Esolen spoke of how “the legalization of homosexual pseudogamy would enshrine the sexual revolution in law,” and how “it would enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.” Some see this as not such a bad thing. This is blindness.

The sexual chaos has touched every family in the nation. Who does not know at least one family whose children require an essay merely to describe who under their roof is related to whom, and how?

Some reckon up the losses from this revolution by percentages: of unwed mothers, of aborted pregnancies, of children growing up without a parent, usually the father. It will take artists of the most penetrating insight to reckon up the losses as they ought to be reckoned, in human misery.

5. It will “curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained.”

Indeed, how many of us can understand the passion of friendship in David’s lament for Jonathan, or Gilgamesh’s lament for Enkidu, without coloring it with the suspicion of homosexuality? … Unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another; the friendship will not deepen. Confess, reader: if you come upon two teenage boys in a pond skinny-dipping, it is the first thing you will think, and you will think it despite the fact that before bathing suits were invented, it was the only way two boys could ever be found swimming.

Many are the times my daughter has said at the dinner table, “I really like some girl or other at school … but not in that way!” It hurts to see how cautious she has had to be about her same-sex friendships. The innocence is gone. Every relationship is potentially sexual. This is deadly.

6. It leaves us with no grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

In a word, all the good arguments for homosexual “marriage” are equally good arguments for any form of “marriage” among any adults whatsoever.

7. The legalization of homosexual pseudogamy seals us in a culture of divorce.

Divorce begins by undermining trust in marriage (and that is bad enough, given our plummeting birthrates) and ends by undermining trust altogether. We must retrace our steps; we must bring some semblance of justice back to divorce law.

But how can we do so while legalizing homosexual pseudogamy? Again, the principle for the legalization is that people have a right to “fulfill” themselves sexually. But some marriages are unhappy—or some people who are married come to think that it would be more “fulfilling” to leap the fence. How can we deny them this? Or how can we blame them? How can we penalize the breaker of a family, when his or her motives are those we have blessed in the case of the homosexual?

Finally, a most powerful consideration:

10. It spells disaster for children.

We will be visiting a crisis of identity upon every child in our society. That, in fact, is the intention of many homosexual activists, whose revenge upon the children who were once cruel or indifferent to them is to afflict other children with doubts, to make them endure the questions that they themselves endured.

All this is done under the guise of charity for the homosexual teenager, but true charity would refrain from plunging children into the trouble in the first place, and would instead offer an unambiguous expectation of heterosexuality. That would give many pubescent teens the wherewithal to shrug off the random doubt, rather than causing it to grow into a dreadful prognosis.

These are not “religious” arguments. They are human arguments.

This is not a battle of religion vs. secular sensibility. It’s a completely different kind of battle than that. I told you earlier that I would be aiming this series toward an end of explaining why it seems to be religion vs. non-religion, and when I get there I think you’ll understand what I mean.

Series Navigation (SSM, Reason, and Religion):<<< Marriage, Reason and Religion: Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose SSMSSM, Reason, and the Religious Divide: The Essential Meaning of “Marriage” >>>
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55 Responses to “ SSM, Reason, and the Religious Divide: More Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose SSM ”

  1. Holopupenko says:

    Given the topic of this post and considering those post where “objectivity” was discussed, this is precious: http://www.salvomag.com/new/mag/fakeads/objectify.php

  2. d says:

    (1,2): Same-sex marriage is not only about sexual intercourse, anymore than marriage between a post menopausal woman and a man is only about sexual intercourse. This point is absurd.

    (5): This is also absurd on its face. Homosexuality doesn’t cease to exist without same-sex marriage. All the complications of human relationships between male, female, straight, and gay still exist whether SSM does or not.

    (6): Not true at all. Almost all the good arguments against polygamy, for example, are related to spousal and child abuse, societal instability due to a disproportionate amount of unwed males, complex inheritance laws, child slavery, etc. In other words, all the good arguments against polygamy, are either specific to polygamy or do not apply to SSM.

    And one of the most powerful arguments FOR polygamy is that of religious freedom, which is something many anti-SSM proponents actually strengthen by opposing SSM on the grounds of religious freedom.

    And the same holds true for other forms of marriage – they have their own sets of distict points of social and legal impact, and so have unique arguments, for and against, that don’t apply to other forms of marriage. Yet another absurd point.

    (7): See (1,2) – SSM isn’t only about sexual fulfillment. It may be one facet, just like it is for hetersexual marriage, but of course it isn’t the only facet. Absurd, for the same reasons (1,2) are.

    Now for (10)..

    The author you quote says…

    We will be visiting a crisis of identity upon every child in our society. That, in fact, is the intention of many homosexual activists, whose revenge upon the children who were once cruel or indifferent to them is to afflict other children with doubts, to make them endure the questions that they themselves endured.

    What a particularly scorn-worthy remark by the author (in italics). Gay activists want to take revenge on children by forcing them to question their sexuality? Really now, that’s pathetic trash, Tom, I can’t believe you actually quoted it on your blog as a serious point. Does that not strike you as a rather text-book piece of prejudiced rhetoric?

    As for the rest of the author’s point, does he actually have any data which demonstrates that the open and honest self-questioning in matters of sexual orientation isn’t a healthy thing, for straight AND gay children? Does he support his point beyond the mere prejudiced speculation he seems to be engaging in?

    In conclusion…

    All the points are demonstrably absurd, which might explain why they have almost no favor among non-religious people. It may be true that these absurdities can be called “non-religious arguments”, and that their existence is enough to technically refute the claim “there are no non-religious arguments against SSM” when taken in the most strict sense, but if they can’t actually convince anybody, are they even worth bringing up – and is it really honest to?

  3. Holopupenko says:

    And this kindergarten rant is brought to you–in ABSOLUTISTIST moralistic terms–by someone who decries (1) moral objectivity, and (2) objective meaning. (We’ll leave aside d’s ignorance of faith, his animating scientism, and his philosophy-is-opinion nonsense…)

    Tsk-tsk.

  4. d says:

    Holo,

    What a useful contribution you just made (sarcasm, if you couldnt tell). And I can only find ironic humor in your projection, in calling my post a “kidergarten rant”.

    Anyways, I’ve defended my position as a moral realist many times over on this blog, so your outburst isnt even well aimed.

  5. d says:

    Also, FWIW – the article seems to be available here, in full, for free – the part with the 10 points, anyway.

    http://www.pointofview.net/site/News2?news_iv_ctrl=1201&id=6198

    Seems legit, but feel free to delete this post, Tom, if you think there’s a copyright issue.

  6. Tom Gilson says:

    d,

    Thank you for reminding us the SSM movement is not only about intercourse. How about attaching that random thought to what’s been said here, please? Points 1 and 2 do not depend on SSM being only about intercourse. They have to do with the fact that SSM, if legalized, would amount to a legal endorsement of the sexual revolution. Similarly for point 7: your objection only shows that you misunderstand the argument.

    Would you be interested in my explaining the argument more clearly? I’ll be glad to do so. Consider asking me a question or two about it. Unless you are just convinced that Esolen and I are both idiots who have nothing to say except for theocratic power-mongering

    Concerning 6, I defy you to present me one good argument for SSM that cannot be extended on exactly identical principles to any consensual relationship between adults.

    And one of the most powerful arguments FOR polygamy is that of religious freedom

    And your point is … ?

    (7): See (1,2) – SSM isn’t only about sexual fulfillment. It may be one facet, just like it is for hetersexual [sic] marriage, but of course it isn’t the only facet. Absurd, for the same reasons (1,2) are.

    Not absurd. SSM is not at its core, not in its nature, a generative thing. Listen to the reasons people give for it: they’re mostly about personal fulfillment and legal/social/financial considerations pertaining to the couple. A portion of the discussion relates to adoption, but it’s a small part of it with respect to the rest.

    Gay activists want to take revenge on children by forcing them to question their sexuality? Really now, that’s pathetic trash, Tom, I can’t believe you actually quoted it on your blog as a serious point. Does that not strike you as a rather text-book piece of prejudiced rhetoric?

    Your scorn is duly noted. It is also unexplained, undefended, and to my mind perfectly inexplicable. It’s a misreading, too. He didn’t say gay activists want to take revenge on children. Read it carefully, or else if you need me to, I’ll explain it for you on the next go-round. I shouldn’t need to do that, so I’m giving you your chance to read it for yourself first.

    As for your moral realism:

    Has it always and forever been wrong for society to disapprove of/disallow gay “marriage”?

  7. Tom Gilson says:

    Thanks for the link to the article, d.

  8. Holopupenko says:

    d:

    You’re kidding, right?

    You deflect to “realism” by equivocating to “objectivity.” Well, then, to avoid confusion please come out from behind your fears and declare emphatically for us “I’m a moral objectivist.” Otherwise, there’s no reason to trust you.

    Moral realism bases the truth content of its propositions to the real, extra-mental world, i.e., it connects IS with OUGHT… But the problem is two-fold (for you): (1) most blatant, your own world view is based in meaning subjectivity… which destroys your appeal to moral realism, (2) the IS to OUGHT, while addressed by moral realism is not the whole story: YOU base your moral claims in science (say, evolutionary theory) in order to obtain alleged “objective” moral claims and claim it’s objective… but that does NOTHING to cross the IS to OUGHT gap because the subject matter of the natural sciences is not about moral categories. In other words, you’re being dishonest by imposing your scientism through a personal interpretation onto the moral realm.

    Apart from this, what do you MEAN, d?

    Answer: nothing of objective (= truth) value… per your own rules of the game.

    When confronted with your own words undermining your own position… you come back at us huffing and puffing hot air. Exhibit #1: Tom’s pointing out the silliness of your response to what he ACTUALLY wrote.

  9. d says:

    Holo,

    With no due respect, say something relevant to my points or get lost.

    I’m not going to entertain the diversion in yet another thread (I have not the patience) to justify non-theist moral realism in a conversation that does not concern itself with moral ontology.

    Moral realism, given naturalism, is strongly attested by many serious thinkers. You remain incredulous. Great, good for you. For the purposes of this thread, we’ll just take it on faith that:

    1) I believe in moral realism, and can rationally make moral claims, with no hypocrisy with respect to my moral ontology.
    2) Many serious thinkers attest to moral reaslism on naturalism, and its not obvious or given that they are wrong.

    And so with those points in mind, we can have conversations about moral issues, without having to get sidestepped at every turn, because you just can’t let it lie that you think you have some smackdown argument against naturalist moral realism and an easy way to beat on non-theists. Not going to happen this time.

  10. d says:

    Tom,

    (1,2) Esolen tries to attach SSM to the sexual revolution through his claims that SSM is for sexual fulfillment only. Maybe you can fix his blatant non-sequitor (i.e., ramble on about sexual revolution, the falsely attach SSM to it) or show me where I am mistaken in characterizing it as such. If you can, please go for it.

    (6) The arguments that justify SSM are a subset of arguments that justify traditional marriage (and marriage for mixed race couples, before that was legal). Those arguments can also be used for other forms of marriage too, polygamy included. But so what? One might as well say that traditional marriage opens up the door to polygamist marriage, or other forms of marriage.

    The striking difference between traditional, SS, and mixed-race marriage and plural/polygamist marriages, is the absence of powerful secular arguments against. Polygamous/plural marriages have powerful secular arguments against them that don’t apply to SS, traditional, mixed-race marriages, or any kind of marriage involving two consenting adults, for that matter. And not just any ole arguments, but powerful arguments.

    As such, polygamy/plurality will stand or fall on its own merits.

    Esolen veers close to this realization when he says, “Would we not find ourselves, almost overnight, in a world utterly different from the one into which we were born [, if polygamy were legalized]?” Yes, we surely would. But what fails to occur to him is that we would not find ourselves in a different world, save one with slightly more freedom for a marginalized minority, if SSM were legalized. Proof is in the pudding, as legalization has caused not a blip in the trajectory of any social institution (including traditional marriage) in the countries and places where it is legal, and has been for some time.

    My point about religious freedom was that it is the religious freedom based arguments AGAINST SSM, not for it, that often strengthen the case for polygamy, given the sacrosanct place that religious freedom holds in American law.

    (7) Esolen was laser focused on characterizing SSM as something purely about sexual fulfillment – not just fulfillment in general, which is far more expansive and nuanced then he treats it. A more general fulfillment might include sacrifice and commitment, even through hard times when one doesnt feel sexually or even emotionally fulfilled (or even having children), but hopes for the future. And quite frankly, homosexual men can get all the sexual fulfillment they want, right now. They don’t need marriage for that. SSM is about that more expansive and nuanced form of fulfillment.

    (10) Well, I can’t say much about this since, I don’t know what particular point you think I am missing. Upon re-reading (including the article in full) I once again confirm that he did accuse gay activists of a revenge plot against those that picked on them and caused them anguish in their childhoods, to cause children today to have doubts about themselves.

    Now he did qualify “gay activists” with the term “many”. But sorry, if that’s the source of my mistreatment, that’s not enough to get him off the hook. Reading the full article, I did see he provided no data that suggested going through a period of sexual questioning, where confusion can be treated with honesty and openness and no expectations of heterosexuality, isn’t healthy and desirable.

    Also, there is quite a gem in the article which undermines this man’s credibility quite profoundly.

    Second, it embroils the theorist in an odd dilemma. If he affirms that such a gene is passed along by heredity, then it seems hard to believe that it would have survived after the thousands or millions of years the human race has been in existence. Put it this way: suppose there is a gene for celibacy. Would that gene not die out the faster, precisely insofar as it determined its possessor to a life of celibacy? To the extent that a “gay” gene is determinative, to that same extent it suffers under the mathematical power of natural selection, since people who do not possess that gene will have many more children than people who do.

    The ole,”if homosexuality is hereditary, it would have been eliminated by natural selection by now” argument. I trust most here are sophisticated enough to read that and feel embarrased for the man, since we all probably know about traits and disorders that arise independently despite being deleterious or even deadly for the individual. And its not at all clear whether homosexuality is harmful, neutral or beneficial (there are theories to that effect) to the reproductive fitness of the population as a whole.

  11. Holopupenko says:

    Okay d, I’ll throw you–with no agreement–the, ehem, “naturalistic moral objectivity” bone. Have a good chew.

    But what about your continued avoidance of your even worse “non-objective meaning” shtick? Are you again going to set up a convenient world in which what you say is objective to YOU (because, it IS about YOU, isn’t it?) while living with the cognitive dissonance of “knowing” (providing us NO demonstration per G. Rodrigues’ yellow highlighter) that it’s all subjective anyway.

    We’re asking you to actually, really, honestly play by YOUR rules of YOUR game, instead of behaving otherwise. YOUR weird game regarding YOUR basis for moral objectivity flows from YOUR intellectually repugnant notion of “meaning subjectivity.”

  12. d says:

    Holo,

    I questioned the coherency of an objective meaning of life (not objective meaning, per se) though didnt rule it out completely, IIRC.

    I just posted in that thread yesterday with some articles giving a naturalistic account of an objective meaning (of life). But that account does depend on moral realism, so I’m sure you won’t be convinced. But it also shows that meaning may be dependent on moral realism, but not vice versa. And so one could be a moral realist and deny any particular account of an objective meaning to life.

  13. Melissa says:

    d,

    A couple of questions:

    questioned the coherency of an objective meaning of life (not objective meaning, per se) though didnt rule it out completely, IIRC

    If objective meaning does exist on what grounds do you single out the concepts of human or life as not having objective meaning.

    You do realise that the lack of objective meaning poses problems no only for morality bu also for science?

    But it also shows that meaning may be dependent on moral realism, but not vice versa.

    Well, then they have it exactly backwards.

  14. d says:

    Melissa,

    As to your first question, JohnD, in the article I linked too in the previous thread, says:

    …some comments on the terminology used in this debate might be in order. The debate is typically couched in terms of “meaning” in life. But in some ways, the use of the word ‘meaning’ is unfortunate because it can lead to the conflation of “meaning in life” with semantic meaning. This conflation may not be entirely inappropriate, if there is some overlap between the two concepts, but we need to be aware of it nonetheless.

    ….

    I think these terminological difficulties can be overcome. It seems clear to me that all discussions of meaning in life are primarily concerned with the question: is life worth living? In other words, is there some property (or properties) that makes existence in this universe worthwhile? The quest for meaning can be understood as the quest for this property (or properties).

    http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2012/04/theism-and-meaning-of-life-part-one.html

    So “objective meaning” and “objective meaning of life” are distinct, at least somewhat. Science certainly requires the former, but not necesarrily the latter.

  15. G. Rodrigues says:

    @d (#12):

    I questioned the coherency of an objective meaning of life (not objective meaning, per se)

    I just posted in that thread yesterday with some articles giving a naturalistic account of an objective meaning (of life).

    I do not know if I should be happy or sad for you.

    @Holopupenko:

    On the basis of the links d provided (*), he is now construing “meaningful” as “worth living” and not as “purposeful” as it was in the other thread, and seems to be very content that on atheism, so the luminaries proclaim, life is worth living. It was many years ago, but I still remember quite clearly the opening lines of A. Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” At this point, I am *really* pondering if I should follow the same strategy of metaphysical naturalists and explain it all away as an illusion foisted on us by Evolution. Anyway, to resume Camus’ conclusion, one paragraph suffices:

    I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

    Just as many arguments in an atheist’s arsenal are regurgitations of Hume, Feuerbach, Freud, etc. so we have a regurgitation of old moral theories, with the caveat that Camus was not an inconsiderable writer, so there is still some value in reading him. Does it answer any of the objections or challenges that were posed? The answer is easy, but I will let you be the judge of that.

    (*) That only responds to a issue tangential to what was being discussed in the thread and not to the thrust of the argument, and in my opinion very poorly, but I have neither the time nor the patience to dismantle it, so file this on the “biased opinion” cabinet.

  16. Holopupenko says:

    d:

    All provocation to the side: PLEASE read what you just wrote… and then be honest with yourself (and us): do you have ANY foundational basis upon which to make the claims you just made? G. Rodrigues was more direct… but spot on: you offer NO (nadda, null, empty set, void, black hole) argument in support of the positions you hold.

    Would you take anyone seriously if they asserted (again, without demonstration) that life was without meaning… and yet objective meaning exists? Come on, really: you honestly believe that’s a coherent position?

    Yes, as reflected in your own words I AM characterizing your position as incoherent.

  17. Holopupenko says:

    So “objective meaning” and “objective meaning of life” are distinct, at least somewhat. Science certainly requires the former, but not necesarrily the latter.

    Are you doing science when you assert your first sentence… the sentence with the sloppy attempt at a ‘get out of jail free’ card following the comma? What scientific basis is for the second sentence’s assertion? Are you circularly suggesting science is objective because “science certainly requires [objectivity]”?

    And, who pray tell “does” science? By your “logic”: life forms with no objective meaning to their lives somehow making objective statements. Really? Just what the beejeebers does “for the most part” mean? Oops. Heh. “Mean”?

    Really, d, you’re sounding more and more silly with each comment.

    G. Rodrigues: brilliant.

  18. d says:

    Maybe we should also bring up the problem of induction, while we’re tackling morality and meaning. Or heck, how about questioning the ontological basis for rationality given naturalism? And logic even? Surely some of you think there is no ontological ground for rationality, induction, logic, etc, given naturalism, therefore how strange it is that I, a naturalist, might employ those tools when arguing for SSM… that will surely be productive.

    Anyhow… I’m sorry I entertained Melissa’s question. I don’t feel like having these conversations in this particular thread, where the actual content of the OP is a topic worth discussion, in its own right – so I won’t.

    I’m sure there will be plenty of other threads where discussions on moral ontology and the meaning of life are more relevant.

  19. ordinary seeker says:

    What a disappointment. I had been looking forward to reading this post, anticipating something new, but instead it is the same old stuff. It doesn’t matter whether you are ultimately going to tell us that these are religious reasons or are not: Your world view and your religion are inseparable, the one supporting and upholding the other. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose–we all do it. I guess I was hoping you’d step outside of that for one post, but you didn’t.

  20. Tom Gilson says:

    os, how about if you provide arguments in favor of SSM that step outside your worldview?

    Never fear, anyway, I’m going to wrap up this series with a discussion on why these seem like religious arguments–even though in fact they are not

  21. ordinary seeker says:

    You’ve already said it, Tom–these are “human;” ie, worldview arguments.

  22. ordinary seeker says:

    I don’t share your worldview, and most of the arguments Esolen makes seem ludicrous to me, but I can understand the attraction you and others have to them: They promise a safe known world. Unfortunately, that world has never been and never will be.

  23. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh, for crying out loud. Psychologize us, why don’t you.

    You only think you understand.

  24. ordinary seeker says:

    Then explain.

  25. Tom Gilson says:

    Then order me around.

  26. Tom Gilson says:

    (I’ve been explaining here for years. You knew that, right?)

  27. ordinary seeker says:

    And I have been here, trying to understand. I think I do–I think I understand how you see the world, and how it’s different from how I see the world, and how that manifests in our social and political lives and decisions–and you tell me I don’t. So, what am I missing?

  28. Tom Gilson says:

    I don’t know.

  29. Melissa says:

    On the basis of the links d provided (*), he is now construing “meaningful” as “worth living” and not as “purposeful” as it was in the other thread, and seems to be very content that on atheism, so the luminaries proclaim, life is worth living.

    Plus d refers us back to an article refuting Craig’s “meaning of life” as it is relevant to the current discussion.

    @d,

    Esolen tries to attach SSM to the sexual revolution through his claims that SSM is for sexual fulfillment only.

    Point 1 and 2 do not require that SSM is for sexual fulfilment only. Legislating SSM officially completes the severing of the link between sex and procreation.

  30. ordinary seeker says:

    Melissa,
    So, in states where same sex couples can get married, sex no longer produces babies?

  31. Tom Gilson says:

    os,

    Let me describe what you have just done in plain English. You have taken the most uncharitable of all possible interpretations, first of all. That says something about you. You have also avoided or neglected any real attempt to understand. That says something about you, too.

    Do you like yourself that way?

    I’m prepared for you to come back and say hey, chill out, Tom, I was joking! If that’s what you were doing, you haven’t established yourself as the kind of light-hearted person of whom we would expect that kind of thing. In other words, your setup for the punch line was inadequate and it fell flat.

    Or maybe you weren’t joking at all.

    Try treating your fellow human beings here as fellow human beings, okay?

  32. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh, and by the way, if what she was saying wasn’t quite clear, there’s a standard, interpersonally appropriate way to deal with that among humans.

    You know what it is, right?

  33. Tom Gilson says:

    I appreciate that you asked me earlier, “What am I missing,” by the way. I wish I had known how to answer you.

    Or maybe I have an answer after all.

  34. Melissa says:

    Thanks OS for pointing out the absurdity inherent in the claim that we decide what sex is.

  35. Crude says:

    I’ll jump here to say this.

    It seems trivially easy to me to give arguments and reasons to oppose Same Sex Marriage that have nothing to do with religion. I like some of the list Tom gives, but really, the nice thing about ‘secular’ reason is that it’s so friendly to utterly arbitrary standards and principles.

    But I think the better non-religious arguments ultimately come down to having a certain ideal picture of society, and wanting to protect and promote that. It may not be the same picture everyone else has or wants, people may be able to argue against it (people can argue anything, really.) But that’s sufficient to get one over the line.

  36. Melissa says:

    OS,

    Thanks for making the point for me that our attempts to redefine nature are delusional. Unfortunately for many children the effects of that delusion are no laughing matter (if they get a chance to laugh at all).

  37. Melissa says:

    Tom,

    Thank-you for your words in my defence, I’m sorry that they were required. Given that you had to do this a couple of times in the last few days, I’ve decided to step back from taking part in commenting as I would prefer not to contribute to the discussion descending into inanity. I really appreciate the forum you provide here to think and discuss topics related to a Christian worldview and also the opportunity to work through our position on various issues. I will still be following the conversation, and hopefully, once I get my head into the right space will be able to contribute constructively in the future.

  38. Tom Gilson says:

    Hi, Melissa,

    I hope you have a good break, and I hope you come back. I also hope you know that I didn’t see myself so much as defending you. You’re perfectly able to do that for yourself, and a defense as such wasn’t all that necessary in this case anyway, since the attack mounted against you was about as potent as an air raid with paper airplanes–made out of Kleenex.

    What I was intending to do was to take the opportunity to show os what kind of person he or she is presenting him/herself to be on this blog, and to ask, “do you like that about yourself?”

  39. Melissa says:

    Thanks Tom.

  40. Nathaniel says:

    These aren’t religious arguments, but they’re stupid arguments.

    1,2: “It would enshrine the sexual revolution into law.”
    I find it ironic that the author lists a bunch of problems that are actually the result of heterosexual marriage…ahem. Anyways, I think the word “enshrine” is a little misleading, almost like the author is trying to convince the reader that legalization of SSM is equivalent to praising SSM. And it does assume that the key purpose behind SSM is sexual fulfillment which it is not. Marriage is counter-productive to the type of “sexual fulfillment” that the author is talking about because most marriages require the commitment to one partner.

    5. “It will “curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained.”
    What? This makes no sense whatsoever. The social insecurities that the author and Tom have made are due to prejudice against homosexuality, not due to SSM which isn’t even legal yet in most states. This argument isn’t even an argument.

    6. If SSM goes, any marriage goes.
    D already articulated why this is incorrect pretty well so I won’t rehash it.

    7. “The legalization of homosexual pseudogamy seals us in a culture of divorce.”
    Once again, the author has made a couple assumptions that are false:
    a. That legalization is equal to endorsement.
    b. That SSM is all about sexual fulfillment.

    10. ” It spells disaster for children.”
    Okay, this insecurity that numerous young people is due, once again, to prejudice against homosexuality and has nothing whatsoever to do with SSM which, again, still isn’t legal in most states so I’m not sure how it can be blamed for sexual insecurity. I’d also be curious to know what method the author is using to judge the motives of the SSM activists. Is he telepathic? Or could it just be that he’s trying to paint the opposition as the “evil people who are trying to hurt the children”?

  41. d says:

    Melissa,

    Point 1 and 2 do not require that SSM is for sexual fulfilment only. Legislating SSM officially completes the severing of the link between sex and procreation.

    And just like hetero couples who don’t intend or can’t procreate, same-sex couples might marry with intent to raise children. Whether its the act of sex or not that brings the child into the home, is just not relevant. Given the amount of kids out there that need adopting, it would behoove us (and many orphaned children) to encourage same-sex couples, while having no procreative ability within the context of their relationship do have ample child-rearing ability, to enter into marriage, and adopt.

  42. Tom Gilson says:

    Stupid arguments, Nathaniel?

    I’m tempted to go rough on you in this response. You’ve called these arguments stupid, and you’ve done so without understanding them. You’ve assigned motives to Esolen (and perhaps me) without any basis; you’ve judged us, and you’ve judged us wrongly.

    But I’m really going to try to measure my response without reacting. Here’s the first one

    I find it ironic that the author lists a bunch of problems that are actually the result of heterosexual marriage…ahem.

    Here’s the first problem. You missed something here: how are “children of unwed mothers” the result of heterosexual marriage?

    Sure there are problems with heterosexual marriage, which Esolen covers in point 7. But points 1 and 2 are not about marriage but about the sexual revolution.

    So I strongly suggest you re-think your point here, since it seems to be based on a total mis-reading of the argument.

    Anyways, I think the word “enshrine” is a little misleading, almost like the author is trying to convince the reader that legalization of SSM is equivalent to praising SSM.

    That’s exactly what it is. You mention the same thing below, using the term “endorsing” rather than “praising.” The whole gay rights movement is based on endorsing homosexuality as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality, and the SSM movement wants to take that endorsement all the way to the marriage institution. If it weren’t about full endorsement, they would be aiming for civil partnerships instead.

    I think you would do well to spend some time thinking about this.

    And it does assume that the key purpose behind SSM is sexual fulfillment which it is not.

    Here again you have pronounced “stupid” when you have misread the argument. Points 1 and 2 make no such assumption. Here’s what’s going on instead. These points recognize that there has been a sexual revolution. They argue that this revolution has had significant negative effects on society, especially children. SSM if approved would amount to an approval of all that is involved in that revolution: the denial of the practice of keeping sex confined to a man-woman marriage.

    If you think that giving gays the right to “marry” would help keep their sexual practices confined to their “marriage,” well, pardon my skepticism but I’ve read After the Ball, and I don’t think you can make that case successfully. I haven’t even seen anyone try very hard. Male homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous, and there’s no good reason to think that “marriage” would change that.

    What? This makes no sense whatsoever. The social insecurities that the author and Tom have made are due to prejudice against homosexuality, not due to SSM which isn’t even legal yet in most states. This argument isn’t even an argument.

    You haven’t read the argument. Point 5 is about the freedom to have same-sex friendships with no question of sexuality entering into the picture.

    When I was in high school we had swimming classes in a carefully secured pool. I don’t know about the girls, but the boys swam naked. Swim trunks were not part of the program. No one ever brought up any question of sexual attraction among all these naked boys. That’s a good thing, because sexual attraction throws a whole new dimension into a friendship. In fact even he very possibility of sexual attraction, or of romantic involvement, makes friendships very complicated. My friendships with other boys (and men, since then) had none of that complication. I spent hours and hours with a friend named John, and it never got weird.

    That’s the kind of innocence and freedom that stands to be lost: the freedom to have a strong, deep, intense same-sex friendship without it getting weird in a romantic way, or without having to explain that it’s not that.

    Again, I strongly urge you to re-read the argument and re-think your position.

    You say d already answered point 6. Did you notice I answered d? I’ll challenge you the same way: tell me one good argument in favor of SSM that can’t be extended to other “marriages.” d didn’t do that, so his argument stands rebutted at this point, and until it’s supported, you can’t lean on it any more than you could lean on a wisp of fog. Would you like to try to answer my point?

    Once again, the author has made a couple assumptions that are false:
    a. That legalization is equal to endorsement.
    b. That SSM is all about sexual fulfillment.

    See above Note that point 7, like 1 and 2 above, does not assume that SSM is all about sexual fulfillment. It assumes that the current culture of divorce is based on an ethos of personal fulfillment in marriage. The SSM movement is also based on that same ethos. That’s the ethos that supports the culture of divorce: “I’m not fulfilled, so I’m going to quit.” That’s the point he was making.

    Okay, this insecurity that numerous young people is due, once again, to prejudice against homosexuality and has nothing whatsoever to do with SSM which, again, still isn’t legal in most states so I’m not sure how it can be blamed for sexual insecurity. I’d also be curious to know what method the author is using to judge the motives of the SSM activists. Is he telepathic? Or could it just be that he’s trying to paint the opposition as the “evil people who are trying to hurt the children”?

    So you see what you did here, Nathaniel? You explained (and judged) Esolen’s (and perhaps my) internal motivations and motives: “This insecurity is due to prejudice. Then you went on to wonder how Esolen could have known and judged SSM activist’s motives! You did the very thing you said Esolen couldn’t do, and in the very same paragraph!

    Did you realize that while you were doing it? Would you like to consider retracting that judgement, in view of your expressed doubts that it can rightfully be made (unless the judger is telepathic)?

    Here are a couple other reasons for you to retract. Esolen’s so-called “insecurity” is actually an appropriate concern for children, based on copious research showing that children do much better when raised by their mother and father, esp. of course in a low-conflict marriage.

    And no, his is not trying to paint SSM as an attempt intended to hurt children. That’s not in there. It’s not even hinted at. Why would you read that into what he wrote, even as a possibility? Could it be stereotyping? I’m not trying to be telepathic here myself, I just know that’s the usual reason people assign motives falsely to members of other groups they don’t understand or don’t agree with.

    So is it stereotyping? If not, why did you think it was worth suggesting that might be on Esolen’s mind?

    I think you have a lot to re-think, Nathaniel.

  43. Tom Gilson says:

    d,

    Your solution to the adoption problem is naive.

    1. The vast majority of children waiting for adoption are older children from hard backgrounds, who by reason of their age and challenges are considered less desirable by potential adoptive parents. I don’t think SSM would markedly increase the number of adoptive couples who would accept these children into their homes.

    2. More crucially, why are there so many children in need of adoption? Is it, perhaps, at least partially because of our culture’s emphasis on adult personal fulfillment, and on unrestricted sexual activity? If you’re really interested in solving the adoption problem, why not attack it at its root, and help re-build the parenting-oriented marriage culture?

  44. d says:

    Tom,

    (1) That would remain to be seen. Either way, another source of stable families with no possibility for procreation and a desire for children may indeed be a good thing.

    (2) Oh sure, fixing the underlying issues would be a great thing to do. But a realistic best case, in that regard, is never going to result in world where there aren’t a surplus of kids that need stable homes. SSM is not mutually exclusive with a parenting-oriented marriage culture.

    You say d already answered point 6. Did you notice I answered d? I’ll challenge you the same way: tell me one good argument in favor of SSM that can’t be extended to other “marriages.” d didn’t do that, so his argument stands rebutted at this point, and until it’s supported, you can’t lean on it any more than you could lean on a wisp of fog. Would you like to try to answer my point?

    I think I successfully demonstrated that your question was ill-conceived, here (relevant bit quoted below): http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/04/ssm-reason-and-the-religious-divide-part-2/#comment-38060

    (6) The arguments that justify SSM are a subset of arguments that justify traditional marriage (and marriage for mixed race couples, before that was legal). Those arguments can also be used for other forms of marriage too, polygamy included. But so what? One might as well say that traditional marriage opens up the door to polygamist marriage, or other forms of marriage.

    The striking difference between traditional, SS, and mixed-race marriage and plural/polygamist marriages, is the absence of powerful secular arguments against. Polygamous/plural marriages have powerful secular arguments against them that don’t apply to SS, traditional, mixed-race marriages, or any kind of marriage involving two consenting adults, for that matter. And not just any ole arguments, but powerful arguments.

    As such, polygamy/plurality will stand or fall on its own merits.

    Esolen veers close to this realization when he says, “Would we not find ourselves, almost overnight, in a world utterly different from the one into which we were born [, if polygamy were legalized]?” Yes, we surely would. But what fails to occur to him is that we would not find ourselves in a different world, save one with slightly more freedom for a marginalized minority, if SSM were legalized. Proof is in the pudding, as legalization has caused not a blip in the trajectory of any social institution (including traditional marriage) in the countries and places where it is legal, and has been for some time.

  45. Tom Gilson says:

    d,

    You write,

    (6) The arguments that justify SSM are a subset of arguments that justify traditional marriage.

    What do you mean, “justify traditional marriage”? Who ever tried to justify it? That’s a serious question; I literally don’t know what you mean by it. Marriage has been a human practice for millennia, everywhere around the world.

    Do you mean descriptions that explain what marriage actually is, and has been for all of history? Then SSM’s description is indeed a subset of that; and that is exactly Stewart’s point. It is a bare, stripped-down shadow kind of relationship compared to marriage.

    Polygamous/plural marriages have powerful secular arguments against them that don’t apply to SS, traditional, mixed-race marriages, or any kind of marriage involving two consenting adults, for that matter. And not just any ole arguments, but powerful arguments.

    Kindly elaborate on this, and explain why SSM’s justifications do not also justify these arrangements regardless.

    Revenge plot? You still misread it. Are your prejudices getting the better of you?

    I’m out of time now before a lunch appointment.

  46. d says:

    Tom,

    What do you mean, “justify traditional marriage”? Who ever tried to justify it? That’s a serious question; I literally don’t know what you mean by it. Marriage has been a human practice for millennia, everywhere around the world.

    The reasons we, as a society, choose to formally, in law, recognize heterosexual marriage ARE the justifications. What’s confusing about that?

    Do you mean descriptions that explain what marriage actually is, and has been for all of history?

    You don’t mean to imply that descriptions of marriage have been uniform and consistent across human history and culture, for all time? If so, please go review what anthropologists have to say, and let’s put that falsehood to bed: http://www.aaanet.org/issues/policy-advocacy/Statement-on-Marriage-and-the-Family.cfm

    Then SSM’s description is indeed a subset of that; and that is exactly Stewart’s point. It is a bare, stripped-down shadow kind of relationship compared to marriage.

    It’s only as “bare” and “stripped-down” as a marriage between a post-menopausal woman and a man is, given that ability to procreate is the only relevant difference.

    Kindly elaborate on this, and explain why SSM’s justifications do not also justify these arrangements regardless.

    Well, here are a few reasons to oppose polygamy that do not apply to SSM. These are taken from the fairly recent ruling from Canada’s Supreme Court that upheld a ban on polygamy, and are the primary reasons why the ban was upheld (note: they upheld the ban on polygamy despite being a country that adopted a gender neutral definition of marriage):

    http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/11/15/2011BCSC1588.htm

    [1316] The evidence demonstrates that polygamy is associated with very substantial harms. The prevention of these harms is salutary. Some of the beneficial effects of the ongoing prohibition of polygamy include:

    a) Increased per-child parental investment, with the expected increase in the mental and physical wellbeing of children overall;

    b) Reduced social strife, conflict and crime expected from more uneven distribution of the opportunity to marry;

    c) Reduced average age gaps between husbands and wives, increasing equality in marriages;

    d) Reduction in sexual predation on young girls;

    e) Reducing incentives for male control over women and their reproductive capacity; and

    [1317] The statistical evidence shows that as levels of polygamy increase in a society, there is a corresponding decrease in political and civil liberties. It is reasonable to assume that the decriminalization of polygamy would make Canada an attractive destination for polygamists from other countries, and there is no evidence that Canada would be immune from the impacts of such an influx.

    [1318] The prohibition of polygamy has been linked, both temporally and philosophically, with the rise of democracy and its attendant values of liberty and equality.

    If you actually take some time and look at many of the points about that trial, you’ll find the arguments FOR polygamy were not the same arguments that we use for same-sex marriage, at all. Religious freedom is the biggie, but the other is child welfare for those in illegal polygamous households.

    Here’s a brief news article here for a more concise summary: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/11/23/bc-polygamy-ruling-supreme-court.html

    Revenge plot? You still misread it. Are your prejudices getting the better of you?

    I don’t think my reading is off. He literally accused homosexual activists of taking revenge. Its right there. I think I can see how you *want* the passage to read, where “whose revenge” might be understood more as “whose non-malicious effect” or “whose consequence”… but that completely changes the meaning of the word. He used revenge and I have to assume he did it for a reason.

    And even granting him an unwarranted amount of interpretive charity (even though it borders on the nonsensical to do so), he’s still offered no reason, no data to suggest that:

    a) homosexual activists actually are actually out to cause straight kids strife and to doubt their sexual identities
    b) that honestly and openly questioning one’s sexual orientation in a judgment free environment with the goal of coming to terms with it, whatever it may turn out to be, is unhealthy.

    In fact, why should we not think the expectation of heterosexuality may be more likely to cause confusion and strife among young adults (and even adults too) as they go move towards sexual maturity?

  47. Tom Gilson says:

    d,

    You’ve given me some new things to think about in this most recent comment of yours. Thank you for that.

    Thank you first for this explanation:

    The reasons we, as a society, choose to formally, in law, recognize heterosexual marriage ARE the justifications. What’s confusing about that?

    What’s confusing is that I would not describe those reasons as justifications; I think it’s an odd word choice, because “justification” usually connotes reasons for something that either is wrong or appears wrong or is thought by some persons to be possibly wrong. Marriage has never been any of those. If that’s what you mean by it, though, I can work with that.

    The AAAS statement is news to me. It shouldn’t be, and I’m admitting an error on my part there. I’m doing further research on it. I wonder if it’s another piece of what Stewart wrote (PDF) about other professional organizations. This was in the article I referenced earlier in this series.

    The assertion that same-sex couples have equal child-rearing success lacks support from studies meeting usual standards for scientific validity. A related difficulty is the paucity of studies related to child-rearing by two gay men; most of the studies of same-sex couple child-rearing only examine outcomes for the mother-lesbian partner mode. These studies are sometimes referred to as the “no differences” studies, because they conclude that samesex couple child-rearing outcomes do not fall below the optimal outcomes of the married mother-father mode. In 2001, the University of Virginia’s Steven Nock filed an affidavit in a Canadian court setting forth the threshold methodological requirements for a study’s conclusions to be considered scientifically reliable.163 He found that none of the “no differences” studies met these “good-science requirements.”164 Nor have any of the “no differences” studies published since Professor Nock filed his affidavit in 2001 met the good-science requirements.165

    These shortcomings, however, have not prevented several professional organizations from formally opining that no differences in outcomes exist between the married mother-father child-rearing mode and the same-sex couple child-rearing mode. These organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics,166 the American Psychiatric Association,167 the American Psychological Association,168 and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.169 The prestige of professional organizations, however, cannot alter the deficiencies of the studies on which their endorsements are based.

    See further on p. 354 of that pdf for more. I can’t say I know that the AAA has made that error, but I wonder, as I look into it further.

    It’s only as “bare” and “stripped-down” as a marriage between a post-menopausal woman and a man is, given that ability to procreate is the only relevant difference.

    No, that’s not the case, though we hear that often. Stewart wrote (p. 345f of that pdf),

    Second, although government does not require man-woman couples to prove procreative capacity and intent before receipt of a marriage license, or procreative conduct thereafter, the gov- ernment does not, in neglecting to do so, endorse the close per- sonal relationship model. The “don’t-ask, don’t-require” policy emerges from something else:

    [O]ur societies have a long-standing sensibility against per- sonalized governmental inquiries into marital procreative intentions and capacities . . . . Certainly the development of American common law and constitutional law suggests that the aversion to public and certainly governmental inquiries into an individual’s marital procreative intentions and ca- pacities qualifies as a social norm of some antiq- uity. . . . [T]he norm has always been reinforced by certain pragmatic (and interrelated) considerations. These include sensible suspicion of the candour of responses regarding procreative intentions, equally sensible suspicion when it comes to responses about procreative capacities, the scien- tific (i.e., medical) difficulty or impossibility of securing evi- dence of such capacities, and the costs associated with that endeavour if attempted.
    ….
    The role of this social norm relative to man/woman mar- riage can be seen in this: Regulation of marriage, such as marriage licensure, stops short of any inquiry into procrea- tive intentions and capacities. . . . It is troubling that the [the genderless marriage proponents have] identified a supposed societal lack of interest in procreation as the cause of the ab- sence from the marriage laws of a procreation requirement, rather than identifying the much more plausible and robust explanation readily available: a strong social norm againstgovernment inquiry into marital procreative intentions and
    capacities.136

    Third, it is clear that the social institution of marriage as it ex- isted for centuries, even millennia, did encompass—quite cen- trally—child-bearing and child-rearing endeavors.137 Yet dur- ing the centuries that laws regulated entry into and continuance in the historic child-centered institution of mar- riage, the same “don’t ask, don’t require” policy prevailed. The policy’s existence then certainly did not indicate that the insti- tution’s child-bearing and child-rearing endeavors were of minimal importance. It does not do so now.

    You say further,

    I don’t think my reading is off. He literally accused homosexual activists of taking revenge. Its right there.

    Sure, he said “revenge.” What did he say about it? That matters, too, as I’m sure you know! Your error is in saying that the accusation was,

    Gay activists want to take revenge on children by forcing them to question their sexuality?

    What Esolen said was,

    That, in fact, is the intention of many homosexual activists, whose revenge upon the children who were once cruel or indifferent to them is to afflict other children with doubts, to make them endure the questions that they themselves endured.

    So the revenge is upon the children who “were once cruel or indifferent to them.” I think that’s quite believable. I think there’s a lot of anger being worked out; and it’s being worked out on today’s generation. It’s not that the anger (or revenge) is directed toward today’s children, it’s that it’s being worked out on them. That’s the distinction; that’s what you misread.

    The polygamy case you referred to here is new to me. I’ll have to do some further work on that, too. It may be that you have shown that I was wrong. It appears that way on the face of it, and if it still appears that way after I’ve looked into it further, I’ll be the first to admit it.

  48. d says:

    Tom,

    I haven’t had time to digest your reply, yet but I wanted to make a slight correction.

    The Canada case was not held before their supreme court, apparently, but an intermediate court. There was an unfortunate error in the story, there’s a correction in a NY Times story, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/world/americas/british-columbia-court-upholds-canadas-polygamy-ban.html

    I don’t know what the implications of that are.

  49. Nathaniel says:

    “Here’s the first problem. You missed something here: how are “children of unwed mothers” the result of heterosexual marriage?”
    I mistyped. I meant to say “a bigger problem in heterosexual marriages”. I’m really flutter-brained.

    “So I strongly suggest you re-think your point here, since it seems to be based on a total mis-reading of the argument.”
    Look ahead to the “anyways”. It’s there to indicate that the first point was an aside.

    “That’s exactly what it is” (in answer to ” like the author is trying to convince the reader that legalization of SSM is equivalent to praising SSM.”)
    Not at all, good sir. Approval is not the same as endorsement. My parents approved of me drinking carbonated beverages growing up but they didn’t suggest it. The government approves of drinking alcoholic beverages but it does not endorse it. The government approves of… well the list can go on.

    “and the SSM movement wants to take that endorsement all the way to the marriage institution. ”
    I don’t care about the activists. I’m talking about the government.

    “Here again you have pronounced “stupid” when you have misread the argument. Points 1 and 2 make no such assumption. ”
    Here’s the quote: “it would enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment” Sounds like it to me.

    “If you think that giving gays the right to “marry” would help keep their sexual practices confined to their “marriage,””
    Yes, I do since it would be impossible to confine it to marriage if you can’t get married. But the reason I said that was because the author is complaining about all the premarital sex involved in the sexual revolution and then arguing against gays being able to get married…

    “Male homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous, and there’s no good reason to think that “marriage” would change that.”
    Yeah, and male heterosexuals are such prudes!

    “You haven’t read the argument. Point 5 is about the freedom to have same-sex friendships with no question of sexuality entering into the picture.”
    I have read the argument. But being able to have same-sex friendship has nothing to do with SSM. How would it affect my ability to have guy friends if the goverment allows gays to marry? Better yet, how does someone’s sexual orientation affect our ability to be friends with them? I mean, you might not want to get naked with them yeah, but I wouldn’t want to do that anyways. Should I not have any close female friends since I’m hetero?

    “I don’t know about the girls, but the boys swam naked.”
    Haha I got put on diversion a couple years back for the same thing. Times have changed.

    “No one ever brought up any question of sexual attraction among all these naked boys. That’s a good thing,”
    So… are you saying that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell should be reinstated, except for everyone? I don’t see how this is connected to SSM. Oh right, because if we make it legal, all the sudden homosexuality will be much more common. Got it.

    “I’ll challenge you the same way: tell me one good argument in favor of SSM that can’t be extended to other “marriages.””
    It’s the consummation of a legal relationship between two consenting adults.

    ” that point 7… does not assume that SSM is all about sexual fulfillment”
    Here’s the quote: “Again, the principle for the legalization is that people have a right to “fulfill” themselves sexually” Once again, it sounds like it is making that assumption. Notice he says “THE principle for legalization”… as if the only reason for gays getting married is so they can have sex. But that actually has nothing to do with why we want it legalized.
    He then says “some people who are married come to think that it would be more “fulfilling” to leap the fence. How can we deny them this? Or how can we blame them? How can we penalize the breaker of a family, when his or her motives are those we have blessed in the case of the homosexual?” Notice he makes the exact assumption I accused him of making?

    “You did the very thing you said Esolen couldn’t do, and in the very same paragraph!”
    I was hoping you’d catch that. But notice how he said it outright and I put a question mark? He was making a claim; I was making a consideration. Me so clever:)

    “Esolen’s so-called “insecurity” is actually an appropriate concern for children, based on copious research showing that children do much better when raised by their mother and father, esp. of course in a low-conflict marriage.”
    I’ve seen much research to support that children do much better in households with multiple adults helping to raise them. I have not, however, seen any research to suggest that the parents’ sexual orientation has much of an affect. Please direct me to that.

    “And no, his is not trying to paint SSM as an attempt intended to hurt children. That’s not in there. It’s not even hinted at. Why would you read that into what he wrote, even as a possibility? ”
    It was intended to be a hyperbole. But it is hinted in his statement. He claims that it’s the intention of many gay activists to put our children through an identity crisis. It’s pretty close if you ask me. I believe he even uses the term “revenge” in there.

  50. Tom Gilson says:

    Nathaniel,

    If you think this:

    “That’s exactly what it is” (in answer to ” like the author is trying to convince the reader that legalization of SSM is equivalent to praising SSM.”)
    Not at all, good sir. Approval is not the same as endorsement. My parents approved of me drinking carbonated beverages growing up but they didn’t suggest it. The government approves of drinking alcoholic beverages but it does not endorse it. The government approves of… well the list can go on.

    … qualifies as a reason not to think that legalizing SSM would not be an endorsement of SSM in the relevant sense, then I have no hope of reasonable discourse with you. The disanalogy is too obvious.

    I’ve also lost hope after reading your empty response here:

    I have read the argument. But being able to have same-sex friendship has nothing to do with SSM. How would it affect my ability to have guy friends if the goverment allows gays to marry?

    Maybe you’ve read it, but you haven’t thought it through.

    Similarly with the rest of your comment. It’s not worth trying. I’m sorry, but I have nothing further to say.

    Except this: be very, very, careful whom you call stupid when you don’t understand what they’re saying, and when you can’t articulate a believable counter-argument.

  51. Tom Gilson says:

    I wrote earlier of my skepticism that “marriage” of homosexual men would keep them monogamous, saying I had read After the Ball, and that had given me good reason to doubt it.

    Now I’ve read Dan Savage some more, too.

  52. Nathaniel says:

    Very well then. I would leave you with a few thoughts: In what case is legalization ever the same as endorsement? Think about that.

    Be very, very careful of accusing someone of calling you stupid when he never did.

    Try discussing with people in the future rather than claiming that they simply don’t understand.

  53. d says:

    Oh ok, I see what you mean, sorry for the confusing terminology.

    I don’t know what the AAAS has to say about parenting in SSM relationships, or if they do, what research they are relying on, just that their position is pretty clear on the variety of marriage arrangements throughout history and culture. One interesting example of a cultural example of same-sex marriage I keep seeing cited is the Nuer tribe of the Sudan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuer_people):

    A barren woman can even take a wife of her own, whose children (obviously biologically fathered by men from outside unions) then become members of her patrilieage, and she is legally and culturally their father, allowing her to participate in reproduction in a metaphorical sense.”

    That’s particular interesting since that latter arrangement seems specifically designed for child rearing. Apparently there are instances in native American cultures of “two-spirit” men and women who embodied opposite genders roles and in some instances could marry too.

    Interesting stat I ran across today – 23% of NC homosexual couples are raising children (haven’t vetted it, however). Not a majority by any means, but also not an insignificant minority. So it may not be right to say that for homosexual relationships, child rearing not of any or only peripheral importance.

    Also, I don’t know if its a conscious effort or not, but I appreciate the tone of your last post. I’ll do my best to respond in kind. Thanks for taking the lead on that. The election here is coming up in a few days, the debate is ramping up, and its taking a real mental toll on many of my gay friends and acquaintances, more than I would have ever guessed or appreciated. They are feeling particularly ostracized and it shows – that in turn makes me a bit hypersensitive in this debate as well.

  54. Tom Gilson says:

    Thank you, d.

    I still don’t know what to make of the anthropologists’ statement. Here’s my problem with it. I have read the history of the APAs’ (American Psychological Assoc. and American Psychiatric Assoc.) decision to normalize homosexuality. It was a strongly politicized move. I have seen the political nature of the ensuing discussion, in the field of psychology, where questioning the received wisdom is taboo, even if that questioning is done on solid scientific grounds.

    That’s left me in a position of not trusting the APAs on this issue.

    And it leaves me wondering whether I can trust other professional organizations. I hate to say it, but that’s my concern.

    But can I still say what I said earlier about all societies everywhere treating marriage as about man-woman? No; not unless I track this down and find real data to support it.

    Can I say that man-woman marriage is healthier for children? There is data to support that, regardless of the other question, so I can still make that claim.

    Can I also say that man-woman marriage is by far the majority form of marriage in cultures through history? I am quite sure of that, too.

    So I’ll have to back away from one claim based on my current knowledge, but I not from other related claims.

  55. Fleegman says:

    @Tom

    I wrote earlier of my skepticism that “marriage” of homosexual men would keep them monogamous, saying I had read After the Ball, and that had given me good reason to doubt it.

    I don’t think “it keeps the gays monogamous” is one of the points SSM proponents are making, is it? It just seems like a non-sequitur, really. Heterosexual marriage certainly makes no guarantees in that area, so why hold it over SSM?

    Can I say that man-woman marriage is healthier for children? There is data to support that, regardless of the other question, so I can still make that claim.

    Of everything that has been written so far, this is the only thing that has any potential substance to it, in my opinion. There is data to support it, you say? Well, there is a lot of data — the majority of it, it would seem — that supports the position that SSM has a neutral or even beneficial effect on children raised in that environment. Ultimately it all rests on this point; the other arguments you mention seem empty in comparison. 

    Even then, you still have all your work ahead of you. If you do, indeed, have a point about the children — I’m not saying I think you do, but for the sake of argument — that’s not an argument against SSM, that’s an argument against allowing them to raise kids. 

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