Thinking Christian

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Phil and Alex on “Marriage Equality”

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 by Tom Gilson

Please meet my new friends Phil and Alex! Well, actually they’re a pair of made-up characters who like to debate each other. They’ll be visiting here from time to time, and photos of these two gentlemen will appear in the future, I assure you. Phil is a believer in Christ, and Alex likes to challenge him on his beliefs and principles.

Alex: Hey, Phil, it’s good to see you. Always is–and I say that with all the generosity in my heart.

Phil: It’s great to see you, too! What’s this about generosity? Are you paying for the coffee today?

Alex: You wish. No, I’m talking about the way you and I can be friends, and we can have these conversations even though we disagree. Take your views on marriage, for example. You’re a thorough-going marriage bigot, but somehow I don’t hate you for it.

Phil: Well, thank you, I think, at least in a way. No, I see how you’re smiling as you say that. I can tell you’re yanking my chain; you don’t really mean it—although after a remark like that I really should make you pay!

Alex: Maybe next time. But look, yes, I was kidding in a way, and in a way I wasn’t. You are totally and passionately opposed to marriage equality. Don’t you think that’s at least treading pretty close to bigotry?

Phil: That depends on what you mean by equality, Alex.

Alex: It means letting two people who love each other and are committed to each other be married to each other.

Phil: That’s what it takes to believe in marriage equality? Really? Well, then, my friend, let’s be bigots together! Because you don’t believe in marriage equality, either.

Alex: What?! Sure I do! I’m totally in favor of gays getting married!

Phil: What about if they’re brothers? What about if they’re brother and sister? Or a grown man and his father? What if one of them is already married to someone else?

Alex: Whoa, hold on, Phil, I didn’t mean that kind of equality!

Phil: Right. You meant equality up to a point, right?

Alex: Sure. It has to be a sensible point, like letting gays marry.

Phil: And who gets to decide where that point is?

Alex: Well, like I said, it has to be a point that makes sense.

Phil: And again, who decides where that point is? No, don’t bother, I know that to be fair to you I’d need to hear you through on a fairly complicated discussion. I’d be happy to do that, except that in this case it’s not necessary. Let’s just agree that you and I believe in equality up to a point, and beyond that point, we both believe in marriage inequality. Any sane person would have to believe in marriage inequality, beyond some point or other. So this whole spiel about “marriage equality” turns out to be a PR slogan for a campaign that believes in marriage inequality too! And really, it’s another case of something that only seems to makes sense. It falls apart if you think about what it’s really saying.

So drink up, my friend. And since we both seem to be pretty much equally bigoted—separately but equally bigoted, shall we say?—I won’t expect you to pay for it after all!

54 Responses to “ Phil and Alex on “Marriage Equality” ”

  1. Ray Ingles says:

    Lord Vandemere: I beleive in voting equality.

    Lord Fauntleroy: No you don’t.

    Lord Vandemere: Sure I do! People should be able to vote regardless of whether they own land or not.

    Lord Fauntleroy: So you think women should be allowed to vote?

    Lord Vandemere: I didn’t say that! There has to be some limit!

    Lord Fauntleroy: Then we both oppose voting equality. We just have different ideas about where the line should be drawn.

    (Moral for Tom Gilson: you have a point, but it doesn’t strike me as quite as sharp as you seem to think. That “fairly complicated discussion” is kind of critical.)

  2. Josh says:

    Ray,

    It seems to me that while lamenting just how dull Tom’s point is, you’ve found yourself in the famed Monty Python skit yelling at the knight “I’m not dead yet”.

    The reality is that atheist and Christians alike have a boundary concerning marriage. What’s curious is that only Christians are bigots when we push back on our boundary, or so it seems as I and many other Christians have been emotionally labeled bigots by a multitude of atheists.

    The point made is much sharper than you’re willing to admit to yourself. Have you figured out the boundary in regards to marriage for yourself? Have you ever had to put up a defense for that boundary?

    For fun, are you aware that the atheist PM of Australia isn’t a fan of homosexual marriage?

  3. Ray Ingles says:

    Josh, that’s where the “fairly complicated discussion” comes in. The difference between the bigot and the discerning fellow is how good the arguments justifying their classifications are.

    Have you figured out the boundary in regards to marriage for yourself? Have you ever had to put up a defense for that boundary?

    Yup. I’m libertarian-ish (note the lowercase ‘l’ and ‘ish’) and think that people should be overall free to organize their lives and families as they see fit. The line I draw is demonstrable harm to children or adult non-consent.

    I figure from a legal perspective we should just have civil unions. If people want to solemnize their union religiously, they can, but that’s between them and their god(s). In practice, it seems practical to allow most religious ceremonies to establish a legal relationship too, but that’s an administrative detail.

    For fun, are you aware that the atheist PM of Australia isn’t a fan of homosexual marriage?

    No. Should I care? I wasn’t aware of an ‘atheist orthodoxy’ I had to subscribe to. Where can I read more about it? :-)

  4. toddes says:

    Ray,

    “The line I draw is demonstrable harm to children or adult non-consent.”

    How is harm determined and by whom? We’re back to subjective opinions since, obviously, some of us already consider homosexual behavior to be harmful. Also, what type of harm: physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, etc?

    Finally, your position requires that an act must be allowed in order to determine its harmfulness. So some must be ‘sacrificed’ in order to determine if harm will be incurred. How many people are you prepared to sacrifice for this experiment?

  5. Tom Gilson says:

    And still the point remains: although it’s obviously meant to call forth all kinds of traditional American values, and although it probably works that way on an emotive level, “equality” is an empty term in this context that requires filling up with content, or else it means nothing at all.

    Let me state it more strongly: it works for its intended purpose if people don’t think about it.

    Let me state it more strongly yet: its intended function is to produce unthinking agreement.

  6. Holopupenko says:

    Ray:

    This is only one example of “sophisticated” reasoning on your website:

    So, where did God come from? The most obvious problem is that if the existence of the universe requires an explanation, then the existence of God (a literally infinitely more complicated entity) must also require an explanation.

    What an utterly self-serving and ignorant thimble of bilge water! If you’re going to attempt to argue rationally, you should try to understand why what you assert and what you presuppose to fit your unsupportable conclusion (among other things) is such nonsense.

    What does this have to do with the point of the post? Little – your ignorance of the issues and the point Tom makes implode on their own non-merits… and Tom, Josh, and toddes are doing a fine job mopping up.

    However, it does betray your inability to get the facts correct, to understand your interlocutor’s position, to argue to their strong points, and the joy you seem to crave in shooting down straw men… in a word, it exposes the weakness of your capacity for reason.

    Have you EVER thought about REALLY, HONESTLY questioning some of your “most obvious” and unproven presuppositions… like the one I highlighted? The onus is on you, dude: YOU made the “most obvious” assertion that God is infinitely complicated. Back it up… and leave your personal opinions, straw men, and arrogant atheistic superiority outside the door of this critical thinking blog.

    P.S. Apart from the clear question-begging of what you mean by the imposition of your understanding of “harm,” when you attempt to qualify your FAIL argument (above) with “The line I draw is demonstrable harm to children or adult non-consent”, do you have any clue that you’re not thinking but regurgitating without question the Hobbesian notion of how all people supposedly behave and how the State is supposed to coerce them as depicted in the Leviathan? Holy mackerel! Imagine what benefits a little education might reap for you.

  7. Ray Ingles says:

    toddes-

    How is harm determined and by whom?

    We already make these decisions all the time. Most people disagree strongly with, say, Christian Science’s prohibition of medical treatment. We only intervene when a child is at risk of permanent harm or death. Adults can refuse medical treatment, though.

    We’re back to subjective opinions since, obviously, some of us already consider homosexual behavior to be harmful.

    Spiritual harm is rather hard to ‘demonstrate’. Physical and emotional harm can be demonstrated, but it’s hard to argue that homosexuality must inevitably, in all cases, result in such harm. We allow people to drink alcohol because people can drink responsibly. When they don’t and put people in danger, we intervene.

    Finally, your position requires that an act must be allowed in order to determine its harmfulness.

    Hardly. We don’t have a device that will summon a large meteor onto someone, but we can be awfully sure that if we did, it would harm them. I’m not aware of evidence on that level for homosexuality or even polygamy. If a chemical is shown to cause cancer in animals in the lab, spraying it on human babies is counterindicated.

    Incest, BTW, is demonstrably bad in the long term on genetic grounds. Allowing adult incest opens up the long-term risk of adults ‘grooming’ children – a rather sharp conflict of interest.

  8. Ray Ingles says:

    Let me state it more strongly yet: its intended function is to produce unthinking agreement.

    Which differs from any other political slogan because…

  9. Ray Ingles says:

    Holopupenko –

    What does this have to do with the point of the post? Little

    Hey, if you want to argue about that, there are plenty of ways. My email address isn’t hard to find, for example. You could point me to your blog, or ask Tom to put up a post about it. (I suspect he’d decline.) But here, it’s irrelevant. Even if I were wrong about everything else in my life, I could still be right about marriage. The way to handle it is to… argue about marriage.

    do you have any clue that you’re not thinking but regurgitating without question the Hobbesian notion of how all people supposedly behave and how the State is supposed to coerce them as depicted in the Leviathan?

    Even if that were true… that doesn’t argue that what I said was wrong. I mean, if an atheist says “You’re just quoting the Bible”, does that mean you’re automatically wrong?

    In essence, I’ll just follow C.S. Lewis’ lead. “I decline the motive game and resume the discussion.”

  10. Holopupenko says:

    The point was, Ray, the weakness of your ability to reason manifests itself in so many ways (as reflected in your comments on the marriage issue here AND in a plethora of ways on your website, one should be highly suspect of anything you say.

    The Bulverism doesn’t apply not only because of this, but also you’ll note I carefully qualified my point… which I’ll repeat: your level of ignorance of the issues is high, you base your arguments on that ignorance, and your “arguments” here and on your site are laughable–really. You’re not thinking–you’re regurgitating tired old atheistic nonsense.

  11. Josh says:

    Ray,

    Josh, that’s where the “fairly complicated discussion” comes in. The difference between the bigot and the discerning fellow is how good the arguments justifying their classifications are.

    Following that sentiment to the end, your bigotry is OK, whereas others are not. It’s different when you engage in hypocrisy. Relative morality at it’s finest.

    The line I draw is demonstrable harm to children or adult non-consent.

    For you, that should be a very squishy line, after all those things that you think demonstrate harm are justifiable to others, and they, like you (and probably all of us) are certain of their arguments.

    I’m a 1 man/1 woman type of person. That model has been more successful than any other presented thus far, or so a preponderance of the evidence shows.

  12. SteveK says:

    Ray,

    The difference between the bigot and the discerning fellow is how good the arguments justifying their classifications are.

    I don’t agree. A bigot doesn’t need a good argument. A bigot is a bigot because of a devotion to her prejudice, not because of her devotion to a not-so-good argument. Your arguments are not so good. Are you a bigot?

  13. Holopupenko says:

    @12: Touché!

  14. Holopupenko says:

    Watch in particular from 1:15 to 1:45:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHJaLlMb2j8

  15. ryan says:

    Society as a whole decides which laws are reasonable. What is morally objectionable today may not be down the road (christianity is no exception, holy scripture or not). Hopefully as a society we take our time evolving correctly…change is inevitable.

    Just like stances and doctrine in christianity changes over time to fit popular christian opinion or society. I’m pretty sure the whole catholic contraception deal will change over time…

  16. SteveK says:

    Ray,

    We don’t have a device that will summon a large meteor onto someone, but we can be awfully sure that if we did, it would harm them. I’m not aware of evidence on that level for homosexuality or even polygamy.

    This consequentialism of yours is not pretty. It’s basically utilitarianism / moral relativism dressed up to look like it places a high value on the intrinsic value of the individual. It doesn’t.

    Your argument places it’s highest value somewhere else – in the feelings of the individual or the group, or in mutual consent – irregardless (that one is for you, Tom) of how that highest value is achieved. It denies any *intrinsic value* of the individual being which helps to guide us in our assessment of means vs. ends.

    I know this to be true because if you actually believed individuals had intrinsic value, that we would be discussing what it was, where it came from and what our moral obligation *should* be to preserve and honor that value. But you’re an atheist, so I expect this from you.

    However, you need to wrap your head around this: You sense something is morally wrong if someone gets harmed when I purposely send a meteor into them, but you need to finish that thought — why?

    Moral relativism: morally bankrupt since the beginning of time.

  17. Bryan says:

    In principle, I don’t see a problem with inter-family marriages. Though it’s incredibly unlikely a father and son would ever want to marry, they should be allowed to do so. However, it is doubtful that say, a sister and brother should be allowed to reproduce, given the scientific evidence pertaining to children born of such unions.

    For me, this argument falls flat.

  18. BillT says:

    “Though it’s incredibly unlikely a father and son would ever want to marry, they should be allowed to do so.”

    How to even respond….

  19. Bryan says:

    Whatever people want to do with their lives that doesn’t directly or indirectly harm me or others is none of my business.

  20. BillT says:

    Gee! Byran, we would have never guessed.

  21. Tom Gilson says:

    Bryan, does a household that raises children who are strong contributing members to society have any effect on you? How about a household where children are not such strong contributors, or are not contributors at all?

    (Do you have any idea why the government is interested in marriage in the first place?)

  22. Bryan says:

    Yes, on both counts.

  23. Tom Gilson says:

    What about the third count?

  24. Bryan says:

    I mean, yes on all counts.

  25. Crude says:

    Though it’s incredibly unlikely a father and son would ever want to marry, they should be allowed to do so. However, it is doubtful that say, a sister and brother should be allowed to reproduce, given the scientific evidence pertaining to children born of such unions.

    Alright, let’s run with this.

    Let’s say a man decides to have a son or a daughter. He acquires one somehow – maybe the old fashioned way, maybe adoption, etc.

    He also decides to raise this son and daughter with the expectation that, someday, they’re going to be his wife/husband. In other words, he doesn’t decide in 18 years (or I suppose, far less) ‘Hey, maybe I should marry this kid of mine!’ – it’s planned from the start.

    Allowable, I trust?

  26. Bryan says:

    I suppose so, as long as the child’s rights aren’t infringed upon in any way. No funny business.

  27. Tom Gilson says:

    Bryan, for that I’m banning you.

  28. Bryan says:

    Interesting debate strategy.

  29. Tom Gilson says:

    You just moved into grounds that don’t need debating here. Debate is not my only value.

    Your future comments will go into moderation.

  30. Bryan says:

    Released from moderation by siteowner:

    I seem to recall you saying something about “emotional reflexes immune to reason”…

  31. Tom Gilson says:

    My response here is both emotional and informed by reason.

  32. Tom Gilson says:

    Further—and with no interest in making this a point of debate, because if you want to disagree you’ll have to do it elsewhere, not here—what you’re thinking and approving is morally wrong, reprehensible, violent toward the children whose rights you suggest should not be infringed “in any way,” and liable to the pit of hell.

    I hope it’s not hard to tell what I think of it. I can explain further if necessary.

  33. Crude says:

    Tom,

    You just moved into grounds that don’t need debating here. Debate is not my only value.

    Well, if nothing else, it exposes just what the modern attitude is opening itself up to.

    Pardon me, Tom, if I am crossing any boundaries here by making the arguments I have – if I am, let me know and I’ll be quiet without complaint. You know I reject same-sex marriage, etc. But I think people do not realize where their general standards ultimately lead them to. Gay marriage, new attitudes about sex, etc are bad enough. But the attitudes that must prevail if people are consistent… I think those are, for now, still capable of shocking people.

    Another blogger I read now and then makes a point about the current state of morality: ‘It can get a whole lot worse than people think.’ I think we just saw a glimmer of that.

  34. Tom Gilson says:

    No, Crude, I don’t think you crossed the boundary. It’s okay to test the question.

  35. Tom Gilson says:

    By the way, Bryan, if you didn’t get my email: should it be the case that you misread what Crude had asked about, and if you didn’t really mean to agree with that, post another comment here and let me know.

  36. Tom Gilson says:

    Further on why it wasn’t wrong for Crude to test the question: it’s because any sane person would have expected that question to have received a negative response, and to help steer the conversation back onto finding some reasonable common grounds for conversation. It didn’t do that, but I don’t blame Crude for thinking it might have. That’s what I expected when I saw the question here, at any rate.

  37. Tom Gilson says:

    Lest anyone doubt there is reasoning behind my belief that this would be completely reprehensible (and I suspect if there was one such doubther there might be more than one), just think of it in terms of what the parent-child relationship is, and what it is supposed to be. It is an inherently unequal relationship, and it is supposed to be. It is a dependent relationship through the child’s growing-up years, and it is supposed to be. (When the parent reaches the age of actually needing help from a younger family member, that dependency relationship may turn the other direction.) It is a teaching relationship, and it is supposed to be. Part of what should be taught is what it means to love and be loved, not instrumentally (for some useful purpose) but unconditionally.

    To raise someone who is inherently dependent for sustenance, protection, love, and even for explanation of reality, and to do it with the purpose of a future sexual relationship in mind the whole time, could not conceivably be anything but astonishingly self-centered of the parent, damaging to the child, faithless to the child’s other parent right from the start, and of course a complete kick in the face of the good God who designed us to do good, not evil.

    I hope that’s clear enough.

    Now, to put this back in context of the discussion: no one believes in “marriage equality,” except possibly someone like Bryan, who is not only wrong, but thankfully wrong in the eyes of a reasonably large majority even in these strange days. The first (he is wrong) matters for the sake of truth; the second (the majority issue) matters because we are debating an issue with political implications.

    So let us say that for practical purposes at least, no one believes in “marriage equality.” I revert to my previous statement: it is an emotion-word lacking in content until it is filled up; but those who preach “marriage equality” don’t want anyone to think about that content, they just want it to hit people in the emotional eyeballs. If people actually thought about what it meant they would know that the real value at stake wasn’t equality, and that they weren’t violating “equality” by standing for genuine marriage.

  38. Ray Ingles says:

    Josh –

    Following that sentiment to the end, your bigotry is OK, whereas others are not.

    “Before impugning an opponent’s motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments.” – Sidney Hook

    SteveK –

    You sense something is morally wrong if someone gets harmed when I purposely send a meteor into them, but you need to finish that thought — why?

    Y’know, my name next to the comments links to my website. Even Holopupenko was able to find it. Here’s why.

    Note, BTW, that I already dismissed Bryan’s claim, at the end of #7. Allowing adult incest pretty straighforwardly leads to ‘grooming’ children, a conflict of interest of the same type as, only worse than, abusing an employer/employee or commanding officer/subordinate relationship. (Along parallel lines, we ban possession as well as production of child pornography, because the former directly encourages the latter.)

    But Bryan does make a powerful illustration of Josh’s point:

    after all those things that you think demonstrate harm are justifiable to others, and they, like you (and probably all of us) are certain of their arguments.

    The thing is, no argument is going to be universally convincing. (Anyone interested in apologetics has to know that!) All we can do is present arguments and try as best we can to evaluate them. So the fact that no argument will convince everybody is unfortunate, but we have to set public policy anyway.

    All that said… Tom – does the fact that most people don’t think minors should vote mean that the phrase “voting equality” is meaningless? Was the phrase meaningless back during the Suffragette movement?

  39. ryan says:

    Tom, I was excited to find this site as it seemed there was some honest debate going on.

    Although I don’t agree with Bryan, don’t you think that there may be many others in this world that do agree with him? Why shouldn’t people be able to freely voice their mind and engage in a conversation?

    Your blog lost a lot of credibility by just blacklisting someone for their opinion. But, it’s your website, so you are free to do as you please.

    It just shows how scared christians can be of people in the world. There are messed up folks out there. They need help, they need a willing ear, they need love and compa….hey…you…get your ideas out here!!!! I don’t care if you were made in the image of god!!! Not MY god!!!

  40. Tom Gilson says:

    Ryan, thanks for the encouraging words and the thoughtful question.

    I have never banned anyone for disagreeing with me. I have banned people for being rude or discourteous, according to the discussion policies linked above the combox. There you will find what I call the “Starbucks standard,” which is that I welcome people who will interact, including disagreement, in such a way that we could enjoy doing it over coffee.

    There has to be a limit to what can be discussed, however, don’t you think? And don’t you think what he was approving was at least arguably beyond the pale of what ought to be discussed? For me, if Bryan had said that to me over coffee I would have had to go excuse myself. (As I have already said, my response was emotion informed by reason.)

    I do not know what would have happened to my blog’s credibility if his proposal had actually turned into a debate. I can easily imagine some really inappropriate interaction ensuing.

    But I do not always claim to know the right answer or to do everything perfectly. I might be wrong in this; I think I made the right decision, but I know it might have been the opposite of the right thing to do. That’s the way it is with some things. If I had made the other decision that might have been the wrong one.

    Anyway here’s the sum of it: I will never ban anyone for disagreeing. I agree with the importance of listening. I will never cut off healthy debate. I did not think that what Bryan was endorsing there was the least bit healthy, or that it could be conducive to healthy debate.

  41. ryan says:

    It’s just his view. No one has to engage in a debate with him. You could just ignore it. If many others agree with him they would have said so. And, if that happens, then I guess God just gave you a platform to represent him in the ‘coffee shop’.

    There are a lot of things my kids say that are illogical, emotionally induced, and definitely not well thought out, lol. However, they always grow when I allow them to think out loud. If I chastised them every time something foolish came out, the opportunity for me to minister to them later would be gone.

    But, then again, I’m not a christian and this is not my blog. I can respect your interpretation of rude and discourteous as well as your limit, or boundaries, on what type of people are free to comment here. As these terms are relative to each person, the terms and conditions may need updating to clarify your positions better.

  42. toddes says:

    Ray,

    “Spiritual harm is rather hard to ‘demonstrate’. Physical and emotional harm can be demonstrated, but it’s hard to argue that homosexuality must inevitably, in all cases, result in such harm.”

    Interesting that you broached spiritual harm when I purposely left it out. As for the next sentence, we’re back to the question of how many is too many when it comes to harm? You move the goalposts from ‘demonstrably causing harm’ to ‘inevitably, in all cases, result in such harm.’ So an act is only considered immoral or wrong if it harms everyone, whereas 1 out of 100 is okay? Or is it 2, 5, 10? Where is the limit?

    “I’m not aware of evidence on that level for homosexuality or even polygamy.”

    So, again, how many people are you willing to sacrifice to determine the potential level of harm? It may not show in the first generation or the second but how about the third and beyond? What omniscience do you call forth to be able to determine the results of a decision or law? Is an act only wrong once the results are seen? When the manufacturers of DDT sprayed groups of children to show it was ‘safe’, was this only wrong once it was determined that there would be health issues or was it wrong from the moment someone decided to use children for this demonstration whether DDT proved to be 100% safe or not?

    Your stand on incest shows your inconsistency. According to you, incest is only wrong if the couple reproduces or if ‘grooming’ is involved, therefore it cannot be shown that it ‘must, in all cases, result in such harm.’

  43. Sault says:

    @Tom

    I thought that it was somewhat odd to ban someone for reiterating what you stated in the original post…. “What about if they’re brothers? What about if they’re brother and sister? Or a grown man and his father? What if one of them is already married to someone else?”

    If the primary determinant for marriage is love between two adults regardless of gender, then without any other legal or moral restrictions, those would be some of the logical outcomes. Is that not what you have implied? That is, if the “revisionist” view of marriage is carried to its logical end, that intra-familial marriage may result?

    I think that it’s safe to say that no one is promoting or endorsing the idea (eww!). I think that we are discussing whether one can allow same-sex marriage and still disallow intra-familial marriage, though, right?

    @ Holo

    do you have any clue that you’re not thinking but regurgitating without question the Hobbesian notion of how all people supposedly behave and how the State is supposed to coerce them as depicted in the Leviathan?

    I have only skimmed Leviathan (blame me not taking Philosophy in college). I imagine that an explanation might be too in-depth and off-topic, so unless it’s something that can be summarized succinctly, is there any chance that you can point me somewhere to explain what you meant by that? A bit of Googling didn’t help me.

  44. Tom Gilson says:

    If I had done what you just said I did, Sault, I would have thought it odd myself. Need I go into the multiple differences, or would you care to re-read what happened.

    I don’t have any reason to think it’s safe to assume we’re only discussing cross-familial pairs. What makes that safe to think? Other than, “Gosh Wally, I wasn’t thinking about that,” once marriage gets re-defined as the pairing of two adults to express an emotional bond, is there any principled reason to limit who those adults are? Is there any principled reason to limit it to just two?

  45. ryan says:

    “Is there any principled reason to limit it to just two?”

    No. Not if the law says “…two people who love each other and are committed to each other…”. If that is the only criteria, then you can justify anything.

    In reality, however, that is not a law that has been proposed. So, what’s the point of the argument?

    Until there is actual legislation that either directly allows or leaves a loophole for such a thing as incest marriage to occur, I don’t see the big deal.

    I don’t think we will be seeing a ‘incest marriage’ parade anytime soon. But, if you are arguing that allowing homosexual marriage is a gateway to such public sentiment, all anyone can say is maybe you’re right. Mass public sentiment has major sway on how a nation conducts itself on the lawbooks. So, if anyone is truly in fear of this, they would need to be sincerely trying to reach our current society where they are.

  46. Tom Gilson says:

    But Ryan, please see the OP. We weren’t talking about law, we were talking about principle.

  47. ryan says:

    Ok.

    Well, based on the principle, and only the principle, not taking into account real life, then no, there is no reason to stop any type of marriage as long as there is some form of love involved. There is nothing stated in the principle that passes authority to any party for the purpose of setting limits on who or what can get married.

    So what’s the point? I don’t get it? The principle is just something that most people in favor of gay marriage say in the context of talking about gay marriage. You can’t trick people into supporting incest marriage by setting up a ‘straw man’ argument.

  48. G. Rodrigues says:

    @ryan:

    So what’s the point? I don’t get it? The principle is just something that most people in favor of gay marriage say in the context of talking about gay marriage. You can’t trick people into supporting incest marriage by setting up a ‘straw man’ argument.

    It is not a straw-man argument, it is a reductio ad absurdum, a perfectly valid form of argumentation. Informally, you cannot have the cake and eat it too.

  49. Tom Gilson says:

    Further, it is proof that you don’t believe in “marriage equality.”

  50. SteveK says:

    In reality, however, that is not a law that has been proposed. So, what’s the point of the argument?

    The point is the principle behind the argument needed to sustain it when (not if, but when) this law IS proposed. What will your reply be then?

  51. ryan says:

    I guess its too theoretical for me to grasp the weight of the argument or how it can be used to further anything.

    @Steve. My response to any law attempting to pass that I don’t agree with would be to vote against it. And if I feel strongly enough, get my message out to a wider audience. Informing me that I’m voting against my own principles on account of a technicality in the principle shown in the OP wouldn’t change that.

    I think that alcohol should be legal. Does that mean I think anyone should be able to drink it? No, I’m comfy with age at 21. The age (limit) was chosen by popular majority, that’s what a lot of people are ok with.

  52. Ray Ingles says:

    toddes –

    Interesting that you broached spiritual harm when I purposely left it out.

    But far from off-topic on this blog, so I figured I’d mention it.

    we’re back to the question of how many is too many when it comes to harm?

    It’s not as simple as a threshold, as I’ve already said. For example…

    You move the goalposts from ‘demonstrably causing harm’ to ‘inevitably, in all cases, result in such harm.’

    That’s not moving the goalposts. That’s pointing out a distinction. Obviously drinking alcohol can cause harm, but there are cases where it doesn’t do any observable damage. So we don’t ban it outright, we regulate it and intervene when necessary. I figure marijuana is another example where legalization and regulation is the correct approach.

    That doesn’t mean I favor legalizing all drugs. There do exist people who can regularly use yet not abuse cocaine, for example. But not many; people don’t become raging addicts the first time they use cocaine, but maintaining long-term control appears to be extremely difficult for the substantial majority of people.

    So, again, how many people are you willing to sacrifice to determine the potential level of harm?

    What’s the proposed mechanism for same-sex marriage to cause problems, exactly? What data do you have?

    Note that there’s an asymmetry here, too. Same-sex relationships raising children are not outlawed now. They already exist. Adding same-sex marriage as an option would allow added legal benefits and protection to such relationships. To all appearances, this would be expected to reinforce and stabilize such relationships, to the benefit of children already being raised in them.

    Note finally that family arrangements, and the raising of children, is an area where the ‘presumption of liberty’ should be at its strongest. E.g. I think anti-vaccine types are ignorant and dangerous, and put their children and the children of others at needless risk. But I still support their right to opt out of vaccinating.

    When the manufacturers of DDT sprayed groups of children to show it was ‘safe’, was this only wrong once it was determined that there would be health issues or was it wrong from the moment someone decided to use children for this demonstration whether DDT proved to be 100% safe or not?

    We actually understand genotoxicity better now. Given the tests at the time, and no understanding of how DDT affects genes, people weren’t morally culpable for thinking it safe. That’s a case which actually learned from, though, and developed better tests and practices.

    Now, given how rare homosexuality is, and the fact that it’s legal now anyway, how do you think same-sex marriage would make the situation overall worse?

  53. […] and prejudicial branding on behalf of so-called “marriage equality” (one of the sillier political phrases composed in recent memory, which is saying a lot) and opposed to reason on the […]

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