Tom Gilson

On Marriage In Maine

An encouraging outcome:

They had far more money, ground troops and political support, and geography was on their side, given that New England has been more accepting of same-sex marriage than any other region of the country. Yet gay-rights advocates suffered a crushing loss in Maine when voters decided Tuesday to repeal the state’s new law allowing gays and lesbians to wed, setting back a movement that had made remarkable progress nationally this year.

[From News Analysis – Loss in Maine Sets Back Gay-Marriage Drive – NYTimes.com]

And an excellent analysis:

One young lady interviewed yesterday said, with breathless naivete, that the issue was all about love, and love can hardly be a bad thing, can it? But no, the issue is not all about love. Christians and Orthodox Jews and others who care about preserving some freedoms apart from the state, and some vestiges of a natural life, should take heed. It is not all about love. It is about many things…

[From Touchstone Magazine – Mere Comments: Score One for Nature]
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42 thoughts on “On Marriage In Maine

  1. Over at Baseline Scenario, a graph is shown of support for same-sex marriage over time since 1994. Can anyone look at that trend and tell me we WON’T have support for same-sex marriage in a decade in a majority of states?

  2. Christ never said anything about homosexuality, and the old testament didn’t either. Why do some Christians worry about this? You have nothing more important to think about?

  3. I’d say we are being put in a position where we must make a choice (vote). That’s not worrying, realpc. And yes, it’s important that we make the right choice when asked to vote.

  4. realpc,

    Christ and the OT are not the whole Bible, and your claim about the OT is wrong anyway.

    Why do some Christians worry about this? You have nothing more important to think about?

    First, it is not every person’s responsibility to think about nothing except for the most important thing. I’m sure you know that; after all, you are apparently worried that some Christians are worried about this, yet I doubt you would say that you have nothing more important than this to worry about.

    But you’ll still want to know why this is one of the issues I consider important. It’s because of the huge effect it has on individuals’ lives and on the most crucial institution in all of humanity, the family.

  5. woodchuck64,

    Support for no-fault divorce has also become nearly universal. It’s another seriously negative change in our culture. Universal support is not universal goodness. (If I had any hope of influencing divorce laws in the U.S. I would be writing about that, too.)

  6. A professor that I used to do some graduate work for (though not on this issue) has the following (part of a book he wrote and published) rebutting the Biblical basis of rejecting homosexuality. It makes at least a decent case, in my mind.

  7. Homosexuals are a tiny minority. I don’t understand why they want to call it marriage, and maybe they just want to make trouble. But I also don’t understand what it has to do with Christianity. Actually nothing at all. And I bet if Jesus were on earth now he would be treating the gays just like he treated the tax collectors.

    So wake up why don’t you. If you’re Christians, follow Christ, for heaven’s sake.

  8. “How did Jesus treat tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners?”

    If you’re a Christian, then you must know. Why ask me?

  9. And by the way, who says the tax collectors were sinners? They were despised by the society, and Jesus treated them with respect and compassion. Just as he would treat homosexuals today. And just how you are not treating them, with your angry resentful political agenda.

  10. Why ask you, realpc? Because you are suggesting that we should treat homosexuals the way Jesus treated tax collectors, and I don’t know what that actually means in your mind. I do have an answer to my own question, of course, but you’re the one who brought it up, and I don’t know yet what you meant by it, so I’m trying to give you the respect of letting you speak for yourself in clarifying this.

    Is your 10:59 comment your answer to the question?

  11. There is no need for any long explanations. It is obvious to everyone that Jesus would not have ostracized homosexuals. He respected women, children, and all the underdogs of society. Modern Christians who make a big deal out of homosexuality, even though Jesus never even mentioned it, are not following the words or the spirits of the teachings of Jesus.

    You could lighten up about gay marriage, and realize it would not matter in the least to Jesus. He didn’t want his followers to get married anyway.

  12. realpc,

    If you don’t mind, I’m still wondering what you believe about the way Jesus treated tax collectors and sinners, since you (quite rightly) take that to be a guide to how he would also treat practicers of homosexual sex. I’m seeing at least a partial answer in your 10:59 comment, but I’m wondering if that covers it adequately.

    You present your position with the assurance of one who considers himself knowledgeable enough to speak with some authority on the topic, so I should think you would be willing and somewhat ready to respond to a clarifying question.

    I’m also wondering if you take it that the words of Jesus constitute the sole guideline for Christian ethics and practice, and if so, where do we find the guideline that “Jesus didn’t want his followers to get married anyway”?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  13. [I’m also wondering if you take it that the words of Jesus constitute the sole guideline for Christian ethics and practice, and if so, where do we find the guideline that “Jesus didn’t want his followers to get married anyway”?]

    If you are a Christian, that means you follow the Christian gospels. Jesus didn’t see any reason for his followers to marry since they were getting ready for the next world, which was coming soon. He advised them to leave their families.

    As for Jesus treating homosexuals like tax collectors — as I already said, in that culture tax collectors were despised. They were not sinners according to the Jewish laws. The society despised them, but Jesus treated them with respect.

    Jesus despised the Pharisees. He respected the lowly and those who were not respected in his culture. I think that it’s obvious homosexuals are in that category today, at least in relation to the Christians.

    You are trying to get me to say the tax collectors were sinners and Jesus treated them like sinners, and therefore he would treat homosexuals like sinners.

    Homosexuals are not sinners according to either the old or new testaments.

    So it would make sense for you to get over it, not worry about it. There are real sinners out there who are hurting people. A homosexual couple who gets married does not hurt anyone.

    Jesus also said you should not judge others. You are judging homosexuals and that is not your right, as a Christian.

    Either admit you are not really a Christian, or start acting like one.

  14. A Christian should put his (or her) faith in God and Jesus, humbly ask Jesus for salvation and forgiveness. A Christian should do his best not to harm others or treat others unfairly. A Christian should not worry about what others are doing, as long as they aren’t harming anyone. A Christian should mind his own business, say his prayers, and focus on God.

    Amen.

  15. Homosexuals are not sinners according to either the old or new testaments.

    Uh, wrong. We are all sinners. You, me, Tom, non-believers, and, yes, homosexuals.

    Either admit you don’t know what Christianity teaches or start educating yourself.

  16. Thanks for answering, realpc. Now, a few more questions that you can answer if you have time:

    Where in Jesus’ words do you find that he says followers should not marry?

    Jesus certainly treated tax collectors and sinners better than many others did at the time. Did he approve of their behavior? Note that merely collecting taxes was never something he disapproved of (quite the opposite, in fact, Luke 20:19-25), but that tax collectors were typically also cheaters and swindlers (see Luke 19:8; also John the Baptist’s words in Luke 3:12-13). Did Jesus approve of that? Did he treat their swindling and cheating with respect?

    Jesus preached repentance; it was at the core of his message. What relation does that have to his attitude towards sinners?

    Did Jesus mind his own business in the sense you say we should?

    What does it mean to say that “Jesus also said you should not judge others. You are judging homosexuals and that is not your right, as a Christian”? Can you make that judgment on me without violating it yourself? When you say, “Either admit you are not really a Christian, or start acting like one,” is there not some judgment in that? (Note that the question is, “what does it mean?” It’s clear that it means something, but it’s not at all clear that it means one should never make any moral evaluations with respect to another person. Jesus and Paul, the most prominent teachers of “do not judge,” also made frequent moral evaluations of other persons. So what did they really mean by that?)

    How do you conclude with such authority that the Old and New Testaments say nothing against homosexual practice?

    Just some questions. Thanks again for your time.

  17. “Either admit you don’t know what Christianity teaches or start educating yourself.”

    Fine. We’re all sinners. So leave the gays alone.

  18. “How do you conclude with such authority that the Old and New Testaments say nothing against homosexual practice?”

    I know from reading them that homosexuality was not important to Jesus or any of the Jewish prophets. They had important things to say, and it was not about whether homosexuals should be able to marry. The Mosaic code does include rules covering every tiny detail of life, and there are many things that were forbidden then that modern Christians say nothing about. Jesus said you must follow the law perfectly. Then Paul decided the kosher laws should not apply to gentiles who converted to Christianity.

    So my point is that you can make a big deal out of anything, if you really want to. But why? What good does it serve? Really none.

    And by the way, as I said before, I think the gays are also wrong in making a big deal about this. They can have legal protections without having to call it marriage.

    I think both sides are wasting their time and energy on something that does not matter. And if we really think about what Jesus said, we have to admit he would not be out crusading against gay marriage.

  19. “We’re all sinners. Did Jesus just leave us all alone? Is that the example he set?”

    Ok Tom, you’re right. Go out and badger those poor gays. Torment them, do whatever it takes to make them repent and stop their evil sinful ways. Show them exactly where it says in the bible that homosexuality is a terrible sin that leads to eternal damnation. Devote your life to this cause. After all, it is far more important than any other problems facing the world today.

  20. realpc,

    I note that you do not answer my questions, and you do not clarify any of the points on which you have been expostulating so authoritatively.

    I note that while I have made repeated requests and given you opportunity to clarify your position so that you could represent yourself accurately, and so that I would not misrepresent you, you have taken no effort to do so with me.

    I note that you have (partly as a result of that) distorted my position considerably.

    I note that you have misrepresented what Jesus did. He did not leave us all alone, certainly. He came to represent and to bring both grace (forgiveness, care, a second chance) and truth (which includes the fact that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, and that it is better to do right than wrong). See John 1:14 and John 1:17.

    I note that you assume I believe in tormenting gays, when in fact that is not the case. The gay men with whom I have friendships would attest to that.

    I note that you think I intend to badger gays, when in fact it is the homosexual rights crowd that has been badgering America to change our definitions of marriage and morality.

    I note that you exaggerate the priority I give this, even though we have already discussed its relative level of importance in my priorities and apparently also in yours. (By the way, about 1 out of 14 posts on this blog are in the “Life and Choices” category, which is where posts related to this topic are filed along with some other topics.)

    I note that you are either unwilling or unable to support your bluster about the Bible with any substantive support for your position.

    I urge you to read the Gospels and see Jesus’ real example. “Neither do I condemn you; now go and sin no more.” He loved and accepted sinners like you and me, but he did not approve of continuing in doing wrong.

    I thank God for his acceptance. I’m no better than anyone, and I would certainly be among the “tax collectors and sinners” if I had been there in that day. But I thank God also that while he accepts me as a person, he is himself right and true and the standard of what is right and true, and that he calls us to live according to what is true and right rather than according to deceit and error. And I thank God that through Christ there is rescue from the death that comes from living in deceit and error, and there is life in living according to his life.

  21. Quick addendum:

    I missed your 2:42 pm comment when I wrote my last one. You did answer one of my questions.

    I would say that homosexual marriage certainly wasn’t on the minds of Bible personages, because it had never been brought up. Insider trading hadn’t either, nor had careless overuse of carbon resources. But there are principles there that we can draw from, and one of them Jesus relied on was that marriage was between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6). Paul and Moses both spoke against homosexuality (there are sound exegetical reasons to take the Mosaic prescriptions as having lasting normative value).

    There are several other questions I asked that you have not answered, and it remains true that you have sadly distorted my position on all this.

  22. “right is right and what is wrong is wrong”

    In the Jewish culture where Jesus lived, it was common for a man to have multiple wives and concubines. He never complained about this. So is it right or wrong for a man to have several wives and concubines?

    And slavery was accepted. The bible says slaves must obey their masters. So is slavery right or wrong? Jesus never complained about slave owners.

    One thing Jesus did complain about was divorce, which was acceptable in his culture and is not prohibited in the Old Testament. So should we consider divorce wrong and make laws against it?

    It’s interesting to me that you select certain things to care about, and ignore others. Jesus, and all Jews of his time, accepted slavery and polygamy, but I doubt you approve of these practices.

    You take something Jesus didn’t care enough about to even mention and make a big political controversy out of it. And you completely ignore or downplay the things he cared about.

    So deciding what is right or wrong is not nearly as simple as you think.

  23. “there are sound exegetical reasons to take the Mosaic prescriptions as having lasting normative value”

    If you had ever read them you would not have said that. Do you have any idea what kind of offenses were punished by death in that culture? If you want to use the Mosaic laws today, then don’t pick and choose the ones you like.

  24. “I urge you to read the Gospels and see Jesus’ real example”

    I have read it, and that’s how I know that making a big deal about gay marriage has nothing to do with anything Jesus said.

    What you don’t realize is that your certainty about what is right and wrong, and how everyone should live, is based on the norms of the culture you happened to grow up in. Slavery was considered wrong in your culture, so you assume Jesus would have agree, even though he never said a word about it. Homosexuality was considered a perversion in the culture of your childhood, so you assume Jesus thought so also.

  25. realpc, I’m confused. You have been saying over and over again that I should follow Jesus’ example, but now (7:19 pm) you say I should not follow Jesus’ example. Do you even know know where you stand on this?

    Also, considering the moralistic and judgmental stance you are taking toward me here, I wonder how it is you don’t realize that your certainty about what is right and wrong, and how everyone should live, is based on the norms of the culture you happened to grow up in.

    I don’t say that just to be cute. I mean to say that if you are going to resort to that mode of making moral evaluations, then you cannot regard yourself immune to the same. And if you believe that this cultural effect eliminates the truth and value of moral standards, then to be consistent you must regard your own moral standards to be without truth or value. In other words, realpc, you can’t aim that argument at another person without having it shoot right back at you at the same time.

  26. Also you say,

    And you completely ignore or downplay the things he cared about.

    I’m curious what you base this on. Have you examined all of my posts, all of my published work, and all of my talks? You would have to make a pretty good survey of what I have given attention to, if you want to be able to pronounce on what it is that I have ignored.

  27. Tom,

    I have been trying to tell you that we often don’t have simple answers about what is right or wrong. We can’t always find simple answers in the bible. We are all formed by our cultures. There is nothing straightforward in the old or new testaments saying gays should not marry. There are straightforward statements about other things, such as slavery or divorce, or a wife’s obedience to her husband.

    You select certain things you want to make a big deal about. As I said, I don’t think gays should use the word “marriage” because it just antagonizes intolerant groups. But I also think your crusade against gay marriage just alienates gays and inspires them to organize against you, and even to hate you.

    A gay person is less likely to be devoted to Christianity thanks to your efforts. Is that what you intended.

    Culture evolves and now we allow divorce, prohibit slavery, and do not require wives to obey their husbands. Christianity sometimes goes along with the culture and sometimes it doesn’t. It has given up on slavery, and many sects now allow divorce.

    If you prohibit divorce your church will lose many members. Yet Jesus stated explicitly that his followers must not divorce (to which one of the answered “then it’s better not to marry!”)

    Obviously the prohibition of divorce was unrealistic and unusual. So most Christian denominations simply ignore it.

    Since Jesus never did speak out against gay marriage, and there is little or nothing on that subject in the Old Testament, it would be reasonable for “thinking” Christians to let it go.

  28. “You really don’t care much for the New Testament other than the words of Christ, do you?”

    Well Tom it sounds like you have no response to my arguments. Just continue gay bashing then, and see how effective that will be. And of course I care about the New Testament. But I can see the contradictions within it, and with our current society. We simply do not follow the laws of our bibles, because our culture has evolved. And you must admit that, since you are not fighting for an end to divorce or a reinstatement of slavery.

    If you want to fight over details like gay marriage, I don’t understand why you ignore so many others. And of course you have no answer.

    And this kind of judgmental intolerance does nothing to advance your own spirit. It disrupts our society, alienates certain groups, distracts from the many critical issues, and stirs up anger in your own soul. Not to mention the souls of your victims.

    The number of married gay couples will never be large, since homosexuality occurs in only a small fraction of any population. Save your strength for things that make a difference.

  29. We can’t always find simple answers in the bible.

    Yet, your supposedly simple answer comes from the bible and the words of Christ. You say there’s nothing straightforward about the teachings in the OT and NT, yet you preach a supposedly straightforward message from it: Christians should not speak out against a lifestyle or relationship that fails to glorify God.

  30. realpc,

    Here are questions I’ve asked and statements I’ve made on this thread that you have not responded to; or if you have responded to them, I replied with a firther clarifying question that indicated the response you gave left further questions needing to be answered. These are all direct quotes. Please be sure to read the conclusion to all this at the end of this comment.

    First, it is not every person’s responsibility to think about nothing except for the most important thing. I’m sure you know that; after all, you are apparently worried that some Christians are worried about this, yet I doubt you would say that you have nothing more important than this to worry about.

    (If I had any hope of influencing divorce laws in the U.S. I would be writing about that, too.)

    (You badgered me later about not recognizing the divorce issue.)

    Where do we find the guideline that “Jesus didn’t want his followers to get married anyway”?

    Where in Jesus’ words do you find that he says followers should not marry?

    Jesus certainly treated tax collectors and sinners better than many others did at the time. Did he approve of their behavior? … Did he treat their swindling and cheating with respect?

    Jesus preached repentance; it was at the core of his message. What relation does that have to his attitude towards sinners?

    Did Jesus mind his own business in the sense you say we should?

    What does it mean to say that “Jesus also said you should not judge others. You are judging homosexuals and that is not your right, as a Christian”? Can you make that judgment on me without violating it yourself? When you say, “Either admit you are not really a Christian, or start acting like one,” is there not some judgment in that?

    How do you conclude with such authority that the Old and New Testaments say nothing against homosexual practice?

    (You answered that it was “not important” to Jesus and the prophets. That’s
    debatable in itself, but it’s also not an answer, because the question was about
    Jesus and the OT saying “nothing” about it. And it ignores Paul’s injunctions against it.

    Did Jesus just leave us all alone? Is that the example he set?

    I note that while I have made repeated requests and given you opportunity to clarify your position so that you could represent yourself accurately, and so that I would not misrepresent you, you have taken no effort to do so with me.
    I note that you have (partly as a result of that) distorted my position considerably….
    I note that you assume I believe in tormenting gays, when in fact that is not the case. The gay men with whom I have friendships would attest to that.
    I note that you think I intend to badger gays, when in fact it is the homosexual rights crowd that has been badgering America to change our definitions of marriage and morality.
    I note that you exaggerate the priority I give this, even though we have already discussed its relative level of importance in my priorities and apparently also in yours.

    realpc, I’m confused. You have been saying over and over again that I should follow Jesus’ example, but now (7:19 pm) you say I should not follow Jesus’ example. Do you even know know where you stand on this?

    And if you believe that this cultural effect eliminates the truth and value of moral standards, then to be consistent you must regard your own moral standards to be without truth or value. In other words, realpc, you can’t aim that argument at another person without having it shoot right back at you at the same time.

    I’m curious what you base this on. Have you examined all of my posts, all of my published work, and all of my talks? You would have to make a pretty good survey of what I have given attention to, if you want to be able to pronounce on what it is that I have ignored.

    And then, having answered almost none of all that, today at 11:31 you wrote (which is sadly funny):

    Well Tom it sounds like you have no response to my arguments.

  31. Please be aware of this in the Discussion Policies, realpc:

    There have been a few persistently unproductive discussions on this blog. I may decide to close off comments by one or more persons on those threads, just on the basis of their being unproductive.

    One of the things that makes a discussion persistently unproductive is when a commenter fails to notice that someone is asking him clarifying questions, just keeps shooting at me or another commenter, distorts and misrepresents others’ positions, and in the end accuses others of not responding even when the evidence is clear that they themselves are the ones not responding.

  32. Your problem with me is simply that I don’t agree with your policy of devoting energy to a hateful cause. You will never change that policy, and anyone who objects to it must be your enemy. You cannot provide a logical argument for fighting against gay marriage. You cannot explain why you are not expending the same kind of energy fighting against divorce.

    If Jesus stated that his followers must not divorce, why are you not fighting for anti-divorce laws?

    No one can reason with an enraged fanatic. It is a waste of time.

    Consider yourself lucky to be a heterosexual, if that’s what you are, who does not have to suffer from judgmental intolerance.

  33. realpc,

    You consider me an “enraged fanatic,” with whom it is a “waste of time” to try to reason. I’ll let the above discussion stand as my defense. Meanwhile on the basis of the discussion policies, and on your own opinion that it is a waste of time (we do agree on something finally), you may consider yourself no longer invited to participate here.

  34. “Consider yourself lucky to be a heterosexual, if that’s what you are, who does not have to suffer from judgmental intolerance.”
    you
    “angry, resentful, intolerant, crusading, society disrupting, gay bashing, badgering, tormenting, hateful, enraged fanatic …”

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