Ready, Set, Re-Engineer Our Children!

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Old School House Sign

National Association of Elementary School Principals

The old school house isn’t what it used to be—especially if your child’s principal is a member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). If so, then he or she has helped sponsor a curriculum that you need to know about.

It’s called “Ready, Set, Respect!” Its ostensible mission, as presented on its first few pages, is to promote mutual respect among elementary school children, and to teach that teasing and bullying are wrong. So far I agree completely. I was bullied and teased in grade school, and my son and daughter have experienced this in big ways, including one incident that required a sustained period of medical help, and another in which an administrator was suspended for the way he treated one of our children. My daughter in particular has been ostracized for believing in Jesus Christ. “Ready, Set, Respect!” is just the thing that would have helped her in elementary school, right? It gets off to a great start, after all:

Elementary school is a time of rapid development for children.

In addition to gaining knowledge and developing skills, these years are ones during which children typically begin to develop an understanding of themselves and the world and people around them. As such, the social environment of classrooms and schools provides the opportunity for children to initiate and develop relationships and navigate increasingly complex peer relationships. That complexity can often lead to incidents of name-calling and use of hurtful and biased words. If left uninterrupted by educators and other adult role models, these behaviors can escalate as the prejudice and biased attitudes that influence them take root in children’s hearts and minds….

Ready, Set, Respect! provides a set of tools to help elementary school educators ensure that all students feel safe and respected and develop respectful attitudes and behaviors.

(Did you catch that word “all”? We’ll come back to that.)

Schoolchildren exhibit all kinds of prejudice and bias: racial prejudice, bias against the obese or clumsy, resentment toward academically successful students, disdain for those whose parents make less money, disrespect for boys who seem less than masculine or girls who seem too much so, and above all, a readiness to go after anyone who seems vulnerable.

Ready, Set, Respect!

“Ready, Set, Respect!” includes a plethora of excellent exercises for reducing name-calling, put-downs, and bullying. Who could object to school resources encouraging mutual respect? Well, I could, when said resource is something other than it purports to be. Sure, it teaches respectful behaviors; but at root it’s really a curriculum for social re-engineering. It should be called “Ready, Set, Re-Engineer!” In addition to teaching respect among children, it advances messages including (the following are all direct quotes, other than material inside brackets):

  • diversity related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
  • Most students experience isolation at one time or another. For many young students the first time this may emerge is in response to others’ perceiving that they are not behaving “enough” like a boy or “enough” like a girl. [True enough, and valid, but bear in mind that word “all” that I highlighted earlier.]
  • Did you ever see representations of diverse families (such as those headed by same sex couples, adoptive families, or step-families) represented in your elementary classes when you were in school? [Same-sex precedes adoptive and step-families, for some reason]
  • A hetero-normative viewpoint is one that expresses heterosexuality as a given instead of being one of many possibilities…. The assumption (reinforced by imagery and practice) that a boy will grow up and marry a woman is based on such a viewpoint.
  • Write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions. For example, “Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta. If each costs $.75, how much will all three boxes cost?
  • Ask students to think about how they would feel if someone said something hurtful or mean about someone in their family or another family. Offer to the students that sometimes people may say something that can be hurtful or may ask a question about a family member or structure that they are not familiar with and that is different to their own [for example,] physical differences between the parents/guardians and children in terms of the color of their skin or type of hair or because there are two parents of the same gender, or grandmother raising the children in the family. Explain to the students that there are lots of different types of families and it is important to respect all of those families. [Same-sex parenting is no more exceptional than a grandmother raising the children.]
  • Suggested books to read:
    • 10,000 Dresses10,000 Dresses (for grades K-3): “Unfortunately, no one wants to hear about Bailey’s dreams of magical dresses. Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is inspired by his imagination and courage. Working together, they make Bailey’s dreams come true.”
    • My Princess Boy (for grades K-2): “Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy. This is a story about unconditional love and acceptance.”

I said I would come back to that important word “all.” Just one quick, easy question: how much respect do you think teachers and administrators should give a student who disagrees with any of this? How much diversity is really being encouraged here? Why does this publication offer no illustrations relating to my daughter’s experience of being bullied for her beliefs?

Okay, that last question was just stupid. The answer is obvious. It’s because this curriculum is about much more (or much less) than mutual respect. It’s about social re-engineering from kindergarten on up. Some people, including some students, don’t approve of that project. Their opinions are not welcome, and they are not respected.

NAESP principals lead schools attended by 33 million students. Is your child’s principal a member?

117 Responses

  1. kirk says:

    Ask if your childs’ teacher is a member of the NEA and forward them (and the principle) this article along with your google search of “drag queen caucus” & “NEA” and/or “time for us to fly” & “NEA”.

    You BOTH might be surprised!

    And if they are as surprised as I was, tell them that they do NOT ‘have to’ be a member of the NEA for their employment or their insurance! (Google “alternatives to the nea”)

    Though we may be hard to find sometimes, there are christian teachers out there. All you have to do is ask us! … we just “can’t ask you”!

    Reply/comment, I’d love to dialogue!

  2. Sault says:

    When gender expression/identity and homosexuality are protected by law, yet a demonstrable culture of bigotry still exists, then yes, such education is perfectly warranted.

    If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married – it’s really that simple. In the meantime, we’ll teach our children that bigotry in any form isn’t acceptable.

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    When will the NAESP produce a curriculum that would teach children not to practice the anti-religious bigotry they’ve brought against my daughter? When will mutual respect include respect for people who respectfully disagree with homosexual practice?

  4. kirk says:

    Sault, you are so right!

    “Bigotry in ANY FORM isn’t acceptable.”

    Do you not see the irony in your own statement?
    Are you not just as bigoted, but for the opposite side?

    Before you teach your children the above, at least admit that you are likewise just as bigoted! (By the way why the name calling? This is not Jr. High!)

    The only difference is that I am not circumventing the parent to impose MY beliefs on YOU (and/or your children). More so than my personal beliefs (religious or otherwise), the overt attempt at such a covert agenda AND tactics might be the most offensive!

  5. Sault says:

    Do you not see the irony in your own statement?
    Are you not just as bigoted, but for the opposite side?

    Awww, I don’t tolerate your anti-homosexual ideology, so of course I must hate you as much as you hate gays, mm? I’m sure that you would love to characterize me as a hate-filled persecutor of Christians, but sorry bub, it just isn’t the case.

    Bigotry requires hate, and I don’t have hate in my heart… not even for anti-homosexual bigotry. I have righteous anger, sure, and I don’t tolerant homosexual slurs etc in my presence, and I fiercely oppose those who would legislate their morality over the rest of us… but hatred? Nah.

    Gotta love that Christian persecution complex…

    I don’t see examples of hate crimes by atheists against Christians, but I do see instances of hate crimes by Christians against homosexuals. This is undeniable de facto bigotry.

    Thankfully not all Christians ascribe to this hateful ideology. Washington is poised to be the 7th state to legalize same-sex marriage… and I’m just as happy knowing that we’re progressing towards equality as I am knowing that it’s going to piss off all those Christians who are fear-peddling, hate-mongering bigots!

  6. Tom Gilson says:

    Sault,

    I don’t have hate either. Why do you call me a bigot? Have you not re-defined “disagreement with homosexuals” to equal “hate toward homosexuals?” How can you do that without also concluding that disagreement with Christians equals hate toward Christians?

    But in reality, disagreement need not involve hate; and speaking for myself, I don’t hate homosexuals. I don’t hate them as a group, and I assure you the gay men I have had close relationships would tell you I don’t hate them in person.

    Your stereotyping us as fear-peddling hate-mongerers is, I am afraid, prima facie evidence of bigotry on your part. Stereotyping is after all the essence of bigotry.

    I have seen hate crimes against Christians. I have taken people to the doctor for hate crimes of that sort.

    Please give up this name-calling. It’s wrong. It’s hurtful. It’s divisive. It interferes with genuine human relationships. It says, “If you disagree with me you must be a horrible person.” I’m not. And if you think I am, then you’re not regarding me as a person, you’re dealing with me as an abstraction–which is not who I am.

  7. Sault says:

    Indeed, I failed to make a strong distinction between those that simply disagree with homosexuality and those that enthusiastically embrace the rhetoric and ideology of hatred towards homosexuality.

    Your stereotyping us

    No. I am pointing out that some of you have it out for the homosexuals in the form of action, rhetoric, and theology.

    I have seen hate crimes against Christians.

    Perhaps you have. People shouldn’t be attacked or hurt simply because they’re Christian – that is wrong. However, we’re not talking about an isolated incident or two – we’re talking about a systemic culture of discrimination, intolerance, and yes, sometimes bigotry.

    And if you think I am, then you’re not regarding me as a person, you’re dealing with me as an abstraction–which is not who I am.

    As has happened in past discussions, my words were not directed at you personally, but at the Christian culture in general, and the Evangelical culture in particular. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    Tom, I don’t see you as hateful – it is hard for me to envision such a rational person as being subject to such irrationality.

    When will mutual respect include respect for people who respectfully disagree with homosexual practice?

    Could you please define what you mean by “homosexual practice”?

  8. Tom Gilson says:

    As has happened in past discussions, my words were not directed at you personally, but at the Christian culture in general, and the Evangelical culture in particular. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    I appreciate your kind words to me personally, but I can’t ignore this, my friend: You’re stereotyping when you speak of “the Christian culture in general.” You’re dealing with an abstraction, not with real persons. You’re accusing “the Christian culture in general” of hate. My experience is that the Christians I spend time with are no different than me on this point.

    I know nothing of any hateful “Christian culture in general.” I know a lot of Christians. I know a lot of Christian leaders. I know one of the original three authors and many of the original signers of the Manhattan Declaration. I am one of the original 160 or so myself. I don’t know of a hater among them. I think you’ve invented an abstraction and called it hateful. I know the real people, and I know that your abstraction is a fiction. A stereotyped fiction.

    By “homosexual practice” I mean sexual acts between persons of the same sex.

  9. non-hater says:

    Sault,
    First of all, I want to apologize for those that call themselves “Christians” and do go about specifically to spew their slurs, hatred, physical violence and harm to others.

    I have intentionally tried to refrain from name calling in an effort to have a true dialogue. …AND to substantiate that I am not like the afore mentioned, and some so-called, “Christians.”

    Just as you mentioned, you are not one of those “hate-filled persecutor of Christians,” and likewise neither am I towards gays! ~ Neither do I have hate, nor hatred towards gays, just the gay agenda forced upon (not just me, but) my CHILDREN! So please do not treat, or speak of (me or) all Christians as such, just because one/many/or even most happen to disagree with you. ~ Despite what many believe, and try as they might to paint and discredit others, just because a younger white female who disagrees with Obama, it does NOT mean that she is a “hate-filled/mongering, ageist, sexist, racist!”

    “We’ll teach our children,”
    PLEASE DO! That is all I ask! …And let me teach MINE!!! It is more than offensive, it is reprehensible that you would force your ideologies on my CHILDREN and behind my (the parents’) back at that! We should be able to disagree in a mature fashion, without using, and manipulating, each others’ children as pawns! Wouldn’t anyone be upset if their kids were told (behind the parents back and against their direct wishes) that ‘there is no Santa or Easter Bunny’??? Or even worse, if one was to tell a child that their religion or god is false or a cult, wouldn’t that be similarly out-of-line? This intentionally covert circumvention makes it even worse!

    “as much as you hate gays”
    Just to reiterate, I do NOT hate gays, just what and how they impose their lifestyle choices on my children. I have some of that same “righteous anger” too!

    “Bigotry requires hate”
    And most or all Christians have hate? Some, yes. But isn’t that the same with all people groups, …including gays?

    “it’s going to piss off all those Christians”
    My motivation/happiness is quite different!

    “I am pointing out that some of you have it out for the homosexuals”
    But not the other way around? And if not, what/why the circumvention and… the kids???

    “a systemic culture of discrimination, intolerance, and yes, SOMETIMES bigotry.” Yet the intolerance seems to be a little more one sided here and in the schools. Also, please elaborate on this “systematic culture,” because it appears to me that said culture is very much on the opposite side…
    – make it legal in one state, so now it “must be right”
    – legalize in others
    – parents can’t opt out
    – now it can legally be brought into the schools
    – before long, the whole nation ‘will have to tolerate – gays’ and their lifestyle
    – even now, the term “tolerance” is ‘discriminatory’ and passé
    – one must embrace homosexuality

    Tom was spot on with “Please give up this name-calling. It’s wrong. It’s hurtful. It’s divisive. It interferes with genuine human relationships.”
    I would add, especially if you (or more specifically, the ones pushing the gay agenda) are truly interested in dispelling this hatred, and getting what you desire. But clearly, that is NOT the intent of said agenda. It is to infiltrate, and manipulate the young minds so that the gay agenda is not just tolerated, but embraced! Don’t gays enjoy most rights that heterosexuals have? I can’t help but feel that gays are only looking for the title of “married” so that it can be further flaunted – and forced – in our faces AND upon our churches. By the way, straights can’t just marry ‘anyone’ they want either, and that is by both church AND gov’t regulations!

    “No. I am pointing out that some of you have it out for the homosexuals in the form of action, rhetoric, and theology.”
    Then may I encourage you to start with a form of THAT, not something like “you bigot!”

  10. Sault says:

    By “homosexual practice” I mean sexual acts between persons of the same sex.

    You have the right to hold whatever opinion you like, although you don’t always have the right to act upon it in the ways that you might like.

    When will the NAESP produce a curriculum that would teach children not to practice the anti-religious bigotry they’ve brought against my daughter?

    If your daughter has been the subject of discrimination, it’s not been because of her religion, it’s been because she uses her religion to justify her personal opinion – the one that you and others have taught her.

    Its important to note the distinction.

    It is to infiltrate, and manipulate the young minds so that the gay agenda is not just tolerated, but embraced!

    I would question what your underlying motives are for not treating your fellow human beings as equals. Is it because their naughty bits don’t fit together like yours? Is it because their families don’t look like yours? Is it theologically-justified bigotry (ie killing someone because they don’t put tab A into slot B)? Is it simply fear that your children might find something acceptable that disgusts you?

    The ID/Creationist crowd has been far more sinister in their approach to injecting theology into the science classroom – I’d say they’re far more dangerous than a few men kissing in public.

    By the way, straights can’t just marry ‘anyone’ they want either, and that is by both church AND gov’t regulations!

    Non-sequitor and strawman, since the regulations are mainly there to stipulate that only consenting adults can marry. No one is saying that you should be able to marry ‘anyone’… only that two consenting adults should be able to marry, despite their genders.

  11. Tom Gilson says:

    Wow.

    This is amazing:

    If your daughter has been the subject of discrimination, it’s not been because of her religion, it’s been because she uses her religion to justify her personal opinion – the one that you and others have taught her.

    What’s so striking about it is that you seem to imply there’s something wrong with that. Now, before I write an entire blog post on how astonishing it is that you would think that, I’m going to let you tell me if I interpreted you wrong. Especially in light of your using your beliefs to justify personal opinions like the ones motivating these questions:

    I would question what your underlying motives are for not treating your fellow human beings as equals. Is it because their naughty bits don’t fit together like yours? Is it because their families don’t look like yours? Is it theologically-justified bigotry (ie killing someone because they don’t put tab A into slot B)? Is it simply fear that your children might find something acceptable that disgusts you?

    The ID/Creationist crowd has been far more sinister in their approach to injecting theology into the science classroom – I’d say they’re far more dangerous than a few men kissing in public.

    Non-sequitor and strawman, since the regulations are mainly there to stipulate that only consenting adults can marry. No one is saying that you should be able to marry ‘anyone’… only that two consenting adults should be able to marry, despite their genders.

    That is hopelessly naive, my friend. Where do you come up with this limitation of two? Where do you come up with this limitation of consenting adults? Don’t you know that the same arguments in favor of homosexual “marriage” have been used in favor of polygamy and pedophilia? But it’s not just that they’ve been used that way: it’s that they are equally as valid when used that way. If the arguments for SSM are valid, then the arguments for polygamy and pedophilia are valid—because they are the same arguments.

  12. Sault says:

    If the arguments for SSM are valid, then the arguments for polygamy and pedophilia are valid—because they are the same arguments.

    Ah yes, the return of the old Christian standby – the “slippery slope” argument.

    The national dialogue is whether two consenting adult couples can be married without regard to their gender, and that is the context of this discussion.

    Although I’m not sure what’s wrong with polygamy, if that’s your thing (and everyone is a consenting adult). It’s in the Bible, after all – Solomon, Abraham, etc.

    Where do you come up with this limitation of consenting adults?

    According to Wikipedia, in general you need to be 18 or have parental or judicial consent. Thus, you have to be an adult or have an adult’s permission. I cannot find any instance where non-consensual marriage is not legally prohibited.

    Therefore, being a consenting adult is a prerequisite for marriage. It’s the societal standard, and as far as I’m aware, no Christians advocate otherwise, so I’m pretty sure its the Christian belief as well.

    What’s so striking about it is that you seem to imply there’s something wrong with that.

    You don’t get a free pass just because you’re using Christian theology to justify anti-homosexual sentiment. Just like I would be treated very differently if I told people that I hated black people, your daughter is treated differently because she doesn’t approve of homosexuality.

    You have every right to hold whatever opinion you like – but just because you justify your beliefs with Christian theology doesn’t mean you get to claim religious discrimination or bigotry when people treat you differently – or criticize you, or condemn you, or ostracize you.

    It is the sentiment of Christian “privilege” to hold that their personal beliefs (for Christianity is not inherently anti-homosexual) are above scrutiny and condemnation.

  13. Sault says:

    It’s like this – we look back at the early years of our country and decry the slavery and those who practiced it. We don’t decry Christianity, or say that it is invalidated by their actions. I don’t even think that most people focus on the fact that they often justified their actions with their Christian theology and scripture… the case is that they were wrong, no matter how they tried to justify it.

    Anti-homosexuality is wrong, regardless of how you try to justify it.

  14. Tom Gilson says:

    It’s too late in the evening for me to give the full response this deserves, but I have to point this egregious stereotyping out to you, Sault:

    Just like I would be treated very differently if I told people that I hated black people, your daughter is treated differently because she doesn’t approve of homosexuality.

    Where did you get that from? How do you know she has told anyone what she thinks of homosexuality? How do you know she told the person who physically attacked her on a school bus? I didn’t tell you that. In fact, it’s not true.

    I had asked you what you meant by this, and whether you thought it was wrong.

    If your daughter has been the subject of discrimination, it’s not been because of her religion, it’s been because she uses her religion to justify her personal opinion – the one that you and others have taught her.

    Other than your prejudiced bigotry (stereotyping is of the essence of both) blackening your last attempted answer, I still don’t have a clue.

  15. Tom Gilson says:

    Something else for tonight. I presented you with a logical argument. I’ll formalize it here.

    1. The arguments for homosexual practice, polygamy, and pedophilia are identical.
    2. Therefore if the arguments for homosexuality are valid, then the arguments for polygamy and pedophilia are valid.

    That’s a matter of rationality. How did you respond? With name-calling: “Ah yes, the return of the old Christian standby – the ‘slippery slope’ argument.”

    Let me remind you of three things:

    a. Name-calling is a schoolyard tactic. Nyaah-nyaah-boo-boo is not a thinking response, even when it appears in the semi-adultified mode that you employed here.
    b. Reasons are what rational people use instead. You ducked the rational argument completely. No response whatever–unless you count your non-rational one.

    You went on,

    Although I’m not sure what’s wrong with polygamy, if that’s your thing (and everyone is a consenting adult). It’s in the Bible, after all – Solomon, Abraham, etc.

    First: There are lots of things in the Bible that are not approved in the Bible. Polygamy is never endorsed. It is described, but it is never presented as something to emulate. It never comes out well.

    Second: Are you disowning responsibility for your own statement, “No one is saying that you should be able to marry ‘anyone’… only that two consenting adults should be able to marry, despite their genders”?

    Consistency in reasoning is also the mark of a rational person.

  16. Tom Gilson says:

    Here’s a quick one to end with. You say,

    Anti-homosexuality is wrong, regardless of how you try to justify it.

    That’s a very strong realist, objectivist stance you take. Within that context, then, define “wrong,” please, and explain what makes an attitude or action wrong, and how you know it’s wrong. I don’t think you can do it in a manner consistent with your overall worldview.

  17. Sault says:

    I didn’t tell you that. In fact, it’s not true.

    No idea what you mean, now. You implied earlier that she was discriminated against because of her religiously-justified anti-homosexuality, now you say that she wasn’t?

    I had asked you what you meant by this, and whether you thought it was wrong.

    Well, I’m not Jesus or anything – I don’t care what you think. What I care about is what you do.

    Hold any opinion you like, but as soon as you vocalize it or act upon it you have to know that you may be treated differently because of it, whether you’re Christian or not.

    Should you be discriminated against simply because you’re a Christian? I don’t think so. In the context of this discussion, I don’t see Christianity as inherently anti-homosexual, since there are many gay Christians.

    Should you expect a reaction if you say or do something anti-homosexual? Depends upon the action and the context (ie the audience). Very likely, the answer is yes, and in today’s culture, it will probably be a negative one.

    Should you be protected from reactions to your anti-homosexual actions (words, deeds, etc) simply because you’re a Christian? No.

    1. The arguments for homosexual practice, polygamy, and pedophilia are identical.

    I didn’t respond because I thought that you were joking.

    Are there seriously people who have a set of arguments that they use for simultaneously justifying anal sex, plural love, and child rape? I can’t imagine such an argument. Since blogging can be all about learning, who are these people and where can I go to understand their arguments?

    Either way, I’m not sure what they have to do with me.

    Are you saying that I have to justify why it’s okay for two men to make love before I can assert that they deserve to be treated equally? Or that I first have to justify the existence of same-sex attraction itself???

    That’s a very strong realist, objectivist stance you take.

    I don’t have the ability to match wits with you on this one.

    The best that I can say is that it is unjust to deny others basic human rights… including the right to have their marriage recognized by society.

  18. Tom Gilson says:

    Sault, you say,

    No idea what you mean, now. You implied earlier that she was discriminated against because of her religiously-justified anti-homosexuality, now you say that she wasn’t?

    What I said earlier was,

    It’s called “Ready, Set, Respect!” Its ostensible mission, as presented on its first few pages, is to promote mutual respect among elementary school children, and to teach that teasing and bullying are wrong. So far I agree completely. I was bullied and teased in grade school, and my son and daughter have experienced this in big ways, including one incident that required a sustained period of medical help, and another in which an administrator was suspended for the way he treated one of our children. My daughter in particular has been ostracized for believing in Jesus Christ. “Ready, Set, Respect!” is just the thing that would have helped her in elementary school, right? It gets off to a great start, after all…

    I said I would come back to that important word “all.” Just one quick, easy question: how much respect do you think teachers and administrators should give a student who disagrees with any of this? How much diversity is really being encouraged here? Why does this publication offer no illustrations relating to my daughter’s experience of being bullied for her beliefs?

    Where in there is any message of anti-homosexuality? Where is that implied? Why did you read that into what I wrote?

    Are there seriously people who have a set of arguments that they use for simultaneously justifying anal sex, plural love, and child rape?

    There is a common set of arguments that people use for those things, yes. I didn’t say there was a group of people who do that, I said that the same arguments are used. I don’t have the sources here, but I can get them later today. I wasn’t joking.

    Are you saying that I have to justify why it’s okay for two men to make love before I can assert that they deserve to be treated equally? Or that I first have to justify the existence of same-sex attraction itself???

    “Treated equally” is not what’s at issue here. It’s a great PR line, but it’s a distraction from the real issue. The real issue is a bigger question I’ll have to return to in another context.

    I don’t have the ability to match wits with you on this one.

    The best that I can say is that it is unjust to deny others basic human rights… including the right to have their marriage recognized by society.

    Sault, what’s lacking is not one man’s wits against another. What’s lacking is your position: you take a strong stance that anti-homosexuality is absolutely wrong, but you don’t know what “absolutely wrong” means, you can’t explain how you know it’s wrong. Here’s what I think “absolutely wrong” means to you, since you can’t explain it in any other terms. I think it means, “It disgusts me and it makes me angry.” If I’m wrong, then tell me what “absolutely wrong” really means. I still don’t think you can do it.

    And you expect the world to adjust to that? Come on.

  19. Tom Gilson says:

    Last night I thought I would have more to add to this. I started to write a blog post on it, actually. I decided it wasn’t worth it.

    Sault, I’ve presented you with a few important challenges in this thread.

    1. You rail against Christian “bigotry,” but you fail to see that you yourself are guilty of stereotyping.

    2. Besides what we tried to show you in those two links, you practiced rank stereotyping behavior when you drew the conclusion that my daughter was bullied because of her attitude towards homosexuals.

    3. You state categorically that “Anti-homosexuality is wrong, regardless of how you try to justify it.” When I asked you to explain what “wrong” meant there, you ducked the question. As far as I know, what “wrong” means to you is that you find it disgusting and it makes you angry. And you want to impose that on the rest of us.

    I think that’s enough for now.

  20. Tom Gilson says:

    By the way: Christians did justify slavery, and they did so wrongly. Do you know, however, what the common factors are that describe every culture that has ever practiced slavery? And do you know what has been the single most salient common factor in every culture that has actively put slavery to an end?

    Unless you can answer those two questions you are unqualified to draw any conclusions about Christians and slavery. I mean that: you are speaking out of ignorance; you don’t know what you are talking about. Not unless you can answer those two questions.

  21. Sault says:

    The perception of cultural Christian bigotry doesn’t rest with me alone. Although a few years old, I thought that this USA Today article was interesting – even Christians think that Christians are hypocritical bigots. And it’s not like its confined to just one time or group – an interesting example is this 1986 Christian homophobic tract. I’ll cite Jack Chick, but won’t link to him. Of course, there’s always the Wikipedia page for more examples (with references) of negative Christian attitudes towards homosexuals.

    Accuse me all you like of stereotyping, but is it stereotyping if it’s true?

    Besides what we tried to show you in those two links, you practiced rank stereotyping behavior when you drew the conclusion that my daughter was bullied because of her attitude towards homosexuals.

    I misunderstood your later comments to mean something that they did not. I apologize.

    By the way: Christians did justify slavery, and they did so wrongly.

    Exactly my point. I’m not really interested in a conversation about slavery – Christians have historically been both before and against slavery, with most modern Christians being against it. Good for you guys.

  22. Tom Gilson says:

    Jack Chick? Seriously? Who does he represent? The last time I can remember anyone taking a Chick tract seriously was in college, which was a long time ago. Over 35, actually more like 40 years. He has nothing to do with Christianity in general. If you take him as representative, you might as well take Buck as representative of Blacks in the old South. That would be racist, obviously. Taking Jack Chick as representative of Christians is just as distorted.

    Where on that Wikipedia page do you find the word “hate”? Or “bigot”? Or “prejudice”? Where do you find the word “homophobia” being used as an authoritative description of Christianity?

    Where in the world do you think there’s the slightest evidence in favor of your stereotypes?

    Yes, there is considerable sentiment among young people that Christians are anti-homosexual. What does that mean? Does it mean we exhibit hate, prejudice, or bigotry? Please point to one of those descriptions in that news article you linked to, if you think it provides evidence thereof. Hypocritical? Sure, 47% of the Christian young people polled in that survey would say so. I would agree. But to what extent is that assessment tied to our attitudes toward gays? I don’t know. You don’t either. My copy of that book-length research report is at home. I’ll look it up. I’ll bet you don’t have a copy.

    You are so blind, you can’t even see that your own sources don’t support your opinion.

    Obviously Christians such as myself are opposed to homosexual practice. But you have taken that opposition and labeled it hate and bigotry, and wrong in all circumstances. I’ve asked you to explain what you mean by that, and you refuse.

    Three or four questions for you:

    1. Do you think hate is wrong? (I’ll pause a moment while you answer that.)

    2. Do you think that disagreeing with another’s deeply held beliefs and behavior is equivalent to hate? (Another pause for your benefit.)

    3. If the answer to 2 is yes, then how do you account for your own hate toward Christians? For clearly you are disagreeing with our beliefs and behavior.

    4. If your answer to 2 is no, then why do you assume that Christians’ disagreement with homosexual practice is equivalent to hate?

    Please don’t continue being a jerk about this, Sault. I mean it. You have an opinion of Christians that is unsupported by your own evidence. You’re stereotyping. Would you please do us a favor and cooperate with us in treating one another as humans, not as imaginary enemies?

    And yet another question to close with. This one ought to look familiar to you:

    You state categorically that “Anti-homosexuality is wrong, regardless of how you try to justify it.” When I asked you to explain what “wrong” meant there, you ducked the question. As far as I know, what “wrong” means to you is that you find it disgusting and it makes you angry. And you want to impose that on the rest of us.

    Doesn’t it seem awfully hypocritical of you to do that?

  23. Tom Gilson says:

    I accept your apology with respect to my daughter. I can understand why you don’t want to talk about slavery, though. I’d be hesitant to make much of a big deal about it in an argument, too, if I didn’t know what I was talking about, and all I had to point to on it was Wikipedia.

  24. Sault says:

    “Treated equally” is not what’s at issue here.

    This is exactly the issue. Our citizens have the right to have their marriages recognized by the state. If men and woman are treated equally under law (see “feminism”), then there should be no legal distinction between hetero and same-sex marriages. Denying same-sex couples this right is then illegal.

    Within that context, then, define “wrong,” please, and explain what makes an attitude or action wrong, and how you know it’s wrong. I don’t think you can do it in a manner consistent with your overall worldview.

    I ground my definition of morality upon empathy. It is wrong to deny someone else a basic human right because I would not want someone else to deny me that right. In this context, I would define the ability for two consenting adults to both have sexual relations and a socially-recognized marriage to be basic human rights. It is wrong to restrict these basic human rights simply because they aren’t strictly between a man and a woman.

    As far as what “wrong” means… I used it in the Merriam-Webster 1st definition sense of the word – “unfair, unjust” etc.

  25. Tom Gilson says:

    Empathy? How do you know who it’s right or wrong to empathize with? Why do you empathize with gays, when you could empathize with pedophiles just as easily?

    Empathy is a way of being moral, it’s not a way of defining what is moral.

    You’re grasping at straws.

    In this context, I would define the ability for two consenting adults to both have sexual relations and a socially-recognized marriage to be basic human rights.

    And you still haven’t progressed beyond imposing your private values on the rest of us, you hypocrite.

    I’m waiting with bated breath for your answers to my other recent questions.

  26. Sault says:

    It’s very difficult for me to not see a culture of anti-homosexuality existing within at least some of Christendom.

    I’m not saying that all Christians are anti-homosexual. I’m not even saying that Christianity itself is anti-homosexual – only that there is a culture of anti-homosexuality within Christianity.

    Taking Jack Chick as representative of Christians is just as distorted.

    You can’t print 500 million pamphlets in over 100 different languages without having an audience.

    He’s not representative of vast swathes of Christianity, no… but millions of pamphlets is no small potatoes.

    It amazes me that you have to sign an anti-gay marriage pledge to be considered a presidential candidate. Really? Some of these presidential candidates have attended anti-gay churches and services. Let’s not forget the contributions of the religious right, either.

    You’ve got anti-gay pastors who turn out to be gay…. and there’s at least one church in my area that calls homosexuality a cancer.

    This isn’t a small population.

    I do hold out hope, though. Even the most extreme elements can sometimes see the light. Take Jerry Falwell… sounds like he recanted. If he can, I can hope that others will too.

    I have to give you a lot of credit, Tom, because you do your best to put the most honest reflection that you can into your thoughts on the issue. I am very interested in what you have written in the “To Treat One Another As Humans” post.

    I have more to say but have to wait before I can finish my thoughts, which were unfortunately derailed at an inopportune time by your site’s CSS…

    In erudite.css, line 181 is instructing the browser to add a bottom border to all links. This adds the border to the link in the logo at the top left of the screen, too. You can fix this a few different ways, but probably the easiest is… on line 212, where it says “#header h1, #header h1 a” add the following line :

    border-bottom: 0;

    It will take precedence over the less specific “a:link” instruction on line 181 that I mentioned earlier.

    Not seeing which comments are blockquotes and which aren’t in the preview is a little distracting, too. I can see where the reset sheet nixed that, and can offer a fix there as well, if you’re interested.

    I’ve tried the Erudite template, and while I liked it very much, it pissed me off a lot and I ultimately just spent too much time customizing it to do what I wanted it to do.

  27. Tom Gilson says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on the border in the header, Sault. That one escaped me when I did it.

    I don’t know how to get the preview plug-in to read the CSS for the page, so I haven’t been able to solve that one. My son probably knows and could help me later tonight, or if you have advice I’ll gladly accept it.

    No time now to respond to your more substantive remarks, but thanks again re: the design.

  28. Sault says:

    Well, eff me. I’m trying to check how one would go about accomplishing that, and it looks like my service provider hosed my WordPress again. Man, this is the third time in the last four months!

    It may require editing the plugin or your page’s source directly. I’ll look at the code and see if I can offer a solution that doesn’t involve anything too crazy.

  29. SteveK says:

    Our citizens have the right to have their marriages recognized by the state.

    It’s not a right. But besides that, have you ever heard of a state recognized civil union?

    If men and woman are treated equally under law (see “feminism”), then there should be no legal distinction between hetero and same-sex marriages.

    Not true. The law recognizes many valid distinctions. Retired men are treated differently by the state than men who are not retired. Think 401k withdrawal penalty.

  30. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    It is painfully clear that you are too emotionally engaged; despite your protestations you engage in stereotyped, bigoted, hate-filled speech against Christianity and Christians in general and it is clouding your vision. Still, in a feeble hope to get you to understand a couple of things, let me quote your response to Tom Gilson:

    If the arguments for SSM are valid, then the arguments for polygamy and pedophilia are valid—because they are the same arguments.

    Ah yes, the return of the old Christian standby – the “slippery slope” argument.

    Maybe you should consult wikipedia again (or whatever website you use to prop up your ignorance), because Tom Gilson did *not* commit the slippery slope “fallacy”. But rest assured, I will: it is clear to me that things will only go downhill from here, for that is precisely what History teaches us: this same talk was already had about numerous other moral issues (divorce, abortion, etc.) and the way has always been downhill fast and furious as predicted by Christians.

    But to get to the *real* argument of Tom Gilson, the thrust of it consists in the following:

    (1) Marriage is an institution prior to the state and has a privileged status that derives from our natures as human beings. The state declaring that two men or two women can marry is about as valid as the State declaring that 2 + 2 equals 5 and as equally absurd.

    (2) If no privileged ontic status is accorded to male-female Marriage then *no* marriage has special status. So why should a Marriage license be given only to a pair of beings of the human species? Why not accord the marriage status to 2 women and 1 men? Why not 3 men and 5 women? Why not any other numerical combination that fits your fancy? What is so special about the number 2? Why are you discriminating against polygamy? I am starting to think you are nought but a bigot. If a man wants to marry his dog, why should he be discriminated? He is not harming anyone. And as you so graphically put it, matters of genitalia hydraulics are nobody’s business. The dog will surely not complain; he loves his master you see. Why are you discriminating against dogs? If you really preach equality, then why are you not *consistent* and grant the same marriage rights to other arrangements — whatever arrangements human fancy can come up with?

    So explain to us Sault, why you are not discriminating against polygamy or bestialism or whatever — and a coherent argument, if you please, not your usual childish tantrums, although I understand that asking that of you is probably too much.

  31. SteveK says:

    But rest assured, I will: it is clear to me that things will only go downhill from here, for that is precisely what History teaches us

    History also teaches us that Christianity first gets chastised for trying to prevent (or slow down) the moral decay of culture. Then, when the culture hits a moral bottom, Christianity gets chastised for not doing enough to prevent it.

  32. kirk says:

    Tom, the problem that you are coming up against is outlined in this article.

    Sault, how off is Scott in his/this article???

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Journal/stories.aspx?id=75907

    MY issue is not so much your personal, PRIVATE choices ~ and what you may, or may not, do in your own house, but what is forced upon MY children and in MY house via the public school system! Hey, if you want to drink/drug yourself into oblivion, really, it is no skin off my back! I would like the opportunity to encourage you to do otherwise, but to each his ….O W N… not to the overt/covert agenda of a (4-10%) minority!

    Is this not just like the abortion issue? “If you don’t like it, don’t have one.” The problem is, “Pro-Choicers” cannot/do not ALLOW others to simply choose to NOT have one, because that would be …denying rights? One MUST be pro-abortion, AND refuse others their “right to CHOOSE” to not have one or not. I feel it is likewise here. You can espouse your “sincerely held beliefs” (religious or otherwise) .. AND FORCE them on the rest of society at that (all while unjustifiably accusing me and calling me names), yet as soon as I simply try to explain MY “sincerely held beliefs” (religious or otherwise), I am a hateful bigot?!?!

    Again, why the hate-filled, bigoted, Christ-a-phobe (which is SO ironic being that you do not believe in Him/His Deity) double standard?

  33. kirk says:

    Sault,

    “I ground my definition of morality upon empathy. It is wrong to deny someone else a basic human right because I would not want someone else to deny me that right. ”

    Yet, it is perfectly acceptable to deny me the right to raise my kids as I see fit?!?!? Is that too basic, or not basic enough?

  34. Sault says:

    I am extremely emotionally engaged with this issue. Odd from one perspective, since I am hetero, but from the other perspective, I have been witness to too many lives that Christian theology (especially the Evangelical variety) has damaged.

    I don’t care how many people are involved in a marriage. The debate is over two people, so I’ve restricted my comments to two. As I’ve said over and over though, marriage should be restricted to consenting adults. This by definition rules out animals and children. This is exactly the slippery slope argument that I mentioned earlier… although I’m not sure if I should thank you for formally vocalizing it or not. Regardless, it is surely the direction that Tom was headed. “well, if gays can get married, why can’t people get married to children and bunnies and warehouses?”

    I’ve shown examples of anti-homosexual attitude by various and sundry Christians. I don’t even have to – the fact that Christians themselves see Christians as bigoted hardly requires me to. I’ve limited it to those who hold the opinion, rather than all of Christendom, though, for not all Christians are anti-homosexual. As I’ve said… it is obviously an opinion that some use their theology to justify.

    Christians have justified a lot of things with various and sundry scripture and aspects of theology – I don’t hold that against Christianity itself, I hold an individual responsible for their own opinions, and the specific culture-within-Christianity responsible for their collective opinion.

  35. Sault says:

    Actually, since you mention civil unions, I would be totally fine with the government *only* granting civil unions, and leave it up to the couple to call it whatever they want, all in the spirit of lessening the government’s role in our daily lives that much more. But hey, I’m kind of in the minority on that one.

  36. Alex Dawson says:

    This is an interesting issue, especially as the debate over gay marriage and its various forms is currently going on here in the UK; so I might tentatively step into the fray.

    Perhaps the climate is more one-sided over in the USA, but Christian opinion on homosexuality and gay marriage is far from unanimous. I don’t have the expertise to speak on it with any authority, but the instances in which homosexuality is condemned in the Bible seem a little dubious to me.
    1) Leviticus – would I be right in saying that some Christians wouldn’t consider this from the start because of supersessionism of the New Covenant? And if one takes the view from Leviticus seriously, why not also take seriously the command to kill homosexuals in Leviticus 20:13?
    2) Paul’s Epistles – Paul seems to be the only person in the New Testament to speak out against homosexuality, and it clearly seems to be his own words when he does. Is Paul infallible? Surely his seeming endorsement of slavery in Titus 2:9-10 is rejected on his fallibility? And some would similarly argue the same for his position on women.

    I completely recognise I’m likely to be ignorant and perhaps misunderstanding this, but it does seem pertinent that Jesus doesn’t mention homosexuality at all; it would seem surprising to me that he wouldn’t if it were so important. The fact that a significant number of Christians disagree with homosexuality being a sin seems to suggests that the issue is not absolutely clear.

    To get back to the issue of marriage. Christianity does not own marriage. Marriage is not inherently religious. It has existed in some form in the vast majority of cultures extending back to pre-history. There exist marriages which are religious, and carry additional connotations in that regard, but this is an extension of what it means to be married. It is completely right that individual priests/churches/religions have the discretion not to sanctify/hold gay marriages themselves due to their beliefs, but to prohibit others (Christians or otherwise) from doing so seems to be beyond their remit.

    So speaking to G. Rodrigues, no I don’t think marriage inherently has any ontic status. Marriage being recognised by the state only gives it naming and legal rights, nothing more. You are free to personally give it ontic status, and again religions can do so by sanctifying marriages.

    It comes down to what you recognise marriage to mean within society, rather than with respect to a particular religion (would you publicly reject the validity of an Islamic marriage because it allows for the possibility of polygyny?). I would propose that this would be along the lines of:
    a lasting public social union agreed by two fully consenting individuals in an intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love
    The reason I choose this is because I think this is what is most fundamental to the concept of marriage (perhaps what most people would think is most fundamental?). Bar imposing religious beliefs, I see no other obvious component of marriage (but feel free to suggest otherwise).

    I’m a bit surprised people are bringing up paedophilia and bestiality; to me at least it seems quite obvious that marrying a child or an animal conflicts with meaningful consent and meaningful love.

    Polygamy is a bit more ambiguous, there’s probably a good line of argument along the lines of love not being full and meaningful if shared between many people. Bar that point I don’t think its obvious what’s inherently wrong with it if it has the full consent of all the individuals involved (including existing partners not involved in a new marriage).

    And so, in conclusion, I personally think that homosexuals should be able to get married with all the same naming and legal rights. If a majority in a democratic society agree with my “secular” conception of marriage (rather than religion-specific), I think it follows that it should legalise gay marriage. (Maybe not of interest so much to you guys, but a 2009 UK survey from The Times [a traditionally right wing newspaper] found that 61% support gay marriage, so I tentatively think there’s a strong case for the UK to adopt it at least – although obviously a fair bit more evidence than a 1000-person sample is needed )

  37. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    I don’t care how many people are involved in a marriage. The debate is over two people, so I’ve restricted my comments to two. As I’ve said over and over though, marriage should be restricted to consenting adults. This by definition rules out animals and children. This is exactly the slippery slope argument that I mentioned earlier… although I’m not sure if I should thank you for formally vocalizing it or not. Regardless, it is surely the direction that Tom was headed. “well, if gays can get married, why can’t people get married to children and bunnies and warehouses?”

    “By definition”? So if you get to define the terms of the debate by fiat, I define Marriage as solely male and female and that is that. Really, are you being deliberately obtuse?

    This is *NOT* the slippery slope argument. What I am asking you is to *argue* your position that marriage is to be restricted to two consenting adults, when your own arguments, and *exactly* as Tom Gilson pointed out, can be extended to cover all the combinations that I have listed — these “arguments” are the priority of the individual will over other goods, no third-party is being harmed, biological human nature is irrelevant for the matter or, as you put it so vulgarly, it does not matter what goes where. Every one of these can be used to defend marriage for the combinations I have listed.

    To repeat myself, is it too much to expect a coherent argument from you or just the usual emotional tantrum? Because if that is the case, unless and until you have an argument to present this discussion is over for my part.

    @Alex Dawson:

    So speaking to G. Rodrigues, no I don’t think marriage inherently has any ontic status. Marriage being recognised by the state only gives it naming and legal rights, nothing more. You are free to personally give it ontic status, and again religions can do so by sanctifying marriages.

    This is not a question of me personally giving it ontic status, it is a matter of fact, so it is either true or false. You glossed over the words that accompanied that specific paragraph: the family (and Marriage is the founding of a new family and that is why it is covered and celebrated with all sorts of rituals and mysteries) is a reality prior to the state and is based on obvious facts about human nature, so yes, it does have a special, privileged ontic status.

    This is the positive side of the argument for Marriage as traditionally conceived and you have not given a single argument against it (truth be told, a defense of this conception really needs a book of its own). On the negative side, *if* you deny these obvious facts, then as you say, it is clear that marriage devolves into a mere contract celebrated by the State (that oh so modern institution) that grants certain legal rights to the parties involved. But then I would ask of you the same questions I ask of Sault. If marriage is simply a name (ah that horrendous hydra of nominalism rearing its ugly head again) and a contract to which certain rights and duties are attached, with no intrinsic, metaphysical reality of its own, then in principle everything and anything can be called a marriage and these same rights can be given to any combination human fancy comes up with. So Alex, why cannot 3 women and 5 men get together and call their arrangement a marriage? After all it is just a name and a contract. And mind you, it is no good saying that this is not on the table for discussion, because what I am asking you is for your *defence* of your particular conception of marriage, which clearly entails these absurd conclusions. Or maybe our moral intuitions are at odds here and you do not find them absurd and you really think it is acceptable a man marrying his dog or a lamp post. And “Meaningful love” is a vacuous expression. Whenever two people get married no one inquires about the “meaningfulness of their love”, which just goes to show that love or its absence is not a requirement to get married. If you want to defend this restriction, then present an argument not just an expression of incredulity. And last I heard, the defenders of SSM are not worried about “meaningful love” (whatever that means) but equality of rights, so what is intrinsically wrong on your view for man to marry a dog or a lamp? Emperor Caligula (*) married his horse; is that something intrinsically wrong on your view? Why, if by your own words, marriage is just a name and we are free to redefine it anyway we want? If the individual will is to reign supreme, if he is not harming anyone, why should the relationship of a man and his dog not be called a marriage and even given legal status? To repeat myself, recall that you have just emptied marriage of any special status, for you it is just a hollow word, so you cannot appeal to it or its nature — it has none — to rule out these cases.

    (*) actually, my history here may be incorrect. He gave senatorial status to his horse and accorded it all sorts of honors but I am not entirely sure that he actually married it.

  38. kirk says:

    Wasn’t gay rights originally about getting some acknowledgment, and then a little more, and little more, and now still more “official marriage”??

    Back at the start, was “marriage” not brushed off as “Nahhhh, that will never happen! We just want to be able to leave our property in a will and have visitation…”? But now we have come to here and the same response, “Nahhhh, that will never happen!”

    Well, sexual orientation IS protected in ALL of the 20some ways (thanks to recent legislation). And YES some of those slippery slope arguments WILL be coming! I’m sure that there are a LOT on BOTH sides anxious to make that bet!!!

  39. Doug says:

    Too many of my friends who consider gay “marriage” to be a “fundamental human right” and to represent “social justice progress” are exactly the same folk who not-too-long-ago claimed that “marriage doesn’t mean anything — it is just a piece of paper”. Funny how quickly some forget…

  40. Alex Dawson says:

    G. Rodrigues:

    I’m not well versed at all in ontology; perhaps I should of added that qualifier more explicitly. I still have an awful lot of philosophical learning to do – I haven’t considered the realism/nominalism debate until now. I’m not obviously sure where on the spectrum I’d be. Would the position that there are universals but marriage in particular is not one be untenable in principle? I’ll try and get across my thoughts as clearly as I can, but I apologise if they’re philosophically sloppy. My ideas probably are going back and forth between realism and nominalism.

    From my point of view I don’t find it at all obvious that there’s any “metaphysical reality” to marriage. Intuitively to me at least it doesn’t seem anything more than the name of a social construct. Even if there is an ontological “Marriage”, this to me would seem distinct to how I or most people would normally consider the term.

    I mean, suppose you’re right and by marriage’s nature homosexuals can’t be “Married”. What have you got to fear from them getting married but not Married? It’s not going to change the reality of anything. So in some sense I do agree that “marriage” in the context that we are debating it is merely a social construct endorsed by the state. One can then freely debate whether marriage is in fact Marriage aside to that.

    Also, in what sense does marriage require the “founding of a family”? Would a heterosexual couple who do not want children, or are infertile, or disabled, or too old for children be entitled to marry or not? It is considerations like these that lead me to posit a more general definition of marriage. For if they can be married, having children is certainly not a requirement of marriage. And in that case, what other requirement of marriage would distinguish between heterosexual/homosexual?

    Perhaps in ontological terms what I’m trying to say is that family and marriage are maybe distinct characteristics? I’m not sure in the slightest about that though.

    In the context of this discussion (marriage not Marriage) – then yes I would agree that in principle anything and everything could be chosen to be called marriage. But what seems to be of importance is what people in fact collectively agree to call marriage. If there is a collectively agreed definition of what marriage is taken to be, then it does not seem unreasonable to form conclusions that some things can be classed as marriages and some not. I appreciate that its not in the least bit rigorous, but I do believe something along the lines of my definition: “a lasting public social union agreed by two fully consenting individuals in an intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love” is what a lot of people (at least idealistically) view marriage to be. I think most people would intuitively understand that, and intuitively recognise how marriage with children or animals fails to live up to that. In other discussions a few people here have often suggested “stepping back and just recognising the experiential truth/humanity behind that”. When you make statements like “meaningful love is a vacuous statement” is it really so wrong for me to ask you to do the same?

    And perhaps I can make an ontological characteristic out of what my definition describes? Even if its abstract to the social construct of marriage, I do kind of see something clear about it myself.

    And in terms of qualifying for marriage perhaps I could tighten my definition by making it a capacity to have meaningful love/relationship (which is ideally fulfilled). Then again as before intuitively I’d see children and animals unable to fulfil the criteria, making it reasonable to legally prohibit them from marrying.

    If you really still don’t like how I’m presenting it then I will try and reflect and consider how to present it more rigorously. And please do pick me up on any/many appalling philosophical/other mistakes 🙂

  41. Sault says:

    Tom – did my browser fail to upload my comment, or did you moderate me?

  42. Tom Gilson says:

    Sault, I did not moderate you, and the system didn’t either. There must have been an upload failure.

  43. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Alex Dawson:

    First, I would like to commend you on your mannered and civil tone and for, unlike other posters, actually making intelligent and intelligible remarks.

    From my point of view I don’t find it at all obvious that there’s any “metaphysical reality” to marriage. Intuitively to me at least it doesn’t seem anything more than the name of a social construct. Even if there is an ontological “Marriage”, this to me would seem distinct to how I or most people would normally consider the term.

    First, “metaphysical reality” is not to be seen as some sort of status granted from up on high, although for Christians, Marriage also has that sanctified status imparted by God himself, but since I am addressing a secular audience, I am not appealing to such specifically Christian considerations. By it, I just mean that the reality or essence of Marriage is a philosophical question. From an Aristotelian-Thomistic (AT for short) natural law perspective, which is the one I will be defending, human beings like all substantial forms, have an essence, or essential nature, that entails that they have immanent or intrinsic purposes that determines what is good for them.

    Also, in what sense does marriage require the “founding of a family”? Would a heterosexual couple who do not want children, or are infertile, or disabled, or too old for children be entitled to marry or not? It is considerations like these that lead me to posit a more general definition of marriage. For if they can be married, having children is certainly not a requirement of marriage. And in that case, what other requirement of marriage would distinguish between heterosexual/homosexual?

    Given the AT essentialist view of human nature, the question is what is Marriage? The answer being that marriage is an institution that marks the founding of a new family and families are founded for the rearing of children. Similar remarks can be made about the sexual apparatus in human beings; their main function and purpose, their final cause, is to propagate the species. This does not mean that there are no other ends for sexual relations (another extremely important one is the unitive aspect, but this can also be seen as subordinated to the rearing of new life) or even that human beings engage in sexual relations only to have babies — there clearly are other ends, but they are secondary when compared, or even subordinated, to the rearing of children. Or to put it in other way, sex is oriented for the birth of new life, and since a new human life needs considerable care in a prolonged time frame, a stable family is needed to welcome and rear that new life and thus a new institution, Marriage, is needed.

    Given what I said above, it should be clear why your objections have no force. Under the natural law conception, what is positively wrong, is to act in a way *directly contrary* to the purposes or final ends, since it is these that determine what is good for the thing, human beings in this case. An infertile or aged married couple is not acting contrary to the purposes of sex; it just happens that the potencial capacity to generate new life is not actualized by a series of circumstances outside the control of the couple. It should also be clear why homosexual relations *are directly contrary* to the purposes of sex, and thus it cannot be, not even in principle, a good thing to engage in them. It should also be clear why under the natural law conception, homosexual desires are a perversion of the natural human desires.

    Needless to say, this is but a sketch and much could, and probably needs to, be said. And while you are free to disagree with this picture, at least I hope that first, it is clear that there is nothing arbitrary or irrational in it, and second, that the arguments are not based on religious or biblical authority — although I could mount those types of arguments too.

    I mean, suppose you’re right and by marriage’s nature homosexuals can’t be “Married”. What have you got to fear from them getting married but not Married? It’s not going to change the reality of anything. So in some sense I do agree that “marriage” in the context that we are debating it is merely a social construct endorsed by the state. One can then freely debate whether marriage is in fact Marriage aside to that.

    Words mean things; to speak the Truth is to say of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. Knowledge follows being. Therefore to say that two men or two women can be Married is, under the natural law conception, as much as an absurdity as saying that 2 + 2 equals 5. More on this below.

  44. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Alex Dawson (continued):

    But what seems to be of importance is what people in fact collectively agree to call marriage. If there is a collectively agreed definition of what marriage is taken to be, then it does not seem unreasonable to form conclusions that some things can be classed as marriages and some not. I appreciate that its not in the least bit rigorous, but I do believe something along the lines of my definition: “a lasting public social union agreed by two fully consenting individuals in an intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love” is what a lot of people (at least idealistically) view marriage to be. I think most people would intuitively understand that, and intuitively recognise how marriage with children or animals fails to live up to that.

    If you want to reduce marriage to a civil contract, I suppose you can try. But then you will have to explain to me what exactly you understand by marriage that delimits the contract to a certain specified set of situations. The plain matter of fact is that you have nothing to hold onto. First you say “collectively agreed definition”. Huh, is it just me or is this not one of the points of contention? So, how do you pretend to get the consensus? By force of law? Oh wait, that *is* what is happening. Second, the problem with your definition is not so much that is not rigorous but that it is subjective and meaningless, in principle and in practice. “Lasting” is hardly meaningful with the rates of divorce we have, so that is out. “Two fully consenting individuals”: it may be possible to substantiate the consenting part and thus rule out the children case, and that is why I have not mentioned children, but this does not rule out the animal case; to rule it out you would have to ascertain the much stronger proposition that the animal is not being forced to marry, which for obvious reasons is much harder to substantiate. This is a surreal scenario, I will admit, but legally you have very little ground to stand on when there are legal fictions called corporates that can sign contracts or when animal rights are being enshrined in law. And the problem with “Two” still remains; why is the number two special? Finally, “intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love” is vacuous, because not only are many marriages devoid of any intimacy or friendship or love and they do not stop being marriages because of that, but also because this is a purely subjective judgment, that is impossible to verify in practice — in fact no one does. When a couple gets married, the judge does *not* ask them if they have or are going to have or even pretend to have an “intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love”. In fact doing so, is aptly seen as the State butting where is not supposed to. The only reason why you bring this up is as an ad-hoc condition to rule out the absurdities entailed by viewing marriage as a contract like any other. In order to make the “intimate interpersonal relationship of friendship and love” stick and count for something, you would have to say something like the fact that there is at least a potencial for such type of relationships in the civil contract of marriage. But in so doing, you are making the exact same type of AT arguments that appeal to the nature of human beings and marriage! Something you have started by denying when you have reduced marriage to a name and a contract.

    I may have skipped some points, but this is already an obscenely long post, so I will stop here.

  45. Sault says:

    I apologize for the edit, you may have seen the previous version of this comment. I have tried to edit it for brevity’s sake.

    A successful society is one that understands the consequences of its actions, gives consistent permission to be subject to these consequences, promotes long-term stability, pools resources in common (cooperation), and enforces its policies with legal consequences for those that violate them. A society is also best served by living within its means – one that promotes a responsible consumption of its resources.

    Such a society is best served by small groups of united citizens that mirror those attributes – understand consequences, give permission, are willing to enter into extended periods of long term cooperation/sharing of resources, etc.

    Adults are those who understand the consequences of their actions, consent is the permission to be subject to them, and the attributes of cooperation and stability can be codified legally with a social business contract. The legal context allows for penalization of those that exit this business contract, providing a reason for those that enter into this union to do so carefully and stay committed once they do.

    In a world where we collectively consume more natural resources than the planet produces on a yearly basis, a responsible society should not restrict such unions to only those who can (at least theoretically) procreate.

    I propose calling this union “marriage”, and propose that it be legally established by means of a business contract. No restrictions on number of members or gender, but restricted to adults who give their consent to be subject to the penalties of not sharing their resources and breaking said contract.

    There, hopefully that’s a little more concise. My apologies for the vagueness of some of these terms, and any lack of rigor that I have applied to them.

    So yeah… marriage as strictly a social construct is how I view it.

  46. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    Finally, the semblance of an argument. Thank you. I will quote four blocks of your post.

    Society has a vested interest in reinforcing these basic units of stability, and one way of doing so is to both employ positive reinforcement to those that maintain this stable union and negative reinforcement by penalizing those that exit this union.

    To be successful, a society must make rational decisions, and to make rational decisions, the consequences must be considered. Society is then best served by restricting this union to adults. Society is best served by adults that can and do give permission to be subject to these consequences – therefore restricting these unions to adults who give their consent.

    In a world where our species consume more natural resources per year than our planet can provide, a society should not restrict these unions to only those who can procreate.

    So I argue that we should have a basic unit of union between our citizens, that we call this union a marriage, that we restrict this marriage to adults who can and do give their consent, that we do not restrict it by number of citizens or their ability/inability to procreate, and that we formalize it within our society in the form of a business contract that penalizes those who exit this contract.

    From these and the rest of your post, we learn that:

    1. Marriage is a business contract that exists to serve the best interests of Society as a whole. Its prime justification is solely on collective, utilitarian grounds.

    2. This business contract can be established by any number of parties, of any sex, as long as they have reached adulthood.

    3. The reason why the ability to procreate is not a necessary pre-condition for marriage is because the resources of the world are scarce.

    4. Breach of this contract, like any other breach of contracts, should be penalized.

    Have I misunderstood you in any point? Assuming not, it follows that:

    A. Marriage has nothing to do with love, family, children or any human specificities (by 1. and 3.).

    B. You defend polygamy as equally justifiable as homosexuality (by 2.).

    C. You are against divorce, or at least, in favor of strongly penalizing those that divorce (by 4.).

    D. Granting homosexuals the right to “marry”, has nothing to do with equality of rights or any moral values, but because the world resources are scarce — so maybe you should retract your insults to Christianity and Christians in general, because by your *own* admission, SSM should be allowed on purely utilitarian grounds not by any reasons of “empathy” or whatever moral bilge you poured above (by 3.).

    E. It is endearing your preoccupation with the scarcity of natural resources. Since they are being drained as we speak, allowing, and even encouraging homosexuality, is a perfectly reasonable way to prevent the birth of new life and protect our fat, lazy, egotistical lifestyle (by 3. and D.).

    No further comments are necessary I think, as it all speaks for itself.

  47. Sault says:

    Empathy has a role in ethical considerations, but in my argument are secondary to establishing the nature of a union being the basis of a responsible society.

    Since they are being drained as we speak, allowing, and even encouraging homosexuality, is a perfectly reasonable way to prevent the birth of new life and protect our fat, lazy, egotistical lifestyle (by 3. and D.).

    Irresponsible use of natural resources dooms our survival of our species. There are multiple ways to encourage responsible use of our natural resources, and one of them is minimizing procreation. To this extent I argue that marriage should be, and must be, neutral towards sexual orientation.

    I’ve only discussed marriage – I also advocate for encouraging adoptions, responsible sex education, and providing free contraception to our citizens, too.

    As far as the “fat, lazy, egotistical lifestyle”, we must simultaneously encourage innovation and efficiency.

    so maybe you should retract your insults to Christianity and Christians in general,

    The popular Christian argument is that marriage should be based on the ability to at least theoretically procreate. I argue that this is not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful.

    I retract nothing. Complain about how I have shown a certain population of Christians to be anti-homosexual, and many of those to be hateful, but the fact is that its true. I don’t blame Christianity in general, because I know that wasn’t always the case. (see When Same Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite )

  48. kirk says:

    As the original article/post was about an agenda being forced in the schools, it is our CHILDREN whom I am most concerned for…

    sault,
    “I would define the ability for two consenting adults to both have sexual relations and a socially-recognized marriage to be basic human rights. ”

    The CURRENT (USA) consenting age is 18. There are MANY countries with MUCH younger consenting adult ages. The frustrating and sick reality is that there are groups pushing to have said age LOWERED to TWELVE!!! The repulsive thing to note is, whom do you figure it is that is pushing for said consenting ages ~ the JUNIOR or Senior High School students? Surely THEY would be the ones to be taking the time to canvas their legislators, right???

    How long, do you figure, it would take before our consenting age is challenged/lowered?

    After all, one being “sexually oriented” towards children, is CURRENTLY just as protected/recognized as being “oriented” towards those of the same gender!

  49. kirk says:

    “In a world where we collectively consume more natural resources than the planet produces on a yearly basis, a responsible society should not restrict such unions to only those who can (at least theoretically) procreate.”

    Is that really a rebuttal for gay marriage? In that case, then let them marry the animals too! Won’t that still further slow the population boom/problem?

    “…and MUST be, neutral towards sexual orientation.”

    Shouldn’t you be more for teaching abstinence in the schools then? Because right now, there is quite the push for a “have at it” and “have a LOT of it” curricula in the schools ~ by the gay community and their proponents.

    HUH?!?!? (You’ll have to develop/sell the scarce resources some more for me.)

  50. kirk says:

    Sault, you hit the nail, square on the head with this one!!

    “And so, in conclusion, I personally think that homosexuals should be able to get married with all the same naming and legal rights. *IF A MAJORITY* in a democratic society agree with my “secular” conception of marriage (rather than religion-specific), I think it follows that it should legalise gay marriage.”

    Well, they don’t! And overwhelmingly so at that!!!

    So it looks like we will not / should not have it here, now or ever either!

    The majority of “democratic societies” have said a loud and resounding “NO” to gay marriage for “millions of years” ~ at least shortly after we ‘crawled out of the goo and walked upright.’

    So what has changed now, and in particular, the last 10-20 years??? And then specifically, why all of this legal circumvention (and homosexual judges overturning things like prop 8)????

  51. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    I retract nothing.

    Please do not misunderstand me, I was not *really* hoping for you to retract anything, as your comments have already shown to everyone’s satisfaction that what moves you is a bigoted, blinding hatred of Christianity and Christians — or more properly said, for a version of Christianity that only exists in your head, or at any rate, that it is *not* represented by *anybody* here commenting on this blog. I have even suggested to you on some other thread to go lodge your complaints in a more appropriate place, but somehow you have taken a liking to vent them here.

    But the crux of the matter is that, once again, you missed the point. You came in this thread insulting Christianity and Christians in general of being hate-filled bigots because they oppose same-sex marriage (SSM for short). But on your *own* account, the reasons to allow SSM are not moral reasons, equality of rights, empathy or whatever moral bilge you poured in your posts, but rather on for-the-collective-good, purely utilitarian grounds. Given that you want to allow SSM and polygamy, and even whatever collection of men and women as long as they have reached adulthood (for sufficiently high values of adulthood), purely on utilitarian grounds, your moral and righteous anger against those that oppose SSM is completely null and devoid of sense and meaning. Your insults are simply misdirected. It is just as misplaced and ridiculous as Basil Fawlty beating his car.

  52. Sault says:

    @ kirk

    How long, do you figure, it would take before our consenting age is challenged/lowered?

    Hopefully it isn’t. The argument for the age of consent is one that needs to be based on proper psychological and biological grounds.

    Your assertions about pedophilia being protected are ignorant.

    Is that really a rebuttal for gay marriage?

    No, it’s in support of a gender-neutral definition of marriage.

    The majority of “democratic societies” have said a loud and resounding “NO” to gay marriage for “millions of years”

    Pfft. *chuckle*

    And then specifically, why all of this legal circumvention (and homosexual judges overturning things like prop 8)????

    Both sides agreed that the judge deciding the case was well-respected and fair… at least, before he ruled! I remember hearing about the judge and wondering why they would ever allow him to rule on the case… but they (your side) specifically said that they considered him to have the qualifications and would rule the case fairly. *shrug*

    @ G. Rod

    for a version of Christianity that only exists in your head, or at any rate, that it is *not* represented by *anybody* here commenting on this blog

    That second part is more or less the case – I have not seen anyone on this thread evince the hatred for homosexuality that I have seen in great portions of the Evangelical community, for instance.

    your comments have already shown to everyone’s satisfaction that what moves you is a bigoted, blinding hatred of Christianity and Christians

    Oh, you’re really laying this one on thick, aren’t you? Okay, let’s go back and take a look at some of my comments.

    ..Thankfully not all Christians ascribe to this hateful ideology…

    …it’s going to piss off all those Christians who are fear-peddling, hate-mongering bigots!…

    Maybe this one is what got to you? Some Christians are fear-peddling, hate-mongering bigots. Some are. Not you. No one on this blog. But some, up here in Washington, are. And they are getting their comeuppance.

    …I am pointing out that some of you have it out for the homosexuals in the form of action, rhetoric, and theology…

    …People shouldn’t be attacked or hurt simply because they’re Christian – that is wrong…

    …we’re talking about a systemic culture of discrimination, intolerance, and yes, sometimes bigotry…

    Maybe it was this comment? I used the word ‘culture’ to denote the group within Christianity who do these things (one specific culture), not all Christians as a whole (their society).

    …my words were not directed at you personally, but at the Christian culture in general, and the Evangelical culture in particular…

    …We don’t decry Christianity, or say that it is invalidated by their actions….

    …The perception of cultural Christian bigotry doesn’t rest with me alone….

    Again, there is a culture within Christianity that is bigoted.

    …Should you be discriminated against simply because you’re a Christian? I don’t think so. In the context of this discussion, I don’t see Christianity as inherently anti-homosexual, since there are many gay Christians…

    …Christians have historically been both before and against slavery, with most modern Christians being against it…

    …I’m not saying that all Christians are anti-homosexual. I’m not even saying that Christianity itself is anti-homosexual – only that there is a culture of anti-homosexuality within Christianity…

    That’s up to comment #30, where you are already saying that “you engage in stereotyped, bigoted, hate-filled speech against Christianity and Christians in general”.

    So congratulations on how your emotional reactions are clouding your perception of me. It’s a lot easier if you can paint me as a hate-filled stereotypical bigot though, isn’t it? I’ve tried to be very careful in the language that I’ve used in an attempt to be clear that I’m targeting a very specific population… but that doesn’t matter to you, apparently. *shrug*

    But on your *own* account, the reasons to allow SSM are not moral reasons, equality of rights, empathy or whatever moral bilge you poured in your posts, but rather on for-the-collective-good, purely utilitarian grounds.

    The benefit of the “purely utilitarian grounds” is that they can accommodate equality of rights and empathy without having to rely upon them.

    your moral and righteous anger against those that oppose SSM is completely null and devoid of sense and meaning.

    So because I advocate a utilitarian definition of marriage I can no longer maintain a moral and righteous anger against those that oppose other definitions of marriage based upon their religious ideology or philosophical justifications?

    Oh, dear G, how you enrich me. Remember to read When Same Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about it.

    as Basil Fawlty beating his car.

    I knew that you had some redeeming qualities. Love the show!

  53. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    So your defense is that you only target certain *communities* within Christianity, a fact which I acknowledged and you yourself quoted? I stressed the word *community* for a reason; you target whole *groups* instead of *individuals* — to quote from your post where you quote yourself,

    my words were not directed at you personally, but at the Christian culture in general, and the Evangelical culture in particular

    The perception of cultural Christian bigotry doesn’t rest with me alone

    and these are just two examples, and then of groups that *demonstrably* repudiate the behaviors of such individuals at that. Not only that, you group people with careless abandonment, without bothering to define and delimit those groups carefully. Sometimes, after being called upon, you step back and then proffer some lame excuses but the damage was already done.

    Although I admit that one of my purposes was to give you a taste of your own poison (shame on me, I know), I am not going to press this matter further lest I accidentally damage your own self-image. However, if you recognize that no one here represents the kind of Christianity that you hate so much, why keep bringing it up in every discussion you enter? Should I, every time I argue with an atheist, bring up the example of atheist North Korea and its reeducation camps where lots of Christians are sent to? Should he be forced to defend or extricate himself from the wrong-doings of the North-Korean regime? Compared to what these Christians go through, your hate mail and other examples are utter chicken feed.

    So because I advocate a utilitarian definition of marriage I can no longer maintain a moral and righteous anger against those that oppose other definitions of marriage based upon their religious ideology or philosophical justifications?

    Pay attention to what people write, please. It is not a question of what you can or cannot maintain, it is the fact that if you reduce marriage to an exercise in utilitarian calculus it is meaningless and incoherent to be *morally* outraged by people having a different opinion from you, because under your view marriage is not a matter of what is right or wrong but of what is useful. What is useful and what is morally right are two different categories; being angered and morally outraged by a dispute on what is useful is, to repeat myself, as stupid and ridiculous as Basil Fawlty thrashing his car for failing to start the engine.

    I will address one more point. In your response to Kirk, you say and I quote:

    How long, do you figure, it would take before our consenting age is challenged/lowered?

    Hopefully it isn’t. The argument for the age of consent is one that needs to be based on proper psychological and biological grounds.

    Ah, the “hopefully” there is very telling. There were societies where marriage with under-aged children was allowed and even encouraged and what “consenting age” is has varied with the mores and cultural vagaries of the various communities. But since by your own account, marriage is an exercise in utilitarian calculus all you can do is keep your fingers crossed, “hope” that such will never happen and fight against it — and that is all that utilitarian morals reduce to, a question of who holds power to decide what is useful or not. Even more, under your utilitarian view it is *NOT* the case that marriage being allowed for under-aged children (or animals or inanimate objects or whatever) is wrong in anyway whatsoever, it just happens that it is not conducive to the well-being of the whole Society. How you reach that pragmatic conclusion I do not know (another case of “hope” or wishful thinking perhaps?) but I do stress that you have willingly abdicated the use of the moral categories of right and wrong.

  54. Sault says:

    I will note to myself going forward that even two “sloppy” comments out of a dozen can provoke such a response.

    if you recognize that no one here represents the kind of Christianity that you hate so much, why keep bringing it up in every discussion you enter?

    Because the discussion is much larger than you, Tom, Holo, and everyone else who contributes to this board. It’s a *national* discussion.

    I don’t ask you to defend others, I don’t ask you to rationalize their position, I’ve only asked you to acknowledge that they exist. You won’t, perhaps because in your mind they don’t. Perhaps you feel that they represent a small portion of Christianity…. Not quite sure. However, you reject even the evidence that I’ve given so far, so I’m not quite sure that you ever will.

    it is meaningless and incoherent to be *morally* outraged by people having a different opinion from you, because under your view marriage is not a matter of what is right or wrong but of what is useful.

    And I offer an alternative to the morally outrageous action of restricting marriage to hetero couples – a utilitarian viewpoint which rests not upon who can have babies, but who can contribute to the well-being of a society, given the circumstances that I’ve outlined.

    Ah, the “hopefully” there is very telling.

    I said “hopefully” because I personally have very little control over the political process involving the age of consent. As I said, there are psychological and biological grounds for labeling someone as an adult, and these should be carefully taken into account.

    How you reach that pragmatic conclusion I do not know (another case of “hope” or wishful thinking perhaps?)

    I take the premise that two or more agents acting together (cooperation, sharing resources, etc) will be more effective than one agent alone. I use this in the context of the union of two or more citizens, and the society that these unions collectively form.

    I do stress that you have willingly abdicated the use of the moral categories of right and wrong.

    Says you. The various flavors of utilitarianism allows for morality and ethics, even if they aren’t justified the way you justify yours, or come to the same conclusions that yours do.

  55. Tom Gilson says:

    I don’t ask you to defend others, I don’t ask you to rationalize their position, I’ve only asked you to acknowledge that they exist. You won’t, perhaps because in your mind they don’t. Perhaps you feel that they represent a small portion of Christianity…. Not quite sure. However, you reject even the evidence that I’ve given so far, so I’m not quite sure that you ever will.

    Evidence? You mean this? I laugh.

    You want us to admit that there are bigoted Christians? Well, why didn’t you say so? There’s Jack Chick. Maybe he’s a bigot; he certainly could be, but I don’t know since I haven’t paid him the slightest attention in decades. I do know he says some ridiculous things (which is why I pay him no attention). There’s the Westboro Church. They call themselves Christians, and while I doubt they are, I can’t waste the time here on that argument. They are extreme, but there are shades and degrees of the same failings throughout Christian churches. There are bigoted Christians, certainly. So there you go: I’ve acknowledged that they exist.

    Do you still want me to acknowledge that they are representative of Christianity? Do you want me to go on evidence at the same time? Okay: I’ll go on the evidence I have. What you’re describing is absolutely not representative of Christianity, based on my widespread, in-depth, first-hand knowledge. Believe me, my friend, if it was, I’d be jumping all over it, because I’m not interested in defending fake faith. But it isn’t.

    a utilitarian viewpoint which rests not upon who can have babies, but who can contribute to the well-being of a society, given the circumstances that I’ve outlined.

    That reminds me of what I just read again in Sam Harris’s Moral Landscape (p. 188). Utter barking lunacy:

    However, a famous study of human achievement suggests that one of the most reliable ways to diminish a persons contributions to society is for that person to start a family.

    The well-being of a society rests on the well-being of its families.

    I said “hopefully” because I personally have very little control over the political process involving the age of consent. As I said, there are psychological and biological grounds for labeling someone as an adult, and these should be carefully taken into account.

    You didn’t get why he said, “the ‘hopefully’ there is very telling.” I suggest you think through the implications of what you did answer, especially the question of control, and what you didn’t answer, which is what happens if your hope doesn’t come to fruition. What could happen if someone decides it’s okay to mess with the age of consent?

    I take the premise that two or more agents acting together (cooperation, sharing resources, etc) will be more effective than one agent alone.

    The great unanswered question for your version of utilitarian pragmatism is this: “effective” for what end? You can’t answer that without sneaking on some non-utilitarian, non-pragmatic values somewhere along the way.

  56. Sault says:

    What you’re describing is absolutely not representative of Christianity,

    I absolutely agree. I must acknowledge that I have failed to communicate the concept that I was trying to convey. At this point, too much emotion has been stirred up, and I don’t think that I can. I apologize for my inability to properly present my argument.

    The well-being of a society rests on the well-being of its families.

    I agree, but go further in including marriages without children as well. I don’t know if that was part of your definition of families, but I do agree with your statement either way.

    What could happen if someone decides it’s okay to mess with the age of consent?

    If individuals who cannot understand the consequences of their actions (both intellectually and emotionally) are deemed adults, then the society itself will become less fit and less able to prosper. A society composed of individuals who can’t understand the consequences of their actions will result in a society that acts irresponsibly and places itself in danger.

    The great unanswered question for your version of utilitarian pragmatism is this: “effective” for what end?

    My premise is a very general one. Two people can carry more groceries than one person. Three guards can safeguard a bank much more effectively than two. Two eyes are greater than one.

    Effectiveness in this specific sense is any goal that the society wishes to accomplish. In the context of using our world’s resources : a society of unions that work towards the common goal of being more efficient, conserving, and thrifty in utilizing their resources will be a society that will ensure better long-term survival of the species.

    At the very least I can say that if my premise is invalid, then my argument is too.

  57. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    I will note to myself going forward that even two “sloppy” comments out of a dozen can provoke such a response.

    After the two quotes, I wrote “and these are just two examples”. That you are sloppy I readily concede, and I will try to take that in consideration in future remarks, but unfortunately there is more than sloppiness in your modus operandi. You seem to be very offended by my remarks, but these remarks were the product of my objective analysis of your posts (or as objective as I can possibly be) and, as I have already said above, an exercise in making you taste your own poison.

    I don’t ask you to defend others, I don’t ask you to rationalize their position, I’ve only asked you to acknowledge that they exist. You won’t, perhaps because in your mind they don’t. Perhaps you feel that they represent a small portion of Christianity…. Not quite sure. However, you reject even the evidence that I’ve given so far, so I’m not quite sure that you ever will.

    It is obvious that there are, there is, and there will be self-styled Christians who behave in the most terrifying manner, hypocrisy and bigotry being the least of their sins. Christians know this; Christians have *stated* this much since the beginning of Christianity: we are the most miserable of sinners. I know a little bit of History so I do not need your hate-mail examples to know or acknowledge this fact. But what conclusions do you want to draw from these very obvious and plain facts, here and in this blog where no one represents this kind of Christianity as you yourself acknowledge, other than guilt by association?

    it is meaningless and incoherent to be *morally* outraged by people having a different opinion from you, because under your view marriage is not a matter of what is right or wrong but of what is useful.

    And I offer an alternative to the morally outrageous action of restricting marriage to hetero couples – a utilitarian viewpoint which rests not upon who can have babies, but who can contribute to the well-being of a society, given the circumstances that I’ve outlined.

    You condemn as *morally wrong* denying SSM while at the same time holding that marriage is *not* a matter of morals but a matter of what is useful for the well-being of Society. Does it not strike you as just a tad bit incongruous? You are equivocating on the word “moral”; you cannot reduce the moral category to the useful and then keep on clinging to the “old” moral category and pronounce judgments based on it, which is what you are doing.

    I said “hopefully” because I personally have very little control over the political process involving the age of consent. As I said, there are psychological and biological grounds for labeling someone as an adult, and these should be carefully taken into account.

    Read again what I wrote. By the way, you have just reinforced my point with this response.

    How you reach that pragmatic conclusion I do not know (another case of “hope” or wishful thinking perhaps?)

    I take the premise that two or more agents acting together (cooperation, sharing resources, etc) will be more effective than one agent alone. I use this in the context of the union of two or more citizens, and the society that these unions collectively form.

    And then to Tom Gilson:

    Effectiveness in this specific sense is any goal that the society wishes to accomplish. In the context of using our world’s resources : a society of unions that work towards the common goal of being more efficient, conserving, and thrifty in utilizing their resources will be a society that will ensure better long-term survival of the species.

    Your premise is uncontroversial in the generality and vagueness it is formulated; it is also insufficient to back up your claims. From the fact that two people are in general more effective than a single one, it does not follow that allowing marriage for more than two people or for people of different sexes or even that denying marriage for man and animal or man and inanimate object is more conducive to the survival of the whole Society — in fact Society seems to have prospered with just male-female marriage until now, so you have some argumentation to do.

    In fact, your premise can be, and *HAS BEEN*, used to justify practically anything, including many of the horrors mankind has produced: eugenics, abortion, elimination of the diseased or simply less fit, even a family-less society (read Aldous Huxley’s, an atheist by the way, “Brave new world” for the latter), etc.

    And to top it all off, you have there in the middle “any goal that the society wishes to accomplish”, so you still have not answered Tom Gilson’s question in full.

  58. SteveK says:

    Sault,

    Effectiveness in this specific sense is any goal that the society wishes to accomplish. In the context of using our world’s resources : a society of unions that work towards the common goal of being more efficient, conserving, and thrifty in utilizing their resources will be a society that will ensure better long-term survival of the species.

    In this context it is considered more efficient and effective for society (those with power) to force some to work towards the common utilitarian goal – whatever that may be. If you look back at history you will see times where this didn’t go very well – slave labor, eugenics, etc. Many innocent lives were lost because, in the mind of a utilitarian, the end always justifies the means. And if it doesn’t, it’s not utilitarianism that gives him that moral sense.

    Right now, society wishes that marriage be defined as a heterosexual relationship. You cannot call upon pragmatism as a way of arguing against it. You must smuggle in morality, and when you do that, you are either arguing from the position of a moral realist, or a moral anti-realist. Which one are you, Sault?

  59. Tom Gilson says:

    Sault, you say,

    Effectiveness in this specific sense is any goal that the society wishes to accomplish.

    A whole society took it as its goal to eliminate the non-Aryans. They were astonishingly effective in it for a while.

    A whole society took it as its goal to let African-Americans (or Africans, actually) do all their labor, whether those Africans/African-Americans wanted it or not (the slaves were not considered part of that society). They, too were quite effective.

    A whole society took it as its goal to keep Blacks and Whites strictly separated, with the Blacks being forced into seriously substandard homes, jobs, and social requirements (the Blacks were again not considered part of South African society).

    A whole society today takes it as its goal to keep women in subjugation, forcing them to be covered in burqas, not allowing them to drive, etc. It is accomplishing that goal most effectively.

    As G. Rodrigues told you already, Sault, you have a whole lot of work to do yet, if you’re going to make effectiveness a general supporting principle for SSM or for any moral decision whatever. Actually, based on past conversations of this sort, and on my reading of the wider literature, I don’t think you would have a viable case with any amount of work, unless you change the track you’re on. You’re going to have trouble even defining what counts as society. And then you’re still going to find that “effectiveness” tells you absolutely nothing about morality.

  60. kirk says:

    Oh Sault, there are so many fallacies in, with, and even WITHIN your own arguments!


    “Hopefully it isn’t. The argument for the age of consent is one that needs to be based on proper psychological and biological grounds.”

    I believe that you yourself would have to admit that “hopefully” is not just ignorant, but almost dishonest! OR you have likewise been brainwashed by your own!

    12 to 16 year olds, though physically capable of possibly carrying a child to term, are neither ready emotionally nor psychologically! Kids are even lacking the brain development just to safely drive a car until about 16… One can tell them DO NOT…
    ………smoke,
    ………do drugs,
    ………play with matches/fire,
    ………drink and drive,

    YET… teaching kids (and even *grade school* kids at that!) that sex is safe… AND that gay sex is just as “safe” as heterosexual sex, and as normal!?!?

    ***is that your view of “responsible sex education”???***

    Teaching them that there is “safe sex” is an outright LIE! Everyone knows that! (The box even admits to it!) This agenda is NOT about “proper psychological and biological grounds” but exposing (young) children to risky (sexual, both natural and unnatural) behaviors, in an effort to expose/numb them to the agenda for further and future exploitation!


    “Your assertions about pedophilia being protected are ignorant.”

    REALLY??? Check out the “Hate Crimes Bill” of 2009!
    They (all 30, are officially recognized ‘orientations’ by the APA) are ALL in a protected class of their own!!! The Dems REFUSED to further distinguish sexual orientation! Though some are more sanctioned than others, they are ALL protected! And yet another slippery slope is paved for future exploitation!

    http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/1454537/The_Hate_Crime_law_HR_1913

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=538014

    http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/the-strang-report/22102-stop-the-pedophile-protection-bill

  61. kirk says:

    “ …you’re really laying this one on thick…”

    Actually, No. Sault, YOU have used a pretty broad brush and painted many-a-(Christian) group the same, and even tried to splash some of that homo-hating/bashing/phobia paint on us! I do not recall any “you” statements from your opposing side…

    Though I know why you have not addressed my previous posts, I *still* find it ironic that, *there was, and STILL is a* “majority in [this] democratic society [that currently has, and has had for 200 years a] conception of marriage.” BUT, you are not happy with that! Moreover, you are also a proponent of circumventing said majority *by using their children as pawns*!! More than just ironic, it is wrong!!! … and even immoral?!?!

    When this becomes legal, and correct me if I am off base here, but you seem like one that might be quick to be offended and tell the principal of a “hate-mongering, homophobe and bigot” in the school if your child was told that (though legal), gays are wrong. Gay sex is VERY UNsafe and it is not in the best interest of children (or even adults for that matter).” (i.e. shortened life span, increased risks and the like). And/or “children have lots to learn from *both* parents… that is *both* genders!” (Notice the intentional value-neutral statements.) Any teacher will agree that kids from two-parent families, fair much better than those from not! I believe you would be hard pressed to find many child psychologists to disagree!

    But again Sault, I will ask, “why all of this legal circumvention”???

  62. Sault says:

    Thank you, gentlemen, for the discussion. I appreciate your feedback. I have found you (with the noticeable exception of kirk) to be well-spoken and articulate.

    Over the next few weeks (or possibly sooner), Washington state will be the 7th state in the nation to embrace equality. There will be a legal fight against it, with many bitter words, much mud-slinging, and endless sermons I am sure about how SSM would bring about the end of society. They are groundless, of course, and as George Takei noted, we are going to watch the s*** out of gay divorce court.

    I have attempted to offer a personal vision of what marriage means to me, in a way that supports society without denigrating many of its citizens. At this point, I can’t make a solid rational argument for it, partly because my audience has become so bitterly convinced that I am disposed to mindlessly hate them, partly because I lack the intellectual rigor to do so properly. I acknowledge my failings in both these areas.

    Thankfully, equality does not depend upon my ability to argue for it (or quite frankly, we’d all be screwed). Instead, we have a society that is willing to take one of the best concepts that Christianity has given us (even using the phrase “sanctity of marriage” admits to its theistic roots), and broaden it to benefit all of its citizens in a way that it hasn’t before, at least not in this country.

    There are rational arguments that support the idea that a society can recognize and value the union of same-sex and hetero couples, while excluding those that do not include consenting adults (pedophilia, bestiality, etc). Again, I have lacked the ability to present them in the way that they deserve. Thankfully, they don’t depend upon my ability to do so.

    Still, at the very least I can admit my failings. A step in the right direction, perhaps, and maybe one day I’ll be able to give these arguments their proper due.

    I react so strongly to anti-homosexual sentiments that what critical thinking that I do have may be overwhelmed. I don’t entirely understand this aspect of me, but I have been deeply affected by how the anti-homosexual community within the larger Christian society has impacted my loved ones. In many ways here I am outclassed… not by kirk, of course, but I do count the rest of you to be valuable in helping me understand my lackings… even Holo (I heard someone else use the phrase “dumb as a bag of hammers” yesterday, I couldn’t help but give a chuckle!).

    I can’t continue on with this debate.

    In the meantime, I’m still pretty stoked, because worship went really well yesterday. The guitar player couldn’t show, so they asked me to step out from behind the soundboard and stand in. I don’t play often these days, so it was a real treat to help out, and after all, it’s funny sometimes what we do for love.

  63. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    By what you have said in your post, you will probably not read this response but I just cannot allow some things to go unchecked.

    I have attempted to offer a personal vision of what marriage means to me, in a way that supports society without denigrating many of its citizens.

    Utilitarian morals denigrate *all* citizens, since they become the means to an end, which in your view is the survival of the species.

    At this point, I can’t make a solid rational argument for it, partly because my audience has become so bitterly convinced that I am disposed to mindlessly hate them

    Oh for heaven’s sake will you grow up and cut the childish pout? First, the only one that pointed out the hatred was me, so if you have any complaints, direct them at me, second, I have already explained why I brought the subject up, twice, do I need to do it again?

    Thankfully, equality does not depend upon my ability to argue for it (or quite frankly, we’d all be screwed). Instead, we have a society that is willing to take one of the best concepts that Christianity has given us (even using the phrase “sanctity of marriage” admits to its theistic roots), and broaden it to benefit all of its citizens in a way that it hasn’t before, at least not in this country.

    So now, you are back at the equality thingy and have dropped the utilitarian angle?

    There are rational arguments that support the idea that a society can recognize and value the union of same-sex and hetero couples, while excluding those that do not include consenting adults (pedophilia, bestiality, etc). Again, I have lacked the ability to present them in the way that they deserve. Thankfully, they don’t depend upon my ability to do so.

    So what you are saying is that there are rational arguments that compel you to accept SSM but that somehow exclude things you personally dislike, like bestiality or paedophilia, but that you have been unable to present them accurately, is that it?

    I would like to ask you a question: suppose a Christian addressing a skeptic, aggressively atheist audience said something like “I know there are rationally compelling arguments for Christianity I am just unable to present them adequately” what do you think would be the reaction of said audience? Would they pile abuse on him for being “irrational”, a “faith-head” or whatever insults are in vogue today?

    In many ways here I am outclassed… not by kirk, of course, but I do count the rest of you to be valuable in helping me understand my lackings…

    I confess I really do not understand these personal digs at Kirk. He may not be a C. S. Lewis (and then again, none of us is, so…), but I for one, understood him perfectly, his arguments were cogent and to the point and his tone was always civil.

  64. Sault says:

    Utilitarian morals denigrate *all* citizens, since they become the means to an end, which in your view is the survival of the species.

    I am not convinced that this is the case… although it depends upon the means to the end, doesn’t it? As you have tried to explain to me, my view of utilitarianism doesn’t *allow* for an adjunct philosophy, it *requires* one.

    So now, you are back at the equality thingy and have dropped the utilitarian angle?

    I am undecided. If utilitarianism requires an adjunct philosophy, then under what philosophical system is equality compatible with utilitarianism? I suppose that is the question that I am trying to work through now.

    So what you are saying is that there are rational arguments that compel you to accept SSM but that somehow exclude things you personally dislike, like bestiality or paedophilia, but that you have been unable to present them accurately, is that it?

    I made it as far as voicing that the requirements of being an adult and the ability to consent would rule out these other things. I justified them by saying that an effective society needs adults and the ability to consent. I think that argument could be supported better, but I have been unable to do so. Its a valid point, I just need to work out how to get there a little better than I have.

    Would they pile abuse on him for being “irrational”, a “faith-head” or whatever insults are in vogue today?

    Even though you’ve offered an apples-to-oranges example, any sufficiently hostile audience will hurl insults, sure. It sounds like you understand that I’m not “hostile”, and while you have been scathing (I offer that as a compliment), you are not hostile.

    I for one, understood him perfectly, his arguments were cogent and to the point and his tone was always civil.

    Really? I’m surprised. The caps-lock and misquotes led me to believe that he was just trolling.

    *epiphany*

    Maybe Christians are used to seeing caps-lock on, so they don’t automatically register it as trolling? That actually sounds plausible… What a weird world we live in…

  65. kirk says:

    Sault, in case you are still checking in…

    I apologize for my posts if they razzed you a little too much. Neither that, nor trolling, was my intent. The all caps thing was because I could not figure out the <> stuff.

    I GREatly (sorry, I couldn’t resist) enjoyed eavesdropping on the philosophical discussion that went about… it took me a while follow when it went to “SSM”! 🙂 Maybe just Sault and I should continue??? (OK, maybe that last sentence was a little more trollish.) 😉
    _

    Tom, I tried a bunch of variations of the above tags, and I found nothing that could reproduce the easy-to-read quotes and such. I found that either the rest of the post was blue, bolded, struck through and the like. Another link (like right beside the “discussion policy”) with a more complete list of ‘tricks of the trade’ would have helped out this newbie tremendously! 🙂

    _

    I am frustrated with the slant of the agenda, push on our children, and the apparent apathy resulting from people (not just Christians) who don’t really realize what is at stake. I found myself STRONGLY agreeing with Sault a few times! 🙂 … but I could not help but feel a clear double standard exists. Another quote in point…

    “I justified them by saying that an effective society needs adults and the ability to consent. ”

    He is SO right! But when the gay-agenda-machine is ‘outclassed,’ they resort to school-yard name calling and bulling tactics rather than truly attempting that needed adult discussion. … And *they* deny the parent’s “ability to consent!” That gets me as there are both Christian students & teachers! And now the teachers are similarly being bullied with said agenda (and the NEA)!

    _

    To all,
    If my understanding/quotes are indeed off, please do let me know as I do not want to pass along misinformation!
    thx guys!
    kirk

  66. Sault says:

    hey kirk,

    I apologize for thinking you to be a troll. Communication can be problematic online, after all, something I’m sure you know as well as I do.

    Any personal digs were in extremely poor taste, and I apologize for them as well.

    The special effects are HTML tags, and they need to be both opened and closed. So if you want something italicized, you would preface the sentence with an <i> and would need to put an </i> after it, or the rest of your post is going to be italicized too.

    The pretty comments are the “blockquote” tag. You can also combine most tags, as well. So…

    <blockquote>
    This is a <b>very</b> nice looking quote.
    </blockquote>

    Would be rendered like this :

    This is a very nice looking quote.

    Part of what I reacted to concerning your posts is that the last time I saw someone talking about “safe sex” was when it was just starting to be brought up in grade school. It was soon after that the term “safer sex” was introduced… there is no such thing as “safe” sex, not for anyone. In some areas there are more hetero women with AIDS than there are gay men, for instance.

    The only safe sex is no sex, but quite frankly, that’s a hard sell – there’s a reason why “abstinence-only” programs don’t work! Since we know that they don’t work, let’s go with the next best thing – teach our kids how to have the safest sex that they possibly can, even while we urge them to wait as long as possible and to be as picky as possible, at that.

    As far as homosexual sex acts… with the sole exception of hetero “coitus” (tab A, slot B), there is no sex act that same-sex couples do that hetero couples don’t do as well. Given that their Mommies and Daddies are doing it, how can we possibly tell our children that it’s wrong to do?

    That is why the arguments about “you’ll die quicker” etc don’t hold any water with me – everyone’s doing it, so everyone must think that the act is acceptable, they just don’t like some of the other participants.

    Do you see where I’m coming from on this?

  67. Melissa says:

    Sault,

    That is why the arguments about “you’ll die quicker” etc don’t hold any water with me – everyone’s doing it, so everyone must think that the act is acceptable, they just don’t like some of the other participants.

    “Everyone” is not doing it and you’ll have to spell out how even if this was true it is an argument against sticking things where they don’t belong because it is bad for you.

  68. Sault says:

    “Everyone” is not doing it and you’ll have to spell out how even if this was true it is an argument against sticking things where they don’t belong because it is bad for you.

    “Studies indicate that about 25 percent of heterosexual couples have had anal sex at least once, and 10 percent regularly have anal penetration.” (wikipedia)

    As far as the second… let’s see, we permit smoking, drinking, gambling, some forms of drug usage, hetero sex, foods high in saturated fat, and driving, all of which present significant danger to you. Why should homosexual sex acts be any different?

    Is it your position that this particular sex act should be outlawed? If so, you have just criminalized 25% of our population.

    The leading causes of death in the US include heart attacks and vehicular deaths, so if the purpose is to keep us alive longer, then we should outlaw cars and fatty foods.

    That is why the justification that “you’ll die quicker” doesn’t hold any water.

  69. Melissa says:

    Sault,

    25% is not everyone.

    Secondly … Do you even read what anyone writes?

    No one is arguing that homosexual acts should be criminalized.

  70. Sault says:

    kirk sed –

    Gay sex is VERY UNsafe and it is not in the best interest of children (or even adults for that matter).” (i.e. shortened life span, increased risks and the like).

    Kirk claims that it is unsafe (shortened life span, increased risks), and because of this that it isn’t in the best interests of the child.

    It would be hypocritical for 25% of our hetero couples to advocate teaching our children that homosexual acts are wrong if they are doing it themselves.

    Second, if that was a valid line of reasoning that we should teach our children that they shouldn’t drive, since driving will kill far, far more people this year than homosexual acts.

    I’m interested to see if he agrees, or if he chooses a different argument instead.

  71. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh good grief. The non sequiturs!

  72. kirk says:

    Sault,
    I love you man, but you are SO missing (what I understand to be many of) our gripe.

    Oh, and thanks for the brief tutorial! It was perfect! 🙂

    Let me go back and take a look at what the original issue was…

    …yup, nothing about hypocrites, criminalizing any one or any action. …only the agenda forced upon our nation’s youth and the circumvention of parents!

    We really don’t care what you do or don’t do in your own house, …we would love to see Jesus help you work through this, but that is beside the point/another post (and **Please ** note that was the *first* time I have brought up *anything* “religious”). We are (or at least I am) most upset with the push on our kids!

    I don’t want to criminalize 5, 25% or 105% of the population… BUT I would love to lock up ***all*** of them who are imposing their values, morals and beliefs (which are in direct opposition with my own) on my children, intentionally against my will, *and* intentionally behind my back!

    But just because you brought it up…

    Lie. Cheat. Steal. …Drive too fast. Kids do all of those. Some enjoy snake charming too. So lets show them the safest way????
    Really?

    Isn’t there a higher ideal? Shouldn’t parents and teachers *expect* them to rise to the occasion (to that higher ideal), but understand, and provide the necessary direction and assistance when they falter??? What (about our) society as a whole? Prostitution, drugs….
    No, I’ll admit that I may not always come to a full and complete stop at those stop signs. No, I do not always wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle. But **yes** I will encourage my kids to do those things because that is what is ‘right’ i.e. that is what is *best* for them! (Again, notice the intentional lack of God/religion in said statement.)

    Likewise, I enjoy the occasional drink, but there is *no way* would I encourage my child or any student to drink, drive, or play with guns! And neither should *any* school! Even sky jumping would be off my list of things to promote to my own children! They are TOO young! Dare I say (at the risk of sounding like a prude) High School is still too young! ~ Isn’t that why we don’t allow kids to drink or drive until they are older? Some do, some don’t, others do with the parents blessing and encouragement, but the ideal for all… is that they wait! (Hence under age laws.)

    I am sure that there many smokers who tell their children to “not do as I do” because of the issues associated with it. But our youth *can* learn from our mistakes – so they don’t have to make them too!

    Is it hypocritical? Maybe. We all lied and ‘stole’ things as kids too… “Why should I go into hawk for half my life just to go to college Dad? You didn’t go at all, and besides, you always told me to not get into debt! ” “Don’t talk to strangers, but how was your friend not ever a ‘stranger’ Mommy?” Legal, illegal or otherwise, we desire, or at least (shouldn’t we) strive for the best for our children. Wouldn’t you want people/society, …the **schools** promoting what is *best* for yours?!?!?

    BTW, in case you think that I am against any ‘one type’ of sex, I am against *ANY and ALL* types of sex being promoted/encouraged in the schools ~ *ALL* K-12 schools!

    If your reasoning were truly the ‘best thing for our (Nation’s) children,’ wouldn’t/shouldn’t there be a line at the NASCAR School of racing??? *And* a federal grant to teach kids the “safest way to drive fast/speed,” as with the safest/safer sex practices? They *both* have risks that are 100% fatal!

    … Oh wait, actually there are programs promoting things that aren’t truly in ones’ best interest …exchange of old dirty needles …ways to acquire things one can’t afford (from houses to payday loans) …

  73. kirk says:

    would be hypocritical for 25% of our hetero couples to advocate teaching our children that homosexual acts are wrong if they are doing it themselves.

    Sault,
    YOU said that they were”wrong.” I never said that. …maybe you missed those all caps again 🙂 😉 “…it is VERY UNsafe.” BTW, those are not *my* claims. Check out wikipedia and it will tell you that…

    “Anal sex is considered a high-risk sexual practice, and unprotected anal sex is the riskiest of all forms of sexual intercourse,”

    I liked…
    http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/health-risks-of-the-homosexual-lifestyle/

    If that was too dated (2002) or biased for you, check out…
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/fastfacts-msm-final508comp.pdf
    (I believe that I saw Sept. 2011.)

    Actually, ALL acts have risks for even *adults*. Hence the encouragement/promotion for waiting for marriage… Regardless of ones’ belief of that and/or ability to maintain some self-control, only a sick/dark society would suggest that *any* such form/risk is worth it …especially and particularly at the expense of their …CHILDREN!!!

    There are so many ( nonreligious) reasons to encourage kids to abstain, and strive for that “higher standard.” Kids, though maybe physically capable of bearing children, are not mentally or emotionally ready until when …driving, drinking, or voting age??? Surely not… menstruation?

    Sometimes I wonder if those aggressively forcing the agenda know that pregnancies themselves have many risks, including death …for adults, let alone kids! (Providing abortions are **not** the fix for this one either!) There are STDs that are dormant/undetectable for years, some cause sterility, others *death*! How could any sober/competent parent not believe it negligent, but actually …acceptable/appropriate???, to provide condoms that are (only UP TO) 98% effective in preventing such things??? (I will not go into other issues/complications that still lower that effective rate ~ but they have found holes in latex that are 5 times the size of the AIDS virus! That is dated information, it might be bigger by now? ;))

  74. Sault says:

    There are so many ( nonreligious) reasons to encourage kids to abstain, and strive for that “higher standard.”

    I don’t disagree that any sex act carries consequences. I plan on encouraging my daughter with every ounce of my being to wait as long as possible and be as selective as possible. I’ve even said as much at least one time before.

    Since we know that they [abstinence-only sex education programs] don’t work, let’s go with the next best thing – teach our kids how to have the safest sex that they possibly can, even while we urge them to wait as long as possible and to be as picky as possible, at that.

    You might have missed that the first time around, so I’ll reference the research.

    The $102 million currently being spent by the federal government on abstinence-only programming is designed to serve social and political goals, rather than produce solid public health outcomes for young people.

    Not only is there no credible evidence that these millions of dollars have any positive effect, there is reason to be concerned that young people who receive abstinence-only curricula in school will not have the tools to protect themselves in sexual situations.
    (from a monograph on sex education)

    Abstinence-only education hurts children… these are the facts, just as much the facts as how sex acts, all sex acts, carry with them risks.

    I am against *ANY and ALL* types of sex being promoted/encouraged in the schools ~ *ALL* K-12 schools!

    So teaching someone about sex and the risks involved is actually encouraging it? Isn’t that a little bit like saying that watching anti-smoking ads with people smoking out of the holes in their necks and all that… that’s actually encouraging smoking?

    If your reasoning were truly the ‘best thing for our (Nation’s) children,’ wouldn’t/shouldn’t there be a line at the NASCAR School of racing???

    You misunderstood me, somehow. You said that since some sex acts can hurt us, that we should discourage children from learning anything about them. Well, since cars kill us more than sex acts do, we should discourage children from driving, too. That is the logical extension of your argument – protect the children.

    Well, we can’t protect them. Perhaps the difference between you and I is that I think that by educating them about the actions and being very clear about the consequences is enough to help them make the best decision. The child of a drunk may be a drunk themselves… or they may see the consequences of drinking and never drink themselves.

    The best decision is an informed one. Give someone the facts, give them the ability to think for themselves, trust them enough to make their own decisions, and then step back. You protect your kids too much and you end up with a child in an adult’s body.

    Education is not promotion. I’m not sure why you confuse the two.

  75. Alex Dawson says:

    I apologise for the late reply; I’ve been rather busy with my studies lately, and have also in fact been engaging with Christian outreach directly in my local community, particularly as they’ve had a special week of talks and such lately (http://www.reallife2012.org.uk if anyone’s interested)

    G. Rodrigues:

    Given the AT essentialist view of human nature, the question is what is Marriage? The answer being that marriage is an institution that marks the founding of a new family and families are founded for the rearing of children.

    Words mean things; to speak the Truth is to say of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not.

    I’ll try and keep my ideas more consistent and coherent this time, not that I guarantee I’ll succeed! Supposing these natures exist, to me I do not see it as obvious that any certain word is equivalent to a nature of something. The concept of the nature of something seems abstract in my mind, something which makes the word attributed to it somewhat arbitrary. Although it is clear in one’s own mind that the word you speak reflects the concept in your mind, it is (although often a very good one) merely an inference that the concept which the word relates to in another’s mind is indeed the same one.

    It is in this sense I would probably contest the meaning of marriage. In some sense your answer to “what is marriage?” is somewhat arbitrary. Sure, it refers to the nature of a certain kind of relationship between people. However, the concept (/kind of relationship) which I associate with the word marriage I personally feel is distinct in nature to the one of which you speak.

    Is it absurd for me to suppose that there are different kinds of relationship, each of a different nature? For instance you could distinguish between:
    1) The relationship between those who have had a biological child
    2) The relationship between those who are in fact raising a child
    3) The relationship between those in a committed relationship of “love” [along the lines of my previous definition]

    While these kinds of relationships often coincide, I would intuitively see their natures as different. The difference in how we understand the word marriage is that you seem (to me thus far) to see it as the potential/intention to do (2) [and/or (1)?], whereas I see it as (3) [or in a state sense a proclamation that one is/is capable of (3)]

    Considering final causes (I will discuss them more later), while I see how under their consideration it is quite alright and good for say infertile/older heterosexual couples to have relationships and sexual relations, I struggle to see how under your definition of marriage they ought to have any right to get/be called married.

    It is by these kinds of considerations that I think the nature referred by the word marriage within society is primarily (3), rather than (1) or (2).

    I won’t pursue this idea here, but it is not even entirely obvious that a homosexual couple cannot fulfil (2).

    In many senses I see sex as abstract to love/relationship. I apologise for being overly wooly but I think it (almost) obvious that it is “personal” or “emotional” intimacy that is the foundation of such things, rather than sexual intimacy. There are certainly those in marriages, or in love, who do not have sex, whether due to disability, physical impossibility/problems, celibacy/asexuality, etc. I think this idea is put across quite nicely (in a brief on topic 4 minute video) here.

    Bar any other reason being offered that a homosexual couple cannot experience such a relationship/love, I do not see any argument to prohibit gay marriage if marriage is described along the lines of (3). In such a case, even if one objects to homosexual sexual relations, it seems to me that the most one can argue for is that those in a gay marriage ought to be celibate.

    To then address a couple of particular other issues:

    It should also be clear why homosexual relations *are directly contrary* to the purposes of sex

    To put across my understanding (under natural law), the primary end of sex is the creation of life/rearing of children, the unitive aspect a secondary end. Homosexual relations are thus not fulfilling the primary end, and are not good. The problem I see is that directly contrary to and not fulfilling are not synonymous. Homosexual relations in no way destroy life, or damage some child’s growth, they do not fulfil the opposite of the end, so I don’t see how they can be described as being directly contrary to them.

    So is merely not fulfilling one’s primary ends when it is possible to fulfil them sufficient to label an action as not good? Considerations such as the following suggest intuitively to me that the answer is no.

    Suppose there is a couple (not yet married), who upon testing find out that the man is fertile, but the woman infertile. Is there an obligation with the man with respect to natural ends to leave his partner and find a fertile woman? To me this situation seems equivalent to that of a man in a homosexual relationship. The man in each case can have sex with his partner (infertile female or man) and fulfil unitive ends, but not life-creating ends. It seems to me under such a description that either they both are in the wrong, or neither of them are. And again, I don’t particularly imagine many people would argue that the man is wrong to stay in the relationship with the infertile woman.

    “Two fully consenting individuals”: it may be possible to substantiate the consenting part and thus rule out the children case, and that is why I have not mentioned children, but this does not rule out the animal case

    Surely to “substantiate consent” one must prove consent, not merely disprove non-consent. I certainly know of no such way to prove an animal consents to a marriage, let alone anything else.

    And the problem with “Two” still remains; why is the number two special?

    For brevity, I’m happy to focus on the other issues. If you really want, I’ll look to provide a more rigorous explanation along the lines of it contravening “genuine love” along some lines.

  76. kirk says:

    Sault,

    I understand your point. But as a teacher who teaches said ‘abstinence based’ program, I UNDERSTAND WHY it does not work! There is a (ONE) whole sentence devoted to said topic/encouragement! Wow! Great program! …Go figure!

    But I did find this…

    Within two years, 33.5 percent of the students who took the class that encouraged them to delay having sex had lost their virginity, compared to 48.5 percent of those who attended the class on other ways to be healthy and to 52 percent of those who were only taught about safer sex.

    http://www.boston.com/community/moms/blogs/child_caring/2010/02/can_abstinence-only_education_work_after_all.html

    So it does at least *delay* the risky behavior!

    How about this one, 2/5/2010…?

    This week, the media gave us what appeared to be startling news: Research, appearing in a journal published by the American Medical Association, showed (shock!) that abstinence programs dramatically reduced teen sexual activity.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123401144


    P.S. Isn’t the government researching it’s own programs kind of like the bouncy balls …?

    http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/02/11/citizenlink-bouncy-balls-and-government-economics/

    What about the Jr. Higher at my friend’s “church” camp, who broke down in tears when she heard that they should “wait for marriage?” The staffer understood when she, between the sobs said, “Nobody ever told me that [she could/should wait] before.”

    In *MY* *sixth grade* human growth and development class that I had to teach just a few months ago, there was only ONE line in the *entire* 3-hour-scripted-lesson that “one shalt NOT deviate from,” SOME choose to wait until marriage for sex. That was the one and ONLY line, and it was in the HIV section!!!

    encouraging my daughter with every ounce of my being to wait

    Why don’t you (wouldn’t you) want the schools to encourage the same thing???

    The best decision is an informed one. Give someone the facts, give them the ability to think for themselves

    There is much left/more to be desired and our youth are at stake. because they may have been given lots of facts, but no clear encouraged direction (ideal) to “think [about] for themselves” with the current program!

    very clear about the consequences is enough to help them make the best decision.

    Sure we might be clear of the consequences, but why not the choices??? And more importantly, why not encourage the ones that are truly in their *BEST* interest, i.e. wait until marriage, rather than the ones politically motivated?? You agreed that sex is risky. Like driving, drinking, smoking and the like, we do not encourage those things until a certain age. Certainly grade school / (pre)menstruation is what/when you are advocating. Or is it? Because that is what the program/group/agenda you are defending is advocating!

    But again Sault, you are missing (actually avoiding) the BIG issue! Or might I say, more accurately, you are still throwing out those “red herrings”!!!!

    I am NOT against sex ed programs per se, as they are very important! It is the HOMOSEXUAL PUSH in said programs and the rest of the curriculum that I have issue with!

    Why must gay lifestyle choices be presented as normal, natural and then encouraged to …children??? And why must this be interjected into every facet in the (grade) schools?

  77. Tom Gilson says:

    Quick response, Alex:

    It’s very early in the morning here and I’m just glancing over things. I’m not going to try to respond to your post this morning, because on a glance it looks to me like the most thoughtful and thought-inducing thing I’ve seen here in a long time from someone who is challenging my beliefs. It’s going to take some time to think this through. I want to thank you for that.

    Hausdorff has been doing some interesting stuff, too. There is some real potential for good discussion here.

    Sault and d, I’d love to see you take on the challenges I gave both of you yesterday. I think you probably know which ones.

  78. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Alex Dawson:

    Supposing these natures exist, to me I do not see it as obvious that any certain word is equivalent to a nature of something. The concept of the nature of something seems abstract in my mind, something which makes the word attributed to it somewhat arbitrary. Although it is clear in one’s own mind that the word you speak reflects the concept in your mind, it is (although often a very good one) merely an inference that the concept which the word relates to in another’s mind is indeed the same one.

    You are a tad bit confused. Let us take the concept denoted by “dog”. The word by itself, that is the sequence of three tokens “d”, “o”, “g” means nothing; by convention we associate to the concept of dog, that is, not to this or that dog in particular, but to the universal dog-ness. Now this concept exists in our mind; but according to the AT essentialist view, the universal denoted by “dog” abstracted from our sense experience does exist in reality, although not as Plato envisioned in a third realm, but as a Form inhering in the several particular dogs. It is because the intellect grasps the Form inhering in the particulars that we can know what we know; the Form of dog as universal, in the intellect in its own mode of being, is that by which we come to know what dogs are.

    This leads us to an extremely important distinction: that of nominal definitions and real definitions. For the current purposes, it is the latter that matters to us: a real definition tries to capture the what-ness of the thing we are contemplating in the intellect. The word, sign, ideogram or whatever we attach to it, is unimportant, what matters is the thing and its real nature or essence. As I have already repeated several times, knowledge follows being, epistemology follows ontology.

    note: there are some unargued statements above. For now, I am just trying to convey the AT viewpoint and dispelling confusions not give a step by step, rigorous construction of the whole edifice — for which I am not competent anyway.

    It is in this sense I would probably contest the meaning of marriage. In some sense your answer to “what is marriage?” is somewhat arbitrary. Sure, it refers to the nature of a certain kind of relationship between people. However, the concept (/kind of relationship) which I associate with the word marriage I personally feel is distinct in nature to the one of which you speak.

    You are using the word “arbitrary” equivocally; associating the series of tokens “dog” to the concept of dog is indeed arbitrary; we could instead choose “fnargle” or “cat” in a whimsical fancy; but there is nothing arbitrary in my *real definition* of marriage. It is you who on the other are arbitrary, and you admit as much when you say “However, the concept which I associate with the word marriage I personally feel is distinct in nature to the one of which you speak”. Yes, of course you can call marriage to other relations, but that is not the point, the point is what is the *essence of marriage*.

    If you deny that marriage has essence, then any and every relationship can be called marriage, it is just a matter of convention and social usefulness. But then do not complain if friends want to be married to obtain the fiscal advantages of marriage, that a man wants to marry his dog because he judges his love for his dog no less inferior to other kinds of love, if seven men and five women want to call their association marriage and have it sanctified by the state, because marriage has no real essence and who are you to deny that their mutual love is any less than the purely subjective idea you hold in your mind? And you cannot appeal to any supposed essence of marriage (like a “commitment to love”) because you have just denied that marriage has any essence.

    Since I assume this is not what you want, it is up to us to try and get at the essence of marriage. What sort of evidence is to be marshaled? Well, biological, social and historical data certainly does, as well as philosophical reasoning of the kind we are using here.

  79. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Alex Dawson (continued):

    Let us start with your definition (3) which is and I quote:

    The relationship between those in a committed relationship of “love” [along the lines of my previous definition]

    I am sorry, but you have not addressed any of my objections to the effect that this is a completely subjective definition, and thus cannot be a *real definition* of anything. I can expand on them if you want me too, but you will find some of them in the post above and in posts #37 and #43. Whatever way you dice it, your definition has nothing solid or real to base itself and instead is propped up by a purposive ambiguity of such words as “commitment” and “love”. The irony is that current divorce rates make the word “commitment” nothing more than a sham; of the second I will not talk about because as I said before it all hinges on what one means by love, that is, it ends up being a purely subjective idea. There are many couples who are “not in love” in the way you understand it, but they do not stop being a married couple because of that (although one could say that they do not live up to the ideal of marriage, but that is another concern altogether) and there are couples who are “in love” and are not married — thus it follows, that being in love, or even committed to being in love (if sense can be made out of that) cannot be identified with being married. And remember what we are trying to get at: the essence of marriage, not friendship, not blood-relations, not even being-in-love.

    In such a case, even if one objects to homosexual sexual relations, it seems to me that the most one can argue for is that those in a gay marriage ought to be celibate.

    I have skipped some parts of your post because I have addressed them already above (or so I think; any doubts just vocalize them), but you have stumbled on an extremely important point. It is the teaching of Christianity that homosexual desire is disordered for reasons that should by now be obvious. *If* a men or woman however, does have such desires, then it is the teaching of Christianity that he must stay celibate (he can also marry of course, but this legitimate choice also raises other questions of its own). Now, why does your suggestion not work? Because it is the potential possibility (sorry for the redundance) of fruitful sexual relationships that distinguishes marriage from say friendship. If you forget this fundamental component as you seem to want to, then there is no discernible difference with friendship (with some sex on the side just for “fun”), and you have not grasped the *real nature* of marriage.

    To put across my understanding (under natural law), the primary end of sex is the creation of life/rearing of children, the unitive aspect a secondary end. Homosexual relations are thus not fulfilling the primary end, and are not good. The problem I see is that directly contrary to and not fulfilling are not synonymous. Homosexual relations in no way destroy life, or damage some child’s growth, they do not fulfil the opposite of the end, so I don’t see how they can be described as being directly contrary to them.

    As I said the unitive aspect is also subordinate to the primary end of sex: to have babies. The bonding experienced by couples who have sexual relationships was put there by Mother Nature (sorry for the anthropomorphism) precisely to encourage the couple to stay together and mate for life so as to provide a stable home for children who need a long time rearing (in all senses of the word, including spiritual and emotional). As far as your argument goes, how can homosexual relationships not be directly contrary to the primary end of sex if the primary end is to have babies and homosexual relations cannot have as a result new life, not even in principle? That your argument is absurd is seen by the fact that it applies equally well to *all* sorts of sexual “relations” from masturbation to bestiality — and you are again in the same hole as before.

  80. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Alex (continued, part 2):

    Suppose there is a couple (not yet married), who upon testing find out that the man is fertile, but the woman infertile. Is there an obligation with the man with respect to natural ends to leave his partner and find a fertile woman? To me this situation seems equivalent to that of a man in a homosexual relationship. The man in each case can have sex with his partner (infertile female or man) and fulfil unitive ends, but not life-creating ends. It seems to me under such a description that either they both are in the wrong, or neither of them are. And again, I don’t particularly imagine many people would argue that the man is wrong to stay in the relationship with the infertile woman.

    First, as I said above, the unitive aspect is there *because* sex is to have babies. If no babies came out of sex, there would be no unitive aspect attached to it. Second, your analogy does not apply because of what I said earlier: the capacity to give birth is in potency in the infertile couple. It is not actualized because of a series of circumstances outside the control of the couple. This is not the case with the homosexual couple: the capacity is not there, not even in potency (and here I would have to go into another metaphysical detour and show that potency is not simply privation or absence, but a *reality* between nothing and actuality — let us leave that for another occasion). Anyway, that the infertility issue is a red herring can be seen by the case of polygamy: there is no infertility problem, at least, not in principle, but are you going to argue that any combination of men and women can join together and call their relationship (which *can* include a whole lotta luv) marriage?

    Surely to “substantiate consent” one must prove consent, not merely disprove non-consent. I certainly know of no such way to prove an animal consents to a marriage, let alone anything else.

    So your first move is to deny that marriage has an essence and then redefine it in an ad hoc way to include homosexual relations (and just those) and for that you invoke that one must have substantial consent of both parties — on what grounds do you do that? Say a man wants to marry his dog. He loves his dog (not the kind of love you associate marriage with, but tough luck, marriage has no essence and is not tied to biological realities according to your view) and the dog loves him. One can intelligibly understand what it means for a child to withhold consent, because a child is a human being and thus a rational animal, it just has not matured to fully grasp the consequences of marrying — thus the legal statutes in place that forbid marriage with children. The same does not apply to dogs or animals or inanimate objects. It would be ridiculous to say that a man kidnapped a dog or a lamp and married it against the will of the dog or lamp, because animals and objects do not have Free Will in the relevant sense. This is just to say, that if tomorrow an association of dog lovers start to push for marriage with dogs, what are you going to say in response? Offer your subjective definition of love? That dogs cannot give consent in the *sense* of consent you intend? So what, will the dog-lover respond, I am not bound by your ad hoc, arbitrary rules.

    Sorry for the long response; I tried to address everything, but if something was left unanswered feel free to object.

  81. Tom Gilson says:

    Thanks, G., Rodrigues. I’m glad I didn’t try to answer earlier this morning, I wouldn’t have covered it nearly as well.

  82. Victoria says:

    I have just one question, directed to those within the Christian community: On what Biblically sound and convincing grounds can same-sex relationships be justified? For example, how does one get around Genesis 1:27-28 and Genesis 2:23-24 as describing God’s design ideal and intent for human family relationships ( male + female ), to say nothing of the rather obvious witness of human male & female biological complementarity?

    I ask, because I have friends in the LGT community, and I am deeply sympathetic to their situation, and I don’t want to see them mistreated or denied the same rights, freedoms and privileges [and subject to the same responsibilities] as equal citizens living in a 21st century Western democracy. I don`t condemn or pass judgement, but at the same time I cannot simply see how there is any Biblical warrant to claim that same-sex (intimate) relationships are within the scope of God`s design for human sexuality, even allowing for the effects of the Fall.

  83. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Victoria:

    There are no Biblical sound grounds to justify same-sex relationships. None. And you forgot St. Paul, the condemnations of the Law (which cannot be dismissed because they are *moral precepts* on par with the condemnation of adultery), etc.

  84. Victoria says:

    “G. Rodrigues:
    Yeah, I concur. My question was more for those within the Christian community who think that there are grounds, as in http://www.gaychristian101.com, for example.

  85. SteveK says:

    G. Rodrigues,

    (and here I would have to go into another metaphysical detour and show that potency is not simply privation or absence, but a *reality* between nothing and actuality — let us leave that for another occasion)

    I would be interested in hearing about this if you ever get the time. I really get a lot out of your posts.

  86. kirk says:

    Sault,
    I am looking at this again, and I still think that you are using the same justification for, in the previous post, and against in the latter.

    Since we know that they don’t work, let’s go with the next best thing – teach our kids how to have the safest sex that they possibly can, even while we urge them to wait as long as possible and to be as picky as possible, at that.

    You are right. Kids will speed. (And with said logic) “let’s go with the next best thing -teach our kids how to…” via a driving course????

    You misunderstood me, somehow. You said that since some sex acts can hurt us, that we should discourage children from learning anything about them. Well, since cars kill us more than sex acts do, we should discourage children from driving, too. That is the logical extension of your argument – protect the children.

    But WE DO EXACTLY THAT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Forget just suggesting, they must WAIT until they are 16 (or so)! But Heaven forbid I suggest that to the children about sex!

    So teaching someone about sex and the risks involved is actually encouraging it?

    Without discouraging it, YES! Remember that is now no longer value neutral. And more than that, wouldn’t it be (miss)labeled as “hate speech”???

    ‘Now class, these are all the words to describe people in the gay community….”

    Wouldn’t you hope expect that some terms were, at least, strongly discouraged?

  87. kirk says:

    P.S. Why must kids wait until they are 16? Because it is in their best interest!
    Similarly with smoking and drinking. One is allowed to discourage those without being a labeled a “hater” or a “smoker-aphobe” or a “drink-aphobe”…
    …and don’t we expect the schools to likewise discourage those things?

  88. G. Rodrigues says:

    @SteveK:

    and here I would have to go into another metaphysical detour and show that potency is not simply privation or absence, but a *reality* between nothing and actuality — let us leave that for another occasion

    I would be interested in hearing about this if you ever get the time.

    The best available online explanation I know of can be found in Reality — A Synthesis Of Thomistic Thought by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange (warning: not an easy read). If you jump to Chapter 5, the first section “Article One: Potency Really Distinct From Act” deals with the response from Aristotle to the arguments by Parmenides and Heraclitus: the former denied change while the latter affirmed that change is the only thing there is, thereby denying that non-contradiction is a law of being.

    Aristotle rejected both conclusions as plain non-sensical, but he also saw that there was a real challenge posed by the two Greek philosophers that needed to be met. He starts by rejecting Heraclitus by maintaining that non-contradiction is indeed a law of thought, but even more importantly, it is a law of being (to repeat myself for the umpteenth time: thought follows being). That of which we say it is, cannot be and not-be at the same time (in the logical sense) and in the same aspect. But to respond to Parmenides, Aristotle had to find an account of change that circumvented the objection of Parmenides: if being undergoes change, then it must come or come to be into something that it was not (otherwise it is not change) but what is not being is nothing and from nothing, nothing comes, so change does not exist. Aristotle was then led to the distinction between potency and act to make change and multiplicity within unity intelligible: what is actual can undergo change and become something else, because there is in it a potency that that can be actualized in that something else. From this description, it is clear why potency is a reality; it clearly cannot be nothing, and thus it cannot be mere absence or privation, since from nothing nothing comes and the reality of potency underlies change and the coming to be. To quote from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange:

    The reality of potency is thus a necessary prerequisite if we are to harmonize the data of sense (e. g.: multiplicity and mutation) with the principle of contradiction or of identity, with the fundamental laws, that is, of reality and of thought. That which begins, since it cannot come either from actuality or from nothing, must come from a reality as yet undetermined, but determinable, from a subject that is transformable, as is the prime matter in all bodies, or as is second matter, in wood, say, or sand, or marble, or seed. In the works above cited St. Thomas gives explicit development to this conception of the Stagirite. Let us briefly note these clarifications.

    a) Potency, that which is determinable, transformable, is not mere nothing. “From nothing, nothing comes,” [155] said Parmenides. And this is true, even admitting creation ex nihilo, because creation is instantaneous, unpreceded by a process of becoming, [156] with which we are here concerned.

    b) Potency, the transformable, is not the mere negation of determined form, not the privation, in wood, say, of the statue form. For negation, privation, is in itself nothing, hence again “from nothing comes nothing.” Further, the privation of statue-form is found in gases and liquids, say, out of which the statue cannot be made.

    c) Potency, the determinable, out of which arises the statue, is not the essence of the wood, which makes wood to be actually wood. Neither is it the actual figure of the wood to be carved, because what already is is not in process of becoming. [157].

    d) Neither is potency identified with the imperfect figure of the statue that is in process of becoming, for that figure is imperfect actuality. The imperfect figure is not the determinable potency, but is already motion toward the statue to be.

    But now this determinableness, transformableness: what is it positively? What is this real, objective potency, presupposed to motion, to mutation, to transformation? It is a real capacity to receive a definite, determined form, the form, say, of the statue, a capacity which is not in air or water, but is in wood, or marble, or sand. This capacity to become a statue is the statue in potency.

    Hope it helps.

  89. SteveK says:

    Thank you, G Rodrigues, for that. Very helpful to know that it confirms some of the ideas I had in my head even though I do not understand it all.

    But to respond to Parmenides, Aristotle had to find an account of change that circumvented the objection of Parmenides: if being undergoes change, then it must come or come to be into something that it was not…

    I have a followup question about the change in being. We, as created beings, cannot be changed into the being of God so we know there are limits on what changes are possible.

    For example, we know a rational human being can produce a non-rational statue (being), but can the opposite occur – even in principle – why or why not?

    By way of metaphor/analogy, all I can think of is that potential energy can’t produce more energy that is available and likewise a non-rational statue doesn’t have within it the “potential energy” – because of what kind of being it is – to produce a rational being.

  90. G. Rodrigues says:

    @SteveK:

    I have a followup question about the change in being. We, as created beings, cannot be changed into the being of God so we know there are limits on what changes are possible.

    For example, we know a rational human being can produce a non-rational statue (being), but can the opposite occur – even in principle – why or why not?

    Let me see if I am understanding your question: you are asking if human beings (or more generally, the natural world and its various natural processes, human beings included) can produce other rational beings, correct? If that is the question, then the answer is no, not even in principle. One reason, but not the only one, is that the intellect is of necessity immaterial — although it may need, as it does in the case of human beings, a physical substrate, the brain. Natural physical processes cannot produce immaterial effects. That is why, whatever the views a Christian has on evolution, the appearance of the first human beings, indeed the appearance of any human being, needs a special creation act from God: in the AT jargon, the joining of (secondary) matter with the right potencies — e.g. a brain — with a rational soul, which is the substancial form of a human being.

    note: If I am reading it right, your intuition in the third paragraph (the one I have not quoted) is also sound; it goes by the name of the Principle of Proportionate Causality, which, very very roughly, says that a cause can only impart on its effect what it already has.

  91. SteveK says:

    …it goes by the name of the Principle of Proportionate Causality, which, very very roughly, says that a cause can only impart on its effect what it already has.

    This is what I was getting at. Not wanting to limit myself only to Christian theology in these discussions, I was looking for some strong philosophical argument – that most would consider acceptable/reasonable. Don’t know if this principle fits that description, but I will check it out. Thanks!

  92. Alex Dawson says:

    Sorry to pop up on an old board, but just to make clear I haven’t ran away from G. Rodrigues;

    I think I would need to more thoroughly study the AT view before I can offer more meaningful, constructive discussion. I’m quite aware I was offering a mish-mash of different ideas – I tried to frame my thoughts as clearly as I could, but perhaps they don’t fit neatly into any particular philosophical worldview. Perhaps I would contest some presuppositions of AT; I’m not entirely sure at this stage. I feel I’m just again reaching that point where I don’t thoroughly enough understand your position to either refute it or accept it!

    And unfortunately I don’t really have the time now to invest much in that, but I have absolutely noted it in terms of my list of things to get through! So perhaps if in future a similar discussion comes round I’ll raise some new ideas, but otherwise I’ll probably leave it at that on this thread for now!

  93. Mike says:

    I don’t see the problem with this program. There are a lot of reasons kids bully other kids. Most are well-known, well-explored and easy to respond to. Bullying a kid because they wear glasses, or are fat, or whatever is pretty basic stuff.

    On the other hand, orientation has become a bit of a hot button, with some school districts introducing ‘don’t say gay’ policies or allowing ‘gay conversion’ flyers to be distributed to students. The Anoka-Hennepin policies led to the suicide of some kids. That’s why orientation is now a big issue.

    There is a determined opposition to homosexuality, and to any move that seeks equality or fair treatment for LGBTI folk. This is creating an environment where some kids are being demonised and attacked.

    You ask why there’s not more concern for your daughter being bullied for her Christianity. No kid should be bullied, that’s a fair call. Maybe religious persecution will become the next hot button, maybe not. But being proactive on the education of one reason for bullying is not to deny that the others exist, it’s simply pursuing something that has been under-explored previously.

    If bullying because of orientation is a priority over bullying because of belief, which I don’t think it is, it may simply be because beliefs are adopted – they can change. Orientation is increasingly being seen as innate. Bullying over innate qualities versus bullying over adopted qualities – well, priority will often go to the innate quality. A right to a belief cannot trump another’s right to a life of dignity.

  94. kirk says:

    Mike,

    So when I tell your First grader that there is no Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, nor Tooth fairy, am I trumping your “right to a belief, or your right to a life of dignity?” …Or am I simply just in the wrong (for circumventing you as the parent and what you are teaching your kids)???

    As you mentioned, bullying has long been rampant (at schools), but why not treat the root cause and not only/just the symptoms!?!?! Next it may be the religious Now, it IS the religious, next it will be the …
    There have been many child suicides over the years! Clearly, Anoka-Hennepin had some major issues with their bullying policy, not their “gay bullying” policy! *That* is the real issue that everyone should get behind!

  95. Sault says:

    kirk –

    Text without rampant embellishment is a little easier to read…. so stop with the strikethroughs and bolds and extravagant punctuation already, k? It adds nothing to your words, and takes away from your credibility.

  96. Tom Gilson says:

    Actually I think the strikethrough communicated something significant.

  97. Sault says:

    What is clever and meaningful in isolation (a strikethrough) becomes gaudy and meaningless in a cloud of bolds and italics and capitalizations and excess punctuation.

    Sometimes less is more, and this is one of those times.

  98. Mike says:

    @ kirk

    Anoka-Hennepin’s policies were designed to sweep any bullying suffered by gay kids under the carpet. It deliberately and explicitly excluded those kids from any protection or discussion that would help them. Whatever your beliefs or lack thereof, it is manifestly unjust to do that.

    In what school context would teaching the non-existence of the tooth fairy or the easter bunny crop up? Seriously. Those examples are silly. When there is debate on the conflict between education and belief it is usually in very specific areas. Prayer in schools is not about denying belief, merely about preventing state preference for religious belief.

    The various hot buttons of homosexuality, evolution, climate change in education are all issues because of a clash between current understanding and the received wisdom of faith. If you choose to teach your kids that homosexuals are evil, that evolution is a myth, that climate change is a hoax, then no-one’s stopping you (unfortunately), but schools can only teach what is best understood from the best current understanding in each relevant field.

    Religious persecution is a red herring. If there is persecution in the US, as an example, on the grounds of religion it is demonstrably against non-Christians. When Christianity dominates law, society, governance, when states across the country are waging war on women because of highly conservative christian views it is facile to claim victimhood.

    If you want to entirely control every tidbit of knowledge that your kid is exposed to, then become one of those creepy Quiverfull home schoolers. If, however you want your kid to be their own person, then you will have to prepare yourself for a difference in opinion between you and your children.

  99. kirk says:

    @ mike

    “…prepare yourself for a difference in opinion between you and your children.”

    and there you have it. the true agenda of the machine!

    but you missed what i mentioned in previous posts above. it is in direct support of what you said…

    “…but schools can only teach what is best understood from the best current understanding in each relevant field.”

    (grade school) kids should NOT be encouraged to engage in sex acts, but should be strongly DIScouraged! just as it is (and as it should be) with driving, drinking, drugs, voting, and the like! ~ well voting might not be so dangerous to one’s health, but it is still discouraged/disallowed until they are “of age.”

    and why?
    because that is what is best “understood from the best current understanding!” but that is being trumped by the agenda machine …and directly in opposition to parents’ wishes!

    @ sault
    sorry about all the ‘spice’ in my posts. i use lower case for everything. it was something that i saw you ‘big boys’ using so i thought i should follow suit! 🙂
    thanks for the permission to stop! 😉

  100. Sault says:

    @kirk –

    Somehow you accepting my permission to stop seems to have a ring of sarcasm to it, but perhaps I’m just imagining things…

    Question : Can you simultaneously discourage a child from having sex while at the same time teaching them how to do it responsibly, if they so chose?

  101. kirk says:

    sault,

    no. i am glad to revert back to my ‘old way.’

    i just thought that my first few posts were visually harder to read at times (all CAPS and such)… but if you can hack all lower case and some caps, i’m cool with that. 🙂

    regarding your question… “teach yet still discourage….”

    in grade school?!?!? (said program starts in kinder!!!!)

    seriously???

    maybe jr. high school??

    again, seriously???

    i figure that it would work as well as teaching them ‘gun safety,’ or ‘how to juggle knives safely’… but “just don’t try this at home.”

    would it really shock anyone if the number of injuries – from said activities that were ‘discouraged’ – went up some, if not substantially?

    how about how to safely make bombs for kids, or playing with fire and NOT getting burned…

    if not elementary, when? jr./sr. high or …???

    but as mike just of ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ neither are the intent of the agenda machine… it is to change the children’s minds so parents will have to…

    “…prepare yourself for a difference in opinion between you and your children.”

  102. Sault says:

    Typing in lo-caps is no problem. Back in the day, that’s how I did it too. Drove some people nuts.

    I vaguely remember being taught sex ed in 6th grade, but I don’t think it was earlier. If you have evidence of this, please share, because I haven’t heard of any sex ed taught earlier than that.

    It’s interesting that you should bring up gun safety… education actually does make a difference. Knowing how to handle a gun safely and knowing the consequences of not doing so means that people are less likely to hurt themselves! The same goes for driver’s ed… knowing how to drive a car safely and understanding the consequences of not doing so means that a teen is more likely to do so (drive safely, that is).

    During this whole discussion, I have been presuming that these subjects are being taught to children/teens/people who are intellectually capable of understanding both how to do these things safely, and understanding the potential consequences of not doing so.

    By 10, 11, 12 (whatever it was) I was intellectually capable of knowing what sex was, knowing the consequences of doing it (both emotional and physical!), knowing how to do it as safely as one can, and being able to make the decision not to. Why should other children be any different?

    Why not give our children the benefit of the doubt, treat them like adults, give them the information, and let them make their own informed decision? You can’t “protect” them forever, so at what point do you make the decision to let them act like adults and accept the consequences of their decisions?

    Which is worse – teens knowing how to use a condom properly, or having no idea and thinking that Saran wrap would work because they heard it from one of their friends? (when it first came out, this was a common belief, because teens didn’t know better)

  103. kirk says:

    sault,

    you have GOT to get off this hamster wheel! you have great and VERY valid points! …BUT the axle of this wheel is very clearly, the advance of the gay agenda!

    my concerns and arguments always come back to the **cramming** of said agenda, and what is best for kids.

    i can’t help but feel that your rebuttals (and sometimes logic) are often like many of the government’s bills. they include so much other crap, that they are no longer really about what the bill was supposed to be (i.e. 2000 plus pages for healthcare for but one example).

    my friend, you have either 1.) been duped into supporting this agenda under false pretense OR 2.) you are *trying to* pull a bait-and-switch con, trying to get buy-in into said agenda with this flawed logic!!!

    this logic causes me to wonder… i almost get the feeling that you might be for a program that pushes for a complete embrace of all sorts of great things such as sex education, homosexuality and the like. – even if it also called for the direct incarceration or internment of certain groups of people …???

    sorry man, i will NEITHER 1. be duped into, nor 2. sold such an agenda!

    you said…

    Why not give our children the benefit of the doubt, treat them like adults, give them the information, and let them make their own informed decision? You can’t “protect” them forever, so at what point do you make the decision to let them act like adults and accept the consequences of their decisions?

    Which is worse – teens knowing how to use a condom properly, or having no idea and thinking that Saran wrap would work because they heard it from one of their friends? (when it first came out, this was a common belief, because teens didn’t know better)

    what the heck does ANY of that have to do with what the article was all about / the issue???

    … diversity related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression

    … behaving “enough” like a boy or “enough” like a girl.

    … representations of diverse families (such as those headed by same sex couples

    … A hetero-normative viewpoint is one that expresses heterosexuality as a given instead of being one of many possibilities

    … Write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions. For example, “Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta. If each costs $.75, how much will all three boxes cost? [this one is my favorite, as it is demonstrates the agenda’s true colors and the direct attack on our youth … and the church]

    … because there are two parents of the same gender,

    all for the above has VERY little to do with doing what is best for a child (or even sex ed for that matter!), but it is VERY clear in the intent!

    maybe the book “10,000 Dresses” or “My Princess Boy” better helps to address your concerns?!?!
    … or maybe … the agenda???

  104. Tom Gilson says:

    Good morning, kirk,

    Just a couple of thoughts. Which points are great and valid, and other than the broad category of his advancing the gay agenda, what’s wrong with them? And how did you come even to think of his being in favor of “direct incarceration of certain people”?

    What I mean is, your last comment expressed a lot of feeling, but you only hinted at making points, and one of them in particular (incarceration) just isn’t the kind of thing you hint at people about. Either you mean it and you explain it, or you don’t say it at all.

    Obviously this issue is upsetting, to you and to me both, but just to communicate “I’m upset” in different ways isn’t very persuasive or even very attractive. Could you speak to these things more substantively?

  105. Sault says:

    i can’t help but feel that your rebuttals (and sometimes logic) are often like many of the government’s bills. they include so much other crap, that they are no longer really about what the bill was supposed to be (i.e. 2000 plus pages for healthcare for but one example).

    Says the man who started talking about juggling knives?

    And since you brought up the subject, how about we talk pages of legislation?

    Clinton had a budget bill that ran 1,300 pages, Bush had a budget bill that ran 1,400 pages (source). It took Kenneth Starr over 400 pages to say that Clinton was messing around with an intern, for pete’s sake!

    That is how Washington DC works… they have their own language, their own methodology, and yes, by the way, legal documents like these are double-spaced with wide margins, so even a thousand pages is more like five hundred “normal” pages. As some have noted, there are Harry Potter books longer than that!

    my friend, you have either 1.) been duped into supporting this agenda under false pretense OR 2.) you are *trying to* pull a bait-and-switch con, trying to get buy-in into said agenda with this flawed logic!!!

    Kirk, do you watch Fox News? Because that would explain an awful lot… the belief that people are trying to turn children gay, that sex education is being taught to young children (you still haven’t shown any evidence of it!), and especially these last mutterings about “incarceration”… I mean, really? C’mon… really?

  106. kirk says:

    thank you tom for being that ‘sound of reason’ when needed.

    that may have been a little strong…
    the agenda is willing to sacrifice their own children for the cause. what and when is too high a price before those fighting for the agenda say “uhhhh, guys… isn’t that going just a little too far”?

    “i almost get the feeling” with this rhetoric and flawed logic, that allows one to throw his own children under the bus, why stop there? why not others, and why only under the bus? why not all those…
    “bigots”
    “haters”
    “hatemongers”
    “Evangelicals”
    “homophobes” and the like?

    though people are being incarcerated for their beliefs (about…against homosexuality) see below…

    after looking again at my post, the “interment” really does make it sound very nazi-ish. for that, i do apologize sault. maybe i should have stuck with just the ‘bus’…

    sault,

    ~
    knives and sex are *both* dangerous for kids to engage in!!! and should not be encouraged just as in the gay agenda shouldn’t be either! no one has the right to circumvent, insist and/or force their own personal beliefs on someone else’s children!

    ~
    all of those bloated bills? reprehensible!
    all of those bogus bills filled with pages of ear marks are reprehensible no mater which president allowed it!!!

    ~
    i don’t believe that there is a big push “to turn kids gay” as much as there is a push to impose a view (which is in direct conflict with their parents’) in an attempt to circumvent the parents solely with the intent to ‘normalize’ the gay behavior, seek acceptance/encouragement of it, and thus ending previously mentioned “bigoted ‘hatred’ of gays” within this generation.

    ~
    some evidence of sex ed to young children…
    …this was a great article!
    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=sex+ed+elementary&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#q=sex+ed+elementary&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&ei=p_NWT_23MIbLsQK1tIXNDQ&start=10&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=4b598d7e59b86ebf&biw=1024&bih=558

    http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/new-sex-ed-standards-for-suggested-for-elementary-schools/

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/14/montana-sex-education-proposal-draws-outrage-graders-learn-gay-sex/

    http://www.o-mama.com/articles/view/sex-ed-elementary-students-given-condoms

    http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/02/more_frank_talk_about_sex_plan.html

    shall i continue???

    ~
    there is incarceration, and it is already happening for those guilty of so-called ‘hate crimes!’

    http://culturecampaign.blogspot.com/2007/12/pastor-found-guilty-of-hate-crime.html

    http://www.wnd.com/2009/04/96595/

    “A Swedish pastor, name Ake Green, was put in jail for a month for preaching that homosexuality is a sin under the Swedish hate crimes law and Canadian and French legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. 3 “
    http://www.wpaag.org/Hate%20crime%20-%20Bible%20verses%20not%20exempt.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42DbjbTS19s&feature=related

    what is REALLY scary is that despite attempts to allow for religious (pastoral) protections, they have all been shot down! thus still further paves the way to lock up all who simply verbalize a belief, let alone speak out, against it!

  107. Sault says:

    Thanks for the clarification and apology. I think I understand where you’re coming from. Probably bears remembering that the Nazis weren’t the only ones who had camps, though – we did it to the Japanese-Americans in WWII. Pretty messed up no matter where it happens or against who…

    no one has the right to circumvent, insist and/or force their own personal beliefs on someone else’s children!

    I somewhat disagree, to the extent that children need to receive accurate and correct knowledge.

    all of those bloated bills? reprehensible!

    And you missed the point that I was trying to make. Tell you what – the next time someone sends you a credit card offer, look at the fine print, and see how many words it takes for them to say “we’ll loan you money at 15% APR”.

    i don’t believe that there is a big push “to turn kids gay” as much as there is a push to impose a view […] with the intent to ‘normalize’ the gay behavior, seek acceptance/encouragement of it

    Maybe I’m from a younger generation or we’re just in different spectrums here, but I don’t see being gay as a “threat” to me, to the institution of marriage, to the moral fabric of our society… any of it.

    Then again, I’m of the general principle that people (and the government) should mind their own business when it comes to what consenting adults do in the bedroom.

    If you don’t like gay marriage – don’t have it. If you don’t like gay sex – don’t do it. Always seemed pretty straightforward to me, even as a kid.

    Speaking of which….

    some evidence of sex ed to young children…

    You know, I thought this whole time that you were talking about what I consider to be young children – 0 to 6 or 7 years old. If you’re talking about 5th graders… what is that, around 9 or 10?

    If you think that your kid doesn’t have a pretty good idea what sex is by the time they turn 10, then you’ve got a very rude surprise in store for you. I figured it out by then, and that was before the internet!

    I vaguely remember sex ed around 6th grade, and that’s not a big deal to me. Most of us already knew what it was all about, and just snickered every time they said the names of various body parts.

    Free condoms? Sure, no problems. I would rather my child be having protected sex than unprotected. Again, if you think that children (yes, sadly some even as early as 12, if not younger!) aren’t having sex, then you’re in for a rude surprise. I’d rather give her a box of condoms and a good sex education then have her come home pregnant and crying, worrying about STD’s…

    The pastor who wrote that letter? What a joke.

    “Will your child be the next victim that tests homosexuality positive?”

    “Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.”

    “Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.”

    He’s scum. That last statement especially is full of hatred and bile, but overall the letter itself is a work of slander and demagoguery.

    After reading a brief overview, sure, he was fined, but remember that this is a Canadian case, and Canada has a different legal understanding on what “free speech” means.

    Quite frankly, I like their take on a lot of things. They won’t let Fox News into the country because they lie so pervasively. That alone makes me think that they’re on to something.

  108. kirk says:

    sault,

    YOU still have not addressed MY question.

    *why all this circumvention of the parents?*

    ?
    ?
    ?

    I somewhat disagree, to the extent that children need to receive accurate and correct knowledge.

    but is the homosexual lifestyle ‘normal’ if only 10% of the population are indeed gay? where is this ‘gay gene’ -the proof that one is born with it- that has been so earnestly searched for the past number of decades? what about the risks associated with gay sex??? (the % of gay men with stds are through the roof in comparison to other subgroups.)
    but way are these details ‘conviently’ left out???
    i MIGHT be able to run with your quote above IF it included “COMPLETE INFORMATION”! anything less is much more than a ‘disservice’ to our children – our nation’s youth!

    Free condoms? Sure, no problems. I would rather my child be having protected sex than unprotected.

    there are two things sault, my friend…
    1.
    i agree with you that we need to do something as children ARE having sex! the problem is that we are only providing half of the information. ‘kids, here are some matches and some gasoline, but don’t do this at home… or go ask your parents with any questions.” clearly, that would not be appropriate, but is it all that different than what we are doing in the schools?

    why are we not teaching kids that condoms are only “98% effective”… against a disease that is 100% fatal! (specifically as it is not in our curriculum nor am i allowed to deviate from said script.)
    IF we take the effectiveness as stated on the box (but we all now that there is improper usage, leakage, AND breakage!!!), that 2 out of every 100 encounters are not going to be good!

    sault, there are 2 things that i would like you to address….
    . . . 1.a.) if you were a sky jumper and your chute was only 98% effective, would you still jump? and if so, how many jumps would you take? …5 or 10? …98 or 100??? …200 or more???
    . . . 1.b.) if your partner (or your child’s) was known to have hiv, what advice would you provide? would you still provide those condoms? … just use two??? (i really am asking/wondering!) …would you want the SCHOOL to be providing them?

    2.)
    does said logic work with drugs?
    why or why not???

    surely you would not a teacher to say “we know that (almost) all of you are going to at least ‘try’ pot, and maybe half of you are going to ‘shoot up’ some time, so this is how you should do it? … AND it is ok/normal”????
    or
    would you similarly provide clean needles and a ‘safe’ supply of drugs?

    and yes, i am aware of kids and sex!
    i had a colleague almost 15 years back, who taught a student who was pregnant at the age of 12! i also had another colleague who was a GRANDmother at 31!

    but just like w/drugs, is it really safest, and in their best interest to tell them ALL about (gay) sex without strongly DISdiscouraging engaging in any sexual activity?

    but…
    it goes MUCH deeper than that!

    GLSEN has promoted resources and activities for students that basically transform kids into lobbyists for adult, homosexual activist causes.

    GLSEN sponsors more than 4,000 Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) clubs in middle and high schools.
    GLSEN publishes GSA-action manuals for students that among other things urge them to:
    Combat “transphobia,” defined as “Forcing people to select ‘female’ or ‘male’ on forms … Having the sex one was assigned at birth printed on one’s driver’s license …”
    Have a group discussion about discrimination against transgenderism, featuring questions such as, “What do your genitals look like?” and “How do you have sex?” (GLSEN Jump Start Guide, Part 7)
    Use “tactics that include circulating petitions” to revise “school policies”; “working with teachers to develop lesson plans on LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] history; organizing a coalition of allies.” (GLSEN Jump Start Guide, Part 1)
    Another “tactic could be researching LGBT advocacy groups in your community in order to find someone who would be available to lead a workshop at your school,” (GLSEN, Jump Start Guide-Part 2).

    https://www.truetolerance.org/2011/what-parents-should-know-about-glsen/

    Canada has a different legal understanding on what “free speech” means.

    but (in the usa)…
    – we are still not allowed to even have a view that is less than uplifting of homosexuality! ~ if so, we are ‘haters,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘homophobes,’ …shall i go on?
    -we MUST provide gay services.
    -we are SUED if we don’t want our church used for a gay wedding.
    -we LOOSE our jobs if we post a less-than-affirming view of homosexuality on facebook.
    -we are KICKED OUT of our field of study/employment if one simply, politely, and respectfully refers a gay person to another for services.

    so you are quite right sault, canada is different! i am just not sure which is better if one ‘simply, does not want their children taught that said lifestyle is fine, acceptable, normal,

    so you are right! canada IS different. in the us, we are not even allowed to have an opinion (against the gay lifestyle)!

    but again, it is NOT about protecting our youth though…
    http://fota.cdnetworks.net/truetolerance/p9_June_Jul_Citizen_10_antibullying.pdf

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

    http://www.worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=4977

  109. Tom Gilson says:

    kirk,

    I don’t have time this morning to look up the references, but far less than 10% of the population is gay. That 10% number was based on invalid research (a very non-representative sample). Better research methods consistently come in with figures between about 1.5% and 2%.

  110. Sault says:

    *why all this circumvention of the parents?*

    Some parents need to be circumvented. Just because you can reproduce does not make you qualified to dispense good information and raise a child well. This is where school comes in – the state etc takes on the social responsibility of providing our children with a good education.

    Some parents do not have the ability to provide a good education – and often this is due to simply a lack of time (we all have to work, right?).

    Sometimes, however, parents lack the ability to teach well, or can’t teach effectively. A parent who has English as a second language, for instance, or a parent who can’t do advanced math, or a parent who doesn’t understand science, or a parent who has religious convictions so extreme that they would hinder a child’s ability to function well in society.

    but is the homosexual lifestyle ‘normal’ if only 10% of the population are indeed gay? where is this ‘gay gene’ [..] what about the risks associated with gay sex??? […] but way are these details ‘conviently’ left out???

    As Tom noted, less than 10% of the population is homosexual. That makes them even more of a minority, and part of our obligation is to protect the rights of minorities, especially when they’re being target by the majority. Whether the gay gene exists or not (I don’t know) I don’t see it as relevant – It is what it is, they are what they are. I don’t know about you, but the dangers of AIDS were emphasized repeatedly to me growing up, including the fact that homosexual sex was much more risky.

    why are we not teaching kids that condoms are only “98% effective”… against a disease that is 100% fatal!

    Because its the truth. There is a danger in having sex, and that does need to be emphasized. As, I believe, it is.

    1.a.) if you were a sky jumper and your chute was only 98% effective, would you still jump?

    Sure. As long as I am properly trained on how to properly prepare a parachute, and as long as I understand the risks involved, then why would I keep a 2% risk from stopping me? Everything we do has risk involved – walking on the sidewalk, eating red meat, even breathing sometimes. Hasn’t stopped me yet. How about mountain hiking in the snow? Very real danger. Sure, I’d do that too, as long as I was properly prepared, trained, and understood the risks that I was taking.

    . . . 1.b.) if your partner (or your child’s) was known to have hiv, what advice would you provide? would you still provide those condoms? … just use two??? (i really am asking/wondering!) …would you want the SCHOOL to be providing them?

    That’s a very good question, actually. I can’t be 100% certain, because I’ve never been in that situation. A friend of mine just found out that his girlfriend has brain cancer. What do you do in that situation?

    Condoms lower the risk of infection, and if I or my child or anyone really, understands the consequences involved, then how can I stop them? Why should I stop them? I can’t keep my child in a bubble… at some point I have to let her make her own decisions and face the consequences of them. That’s what it means to be an adult.

    We treat our children as children for too long. At some point you have to treat them as adults. That point will vary from child to child, but that is a fact of life.

    Yes, I do think that schools should provide condoms, although I would want to make sure that they (the kids) understood the potential consequences of sexual activity first.

    2.)
    does said logic work with drugs?
    why or why not???

    Well, I don’t think that schools are properly equipped to deal with a needle exchange program (handling biowaste requires specific medical training and certification), but I don’t see a reason why kids shouldn’t be educated about drugs, too, especially regarding the potential consequences.

    Man, I always thought of my childhood education as kinda crappy, but in high school even we had a police officer come in with a tray of real drugs and pass it around so we would know what they all looked like, and taught us about the dangers of each. By then, sadly, many of the students had already started. Drug education apparently should start much earlier than that…

    I would like children to be taught about addiction, especially. As a recovering alcoholic, I think that education is a very important tool, and something that not every child will otherwise receive.

    You can’t make a good choice without knowing the facts. This is a principle that extends to all aspects of life: buying a car, gardening, choosing a school, buying work boots, voting, and even whether to believe in God.

    Ever see the movie Reefer Madness? I couldn’t take it seriously, because by then I knew that it was full of crap, completely inaccurate in its portrayal. With that knowledge, how could I take any of it seriously, take any significant moral lesson from it?

    Eventually a child will realize that propaganda is propaganda – a pack of half-truths and lives and bias and distortion. Once they realize this, they are very likely to become disillusioned and lose trust. You earn trust through honesty, not through even well-meaning lies and half-truths.

    truetolerance

    I don’t regard as valid statements that originate from a known hate group.

    -we are KICKED OUT of our field of study/employment if one simply, politely, and respectfully refers a gay person to another for services.

    If said service is legally obligated, ie if a person’s status is protected (handicap, race, sexual orientation, etc) then you don’t get a choice whether to deny service or not. Without regard to how polite you do it, you are still breaking the law.

    I’m not going to comment on your other assertions in that vein unless you provide specific references.

    in the us, we are not even allowed to have an opinion (against the gay lifestyle)!

    It is not your opinion, but your actions that matter. Sometimes, in some contexts, even stating your opinion can be classified as hate speech.

  111. Sault says:

    I can summarize at least part of my position this way –

    1. It is better to have the facts than not.
    2. It is better to know the consequences than not.
    3. Truth is better than propaganda, ideology, bias, distortion, half-truths, and even well-meaning lies.
    4. You cannot keep someone from making bad decisions.
    5. Sufficient and factually true knowledge enables more responsible decisions.
    6. Just telling someone to say “no” doesn’t work.
    7. You can provide resources to help prevent the most terrible of the consequences of bad decisions.

    So… give kids the correct information, don’t lie to them or try to scare them with hyperbole or propaganda or ideology etc, and if nothing else fails, as a last resort at least give them the ability to try and dodge the worst consequences of their actions.

    If we’re talking sex, that means proper sex ed, condoms, and never “abstinence-only”.

    If you don’t like teens having abortions or STDs or AIDS, then what I’ve outlined is the best way to minimize those occurrences (education + contraceptives).

  112. kirk says:

    you said that you would still parachute with a 98% safe chute. well, at what age do you think that children should be allowed/encouraged to participate with said odds? it is LAW that we have them buckled in the car, and those odds are MUCH better than 98%!
    … and that is not to mention improper usage, leakage and/or breakage!
    what age is a responsible age again ~ that adults/educators should be encouraging said activities???

    Well, I don’t think that schools are properly equipped to deal with a needle exchange program”

    but if they were… or
    nothing that a few tax dollars can’t fix!
    … then, WHY NOT?!?!? Is that right?

    then you don’t get a choice whether to deny service or not.

    it was NOT denied! they were referred to someone else!!! there is a BIG difference!!! and that IS the difference!

    I’m not going to comment on your other assertions in that vein unless you provide specific references.

    eharmony.
    is another lawsuit justified for/by any of the other 30 recognized sexual orientations??? it was a service that simply was NOT offered just as i am sure neither was a marrieds extramarital hookup section. is that another lawsuit waiting to happen?
    or… could/should a gay print shop owner be sued for declining to print Westboro’s hateful signs???

    It is not your opinion, but your actions that matter. Sometimes, in some contexts, even stating your opinion can be classified as hate speech.

    how would you suggest one express that they don’t believe in said practices for these reasons…??? not being able to simply express an opinion or face ‘hate speech’ is a bit much, don’t you think? what would the other side have to say for them to be guilty of ‘hate speech’???

    1. It is better to have the facts than not.
    but why not all the facts??? why gloss over / avoid the risks, and why not encourage and promote the best … ONLY way to avoid said risks?

    2. It is better to know the consequences than not.
    but the consequences are not just being left out, but suppressed!!!

    3. Truth is better than propaganda, ideology, bias, distortion, half-truths, and even well-meaning lies.

    i agree! and that is what many feel that is what the agenda is doing… lying to our youth!
    i have a colleague who has a friend who is gay. her partner left her abusive husband. the well ‘meaning lie’ is “that is ok” rather than “what he did was wrong and let us help you work through that.” she would be a much stronger person being able to work through that rather than society brushing said abuse under the carpet!

    4. You cannot keep someone from making bad decisions.

    so don’t do anything to help them avoid them? but suggest ‘safer ways’ of doing them??? again handing out needles… or maybe 3-point harnesses and roll cages??

    5. Sufficient and factually true knowledge enables more responsible decisions.

    i agree. but NEITHER are in the agenda’s program! (i.e. specifically and intentionally lacking the consequences and that it is “completely fine and normal!”)

    6. Just telling someone to say “no” doesn’t work.

    right! one must show/explain the ‘why’! ~ but the schools are not allowed to explain why!

    7. You can provide resources to help prevent the most terrible of the consequences of bad decisions.
    like abortion does for unplanned pregnancy??? i.e. obama’s daughters paying for a “mistake”… forget adoption!?!?

  113. kirk says:

    how about tattoos? might that be a more similar/better example?

    they are something that are usually “there for life.”

    though not an issue at all (no discrimination or ‘hate-mongering), don’t we as a society,discourage kids from having them for ‘their own good?’

    there are many young people who get them and i have seen some homemade tattoos too. is this something that we should look into teaching and providing ‘clean supplies’ for too …’because some (many) are going to do it anyway’???

  114. kirk says:

    Sault,

    Let me answer what I believe the REAL reason for all the circumvention. (And I am sorry if this less eloquent than desired by all parties.)

    Please tell me how far off base I am in observations / perceptions. IF I am indeed off anywhere.

    The only way these prejudices will cease, and the discrimination … the “hate” will stop, is if the minds of our youth can be hijacked and filled with the necessary (miss)information/justification for another’s/such lifestyle choices. Once accomplished on a wide scale, this so-called “hate” will naturally die out within a generation!

    How long does the whole group of drinking buddies continue to hang out if one or two stop drinking all of a sudden? The drinkers, all of a sudden become very aware, and awkwardly so, of their drinking when the nondrinkers are around. This awareness becomes so uncomfortable that the group/friends start to pull and drift apart. There is a lot of validity to the saying “misery loves company.” The one who ‘talks like a sailor’ likewise, has their attention drawn to their behavior. I can only imagine that this ‘awareness’ must be compounded exponentially for those in the LGBT community! (And that is not to mention those stuck within earshot or sight of Westboro Baptist Church.)

    We are entitled to our prejudices (which is simply a belief or opinion), it becomes discrimination when we act based on said beliefs/opinions/prejudices). This is not a bad thing because one “discriminates” each time they put on these clothes over those, or eats at this restaurant instead of that one. This is not naturally ‘offensive’ in and of itself. When Christians “discriminate” against certain lifestyle choices, they are called “haters.” As it is simply a belief, just as is that there is a ‘gay gene’ causing said lifestyle. Unfortunately, name calling is the only thing that the ‘machine’ can do because it ‘sounds better’ (because of the lack of support whereas the Bible ‘supports’ the Christians) and it does more to further their agenda, as no one wants to be labeled a “hater.”

    Actually though, this is a great tactic and another major red herring, as now the Christian is distracted and left trying to explain/show/prove that they are indeed not as accused.
    Christians have actually been forewarned of this long ago in Isaiah 5:20!

    The agenda machine knows that the only way to achieve true tolerance … acceptance, and eventually/finally endorsement, embrace and praise of said lifestyle choices, is to (over)expose people (and specifically our youth) to the lifestyle and make it seem “normal.” Once normalized, then this utter “hatred” by the Church, can be squashed through the court system. This has already started with all of the gay characters on TV, in the music and in the movies. (I challenge you to find almost *any* primetime show without at least one ‘token’ gay character! I am frustrated still further, that even more so, MANY a cartoon has similarly followed suit!) It does *not* stop their either! The plethora of lawsuits against, and required sanctions imposed upon, adoptions agencies, professionals (counselors, fertility doctors and the like), businesses (such as eHarmony of late), and even sanctions against churches! How’s that for “Separation of Church and State”!?!?! There was even a denomination that recently split over this very issue the past few years or so! The machine is winning… The machine is very effective!

    So as you can see, it is only through the nation’s children that such beliefs (personal/religious prejudices or otherwise) can be **need** to be” eradicated, and only then will true/total acceptance of the “homosexual lifestyle” can be achieved, and eventually be seen as “normal,” or at least as ‘normal.’

    Am I off, or am I WAY off?

  115. kirk says:

    Sault,

    I will admit. I am a hypocrite! Everyone in each and every Church are similarly so, least they deceive themselves!

    This might be a good placed to thank Tom again for being ‘that voice of reason,’ calling attention to my words, and lovingly encouraging me to be more aware of, and intentional with those words.
    Thanks again Tom!

    “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” does not mean accept, embrace, and encourage ones’ sin.

    Jesus continued, “Go and sin no more.”
    Can that be said to you in love and/or without being a ‘hatemongering/hateful bigot’???

    In this story it is clear that Jesus did not condone the adultery but expected the woman to turn away from her sin as she had been given another chance. Her repentance was expected, just as we are expected to repent when we do wrong.”

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/To_whom_did_Jesus_say_go_and_sin_no_more

    That is where some Churches are failing God’s people …and our communities! Other Churches are not just “casting the first stone” but throwing a lot of boulders! But we are ALL fallen! Can any church that does not lead/encourage one *from* their sin, be leading one to Heaven? Be it sexual (gay/hetero), murder, stealing, or otherwise? On the opposite extreme, other churches are saying to the effect of ‘if that is OK for you, then it is OK for us’ and every keeps doing whatever they want! Likewise, is that heaven bound advise?

    (Would/should today’s church accept, embrace, and promote those who are sleeping around with everyone’s spouses in and within the church?)
    Jesus came and spent time, ate, and loved the worst of outcasts of His time. I find it hard to believe that it would be any different now with those in the gay community if He was to come today! It would likely make for good reality TV to catch on tape Jesus walking up to, and confronting the Westboro picketers!

    So, ALL of us should search for a Church of loving and accepting hypocrites … loving and accepting of US as the sinners we are,
    … but not accepting of the sins we have done, and
    … but not accepting of the sins that we are currently struggling with, and
    … but not accepting of the sins we will struggle with.

    And RUN from any Church (as with any true “hate” group), who believe that they are ‘without sin,’ at least enough to condemn another sinner!

    So…

    Sault, contrary to some extremist ‘religious’ groups, we…

    (i.e. Christians, minus the extremist Christian(-hate) groups – the ones picketing with very hateful signs!
    … and on a side note …
    Though I am White, am I glad that you have not similarly lumped me in with all of those hateful “White Supremacists”…)

    … we Christians DO accept you as “normal!” We *all* have our vise and, each and every one of us, are fallen! “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.” Galatians 5:19-21

    … and most of those were in the Church even just this past week!

    Though many (heterosexual) in the Church have chosen to NOT remain celibate until marriage, they are still guilty of fornication! (And most churches similarly DO preach against that too! Does that mean that they ‘hate’ them as well?) …which similarly separates them from God. Jesus even said that anyone who just looks at a woman lustfully is guilty of adultery! That is quite something, especially for the 70-80% of the men in the pews just last week who also looked at porn online! But that still does not take away from the fact that porn degrades and objectifies women does it? And I would hope and trust that you, I, our community, and …our children’s schools, would speak against and discourage it!

    But despite, and regardless of our short comings (and we *all* have them!), God has offered us a way to ‘come clean,’ and be clean before Him. His Son died for ALL our sins! All we have to do is accept his sacrifice and confess our sins! There are many denominations who believe that Christ died for them, but they still must do something to enter into heaven ~ works, give money, repeat a repetitious prayer/chant, achieve inner peace / nirvana, or otherwise. These all take away from the need (and finality) of Christ’s sacrifice and can turn into legalism. On the other hand, there are religions that discount the need of the Sacrificial Lamb altogether and it ends up liberalism. Read the 6 short chapters of Galatians.

    I know some of you will greatly enjoy the philosophical discussion on
    “The Two thieves of the Gospel”
    ~Legalism=under-realized eschatology/Liberalism=over-realized eschatology, on one of the links below. ☺

    http://www.pfc.us/downloads/gospel/documents/GD-2.pdf

    http://gospelcentric.org/2011/03/14/the-two-thieves-of-the-gospel/

    Similarly in the Church, there are many of the flock, and even of the cloth whom have fallen (actually, we have all fallen), but we still encourage and admonish each other to do what is right (follow God’s plan/design). Unfortunately there are some far-out-right-wing-religious nuts out there spewing hatred that give the rest of the loving Christians a bad rap. Likewise, there are some way-out-there-antagonistically-in-your-face gays spewing their hatred, bigotry, INtolerance and the like with their bullying and name calling as if they were back in the schoolyard. But it is known that not all fit the stereotypes associated with them

    We must agree that this helps no one and only further alienates both parties!

  116. kirk says:

    Sault,

    I do not have a problem with those in the gay lifestyle, just like I do not have a problem with other ‘sinners,’ or groups of sinners. My problem is with / would be with ANY ‘sinner’ OR group imposing their values and ways upon my children. And there is one group in particular who has waged a full on assault on my children’s and my beliefs and values. Especially in the way they go about it!

    As mentioned before, and even admitted by yourself, we all desire what is best for our sons and daughters. We will encourage and expect our children to do things that we have not always done ourselves …and maybe hypocritically so. But that still does not take away from what is best for them! Don’t loose sight of that in the school of red herrings that the agenda machine has released / been feeding the media!

    … our children are worth more that that!

    … Sault, YOU are worth more than that!

  117. Sault says:

    Once again, tone down your typography – I don’t even want to read what you’ve written at this point. Look at every other poster on this site. Seriously.

    You seem to have this image of teachers urging kids to go out and have sex, not teaching any of the risks of sexual activity, of spewing misinformation or bias or ignorance… I don’t know, you’re way out there. None of it is true, but you’re sure convinced it is!

    You are responding to some of the points that I’ve made with either completely irrelevant analogies or with an obvious display of missing the point of what I’ve said.

    I’ll give one example.

    there are many young people who get them and i have seen some homemade tattoos too. is this something that we should look into teaching and providing ‘clean supplies’ for too …’because some (many) are going to do it anyway’???

    Teachers teach. They don’t handle medical waste, they don’t tattoo. Sex education, on the other hand, has always been a responsibility of the school system. I could have sworn that I made that point…

    This is not a bad thing because one “discriminates” each time they put on these clothes over those, or eats at this restaurant instead of that one

    This is called “equivocation”. Treating people differently based on their skin color (discrimination) is NOT the same thing as a “discriminating taste” or discriminating between two objects!

    Maybe this will help: treating homosexuals different is definition #3, choosing between two different restaurants is #2.

    I can’t believe that you just made that comparison.

    When Christians “discriminate” against certain lifestyle choices, they are called “haters.”

    When you treat people differently based on a prejudicial category that’s definition #3, not #2!

    Though I am White, am I glad that you have not similarly lumped me in with all of those hateful “White Supremacists”…

    WTF?

    But that still does not take away from what is best for them! Don’t loose sight of that in the school of red herrings that the agenda machine has released / been feeding the media!

    It’s really funny that you should talk about red herrings, given that so much of what you’ve written is sooo off-base and off-topic.

    It’s also funny (albeit more funny “tragic” rather than funny “ha ha”) that you speak so much about some gay “agenda machine” when they’ve got nothing on the conservative Christian war machine!

    You say these things presupposing that homosexuality is a bad thing. You know what is best for my child? Teaching them to think for themselves well enough to know the wide-eyed throes of ideology and the danger it poses.

    I’ll do my best to make sure that my kid has a gay friend so that she knows from an early age (as I did) that some people are simply born different… and that it’s okay to be different.

    And that it’s not okay to treat those people differently while hiding behind pious facades and phrases like “oh, well it’s just like choosing between different restaurants”.

    Damnit, I spent too much time on this. Oh, well, at least making myself read that horrendous mess helped me understand how some people rationalize their attitudes and actions towards gay people.