A Vision For Marriage In Our Culture: Ten Essentials

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What will it take to recover marriage in our culture? Do we have a vision for marriage in our culture? I wrote recently on “Ten Reasons We’re Losing On Gay ‘Marriage.'” Today I want to lay out a vision for victory on marriage, in the form of ten essentials.

Note that I do not say “victory on gay marriage.” Though I cannot help writing with that question in mind, the issue  is deeper and larger than that. I’m also not framing this post as “ten steps” to victory or any such thing. It’s not a formula. It’s a picture, a vision.

Some of these essentials have to do with study and communication, some with building loving and genuine relationships. There isn’t an easy item on this list. If I’m right that all ten of them are essential, we have a lot of hard work to do.[1. By “we” I mean those of us who believe marriage is for a man and a woman, and yet not just for the man and the woman but through them also for their family and community.] I will begin with theory and move from there to practice.

A vision for marriage

We will have recovered marriage when we have:

1. Reframed what we’re seeking. Our real challenge is not to prevent same-sex “marriage,” it is to build and support marriage in its strong and true form.

2. Recovered a true understanding of marriage, particularly among us who support male-female marriage. Marriage is greater and deeper than just the happy pairing of a man and woman. It is also the basis of generation and re-generation, the center of family, and the foundation of a stable society. It is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his people.

Heterosexual couples tragically led the way in making marriage merely about happiness together, and also in making it optional for sexual expression. Why should anyone be surprised that same-sex couples have followed? This fruit of our error ought to have been predictable.

3. Rediscovered and re-located the source and grounding of marriage. It’s not in “traditional values.” That phrasing leaves me cold, frankly. It’s bland and empty; it makes an idol of the past without thought to what was good about it—and what wasn’t. Marriage, in contrast, connects directly and timelessly to the essence of humanness, family, community, and culture.

4. Trained ourselves to be able to articulate the truth about marriage, in persuasive terms transcending the usual slogans and images. This will take study and patience, for it requires a level of reasoned discourse few people in our culture are accustomed to navigating.

5. Equipped ourselves to explain why standing in favor of marriage is neither hatred nor phobia. Same-sex “marriage” advocates have framed our position that way, without bothering to see whether it’s true that everyone holding our position actually is hateful or phobic. Some are, certainly, but it’s far from universal. This is a matter for explanation, demonstration, and persuasion.

6. Rejected spiritual pride, which is loathsome to everyone, especially to God. While it is right to agree that what’s wrong is wrong, it is never right to imply spiritual superiority.

7. Shown genuine and continuing love toward gays, lesbians, bis, and transexuals. This is not to be confused with agreement or acquiescence with their program, for to support falsehood is no act of love. The point rather is to be genuine, to be willing to connect in authentic relationships—to be friends.

Note that there is an unavoidable asymmetry connected to both 6 and 7: whereas their advocacy leaders can (and do) proclaim loudly and publicly that we are hateful and phobic, it’s impossible to love loudly. We can only do it personally. They like to make us out to be arrogant, too, which is also difficult to answer effectively on the same level. Public remedial humility, expressed in apologies and confessions of error, is too easily tainted with the whiff of manipulativeness, which is much more easily dispelled in the close-up context of real relationships.

Therefore our individual friendships with gays and lesbians may not much affect the grand inclusive stereotype some want to impose upon us. Still it’s right to do the right thing, for the sake of integrity if nothing else.

8. Engaged productively in the legal fight to preserve the true definition of marriage. Political victory is only partial victory, but still it matters. Legal approval of gay “marriage” would be a serious setback for the teaching and practice of what is true.

9. Rebuilt a culture of marriage, where a couple’s mutual love and relationship is not the whole point, but where family—especially the children to be hoped for—and community are deeply intertwined in it right from the start. (Christian couples also know that God belongs at the center with them, between them, and holding them together.) This means that those who are married stay married; that we love our spouses and our children. It means we stay with it even when it’s hard, as it is for every couple at times, and that we get the help we need when it’s beyond us.

10. Last but really first: Suffused all these efforts with prayer, for this is a spiritual vision and not just a natural one.

I don’t want to understate the challenge of any of this–especially, for some couples, item 9. Again, I didn’t say any of this was going to be easy. For the sake of our future, though, and especially our children’s future, none of it is optional.

I believe it’s a vision worth pursuing.

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77 Responses to “ A Vision For Marriage In Our Culture: Ten Essentials ”

  1. And where do gay people fit in this vision of yours? Somewhere outside the “essence of humanness, family, community, and culture,” apparently. And why would they, and the people who truly love them, ever tolerate that?

  2. And saying you are going to have authentic loving relationships with gay people is like telling your daughter’s ethnic minority/lower social class boyfriend that you love him like a son, but no way can he marry your daughter.

  3. It’s worth noting, by the way, that you put words in my mouth.

    I could have gone into much greater detail with what I meant by, “Marriage, in contrast, connects directly and timelessly to the essence of humanness, family, community, and culture.” If I could foresee every way a statement could be pulled out of context and distorted, I might go into much greater detail with every statement. But I didn’t do that, and I won’t take that up as a principle, either.

    I also didn’t say that gay people live outside the essence of humanness, family, community, and culture.

  4. You said that marriage connects directly to the essence of humanness, etc., and you don’t want gay people to get married. So how are they to connect to this? It seems you don’t want them to be able to.

  5. Your comment #4 is most intriguing, os. You’re saying I cannot have an authentic loving friendship with a gay man. That means that no gay man can have an authentic loving friendship with me.

    Aside from the fact that you’re factually wrong about that, think of where that places the gay community. They are absolutely unable to transcend their identity, if you are right. They are only able to be friends with people who agree with them.

    I don’t think that’s true. Do you??

  6. Re: #6, I don’t have a short answer, because it would be irresponsible to offer one, but I do have a couple other articles you could read. I’ve already linked to them.

  7. I believe it is. It’s condescending and oppressive and I can’t imagine that any self-respecting gay person would accept love on those terms (unless from a family member. )

  8. Transcend their identity?! I don’t think anyone can transcend their identity. What do you even think that means?!

  9. By “transcend one’s identity,” I mean to rise above whatever limitations one might think come with who one is. It’s an imprecise phrase, but that’s what I meant by it when I wrote it.

  10. People need to be loved for who they are, Tom. That’s what gay pride is all about. That’s what pride in any identity is about.

  11. This, by the way, is ironic, but I’ll bet you won’t see it:

    I believe it is. It’s condescending and oppressive and I can’t imagine that any self-respecting gay person would accept love on those terms (unless from a family member. )

  12. What limitations come from your identity as a Christian do you need to rise above in order to have an authentic loving relationship with a gay person?

  13. Your point in #13 admits of a million exceptions, OS. People need to be loved for who they are, but not every aspect of who they are needs to be affirmed–even by those who love them.

    But it’s bedtime here and I’ll let you think of the examples yourself.

  14. One last quick answer to #15: I don’t know why you would ask that question, honestly. If your point is that I can’t have such a friendship, then you’re simply wrong, since the fact is I have. If your point is to explore what it means to be a Christian while having that friendship, I invite you to read the other articles that are part of the same series as the posts I linked to above: “To Treat One Another As Humans.”

    That’s it now for me this evening.

  15. OS,

    People need to be loved for who they are, Tom. That’s what gay pride is all about. That’s what pride in any identity is about.

    I’m a sinner and I expect to be loved despite my sinfulness. I do not take pride in my sinfulness though, and I would not expect gay people to take pride in the fact that I am a sinner. My identity is not in my sinfulness because my identity is in who I was intended to be – who I have been made to be because of Christ (a renewing).

    We are not intended to be gay and our biology is a testimony to that truth. You are wrong to think that a person’s identity is found in who they think they are. A person’s identity is found in who they were intended to be.

  16. 11) We will have moved a great step towards recovering marriage, when homosexuals are actually allowed to partake.

  17. Oh goodness, how I loathe such terrible abuses to reason..

    We are not intended to be gay and our biology is a testimony to that truth.

    Well, our biology is a testimony to that truth… except when it isn’t. The gay man and woman disproves your claim, don’t they?

  18. @d:

    Well, our biology is a testimony to that truth… except when it isn’t. The gay man and woman disproves your claim, don’t they?

    No, they do not. In exactly the same way as the existence of disease does not disprove the fact that health exists and is objectively good.

    Oh goodness, how I loathe such terrible abuses to reason…

    Your emotional outburst would sound a tad more convincing if you had actually made a cogent argument.

  19. d,
    Certainly you will agree that there can exist a problem with a person’s biology or a person’s view of themselves. When you do that, as a matter of principle, you are saying that there is a way a person ought to exist biologically and a way a person ought to view themselves.

  20. d:

    You’re opposed to empirical biology: what exactly is natural about plunging the organ meant for the propagation of life into an orifice meant for the expulsion of waste and decay? What is “natural” about the physiologically-degrading/destroying effect of semen upon the cells of the canal expunging waste? What is natural about mechanically-stress-inducing disparate angles involved in the actual act? Is there something you can point to from evolutionary theory that biologically supports such deadly acts?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot… one can “correct” biology with artificial (i.e., unnatural) membranes and lubricants and… well, anyway, at least until the next deadly fetish is explored.

    Woman-on-woman? Read the literature. Child-without-father? Read the literature on the psychological-damaged imposed on such children. Sheesh! And these atheists criticize God for killings in the Old Testament. Really?

    All your attempts to shift empirical biological reality to what your personal hissy-fits demand is as silly as your atheism. For the umpteenth time: it is about YOU, isn’t it? It is a power grab for you, isn’t it? It is about imposing what is unnatural upon what is natural, isn’t it?

    Sorry, Tom: I had to get medically/biologically graphic… but only because these pinheads need to face the deadliness of dignity-degrading crap they promulgate.

  21. SteveK
    Gay people do not experience the love they have for their partner or spouse as a sin. They do not consider the families they create with their partner or spouse as a sin.

  22. 8. Engaged productively in the legal fight to preserve the true definition of marriage.

    9. Rebuilt a culture of marriage,
    […]
    This means that those who are married stay married; that we love our spouses and our children. It means we stay with it even when it’s hard, as it is for every couple at times, and that we get the help we need when it’s beyond us.

    If you are willing to advocate legally opposing same-sex marriage, will you go on the record and advocate legally outlawing divorce?

  23. Holo,
    You are aware of course that straight couples also engage in **** intercourse? What do you propose should be done about that?

    edited by siteowner

  24. What is the biggest proven threat to marriage? Divorce.

    In lieu of any hard evidence otherwise, more marriages are ended, more families are disrupted, and more damage is caused to society by divorce than by same-sex marriage.

    The point of the quotes was to illustrate that you believe marriage “ought” to be between a man and a woman, so we “should” legally fight to keep it that way.

    You believe that marriage “ought” to be inviolate (“This means that those who are married stay married”), so why “shouldn’t” we legally fight to keep it that way?


    Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”
    Matthew 19:8

    “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Mark 10:9

    You are a Christian. Part of your argument for hetero marriage is based on the Bible. The Bible indicates that divorce is not acceptable. The single biggest damaging factor that we can *prove* (not just conjecture or speculate about, but prove) is divorce.

    Therefore, why would you *not* campaign against divorce?

  25. Sault,

    Your reasoning, or rather your representation of my reasoning is incomplete.

    In lieu of any hard evidence otherwise, more marriages are ended, more families are disrupted, and more damage is caused to society by divorce than by same-sex marriage.

    Right. Agreed.

    The point of the quotes was to illustrate that you believe marriage “ought” to be between a man and a woman, so we “should” legally fight to keep it that way.

    You believe that marriage “ought” to be inviolate (“This means that those who are married stay married”), so why “shouldn’t” we legally fight to keep it that way?

    Almost right. Strike “legally” and it’s exactly right.

    Here’s why. First, the Bible does not prohibit divorce. This is how it went when that very question was put to Jesus in Matthew 19:3-9)

    Matt. 19:3   And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    You see there that divorce was legally permitted though strongly discouraged.

    Second, the existence of divorce does no violence to the definition of marriage. A marriage that ends is no longer a marriage, and no one tries to call it one.

    Third, I advocate strong marriages and I fight divorce in the manner most appropriate to the problem: counseling, encouragement, example, teaching, and so on.

    Fourth, although I would very much love to see no-fault divorce laws ended, and a return to marital accountability in divorce law, there is no principle that says I must take up political advocacy for that cause. The reason is because there is no principle that says I must take up hopeless causes in the political sphere.

    So you see I am being consistent rather than inconsistent as you have charged: I am fighting divorce the best way I know how to do it.

  26. @ Holo

    The “organ of life” also expels waste. Its normal “destination” expels waste. The womb itself expels waste. Actually, I think that the only reproductive organ that doesn’t expel waste is the breast. So if you want to keep using the “waste is bad” argument, I suppose we could, but…

    Oh, sorry, I forgot… one can “correct” biology with artificial (i.e., unnatural) membranes and lubricants and…

    I’m sure that millions of couples are completely on board with you on banning those artificial and unnatural membranes and lubricants.

    Hey, maybe we should ban artificial limbs and vaccines while we’re at it…

  27. Sault asks a question.

    We answer.

    Sault ignores it and asks a different question.

    Sault, here’s a question for you:

    Why are you asking questions if you’re not going to pay any attention to the answer?

    Here’s how it looks from here. You’re pecking at us. It’s not intellectually honest, because it’s just pecking and nothing else. If you really cared about what you’re asking about, you would take note of it.

    Here’s also how it looks: when you ask a question that you think would stump a Christian, and it turns out not to do so, you don’t want to acknowledge that we do know what we’re talking about after all.

    That’s intellectually dishonest, too.

    That’s how it looks from here.

  28. Seriously???

    #25. Holo says something.
    #28. I ask Tom.
    #29. Tom answers.
    #32. I ask Tom some more.
    #33. Tom answers.
    #34. 32 min later I ask Holo something.
    #35. 20 min after that Tom accuses me of intellectual dishonesty.

    This isn’t Facebook – sometimes an attention span longer than an hour is going to be needed.

    I apologize that I didn’t respond to you before I made my remarks directed towards Holo. I am going to walk away from the computer for a while, as I did earlier, and think some more about what you’ve said and what my reaction is to it. I don’t have a pat answer, and I’m trying not to give a superficial response.

  29. OS @31

    Well, given that it IS biologically deadly (we’ll leave aside the moral repugnance because that’s not something non-critical thinkers and moral relativists can handle), here’s the straight-forward response: how about they just stop it… and live? What part of “stop dangerous, lustful, and self-serving activities” don’t you understand, OS?

    Sault @34:

    Wow… I thought you were better than that, Sault. Anyway…

    Let’s see, how about some science–some biology, shall we? Urine leaves the body STERILE. In fact, under difficult field conditions, to cleanse an open wound, the use of fresh urine is encouraged. While I’ve never tried nor intend to try, one can drink it with essentially no ill effects, and people survive drinking urine in difficult situations. Finally, prior to ejaculation the male ejects a special fluid that prepares that canal for sperm.

    Could you please tell me whether any of those apply to the “other” cavity and processes connected with it? Also, the male organ and associated system is made to do both–that’s natural. Male sperm is NOT made to enter the other cavity… because serious damage will occur.

    Your denigration of women by comparing menstrual ejection to anal ejections would be funny-silly if it weren’t so stupid-silly.

    Now, your response about comparing artificially limbs to artificial membranes to block natural process is farcical at best, and betrays your inability to make careful distinctions. Loss of a limb is a physical evil, so anything (within reason and moral acceptance) that will help that person is good. Flying is good because it enhances another good: human mobility. But “artificial membranes” a good–biologically or morally? Let’s see: the membrane doesn’t enhance anything natural or help to alleviate a physical evil. It’s whole purpose is to STOP a natural good. Or, in the warped homosexual sense, it’s purpose is to avoid the spread of disease which results from… wait for it… a biologically unnatural act.

    You should really take a course in biology, Sault.

    And then there’s the cute little fallacy at the end: “millions of couples are completely on board with you on banning those artificial and unnatural membranes“. So, might makes right… right? Numbers determine moral preferences, right? Dumb, Sault, fallacious and dumb. And, you’re beginning to resemble d’s “it’s about me, it’s about my power” sensibilities.

    Well, let’s play your game, shall we? Man I’m SO glad those money-grubbing union thugs were resoundingly beaten in last night’s Wisconsin recall election. Good thing they were outspent by the strong, huh? The next step is to arrest those loud-mouth, selfish, whiners and send them to the uranium mines. Hey, I like your numbers-morality, Sault. I think I’ll adopt it… NOT!

    Indeed, as Tom said, you’re pecking… whereas, I’d say you’re grasping at silly straws.

  30. @ Tom

    You see there that divorce was legally permitted though strongly discouraged.

    So Jesus allows for marital infidelity. I’d forgotten that, actually…. well, thank you. I acknowledge that you would not then advocate eliminating divorce entirely.

    Second, the existence of divorce does no violence to the definition of marriage. A marriage that ends is no longer a marriage, and no one tries to call it one.

    So we should ignore the effect that divorce has upon marriage because after all, once marriage is over its not marriage anymore, so la di da everything is okay??? Are you seriously claiming that the ability to divorce has no effect on marriage?

    I must be misunderstanding something, or perhaps we’re miscommunicating about this.

    Fourth, although I would very much love to see no-fault divorce laws ended […] there is no principle that says I must take up political advocacy for that cause. The reason is because there is no principle that says I must take up hopeless causes in the political sphere.

    I know that it sounds like tilting at windmills, but if you’re going to advocate eliminating same-sex marriage because it doesn’t adhere to Biblical principles, then you need to be “in for a penny, in for a pound” on this – either we strive for a full understanding and full vision of Biblical marriage or we don’t, right?

    Would you say that you advocate legally removing no-fault divorce laws?

    (to stem off accusations of intellectual dishonesty, I’ll stipulate that I’ll be addressing Holo’s comments next)

  31. So we should ignore the effect that divorce has upon marriage because after all, once marriage is over its not marriage anymore, so la di da everything is okay??? Are you seriously claiming that the ability to divorce has no effect on marriage?

    I must be misunderstanding something, or perhaps we’re miscommunicating about this.

    In short, no, no, we finally agree on something, and no. What I agree with is you’re misunderstanding if you think I was suggesting either of the two prior suggestions. I agreed with you that “more marriages are ended, more families are disrupted, and more damage is caused to society by divorce than by same-sex marriage.” I told you of ways I am fighting against divorce. I did not suggest ignoring its effect on marriage, I merely said that divorce does not entail a re-definition of the meaning of marriage.

    I know that it sounds like tilting at windmills, but if you’re going to advocate eliminating same-sex marriage because it doesn’t adhere to Biblical principles, then you need to be “in for a penny, in for a pound” on this – either we strive for a full understanding and full vision of Biblical marriage or we don’t, right?

    I already told you that I was striving for it in the most effective way I know. Re-read what I wrote, please.

    If you were really interested in stemming off accusations of intellectual dishonesty, Sault, it seems like you’d be trying harder to actually demonstrate intellectual honesty.

  32. “Good thing they were outspent by the strong, huh?”

    Just a brief off-topic remark. The $31 mil to $4 mil “spending discrepancy” just happens to ignore $21 mil the unions spent. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

  33. Hi BillT:

    You’re correct… I just didn’t want to get into the ubiquitous numbers-fudging that is genetically impregnated in the left… along with their thuggishness (threatening the life of Walker and his family)… hatred of orthodox faith… hatred of unborn children… instigation of class warfare… OOPS! Time to change the channel back to the discussion. I was being VERY sarcastic with Sault.

  34. @ Tom

    I’ve tried in good faith to have a decent conversation, but I’m not going to take part in character attacks.

    @ Holo

    When I was writing “millions of couples” the part that didn’t make it out of my head was “who have medical problems that prevent them from engaging in these activities without the use of these artificial and unnatural lubrications et al”…

    …so not a “morality by numbers” but an objection from medical necessity.

    meant for the expulsion of waste and decay

    This phrase accurately describes urine, feces, and menses in one way or another. You provide great color(ful) commentary, don’t get all offended and say I’m “denigrating women” when I interpret the vagueness of your words in some slightly different way than you meant.

    Ick. Okay, I’m done with this thread. Tom is intent on painting me as intellectually dishonest and Holo’s sarcasm is just a little bit too thick for me today. Another time, when we’re all in a better place perhaps.

  35. Sault,

    Regarding R32, you said something that caught my attention.

    “What is the biggest proven threat to marriage? Divorce.

    In lieu of any hard evidence otherwise, more marriages are ended, more families are disrupted, and more damage is caused to society by divorce than by same-sex marriage.”

    Off the cuff it would be safe to statistically postulate that of all the marriages entered into in the year 2011, 95% of those were between a man and a woman. I don’t think the few states that do allow SSM could come close to making up a 5% differential in that percentage, but I’m being gracious in my assumption.

    Let us apply your logic to something just as statistically insignificant. Children under 10 driving vehicles.

    Your words, used reasonably in a different scenario.

    What is the biggest proven threat to drivers? Accidents?

    In lieu of any hard evidence otherwise, more accidents are caused by licensed drivers, more families are disrupted by licensed drivers, and more damage is caused to society by licensed drivers, than by 10 year old and under children behind the wheel.

    That obviously means you and I should be advocating for 10 and under drivers….right?

  36. Interesting point, Josh, and I appreciate your bringing in that comparison.

    I’d like to make sure I understand what you’re saying, though, and what analogy you’re trying to draw out of this.

    Sault didn’t say, “Divorce happens among heterosexual couples, divorce is very bad; but it’s never been a problem like that among same-sex ‘married’ couples, so therefore we should advocate for SSM.” He’s saying, “Tom (and others) are fighting against things that damage marriage, divorce damages marriage more than SSM ever has, therefore Tom should be fighting against divorce just as vigorously as he is against SSM.”

  37. Sault, I hear what you’re saying about character attacks. If the way I’ve been characterizing things is not correct, please help me understand better what’s going on. I’ll try to state it in different terms.

    The way I conceive of a good honest debate, it goes like this: We each try really hard to understand the other’s position. We have full freedom to try to defeat the other’s position, as long as we think the other person is wrong. But we recognize and acknowledge when the other person has answered one of our points, and if that answer actually defeats one of our points, we acknowledge that we were wrong and change our view on that point. Further, we do our best to engage with what the other person believes and has actually said.

    Yesterday in #35 I was too quick to jump on you for not responding to prior points in discussion. I see that now and I apologize for that.

    Late in the day (#39, 8:51 pm EDT), you were pushing me hard on

    So we should ignore the effect that divorce has upon marriage because after all, once marriage is over its not marriage anymore, so la di da everything is okay??? Are you seriously claiming that the ability to divorce has no effect on marriage? … if you’re going to advocate eliminating same-sex marriage because it doesn’t adhere to Biblical principles, then you need to be “in for a penny, in for a pound” on this – either we strive for a full understanding and full vision of Biblical marriage or we don’t, right?

    It seemed to me at that point that you weren’t paying attention at all, but were trying to caricature (“la di da”) my position. Surely you know better than to think I would think that! Surely that should have been a signal to you that you it might be worth re-reading what I wrote, to make sure you were responding to what I said, and not to something I didn’t say.

    I think that’s what bothered me most. You thought that you could draw something ridiculous out of what I said, something that would be completely out of character for me, and you jumped at the opportunity to go “la di da,” without taking enough time to realize I didn’t say what you thought I said. I think that’s poor practice on your part.

    If I heard you say something completely out of character I would say something like this, “Sault, I heard you say x, which is really different from what I expected. Did I get that wrong, or did you mean to say that, or what?” I did something sort of like that right here in comment 7, and a few days ago here.

    Concerning the second half of that quoted excerpt: I had given four reasons why “I am being consistent rather than inconsistent as you have charged: I am fighting divorce the best way I know how to do it”—not to mention everything I said in the OP—and yet you were suggesting that I wasn’t striving for a full understanding and vision of biblical marriage. I had explained why I wasn’t taking the political route with it: because it would obviously not succeed, and matters of principle do not always entail a political solution, especially a hopeless political solution. But you kept pushing.

    What’s seems (to me) to be missing there, Sault, is a genuine attempt to understand.

  38. Oh, I know some people think that everything Scripture mentions, Scripture affirms. But that’s just silly, and not worth wasting time discussing. This is a thinking website, after all.

  39. Some people remain skeptical of the Bible, until they find something they think proves it’s nonsensical. THEN, it’s a trustworthy and believable source. No bias there.

  40. Tom, you point out in comment #17 that your friendships with actual LGBT folks are proof that authentic, loving relationships are possible.

    I think it could be a very enriching thing for this blog’s audience to hear from one or more of your actual gay friends if they were willing to offer a ‘guest post’ here on your blog. It might provide moments of critical reflection (both for you & your readers) to consider ways in which a gay person might tell the story of your friendship differently than you would represent it yourself.

    Personally I’d love to hear a ‘guest post’ from one of your gay friends. Hearing from an actual gay person speaking honestly about how they experience authenticity & love in their relationship with someone of your convictions could be a powerful example of a hopeful way forward.

  41. @ Tom,

    I appreciate the apology, and would like to extend one of my own – while I tried to balance my reaction to what I perceived your meaning with an honest inquiry into what you meant, I should have instead asked the question of what you meant and omitted my reaction (the la di da) until you had clarified what you meant. So, I apologize for that.

    My second apology is for how I have come across as attacking you/picking at you/etc regarding a legal approach to defending and defining marriage and divorce. I did not acknowledge your explanation regarding why you are not (formally) advocating legally opposing no-fault divorce, and for that I apologize as well (I still am having a difficult time “getting it”, but that’s on my end and not yours).

    One of the thoughts that I’ve always kicked around is the concept of subsidizing therapy. In this case, would you see a value in legally subsidizing marital counseling/marriage therapy?

    Social media is quoted in (IIRC) 40% of all divorce cases… might have been higher (40%?). Assuming a divorce rate of 50%, and 40% of those due to social media, that’s 20% of all marriages destroyed due to social media.

    The point of your post was not to give reasons for prohibiting same-sex marriage, but a vision for the future of marriage. Well, should that vision include abandoning social media, considering its destructive effects on marriage?

    Do the benefits of social media outweigh its destructive effects upon marriage (and therefore society)?

    The two questions are related (although the second one is something of a “gotcha”)… how important is marriage to society? How much should we be willing to give up (financially, economically) to preserve it?

  42. Well, should that vision include abandoning social media, considering its destructive effects on marriage?

    Social media is a tool that can be misused or abused. Anything can be misused or abused so I hope you will rethink your question in light of the purpose of Tom’s post.

  43. Sault, thank you for the apologies. I appreciate that a lot, and I respect it.

    Subsidizing therapy? That’s what insurance is, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re talking about government subsidy, you’ll have to recognize that you’re talking to a fiscal conservative here who thinks that would be a bad idea on multiple grounds.

    I’m surprised you mentioned social media as a contributing cause for divorce, when you could as easily have mentioned alcohol, money, other women or men, workaholism, self-centeredness, the death of children, …

    I don’t think we’re going to solve divorce by banning its contributing causes.

    But you didn’t use the word ban, you used abandon; and yes, of course, in marriages that are put at risk through social media, it might be a very good idea for one or both partners to abandon it.

  44. I don’t know why a comment of mine failed to appear here yesterday – I don’t know if it was moderated for its content or if I goofed. Anyhow, I’ll quickly address Holo’s #25 again…

    Holo,

    Feel free to continue to use that sort of reasoning against same-sex marriage.

    First, your points don’t really address homosexual love, just particular sex acts (in which many straight couples take part, and many homosexuals actually do not).

    Second, more generally, that reasoning inevitably comes with some very heavy baggage – baggage that most people are unwilling to carry. Or, to put it more bluntly, your reasoning leads to an inevitable self-refuting reductio ad absurdem – that all sex acts which don’t naturally have as their end, procreation, are morally forbidden. In my experience, even most Catholics roll their eyes at the church’s insistence that masturbation and contraception are mortal sins. In time, perhaps they will feel the same way about the church’s current position towards homosexuality, and homosexual marriage.

    So please, carry on with more soliloquies about tubes of decay and the like! Do us the favor!

  45. G. Rodrigues & SteveK,

    No, they do not. In exactly the same way as the existence of disease does not disprove the fact that health exists and is objectively good.

    At the same time, not every deviation from the norm is a disease or malady. Homosexuals are natural variations within human nature, and one that need not be considered a disease or morally degenerate. In short, SteveK’s claim that our biology is a testament that we aren’t meant to be homosexual is absurd.

    Certainly you will agree that there can exist a problem with a person’s biology or a person’s view of themselves. When you do that, as a matter of principle, you are saying that there is a way a person ought to exist biologically and a way a person ought to view themselves.

    Sure, I would agree. But unlike most natural lawyers, I recognize the role of human values in determining what is considered an “objective disease” or not.

  46. SteveK’s claim that our biology is a testament that we aren’t meant to be homosexual is absurd.

    You might want to be very clear what you’re claiming here.

    As a race, it’s completely clear that we are reproductively heterosexual. So that would support Steve’s claim.

    As individuals, the same applies. With some rather novel and heavyweight medical procedures, we can get close to asexual reproduction, but that’s a long way from “natural”.

    So, from a biological propagation perspective, Steve’s claim is anything but “absurd”. In humans, normative reproductive “sex” is inherently heterosexual.

    Thus, what you must be claiming is that “sex play” and/or homosexual pair-bonding is in some sense both normal and biologically neutral. That’s possibly worthy of argument, but given that it is necessarily disconnected from reproductive sex I suggest that dismissing the counter-position as “absurd” owes more to rhetorical grandstanding than reasoned argument.

  47. Andrew W,

    On the view from the other side of the coin, a homosexual’s innate desires are a testimony to the fact that they were meant for others of the same gender (as much as one can say “meant for” in the context of natural realities).

    Why not say that? You can’t give a coherent answer here, except to rely on what you value, not what is objective fact. That’s the natural lawyer’s folly.. they fail to recognize the role that their own values are playing in their formulations.

    All the posturing about biological objective reality is just a subterfuge to cover the fact that they are trying to smuggle in objective weight for their own value preferences.

  48. Just to be clear, I hear you saying that assigning objective value an activity that was absolutely necessary for each one of us to come into existence is completely subjective?

  49. I’m not sure if this is too tangential, so if it is please ignore/delete this comment and I’ll ask it again at a more appropriate time.

    I was just thinking of different ways of considering the debate, and what you think of the following will help frame my larger argument when I get around to writing it (almost done with exams now):

    Who (if anyone) do you think a biologically intersex person ought to be allowed to marry and why? Or would you posit that you could definitively determine a gender for everyone? [and if so by what criteria would you do so?]

  50. d:

    Given that you espouse an anti-human and deadly ideology (atheism–hello, body count) and promulgate that it’s okay for homosexuals to express their, ahem “love,” through biologically-deadly acts, you’re lecturing everyone on what human nature is… and then trying to impose it? Really? Perhaps you could share with us what you believe human nature to be. Please cite specific references while defining the term.

    (Maybe you hold a deep-seated hatred of those suffering from the psychological pathology of homosexuality and want them to engage in their deadly acts so that they can be eliminated… while hiding behind plausible deniability?)

  51. @d:

    At the same time, not every deviation from the norm is a disease or malady. Homosexuals are natural variations within human nature, and one that need not be considered a disease or morally degenerate. In short, SteveK’s claim that our biology is a testament that we aren’t meant to be homosexual is absurd.

    Not every deviation from the norm is a disease; you do not have to point that out to us. There are deviations from the average height, weight, etc. But if you meet an adult who is 0.8 meters high you suspect that such a person *suffers* from some sort of growth disease. It is a matter of objective fact that the biological function of sex is to generate life, that only a man and a woman can generate life and that marriage’s prime function is the fostering and rearguarding of life.

    You qualify SteveK’s claim as absurd; well it is not. Yours, on the other hand is. You equivocate norms with facts and then try to deny the *obvious* biological fact that yes, we are *not* meant to be homossexual. The proof can be seen from the fact that homossexuals do *not* get to pass their genes to the next generation, *because* they are homossexuals, so whether there is “homossexual gene” or not, the orientation itself is a survival dead-end. If this is not a “testament that we aren’t meant to be homosexual”, then what is?

    Sure, I would agree. But unlike most natural lawyers, I recognize the role of human values in determining what is considered an “objective disease” or not.

    You expand this in your response to Andrew W in post #59, so I will tackle it there.

    On the view from the other side of the coin, a homosexual’s innate desires are a testimony to the fact that they were meant for others of the same gender (as much as one can say “meant for” in the context of natural realities).

    On the view from the other side of the coin, a sociopath’s innate desires are a testimony to the fact that they were meant to harm others regardless of the consequences.

    The parenthetical remark is rather telling. Damage control, lest we charge you of introducing teleological language that you have forfeited. Not that you succeed, by the way.

    Why not say that? You can’t give a coherent answer here, except to rely on what you value, not what is objective fact. That’s the natural lawyer’s folly… they fail to recognize the role that their own values are playing in their formulations.

    Why not say that? You can’t give a coherent answer here, except to rely on what you value, not what is objective fact…

    Oh wait. Thanks for having demolished your own brand of consequentialism and having conceded *all* the points *we* have been making all along. You try to foist on us, poor innocent victims, a consequentialist view of morality, but when consequentialist arguments bite you in the behind you spin a different story about “human values”, values that, contrary to the objective realities of human biology, are completely subjective, groundless and of your own concoction. By prepending “human” to “values” you try to embellish what is nothing more than the expression of your self-serving will to power with a thin veneer of humaneness. Thanks but no thanks.

    On the other hand, what are you exactly trying to say about natural law theorists? Maybe that natural law theorists rely on considerations other than biological ones to make their case. But if you knew one iota of natural law theory you would know that the answer is yes, of course they do, since there is some heavy prior metaphysical lifting to make the natural law case. Maybe you are trying to say that the arguments are informed, maybe even determined, by other types of considerations or “values”. You do not even deign to clarify what those considerations or “values” are, so what am I to make of that? You do not even try to tackle the arguments, you just casually let hanging in the air the ominous suspicion that natural law theorists have some sort of “values” that they are loathe to publicly recognize and that determine the shape and form of their arguments. This is either a form of the genetic fallacy or completely irrelevant.

    The last sentence is in fact, another typical example of your “arguments”. It is a version of the Marxist’s argument against the detractors of marxism that they are so beholden to their burgeois values and class interests that they simply cannot see the truth.

    All the posturing about biological objective reality is just a subterfuge to cover the fact that they are trying to smuggle in objective weight for their own value preferences.

    And now we get served a version of the tu quoque fallacy. *This* is the typical quality of your arguments. Do not even *dare* to feign indignation at my continuously pointing out how miserable, shoddy and worthless your arguments are. A well programmed Eliza bot could spew better drivel.

    First, it was the “fact” that natural law theorists rely on ineffable unknowables such as essences, now it is the “fact” that they rely exclusively on biological realities. Why don’t you do us all a favor, d, and simply shut your claptrap about what natural law theorists do or fail to do, because it is patently obvious that you know nothing about it. Unless you like to embarrass yourself. Or you are simply making stuff up in an attempt to poison the well and try to discredit your opponents, a tactic otherwise known as intellectual dishonesty.

  52. d,

    All the posturing about biological objective reality is just a subterfuge to cover the fact that they are trying to smuggle in objective weight for their own value preferences.

    G. Rodrigues did a fine job above. You are pathetic, d.

    Your arguments are self refuting. Your statement here defeats pro-homosexual arguments because biological reality cannot be used as an argument and “love” or “consent” isn’t an argument. It’s all posturing and subterfuge, says you.

    Your statement here also refutes any argument that says sociopaths, murderers, rapists, etc shouldn’t take pride in their love for being who they are or for the biological reality of their sociopathic, murdering and raping tendencies. If it’s all about celebrating who you are, then let’s celebrate these people. But of course you will object, but you will have no basis for objecting because your objections are just posturing and subterfuge.

    Your argument also refutes any argument about any biological outcome being wrong, incorrect or improper. Born with a physical deformity or disease? Just as good as being born without one so let’s do away with the subjective need for medical care. Heart attacks are valuable to those who subjectively value them. It’s just posturing and subterfuge to argue otherwise.

    Choose to prefer irrationality? Equally as valuable as choosing to prefer rationality so let’s do away with the subjective need for proper education, colleges and training of the mind. Colleges are just places where people promote their posturing and subterfuge.

    Pathetic.

  53. Tom,

    Holo, G. Rodrigues, and SteveK. are failing at your #’s 5 and 7. Look at the language they use to describe gay people: Holo’s sarcasm about their love; G. Rodrigues comparing homosexuality to sociopathy; and SteveK. describing d. as “pathetic” and furthering G. Rodrigues’ comparison by comparing pride in gay identity with pride in sociopathy. When some of you talk about gay people in this way, and others of you (Tom), while proclaiming a desire for love and authenticity in relationships with gay people, fail to hold those who speak this way accountable for their behavior, of course gay people see you as hateful and phobic!

  54. Sorry, os, but you’re wrong. D is not pathetic because he/she is gay – I have no idea if he/she is gay – so my reference cannot have anything to do with #7. Explaining why a person’s view of reality is pathetic has nothing to do with #5.

    Pride is pride. Is it wrong to say they are the same? I never said gay people have sociopathic characteristics so I’m not saying anything negative about them in that respect.

  55. SteveK.

    You called d.’s argument re: homosexuality pathetic. You were disrespectful to him because of his pro-gay argument.

  56. What I said was in response to his argument for truth. What I said has nothing to do with #7, os. Sorry.

  57. Go away you hypocrite, OS: we’re not interested in false morally-absolutist accusations coming from a moral relativist.

    You demand fair play from others while you yourself ignorantly and fallaciously denigrate the faith of others… AND you are an apologetic for the most deadly of ideologies the world has known: atheism. Deal with your own foibles before falsely accusing others.

    Oh, and just because we’re opposed to people succumbing to alcoholism doesn’t mean anyone here hates alcoholics. Just because people succumb (in some cases maybe not fully through their own efforts) to the psychological pathology and grave sin (when acted out) known as homosexuality doesn’t mean we don’t love homosexuals.

    Logic: get some!

    Oh, and for someone who has demonstrated over and over their ignorance, fallaciousness, viciousness toward faith, and general inability to reason well… to have you demand that Tom “think” like you in applying the comment criteria is rich. Another delightful Chardonnay-through-the-nose chortle on that one!

    Anybody for a pity party?

  58. os.

    1. For the record, I don’t equate homosexuality with sociopathy. For the record (though it really need not be said) neither did G. Rodrigues or SteveK. If you think the were wrongfully comparing homosexuality to sociopathy you don’t understand how an argument from analogy works. They were each comparing aspects of homosexuality, or arguments for homosexuality, to sociopathy or the arguments for it.

    I can’t see a thing wrong with their arguments. If disagree, go ahead and say what you think was actually wrong there. But don’t expect me to follow you into the arguendum-ad-don’t-you-dare-say-homosexuality-and-sociopathy-together-in-the-same-sentence-um! fallacy.

    2. I didn’t think Holopupenko was being sarcastic until #43, and that wasn’t about “their love.” I don’t even think his sarcasm in #62 was; it was about something else I don’t care to get too graphic about.

    3. SteveK has explained his use of “pathetic.” He may have expressed it somewhat carelessly expressed at first, not carefully distinguishing “you are pathetic” from “your arguments are pathetic.” I took the former as shorthand for the latter.

  59. I’m not sure I agree with Holopupenko that there’s real hypocrisy in your calling me to live up to my beliefs, os. As far as I can tell, your standard here is that you will try to win, and you’re being consistent with it. That’s not hypocrisy. It’s not necessarily honesty, either.

    If I thought your charge were accurate, I would want to take it to heart, even in spite of your rather consistent viciousness and etc. toward my beliefs. It’s not because I have any responsibility to live up to your standards, but because I hope to be willing to be shown when I don’t live up to my own.

    I doubt I live up even to that standard the way I should. It’s always possible to shade one’s judgment in favor of the people on one’s own side, and not to recognize when one is doing so.

    Nevertheless:

    G. Rodrigues and SteveK are not guilty of any moral fault in the comparisons they drew between homosexuality and sociopathy, because they didn’t draw their comparisons indiscriminately. I am totally confident of that with no fear of committing confirmation bias.

    Holopupenko’s sarcasm was not directed toward homosexuals as you charge until (possibly) #62, and whether that was inordinate sarcasm is a judgment call. I stand by my opinion.

    I think d’s argument really was pretty darned weak. Pathetic? That’s a judgment call too; it is a feeling word, after all. I suppose I agree with him, though, with respect to d’s argument at least.

  60. One more thing:

    If anyone here is failing in his or her love for homosexuals, it won’t necessarily show in their opinion about homosexuality..

  61. @Tom Gilson:

    For the record (though it really need not be said) neither did G. Rodrigues or SteveK. If you think the were wrongfully comparing homosexuality to sociopathy you don’t understand how an argument from analogy works. They were each comparing aspects of homosexuality, or arguments for homosexuality, to sociopathy or the arguments for it.

    I will essentially repeat what you said, but just so there is no doubt left, what I or SteveK pointed out is that d’s “argument” proves too much because it can be applied indiscriminately to sociopaths, rapists or basically whomever you desire, and arguments that prove too much are flawed arguments. This is a strict matter of logic and argumentation. That ordinary seeker cannot recognize such a simple objection and instead mischaracterizes our position as drawing a direct comparison between homossexuals and sociopaths is his problem and his misreading.

  62. Same sex “marriage” proponents are nothing better than thugs. Consider the case of Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography. If asked, even private companies are legally compelled to do what they don’t want to do on faith grounds: this company was FORCED to provide photography services for a gay wedding. Thugs: coercion and power.

  63. Who (if anyone) do you think a biologically intersex person ought to be allowed to marry and why? Or would you posit that you could definitively determine a gender for everyone? [and if so by what criteria would you do so?]

    Fascinating question, Alex.

    One extreme position is that everyone should have the right to pass on their genes (c.f. G. Rodrigues in #63). But that falls foul of reality. Some people are sterile. Others cannot find a mate, and to legislate that everyone has the right to a fertile mate is likely to create issues worse than the ones we are considering.

    An alternate position to say “Well, there are some more important things in life than procreation”, which covers the other examples provided above too. But to say that requires that we can articulate meaning for life that is greater than mere procreation. Some world-views are up to this task; others are not.

    A third position is “pick a sex and run with it”, though that still leaves one in odd territory if sex is viewed as part of a bigger framework rather than just individual expression.

  64. @Holopupenko

    Since you’ve mentioned it twice in this thread, would you mind explaining how atheism = deadly ideology?

  65. In establishing the case for the existence of God, we attempt to present clear reasoning that will lead to a rational conclusion, namely, that the universe, mankind, etc., are not self-explanatory. Rather, logical minds must conclude that a Supreme Being exists. In our approach, we are affirming a proposition for which positive evidence exists.

    Atheism, on the other hand, is a totally negative system. It denies much and affirms nothing. It robs one of hope and offers emptiness in exchange, asserting that there is no transcendent Cause for the universe, and that man is a fortuitous combination of molecules. Morality does not exist, or if it does, man, as his own god, determines its nature.

    Atheism is a philosophical system of contradiction and confusion

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