Why the SSM Debate Is So Challenging: The Slogan Effect

I was at a meeting not long ago discussing what it would take for sanity to prevail on the question of same-sex “marriage.” I pointed out what I have also said here on this blog: what we face is not so much a successful set of arguments against real marriage. It’s more a case of successful branding. We will not really reclaim sensibility on this until we can carry bumper stickers saying (for example), “Marriage is a distinctive human good,” and have it mean as much to the average tailgating driver as the misdirected, but still effective, “Hate is not a family value.”

It is a mistake to conceive of bumper sticker-style slogans as weapons for fighting rhetorical battles. They are much more similar to flags: they are effective only insofar as meaning is invested in them. How did “Hate is not a family value” acquire its commonly understood meaning? Think of all the other things it could signify. It's not an argument, it's a brand, a flag, as it were.

Flags advance along with their armies, and it's no secret that same-sex “marriage” partisans have the momentum on their side. We who support man-woman marriage cannot as effectively wave the flag of slogans, and we ought not try. The reason for this was aptly expressed by Edward Feser in his provocative but so far (I've only read this much, since I just picked it up this evening) well-reasoned The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (p. 21):

The basic philosophical case for the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the natural law conception of morality is on one level fairly straightforward. But the issues have become ever more greatly obscured in the centuries since so-called “Enlightenment” thinkers and their predecessors first started darkening the understanding of Western man, and a nearly impenetrable philosophical smokescreen of unexamined assumptions, falsehoods, clichés, caricatures, prejudices, propaganda, and general muddle-headedness now surrounds the average person's (including the average intellectual's) thinking about religion. It takes considerable intellectual effort to dissipate the Kultursmog (to borrow R. Emmett Tyrrell's apt coinage).

The task is not unlike that which faces debunkers of popular but intellectually unsupportable conspiracy theories. As Vincent Bugliosi laments in Reclaiming History, his recent mammoth study of the JFK assassination, “it takes only one sentence to make the argument that organized crime had Kennedy killed to get his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, off its back, but it takes a great many pages to demonstrate the invalidity of that charge.” One of the reasons for this is that certain fallacies and errors committed by conspiracy theorists can only be exposed via painstaking examination of eyewitness testimony, ballistic evidence, historical context, and other such minutiae. Another is the bias embodied in the vast number of things think they know about a particular case that just aren't so.

The “smokescreen” he so devastatingly details is no fog of Feser's invention, but rather one that he has credibly summarized by this point in the book, and which I am confident he will be able to support with considerably more evidence as the book progresses.

The “basic philosophical case” for man-woman marriage is indeed “at one level fairly straightforward.” If the arguments for it seem difficult to see, it is largely because of miseducation, misinformation, and prejudicial branding (flag-waving) on behalf of so-called “marriage equality” (one of the sillier political phrases composed in recent memory, which is saying a lot) and opposed to reason on the topic.

So we have our work cut out for us. We need to be persistent and yet patient. We have educational work to do. Most of it is remedial. Our culture has learned things that just aren't so, which really complicates things, for it is harder and slower to guide persons to unlearn error than to learn truth in the first place.

So we must not put too much stock in short-term victories or losses. We must not strategize the way the opposition does. More specifically, we must not think we can successfully fight this battle through slogans, as is their common tactic. Someday, perhaps, a significant proportion of Westerners will know what we mean if we say “marriage is a distinctive human good.” The day that happens—when bumper sticker statements might actually be meaningful on our side's behalf—will be the day when victory has already been achieved.

Comments

  1. John Moore

    Slogans and symbols are important, of course, but people are more important. While you focus on defining the word “marriage,” the opposition is focusing on real people in love with each other. It’s heart-breaking to see Christians fighting against love in favor of a fixed definition of “marriage.” God is this love too.

  2. BillT

    No John. The Bible couldn’t be clearer that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. And sex outside of marriage is prohibited in the Ten Commandments. This aren’t something that we just made up. This has been the Biblical truth for thousands of years.

  3. Victoria

    It occurs to me that John is using ‘God is this love too’ as a slogan, without thinking deeply enough about it. Where does John get this idea about God and His standards, His design intent?

  4. DavidF

    I find myself in complete agreement about the matter of slogans. Well said there (and, incidentally, I am a fan of Feser as well).

    It occurs to me, however, that the focus on homosexual marriage can itself be misleading on this particular point. In my view, much greater harm to marriage is being done by “free love” and no-fault divorce.
    The fact that the church rarely speaks out about these things, very likely, is creating the impression that it is simply a matter of conservatism or prejudice, rather than a respect for marriage behind the opposition.

    Addressing these other issues more consistently would, I think, help clarify the position to those who misunderstand it.

  5. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I disagree with your premise that the church speaks out rarely about these things, DavidF, though I appreciate what you have to say here otherwise. SSM is a political, public-policy issue because its proponents have made it so. That’s where that debate resides, and that’s where we must conduct it.

    I don’t see any value in making divorce a similarly political issue in today’s environment. It would be a strategic error of first degree. So what’s the point of speaking out about it publicly?

    The fact is that the church is addressing marriage in the most strategic manner possible: in the counseling room, in sermons, in marriage conferences, in small group studies. If those were taken into account properly, it would be known that Christianity is devoting hundreds of times more resources to building marriages than into combating SSM.

    But how would that become made known publicly? It just isn’t that sort of activity? I don’t know. All I know is that we are unwise if we let ourselves be fooled into thinking that the same kind of response that’s appropriate with respect to SSM is appropriate to other marriage issues.

  6. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Is it not possible, after all, John, that a fixed definition of marriage could be an expression of love? You see, if that’s how God intended us to be, then to try to be something else–or to acquiesce in being something else–is less than the best. And if so, then to promote it is not loving at all.

  7. John Moore

    This is a great summary of the debate over same-sex marriage because secular people think “marriage” is something created by people and something that can change with the times, whereas Christians think it was created by God, once and for ever.

    I wish Christians would do a strategic retreat on this one so they can reaffirm God’s omnipotent love without clinging rigidly to the traditional institution of marriage.

    After all, Bible stories have recognized lots of different kinds of marriage.

  8. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    So in order to affirm God’s omnipotent love it is necessary to give up on God’s omnipotent truth? (I’m not sure “omnipotent fits in either clause, but since you used it I thought I might as well follow suit.)

    How is it that we need to fall of the cliff toward “love”? Was not Jesus Christ full of both grace and truth (John 1:14, 18)?

  9. DavidF

    Tom,

    I hope you’re right about the actions of the church; I don’t claim to know either way.

    My worry, however, isn’t that the church isn’t doing these things, but that this is the public perception. That is, the legal battles put a spotlight on SSM that makes it appear as if the church isn’t doing these things. I think fighting it there is less wise than working more quietly.

    Personally, I’m uncomfortable with the campaign insofar as the church seems to be granting the premise that it is the government which should dictate who is allowed to get married.

    Personally, I’d rather marriage not be a legal institution at all, but merely a religious and personal covenant. In that case, it would be all the more obvious (even to non-believers) why divine law is significant to the definition of marriage.

  10. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I think what you’re talking about, the public perception, is a significant strategic issue. Your third paragraph is either disingenuous or confused, however. Government has a very legitimate role in determining who should or should not get married. Would you approve of some kook church permitting some man to marry your wife (while you are married to her, that is)? What’s to prevent that? The government, obviously.

    If you think there’s no good reason for marriage to be a legal institution, you have too limited a view of what happens among men, women, children, and property. Should we have religions determine how questions relating to these matters should be disposed? Don’t you realize that these things are inescapably, inherently, legal matters?

    But I do think that it’s wrong for anyone to think the government has the say over whether men can marry men or women can marry women. The government can’t legislate that any more than it could rule that married men can be bachelors: it’s a contradiction. Now, a whole lot of misguided people are saying government should try to do that. The church’s participation in that debate absolutely does not serve to promote the idea that this is government’s decision; its effect is (or should be, if done wisely) precisely the opposite!

  11. Sault

    Perhaps Christianity suffers from a lack of credibility.

    Catholics can’t keep their own priests from molesting children, Evangelicals have hypocritical pastors (a la Ted Haggard, etc), Mormons would legalize polygamy, conservative Christians in general refuse to take criticism unless it comes from within their own ranks, and let us not forget that a damn lot of Christians are either ignorant or put ideology before real science in believing that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and that homosexuality is always and only a “choice”. And as a parting shot, you’ve always got the ones who are blaming natural disasters on atheists and homosexuals.

    These are the ardent opponents of same-sex marriage? Oh, sure, let’s listen to *them* for discussions about morality…

    If you want to know why you’re losing this ideological battle, then stop blaming the other side and start looking at yourselves. I know many good Christians, but I don’t exactly see the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage as moral pillars of society.

  12. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Do you think the defnition of marriage is a moral question, Sault? It’s not. It’s a matter of ontology.

    Sure, some in the church have been confused about that, too. That’s not helpful, obviously. Hypocrisy stinks in multiple ways. But neither the presence nor the absence of hypocrisy would make same-sex “marriage” really marriage.

  13. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Oh, and by the way, where is your empirical evidence to support your contention that the most vocal supporters of true marriage are moral rotters, generally speaking? You have a few anecdotes…

  14. DavidF

    Tom Gilson,

    I think we agree on a great deal, actually. I definitely agree that marriage, as an institution, cannot be defined by the government – or by any person who happens to favor a particular definition.

    That is exactly why a fringe church can’t marry my wife to someone while we were married. That would be a contradiction in terms. Both our covenant to one another and my wife’s wishes would be violated by that (which makes the resulting contract anything but a marriage).

    I care about this because so much of modern western history is a history of secular powers, such as government, trying to seize control of religious commitments and institutions. Marriage is simply one example.

    That is to say, if the government is not allowed to tell me that I am not married to my wife, it does not have the power to define marriage. By fighting so hard to ensure that the government does not recognize SSM as valid, the church is sending the implicit message that the government, and therefore the voting public, define marriage.

    In the long run, this message definitely works against the promotion of an transcendent standard of marriage.

  15. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    No, I’m sorry. You may think the church is sending that message by fighting SSM, but come on. What happens if the church doesn’t fight it? The government is given the right to “define marriage” in all senses that the government thinks important, including the right to enforce its decisions.

    Marriage is a legal as well as a sacred institution. Necessarily.

  16. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You err, by the way, in considering marriage a “religious” institution. It has existed under every religion and it has existed without religion. It is God-ordained, certainly, but that alone does not make marriage religious (in the sense you seemed to be taking “religious,” as in that which is not to be encroached upon by the state) any more than the God-ordained function of breathing makes respiration religious.

    Some things are properly within the realm of the state.

  17. DavidF

    Yes, I do think that message is being sent.
    But you seem to think that I’m asking that the church simply do nothing. I’d rather the church start openly questioning the idea that it is the vote which decides what marriage will be.

    This is a great deal bigger than a single issue, actually. The misapplication of democracy to a form of moral relativism (wherein majority opinion decides moral truth) is a very big problem for our culture. I really think it is worth speaking up about, and I can think of no better opportunity than this one.

    But, I agree that marriage isn’t simply a “religious” institution as that word is typically understood. It is a personal and spiritual covenant.
    However, I don’t see any reason why it is, of necessity, a legal institution. I see no logical reason why a personal and spiritual commitment must necessarily be legal.

  18. Holopupenko

    @11 and @13

    Since when did empirical evidence (referenced and verifiable) ever get in the way of Sault’s broad-brush rants? He knows very well that the accusations he made apply to a small percentage of the members of the groups he intentionally maligned. It’s the intentionality behind his crude Dawkinsesque style that makes him a charlatan (per your related post, Tom)… in fact, Sault is a LIAR–again, precisely because of his intentionality and his broad-brushing. If Sault were consistent with his own logic, he should broad-brush ALL scientists because of Dawkins, climategate, cold fusion, fake dinosaur bird-fossils, phrenology, P.Z. Meyers’ ignorance, Hawking & Mlodinow nonsence, etc. He won’t. And so, perhaps atheism suffers from a lack of credibility because of Sault… looks like the, ahem, self-correcting nature of Sault’s atheism is, charitably put, lacking.

  19. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I’m rather expecting Sault to call that an extremely rude comment.

    I would suggest he look to his own latest one before he throws stones.

  20. Ray Ingles

    True, marriage has both legal aspects, and religious ones. There’s already a distinction between legal marriage and religious marriage – most obviously in the case of Catholicism.

    The Catholic Church does not recognize legal divorce. It states that people who divorce and remarry are in fact not ‘re-married’ at all – that that’s a contradiction in terms. Such people are simply committing adultery.

    But divorce is still legal anyway. People who don’t agree with the Catholic Church can behave differently.

    “Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question – how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.” – C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’

    I don’t see why allowing same-sex marriage in a legal sense would impact the rights of Christians who disagreed, any more than legal divorce and remarriage negatively impacts the rights of Catholics. (There’s also the fact that same-sex marriage doesn’t seem to be a significant issue in any numerical sense. The rate of homosexuality seems to be substantially less than the 10% figure that’s often been cited; certainly there would be fewer same-sex marriages than there are heterosexual divorces and adultery now. Why is same-sex marriage a priority on the level of a Constitutional amendment?)

  21. SteveK

    Ray,

    I don’t see why allowing same-sex marriage in a legal sense would impact the rights of Christians who disagreed, any more than legal divorce and remarriage negatively impacts the rights of Catholics.

    This issue is not about rights. Nobody’s rights are being violated in any of these situations – except when the state requires that religious people act/live in conflict with their religious principles. How many times does this need to be said?

  22. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    except when the state requires that religious people act/live in conflict with their religious principles. How many times does this need to be said?

    But how does allowing same-sex marriage require “religious people [to] act/live in conflict with their religious principles”? People who don’t believe in same-sex marriage don’t have to do so. And there are religious groups that will solemnize same-sex unions now, and they would be allowed to act/live in accordance with their religious principles as they are not now.

    Seems a win/win, no?

  23. SteveK

    Ray,

    People who don’t believe in same-sex marriage don’t have to do so.

    I didn’t mean to imply that they did. I was speaking in general terms – about when a violation of rights might actually be occurring. Right now, this issue is not about rights so your above comment is off the mark.

  24. Ray Ingles

    I’m libertarian enough to think that people should be able to arrange their families as they see fit so long as there’s no obvious, clear harm being done to children or non-consenting adults. (That means I’ll allow parents to opt out of vaccination – though that’s profoundly stupid and risky for more than just their own kids – but I’ll force lifesaving medical treatments on the kids of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists.)

    So far as I can see, not allowing people to solemnize marriages between homosexuals (and religions that allow that do exist) is a rights issue. Considering the “religious liberty” excitement lately, I’d figure this would be uncontroversial.

  25. SteveK

    Ray,
    You already know that these people can get married (opposite sex) and they can even get “married” (same sex), so no, none of this is about civil rights. Never has been.

  26. DoubtingMarcus

    Steve,

    That same argument was used in the 60s to say interracial marriage wasn’t a rights issue. After all, people had the right to get married in their own race. The fight for SSM is, just like the one for interracial marriage was, a matter of the state granting the same property rights to all couples.

    If such concerns over tax protections and hospital visitation aren’t about civil rights then what are they?

  27. SteveK

    DoubtingMarcus,

    The fight for SSM is, just like the one for interracial marriage was, a matter of the state granting the same property rights to all couples.

    The evidence tells me you are wrong about the fight for SSM today. A scant few are arguing for the right to have the things that married couples currently enjoy (like higher taxes 🙂 ), and that non-married couples do not. Most everyone today is arguing for the “right” to be legally recognized as a married couple.

    If you wanted to accurately compare what is happening today with what happened back in the 60’s, that comparison would look something like this: blacks in the 60’s were arguing to be legally recognized as white so they too could sit at the front of the bus and marry whites.

    That isn’t what happened, but it is what’s happening today.

  28. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    A scant few are arguing for the right to have the things that married couples currently enjoy

    Um, the main thing I see people talking about wrt same-sex marriage are things like custody rights, hospital visitation rights, estate benefits, health insurance benefits, and so forth. In other words, the things that come with being “legally recognized as a married couple”. A quick Google turned up several essays on the very first page, that lead with those very points.

    Part of the problem is that same-sex civil unions have been limited or outright banned by many of the state “Defense of Marriage” amendments. It’s very clear that those ‘defending marriage’ will accept no compromise or find any middle ground. In such circumstances, why should those who disagree aim for anything less than total victory themselves?

    Personally I’d prefer having only civil unions from a legal perspective, and allowing religions to handle marriages how they wist, but that doesn’t seem to be a popular option for now.

  29. David

    Personally I’d prefer having only civil unions from a legal perspective, and allowing religions to handle marriages how they wist, but that doesn’t seem to be a popular option for now.

    I actually share your preference, though the unpopularity of it doesn’t drive me to push for legally sanctioned SSM.

  30. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    “Not allowing people to solemnize marriages between homosexuals” isn’t a rights issue, it’s a reality issue. When the government obtains the power to declare that married men can be at the same time bachelors, then it could also have the power to declare that persons of the same sex could be married.

    I think the difference between you and me on this, Ray, is that you think the debate is about what marriage could be or should be. I think it’s about what marriage is and is not; that there is a real, existing is-ness about marriage, a nature or essence of marriage. I don’t think you believe that about marriage; I think you think marriage has no essential nature but is malleable according to opinion. Am I correct on that?

  31. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    When the government obtains the power to declare that married men can be at the same time bachelors, then it could also have the power to declare that persons of the same sex could be married.

    Legal status and metaphysical status is already distinct. I just pointed out the Catholic understanding, but there’s also adoption. In point of biological (and perhaps ontological) fact, an adopted child is not the child of an adoptive parent. But legally, they are, with all attendant rights and responsibilities.

    Some people – perhaps a birth parent whose rights have been severed – might not regard an adoptive parent as a ‘real’ parent, in the same way that Catholics don’t regard those remarried after divorce as ‘really’ married. But that’s a metaphysical question that the law is ill-equipped to address, especially when many people disagree about such things.

    I think you think marriage has no essential nature but is malleable according to opinion.

    I think legal marriage ought to be flexible enough to accomodate the wide range of metaphysical notions of marriage.

    Personally, I think marriage is a social arrangement designed around support of kids. I’m in a quite traditional marriage and it suits me just fine. But legal marriage has acquired a lot of other baggage.

    Look at Social Security numbers. They should never have been used as unique identifiers for so many things, and they should never ever have been used as anything resembling a password, but that’s the way it is now and it’s going to take work and time to untangle them.

    Right now, many hospitals (or at least, people in authority working at such hospitals) demonstrably insist on a legal family relationship to allow visitation, and have failed to honor medical powers of attorney. The policies should be much more flexible, but until and unless that happens – and note that with civil unions explicitly banned in many states, things seem to be moving in the wrong direction – making sure legal marriage is open to people who need such protection seems to be necessary.

    Again, if marriage were purely religious, and civil unions were the legal entity, a whole lot of this imbroglio would be moot. That’s my preferred route forward. That being blocked, the most reasonable route seems to be same-sex marriage. I don’t see where it harms anyone in any actionable way. (Just being offended doesn’t seem actionable.)

  32. SteveK

    Ray,

    I think legal marriage ought to be flexible enough to accomodate the wide range of metaphysical notions of marriage.

    And it’s a really wide range. Basically it’s anyone who identifies with being married. That’s the only criteria. People married to buildings, adults married to children, people married to themselves, groups married to other groups, etc. etc. This is where you want to take society?

  33. Holopupenko

    I think legal marriage ought to be flexible enough to accomodate the wide range of metaphysical notions of marriage

    You have no clue what metaphysics is about, based on your loose use of the word as a kind of filler for “world view” or “philosophy”… but this is to be expected based on your “understanding” of physics per what you write on your site. Lots and lots of ignorance erasure is needed…

    … which leads to this gem:

    I don’t see where [SSM] harms anyone in any actionable way.

    Well, that’s certainly the easy way out for someone who refuses to addresses Tom question of whatness of marriage, isn’t it? If you dared to spend any time at all understanding what marriage is (rather than assuming it’s a malleable notion), you might then understand that why SSM is literally against human nature. Hey, but you don’t even understand the term “nature,” do you? That’s part of the broader game you play: you feel “safest” with science (above noted ignorance notwithstanding), and so you try to impose a “scientific” understanding on all things. When that fails, things like marriage are malleable to the extent it suits your personal opinions and desires… which are then imposed on others under the guise of “I don’t see where…”. Exactly.

  34. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You say,

    I think legal marriage ought to be flexible enough to accomodate the wide range of metaphysical notions of marriage.

    How wide? On what principled basis?

  35. Crude

    I always remember this Dom Irrera sketch on Dr Katz, talking about gay marriage. Where Dom says, hey, he’s all in favor of gay marriage. In fact, he’d like to marry his best friend. After all, his friend has a great job – he’d get good spousal benefits, etc.

    Of course, they’re both straight, so they’d both be dating women. They wouldn’t even have to live together. But it’d be a pretty beneficial arrangement, at least for Dom.

    So I’ve got to ask – should Dom not be allowed to marry his friend?

  36. Post
    Author
  37. Crude

    Depends. What is marriage? 😉

    Indeed. 🙂

    But I’d actually ask that question of the ‘marriage for whoever wants it’ advocates. It’s supposed to be a joke, but really – why not allow that?

  38. Ray Ingles

    SteveK – You’re right, that should have been addressed to Tom.

    People married to buildings, adults married to children, people married to themselves, groups married to other groups, etc. etc. This is where you want to take society?

    Marriage is indeed a bond between people, so that excludes buildings or married to themselves. From a legal and social point of view, it’s a contract, which children aren’t able to enter into. As for groups married to other groups… I don’t have inclination to polygamy, but it’s hard to argue there’s no historical precedent, even in the Bible. It might be argued that it’s overall harmful for society (surplus of unmarried males; not working out so hot in Asia, for example) but then, so is opting out of vaccination, and we allow that.

    Holopupenko –

    Lots and lots of ignorance erasure is needed…

    Actually, you’re the one who’s displaying ignorance. (No, I won’t provide any specifics, just an general condemnation. You didn’t feel any need to provide specifics, so why should I?)

  39. Crude

    Marriage is indeed a bond between people, so that excludes buildings or married to themselves.

    Only if you’re saying ‘by definition’. So, let’s change the definition.

    From a legal and social point of view, it’s a contract, which children aren’t able to enter into.

    More definitions, easy to update. Why not do that?

    It might be argued that it’s overall harmful for society

    What’s this “harm” thing again? By whose metaphysic?

  40. Ray Ingles

    Tom Gilson –

    How wide? On what principled basis?

    Well, as noted above, adult humans would seem to be required. People forming families, potentially with children – adopted or otherwise – seems to be key, as I also noted before.

    And, as I noted before, legal marriage has become the sole way to share health-care benefits (and health-care access), custody, estate benefits, tax obligations, and so forth. Not all of these things need to be tied solely to marriage, but they are now. Separate those out and I’d be a lot more sympathetic to restricting the word ‘marriage’ to a particular cluster of those rights and benefits.

    So I’ve got to ask – should Dom not be allowed to marry his friend?

    If we had civil unions, possibly in varying ‘packages’, such arrangements might make sense. I’ll note that having a better health-care system that didn’t depend on employers would obviate a lot of the motives for such things.

    I’d like to ask you a question in return: Who would be harmed if Dom and his friend did marry?

  41. SteveK

    I’d like to ask you a question in return: Who would be harmed if Dom and his friend did marry?

    Dom and his friend. They’d think they were a married couple, when they were not.

  42. Crude

    Well, as noted above, adult humans would seem to be required. People forming families, potentially with children – adopted or otherwise – seems to be key, as I also noted before.

    ‘Seem to be required’? By who? Or what? The answer can’t be “legally” because we’re changing the laws, and we can always change them.

    Potential forming of families? So people who have no intention of having a family should be barred from marriage? And if so, again – on what grounds?

    If we had civil unions, possibly in varying ‘packages’, such arrangements might make sense.

    No civil unions. Marriage or bust.

    I’ll note that having a better health-care system that didn’t depend on employers would obviate a lot of the motives for such things.

    Why should the need be obviated to begin with? And where did I say that Dom was poor? His friend could be getting benefits above and beyond what could be expected from the government. And what makes not depending on employment “better” anyway?

    I’d like to ask you a question in return: Who would be harmed if Dom and his friend did marry?

    How do we quantify “harm” again? And what makes “harm of individuals” something to be concerned about to begin with?

    And that’s really the trick. You ask me “Who’s harmed?”, but that question is loaded with metaphysics from the outset – and at every turn, you’ll just question or reject the metaphysical or philosophical views that get in your way or that you think you can sacrifice so long as it gets you to where you want to go. And at the end you’ll tell me that this only makes sense if you accept my metaphysics and philosophy – you do not, ergo there’s no harm.

    But… I can play that game too. Anyone can. And the moment you start talking about the purpose of marriage, every little trick and dodge you deployed can be turned right around on you, until yes, absolutely everyone can be married because ‘marriage’ is infinitely malleable. That is, unless you knuckle down and say, ‘to hell with you. My metaphysics and philosophy are non-negotiable. I believe what I believe, and so do these other people. And by those views, this is the society we want, and you’ll just have to deal with it. Marriage is for these groups, period. Deal with it.’

    To which I say, “Wonderful. Then get off your damn high horse as I make the exact same move.”

  43. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    If Dom and his friend were to “marry,” there would be harm extending to the entire institution of marriage, by making it a mockery. There would be harm to the national intelligence besides.

    And yet by most SSM advocates’ views of marriage, neither of those is a good reason not to do it.

    By the way, when you say marriage is for people potentially building families: how many people? And on what principled ground?

  44. Sault

    I know this is a little late in reply, but the real world has called and kept me busy.

    Do you think the defnition of marriage is a moral question, Sault? It’s not. It’s a matter of ontology.

    He knows very well that the accusations he made apply to a small percentage of the members of the groups he intentionally maligned.

    I accept the criticism that my comment was to some degree overly broad. I cannot show that the opponents of same-sex marriage within the Catholic faith were responsible for their priests’ child abuse, for instance. While portions of my comments were correct (Mormon redefinition of marriage to include polygamy), and the overall theme was pointed towards that smaller subset of larger populations, I acknowledge that you are both correct in your criticism of it.

    I apologize for my sloppiness – while there is something to be said about the moral credentials of some of the opponents of same-sex marriage (and I truly meant it to be a narrow criticism), I phrased my argument poorly and somewhat fallaciously.

    If the discussion is about ontology and not moral character then my statements are off-topic anyways.

    I’m rather expecting Sault to call that an extremely rude comment.

    Actually, it was quite tame by Holo’s standards. I applaud his restraint.

  45. d

    All this talk of Dom and his friend… but wait… isn’t one of the rejoinders from the other side that Bob the gay guy’s rights really aren’t infringed because he can always marry his very best girl friend, and they can live happily (and platonically) ever after?

    It made an appearance in this thread no less…

    Is a little consistency too much to ask? Apparently.

  46. d

    SteveK,

    Its simple. You (and other anti-marriage folk (ie, those opposed to SSM) who make a similar “point”) are either insincere, or prejudiced against same-sex couples.

    On one hand, you say homosexuals are free marry their opposite-gender platonic friends… on the other you cry woe to the world if platonic friends are allowed marry one another (but only in the case of same-gender pairs).

    So which is it? Should platonic friends be allowed to marry or shouldn’t they? Is it insincerity or prejudice?

  47. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    d, this debate isn’t about platonic friends. The “Dom” issue actually highlights that fact.

    And you knew it wasn’t about platonic friends, too.

  48. Crude

    D, if you’d stop and think things through, you’d realize your reply gets you absolutely nowhere. No one here has said ‘gays should just marry females and live with them platonically if they want to get married so bad’, nor is that said by ‘the other side’. That’s some weird interpretation on your part.

    The fact that you apparently think that (for example) the Catholic Church’s position is ‘Marriage between totally platonic friends is okay!’ just illustrates that you’ve either never managed to read up on what ‘the opposing side’ says despite quite possibly years of talking about this issue, or you’ve twisted your reasoning to the point where you can’t even coherently state what ‘the other side’ actually thinks anymore.

    Meanwhile the Dom example is working great, since the extent of the pro-SSM response to it so far in this thread is walking the line between ‘no, that’s wrong for reasons which will blow apart my position if I bother to explain them’ or ‘well hey what’s wrong with two straight guys getting married anyway!?’

  49. d

    Crude,

    D, if you’d stop and think things through, you’d realize your reply gets you absolutely nowhere. No one here has said ‘gays should just marry females and live with them platonically if they want to get married so bad’

    Duh, that’s exactly my point – so lets see the anti-marriage crowd stop offering that very idea as a “serious” rebuttal. Its a ruse – its an “argument” in bad faith.

  50. d

    And meanwhile… on its own, the Dom example really illustrates exactly nothing.

    Platonic friends can get married right now, today, if they want.

  51. Crude

    Duh, that’s exactly my point – so lets see the anti-marriage crowd stop offering that as a rebuttal.

    Duh, again, you’ve got the little problem of A) no one’s argued that in this thread, and B) it’s not the position of the ‘anti-marriage crowd’ generally.

    Maybe what’s confusing you is the fact that someone with same-sex attraction can get married to a woman. If you’re under the impression that, say… a man with SSA is physically incapable of having sex with a woman, all I can say is that’s the most adorable claim I’ve heard coming into this new year.

    Really, man – I understand you’re instinctively opposed to all this in a ‘never give any ground!’ way. But flailing like this doesn’t help.

  52. Crude

    And meanwhile… on its own, the Dom example really illustrates exactly nothing.

    It illustrates plenty, which is why you’re trying pretty hard to keep from discussing it.

    Platonic friends can get married right now, today, if they want.

    And a variety of other abuses of marriage are possible too. Let me guess, this is part of the ‘you can already have some abuses of marriage, let’s open the floodgates!’ reply?

    In other words, sure: Dom Irrera should be allowed to marry his friend. That’s as legitimate a marriage as any other.

  53. d

    Crude,

    Of course, its just a given then that SSM would “open the floodgates” as you say…

    I see little reason offered to buy that grand canyon sized chasm of a “logical” leap.

  54. Crude

    Read the posts in this thread and try again.

    I have, and what I said stands. The closest you get is SteveK at 25 pointing out that yes, gays can get married to people of the opposite sex. ‘Platonic’ wasn’t mentioned there, nor is it necessary.

    As I said: ‘other abuses of marriage are possible, so let’s open the floodgates!’ as a response is not exactly impressive. I suppose your mileage may vary, eh?

  55. Crude

    Of course, its just a given then that SSM would “open the floodgates” as you say…

    I see little reason offered to buy that grand canyon sized chasm of a “logical” leap.

    You see little reason for it because you don’t really understand logic. You also aren’t very observant, because I have both you and Ray in this thread strongly implying a defense of the Dom marriage situation in order to remain consistent. The ‘logic’ is playing out in this very thread under that response.

    But if you turn around and say, ‘Well, no, Dom shouldn’t be allowed to marry his friend! These other arrangements shouldn’t be allowed either! Only these should be allowed, and this is what marriage should be defined as!’, I’m going to ask you how you arrive at that position. You can’t say ‘legal’ because we’re changing laws. If you give philosophical or metaphysical reasons, then apparently having such reasons suffice for justification even when people disagree – and opposition to SSM becomes grounded. And any appeal to ‘harm’ or ‘purpose’ is going to force you into a philosophical or metaphysical reply.

    Impale yourself on either prong of the fork – both are fine by me.

  56. d

    Crude,

    You simply declaring the “floodgates open” does not an argument make – I don’t think the “floodgates will open”. So there.

  57. Crude

    You simply declaring the “floodgates open” does not an argument make – I don’t think the “floodgates will open”. So there.

    Like I said, you do not understand logic.

    If the reply is, like Ray gave, that “I think legal marriage ought to be flexible enough to accomodate the wide range of metaphysical notions of marriage.”, you have already opened the floodgates. Period. The ‘wide range’ is quite endless, and it ultimately can be rephrased as ‘marriage should be whatever anyone wants to define it to be’.

    If you reply, ‘Okay, but I don’t think many people will do those!’, then you’re utterly missing the point. The ‘floodgates’ refer to intellectual consistency.

    If you pull back and say, ‘Well, okay, then we’ll limit the scope of marriage!’, then I’ll ask for the intellectual reasons and where they’re coming from, or how they’re grounded. You’re going to ultimately have to fall back on philosophy or metaphysical views, or something as simple as ‘It’s what I like!’ In which case, well, these other philosophical, metaphysical or subjective views will also do the job quite nicely.

    Like I said, take your pick. It doesn’t matter to me which you go for – I’m quite happy with either choice you make.

  58. d

    Crude,

    That is just another resurrection at the long dead and refuted slippery slope argument about SSM.

    Equality trumps a lot, but it doesn’t trump everything.

    There’s nothing about about supporting SSM that somehow magically makes it impossible to reject other forms of legal marriage based on their own merits.

  59. Crude

    That is just another resurrection at the long dead and refuted slippery slope argument about SSM.

    It’s never been killed, much less refuted. We’re seeing as much in this thread.

    There’s nothing about about supporting SSM that somehow magically makes it impossible to reject other forms of legal marriage based on their own merits.

    It’s not magic – it’s called logical consistency given particular arguments. Yes, I am very aware that someone can ditch logical consistency or even explanation and just say ‘I think SSM should be allowed because shut up!’ or ‘I think SSM should be allowed because the government shouldn’t decide who should and shouldn’t be married but I think polygamy shouldn’t be allowed because the government should be allowed to decide who should and shouldn’t be married!’

    That’s a weakness of my argument: it has no effect on people who are completely content with being inconsistent, with having ungrounded views or who are comfortable with cognitive dissonance. Somehow, I like the argument anyway.

  60. d

    Crude,

    ‘I think SSM should be allowed because the government shouldn’t decide who should and shouldn’t be married but I think polygamy shouldn’t be allowed because the government should be allowed to decide who should and shouldn’t be married!’

    If that’s how you think the best arguments go on the SSM side (or thats even a fair characterization of the points Ray has offered in this thread), then you aren’t even worth the bother – you are one of the unreachably irrational that you speak of.

  61. SteveK

    d,

    There’s nothing about about supporting SSM that somehow magically makes it impossible to reject other forms of legal marriage based on their own merits.

    It is magical in a sense to abandon the principles you hold for supporting SSM in favor of a fresh set of principles just so you can deny some other form of marriage.

    The more difficult trick is to hold onto the same unyielding principle while supporting SSM and denying other forms of marriage at the same time. I haven’t seen that trick done yet, but maybe it’s out there.

  62. Crude

    If that’s how you think the best arguments go on the SSM side (or thats even a fair characterization of the points Ray has offered in this thread), then you aren’t even worth the bother – you are one of the unreachably irrational that you speak of.

    Who said anything about the ‘best arguments’? I’m certainly dealing with some popular pro-SSM approaches to this topic – that’s worthy enough by my standards. And the ‘points’ Ray has offered in this thread are entirely open to my replies – really, a fair chunk of my contribution here has been asking Ray questions and pointing out the problems with however he’ll respond. Meanwhile, all you’ve really done is totally misunderstand your opponents, mangle some readings, and namecall.

    Really, d – you don’t want to bother? Then fine: don’t. All you’ve done in this thread is misunderstand things, intentionally try to distract, and get increasingly huffy. You’re just a speedbump, in terms of this discussion – a small one. I don’t think Ray’s going to do much better, but at least he’s more likely to actually try.

  63. Fleegman

    Christians who oppose SSM have interpreted the Bible as defining it to be one man and one woman. I don’t think that’s too controversial a statement, right?

    Unless you can convince them that a man marrying a man is a man and a woman, you can’t even get out of the gate, so what’s the point in trying?

    It is obvious that this is the primary reason for the opposition to SSM and further evidence that Tom’s post on non-religious reasons to fight against SSM was no more than a smoke screen to be used in legal battle and not, as he claims, the actual reasons he and his fellow Christians so vehemently oppose SSM.

    Fortunately the secular reasons for opposing SSM are unsubstantiated and weak. Thanks to the First Amendment this virtually guarantees that SSM will simply become a normal part of life in the not too distant future.

    A few decades from now, when SSM is accepted into the definition of marriage, the interpretations of the relevant Bible passages will change to allow it and life in The Church: The Next Generation will move on with openly gay pastors filling the ranks, as they have already begun to.

    Christians will even maintain that they were instrumental in making the change. And they will use their new interpretations as evidence of that.

  64. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Elementary logic, Fleegman:

    If Reason A supports conclusion C, and Reason B also supports conclusion C, Reason B does not cancel out Reason A.

    There are both religious and secular reasons to support man-woman marriage. Both can be valid and true at the same time, and in spite of your breezy dismissal, I’m quite certain that both are.

    Which of those reasons is “primary” has much more to do with “What motivates Person S to speak up?” than with “Which reason is more valid, true, or convincing?”

    So where your comment is possibly true (motivation) it is irrelevant to the question of what is right (logic); and on the question of logic, yours is fallacious.

  65. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    As for your predictions of the future: that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I think you’re wrong on that, too, but I don’t care to engage in squabbles over it. Powerful though the Internet and other sources are, we still have precious little actual information coming our way from the actual future.

  66. Fleegman

    Tom,

    I wasn’t using “primary” to mean “more convincing,” so I’m not sure what you mean when you say my logic is flawed.

    All I’m saying is – as you agreed – the primary motivation for Christians is accepted Christian dogma on the subject. Since this is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned, you have to come up with secular reasons. These reasons are weak, so it follows that it’s only a matter of time before it’s an accepted part of society.

  67. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    By the way, “what motivates Person S” to speak up is an individual matter, because individuals’ motivations differ.

    What motivates me to speak up on SSM is that I think it’s wrong and harmful.

  68. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    If it’s only a matter of time, then it’s only a matter of time.

    But speaking of logic, please give it up with the argumentum ad I-know-what-people-in-the-future-will-think. It’s fallacious as can be.

  69. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Evidence of inability to read:

    All I’m saying is – as you agreed – the primary motivation for Christians is accepted Christian dogma on the subject.

  70. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I’ll accept your correction on the logic question in your first paragraph of #69, though: I mishandled that and I was wrong there.

  71. Fleegman

    If you can point me at the part of my comment when I say “SSM should be allowed because they will allow it in the future” I will gladly retract it.

  72. Fleegman

    Thanks for that acknowledgment, Tom.

    By the way, is there any way you can make the mobile version of the site include comment numbers? People often refer to them so it can be difficult to keep track on mobile devices. Cheers,

  73. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Thanks, Fleegman.

    That numbering issue is important. If I can get some help later today or this week I might be able to get it solved. I just tried some things myself that didn’t seem to work.

  74. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Fleegman, you say,

    If you can point me at the part of my comment when I say “SSM should be allowed because they will allow it in the future” I will gladly retract it.

    You weren’t that direct, but the tenor of your discussion here or elsewhere is on the lines of, “you’re making a mistake and the future will prove you are wrong.” You persisted in that even after I wrote,

    As for your predictions of the future: that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I think you’re wrong on that, too, but I don’t care to engage in squabbles over it.

    It seems to me you’re thinking that this appeal to the future adds weight or force to your argument, else why would you bring it up, and why would you repeat it that way?

  75. Fleegman

    Tom,

    You weren’t that direct, but the tenor of your discussion here or elsewhere is on the lines of, “you’re making a mistake and the future will prove you are wrong.”

    While I certainly do think that’s the case, I wasn’t using that to add weight to any argument since my comment was pointing out the futility of arguing with Christians on points of Christian dogma. Until that dogma changes to accept SSM, Christians won’t accept it no matter how good your arguments.

    I then went on to make some predictions which you can take with as much or little salt as you like.

    I did not make an argument for SSM. I have done so in the past on this site, yes, but that is not relevant to my comment here.

  76. G. Rodrigues

    @Fleegman:

    “Since this is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned, you have to come up with secular reasons.”

    Define “secular reasons”.

  77. Post
    Author
  78. Post
    Author
  79. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Fleegman, I’m glad you appreciate my acknowledgment that I got something wrong.

    If you were treating this as a real dialogue, you would see and accept your opportunities here to do likewise (@#72, 5:44 am).

  80. Fleegman

    Tom,

    You’re attacking an argument I didn’t make, and then asking me to admit the mistake. Frankly, I’m at a loss.

  81. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You incorrectly said I agreed with something here:

    All I’m saying is – as you agreed – the primary motivation for Christians is accepted Christian dogma on the subject.

  82. Fleegman

    Oh sorry, I thought you meant something else. Yes, I misrepresented your view there, I agree. You said it was possibly true, but I went a step too far by saying you agreed with the point.

  83. Crude

    Christians who oppose SSM have interpreted the Bible as defining it to be one man and one woman. I don’t think that’s too controversial a statement, right?

    Actually, it is, because the reasons go vastly beyond ‘Bible interpretation’. To start with, there are natural law arguments. There are secular arguments which you seem to acknowledge – you simply want to avoid them utterly. And ultimately you’re going to want to do that because ‘arguments’ have nothing to do with any of this for most pro-SSM people. In fact, arguments are something they want to avoid talking about – hence it staying at the slogan level.

    As for your predictions about the future, they do not concern me. I’ll simply say that even if they came to pass, in a hundred years people would look back at that point in horror at their stupidity and arrogance.

    Ah, the joys of time – it never stops marching onward.

  84. Ray Ingles

    Woof, gone for a few days and there’s a lot to catch up on.

    SteveK –

    Dom and his friend [would be harmed by thinking] they were a married couple, when they were not.

    ‘Harmed’ in any legally-actionable sense? On what theory, exactly? (Note, if they were harmed in, say, a spiritual way, you would be free to attempt to persuade them of this, at least so long as you avoided harassment.)

    Crude –

    The answer can’t be “legally” because we’re changing the laws, and we can always change them.

    The law has different logical and conceptual categories, though. Relations between people and property are covered by… property law. Relations between people and animals are covered by various animal husbandry laws and so forth. There’s traffic law, bankruptcy law, tax law, injury law, etc.

    And then there’s family law, which marriage falls into. I’m not proposing completely restructuring all of law. Let’s assume that I’m working within the framework and concerns of family law – spouses, children, etc.

    So people who have no intention of having a family should be barred from marriage?

    Well, the Catholic church thinks so, but I’m not proposing that. Legal families don’t have to include children or the intention for them. Given adoption, in-laws, and so forth, biological relatedness is already not required for legal families.

    You ask me “Who’s harmed?”, but that question is loaded with metaphysics from the outset

    I’ll happily narrow the question as I did for SteveK. Who is harmed in a legally actionable way?

    And what makes not depending on employment “better” anyway?

    I don’t think this already lengthy thread will benefit from a detour into health-care policy.

    and at every turn, you’ll just question or reject the metaphysical or philosophical views that get in your way or that you think you can sacrifice so long as it gets you to where you want to go.

    Glad you’ve got everything mapped out like that, including understanding me so well you don’t even have to actually have a conversation with me or make your own case or anything. You can explain why I’ve reached wrong conclusions without having to actually explain how I’m wrong.

    In a thread that bemoans the ‘slogan effect’, I can only hope you’re being ironic?

    No civil unions. Marriage or bust.

    As I’ve noted already, that attitude has resulted in polarization on both sides, which has resulted in cementing of that attitude, which…

  85. Ray Ingles

    Crude –

    And a variety of other abuses of marriage are possible too. Let me guess, this is part of the ‘you can already have some abuses of marriage, let’s open the floodgates!’ reply?

    If two opposite-sex platonic friends get married, is that an ‘abuse of marriage’? What of a marriage that starts out with a carnal component and then loses that component (due to injury, illness, simple lack of interest)? Is that no longer a marriage?

    In other words, is that a bug or a feature?

    The ‘wide range’ is quite endless, and it ultimately can be rephrased as ‘marriage should be whatever anyone wants to define it to be’.

    Well, an important codicil: ‘consistent with the common good in balance.’

    For example, in the wake of Employment Division v. Smith, I’m glad that Oregon revised their laws to allow religious use of peyote. Allowing any religious exemption to any law is too broad. But allowing religious exemptions to laws when, on balance, it’s the best (or least harmful) compromise makes sense. (I seem to recall some kind of current ‘religious liberty’ controversy…)

    The law needs to accomodate people with a very wide range of “philosophy or metaphysical views”, and strike balances and find workable compromizes. Most Christians already support the current compromize that allows divorce, while the Catholic church is free to make its own rules for its own members.

    Crude, you already accept that balance is necessary. So the debate is between different balance points, not anarchy nor one or another absolute totalitarianism.

  86. SteveK

    Ray,

    ‘Harmed’ in any legally-actionable sense? On what theory, exactly?

    First, anything can be deemed legally actionable if there is a relevant law on the books that gives those actions power. For example, the bill of rights can be legally dismantled just as quickly as it was created, and with that there would be no harm (in the legal sense) in violating a person’s rights.

    If your argument relies on the law, then what happens when the law turns against you – does your argument suddenly become invalid?

    Second, is it harmful for a person to believe and act upon a falsehood? I would say it is harmful because it robs the person of the value of knowing the truth – and the truth is valuable.

    So my statement “Dom and his friend [would be harmed by thinking] they were a married couple, when they were not.” is true of indeed they were not a married couple.

    And with that, we are back to the main question: what is marriage?

  87. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    For example, the bill of rights can be legally dismantled just as quickly as it was created

    Are you referring to armed insurrection, a Constutional convention, or proposal in Congress then ratification by at least 3/4 of the states? If that’s ‘easy’, what do you consider hard? Are you a superhero?

    If your argument relies on the law, then what happens when the law turns against you – does your argument suddenly become invalid?

    Let me ask you a clarifying question: Are you proposing that there is an existing legal definition of harm that ‘Dom and his friend getting married’ would fit, or are you proposing some form of harm that the law does not currently take into account, but should?

    So far as I can see, it has to be one or the other of those propositions. I’m not really sure how to reply until that’s clarified.

    is it harmful for a person to believe and act upon a falsehood?

    Not necessarily. And note that existing law only bans falsehood in certain narrow areas – oath or affirmation in legal proceedings, fraud, and so forth. “White lies” are perfectly legal. (Are you arguing that they shouldn’t be?)

    Consider a person who believes that women are inherently worse chess players than men. They are wrong, but should this belief be illegal? Should it be illegal to express this belief? I’d say not. People are actually harmed in a direct and medically demonstrable sense by the belief that vaccines cause autism, but that belief is not currently illegal. Should it be?

    So, again – would Don&Friend be harmed by some existing legal rationale? If so, what? If it’s another rationale that isn’t currently enacted in law, but that you wish to be enacted – what is that rationale?

  88. SteveK

    Ray,

    Are you proposing that there is an existing legal definition of harm that ‘Dom and his friend getting married’ would fit, or are you proposing some form of harm that the law does not currently take into account, but should?

    I think it’s the first one. I’m no lawyer but I’m thinking slander and/or liable could be charged if state law defined me in some way that was false. I may not win my case, but the law gives me recourse.

    Note that the case would be decided on the merits – in other words, if the legal definition was actually false I would be owed some form of compensation by the state. It may only be an apology, but it would validate the fact that falsehoods result in harm that deserve compensation.

    They are wrong, but should this belief be illegal?

    No it shouldn’t. On the other hand, a falsehood should not be propagated among society by passing a law that essentially says the falsehood is true.

  89. SteveK

    Ray,
    And this…

    Me: is it harmful for a person to believe and act upon a falsehood?

    You: Not necessarily

    I think is disingenuous. If you acted upon a lie that I told you was true (not in fun) – no matter how small this falsehood was – you would sense the harm I did to you. That harm comes to you via lack of respect, not treating you as you deserve to be treated, deceiving you. You’d demand compensation in the form of an apology. You could rationalize it away as no big deal, but that would be you rationalizing away the harm.

  90. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    I’m no lawyer but I’m thinking slander and/or liable could be charged if state law defined me in some way that was false.

    I’m no lawyer, but suing the government is actually kind of difficult. In any case, slander and/or libel have specific legal definitions. At minimum a statement has to be (a) false, and (b) defamatory – as in, caused actual (legally recognized) harm, and (c) made without adequate support. (Note that (c) means you can’t be guilty of slander or libel if you reasonably believed the statement to be true.)

    Note also that statements of opinion aren’t actionable. Someone calling you a jerk, or ugly, isn’t slander – even if you could somehow show they actually thought you were admirable and beautiful.

    Wikipedia is a decent place to start, though you could consult with a lawyer or at least a law dictionary for more details.

    That harm comes to you via lack of respect, not treating you as you deserve to be treated, deceiving you. You’d demand compensation in the form of an apology.

    Again, not everything that requires an apology (either morally or by manners) carries a legal compulsion of apology.

    And only in a very few circumstances does the government legally demand respect – e.g. contempt of court, or contempt of Congress. And outside of court or congressional processdings, you can call a judge or a congressman slime.

    At this point, I have to admit I’m not seeing a theory of harm based on existing law.

  91. SteveK

    Ray,

    At this point, I have to admit I’m not seeing a theory of harm based on existing law.

    The law may or may not reflect truth so I’m not arguing for harm according to the law. You are doing that. I’m arguing for the truth, and it’s a matter of truth that falsehoods do harm.

    We know this truth because we correct every falsehood when it comes to our attention (unless we are being purposefully deceitful). Correcting a falsehood is an admission that leaving it uncorrected would somehow result in harm.

  92. Crude

    Glad you’ve got everything mapped out like that, including understanding me so well you don’t even have to actually have a conversation with me or make your own case or anything.

    You can always surprise me and deviate from the script. The problem is, it really looks like you’re incapable of doing so, and that you realize you’re incapable of doing so.

    I’ll happily narrow the question as I did for SteveK. Who is harmed in a legally actionable way?

    And it’s a nonsense reply and a dodge to my question, precisely for the reasons I brought up already.

    As I’ve noted already, that attitude has resulted in polarization on both sides, which has resulted in cementing of that attitude, which…

    So there’s polarization – big deal. I’m willing to tough it out. In fact, I think I can win. Apparently that’s all I need.

    If two opposite-sex platonic friends get married, is that an ‘abuse of marriage’? What of a marriage that starts out with a carnal component and then loses that component (due to injury, illness, simple lack of interest)? Is that no longer a marriage?

    Should I take your unwillingness to answer the questions I’ve thrown at you as an inability?

    Yes, two platonic friends getting married is an abuse of marriage as traditionally conceived. Your other questions are irrelevant, since tragedy or other such can strike during marriage – a completely different topic, a question of what dissolves a marriage rather than what legitimizes the initial union.

    Well, an important codicil: ‘consistent with the common good in balance.’

    Hahaha. Except the ‘common good’ is yet another thing that has to be defined.

    What is the ‘common good’ and what makes it ‘good’? It used to be that regarding heterosexual couplings and desires as the exclusive norm was under the ‘common good’, even for the secular. That view changed.

    So go ahead – define this ‘common good’ and show me how you arrive at it. Let’s see these ‘secular reasons’.

    The law needs to accomodate people with a very wide range of “philosophy or metaphysical views”, and strike balances and find workable compromizes.

    “Needs”? Why? It’s managed to work for a very, very long time without doing that, for various definitions of ‘work’. And there, of course, is the other question – how do you tell whether law or society is working, which cashes out to ‘running as it should’? Back to those secular reasons.

    Really, that is a poor move, considering the age of the US and how recently the gay marriage innovation has shown up.

    Crude, you already accept that balance is necessary.

    No, I don’t. I’m questioning the whole spread of reasoning at this point – I think it’s a canard.

    So, I await those secular reasons, I await the justification of what does and does not qualify as ‘harm’. And if you tell me that a state can’t thrive without allowing for a broad array of metaphysical views, I’m going to ask for your definition of thriving – and for just about any you pick, you’re either going to have a very esoteric view, or history will be against you.

  93. Ray Ingles

    Crude –

    And it’s a nonsense reply and a dodge to my question

    You’re asking me to develop an entire moral theory and squeeze it into a blog comment. I’m just asking you to refer to existing laws (which “work”, according to you) and cite which ones specify ‘harm’ in a particular case. Odd that neither you nor SteveK can do so.

    Should I take your unwillingness to answer the questions I’ve thrown at you as an inability?

    Well, I have answered your questions, which is different from you not liking the answers. On the other hand, you’ve very explicitly refused to answer my much simpler and narrower ones.

    Now, to answer your followup questions:

    What is the ‘common good’ and what makes it ‘good’?

    (See, I answered referring to the ‘common good’ and now you’re asking followup questions.)

    Other humans are an inevitable part of every humnan’s environment. We have to work out ways of humans relating to other humans. One subset of the solutions we’ve come up with is laws and government.

    Humans are extremely variable, but not infinitely variable. They have a lot of needs and desires (we can take, say, Maslow’s Hierarchy as a first approximation; feel free to quibble over placement and levels, it doesn’t make much difference).

    Most people a quite willing to work with each other to secure and promote such interests; hardly surprising from an evolutionary perspective. But neither is it surprising that there’d be ‘cheating’ and deception and so forth. Hence laws and regulations and punishments as deterrence.

    So people work together to come up with legal systems (along with other social systems) to help protect and promote their interests – which are variable, but again not infinitely variable. Life’s not a zero-sum game, and game theory shows that in such situations clear rules prevent miscommunication and streamline interactions.

    A few things we’ve learned over the last hundred thousand years or so: Guaranteeing everybody certain basic rights is a good idea – everyone’s a minority in some sense. More freedom’s better than less, where possible – slave societies stagnate. (E.g. ancient Greece, American south pre-Civil War, the Soviet Union.) Letting a justice system take over punishments works better than cycles of revenge; among other reasons, it avoids endless cycles of retribution.

    Of course this process isn’t perfect – we learn more as we go along. There won’t be a perfect legal system any more than there’ll ever be a perfect form of engineering. But we do keep learning better techniques.

    “Needs”? Why? It’s managed to work for a very, very long time without doing that, for various definitions of ‘work’.

    Not that we haven’t discussed those definitions before. So my discussion of ‘things we’ve learned’ above can hardly come as a surprise to you.

    And yes, there’s plenty of room for uncertainty – but that argues for more freedom, not less.

    I’ve linked to the 1912 Catholic encyclopedia article on the ‘woman question’. It has gems like: “For the studious woman as for others who earn a livelihood the academic calling is only a temporary position. The sexes can never be on an equality as regards studies pursued at a university.” But nowadays women actually outnumber men at universities overall. Imagine all the talent that would have been wasted had there been a law that banned women from higher education.

    Well, we don’t have to imagine the consequences of laws mandating separate educational tracks. We had Segregation here, after all.

    If something’s actually a bad idea, consequences show up. If women couldn’t handle a university education, it’d be clear by now. Turns out not to be the case.

    Even when there are consequences, people can choose what they want to risk for themselves. I wish the wind hadn’t picked up when I tried (twice!) to go parachuting. Now I have kids and I don’t choose to take that risk. But I’d be opposed to a law that banned people from assuming that risk.

    Now, when hurting other people, that’s an issue. So we have safeguards like consent, and the principle that kids can’t give consent to many things.

    And if you tell me that a state can’t thrive without allowing for a broad array of metaphysical views, I’m going to ask for your definition of thriving

    See, y’know, above, or the link where you stopped responding.

  94. SteveK

    Ray,

    Odd that neither you nor SteveK can do so.

    As I stated above in #94, my argument regarding harm doesn’t depend on what is actionable according to the current law, it depends on the truth. If no laws were in effect, there would still be harm done in certain circumstances – which is why we create laws in the first place – so don’t get too hung up on asking me to cite a specific law. It’s irrelevant.

  95. Fleegman

    BillT,

    Also, tell us why your basis is better, fairer, or superior in whatever way you can, to one based on the Bible.

    The thing is, I don’t have to tell you, it’s written into the Constitution. Look, I apologise for continuing to beat this long dead horse, but I don’t think I’m making this clear enough.

    I’m not arguing that non-religious reasons are better than religious ones, and since I’m not making that claim, then why do you think I have to back it up?

    The closest I came to that was saying they’re arbitrary, but only after being pushed by G.Rodrigues. And while I certainly think that’s a good reason to favour non-religious over religious laws – and of course Christians would argue that they are not arbitrary – that’s not the point I’m making or have been making.

    Tom,

    What would happen then to all your First Amendment objections to religious argumentation, and what would be left of your argument?

    Considering my argument – in this thread, and the thread we came from – is that Christians need good non-religious reasons to make a case against SSM thanks to the First Amendment, with respect, your question seems somewhat out of place.

    I’m not actually arguing – again, in this thread, and the thread we came from – that secular laws are better than religious laws (although I do of course think that’s true), I’m saying that on their own, they can’t make a case against SSM. If this were not a First Amendment issue then of course I wouldn’t be here pointing this out.

  96. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    my argument regarding harm doesn’t depend on what is actionable according to the current law, it depends on the truth.

    Any suggestions as to how the existing law could be modified to take into account the truth (as you see it)?

    I’ve pointed out examples of things that are demonstrably medically harmful to children that are nevertheless not illegal. The simple existence of harm doesn’t mandate a law to address it. Some harms can’t be addressed by laws (can’t make it illegal for lightning to strike people, for example). And in other cases – like, say, the cases I’ve pointed out multiple times now – a law addressing them would cause worse harms than the existing situation. Prohibition, for example.

    So, you have to not just establish (or at least assert) harm, you have to make a positive case that laws can address it, and also that laws will not cause other harms worse than the harm you want to address.

    So far, I haven’t seen a good case made that allowing SSM will cause terrible harms. I’ll be curious to see what happens in those states that have allowed it…

  97. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Ray, this is morally reprehensible:

    So far, I haven’t seen a good case made that allowing SSM will cause terrible harms. I’ll be curious to see what happens in those states that have allowed it…

    I’ve explained why past. Do I need to repeat it? Isn’t it just obvious?

  98. SteveK

    Ray,

    So, you have to not just establish (or at least assert) harm, you have to make a positive case that laws can address it, and also that laws will not cause other harms worse than the harm you want to address.

    I don’t think you get it. I’m proposing that a law propagating a falsehood ought to be blocked from becoming law. I hope you can see the harm in allowing it to become law. If you can’t then let me give you a hypothetical example: a law that defines a baby under 3 months old as a non-human being, or a person over age 70 as having no civil rights.

    Can the law address it? Yes, by keeping it off the books in order to avoid the harm.

    Now, you’re going to object and say it’s not a falsehood that same-sex couples are married couples so a law that declares that is not harmful. If you do that I’m glad, because that will get us back to the issue of: What is marriage? It always comes back to that.

  99. Ray Ingles

    Tom Gilson –

    I’ve explained why [in the] past.

    There’s a difference between seeing a case for it and seeing a good case for it. I specified the latter. 🙂

  100. Post
    Author
  101. Crude

    You’re asking me to develop an entire moral theory and squeeze it into a blog comment.

    I’m asking you to tell me, among other things, what ‘secular reasons’ are. You seem to want to assume that there are these things, ‘secular reasons’, that not only non-controversially exist but also that everyone apparently agrees they’re great and should be the basis for our decisions. I’m questioning that entire view.

    If you want to complain that it’s too complicated to get into, great. Then what’s there to discuss?

    I’m just asking you to refer to existing laws (which “work”, according to you) and cite which ones specify ‘harm’ in a particular case. Odd that neither you nor SteveK can do so.

    Getting laws that ‘work’ is cheap, and if that’s the standard, the conversation is over: demonstrably, states opposed to SSM ‘work’.

    You’ve asked me to show how SSM causes harm. I’ve asked you to define harm, and I pointed out the sort of problems that are going to come up if you try to do so – it will turn out quite a lot of your assault on opposition to SSM can be turned around on support for SSM. If you let me define ‘harm’ metaphysically/philosophically as I choose, then I’ll point out that under those definitions ‘gay marriage’ itself is harm.

    So again, I await you to define and defend ‘secular reasons’, ‘common good’, and so on.

    Well, I have answered your questions, which is different from you not liking the answers. On the other hand, you’ve very explicitly refused to answer my much simpler and narrower ones.

    No, Ray – I’ve answered your questions. YOU refuse to answer mine, or you give answers that themselves are vacuous. Hence the ‘followups’, ie, talk of common good.

    And your response just illustrates why I keep asking these ‘followup’ questions. Let’s take a look at some examples.

    Humans are extremely variable, but not infinitely variable. They have a lot of needs and desires (we can take, say, Maslow’s Hierarchy as a first approximation; feel free to quibble over placement and levels, it doesn’t make much difference).

    Actually, it makes quite a lot of difference insofar as it’s relevant – and in large part, it’s irrelevant.

    I ask you about what makes the ‘common good’ good, and you ultimately reply with a pragmatic appeal: ‘well, for some people, if they think strategically and cautiously, will tend to favor such and such policies for their own benefit’. But the problem with every move based on pragmatic appeal is the individual pragmatism in play: when it’s not beneficial to them to play along, they can act differently. Even if the odds are against them on a particular choice, they may find it worthwhile.

    In other words, the ‘common good’ is never ‘good’ in a meaningful sense, and stops being ‘common’ regularly.

    This is all before pointing out that you’re right back to making, ultimately, metaphysical arguments. Throwing out Maslow’s hierarchy means nothing – it’s pretty trivial to reject that hierarchy, save for the absolute bottom rung. And even the absolute bottom rung is open to doubt, since it’s going to depend on the value of life.

    A few things we’ve learned over the last hundred thousand years or so: Guaranteeing everybody certain basic rights is a good idea – everyone’s a minority in some sense. More freedom’s better than less, where possible – slave societies stagnate. (E.g. ancient Greece, American south pre-Civil War, the Soviet Union.) Letting a justice system take over punishments works better than cycles of revenge; among other reasons, it avoids endless cycles of retribution.

    ‘We’, meaning humanity, have learned no such thing, and you seem critically incapable of actually questioning the very things I’m questioning in your views. You say societies stagnate, but just what counts as progress and why it’s desirable is yet another question. Whether justice even exists, or whether institutionalized legal bodies have a good track record at doling it out, is still yet another question.

    Your responses are fitting the pattern I said they would, and you’re pretty much proving my point here. Your entire response to anti-SSM arguments is to put your hands on your hips and huff and say that the arguments aren’t to your satisfaction, in part because you don’t see how they cause harm. But once we start questioning what is and isn’t ‘harmful’ or ‘good’ – once we starting asking for those ‘secular reasons’ – it turns out you just have a pack of metaphysical views, every bit as open to question as the metaphysical views your reject. And if you circles the wagons and try to say that, metaphysical and philosophical though they may be, you’re going to abide by them and call them right, then don’t be so surprised when opponents of SSM do the exact same thing.

    In other words, your stance is a bluff at the end of the day. At best, it’s play acting.

    But nowadays women actually outnumber men at universities overall. Imagine all the talent that would have been wasted had there been a law that banned women from higher education.

    And here we’re at another point of disagreement. You see the abundance of people in universities as exploiting talent – I see it as placing an unnecessary burden on people generally. Not on ‘women’, but people generally: too many people are culturally pressured into going into college, often while taking on considerable and inescapable debt.

    What’s more, considering the amount of cultural and flat out artificial encouragement that goes on with regards to university education, arguing that the statement you quoted was incorrect is disingenuous.

    If something’s actually a bad idea, consequences show up.

    That’s assuming you’re capable of properly ascertaining the consequences – which is yet another question at issue in this conversation. Whether consequences are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ circles right around back into the question of how one decides whether and outcome, in particular or in aggregate, is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

    See, y’know, above, or the link where you stopped responding.

    Generally when a conversation goes on too long or rolls off the front page of a site, I – and I think most people – find better things to do. Doubly so if a conversation just plain turns out to be unproductive.

    I ask you for ‘secular reasons’, I ask you to defend and define ‘good’, because I think that’s critical to illustrate why not only your arguments, but your questions are fatally flawed in your attempt to criticize anti-SSM arguments. Your response only helps illustrate my point.

  102. Crude

    Since my conversations with Ray tend to devolve into a lot of back and forth, I want to explain the point I’m trying to get across to any interested onlookers.

    The reason I ask, over and over, for defining of secular reasons or ‘good’ or ‘harm’ is because, typically, these terms are talked about without much reflection on what the terms actually mean, how they’re grounded, and so on. At the same time, if someone disagrees with this or that being discouraged or outlawed, there’s a demand for reasons – “What harm does it cause?” – and a tendency to deploy every skeptical or questioning response to the arguments offered. At the end of the day, the person will have to appeal to their underlying metaphysics (or their subjective whims), to which the response is ‘Well, I reject those, so you don’t convince me and that’s how you know your argument is bad.’

    I’m pointing out that this same move can be repeated for just about everything, including some very common, popular and typically unexamined views – with the result that everyone, including people who talk up ‘secularism’, ultimately has to fall back to their subjective desires or their fundamental metaphysical commitments and the reasoning that flows from there. In fact, if Fish is right, ‘the secular’ actually can’t even fall back on their metaphysical commitments, because those very commitments pretty much guarantee that the only reasons available to them ARE subjective ones … and if subjective reasons are fair game, they’re fair for anti-SSM advocates as much as pro-SSM advocates. Metaphysical and philosophical reasons, meanwhile, are entirely fair game from the outset.

  103. Ray Ingles

    Tom Gilson –

    Ray, do you really mean to say it isn’t obvious to you?!

    Uh, well, yeah.

    Crude –

    You’ve asked me to show how SSM causes harm.

    Point of information – I’ve asked you to show how SSM causes harm as harm is defined in our existing laws. If you want to also offe another definition of harm yourself, or ask me about how I define harm, that’s cool. I’d just like you to answer that question first.

    BTW, your demand for “secular reasons” would best be addressed to, say, Fleegman, who’s someone who’s actually used those words in this discussion.

    I, on the other hand, have presented – in your words – “a pragmatic appeal”.

    In other words, the ‘common good’ is never ‘good’ in a meaningful sense, and stops being ‘common’ regularly.

    The fact that people often g for short-term benefits that cost them in the long term doesn’t mean those long-term benefits don’t exist. Humans need food, shelter, security, etc. Cooperation produces this.

    it turns out you just have a pack of metaphysical views, every bit as open to question as the metaphysical views your reject.

    When did I claim otherwise? Quotes of my words would be the most useful.

    And if you circles the wagons and try to say that, metaphysical and philosophical though they may be, you’re going to abide by them and call them right

    No, I’ll argue for them. You seem to want to have some other kind of argument.

    too many people are culturally pressured into going into college, often while taking on considerable and inescapable debt.

    The question of how education is funded is rather separate from what benefits it can provide and who might benefit from it. You sound like the people who figured universal literacy was a ridiculous goal because not everyone needed to know how to read.

    What’s more, considering the amount of cultural and flat out artificial encouragement that goes on with regards to university education, arguing that the statement you quoted was incorrect is disingenuous.

    Wait, there’s advertisements for, and social benefits from, going to college… and therefore “The sexes can never be on an equality as regards studies pursued at a university”? I’m not sure you’re the best judge of an argument…

    That’s assuming you’re capable of properly ascertaining the consequences – which is yet another question at issue in this conversation.

    Which you’ve never even begun to address, though I’ve asked you to.

  104. Crude

    Point of information – I’ve asked you to show how SSM causes harm as harm is defined in our existing laws.

    It’s an irrelevant question, since ‘our existing laws’ are not, and were never meant to be, complete on paper. My arguments are arguments a justice could give – they are of the type justices do give – when interpreted laws, whether in terms of enforcement or constitutionality.

    The fact that people often g for short-term benefits that cost them in the long term doesn’t mean those long-term benefits don’t exist. Humans need food, shelter, security, etc. Cooperation produces this.

    Actually, the entire idea of what is and isn’t a “benefit” is under question here. Here’s an important lesson: materialist atheism doesn’t just throw a wrench in determining what is and isn’t moral or good or evil. It also throws a wrench in determining what is, in fact, a benefit, or harm, or purpose, or…

    When did I claim otherwise? Quotes of my words would be the most useful.

    Where did I say you claim otherwise? I’m simply drawing it out and making it front and center, while showing what affect it has on discourse.

    No, I’ll argue for them. You seem to want to have some other kind of argument.

    All I want to do is show what position you’re ultimately in, and what that position does to your assault on opponents of SSM. In that vein, biased judge that I am, I’m having a string of successes here.

    You sound like the people who figured universal literacy was a ridiculous goal because not everyone needed to know how to read.

    And you sound like someone who thinks everyone should own a car because you find it so useful.

    Also, ‘attending a university’ != ‘education’. If anything, modern technology has obviated quite a lot of traditional schooling methods.

    Wait, there’s advertisements for, and social benefits from, going to college… and therefore “The sexes can never be on an equality as regards studies pursued at a university”? I’m not sure you’re the best judge of an argument…

    No, there’s been a huge and prolonged effort specifically to get particular classes of people enrolled in a university. If I tell you that roses don’t naturally tend to thrive around coal mines, you don’t do much to disprove what I said by building greenhouses expressly made to raise roses around all the coal mines.

    Which you’ve never even begun to address, though I’ve asked you to.

    I’ve addressed it plenty, and exactly as I needed to to boot.

  105. Ray Ingles

    Crude –

    My arguments are arguments a justice could give

    That’s possible, but you’ve yet to present those arguments to me, despite me asking. Pretend I’m a Supreme Court Justice and you’re filing an amicus curiae.

    It also throws a wrench in determining what is, in fact, a benefit, or harm, or purpose, or…

    Only if you want it to. Essentially, you’re using the approach on me that you accuse me of using on you.

  106. Crude

    That’s possible, but you’ve yet to present those arguments to me, despite me asking.

    I have absolutely presented them to you. That you don’t acknowledge them doesn’t make them disappear.

    Pretend I’m a Supreme Court Justice and you’re filing an amicus curiae.

    Why? Because I have to pretend you have some kind of authority, or if you don’t admit my arguments or perspectives to be persuasive or grounded the way you approve of, that’s the end of the story?

    Or, better yet – because Supreme Court Justices are known for their fidelity to good arguments and reason, and not for (even at times) making some pretty arbitrary exceptions that seem plainly like they’re advancing their own agendas?

    I think instead of pretending, I’ll deal with the reality of the problems that come with talking about ‘harm’ and ‘secular reasons’ and otherwise.

    Only if you want it to. Essentially, you’re using the approach on me that you accuse me of using on you.

    “Only if I want it to”? No, with respect to materialist atheism, quite the opposite.

    Now, sure, I suppose I could always close my eyes and just plain ignore that problem, and insofar as I do not, it becomes a problem ‘because I want it to’.

    And I’m not ‘accusing’ so much as demonstrating, and refusing to play the normal game where we all make believe that there are these ‘secular’ reasons or there are unquestionable definitions and categories of ‘harm’ and ‘benefit’ on the secular side, but when it comes to the religious reasons, suddenly every objection in the world or every commitment to an alternate metaphysical or philosophical view becomes absolutely fatal to the reasoning. Once we drop that game and deal with the realities of the debate and start really tracing back what people’s stances are, what grounds them, etc, what we see is the emptiness of the typical objections and standards.

  107. Diane

    Where exactly in the Bible did it say that “marriage is to be between a man and a woman”?

  108. Ray Ingles

    Crude –

    I have absolutely presented them to you.

    You’ve argued against some positions. I have not seen you actually advance arguments for, say, ‘harm’. If I’ve missed them, please list some comment numbers so I can review.

    Why? Because I have to pretend you have some kind of authority

    No, because you introduced the term ‘justice’, as in ‘justice of the court’ to the discussion. So, if your arguments “are arguments a justice could give”, let’s see ’em.

    “Only if I want it to”? No, with respect to materialist atheism, quite the opposite.

    Hardly. Humans can still have natures in ‘materialist atheism’ – it can still mean something to say, “you’re a human”. If humans have natures, and purposes – which they do, even in ‘materialist atheism’ – then it’s quite possible to talk about harm.

    Admittedly, we’re left with just human purposes and not Divine Purposes, but goals and purposes automatically lead to teleologies.

  109. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Diane,

    It’s in Genesis 2:18-24 and Matt. 19:3-6. It’s very clearly implied (with strong theological ramifications) in Eph. 5:22-33. There are other places but those are a good start.

    It’s also a matter of natural law, for every culture has known it to be true, even without the Scriptures.

  110. Sault

    As I was out scouring the net for related topics, I came across the blog post of a rabbi speaking about marriage in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). It is a nice debunking of the Genesis verse reasoning that Tom provides (being descriptive rather than prescriptive), and illustrates that any definition of one-man-one-woman marriage must come from the New Testament, since polygamy was an accepted Hebrew marital practice.

    I like what he said towards the end –

    We should ask, “What standard for marriage would recognize the loving and committed relationships that society wishes to promote?” “What standard would create the greatest happiness and fulfillment for society as a whole?” Those, in the end, are better questions for determining a standard for civil marriage than the question, “What does the Bible say?”

  111. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    He skipped Genesis 1:27-28 completely. I wonder why.

    I have never argued that the OT prescribes monogamy; rather I have argued that polygamy in the OT always came out badly. There is of course nothing there that has anything to do with men marrying men or women marrying women.

    What standard for marriage would be best for society? I suggest it would be the standard that doesn’t just commit the (I notice I’m hitting the keys harder and my jaws are clenching as I write this) horrific, despicable self-centeredness of thinking only of what makes today’s adults happier right now. There are children coming into this world. Doesn’t anyone care that we’re destroying the institution that builds children into the kind of adults who can develop loving and committed relationships? Hasn’t anyone noticed that children of intact two-biological-parent families do better than others? Or doesn’t anyone care? It’s all about us adults. The children can fend for themselves. That’s how the world’s supposed to work after all: the adults are supposed to take care of themselves and let the kids turn out however they turn out. IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK? If not, then demonstrate it by showing some regard for someone other than adults today, who seem to be the only people SSM people talk about.

    I’m about to run and hang my head over the toilet.

    (Sure, SSM advocates talk about children sometimes, but only defensively: to say they can raise them too; but this whole SSM discussion is driven by adult self-centeredness, and children are an afterthought. Barf.)

  112. Post
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  113. P Clark

    Ten years ago Civil Partnerships was all that LGBT claimed they wanted, but as I and millions of others suspected, it was just one more step towards the redefining of marriage and, it will eventually lead to our grandchildren being taught that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality. LGBT are determined to force all Churches to conduct SSM and will take any religious group to the European courts, where I suspect they will win their case and all the so-called safeguards will be rendered useless.
    The pro SSM lobby claim that “love” is all that matters, well, in that case, where will it end, because in future, how can someone who wants to marry their own brother, sister, mother or father be denied? On what grounds can anyone object to incest if both people involved claim that they “love” each other?
    The point I and millions of others are making is this; WHERE IS ALL THIS LEADING TO? If you look back into history you will discover that all the GREAT civilizations were destroyed by homosexuality and the breakdown in society and it looks like the Western world is on that road of SELF DESTRUCTION
    This view isn’t driven by homophobia or discrimination as LGBT claim; it is driven by all those who say enough is enough. LGBT are guilty of racial discrimination when they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of homophobia. The Gay Labour MP, Mr. Bryant always challenges anyone who objects to the SSM bill, with the question and I quote “would you have voted for the abolition of slavery”…..I consider his comparison of slavery with SSM as a racial insult, because what he is really saying is that he believes being black and being homosexual are the same (if you believe in evolution, being black is more normal than being white) ….slavery was a crime against humanity, whereas the SSM bill, if approved, will be a crime inflicted on humanity.

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