Tom Gilson

“Marriage is not … at all restricted …”

This bears repeating: “Marriage is not … restricted.”

It’s a partial quote from same-sex “marriage” (SSM) supporter Larry Tanner’s comment just now, and it’s a smoking-gun indictment of SSM advocacy. (Thank you, Larry.)

I’ll repeat his words in full so as not to be guilty of ripping anything out of context:

No. Your definition of marriage is just flawed. Marriage is not by any necessity at all restricted only to man-woman marriage.

I understand you feel your definition is under attack, but I personally don’t feel guilty about your feelings because your position is so clearly and obviously incorrect.

Further context: the thread on which he posted this was connected to my current BreakPoint article, where I argued that the definition of SSM is flawed. A definition tells both what a word’s meaning includes and what it excludes, but SSM broadens the inclusiveness of marriage without any principled limit on that inclusiveness. If it’s up to the principles behind SSM advocates’ definition of the term, marriage could include any relationship that any other interest group wanted to press upon the public.

That’s why I asked Larry,

The last five words of your second sentence — what is it that’s sacred about them? Why didn’t you just stop after “restricted”?

If marriage is “not … at all restricted” to man-woman marriage, is there any other boundary at which it is restricted? How so? Based on what principle?

Can you see where that leads?

Update at 5:30 pm: see the continuing discussion on that linked thread. At this point, Larry’s strategy in response to my questions about principled definition is tied up in a complete refusal to answer. Comments 31 and 33 are especially instructive.

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42 thoughts on ““Marriage is not … at all restricted …”

  1. Marriage may be historically linked to having children (well, that and legal concerns, and perpetuating royal bloodlines, etc), but there is more to it than that, especially in our Western society.

    Many same-sex couples want society to recognize their commitment – the same commitment that hetero couples display. If marriage is meant to also be about long-term commitment (and not 48-hour Hollywood affairs), then what does that legally imply for a requirement for marriage?

    Well, to commit you have to be able to both give consent and understand the consequences. We call the people who can do these things “adults”.

    So, we already have three defining conditions of marriage – that it is between two people, that both partners are emotionally mature (are of some legal age), and that they give consent. That throws out the silliest of the “slippery slope” arguments (no, you couldn’t marry your chair).

    Beyond that, the door is somewhat left open. We can argue against incestuous relationships based on the danger of genetic disorders, but why argue against including plural marriage, if all parties give consent? Polygamy even happens in the Bible, after all. Jesus speaks of a physical union of a man and a woman, but I don’t see how even that precludes the physical union of multiple partners.

    It’s probably worth mentioning that a study has shown that children aren’t harmed by same-sex marriage.

  2. Sault,

    Polygamy even happens in the Bible, after all. Jesus speaks of a physical union of a man and a woman, but I don’t see how even that precludes the physical union of multiple partners.

    Does Matthew 19:4-6 help you see it more clearly?

  3. Many same-sex couples want society to recognize their commitment – the same commitment that hetero couples display.

    Want, want, want, want, want, want, want, want…

    I Want It Now

    Gooses, geeses
    I want my geese to lay gold eggs for easter
    At least a hundred a day
    And by the way

    I want a feast
    I want a bean feast
    Cream buns and doughnuts
    And fruitcake with no nuts
    So good you could go nuts

    No, now

    I want a ball
    I want a party
    Pink macaroons
    And a million balloons
    And performing baboons and
    Give it to me now

    I want the world
    I want the whole world
    I want to lock it
    All up in my pocket
    It’s my bar of chocolate
    Give it to me now

    I want today
    I want tomorrow
    I want to wear ’em
    Like braids in my hair and
    I don’t want to share ’em

    I want a party with roomfuls of laughter
    Ten thousand tons of ice cream
    And if I don’t get the things I am after
    I’m going to scream

    I want the works
    I want the whole works
    Presents and prizes
    And sweets and surprises
    Of all shapes and sizes

    And now

    Don’t care how, I want it now
    Don’t care how, I want it now

    — Roald Dahl

  4. Sault,

    Polygamy never turns out well in the Bible. It’s mentioned but as an example it is never really affirmed. Monogamy becomes the standard by NT times.

    So, we already have three defining conditions of marriage – that it is between two people, that both partners are emotionally mature (are of some legal age), and that they give consent. That throws out the silliest of the “slippery slope” arguments (no, you couldn’t marry your chair).

    So here you go, unilaterally and on no principled basis whatsoever restricting marriage to two people. You are an intolerant, hypocritical, boorish person, you who would impose your will on others that way.

    All it takes to ice up that slope is for someone to raise that objection before you.

  5. One more thing. To repeat a small sentence from Sault:

    Many same-sex couples want society to recognize their commitment

    Translation: Sault, speaking for same-sex couples (who made him the spokes-person?), wants society, which includes me and Tom Gilson and SteveK and countless million others, to bestow their recognition on something they disapprove.

    And it is we Christians that are the intolerant bigots.

  6. So, Sault, do you think there is any line beyond which marriage ought not be allowed to cross? What is it? How will you explain it to the person who thinks it should be allowed to cross it?

    For example:

    Incest: Why not allow incestuous marriages with voluntary sterilization? Or with the promise that all children would be aborted?

    Polygamy: How many are too many?

    Chain Marriages: What if Steve marries Jennifer who marries Marcus who is married to William who has never even met Steve?

    Animal Marriages: What if a woman wants to marry a dolphin?

    Inanimate Marriages: Can a man marry a robot?

    Self-marriage: Can you marry yourself?

    Think those last few were far-fetched?

    Where is your line, Sault? And what principle determines its location?

  7. Lest anyone worry, I’m not in favor of any of those, including the abortion idea. I’m just probing to see where Sault would place the line of disfavor/disapproval.

  8. I do recognize the commitment of certain same-sex couples whom I know to be committed to each other.

    That doesn’t make it marriage.

    (Whether that makes it good is a different question, which I have not thought necessary to bring up in the context of the definition of marriage. The moral question can actually be bracketed off from the question of what defines marriage. None of my discussion here depends on homosexuality’s moral status being either one way or another. What it depends on is principles, definitions, boundaries, and whether SSM proponents can articulate any at all to support their position without also supporting something they never intended to.)

  9. Steve K @2, Tom @5:

    Steve, the NT offers little clarity on polygamy: Wikipedia has a good article.

    A few of the counter-arguments:

    The focus of Matthew 19:4 is the OT: why would Jesus refer to the OT when clarifying polygamy, when the OT allows polygamy? Further, the discussion in Matthew 19 is explicitly about divorce, there’s no reason polygamy should be included in that discussion.

    Jesus ignores polygamy in the NT; in Matthew 22:23-32, Jesus is questioned about Deuteronomy 25:5 (if a woman’s husband dies, the brother must marry her). Deuteronomy 25 makes no exception for the brother already being married, allowing polygamy. Jesus ignores the polygamy entirely, responding only there’s no marriage in heaven.

    Paul allows polygamy in the NT. In 1 Timothy 3:2, polygamy is prohibited for church leaders and by implication not prohibited for everyone else. (This passage is generally not read this way according to Wikipedia, but it is a valid translation.)

    Tom: I agree the monogamy is the standard in the NT, but “is the standard” is a weak statement. Do you agree with Steve it’s disallowed, and if so why?

  10. G. Rodrigues,

    Ahh the old shame game. Their “wants” (I’d more properly characterize them as needs) are legitimate, and not shameful at all.

  11. Its worth pointing out, that in Canada, the ban on polygamy was upheld by their courts despite holding a gender-neutral definition of marriage.

    They cited the many demonstrated and well-known socially deleterious effects of polygamous unions as reason enough to uphold the ban, despite admitting that it does indeed violate religious freedom to do so. Most of these effects are impossible for SSM per se to bring about, and come from the imbalances that three+ person unions entail, both for the family unit and society at large.

    The *real* slippery slope to polygamy is to strengthen religious freedom by continuing to carve out special conscience clauses, or imposing religious views of marriage upon the non-religious, etc.

  12. Sault @#1 wrote:

    Many same-sex couples want society to recognize their commitment – the same commitment that hetero couples display.

    Why is it necessary for society recognize personal relationships and commitment? Does that legitimize such relationships and commitments?
    Who is society? The government? Everyone? A majority?

    Personally I have no problem (meaning that I am indifferent) if two men or two women want to have a ceremony in Unitarian Church, invite their friends and celebrate. They can call it a commitment ceremony or marriage or whatever they want. I don’t care. There is nothing in the law that prevents them from doing that right now. But why do I as a member of society need to approve and give my endorsement. Why do I need to care?

    If you use the law as hammer to get the courts to impose SSM, is that society recognizing a personal commitment? Is that what you mean by “societies approval”? Is that really what gay people want?

  13. Larry on the other thread wrote:

    It’s equally disingenuous to suggest that the arguments opposing SSM have had nothing to do with religion. Bollocks.

    You obviously haven’t kept up with the news coming out of France.

    “Benoît,” a 43-year-old gay business owner, says, “this bill is a dupe … it is a lie, an error, a farce. It is like looking for a magic spell to say gay and straight people are the same.”

    Emmanuel, a gay art historian, says bluntly, “Why must we say gay and straight couples are the same? They are not equal.” Even more eloquently, gay blogger Philippe Ariño cautions, “equality is not a good thing by itself. There are bad forms of equality. We call that conformism, uniformity, banality.”

    The gay men like Xavier Bongibault who have taken to the streets against gay adoption are indeed indecipherable from the vantage point of American LGBT discourse.

  14. @d:

    Ahh the old shame game. Their “wants” (I’d more properly characterize them as needs) are legitimate, and not shameful at all.

    What “shame game”? I realize how desperate you are to make a cogent point, but misreading your interlocutors does not seem like a good way to go about it.

  15. I can give five good reasons to support traditional marriage:

    1. Nature
    2. History
    3. Tradition
    4. Definition
    5. Consensus

    Expanding a little upon each:

    1. Nature: Two men or two women can’t procreate.

    2. History: Marriage goes back to the dawn of civilization. Monogamous marriage has been the tradition in the west since the beginning of the Christian era.

    3. Tradition: Marriage, as currently defined, is accepted by a wide range of cultures and religions.

    4. Definition: It’s currently defined that way by law.

    5. Consensus: The vast majority of people accept some form of traditional marriage. Furthermore, it is an un-coerced consensus.

    What are the reasons again for accepting same sex marriage?

  16. So, Sault, do you think there is any line beyond which marriage ought not be allowed to cross? What is it? How will you explain it to the person who thinks it should be allowed to cross it?

    I could’ve sworn that I just put three reasonable qualifiers for marriage in place… *scrolling back to the fourth paragraph of comment #1* Oh yeah, look, there they are…

    Marriage is a commitment – the closest legal term would be a contract. Who can enter into a contract? A consenting adult. So, a marriage could be considered the social equivalent to a legal contract – all participants must be of legal age, consenting, and demonstrably able to understand the consequences of their decision.

    As I said earlier, this rules out the “slippery slope” examples that Tom brings up – animal, inanimate, and self.

    I have no moral objections to polygamy or chain marriages, except to say that it would be well-advised for participants to clearly understand what they are entering into – some premarital counseling might be in order.

  17. 1. Nature: Two men or two women can’t procreate.

    We don’t need them to – we have already not just “multiplied and replenished the Earth”, we have overpopulated it.

    2. History: Marriage goes back to the dawn of civilization. Monogamous marriage has been the tradition in the west since the beginning of the Christian era.

    3. Tradition: Marriage, as currently defined, is accepted by a wide range of cultures and religions.

    4. Definition: It’s currently defined that way by law.

    All three are fallacies of appealing to tradition and/or popularity (ad antiquitatem and ad populam, IIRC). All it takes is 52% of the population to accept same-sex marriage and same-sex marriage to be accepted for any significant length of time (e.g. 12 years).

    5. Consensus: The vast majority of people accept some form of traditional marriage. Furthermore, it is an un-coerced consensus.

    In OT times, a rapist is required to marry the victim. Doesn’t sound un-coerced to me. Either way, doesn’t matter, another example of ad populam.

    What are the reasons again for accepting same sex marriage?

    Off the top of my head, probably because it a) doesn’t hurt you, b) doesn’t hurt the children, and c) under the current cultural definition of the word (one based on love, commitment, and personal relationship) it is only natural to conclude that the genders of those involved shouldn’t matter.

  18. @JAD

    If you use the law as hammer to get the courts to impose SSM,

    How is extending the same benefits and legal recognition of hetero couples to same-sex couples using “the law as a hammer”? I’m not aware that anyone is going to force you (or anyone else) to go out and get gay married.

    is that society recognizing a personal commitment? Is that what you mean by “societies approval”? Is that really what gay people want?

    Yes, see above, and “legal equality” is the message that I see advocated by same-sex proponents – if they want something else then they’re not doing a very good job of saying otherwise.

    Personally I have no problem (meaning that I am indifferent) if two men or two women want to have a ceremony in Unitarian Church, invite their friends and celebrate. They can call it a commitment ceremony or marriage or whatever they want. I don’t care.

    A couple is together for 20 years, but because they are not legally married, doctors may refuse to let one partner see the other on their deathbed. Do you care?

    The surviving partner is denied the estate tax exemption because they aren’t legally married, and lose tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, in one recent publicized case) because of it. Do you care?

  19. Sault at 19:

    How is extending the same benefits and legal recognition of hetero couples to same-sex couples using “the law as a hammer”? I’m not aware that anyone is going to force you (or anyone else) to go out and get gay married.

    Thanks for this. In addition, I have wondered just how SSM is supposed to take away the rights of Christians, as one commenter put it in the previous thread.

  20. I do see a problem, however.

    Let’s give that “the definition of marriage matters”. Conservative consensus would probably come up with a definition along the lines of …

    1. One man and one woman
    2. Exclusive, for life
    3. For sexual expression and mutual support
    4. For the procreation and raising of children

    It’s probably not as good as it could be, but it’s close enough for my purposes. My issue is that all of 2, 3 and 4 are “in practice” denied by our society in the context of marriage. They mostly exist as ideals, but …

    #2 is explicitly undermined by easy divorce, and “serial polygamy”. Similarly, sex is no longer treated as an exclusive possession of marriage (#3), even as an ideal. And single-parent and “blended” families are rapidly becoming the norm, not the exception (#4).

    Granted, all four of these markers have had less-than-perfect practice historically, though as an aberration. Just as disease doesn’t undermine the definition of healthy, so broken and patched-up marriages don’t undermine the definition of marriage. But once we regard them as functionally optional, the definition is indeed broken.

    There’s a certain honesty about “gay marriage” proposals – we’re formally excising the last remaining marker, rather than paying lip service to it as an ideal while actively seeking to work around it, as we did with the other three.

    Incidentally, one of the strongest predictors of “non-traditional” (to use an artificially neutral term) sexual behaviour is children having a poor relationship with their father. One might suggest that fighting “gay marriage” is like trying to stop the flood at the bottom of the spillway rather than at the dam wall.

  21. @Salut, #19:

    I’m not aware that anyone is going to force you (or anyone else) to go out and get gay married.

    In case you care about that sort of thing, I think you have misinterpreted what you quoted. What JAD said in #13 was this:

    If you use the law as hammer to get the courts to impose SSM, is that society recognizing a personal commitment? Is that what you mean by “societies approval”? Is that really what gay people want?

    In context, “impose SSM” clearly means impose societal recognition of SSM (as equal to traditional marriage) through force of law. Thus the question as to whether such legally imposed recognition is in any way equivalent to voluntary approval, and whether it is what gay people want.

    Your interpretation, that forced marriage is somehow involved, is clearly erroneous. Perhaps a graceful retraction is in order.

  22. @Sault:

    All three are fallacies of appealing to tradition and/or popularity (ad antiquitatem and ad populam, IIRC). All it takes is 52% of the population to accept same-sex marriage and same-sex marriage to be accepted for any significant length of time (e.g. 12 years).

    Huh, didn’t you just… oh never mind.

  23. Thanks TFBW for you comment.

    There are a few other things Sault apparently misunderstands about my position.

    First, my point about nature has nothing to do with population. The point I was trying to make is that is takes away the argument that SSM is any any sense a natural right. If SSM is not a natural or intrinsic right then what kind of right is it? It’s has to be an artificial or arbitrary “right” that’s been contrived by people who have an ideological agenda that is opposed to traditional moral values, as well as religious beliefs. How is something that was invented by a minority and forced on a majority a right?

    Second, I am not being fallacious. If you were honest (rather than being dishonest) you would concede there is no history or tradition supporting SSM. Do you really think your fooling anyone here with your arguments? Of course, you may be just fooling yourself. (No surprise there.)

    Third, there is an overwhelming consensus which, even with increasing support for SSM, accepts traditional marriage as marriage. Do you know anyone who accepts SSM and rejects traditional marriage? Even if you get 52% (isn’t a majority one vote over 50%?) what does that get you? In my view, it gets not only you and the gay community but everyone else a deeply divided society and culture. Is that what gays really want?

  24. Your interpretation, that forced marriage is somehow involved, is clearly erroneous. Perhaps a graceful retraction is in order.

    Well, if you’re not worried about forced marriage, what are you worried about? If you don’t care whether same-sex couples get married, why are you so bent out of shape at the idea of “accepting” it?

    Believe whatever you want about same-sex marriage, but don’t stand in the way of others who wish to practice it. That is what I have meant when I have said “accept” – whether you agree with it or not, tolerate its presence and recognize that your opinions to the contrary don’t trump other people’s freedoms.

    Again, I ask –

    A couple is together for 20 years, but because they are not legally married, doctors may refuse to let one partner see the other on their deathbed. Do you care?

    The surviving partner is denied the estate tax exemption because they aren’t legally married, and lose tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, in one recent publicized case) because of it. Do you care?

  25. Sault at 25:

    Well, if you’re not worried about forced marriage, what are you worried about? If you don’t care whether same-sex couples get married, why are you so bent out of shape at the idea of “accepting” it?

    Believe whatever you want about same-sex marriage, but don’t stand in the way of others who wish to practice it. That is what I have meant when I have said “accept” – whether you agree with it or not, tolerate its presence and recognize that your opinions to the contrary don’t trump other people’s freedoms.

    Once again, these comments make perfect sense. One can support traditional forms of marriage–heck, my wife decided to take my last name when we were married, which was not the case with my brothers’ wives–and also support SSM.

    I have homosexual friends and I have heterosexual friends. Whenever any of them got married, it is a joyous occasion.

    Sault, your question “why are you so bent out of shape at the idea of ‘accepting’ it?” is the same one I have. It often has to do with the word “marriage,” but it doesn’t make sense that Tom, et al., would simply like to have this one word reserved for them and denied to others. If all we’re talking about is a word and a definition, well….

  26. Legalizing same-sex marriage would mean that same-sex couples would have to be treated equally (same rights, same benefits, same daytime divorce court tv shows). How does that hurt TFBW?

    Maybe we have a misunderstanding over what “accept” means? Just because I accept the presence of something and adjust my life to accommodate it, doesn’t mean that I have to in any way endorse it or believe that it is true.

    Given that SSM has not been shown to harm others (including children, as the American Academy of Pediatrics now endorses gay marriage), and given that no one is going to force people into gay marriage, then why stand in the way? I’ve demonstrated the real-life harm that not recognizing it can cause, so what’s your beef with it? How does it hurt you?

    …On the other hand, I see page after page, post after post, comment after comment attempting to justify a Christian imposing their beliefs on others.

    Maybe, just maybe, if you don’t like the idea of a group of people imposing their religious views on you – e.g. Muslims mandating your adherence to Shariah law – then perhaps you shouldn’t be imposing your religious views on and restricting the actions of others… like when it comes to their wish to be married.

  27. Here’s what you keep incorrigibly imposing on us, Sault (among other things): your stereotyping, prejudiced, biased belief that we are talking about religious views. When will you read what we write? Or do we folk all just look the same to you?

  28. After all, Sault, you were around for this series. If your purpose here is to tell us what we believe, I already know what I believe, thank you very much, and I know it truly whereas you know it tendentiously, in a biased manner, and falsely. Or at least you’re representing it that way.

    I get really bored with blog commenters baiting me to tell them what I already told them. Here’s how it works in legitimate discourse. It could start with me or any other person, including you, but I’ll use myself since that’s the current instance:

    1. I say I believe X.

    2. You say I don’t believe X.

    Oops — useless impasse. What’s the point of you trying to mindread?

    Or…

    1. I say I believe X.

    2. You say, “I don’t believe you believe X.”

    3. I respond and explain why you might fairly believe that I believe X after all.

    4. You say, “You don’t believe X.”

    Oops. Same useless impasse.

    Or …

    1. I say I believe X.

    2. You say, “I don’t believe you believe X.”

    3. I respond and explain why you might fairly believe that I believe X after all.

    4. You say, “I still have a problem with that, and here is what it is …”

    5. I say, “Let’s think this through together.”

    That’s a good process.

    But this is never a good outcome: the one where you inform me that I don’t believe what I say I believe.

    Two options there:

    A. You can say you doubt my really believing X, and if you say it in a way that promotes dialogue, that’s fine. Usually that requires some kind of inquiring attitude.

    B. You can say something like “If you believe T as you say you do, then I think that T entails X, so I can’t believe you believe X while you also believe T.”

    That’s legitimate argumentation, and it (again) invites dialogue.

    But frankly, Sault, to be told that my position against SSM is just (or even primarily) a religious position is tantamount to your ignoring what I’ve repeatedly written. That’s a rigid, unlistening position on your part, and it’s rude. You’re pretending you’re paying attention to what we’re writing, but it’s only pretense. It’s dishonest. It’s prejudiced. It’s wrong.

    Stop it, okay?

  29. And while you’re busy deciding whether you’re going to stop the pretense, you might also look within and ask yourself what it is that prevents you from seeing me and other Christians here for who we are. There’s something there that’s blocking you from getting that honest view of a fellow human being. What is it? Do you know?

  30. Tom,

    I agree with much of what you say, Tom, in your previous two comments. However, I wonder if you will take a look at the three comments in your post on A.C. Grayling’s book. When you read those three comments, do you think that you are seeing atheists as we really are? I don’t think so. I wonder if perhaps we feel the same way in the way you address us and perceive us.

    One commentor even suggest something to the effect that if we act moral or good, it is almost by accident or in spite of ourselves. Well, I know this argument, even if I haven’t expressed or paraphrased it completely well here. I know this argument because it is an argument made about Gentiles. Gentiles, the argument goes, only acted in order to get something out of it. They do not act good for the sake of being good itself.

    I rejected this argument when it was made against people not of my in-group, and I reject it when it is leveled against me.

    Please think about how insulting, dismissive, and wrong an argument it is.

  31. Larry,

    I reject much of what Holopupenko says about atheists, and I was writing to contradict that part of his comment. So I agree with you: that’s unhelpful and wrong, too.

    When I see a Grayling distorting religion so utterly, however, it’s worth asking (a) is he doing it out of ignorance or out of deceit, and (b) why bother when he’s so obviously set in his error? Then there’s (c): how many other atheists are open to exactly the same questions? In my experience, stereotyping and dismissiveness towards Christianity, just like Grayling’s, are rampant here.And this is a place where atheism puts its better foot forward, compared to so many other places on the Internet.

    For any person to act fully moral or good is impossible, and any good that any person does is a matter of the common or special grace of God imparted to him or her. Atheists are not granted that special grace that allows believers to love God for who he is, and to obey the first 3 of the 10 commandments; though atheists can receive it just by asking God in Christ. Otherwise please read Romans 3 for a sober assessment of our common condition. For a more complete theology of the difference it makes to be in Christ I would have to refer you to a good article on sanctification, which I’ll do if you want.

    So this is complicated, but yes, we all have a problem with moral and good living. We all need Christ’s rescue from that problem. Christ’s rescue is real, though it takes some time for its reality to be worked out to any degree in Christians’ lives.

    I make it a point, Larry, to address what I see right here. I try not to generalize. What I saw in Grayling was despicable. What I saw in Sault just now was too. I’ve seen you handing out insults recently. I don’t go for that, and I’ll name it what it is. I’ll admit to my errors when I recognize them. Maybe I don’t recognize them quickly enough–but I do admit to them.

    I’d love to see someone like Grayling in his case, and Sault in this one, look inside and ask, am I willing to see myself for who I am? Why do I misrepresent Christians and Christianity so persistently? Why won’t I allow myself to read what they write? Why must I impose my beliefs about them upon them?

    Let me know if you think I’m still missing it, but this much I will say: if I call someone specifically on what they are specifically doing, I am not doing what you charge here. That’s not stereotyping. That’s treating a specific person’s specific incident for what it specifically is.

  32. JAD Wrote:

    1. Nature
    2. History
    3. Tradition
    4. Definition
    5. Consensus

    Expanding a little upon each:

    1. Nature: Two men or two women can’t procreate.

    2. History: Marriage goes back to the dawn of civilization. Monogamous marriage has been the tradition in the west since
    the beginning of the Christian era.

    3. Tradition: Marriage, as currently defined, is accepted by a wide range of cultures and religions.

    4. Definition: It’s currently defined that way by law.

    5. Consensus: The vast majority of people accept some form of traditional marriage. Furthermore, it is an un-coerced
    consensus.

    What are the reasons again for accepting same sex marriage?

    JAD,

    Points (2) & (3) are the same. (4) is quite similar (ie, argument from the status quo, vs argument from tradition) – none of those three stand on their own as good reasons without some *serious* work to back them up. Most often, they are simply fallacies.

    As for (5)… well, according to some polls, this is not true anymore. At best (for you), its a draw.

    And as for (1) – you aren’t really offering a positive affirmation of traditional marriage there, you just gave us a negative (in your mind) against same-sex marriage. Though, in a round-about way, I’m sure you are probably trying to highlight the intertwined realities of procreation and marriage.

    But, as we all know, childbearing is not a necessary or sufficient condition for marriage, by anyone’s standard. Even if we could prohibit marriages between heterosexuals incapable of or unwilling to reproduce, without fear of entrusting the government with too much invasive authority over our lives, we wouldn’t.

    Under the care of a married couple is the ideal place for a child to grow and thrive to be sure, but just because children need marriages, does not mean marriages *necessarily* need children to be marriages. We never look at any childless straight marriage and go “You know, that’s not actually a marriage!” (at least not strictly for that reason).

    Reasons for gay marriage:

    1) Its obvious through basic observation, that committed, lifelong nurturing partnerships between gay couples are indeed marriages, whether recognized by law or not. (ie, they are the same *type* of relationship that heterosexual marriages are).

    2) Its obvious that such relationships, just like heterosexual marriages, are a basic human need.

    3) They are the type of nurturing relationships (like heterosexual marriage) that cry out for state recognition so that the inalienable rights of the parties involved can be safeguarded.

    Do we need any more reasons?

  33. @d:

    Its obvious through basic observation, that committed, lifelong nurturing partnerships between gay couples are indeed marriages, whether recognized by law or not. (ie, they are the same *type* of relationship that heterosexual marriages are).

    It is not only not obvious but actually false.

    It is actually blindingly obvious that beneath the surface trappings and the mimicry, they are *not* the same *type* of relationships.

    Its obvious that such relationships, just like heterosexual marriages, are a basic human need.

    It is not only not obvious but actually false.

    Homossexual marriages are emphatically not a basic human need because humanity has survived pretty well for thousands of years without them. It is not even a basic need for homossexuals themselves; they can shack up together and live a long committed life all they want without any need for the State to legislate on things that do not concern it — the private emotional lives of the citizens.

    They are the type of nurturing relationships (like heterosexual marriage) that cry out for state recognition so that the inalienable rights of the parties involved can be safeguarded.

    If you expand the meaning of nurturing widely, then I suppose they can considered “nurturing relationships”, in the same way as life-longfriends, possibly with benefits, can also qualify as nurturing relationships, but they are not nurturing in the relevant sense that matters for marriage.

    Not only that, I vehemently deny that they “cry out” for state recognition; precisely because of the type of relationships they are, the State has absolutely no interest in regulating them, and regulating is actually a pernicious involvement of the State in things it has no business to be involved with. As for the “inalienable rights” these relationships have, this is just an invention of your fevered mind for on your conception, rights are granted by Society under a mutual contract, so they are anything but “inalienable”. Anyway, whatever rights one thinks appropriate to grant them, they can be granted by means of other ordinary laws that treat such specific subjects (e.g. inheritance issues can be dealt with by drafting a will, possibly with some extra laws to regulate border-line cases).

  34. d worte:

    As for (5)… well, according to some polls, this is not true anymore. At best (for you), its a draw.

    You’re not comprehending what I wrote. Here is how I explained my point 5 @ #24:

    Third, there is an overwhelming consensus which, even with increasing support for SSM, accepts traditional marriage as marriage. Do you know anyone who accepts SSM and rejects traditional marriage? Even if you get 52% (isn’t a majority one vote over 50%?) what does that get you? In my view, it gets not only you and the gay community but everyone else a deeply divided society and culture. Is that what gays really want?

    You’re saying there is a poll out there where 90%+ of people reject traditional marriage and exclusively accept SSM? Why no link or reference if such a poll exists?

    What about religious groups, Catholic, Evangelical protestant. Morman etc.? Are they part of a democratic society? Or does your side just marginalize and demonize them? How is it a consensus if they are excluded?

  35. Let add that if I am making a pragmatic argument for traditional marriage 2 and 3…

    2. History
    3. Tradition

    …are valid reasons because they demonstrate that it does work. What kind of history and tradition does SSM have? It can hardly be claimed that it is a time tested tradition. Of course #4. Definition is drawn from that history and tradition.

  36. After all, Sault, you were around for this series. If your purpose here is to tell us what we believe, I already know what I believe, thank you very much, and I know it truly whereas you know it tendentiously, in a biased manner, and falsely. Or at least you’re representing it that way.

    When you’re talking about tedentious and biased, are you speaking about me or Holo? Because I read the first comment (now deleted) of that thread and can’t say that anything that I’ve said comes close to that level of vitriol and polemic or so clearly obstinate.

    (I may disagree with Holo, but he’s not a bad person – he’s outspoken and colorful and really speaks his mind, no crime in that)

    But frankly, Sault, to be told that my position against SSM is just (or even primarily) a religious position is tantamount to your ignoring what I’ve repeatedly written. That’s a rigid, unlistening position on your part, and it’s rude. You’re pretending you’re paying attention to what we’re writing, but it’s only pretense. It’s dishonest. It’s prejudiced. It’s wrong.

    Stop it, okay?

    ” Since we take the Bible as our authority, and since the Bible teaches that marriage is for man and woman, we have an authoritative reason to believe that SSM is impossible and/or wrong.”

    (written about 3 months ago)

    You are a Christian, writing as a Christian, on a blog called “Thinking Christian”, saying clearly that you consider the Bible to be sufficient grounds to reject same-sex marriage. You have argued for an objective morality based upon God; you frequently reference Thomism. You challenge SSM proponents to provide a principled reason – doesn’t that imply that you have one for hetero marriage, and that it would ultimately be derived from an objective, authoritative basis? I mean, I’ve mentioned briefly reasons to challenge a secular basis of natural law, and those weren’t really addressed, soooo….

    You use some arguments that are not intrinsically religious, and I recognize that. Discerning between them isn’t always so easy, and you recognize that, too.

    Look, I’m trying to understand and respond to you based upon what you’ve said, and I honestly apologize if I have given you reason to think otherwise.

    It is frustrating that I am being called “intolerant, hypocritical, boorish” and my actions “stereotyping, prejudiced, biased” and to have you imply that I am deliberately distorting and mischaracterizing Christians/Christianity/you.

    I’m not calling you names. I’m not saying that you are a bad person. I am not trolling. I’m not even cracking jokes or being sarcastic or inserting a wonderfully appropriate meme – none of which seem to translate well on this blog.

    Oh, I’m at a loss. Definitely last post for the night, maybe for a few days….

  37. Okay, one last addition to this.

    But frankly, Sault, to be told that my position against SSM is just (or even primarily) a religious position is tantamount to your ignoring what I’ve repeatedly written. That’s a rigid, unlistening position on your part, and it’s rude.

    Do you remember your support for the Manhattan Declaration?

    I quote

    The Manhattan Declaration rests firmly and solidly on biblical principles of life, marriage, and liberty.

    I support the Manhattan Declaration because I am convinced its call is based in the truth, and because I am convinced that its truth is founded in the God of truth.

    Yeah, you said that three or four years ago, but you’ve reiterated that position since then, yes?

    Do I need to go through and highlight how thoroughly the Manhattan Declaration is based upon Biblical principles and how it emphasizes God’s ultimate authority?

    Aren’t you challenging people to come up with a principled defense of SSM that can trump your God-given objective definition of marriage, supported by Thomistic natural law?

    By endorsing the Manhattan Declaration, aren’t you calling for people to speak out and act against SSM legislation? From page 2 of the Manhattan Declaration –

    We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths(emphasis mine)

    You have endorsed a document that is a call to action, an action that is based on a certain religious interpretation of your scriptures.

    I didn’t realize until recently that it wasn’t until the 70’s that our courts began to rule against allowing “moral disapproval” as a reason to outlaw homosexual acts and same-sex relationships. Fascinating, isn’t it? It was literally the case that because Christian morality said “ewww, no” that certain acts were legally outlawed…. but that interpretation might not even be in line with 1st century Christian thought… anyways, while that’s a related thought, I think I’m done for now.

  38. I don’t disavow a word of what I affirmed, Sault. I don’t accept any words being put in my mouth about the rest of it, but I do stand by what I said.

    I just reacted to your misrepresentation of our position as being purely religious. There is a strong secular case for man-woman marriage, and when I make that case, I don’t think it does you or me or anyone else any good for it to be described as a religious case.

    And why is that? It has a lot to do with honesty in conversation. It has something else to do with legitimacy. It has something to do with not wanting to waste my time telling you that I didn’t say something that I didn’t say, when you shouldn’t have told me I said it in the first place.

    Maybe I overreacted, but that’s what was going on.

    For the record, since you insist:

    1. I hold that there is a strong biblical case in opposition to SSM.
    2. I hold that there is a strong case for man-woman marriage that can be made without calling on anyone to believe in the Bible or the biblical case.
    3. I can tell the difference between the two cases (1) or (2).
    4. Can you?

  39. Further: suppose you think that my non-biblical case is weak. Suppose you think the biblical case is weak.

    Do you think you could still tell the difference between them anyway?

    Thank you.

  40. You linked earlier to a comment I made where I said it could be hard to tell between secular and biblical ways of thinking. Let me elaborate on that for a moment.

    There are arguments that do not rely on belief in the Bible or anything else typically described as a religious belief. These are what we would all typically call “secular.” That’s not complicated. That’s what I’ve been arguing here.

    From the standpoint of Christian worldview, however, the biblical understanding of God and of truth undergirds everything. It supports and explains rationality itself, in a way that no other worldview does. As a Christian I take that to be true and really almost obvious, and so there is something God-based that I see in everything.

    But that doesn’t make the secular argument, defined as I have done here, a religious argument.

  41. @Salut, #25:

    Well, if you’re not worried about forced marriage, what are you worried about?

    So, not opting for a graceful retraction, I see.

    A couple is together for 20 years, but because they are not legally married, doctors may refuse to let one partner see the other on their deathbed. Do you care?

    Yes, that sounds unreasonable, but we don’t need to redefine marriage in order to solve it.

    The surviving partner is denied the estate tax exemption because they aren’t legally married, and lose tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, in one recent publicized case) because of it. Do you care?

    Yes, that sounds unreasonable, but we don’t need to redefine marriage in order to solve it.

    Hmm. That’s two-for-two with the same copy/paste answer. I wonder if there is a variation on that line of questioning which would not evoke the same answer.

    Here’s a meta-question back at you. Why do we need to redefine marriage in order to solve these problems? Why not, say, introduce a new kind of “secular union” contract, which is like a marriage contract in that it grants the specific privileges/rights associated with marriage, without recognising a marriage as such. Heck, it needn’t even be restricted to two people, or “till death do us part” — not at all restricted, except that the parties be of a legal age to enter into a contract. It could be tailored to the tastes of the parties in question: your very own vows in your very own contract. What’s not to like about that idea?

    Why make marriage into something that it isn’t when you can invent something better?

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