Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach (Book Review)

Same-Sex Marriage: Thoughtful Response by McDowell & StonestreetBook Review

For some time now I’ve been recommending Girgis, George, and Anderson’s What Is Marriage as the best available explanation for why marriage is for a man and a woman. It’s still on my list, but from this point on, for Christian readers in particular, I have another recommendation to make ahead of that one: Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet’s excellent new book Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage. I shy away from saying this in my reviews, but this time it fits: This book is a must-read.

The earlier book, What Is Marriage, remains the best available natural-law explanation and defense of man-woman marriage. It relies on no biblical sources and makes no moral judgment regarding homosexuality. Rather, it explains from common-sense principles why marriage is what it is. It runs slightly toward the academic, philosophical side.

By contrast, this book by McDowell and Stonestreet:

  1. Presents a biblical as well as common sense defense of marriage,
  2. Includes ideas and recommendations for what we can do about it, in view of the rise of same-sex marriage, and
  3. Does so thoughtfully yet readably: it’s accessible to just about every reader.

Why This Book?

The authors open their book with the arresting admission, “No one wants to be a bigot.” True enough.* Same-sex marriage is on the rise, and to oppose it is hardly popular. So why face the opposition, daunting as it is? Why face the insults? Why write on it?

The simple answer is, it matters…. the speed at which same-sex marriage went from unthinkable to unquestioned is unparalleled in modern memory. A shift of these proportions leaves an enormous cultural wake. Given what is at stake, we can stay silent no longer.

No one doubts there is much at stake here; it may be the one thing both sides agree on. Well, not quite; for as the authors correctly acknowledge, some of the rancor in this debate is the fault of Christians not acting as we ought, in complete love and integrity. They issue a strong call to repentance in the church for all we have done to dehumanize, belittle, or otherwise harm LGBT people.

Marriage Is, Because …

Yet truth is truth, and marriage is what marriage is. There is indeed something that marriage is: something stable, enduring, and not subject to the whims of culture. It is a God-given covenant relationship, “two human beings becoming one, in every way possible.” Marriage is “oriented towards procreation,” and it “comes with an expectation of permanence.” It isn’t defined by government:

We shouldn’t think of marriage as a political institution that belongs to the state. It is a pre-political institution. The state doesn’t create marriage; it can only recognize it. The state, despite all its efforts, will never be able to redefine marriage. Marriage will always be what marriage was created to be, no matter what activist judges, runaway legislatures, or a majority of voters decide. As our friend Dr. Frank Beckwith says, “You can eat an ashtray, but that doesn’t make it food.”

Two separate yet congruent streams of knowledge lead together to that conclusion in this book. First there is the Bible, whose witness regarding marriage is clear and consistent, and then there are non-religious sources. Anticipating skeptics’ likely response to their biblical arguments, the authors write,

“Ha!” you may be thinking. “There go those Christians trying to impose their morality on everyone else. Not everyone believes the Bible, so why would we base our laws on it? You wouldn’t like it if we based our laws on the Qur’an, would you? And besides, what about the separation of church and state?”
Good questions. That’s why we also look at marriage from extra-Biblical sources. As we’ll see, there are plenty of non-religious reasons to define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.

This dual-focus explanation for marriage is, for Christian readers, one of the book’s great strengths. (Non-believers may still be more interested in What Is Marriage, which rests its argument more on the common ground shared by believers and non-believers.) Biblical truth carries God’s authority, yet Bible-believers need also to be able to explain marriage in terms that are understandable and credible to non-believers, as well as acceptable in a political environment that seeks to reject all religious thought.

A Call To Hope and Courage

Marriage is what it is, and no political maneuverings can make it anything but that. Yet for some it may seem too late. It isn’t.

“It’s over,” he told me [John] grimly. “We’ve lost.”
These words came from a wounded warrior, a pastor who had dedicated much of his ministry calling Christians to apply their faith in the public square, and opposing things like same-sex marriage. But his side, which he had spent so much time and energy defending, had been, he thought, definitively defeated. He was licking his wounds and wondering what to do next.
Sentiments like these are not unusual, and we can sympathize with them. But we also hope they don’t last too long. The legal status of something alters neither its truthfulness nor its claim on our lives. As Christians, we are still responsible to the institution of marriage as God intended it, just as we are still responsible for unborn children, regardless of whether abortion is legal.

God has called us not always to be winners but always to be faithful in following him. If it were true that “we’ve lost,” we would still be responsible to stand for God’s ways in his world.

I’m not sure it’s over, though, and neither are McDowell and Stonestreet. They don’t mention it in this context, but I look back on the history of the eugenics movement in the United States and Britain. Less than a century ago, if you doubted that forced sterilization of the “feeble-minded” was the best thing for humanity, you were standing against the inevitable forward march of history. So much for inevitable forward marches of history, and so much for giving in to supposed such things. I expect it won’t be that long before same-sex marriage, like 20th century eugenics, will be found in the forgotten dustbins rather than the vanguard of history.

A Call To Action

Yet we are in a defensive posture for now, one that’s quite unfamiliar to us. What can we do for marriage? We can stand in courage, knowing what is true. We can repent of our mistakes, as already mentioned. Beyond that, say the authors (with illustrations and explanation behind each of these),

  1. We can change our reputation from those who hate gays, to those who love them.
  2. We must tell the truth about same-sex attraction, homosexual sin, and same-sex marriage.
  3. We can stop implying in our words and actions that homosexual sin is worse than all other sexual sins, and that sexual sins are unforgiveable.
  4. We can defend the religious liberty of all Americans.
  5. We can tell better stories about love, sex, marriage and family.
  6. We can be expect to have conversations about marriage and be ready for them when they come.

And from another chapter, on another level of analysis,

  1. We can teach and model what marriage is, and how it fits in God’s plan.
  2. We can take a strong stand against divorce, as God does.
  3. We can honor the created connection between sex, marriage, and procreation.
  4. We can flee sexual immorality and seek healing for our own sexual brokenness.

In the Strength of Truth, Love, and a Good Conscience

To do this means placing ourselves at the risk of being considered behind the times, homophobic, haters, and yes, bigots. I think if any one thought best sums up the spirit and tone of this book, it’s this that the authors allude to near the end, which the Apostle Peter wrote in two passages, 1 Peter 3:13-18 and 4:14-16:

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Or to sum it up in fewer words: know the truth, be prepared to defend the truth, be gentle and reverent in handling the truth, keep a good conscience. If you suffer in Christ for your beliefs, let it be to the glory to God; but don’t confuse being insulted for actual insensitivity with being reviled for following Christ.

A Must-Read

This is without doubt the most defining dispute between Christianity and secular culture today. Christian, you will face this challenge. Undoubtedly you already have. You will face it whether you are prepared for it or not. Your readiness for it will determine your response and your outcome. Your best response requires right attitudes toward God, toward truth, and toward fellow human beings. It requires being equipped with knowledge.

Apart from your own living relationship with God, there is no better preparation I could think of than immersing yourself in this book. You need this preparation. I will state it this bluntly: you need to read this book.

*Their first words caught me off guard partly because I had said almost the same thing in the foreword to the book I was writing. I had to re-write mine to acknowledge theirs. By way of full disclosure, Sean and John are friends of mine. I wrote this review on the basis of an advance electronic copy sent to me at no charge. Regardless of that, I am confident my review and my assessment are honest and accurate.

Comments 229
  1. Ray Ingles

    as well as acceptable in a political environment that seeks to reject all religious thought.

    How about “a political environment that isn’t allowed to base policy on religious thought”?

    Contrast with C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”: “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.”

  2. Ray Ingles

    My point was that there’s a big difference between “a political environment that isn’t allowed to base policy on religious thought” and “a political environment that seeks to reject all religious thought”.

    For example, the latter wouldn’t have things like the recent Hobby Lobby decision or conscientious objector status.

  3. Tom Gilson

    You’re right. Point well taken. This political environment seeks to reject some but not all religious thought. See the court’s decision on the Prop. 8 case for an example of explicit rejection.

    It’s some of each.

  4. Billy Squibs

    Contrast with C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”: “Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused…

    This is a good point, Ray, and it’s is one of the primary reasons I don’t concern myself with the loosing battle that is same-sex marriage opposition.

    However, I don’t think that this live and let live attitude can be sustained indefinitely. I just have not figured out where the line in the sand is.

  5. Skepticism First

    Tom Gilson #2:

    In the past five years or so, I’ve often seen the idea expressed that gay marriages are in some way impossible. But I think this is a misunderstanding over what the current debate is even about. Arguments like the ones you have in mind are regarding the “ontology of marriage”, in some sense.

    The pro-SSM side, however, isn’t talking about that. Rather, we’re talking about who should be allowed to obtain those things that we refer to as marriage licenses. Is it impossible for a same-sex couple to obtain that thing we refer to as a marriage license? Clearly, no. Many such couples have already obtained one.

    A more relevant argument would attempt to argue that while same-sex couples are capable of obtaining those things we refer to as marriage licenses, they should nonetheless not be allowed to do so. But that would require addressing the *legal* arguments that bans on this practice are *unconstitutional*. I’ve very rarely seen this point addressed outside of the courts. And inside the courts, they’ve been ruled unconstitutional very consistently in the past year.

  6. SteveK

    The pro-SSM side, however, isn’t talking about that [ontology]. Rather, we’re talking about who should be allowed to obtain those things that we refer to as marriage licenses.

    Should? I think you’re inviting ontology back into the discussion. If you cannot see that, just turn the question around and ask why anyone should be denied a marriage licence. How would you answer? I expect your reasons will include references to ontological underpinnings.

  7. Skepticism First

    SteveK #7:

    I should have been more clear about this: that’s a pragmatic ‘should’. To say that a law is unconstitutional is merely to say that it’s inconsistent with the constitution. The U.S. government is currently structured such that no laws inconsistent with the constitution are valid or binding. That’s all.

  8. Tom Gilson

    SF, regarding marriage licenses, if there is no such thing (ontologically) as gay marriage, then licenses for gay marriage are licenses for that which does not exist. The ontological approach is very relevant.

    Your “more relevant argument,” that gay couples should not be allowed to obtain marriage licenses based on their constitutionality is no help. The Constitution doesn’t say whether gay marriage is good or bad, possible or impossible. It doesn’t mention it.

    Any constitutional argument brought to court would have to rely on some other principle. One that’s commonly brought up is equal protection under the law. I agree that everyone should have an equal right to marry. But what does “marry” mean? We’re back to ontology. If there’s no such thing as gay marriage, then equal rights to marriage don’t include the right to gay marriage, any more than equal opportunities for eating out would include a bachelor’s right to take his wife to dinner.

    Ontology matters. Definitions—the articulation of what we believe about ontological realities—matter. Every lawyer and every court knows that definitions matter. What marriage is therefore matters.

  9. Skepticism First

    Tom,

    If you’ve got the time, perhaps this would make for an interesting blog post: take any one (or more) of the recent court decisions, and respond to it directly. I can provide links to PDFs upon request, if you decide to do this, as well as explanations of any unfamiliar legal terminology.

    As for the equal protection argument, it’s not an argument from the general concept of being protected equally. Rather, it’s about the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment – a specific sentence in a legally controlling document.

    And, I still don’t think the ontological approach is relevent. Even *if* you’re right that gay marriage does not exist, the licenses being granted are still licenses for something – not nothing. Whatever you think that something is, that’s the thing which the pro-SSM side wants. You’re free to think that this thing isn’t rightly referred to as ‘marriage’ (perhaps it’s more aptly called ‘schmarriage’). But that doesn’t seem at all relevant to whether same-sex couples should be given it.

    If anything, your argument is just that ‘marriage license’ should be called something else. That doesn’t seem like what you want in practice, though. It seems like you want these things, whatever they’re called, to be given to straight couples but not gay couples. And that’s a quite different topic which will require a quite different argument.

  10. Tom Gilson

    Of course the licenses that are being granted are for something, not nothing. The question is whether there is any good reason to grant those licenses, and if the “something” for which they are being granted is a self-contradictory institution, an impossibility, or any number of other failings, then the law should recognize that granting those licenses is bad policy, and the law should change accordingly. That’s our position, and it’s what we’re advocating.

  11. SteveK

    In many states it was legally referred to as a civil union license, but apparently that wasn’t good enough – it *had* to be a marriage license.

    But supposing it was equal benefits they were after, not a marriage license per se, then ontology is still a very important part of this discussion.

  12. Skepticism First

    Tom, I think you’re misunderstanding my point here, which is this: some same-sex couples in some states in the U.S. are _________ (fill in the blank). Some people fill this in with ‘married’. The definitional argument is that this should be filled in with something else – not that it can’t be filled in at all. These couples have, legally, obtained a certain sort of license from the state. That’s a fact that everyone agrees on, even if you think that the state shouldn’t do so – they did, and it was within the bounds of the law. Thus, it is not impossible.

    You write, “The question is whether there is any good reason to grant those licenses” – I agree, and that’s exactly what I’m saying. My argument is that granting them to opposite-sex couples while not granting them to any same-sex couples violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution (details on the reasoning behind this can be found in the previously mentioned court decisions). This argument is completely legal in nature; not ontological.

    (Edited to fix a typo)

  13. Bill L

    I’m just curious Tom (and others)…

    What are the secular arguments against SSM used in the book? The only thing I see that you have written is about procreation. Yet people in SSM can still procreate. Along that line, do you think heterosexuals should be allowed to marry if they do not intend to procreate (like my wife and I – We have no children and I’ve had a vasectomy).

    EDIT: I’m also a bit confused about the analogy to eugenics as in that case, people were having things done to them against their will. Again, not the case with SSM. Could you elaborate?

    Sorry if that’s TMI

    Thanks

  14. Bill L

    Just a cursory look seems to indicate that the author (in the link you provided) simply seems to define sexual union between opposite sexes as the only good (“organic”) because it is intended for the purpose of procreation. I’m simplifying, but not too much I think.

    Not too convincing to say the least. I’m sure you feel otherwise.

    I don’t see anything in there about comparing SSM to eugenics. I’m more interested why YOU Tom chose that analogy in light of what I said in my first comment.

  15. Skepticism First

    It’s important here to note that the three authors of the paper Tom linked to also filed an amicus brief in United States v. Windsor (as well as in many other cases – they like to file amicus briefs). Apparently, it wasn’t enough to convince the majority of the supreme court. We’ll see if it convinces the judges in the Nevada or Louisiana cases.

    Edit: they also filed a brief in the recent 4th circuit case, which was also decided in my side’s favor.

  16. Tom Gilson

    Eugenics was regarded, as I wrote in the post, as the best thing to do to be on the side of progress. It’s an illustration of how “the side of progress” turns out not to be so prescient after all.

  17. Bill L

    I was hoping that you would more address the idea that eugenics was a bad idea because it was forcing things on people against their will. It seems that if you just wanted to use an example of supposed progress that turned out to be a bad idea, you could have cited something like fat-jiggling “exercise” machines. But you chose to an analogy with very negative consequences instead. Can you really not understand why people would see this as “bigoted?”

  18. Bill L

    Please keep in mind the other side of this, Tom… conservatives once fought against progress in a not so prescient manner over the issue of segregation. In the end they lost since it could be shown where harm was being done.

  19. Tom Gilson

    Fat-jiggling exercise machines weren’t thought to be the morality of the future.

    Does it surprise you to learn that I think same-sex marriage is a bad idea with negative consequences, that in fact it does harm?

  20. Bill L

    Does it surprise you to learn that I think same-sex marriage is a bad idea with negative consequences, that in fact it does harm?

    No. But it’s disappointing.

    Is “progress” what same-sex marriage represents, and is it the reason that SSM is good?

    I don’t think so. I think it’s more about people who are not harming anyone (as far as I can see) wanting to be treated equally.

    My question about bigotry was serious as well. Do you really not understand why some may see it that way?

  21. Tom Gilson

    Yes, I understand why some people see it that way. I understand that there are moral principles involving equality, lack of harm, and sexual liberty involved in the drive toward gay marriage. I could expound on that, but let me ask you this: do you think that my problem is that I don’t understand how my view could be considered bigoted? Bill, that’s not news to me. I don’t like being viewed as a bigot, but I can’t let that dissuade me from being honest to what I believe is true.

    Just as a side thought, would you guess Mark Joseph Stern recognizes how his views could be considered bigoted? For my part, I doubt it. I think he’s probably blissfully unaware of it.

    I don’t know, Bill. Sometimes I wonder what you think of people like me who disagree with you on matters like this one: that we don’t care about people, that we don’t care about equality, that we don’t care about harm. I really get that impression sometimes. The fact is, we’re looking at harm on a wider and more long-term basis than just how two men or two women feel about each other. If I thought you might be open to hearing about it I’d share more on that. But if you just think I’m a bigot, I don’t have much hope that you’d listen.

  22. DR84

    There are some that claim that holding the view that marriage is the union of a man and woman is bigoted and demeans people who identify as homosexual. This has always seemed off to me. It seems to me that those who are pushing for society to recognize homosexual relationships as marriages. This seems to me, at least from some, to be sending the message that homosexual relationships are only good in so far as they are like the union of husband and wife. Which, strikes me as a view that is demeaning.

  23. Bill L

    do you think that my problem is that I don’t understand how my view could be considered bigoted? Bill, that’s not news to me.

    I think it’s important to understand the distinction between understanding that ones views could be considered bigoted, and understanding how ones views could be considered bigoted. It is clear you understand the former; I’m just not so sure about the latter.

    I had read your post about Stern; I think you over-simplified it. But I don’t know enough about his views, especially to know if he could see how others could see him as bigoted (though I suspect he is aware of it).

    I do know that you care about people, Tom. I do know that you care about equality and harm also, but it seems that your overriding principle is the belief that your views are unquestionably right. The secular arguments against SSM (e.g. in the link you provided for me) seem almost like a joke – arguments provided by non-serious people who are just looking for anything to cling to and throw out there.

    I would share more with you on that if I thought you’d be open to understanding, but if you have an unwavering position that you are right (probably because you believe that you are keeping God’s word) I’m not sure you’ll listen.

    After all, if the harm you talk about on a “wider and more long-term” basis” refers to spiritual harm, then this would only be an argument about enforcing your religious beliefs on another who does not share your view. If there’s a good justification for opposing SSM for secular reasons, I have not heard it. But I’m listening.

  24. Bill L

    To be clear here Tom…

    Do I see you as bigoted? On this issue yes.

    On other issues? Not that I have seen.

  25. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    In many states it was legally referred to as a civil union license, but apparently that wasn’t good enough – it *had* to be a marriage license.

    In Sun Tzu’s “Art Of War”, there’s a maxim to the effect of, “Allow your opponent a line of retreat, unless you want a fight to the death.”

    The majority of ‘defense of marriage amendments’ ban civil unions, too. Why should those looking for legal recognition for same-sex relationships aim for anything less than marriage, since it’s been pretty clear that their opponents aren’t willing to offer any compromise?

  26. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    This political environment seeks to reject some but not all religious thought. See the court’s decision on the Prop. 8 case for an example of explicit rejection.

    “Explicit rejection” of basing policy on religious thought. Which was my point.

    See, there’s already a distinction between religious conceptions of marriage and legal ones. Take the Catholic Church; it holds that divorce is impossible (and, from a Christian perspective, they seem to have a pretty good argument in Luke 16:18). Those who are Catholic are not supposed to avail themselves of legal divorce except possibly in exceptional circumstances, such as domestic violence. And even if they do legally divorce, they are not permitted to remarry in the Church while their (former?) spouse is still living.

    Yet, there’s no serious effort on the part of Catholics to, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws”. (Indeed, they accepted Newt Gingrich and his third wife…)

    The U.S. government doesn’t – and shouldn’t – base policy on Luke 16:18. That’s my point – and that’s a different point than seeking “to reject all religious thought”.

    Does it surprise you to learn that I think same-sex marriage is a bad idea with negative consequences, that in fact it does harm?

    I think smoking is a bad idea with negative consequences that does harm. I think a great deal of recreational drug use is a bad idea with negative consequences that does harm. I think Christian Science is a bad idea with negative consequences that does harm.

    That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea to use the power of law to ban any of them.

  27. Tom Gilson

    Bill L.,

    Thank you for calling me a bigot (on this issue). By the standard definition I am apparently unfairly obstinate in my thinking, or some such thing.

    I won’t know how I “over-simplified” my post about Stern if you don’t explain it, as you see it. Same with your view on the other paper: I’m open to listening. That’s what this forum is for.

    My overriding principle is not my belief that my views are unquestionably right. That’s not a principle, it’s an attitude toward one’s principles. I don’t think it’s a fair description of my attidute. I believe my views are right, and I invite questions: my views are questionable. Do I question them myself? Absolutely! Do I question others who hold similar views? Well, just this morning I was embarrassed by a website that purported to support marriage but did so in a manner that advised shunning and separation. I question those views!

    Meanwhile, it’s hard for me not to take the position that I take the position that I take. I find that you also take the position that you take. I don’t think there is moral fault in either of us for doing so, provided that we are willing to listen to, understand, and consider alternative views.

    You described the Harvard Policy Review paper as seeming “almost like a joke – arguments provided by non-serious people who are just looking for anything to cling to and throw out there.” I’d like to know whether you think that’s indicative of taking the position that you take with an attitude of listening, understanding, and being open to other positions. You say you’re listening. I’d be grateful to see some actual evidence of that.

    This is not about enforcing religious beliefs. It’s about participating together in a democratic process, where for now, your beliefs are being enforced upon us in multiplying degree. I’m not whining about the process. I’m taking part in it through advocacy.

    The harm of which I speak is the long-term damage done to society through the undermining of marriage, which political theorists from Plato onward have recognized as the place where children learn to participate in society. I’m speaking of the harm to children who really, really do prefer to grow up with their actual mother and father. I’m speaking of the dangers of endorsing the transition of marriage from “you and me and our family,” to “you and me, babe.” That transition began with men and women viewing their marriages that way, it wasn’t invented by GLBT persons, but SSM is a legal stamp of sound approval upon it, and it’s bad for families. I’m talking about the harm done children by growing up in homes that are, by sociological research, not likely to remain stable and faithful for more than a few years. I’m talking about the harm done to religious freedom by forcing Christians to violate conscience on this. I’m talking about the harm done to intellectual freedom through the deep (and often administratively enforced) intolerance toward contrary views on this topic. I’m talking about the harm done to civil discourse by labeling people like me as haters, phobic, intolerant, backward, and so on.

    That’s some of the harm of which I speak. Note that those are not arguments, they are each of them conclusions of arguments, which I have not taken time to develop here, though you could find most if not all of them argued more fully on this blog if you looked. You asked about harm, and that’s a summary of my answer.

    If you think that being concerned about those things, and speaking out to try to prevent them, qualifies me as a bigot, then respectfully I disagree.

  28. Tom Gilson

    Ray, thank you for reminding us of the obvious. Yes, there’s a difference between religious and legal understandings of many things. I’m having trouble figuring out why that matters in this case.

    Your analogies fail.

    The Catholic Church is not trying to ban divorce. Neither is it (nor am I) trying to ban SSM. Divorce has been in our culture for a long time. SSM is a newly introduced idea. We’re not trying to ban it, as if we’re taking offensive measures against it. We’re trying to guard against it defensively.

    The difference matters. The reason we’re taking a public, political stand on SSM is because a noisy group of activists has raised it as a public, political issue. The strategic response to that kind of advocacy is public and political, obviously. The reason we’re not taking a political stand against divorce is partly because of Matthew 19:1-8, which you must have had some reason not to mention here, and because the strategic response to it is to strengthen marriages, which churches devote enormous energies to doing.

    If the U.S. government followed “religious” teaching and based policy on Matthew 16:18, church and state wouldn’t be its primary mistake. Its primary mistake would be in failing to have a clue what the real religious understanding was, and then trying to enforce it as if it were real.

    Back to the obvious: yes, there are harmful things that the government does not prohibit. There are harmful things it does prohibit. There are reasons it prohibits some but not all. You knew that. You ignored it when you made that analogy, but I know you knew it.

  29. Skepticism First

    “The harm of which I speak is the long-term damage done to society…”

    Tom, do you think that I can read that paragraph and conclude anything other than “Tom Gilson thinks that if I raise children, I will be harming them”? *Do* you think that of me?

  30. BillT

    I’m talking about the harm done to intellectual freedom through the deep (and often administratively enforced) intolerance toward contrary views on this topic. I’m talking about the harm done to civil discourse by labeling people like me as haters, phobic, intolerant, backward, and so on.

    Just so you don’t miss this Bill L, this is what you do.

  31. Tom Gilson

    SF, do you think I can read your questions and conclude anything other than, “SF thinks I’m a really awful person for having that opinion”? *Do* you think that of me?

    I’m asking that for a reason. I think you’re projecting your morality quite forcefully here, while objecting to my forcefully projecting my morality.

    Can you see that?

    (BTW: I think that the form of household you have established would be considerably less good for children than a mom-and-dad household, including an adoptive mom-and-dad household.)

  32. Bill L

    OK, I don’t have time to deal with much of this, but here’s a bit…

    I’d like to know whether you think that’s indicative of taking the position that you take with an attitude of listening, understanding, and being open to other positions.

    I think so. At least I’m doing the best I can for now.

    This is not about enforcing religious beliefs. It’s about participating together in a democratic process….

    It rather looks like using the democratic process to enforce religious beliefs while saying that it is not.

    Harms:

    The harm of which I speak is the long-term damage done to society through the undermining of marriage….

    If anyone feels marriage is being undermined because of SSM, I think they should be much more worried about the quality of their own marriage. Certainly my wife and I do not feel undermined.

    ….to children who really, really do prefer to grow up with their actual mother and father.

    This is not an argument against SSM at all. If a same sex couple wants to have a child, there is nothing to stop them be they married or not. Perhaps you are referring to legal adoption then? Well, those children would likely not have their birth parents in any case.

    ….endorsing the transition of marriage from “you and me and our family,” to “you and me, babe.” That transition began with men and women viewing their marriages that way, it wasn’t invented by GLBT persons, but SSM is a legal stamp of sound approval….

    So you even seem to be aware this is not an argument against SSM. Should we appoint you be the decider of who has a relationship worthy of marriage then (be they same sex or not)?

    ….the harm done children by growing up in homes that are, by sociological research, not likely to remain stable and faithful for more than a few years.

    Would you prefer we administer testing to see whose relationships are likely to last? Heavy users of drugs and alcohol have shorter relationships. Should we prevent them from getting married? In any case, this again is not an argument against SSM as any of these folks can still have kids with or without marriage.

    ….the harm done to religious freedom by forcing Christians to violate conscience on this.

    Wasn’t this an argument used by anti-segregationists?

    For your last points, of course I agree that people should be allowed to talk about anything. There will always be consequences of course. Some people are intolerant and hateful (I do not think you are hateful). Let’s be honest about that.

  33. SteveK

    SF,

    Tom, you tempt me to adopt a child, just to prove you wrong

    Before you do that, you’ll need to figure out what it means to be “less good” for children. Not subjectively less good, but objectively less good. If you don’t know what it is, you cannot prove anything. Thank you for your willingness to bring ontology back into the discussion.

  34. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    The Catholic Church is not trying to ban divorce… The reason we’re not taking a political stand against divorce is partly because of Matthew 19:1-8

    I very specifically and quite intentionally referred to the Catholic Church’s teaching on divorce, not all the other varied Christian conceptions. “The Church believes that God, the author of marriage, established it as a permanent union. When two people marry, they form an unbreakable bond. Jesus himself taught that marriage is permanent (Matthew 19:3-6), and St. Paul reinforced this teaching (see 1 Cor 7:10-11 and Eph 5:31-32). The Church does not recognize a civil divorce because the State cannot dissolve what is indissoluble.”

    That’s a “real religious understanding”, in your words. It’s not your religious understanding, I grasp that. But for that very reason you should understand why having it imposed generally, by power of law, would be… problematic.

    Divorce has been in our culture for a long time. SSM is a newly introduced idea.

    The newness of an idea is not relevant to whether the government should ban it or not. The VCR was new, and changed a great deal about the entertainment industry, and altered how we approach copyright in many respects. Despite the entertainment industry arguing that it contravened existing law, it wasn’t banned – nor do I think it should have been. Slavery was very old and hallowed by tradition, but I can confidently say that the government should – and, eventually did – ban it.

    Modern paganism (“Wicca” and such) is quite new as religions go. Yet it still gets religious accommodations from the government. Well… mostly. Many Wiccans are happy to solemnize same-sex marriages; why should the government not accommodate that “real religious understanding”?

    Back to the obvious: yes, there are harmful things that the government does not prohibit. There are harmful things it does prohibit. There are reasons it prohibits some but not all. You knew that. You ignored it when you made that analogy, but I know you knew it.

    Far from ignoring it, I was inviting you to make clear why SSM is supposed to be in the ‘harmful and bannable‘ category. I haven’t run into a secular argument that successfully establishes that, including the links to “earlier version[s] of similar arguments.” Frankly, I find most of them rather weak even on the ‘harmful’ side.

  35. Billy Squibs

    SF, for arguments sake let us assume that it was demonstrated that certain non-traditional* marriages/partnerships had an net deleterious effects (whatever they may be) on participants within such unions (especially offspring) or upon society as a whole. (No need to argue the truth of this yet. Let’s just grant it for the sake of enquiry.) Would this impact your stance on non-traditional marriages/ partnerships?

    I think that this is probably the only point on which a secular challenge could realistically be raised**. Even then I don’t see how it could be directly supported. For example, one might argue that non-traditional marriages/ partnerships suffer from damaging prejudices that themselves explain some of the deleterious effects that might exist in such unions.

    * I’m defining traditional as a male-female union
    ** As I said before I am to certain degrees a secular Christian, which means I’m unlikely to argue from a religious standpoint – at least in such a case.

  36. Ray Ingles

    (BTW: I think that the form of household you have established would be considerably less good for children than a mom-and-dad household, including an adoptive mom-and-dad household.)

    “Less good” is not the same as “bad”, and is quite a ways from “bannably bad”. Society seems to have accepted that alcohol is “less good” than many other drinks, but does not rise to the threshold of “bannably bad”. Even driving with alcohol in your system is less good than none, but you have to reach a particular blood alcohol level before it’s illegal.

    The government is not generally in the business of mandating ideals. Rather it’s in the business of setting thresholds for what’s unacceptable.

    Are you arguing that Skepticism First’s household would be an unacceptable place to raise children? To the point where such should be illegal?

  37. Billy Squibs

    “Less good” is not the same as “bad”, and is quite a ways from “bannably bad”

    Which is a very good point.

  38. Skepticism First

    Billy Squibs: No, that would not change my position, because my position isn’t based on effects. I am not a consequentialist, especially not when it comes to the law. Even if same-sex marriages had unquestionably deleterious effects, laws prohibiting them would still violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. At most, your deleterious effects argument would be a case against same-sex *adoption*, not same-sex *marriage*.

  39. Skepticism First

    To extend my previous comment somewhat:

    This is what I often find so frustrating about this debate. I’ve been following the issue very closely ever since 2008. During that time, I’ve read nearly every court decision, and even many of the amicus briefs and oral arguments. This amounts to thousands of pages of legal documents. Yet, when I engage with the natural law theorists who disagree with me on the topic, they seem extremely hesitant to talk about the legal reasoning; instead wanting to talk political and moral philosophy in an abstract sense, separate from the laws we actually have on the books. I honestly have no idea why this is.

    if I’m being completely honest, I’d find their arguments a lot easier to swallow if they also advocated for a change in the way the 14th amendment is worded. But that’s a bad idea for other reasons – it would invalidate many previous rulings on other issues, ones which no one wants invalidated (such as Loving v. Virginia).

  40. G. Rodrigues

    @Skepticism First:

    Yet, when I engage with the natural law theorists who disagree with me on the topic, they seem extremely hesitant to talk about the legal reasoning; instead wanting to talk political and moral philosophy in an abstract sense, separate from the laws we actually have on the books. I honestly have no idea why this is.

    And I am sure that natural law theorists are equally frustrated with you (being someone who favors that approach, although in the “old” way, not in the “new” a la George, Grisez, etc.) , since this just means you are missing the point or changing the subject, depending on how you look at it.

    And one of the reasons why this is so (but by no means the only one) is pretty obvious: if one of the aims is to *change* existing law, it makes little sense to *appeal* to the existing law. It is also highly ironical to speak of the alleged “abstractions” in moral and political philosophy and then go on to appeal to “laws we actually have on the books”, as if they were mandated from on high and were not themselves based on historically contingent moral and political philosophies.

    note: several edits to correct annoying typos; there may still be some — apologies for them.

  41. SteveK

    Are you arguing that Skepticism First’s household would be an unacceptable place to raise children? To the point where such should be illegal?

    With some exceptions, it’s not the best situation, and because it’s not the best situation we should not actively seek it out via law. Instead we should actively seek out the better situation. This is not a religious argument. You don’t actively strive to be 10th place instead of 1st. You don’t actively strive for a D instead of an A.

    Because there are exceptions to this general rule I would not make it illegal. It should be allowed by law, but not encouraged by law. As a society we should encourage the best situation through law, and allow less than the best situations to be lived out where it makes sense.

    But see we are talking ontology again.

  42. Skepticism First

    G. Rodrigues: Perhaps they are frustrated with me. But note that the law I’m appealing to, the 14th amendment, is not the same law we’re debating about. They, at least presumably, like the 14th amendment and don’t want it to change. My position is thus: laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are inconsistent with the 14th amendment; i.e. they are unconstitutional. I’m not even sure whether George et al. even disagree with that, actually. But if they do, they’ll need a legal argument as to why – which is what I haven’t seen.

    If I’m right about that, one of those laws must change. And it won’t be the 14th amendment. While it is contingent, and is definitely not mandated from on high, it’s still a part of the U.S. constitution – and as such, carries more weight than state marriage laws. And even if that’s not true, and it’s the 14th amendment that should change instead of the marriage laws – I’ve not seen an argument for that either.

  43. Billy Squibs

    note: several edits to correct annoying typos; there may still be some — apologies for them.

    Welcome to my world!

    I am not a consequentialist, especially not when it comes to the law.

    OK. Thanks. I’ll have to think more about this. It seem almost axiomatic to me that moral laws must be consequentialist or else utterly arbitary.

  44. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    With some exceptions, it’s not the best situation, and because it’s not the best situation we should not actively seek it out via law. Instead we should actively seek out the better situation… It should be allowed by law, but not encouraged by law.

    Of course, banning same-sex marriage (or, as I noted in #29, anything even similar like civil unions) doesn’t seem to be on the ‘encouragement’ side of things at all. Rather, it seems to be a discouragement. Consider the recent legal case here in Michigan, DeBoer v. Snyder.

    A lesbian couple with 3 adopted children – all children with special needs. One was adopted by one lady, two were adopted by another. But, thanks to Michigan’s ‘defense of marriage’ amendment, there was no way for them to jointly adopt. Should an accident befall one of the couple, the other would have little – in most case, no – say or recourse in the care of the other’s child/ren.

    The law seems to be actively discouraging their situation, rather to the detriment of the children involved. Is this the sort of encouragement to which you refer?

  45. SteveK

    My position is thus: laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are inconsistent with the 14th amendment; i.e. they are unconstitutional.

    There are no laws prohibiting this anymore than there are laws prohibiting the married bachelor, the 7 year old adult, the 45 year old retiree, and the untrained/uneducated medical doctor from being legally recognized as such.

  46. SteveK

    Is this the sort of encouragement to which you refer?

    Encouragement is encouragement. That’s what I have advocated. If you are seeing discouragement in the law it cannot be from the part that encourages. If I’m wrong, feel free to explain how that works.

  47. SteveK

    In response to #52, see my #50. You have a problem with the wording of Prop 8, but why? It doesn’t prevent anyone from getting married. It just establishes the legal definition of marriage. Everyone can become married according to the law.

    Don’t like that example? Okay let’s look at one I gave in #50: The law defines a retiree as someone who is a particular age. Does that law unfairly deny or discourage a 45 year old person from being legally recognized as a retiree? Of course not. Everyone can become retired according to the law.

  48. Skepticism First

    SteveK, for the reasons why I have a problem with these laws, see the decisions in the following cases:

    Kitchen v. Herbert
    Bishop v. Smith
    Bostic v. Schaeffer
    DeBoer v. Snyder

  49. Skepticism First

    Also, I just started reading the writ of certiorari to the supreme court for Utah’s Kitchen v. Herbert. Here’s something for you (capitals mine, for emphasis):

    Title 30, Chapter 1, § 2 of Utah’s Code (§ 30-1-2)
    provides, in relevant part:

    The following marriages are PROHIBITED and
    declared void: (1) when there is a husband or
    wife living, from whom the person marrying
    has not been divorced; (2) when the male or
    female is under 18 years of age unless
    consent is obtained as provided in Section 30-1-9;
    (3) . . . when the male or female is under
    16 years of age . . . ; (4) between a divorced
    person and any person other than the one
    from whom the divorce decree was secured
    until the divorce decree becomes absolute
    . . . ; and (5) BETWEEN PERSONS OF THE SAME SEX.

  50. SteveK

    SF,
    You’re attempting to reply to my comment by replying to a comment I didn’t make. I responded to your comment about Prop 8 being a unconstitutional. How about you reply to what I wrote?

  51. Skepticism First

    SteveK, Prop 8 is unconstitutional for the same reasons all these other laws are unconstitutional. All I can really do here is refer you back to the decisions I cited. The argument that “everyone can already get married” has been tried, and failed.

  52. OS

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I work in the foster care system, and based on my experience I can agree that Tom is right: children prefer to grow up with their biological parents. But when that doesn’t or can’t happen, what children need is to be loved and raised by ANY (fully functioning) adult or set of adults. And those children need to know that their new families are just as good in the eyes of others as are other families. Certainly the love and attachment they feel is as good as that in any other family.

  53. SteveK

    Serious question, SF: why then doesn’t the argument that everyone can equally become retired under the law suffer the same legal fate?

  54. Skepticism First

    SteveK, I don’t know. Retirement laws are very different from marriage laws, and I’m not familiar with them. These things are handled on a case by case basis for a reason – law A may serve legitimate state interests, while law B may not.

  55. Tom Gilson

    Bill L. at #36:

    It rather looks like using the democratic process to enforce religious beliefs while saying that it is not.

    It’s using the democratic process to advocate for our beliefs. Should we quietly excuse ourselves from democracy because we have religious beliefs?

    If anyone feels marriage is being undermined because of SSM, I think they should be much more worried about the quality of their own marriage. Certainly my wife and I do not feel undermined.

    Red herring. Irrelevant. Did I not explain myself clearly enough?

    This is not an argument against SSM at all. If a same sex couple wants to have a child, there is nothing to stop them be they married or not. Perhaps you are referring to legal adoption then? Well, those children would likely not have their birth parents in any case.

    That’s taking a very short-term, atomistic, individualistic view. You’ve missed the part about what happens to marriage as an overall societal presence when it’s undermined, and how children across society are harmed by not growing up in a culture where marriage is supported, honored, encouraged through the tough times, and (especially) understood to be an institution for the building of the next generation.

    So you even seem to be aware this is not an argument against SSM. Should we appoint you be the decider of who has a relationship worthy of marriage then (be they same sex or not)?

    Up until this conversation, Bill L., I’ve thought you were a thoughtful reader and commenter. I think you can be again. In context, rather than ripped out the way you’ve taken it here, it’s still an argument against SSM.

    Would you prefer we administer testing to see whose relationships are likely to last? Heavy users of drugs and alcohol have shorter relationships. Should we prevent them from getting married? In any case, this again is not an argument against SSM as any of these folks can still have kids with or without marriage.

    Could you please explain what the second sentence there has to do with what we’re talking about? Thanks.

    Wasn’t this an argument used by anti-segregationists?

    Was it? I’m not aware of it.

  56. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    Encouragement is encouragement. That’s what I have advocated. If you are seeing discouragement in the law it cannot be from the part that encourages.

    What is the part of the law that encourages? Can it encourage without discouraging?) More importantly in this context, what’s the part of the law that “allows” for their relationship without discouraging it? Wouldn’t your position amount to providing at least civil unions?

  57. Tom Gilson

    Ray @39,

    The newness of an idea is not relevant to whether the government should ban it or not.

    Yes it is. It’s not the whole story, obviously. (You are the master of the obvious). It is relevant to how it is deliberated. And you chopped out the part where I said we’re not trying to ban it.

    Continuing your parade of the obvious, I accept your self-description as not agreeing with the arguments against SSM. Consider that fact to be duly noted.

  58. Tom Gilson

    “Less good” is not the same as “bad”, and is quite a ways from “bannably bad”.

    Would anyone care to quantify that for me? Bear in mind that my argument is not an individualistic, atomistic argument. If the effects on children in SF’s household were the only consideration, it would not be bannably bad. I’m talking about the effects on children everywhere of undermining marriage in general. Those effects are clear enough already through the undermining that’s taken place through the proliferation of divorce. SSM says “Yeah!!!” to the cultural forces behind all that. I believe we should all say “No!” to cultural effects that have that kind of general effect on the next generation.

    And that’s why SF is wrong with, “At most, your deleterious effects argument would be a case against same-sex *adoption*, not same-sex *marriage*.” SSM is the glorification of “you and me, babe,” marriage.

    when I engage with the natural law theorists who disagree with me on the topic, they seem extremely hesitant to talk about the legal reasoning; instead wanting to talk political and moral philosophy in an abstract sense, separate from the laws we actually have on the books. I honestly have no idea why this is.

    In addition to what G. Rodrigues said, it’s because we consider marriage to be a pre-political institution that is what it is regardless of what the courts say it is. I answered your 14th amendment question in #9. Steve answered it in #50.

  59. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    I’m talking about the effects on children everywhere of undermining marriage in general. Those effects are clear enough already through the undermining that’s taken place through the proliferation of divorce.

    Um, well, actually

  60. SteveK

    SF,

    These things are handled on a case by case basis for a reason – law A may serve legitimate state interests, while law B may not.

    Exactly. But notice what this does to your argument. You cannot answer the question of legitimacy by looking at the 14th amendment – yet that’s all you keep referring us to as the reason why these laws are unconstitutional.

    What legitimate state interest could there be in recognizing different relationships as different under the law? How about we start with the obvious: they’re different in a RELEVANT way. (hello, ontology!!)

    You don’t seem to have a problem with legitimate legal differentiation when it comes to minor, legal guardian, sibling, adult, parent, veteran and retiree.

    Why?

  61. Skepticism First

    “it’s because we consider marriage to be a pre-political institution that is what it is regardless of what the courts say it is.”

    Then we’re just not talking about the same thing. I’m not sure how to explain this any other way: going down to the county clerk’s office and obtaining a license to enter a certain sort of contract which grants certain legal rights is not a pre-political institution. Entering this sort of contract is what I and the state call ‘marriage’; obviously, you disagree with us calling it that. That’s fine, and it’s completely irrelevant to the law. If you want, you can call it ‘schmarriage’. Or even ‘wikka bikka bam boozle’. The *word* we use is completely arbitrary (just think – Christianity could have very well been called ‘Jesusism’ instead, and been the exact same thing).

    Now maybe you think that the state doesn’t have any interest in wikka bikka bam boozling. But if that’s the case, then they shouldn’t be granting wikka bikka bam boozle licenses to *anyone*. I’m willing to bet, though, that you think they do have an interest in it. If they suddenly stopped granting licenses tomorrow, and annulled your own wikka bikka bam boozle, you’d throw a huge fit – and rightly so.

    So, given that, the responses in #9 and #50 aren’t answers to the actual issue at hand.

  62. SteveK

    @66,
    Oh yes, it’s all the same and the state has no legitimate interest in promoting marriage over divorce. [ insert massive eye-roll ]

    It’s hard to take you seriously, Ray.

  63. Tom Gilson

    It’s completely irrelevant to the law unless the law has an interest in being true to what is.

    Some legal theorists believe the law creates reality instead. There is a major worldview divide there, which has been swimming around underneath this discussion but might as well be brought on board.

  64. SteveK

    @69

    No, I have not. I’m not advocating that every law on the books is a good one. I will stand up for Prop 8 though if you care to discuss that.

  65. Skepticism First

    SteveK, then I’m afraid we can proceed no further. My arguments against prop 8 are identical to the arguments against other SSM bans in the decisions I listed. Like Tom in #15, I couldn’t do them justice without re-writing them entirely.

  66. os

    You are all speaking about theoretical children, not the THOUSANDS of very real children who are waiting for families and whose opportunity for the perfect nuclear family was lost a long time ago. There are not enough parents of any type for all of them.

    And 99% of their biological parents were never married and will never be married. Marriage is for the middle class. It has no part in the conversation for these kids, except as it applies to their new families. When they are adopted, they need their new families to be legally equal to other families.

  67. SteveK

    SF,

    My arguments against prop 8 are identical to the arguments against other SSM bans in the decisions I listed.

    See #50. That law “bans” in the same way other laws “ban” 7 year olds from being adults. It would be helpful if you could respond to #67 because, believe it or not, I haven’t a grasp on your actual argument as to WHY it’s a legitimate problem with marriage and not with 7 year olds. I’ve only seen you reference the 14th amendment.

  68. Tom Gilson

    OS @74: Do you suppose some of those children might not have ended up in that circumstance if we hadn’t already undermined our marriage culture starting decades ago?

  69. Tom Gilson

    Why is marriage for the middle class? Was it always that way? Are there no periods in history when the lower classes typically married before having children? Are there no places in the world today where the lower classes marry? Could this be a contingent reality in the modern West? If so, could we address its causes?

  70. os

    Tom,

    No. Those children are in those circumstances primarily due to substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues. Marriage is so far outside the experience of their parents that I cannot imagine it could ever play a part.

  71. os

    Tom, (many of) those children can be healed by living in healthy families. And all kinds of families can be healthy. Relatively few children are lucky enough to grow up in healthy families with their two biological parents. I understand you think there would be more if SSM were not permitted. But what do you suggest for all the children who have already lost any hope of growing up in the ideal families you wish for everyone?

  72. Tom Gilson

    OS @78: how many of the parents you’re referring to grew up in healthy families themselves?

    What do I suggest for all the other children today? Let’s get real. The U.S. Census Bureau has determined that 1.6% of Americans are gay or lesbian. Some fraction of those would want to marry, some much smaller fraction would want to adopt. This is a non-solution to the real-world problems of the real-world children you’re talking about. Meanwhile it exacerbates the real-world problem of creating a culture that will perpetuate the problem.

    Have you never, ever heard of systemic problems with systemic causes and systemic solutions?

  73. SteveK

    SF,
    Regarding the Kitchen v. Herbert decision, instead of this statement from the court:

    Anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia and elsewhere were designed to, and did, deprive a targeted minority of the full measure of human dignity and liberty by denying them the freedom to marry the partner of their choice. Utah’s Amendment 3 achieves the same result.

    Imagine if the case were about becoming a veteran and the court said this:

    Anti-veteran laws in Virginia and elsewhere were designed to, and did, deprive a targeted minority of the full measure of human dignity and liberty by denying them the freedom to become veterans of the military branch of their choice. Utah’s Amendment 3 achieves the same result.

    What would be your objection, assuming you have one?

  74. OS

    It matters to those children who grow up in GLBT families, Tom.

    And it matters to all the children who are not growing up in the ideal, two biological parents families you believe SSM undermines.

    Our goal as a society should be to support ALL families, not just the ones that you think best, because so few of our children are growing up in them.

  75. Larry Tanner

    Section I of the 14th amendment, for reference:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  76. Tom Gilson

    OS, should our goal as a society be to support ALL families, including this kind?

    I didn’t think you’d think so.

    So, now that we’ve established that you don’t think our society’s goal should be to support ALL families, let’s talk some sense, okay?

    You’re steadfastly refusing to accept that there could be such a thing as a systemic issue here. Had you noticed that?

  77. Larry Tanner

    I posted the section from the amendment since it had been referenced and others might appreciate seeing the actual text. After all, one of the claims here is that laws specifically banning same-sex marriage violate the amendment. Seems to me the claim has merit: prohibiting same-sex marriages constitutes an unwarranted denial and deprivation of rights and privileges the law grants to others. You need not agree with the claim, but you should at least grant it is a legitimate and reasonable position for one to take.

  78. Tom Gilson

    If marriage between members of the same sex is a right, then denying it is a violation of the 14th Amendment. That is a legitimate and reasonable position for one to take. It also tells us nothing about whether marriage between members of the same sex is a right.

  79. Skepticism First

    SteveK #81, you’ve betrayed your complete unfamiliarity with the law. In your modified quote, you’re changed a single term*; ‘anti-miscegenation laws’ to ‘anti-veteran laws’. You may think this is a minor change of no consequence, but it’s not.

    If I were a judge on such a case, I’d have to start completely over – first, I’d have to determine whether non-veterans are a suspect or quasi-suspect class, then I’d have to determine whether to use rational basis, heightened scrutiny, or strict scrutiny review. I’d also have to examine the defendents’ case that such laws are narrowly tailored to serve a legitimate state interest. In effect, I can’t give you a satisfactory response, since doing so would require me to consult legal experts about precedents regarding non-veterans (who’s gonna pay the billable hours?), then write an entirely new full-length ruling. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask me to do that.

    *you also seem to have modified it incorrectly. Your modified quote compares Utah’s ban on SSM to anti-veteran laws. I think you meant to compare anti-veteran laws to anti-miscegenation laws. My response assumes the latter.

  80. Tom Gilson

    Bill, that comes as news to me, and I accept that you are right about religious liberty being used to justify racism.

    What should we conclude from that about religious liberty?

  81. SteveK

    @88,
    Okay, I’m not a lawyer and I therefore don’t see the significance of such things as quasi-suspect class and strict scrutiny review.

  82. Skepticism First

    SteveK, that’s why I’d like you to read the rulings I previously cited. The arguments are not merely shouting “equal protection!!!” as loud as I can. The appropriate level of review is *vital* to how these laws under debate are examined in court; as well as laws in general. What you’re doing is analogous to if I attempted to refute the modal ontological argument, without understanding S5. I’d rightly be told that my objections are irrelevant.

    I cited four specific rulings, out of more than 30. I picked those four because they’re, IMO, the clearest and easiest to understand, as well as the most comprehensive.

  83. G. Rodrigues

    @Skepticism First:

    note: I am not an American; I did not even knew what the 14th amendment was until Larry Tanner posted it. And as far as lawyers go, in the fine tradition of Shakespeare and Dickens, Carl Sandburg displays the correct attitude forcefully.

    But note that the law I’m appealing to, the 14th amendment, is not the same law we’re debating about. They, at least presumably, like the 14th amendment and don’t want it to change. My position is thus: laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are inconsistent with the 14th amendment; i.e. they are unconstitutional. I’m not even sure whether George et al. even disagree with that, actually. But if they do, they’ll need a legal argument as to why – which is what I haven’t seen.

    They can very well agree with the 14th amendment and disagree with your *interpretation* of it — because your legal argument, its innards exposed, is exactly that: a contingent interpretation of a fundamental, but broad and general, principle guided by *your* philosphical, moral and political assumptions. To assume that a broad, general principle as encapsulated in the 14th amendment comes with a legally binding, iron-clad interpretation, as if it were written by the finger of God Himself, is either naive or dishonest.

    Laws are human artifacts; they serve various purposes; they do not pre-exist in Platonic heaven. They do not tell us what is a right, from whence rights are derived, whether marriage is a right, what sort of right it is, etc. And if you do think that the Law indeed serves such a function, e.g. it creates rights out of the thin air, then you have to present an argument which, obviously enough, cannot itself be based on the Law.

  84. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    Oh yes, it’s all the same and the state has no legitimate interest in promoting marriage over divorce. [ insert massive eye-roll ] It’s hard to take you seriously, Ray.

    If I’d said that, then yes, it would be hard to take seriously. Fortunately, I didn’t – so you can start addressing what I actually wrote. Or, at the very least, you could try asking what I mean before shoving words in my mouth? Up to you, I suppose, whether you want to be taken seriously or not.

  85. BillT

    They can very well agree with the 14th amendment and disagree with your *interpretation* of it — because your legal argument, its innards exposed, is exactly that: a contingent interpretation of a fundamental, but broad and general, principle guided by *your* philosphical, moral and political assumptions.

    I’d agree with G. Rodrigues here and would go a step further. I don’t believe that SSM is a due process issue. I think the 14th amendment has been misapplied and that the judiciary have taken the “easy way out” in using the 14th amendment in these cases. What I think demonstrates this is the fact that in the main, marriage laws are being changed not by the duly elected legislators who’s job it is to write laws but by the leagal system. Judges aren’t suppose to be writing laws. That’s the job of the legislators as duly elected representatives of the people. This is obvious judicial overreach. As a lawyer though I realize this may be a moot point. However, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

  86. Bill L

    Tom, a bit more:

    It’s using the democratic process to advocate for our beliefs. Should we quietly excuse ourselves from democracy because we have religious beliefs?

    That’s fine. But then that makes it a bit more difficult to go around telling people you have cogent secular reasons for discriminating against this minority.

    Red herring. Irrelevant. Did I not explain myself clearly enough?

    Apparently not since you never really gave clear reasons how SSM undermines heterosexual marriage.

    That’s taking a very short-term, atomistic, individualistic view. You’ve missed the part about what happens to marriage as an overall societal presence when it’s undermined, and how children across society are harmed by not growing up in a culture where marriage is supported, honored, encouraged through the tough times, and (especially) understood to be an institution for the building of the next generation.

    Going back to #31, you said that there are harms towards children who really do prefer to grow up with their actual mother and father. In #36 I told you that this was not an argument against SSM. If you feel it is, you need to better explain yourself since adopted children will not have that situation no matter what… nor with the children of same sex partners who decide to have their own children.

    Are you changing that specific argument in what I quoted above? If so, you need to better explain how my marriage is undermined by a same SSM. If you are not changing that argument, I suggest you look at what OS has written much more carefully. These are human beings who need homes and people that love them. SSM can help provide that. For you to say that they are just a small percentage of population and wouldn’t really help the problem is to ignore those individual human beings. If you believe it will perpetuate the problem then you need a response to the article that Ray linked in #66. More importantly, you need to explain why we should single out and discriminate against one group since you are not advocating that any other high-risk groups for divorce be singled out.

    As far as the process of building the next generation, you need to explain how SSM hinders that since these people can have kids and raise families.

    Up until this conversation, Bill L., I’ve thought you were a thoughtful reader and commenter.

    I think you’ve told me something similar more than a few times, so I’m not too sure what to make of it.

    In context, rather than ripped out the way you’ve taken it here, it’s still an argument against SSM.

    Perhaps you should explain a bit more about your use of “you and me, babe.” I take it to mean that you believe SSM is not taken seriously by the people people in the marriage. If so, then you need to explain why we should single out this group since we can not prevent this in hetero-marriage.

    Could you please explain what the second sentence there has to do with what we’re talking about? Thanks.

    In #36 I was replying to your argument that SSMs are not stable. OK, how stable? What should be the criterion? Should we start isolating groups of people that are unlikely to form stable marriages such a heavy users of drugs and alcohol and prevent them from getting married? If not, why do you do advocate this for preventing SSM and not them?

  87. Tom Gilson

    Bill L, now you’re suggesting that because I have religious reasons it’s hard to believe I have secular ones, too. How does that follow? The way to determine whether I have secular reasons is by assessing my reasons and seeing whether some of them are secular!

    The article Ray linked to says, “We don’t know whether it’s divorce or something else about their growing-up that causes the effects we observe in children of divorce.”

    It makes a major point of the difference that socio-economic levels make in kids’ outcomes; marriage is the greatest poverty-preventer known to social science.

    It says there are some children who think divorce was better for them than living with both parents; strengthening marriages, including their quality, is the answer. Building a culture where marriage is about the adults’ personal satisfaction is not the way to do that.

    It says the obvious: divorce is painful. Everyone knows that.

    Building a marriage culture where it’s about “you and me, babe,” won’t encourage marriages to flourish and last and be good for children, because in the final analysis, too often “you and me, babe” is really about, “what you do for me, babe.”

    That’s the marriage culture we’ve built in the West over the past fifty years or so. It’s not the fault of SSM. But SSM is the capstone, the ratification, the endorsement, and the grand message-sender: marriage is about the couple, not about the family.

    That’s (some of) the harm portion of my argument, in very brief form. Ray’s article link doesn’t change it.

    That’s all I have time for right now.

  88. Tom Gilson

    It might help for you to realize that the journalists (bloggers, whatever) who wrote that linked article did what science journalists often do: they put a misleading headline on it. Their article doesn’t say that what we know about children of divorce is wrong. It says that the science behind what we think we know about them is incomplete, muddled, and confused. If the headline had read, “Everything we think we know about the children of divorce is a prematurely drawn conclusion,” that would have been closer to the truth, but then they also contradict that important word “everything” right there in the article:

    Of course, nobody needs a scientific study to tell them that divorce is painful. Divorce is upsetting to children, and some grow up to feel that they are emotionally crippled because of their parents’ divorce. Even children who view the changes resulting from divorce as positive still have to suffer through the upheaval of changing family structure. Parents should be encouraged to make every effort to mitigate the pain for their children.

    So much science journalism is distorted by headlines that don’t say what the article under them says!

    But note this as well: as far as I can see, this isn’t science journalism. It’s two scientists’ personal reflections. There cite no studies. They mention that there are studies, but that’s not the way science is done, and it isn’t even the way science journalism is done.

  89. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    Would anyone care to quantify that for me?

    Another quote from that link: “Studies that claim to have found an effect of divorce on children report tiny effect sizes, on the order of one-quarter of one standard deviation.” Seems reasonably quantified.

    It makes a major point of the difference that socio-economic levels make in kids’ outcomes; marriage is the greatest poverty-preventer known to social science.

    So… making more marriage available should be a good thing, right? (Or is that correlation and causation again?)

    What’s so bad about the youth of today, anyway? Violence? Crime? Pregnancy? All declining in decades-long trends.

    You’re the one proposing visible harm. Can you quantify it for us?

    (All that said… I actually partially agree with you: marriage should be taken a bit more seriously in policy than it currently is. A waiting period before entering marriage, a similar waiting period for divorce – except when domestic violence is a factor – perhaps both with classes like we do with drivers and guns.)

  90. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    We’re not trying to ban it, as if we’re taking offensive measures against it. We’re trying to guard against it defensively.

    So… you don’t intend to “officially or legally prohibit” same-sex marriage? That’s what a ban is. Whether it’s preemptive or not doesn’t change its nature as a ban.

    I would also urge you to answer Skepticism First’s comment #68. It’s important; whether or not you think marriage is “a pre-political institution”, there is another kind of marriage: that which is instantiated in law. Use a different name for it if you must, but it’s a very real thing.

    Compare to the relationship established by adoption – it’s a legal relationship, establishing legal rights and duties. Sure, it doesn’t change biology – that’s certainly pre-political – but neither is adoption unreal or impossible.

    And despite G. Rodrigues – and with all due credit to Shakespeare et. al. – as Thomas More says in “A Man For All Seasons”, “The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.”

  91. Tom Gilson

    Another quote from that link: “Studies that claim to have found an effect of divorce on children report tiny effect sizes, on the order of one-quarter of one standard deviation.” Seems reasonably quantified.

    Seems reasonably quantified, yes. The problem is, it’s quantifying something other than what we were talking about.

  92. Tom Gilson

    So… making more marriage available should be a good thing, right? (Or is that correlation and causation again?)

    What’s so bad about the youth of today, anyway? Violence? Crime? Pregnancy? All declining in decades-long trends.

    Oh, good grief. Do I really have to spell out for you how that first quoted comment of yours doesn’t follow, and the second is off topic? Can’t you do some of your own thinking on these things?

    You’re the one proposing visible harm. Can you quantify it for us?

    This is a systemic issue and not quantifiable in standard social research terms, except for the dozens and dozens of research reports showing that children of intact families with mom and dad at home in a positive relationship do better by far than other children. You can google that for yourself. It’s common knowledge in family studies.

    My point in speaking of it not being a ban is not so much that the word doesn’t apply, as that the idea that we’ve gone on the offensive to ban an existing institution. Accept that as my intent, please, and I’ll accept that the word itself could apply to our defensive posture.

    And despite G. Rodrigues – and with all due credit to Shakespeare et. al. – as Thomas More says in “A Man For All Seasons”, “The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.”

    Oh. Does that explain courts creating law?

  93. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    This is a systemic issue and not quantifiable in standard social research terms,

    Okay, the sequence is:

    1. I point out that harm per se doesn’t lead to a ban, but levels of harm are important.[*]

    2. You ask, “Would anyone care to quantify that for me?”

    3. I point out that the quantifiable levels of harm associated with – note, “associated with”, not even necessarily caused by – divorce are small.

    4. You now say that the harm you’re worried about is “not quantifiable”.

    So, I have to ask… why did you bother asking others to come up with quantifiable levels? On the face of it, you would appear to have a double standard – people who disagree with you have to come up with solid numbers, but you don’t have to in order to advocate your position. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood something?

    [*] I could also add that even for fairly large levels of harm – say, firearm deaths – the factor of rights can dramatically shift the threshold. The Second Amendment affects what kinds of gun laws can be passed, regardless of harm.

  94. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    Do I really have to spell out for you how that first quoted comment of yours doesn’t follow

    I think so. I’ve seen several same-sex marriage opponents link to this essay, which makes the historical point that if you reduce legal barriers for something you tend to get more of it. (It gives the examples of income tax, welfare, divorce.)

    But by that logic, making legal marriage – ‘schmarriage’ as Skepticism First puts it in that comment I urged you to address – available to more people, ought to encourage more marriage. That might not be Christian marriage, but I pointed out already that there’s a distinction between that and legal marriage already and the sky hasn’t fallen, even for Catholics.

    and the second is off topic

    I don’t think it is. You’re alleging widespread harm based on today’s divorce rates, and I’m trying to get a handle on what kind of harm you’re talking about. At least we seem to have established that it’s not violence, crime, or teenage pregnancy.

    the dozens and dozens of research reports showing that children of intact families with mom and dad at home in a positive relationship do better by far than other children

    Am I permitted to ask you to quantify “by far”? Especially in light of “less good” vs. “bad” vs. “bannably bad”?

  95. Tom Gilson

    You could ask me to quantify “by far,” but I would just ask you to do as I said the first time and look it up yourself. It’s one of the easiest things to find. I don’t have time today to explain for you what every social scientist regards as painfully obvious.

  96. Tom Gilson

    You’re alleging widespread harm based on today’s divorce rates

    Was that my claim? Where?

    Ray, this is why I don’t like answering your questions. I have to keep explaining to you what I’ve already said.

  97. Tom Gilson

    [*] I could also add that even for fairly large levels of harm – say, firearm deaths – the factor of rights can dramatically shift the threshold. The Second Amendment affects what kinds of gun laws can be passed, regardless of harm.

    Harm is not my only argument, though it’s the only one I’ve spent time on here.

    If there was a constitutional amendment that said harm could not be considered in our treatment of marriage and the laws we set for it, then I would have to drop the harm argument completely and move on to the others. There isn’t any such amendment.

  98. Tom Gilson

    Okay, I have to spell it out. Sigh.

    But by that logic, making legal marriage – ‘schmarriage’ as Skepticism First puts it in that comment I urged you to address – available to more people, ought to encourage more marriage. That might not be Christian marriage, but I pointed out already that there’s a distinction between that and legal marriage already and the sky hasn’t fallen, even for Catholics.

    1. More marriage is not necessarily more good marriage. That’s the main problem with your conclusion, the one that ought to have been obvious to you. There’s a difference between more marriage and more marriage that has family as its focus. SSM does not encourage the latter, but rather a degraded and unhealthy version (regardless of the moral question) that I’ve been describing as “just you and me, babe,” marriage.

    2. Additionally, we’ve already seen marriage degraded by hetero forms of “just you and me, babe,” marriage. We’ve also seen a huge increase in cohabitation. No coincidence.

  99. Larry Tanner

    1. More marriage is not necessarily more good marriage. That’s the main problem with your conclusion, the one that ought to have been obvious to you. There’s a difference between more marriage and more marriage that has family as its focus. SSM does not encourage the latter, but rather a degraded and unhealthy version (regardless of the moral question) that I’ve been describing as “just you and me, babe,” marriage.

    Would it be fair to say, then, that in your view SSM is an inherently inferior form of marriage?

  100. Tom Gilson

    And I’ve argued all along that endorsing a counterfeit like SSM while pretending it was marriage would undermine marriage.

    Counterfeits that pretend to be real money could seriously undermine an economy if they were floated in sufficient numbers. Monopoly money carries no such threat.

    Schmarriage doesn’t pretend to be marriage. The difference is clearly present in its name.

    I’d also be in favor of government-sanctioned yambmarriage (“you and me, babe,” marriage) to distinguish that from the real thing. Gays and straights could both apply.

  101. chapman55k

    What reason do we have to think your conflation of the word shmarriage with the word marriage (for which you argued above–defining marriage as what you are now calling shmarriage) is not just an equivocation?

  102. Skepticism First

    Tom, what you’re not understanding is that the state doesn’t have any hand in what you call marriage. It has, and always has had, a hand in what I call schmarriage. Read again #68. Schmarriage just *is* what the state does. They just call it ‘marriage’. But the concepts are identical.

  103. Tom Gilson

    What you’re not understanding is that calling it by another name communicates that it’s not the same thing. Whatever happens to schmarriage or yambage, it happens to schmarriage or yambage, not marriage. I think that would be a very good thing.

  104. Skepticism First

    Tom, then instead of arguing against same-sex marriage, why not argue that the name by which we refer to the state institution I’m talking about should be changed?

    chapman55k, see comment #68.

  105. DJC

    Tom,

    SSM does not encourage the latter, but rather a degraded and unhealthy version (regardless of the moral question)

    If SSM was shown capable of emotionally healthy relationships and emotionally healthy adoptive children, would that change your mind at all?

  106. Tom Gilson

    Huh?

    We’re trying to preserve marriage. The state has an interest in marriage as the institution that promotes the growth and development of the next generation. You’ve been talking about what the state does; that’s why it does it.

    Distinguishing marriage from schmarriage and yambage would be a great thing. You can’t do that by changing the name.

  107. Tom Gilson

    If SSM was shown capable of emotionally healthy relationships and emotionally healthy adoptive children, would that change your mind at all?

    Not quite. It would have to show that the effects last through to the adoptive children’s children, otherwise it’s not enough information for genuinely responsible decision-making (do ssm children make good parents? Is that important?); and it would have to show that these effects would not be at the sacrifice of other known forms of healthy relationships. If all that could be done, then I would not consider it marriage, but I’d be open to the state supporting it anyway.

    Knowing, however, that “you and me, babe” marriage has already had deleterious effects on relationships, children, and the broader marriage culture, I give all that very slim odds.

  108. Skepticism First

    No, Tom, that’s not what the state does. The thing that the state does, almost by definition, doesn’t promote the growth and development of the next generation. It’s entirely neutral. There are absolutely no ‘next generation’ requirements in order to be a part of the institution. And, in fact, even groups which are explicitly bad for the next generation, such as criminals and child abusers, are allowed to partake in the institution.

  109. chapman55k

    SF — #68 is the same equivocation. You said, “Entering this sort of contract is what I and the state call ‘marriage’; obviously, you disagree with us calling it that.”

    The equivocation is that the time-tested name for the kind of marriage that Tom is talking about is “marriage.” Up until the last few years (few decades at most), everyone agreed, if not particularly the state, on what that word meant. Whether the equivocation is yours or the state’s, marriage is not shmarriage even if the state or you call it that. I think that is Tom’s point.

  110. Tom Gilson

    Wow, did you misread me there!!!

    I agree:

    The thing that the state does, almost by definition, doesn’t promote the growth and development of the next generation.

    You’re absolutely right there! Families do that! That’s why the state is concerned about families! (Society does care about its own preservation, and does support that through law.) Didn’t you notice I made the why/what distinction?!

  111. Skepticism First

    Tom, what you’re calling “you and me, babe” marriage just *is* the civil institution of marriage. You should be opposed to all civil marriages as they currently stand, including your own. You were issued a civil license for a “you and me, babe” marriage. That you also engaged in a religious institution involving procreation is incidental to the state.

  112. Tom Gilson

    There are absolutely no ‘next generation’ requirements in order to be a part of the institution.

    That’s because the question would be intrusive.

    And, in fact, even groups which are explicitly bad for the next generation, such as criminals and child abusers, are allowed to partake in the institution.

    That’s because eugenics is horrible. But child abusers are removed from homes. Criminals of all sorts, including child abusers, are often incarcerated.

  113. Skepticism First

    If the state is concerned about families, then why can a couple with tattoos on their foreheads that read “I really hate children and I’m never having any, because I’m sterile” get a marriage license? Why can a couple who have actually removed their genitalia get one?

  114. Tom Gilson

    Tom, what you’re calling “you and me, babe” marriage just *is* the civil institution of marriage. You should be opposed to all civil marriages as they currently stand, including your own.

    Sigh.

    You’re just reflecting your ignorance of what it’s all about.

    Marriage was “you and me and the family” until very recently. If you got married, you pretty much knew it was for the two of you and the kids that would come along.

    The state is not interested in marriage because of “you and me, babe.” It didn’t invent marriage so that people who really like each other and want to have sex together could have a special license for their relationship. It recognizes marriage because marriage is the way families build futures. If not for that, there would be no state interest in marriage whatever.

    Relatively recently, mostly because of contraception and abortion, it has become possible for two people to marry, shmarry, or yambarry, for the two of them, not for the two of them plus their kids. I don’t know what interest the state could have in that. I do know the state has an interest in families, because families are (as has been known for millennia) are the foundation of a stable society, and the state is interested in a stable society.

    The civil institution cannot distinguish between marriage with one intent and marriage with another intent. It cannot ask on marriage licenses, “Have you proved your intent and your medical ability to bear children?” That would be incredibly intrusive and/or absurd.

    But it can determine with no intrusiveness that same-sex couples are not in it for themselves plus their children.

  115. Tom Gilson

    If the state is concerned about families, then why can a couple with tattoos on their foreheads that read “I really hate children and I’m never having any, because I’m sterile” get a marriage license?

    Because in a realistic society, laws are not undermined by such incredibly rare exceptional cases. You knew that. I don’t know why you asked the question. Please be sensible.

    Why can a couple who have actually removed their genitalia get one?

    Marriage is pretty much defined as not-yet-accomplished until it’s consummated, so I really can’t imagine how they could get married. In any rate, rare exceptions do not create law.

  116. Skepticism First

    Tom, it can determine with no intrusiveness that someone is currently incarcerated. Yet someone who is currently incarcerated can obtain a marriage license.

    But also, what about those same-sex couples *who are currently raising children*? Should those children be taken away from them? Wouldn’t letting them obtain a marriage license only benefit them?

  117. Bill L

    Tom, SF’s point in 142 is highly relevant. It is similar to the ones I have asked you. You need to address this either by addressing incarcerated individuals or other people who we think will not make good parents.

  118. Billy Squibs

    Tom, what if the adoptive children’s children (or to be far this could be the biological children’s children in the case of one of the grandparents) displayed comparable levels of whatever it is they look for in such studies – maybe happiness, self-efficacy, good education etc – with the grandchildren of straight parents?

    I asked the opposite question of SF way back in comment #45 and now that I’ve had a little time to consider his response I’m not sure that I find it satisfactory. Perhaps I’m unimpressed because:

    a) I’m not American and therefore the 14th Amendment has little or no bearing on me;

    b) I would be a conventionalist to some extent (insofar as I understand the term);

    c) I do worry about denuding the law in it’s ability to argue against the status quo. In this regard it could be that certain laws become – in some literal sense – a slave to the passions;

    d) I also fear that opposing voices are being repressed. For example, I think the disturbing story of Brendan Eich – http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/03/the-hounding-of-brendan-eich/.

  119. SteveK

    It didn’t invent marriage so that people who really like each other and want to have sex together could have a special license for their relationship.

    True. If that was the *only* point to having the license, it would be a huge waste of government effort and money. Citizens could print out a similar “license” on their computer and get the same thing – a piece of paper. Big whoop.

    There’s obviously more to the license than the piece of paper. It should come as no surprise that the state is interested in the type of people groups it encourages and nurtures. Licensing laws (and other laws) give the state the ability to do that.

    1) Want to encourage the growth of good driving? Make laws that encourage that. Issue licenses if minimum requirements can be met.

    2) Want to encourage the growth of high-tech startup businesses? Make laws that encourage these businesses if they can meet the minimum requirements of the state (high-tech, min number of employees).

    3) Want to encourage strong and stable families? Make laws that encourage that. Issue licenses if the minimum requirements can be met.

  120. Larry Tanner

    Tom (114),

    No. [Same-sex Marriage] is not a form of marriage, in my view

    So, naturally I wonder: is same sex romantic love a form of romantic love, in your view?

  121. Larry Tanner

    Well, if you don’t recognize a SSM as a real marriage, why would you recognize a SSL as a real love?

    Conversely, if you recognize a SSL as a real love, why wouldn’t you recognize a SSM as a real marriage?

    In any case, I am glad general cultural and legal views of real marriage are changing, even if the change is taking too long.

  122. Tom Gilson

    Real love is not the only qualification for real marriage. I love my kids.

    Real romantic love is not the only qualification for real marriage. Two siblings could have romantic love for each other.

    In any case, I don’t think the word “real marriage” means anything when you have no conception of marriage having an intrinsic nature or essence. There could be no such thing as false marriage.

  123. Larry Tanner

    Fascinating!

    Tom, I have been married 14 years to a wonderful woman, and we have three children together. Do I have a real marriage? Does my wife?

  124. Tom Gilson

    Sure! Just because you don’t know the philosophical terminology and the definitional conditions doesn’t mean you can’t live the reality.

  125. Bill L

    Tom, please assume I am too dumb to understand what you mean in by “individualistic and atomistic” and go ahead and just state why you think incarcerated people and drug/alcohol abusers should be able to get married even though they have higher divorce rates or are less likely to provide loving homes. SF has already pointed out to you that we could rather easily single out these groups, so why not do it based on your reasoning? For that matter, why not do it for impoverished and less educated black minorities?

    Just entertain me.

  126. Tom Gilson

    once I get over my astonishment at your last suggestions…

    wow

    Look, Bill, you keep thinking about this marriage or that marriage. Think systemically instead. Think “marriage culture.”

    Think about what strengthens or weakens the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. Because whether you like it or not, building up that form of marriage in general matters more to the ongoing flourishing of our society, in the long run, much more than “this marriage or that marriage” today, or any other supposed form of marriage.

    If we tear down the social supports surrounding that kind of marriage, it’s going to harm more than this marriage or that marriage. It’s going to harm a lot of them. It already has. Why endorse the tearing-down? Why celebrate it? Why extend it? It’s idiocy to keep tearing apart the social structures supporting marriage this way!

    And I’m not talking about the “you and me, babe,” counterfeit. I’m talking about marriage for the couple and the family.

  127. Skepticism First

    Tom, I think your fears are going to turn out to be unfounded. Belive it or not, many same-sex couples are all about “you, me, and the family”. In fact, many of the plantiffs in the recent court cases want to get married precisely because of their children. These same-sex couples, and couples like them in the future, aren’t going to go away regardless of what happens, and they’ll continue to raise children – while being unmarried, if you have your way.

    And, I doubt that any opposite-sex couple is seriously going to think, “gee, these same-sex couples can get married now. I guess I shouldn’t bother marrying and starting a family.” I doubt that you think that, even. If same-sex marriage is legalized nationwide, are you going to decide that a family isn’t important to you? If not, why would anyone else?

    Furthermore, if the courts ultimately rule in your favor, do you expect anyone is going to think, “gee, I guess families are important after all. Guess I better start one.”?

    The only result I can see from allowing same-sex marriage is that people will decide that you’re wrong, and same-sex couples can get married after all. I don’t see any way in which it will undermine the value of family. If anything, it’ll increase it.

  128. Larry Tanner

    SF,

    Agreed. And I rather think the institution of marriage — generally, systemically — is strengthened by same-sex marriage (and by ‘you and me babe’ marriage, too).

  129. Bill L

    Tom,

    Did my suggestion sound both shocking and ridiculous to you? Good. That’s how I intended it. I was trying to give you an idea of how your line of reasoning on this sounds to me. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that you seem to continually evade the question then.

    You’ve made the argument that homosexuals do not form lasting relationships and that this is one of the reasons we should prevent them from getting married. I honestly have no idea what the percentages are, so for the sake of this argument I’m assuming you are right.

    But take a look at this:
    http://divorcescience.org/2012/06/29/351/

    It’s just one example of any number of ways we could isolate groups in a manner similar to the one you prefer. We could make the same arguments you have made – overall erosion of “marriage culture” / it would be non-invasive and so on.

    But I (and others) know too many people with lasting same-sex relationships. And if you can’t directly answer the questions we’re asking you, what choice to you leave us but to think that you really just don’t have good answers?

  130. chapman55k

    @Tom Gilson: Wow. I agree with G. Rodrigues. The discusson surrounding something that is not marriage, but what some states require to get a “marriage” license was never really rational, but now we have arrived at caricature. Why are you continuing with this?

  131. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    You’re alleging widespread harm based on today’s divorce rates
    Was that my claim? Where?

    “I’m talking about the effects on children everywhere of undermining marriage in general. Those effects are clear enough already through the undermining that’s taken place through the proliferation of divorce.”

    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, and you can clarify. But I hope you can see where I got the impression.

    More marriage is not necessarily more good marriage.

    How good does a marriage need to be before it produces the socio-economic benefits you called on as justification?

    I don’t have time today to explain for you what every social scientist regards as painfully obvious.

    Except the ones I linked to?

    In any case, I’ve looked around and what I’ve seen so far is definitely in the ‘one quarter standard deviation’ category. That’s definitely “less good” rather than “bad”. And I don’t see society imploding today, either. Not based on any of the measures I noted before, at least.

    Building a marriage culture where it’s about “you and me, babe,” won’t encourage marriages to flourish and last and be good for children

    Side question: does a marriage need to last after the kids are grown and moved out?

  132. Tom Gilson

    “Does a marriage need to last after the kids are grown and moved out?”

    Does a question have to be relevant and worthwhile to be worth paying attention to it?

    For your other recent points, Ray, see my newer post.

  133. Larry Tanner

    The discusson surrounding something that is not marriage,[snip]

    Not. Your. Call.

    You do not get to define marriage or to lock down that definition once and for all time.

    Tradition does not get to define marriage or to lock down that definition once and for all time.

    Your chosen holy book, its translation(s), and your favorite interpretive guide do not get to define marriage or to lock down that definition once and for all time.

    Your past social/cultural privilege does not get to define marriage or to lock down that definition once and for all time.

    Your parochial definition is one way to go. It’s not better. It’s not right-er. It’s not magical. It’s not ideal.

    It’s one way to go. There are others with equal standing.

  134. Tom Gilson

    We are not claiming that we get to define marriage (although see below). We are not claiming that tradition defines it. We are not relying on contingent or doubtful translations of our holy book for our understandings, nor are we asking you even to pay attention to our holy book, since we know you don’t trust it. We are (LOL on this one!!!) calling upon past social cultural privilege. Our definition is hardly parochial: it’s been universal from time immemorial.

    We agree on one thing: It’s. Not. Our. Call.

    We do, however, think that by rational reflection we can arrive at a reasonable definition of what marriage is. We think it’s reasonable to adopt that as the definition we use, even though others disagree. We think they’re wrong.

    (If that’s a moral fault in your eyes, remember that you think we’re wrong.)

    If our view of marriage has equal standing with others’, why are you campaigning to overturn it?

  135. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    Marriage is pretty much defined as not-yet-accomplished until it’s consummated

    Point of information – only in about a quarter of states. The rest consider the ceremony to establish the legal marriage.

    If our view of marriage has equal standing with others’, why are you campaigning to overturn it?

    Who’s campaigning to ‘overturn’ it? At worst, the campaign is to supplement it. Other marriages would be available, which you would not be required to avail yourselves of. You’d still be free to advocate against them in public, and even state publicly that others were not ‘really married’ as far as you were concerned.

    This set of articles addresses your George link point-by-point, and part 3 in particular addresses this specifically.

  136. DR84

    Ray

    Sorry for jumping in to the conversation. I took a moment to look through some of the responses to the George/Anderson/Girgis argument you linked. Forgive me if I missed something (again, I have not had a chance for a thorough read), but from what I did gather it seems the writer ultimately basis the definition of marriage on intuition and experience and holds the view that there are multiple different kinds of marriages. Of which, the union of a man and woman is just one kind. A partnership between two people in a homosexual relationship would be another. I base this understanding mostly on point III and VI. In point III the writer says that the man-woman view of marriage is merely a subset of all the kinds of marital relationships (Figure 2). In point VI the writer mentions intuitively knowing that same sex homosexual relationships are real marriages.

    It seems to me that yes, the union of husband and wife is indeed its own category of human relationships. Accordingly, if we understand marriage to be this particular relationship, we are under no demand to consider any other kind of relationship to be a marriage and under no demand socially or legally to recognize anything else as a marriage. I think your question can be flipped around, if these other kinds of “marriages” are not recognized as such, so what?

    Also, making a case that same sex relationships can be marriages on intuition falls flat. So what if this writers intuition lead them to this belief? Mine has lead me to the opposite belief. Even more so, I am confident that most people in history have not intuitively grasped a same sex relationship as a marriage.

    There is also this in point III
    “George prefers to call this interaction a reproductive, or generative, or procreative act. That breaks down, though, when he speaks of infertile opposite-sexers, whom he believes can still have a “real” marriage. For their sake, he sometimes uses the phrase procreative-type act.

    But I can only see a procreative-type act as the type of act that leads to procreation, and for infertile couples no type of act leads to procreation. George is manhandling the English language, trying to keep infertile couples in the procreation tent by inventing terms with no coherent meaning. ”

    …and yikes, that is an incoherent mess. Somehow by experiencing infertility the type of act that leads to procreation is no longer the type of act that leads to procreation. I do not have words for how absurd this is.

    Anyway, thanks for digging these links up and sharing them. It is nice to see a mostly thoughtful attempt at engaging the marriage argument.

  137. G. Rodrigues

    @Andrew W:

    It is nice to see a mostly thoughtful attempt at engaging the marriage argument.

    I have only read up to part V (contrary to other people, I do not think it a virtue to go peek in the Devil’s Den) and it indeed is, for the most part, an incoherent mess.

  138. Tom Gilson

    Suppose we started out with the view that a dog is a four-legged animal that wags its tail and barks, and gets along well in humans surroundings. Now, suppose we “supplement” that with the view that “bark” and “gets along well in human surroundings” are what really defines a dog.

    I’ve never had a dog since I got married, but now I have about a dozen maple dogs, three spruce dogs, and a black gum dog growing in my back yard.

    I know, I equivocated on “bark.” I did it for the laughs. I could have struck “bark” out of the definition instead, so now I have a calico dog here in my home who was meowing for her breakfast until I fed her just now.

    What then is a cat? A hamster? A ferret? A guinea pig? What is a dog, really?

    That’s what happens when you “supplement” a definition by removing some of its essential features. Marriage was once (and properly speaking, still is) the comprehensive union of a man and a woman who come together in a committed lifelong relationship involving physical, social, economic, and other forms of unity, with a view (among the great majority, those who marry young) to building a family to be part of a larger community.

    You’ve “supplemented” this by striking out some of its key features. That’s actually overturning the definition of marriage.

  139. G. Rodrigues

    @DR84:

    Apologies; was writing two replies at the same time and by mistake managed to transmutate your name to “Andrew W.”.

  140. DR84

    Hope you all dont mind if my running has still been running, but I have a few more thoughts on the links Ray provided. Placing the conjugal view within the revisionist view of marriage seems to be a problem of infinite regress as the revisionist view fits within yet another view, and that within another, and so on until infinity. Also, it is common for schools to recognize some sports teams officially. Yet, if I remember correctly, there was a club hockey team comprised of classmates of mine back in high school. Their team was not officially recognized like the football and basketball teams were. Were they discriminated against unjustly because of their team was not recognized while other teams were? Of course not. I cannot even imagine anyone arguing otherwise. Seems to me the multiple kinds of marriage must be recognized view has the same problem.

  141. Tom Gilson

    Right.

    Ray’s highly touted “part 3” centers on this:

    Do you see what George has done here? There’s only one way these views are “competing,” and that’s if the conjugal view is the only correct view, and anything falling outside it isn’t “real marriage.” But that’s the very thing he’s setting out to prove! In other words, he’s asking you to accept his conclusion even before he makes his argument. In fact, he’s sneaking his conclusion into the very beginning of his argument. We call that circular reasoning.

    The views are competing. This is not circular. This is someone claiming to have a knowledge of logic and not knowing that he doesn’t.

    This logic-challenged author sees that revisionist marriage can include conjugal marriage numerically, and supposes from there that it also includes it definitionally.

    The conjugal view takes it that there are certain essential purposes for marriage, which define marriage. The revisionist view says that those are not essential purposes for marriage. This is not an enclosing paradigm, it is a contradicting definition.

  142. Tom Gilson

    Then in part 4 he says,

    Opponents of interracial marriage never denied it was possible for blacks and whites to makes sexual unions — that’s what they were afraid of! But that doesn’t mean they understood such a thing to be marriage.

    And

    In fact it’s easy to argue some of them did deny “real” marriage was possible between the races, even if they didn’t use George’s terminology

    And he uses this judicial opinion as evidence:

    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

    So he uses a judge’s opinion that marriage between races was wrong as evidence that marriage between races was considered to be not real, or not possible.

    That would be like using a judge’s opinion that stealing is wrong as evidence that stealing is considered to be impossible.

    Those are just two examples. I only looked at the two articles, and I only read far enough down the page in each of them to find these two corkers of illogic. (Actually three: the next paragraph after the one I quoted here contains another example of demonstrably poor reasoning that I’m not taking time to go into here.)

    I suspect from the illogic in that small sample that there is much more to be found in the entire set of articles.

    Ray, do you see that?

  143. G. Rodrigues

    @Tom Gilson:

    Here is another one: the Distinguished Author is commenting on the *first* section of the article, an un-titled section that merely serves as introduction for setting up the terms of what is discussed in the paper. This is blindingly obvious to anyone that reads the paper (just the last paragraph of the section reads as: “”). How does the Esteemed Author *starts* his rebuttal? “George tries to sneak his conclusion into his reasoning.” Newsflash: an introduction is not supposed to contain (detailed) arguments.

    Someone might think that I am merely quibbling and not addressing the substance of the matter, and, at least in part, this is not entirely false. But to address the entirety of the article (or of what I have read of it), I would have to write the double of words of the Eminent Author just to disentangle his many mistakes and misunderstandings. If you cannot even get the logical structure of a paper right, and prefer instead to fling wild accusations on all the many fallacies (not) committed from the get-go, maybe you should not be commenting on it? Just a thought.

  144. Tom Gilson

    The point, Ray, is that if that’s the best rebuttal to George’s paper, then there is no rebuttal to George’s paper; his argument stands.

  145. Tom Gilson

    Further on G. Rodrigues’s point: in the intro to an article like George’s, one lays out one’s terminology and the direction one intends to take. It’s okay to state your conclusion in your introduction. It’s not the beginning of the argument, it’s not the premises on which the argument stands, it is (often) a picture of the whole argument including the conclusion one intends to reach.

    Note, too, that what this Esteemed Author said George had presented prematurely as competing views, are indeed two views that differ from each other such that if one is true the other is false, and vice versa. That’s not premature.

    The author says,

    Do you see what George has done here? There’s only one way these views are “competing,” and that’s if the conjugal view is the only correct view, and anything falling outside it isn’t “real marriage.” But that’s the very thing he’s setting out to prove!

    No, there’s only one way these views aren’t competing, which is if the revisionist view encompasses the conjugal view in spite of their being defined in a manner that makes them incompatible with each other. “But that’s the very thing he’s setting out to prove!”

    Oh, I’m having too much fun with this. It’s unseemly and I’d better stop now.

  146. Holopupenko

    @153: Matrimony–no; marriage, perhaps… and the two are very different. In the latter, the “authority” issuing the secular civil/administrative document is a bean counter. Matrimony is not about counting beans–it’s a life-long sacrifice and giving of one’s self for the other’s happiness… and it is a sacrament: the latter is based upon the former without the true sacramental nature imparted. The latter is a mere contract, a business deal… which can be (and is) broken at any time. Just because Larry exhibits some of the external trappings and actions of matrimony wrt his wife doesn’t mean that relationship is anything more than a deep friendship. Matrimony is far more than a “deep friendship” that can be dissolved. And, formally-administratively speaking, there is nothing that limits marriage to a man and a woman. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether marriages should even be permitted and whether mere marriages properly serve human nature by being ordered to God. Memo: they do not, and sooner or latter will damage not the sacrament of matrimony but people’s ability to live their lives in a holy, sacramental sense. While strong arguments can be made for the state support of ONLY man-woman marriages, those can never supply the ultimate reasons. We do not permit murder not because the state says so but because taking an innocent life is a grave affront to the nature of the person murdered as made in the image and likeness of God. Homosexual “marriages” might be considered administratively “valid,” but they are humanly repugnant because they are a deeply-disordered affront to human nature–again, a nature made in the image and likeness of God. Support of homosexual “marriages” is a betrayal of human nature.

  147. SteveK

    Support of homosexual “marriages” is a betrayal of human nature.

    While I agree, I think western society at large is being trained/taught to think that the idea of human nature is nonsense. From there it doesn’t take much effort to reach the conclusion that ‘the nature of marriage’ is an idea that is also nonsensical. I see this as being the root of the problem. We were just discussing this on the other post, here and in later comments.

    I think Tom is going to write a post about this soon.

  148. Larry Tanner

    Holopupenko,

    Just because Larry exhibits some of the external trappings and actions of matrimony wrt his wife doesn’t mean that relationship is anything more than a deep friendship. Matrimony is far more than a “deep friendship” that can be dissolved.

    I agree with your basic point. The relationship between my wife and I far exceeds “deep friendship” in every way. You would have to know us to understand.

    I believe, and I have observed in many cases, both straight and gay marriages that are every bit as sublime, other-oriented, good and right as my own or any other marriage.

  149. Holopupenko

    You would have to know us to understand.

    Like a doctor would have to “know” cancer (i.e., suffer from it) to understand it, right?

    That’s the sneaky “logic” you’ve just used in another way: what exactly could you possible mean (as you employ it in an objectively absolutist way) by “good and right” as applied to homosexual “marriage”? Note also, you are not merely employing that characterization in a strictly moral sense, but the very ontological status of homosexual pairings you (per your personal opinion) deems as “good”: its very existence is “good” in your amateurish bandying about of that transcendental (in the philosophical sense) term. Therefore, your characterization of homosexual pairings as “good” is little more than emotional drivel because you don’t even know what the term “good” actually means in any true moral or ontological sense. (Care to provide a natural science that helps you out in this respect… or can you spare us and let us ignore your subjective and personal impositions?)

    Moreover, it’s your outward expression of atheism that betrays a deeper character flaw… which naturally leads one to question–quite seriously–the claim of “far exceeds ‘deep friendship'”. You may protest and yell and kick and carry on all you want about this. But, there’s a limitation on human relations imposed by atheism that’s insurmountable and which atheism can’t overcome.

  150. Larry Tanner

    H.

    The projection is strong with you. Thanks for the laugh, now get back in the dustbin!

  151. BillT

    I’m talking about the harm done to intellectual freedom through the deep (and often administratively enforced) intolerance toward contrary views on this topic. I’m talking about the harm done to civil discourse by labeling people like me as haters, phobic, intolerant, backward, and so on.

    Just so you don’t miss this Bill L, this is what you do.

    The projection is strong with you. Thanks for the laugh, now get back in the dustbin!

    More of the same from the tolerant crowd, right Larry.

  152. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    No, there’s only one way these views aren’t competing, which is if the revisionist view encompasses the conjugal view in spite of their being defined in a manner that makes them incompatible with each other.

    In that essay, he points out that ‘conjugal marriages’ are indeed a proper subset of ‘revisionist marriages’ (again granting George’s terminology). The Venn diagram was pretty clear, I thought.

  153. G. Rodrigues

    @Ray Ingles:

    In that essay, he points out that ‘conjugal marriages’ are indeed a proper subset of ‘revisionist marriages’ (again granting George’s terminology). The Venn diagram was pretty clear, I thought.

    In the *very* paragraph you are responding to, Tom clearly points out that the Author is committing what he accuses George et. al of (which btw they do not; at least the Author has not showed it): question begging.

    It is commendable, nay, a true cause of envy, that you are able to read off Venn diagrams and their implied containment relations; but don’t you find just a little itsy bitsy worrisome that you miss the, quite obvious, point Tom was making?

  154. Tom Gilson

    The “Venn diagram was pretty clear” that if revisionist marriage is accepted then conjugal marriage would be a numerical subset of all marriages, according to the law at least.

    To repeat myself:

    This logic-challenged author sees that revisionist marriage can include conjugal marriage numerically, and supposes from there that it also includes it definitionally.

    The conjugal view takes it that there are certain essential purposes for marriage, which define marriage. The revisionist view says that those are not essential purposes for marriage. This is not an enclosing paradigm, it is a contradicting definition.

    Now in answer to that you tell me that “the Venn diagram was pretty clear.” I have agreed that it makes something very clear. I noted also that what it makes very clear is something other than the question at hand.

    Further, you really should give yourself a moment’s pause before you say anything again beginning, “In that essay, he points out….” Our comments 174 through 178 show that we give this author no credence, and they show why: his work is riddled with fallacies. See #177 again, please.

  155. Rob Tisinai

    I’m afraid you’ve erred several times in your analysis of my articles.

    First, I do understand the structure of George’s piece; you do not. When George says “Consider two competing views” he is not positing a conclusion which he will justify in later sections. Rather he is introducing his reasoning. The assertion that these views are competing is a premise he will use to later justify his conclusion, but he does not establish that the views are actually competing; he appears to take it as self-evident and builds his argument from there. However, as I point out, the premise is true only if his conclusion is true, and that is what makes his argument circular.

    As for this:

    This logic-challenged author sees that revisionist marriage can include conjugal marriage numerically, and supposes from there that it also includes it definitionally.

    That’s incorrect. Rather, I point out that his two definitions are not mutually exclusive. I then go on to point out how one of them would need to be rephrased for them to be “competing,” and point out that George hasn’t offered that definition.

    As for the judge’s opinion, perhaps you aren’t aware that many opponents of same-sex marriage hold that the only real marriages are the ones that God endorses, so when there is a history of people saying that God did not endorse interracial marriages, the logical implication would be that interracial marriages are not real marriages.

    Finally, when it comes to the section on “procreative-type acts,” you allege incoherence on my part, but do nothing to establish it. The real flaw lies with George and his co-authors, and their unjustified pseudo-concept of “procreative-type.”

  156. G. Rodrigues

    @Robert Tisnai:

    First, I do understand the structure of George’s piece; you do not.

    To accuse George et al. of committing the fallacy of question-begging, when all they are doing in the introduction is to establish the terms of the discussion, is to demonstrably not understand the structure of the article. And further evidence of your lack of understanding:

    The assertion that these views are competing is a premise he will use to later justify his conclusion, but he does not establish that the views are actually competing; he appears to take it as self-evident and builds his argument from there. However, as I point out, the premise is true only if his conclusion is true, and that is what makes his argument circular.

    This is simply false. They argue for it in section B; not only they lay out different criteria, they explain why these particular criteria are relevant. Not only that, you yourself go on to commit the very same fallacy: you simply claim the revisionist definition encompasses the traditional, so by your criteria you are also question-begging. And when you do try to argue it latter on it is miserable. Just one example, from part V:

    But I don’t agree with George completely. Yes, marriage is real, but what does “real” mean? Remember that George is a Catholic natural law philosopher. He thinks we can reason our way to ethical and moral truth, but the conclusions have to match the church’s interpretation tof he Gospels. He’s committed to the idea that marriage was created by God for humans, and humans cannot change God. He may try to set that aside in his reasoning, but if he believes it he can’t truly abandon it. This puts him squarely back in a Platonic frame of mind, with ideal “form” called “marriage” that originates in a higher realm.

    Meanwhile, I’m heading down Aristotle’s road: I would say marriage is real because human beings have created it. We’ve done it by trial and error over thousands of years. And if you want to find out what it is, ask the questions mentioned in my first post: let’s look at what people in this world call marriage, what led them to marry, and what they hope to achieve by marrying. Use that to define what marriage is.

    This is wrong on so many levels. First George et. al is a New Natural Law theorist (he disagrees with the “old”, immanent teleological approach of Thomists in general, and perverted faculty type of arguments), so he is an Aristotelian; and if doubts there were, it is a simple matter of reading a book like “Body-Self dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics” by Lee and George. Here is the opening paragraph of the chapter “Sex and the Body”:

    No one doubts that dualism has often influenced views of sexual morality. Platonists, for example, have sometimes viewed sexual activity as inherently bad, since in their view it lowered the spirit, which is the true self, to a preoccupation for the merely bodily. On the other hand, dualism has often led to a somewhat opposite view, namely, sexual libertinism. For, if the self is a spirit, or a consciousness, and the body is outside the self, then bodily sexual activities may be viewed as rather unimportant – useful perhaps to obtain pleasure (viewed as an effect in one’s consciousness), to relieve tension, or so on. If one’s body, or one’s animality, is viewed as extrinsic to what one really is, then one might also conclude that what happens within the realm of the bodily or animal is of itself quite irrelevant to what occurs to one’s real self. Perhaps the sexual may receive some important significance or meaning, but – if the self is a pure consciousness – it does not have within its nature, or inherently, any significance or value.

    The *whole* chapter argues that many forms if sexual liberalism and libertinism are implicitly rooted in Platonic and Cartesian dualist views in the Philosophy of the Mind.

    Second, and as a corollary, while George et al. believe that the *source* of the marriage institution is God, he does not need to, and never does, appeal to revealed doctrine to make his case. Because like any good Aristotelian (unlike say, ideological Darwinists that routinely confuse questions of essence with cladistics), the *essence* can be discovered rationally, at least in part, without bringing God into the picture. In much the same way as a Catholic physicist (or a Christian, or Muslim, or Jew) believes that the ultimate source and fountain of all there is is God, but he studies elementary particles like electrons or quarks or whatever without appealing to revealed doctrine but only to the Book of Nature.

    Third, quite obviously, moral and ethical truths have to match Church doctrine, because the latter is also truth and truth is single and consistent (and the opinion of Averroës on double truth is a heresy). And while you try to squeeze some ominous suspicion out of this, the same is true of every single rational person on the face of the Earth that tries to hold to a consistent set of beliefs, and thus of necessity, his beliefs on other matters, whether it is the stance on Universals or on naturalistic atheism, will influence his morals and ethics.

    Fourth, to say that “He may try to set that aside in his reasoning, but if he believes it he can’t truly abandon it” is intellectually dishonest. The arguments stand on their own, independent of what other beliefs their proponents hold. For *if* George et al., because they are Catholic, have biases and their arguments are disqualified, then because you have a particular set of beliefs, including the defense of moral abominations, are likewise biased and your arguments are likewise disqualified.

    Fifth, your road is precisely the road that Aristotle would *not* go down: Aristotle was an essentialist. So *if* marriage is an artifact of human creation, it is *not* real in the relevant sense. Confirmed by what you say next: take a poll of people’s opinions and cobble together a definition — of necessity, a nominal definition, a dictionary definition of a word employing other words. For *if* it is an artifact of human creation, there is nothing to “find out”, it is rather of matter of who gets to decide. One can appeal to different sorts of considerations and principles, but ultimately, reality is *not* the arbiter because there is no fact of the matter.

    On the other hand, if you do hold that there is a fact of the matter, and the place to look is human nature, then you agree with George et al. and the quoted paragraphs are moot.

    And finally this:

    As for the judge’s opinion, perhaps you aren’t aware that many opponents of same-sex marriage hold that the only real marriages are the ones that God endorses, so when there is a history of people saying that God did not endorse interracial marriages, the logical implication would be that interracial marriages are not real marriages.

    So the argument is:

    (1) Opponents X of SSM hold that the only real marriages are the ones endorsed by God.

    (2) people Y hold that God does not endorse interracial marriages.

    (3) Ergo, interracial marriages are not real marriages.

    (3) is not a “logical implication” from (1) and (2) nowhere in the world outside of your head.

  157. Tom Gilson

    Rob,

    I’m having trouble understanding how you can say that George is trying to prove that the two views are competing.

    Generally speaking, two views are competing if (a) they are different, (b) they are different, specifically, in such a way that the success of one does not include or entail the success of the other (or vice versa), and (c) they are attempting to occupy the same conceptual space.

    This can be determined by simple inspection.

    Conjugal view: Marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts—acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children con‐ tributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.
    Revisionist View: Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.

    There are multiple points of difference here that make these competing conceptions.

    For example, marriage is the union of a man and woman whose union is inherently fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together, vs. Marriage is the union of two people (regardless of sex) tho commit to romantic love, care, and mutual domesticity.

    Now, if it is true that marriage is the union of two people (regardless of sex), then it is not true that marriage is the union of a man and woman. If marriage is definitionally the one, then it is not definitionally the other. This does not require an argument. The definitions differ. So, clearly this meets criteria (a) and (c). Does it meet criterion (b)? Sure! This is displayed whenever some tribunal in Canada or some court in England slaps the hand of someone who says, “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.” In that space, and in the minds of those particular decision-makers, the revisionist view has displaced the conjugal view. And indeed, wherever the revisionist view is accepted it is unacceptable to hold that the conjugal view (marriage is the union of a man and a woman) is correct.

    You say that George got this wrong because he didn’t put it this way:

    Marriage can only be the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.

    But your problem is with what the meaning of “is” is. If marriage is, definitionally (for this is a matter of definitions, after all), for a man and a woman, then it does not, definitionally, allow or encompass same-sex marriage; and if the revisionist view is correct, then the view that marriage definitionally is the union of a man and a woman is wrong. The view that marriage is (definitionally) a form of union of two persons regardless of sex contradicts and excludes the view that it is (definitionally) a form of union of a man and a woman.

    That’s a lot of ink spilled over the obvious, but apparently it needed to be said.

    George was not, by the way, trying to prove that the two views are competing. He was trying to prove that the conjugal view was superior.

    That’s a lesser amount of ink spilled over the obvious, but apparently it needed to be said, too.

    You go on,

    As for the judge’s opinion, perhaps you aren’t aware that many opponents of same-sex marriage hold that the only real marriages are the ones that God endorses, so when there is a history of people saying that God did not endorse interracial marriages, the logical implication would be that interracial marriages are not real marriages.

    First, regardless of that, the fact remains that (as I said earlier) you used a judge’s opinion that marriage between races was wrong as evidence that marriage between races was considered to be not real, or not possible. That’s a non sequitur, and thus a failure in your use of logic.

    Second, the logical connections between your clauses here are rather loose. Formally it looks like this:

    1. People of group A hold that X means Y (where X is, “God does not endorse it” and “therefore it’s not a real marriage”)
    2. People of group B held that Z is an instance of X (where Z is interracial marriage)
    3. Therefore people of group B people hold that Z entails Y.

    You haven’t actually shown here that A’s belief entail B’s beliefs. (Don’t try: it won’t work. A’s beliefs actually don’t entail Bs beliefs.) This is sloppy logic, too.

    Finally,

    Finally, when it comes to the section on “procreative-type acts,” you allege incoherence on my part, but do nothing to establish it. The real flaw lies with George and his co-authors, and their unjustified pseudo-concept of “procreative-type.”

    This is an ironic statement on your part. You criticize us for doing nothing to establish a point, and then you proceed to state a point without doing anything to establish it.

    Call me geeky for it, but I find logic ironies like that to be quite entertaining.

    (G. Rodrigues posted his response while I was composing this. Now I’ll read what he had to say.)

  158. Tom Gilson

    Well, I see we both identified the same error in response to your “Finally…” section. Otherwise, as usual, I learned a lot from G. Rodrigues here.

  159. Rob Tisinai

    First, “Aristotelian” can mean so many things. I acknowledged quite explicitly that George would think of himself as Aristotelian in many ways, but I’m referring not to the teleologic metaphysic, but to the empirical epistemology. George’s arguments fall much more into the Platonic epistemology.

    Second and third and fourth, while George never does appeal to God in making his case, it’s undoubtedly true that as a Catholic natural law philosopher, he begins with certain foregone conclusions to which his reasoning is required to lead. I point this out not because it refutes his reasoning (of course, it does not) but because it’s an answer to the question, “Why on earth would he offer this up as if it were valid?”

    Your fifth point is only valid if there is nothing “essential” about human nature and what is good for human thriving — a point that you, George, Aristotle, and I all surely reject. Where we differ is that Aristotle and I would ask, “Why do people marry, and what does their experience tells us makes for a successful marriage?” While George seems to want to keep empirical exploration to a minimum.

    Sixth, I’m certainly not saying that interracial marriages are not real marriages. I don’t believe George is saying so either. But this section did not deal with my views or George’s. This section was about George’s assertions re opponents of interracial marriage. And if there were people who believe the only “real” marriage is what God endorsed, and that God did not endorse interracial marriage, then George is wrong about what opponents of interracial marriage believed.

    One final point, and this is important (to me, at least): My series of articles was widely published but never addressed. This is the first real attempt I’ve seen to do so, even if I don’t (yet) place much credence in the attempt. But I do value sincere attempts to engage it. And I hope (though I cannot be sure) that even if you think I am utterly misguided you can still view my attempt to find the truth as sincere. I hope we can keep this discussion on that plane and I promise to hold my (often regrettable) tendency toward snark in check, while hoping you and Tom do so as well.

    Deal?

  160. Rob Tisinai

    Sorry, Tom, but this is a squares and rectangles issue. I’m saying that squares are always rectangles and rectangles can sometimes be squares , while George is attempting to argue that ONLY squares can be rectangles.

    In other words, he starts out with the unjustified assertion that these views are mutually exclusive, builds his argument on that assertion, while never establishing the truth of the view that are in fact mutually exclusive (just as squares and rectangles are not mutually exclusive).

    As for what the meaning of “is” is, George’s argument requires that marriage is ONLY ‘fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” But of course he’s not willing to say that because he doesn’t believe it. Elderly couples marry and have real marriages even if they can’t have kids — would view pregnancy (of, say, a 70-year-old woman) as a disaster. So while George continually evokes what “most people accept,” most people would accept the inescapable conclusion of elderly-marriage-not-a-marriage as utterly wrong.

    Regarding the judge’s views on marriage, please see my previous post in response to G. Rodrigues.

    (Edited for clarity. Apologies.)

  161. Tom Gilson

    it’s undoubtedly true that as a Catholic natural law philosopher, he begins with certain foregone conclusions to which his reasoning is required to lead.

    And you are any different? You describe yourself as “I volunteered to lead a protest.” That’s your published self-definition, obtained by following your “About” link.” Could you possibly find anything correct in what George et al. wrote? No! You begin with certain foregone conclusions, to which your reasoning is required to lead, don’t you?

    But wait–that’s poppycock, too! Reasoning is judged by its evidences, its premises, and its logic, not by the psychological state of the person presenting it!

    You say,

    This section was about George’s assertions re opponents of interracial marriage. And if there were people who believe the only “real” marriage is what God endorsed, and that God did not endorse interracial marriage, then George is wrong about what opponents of interracial marriage believed.

    Lots of “ifs” in there, aren’t there? Our point is that you haven’t established those conditionals, so you can’t draw the conclusion. And my further point was that your logic is sloppy throughout, and that this was a handy instance to display as an example. There were many; I chose this as one that I would use here.

    You write, and I support,

    I hope (though I cannot be sure) that even if you think I am utterly misguided you can still view my attempt to find the truth as sincere. I hope we can keep this discussion on that plane and I promise to hold my (often regrettable) tendency toward snark in check, while hoping you and Tom do so as well.

    I appreciate and I affirm you for that, and I hope to keep it on that plane as well. I accept your sincerity in seeking to find the truth. I hope that your advocacy for your position does not prevent you psychologically from being able to survey the options (as you presume George’s prevents him).

    Let me offer this to you, for you to consider and either to accept or reject. You have presented a lengthy critique of George et al.’s work. You have drawn your own very definitive, strongly asserted conclusions. You have done so on the basis of faulty logic, as demonstrated here. I strongly suggest you re-think your conclusions, for they are logically unjustified.

  162. Tom Gilson

    Sorry, Tom, but this is a squares and rectangles issue. I’m saying that squares are always rectangles and rectangles can sometimes be squares , while George is attempting to argue that ONLY squares can be rectangles.

    That’s bare assertion, Rob, in the face of an extensive argument to the contrary. It’s the logical equivalent of addressing an argument by saying, “Nope. I’m right. You’re wrong.”

  163. Tom Gilson

    In other words, he starts out with the unjustified assertion that these views are mutually exclusive, builds his argument on that assertion, while never establishing the truth of the view that are in fact mutually exclusive (just as squares and rectangles are not mutually exclusive).

    He probably thought the point was clear enough without needing to spell it out. I did it for you, on his behalf, in comment 192. You can’t just wave that off and tell me I’m wrong without actually addressing the argument. If you continue trying, then you will be guilty of the same thing: building your argument on assertion without establishing that your view is correct in the face of contrary argument.

  164. Tom Gilson

    No, Tom, there actually isn’t “extensive argument to the contrary.”

    Oh. Then what was my comment #192? White pixels on a white background?

  165. Rob Tisinai

    Sure, Tom. I start out with some notions that I would prefer are true while George starts out with notions he must believe are true, but what’s your point? I’ve already acknowledged that such a thing doesn’t argue for the truth of falsity of the view in question.

    Yes there are lot of ifs. Well, no. There’s only one “if”: “if” the people who thought interracial marriage violate God’s will also thought the only real marriages are the ones that God endorsed. That’s one “if.” Are you really willing to argue that no sizeable segment of the population believed both?

    Finally, thanks for your good will. I share it and will conduct myself on your site, as a guest, in a way that rewards your good will. But I’ve yet to see your exposure of my alleged faulty logic.

  166. Tom Gilson

    The difference between my response to what you’ve written, Rob, and your response to what I’ve written, is that in every case I’ve explained my position with supporting reasons. You’ve relied almost exclusively on bare assertion (I am not referring to your interchange with G. Rodrigues), and where you have provided some form of reasoning, I have explained where that reasoning failed to do its intended work. And you have come back to that with bare assertion.

  167. Rob Tisinai

    Tom, YOU may be able to make a definitional case for regarding the “conjugal” (LOADED TERM!) and “revisionist” (LOADED TERM!) views as mutually exclusive, but George quite explicitly has not.

    As for this:

    “He probably thought the point was clear enough without needing to spell it out. ”

    That’s his whole case! If he thought it was clear enough then there was no need to write the article. Meanwhile, your comment (the numbers are off, at least on my screen) does not spell it out at all, for reasons I just explained.

  168. Rob Tisinai

    Then what was my comment #192? White pixels on a white background?

    As a side note, among two men who can find common ground as Internet warriors despite all our disagreement: You shouldn’t give your opponent an opening like that.

    🙂

  169. Tom Gilson

    Yes there are lot of ifs. Well, no. There’s only one “if”: “if” the people who thought interracial marriage violate God’s will also thought the only real marriages are the ones that God endorsed. That’s one “if.” Are you really willing to argue that no sizeable segment of the population believed both?

    What I was arguing was that you produced a non sequitur. I was using that as an example of your fallacious reasoning.

    The way we would know if “the people who thought interracial marriage violate God’s will also thought the only real marriages are the ones that God endorsed,” would be by finding out whether that was indeed the case. You’ve been trying to establish it first by the argument we’ve been trying to show you is fallacious, and now by an argument from incredulity. Is my opinion, or yours, what rules the answer here? Is your assertion’s truth determined by what I’m willing or unwilling to argue? That would be a sensible condition for you to propose if you had some idea whether I might know anything about the matter, but you don’t know that.

    In your article you drew a parallel between SSM and interracial marriage based on no historical information, but only a logically flawed conclusion. I should think that your next move might be to find out whether there is any historical information to support your parallelism or not. If there is, then you might publish it along with a retraction of your previous methodology for drawing that conclusion. If you can’t find it, I would suggest you retract the whole thing. I would not, however, recommend you base your conclusion on what I’m willing to argue for or against. That would be foolish.

  170. Rob Tisinai

    Let me come back to the “competing views” issue one more time.

    The views, as described by George, are not mutually exclusive. I offered an alternative rewording that would make them so, but George did not offer that wording.

    I suspect it’s because he knows his readers (especially, say, elderly singles or women with hysterectomies who wish to marry) would recoil from that.

    I can’t prove that’s his motivation. It’s just speculation. But my rewording is what his argument requires, and it’s a rewording that flies in the face of marital law going back for centuries.

  171. Tom Gilson

    ” And you have come back to that with bare assertion.”

    That is itself a bare assertion. And not a true one.

    Oh, it might be a bare assertion, I suppose. Or it could be a summary of what I wrote in #197, and an observation on the obvious status of your #199.

    Or it might be a bare assertion, based on the fact that I did not support it at the time. By that protocol, “And not a true one” is another bare assertion on your part.

  172. Rob Tisinai

    Tom, it’s difficult to deal with hypotheticals of the past based on circumstances that hadn’t arisen yet. But your argument depends on the notion that people who view interracial marriage as AGAINST God’s will did not think that the only real marriages were the ones God endorsed.

    Give the number of people who apparently think that those in fact are the only “real” marriages, I’d say you’re on shaky ground. We may not be able to settle this empirically, since we can’t go back in time and survey them, but the only way you can make your case is to disavow those who think only God-endorsed marriages are real. And are you willing to do that?

    And even if you did, that would only reflect your personal views, which are not subject of George’s ungrounded assumption.

    SPEAKING OF WHICH: It’s up to George to prove his statement about what opponents of interracial marriage believed. He has not. All I need to do is put forth a plausible alternative. Which I have.

  173. Tom Gilson

    RE #208: George et al. deal with this. They cover it even more fully in their book, What Is Marriage.

    You offer psychologizing and mind-reading in support of your speculation. I offer an argument in support of my contrary position–an argument you haven’t even acknowledged, much less dealt with.

    You can repeat your opinion over and over as many times as you like. That won’t change the fact that it’s been rebutted. And in fact, refuted, in my opinion. (I trust you understand the difference.) An unanswered rebuttal at least functions, for the time being, as a refutation: it is an unchallenged reason to consider a proposition to be false and untenable.

    Let me say that again. I have provided reason to consider your proposition to be false and /or untenable. You have provided no answer. Therefore there is no reason to think that I am wrong, and thus there is no reason to think your proposition holds up to the challenge of its being false or untenable. There is thus (at this point at least) no stated reason to hold your proposition. And if there is no stated reason, then one may be justified (at least provisionally) in concluding there is no reason to believe your proposition is reasonable.

    That’s what an unanswered rebuttal means.

  174. Tom Gilson

    Tom, it’s difficult to deal with hypotheticals of the past based on circumstances that hadn’t arisen yet. But your argument depends on the notion that people who view interracial marriage as AGAINST God’s will did not think that the only real marriages were the ones God endorsed.

    Which argument? Where have I made it? What conclusions have I drawn from that premise? Where will you find me drawing those conclusions?

  175. Tom Gilson

    It’s up to George to prove his statement about what opponents of interracial marriage believed. He has not. All I need to do is put forth a plausible alternative. Which I have.

    Oh. “George et al. might be wrong, therefore their conclusions are unjustified.”

    That might be easier to handle if you hadn’t mounted a counter-argument that might be wrong:

    Now, one thing is certainly true: Opponents of interracial marriage never denied it was possible for blacks and whites to makes sexual unions — that’s what they were afraid of! But that doesn’t mean they understood such a thing to be marriage.

    … etc.

    Don’t you have to prove your point, too?

  176. Tom Gilson

    Further on…

    SPEAKING OF WHICH: It’s up to George to prove his statement about what opponents of interracial marriage believed. He has not. All I need to do is put forth a plausible alternative. Which I have.

    That’s a form of rebuttal that works for categorical statements in inductive argumentation. “All men are chauvinists.” No, some men may not be chauvinists.

    It’s not a form or rebuttal responsibly employed toward historically based assertions. George et al. have some credibility as scholars. He’s a distinguished professor of law at an Ivy League university. If they say it, there’s a good chance they know what they’re talking about.

    If you say they might be wrong, you say it as a practically anonymous Internet writer. I can’t find anything on your website to indicate whether you know anything about the field. So “they might be wrong” coming from you, about whom we know nothing, is about as strong an argument as, “Francis Collins might be wrong about neurofibromatosis” coming from any anonymous Internet commenter.

    What that means is that your attempted rebuttal by that means is empty and insubstantial.

  177. Tom Gilson

    Tom, YOU may be able to make a definitional case for regarding the “conjugal” (LOADED TERM!) and “revisionist” (LOADED TERM!) views as mutually exclusive, but George quite explicitly has not.

    As for this:

    “He probably thought the point was clear enough without needing to spell it out. ”

    That’s his whole case! If he thought it was clear enough then there was no need to write the article. Meanwhile, your comment (the numbers are off, at least on my screen) does not spell it out at all, for reasons I just explained.

    No. That’s not his whole case. I have explained the reasons for that above.

  178. Rob Tisinai

    That’s kind of appalling, a statement of, “Who are you to question authority?”

    The fact is, we all get to question authority, and if someone resorts to falling back on “He’s a distinguished professor of law at an Ivy League university,” then they’re basically admitting they have no reasoned response.

    Surely you’re better than that. If not, I’ve been wasting my time.

    Anyway, see you tomorrow.

  179. Tom Gilson

    Re: #214:

    It’s silly, my friend, to criticize a comment for not answering every one of your arguments.

    It’s foolish to criticize a comment for not supplying an argument when its purpose is quite clearly to point the reader back toward an argument previously made.

    It’s incorrect to say that it offers nothing of substance when it summarizes substance previously provided and the process currently in evidence.

    It’s ironic that you have nevertheless done that, by way of bare assertion, other than your complaint that there are some things I didn’t cover in a four-paragraph comment in the course of a longer discussion.

  180. Tom Gilson

    RE: #219: No, that’s not, “who are you to question authority?”

    It’s, “George gives every reason for us to believe he knows what he’s talking about. Do you?”

    The argument from authority is not fallacious when the authority is genuinely authoritative. It’s not irrational for me to believe Hawking when he says information can in fact escape the event boundary of a black hole.

    So ” if someone resorts to falling back on ‘He’s a distinguished professor of law at an Ivy League university,’ then they’re basically admitting they have no reasoned response,” is a false conclusion. What I’m basically admitting is that the guy might know more about it than I do, and that for all I have any reason to believe, he probably knows more about it than you do, too.

    Do you know more about it than Robert George? Do you? Or will you bluster away with, “he might be wrong”?

  181. Tom Gilson

    Your 216 indicates that it’s at you have as much psychological need to hold your opinion as you think George has to hold his. I suggest you gently drop that line of criticism against him. It’s a fallacy anyway, either the genetic fallacy or an ad hominem of some sort. I won’t use it on you. I’ll just refer to your situation as a reminder to you that a fallacy is a fallacy.

  182. Tom Gilson

    I hope you have a pleasant evening.

    Please realize that we will not have another back-and-forth round like this has been. I don’t always do it in any event,, and I don’t like to sustain it beyond a certain point when I find persons not engaging in the arguments. (See #192. You have addressed my premises, yes, and also my conclusions. You have not engaged the argument, however.)

  183. G. Rodrigues

    @Robert Tisnai:

    George’s arguments fall much more into the Platonic epistemology.

    There is no such thing as a “Platonic epistemology”. And if by Platonic epistemology you mean some sort of armchair philosophizing, this is simply false: really, if you want a good example of armchair philosophizing, and badly, one can do no better than to turn to your articles.

    Second and third and fourth, while George never does appeal to God in making his case, it’s undoubtedly true that as a Catholic natural law philosopher, he begins with certain foregone conclusions to which his reasoning is required to lead. I point this out not because it refutes his reasoning (of course, it does not) but because it’s an answer to the question, “Why on earth would he offer this up as if it were valid?

    No, you point this out to poison the well.

    Where we differ is that Aristotle and I would ask, “Why do people marry, and what does their experience tells us makes for a successful marriage?” While George seems to want to keep empirical exploration to a minimum.

    Now Aristotle is a consequentialist? You do know that Artistotle wrote about marriage both in the Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics? That Aristotle argues, *against* Plato, that Marriage is properly structured by gender; that the sexes express their excellences differently: the man in commanding and the woman in obeying, a *complementarity* that promotes the marital good?

    I am not pointing this out to count him on my side — that would be a most futile endeavour; philosophical dialectics does not proceed by listing The Famous Philosophers On My Side — but simply to say that the Aristotle you mention is a complete fabrication.

    Furthermore, as if the above alone was not enough, what you say is simply false. Pointing out the *history* and *tradition* of the institution of marriage, how it is actually found throughout space and throughout time, is empiricism at its best. To borrow from Chesterton: it is also not to submit to the tiny arrogant oligarchy that merely happens to be walking around. Once again, if one wants a good example of flaunting evidence and armchair philosophizing one can do hardly better than to look up your articles.

    Your questions are artificial and contrived; artificial and contrived because without knowing what marriage is, what basic human goods it should foster, etc., they simply hang in the air. After all, what is supposed to be the answer to “What makes a marriage successful” if you do not know what counts as “success”, if you do not know what marriage is *for*, if you do not know what marriage *is*? This is precisely the question that George et al. try to answer. And here also, if one wants a fine, stellar example of flaunting empirical evidence, of decidedly un-empirical methodology, of arriving at foregone conclusions, one can do no better than to look at your articles.

    And if there were people who believe the only “real” marriage is what God endorsed, and that God did not endorse interracial marriage, then George is wrong about what opponents of interracial marriage believed.

    No, it only means that some people believed that God did not endorsed interracial marriage. Now let us see what George et al. actually do say in the paper:

    Opponents of interracial marriage typically did not deny that marriage (understood as a union consummated by conjugal acts) between a black and a white was possible any more than proponents of segregated public facilities argued that some feature of the whites‐only water fountains made it impossible for blacks to drink from them. The whole point of antimiscegenation laws in the United States was to prevent the genuine possibility of interracial marriage from being realized or recognized, in order to maintain the gravely unjust system of white supremacy.

    George is not wrong as one can see. And the reason is quite simple: he is not saying what you think he is, because nowhere he is denying that some (many?) people indeed believed that God did not endorsed interracial marriage.

  184. BillT

    Okay, Tom. I understand. Better than you might think.

    “If I had a dime” for every time some secular poster came here and had his arguments logically and rationally rebutted and refuted, who then, incapable of mounting a logical and rational response and fairly warned that continuing to repeat their failed rebuttal or respond to the arguments presented would bring an end to the discussion, resorts to this kind of inappropriate and untrue innuendo, well you know how the saying goes.

  185. Tom Gilson

    My comment numbering was off by one last night because of a comment that was in moderation, and which my system counted, but yours didn’t. My apologies for any confusion that caused.

  186. Tom Gilson

    Rob, I don’t know what you think you understand.

    I don’t have time every day to engage in the kind of conversation we had last night. That’s one thing.

    I also said, “I don’t like to sustain it beyond a certain point when I find persons not engaging in the arguments.” I’ve looked back through the discussion, and I think I was hasty with that. You have not responded to the actual definitional argument I made in #191, but you have engaged with other arguments.

    You may think, by the way, that you responded to it, because you answered; but it’s not engaging with the argument unless you undertake to show an error either in my premises or my logic; neither of which you actually addressed in that case.

    Anyway, I withdraw what I said about not engaging, and I offer my apologies for it.

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