Tom Gilson

Why No Campaign To Ban Divorce? A Matching Game For You

Hey, folks, it’s Saturday, so here’s a game for you! Actually, it’s a matching game, for all who think they’ve got Christians nailed to the wall with this argument:

“Christians are hypocritical about marriage! If they really cared about it like they say they do, they’d be campaigning for a constitutional amendment to ban divorce, just like they are with gay marriage.”

Let’s suppose the Church considers two separate, though related, situations to be problems, Those two situations are labeled Problems 1 and 2 below. For our purposes here it’s not necessary that you agree that they’re problems. We’re not asking whether you’re being hypocritical dealing with what you consider to be problems, but whether the Church is being hypocritical with what it considers to be problems.

Let’s also suppose the Church considers applying two separate kinds of solutions, A and B to those problems. This doesn’t mean these are the only possible solutions, just that they’re the ones we’re playing with in this matching game. Which solution(s) would you match with which problem?

Ready? Begin!

Problems:

1. Divorce, which has always been with us, and whose sad necessity the Bible recognizes due to humans’ “hardness of heart” (Matthew 19:8.
2 . Gay marriage, which is being newly introduced into culture through legal, political, and PR inititiatives.

Solution Options:
A. Conduct a public legal and PR campaign to stand against the problem.
B. Conduct a behind-the-scenes ministry to help eliminate the problem at its root.

Answer and Analysis
Which solution did you choose for which problem? If you chose 1-B, 2-A, congratulations!

If, however, you thought consistency required answer A for both problems, buzz yourself out of the game. You’re being strategically naive, and unaware of how real change must happen in the case of divorce’s very-long-standing social and legal precedent.

I’ve said it before: churches across the country are devoting enormous hours to a B-style solution to divorce. It’s less visible than an A-style solution, but it’s happening all the time, in Sunday School classes, home fellowships, sermons, counseling sessions, breakfasts out with friends, marriage retreats and conferences, family publishing, family radio, and more. Not long ago my wife I had to miss a marriage retreat sponsored by our church because we were at a different one the same weekend.

Effectiveness

It’s working, too, says Shaunti Feldhahn, author of The Good News About Marriage:

Many studies have found that church attendance drops the divorce rate 25-50% compared to those who don’t attend. It also increases happiness in marriage and has several other dramatic life and marriage outcomes that we cover in the book.

(See also here.)

Meanwhile, does anyone really think an A-type solution to the divorce problem would do any good? Why does “consistency” demand we spend our energies on a strategy that couldn’t possibly succeed?

We’re acting consistent with our principles here. We have many failings, but this particular charge of hypocrisy won’t stick.

Commenting Restored

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109 thoughts on “Why No Campaign To Ban Divorce? A Matching Game For You

  1. I think the more substantial objection about hypocrisy here is not so much about divorce as a broad category, but about no-fault divorce in particular. Several decades ago we DID have a legal and political push for a liberalization of divorce laws. From what I understand (though I wasn’t born yet), there was relatively little resistance to this political change by Christians, especially as compared to recent resistance to gay marriage.

    One of the difficulties of that hypocrisy charge is that we’re not necessarily talking about the same people, since there were a few decades in between. However, I think there is more similarity between no-fault divorce and gay marriage than you’re letting on.

    My main reaction to your particular comparison was actually about how a B-type solution is actually what we need most as a response to gay marriage. The root you’ve failed to identify is the suffering currently experienced by LGB people in our society, especially those in conservative Christian environments. Many people feel alone, isolated, and ashamed, and getting into a socially recognized gay relationship seems like the only solution to them. There’s relatively little support available in most churches that actually addresses the real concerns while staying true to Scripture, though fortunately some churches do pretty well and the tide is starting to change. I have hopes that as we focus more of our efforts on the B-type solutions, we will see some success as we’ve seen with divorce.

    I have friends who have worked in ministries that focused on helping those with same-sex attraction. There were times where their ministries struggled financially while about two orders of magnitude as much money was being given to political campaigns against gay marriage. I think this has resulted in a lot of the fruit we’ve been seeing.

    I guess what I’m really saying is that, even though the objection as stated is unfair, there is fruitful reflection that it should spark for those of us who are believers with a traditional stance on sexuality.

  2. Jeremy,

    I’m not sure the resistance to no-fault divorce was as passive as you suggest. After all, the Catholic Church still does not recognize divorce. Many of the more conservative Protestant denominations do not either (except under some specific circumstances). The more liberal Protestant denominations may have but they had given up being serious Christian denominations decades before that. I was alive at that time and there was a cultural shift not unlike the present SSM shift that wasn’t really able to be resisted by churches in general. It was, in a very real sense, one of the early victories of the culture war we are still fighting.

  3. BillT,

    I totally agree that no-fault divorce was an early symptom of the broader cultural shift that is the sexual revolution. I think it’s important to recognize that the push for gay marriage isn’t really something unique. It’s just the logical extension of the existing sexual revolution to people who are sexually attracted to others of the same sex. Hopefully we can learn from the past here.

    You probably have a better sense than I do, due to actually being around at the time, but my understanding was that the resistance of conservative Christians to no-fault divorce didn’t have the same kind of political thrust as the current opposition to gay marriage. As in, churches would preach against it, use church discipline, etc., but not push as much to amend constitutions or make it a focus of a political platform. If my sense (which is admittedly secondhand) is correct, there is a level of inconsistency here that it would be good to acknowledge and think through.

  4. Jeremy, I was not around then either, but it seems possible to me that by and large the harmful consequences of no fault divorce were not known back then. If there is greater opposition among Christians today over same sex “marriage” than there was for no fault divorce, it could be in large part because of the lessons learned in the past. I am not sure that this qualifies as inconsistency.

    Besides that, these are not like scenarios anyway. Divorce is an understandably necessary evil, same sex “marriage” is not (Id call it an unnecessary evil). Even the most ardent supporters of no fault divorce do not believe that divorce is *always* a good thing. That is not the case with same sex “marriage” where those supporting it by and large claim it is a good thing in all the ways and for all the same reasons that marriage is.

  5. I’m not sure how that particular difference is relevant to the question of our political approach. Are you just making a consequential argument that not everyone will get divorced just because it is legally possible?

    If we’re arguing from a purely consequential perspective, I think no-fault divorce is actually a lot worse. It has the potential to affect a lot more people. Only like 3-4% of the population experiences sexual attraction toward the same sex, so gay marriage is really an issue affecting a pretty small minority. On the other hand, a large proportion of the population is married. And while things like surrogacy and adoption can lead to children cared for by a gay couple and separated from their parents, divorce breaks up existing families.

    I personally think that some of the difference in reactions comes when Christians fear those they don’t understand, and in the human tendency to judge those others who are tempted with things they are not. We have a tendency to get why people would want a divorce, even in cases where there is no biblical justification for the divorce. Most people don’t grasp what would drive someone to enter a gay relationship, so it’s easy to view it as a more serious form of immorality.

    Where I’m coming from is having actual experience with being attracted to the same sex and trying to pursue holiness within that context. Now that I’m pretty open about it, the Christians in my life have mostly been great. But I grew up in church hearing about how gay people are basically the most rebellious scum of the earth, which drove a lot of shame and hurt even though I was never sexually active. And I’ve literally lost count of the number of friends I’ve had who have been fired from or denied jobs at Christian institutions because they were open about being attracted to the same sex, even though they were also open about their commitment to live within the bounds of biblical morality. If a lot of the Christian world can be that nasty to people who are living within the bounds of biblical morality, it’s no surprise they can be even nastier to those who are not. This is not to say that all Christians have an equally bad response – in my experience, most don’t – but to deny that we have a collective problem is to deny reality.

    So I don’t agree with the sexual revolution or where the mainstream of the LGBT movement is trying to go, but I do find them eminently understandable. We need to be addressing the underlying reasons for everything, and not just the symptoms.

  6. We really, really should have stood up against no-fault divorce just as vociferously as we are against gay marriage. I was just a teenager at the time, so I was clueless, and obviously powerless, too.

    But how would we have stood up against it? The social systems were skyrocketing us in that direction. Stronger political opposition would have been good (for the same reasons that I think political opposition to gay marriage is good), but I doubt it would have been effective (also parallel to the situation today). Once marriage lost its unique essential meaning and ontological footings, the game was as good as lost already.

    Has divorce been worse for our culture than gay marriage will be? Yes and no. Yes, in terms of the numbers of persons directly damaged, it’s a far worse problem. No, in the sense that what gay marriage does is to place a stamp of strong approval on everything that’s gone wrong with our understanding of marriage and relationships.

    Divorce has never been a strongly desired direction for relationships to head. It’s always been a way out of an unexpected/undesired bad situation (bad from the participants’ viewpoint, at any rate). The fact that there is divorce is unfortunate, but it at least underscores the fact that there is marriage, that marriage means something real, and that broken marriages are, in fact, broken. There’s something that a marriage should be, that it no longer is in that situation.

    Gay marriage implies that there is nothing essential to what marriage should be, that it’s malleable, that it’s mostly for the mutual satisfaction of the married parties. In that sense it’s unlike historic man-woman marriage, which until fairly recently in history was always expected to be for the man, woman, and children that would come, thus preventing couples from thinking they were purely in a “just you’n’me, babe,” relationship.

    So again, I agree the direct effects of a divorce culture has been and will continue to be more immediately damaging than gay marriage. Gay marriage matters, though, in that it’s saying that re-defining the whole institution is just fine.

    It’s the difference between breaking up marriages and breaking up marriage. The latter will contribute mightily to the former, and all the damage will escalate.

  7. Jeremy

    “It has the potential to affect a lot more people. Only like 3-4% of the population experiences sexual attraction toward the same sex, so gay marriage is really an issue affecting a pretty small minority.”

    Yes, that is true, it is all but certain that only a small percentage of a small segment of society will legally “marry” someone of the same sex. That said, based on all that has been going on I think the consequences will affect far more people than just these few.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/02/02/mike_huckabee_christians_religious_liberty_and_gay_marriage_it_s_important.html

    “Political and cultural leaders who thrive off discrimination and divisions are probably not a reasonable target of engagement. But others who share these views should be engaged rather than alienated—recent research suggests that the lost art of simple conversation is one of the most effective ways to change minds. They should be invited to consider the inconsistencies of their positions and reminded that reading Scripture is an interpretive process. Many may feel their beliefs are sincere without even realizing that they’re a veil for bias. They should be offered a path to acceptance—call it, say, amnesty for social conservatives. Marriage equality is winning. To seal the deal, we shouldn’t settle for legal parity; we must bring along anyone and everyone willing to come to our side.”

    I am not sure what is in store for those that do not accept this amnesty deal to recant on one’s views of marriage and sexual morality, but I am reasonably sure it will not be pleasant if the gay “marriage” proponents get their way.

  8. DR84, the person who stated in the Slate article that “… consider the inconsistencies of their positions and reminded that reading Scripture is an interpretive process” implies an inherent threat, as one read between the lines, so to speak. It seems that believers should change their views or else. This is absolutely unacceptable and represents a form of a monstrous tyranny in a subtle and most destructive manner. Their is absolutely no inconsistency (from a biblical point of view) in being opposed to SSM and the issue is not one of discrimination or “rights” though the “pelvic” left has done a great job in casting it in that light. Sure, studying the Scriptures does require one to interpret but there is a right way to do such and a wrong way. We are asked to give up our beliefs based on sound biblical principals for political expediency and sin? No way. John 15:18: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

  9. “It has the potential to affect a lot more people. Only like 3-4% of the population experiences sexual attraction toward the same sex, so gay marriage is really an issue affecting a pretty small minority.”

    The early proponents of no-fault divorce also thought that their reforms would affect only a small minority. Bad marriages (a minority) could be dissolved more easily, but good marriages (most of them) would not be affected. What seems to have happened after a couple of generations is that divorce has become common, and that people enter into marriage with the idea that if things don’t work out, they can always back out.

    How much of this is attributable to no-fault divorce is hard to say.

  10. Tom –

    We really, really should have stood up against no-fault divorce just as vociferously as we are against gay marriage.

    It seems likely that my own comments sparked this thread, at least in part. I’d like to point out that I didn’t call for ‘banning divorce’. Here’s what I actually said:

    “For example I’d be totally down with laws making divorce harder – e.g. a waiting period, counseling, etc. – when there are children involved, absent evidence of domestic abuse. (I note in passing that there were constitutional amendments about SSM but I’ve never heard of a single effort to put an amendment about divorce on the ballot. Which problem affects more kids?)”

    To the extent that the law is supposed to influence society, I don’t see Christians lobbying for such laws. Except when it comes to a small minority that has demonstrably suffered unjust persecution in the past.

    For example, one way to prevent gay couples (married or otherwise) from raising kids would be to ban or restrict assisted-fertility treatments such a sperm donation and in-vitro fertilization – something a not-inconsiderable number of Christians have problems with anyway. Restricting that to married couples only would reduce single parenting as well. But I’m aware of no such efforts.

    And why do you present solutions A and B as mutually exclusive? “Why don’t we have both?”, as the internet meme says.

  11. Tom –

    I think you can figure that out on your own. Ray.

    No, I really can’t. That’s why I asked. Those three distinct possibilities were off the top of my head, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could come up with another. (Recall that I’m not and never have been talking about banning divorce, just adjusting the laws to discourage it, especially where it particularly counts – where kids are involved.)

    Anyone want to explain Tom’s reasoning to me, since it’s apparently obvious? Feel free to use small words, I won’t mind.

  12. Okay. It would be banging our heads against a brick wall, hurting our noggins and annoying everyone with the noise, when it would make a lot more sense to continue expending our efforts on something that works.

  13. Ray,
    The ban you are suggesting in #12 regarding kids cannot happen if SS marriage is legally equal to traditional marriage. We would be fighting the same discrimination charges. Not gonna happen.

  14. You have asserted, over and over again, that changing divorce law would be “banging our heads against a brick wall”, that it couldn’t possibly succeed.

    Why not? Is it that the case for harm from no-fault divorce can’t be made convincingly? Is it that the case can be made, but people in general are too selfish to care? Is it that people can be made to care, but there’s some Constitutional barrier? Or am I missing another reason entirely?

    Could it be done on a state level, in at least some states? Might that be an example to inspire other states to follow suit? (Certainly many people hope other states will follow Colorado’s lead on marijuana legalization.)

    I mean, the law is so powerful that if a tiny fraction of people are allowed to engage in same-sex marriage, it will destroy marriage throughout the country. Surely the power of marriage law could be harnessed for good as well as evil?

  15. Ray, you’re obviously a whole lot more interested in pursuing this line of discussion than I am. I think the answers are too obvious to have to be chased down every trail you want to pursue.

  16. How a lie? I’ve been asking, and you told me to “figure that out on your own”. I’ve invited you to explain why, and you’ve said “the answers are too obvious”. I’ve suggested possible lines of reasoning, and I haven’t seen even a ‘that’s not it’. I’ve even asked other people to explain it to me, and no one’s stepped up.

    I know your position, you’ve stated it clearly. What I haven’t seen explained is why you hold that position. I think I have to reconcile myself to not getting an explanation. Such is life, sometimes.

  17. Figure that out on your own, too, Ray. I’ve given reasons; therefore it’s not a bare assertion. You can find them if you try. Maybe you don’t like my reasons, maybe you think they’re inadequate, but reasons ≠ bare assertions.

    Is that complicated? Really?

  18. Ray, Tom @25, 26:

    I read Tom’s statement: It would be banging our heads against a brick wall, hurting our noggins and annoying everyone with the noise, when it would make a lot more sense to continue expending our efforts on something that works. as “We lost that battle, re-fighting the battle accomplishes nothing useful, and instead we do what we can to help people with the resources we have.”

    Tom, the SSM battle is also lost — a majority of states allow SSM, and absent a huge surprise, SSM will be federal law this year.

    Will the SSM arguments go the same way as divorce?

    Will pro-traditional marriage advocates apply the same logic and decide “it’s not useful to continue that fight”?

    Or is this different from divorce, and if so, how/why?

  19. Good questions.

    I don’t know how to predict whether the arguments will go the same way as divorce. There are significant differences. For one thing, no one today thinks divorce is good, it’s just a necessary evil. Other than that, opinions are all over the map, except there is general agreement that a political campaign to end no-fault divorce is a strategic non-starter.

    Opinions on SSM are all over the map, too, and will remain that way. I will do what I can to influence others toward what I continue to think is the truth. Changing circumstances can certainly lead to changed strategies, which means I expect I’ll have to adjust my methods and approaches. I’m sure others would say exactly the same thing about their convictions and strategies, whatever they may be.

  20. Will the SSM arguments go the same way as divorce?

    I mentioned this elsewhere but the divorce “arguments” are alive and well in churches. In the Catholic Church and many Protestant churches divorce remains unacceptable except under a few Biblical exceptions. So the SSM “arguments” will also remain. However, unlike divorce, I believe the SSM advocates will try to force churches to perform SSM. JMHO, as they say.

  21. BillT @29:

    When you say force churches to perform SSM, do you mean outsiders?

    Churches aren’t forced to perform interracial marriages, I can’t imagine SSM will be any different.

  22. Churches aren’t forced to perform interracial marriages, I can’t imagine SSM will be any different.

    Keith,

    I think they will take the impending affirmative decision at the SCOTUS and move to require churches to perform SSM ceremonies. The Catholic Church is the obvious target as there are already SS couples there who are church members. From there it’s uncertain but my guess is they’ll try and use the courts and due process to get the churches, as arms of the state (licensed to perform marriages by the state) to accept SS couples or possibly be declared places of public accommodation thus subject to anti-discrimination laws. Remember, DOMA was supposed to provide such protections and it’s toast.

    Could you provide some info/link on the “aren’t forced to perform interracial marriages” you referenced. I’m not familiar with that.

  23. BillT @ 31:

    That’s a fair question, I don’t have a good answer. (I’m appealing to common sense, I suppose: Bob Jones University banned interracial dating until 2000, and Protestant churches that banned interracial marriage have been publically shamed, but in neither case have I heard arguments that the government could/should force them to change their policies.)

    Where it’s messy, of course, is when a church is participating in the larger economic community: a church with federal funding, or renting facilities to the public, the usual laws about discrimination come into play.

    So: imagine a minister who will marry anybody of any religion, but excludes gays, then yeah, I think that individual might be “forced to perform SSM”. But that’s not going to happen to a minister only marrying adherents of their particular faith.

  24. Keith,

    Hard to understand how you can’t believe the state would force churches to perform SSM when you linked an article that Washington State is about to do virtually just that. And their reasoning parallels what I said in my #31. They’d only have to go a half step further to do what I said.

  25. Tom @32:

    Tom, that’s not a church, it’s a business (if the name “Hitching Post” didn’t give it away, I thought the faux-Western facade with the little hearts would).

    Last I heard, the Elvis Wedding Chapel on the Vegas strip is also holding out for “religious freedom”.

    Tell me: do you honestly consider either of those places a “church”?

    Maybe we could catch the Wednesday night prayer service sometime, I bet it’s a hoot.

  26. BillT @34:

    No; they’re going to force a business to follow the law.

    If a church participates in the economic community as a public seller of goods or services, they have to follow the rules.

    Here’s the thought experiment: a church opens a public restaurant (they’ve got a commercial kitchen already, it’s a no-brainer!), but refuses to sell to Muslims or blacks.

    The same laws apply to both cases and I’m hearing you say they shouldn’t. Do you agree, should this hypothetical church-restaurant be allowed to discriminate based on race or religion?

    And if not, can you tell me how we should distinguish between the two cases?

  27. Keith, first of all, I didn’t say this was the situation, I said it made it easy to imagine the situation.

    Secondly, through my personal conversations with the ADF attorney dealing with the case, who is a friend of mine, I have reason to believe this should not be dismissed as derisively as you have just attempted to do.

  28. Keith,

    The churches I know that rent to non congregants for marriages still retain approval rights over those marriages based on the visiting officiant’s credentials/faith orientation, etc. And like I said the Washington State law may be a half step away but it’s only a half step away. And please with public restaurant analogy. We’re not idiots.

  29. Should a hypothetical Jewish kosher deli be forced to supply bacon cheeseburgers, if the law said bacon cheeseburgers were food?

    Should a hypothetical wedding chapel be forced to supply same-sex weddings, if the law said same-sex marriages were really marriages?

    Just wonderin’….

  30. And Keith I don’t want to be too short with you about this but can you tell the difference between a public restaurant and a religious ceremony? How hard is that to differentiate.

    My own take, there cannot be “marriage equality” in the sense of homosexual relationships being treated and regarded just like actual marriages so long as most churches do not perform same sex “weddings”.

    DR84. Hard to know between your link and your post just what you really think (or an I just being dense).

  31. BillT @44:

    Sure, and I think that point is key.

    Nobody (nobody!) is forcing anyone to hold religious ceremonies of which they don’t approve.

    (And, no, Tom, getting married at the “Hitching Post” or the “Elvis Wedding Chapel” isn’t a religious ceremony.)

    A restaurant is an auditorium is a wedding mill: if you sell to the public, then sell to the public, it’s unreasonable to occupy some middle-ground because Religious Freedom.

    I didn’t reply at the time (didn’t see much point), but I think the church restaurant analogy is spot on, and I’d be interested in hearing what legal construct you’d invoke to distinguish between the cases.

    Or, a church-hotel that requires couples show a marriage-license.
    Or, a church-auditorium that doesn’t rent to same-sex couples.

    Deeply-held convictions?

    Just because you’re a church doesn’t mean your purely business activities are somehow different from anyone else’s purely business activities.

  32. So Keith you are telling me you can’t distinguish between a restaurant and a religious ceremony? And if you’re saying folks aren’t forcing people to perform religious ceremonies they object to, like I’ve said before, only not yet and even that’s not clear.

  33. (And, no, Tom, getting married at the “Hitching Post” or the “Elvis Wedding Chapel” isn’t a religious ceremony.)

    Hmmm…

    Either it’s a religious ceremony or it isn’t, right?

    Someone gets to decide whether it’s a religious ceremony or not. Right?

    Is that a decision on which a religiously-informed opinion counts?

    Suppose it’s my belief (and it is!) that for biblically-based reasons, it really is a religious ceremony. Are you going to also remove from me the religious freedom to formulate, hold, and act according to that belief?

    Again: if my doctrine affirms that these ceremonies can be religious ceremonies, is the state going to countermand that doctrine?

    That’s really infringing.

  34. Tom @48:

    Again: if my doctrine affirms that these ceremonies can be religious ceremonies, is the state going to countermand that doctrine?

    That’s really infringing.

    If I say ingesting peyote is a religious ceremony, is it?

    If I say the ritualistic slaughter of chickens, pigeons, doves, ducks, goats, sheep, and turtles is a religious ceremony, is it?

    If I say praying over sick children is a religious ceremony, is it?

    If I say ritual circumcision with oral suction (causing herpes which kills the child), is a religious ceremony, is it?

    Or to journey to the hopefully absurd, was the state wrong to disallow human sacrifice as a religious ceremony?

    The state has infringed on religious doctrines since Lincoln’s Supreme Court upheld the Morrill Act, saying “Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinion, they may with practices.

    It’s just that it was only minority religions being infringed, until relatively recently, so nobody much cared.

  35. Aha. So you think there is a question about whether it’s a religious ceremony? That’s progress, anyway. You were quite sure about it in #46.

    You tell me. Why isn’t a marriage ceremony (which virtually all Christians for hundreds and hundreds of years have considered either a sacrament or at least a holy event) conducted by ordained ministers a religious ceremony, just because it doesn’t happen in a church?

  36. So now we’re comparing religious marriage ceremonies which have been the norm for virtually all of recorded human history in all times and in all places to ingesting peyote and the ritualistic slaughter of chickens, pigeons, doves, ducks, goats, sheep, and turtles and even human sacrifice. You sure know how to make a point there Keith.

  37. Tom @50:

    I’m quite sure it’s not a religious ceremony.

    By your definition, Kathy Griffin is performing a “religious ceremony” if she marries two same-sex atheists on late-night TV, because she is an ordained minister.

    I think that definition takes in too much ground, don’t you?

    But that gets us to the heart: it doesn’t matter what you or I as individuals think is a “religious ceremony”, no matter how well-informed we might be.

    I just posted a list of historic and modern “religious ceremonies” the state has chosen to moderate or eliminate because it understood there to be a compelling interest: commerce and civil rights are both compelling interests.

    In other words, we’re going to decide as a group, your side will win some, my side will win some, shrug.

    My expectation is your side will win most of the tested cases:

    As Ray noted in one of his comments, pastors cannot be forced to officiate at interracial marriages.

    Then there’s letting parents kill their kids for religious reasons: see metzitzah b’peh and vaccinations.

    Religious beliefs are given a lot of leeway in our society, and I don’t expect that to change.

  38. BillT @51:

    So now we’re deciding which religious ceremonies deserve respect by the number of people that believe they’re religious ceremonies?

  39. So now we’re deciding which religious ceremonies deserve respect by the number of people that believe they’re religious ceremonies?

    Yeah Keith. That’s just what I was doing. You’re getting sharper by the minute.

  40. #44

    Perhaps I can explain a bit better. My understanding of the goal of the so called marriage equality proponents is for same sex “marriage” to be treated and regarded equally to marriage in society. Given that churches are places in which many couples get married, it seems to me that this goal simply cannot be achieved if by and large same sex couples cannot get “married” in churches.

    Above all I do not know the future, but I am not above some amount of speculation. If this movement continues full steam ahead, I fully expect that a church that was not performing “weddings” for same sex couples will be sued by a same sex couple. Perhaps many churches. I would not even put it past same sex couples to target churches by seeking to have a “wedding” at a church they know will turn them down. I do not know what the outcome will be, but I do not see churches getting a free pass to keep doing business as usual being a foregone conclusion.

    Full disclaimer, I am not a lawyer and my legal knowledge is limited. So take what is said here with a grain of salt accordingly. There was a discussion about how the supreme court will rule in the upcoming same sex “marriage” case in another forum, whether they would decide based on a “fundamental right to marry” or if they will make homosexuals a suspect class. It seems to me if it is the latter, if it is put in official supreme court writing that not recognizing same sex relationships as marriages specifically discriminates against homosexuals and harms them*, that this will be a very handy legal club to use against churches when the fight goes to them.

    *I believe language to this effect is already in the Windsor decision.

  41. #37

    Tom

    “Secondly, through my personal conversations with the ADF attorney dealing with the case, who is a friend of mine, I have reason to believe this should not be dismissed as derisively as you have just attempted to do.”

    Is this something you can elaborate on? Perhaps about how this can affect churches as a whole and not about any specific case.

  42. I fully expect that a church that was not performing “weddings” for same sex couples will be sued by a same sex couple.

    Something for the lawyers to review, but one tactic that looks promising to me is for every church – because of their beliefs – to require that certain things be said at every ceremony they perform. Something like quoting Genesis 2:24 and other verses that would make their Christian beliefs about marriage very clear.

    This would be written into the contract and made clear to everyone who wanted to be married in that church. If SS couples were okay with that being in the contract, then go ahead with the ceremony but my thinking is most would object and seek out another church.

  43. DR84,

    Your opinion on what the future holds in in line with what I think is coming as well. I think it also clear that I think that outcome, unlike you, is an absolute outrage. It runs absolutely contrary to everything the First Amendment stands for and is equivalent to the kind of deprivation of rights the Nazis and the Soviet Union instituted. But then the effect of left wing ideology never really changes.

    Just BTW, the article you linked was not written in support of churches being forced to perform SSM. It was a rather pithy but not overly subtle satire lampooning that idea and many others that the liberal left advocates.

  44. Steve-

    That sounds like a good tactic to me as well. This even sounds like a good tactic for wedding vendors. I have suggested elsewhere that bakers, for example, could place all wedding cakes on stands that have a mans-woman marriage message on them. Your suggestion for Gen 2:24 seems like a good one for that.

    As noted before, I am not a lawyer and what seems like a good tactic to me may very well be the very thing a judge claims proves there was intent to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation.

    You may recall the photographer in N.M. that declined to photograph the “wedding” of two women. She was later found guilty of discriminating against them because of their sexual orientation. I believe when defending herself she pointed out she would not have photographed a “wedding” between two straight women either. The judges actually took this as further evidence that she was discriminating against the women because of their homosexual orientation. I would have thought that tactic would be a slam dunk (and logically it is…it completely proves there was not sexual orientation discrimination), but in the court system it backfired.

    There was also some back and forth articles on The Public Discourse recently about business owners posting signs that they will comply with non-discrimination laws about having to participate in same sex “weddings” but they are opposed to them and do not believe that same sex relationships are weddings at all and they comply against their will. I believe the person making the counterpoint said that it is possible the signs could be considered harassment and would not even be legal to post. Granted that is a hypothetical, but again, it is not a sure thing that this tactic could even be employed.

    If I seem pessimistic about our present circumstances, it is because to an extent I am. We are quite literally trying to find loopholes just so people can freely live their lives. Loopholes that people should not even have to bother with finding. I also assume any of these loopholes in the law will be eventually closed.

  45. Bill T, I agree with you. Unfortunately, RDR84 may be correct where churches will be forced to perform “weddings” for same sex couples. But remember, today’s liberals are truly fascist in their thinking and their philosophies stand directly on the shoulders of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascist foundations. The liberal of today does not want to hear this for the truth hits too close to home but, if churches are forced to perform such an undertaking, a monstrous tyranny will have been forced onto the American people.

  46. Bill-

    I think you are misunderstanding, I think it is an outrage that there are non-marital relationships being recognized as marriages by law. I think it is an outrage that there people being forced by law to participate in events they are morally opposed to. Of course, I think it will be an outrage when churches come under legal pressure to be involved in same sex “weddings”.

    I am also well aware that Matt Walsh’s article was satire. I do feel he did a great job showing how the reasoning and claims made by “marriage equality” proponents ultimately leads to the conclusion that “of course churches should be forced to perform same sex weddings”. As I said myself “marriage equality” as understood by them cannot exist otherwise.

  47. DR84 wrote: “We are quite literally trying to find loopholes just so people can freely live their lives. Loopholes that people should not even have to bother with finding.”

    Welcome to your little taste of what every day in the life of an LGBT person is like. It sucks, doesn’t it?

  48. SkepticismFirst-
    “Welcome to your little taste of what every day in the life of an LGBT person is like. It sucks, doesn’t it?”

    Can you please explain? I dont understand the comparison.

  49. DR84: LGBT people are the ones who aren’t allowed to freely live their lives. Maybe you’re not aware of this, but many of us can’t even go out in public without being acutely aware of how we appear to other people and what the attitudes of our communities are.

    You can walk through a mall looking exactly how you want to look. You can kiss your significant other in public. You go into any shop and buy any product without worrying about getting kicked out. You can stand in line at the airport and not have to consider the possibility that you’ll be physically assaulted by a complete stranger for absolutely no reason. You can marry the person you love, and everyone will celebrate it. You can still speak to your family.

    I can’t do any of that. Does that sound *at all* like I’m able to freely live my life? I hope maybe now you can understand why the LGBT community frankly doesn’t give a **** about someone crying about being “forced” to sell a cake to someone they don’t like.

  50. Furthermore:

    Honestly, these kinds of discussion are downright infuriating; because you, Tom, and the rest of the crowd who disagrees with me seem to have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be us. It would be very interesting if, just for a day, some of you were to make an effort to appear stereotypically gay in order to see what it’s like. Paint your nails, wear different clothing, and walk around holding hands with a same-sex friend. Note the dirty looks you get. Note how half of the general public makes an obvious effort to avoid interacting with you. Heck, go try to buy a wedding cake. Walk a mile in my shoes. It’ll be enlightening.

  51. @SkepticismFirst:

    I hope maybe now you can understand why the LGBT community frankly doesn’t give a **** about someone crying about being “forced” to sell a cake to someone they don’t like.

    First, the baker did not sell a cake because he “did not like” the customer; that is a gross distortion of the facts. But it is understandable, as you make clear in this little venting, that Nazi twerps have little to no regard for the freedoms of others or even for the simple truth.

    Honestly, these kinds of discussion are downright infuriating; because you, Tom, and the rest of the crowd who disagrees with me seem to have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be us.

    Ah yes, the misunderstood victim. Do you know what it is to be a Baker and being *forced* to violate your conscience (baking a cake for an SSM “wedding” is material cooperation with evil and a motive of scandal) by the *power of the state*? Or to vary the case, do you know what it is not to be able to express your religious sentiments in such simple things as wearing a crucifix in public places? Or what it is to be hunted down and killed simply because you are a Christian (hint: no, the world does not reduce to your parochial neighborhood)? Not only you do not know, you do not give a rat’s ass. There is a lot of victimhood to go around and every group can claim its own share.

    And this little paragraph is for those special idiots out there: no, I am not gladdened by the AIDS epidemic, neither do I condone violence against homossexuals (God hates hands filled with blood and those people will face judgment before Him and will have to give an account of their murders, their violence and lying, and as St. Paul says, a terrible thing it is to fall in the adverse judgment of God), or bigoted discrimination against them.

    Paint your nails, wear different clothing, and walk around holding hands with a same-sex friend. Note the dirty looks you get. Note the dirty looks you get. Note how half of the general public makes an obvious effort to avoid interacting with you.

    And see if you get this through your head, if you have one: there are very good reasons for you to get “the dirty looks”. It is the expression of societal disapproval of certain behaviors. Behaviors and attitudes that you quite explicitly want to parade, “normalize” and publicize. This is in a different league than the use of the State’s coercive power to force someone to do something against their conscience; it is rather the natural expression of moral views, which spill into the public sphere as they must, because moral views are not something that can be kept tidily locked up in a private box, but they inform our actions, both public and private. Since you already know that a certain segment of the population disapproves of such behaviors, and yet you defiantly parade them in front of their noses, honestly, what are you expecting? A show of clapping hands? Some “oohs” of endearment? There is a reason why Mrs. Patrick Campbell wittily remarked, upon hearing of an homossexual relation, that “My dear, I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses”. Up until very recently, homossexual relationships always existed and in most cases they were kept in the privacy of the bedroom and, apart from the awkward silences and the occasional bit of disparaging gossip, no one gave a damn about them. You feel you have a need to live a “normal life” and be “out in the open”. Ok, that certainly is your prerogative and in the free Western societies you have that right. But so have other people the right to throw “dirty looks” as an expression of their disapproval.

    Christians of course, have a much, much Higher Calling than just throwing around “dirty looks”; my point, my very limited point, is that Societal pressure exists, it is good that it exists as it is one of the more powerful means to inspire good, social behavior. Where the disagreement lies is whether homossexual behavior is moral or immoral (or maybe morally neutral). But as far as that disagreement goes, it is not complaining against the injustice of social shaming that will change anything.

    And honestly, it is right down mistifying, and to be quite honest it reeks of phoniness, this over-concern with the opinions of others, strangers that are not exactly high in one’s esteem.

  52. Skepticism First @65,

    What part of the world do you live in? If you’re anywhere near where I live, I’ll come spend an hour or two with you. That’s when you might discover whether or not I can empathize with you. You wouldn’t be the first.

    What you’re experiencing here is at least partly the result of the form of the discussion. It’s a policy debate. It’s a debate with very personal implications for many people, but it’s still about policy and principle, not so much about personal experience.

    Personal experience matters deeply, no doubt, but policy cannot be set according to “what it’s like” alone; it also has to take into account the social causes contributing to “what it’s like,” and the long-term effects of various solutions. A somewhat parallel circumstance exists with respect to poverty. What it’s like to be in poverty is horrible. An immediate solution, and one that seems more empathetic than any other, might be to give an extra $10,000 per year to every person in that situation. The effect of that in the long run (as was recognized during Clinton’s presidency) is to increase rather than decrease poverty.

    Please don’t think I’m drawing more parallels between those two cases than I am; all I want to say is that empathy alone is a poor guide to policy.

    And this is a difficult venue in which to express empathy. Apparently you are gay, based on what you’ve just said. I didn’t know that. How could I understand what it feels like to be you, when I didn’t even know that about you? You ask the impossible.

    But maybe you think we should be empathetic towards gays as a population. Maybe you could read this about that; but then maybe also you could read this as well.

    Finally, as G. Rodrigues has also said in a different way, there is such a thing here as actual disagreement. I think stereotypical gay behaviors are public announcements that a person has adopted a set of principles and behaviors that are actually wrong.

    Now, before you jump up and yell at me for saying such a horrible thing, take note of what you’re about to do: You’re about to tell me that the principle I’ve just spoken is actually wrong. So I caution you against turning sanctimonious over ideas such as, “How dare you judge us!?” when that very question is judging, too.

    Not only is it judging, but it’s judging based on a slippery standard, one that doesn’t rest on any eternal principles.

    But let me say to you again, if we could meet for a couple hours, then maybe you’d know whether I have the ability to empathize. I wouldn’t mind doing that at all. Until then, I call on you to recognize the limitations of the form of this conversation, and try not to let yourself be infuriated so much by it.

  53. You might also consider empathizing with us, to the extent this forum effectively allows. We’re routinely called bigots, haters, “bizarre, uneducated, ignorant, un-American“. (Note how Morgan and Orman treat “this gentleman” “sitting a few feet away from you” as virtually a specimen of such oddity, literally not allowed to sit at the same table, but literally looked down upon instead.)

    Do you know what that feels like?

  54. G Rodriguez:

    And see if you get this through your head, if you have one: there are very good reasons for you to get “the dirty looks”. It is the expression of societal disapproval of certain behaviors. Behaviors and attitudes that you quite explicitly want to parade, “normalize” and publicize.

    I’m giving you a dirty look right now. It’s the expression of my disapproval of your bigotry, which you quite explicitly want to parade, “normalize” and publicize.

    Seriously — I live in a part of the world where same-sex marriage has been legal for fourteen years, in a city where the kind of bigotry SkepticismFirst so eloquently describes was once commonplace and where it has now become unacceptable in civilized company and abhorrent to a majority of our citizens. I believe this is called “moral progress.”

  55. @Adam Hazzard:

    I’m giving you a dirty look right now. It’s the expression of my disapproval of your bigotry, which you quite explicitly want to parade, “normalize” and publicize.

    And because I am neither a Nazi twerp nor a whiner that likes to play the victim card, and neither your emotional blackmail nor your asinine, ignorant and blatantly dishonest construal of my moral disagreement as “bigotry” means anything to me, what I say is that you can pack up your dirty looks, tie a nice pink ribbon around and shove them where the sun does not shine.

  56. G. Rodrigues said:
    “Nazi twerps”
    “And see if you get this through your head, if you have one: there are very good reasons for you to get “the dirty looks”.”

    This is exactly what I was talking about. I can’t even make a comment about my personal experiences without someone saying this kind of thing about me. Tom, do you approve of this?

    “Since you already know that a certain segment of the population disapproves of such behaviors, and yet you defiantly parade them in front of their noses, honestly, what are you expecting?”

    I don’t defiantly parade anything. I just go out into the world and conduct the same daily business that everyone else does, like grocery shopping. I’m not rollerskating around the beach in a speedo.

    ———————–
    Tom wrote: “Apparently you are gay, based on what you’ve just said.”

    I’m actually bisexual. (I may have mentioned that before, but I don’t remember). (here’s the part where someone comes along and makes a suggestion about how I should conduct my love life.)

    “I think stereotypical gay behaviors are public announcements that a person has adopted a set of principles and behaviors that are actually wrong.”

    Not really, because the stereotypically gay behaviors are not always an indicator that someone is gay (like an earring in the right ear), and furthermore aren’t always things that people can change (like a lisp), and when they are, they’re things that shouldn’t be changed (like impeccable hygiene).

    “Now, before you jump up and yell at me for saying such a horrible thing, take note of what you’re about to do: You’re about to tell me that the principle I’ve just spoken is actually wrong.”

    To be specific: I’m telling you that what you just said is *false*. I have no problem with someone telling me “it is false that homosexual sex is morally permissible”. But that’s not what I was objecting to. I’m objecting to the way society interacts with a segment of the population. Like, for example, G. Rodrigues above.

  57. ” you can pack up your dirty looks, tie a nice pink ribbon around and shove them where the sun does not shine.”

    One wonders what would happen if I were to say such things. I’d probably be banned from commenting here, and rightly so.

  58. Do I approve of “Nazi twerps”? Well, I let AdamHazzard’s accusation of bigotry go by, didn’t I?

    @69

    I don’t defiantly parade anything. … I’m not rollerskating around the beach in a speedo.

    @65

    Paint your nails, wear different clothing, and walk around holding hands with a same-sex friend. Note the dirty looks you get. Note how half of the general public makes an obvious effort to avoid interacting with you. Heck, go try to buy a wedding cake. Walk a mile in my shoes.

    Skate a mile in your skates? Which of these do you want us to take seriously?

  59. For the record, I think G. Rodrigues over-reacted, for my tastes at least. It’s getting a bit hot here. He’s got a track record of acting like a civilized gentleman, though, and I don’t make a habit of slapping a fine on every infraction.

  60. SF, check me if I’m wrong on this, but I think bisexual entails “unwilling to commit to one partner for life.”

    Just what kind of gay marriage are you defending here (or on earlier threads, where you explicitly did defend SSM), and on what moral grounds?

  61. @SkepticismFirst:

    “Nazi twerps”

    Offended? Really? So let us put some context:

    I hope maybe now you can understand why the LGBT community frankly doesn’t give a **** about someone crying about being “forced” to sell a cake to someone they don’t like.

    First, the baker did not sell a cake because he “did not like” the customer; that is a gross distortion of the facts. But it is understandable, as you make clear in this little venting, that Nazi twerps have little to no regard for the freedoms of others or even for the simple truth.

    So there you have it; “Nazi twerps” is for those that have no qualms in squashing the freedoms of others. And not only that, I explained exactly the asymmetry of the situations. So I will quote myself again:

    And see if you get this through your head, if you have one: there are very good reasons for you to get “the dirty looks”. It is the expression of societal disapproval of certain behaviors. Behaviors and attitudes that you quite explicitly want to parade, “normalize” and publicize. This is in a different league than the use of the State’s coercive power to force someone to do something against their conscience;

    and

    You feel you have a need to live a “normal life” and be “out in the open”. Ok, that certainly is your prerogative and in the free Western societies you have that right. But so have other people the right to throw “dirty looks” as an expression of their disapproval.

    This is exactly what I was talking about. I can’t even make a comment about my personal experiences without someone saying this kind of thing about me. Tom, do you approve of this?

    I do not know what exactly “this kind of thing” is supposed to be; I do note that none of what I said is directly related to you being homossexual (or bissexual), despite your transparent attempts to make it so. And while I note you are very good at feigning offense, all the while, you seemingly have no problem cheerleading for the trumping of the liberties of others through the coercive power of the State. Not only that, I have worded, in no uncertain terms what I think of violence and bigotry:

    And this little paragraph is for those special idiots out there: no, I am not gladdened by the AIDS epidemic, neither do I condone violence against homossexuals (God hates hands filled with blood and those people will face judgment before Him and will have to give an account of their murders, their violence and lying, and as St. Paul says, a terrible thing it is to fall in the adverse judgment of God), or bigoted discrimination against them.

    You are offended? Yeah, right.

  62. @Tom Gilson, SkepticismFirst, all:

    For the record, I think G. Rodrigues over-reacted, for my tastes at least.

    My apologies to you, as the owner of the blog, to SkepticismFirst especially, and to the audience in general. While I do not retract from the general thrust of my comments, I did worded them too violently and in a needlessly aggressive tenor.

  63. DR84,

    Like I said in my first post to you (“am I being dense”). Deepest apologies. People don’t seem to see this coming but we agree. There will be the attempt to make it maditory for churches to perform SSM.

  64. BillT-

    No prob, my first post was less than clear on my position. 🙂

    At this point, to not see this coming if the trend continues strikes me as willful ignorance. Again, if the trend continues, this could be a flippant issue that stalls out. So called “marriage equality” may never get past the legal stage…but I am not holding out much hope that will be the case. The law is quite a weapon to wield, and it seems all to likely it will be used to stamp out social and then religious holdouts. Of course, when the dust settles, I have no doubt people be saying “see, we said we would not force churches to celebrate same sex “marriage”…its not like churches have to celebrate marriages after all, but if they do they just have to celebrate all “marriages” “. Sort of like how it is already being said that photographer’s are not forced to photograph same sex “weddings” because its not like they have to be in the photography business.

  65. Tom wrote: “SF, check me if I’m wrong on this, but I think bisexual entails “unwilling to commit to one partner for life.”

    False. Many bisexuals (perhaps most, but I don’t have data on that) are interested in “settling down” with one person.

    “Just what kind of gay marriage are you defending here (or on earlier threads, where you explicitly did defend SSM), and on what moral grounds?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “kind” here. But the primary grounds on which I defend SSM are legal, not moral. As I think I’ve mentioned before, see Kitchen v. Herbert and DeBoer v. Snyder.

    Lest you want to say something immoral should never be legal, consider blasphemy. I suspect you think blasphemy (at least against Yahweh) is immoral, but should nevertheless be legal.

  66. DR84 wrote: “The law is quite a weapon to wield, and it seems all to likely it will be used to stamp out social and then religious holdouts.”

    Given the history of religious freedom cases in the U.S., I’m almost certain that churches will never be forced by law to recognize same-sex marriages. Even today, they don’t have to recognize interracial marriages if they don’t want to. Now, it’s true that the vast majority of churches eventually decided to recognize them. But they did that on their own; they didn’t have to, and there’s a few small holdouts that still don’t.

    It’s probably the case that in 50 or so years, the vast majority of U.S. churches will recognize SSM. But if that happens, it’ll be because the vast majority of the people who make up those churches want it, not because they were legally forced to do so.

    But remember: photography studios and bakeries are not and never have been churches in the eyes of the law.

  67. Reassurance from SSM proponents is pretty thin gruel. This is especially true because the spread of legalized SSM hasn’t come about primarily because “people want it” but because it has been mandated by the courts (even when voted against by the people (CA) or not passed as law by the legislators). Why should or would SSM proponets stop here when the courts are giving them everything they ask for and maybe even more than they ever hoped for.

  68. SF, the state’s policy preference was met voluntarily for interracial marriage. If you’re wrong about what churches decide to do, and if the state has a policy goal for SSM that churches don’t accept voluntarily, then the situation is not parallel, therefore your analogy doesn’t hold, and therefore your prediction has little going for it.

    Note also that social change in the case of SSM has been blindingly blindly fast. Will the state wait 50 years for churches? I doubt it. I expect the state, goaded on by rude and pushy homosexual activists like the ones who brought suit against florists and bakers, to act much more quickly than that.

  69. Tom beat me to it, I was going to say essentially the same thing. Although probably far less concisely. Also, some if not many churches do perform wedding ceremonies for a fee. There really is not much if any distinction between a church holding a ceremony for a fee and a baker baking a cake for a fee.

    Also, if same sex couples are offended and “harmed” because the bakery they want wont bake them a cake, imagine how much more so they will be claiming this when the church they want their ceremony at wont have them. A cake is quite inconsequential after all compared to the venue.

  70. “Reassurance from SSM proponents is pretty thin gruel.”
    “Will the state wait 50 years for churches? I doubt it.”

    I’m honestly confused as to where this impending doom message comes from. I mean, SCOTUS has a long history of allowing churches to do almost anything they want. Do you have any legal basis for thinking this will happen?

  71. Frankly, I think your questions are naive.

    SSM advocates think they can predict the future, and that “history will prove” that opponents were backward and wrong.

    This is a lot more certain than that.

    There was a time (did you know this?) when “the march of progress” meant that one day all nations would be practicing eugenics. That movement didn’t survive its most emphatic expression, Hitler’s Germany. I’m not saying SSM is like Nazism (though someone is going to yell at me for saying so anyway unless I head them off this way). I’m saying SSM could well turn out to be like the eugenics movement: a strong cultural movement with all kinds of elite backing that soon becomes completely forgotten.

    On the way there, though, there will be churches sued for not conducting same-sex weddings. Some of those churches will lose in court. And you, SF, will discover you were naive about this.

    Count on it.

  72. “On the way there, though, there will be churches sued for not conducting same-sex weddings. ”

    Sure, they might be sued. But that case would be over pretty quickly.

    Also, “momentum” is not a legal basis. What precedents are there that would allow such a case to succeed? Are you also worried that Catholic churches will soon be forced by law to ordain women as priests?

  73. I’m honestly confused as to where this impending doom message comes from.

    This is especially true because the spread of legalized SSM hasn’t come about primarily because “people want it” but because it has been mandated by the courts (even when voted against by the people (CA) or not passed as law by the legislators). Why should or would SSM proponets stop here when the courts are giving them everything they ask for and maybe even more than they ever hoped for.

    SF,

    Was this explanation not even worthy of consideration. Seems to meet your inquiry.

  74. Are you also worried that Catholic churches will soon be forced by law to ordain women as priests?

    Becoming a priest isn’t a fundamental right. Did you think this red herring would be taken seriously?

  75. I asked: “Do you have any legal basis for thinking this will happen?”
    Tom responded: “Momentum.”
    I said: “Also, “momentum” is not a legal basis. ”
    Now Tom says: “Momentum may not be a “legal basis,” but that’s a lame reason not to recognize it as an answer to your question.”

    Umm…I was specifically asking about legal basis.

    BillT: I also said “SCOTUS has a long history of allowing churches to do almost anything they want.” The same court system that’s mandating SSM has also historically protected churches (in a general sense) in exactly the way you’d like. The reason that SSM proponents will “stop here” is because of the very strong legal precedent that says “hands off the church”. Any case that tries to force a church to recognize SSM is unwinnable, and every lawyer and judge in the country knows it.

    You can worry all you want about churches being forced to recognize SSM, I suppose. But that worry just doesn’t have any footing in U.S. law. Your churches are safe.

  76. SF,

    We’re only one decision away from your assurances being worthless. One definitional change could undermine all of those precidents. Given the political leanings of the judiciary in general and what we’ve seen on the SSM front that’s not out of the question. And that’s not to mention that a majority if SSM supporters would just love to see it and work to have it take place.

  77. If you think legal decisions aren’t made because there is mounting pressure to do so, you’re ignoring history. “Footing in US law” means nothing when you have people willing to vote against it. In fact, if you go the Supreme Court building there is an inscription or reference made by one of the justices to the effect that the US Constitution can be dismantled without violating a single law.

  78. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2012/12/gay_marriage_churches_synagogues_and_mosques_won_t_be_forced_to_conduct.html

    “In the 1970s, Bob Jones started letting in black applicants but said that students who dated or married across racial lines would be expelled. The IRS decided that the school would lose its tax exemption. Congress introduced 13 bills to overturn the IRS decision, Minow writes, but none passed. In 1982, the Supreme Court sided with the IRS against Bob Jones. The court said that the government’s interest in eradicating racial discrimination was fundamental and that trumped Bob Jones’ claim that the IRS was interfering with its exercise of freedom of religion.

    And on this single point—religious institutions can’t discriminate on the basis of race and remain tax exempt—the courts have held fast, because on this issue the country has reached a consensus.”

    “It’s just wrong to spook voters about gay rights by arguing that gay people are coming for their churches. It’s not gonna happen. Not just as a tactical matter, but also as a legal one. If that ever changes, it will be because we’re as united about the pernicious nature of anti-gay discrimination as we are about racial discrimination. Or until no one wants to belong to a church that doesn’t perform same-sex weddings, any more than they’d want to be in a church that forbids interracial ceremonies.”

    NOTE: The article is from 2012.

    Above all I want to highlight this sentence: ” If that ever changes, it will be because we’re as united about the pernicious nature of anti-gay discrimination as we are about racial discrimination.”

    I think it speaks for itself. Again, this is from 2012…its 2015 and the Supreme Court is all but certainly going to rule there is a constitutional right for same sex relationships to be recognized as “marriages” and that to not is always an act of bigotry, hate, and discrimination. Language to that effect is already in the Windsor decision that struck down DOMA.

  79. quick comment before I sleep:

    “We’re only one decision away from your assurances being worthless. ”
    But that decision would have to be something like this: the religious exemptions to public accommodation laws are unconstitutional.

    That would run afoul of the first amendment.

    “Legal momentum.”

    That’s not how the law works.

    “If you think legal decisions aren’t made because there is mounting pressure to do so, you’re ignoring history.”

    Yes, decisions are something made because of pressure. but those decisions aren’t influenced *by* said pressure. Look at all the extremely unpopular decisions SCOTUS has made.

    “Above all I want to highlight this sentence: ” If that ever changes, it will be because we’re as united about the pernicious nature of anti-gay discrimination as we are about racial discrimination.”

    Exactly. Note that churches are, even today, allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. The reason that most don’t has absolutely nothing to do with any laws. Seriously – you could, right this very minute, found a church that explicitly excludes black people, and no lawyer would be able to touch you.

    Furthermore, the decision in Bob Jones University v. United States explicitly excludes churches.

  80. SF

    I believe you missed Tom’s point about the race comparison is not parallel to this situation.

    There just has not been an issue with church’s performing wedding’s between people of different races. This is not at all the case with same sex “marriage” given that:

    1. We are on the cusp of it being declared a fundamental right and it being declared any opposition is pure bigotry and constitutes unjust discrimination.
    2. By and large churches will *not* hold “wedding” ceremonies for same sex couples. In other words, most of the most desirable churches to have a wedding at will be accessible for opposite sex couples but not for same sex couples.
    3. There will be same sex couples that *want* to have their “weddings” in those churches.

    This is not a recipe for a stable situation that is going to endure long term. Something is going to give. What that will be, who knows? One thing I doubt will happen, same sex couples not wanting to have “weddings” in those churches. After all there cannot be “marriage equality” as they define it until they can or until no one has weddings in them at least.

    Which is the other possibility, instead of churches being forced into holding same sex “weddings” they will be forced out of holding weddings at all, or will only be able to do so if the ceremony has no legal component and is between church members (this may be the more likely possibility).

    “Furthermore, the decision in Bob Jones University v. United States explicitly excludes churches.”

    If so, that fits in with what BillT said that there is just one definition change to be made. That ruling may have excluded churches, but it probably did so on arbitrary grounds.

  81. DR84: the Bob Jones ruling excluded churches on first amendment grounds. That’s far from arbitrary. Honestly, this conversation is just weird. Churches have always enjoyed very strong first amendment protections, and I’ve still not seen any reason why that would change, other than a slippery slope “churches have to be next!”. You can distract yourself with this if you want, more power to you. But your churches are safe. Everything is fine. Don’t panic.

  82. I think you’re being naive.

    Neither one of us knows today what tomorrow will bring. With your confident assurances, you almost act is if you do, but none of us do.

  83. [email protected]:
    It’s certainly true that none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Where I live, I don’t see any movement toward legally obliging churches to bless same-sex unions. But I do see movement toward churches and denominations acceding to the moral argument and choosing to bless those unions. (Chiefly Anglicans in certain diocese, the United Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church.)

    If this is a slippery slope, it seems to be much slipperier than the slope toward any actual legal mandate. It might be an issue you want to address.

  84. BillT –

    There will be the attempt to make it maditory for churches to perform SSM.

    Probably. There’s a lot of people in the U.S. However, because:

    It runs absolutely contrary to everything the First Amendment stands for

    It won’t actually succeed. Interracial marriages are not legally compelled, same-sex marriages won’t be either. Tom, yes, “the state’s policy preference was met voluntarily for interracial marriage”; but it wasn’t compelled. Those churches that didn’t voluntarily go along with interracial marriage suffered no legal penalties.

    Social penalties – sure. But G. Rodrigues and Tom Gilson assure us that social disapproval is quite different from legal consequences.

    the spread of legalized SSM hasn’t come about primarily because “people want it” but because it has been mandated by the courts (even when voted against by the people (CA) or not passed as law by the legislators)

    Well, rights often are secured that way, yes. One of the primary purposes of the court system, in fact. Of course… the way the polls have been going, it’s not at all clear those votes would fare the same way, if they were taken today. I understand fearing that social momentum.

    And yet… no law outlawing miscegenation could conceivably pass today. To introduce one would end a political career; the onus against such ideas is near-universal. Yet, even so, churches are not required to carry out inter-racial marriages – demonstrably so, since some churches to this day refuse to do so. Without legal (or even tax) penalty.

    Does anyone want to put some money on it? Winnings to go to whatever charity the winner picks?

  85. Ray,

    I’d normally respond but DR84 (#100) did an admirable job so no need repeating all that. And I don’t disagree with all you said either.

    Adam Hazard,

    The churches that have chosen to perform SSM are not a huge concern. Most are part of denominations that have been abandoning their position as legitimate Christian churches for many, many decades if not longer than that.

  86. DR84 –

    There just has not been an issue with church’s performing wedding’s between people of different races.

    In what sense do you mean “an issue”? If you mean whether there was a legal right to such a thing, there was Loving v Virginia, which would kind of presuppose “an issue”. And Keith back in #52 above reposted the link I found, where a pastor was sued for not carrying out an interracial marriage. It was “an issue: to that couple… and they lost.

    I agree it’s not a particularly live issue today. But it very definitely has been an issue in the past. A fairly divisive one, in point of fact.

    Something is going to give. What that will be, who knows?

    I think I know. I’m willing to put money down on churches and pastors not being forced to officiate in same-sex marriages, based on the above precedents. Are you willing to put money down on another alternative? Or set of alternatives?

  87. Ray-

    First of all, I do think as you and SF have suggested that there are good reasons to think nothing will happen. However, as others and myself have pointed out, these reasons are less than reassuring.

    None of us know what the future is.

    The SS”M” movement could fizzle and stall, it could also continue gaining steam. Because of the impending supreme court case, I am betting on gaining steam.

    So, yes, I am willing to bet, not money just a friendly bet with nothing on the line other than one of us gets to say “see, I was right”, that something will happen. More specifically, it will not continue to be business as usual as it has always been for churches that stick with man-woman marriage.

    -maybe they lose tax exempt status
    -maybe they can only do members only weddings that are not legally recognized
    -maybe they are forced to choose between no wedding ceremonies at all for anyone or opening their doors for same sex “weddings”

    Again, as I said previously, this is an unstable situation and something is going to give, and based on how things have been going it seems more likely judges will ultimately rule in favor of what same sex couples want over what people with religious objections want. That has been the trend all along.

    You might be right;; though. Maybe the past trend of rulings in favor of churches continues. I hope that is the case.

  88. Ray

    I forgot a time frame…I think 10-15 year is most reasonable but am willing to go as low as 5 years. Mostly because it is more likely both us will remember to pop back in this site to say “I told you so” if the time is shorter.

  89. http://www.speakupmovement.org/church/content/userfiles/Resources/church-facilities-use-policy.pdf

    “The church’s facilities were provided through God’s benevolence and by the sacrificial generosity of
    church members. The church desires that its facilities be used for the fellowship of the Body of
    Christ and always to God’s glory. Although the facilities are not generally open to the public, we
    make our facilities available to approved non-member persons and groups as a witness to our faith,
    in a spirit of Christian charity, and as a means of demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in
    practice.
    However, facility use will not be permitted to persons or groups holding, advancing, or advocating
    beliefs, or advancing, advocating, or engaging in practices that conflict with the church’s faith or
    moral teachings, which are summarized in, among other places, the church’s constitution and
    bylaws. Nor may facilities be used for activities that contradict, or are deemed by the pastor as
    inconsistent with, or contrary to the church’s faith or moral teachings. The pastor, or his official
    designee, is the final decision-maker on whether a person or group is allowed to use church facilities.
    This restricted facility use policy is necessary for two important reasons. First, the church may not in
    good conscience materially cooperate in activities or beliefs that are contrary to its faith. Allowing its
    facilities to be used for purposes that contradict the church’s beliefs would be material cooperation
    with that activity, and would be a grave violation of the church’s faith and religious practice. See 2
    Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.”

    The above is from an ADF sample policy for using a church facility. ADF has come up with other suggestions as well:

    http://www.speakupmovement.org/church/content/userfiles/Church_suggestedByLaw_Language-v2.pdf

    http://www.speakupmovement.org/Church/Content/userfiles/Resources/church_seven_bylaws.pdf

    I believe much of the motivation for them to do this is because of same sex “marriage”.

    http://blog.speakupmovement.org/church/churches-and-politics/same-sex-marriage-and-the-church-whats-on-the-horizon/

    Anyway, I am mostly sharing this for the sake of interest. Though, it is telling that they at least believe there is enough concern for churches to take pre-cautionary measures, and enough for them to have put forth the effort to figure out they think the best pre-cautionary measures are to take.

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