The Nurturance Model of Marriage: Incomplete and Inadequate

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Better late than never, I’m responding to a pro-same-sex-marriage article that d has commended for our consideration. I’m afraid it’s not as strong as he thinks it is. Its “nurturance” view of marriage is incomplete as a model and inadequate for what it purports to explain.

The Nurturance Model of Marriage

Right off the bat, the definite article in his description catches my eye. The same word the is paralleled in the first sentence: “We often hear that children are the reason for marriage.” Maybe he has heard that. I never have. They’re one of many things that make marriage unique, and they are the primary reason that state has an interest in marriage, but that doesn’t make them “the reason for marriage.” There is no one reason, no the reason, for marriage. Still Kuznicki seems ready to hone in on one:

Marriage is about nurturing. That’s how we think of an ideal marriage. That’s how we, in our culture, judge marriages in the real world. A steady, profound, exclusive commitment to nurturing is what makes most people intuit the existence of a marriage, with or without state involvement, with or without children. With or without romance. Government may recognize either some, or all, or none of these nurturing relationships, but even unrecognized relationships may still be nurturing in this sense, and therefore be genuine marriages.

and at the end,

The goal of my post has simply been to show how “marriage is about kids,” “marriage is about love,” and “marriage is about rights” all fail to address some of the most important aspects of the institution, and how a new model — marriage as the total nurturing of one other person — explains the institution much better than any other. It’s on a model like this one that future discussion of same-sex marriage, or any other issue relating to marriage, should be discussed.

If his goal has been to refute any of those “marriage is about …” statements, he has succeeded in something impressively irrelevant. No one thinks marriage is about just one thing. No one, that is, except possibly Kuznicki, who seems to think marriage is about a uniquely two-person sort of mutual nurturance.

Incomplete as a Model

Let’s see how well his “model” defines marriage. I agree with him on a couple of points, though not on their implications.

First, we can agree there is nurturance in an ideal marriage. This is true, just as there may be eggs in some ideal cake recipe; but one ingredient does not define the whole, and just as eggs do not define cake, neither does nurturance define marriage. Nurturance may be necessary to an ideal marriage, but it’s not sufficient as a definition. It’s not a defining factor at all for less-than-ideal marriages, which most people still regard as actually being marriages.

Second, we agree there is (or should be) nurturance in childrearing. As he says,

We attach babies to marriage because we take it for granted that babies need this kind of nurturing too, given by two people who are habituated to it and already stable in the environment it provides. It does not denigrate childrearing to say that it should take place in a nurturing environment… does it?

This is all true, but the point of that last clause is unclear, and this is where his model begins to leak. I think he’s trying to jump from “babies need nurturing in a stable environment,” to “nurturing is the main thing, and if you thought it denigrates childrearing to say so, that’s really not the case.” You might find a different argument in there; as I said, it’s unclear to me what he’s trying to say.

I’ll go with my interpretation, it’s the only one I have to work with and the best I can do. Let’s agree that childrearing is not denigrated. That means its position is not deflated; and the logic applies no matter what model one views marriage by. I can only wonder why he felt it necessary to point that out.

To this he adds another truism:

But the great benefits that children get from marriage do not exhaust or interfere with the great benefits that adults may also derive from it. Who really wants to grow old alone? It is perhaps the bleakest question in all the modern world. Marriage answers it with the promise that no matter how ill or how deformed we may become in old age, someone will stand beside us until the end. Next to this, the thrill of having a new sex partner is negligible.

Somehow from all that he derives a “nurturing model of marriage” that “comports well not only with our common hopes for the institution, but also with Judeo-Christian ideas about love and charity.” I have no beef with the latter portion of that, but I am quite sure that he hasn’t come anywhere near to developing a coherent “nurturing model” of marriage. He’s established that it’s good for marriages to be nurturing. It’s an ingredient, a necessary condition for the best kind of marriage, and for childrearing as well. That’s hardly a sufficient condition, however for defining what marriage is, so as a model it’s woefully incomplete.

Inadequate As An Explanation

It also fails to explain what he intends it to. As he nears the end of his piece he bullet-lists five ways his “nurturing model” explains the state’s interest in marriage:

• The government has an obligation to *respect our determinations* about who should make medical, legal, and financial choices for us when we are incapacitated; about how we wish to dispose of our property on death; and about our decision to share childrearing responsibilities.
• The government ought not to compel the separation of nurturing partners merely because one is a foreign national; the citizen in the relationship must be expected to help the alien adapt to our culture. It is doubtful any other could be more competent here.
• The government ought not to demand testimony from one nurturing partner against another; having developed (or at least promised) the lifelong habit of supporting one’s partner, impartial testimony cannot be expected.
• The government ought to institute a formal process for registering a nurturing relationship, if only so that the above rights may be unambiguously secured. This should ideally be an act distinct from the various religious rites of marriage.
• The government ought to institute a formal process for ending a nurturing relationship; while marriage for life is generally recognized as the ideal, some mechanism should exist for those who have determined that they will never reach the ideal owing to insuperable obstacles.

All of this is arguable at best. The first bullet is a great libertarian/conservative point, but controversial in some quarters. The second is a statement of opinion followed by a reason that explains something other than the clause it’s apparently meant to explain. The third is weak: we admit biased testimony into evidence quite routinely. Judges and attorneys know how to handle it, and how to instruct juries to handle it. The fourth and fifth are only as strong as the first three.

A More Complete and Sufficient Model

The traditional view, in contrast, sees marriage as a comprehensive union which involves nurturance, shared lives, shared resources, shared physical intimacy, and childrearing. None of these is “the” model for marriage. They all come together to form a more complete model.

the state as providing the necessary legal structure for a man and woman to undertake a massive shared project of raising children together, an activity which by its very nature:

  • Involves sharing of obligations, liabilities, authority, and financial resources
  • Calls for a virtually lifelong commitment
  • Requires governmental oversight to ensure that the married unit’s shared resources etc. are treated as such by others
  • Requires governmental involvement if that married unit dissolves its sharing of resources, etc.
  • Regards the couple as a joint decision-making unit, which naturally carries over into decision-making for each other if one is incapacitated

The constitutional prohibition against requiring spouses to testify against each other seems to makes sense only on the biblical “one flesh” view of marriage: that testifying against one’s spouse is tantamount to testifying against oneself.

In other words, the state’s role with respect to marriage makes much more sense if marriage is viewed as a relationship that involves childrearing than if it’s viewed on the so-called “nurturance model,” which as we’ve already seen is inadequate to count as a model anyway.

Just You ‘n Me, Babe

Finally, I find his view that marriage is the “nurturance of one other person” to be ethically stunted. It’s “just you ‘n me, babe,” which is a near neighbor to, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” It’s an inward-looking model, unlike the traditional view, which looks outward from the couple to their children, involving the partners in one of the most self-sacrificial of all life activities, and orienting them even more externally as they work to build the community in which their kids will grow up. A “nurturance” relationship can live in a cocoon; not so a traditional marriage that involves children.

So even if Koznicki’s view held up as a model and as an explanation, I still wouldn’t think much of it for its ethical implications. It’s weak in multiple ways, and not worthy to be regarded as a real model for marriage.

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76 Responses to “ The Nurturance Model of Marriage: Incomplete and Inadequate ”

  1. Tom,

    The traditional view, in contrast, sees marriage as a comprehensive union which involves nurturance, shared lives, shared resources, shared physical intimacy, and childrearing.

    I understand your point to be that nurturing (which necessarily entails shared lives, resources and intimacy) is fine as part of the definition of marriage but childrearing is of at least equal or greater importance.

    I’ve commented before that the way Paul defines the essence of marriage does not seem to put childrearing at quite the same level as nurturing:

    Ephesians 5:31-32:

    Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

    If marriage is best understood as a metaphor for the relationship of Jesus to Christians, procreation is necessarily being downplayed a little; I mean, it’s just crazy to think Jesus and the Church are supposed to have sex, get pregnant and raise a child, how would that work? I don’t see why Paul would use such a broken metaphor if childrearing were as critical to marriage as holding fast (nurturing).

    To me, Paul sees Christ and the Church as the ultimate “You’n Me, Babe.”

  2. You wrote,

    I mean, it’s just crazy to think Jesus and the Church are supposed to have sex, get pregnant and raise a child, how would that work?

    First, yes, it’s crazy.

    Second, it takes a crazy mind to think the analogy has to be pushed that far to be meaningful.

    Third, the other day I was reading in Proverbs on my iPhone and it got hung on a page turn, leaving me with this line of wisdom at the bottom of the screen: “Cease listening to instruction, my son” (Prov. 19:27a). I could have taken that advice, just as it appeared there on the screen. It would have made just as much sense as what you’ve done here, DJC.

  3. If you’d like to ask a question about what that verse means in relation to this discussion, feel free.

    If you think you already know, then don’t feel the need to ask, and I won’t feel the need to explain it.

  4. At least we can all agree that the two models are different, and because they are are not the same we are not unfairly discriminating when we say that the other model cannot be a marriage.

  5. Good point. There is an act of discrimination taking place on both sides, each model saying the other is wrong. So the question isn’t, which model is making the discriminatory move, but which model is more defensible.

    (Note that SteveK was being very specific about what kind of discrimination he was talking about. This doesn’t by itself rule out the possibility that the traditional model is unfairly discriminatory against gays; that question would need to be tested by other means. Rather it undermines the charge that one model unfairly discriminates against another if it says the other’s view is wrong about what constitutes marriage.)

  6. So let’s say that the government sets out to legally define marriage as the one that matches the traditional model because that is how it would like to see society structured. Does that move unfairly discriminate against the other model, legally or morally?

  7. So let’s say that the government sets out to legally define marriage as the one that matches the traditional model because that is how it would like to see society structured.

    Exactly. The society has, historically, privileged traditional marriage based on the benefit to the society that it brings. And given that it’s traditional marriage and only traditional marriage that can produce enough children to perpetuate the society and the other benefits that traditional marriage brings in the development of society “friendly” nuclear households it’s a reasonable position for it to hold.

    Does that move unfairly discriminate against the other model, legally or morally?

    No, it just understands that other models don’t offer the benefits that the traditional model does and thus has little incentive to privilege it.

  8. Tom,

    If you’d like to ask a question about what that verse means in relation to this discussion, feel free.

    Yes, I’d like to ask that question. As I wrote previously, it seems to me that the idea that marriage is primarily or significantly about sexual differences and procreation runs into serious problems when the ultimate marriage in the Bible is one that has no sexual differences and no procreation potential: Christ and the Church. From the Bible we read that the Church is “betrothed” and presented as a “virgin”; “she” is adorned in “fine linen” as the “Bride” to Christ the “Bridegroom” and “husband”. All of these intimately familiar terms used without a trace of their sexual connotations: that is, the Church is clearly made up of men, not just women, and men do not dress up in fine-linen to be presented as virgins to Bridegrooms, yet this is just the imagery the Bible presents. How can this be if procreation and sexual differences are so crucial to marriage?

    It seems to me that the Ultimate Marriage, the archetypal Biblical example of Bride and Bridegroom has all crucial sexual connotations erased, including procreation potential, by design. And what’s left behind is what is truly important, truly significant: love and nurturing.

    Here are some of the verses that talk about Jesus the Bridegroom and the Church as Bride.

    Paul to the Corinthian Church:

    For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2 )

    Paul to the Ephesian Church:

    Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
    (Ephesians 5:25)

    “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)

    John speaking of Jesus as the Lamb and the Church as the Bride:

    Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9)

    John speaking of New Jerusalem as the Church:

    And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    (Revelation 21:2)

    Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)

    The Spirit and the bride say, Come” (Revelation 22:17)

    For a history of the Bride of Christ in Christendom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_of_Christ

  9. BillT,
    I agree with your comments. I really don’t understand how the scenario I described could be constituted as unfair discrimination, yet here we are.

    In many areas of life the government has done exactly the same thing. The government first decides how it would like to have society operate and then it defines the legal terms and sets up the legal structure/boundaries so that it can make that plan a reality.

    So, for example, an S corporation has a specific legal definition and structure. It was created for a particular purpose of society. I dont hear anyone complaining that LLCs are not allowed to be legally the same as S corps, do you?

  10. I really don’t understand how the scenario I described could be constituted as unfair discrimination, yet here we are.

    Because instead of acknowledging the obvious state interest that we’ve identified here they performed some legal hocus pocus and called it “equal protection.”

  11. DJC, I don’t know of anyone who considers Christ and the Church to be the “Ultimate Marriage” in the sense that every marriage should aspire to be like it in every respect.

    First, the very first expectation (if not instruction) God verbalized toward humans was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (from Gen. 1:28, ESV). There could hardly be any doubt that God intended humans to marry and to procreate, so there could hardly be any doubt that a non-procreative marriage is not the ideal for all marriages to aspire to (at least in that respect). It’s an analogy, not a blueprint.

    Second, you’ve left out some very crucial information from Paul, in 1 Cor. 7:1-6. He was responding to something the Corinthians had written to him: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” His answer was,

    But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

    Third, when you quoted from Paul in Ephesians, you missed some of the near context, Eph. 6:1-4:

    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord

    If it’s right for children to obey their parents, then wouldn’t you think it’s also right for parents to have children?

    Fourth, read and enjoy the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon.

    It’s an analogy, as I said but it’s not an empty analogy in that respect, either.

    First, the Church is expected to reproduce itself, through mission and evangelism.

    Second, the Church is expected to nurture its young (new believers) into full maturity.

    Third, if you’re going to draw analogies from the future state described in Revelation, then you’re looking ahead to a time when human marital procreation will also be no more, according to Jesus Christ.

    I could go on, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

    There is a school of thought within Christianity that would suggest that celibacy is preferable to marriage, but there is no school of thought that thinks the ideal marriage is without sex, because that would be contrary not only to common sense but also a common-sense reading of all that the Bible says about it.

  12. Tom,

    The question as I understand it from dueling Christian perspectives is whether marriage can be reasonably understood as a symbol of Christ and the Church. If so, then the essential features of the relationship between Christ and the Church can be taken as the essential features of marriage as well. Any additional features of marriage proposed to also be essential must have fairly iron-clad Biblical support. For example, “be fruitful and multiply” could be strong support, but “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” can be interpreted as a fulfilled command no longer applicable today.

    As for how far the symbolism goes:

    It’s an analogy, as I said but it’s not an empty analogy in that respect, either.

    First, the Church is expected to reproduce itself, through mission and evangelism.

    Second, the Church is expected to nurture its young (new believers) into full maturity.

    I can sort of see it, but it also seems strained to me since new believers still immediately become part of the Bride of Christ. There is no hint that I can find that the union of Christ and the Church has any other essential purpose but the complete mutual fulfillment of Christ and the Church as two entities become one.

    Third, if you’re going to draw analogies from the future state described in Revelation, then you’re looking ahead to a time when human marital procreation will also be no more, according to Jesus Christ.

    If marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church, it is necessarily incomplete as an institution here on earth and only assumes its true essence in heaven as the completed relationship between Christ and the Church.

    There is a school of thought within Christianity that would suggest that celibacy is preferable to marriage, but there is no school of thought that thinks the ideal marriage is without sex, because that would be contrary not only to common sense but also a common-sense reading of all that the Bible says about it.

    If marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church, sex, love, nurturing as we know it must be an incomplete, pale imitation of something much more profound which is only realized in full with the completed relationship between Christ and the Church.

    It seems difficult to resolve the issue with certainty of course, but I can see that Christians who focus on marriage as the symbol of Christ and the Church will find less reasons to worry about gender or procreation.

  13. The sole justification you offer for the supposed incompleteness of the nurturing model, is that nurturing only describes a single ingredient of marriage, while marriage is really a collection of ingredients. Jason’s article, however, was making that very same point, explicitly.

    To quote the source material…

    On the contrary, it is a reciprocal agreement with another individual (and often with God), to look after the total well-being of that person, sexual and otherwise, and of any children that might come into your mutual care.

    This total well-being encompasses all aspects of life, including the spiritual, social, economic, psychological, and physiological best interests of the partner. Ideally, it lasts from the time the marriage is solemnized until the death of one of the partners.

    It cheapens the covenant to say that marriage is just about sex, or just about rights, or just about children. Marriage is about all of this — and more. Marriage is a complete, all-encompassing, nurturing relationship. It’s about care for the whole person, so much so that no one else in all the world is quite as important.

    It’s pretty clear in the article that “nurturing” isn’t a single ingredient in “the cake”, but a term used to refer to a collection of ingredients.

    I’ll juxtapose some of your own words below, from your critique:

    The traditional view, in contrast, sees marriage as a comprehensive union which involves nurturance, shared lives, shared resources, shared physical intimacy, and childrearing. None of these is “the” model for marriage. They all come together to form a more complete model.

    Jason clearly uses the term “nurturing relationship” in a manner or or less like the way you use the term “comprehensive union” – as a referent to a collection of things that all come together to form the model. “All-encompassing, nurturing” isn’t a bullet point next to “shared lives”, and “shared resources”, etc – its the header over those bullet points.

    Its precisely because Jason’s nurturing model wraps up the many ingredients into a bigger bundle, that it can do things like explain why we still honor marriages between those who won’t be raising children together, like the elderly, infertile, or handicapped – and even same-sex couples.

    I could say more here, especially about your inward vs outward characterizations, but hold off, in hopes that you clarify your reasoning as to the model’s “incompleteness”, because that has left me thoroughly confused.

  14. d,

    Jason clearly uses the term “nurturing relationship” in a manner or or less like the way you use the term “comprehensive union” – as a referent to a collection of things that all come together to form the model. “All-encompassing, nurturing” isn’t a bullet point next to “shared lives”, and “shared resources”, etc – its the header over those bullet points.

    Umm… no, he doesn’t use it the same way I do. If he did we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    He subsumes everything under mutual nurturing. I don’t. That’s very clear.

  15. DJC, you say,

    The question as I understand it from dueling Christian perspectives is whether marriage can be reasonably understood as a symbol of Christ and the Church.

    No Christian I know of doubts that it can.

    If so, then the essential features of the relationship between Christ and the Church can be taken as the essential features of marriage as well.

    Symbols don’t necessarily have that tight one-to-one relationship.Therefore it’s not necessarily the case that, “Any additional features of marriage proposed to also be essential must have fairly iron-clad Biblical support.”

    However, when you say this,

    For example, “be fruitful and multiply” could be strong support, but “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” can be interpreted as a fulfilled command no longer applicable today.

    You’re standing on a hermeneutical cloud. “Can be interpreted” means nothing. You have to offer some support for the interpretation, and specifically support for the idea that “multiply” means something different now than it did then. Further, all the other passages I gave you provide absolutely ironclad negation of your theory that God intends the idea marriage to be fruitless.

    Your answer to what I said about the future state, “If marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church, it is necessarily incomplete as an institution here on earth and only assumes its true essence in heaven as the completed relationship between Christ and the Church,” is false on the one hand and irrelevant on the other. It’s irrelevant in that we’re not talking about marriage in heaven now, we’re talking about marriage on earth. Further, Jesus Christ himself said that marriage in the human sense ends in the future state.

    If marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church, sex, love, nurturing as we know it must be an incomplete, pale imitation of something much more profound which is only realized in full with the completed relationship between Christ and the Church.

    What that does to advance your point I do not know. It doesn’t anything with respect to what marriage is intended to be now.

    It seems difficult to resolve the issue with certainty of course, but I can see that Christians who focus on marriage as the symbol of Christ and the Church will find less reasons to worry about gender or procreation.

    That is to say, Christians who take an imbalanced and unbiblically overspiritualized view of what the Bible says about marriage will have an unbalanced and overspiritualized view of marriage.

  16. d,
    “Marriage is about all of this — and more”

    In whatever way a SS marriage is about children, I guarantee you it’s not the same as a traditional marriage. This is one of the big differences between the two models.

  17. Umm… no, he doesn’t use it the same way I do. If he did we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    He subsumes everything under mutual nurturing. I don’t. That’s very clear.

    In the sense that you both use a general term, to refer to a big, multi-faceted thing or set of things, you do use it the same way.

    I certainly can’t dismiss the “comprehensive union” model as incomplete, by saying “comprehensiveness is just a single ingredient of the best marriages. but not the only thing that makes a marriage.”

    But thats how your treatment of the nurturing model reads.

  18. I don’t intend to get into those details, d. Tom has discussed it. It should be obvious that the models are different.

  19. You make an interesting aside in your post:

    The constitutional prohibition against requiring spouses to testify against each other seems to makes sense only on the biblical “one flesh” view of marriage: that testifying against one’s spouse is tantamount to testifying against oneself.

    I think spousal-privilege is more about the vulnerable position that people would be placed in, should their spouse, presumably a very special kind of confidant, be compelled to testify against them (though the privilege is waived at the courts discretion, and some argue it shouldn’t exist at all). We have other kinds of similar privilege – doctor-patient, counsel-defendant, priests in confessionals. None of them require a “one-flesh” view to make sense.

    Maybe your ideas about inward vs outward facing marriage DO make some kind of sense on that Biblical “one flesh” view. After all, if it’s “one-flesh”, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that any compromise or sacrifice one may make for the sake of their partner or relationship isn’t really a compromise or sacrifice, but instead just an act of self-service. If you are walking on nails to help your partner in some way, you aren’t really giving anything up – you are just reaping selfish benefits. You and me babe. But thats kind of backwards don’t you think?

    In actuality, in good marriages, with children or without children, contain an abundance of compromise, self-sacrifice, giving and reciprocity – placing another before yourself. They involve people doing everything they can to help better the other.

    If thats not outward facing, I don’t know what is.

  20. SteveK,

    Well forgive me if I suspect you really haven’t thought of details, you just think there’s a substantive difference, for no reason.

  21. d, you said I left out the part where I say what the actual difference is.

    I say that’s an odd thing for you to say.

    Look at the OP, in the paragraphs under the headings, “The Nurturance Model of Marriage,” “Incomplete as a Model,” “Inadequate as an Explanation,” and “A More Complete and Sufficient Model.”

    And really, yes, our models are different. You say,

    In the sense that you both use a general term, to refer to a big, multi-faceted thing or set of things, you do use it the same way.

    Yes, we do. And if you say “Kansas” and I say “the United States,” we’re both using our terms in the same way to refer to a multi-faceted thing or set of things. That doesn’t, however, mean that we’re referring to the same thing. Likewise, when he says, “nurturance,” he’s referring to something I would consider a vital (and yes, multifaceted) part of the very multifaceted meaning of marriage, but that doesn’t make our models the same.

  22. Also, d, if the comprehensive model can’t be dismissed as incomplete but the nurturance model can, that’s because “comprehensive” means comprehensive, and nurturance doesn’t.

    As for #21, you really don’t know what I mean by outward facing. It really would help if you would read the OP.

  23. This is one sign that you need to read (or re-read) the OP, by the way: that you could say to anyone on this thread that, “you just think there’s a substantive difference, for no reason.”

    There are reasons here, d.

    You can’t just say there is no reason for no reason.

  24. d,
    I guess the obvious needs to be made obvious-er.

    Bringing children into the world via a heterosexual couple and raising it is a different model for building a society than having heterosexual couples deliver their child to a same sex couples home and raising it that way. That’s one difference.

  25. Tom,
    I’ve read your post, as well as the article – many times, and very carefully. You raised 3 issues with the nurturing model described in the article.

    (a) its incomplete
    (b) its inadequate
    (c) you’re model is more sufficient

    As justification for (a), you claim that marriage is not just about one thing, and that Jason’s nurturing model is only about one thing. Therefore the model is incomplete. But no concrete specifics are raised here, we’re only treated to a metaphor about ingredients and cake. Later in your article do you say marriage is about many things, such as “shared resources”, and “shared lives”, and not just “nurturing”.

    But those are components clearly and specifically articulated as components of nurturing (see the verbatim quote from the article in my first comment). Your comment about “Kansas” and “The United States” seems particularly relevant here. Whatever notion of nurturing you are describing as inadequate, clearly isn’t the notion of nurturing described in the article.

    Until that is rectified, we can’t really address the rest in a productive way.

  26. As for #21, you really don’t know what I mean by outward facing. It really would help if you would read the OP.

    Well, then help me correct my misunderstanding. There’s not much more content than a paragraph on your outward/inward facing thoughts. And given the fact that marriages, gay or straight, almost always involve self-sacrifice and compromise on the part of both partners, I can’t really even begin to speculate what you mean, without you explaining it in more concretely.

    Sure, I’ll agree – couples who are parents have a more direct stake in certain things about their communities – like the quality of their local schools or daycare programs. But thats only a small part of what communities are comprised of. But even then, all non-parents in a community have a stake in those things as well. I’d even say that people in a community have a stake in the well-being of their gay brothers and sisters, and that your model, so far, falls tremendously flat in that respect.

  27. @stevek

    Bringing children into the world via a heterosexual couple and raising it is a different model for building a society than having heterosexual couples deliver their child to a same sex couples home and raising it that way. That’s one difference.

    What the?!? “Having heterosexual couples deliver their child to same-sex couples”? What are you even talking about?

  28. d, my “more complete and adequate model” certainly includes and involves nurturance, but it’s not defined strictly by mutual nurturance. Read it again:

    the state as providing the necessary legal structure for a man and woman to undertake a massive shared project of raising children together, an activity which by its very nature:

    • Involves sharing of obligations, liabilities, authority, and financial resources
    • Calls for a virtually lifelong commitment
    • Requires governmental oversight to ensure that the married unit’s shared resources etc. are treated as such by others
    • Requires governmental involvement if that married unit dissolves its sharing of resources, etc.
    • Regards the couple as a joint decision-making unit, which naturally carries over into decision-making for each other if one is incapacitated

    The bullet points do not flow from nurturance, which I had already explained was an inadequate reason for the other author’s reasoning for state involvement. They flow directly from the expectation that marriage involves raising children.

    I hope that’s clear this time.

    Let me repeat. The article you referred us to showed several alleged reasons that it makes sense for the state to be involved in a nurturance-model marriage.

    I argued here that those reasons fail to explain what they intend to.

    In their place I have posited these bulleted reasons that it makes sense for the state to be involved in marriages, based on the expectation of childrearing.

    These are two completely different sets of justifications based on two models.

    Happy Easter!

  29. d, do you have children? I’m asking because your thoughts about outward facing here do not reflect a full awareness of how having children sheetsl affects one’s relationship with the entire community.

  30. d,
    “What are you even talking about?”

    Going back to #17, I’m giving you one example of how a SS marriage is different when that marriage is about children. Is there something wrong with what I said?

  31. Tom,

    I’ll get to hermeneutical issues at a later date (I have to brush up on my liberal Christian theology). But I see something important here that needs cleared up.

    Further, all the other passages I gave you provide absolutely ironclad negation of your theory that God intends the ideal marriage to be fruitless.

    This is not my theory or anything like the idea of nurturing presented by Kuznicki. An ideal marriage can have children or it can not have children. The presence or absence of children neither helps nor hurts the ideal nature of a marriage necessarily. The ideality of a marriage stems from many things that all fall under the umbrella of nurturing: shared lives, shared resources, shared intimacy, shared sacrifice, shared adopting, shared child-raising, and so on.

    Kuznicki’s model for the ideal marriage is outward facing in exactly the same way the relationship between Christ and the Church is outward facing: love and self-sacrifice.

  32. DJC-

    Do you think it is ideal that every child is raised by their (married) mother and father?

  33. DJC at 33,

    You want to clear up my misconception,

    Further, all the other passages I gave you provide absolutely ironclad negation of your theory that God intends the ideal marriage to be fruitless.

    I acknowledge the error. You actually said,

    I don’t see why Paul would use such a broken metaphor if childrearing were as critical to marriage as holding fast (nurturing).

    To me, Paul sees Christ and the Church as the ultimate “You’n Me, Babe.”

    and

    It seems to me that the Ultimate Marriage, the archetypal Biblical example of Bride and Bridegroom has all crucial sexual connotations erased, including procreation potential, by design. And what’s left behind is what is truly important, truly significant: love and nurturing.

    What I should have said is that all the other passages I gave you provide absolutely ironclad negation of your theory what’s truly important, truly significant about marriage, is love and nurturing with all crucial sexual and procreative connotations erased.

    I hope that corrects my misrepresentation of your position. There is still an ironclad biblical case to be made against it.

    You say that

    Kuznicki’s model for the ideal marriage is outward facing in exactly the same way the relationship between Christ and the Church is outward facing: love and self-sacrifice.

    This is not true. It’s not even close to true. Kuznicki’s model is one of mutual dyadic nurturing. The relationship between Christ and the church isn’t. It’s as far from that as it could possibly be! It’s an outreaching love, a love in which the principle of Genesis 12:3 continues all through the whole Bible: those who are blessed by God are blessed so they can bless others. The whole history of the Church is marked by outward-oriented mission, not just face-to-face mystical love toward God!

    Oh, and if you think that the biblical Christ – Church model is one of mutual nurturing, you have a very mixed-up view of what Christ receives from the Church!

    So you have no biblical grounds for a “just you ‘n me, babe” picture of Christ and the Church. For that reason (along with others I’ve already stated), you have no grounds for saying that the analogy there provides a normative basis for a “just you ‘n me, babe” view of human marriage.

    There’s a clue to your problem here, anyway. You’ve tried to make a biblical case when you admit yourself you’re far enough behind on it that you need to “brush up” on it. I do recommend you do that, but I also recommend you hold your conclusions about biblical theology in abeyance until you’ve learned enough about it to be able to draw conclusions.

  34. Again for d, since this statement of DJC’s might relate to d’s argument:

    Kuznicki’s model for the ideal marriage is outward facing in exactly the same way the relationship between Christ and the Church is outward facing: love and self-sacrifice.

    The distinction I’m making is between dyadic mutual nurturing (between the married partners) and an expansive, generative sort of building/nurturing/equipping/preparing/correcting/planning, and finally even sending sort of relationship.

    I’m on a trip right now with my young adult son where he’s starting on a new job in a new state. There’s some nurturing going on during our trip, but leading up to it were a series of very non-nurturing fatherly actions. I charged him rent for living in our house. I quit letting him use our car, so that he had to buy his own (he was in another job then). I intentionally let him make some mistakes I could have prevented, so he could experience his own real-world consequences to those mistakes.

    This was part of our family life, and a normal outcome of the married life my wife and I have, that has been not at all nurturing. It’s been exposing our son to harsh reality, at an appropriate pace, which is now accelerating to a complete separation from any dependence on us.

    This is part of what’s wrong with Kuznicki’s model. Every marriage from the dawn of time until the advent of contraception began with the knowledge that there would (very likely) be children, that nurturing would be part of that relationship for a time, but that it would not be so forever. That’s part of being married. And as I said above the child-raising aspect of being married is the only reason state involvement makes sense.

    There’s more I could say, but I’ll let that work its way through your thinking for a while.

  35. The tack d and DJC seem to be taking here is that we all agree, it’s just that I don’t know I agree. I’d like to see how you handle the distinct disagreements with Kuznicki that I’ve enumerated in the OP under the headings, “Inadequate As An Explanation” and “A More Complete and Sufficient Model.”

  36. Tom,

    Kuznicki’s model is one of mutual dyadic nurturing. The relationship between Christ and the church isn’t. It’s as far from that as it could possibly be! It’s an outreaching love, a love in which the principle of Genesis 12:3 continues all through the whole Bible: those who are blessed by God are blessed so they can bless others. The whole history of the Church is marked by outward-oriented mission, not just face-to-face mystical love toward God!

    You started with the relationship between Christ and the Church and then shifted to a different relationship, that of believers with other believers. I’m not talking about relationships between Christians, I’m talking solely about the relationship between Christ and the Church. That’s the relationship between two entities that is characterized by love and self-sacrifice solely in relation to each other. Christ died for the Church, that’s self-sacrifice; the Church dies towards sin, loves one another, that’s also self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is a great example of what best characterizes a marriage and should never be denigrated as “you’n me, babe”.

    It is certainly true that the relationship between Christ and the Church facilitates and fosters strong relationships between believers. But that can equally be seen in good marriages: they often (but not always) facilitate and foster child-raising, whether biological or adopted. But the relationship between Christ and the Church is what primarily defines the relationship, the relationship between believers is secondary. The relationship between spouses is what primarily defines the relationship, the relationship of spouse to children, if any, is secondary.

    Oh, and if you think that the biblical Christ – Church model is one of mutual nurturing, you have a very mixed-up view of what Christ receives from the Church!

    Again, if human emotions are an imperfect imitation of something made perfect in heaven, the Christian view of all that mutual nurturing entails is necessarily imperfect and limited. The completed relationship between Christ and the Church achieves the ultimate and final end of what nurturing strives to achieve. And that end is clearly desired by God as much as the Church.

    I’d like to see how you handle the distinct disagreements with Kuznicki that I’ve enumerated in the OP under the headings, “Inadequate As An Explanation” and “A More Complete and Sufficient Model.”

    I don’t really follow your intent for section “Inadequate As An Explanation” because it seems to treat Kuznicki’s section as a finding of facts on which you disagree. I don’t read it as a finding of facts but an opinion on how the government should act according to nurturing as the best understanding of marriage.

    Likewise “A More Complete and Sufficient Model” seems to be a finding of fact that I’m not sure how to disagree with. Yes, the state has focused more in the past on child-rearing, but child-free marriages are rising and it’s in the state’s interest to change along the lines proposed by Kuznicki’s list if that’s deemed important by society. Maybe I’m missing your point.

  37. DJC,

    So say you’re “talking solely about the relationship between Christ and the Church.” If that’s the case, then please feel free to confine yourself to that topic.

    If you want to draw biblical analogies from that to a human marriage relationship, then please do so biblically.

    You haven’t done a good job of either so far.

    I don’t really follow your intent for section “Inadequate As An Explanation” because it seems to treat Kuznicki’s section as a finding of facts on which you disagree. I don’t read it as a finding of facts but an opinion on how the government should act according to nurturing as the best understanding of marriage.

    It’s certainly a set of opinions, and I think they’re wrong, for reasons stated. If you’re going to disagree, then disagree with my reasons, not with the way you think I’ve categorized things.

    Likewise “A More Complete and Sufficient Model” seems to be a finding of fact that I’m not sure how to disagree with. Yes, the state has focused more in the past on child-rearing, but child-free marriages are rising and it’s in the state’s interest to change along the lines proposed by Kuznicki’s list if that’s deemed important by society. Maybe I’m missing your point.

    You think it’s in the state’s interest to change because child-free marriages are rising. I think it’s in the state’s interest to halt the momentum toward marriage-free children, which means halting the momentum toward redefining marriage as “just you ‘n me, babe,” which is related to halting momentum toward throw-away relationships, which is related to strengthening relationships that include children in their planning, which is related to a whole lot more besides, all of which add up to strengthening marriages and families that are good for children and adults at the same time, not just marriages that are good for adults.

    In other words, to sum up that long paragraph, I think your opinion about what’s in the state’s interest might seem good in the short run but in the long run it’s going to hurt marriages, families, children, ultimately everyone.

  38. Tom,

    A recap: the Kuznicki article argues that nurturing and all that it entails is the single irreplaceable attribute that best defines marriage according to our intuitions and the way marriage has evolved over the years. You argue procreation is a second irreplaceable attribute that defines marriage best (I assume you would be prioritizing Biblical tradition over intuitions and social change). In response, I have noted that the archetype of marriage in the Bible, that of Christ to the Church (best summarized in Eph 5:31-32), fits Kuznicki’s thesis quite elegantly it seems to me; while finding procreation in the concept of Christ and Church seems awkward at best. You challenge both of these points but I don’t understand your objections well enough so far to summarize them neatly.

    A semi-facetious thought (experiment): what if we could abolish the term “Marriage” and replace it with “Proto-Family”? Would this meet with your approval? The term “Family” clearly includes both nurturing and procreation so avoids any possible ambiguity that “Marriage” might have with respect to procreation. Adding “Proto-” to “Family” indicates that a new couple fully desires procreation and to transition to “Family”. In this case, a man and women are joined together in “Holy Proto-Familyhood” which is a sacred vow to nurture each other and procreate. Once a child is born, a Proto-Family becomes a Family. For those unable to have children, the transition from Proto-Family to Family is still open through adoption. Some may choose to remain Proto-Families. The government is free to enact different privileges, priorities, rules and regulations for Families as opposed to Proto-Families.

    If you’re going to disagree, then disagree with my reasons, not with the way you think I’ve categorized things.

    My disagreement would be mainly that I don’t see that the Bible unequivocally supports procreation as an irreplaceable attribute of marriage and this is demonstrated when we imagine the difficulty in replacing all references of Marriage in society and the Bible with “Proto-Family”.

    And even the direct Biblical command to procreate you cited comes with a terminating condition: “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”. Once the earth is full (i.e. people suffering from resource shortages), there should be no longer be a need to be fruitful and multiply. This interpretation has its origin in John Chrysostom (according to this PDF article in the Anglican Theological Review).

    I think it’s in the state’s interest to halt the momentum toward marriage-free children, which means halting the momentum toward redefining marriage as “just you ‘n me, babe,” which is related to halting momentum toward throw-away relationships, which is related to strengthening relationships that include children in their planning, which is related to a whole lot more besides, all of which add up to strengthening marriages and families that are good for children and adults at the same time, not just marriages that are good for adults.

    There’s nothing about marriage without procreation that requires “you’n me babe” or throw-away relationships. Kuznicki’s article argues the opposite: “marriage is a reciprocal agreement with another individual (and often with God), to look after the total well-being of that person, sexual and otherwise, and of any children that might come into your mutual care.” That requires love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice, with or without children.

  39. In response, I have noted that the archetype of marriage in the Bible, that of Christ to the Church (best summarized in Eph 5:31-32Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), fits Kuznicki’s thesis quite elegantly it seems to me; while finding procreation in the concept of Christ and Church seems awkward at best. You challenge both of these points but I don’t understand your objections well enough so far to summarize them neatly.

    Actually, DJC, you don’t understand biblical theology well enough to raise the point you think you’ve raised about Christ and the Church. At this point I’m willing to state it this baldly: I have answered your case there, and your case is misinformed, imbalanced, and fails completely to do what you want it to do in the context of this dispute. In fact, your case is so weak that any knowledgeable person would answer it only as a matter of courtesy (which is what I have done), not because there’s any substance in it that actually requires addressing.

    Your knowledge of the relevant background material is insufficient for you to grasp that fact, so you have continued to press your point, but in fact you would be wise at this stage simply to accept the word of one who knows more about it than you do.

    If you disagree, then I’ll simply revert to the fact that I’ve explained the biblical position to the best of my ability on more than one occasion here, and you have not grasped it, and that’s the end of it as far as I’m concerned.

    Here’s an interesting additional point, though, which again I’m answering as a matter of courtesy:

    My disagreement would be mainly that I don’t see that the Bible unequivocally supports procreation as an irreplaceable attribute of marriage and this is demonstrated when we imagine the difficulty in replacing all references of Marriage in society and the Bible with “Proto-Family”.

    I don’t see that difficulty anywhere. A marriage viewed from a certain angle is a proto-family. Viewed from another angle, that’s an awkward thing to call it. Viewed from the perspective of Christ and the Church, we see one place where the analogy breaks down.

    Does the Bible univocally support procreation as part of marriage? Well, yes, in Genesis 1:26. Does it repeat that elsewhere? Sure, just as often as it repeats its warning that if you jump off a cliff you might get hurt. What I mean by that is this: jumping off a cliff has such obvious natural consequences, it doesn’t need to be articulated. Marriage has natural consequences: children. That was obviously true in biblical times.

    Sure, now you can jump off a cliff with hang-gliding gear, and now you can de-couple sex, marriage, and conception. So the Bible should have specifically articulated, “Marriage absolutely involves procreation,” more than the one foundational time that it did so already, and it should also have reminded us that jumping off a cliff isn’t such a bad idea if you use hang-gliding gear.

    Or in other words, the absence of a direct statement regarding implications of future technology doesn’t mean much.

    And even the direct Biblical command to procreate you cited comes with a terminating condition:

    Is the earth full? Says who? People have been suffering from resource shortages since the first drought! (Read the latter part of Genesis: was the earth full then?) John Chrysostom said the earth was full in the fourth century. Was he right? You say it’s full now. Really? Some places are overcrowded but some are not, and world hunger has been diminishing drastically over the past few decades.

    And just what is it in the Hebrew that indicates to you that it’s a terminating condition, anyway? It’s not, “Be fruitful, multiply, until you replenish the earth, and then I don’t really give a hoot what you do with marriage”?

    Further, your reading of Chrysostom is wrong even in the context of that liberal PDF you linked to. Not the end of the second paragraph on page 69. Maybe I missed something there. You can let me know.

    Finally, your last paragraph is rather difficult to parse. You say I’m wrong, and then you proceed to cite Kuznicki in several points that support mine. Maybe you need to re-read what I wrote, or maybe I need to re-write it. At any rate, please take a closer look to discern the difference between what I wrote and this:

    There’s nothing about marriage without procreation that requires “you’n me babe” or throw-away relationships.

    I didn’t say it required those kinds of relationships. I said it encourages them. That’s plenty enough right there. But please re-read my whole statement and respond to what I said there, not what I said in my brief re-summarizing of it here.

  40. Tom,

    Actually, DJC, you don’t understand biblical theology well enough to raise the point you think you’ve raised about Christ and the Church.

    I do, you’re wrong, etc. (sorry, temporarily caught up in the spirit of unsupported assertion and pointed personal comment), but at the same time I agree it would be more productive for a believer to make the arguments I have so you could see faith behind them. The argument is not new with me and comes directly from sincere (as far as I can tell) Christians.

    Is the earth full? Says who?

    An earth populated by 2 people definitely needs more people, but why would anyone think the earth needs more than 7.5 billion people? The point is the earth is vastly more full than at the time of the command to procreate; therefore it is quite reasonable to see the procreation command as having greatly diminished force.

    Further, your reading of Chrysostom is wrong even in the context of that liberal PDF you linked to.

    The reading is correct:

    Marriage does not always lead to child-bearing, although there is the word of God which says, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” We have as witness all those who are married but childless. So the purpose of chastity takes precedence, especially now, when the whole world is filled with our kind.

    On Marriage and Family Life, John Chrysostom 4th century.

    An early Church father using this interpretation demonstrates that it’s a plausible and reasonable reading.

    Now I’m not saying yours is incorrect, though; just that this issue is far from as cut & dried as you make it out to be.

    I didn’t say it required those kinds of relationships. I said it encourages them.

    But Kuznicki’s definition of marriage does not encourage “you’n me babe” or throw-away relationships, either. In fact, just the opposite. So as far as you’re concerned about momentum towards selfish, throw-away relationships, we’re all in agreement. Marriage should not be treated so lightly. But I find Kuznicki’s nurturing definition of marriage an answer to the problem and an answer to how society can change to better respect marriage.

  41. DJC, I’m sorry, but I’m done debating the Bible with you. You don’t even know enough to know you don’t know what you’re talking about. Even your quote from John Chrysostom gives but weak support to your assertion that the Gen. 1:26-27 had a terminator attached to it. It’s also context free. I have a sneaking suspicion you haven’t read the biblical passages I gave you, and I’d bet next week’s salary you couldn’t explain the rest of what John Chrysostom had to say about marriage and family in that book.

    So when it comes to theology, DJC, I think what I’m feeling now must be like what evolutionists feel when the creationist asks, “If we evolved from apes, then why are there still apes?” The answer is, “Your question shows you don’t know what you’re talking about, so let’s just agree that you don’t, okay?” (And I also feel like the evolutionist who thinks the other side likes to quote-mine. That’s what you’ve done, by all appearances.)

    Kuznicki’s definition of marriage does encourage “just you ‘n me, babe,” relationships, as far as I can tell, and I can’t imagine how you could read him otherwise. Maybe I’m wrong, though. If so, please show me where he thinks marriage is essentially expansive, such that its love is intended normally and usually to grow outward into other deep and intensely loving relationships beyond the dyad. How is a model built essentially upon mutual nurturing not focused inward, within the marital dyad? Just show me.

    Maybe I could believe you if you would explain it. Until then, a mutual-nurturing model seems prima facie to be built for the mutual nurturers: you ‘n me, babe.

  42. I’ve got another question for you, DJC.

    Should I consider it coincidental that if I google, “the purpose of marriage is not procreation,” the first link that appears includes a reference to St. John Chrysostom? Should I consider it coincidental that you seem to know something that’s so easy to find? Should I consider it coincidental that you’ve presented his position without analysis or context, almost as if you had done just-in-time research to find a quote that supported you?

    These are just questions. Maybe you’ve studied Chrysostom, and this other easy route to quotations from him is just, well coincidental. As for me, I’ll admit it: I haven’t studied him. I haven’t pretended that I knew what he said, either.

  43. There are writers at my favorite magazine, Touchstone, who do understand Chrysostom. Here’s an excerpt from an article there:

    Marriage, moreover, is an icon of the Trinity. “The child is a bridge connecting mother to father, so the three become one flesh. . . . And here the bridge is formed from the substance of each!” That, he continues,

    is why Scripture does not say, “They shall be one flesh.” But they shall be joined together “into one flesh,” namely the child. But suppose there is no child; do they then remain two and not one? No: their intercourse effects the joining of their bodies, and they are made one, just as when perfume is mixed with ointment.

    It’s a quote-mine of my own, admittedly. I introduce it only to show that yours, DJC, cannot be taken as authoritative–not when it’s this easy to come up with a counter-quote.

  44. Tom,

    You don’t even know enough to know you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Why the constant personal attacks? You seem intent on provoking an angry response out of me and the only reason I can imagine you’d want to do that is so you don’t have to deal substantially with the issues I’ve raised. Well give it a rest, I’m not going to take the bait.

    As I will demonstrate below, I do know what I’m talking about since I’m relying on arguments made by scholars rather than solely from my own expertise. The authors of the primary article I’ve made use of is written by the following:

    * Deirdre J. Good, Professor of New Testament at The General Theological Seminary, New York.
    * Willis J. Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut.
    * Cynthia B. Kittredge, Academic Dean and Ernest J. Villavaso, Jr. Professor of New Testament at the Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Texas.
    * Eugene F. Rogers, Jr. is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina.

    Tom, should I ask if you have a degree in Theology to properly evaluate their arguments? Since I’ve merely used their arguments rather than created my own, are you now going to just as casually accuse these scholars of incompetence or ignorance?

    If so, please show me where [Kuznicki] thinks marriage is essentially expansive, such that its love is intended normally and usually to grow outward into other deep and intensely loving relationships beyond the dyad. How is a model built essentially upon mutual nurturing not focused inward, within the marital dyad? Just show me.

    It follows naturally from the observation that love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice make one a better person. Two people nurturing each other in self-less fashion over time create a greater whole than the two parts. That greater whole forms a basis for stronger society in all facets, not just child raising.

    And your criticism of “inward focus” misses the point. One could make the same argument that families are selfish because they too have “inward focus”. All nurturing is “selfish” if viewed from a vantage point enclosing all, but that’s not the proper use of the term.

    On Chrysostom, the scholars referenced above wrote the paper that used Chrysostom’s arguments. You claimed their reading was wrong so I tracked down the primary reference and quoted it to you to prove that your accusation was without merit.

    I’d bet next week’s salary you couldn’t explain the rest of what John Chrysostom had to say about marriage and family in that book.

    I’d be more than happy to take that bet since most of the book is available online. But I don’t see the point since one can presume that religious scholars publishing in a peer-reviewed theological review would not misquote Chrysostom.

  45. DJC,

    I don’t have a theology degree, but I do have 36 graduate credits and a whole lot of additional reading, including degree-level work on the Bible and marriage.

    the only reason I can imagine you’d want to do that is so you don’t have to deaal substantiallywith the issues I’ve raised. Well give it a rest, I’m not going to take the bait.

    But I have dealt substantially with your arguments, DJC! Look at comment 12, where I introduced a ton of biblical information you didn’t address. You are making a biblical argument, after all. Why are you ignoring that substantive information? Why are you accusing me of ducking your argument, when you ignored most of that?!

    Several times now I’ve addressed your illogical claim that because there’s an analogy between human marriage and the relation of Christ and the church, therefore the ideal human marriage is non-procreative.

    My goodness, DJC, this is just biblically illiterate:

    There is no hint that I can find that the union of Christ and the Church has any other essential purpose but the complete mutual fulfillment of Christ and the Church as two entities become one.

    Christ doesn’t need fulfillment. That’s a completely non-theistic perspective on Christ. Christ’s purpose for the Church isn’t just the Church’s “fulfillment.” That idea runs counter to everything ever said in the Bible about the Church’s mission beyond itself.

    But I had already said most of that in comment 16.

    DJC, the reason I’m saying you’re biblically illiterate isn’t because of any personal animus. It’s because in all this extended discussion, you haven’t demonstrated any actual knowledge of what you’re talking about.

    I still don’t think you know anything about Chrysostom. You could take the bet, as you said, and then read the book, as it’s available online as you said. Surely you know that wasn’t the kind of bet I was offering. I was making the point that you were trying to call on Chrysostom without knowing what you were talking about when you did so.

    But I don’t see the point since one can presume that religious scholars publishing in a peer-reviewed theological review would not misquote Chrysostom.

    That really wasn’t my point. My point wasn’t to discuss whether those four scholars knew what they were talking about. It was about whether you did.

    I still consider your work to be irresponsible quote-mining, in that you’re trying to develop an argument in a discipline you do not know by quoting scholars you’ve never read on a topic that you do not understand.

    If I’m wrong, then don’t get angry, for heaven’s sake. Just show your stuff. Show something real. I’ve made my evaluations so far on the basis of your not having done so. If you’ve got it, then by all means quit hiding it.

    If you don’t have it, then maybe you could just quietly acknowledge the fact.

    Finally,

    If so, please show me where [Kuznicki] thinks marriage is essentially expansive, such that its love is intended normally and usually to grow outward into other deep and intensely loving relationships beyond the dyad. How is a model built essentially upon mutual nurturing not focused inward, within the marital dyad? Just show me.

    It follows naturally from the observation that love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice make one a better person. Two people nurturing each other in self-less fashion over time create a greater whole than the two parts. That greater whole forms a basis for stronger society in all facets, not just child raising.

    (Quick note: I never said “just child raising.” I’ve always talked about the community in which children would be growing up as well.)

    You say it follows. How? What is this greater whole? It sounds flowery enough, but what is it? What is it about that relationship that systemically and structurally causes the couple to look outside the dyad in their mutual nurturing? How does your answer even address the aspect of growing “outward into other deep and intensely loving relationships outside the dyad”?

    You say it follows, but you don’t show that it does, and in fact the prima facie case still seems to be that a marriage model of mutual dyadic nurturing would be a model of mutual dyadic nurturing. If that’s not so, then something more than platitudes needs to be applied to it before you could claim that it follows.

  46. @Tom Gilson:

    I am late to the fray, but let me point one rather obvious point: this is all complete and utter BS. Proof? Let us start by d’s original comment. In it we find the following:

    Its only been a couple years or so, no one has bothered to tackle it. Unfortunately, sensible pieces like this, or writings from guys like Andrew Sullivan are usually ignored, in favor of stuff you can dig up to make the opposition look bad.

    Andrew Sullivan a “sensible guy”? By whose reckoning? The LGBT community? Methinks not. Here is a quote:

    He has made a career out of disparaging gay activists for their radical “liberationist” agenda, attacked gay male culture for its “libidinal pathology” and queer politics for its “psychological violence.” As the self-appointed champion of gay marriage, fidelity and “normal” homosexuals, Sullivan has railed against the “sexual pathologies that plague homosexuals,” lambasted the “cartoonish, buffoonish similarity” of gay male bodies made in “manic muscle factories” and analogized unprotected oral sex with murder.

    In bringing this up, besides “stuff you can dig up to make the opposition look bad” (grin), what I want is to point the sheer inconsistency and ad-hocery of the “nurturance model” or whatever other sillyness SSM proponents hastily cobble together to make it look more palatable to the rest of the civilized world. But it is entertaining watching someone like DJC arguing that monogamy is somehow an essential trait, when it is common knowledge that male SS relations are unstable, and monogamy is really monogamy-ish (read say, Dan Savage). It weakens even more the already tenuous link between sex and procreation. It redefines (as in destroying) fatherhood and motherhood. It is rejected by many in the LGBT community as being merely a continuation of the same sex codes that they reject (witness the brouha in France when the issue was put to referendum). Etc. and etc.

    As someone else pointed out in another venue, it is a lot like New Atheism. Do SSM proponents have some talking points? Sure. But it is all, intellectually speaking, shallow and superficial as the root of disagreement lies elsewhere.

  47. My tac is not to say that your model is exactly the same as the nurturing model without you knowing it, but that you don’t seem to be treating the nurturing concept from the article charitably or accurately, but seem to be working off your own more narrow view of the term. But lets move past that for a bit.

    And no, I don’t have children, but am married (yes, a good ole fashioned heterosexual marriage). Is the motivation behind that question to doubt my ability to understand the inward/outward characterizations you make? If so, I’ll only point out that we all come at this topic with our own unique sets of experiences that might help or hinder our understanding accordingly. For example, have you ever been faced with the certainty that your marriage will never produce children naturally (whether gay or straight) and been forced to go through the kind of self-examination about how your marriage ought to be viewed by yourself, your family or even society? Or have you ever raised a gay child of your own who wants to marry their partner? If not, then your experience is also incomplete on many levels.

    Though with that in mind, I’ll point out this footnote from the article:

    One never hears, of course, about gays and lesbians (like me) who do have children. But I am told that the law is a big, blunt instrument. I take it to mean that, in practice, the law is always large enough to obscure the faults of any argument, no matter how weak it may be.

    So, the author is not only in a gay committed relationship, but is also raising children – maybe he’s more qualified to talk about this topic that either of us. Let me put that former observation another way.

    The author is in a dyadic mutual nurturing marriage-type relationship. As a couple, he and his partner are the midst of that all-important joint project – childrearing – which brings with it “expansive, generative sort of building/nurturing/equipping/preparing/correcting/planning” that orients their relationship outward, and to the wider community in which their children will grow.

    But we won’t be seeing you call that relationship a marriage, will we? It seems like we should, based on your view. It also seems like the state should solemnize that relationship as a marriage, based on the bullet points you wrote in your article, about state interest.

    Based on some of your previous posts I can guess at some of your responses there.

    You might even concede that relationships like the above (and others like it) do appear to have all that outwardly oriented stuff that elevates it beyond the you-n-me-babe half-marriage type, but that under normal circumstances, the government should assume that gay couples will be childless. If the state recognized presumably childless relationships as marriages, that somehow lessons the expectation that other child-capable couples should reproduce if they are to be called married.

    But certainly its not difficult for the law to recognize and address already-childrearing gay mutual nurturers, by allowing them to marry. That wouldn’t lead to any ambiguity about what marriage is for – and on the contrary, it may even make its central childrearing role sharper, and more obvious. We wouldn’t see you ever support that policy though, would we?

    Or maybe you’d simply say it would encourage some gay people to simply get a hold of a child somewhere, so that they could get married, which is obviously bad – but if the process of childrearing is as outward orienting as you say, why should we expect that they succumb to those outward orienting forces all the same? After all, a great deal of traditional marriages are motivated by similarly inward related things or even selfish things (sex, money, etc).

    Having said all that, Jason’s model does not discard childrearing, but instead draws our attention to other facets of the institution that he feels are left out of the conversation, and on their own are often enough to make a relationship a real marriage, even if no kids will ever be. So is hard to see how you would ever conclude that his model might lead to a state that takes no interest in baby-production.

    And this boils down to more political philosophy, but your model requires us to adopt a more liberal left leaning view – that the state’s stake in marriage is more or less like any other social welfare program or economic stimulus package. Even if I were to concede that dyadic nurturing relationships are just a pale shade of childrearing marriages, I reject your political view.

    The state is an agent that has responsibilities and duties to individuals, one of those duties being to safeguard even what you would call ‘you-n-me-babe’ type nurturers’ ability to actually nurture, and thats good for everybody. Jason makes his view clear here:

    I concede — happily — that the government has no interest whatsoever in regulating consenting adult sexual relationships. Government has every interest, however, in watching over individuals as they nurture one another. This is because while sex and nurturing are both natural rights that we all possess as human beings, it is far more difficult to safeguard the right to nurturing.[2]

    In the decisions that nurturers make for each other, fraud and abuse may lurk at every juncture. Trust is essential: Nurturers must often act decisively at the very moments when their partners are most vulnerable and least able to act on their own. A situation like this cries out for an explicit, durable, and binding contract made in advance. Without it, fraud would run rampant. The contract, though, and the benefits that it offers, are not the basis of marriage; these exist only for the sake of protecting the nurturing relationship from interference.

    Protecting the right to nurture requires more than merely looking the other way. The nurtured are vulnerable, and nurturers do things for them that non-nurturers must never be trusted to do. Our natural right to designate (or act as) a nurturer therefore leads directly to a civil right wherein the government distinguishes between nurturers (who may make decisions for us) and non-nurturers (who must not be allowed to step in). Contrast this to sexual rights, which are extended to adults who can meaningfully consent, in any combination of gender and number, and you will see that there really is no conflict between a hands-off policy for sex and a formal codification for marriage.

    To respect the desire of two individuals who wish to nurture one another, a government must make certain that its own laws do not interfere with a nurturing marriage relationship either:

    I think his bullet’s about the state responsibilities towards even childless nurtureres flow quite well from these observations, though you didn’t seem to address this part.

    There’s more to pick apart, but thats all I have time for, for now.

  48. “Protecting the right to nurture requires more than merely looking the other way. The nurtured are vulnerable, and nurturers do things for them that non-nurturers must never be trusted to do. Our natural right to designate (or act as) a nurturer therefore leads directly to a civil right wherein the government distinguishes between nurturers (who may make decisions for us) and non-nurturers (who must not be allowed to step in). Contrast this to sexual rights, which are extended to adults who can meaningfully consent, in any combination of gender and number, and you will see that there really is no conflict between a hands-off policy for sex and a formal codification for marriage.”

    There can certainly be nurturing between friends, and looking the other with respect to friendships seems to be great policy. Let people freely associate and trust them to police their own relationships. The state does not need to get involved if your friend is being a bad friend. There is no reason to think this is no longer great policy (the hands off approach) if that friendship happens to be particularly close. Besides, in reality, friendships come and go, grow stronger and weaker. Sometimes, adding new friends to the mix actually reinforces existing relationships. In other words, they become even better nurturing relationships for all parties. The hands off approach means everyone has the space for their myriad nurturing relationships to work organically in their life. To allow them to have the most nurturing relationship with one friend one week and then with another friend the next week.

    For what it is worth, I find the idea of people having one most nurturing relationship that the state must protect is; frankly, bizarre. It makes no sense, and seems to be an impediment to nurturing relationships rather than an enhancement.

  49. Tom,

    But I have dealt substantially with your arguments, DJC! Look at comment 12, where I introduced a ton of biblical information you didn’t address.

    I am unclear how your reference to 1 Cor. 7:16 addresses the issue. I did not reference 1 Cor. at all, but referenced 2 Cor.

    Your reference to Eph. 6:14 was with the misunderstanding that I was claiming it was wrong for parents to have children. I addressed that (as I do again below).

    That’s all that I can find, 1 verse in the “ton”. What did I miss?

    Several times now I’ve addressed your illogical claim that because there’s an analogy between human marriage and the relation of Christ and the church, therefore the ideal human marriage is non-procreative.

    This is not my claim. As I clarified to you already in comment #33, an ideal marriage can have children or it can not have children. The presence or absence of children neither helps nor hurts the ideal nature of a marriage necessarily. The ideality of a marriage in this view stems from many things that all fall under the umbrella of nurturing: shared lives, shared resources, shared intimacy, shared sacrifice, shared adopting, shared child-raising, and so on.

    My goodness, DJC, this is just biblically illiterate:

    There is no hint that I can find that the union of Christ and the Church has any other essential purpose but the complete mutual fulfillment of Christ and the Church as two entities become one.

    This is not biblically illiterate as I clarified in comment #38. If human emotions are an imperfect imitation of something made perfect in heaven, the Christian view of all that mutual nurturing entails is necessarily imperfect and limited. The completed relationship between Christ and the Church achieves the ultimate and final end of what nurturing strives to achieve. And that end is clearly desired by God as much as the Church. You may nitpick on the exact meaning of fulfillment with respect to God, but the fact remains that God desires the completed relationship. You can call it mutually fulfilled desire if you wish.

    It’s because in all this extended discussion, you haven’t demonstrated any actual knowledge of what you’re talking about.

    That’s a personal attack without any factual basis.

    I was making the point that you were trying to call on Chrysostom without knowing what you were talking about when you did so.

    That’s factually incorrect. You claimed scholars had misquoted Chrysostom. I investigated the footnote in the peer-reviewed article, found the primary document and demonstrated that your claim was false.

    I still consider your work to be irresponsible quote-mining, in that you’re trying to develop an argument in a discipline you do not know by quoting scholars you’ve never read on a topic that you do not understand.

    That’s false and a baseless personal attack. I know the discipline well, and I read these scholars on this topic to become more familiar with the argument and viewpoint. You have yet to demonstrate that there’s anything I don’t understand here. Again, why make this personal? Don’t you have some sort of rule or guideline about that?

    Show something real.

    I’ve presented you with a real argument based on this source written by liberal Christian scholars. I understand it fairly well, I’ve presented it to you, your response has been basically a prolonged ad-hominem. Do you understand why making me the focus of the discussion can be seen as a diversionary tactic? If you don’t like the argument, why not attack the argument instead of the arguer?

    Although the article goes into depth on a full theology of same-sex marriage, the issue I mentioned originally questioned whether marriage can be primarily or significantly about sexual differences and procreation when the ultimate marriage in the Bible is one that has no sexual differences and no procreation potential: Christ and the Church. Quoting from the article:

    p 68 Christ is the Bridegroom for women and for men; the church is Christ’s bride in its members, female and male. Gender does not hinder the Bridegroom or the bride

    p 71. The typology of “Christ and the church” does not reduce to male female complementarity, even if it uses gendered language. Men have always represented the bride of Christ as members of the church. Women have always represented the priesthood of Christ as believers (1 Peter 2:9).

    Members of either gender may serve as a sign or represent a “type.”

    Ephesians is not saying that we should take our understanding of Christ and the church from how our marriages work. It says that we should understand marriage from Christ and the church.

    The church, traditionally gendered female as Christ’s bride, embraces women and men. “The body of Christ,” while gendered male as a human being, is gendered female as the church. Such shifts remind us why Ephesians calls marriage a “mystery” and treats it as a sign. Types do not limit representation: they open it to God’s work. By interpreting gender christologically, the typology of Ephesians and the Book of Common Prayer excludes everything that would restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples (its reduction to procreationism or complementarianism), and opens it to everything that would include them.

    Thus, both same- and opposite-sex marriage may represent the marriage of Christ and the church, because Christ is the spouse of all believers. Men do not represent Christ by maleness alone, nor do women represent the church by femaleness alone. Same-sex marriage witnesses to the reality that a male Christ also saves men and a female church also saves women.

    This is the argument I’ve been referring to.

    It follows naturally from the observation that love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice make one a better person.

    You say it follows. How?

    I may be misunderstanding you. You’re saying that love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice do not make one a better person?

    Assuming rather that “How?” is a lead-in to something else:

    What is this greater whole? It sounds flowery enough, but what is it?

    When two people are exercised with love, effort, investment and self-sacrifice towards one another, they become greater than the sum of two separate people who have not been exercised in the same way.

    Take away a person’s chance to exercise love and self-sacrifice. You have a weaker person.

    What is it about that relationship that systemically and structurally causes the couple to look outside the dyad in their mutual nurturing?

    Because self-sacrifice naturally inclines one to look outward from one’s self.

  50. G. Rodrigues,

    But it is entertaining watching someone like DJC arguing that monogamy is somehow an essential trait, when it is common knowledge that male SS relations are unstable, and monogamy is really monogamy-ish (read say, Dan Savage).

    No longer true, see Couple Longevity in the Era of Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S. (PDF) which summarizes:

    After controlling for marriage and marriage-like commitments, the break-up rate for same-sex couples is comparable to (and not statistically distinguishable from) the break-up rate for heterosexual couples.

  51. After controlling for marriage and marriage-like commitments, the break-up rate for same-sex couples is comparable to (and not statistically distinguishable from) the break-up rate for heterosexual couples.

    But BEFORE controlling, the breakup rate for same-sex couples is a lot higher. Maybe that’s because same-sex couples are much less likely to form the kind of relationship that would lead them to “marriage-like commitments.”

    Either way, the study shows same-sex couples to be less stable than opposite-sex couples.

  52. @Another Steve

    If homosexuals are, in the current climate, circumstances, and culture, less stable overall, then it seems like we should take measures to help them gain more stability, like say… marriage.

    Hey, imagine what the Roman Catholic Church could do if they performed gay weddings, and made gay couples go through their compatibility program.

  53. d-

    “If homosexuals are, in the current climate, circumstances, and culture, less stable overall, then it seems like we should take measures to help them gain more stability, like say… marriage.”

    Why? Do you suggest the same for friendships between people of the same sex?

  54. Another Steve,

    But BEFORE controlling, the breakup rate for same-sex couples is a lot higher. Maybe that’s because same-sex couples are much less likely to form the kind of relationship that would lead them to “marriage-like commitments.”

    Either way, the study shows same-sex couples to be less stable than opposite-sex couples.

    Not quite. The paper shows that the difference in break-up rate –heterosexual couples have a break-up rate of 4.9% per year, same-sex couples is 8.3% — is explained by the difference in marriage rate. Thus, echoing d, sanctioning same-sex marriage could result in more same-sex couples getting married and reduce the break-up rate to be more in line with heterosexual couples.

    Note also this quote:

    Same-sex couples in civil unions have found, sometimes to their surprise, that their relationship has been strengthened by the recognition and legitimacy that the civil union bestowed upon them (Rothblum et al. 2011)

  55. @DR84

    No I don’t suggest the same for friendships. I think the article already does a decent job at spelling out what makes marriages special. Do you think marriages between non-child producing heterosexuals are just “friendships with state-recognition”?

    If so, well… I think THATS rather bizarre. If not, then where’s your confusion coming from?

  56. d-

    I did not ask what makes marriage special. I asked why we need to take measures with the specific goal of increasing the stability of relationships that involve homosexual behavior. I am also noting that no one is suggesting we need any measures to improve the stability of (same sex) relationships that do not involve homosexual behavior.

    Obviously, a marriage that is infertile is still a marriage. I have no idea why you are bringing this up as it has nothing at all to do with the question I asked.

  57. @DR84

    I already quoted and emphasized reasons why the state should take interest in marriage-type nurturing relationships (homosexual or otherwise), so I really consider your question already addressed (in the source article no less). Not really sure what else I can add too, there.

    But I’ll clarify my purpose behind the comment you picked out though regarding “taking measures”. Some have claimed there is major instability among homosexual marriage-type relationships, and presumably the bring that up as a point against state recognition of those relationships as marriages.

    I’m making the point that – even if its true, and that alleged instability is a concern – maybe the appropriate response is to try and address those stability problems, like we generally try and do with heterosexual marriage-type relationships.

  58. But what if that instability is inherent to these relationships, as I think might really be the case for just you ‘n me relationships? Then the best thing would be not to encourage them in the first place.

  59. In fact, I have trouble understanding why such relationships should be encouraged to stay together beyond the mutual satisfaction stage. Why not just call them off when they’re over? Seems practical.

  60. Not quite. The paper shows that the difference in break-up rate –heterosexual couples have a break-up rate of 4.9% per year, same-sex couples is 8.3% — is explained by the difference in marriage rate.

    That’s one way to interpret the data, but I gave another one that fits the data just as well. The lower rate of “marriage-like commitments” can be explained by the inherent instability of same-sex partnerships.

    Personal testimonials, such as you have cited from Rothblum, et al., are unreliable.

    http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~rothblum/doc_pdf/sexual_orientation/Narratives_Same_Sex_Couples_Vermont.pdf

    None of this means that official recognition of same-sex relationships DOESN’T lead to higher stability, of course. It means that the data are not clear.

  61. @d:

    If homosexuals are, in the current climate, circumstances, and culture, less stable overall, then it seems like we should take measures to help them gain more stability, like say… marriage.

    This would make sense if the desires of the overwhelming majority of homossexuals were to form a stable, monogamous relationship for life patterned after traditional marriages, complete with a suburban house and a white fence, a couple of kids and a dog, which it is not, or if “stability” or “monogamous” had a univocal sense when applied to the different types relationships, or even if by having the couple sign a piece paper with the word “Married” slapped on it somehow had transforming magical powers — or maybe SS couples are different than other couples, and such automagic transformation does indeed occur with them.

    But of course, it does not even make sense as a matter of public policy. People get in all sorts private arrangements — some voluntary like friendships or erotic relationships, some not, like familial ones — without the need for the state butting in to give its stamp of public approval and “encouraging” stability or whatever.

    @Tom Gilson:

    In fact, I have trouble understanding why such relationships should be encouraged to stay together beyond the mutual satisfaction stage. Why not just call them off when they’re over? Seems practical.

    Because it is a red herring, a mere rhetorical ploy devoid of any intellectual substance.

    Or maybe I am wrong and we will get these progressive liberals to revise the divorce laws…

  62. Instead of it being a red herring, maybe believing homosexual relationships need to be made more stable is bizarrely consistent. After all, many of them like to point out how wonderful and responsible it is that same sex couples have to go through so much expense and trouble to “have” children together. They seem to believe that thinking such relationships are the ideal for “having” children within is enlightened and rational; whereas, any belief that there is any advantage for a children to be raised by their mom and dad is pure bigotry.

    Ok, it really is a red herring and they are also deluded, because what I pointed out above is no parody….it seems to be the common sentiment of the pro-ss”m” “progressive”.

  63. But of course, it does not even make sense as a matter of public policy. People get in all sorts private arrangements — some voluntary like friendships or erotic relationships, some not, like familial ones — without the need for the state butting in to give its stamp of public approval and “encouraging” stability or whatever.

    d has read #5, 7, 17 and 26 – all of which relate to this point – and he chooses to ignore it. The State wants what it wants and it is making policy decisions that factor in the obvious and clear differences between the relationships. That’s not bigotry, it’s reality.

    If the State wanted less children (or didn’t care how the children were brought into the world and raised) and more loving, committed relationships then perhaps d would have a valid point that SS couples should be included in that – but that’s not the model the State wants to pursue.

  64. SteveK,

    The source article makes claims about what the state ought to do or want (and I echo those claims). What the state currently (allegedly) wants or does has little relevance there.

    I’ve also reviewed the posts you called out, and I still don’t really get your point (they don’t even seem related to the bit you quoted, or your last post).

    It seems as if you want a concession that if we are just discussing two different models of marriage, then your side off the hook for any alleged discrimination or bigotry. Thats the best I can figure out at least.

    Either way, bigotry and discrimination are components of motivations, not models, necessarily. What I mean by that is that a given model, idea, theory, etc might appear stronger or weaker to somebody, depending on their prejudices, but might otherwise not really look prejudiced in any obvious way. I

    Maybe Tom’s model seems particularly strong to some people because they are bigoted – or maybe Jason’s model seems particularly strong to others because they are bigoted in a different way. Thats an interesting conversation to have, but I’m not trying to have it right now, because those conversations usually are not very productive.

    If I assume the best of all the posters here, that none of you are bigoted and truly want the best for gay people, Jason’s model still wins in my book.

    And so far, it seems like Tom’s model would have us call same-sex couple who are child-rearers, married. I’ll consider that a victory of sorts, though it doesn’t go far enough.

  65. d,

    The source article makes claims about what the state ought to do or want (and I echo those claims). What the state currently (allegedly) wants or does has little relevance there.

    Ought? I’m pleased to know that you want the law to be subject to an objective, transcendent authority. What you’re saying is that society has an objective purpose and state laws should be *modeled* to support that purpose. Welcome to Christianity and the Christian model for marriage that doesn’t include SS couples.

    I was trying to stay away from this argument as much as possible because I kept getting pushback from others saying that the discrimination issue is a legal matter, 100%. I know it’s not but wanted to see how far SS marriage proponents could get based on legal arguments. Not far.

    If I assume the best of all the posters here, that none of you are bigoted and truly want the best for gay people, Jason’s model still wins in my book.

    “Best” is one of those terms that you need to define. What is best is to treat different relationships differently according to their purpose.

    And so far, it seems like Tom’s model would have us call same-sex couple who are child-rearers, married. I’ll consider that a victory of sorts, though it doesn’t go far enough.

    Uh, no it wouldn’t.

  66. SteveK,

    Though often interesting, debates over who can or can’t hold to some kind of moral realism are for another thread.

    “Best” is one of those terms that you need to define. What is best is to treat different relationships differently according to their purpose.

    For the sake of clarification, by “best”, I meant something like “best motives”. I’m perfectly happy assuming that all the heterosexual-marriage-only posters here have the *best, most admirable kind of motives* for their position.

    But let’s roll with your point for a second, that its best to treat relationships according to their purpose. Well, we have a whole thread here, and an excellent article that Tom critiqued, talking about such relationships, their purposes, and how we should treat them. Do you have anything to say about those points?

    Uh, no it wouldn’t.

    Please help me understand then.

  67. Please help me understand then

    It’s been explained many, many times how SS relationships are different. What part of that don’t you understand?

  68. SteveK,

    Based on Tom’s model as described in this thread, please help me understand why relationships like Koznicki’s (and others like it) are not, metaphysically speaking, marriages.

    Tom seems especially concerned with relationships that are more than just dyadic nurturing as he calls it, but are also “outward looking, generative and expansive” (as a result of the joint project of childrearing). Does Koznicki’s relationship (and others like it) qualify? Why or why not? That has not been explained *at all*.

  69. Actually, I’ve read that before (around the time of its original posting). I remember even trying to respond to it, but his comments are on tight moderation, and my response never showed up. I can only speculate as to why. Perhaps he just didn’t find it interesting, or didn’t care to reply to it, or maybe my points were made poorly.

    First, he’s attempting to refute a very specific argument that would have us view same-sex relationship as a type of infertility, exactly like the type of infertility that exists between a very elderly couple, or a disabled person. Secondly, he’s speaking strictly about legalisms, and avoids the metaphysical (as corroborated by the one comment he did accept and reply to).

    So that post is really neither here nor there with respect to the question I asked, which specifically queried to you and Tom as to the metaphysical status of same-sex couples engaged in child-rearing. Based on the model Tom proposed and elaborated on in comments in this thread, I don’t see a clear answer to that (or rather, it seems as if under Tom’s model same-sex child rearers SHOULD be considered married), and the Maverick philosopher post doesn’t provide one. *(I intended to transition back to the legal aspects once I got a clear answer on the metaphysical question).

    But the most striking thing to me in the Maverick Philosopher post is that he concedes that he would generally not oppose state recognition of same-sex relationships that grant some or even all the protections and rights as heterosexual marriages, just so long as they are called something other than marriage. Relevant quotes:

    I have just shown that the (1)-(4) argument for extending the legal recognition of marriage to same-sex unions is not compelling. Nevertheless, some will still feel that there is something unfair about, say, two opposite-sexed 70-year-olds being allowed to marry when homosexuals are not. It may seem irrelevant that the nature of the opposite-sex union does not rule out procreation in the way the same-sex union does. Why do the 70-year-olds get to have their union recognized as marriage by the state when it cannot be productive of offspring?

    At this point I would remind the reader that the law cannot cater to individual cases or even to unusual classes of cases. Consider laws regulating driving age. If the legal driving age is 16, this is unfair to all the 13-16 year-olds who are competent drivers. (E.g., farm boys and girls who learned to operate safely heavy machinery before the age of 16.) If the law were to cater to these cases, the law would become excessively complex and its application and enforcement much more difficult. Practical legislation must issue in demarcations that are clear and easily recognized, and therefore ‘unfair’ to some.

    ….

    In the same way, whatever residual unfairness to homosexuals there is in allowing infertile oldsters to marry (after my foregoing arguments have been duly digested) is an unfairness that simply must be accepted if there are to be workable marriage laws.

    … (in the comments)
    All you have done above is to provide reasons for non-marital civil unions. I don’t oppose you on that.

    Focusing strictly on the legal and putting the metaphysical question aside for the moment, his post leaves me wondering why the law is too blunt to classify same-sex marriage-type relationships as “marriages”, but precise enough to classify them as something else identical to marriage, in all but name. I’ll bring back a relevant quote from the Kozinski article, which I have quoted at least once in this thread already:

    [1] One never hears, of course, about gays and lesbians (like me) who do have children. But I am told that the law is a big, blunt instrument. I take it to mean that, in practice, the law is always large enough to obscure the faults of any argument, no matter how weak it may be.

    I think that bold part characterizes my feelings on the Maverick Philosopher post quite well. Somehow laws marriage law is so blunt that it would necessarily be a tangled, unworkable mess if we call same-sex marriage-types “marriage”, but not unworkable if we call them civil unions. That makes no sense at all.

  70. d,

    Based on the model Tom proposed and elaborated on in comments in this thread, I don’t see a clear answer to that (or rather, it seems as if under Tom’s model same-sex child rearers SHOULD be considered married), and the Maverick philosopher post doesn’t provide one.

    I’m not going to speak for Tom, but given all the e-ink I’ve read from him I’d say you’re wrong. The MP also explains the metaphysical aspects of why SS couples are not marriages.

    MP: The former are essentially infertile while the opposite-sex infertile couples are only accidentally infertile.

    You said:

    Secondly, he’s speaking strictly about legalisms, and avoids the metaphysical (as corroborated by the one comment he did accept and reply to).

    Huh?? The person commenting recognizes the metaphysical argument that MP made and asks a question about the moral impact of excluding them from the category of marriage.

    Commenter: That is, I’m not sure that this metaphysical difference warrants a moral difference. It’s true that the metaphysical difference makes the argument you consider unsound.

    MP: But marriage is marriage and same-sex unions (even if dyadic, permanent, and exclusive) are not, and the honorific ‘marriage’ should not be applied to them. This is not a bare assertion: my post is part of the the argument for it.

  71. SteveK,

    I think you are right that MP’s (Maverick Philosopher’s) post was pointing out a kind of metaphysical difference in same-sex vs hetero infertility and in that respect, my last few posts were a bit confused.

    But again, MP doesn’t really argue against state involvement in gay marriage-type relationships. He only tries to make an argument about what the state should (or shouldn’t) call them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most of the posters on this blog tend to go quite a bit further than that (including Tom), and don’t want any recognition of same-sex relationships by the state, regardless of what they are called.

    But maybe that assumption is wrong. For those who don’t oppose state recognition of gay marriage-type relationships so long as they are called by some derivative term that implies “not-marriage”, I’d argue that concession is driven by an unspoken/un-admitted recognition of a relevant, metaphysical sameness between same-sex/hetero marriage type relationships. In what other cases would one support an identical legal outcome, IF AND ONLY IF the name of the legal structure differed? I can’t think of any. I think the Kozinski model explains the metaphysical sameness that those with this view are recognizing, but not admitting to themselves or others, including the Maverick Philosopher.

    For those that that do oppose such recognition even when the identifier isn’t “marriage”, I’d argue that Tom’s model as illustrated in this thread, can’t get them there. There are plenty of same-sex relationships that contain the all the ingredients of Tom’s marriage model, as I pointed out.

    So what I’m trying to figure out is, is why aren’t they marriages if they have all the ingredients – something is either unspoken in Tom’s model (ie, it is incomplete), or they are marriages.

    I SUSPECT, but so far have decided not to assume, that posters in the latter camp will regurgitate the stuff of Girgis/Anderson to account for the supposed difference (but I’m prepared to answer those arguments, should someone raise them).

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