“Sexual Liberty, Sexual Equality, Sexual Fraternity or Sorority!”

Bertaux, Prise du palais des Tuileries
Bertaux, Prise du palais des Tuileries. Source: Wikipedia

I’ve never studied the French Revolution in depth, but I know it was a horrifically bloody time, a time of national madness. I know that there were many mottos motivating it, but “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”) was the one that emerged and endured. It was a secular revolution, very decidedly distancing itself from God or religion.

Over recent decades the United States has elevated personal liberty, in the form of various “rights,” above all other goods, possibly even economic goods (though that’s open to dispute). Rights were once understood to have come from our Creator; now they are higher than God, in our national mind. We create our rights now, and our most recent such invention is the right to untrammeled and unhindered sexual experience. That is the liberty our nation cherishes above all.

Now we’ve set policy according to an insistent (though self-contradictory) cry for “Marriage Equality,” reflecting the godlike status we’ve given “equality” in our land; and the state has also chosen to celebrate a new kind of fraternity or sorority: the sexual kind.

It’s as if we’d taken “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” and turned it into a new, secular, revolutionary cry for “Sexual Liberty, Sexual Equality, Sexual Fraternity or Sorority!”

I pray this does not signify our nation going mad. Honestly, though, I can’t imagine anyone viewing us from a hundred years in the past, or a hundred years in the future, and seeing it as anything but that.

View these top resources on the marriage debate

Comments

  1. Gavin

    Here you create another analogy between your peaceful opponents and people who are ruthlessly violent. Opponents who are doing nothing violent have been compared to Nazis, the “thugs” playing the knock-out game, and now to the Reign of Terror.

    It is disgusting.

  2. DougJC

    Tom,

    We create our rights now, and our most recent such invention is the right to untrammeled and unhindered sexual experience. That is the liberty our nation cherishes above all.

    What does untrammeled and unhindered sexual experience mean? It seems to suggest that traditional laws have held-back or hindered a desire for sexual experience in some way. Is it your prediction that society on the whole will become more sexually active or take more sexual risks now that same-sex marriage has been legalized? Or that more sex will take place outside of marriage relationships? Or that same-sex sexual experience will increase relative to opposite-sex sexual experience?

  3. DR84

    I think the right to unhindered sexual experience simply means a right to never encounter anywhere anyone who dare suggest that however one is and with whoever one is having these experiences is something they ought not do. Along with a right to *expect* all will celebrate and positively affirm the particulars and how and with who someone is having sexual experiences with. With some exceptions, of course, such as must be appropriate age and there must be consent. Not a close family member is also widely considered an exception for reasons no longer discernible.

  4. DougJC

    DR84,

    I think the right to unhindered sexual experience simply means a right to never encounter anywhere anyone who dare suggest that however one is and with whoever one is having these experiences is something they ought not do.

    Aside from age (minors), consent freely given, and relatedness as you note, this leaves just race of participants, which used to be a sincere moral concern, and sex of participants, which used to be a sincere moral concern. Anything else?

    All you seem to be telling me is that the legality of same-sex marriage will lead to no one calling same-sex relationships morally wrong.

    Not a close family member is also widely considered an exception for reasons no longer discernible.

    What were the discernible reasons before the ruling of same-sex marriage that have changed? Nothing has changed as far as I can tell. There is no minority demanding legal recognition of incestual relationships and the many biological mechanisms that prevent such relationships from forming in the first place make it unlikely there ever will be such a minority.

  5. DR84

    DougJC

    Of course there will still be people saying that sexual relationships apart from a marriage are wrong.

    I do think this view from Brandon Ambrosino is reflective of how many see the Obergefell ruling:

    “That means, whatever their private theological convictions on the matter, they need to respect the law and find ways to honor and even celebrate their gay neighbors’ happiness.”
    (http://time.com/3938518/gay-marriage-response/)

    People saying these things may not be breaking the law per se, but they will be seen as at least showing contempt for the law. In some circumstances they very well may find themselves on the wrong side of the law too. For example, a wedding planner better not speak any disapproval of homosexuality or she will certainly be on the wrong side of anti-discrimination law even if she would still plan an event that celebrates a homosexual relationship.

    You are likely right there is no foreseeable future where there is a popular movement to recognize sibling relationships as marriages. However, let’s not kid ourselves, there is *no* legal reason why they should not be anymore. Saying incest is immoral is no longer admissible as a legal reason, that ship sailed when it became no longer legally admissible to say homosexual behavior is immoral. Pointing out the risk of genetic defects in children born to close family is also no longer legally admissible because legally speaking now, a marriage relationship *is not* necessarily a sexual relationship. There is no reason at all for the law to even assume a couple seeking a marriage license has ever or will ever engage in any kind of sexual activity together. That ship, too, has sailed.

  6. JAD

    During the French revolution Napoleon Bonaparte fought on the side of the republic. In other words, at the time he fully supported “liberty, equality and fraternity.” So what happened when he later became emperor? He kept equality but jettisoned liberty.

    That is exactly what the secular progressive left wants to do. It’s all about equality, not liberty or freedom. Listen to the rhetoric. You hear a lot about equal rights but little else.

    Equality without freedom is just another form of tyranny.

  7. G. Rodrigues

    There is no minority demanding legal recognition of incestual relationships and the many biological mechanisms that prevent such relationships from forming in the first place make it unlikely there ever will be such a minority.

    This is when we know that Western civilization is at an end; irony is no longer possible, let alone recognizable.

  8. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Gavin @1: I think there’s something disgusting going on here, too.

    You react on a feelings level. I intended this to have an impact on a feelings level, so to that extent your response tells me nothing wrong about what I wrote, yet I sense (I’m very perceptive, you see) that you find something wrong in it anyway. Is the analogy inaccurate? If so, where? In what way? Or is it merely distasteful? If so, then maybe you could consider why that is so. It might not be my fault.

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  10. DougJC

    DR84,

    However, let’s not kid ourselves, there is *no* legal reason why they should not be anymore. Saying incest is immoral is no longer admissible as a legal reason, that ship sailed when it became no longer legally admissible to say homosexual behavior is immoral.

    Morality is not a legal basis for discrimination, yes, but that’s the ruling of 2003 Lawrence v Texas, not the current ruling. And no one has (yet) argued preventing incestual marriages is discrimination but maybe that will happen, I don’t know. Further, there’s still nothing illegal about calling a behavior immoral, it’s the act of discrimination that is illegal.

    Pointing out the risk of genetic defects in children born to close family is also no longer legally admissible because legally speaking now, a marriage relationship *is not* necessarily a sexual relationship.

    I would not expect a risk of genetic defects to be ever successfully used against the legality of marriage. First-cousin marriage is permitted in the US in some states, for example, and such marriages often elect to adopt to be safe.

    G. Rodrigues,

    It might initially seem ironic that evolution could select for both homosexuality and kin detection, but if you check the statistics the irony goes away. About 2-5% are homosexual, and kin detection for optimal out-breeding is obviously of great importance for the remaining 95-98%.

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    Tom Gilson

    The whole paragraph from the Time article is,

    Since Christians are under an extreme obligation from their founder to take the lead on reconciliation, I think they should be the ones to set the example here. That means, whatever their private theological convictions on the matter, they need to respect the law and find ways to honor and even celebrate their gay neighbors’ happiness.

    This is what happens when people think they know what they’re talking about, without bothering to find out. Our founder took the lead on reconciliation with God, who honors and celebrates joy but not sin, and for whom reconciliation is tightly connected with a willingness to repent.

  13. Gavin

    Tom @8

    Is the analogy inaccurate?

    Yes.

    If so, where? In what way?

    It is inaccurate because it compares of non-violent acts to violent acts.

    It does not appear that this is a coincidence; it seems quite intentional. In this case of SE you could have picked a non-violent example, like a door-to-door salesman who catches people unprepared, selling them something they don’t really want. Why do you pick viciously violent examples instead?

    This is a loathsome practice that reveals something important about your integrity.

  14. G. Rodrigues

    It might initially seem ironic that evolution could select for both homosexuality and kin detection

    As I said, beyond irony. One of the most pernicious side effects of shallow ideologies: incapable of sustaining parody or satire, they destroy any appreciation for it.

  15. DougJC

    Tom,

    DougJC, you say, “Nothing has changed as far as I can tell.”
    Really?

    The question I had for DR84 was regarding what had changed in the evaluation of incestual relationships in light of the ruling on same-sex marriage. His response was that immorality is no longer a component of legality. However, I thought that the 2003 Lawrence v Texas decision had basically set that precedent, not this one.

    Wow.

    Wow, what? How do you interpret the 2003 ruling?

    The irony went completely over your head there, DougJC.

    Is this a veiled suggestion that I’m slow or stupid? If so, why do you feel compelled to make that sort of suggestion? Trying to start a fight?

    I suspect that G. Rodrigues could be thinking I’m making a kind of natural law argument by looking to biology for a guide to the rightness or wrongness of human behavior, but that’s plainly wrong as I’ve specifically not said anything about the morality of incestual relationships.

  16. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Gavin, I missed something when I answered you earlier. Here’s where you go wrong. This blog post wasn’t about an analogy at all. It was about a lesson that we might want to draw from history.

    There is a point of similarity between the French Revolution’s cry for liberty, equality, fraternity, and contemporary cries for sexual liberty, equality, and fraternity/sorority.

    That point of similarity leads me to think there might be another point of similarity looming in our future: the possibility of violence. If you think I’m wrong, you’re free to say so, but your only reaction so far has been that you think it’s disgusting and loathsome. Maybe you should examine yourself to ask what’s producing that reaction in you, when you can’t even seem to articulate what I’ve said wrong.

    (P.S. If, by the way, it had been a genuine analogy, then your answer would have been off the mark anyway. Analogies often compare non-violent acts to violent ones. But that’s just parenthetical. This wasn’t an analogy in the first place.)

  17. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    DougJC, as I read G. Rodrigues in #7, the irony has nothing to do with your understanding of evolution or even natural law, but that you seem to think that this…

    the many biological mechanisms that prevent such relationships from forming in the first place make it unlikely there ever will be such a minority.

    … has anything to do with what’s really going on. The changes in the world today have more to do with tearing down existing structures and razing restrictions than building up new relationships. Restrictions against incest, if and when they fall, will have more to do with intentional transgressive sexuality—for the very purpose of defining sexual transgression out of existence, by normalizing all sexual acts—than with anything else.

    Do I consider you stupid for not seeing it? Blinded, I think, would be a more accurate description.

    G. Rodrigues, if I’m seeing this differently than you, then you may feel free to let me know.

  18. JAD

    I think it’s important to recognize the differences between the American and French revolutions. With the American Revolution (as Tom has pointed out) human rights were seen as coming from a transcendent Creator and lawgiver (God). The French revolution, on the other hand, was basically secular non-religious, even antireligious, revolution. But if rights do not come from God where do they come from? Obviously they must be human inventions. But if they are human inventions, and there is disagreement over what is a right, can one individual force another to accept his definition of a right? Doesn’t forcing your so-called right on someone else violate the very concept of a natural right?

    SSM is an example of an artificial, man-made “right.” It certainly doesn’t come from God.

    Contrast SSM with other almost universally recognized rights—freedom of speech, press, thought, belief and conscience etc. Do people, who truly understand these rights, have to be forced to accept them as rights? How can you force someone to be free? And if some individuals were to choose not to be free, wouldn’t that be their free choice?

    If you are an SSM proponent, and you want me to change my mind, you have to rationally convince me that SSM is a natural God-given right. If you have to force your belief on me you have already lost the argument. Again you can’t force somebody to be free or make a free choice. That’s an absolute absurdity.

  19. Rob

    The question to my mind is, what will be the next move (or moves), from either side?

    Given that real evangelical Christians, and probably many Roman Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, JWs, and who knows what else, are never likely to bow to knee to state/gay lobby demands, then who or what is going to buckle once the state starts to impose its demands upon those it disagrees with?

    Perhaps it will be the tiny but vocal gay lobby. Maybe they will pull back and the Supreme Court will weaken its demands and we can all continue to live in relative peace. But this seems highly unlikely given the past actions of the ferocious gay movement (remember Mark Driscoll’s church’s windows?).

    So if neither side will bend, my guess is there are initially likely to be minor skirmishes in which the state will arrest Christians (and others), close companies that refuse to comply, remove tax exemptions for churches, and so on. This will purify and grow the church longer term but there will be increasing pain in the near future. People like me are never going accept homosexuality as normal (I will continue to see it as a mental illness until I am convinced otherwise).

    Perhaps most interesting will be the response from Mormons and Muslims, both of whom will surely test the new laws in regards to polygamy. Given the arguments that were used to pass SSM into law, it should be relatively easy to push polygamy through. Victories for either of both of these groups will surely be seen in their eyes as victories for God or Allah and a strike against the evil secular state.

    The other especially interesting case to test in the courts will be incest. Given the widespread use of contraceptives, IVF, genetic testing, and abortion, it is hard to see how the state can continue to discriminate against two consenting siblings.

  20. G. Rodrigues

    @DougJC:

    I suspect that G. Rodrigues could be thinking I’m making a kind of natural law argument by looking to biology for a guide to the rightness or wrongness of human behavior, but that’s plainly wrong as I’ve specifically not said anything about the morality of incestual relationships.

    You are making a “kind of natural law argument by looking to biology for a guide” that you would dismiss right out of hand were the targeted “minority” another one. It also happens to be an awful argument. In fact, SSM’ers typically construe anti-SSM’ers to be making the *type* of argument you make and then go on knocking it down pretty fast because it is such an awful argument. The fact that it is not a moral argument is irrelevant; moral considerations are obviously a factor (except if you are talking with obtuse progressives), but they are not the only factor, especially when matters of public and common good are being discussed (*). Nothing can be a matter of law, and natural law is one kind of law, unless its ends are common goods. This is why sexual matters are a concern of natural law. Sex is intrinsically tied to the having and raising children, and anything related to the having and raising children is inevitably tied to the common good, in this case even the good of the entire human race. You simply do not understand what a natural law argument is (**), or looks like, or even understand your own argument, or even the anti-SSM side. At all.

    The second claim you make is that since the minority “demanding legal recognition of incestual” is not enough of a minority the problem will never arise, so to speak. Your stand on principled questions is endearing; at least we know what we can count with. But maybe you should inform us when a minority is a minority and when it isn’t. And, according to you, it is not enough of a minority, because “biological mechanisms” “prevent such relationships from forming in the first place” which is just — it defies qualification. The *logic* of the SSM case, which of its nature is exactly as Tom Gilson qualified it, one of “tearing down existing structures and razing restrictions”, applies mutatis mutandis to a would-be case for the legal recognition of incestual relationships, or polygamy say. As you quite correctly recognize (oh the irony), the only hurdle that any such case faces is the lack of political power.

    That you cannot understand all this, that really is blindingly obvious, is the irony. That such shallow ideologies cannot even so much as sustain parody, satire or invective, is the cultural tragedy.

    (*) A representative example, from Aquinas, is that he judges prostitution immoral but *explicitly argues* against outlawing it.

    (**) Natural law theory is typically pluralistic, e.g. consequentialist arguments say, can count as natural law arguments, because consequences enter in some rather obvious ways into the analysis of the relevant situations. Where natural law theorists would differ from consequentialists (or one of the, if not the, major difference) is in the relative weight they attach to it, that is, the consequences.

  21. Rob

    By the way Tom, I remember a cassette tape lecture of Francis Schaeffer from ~1982 in which he spoke of the future being in the hands of either the Supreme Court or technologists.

    Schaeffer was only half right.

    The future, or rather the now, is in the hands of both. The court has ruled and the big tech corporates are flying the flags.

  22. JAD

    Rob,

    So if neither side will bend, my guess is there are initially likely to be minor skirmishes in which the state will arrest Christians (and others), close companies that refuse to comply, remove tax exemptions for churches, and so on.

    This debate has never really been about granting an oppressed group (gays) equal rights. Rather it has been about undermining religious liberty and traditional Judeo-Christian values. If SSM activists and their sympathizers were really honest they would see their own hypocrisy. What I know about these people talking and listening to them in person is they have a genuine contempt towards anyone who doesn’t agree with their agenda. Don’t expect things to get better. Like I have already said elsewhere, these are very dark times.

  23. Gavin

    Tom @16

    That point of similarity leads me to think there might be another point of similarity looming in our future: the possibility of violence. If you think I’m wrong, you’re free to say so….

    You are wrong. The French Revolution overthrew a king. In the US change is accomplished through peaceful, democratic means. Liberal groups consistently denounce violence. Your suggestion of looming violence is completely ridiculous.

  24. David B.

    JAD,
    I agree. It’s impossible to make a principled argument against SSM without these very principles being attacked as bigoted and outdated.

  25. DougJC

    Tom,

    The changes in the world today have more to do with tearing down existing structures and razing restrictions than building up new relationships. Restrictions against incest, if and when they fall, will have more to do with intentional transgressive sexuality—for the very purpose of defining sexual transgression out of existence, by normalizing all sexual acts—than with anything else.

    That’s your prediction and a fairly specific one, so I’m impressed you’re so confident in it that you’re willing to call anyone who disagrees “blind”.

    It really depends on what you mean by “sexual transgression”. If I take that to mean having sex early in life, having lots of partners, having risky sex, then, no, that doesn’t match survey data and I think such a prediction will fail. For example Trends in Youth Sexual Behavior 1991-2013 shows a general decrease in sexual activity, and in particular risky sexual activity, since 1991. Society is becoming more prudish over time as the risks of sexual activity are better appreciated and recognized physically and emotionally.

    Likewise if I take “sexual transgression” to mean adultery and divorce, that too seems to be dropping. So if that’s in your prediction, I think it will fail.

    Only by taking a rather narrow view of sexual transgression to mean homosexuality can I agree with your prediction. I also agree that legal restrictions against incest will likely be dropped as well at some future date but not because people are eager for incestual relationships, but rather because once in a great while, siblings separated at birth meet unknowingly and fall in love. Should they be denied marriage if they are truly in love and wish it? I can’t see why.

  26. DR84

    “Should they be denied marriage if they are truly in love and wish it? I can’t see why.”

    The honesty is appreciated, and of course you cant. No surprise.

  27. G. Rodrigues

    @JAD:

    Like I have already said elsewhere, these are very dark times.

    That these are dark times, and dark in especially dark ways, I have no doubt. But take courage! In the Jewish Talmud (and prominent in more mystical branches of Hasidic Judaism), we are informed that just like God would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if He could only find ten righteous men, there are always at any time thirty six righteous men, the Tzadikim Nistarim or Lamed Vav Tzadikim, and for their sake God does not destroy the whole World.

    What we need is more Saints praying, in humility of thought, in abundance of charity, in self-denial, for and over the entire World.

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    Tom Gilson

    Also–cohabitation is rising sharply. We’re not in a simple condition of moral improvement, that’s for sure.

    And look at how you wrote it (emphasis added):

    Society is becoming more prudish over time as the risks of sexual activity are better appreciated and recognized physically and emotionally.

    You’ve identified some practical consequences that are affecting people’s behavior. If your analysis is right, they’re not changing for moral reasons but for mere self-interest. The only moral term you’ve included here is one that’s generally taken to mean excessive and unseemly moralism.

    If you believed society were becoming more sexually moral, you could have said so. I think it’s interesting how effectively you avoided saying so.

  30. JAD

    Yes our future is darker than dark. This passage now seems strangely relevant.

    He picked up the children’s history book and looked at the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you — something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?

    What was once frightening and unthinkable fiction is fast becoming a reality. Thirty one years later “1984,” the year Orwell “predicted” it would all happen, has now arrived.

  31. d

    In the unlikely event gay marriage sparks some kind of significant pattern of escalating, violent conflict in the US, I’ll place my bets now on the side from which the probable instigators will come.

    (From the meek shall inherit the Earth, turn the other cheek types – though I’m sure the irony would be unrecognizable to them).

  32. BillT

    I wonder if the supporters of SSM have asked themselves some basic questions about all of this.

    Traditional marriage has been the bedrock social institution upon which all of human civilization has been built. However we, in our great wisdom, have decided not just to re-define it but really un-define it for marriage is now pretty much whatever we say it is. And who did we leave this monumental decision to? Five unelected lawyers. Lawyers, those paragons of modern society. And not just any lawyers, mind you, but lawyers heavily connected and indebted to a political party.

    So, we have a bedrock social institution being radically changed by a group of politically connected and indebted lawyers.

    Really, what could go wrong?

  33. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    That point of similarity leads me to think there might be another point of similarity looming in our future: the possibility of violence. If you think I’m wrong, you’re free to say so

    Well, in the U.S., there’s been a long history of “gay bashing” – in the physical, violent sense, note – but rather little in the way of “Christian bashing”. In addition, the ‘revolution’ you allude to has so far been accomplished without violence, and through the legal system. A rather sharp distinction from the French Revolution, in fact.

    Anyone is free to speculate on the future, of course. But the numerous historical ‘dis-parallels’ seem to argue against your proposed extrapolation. (Of course, the French Revolution did have some, well, legitimate grievances against the nobility and even the clergy. Do you think that situation is parallel, too?)

  34. JAD

    Yesterday a catholic priest, Fr. Jonathon Morris, tweeted this: ”Walking down Broadway and 22nd St just now, I ran into gay marriage parade. Two men walked by and spat on me. Oh well… I deserve worse.”

    Well, SSM activists certainly aren’t magnanimous in their victory. Apparently they still are not satisfied. Why is that?

  35. G. Rodrigues

    @JAD:

    Well, SSM activists certainly aren’t magnanimous in their victory. Apparently they still are not satisfied. Why is that?

    Well, you have to give them time to celebrate and gloat over their victory. I mean, if the victory was for “our side” (positively hate this expression, but cannot find another one. Miserable English! Bah!), I would, well, I cannot say I would gloat, because there is nothing more melancholick than victory, but I would most certainly breathe a sigh of relief. And I am not even an American. And in celebrations, there are bound to be some excesses.

    As far as your question, I am sure you know the answer, but quite obviously and by the nature of the case, they can *never* be satisfied.

  36. JAD

    Actually I would not even feel relieved if our side had “won,” because I would still be worried when the other shoe, via another court case, was going to drop.

  37. DougJC

    Tom,

    Society is becoming more prudish over time as the risks of sexual activity are better appreciated and recognized physically and emotionally.

    If your analysis is right, they’re not changing for moral reasons but for mere self-interest. The only moral term you’ve included here is one that’s generally taken to mean excessive and unseemly moralism.

    If you believed society were becoming more sexually moral, you could have said so. I think it’s interesting how effectively you avoided saying so.

    I’m taking morality to mean (to at least a first approximation) behavior motivated by an individual’s sense of the right/wrong thing to do. What we seem to observe in modern society more and more is that it is not the sexual act that is perceived as moral or immoral, but whether it leads to harm to self and/or to others, that matters. Being concerned about harming others is still a moral concern and hardly a selfish one. But, yes, it is true that the moral intuitions that used to come in to play to moderate sexual behavior– the authority of culture and religious tradition, sanctity and purity of body and mind– are much weakened and weakening.

    But what is the likely outcome of strengthening a society’s desire to reduce harm to itself while weakening or abandoning morality that has no care/harm or fairness/cheating component? At face value, less harm or cheating it seems to me. What crucial purpose do other moral components (i.e. the authority of culture and religious tradition, sanctity and purity of body and mind) serve from a utilitarian view? Certainly I know they play a crucial role between God and man in religious views, but what about in the pure function of society over time?

  38. Ray Ingles

    JAD, G. Rodrigues – Fortunately no one can use the worst examples of Christians to characterize the whole group, since there are no terrible Christians, or even decent Christians who have lapses.

    Of course, Fr. Morris didn’t do that the other way: “The two men who spat on me are probably very good man[sic] caught up in excitement and past resentment. Most in that parade would not do that.”

  39. G. Rodrigues

    @Ray Ingles:

    Fortunately no one can use the worst examples of Christians to characterize the whole group, since there are no terrible Christians, or even decent Christians who have lapses.

    I said (1) that it is perfectly normal that the “other side” engages in celebrations, since if the decision went the other way, “we” would be celebrating and (2) “And in celebrations, there are bound to be some excesses”, meaning I do not make too much of it or attach too much importance to it, neither as representative of the whole group, nor even as representative of the specific persons that did that (in other words, I concur absolutely with Fr. Morris).

    But thank you Mr. Ingles, for holding me (and presumably JAD) to a higher standard; our words were *not* themselves “lapses” of “decent Christians”, or even “half-decent persons”, but presumably, the “worst example[s] of Christians”. And right you are in doing that.

  40. JAD

    Yes Fr. Morris has been very gracious. But why not just unequivocally condemn what happened?

  41. Ray Ingles

    JAD – I thought the “worst examples” language did that already. But if you like, I will state directly that I do unequivocally condemn what those men reportedly did. It would be wrong even if Fr. Morris had been holding a rude protest sign or shouting rude slogans.

    I will also point out, though, that just because some supporters of a cause are rude or violent does not invalidate the cause.

    G. Rodrigues – Sorry, I couldn’t quite parse “breath a sigh of relief” as ‘celebrate’, but I’m happy to take your clarification in the spirit it was offered.

    In fact, I’ll offer my own, since it’s apparently needed. Nothing I said implied that you or JAD were “the worst examples of Christians”. For that, you only need to frequent, say, less-moderated internet forums.

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    Tom Gilson

    For that, you only need to frequent, say, less-moderated internet forums.

    Nice jab. You couldn’t resist it, could you? I’ll forego the obvious tu quoque, unless you consider that much in itself close enough to being one.

  43. JAD

    Have any of the parade organizers condemned the way Fr. Morris was treated? That would have been truly magnanimous.

  44. Ray Ingles

    Tom – It’d be “tu quoque” if I were trying to justify or excuse the bad behavior by claiming that ‘the other side does it too’ – but I’m not doing that. I said explicitly that the behavior was wrong. Or if I were claiming that the the failure to live up to the best ideals of a position invalidated the position or arguments for it – but I didn’t do that either.

    What I objected to was the notion that the behavior was somehow characteristic of, or tainted, the whole ‘side’. And I did that for both ‘sides’.

  45. JAD

    Here is some history that’s worth remembering:

    The Plymouth Pilgrims were only the first of many who came to the New World to escape religious persecution. Hard as it may be to believe it at this distance of time, British law once forbade non-Anglican Protestants to worship freely — jailing and even burning them for dissenting in the 16th and 17th centuries, and then, more liberally, fining them — and it barred them (along with Catholics and Jews) from the great universities and from political office. In response, thousands of Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, and others fled. Not incidentally, they brought with them their dissenting tradition of governing their own congregations and hiring and firing their own ministers — in other words, they brought to these shores a political culture of self-government. Moreover, because they were accustomed to reading the Bible and feeling free to judge its meaning for themselves — to believing, that is, that they had a direct relation to God and his word independent of any worldly institution or authority — they also brought a deeply rooted culture of individualism and personal responsibility. For them, the individual and his conscience were of preeminent importance.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420615/vision-founding-fathers

    Slippery slope? It looks like we have slid all the way down it.

  46. Gavin

    SteveK @45

    Quick reminder: No one has to sell wedding cakes in Oregon. If you do sell wedding cakes in Oregon, you can’t refuse to sell them to members of a protected class.

    Don’t want to sell wedding cakes to interracial couples? Don’t sell wedding cakes. Problem solved.

  47. Post
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  48. Gavin

    It applies to the baker in Oregon, who refused to make a wedding cake for lesbians, who are members of a protected class in Oregon.

    The interracial example was just an analogy.

  49. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    An analogy to what, Gavin? Where are the moral parallels? Sure, there are legal parallels now, but there weren’t when they chose not to bake that cake, and the suit was filed, so don’t bother us with that irrelevant information.

    No one has ever thought interracial couples could not marry. Interracial marriage isn’t a matter of anyone’s conscience today. There aren’t people being fined and slapped with Gsh orders over interracial marriage. There aren’t any homeowners (as in New York today) being ordered against their conscience to host interracial marriages in their living rooms. No one is losing any livelihood overt interracial marriage.

    Interracial marriage was never considered a contradiction in terms, as gay marriage has been for millennia.

    So tell us, just what was this supposed to be analogous to?

  50. DR84

    Gavin-

    There are no known examples of a baker in the state of Oregon that refused to bake a wedding cake for some person of a protected class. Nor are there any examples of this in any other states for that matter. There is a case of a couple that operated a bakery in Oregon that because they refused to be involved in the celebration of homosexual conduct have faced extreme consequences because of it.

  51. Gavin

    Analogies aren’t perfect, Tom, as you have pointed out. Many people find that analogy helpful. I think it is a very good analogy. Sorry it wasn’t more helpful to you.

    Still, I don’t want to argue over an analogy. No progress is made that way. I’ll amend my comment:

    Quick reminder: No one has to sell wedding cakes in Oregon. If you do sell wedding cakes in Oregon, you can’t refuse to sell them to members of a protected class.

    Don’t want to sell wedding cakes to gay couples? Don’t sell wedding cakes. Problem solved.

  52. Gavin

    DR84

    There are no known examples of a baker in the state of Oregon that refused to bake a wedding cake for some person of a protected class.

    The baker in the story refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian. The lesbian is a member of a protected class.

    This is not complicated.

  53. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Many people find that analogy helpful. I think it is a very good analogy. Sorry it wasn’t more helpful to you.

    Thank you for that sentiment.

    How about some reasoning instead?

    Protected class? The lesbian was trying to have a wedding celebration before lesbian weddings were allowed in Oregon. Just being a member of a protected class doesn’t cut it, anyway. Suppose a minority-race man and son wanted to get married to each other.

    So you’re exactly right about whether it’s complicated or not. We agree on something after all!

  54. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    I see now that lesbians and gays have had “protected class” status with respect to public accommodation in Oregon since 2008.

    This is still not complicated. There is a law. The law is, in my view, manifestly unjust where it demands and compels persons to violate religious convictions.

    The gag order on the bakers is not only unjust, however: it’s outrageous.

    Your analogy to anti-miscegenation laws is still too distant for me to see what relevance it has.

  55. SteveK

    Gavin,
    In addition to the religious freedom rights that you want to deny others, you also want to deny others the right to define the customer base they wish to service.

    For example a business can choose to only sell to others businesses, and deny selling to others. This means Mr. Jones can buy if he is buying for a business, but will be denied if he tries to buy for his family. Perfectly reasonable.

    If the SS couple were buying a cake for a traditional wedding they would be able to because this fits the customer base the bakery wishes to service.

  56. JAD

    Here is an opinion from a lawyer, David French, who had litigated freedom of religion cases.

    In a world of reason and logic, the Kleins simply aren’t guilty of unlawful sexual orientation discrimination. They would happily serve gay customers, but they will not use their talents or their business to advance a message they find deeply offensive. That’s not invidious discrimination, it’s free speech. If the Kleins refused to bake a Confederate battle flag cake for a white couple from Tennessee, would Avakian find them guilty of race discrimination? Of course not. He’d back the Kleins, and they’d all be toasted at The Huffington Post. In my own law practice, I’ve represented gay clients, but I would never use my legal training to advocate for same-sex marriage. Does that mean I’m guilty of sexual orientation discrimination? If I lived in Avakian’s world, would I be subject to a gag order preventing me from speaking about the cases I won’t take?

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner

    Notice the double standard. Some people find the Confederate flag to be offensive, so let’s remove it from public display. Other people find SSM violates their religious beliefs, let’s force them to participate. I guarantee it’s the same people using the same ideology who argue this way. Maybe someone explain to me the thinking here.

  57. Gavin

    Tom@55

    The law is, in my view, manifestly unjust where it demands and compels persons to violate religious convictions.

    If we could find a law that actually applied to, your comment might actually be interesting.

    The baker is not compelled to violate her religious convictions. She does not have to sell wedding cakes to same sex couples, or any couples for that matter.

  58. Post
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  59. Rob

    I dare say there is strength in numbers, or on the flip side there is weakness in isolation. Perhaps a National Christian Baker’s Association and a National Christian Lawyer’s Association to defend them? Or throw a cat among the pidgeons like Paul and Jesus did by lobbing some polygamy into the ring…

  60. DR84

    Gavin-

    Since you seem to find what is happening to the baker’s Oregon to be perfectly just, can you please explain why it is only fair and right that if a baker has a business making cakes to celebrate weddings that they must also make cakes to celebrate homosexual conduct? (or if a wedding planner makes a living planning weddings, why must she also plan celebrations of couple’s homosexual behavior?)

    If you find my characterization of this as a celebration of homosexual conduct instead of calling it a wedding to be offensive. I dont, I think it is fair, accurate, and helps cut to the heart of the issue. In the end, your position is simply that if people make a living helping people celebrate X they *must* also celebrate Y (even if they believe Y is wrong and should not be celebrated). On what basis can you justify this?

  61. Rob

    To those speaking against the wedding shop, I would like to know whether there is any instance at all — any possible cake request — that you would find unreasonable?

    For example, would it be acceptable to decline making a cake in the shape of fellus or two breasts. Or a swastika? Is anything out of bounds anymore? If so, what?

    Or another question — what place does conscience play any more? To be fair, if your conscience does not allow you to believe in God because of (say) the evil in the world, would it be okay for the government to force you to believe in God? If you believe that the government would be acting irresponsibly to coerce you to believe something, then why would you not also agree that Christians cannot in good conscience accept the rightness of homosexual marriage?

    But further, since it is generally not possible to divorce belief and action, how would you respond if the state not only coerced you believe in God, but also to attend religious events like church?

    My point is that we all have a conscience, but forcing a person to act against their conscience seems to be a recipe for disaster.

    I suppose a homosexual person may respond by saying that they have been stopped from acting according to their conscience in the past by state imposed prison sentences for sodomy and that we have thus reached an impasse in which contradictory consciences are at work and no resolve is possible. In this case the winner will win the day thru state imposed force, which is where we are now. The tide has turned and 25%+ of the US will have both their consciences and actions coerced by the demands of 1-2% + the ignorant masses + the imposing state.

  62. Gavin

    DR8@62

    …your position is simply that if people make a living helping people celebrate X they *must* also [help people] celebrate Y….

    That is actually the law’s position, not just mine, but I’m glad it’s clear. No one has to help people celebrate Y. That was the only point I hoped to make here.

  63. Post
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  64. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Oh. You mean, no one has to help people celebrate Y because no one has to help people celebrate X.

    Fine.

    And the law doesn’t compel you to make a living, either.

  65. DR84

    Gavin-

    “That is actually the law’s position, not just mine, but I’m glad it’s clear. ”

    I do not believe this is in dispute. I am asking why you think the law should be the way that it is. On what basis is it fair and just for this to be the law instead of allowing people to make a living by helping others celebrate only X (and never Y).

    It is not as if there is a law saying Y cannot be celebrated and no one can make a living help people celebrate Y. In fact, in practice, I think it is more likely if one wants to make a living helping people celebrate Y that they could do so without helping people celebrate X. In the real world, I have little doubt that this is a one way street. If X you must do Y to, but if you do Y you dont have to do X. (really, no one would force a gay wedding vendor to bake for, decorate, photograph, or plan a “boring straight” weddings if they really had their heart and mind set on helping people celebrate overtly gay/queer “weddings”.).

  66. Gavin

    DR84,

    I don’t think there is any chance of you and I having a useful discussion about why this law is right and just, so I’m going to decline.

  67. DR84

    Gavin-

    Fair enough and the reason why a useful discussion cannot be had is obvious. There is no reason, there is no principle to justify the law. The law is manifestly unjust, even evil.

    Obviously someone should be able to make a living helping people celebrate weddings without also helping people celebrate their homosexual activities. Just as it is obvious someone should be able to make a living helping people celebrate their homosexual relations without also having to help people celebrate weddings.

  68. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Interesting move, Gavin, but what does it mean?

    A useful discussion might be one in which we all agree at the beginning and congratulate ourselves for it; or it might be one in which one person rationally explains his or her position, and the other(s) answer(s).

    But you’re saying a useful discussion is impossible. I know you well enough not to think you’ve said that just because DR84 and others here won’t simply join you in a self-congratulatory, “Hey, we’re all one in this!”

    I do have to admit, though, that something like that expectation almost seems to sneak through. You don’t speak of a “useful discussion about whether this law is right and just,” you speak of a “useful discussion about why this law is right and just.” We’re happy to have a useful discussion with you about whether it is, but we won’t have any discussion with you at all about why it is, since we don’t think it is.

    Anyway, I’m going to assume you didn’t mean it quite the way you wrote it, since that would be thinking ill of you. Instead I’ll assume the other option is the case: that you’re considering a useful discussion impossible because you and DR84 can’t engage in the kind of conversations where persons exchange rationally-thought through opinions.

    But if so, and if you think a useful discussion is impossible, then either you’re saying you can’t be rational, or you’re suggesting DR84 can’t. The accusation is implicit there, unless you’re making a personal admission instead.

    Which is it, Gavin?

    If you’re suggesting DR84 or any of the rest of us is unable to argue irrationally, could you show what’s happened in this discussion to justify that opinion?

  69. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    That wasn’t bait, Gavin.

    If you had said, “I’d really rather not continue this discussion,” and I had answered by trying to delve into your psychology, that would have been bait.

    Instead you made an evaluative comment about a discussion in which all the evidence was open and available for public inspection. I wondered what reasoning led you to that conclusion, so I took an analytical look at it–the same evidence you had available when you drew that conclusion–and I considered what seemed to me to be the full set of rationally possible justifications for the conclusion you had arrived at.

    Not knowing which of those was the reasoning you had employed to reach that conclusion, I asked you to tell us.

    You’ve dismissed that as “bait.” Now I’m going to move a bit beyond analysis into reasonable conjecture. You concluded that productive discussion was impossible. You didn’t show us any reason to think that DR84 was failing to engage in rational discussion, and you didn’t show us any reason to think my analysis was incomplete. If you could have done either of those, I really think you would have.

    So perhaps there was some other reason; but if so, it must be something to which you have access but which is not publicly available for the rest of us to consider and analyze. The only thing that could be would have to be within yourself.

    Either that, or you simply had no actual reason at all to conclude that that discussion couldn’t be productive.

    What should we conclude? That you had no good reason in the first place? Or something else? Or nothing at all?

    Well, if you don’t answer, then we cannot conclude for certain, but we know this: it wasn’t DR84 and it wasn’t the discussion. It was something else. Something to which only you have access. I guess we won’t know what that something is.

    Anyway, that question wasn’t bait. It was analytical and exploratory, and it invited your response.

    You’re welcome to respond to this, too, but I’ll admit that if my analysis is anywhere near correct, you’re rather boxed in a corner, and it might be the better part of wisdom for you to duck it again.

    Either that, or follow the even better path of admitting the truth.

    (You’re still welcome to explain to me where my analysis went off course. I can admit if I’m wrong, too.)

  70. Gavin

    I considered what seemed to me to be the full set of rationally possible justifications for the conclusion you had arrived at.

    You missed some.

  71. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    I guess you’d rather not say what they might be.

    I think it would have been more direct for you to have told DR84 that you didn’t want to carry on the discussion, rather than complaining about the discussion.

    Here are some parts of the discussion you missed:

    “The law doesn’t compel you to make a living, either,” and all of this. Thoughts? Any productive discussion possible from there? If not, why not?

  72. Gavin

    Tom,

    Anyone reading the back-and-forth between you and me on this thread can see why not.

  73. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gavin, let it be known that when you’ve said that you don’t think there’s any productive discussion to be had with us, you’ve been invited to explain your reasons, and you could have done so on the basis of publicly available evidence, but you haven’t.

  74. DR84

    Gavin-

    I think it is possible for a discussion to be useful without it being the goal for both sides to agree in the end. There is value in simply sharing your best reasons for your position and then defending those reasons from any opposition, which you have been invited to do. If you have no interest in this kind of discussion I hope you can understand why someone would think that perhaps you have no good reasons for your position. If nothing else, as far as I am concerned you can link an outside source explaining why your position is fair and just and ours is not (or at least is more fair/just than ours).

  75. Gavin

    Thank you for the invitation, DR84. No, I’m not going to pursue that conversation.

    And yes, I can understand why someone would think that perhaps I have no good reasons for my position. They could find that very comforting. Enjoy.

  76. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Dismissive and demeaning all the way to the end.

    As far as I’m concerned, by way of final reminder, the position in question here is the one you stated in #68: that there is no way to have a useful discussion. DR84 and you have also been talking about the larger question of gay marriage. There are two “positions” in the conversation at once here, which could be confusing; but none of us would begin to say there’s no reason for a person to support gay marriage; we know there are reasons, we just find them less persuasive than the arguments against.

    But when you made that statement in #68, it seemed at least possibly somewhat dismissive. You rejected multiple requests and invitations to provide a reason for that statement.

    So it’s hard not to conclude, rationally and reasonably, that you have no reason for it. That’s a conclusion, not a comfort, and I would enjoy it more if you had actually engaged in a useful discussion.

  77. Ray Ingles

    JAD – minor correction:

    Some people find the Confederate flag to be offensive, so let’s remove it from public display.

    The government declining to display it, and various businesses declining to sell items that display it, is not the same thing as ‘removing it from public display’. Private individuals, or even businesses so inclined, can still decorate their buildings and homes and cars and clothes and even skin with the Confederate flag.

  78. Ray Ingles

    Oh, and JAD – most of those colonial groups that fled persecution in Europe immediately set up their own versions here. Especially the Pilgrims.

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