“You’re a Hater” — — Christian Faith Under (Im)Moral Attack, Part One

“You’re a Hater” — — Christian Faith Under (Im)Moral Attack, Part One

Series Introduction

(First in a series of ten, from my new book Critical Conversations!)

Gay activists set out almost 30 years ago to make Christianity look immoral and wrong. In one key document they even called it a plan for “Overhauling Straight America.” (I tell that story briefly in Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens.)

It’s been a moral attack delivered from an immoral basis: hence the title of this series. Their idea was to cause believers to cower and hide from our own faith. I’ve identified more than two dozen challenges activists have raised against the faith. To their dubious credit, their strategy has succeeded all too well.

It shouldn’t have been that successful. We should have simply smiled and said, “No, either you’re misunderstanding us you’re misrepresenting us on purpose. Either way, the things you’re saying aren’t true. Here’s why…. ”

With this post I begin a “here’s why” series outlining brief answers to ten of the most common attacks leveled against Christian faith from within the LGBT activist community. For a longer list, more complete answers, and especially for guidance in helping young people stand strong for the truth and goodness found in Jesus Christ, I urge you to buy and read Critical Conversations.

Challenge Number One: “You’re against gay rights. That means you’re a hater.”

Sure, some people oppose LGBT out of actual hatred. I’ve seen people like that — but rarely, and mostly in the media. It’s extremely uncommon among Christians I’ve been with, and I’ve been with Christians all over the country. Still we all need to continually examine what God says about unconditional love in light of the gospel.

Commonly, though, LGBT activists will say you’re a hater just because you’re not on their side. That’s a clear case of stereotyping. Most LGBT people don’t believe in stereotyping; they just don’t recognize it when they practice it themselves. You could ask them about that.

If they say you’re a hater because you disagree with their moral opinions, choices, and chosen self-identity, then ask them whether they think disagreement on that level is all it takes to be a hater. If so, then gently remind them that they disagree with your moral choices, your opinions, and your chosen identity in Christ. If disagreement of that sort makes someone a hater, it makes them haters, too.

But I don’t think most LGBT people or their allies are haters, any more than you or I are. Rather they’re misusing the word. “Hate” doesn’t mean what they say it means. So that means that your disagreement doesn’t equal hate either. You can, smile, stretch out a welcoming hand and say, “Nope. Nice try, but I’m not ducking from my beliefs based on an empty charge like that one. You’re misusing the word ‘hate,’ and I’m no more a hater than you are.”

There’s more in the book!

In Critical Conversations I develop and extend the answer to this and other challenges, and I share practical relational guidance on how to share the answers in conversation. For parents, pastors, and other Christian leaders wondering what to say to children in their vulnerable years up through high school or even college, the book clears away the awkwardness and confusion. It clears a path toward conversations that can strengthen not only your teens’ faith but also your relationship with them.

It’s available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers. Order your copy today!

129 thoughts on ““You’re a Hater” — — Christian Faith Under (Im)Moral Attack, Part One

  1. Commonly, though, LGBT activists will say you’re a hater just because you’re not on their side. That’s a clear case of stereotyping. Most LGBT people don’t believe in stereotyping; they just don’t recognize it when they practice it themselves. You could ask them about that.

    Their position is also intolerant. Tolerating only people you agree with is not how tolerance has been defined by the dictionary or history. You tolerate people with whom you disagree.

    For true democracy to exist we must allow for disagreements concerning politics, religion, personal morality and philosophical ideas. In other words, in any free and open democratic society ideas which are mutually exclusive must be tolerated. If they are not you end up with either anarchy or tyranny.

  2. You forgot to mention “After the Ball.” Or perhaps it is in your book. “After the Ball” is a book that no gay people seem to have read yet it documents the conspiracy when we all got together and decided to have a go at Christianity. It’s rubbish.

    Moreover there are clear lines between opponents and haters. If you distort data, if you claim that gay people are pedophiles or that they present a threat to children then you are probably a hater … and a bigot.

    Personally, I don’t think that I have ever used the term “hater.” I have called people bigots from time to time but it is applied case by case, individual by individual.

  3. JAD-

    I agree absolutely that they are intolerant. I can also see some coherence to their position. They don’t see Christians who hold Christian views about marriage and sexual morality as people whom they disagree with, nor even just as people who “hate” them. They claim instead that our views and actions are directly harmful to people who identify as LGBT.

    Again, they are wrong, horribly wrong. Yet it is at least reasonable, in and of itself, to not tolerate someone hurting someone else.

    This also puts us in a bad position, the more they win (typically in courtrooms), the more Christian views and practices are going to classified more in the category of human sacrifice than a baptism or bar mitzvah ceremony.

  4. DR84,

    I’m trying to think, have my views become more or less tolerant? Have I ever been intolerant of the private sexual behavior of other people? Here is what I remember:

    I grew up in the 1960’s. (I graduated from HS in 1969.) So, I remember the so-called sexual revolution very well. While I didn’t think permissive sex was entirely harmless or “victimless,” neither did I think that the government should have a role regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults. So I went along with the libertarian rationalization, “any behavior is okay as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else.” Premarital, extramarital, homoerotic sex etc. as I remember it was seen as private behavior that at least had the pretense of being respectful of the moral sensibilities of others.

    However, it has now mutated into a kind of neo-authoritarian view that does not tolerate dissent and even demands some kind of affirmation. What happened? How did moral relativism turn into a judgmental kind of moral absolutism? Why is it that the somewhat symbiotic, mutually exclusive tolerance that was acceptable in the 1960’s not acceptable today? What do you think?

  5. JAD-

    Sounds like a question for a book, and there probably is not just one reason.

    Somehow moral restrictions in sexual behavior have become to be seen as immoral. At the very least Biblical moral restrictions are seen this way. Many people blame these moral views on the suffering that people who identify as LGBT have experienced. I think they are completely wrong.

    There is a lot more that could be said no doubt.

  6. @Tom Gilson:

    If they say you’re a hater because you disagree with their moral opinions, choices, and chosen self-identity, then ask them whether they think disagreement on that level is all it takes to be a hater. If so, then gently remind them that they disagree with your moral choices, your opinions, and your chosen identity in Christ. If disagreement of that sort makes someone a hater, it makes them haters, too.

    I know preciously little about the LGBT community (here where I live or elsewhere) and do not want to turn this into a tu quoque but I am genuinely curious: how spread do you think is anti-Christian hatred among the LGBT community? Given how much the self-identity of an LGBT member is bound up with his sexual choices, any criticism of such choices is bound to appear as an attack on the person itself, and, therefore, any Christian who proclaims his faith out loud is bound to be perceived as the “enemy”. From “enemy” to hatred is a short walk.

  7. JAD-

    If gay is the new black, and Christian is the new racist. What is your perception of how racists of the 60s/70s were regarded by the progressive opinion and mainstream media of the time compared to Christians today?

    I am a bit younger than you (at least 30 years), I was not around then. It is my hunch that Christian’s of today are more disliked for their views than were racists of that era in some ways (but maybe not all ways and maybe not overall). I could be way off; again, I was not there. I have been wondering about this.

  8. Your perception is accurate. The difference is the way anti-Christian hostility is centered among the power elite today, more than anti-racist sentiment was then. And yet there’s more to it, and I’m still trying to put my finger on it…

  9. Certainly as Christians we need to become more concerned about LGBT activism, the hate and bullying. We also need to respond with some activism of our own. However, I also think we need to understand how we got into this mess in the first place? Why is it that no one in the church saw this coming?

    How did moral relativists (members of the secular-progressive movement) end up being moral absolutists? After all, the sex revolution of the 1960’s grew out of moral relativism. How did it become the so-called new normal? Why are they now the ones trying to legislate their morality?

    My theory is that after World War 2 the modern secular-progressive movement co-opted concepts from Freudian psychology and turned it into an ideology. The evidence? Terms like repression, guilt complex and homophobia which have become part of the left’s vocabulary.

    A couple of key passages to understanding this ideological shift come out of Freud’s book, Civilization and Its Discontents.

    “Thus we know of two origins of the sense of guilt: one arising from fear of an authority, and the other, later on, arising from fear of the super-ego. The first insists upon a renunciation of instinctual satisfactions; the second, as well as doing this, presses for punishment, since the continuance of the forbidden wishes cannot be concealed from the super-ego.”

    Freud also says that a person’s sense of guilt grows out of not someone simply having “done the bad thing but has… recognised in himself an intention to do it…”

    A Christian-theist, on the other hand, would argue that our existential sense of guilt or moral conscience comes from God, therefore there is an objective moral standard that transcends time, society and culture. Of course, this standard can be distorted and perverted by culture and society, nevertheless, there is an unchangeable moral standard. Freud however was an atheist and rejected the idea of a transcendent moral standard. Our moral standards come from society and therefore are human inventions. And since our morals are human inventions they are subject to modification, change and improvement. Therefore, the traditional and archaic religious based moral standards, which they believe are the source of that guilt, must be suppressed and destroyed. Thus we have a secular-progressive group think which evolved out of the idea of autonomous individual freedom and moral relativism which has mutated into a new kind of authoritarianism.

    Unfortunately, Christians are guilty of abdicating their responsibility of preaching about sin and guilt. Yes, the gospel means good news but it is only good news for those recognise that they have a problem. Sometimes love means tough love confronting out fellow sinners with their sin and guilt.

  10. JAD-

    That makes sense to me. I do think the greater dislike of Christian views compared to racist views is because racist views are obviously wrong, and people who opposed racist views could simply stand on objective, transcendent moral standards. Whereas Christian views are clearly not so obviously wrong, and the arguments against these views are comparatively weak and almost always self-centered (i.e. it hurts someones feelings that someone else believes homosexual conduct is wrong).

    You also bring up activism, do you have anything in mind?

    I ask that question in light of recent events in Georgia and Mississippi. In Georgia, a law that explicitly protected pastors and churches from being involved in same sex “weddings” was vetoed, in Mississippi a similar law was passed. Both laws were derided as “anti-gay” and “discriminatory” and “dehumanizing”. How can we do activism that does not instantly get dismissed as people just advocating for the right to discriminate against and dehumanize LGBT identifying people? I am doubtful that we can.

    Maybe consider the parallel, were LGBT activists ever framed in the media as hateful people bent on hurting and discriminating against others? Im asking about even further back to the 80s and even 70s. I doubt it.

  11. Tom @OP: Sure, some people oppose LGBT out of actual hatred. I’ve seen people like that — but rarely, and mostly in the media.

    Christians are fighting a two-front PR war: first, there’s the straight-up war against the pro-SSM forces. Given the SCOTUS decision, the demographics of the anti-SSM forces, and the fact that mainstream Christians straight-up fought for decades to limit gay people’s civil rights, that war isn’t going well.

    A primary reason it’s not going well is the second front in the war, against other Christians. Every time a Christian posts “If they say you’re a hater because you disagree with their moral opinions, choices, and chosen self-identity, then ask them whether they think disagreement on that level is all it takes to be a hater.”, I nod, smile, play a few minutes of
    Pastor Steven Anderson exposed The Truth about the Sodomites, and reply, “I say you’re a hater because your group literally advocates for the death of people who disagree with your moral opinions.

    Anderson ranting about the sodomites plays a whole bunch more viscerally than any reasoned argument can, and Anderson isn’t alone, there are many, many such pastors and videos, his theology is relatively mainstream.

    Unless people, especially non-Christians, understand that Pastor Anderson isn’t a “Christian”, Christianity will continue to be judged by what he says.

  12. Keith-

    If Christians are defined by some pastor advocating that all people who engage in homosexuality be killed, why are Muslims not defined by the Islamic Terrorists who actually kill gays? I am not saying your perception is wrong (in fact, I suspect it is largely correct), but there does seem to be a clear double standard. The infamous WBC represents Christianity, but ISIS does not represent Islam.

    There is more to this.

  13. Keith,

    Could you reconsider everything you’ve written here in light of the fact that you’re wrong about gay rights being civil rights?

    You’ve got to face reality here. It’s going to be hard. You’ve got a lot of inertia going in the direction of believing there’s some equivalence between gay rights and civil rights. Count on it, though: unless you can demonstrate to me that my point in that article is incorrect, every time you say “civil rights” in this context, I’m going to point you back at your error. Unless the error is mine. But I don’t think it is.

    You’ve also got a lot of inertia pushing you to continue thinking that Christians were wrong to deny gays their “civil rights.” If what we denied them wasn’t civil rights, however, you’re going to have to re-think that prejudice as well.

    So I’m inviting you to re-write your comment with that correction in mind.

    If you’re open to re-thinking anything, that is.

  14. By the way, this was utterly, despicably, culpably, and wrongly hateful for you to say: ““I say you’re a hater because your group literally advocates for the death of people who disagree with your moral opinions.”

    You think I’m a hater?!!!!????? When you’re saying that’s my group????????????????

    You’re a hater, Keith. That’s not because of what someone in your “group” said. It’s because of what you said.

    Retract it.

  15. His theology is relatively mainstream??????????????

    That is relatively — no, absolutely — uninformed, stereotyped, and bigoted.

    Get a grip on reality, okay?

    Yes, that bothered me. It bothers me a lot. I can’t believe you’ve let yourself fall for these discriminatory distortions.

  16. G. Rodrigues @6:

    It seems to me you’re considering how a gay person might react to Christianity in a vacuum, and in my experience there are more important issues.

    I can only speak to my personal experience, of course, and it’s probably relevant to note my gay community is relatively white and well-educated, with higher status and wealth.

    My LGBT friends are (almost without exception), “strongly opposed” to Christianity, and it seems to me there are two themes:

    * They were born into Christian families and had a difficult “coming-out”. They were rejected by their families and congregations (either temporarily or permanently), based on religious beliefs. Even when they themselves were accepted, their significant others and lifestyle were not accepted, nor were they considered equal (“the sin is the action, not the desire, you should remain celibate”). When returning to Christianity, it’s never the congregation into which they were born.

    * Members of their community have been tortured and killed in their living memory, and they are hyper-vigilant for examples (and it’s a relatively common occurrence). The people advocating the violence are usually religious (Christian or Muslim), the people committing the violence usually claim a religion (Christian or Muslim), and the violence is explicitly committed for religious reasons sufficiently often to constitute a pattern.

    When you say “any criticism of such choices is bound to appear as an attack on the person itself”, I think that’s true. But I think the criticism of the choices also links the person to the gay person’s history and attacks on their community, which is powerful stuff.

    I think it’s closer to the mark to say “Christian criticism of such choices is bound to connect the Christian to the parents and groups that rejected them, and to a group that continues to torture and kill friends and/or members of their community.”

    Anecdotally: a gay friend of mine was reported to have screamed at a little old lady in front of a local mall who was distributing Christian literature. He doesn’t “hate Christians”, but he does hate what happened to him 40 years ago, and she was the local representative of that group when he was having a tough day.

  17. DR84 @ 12:

    I would say the WBC doesn’t represent Christianity; to its significant credit, Christianity has distanced itself from the WBC.

    Muslims and ISIS: that’s a mess. My personal (and relatively uninformed!) opinion is nobody wants to conjoin ISIS and Islam because nobody wants to be at war with 1.6 billion people. It seems naive to me, no data I’ve seen shows that “religion of peace” is anything more than pipedream.

    Whether or not you agree with Sam Harris in general, he’s strongly argues it’s intellectual dishonesty to separate Muslims from ISIS (for example, here).

  18. Tom @ 13:

    I don’t see my error on civil rights.

    The particular article you linked cherry-picks by focusing on current gay rights issues. (That’s not to claim your intent was to cherry-pick, you’ve done other articles on this topic that were more even-handed. It’s that current gay rights issues are less obviously civil rights questions than the issues of 10 years ago.)

    Specifically, gay people not having the same rights in joint-filing of taxes, Medicaid programs, Social Security benefits, housing, family insurance, rights of survivorship, and so on and so forth are reasonably described as civil-rights questions.

    If you would explain how it’s not discrimination for only straight people to get federal exemptions from personal property tax on another individual’s death, I’d be interested.

  19. Tom @13:

    Having re-read Gay Rights Aren’t Civil Rights. Not Even Close, I was struck by something a little off-topic. (So don’t hesitate to just kill this post, Tom.)

    You said “Somehow, though, they’ve missed the rather obvious fact that any policy regarding bathroom access must necessarily take sides, and to accede to LGBT demands for “privacy, respect, and protections” is necessarily to deny the same to the vast majority of others.”

    There is a parallel to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which had explicit bathroom access requirements. Not only did the ADA require access for disabled individuals, it required significant monetary investment to comply.

    The obvious rejoinder is it’s not the same thing at all, and I wondered why that’s true? The only thing I can think of is it’s because nobody objects to sharing a bathroom with a disabled person.

    It remains illegal for a disabled or an LGBT person to embarrass or harass anyone in the bathroom, but a segment of the population is disturbed by the knowledge that someone else in the bathroom might have been born a different gender from them, private stall be darned.

    (And the whole rape/pedophile argument is so misguided. I see it now: rapists across America reflecting “It’s wrong to go into the women’s bathroom. I’d rape, but I just can’t get through that door!”)

  20. Keith-

    “Specifically, gay people not having the same rights in joint-filing of taxes, Medicaid programs, Social Security benefits, housing, family insurance, rights of survivorship, and so on and so forth are reasonably described as civil-rights questions.

    If you would explain how it’s not discrimination for only straight people to get federal exemptions from personal property tax on another individual’s death, I’d be interested”

    This is blatantly false, gay people have never been targeted in this manner. Two men who did not identify as gay were just as equally ineligible for all of those things mentioned together. How someone identifies themselves, whether they do or do not (and I see no reason why someone must identify with any “sexual orientation”) had nothing to do with with access to these benefits.

  21. Tom @14, 15:

    Tom, in your original post, you used the terms “Christianity”, “believers”, “we”, “us” and the “Christian faith”.

    My use of “you’re” was intended to the wider label of “Christianity”, based on my hearing of your original post, and I apologize for anywhere I wasn’t clear.

    Is Anderson’s theology “relatively mainstream”?

    I think that I’m standing by that.

    I’ve listened a couple of Anderson’s sermons all the way through, and I think Anderson is relatively mainstream. He’s obsessed with the whole “King James is the only inerrant version” thing, but he’s a “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”, Bible-believing literalist, and that’s mainstream where I hail from.

    You should listen to a sermon or two, ignoring the histrionics/language, focusing on the theology. Sure, you’d disagree with him on parts of his exegesis, but that doesn’t put him outside the mainstream.

    Here’s Robert Jeffress saying the same things, he’s just a lot more polite about it.

  22. @Keith:

    It seems to me you’re considering how a gay person might react to Christianity in a vacuum, and in my experience there are more important issues.

    I do not think I did that; I offered a psychological explanation for why members of the LGBT would or could end up being fiercely anti-Christian. Everything, literally everything, you wrote subsequently only confirms my point, so my take-away message from what you wrote, and scare quotes notwithstanding, is that anti-Christian hatred is relatively widespread — you can replace “hatred” with a less emotionally overcharged word if it suits your fancy.

    At any rate I cannot say I am surprised. There will always be Christian bigots and hypocrites and haters, as there will always be LGBT bigots and hypocrites and haters, for the simple reason that there will always be sinners (of which I am the biggest one). I have a somewhat clear idea of what we Christians must do, or try to do, to get those Christian bigots and hypocrites and haters to change their ways. What can the LGBT community do? Appeal to their better natures? One can only smile at the naivety. Shun and expel them from their communities? Well, then *they* will be doing exactly what you have accused the Christian communities of doing, and thus play the part of bigots and haters. So what, then? Actually, the question answers itself: then nothing.

  23. DR84 @20:

    “Two men who did not identify as gay were just as equally ineligible for all of those things mentioned together.”

    In other words:

    But no one in America would deny an avowed homosexual man to get married, like all other men, to a woman. Nor is the law prejudiced against any proclaimed lesbian wishing, like other women, to marry a man. Who they are does not enter the equation.

    In times past when blacks were denied the right to vote, it was discrimination since others had that right. When in certain locales in deep medieval Europe Jews were forbidden to marry it was discrimination since all others could marry. These were discriminations and exclusions born of prejudice based not on what but who.

    or the more trenchant version, Gays can marry, just not each other!

    This argument only works (well, as well as it works at all), if you assert being gay is a choice individuals make.

    I’ve asked quite a few people to tell me the precise moment they made the decision to be sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, with consistently weak results; until someone answers that question, I’m going with “not a choice”.

  24. Keith, you wrote,

    The particular article you linked cherry-picks by focusing on current gay rights issues. (That’s not to claim your intent was to cherry-pick, you’ve done other articles on this topic that were more even-handed. It’s that current gay rights issues are less obviously civil rights questions than the issues of 10 years ago.)

    Gay rights are not “less obviously civil rights questions” now. They’re obviously not civil rights questions, if you view “civil rights” as historically affirmed human rights, as has been the case for the historic civil rights movement.

    Specifically, gay people not having the same rights in joint-filing of taxes, Medicaid programs, Social Security benefits, housing, family insurance, rights of survivorship, and so on and so forth are reasonably described as civil-rights questions.

    But the campaign was always for marriage, even in the minority of cases where it was masked as a campaign for civil unions. Same-sex marriage is not an historic civil right. It’s a newly invented institution. If it had ever been — believably, that is — a campaign for the kind of rights you’ve just named, I would have supported it. But it never was.

    There is a parallel to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which had explicit bathroom access requirements. Not only did the ADA require access for disabled individuals, it required significant monetary investment to comply.

    The obvious rejoinder is it’s not the same thing at all, and I wondered why that’s true? The only thing I can think of is it’s because nobody objects to sharing a bathroom with a disabled person.

    Then you don’t think as clearly as I had thought you could or would.

    The obvious difference to me is that the ADA’s requirements weren’t wrong, and equal access today is. But most people today don’t have much truck with that word “wrong,” so let me give you the second obvious answer: The ADA’s requirements didn’t put anyone at risk. They didn’t eliminate anyone’s “privacy, respect, or protection,” to quote Lambda Legal’s terms. They didn’t give privacy, respect, and protection to 0.5% of the populations while simultaneously taking it away from 99.5%.

    I wrote in the article that you say you read (and which you apparently cherry-picked, ironically) that this is not a case of a win-win. This is zero-sum. Either transgendered persons get that privacy, respect, and protection, or the rest of the world does. There’s no way to give it to both groups except through privately designated bathrooms, which they have incomprehensibly reject.

    So while you are unable to think of how this is different from the ADA, there was an answer staring you in the face.

    You think the rape thing is misguided:

    (And the whole rape/pedophile argument is so misguided. I see it now: rapists across America reflecting “It’s wrong to go into the women’s bathroom. I’d rape, but I just can’t get through that door!”)

    Actually, it’s not just about rape. It’s about voyeurism. Privacy and respect, remember? Not just protection of life and bodily integrity. TG persons aren’t just looking at saving their skins but also protection from embarrassment. Why can’t women claim the same protection? And yes, voyeurs are not likely to go through that door. The social and legal pressure against it is incredibly powerful.

    None of this is complicated, Keith. I can only think of one reason you could have missed it, and it’s that you’re too prejudiced to see straight on this issue. Shake it off! Don’t coast on your preconceived ideas. Think!

  25. Keith @23: Yes, there is pain and cost and burden in being gay. I have written previously (in my book and elsewhere) of Christians’ responsibility to speak both lovingly and credibly to that pain. We haven’t done that well enough at all.

    But the question from our end was never whether same-sex couples were being denied the right to marry like opposite couples. It was whether such a right as “same-sex marriage” actually existed, in fact whether such an institution as same-sex marriage existed.

    Gay-rights advocates have steamrolled that question without addressing it. It’s almost as if it were never a question; it got flattened. But remember this well: your side has never answered the question that we consider most basic of them all. You’ve only crushed it.

    The question remains in spite of the violence done to it.

  26. Case in point:

    Springsteen denies service to thousands in North Carolina because of conscience, he says.

    A Christian baker denies service to one couple because of conscience.

    Springsteen is a hero.

    The baker is steamrolled as a criminal.

    Why?

  27. G. Rodrigues @22:

    Where the Christian community is convinced it shows amusing naivete to appeal to the better nature of a member of the LGBT community (or vice-versa), there will be no progress.

    Andrew Sullivan (a prominent gay activist and pioneering advocate of gay marriage), discussing religious liberty exemptions to federal law:

    There is a deep theological narrative and argument behind Christianity’s and Judaism’s and Islam’s anathematization of homosexuality that cannot be reduced to bigotry. I think it’s mistaken, but I sure don’t think it’s mere prejudice. In the Catholic tradition, Humanae Vitae – with which I strongly disagree – is nonetheless a coherent view of the role of sex and procreation in human life.

    or here:

    It seems to me there is an important distinction here. If the gay rights movement seeks to impose gay equality on religious groups by lawsuit, or if it seeks to remove tax exempt status for institutions that refuse to include gays for theological reasons, then I agree that such attempts to humiliate and coerce opponents should be resisted tooth and nail. Such spiking of the ball is a repugnant and ill-advised over-reach, and, to my mind, a betrayal of the soul of the movement.

    He’s a lot more on your side than I am.

  28. I’ve listened a couple of Anderson’s sermons all the way through, and I think Anderson is relatively mainstream. He’s obsessed with the whole “King James is the only inerrant version” thing, but he’s a “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”, Bible-believing literalist, and that’s mainstream where I hail from.

    Oh.

    Whether a pastor is mainstream or not is determined by whether someone agrees with some portion of mainstream.

    That’s news to me.

    Except I’m familiar with the experience of being stereotyped as being connected to people whose opinions are rejected not only by me but by the great majority of mainstream Evangelicals.

    Keith, if you’re going to expend the effort it takes to force all “mainstream” evangelicalism into commonality with this preacher — which seems like a rather taxing, strenuous thing to try to do — why don’t you invest that effort in something more worthwhile, like trying to understand instead of stereotyping?

  29. I am intentionally employing strong language and some sarcasm, Keith, because I think you’re asleep and I’m hoping I can jolt you awake.

    The answers I’m giving you are not hard. Think.

  30. Tom @24:

    But the campaign was always for marriage, even in the minority of cases where it was masked as a campaign for civil unions.

    I think that’s true.

    But, I believe it’s true for historic reasons (civil rights were historically linked to marriage), and practical reasons (religious groups opposed civil unions as strongly as they opposed SSM).

    I don’t believe we’d have SSM today had religious groups themselves pushed for civil unions. (To be clear, I think SSM would still have been inevitable, but the real civil discrimination gay people experienced in our society was an urgent and compelling argument.)

    Regardless, there were civil rights issues at question. To argue otherwise requires you to define “civil rights” far too narrowly (“historically affirmed human rights”).

    It seems to me your definition excludes everything other than “freedom” and “marriage” from the definition of “civil rights”, and US courts are pretty much united in disagreeing with you.

    Consider your definition: are you saying the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (an anti-discrimination law that made it illegal to pay men and women working in the same place different salaries for similar work), wasn’t civil rights legislation? Or instead, that “equal pay across genders” is “an historically affirmed human right”?

  31. Tom @26:

    I think the Springsteen cancellation is a great question, I’ve been thinking about it off-and-on this week.

    Is it as clear-cut as the “Christian baker denying service”?

    First, nobody claims a vendor can be forced to move to a town and open a business; with nods to elements like artistic expression and demand, the statement is an existing vendor must sell their products to all purchasers at a similar price. In short, I can’t ask a cake baker to do a special cake for me with a poem celebrating the KKK, but the cake baker probably has to sell me a cake for my KKK event.

    So, imagine Springsteen has a web page where you fill in a city and your VISA number, and he shows up to give a concert. That sounds to me like he’s behaving like any other vendor.

    Imagine instead, Springsteen chooses a set of towns and only offers to perform in those towns, because (according to him), “they have more enthusiastic audiences”.

    Imagine instead, Springsteen has already agreed to perform in a city, and then cancels his performance because there’s city legislation he doesn’t like.

    His performance is less of a commodity than a cake: here’s a guy who writes songs about [bad stuff] being bad; does an observer reasonably assume he’s no longer against [bad stuff] if he performs in a venue that has [bad stuff] legislation passed in 1960?

    What if that venue passed [bad stuff] legislation a week before his performance, and it’s widely reported across the nation, and he’s subsequently asked if he supports [bad stuff]?

    I’m still not sure where I end up on this one.

    Springsteen isn’t a cake baker selling me the 37th cake coming out of the machine today, but he isn’t being asked to ice “Ode to Mussolini” on the top, either.

  32. Tom @25:

    When you say “Gay-rights advocates have steamrolled that question without addressing it.”, I agree.

    But not everybody was asking that question. Questions of paramount importance to Christians may not even be on other people’s radar.

    If my focus is civil rights, and I simply don’t care about any religious/spiritual component of “marriage”, am I wrong in ignoring your definition of marriage in pursuing individual equality under the law’s definition of “marriage”?

    Is it my responsibility to fight for “civil unions”, when I can get what I want by changing what federal law considers “marriage”?

    Of course it’s not.

    (And, no, I’m not saying the gay rights movement was blissfully unconcerned with any religious definition of marriage, although I believe civil rights were more of an issue than you are willing to admit.)

    There are many definitions of “marriage”, some of which your theology supports and some of which it rejects (for example, Mormon “celestial marriage”, or the Catholic “valid marriage”).

    The alliance between Catholics, Mormons and Protestants over SSM did not mean they agreed on what “marriage” means, and it means significantly different things to the three. The alliance was possible because the groups all agreed none of their definitions included SSM.

    Yes, it’s bad when some other group redefines words and makes you use their definitions going forward. Maybe the right solution is what the Mormons and Catholics have done: invent a new word or phrase that means “our kind of marriage”.

    (I hope that doesn’t sound snarky, I don’t mean it that way. The Mormons and Catholics needed a way to say “our kind of marriage, and not whatever you outsiders meant when you used the word”. Maybe that’s a reasonable choice to make.)

  33. Consider your definition: are you saying the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (an anti-discrimination law that made it illegal to pay men and women working in the same place different salaries for similar work), wasn’t civil rights legislation? Or instead, that “equal pay across genders” is “an historically affirmed human right”?

    The fact that you’re asking that question shows that you don’t get it.

    Yes, I know that you think marriage should be for anyone who wants to call their relationship a marriage. (Right? If not, then you’re discriminating!) But same-sex marriage didn’t exist until it was “discovered” to be a right.

    Meanwhile getting paid a fair wage did exist. It’s been around since even before, say, 1962.

    When you say “Gay-rights advocates have steamrolled that question without addressing it.”, I agree.

    But not everybody was asking that question. Questions of paramount importance to Christians may not even be on other people’s radar.

    Right. We tried to put it on your radar but the steamroller didn’t care. The tank at Tian An Men probably didn’t even register a bump when it ran that guy down. “Hey, we don’t give a damn about your questions. You’re going to do things our way!”

    If my focus is civil rights, and I simply don’t care about any religious/spiritual component of “marriage”, am I wrong in ignoring your definition of marriage in pursuing individual equality under the law’s definition of “marriage”?

    Who said spiritual/religious? You guys keep acting as if that were the basis of our argument. It’s yet one more way you distort the debate. Don’t you get tired of it? And for Pete’s sake, if you’d been pursuing equality under the law’s definition of marriage you wouldn’t have been going for gay marriage. You had to change the law to get that, remember? Was it really that long ago?

  34. No response to the second half of #24 or any of #28, I see.

    Your point on Springsteen is interesting. There is definitely a degree of difference between the two conscience-related decisions, and the kind of commitment involved in following or not following conscience.

    But that difference is not infinite. The difference in the way the two circumstances were treated, however, is as vast as it could possibly be. You can’t possibly think that the two situations are so entirely, vastly opposite as to deserve such vastly opposite public responses.

    I don’t know of anyone prior to you who has said, “Well, the reason we’re not fining Springsteen hundreds of thousands of dollars and subjecting him to re-education is because, goodness, he would have had to travel (imagine that!!) to do this concert, and besides that he’s selective: he doesn’t just do concerts for the next arena owner who walks in the door.”

    I think you know that. I think you could have thought it through just as easily yourself if you hadn’t been as prejudiced on this as you are.

  35. Springsteen gets to be more selective than the baker because he’s got more social power.

    That’s a very, very scary basis for social ethics.

  36. Springsteen gets to say, “I don’t do anti-gay states.”

    Imagine a local band saying, “We don’t do gay weddings.” Would they fare any better than the baker?

    The difference is:

    1. Springsteen is a star. (That’s social power at play, nothing else.)
    2. Springsteen is on the side of the majority. (That’s social power at play, too.)

    The difference isn’t:

    One is discriminating and the other isn’t.

    They both are. They both have a basis in their own conscience for discriminating. One of them is a hero. The other gets steamrolled. (Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a matter of time, the way things are going.)

  37. Tom @33:

    same-sex marriage didn’t exist until it was “discovered” to be a right; Do you mean under our legal system? Historically, same-sex unions up-to-and-including “marriage” have been around for a long time in many different cultures.

    Anyway, I agree, I don’t get it. The concept of “voting” did exist, but in 1920 we legislated that women could vote. The concept of “fair wages” did exist, but in 1963 we legislated it applied to women. The concept of “marriage” did exist, but in 2015 we legislated same-sex couples could “marry”. I honestly don’t see the difference between them (outside of obviously different societal impacts). Rights exist, and they were extended to additional groups.

    Help me out here, how does SSM cross a bright line?

    I respect there were legitimate concerns/questions that were asked but never answered. That doesn’t make the final result wrong, but it does indicate the process was flawed and should mean less confidence in the result?

    When you say “if you’d been pursuing equality under the law’s definition of marriage you wouldn’t have been going for gay marriage”, I miss your point.

    Can you point to a faster (or at least more efficient), path to equality under the law than changing the legal definition of marriage?

  38. Tom @34:

    > No response to the second half of #24

    @24, well didn’t think I had anything to add.

    I’ve seen no data indicating LGBT access to bathrooms puts anybody at risk (but that would change my mind on the topic), I don’t think LGBT access to bathrooms takes away anybody’s “privacy, respect or protection” (that’s why there are private stalls, and exactly what are you doing in the bathroom that requires my “respect”, anyway?), and we’ve somehow moved from rape and pedophelia to voyeurism, which makes me doubt the evidence for the first two.

    Voyeurism? Where is the evidence LGBT people are exploiting bathrooms for their voyeuristic intentions? Since many of them can easily pass for the other gender, there must be evidence of the mounting problem?

    This is a confusing argument, I honestly don’t get it at all.

    It (apparently) doesn’t bother anyone if gay people ogle them in the bathroom. That at least makes sense because the people in the bathroom are of the sex they desire. But au contraire, we’re concerned the LGBT people (a tiny percentage compared to gay people), might ogle us?

    Here’s what actually makes sense: we all agree public bathrooms are sensitive subjects for all of us, and people should enter the bathroom most appropriate for their appearance.

    As the LGBT community has tirelessly pointed out, selfie after selfie, once a person is cross-dressing, a birth-gender bathroom will discomfort far more people than a chosen-gender bathroom.

  39. In conversation with a couple of atheists on a forum, I pointed out the fact that when they joke around with each other, they call each other names that refer to homosexuals in language that I would never use, and they had never made the connection that their locker room styled banter would be obscenely offensive if one of them was actually gay. To his credit, one fellow actually told me I was right, and that he would stop taking part in this banter. In my opinion, straight guys seem to be terrified of the advances of gay guys. I think that the term ‘homophobic’ should really refer to the boys in the locker room who bully the small boys and make fun of their lack of masculinity.

  40. @Keith:

    If my focus is civil rights, and I simply don’t care about any religious/spiritual component of “marriage”, am I wrong in ignoring your definition of marriage in pursuing individual equality under the law’s definition of “marriage”?

    I am barging into the middle of the conversation, with all the risks that this entails, but I do not understand your (rhetorical) question. Tom said:

    Gay-rights advocates have steamrolled that question without addressing it.

    You agreed. Ok, but then your question is baffling. How do you go from Tom’s claim to questioning about “wrong”? And what sort of wrong are you talking about? Moral wrong? Strategically wrong as an option for pro-SSM?

    At any rate, you are missing the point, begging the question. It would be a civil rights question if it were established that 2 same-sex persons had as much right to marriage as opposite-sex ones have. And in order to establish that, there must needs be a conception of what marriage really is. Laws do not make definitions, for laws are human artifacts for the ordering of the common god. Now there are two general ways to go about this (with a spectrum of positions in between). The first one is to say that marriage is nothing but what the law says it is, the second is to say that no, marriage has a certain status independently of what the law says or does not say. pro-SSM usually go the former route — your question shows that you do anyway. But then, many points can be made. Here go three:

    (1) If it is what the law says it is, then you have to explain why the law says *what* it specifically says; why for example two people can marry but not twenty or one person and a corporation or whatever other arrangement you care to name: Why can’t I marry a dog? The Eiffel tower? Myself?

    (2) It is meaningless to say that the question is one of civil rights; if marriage just is what the State’s law says it is, saying that there is a right to marry is meaningless. Rather, it is a right that the State, in its great benevolence and wisdom, grants its citizens. If tomorrow the State revokes such a right, there is no possible answer to offer, at least not one based on marriage being a right or on some injustice having been done, precisely because it is *not* a right as classically understood, but something else entirely.

    (3) What exactly distinguishes marriage from other relationships, that it has to receive a blessing from the State? After all, friends do not apply for a government license that recognizes their friendship, neither they apply for government benefits based on the fact that they are friends. Why should married people have this priveliege? On the unspoken and unargued conception of marriage of most pro-SSM, it is simply unintelligible. And therefore, because there is no rational principle, it is discrimination against other groups of people that do not have access to such benefits like say, Singles.

    We (I hasten to add I am not American), a free western society, engage in rational debate, advancing arguments for our side and respond to the other side’s arguments. Oh, wait, that was what the other side never did.

  41. Tom @34:

    > or any of #28, I see.

    Again, I didn’t have much to add, I think we’ve hit the point where we understand each other.

    When you said “Whether a pastor is mainstream or not is determined by whether someone agrees with some portion of mainstream.”, it made no sense to me, I’m assuming a typo, I can’t get past the phrase “with some portion of mainstream”.

    I don’t doubt you (and all Christians!) are stereotyped by insane pastors, and that is unjust and wrong.

    To your statement “rejected not only by me but by the great majority of mainstream Evangelicals”, I’m torn.

    On the one hand, I grew up in those churches, and I admit I wonder if you are experienced in a different Christianity than I: if you were raised in Michigan with college in Michigan and Florida, it doesn’t seem likely you’ve been in many Louisiana churches when the Holy Spirit took hold and the dragon imagery of the Revelation of St. John the Divine was interpreted for the congregation in real-time.

    On the other hand, you have undeniably talked to many, many more evangelicals than I.

    So, when it comes to defining “mainstream”, I’m going to have to give you that one.

  42. What exactly distinguishes marriage from other relationships, that it has to receive a blessing from the State?

    My two cents on this. Traditionally, marriage has been protected and privileged because it is the bedrock social institution upon which every civilization in world history has been built. That’s a very, very good reason for the society to bestow protections and privileges on it. It’s not really about civil rights at all.

    And it’s only tangentially a religious issue. Religions are also bedrock social institutions that benefit societies and their beliefs, as one might expect, parallel other important social institutions even if, also, as one might expect, they are articulated in religious terms.

    SSM, on the other hand, can’t really claim it provides those same benefits to society and so I thinks it’s fair to ask why it should receive those same privileges.

  43. Tom @ 34, 35, 36:

    The only distinction I see between Springsteen and the baker is their level of personal/artistic involvement; Springsteen is more involved than a baker churning out 100 cakes a weekend, and more or less involved than a baker doing a one-of-a-kind work-of-art wedding cake. Courts have certainly taken that involvement into account in some cases, but not in others (or possibly decided there wasn’t involvement and so never raised the issue).

    The local band scenario… I disagree, I think they’d be OK on that one, I don’t see a band forced to perform. It wouldn’t shock me for a DJ bringing in mix-tapes to be treated less kindly.

    I agree with you the reaction to Springsteen is about social power, both his status as a celebrity and being on the side of the majority. I further agree that’s no way to run a railroad. (I’m not saying Springsteen is wrong: I think I don’t know the circumstances, and there are scenarios where Springsteen is in the wrong to cancel under existing law, and others where he’s in the right under the same laws. People saying he’s right/wrong: well, unless they know more than I do, I suspect it’s about social power.)

    To your point about discrimination, of course they’re both discriminating. The kernel of this question is when it’s legal to discriminate versus when it’s not. Society can and does allow a certain amount of discrimination in the service of free speech, but for obvious reasons discrimination is limited, as is free speech itself.

    As a society we’re in a constant balancing act: sometimes you’ll see an outcome as fair, and sometimes not, and that’s true for us all.

  44. Recently, Michael Brown wrote an open letter to Bruce Springsteen.

    https://stream.org/open-letter-bruce-springsteen-band/

    Here is what I think is the pertinent point in Dr. Brown’s letter:

    “When you booked the concert in Greenboro, the laws in North Carolina were just as they are today: In public facilities, people had to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their biological sex. Why, then, did you agree to come in the first place? Why cancel the concert when things today are just what they were six months ago?”

    So when did transgender bathroom rights become rights? Have they always been rights? Or, did they become rights when the LGTB movement decided to make them rights? Am I obligated to recognize something as a right, because another group of fallible human being decide to create a new right? Or are the members of the LGBT movement infallible?

    This is what happens when people think they can create absolute rights. Even if you don’t believe in God, you’ll have to agree that absolute rights are something that really only God can create and grant. When humans think they can do it, it only leads to confusion and anarchy or tyranny. Unfortunately that is where our society is headed—if it’s not already there.

  45. The local band scenario… I disagree, I think they’d be OK on that one, I don’t see a band forced to perform. It wouldn’t shock me for a DJ bringing in mix-tapes to be treated less kindly.

    I think you’re awfully naive. But let’s set this up as a thought experiment instead. Imagine the not-so-impossible possibility that this happened to a band. How would you explain and defend the difference?

    The kernel of this question is not when it’s legal to discriminate. The authorities have decided it’s legal to discriminate against the baker and the florist. Now, if just being legal made it right, then there would be no discussion. There would also have been no discussion about the killing fields in Cambodia — under current law, that was legal. There would be no discussion about putting dissidents in the Soviet Gulags. That was legal.

    I just don’t think you have your brain in gear yet, Keith!

    I don’t have time tonight to respond to more than this. I’d sure like to see you detach yourself from your prejudices and think, though.

  46. Bill T @41:

    What you said.

    This is a terrifically interesting question, and SSM is only part of it.

    We’re running a big experiment in the West right now.

    Evolutionarily, people can handle tribes of around 200 people (estimates vary but not by a lot, see Dunbar’s number), and outsiders defended against. Since our groups are far larger than 200 people, what allows our groups to cooperate and mingle freely? Well, we signal between groups using cultural elements: style, religion, watching the Super Bowl: in other words, we create a shared culture that allows us to understand each other.

    In first-world societies, technology is allowing us to replace existing connections/signals with more individualistic behaviors that have fewer connections/signals, and SSM is an example.

    Having individual desires trump societal norms, well, it’s never been tried before.

  47. @BillT:

    Traditionally, marriage has been protected and privileged because it is the bedrock social institution upon which every civilization in world history has been built. That’s a very, very good reason for the society to bestow protections and privileges on it. It’s not really about civil rights at all.

    Agreed. But to repeat myself and really drive the point home, this becomes unintelligible and indefensible under the pro-SSM non-conception of marriage itself. And since for pro-SSM there are not two kinds of marriage but only one, the unpalatable consequences apply to all marriages, which is to say, marriage becomes just one more social arrangement — it is not a coincidence that less and less people are getting married.

  48. G. Rodrigeus @40:

    > why for example two people can marry but not twenty or one person and a corporation or whatever other arrangement you care to name

    Why must drivers stop at stop signs?

    > If tomorrow the State revokes such a right, there is no possible answer to offer

    I don’t believe marriage is a right (as classically understood).

    > What exactly distinguishes marriage from other relationships, that it has to receive a blessing from the State?

    What distinguishes driving from other privileges, that it has to receive a blessing from the State?

  49. Tom @45:

    > Imagine the not-so-impossible possibility that this happened to a band. How would you explain and defend the difference?

    My personal opinion is it would be overreach, but then again, the idea of “compelled speech” is a difficult one for me to accept. That said, reasonable people have chosen to weigh first amendment issues differently than I might prefer.

    Remember the gay-marriage-wedding-photographer case a couple of years ago? She lost, and I think the arguments made there apply directly to your local band scenario. Jonathan Turley has a good replay of that case.

    Based on my re-reading of those arguments, I suspect the local band might well be compelled to play.

  50. Keith @48: Do we need to do the work of trying to figure out whether your attempted analogies are truly analogous, or could you do us the favor first of showing why you think they are?

    On a first glance I doubt they work. Is it my job to explain your argument so that I can discover whether it’s valid? Could you do some of that for us?

    @49: If the local band is compelled to play, then what differentiates them from Springsteen not being compelled to play? I refer you again to #36 &c.

  51. Tom @50:

    > could you do us the favor first of showing why you think they are?

    Sorry, I thought it was obvious: marriage and driving are both social/legal constructions.

    > If the local band is compelled to play, then what differentiates them from Springsteen not being compelled to play?

    I keep agreeing with you about Springsteen, and you keep asking me “What about Springsteen?” Seriously, I can’t agree any harder.

  52. We’re running a big experiment in the West right now.

    Having individual desires trump societal norms, well, it’s never been tried before.

    Keith,

    And just who was it that decided that we should have this big experiment. Five lawyers. And not just any five lawyers but five of the most politically connected and indebted lawyers on the face of earth. Really, what could go wrong?

  53. BillT @52:

    I think you’re ignoring the cultural changes bringing the case to SCOTUS in the first place. We’re scapegoating if we say SCOTUS decided one day to impose SSM on the country for inscrutable reasons; SCOTUS may have been the last line of defense, but an ever-increasing majority of the culture wanted the change and it was inevitable. If it hadn’t been this court, it would have been the next one.

    SSM is just a part of the whole, I think.

    Do you follow Rod Dreher’s column at The American Conservative? I’m probably unfairly simplifying his writings, but I think he sees SSM as an inevitable result of the Enlightenment:

    [Alasdair MacIntyre’s argument in After Virtue] is vastly more complex than what I’ve presented here, and I don’t believe one needs to comprehend it fully to grasp its thrust for the believing Christian: that Enlightenment liberalism, for all its virtues, has come to a dead end. Its principles are destroying, and have destroyed, the religious, social, and economic bases for a society in which the Christian concept of the Good can be realized. The Enlightenment conception of liberty atomizes everything, and posits as the Good the economically, sexually, and morally autonomous Self.

  54. Keith,

    Agreed. And their reasons weren’t inscrutable. Poorly reasoned both legally and otherwise but not inscrutable .

  55. @Keith:

    (correct blockquotes now)

    Why must drivers stop at stop signs?

    In other words, you do not have the faintest clue of what the issues are.

  56. G. Rodrigues @55:

    You believe marriage is something other than a social construct, I don’t.

    If you want to discuss that, I’m up for it.

    If you just want to mansplain “natural institutions”, the floor is yours.

  57. Keith-

    If marriage is just a social construct as you believe. Do you also believe that it is not wrong in any sense to not socially construct same sex relationships as marriages?

  58. DR84 @57:

    Correct.

    I would argue socially constructing same sex relationships as marriage would be “wrong” if there was a negative net social benefit to doing so.

  59. And how would you measure that? How would you measure the net social benefit as it plays out 3o to 40 years down the road?

    Your answer is a cop-out. No one could possibly know today the results of such a huge social experiment 30 to 40 years from now.

    Interestingly, though, we do know that man-woman marriages have been good for children and for society for a very, very, very long time.

    So if you were going to judge the rightness of same-sex relationships according to their social benefit, your best bet by far would be to decide against them.

    Unless you only care about today.

  60. Tom Gilson @59:

    It’s possible to measure social benefit, but measuring it accurately 30 years into the future?
    There you’ve got me.

    I personally think it’s an interesting question and a reasonable concern: not SSM itself, (because SSM is just an indicator of how things are changing), but as I said in @46, I think we’re running a huge social experiment and I’m not confident of the outcome.

    That said…

    I know of no data indicating likely harm from SSM itself. You’re worried about a 30-40 year time period: SSM has been legal in the Netherlands for 15+ years and in Massachusetts for 10 years, in other countries for varying periods, all without adverse effects attributable to SSM. In Massachusetts, SSM is about 7% of the total marriages, over the decade; if SSM is 7% of the total marriages in the US, it’s hard to imagine it affecting anything at all.

    Why do you describe SSM as a “huge social experiment”? What do you believe will happen as a result of SSM?

    For example, might SSM stop straight people from marrying? No: marriage rates hit a high at the end of WWII, then dropped steadily until 1960, then went up until the 1980’s, and have dropped ever since. Whatever is going on with marriage, SSM isn’t to blame.

    What is your expectation?

    I’m sure you won’t agree, but from my POV, on one hand there was real discrimination and real harm to real people, and on the other hand, there were nebulous claims of possible future harm. What little data existed, indicated SSM itself will make no difference at all to anyone.

    If you want to make a case the culture is going to hell in a handbasket, I’m down for that.

    But SSM can only be a symptom; declaring SSM not only the harbinger of doom but itself the agent of doom, has never been supported by evidence.

  61. I actually used to be an advocate for same sex marriage until I read Ryan Anderson’s “What is Marriage?: A Man and a Woman: A Defense” which really helped me understand that the whole SSM movement is really about a redefinition of the institution of marriage to the “consent based” definition as opposed to the “conjugal definition” which holds that marriage is intrinsically ordered towards family life.

    Now the switch from the conjugal to the consent based definition has some pretty profound effects. It helps to understand that legalized SSM is the culmination of a shifting cultural understanding of “marriage” that has implicitly embraced the idea that love is all it takes (consent based definition). Once that cultural definition was widely in place it was just a matter of time before the logical implication of SSM were worked out. We can see some of the effects of this cultural shift with the rise of “no fault divorce”. Divorce rates are up, marital stability is down, and that isn’t good for the kids. On top of that, there some evidence to suggest that kids who grow up in SS households don’t fare well.

    If I could make a couple of references here:

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_100_Scholars_of_Marriage.pdf

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_American_College_of_Pediatricians.pdf

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/10/6784/

    (The absolutely devastating report on the APA’s research) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000580

    (A directory of articles)
    http://www.familystructurestudies.com/articles/

    What’s more, the redefinition of marriage inevitably must include polygamous marriages, which only naturally follows from the “consent based” definition. I’m not looking forward to seeing what that will do to the kids.

    A society with a gradually eroding marriage culture is not going to be itself a very stable society.

    Keith, can you give me some specific reason that you advocate the newer consent based definition of marriage rather than the traditional conjugal definition?

  62. Keith-

    I can’t speak for everyone, but near as I can tell most that are opposed to ss”m” consider it a symptom. Which; of course, raises the questions about what it is a symptom of, and then the question of what that means when it is entrenched in law. These are all the things that the opposition to ss”m” has been bringing up all along. If ss”m” is a symptom of harmful practices, is it wise to entrench in to law? I would think not.

    You brought up marriage rates, what does that mean if the people marrying are not living those marriages out well? What if they hardly understand what it really means to be married at all? Can ss”m” teach us more truth about what it means to be married or will it obscure truth about what it means to be married? I think that question answers itself. What do you think?

  63. @Keith:

    If you want to discuss that, I’m up for it.

    No, you are not. I briefly detailed (an oxymoron, I know) a challenge that the typical pro-SSM defender has to meet and what I received was an asinine analogy with driver stop signs. In the meanwhile you continue to miss the point and beg the question at practically every paragraph, e.g.:

    I’m sure you won’t agree, but from my POV, on one hand there was real discrimination and real harm to real people, and on the other hand, there were nebulous claims of possible future harm. What little data existed, indicated SSM itself will make no difference at all to anyone.

    There is not a single argument here, just assertion, maybe under the delusional idea that merely labeling (“real discrimination”) exempts one from the real, hard work of offering actual arguments to back it up.

    Anticipated apologies if my tone is unduly harsh, but I have very little patience for displays of non-arguing crowned with “If you want to discuss that, I’m up for it”.

  64. Keith, I have often said that SSM is a symptom; but not only a symptom, also an endorsement, of a deeply eroding marriage culture. That’s the harm.

    If you can’t single out its effects, that’s because they’re part of the same thing that’s been going on for decades: the overall erosion of marriage, the shift to “just you and me, babe,” marriage that falls apart when mutual enjoyment fades, the vast increase in divorce, and so on.

    Now, just because it’s part of the same thing doesn’t mean it’s innocuous or that its contribution to the continuation of that decline is insignificant. SSM says that marriage doesn’t matter. That is (and I know what your first inclination might have been when you read that), marriage that builds families and remains stable and is for the sake of future generations and holds together out of commitment to both spouse and children doesn’t matter.

    Or, maybe, hey, it’s a way to get married, it’s an option, but look: if it’s an option, then it’s optional! It’s not that big a deal.

    When society decides that kind of marriage isn’t a big deal, social support for marriage degrades. That’s been happening. And approving of SSM says, “Great! Fine! Let’s put that kind of marriage even further back on the shelf!”

    The people who suffer most are first, children, and second, women. You in favor of that?

  65. What’s more Tom,

    Why should marriage be a lifelong covenant if it is nothing more intrinsic than a legally regulated friendship? Why not redefine marriage even further into a contract with an expiration date (or make it such that people can option it as such) that when reached automatically voids the marriage if both parties don’t agree to re-up?

    Such would certainly be more in line with the consent based definition of marriage which makes marriage really just contingent upon the fickle whims of human beings.

    I can already hear expiration date marriages being touted as the perfect solution to end the growing divorce crisis.

    When we’ve reached such a point isn’t it clear that marriage has really just been destroyed as an institution with any meaning or power?

  66. Apparently Keith doesn’t understand the difference between mere legal rights and natural rights. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    As Mark Alexander points out in the Patriot Post, ‘our Declaration’s signers were not of one mind on matters of theology and doctrine. They were Christians, Deists and Agnostics, but they did, however, uniformly declare that the Rights of all people were, are and forever will be innate and unalienable, as established by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”’

    He goes on to explain that… ‘This is not an article of “faith.” It is the assertion that the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” while enshrined in our Declaration, is inherent and applicable to all humans of every nation, religion, race and ethnicity, for all time…

    ‘As… Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The sacred Rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” Indeed, the Declaration and Constitution were designed to protect those Rights, not award them.’

    http://patriotpost.us/alexander/18968

    Traffic laws are necessary for public safety and the general welfare of society. However there is nothing in the stop lights colors where green means “Go” and red means “Stop.” To suggest that they are is historically and intellectually ignorant. (I am saying that as politely as I possibly can.)

    If we lose the understanding and belief that our rights are not arbitrary human inventions we lose the possibility that U.S. can endure as a free and open democratic society.

  67. Travis @61:

    I think that if you don’t believe there’s inherent value in conjugal union, or that marriage should be intrinsically ordered to family/children, the arguments in “What is Marriage” won’t convince you. As Koppelman replied, “I think [marriage is] just a construct that has developed over time, and that therefore can be changed by human beings if that seems best.”

    Of possible interest: here’s Koppelman’s What Marriage Isn’t, his comments on “What is Marriage?”, and href=”http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2263/”>here is Girgis, George and Anderson’s reply to Koppelman.

    Thanks for the references — I had not seen all of them, much appreciated.

    I won’t jump into the how kids fare in SSM households; to be honest, I’ve read conflicting information, and I’ve not read enough to think I have an informed opinion.

    Poly-marriages? Agreed, they’re coming.

    When you say a “society with a gradually eroding marriage culture is not going to be itself a very stable society”, can you define precisely what you mean by “eroding marriage culture” (fewer marriages, less stable marriages, something else?), and share the data behind that conclusion?

    The specific reason is as above: I think the inherent value ascribed to conjugal union of one man one woman is sheer invention, there’s no evidence it exists.

  68. Really???

    I’m shaking my head in bewildered astonishment.

    Ask a kid whose parents divorced each other.

    Or a kid whose parents aren’t committed enough to each other to solve their relationship problems.

    Look at the relationship of stable families and crime. Or marriage and poverty (that’s in my book, I hope you’ve bought a copy).

    Or…

    “struggling single parent”

    — quick, what image came to mind: a man or a woman?

    This hurts women.

    Or did you think of a child whose one parent wasn’t around enough, and whose other parent was out of the picture or on limited custody?

    You in favor of that?

  69. I could spend weeks delivering you data, Keith, and not exhaust the supply. But why don’t you just ask a kid instead?

    You haven’t seen the data???????

    That’s blind. That’s really, really blind.

    Wake up. Open your eyes.

  70. DR84 @62:

    To state the obvious: to think about marriage in terms of “meaning” or “truth” implies marriage has inherent qualities. I don’t think your question makes sense to someone who doesn’t believe that.

  71. Keith, that way leads toward all kinds of epistemological traps, not to mention, If marriage has no inherent qualities, then it’s impossible to have a wrong conception of marriage. Therefore our conception of marriage isn’t wrong, and you ought to quit telling us it is.

    Now, you might revert to, “Your conception of marriage isn’t wrong but your social/legal policies toward marriage needed to be overwhelmed by the policies of people who disagree with you.”

    If so, why? For the “greater social good,” as you’ve said? But based on your view, if you don’t think of marriage in terms of meaning and truth, can you think of the greater social good in terms of meaning and truth? I don’t know how.

    What you don’t realize, Keith (and for God’s sake, speaking reverently there, you need to wake up!) is that today’s view of “the greater social good” isn’t etched in stone. It isn’t a thing that can be pursued. It’s an ephemeral mood that says freedom to do what you want is the greatest thing of all. There was a time when “freedom” meant the freedom to do what was right. That’s long-since forgotten. Today’s mood will shift, too.

    There was a time and place when the greater social good meant serving the State.

    There was a time and place when the greater social good meant arming oneself to go attack one’s neighbors, unprovoked.

    There was a time and place when the greater social good meant sterilizing the “feeble-minded” and “morons.”

    Again: If the thing you’re pursuing is the greater social good, there’s no thing there to pursue. Just a mood. And moods shift.

    You’ve got nothing. Nothing but a mood. And you’re imposing your mood on us who disagree.

  72. G. Rodrigues @63:

    Just one opinion, but your tone is invariably “unduly harsh”. I have very little patience for anyone incapable of a paragraph without insult.

    Do you assert there was no discrimination against gay people in pre-SSM marriage law?

    If so, I would welcome your response to @18, to help me understand that position.

  73. Let me jump in and say, there was discrimination against “marriage” that wasn’t regarded as marriage.

    There was discrimination against attempts to marry in a manner that wasn’t regarded as marriage.

    Now let me describe the situation today:

    There is discrimination against “marriage” that isn’t regarded as marriage.

    There is discrimination against attempts to marry in a manner that isn’t regarded as marriage.

  74. Tom @64:

    Fair enough, well said.

    How would you respond to “SSM allows more people to build families, display commitment and remain stable”?

    In other words, if we agree there is a human good in marriage, then SSM marriage is just more “good”?

  75. The question, Keith isn’t what’s allowed. The problem with marriage has never been that society stood up and said, “Hey, you: are you building families, displaying commitment, remaining stable? Then STOP it!”

    No, that’s whimsical, silly, etc.; but it also illustrates that “allows” is the wrong word.

    The question is what society actively supports. And society has quit supporting the kind of lifelong future-building family-generating my-parents-really-love-each-other-no-matter-what marriage that we’re talking about.

  76. “If … there is a human good in marriage,” then SSM’s counterfeit spoils it. Because it’s not more of the same that is good; it’s more of the “just you and me, babe” counterfeit that undermines the good.

  77. Travis @66:

    Have you seen Elizabeth Brake’s Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law?

    Quoted from the linked review:

    So, given my understanding of marriage, Brake’s conclusion is really that what we mean by ‘marriage’ should be abolished, and the word ‘marriage’ should be subversively redeployed to refer to any legally recognized adult caring relationship. This point is not a substantial criticism of Brake. On the contrary, Brake’s argument poses a formidable challenge for any defence of any (“more-than-minimal”) marriage. How can one justify marriage institutions of this kind without justifying amatonormative discrimination — and how can one justify amatonormative discrimination without relying on controversial doctrines or ideals that some citizens will reasonably reject? While I believe that Brake is too quick to conclude that there is no way in which any defender of “more-than-minimal” marriage can answer this challenge, she has done us all a service by articulating the challenge so clearly.

    If anybody’s read it, I’d be interested in thoughts from a Christian view: what is the end-game of marriage re-definition?

    If anybody wants to read it, I’ll lend you my copy. 🙂

  78. JAD @67:

    I do understand the difference between “legal rights and natural rights”, it’s just that I see no evidence of the latter.

    Without recourse to a deity, our “inalienable rights” become a matter of social contract, nothing more.

    Am I wrong?

  79. Tom @69, @70:

    The question was about stable societies, not stable families (and I don’t see an obvious way to simply equate the two, but I’m ready to be wrong about that).

  80. If the review is an accurate reflection of the book you’ve referred us to, Keith, then yes, I think this is the endgame for same. It’s also (if the review reflects it accurately) incoherent and easily rebutted. For example:

    Moreover, there are many other valuable caring relationships — most notably, friendships, but also the relationships of “adult care networks” (p. 90), “polyamorists” (p. 91), and “urban tribes” (p 92). These non-amorous relationships are marginalized, and to that extent undermined, by the special privilege that marriage accords to amorous relationships. This marginalization of non-amorous caring relationships is what Brake calls “amatonormative discrimination” (p. 97); as she argues, the institution of marriage as it currently exists promotes such amatonormative discrimination.

    This seems naive toward the ethical neutrality of “discrimination,” for one thing. (Discrimination only gains an ethical characteristic when attached to terms like “just” or “unjust.” Otherwise it could be either or neither.)

    For another, the marginalization she describes is perhaps real with respect to singles in a marriage culture. For polyamorism, I wouldn’t say “marginalized,” I’d say “wow, that’s wrong.” I don’t want to marginalize error, I want to correct and eliminate it. On the way to that goal the persons committing the error might feel marginalized. That would be one facet of the motivation to change that I would hope to induce.

    Some people might disagree with me, but the primary disagreement wouldn’t be over whether marriage marginalizes polyamory, it would be over whether polyamory is indeed an error as I think it is.

    Meanwhile her disagreement with me over this is probably her way of marginalizing me, and she ought to just stop it, okay?

    As for adult care networks and urban tribes, I’d have to read the book, but I think on the face of it there’s nothing to that claim.

  81. “Marginalized” is a great term when it points to some real injustice, but the way it gets used academically is often incoherent and self-defeating. Marginalizing is treated as a grave flaw, and those who discover and combat it are highly virtuous; but the “it” that they combat in the process is the same “it” they commit at the same time.

    This author cannot combat marginalization in the way she seeks to do without marginalizing me. Maybe she thinks marginalizing me is okay: but that’s another marginalizing statement that needs to be justified as well; and that justification is bound to be marginalizing, too.

    Someday you have to land on some real virtue or error, and “marginalizing” doesn’t tend to land.

  82. Thanks to Keith for for the link to Mr. Koppelman’s post. His counter-argument is (sorry everyone for the long quotes):

    A proposal to modify marriage is ontologically similar to a proposal to modify the game of chess. Chess, too, “corresponds to no intrinsic reason or set of reasons at all,” if, again, this means a one-to-one correspondence between practices and goods. Consider a proposal to change the rules so that the rook can now move one space diagonally, in addition to the other moves it is already permitted to make. Well, you’ll say, if we adopted that rule we wouldn’t be playing chess any more; we’d be playing some other game. (I don’t follow baseball, but I’m told that a similar debate was undertaken some years ago, quite passionately, about the designated-hitter rule: “That’s not baseball!”) But perhaps this other game would be a better one than the one we play now. I don’t think that this question can be resolved by trying to figure out what the essence of Chess is. Chess hasn’t got an essence. Doubtless the present game of chess was developed through just such fiddling; perhaps someone once thought that the drunken reel of the knight was hostile to the essence of Chess. The question is what sort of chess rules are likely, under the circumstances, to best realize the good of play. (Actually, “chess” already denotes several different games. The dynamic is very different if you play with a chess clock.)

    So the claim of Koppelman is that just like Chess is a human artifact, so is marriage a human artifact, and therefore presumably like Chess, it does not have an essence. Mr. Koppelman is very confused and the paragraph is a metaphyical train wreck. The fact that Chess is a human artifact does *not* entail that it does not have essential properties, for otherwise we would not even be able to recognize when we were playing chess instead of some other kind of game; “cheating” would be a rigorously redundant charge. Neither does the fact that different people disagree about the essential properties of Chess or Baseball entail that these have no essential properties at all. What it shows is that, precisely because Chess and Baseball are human artifacts, there is a good deal of vagueness. And this goes right into the next point, for Mr. Koppelman begs the question against say, natural law theorists that *argue* that marriage is an institution that is natural to human beings, so the analogy with Chess or Baseball fails — the empirical evidence for it is so abundant that one has to be positively blind to be able to miss it.

    Mr. Koppelman’s confusion continues when he says: “The question is what sort of chess rules are likely, under the circumstances, to best realize the good of play.” Now it is quite obviously that, as stated, this is false. Play is a general, non-specific activity. Clearly it makes no sense to come up with the sort of Chess rules that best realize the good of playing soccer. So the “good of play” must be ammended to “the good of playing chess” which of course presupposes some previous idea, even if partial, of what kind of game Chess is, and what kind of goods are supposed to be fostered by playing it. I should add that George et al. agree with this; not only they agree, their entire case is built on the consideration of what Human goods marriage is supposed to foster.

    But let us concede Mr. Koppelman the conclusion he wants to draw: marriage has no essence, and thus it is nothing more that what humans say it is at a given time. While Mr. Koppelman does not address this, it follows that the question is *not* one of rights. Because if marriage is what human society says it is, it is *not* an injustice to prevent two same-sex persons to marry in exactly the same sense it is *not* an injustice to allow an 80 year-old Lepsha marry a pubescent 12-year old — if marriage is what human societies say it is, then requiring proper rational consent (and therefore adulthood) is a mere prejudice and any debate about it would be, to pick one of Mr. Koppelman’s examples: a passionate, but otherwise quite meaningless, discussion “about the designated-hitter rule”.

    Prudential reasons to opt for this or that are *not* arguments from rights; I suppose that Mr. Koppelman would not rail against slavery on account that say, there is a danger of the slaves rebelling and killing us all. Furthermore, given that that the SSM-oriented (hate this expression) population is a minority, and those within that population that want to marry are themselves a minority, it is hard to fathom what pragmatic concerns could these be. But here I must not fault Mr. Koppelman as he does not address this issue in this short essay, and may well have done it elsewhere.

    The fact that something is “a legal construct” does not entail that it has “totally malleable contours.” One analogy that may be helpful is immigration. National boundaries are entirely arbitrary constructions that divide human beings who are not essentially different from another. There are, however, good prudential reasons for having them, and the arguments against open borders are similarly prudential. The question of what kind of immigration law to have is a morally weighty one with massive human consequences, but one will not add clarity to the issue by imagining that citizenship is “a pre-legal reality that the state has good reasons to track.” All one can do is make the claim that this or that group of excluded people are so nearly identical to the ones who are included that it is arbitrary to leave them out, and that the consequences of doing so will not be bad. (That is the argument that has been made on behalf of the DREAM Act, which unfortunately was filibustered to death in the Senate today.) The arguments for extending the boundaries of marriage, but not infinitely, are similarly pragmatic. (On 275, George and his colleagues claim that their narrow view of marriage can be defended on purely pragmatic grounds, but the assertion is altogether summary and undefended. More elaborate arguments for this claim have been made by others, and I answer them in the two pieces I cite in the third paragraph above.)

    With due deference to Mr. Koppelman, yes that is *exactly* what it means. That is after all, the point of his analogy with Chess. If marriage has no essence then it has no essential properties, and if it has no essential properties, then there is no property P such that were a marriage to lack or lose it, it would cease to be a marriage. And there being no such properties, yes marriage has “totally malleable contours”. But the metaphysical blindness continues: Koppelman adds “The arguments for extending the boundaries of marriage, but not infinitely, are similarly pragmatic.” A pragmatic concern means that marriage is supposed to fulfill, or an aid in fulfilling, some aim or end. But Mr. Koppelman believes that marriage has no essence, therefore it follows that marriage as he conceives can serve no *essential* purpose or aims, but only what purposes any human society arbitrarily and *ad hoc* says it must serve at any given time.

  83. @Keith:

    Do you assert there was no discrimination against gay people in pre-SSM marriage law?

    No, there was not. Not only that, I argued why it follows that there was and there could be no discrimination on *your* conception of marriage as a legal convention.

    If you would explain how it’s not discrimination for only straight people to get federal exemptions from personal property tax on another individual’s death, I’d be interested.

    This is only accidentally related to marriage. *If* you want to tie “federal exemptions from personal property tax” to marriage, then well, unmarried people are discriminated — *not* just gays, but siblings, friends, etc. are discriminated. So it is false that gays were especially targetted by this type of laws. *If* on the other hand you think these federal exemptions should be extended to other classes and groups, then disentangle these laws from marriage. Extension of government material benefits is *not* a compelling reason to alter marriage law — although in good old Marxist fashion, “follow the money” is always a good way to understand the other side’s reasons.

  84. Tom @73:

    Not again with the “if there’s no absolute morality, you can’t say anything is wrong” argument.

    Of course I understand the definition of “good” isn’t etched in stone, and eugenics was once termed “good”.

    Of course I understand I might be totally wrong (if I can use that word!), and some change I believe to promote human good will not.

    If you can demonstrate any (even anecdotal), evidence of access to a standard of morality outside of yourself, I’m eager to hear about it.

    But until you do that, all Christians can honestly claim is “today’s mood”, just like everybody else.

  85. Tom @75:

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

    Of course, we agree that when US marriage law didn’t allow interracial unions, it violated people’s civil rights.

    Are you asserting that nothing in pre-SSM marriage law would reasonably be analogous, with respect to gay people?

  86. G. Rodrigues @85:

    Thanks for that post — it will require a more careful reading than I have time for now.

    One minor comment, when Koppelman says “totally malleable”, it’s clarified by his later use of “pragmatic”; that is, there are things that might be technically possible, but there will be widespread agreement they’re not a good idea. I suspect you and he are in heated agreement at that point.

    G. Rodrigues @86:

    All unmarried people were not equally discriminated because straight people could marry, while gay people could not. (Yes, they could technically “marry”, but that’s a bad argument.)

    Yes, accidentally related to marriage, but that doesn’t reduce the discrimination inherent in the relationship.

    I agree: the solution was to untangle those laws from marriage, but that approach was fought by the religious as ferociously as SSM.

  87. But until you do that, all Christians can honestly claim is “today’s mood”, just like everybody else.

    We have produced the evidence, many times, on this blog.

    You haven’t accepted it.

    Is your argument therefore, “until you produce the evidence, all Christians can honestly claim is ‘today’s mood’ just like everybody else”?

    Better than that would be: “But until you produce the arguments I agree with, all Christians can honestly claim is that I haven’t convinced them their view amounts to more than ‘today’s mood.'”

    That’s the conclusion that logically follows from what precedes it, and I agree completely.

    But if your argument is that we can’t claim anything more than a mood underlying our view, then why argue with us at all? Why not just say, “hey, man, bummer of a mood you’re in,” and we could say, “I don’t think it’s such a bad mood I’m in, but I do think you’re in a strange one.”

    And how would we determine who’s right and who’s wrong? The SUPREME COURT would decide! (You know, for a moment I thought it was an unsolvable problem. Then I remembered we had an answer after all.)

  88. You keep saying “discrimination” as if it were a bad word.

    We agree there was discrimination. I said so very plainly in #75. I’m fine with discrimination in myriad contexts, and so are you.

    Until it’s determined whether such discrimination is just or unjust, it’s either a fluff word, a nothing word, a word without moral content, or else it’s a smoke-bomb word intended to scare everyone out of the room as if it were awful.

    Discrimination has no moral content until it’s attached to terms like just or unjust. You cannot use charges of Discrimination! to show that said discrimination is unjust. You need to patiently wait out the conversation over justice. Then you can introduce “discrimination” into the conversation, either as a word of satisfied approval for the situation, agreeing that this discrimination is just and good, or as a term of disapprobation.

    Using it in the latter manner before we reach that stage is just begging the question.

    Are you willing to learn and change, as you said you were?

    Do you agree that “discrimination” must be accompanied by terms with moral content if it is to have any moral relevance?

    Then will you agree to refrain from using it as either a fluff word or a smoke bomb?

    I doubt it. I think you’re going to keep using it. Maybe not here. I doubt you’ll change much overall, though.

    Prove me wrong.

  89. “That’s discrimination! It’s unjust!”

    There are two separate and separable claims being made there.

    Too many think that by saying, “That’s discrimination!” they’re demonstrating that it’s unjust. This is folly.

  90. “Are you asserting that nothing in pre-SSM marriage law would reasonably be analogous, with respect to gay people?”

    Keith, I don’t see anyone asserting this. Instead we have explained why there is no reasonable analogy. I have already pointed out that how people may or may not identify their sexual orientation is completely irrelevant to marriage law and always has been. I am going to go a step further, we have proven that people that identify as gay have not been discriminated with respect to marriage in any sense. Proven just as rigorously and just as thoroughly as we have proven 2+2=4.

  91. @Keith:

    that is, there are things that might be technically possible, but there will be widespread agreement they’re not a good idea.

    I think I already explained why this does not work.

    All unmarried people were not equally discriminated because straight people could marry, while gay people could not.

    Besides begging the question (once again) this is (once again) patently false. A simple counter-example is siblings like sisters (there was a case in the UK a few years ago where precisely this type of issue has come up; do not have the time to dig up the link right now).

  92. I cannot imagine any definition of injustice that does not also include discrimination. Therefore, there cannot be injustice without discrimination.

    I cannot imagine any definition of justice that does not include discrimination. Obviously it’s discrimination over different matters for different reasons, but it’s discrimination nonetheless.

    Therefore;

    There cannot be injustice without discrimination.

    There cannot be justice without discrimination.

    “Discrimination” on its own, without further information related to moral context and content, tells you nothing about whether there is justice or injustice.

  93. Following on #94:

    It has never been remotely the case that straight people could marry according to their wishes or desires.

    Have you ever listened to any popular music? Watched any TV shows? Read any literature? Had any friends? Lived any life?

    There are lots of straight people who are pining away in desperate pain for years and years, not being able to marry the one they want to marry.

    Maybe we should change the laws to accommodate them? Force the undesiring person into the relationship? Even if they’re already married?

    (Patently false, as the man said.)

  94. I just saw your question about #75.

    Really. You can’t think of any situation today that some person might call “marriage” that isn’t regarded as marriage?

    (Inter-racial marriages have nothing to do with what I’m thinking about. Never entered my thoughts.)

    What I’m saying is that society, persons, law, whatever, will regard certain relationships as non-marriage, and that this is just as true today as it was twenty years ago.

    My point was that we are discriminating between what is marriage (or regarded as such) and what is not. My further point is that I’m certain you agree that to discriminate in that way is often good. You would not want just any and every pair’s, throuple’s, quadruple’s, human-plus-quadruped’s relationship to be declared marriage indiscriminately.

  95. I think it’s interesting how in #88 you assumed that when I was talking about “discrimination” it was in reference to violating civil rights.

    I trust that since then you’ve read #91.

    I do not believe that “discrimination” and “violating civil rights” are synonymous.

    I discriminate between the two, and I violate no one’s rights by doing so.

  96. Everybody @*

    A couple of things I need to re-read, but I think I understand what you’re saying.

    G. Rodrigues, DR84:
    I don’t hear agreement gay people were specifically harmed under existing marriage law, to a degree different from their straight, unmarried counterparts; is it you disagree, or it doesn’t matter, or something else?

    Tom @90:
    I don’t recall evidence showing any access to a standard of morality outside of yourself; bring it on. (Unless it’s how the religious have led the charge against injustice?)

  97. As Koppelman replied, “I think [marriage is] just a construct that has developed over time, and that therefore can be changed by human beings if that seems best.”

    And this is an obvious lie.

    As I stated earlier, marriage is the bedrock social institution upon which every civilization in world history has been built. It wasn’t “developed over time” it is and was a central part of every civilization know to man. And it couldn’t be a bigger indictment of SSM proponents that they would resort to such an obvious fabrication to support their position.

  98. Keith @99

    I don’t recall evidence showing any access to a standard of morality outside of yourself; bring it on. (Unless it’s how the religious have led the charge against injustice?)

    That’s a transparent dodge. You’ve been reading and commenting here for at least three years. During that time you have seen evidence. Lots of it.

    You’ve also had extremely recent opportunity to read and respond to what I said about your relation to that evidence.

    But now you say there’s been no evidence produced.

    Would you at least be honest enough to admit that what you haven’t seen is evidence that persuaded you?

    Otherwise, Keith, you’re lying to yourself more than you are to us.

    That’s not all. I’ll be back soon.

    In the meantime, quit lying.

  99. If your argument were, “You’ve presented no evidence for objective morality on this thread, my answer would be, “So what? That’s not what this thread is for. I’ve presented evidence in appropriate threads. And … ”

    … next comment.

  100. Keith, is there anything I’ve said to you here that depends on my presenting evidence of objective morality, anyway?

    What I’ve been doing has been showing you that your claims fall flat without it, that all you’ve got is a a mood, or that you’ve been smuggling moral content into “discrimination.”

    When you can address that, then well…

    … next comment.

  101. Keith, I’ve already said your #99 was a dodge.

    Here’s what you’re dodging.

    You’re dodging my questions about discrimination. They’re easy to find. You’re ignoring them.

    You’re dodging everything we’ve said about you begging the question. (Use your search-on-page function. You can find it at least three times easily enough.)

    You’re dodging the fact that you’re coming at us with some kind of moral claim while claiming there are no moral claims.

    You’re dodging the problem you’ve got with shifting moods. You’ve presented no evidence that you’ve grappled with that. (And I know that “presented no evidence” is true this time. I’m not lying about it like you were.)

  102. Tom @101, @102, @103, @104:

    Uhhh, well, just wow.

    I didn’t respond to your posts about “discrimination” because I mostly agreed. I (and others, I think) were conflating terms. I don’t think it damages the argument fatally (because injustice is implied in common use), but I agree with chunks of what you said.

    No, I don’t think I’m begging the question, but we’ve gone 3 (at least 3?) rounds on the phrasing, and I’m not making my point, and there’s no point in saying it again. Maybe I can find a better way to say it, but not today, and not without staring hard at the post chain.

    I have never claimed there are no moral claims, I’ve only said I don’t believe in moral absolutism (a position I’m sure you believe incoherent, but well, I think you’re wrong).

    I flat out admit I’ve got a huge problem with “shifting moods” (thus, repeated use of the phrase “Of course I understand”). I’m also flat out asserting you have the exact same problem, but you cherry-pick or simply ignore history to pretend you don’t. Everyone on this list knows (or at least, should know), that God has been pro- and anti-slavery, pro- and anti-abortion, a fierce combatant on both sides of every moral question humanity has ever faced, utterly proving to anyone but the willfully blind that even if moral absolutes exist, the religious demonstrate no more access to them than anyone else. You won’t admit that fact, which kind of makes you a “liar”. But I’d never say that, because it’s a silly and stupid accusation to toss around because it implies intent, and just assuming people are doing their best tends to lead to better outcomes.

    Sheesh.

  103. Hi, all. Very busy day yesterday and much of this morning. I need to respond here and I haven’t forgotten but I can’t for a while yet.

  104. Keith,

    That marriage has changed over time as the Coontz book describes has nothing to do with Koppelman’s suggestion that marriage is a construct. Sure it’s changed. That what we are talking about and Tom has written about (“you and me babe”) numerous times. That marriage is a construct is a completely different assertion. That assertion doesn’t address the changes that marriage has gone through. That assertion claims that the institution itself is nothing but a what we say it is (thus a construct) and moreover that it “developed over time.” But marriage has been part of every civilization known to man and can be found in every outpost of civilization from the most ancient civilizations to the most isolated indigenous tribes of the Amazon. That makes it anything but a construct that developed over time. That shows it’s utter ubiquitousness in all times and in all places.

  105. And Keith,

    When you said: that God has been pro- and anti-slavery, pro- and anti-abortion, a fierce combatant on both sides of every moral question humanity has ever faced, utterly proving to anyone but the willfully blind that even if moral absolutes exist, the religious demonstrate no more access to them than anyone else.

    And when you said to Tom “I don’t recall evidence showing any access to a standard of morality outside of yourself; bring it on.”

    You were joking, right?

  106. Hello there…

    I was reflecting a bit on the first same-sex wedding I was able to attend here recently… a great couple that has been together for 30 years. That prompted me to see how the old debate was going on around here… mostly the same I see.

    But the question from our end was never whether same-sex couples were being denied the right to marry like opposite couples. It was whether such a right as “same-sex marriage” actually existed, in fact whether such an institution as same-sex marriage existed.

    Gay-rights advocates have steamrolled that question without addressing it. It’s almost as if it were never a question; it got flattened. But remember this well: your side has never answered the question that we consider most basic of them all. You’ve only crushed it.

    What exactly you are looking for when it comes to “addressing the questions”, that you haven’t been able to find?

    Yea, sure… I agree that that within LGBT rights movement, you’ll find no shortage of stupid, thoughtless, and even hurtful or downright evil things (and their casualties) bouncing around in the “zeitgiest”. So… its just like every other populist movement in history, then. Even Christian ones… I mean… there’s plenty to lament about the Stupid among Christian/Conservative opposition, for sure (Keith touches on some stark examples).

    But on the other hand… you have guys like Girgis and Anderson and more who do debate on a high intellectual level , and (mostly) above the fray… great. But so do we, in people like John Corvino and Andrew Sullivan and more. And at that level most issues of the debate *have* been addressed pretty darn thoroughly.

  107. “But on the other hand… you have guys like Girgis and Anderson and more who do debate on a high intellectual level , and (mostly) above the fray… great. But so do we, in people like John Corvino and Andrew Sullivan and more. And at that level most issues of the debate *have* been addressed pretty darn thoroughly.”

    Corvino and Sullivan don’t think people like Girgis and Anderson are hateful bigots, they even see them as friends. I have a hunch that makes both anathema to the broader “lgbt rights” movement. If they were the example of the typical “lgbt rights” activist I dont think those of us who hold views like Girgis and Anderson would have too much to worry about.

    Instead; though, we have the US Commission on Civil Rights coming out with stuff like this in response to laws passed in NC and Mississippi:

    “Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination, as embodied in the Constitution, laws, and policies, are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence. Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights. Overly broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies. Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434246/religious-freedom-more-important-transgender-rights

    In other words, the commission hopes to embed in the Constitution that Christians are hateful and intolerant of LGBT people because of their views on marriage, biological sex, and sexual morality and that Christians should, as far as possible, not be allowed to act on their beliefs.

  108. No matter what a person does or who they are we are supposed them unconditionally. We are supposed to hate the sin not the person. I don’t like the LGBT movement at all and actually I hate it, But I don’t hate the people. I am one that believes 100% in one man and one woman marriages.in the Bible it says severl times that we are supposed to love another 100%. The first verse that comes to mind is John 13:34, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
    And then in Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. But it never says we can’t hate the sin.

  109. @d:

    “And at that level most issues of the debate *have* been addressed pretty darn thoroughly.”

    No, they have *not*. That was easy.

  110. @DR84

    If they were the example of the typical “lgbt rights” activist I dont think those of us who hold views like Girgis and Anderson would have too much to worry about.

    What is the typical LGBT rights activist like, exactly? Can I learn that from National Review?

  111. @d:

    Yes huh! Even easier.

    And not only easier, but *shorter* and to the *same* effect as what you wrote! So a net win on all scores.

  112. @G. Rodrigues

    On a less juvenile note (you started it!), let me ask you this…

    The issue hasn’t been addressed thoroughly (to your satisfaction), by the same-sex marriage camp. Point taken. That leads me to a couple follow up questions to help me understand..

    – Out of all the materials you have digested that are pro-lgbt or ssm, that are also earnest intellectual attempts at building solid cases for their points of view, can you point out some examples that stand out to you as the best of the bunch (duly noting that they still fall short, by your standards)?

    – And briefly, if possible, what about those examples really miss the mark for you?

    If anyone else wants to chime in there too, that be great!

  113. d-

    Just look through this series that Tom has been putting together in response to charges made by LGBT activists against Christians regarding so called LGBT rights issues. These charges of hate, intolerance and so on are both common and persistent. I think it is fair to say they are typical.

    I also am pretty confident guys like Corvino and Sullivan would agree with much of what Tom is saying.

  114. A couple of things to keep in mind:

    My obligation to respect your rights doesn’t mean that I should surrender mine.

    Your subjective feelings cannot be the objective basis of universal human rights, even if it represents a widespread form of group think.

  115. @DR84

    Frequent sites like media matters, dailykos, etc and you’ll be treated to daily smatterings of all kinds of alleged, ominous-sounding misdeeds from those who more or less would be on “your side of the aisle”.

    I’m not really sure thats informative enough for us to generalize. We are all smart enough to know that media is attracted to the sensational, not the norm.

    For every blinkard SSM advocate that can’t do better than “Give us equal rights!! Because!” and is willing to fight to the death for his “belief” – there’s a counterpart in the opposition whose best retort “Its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”.

    I think we can all agree , and all we can do is basically damage control when they run amuck.

  116. @d:

    On a less juvenile note (you started it!), let me ask you this…

    I started it? At any rate, a little friendly banter (yeah, I know, “friendly” from my mouth is said with a snarl), even if juvenile, lights the air.

    And briefly, if possible, what about those examples really miss the mark for you?

    Let me retort this way: gather a couple among what you think are the best examples for the pro-SSM case (*) that are available online (online just because of easy and speedy availability), send them my way, and I will read them, or at the very least make an effort to. The reason why I am answering this way is that while I have read a few, they all blend in my memory as an unformed mass of uniformly bad argumentation; maybe this is just my bias showing — but then you have a (very slim) chance in converting me to the wonders, potential and actual, of the pro-SSM beatific vision.

    (*) Although I am leaving to you the exact details of what constitutes the “best case”, remember that it was you who said, and I quote, “And at that level most issues of the debate *have* been addressed pretty darn thoroughly.”

  117. Let me retort this way: gather a couple among what you think are the best examples for the pro-SSM case (*) that are available online (online just because of easy and speedy availability), send them my way, and I will read them, or at the very least make an effort to. The reason why I am answering this way is that while I have read a few, they all blend in my memory as an unformed mass of uniformly bad argumentation; maybe this is just my bias showing — but then you have a (very slim) chance in converting me to the wonders, potential and actual, of the pro-SSM beatific vision.

    Mmm-hmm…

    I already know my own thoughts about what I think the best views are.. Maybe its a little selfish here, but I genuinely was inquiring to know what the best examples are to YOU (and others here who share your view), in order to learn about them.

    Based on the level of engagement by you and others on this issue its obvious to me you guys have done your homework, so I’m disappointed nothing is really standing out to you.

  118. @Philmonomer

    Hey now, there’s a trip down memory lane. Some ramblings of mine also seem to be in those threads you linked 🙂

  119. Can I once again extend my question to the anti-SSM regulars here?

    What are the best, most impressive cases for gay marriage (or gay issues in general) that you have come across… maybe some that even really, seriously challenged you?

    Surely there are at least some books or serious academic papers or essays that stand out in your memory as best? I’m not a walking bibliography either, but I can say “What is Marriage” surely stands out to me as a great (but ultimately unpersuasive) case for traditional marriage, to me.

    I’m not trying to debate them here and now, I want to read them, and think about them.. thanks!

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