For the Narcissist Lover in You…

Ways Conservatives are (Maybe?) Wrong, Part 1: Adam and Steve

Unless today is your first time looking at this journal– and if it is, a hearty hello!– then you know that I tend toward a more conservative bent.  Like most human beings with functioning brain cells (and many who don’t) I also tend to think I am always right all the time.  Is that so bad?

I’ve always been baffled by people who say “you think you’re always right!” as if it was an insult.  Who goes around thinking they’re mostly wrong?  “Sure, I’m gonna vote for Senator Joe Schmoe, but you probably shouldn’t.  My political opinions are totally wrong.  I’m just too stubborn to give them up.”  Nobody thinks that, even (and especially) if it’s true.  We all live in our own heads, so I suspect we can be forgiven for thinking that the opinions we share that head with are all pretty awesome.

“Psst!  I’m just gonna say it: you’re always right all the time!”

Still, there is such a thing as too much certainty.  As I have said elsewhere, none of us is perfectly correct about everything.  It behooves us to ask ourselves what we– and the cultures of opinion that we most identify with– might end up being wrong about.  For instance, if someone asks you to name one bad thing about your chosen political worldview, and your response is “well, we’re just right way too much of the time, and that intimidates the sheeple!”, then it might be time to question your objectivity.

If, on the other hand, you can acknowledge some issues where your political homies might be a little off, then congratulations, you might have a functioning sense of individuality and respect for honest debate.  Furthermore, if you tend to disagree with your ideological brethren on almost every issue imaginable, then thank you for reading, Senator McCain.

Thank you and drive safely.

If you are a conservative, then buckle your mental seatbelt and prepare to write a long, pithy refutation in the comments section (I will read them with great interest).  If you are not a conservative, well, enjoy.  In the following weeks, I will be offering up thoughts on a few issues where conservative culture might be… er… wrong.  Today’s topic:

Gay Marriage

I will start this by saying that I really just don’t see what the big deal is.  I do think that it is curious that the popular media is making such an issue out of gay marriage at a time when marriage between heterosexuals is on a dramatic decline.

“The straights won’t mind.  They aren’t using it anyway…”

That aside, I’ve seen the arguments from both perspectives.  I suppose it is important to mention that no one is looking to ban gay marriage.  Some, however, wish to prevent gay marriage from being legally recognized in a civil sense.  There are myriad reasons why, but it seems to me that it all boils down to one thing (and no, it isn’t rampant homophobia): it is the belief that homosexuality is simply not the ideal method for humans to flourish, and therefore should not be sanctioned by the State.

Er, why not?

Even if one believes that homosexuality is morally aberrant, is that any of the government’s business?  Thinking about this purely objectively, it seems obvious that government should not be in the business of legislating morality.  It isn’t just that it doesn’t work (morality is a personal dynamic; it cannot be enforced from outside).  It is simply that America is not a theocracy.  Regardless of what we as individuals– or even, if it were possible, as an aggregate– believe about moral laws, we cannot make secular laws based on them.

Laws protect individual freedom, so long as that freedom does not impede the freedoms of anyone else.  This means people are free to do things you do not approve of.

And sometimes that’s the whole point.

Thus, putting aside all moral discussions about homosexuality (a monumental undertaking for people on both sides of the issue), what is the secular argument against legally recognizing gay marriages?

It can’t be any of this talk about marriage being for making babies, otherwise old people would not be allowed to marry.

It can’t be that heterosexual marriage is the traditional legal definition.  Slavery was also legally traditional for most of human history but that was no excuse for keeping it around.

It can’t be the somewhat abstruse argument that legalizing same gender marriage will somehow redefine genders as identical, thus destroying the ability to recognize any legal distinction between male and female (and leading, apparently, to hordes of men applying to be servers at Hooters), because that argument is just stupid (with apologies to Dennis Prager, who I am probably woefully misrepresenting).

It can’t be the famous slippery-slope argument that allowing gay marriage means inevitably having to allow people to marry their house plants and the occasional Roomba robot vacuum cleaner.  I suspect we’d all agree that the line can be drawn at marrying entities that legally qualify as human.

Thus, as far as I can tell, that only leaves the moral argument against gay marriage.  And as much as that argument may represent an interesting and serious social debate, I just don’t see how that can legitimately form the basis for law.

Somebody, somewhere, thinks there should be laws about this.

There is one other argument against gay marriage, I suppose, and it is the argument that it is an attack on the institution of marriage itself.  This one strikes me as a little silly.  The institution of marriage has, as referenced above, been on a steady decline for decades, and it isn’t because a few gay people exchanged vows in a back garden in San Francisco.

Are you ready for this?  It’s because heterosexuals themselves have such a casual, jaded view of marriage.

Ever since I was a kid, every marriage has had a slightly less than fifty-fifty chance of surviving.  People seem to go into marriage the way they move into a new house: with great intentions of staying forever, but willing to move away if they get bored, or if they feel they can afford something better, or if there’s another, cuter house on the next block and they just can’t avoid the temptation of exploring that house’s basement (all right, some analogies work better than others).

“She’s got a porch that just won’t quit!”

In short, before any of us conservatives start carping about how gays are going to chip away at the institution of marriage, I would humbly (or not) suggest that we take a look at all the gaping holes we’ve bashed through it over the past decades with our cavalier attitude about divorce.

So, in short, maybe conservatism is wrong about this whole gay marriage thing.  The arguments against it are, at their core, moral, not legal, and thus cannot qualify for legal consideration.  Or am I mistaken?  Has my opinion “evolved” to the extent that I am missing something?  It’s possible.  I am willing to consider it.  You be willing to share your thoughts on the subject.

But just to be fair, this also means that there is no legal basis for outlawing unhealthy food, or smoking, or watching “American Idol”.  They may be activities that are foolish and even personally unhealthy, but the objections to them are morality based, and morals simply cannot be enforced by law.  In a free society, people must be free to conduct their lives in ways you do not approve of.

There.  That last bit was a bone to my conservative friends.  Still love me?

More to come.

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46 responses

  1. You know George, coming from a pretty devout follower of Jesus, you actually brought up some great points that a lot of people need to recognize. First and foremost, coming from me (I’d like to say a pretty strong Christian), Any theology needs to back off, especially Christianity. When I turn on the news and see the church body assembled spreading hate, I get sick. If you truly follow the person of Jesus, your commands are to love God with all you got, and to love others as Christ has loved you and as you have loved yourself. I don’t see the words “hate” or “belittle” anywhere in there. For those of us that do do that, I’m going to go on record and say we don’t serve the same God.

    Now that being said, I personally can’t accept gay marriage according to what I earnestly believe. Call me whatever you want, but I will hold to my convictions. I am completely for the institution of Civil Unions, give them all the same benefits and tax breaks! Please! But to me (and any other Christian, hopefully) marriage was ordained by God in the Garden between one man and one woman. It was a conventional practice that originated in ancient-Judeo culture, which was carried on through Judeo-Christian times all the way from history to now. For me, marriage is a union between one man and one woman, unified to bring glory to God. As such, I have to defend it. Do I hate homosexuals? Of course not, I know and am on good terms with many. Do I hate the sin of what the Bible labels “sexual-perversion”? Yes.

    Is that grounds for me to vote my beliefs into law? Yes and no. Will I defend what I treasure? You bet I will 😉

    Take care!

    May 17, 2012 at 1:09 am

    • Thanks, Cole! I have no comment except to say thanks for standing for the Jesus of the Bible, and NOT the Jesus of perverted lunatics like Fred Phelps.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:32 am

      • Of course, definitely a common point missed today!

        May 17, 2012 at 2:55 am

    • Josh D

      With respect – I have trouble understanding how your position on this issue squares off with your belief that the state should have any say in marriage at all. While I understand that marriage is an institution often tied to “holy matrimony”, in our present world Christians, Muslims, Hindus and even ATHEISTS are all eligible to be “married” by the state, while homosexuals are not. If two atheist can be legally married, how do you justify denying that privilege to a gay couple?

      I think that if you want to be ideologically consistent, you should be proposing that a marriage license be the exclusive property of the Christian church. Anyone married outside of the church should be in an institution called “a civil union”, not just homosexuals. Either that, or you should advocate that the church create its own new name for a Christian marriage that the state can not interfere with.

      What am I missing here?

      May 17, 2012 at 2:04 am

      • One of the big things that really is at the forefront of this debate for a Christian is that homosexuality is a sin. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth from the Bible. Now you’ll easily rebuke me and say, “not everyone follows the bible, Cole,” and I’ll have to reply, “Sadly, you’re right.” Not everyone is a Christian, so what I consider sin doesn’t mean anything to someone who doesn’t believe. Do I expect you to follow my ideals without a complaint? Of course not, I wouldn’t do that to myself either. Do I ask and hope that others respect my opinion? Yeah, I hope so.

        It comes down to this really, any form of sexual perversion is a sin. That’s anything from pre-marital sex, cheating on your wife, homosexuality, bestiality, self-gratification, all the way to rape. It’s a blanket covering. By creating homosexual unions in the name of marriage, well, that’s taking what came from the church and combining it with a sin and saying that it’s ok. Do bad people get married? Yeah, they do. It’s sad. Is marriage perfect? No, it’s hard even for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Do I believe with all my heart that marriage was designed to help me grow closer to my wife in order to glorify Jesus, together? With everything I got, yes.

        I know it’s not a perfect answer, but it’s what I got. As a follower of Christ, I have to believe all of the bible or none of it. I can’t take only the parts that are easy to understand or follow, but rather I have to act on faith and believe that scripture is truth. Based on that, I can’t support homosexuality in general, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go all “torch and pitchfork” on every gay couple I meet. No, my job is to show them the side of Christianity that the public refuses to. If asked I can help vote something against my faith into office, I hope that you’ll respect my decision to say no. Otherwise I’m not even being honest with myself.

        May 17, 2012 at 3:05 am

    • Josh D

      (just to clarify, that question was directed at @colemenard, not @gnormanlippert)

      May 17, 2012 at 2:05 am

    • Josh D

      Thanks for the response, Cole. I appreciate the elaboration, though I am no stranger to those ideas as I grew up in a very Christian family and defended my belief that homosexuality was a sin based on pretty much the exact same convictions you shared. Even in those days, I didn’t believe in such a thing as making exceptions to scripture or living according to wild personal interpretations of what the scriptures said. I always felt that you couldn’t just commit to the parts of your religion that seemed convenient, and ignore the rest. So I commend the strictness with which you adhere to the literal word of your religion and your unwillingness to waiver from its written doctrines.

      Though, I think all of that was a bit tangental. What I’m suggesting here is NOT that you change your mind about homosexuality. It’s that marriage – by your definition – really can not exist in both a secular and Christian capacity. If you force Christian ideals of morality on the LEGAL institution of marriage (as opposed to what the church recognizes as marriage), how is it not contradictory to allow people like atheists – who don’t believe in your God or the source of morality, and perhaps practice sex for pleasure, as opposed to procreation – to participate in the institution? How can it make what they do right if they deny the existence of God, or believe in a different God, and do not make “God” or Christian ideas about sex and morality a part of their marriage? Further, how is it not contradictory to allow people who are not “ordained” by a church to perform marriage?

      I guess my point is simply this – if there is any hope left for the “sanctity of marriage”, it is to begin distinguishing between marriages performed by the state and marriages performed by the church. Secular marriage will never be sacred – it’s a legal bond that encourages economic growth (through the idea that families grow the economy) by affording individuals certain privileges with regard to taxes, power of attorney, etc. So the only thing that can be done is for the church to reclaim marriage by either fighting to define secular marriage as a “civil union” or create some new type of name that distinguishes between “matrimony” and “holy matrimony”.

      In the end, it seems that’s what you’re arguing here. It’s not the legal rights of hetro/homo-sexual couples, it’s who’s entitled to the use word “marriage” to define their relationship.

      My question to you, then, is if you feel the word “marriage” is the exclusive domain of people participating in your views of sexual morality, then why should anyone not ordained by the church be allowed to perform a marriage “with the power vested in (them) by the state”? And why should the state have any involvement in approving that bond or issuing the license?

      May 17, 2012 at 6:21 am

  2. Tyler

    I am also a conservative, and I really don’t see where all the controversy around this issue comes from. Generally, conservatives believe in limiting the federal government as much as possible in order to protect the civil liberties of Americans. I think the rest of our “political homies” need to read amendment one of that document so frequently mentioned within our inner circles

    May 17, 2012 at 1:27 am

  3. Jim Cottrell

    There is the author of truth and there is the author of lies. I know which one I want to believe and which one I want to promote. Morality can only come from the author of truth. Morality based on the majority or human reason can be swayed by the author of lies. (Look where eugenics brought Germany. “Eugenics is the “applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population”, usually referring to the manipulation of human populations.” In addition, I have a degree in evolution and behavioral psychology and I know the father of lies in detail. These lies lack a scientific foundation and are based on assumptions.) To paraphrase correctly I hope, God said to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or you surely will die. From this I infer that God is saying to let him set the standards of morality, because if we set them it will lead to death. Our problems started with the prompting of the author of lies. This was the prompt to question a standard God set. So the reason to oppose gay marriage is because of what the author of truth says about it.

    The small details beyond this are as follows:
    1 Timothy 1:9–10 states that laws are not made for people who do right, but the lawless.
    Here is a summary of verses related to gay marriage. I may or may not disagree on this person’s other writings. I do think he missed the major issue with gay marriage as noted above.
    http://www.jimfeeney.org/againstgaymarriage.html

    May 17, 2012 at 3:07 am

  4. Jim Cottrell

    I do think it is important to note that Jesus loves everyone so much that He chose to die for them to trump the eating of the fruit. Jesus also told us how to stay in His love. From this I gather that we should love people, but dislike behavior inconsistent with Jesus’ words. We also should not taste the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you tasted it, spit it out and don’t eat it. Please.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:24 am

  5. zixi1

    Yep, Geo, I still love you, and you made a very good argument. However (there’s always a “but” isn’t there), I have to agree with everything Cole and Jim said. I’ve had many very good gay friends. I loved them dearly, and am definitely not homophobic, though many liberals like to spin it that way. I just have a deep belief that if I vote against my moral convictions, my sin is as great or greater than the person who commits the sin. This belief is what changed me from a liberal to a conservative to begin with. I was raised by Democrat parents, and thought I was a good loyal Democrat, until I actually started studying the issues and found out who was on what side of them. The clencher was abortion, which I have always been against, even when I thought I was a liberal. I came to realize that if I voted for a pro-death candidate (no, the opposite of pro-life is NOT pro-choice), then I was assisting in every abortion he or she supported. The same goes for gay marriage. If it becomes law, I’m not going to throw tantrums or be angry at anyone who voted for it, but I’m not going to help it become law either. Yep, my only objection is on a moral level. I guess that makes me narrow-minded and bigoted, but what can you do? Sometimes you just have to take a stand, painful as it may be.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:05 am

  6. A few quick thoughts on the conversation thus far:

    For the Christians who have replied, I sympathize, and I don’t want to seem dodgy about Bible truth. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality. It’s unambiguous. The best response I have seen about it is HERE. It’s worth watching, and it puts what I am about to say in context.

    For the believers out there, we live in a sometimes uncomfortably dual world: the world of Biblical conviction and the human world of laws, government and other people. Here is where the friction happens, because unlike middle-eastern theocracies (Sharia law), we do not force everyone to live by religious precepts.

    For that reason, our laws are not, actually, based on Biblical morals. They are based purely on individual freedom, restricted only where one’s freedom conflicts with another’s. For example, stealing is against the law not because it is one of the Ten Commandments, but because it obstructs the freedom of another person. The difference between Biblical law and secular law is the reason we don’t have laws against coveting your neighbor’s wife, or not honouring your parents (both of which are also commandments).

    In the Christian community, homosexuality seems to be considered a special sort of sin. Interestingly, though, it doesn’t rank in God’s top list. The seven deadly sins God talks about are things like laziness, greed, gluttony, etc. We don’t make laws against the exercise of those sins. Why? I think it is because we all know that destructive choices and habits (sins) are personal choices that exist in the heart of the individual. If our boss or neighbour is a liar and a cheat, we don’t feel guilty about it. It’s his deal, not ours, and he’ll have to account for it.

    But something seems to happen in Christian discussions about homosexuality. There is a subtle but pervasive sense that by legally tolerating that lifestyle in others, we are all somehow condemned by it. Thus, it must be fought and resisted and legislatively thwarted. Again, why? Assuming one believes homosexuality is a sin, what makes it so different from those seven deadly sins (some of which we tolerate not only in our friends and neighbors, but in our own personal lives)?

    Even more poignantly, most Biblical sins are choices. They are actions separate from us, even if they condemn us. For a moment, consider how it might feel for a gay person– a person who truly believes they are the thing we call a sin. Can you imagine the abject sense of rejection that would create? Nobody would tell a fat guy “You’re a glutton and God hates gluttony. You should be legally restricted from eating more food because your sin offends me.” But this, I fear, is exactly the message the Christian church sends to the gay community.

    I hate to keep banging on this one (and my friend Paul already brought it up) but Jesus himself not only wasn’t tainted by the sins of those around him– he actually went and hung out with those people. He didn’t protest the evils of greed in the heart of the tax collectors; he went to their parties. It’s in the Bible. And it made the religious types of the day all kinds of disgruntled.

    In short: arguably, by standing your ground and fighting the good fight against gay marriage, the Christian church may be losing a much larger war for the hearts of the LGBT community, who– like everyone else– need to be loved before they need to be told how sinful they are.

    At any rate, to be perfectly clear: I am not arguing against the Biblical/moral perspective on homosexuality. I am simply separating that, carefully– and (I think) necessarily– from the human world of laws, governments and other people. Make sense?

    May 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

  7. Josh D

    Thanks, by the way, George for this very logical and even-tempered essay. As someone who can see many benefits to both conservative and liberal ideas about government, I have wondered many times why conservatives haven’t made the same arguments you make here – which seem much more consistent with the ideals of limited government and individual liberty. When I follow those principles to their logical conclusion I inevitably end up here.

    I was really impressed with the clarity and thoroughness of your arguments. As is often the case, you are miles ahead of the party with which you identify, though I am fairly confident that the opinions you’ve outlined here will eventually be shared by the majority of all major political parties – even if beliefs about the “sinfulness” of homosexuality remain the same.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

  8. George, good find on the Tim Keller video. I like how he put it: homosexuality is a sin, but that’s not what sends you to hell. The moderator had clearly never heard that before. The thought most people hear is sin=hell, not that rejection of Jesus=hell. Does that strike anyone else as sad?

    I don’t think that I can vote to legalize gay marriage. That’s too opposed to the Bible. I don’t think I can vote to ban it, either. It would seem to me that, as homosexuality is no better or worse than any other sexual sin, banning it for being homosexual is merely the first step in a rather unusual slippery slope – the banning of marriages because they are sexually perverse: you lived together before you got married? Banned. How many people would vote for that? Probably not too many.

    My wife says she thinks that people are so bothered by homosexuality because it is so foreign. It isn’t something we can see ourselves doing, so it must be worse than anything I can see myself doing (like, say, overeating).

    May 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

  9. Read the blog … haven’t read the other comments so someone else might have already mentioned this but I think it’s worth responding to just this one part:

    > “It can’t be the somewhat abstruse argument that legalizing same gender marriage will somehow redefine genders as identical, thus destroying the ability to recognize any legal distinction between male and female (and leading, apparently, to hordes of men applying to be servers at Hooters), because that argument is just stupid (with apologies to Dennis Prager, who I am probably woefully misrepresenting).”

    Saying “that argument is just stupid” is not a logical refutation. The point stands.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    • Too true, Ben. I admit that I didn’t think the argument was worth crafting a response, but I am willing to make an attempt. Should I?

      May 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  10. Luke

    Ben, the point doesn’t make sense to me at all. Please explain it to me! It seems to me that it is a totally inane/illogical point. If a same-sex civil union (which many of the opponents of same-sex marriage tend to approve of) doesn’t “somehow redefine genders as identical,” then why would same-sex marriage?

    As an aside, why does there need to be “any legal distinction between male and female”? Seems like a good way to make sure that women don’t get equal rights to men – see, for example, women’s suffrage, which legally erased the distinction between men and women. But I digress, that’s a whole different topic.

    May 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

  11. I suppose I should say first that my position is not so much that “gay marriage” is something that ought not to be allowed, as that it is something which does not in fact exist and therefore ought not be recognized by the government. “Gay marriage” is a contradiction in terms. Advocating “gay marriage” is a crime against the English language. The purpose of “gay marriage” is to make it so that one cannot say one is married in the Judeo-Christian sense and be understood without further explanation. See the introduction to “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis where he distinguishes between useful terms and useless terms and describes how the word “gentlemen” has been spoiled for most practical purposes.

    > “If a same-sex civil union (which many of the opponents of same-sex marriage tend to approve of) doesn’t “somehow redefine genders as identical,” then why would same-sex marriage?”

    Because a civil union and a marriage are two different things, while two “marriages” would be the same thing.

    > “As an aside, why does there need to be “any legal distinction between male and female”?”

    Because men and women are in fact different. Men ought not be able to do everything women can do and women ought not be able to do everything men can do. The whole premise of “gender equality” is wrong – not just in some spiritual/ethical sense but even simply on the grounds of biology. The sexes are not in fact equal, in the sense of sameness. They may be equal in worth/value as persons – “equitable” might be a good word for that – but they are not equal in the sense of sameness and therefore ought not be treated the same in all instances. Nor should the government require that they be treated the same in all instances. The disagreement is rather further back. I reject modern feminism. I would also favor racial profiling in some instances where it makes sense – for example I would not put on a stage production of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” with an all-white cast.

    May 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm

  12. Also, I recognize the need to have a draft in some extreme circumstances but oppose the drafting of women.

    May 17, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    • I appreciate the debate, both of you. Putting aside the discussion about the legal distinction of genders for a moment, my counter-argument to the idea that gay marriage blurs the genders is pretty simple: gender isn’t defined by marriage to begin with.

      A woman is not legally a woman because she is or might be married to a man. She is a woman because genders mean something intrinsically, completely separate from marriage status.

      The fact is, most laws treat genders as equal without creating any slippery-slope legal arguments about male Hooters servers and females not being able to sue for sexual harassment.

      May 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

  13. By the way, I should mention that many of you have made some very good points about the implications, language and otherwise, that the term “gay marriage” would entail. Thanks Cole, Ben, Luke, and the rest. Strictly speaking, I would guess that the best solution overall would, in fact, be a civil-union arrangement, granting homosexuals the same legal benefits as married couples while conveniently taking off the table all the (legitimate) religious and moral debate around the term “marriage”.

    Also, I find that I am in agreement with the President (collective gasp!) that this should be a state issue and absolutely not the purview of the federal government.

    May 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    • Josh D

      “I would guess that the best solution overall would, in fact, be a civil-union arrangement, granting homosexuals the same legal benefits as married couples while conveniently taking off the table all the (legitimate) religious and moral debate around the term “marriage”. ”

      I think the biggest problem with the Civil Union thing is that it’s not going to be good enough. What the gay community (and people who support them) seem to be looking for is equality – and I think that ultimately entails both legal and social recognition that their relationship is as legitimate as a man and a woman’s (at least in the eyes of the law). To say to the gay community: “you can have every right that straight married couples have, your relationship is identical in the eyes of the law, but can’t say you’re legally ‘married’…” I don’t know, doesn’t it seem a little insulting? Also how does that make sense with respect to government?

      May 17, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      • “…doesn’t it seem a little insulting? Also how does that make sense with respect to government?”

        I honestly don’t know. What I do know– what I think we all know– is that with such polarity of opinion on the topic, it isn’t realistic for any one side to get everything they want. As much as the LGBT community desires total equality (a legitimate desire), the traditionalists feel very protective of what they believe is a sacred– and specific– institution (an equally legitimate desire). Objectively, it is impossible to reconcile these desires. The best that can be hoped for is a compromise, and probably an uneasy one at that.

        In a world of wildly different convictions, compromise is the best we humans can hope for, methinks.

        May 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

      • Josh D

        And just to clarify, I didn’t mean it was insulting for YOU to say that. You have said nothing but the most respectful, intelligent things about this issue. What I mean is I think – I KNOW – that many people in same-sex relationships would feel slighted, and as though they were being told by the government (who has handled marriage as a secular institution as long as we’ve all been alive) that they were less. It’s akin to telling women “You can go to the polls and cast a ballot – but the government is not going to recognize it as VOTING. Only a man can vote – you can give your ‘civil opinion’.”

        Obviously there are some differences there – I know people will get real upset if they think I’m trying to equate the two. What I’m trying to convey is the FEELING that giving gay couples an identical legal institution without the name would be like.

        Objectively, though, I do believe that even though it’s interesting to share our “evolving” (<-har har) positions on this issue – at this point there is nothing that anyone can say or do to stop gay couples from being legally recognized as married. I think we've reached the "tipping point" on this issue and this will happen – without compromise – sometime in the next two decades. Despite what guys like @Ben think about the legitimacy of gay marriage, it has become a civil rights issue. When we remove our personal feelings from the matter and look at it objectively – what we have is a large minority of people who feel that they are not being treated with equality by their government. And we have a rapidly growing body of people who are not in this minority, who believe the same thing. So whether or not folks like @Ben PERSONALLY feel marriage is not a Civil Right, but a religious right – it most literally has become a civil rights issue. And with that, I just can't see any way this country can ultimately keep denying that growing body of people what they feel is their civil right.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm

  14. > “A woman is not legally a woman because she is or might be married to a man. She is a woman because genders mean something intrinsically, completely separate from marriage status.”

    The problem is not so much that recognizing “gay marriage” will have this effect of Hooters needing to hire men as waitresses. It’s that this absurd notion that men and women are the same is the logical ground or premise behind the recognition of “gay marriage” and it is an invalid premise. And if you put garbage in, garbage is bound to come out, or so I’ve been taught in my computer science courses anyway. This would be the tacit acceptance of an invalid premise which will shift the Overton Window further and further in the wrong direction.

    > “What the gay community (and people who support them) seem to be looking for is equality – and I think that ultimately entails both legal and social recognition that their relationship is as legitimate as a man and a woman’s”

    And like I’ve said, “gay marriage” is not something I can be somehow opposed to, as it does not exist. But this is what I am opposed to.

    May 18, 2012 at 12:17 am

  15. Luke

    I’m still not sure why having a man marry a man somehow makes one of them the same as a woman. Or woman to woman somehow makes one a man. Legally speaking of course. I think George said it best: marriage doesn’t define gender. Genitalia defines gender.

    I don’t think men and woman are equal. I think we have the same rights. It seems that here in the US of A or in the rest of the world, the rulers end up abusing non-rulers by refusing some sort of right to the minority: George mentioned slavery, and I’ll add Jim Crow laws to that; women’s suffrage; unequal pay for women (which still happens); women are suppressed in Saudi Arabia (they can’t drive themselves anywhere, for example). I think you made some great points though – the draft is a great example. Again though, I simply don’t understand how being married would somehow create this equality.

    I think a lot of this revolves around the fact that marriage has a religious side to it as well as a civil side. I was married in a church, by a pastor (my father, happily). Then we sent in our marriage license to the state. The same word used by both. If the Judeo-Christian tradition is going to hold a monopoly on marriages, then what about Hindus, Muslims, Jews or atheists who want to get married? That also would be unacceptable, right?

    As a final thought before I head to bed, gay marriage exists. It is allowed in multiple states and, in Merriam Webster at least, is part of the definition of “marriage.” It’s just the second part of the definition.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:09 am

    • Josh D

      Well said!

      May 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

  16. Well, the world must be flat if the dictionary says so. Fallacies detected: argumentum ad populum, invalid appeal to authority.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm

  17. Josh D

    As long as we’re calling out logical fallacies, allow me to raise the “argumentum ad antiquitatem” flag.

    Throughout the etymological history of every culture, the meaning of words have always changed based upon the way in which they are used. To deny the existence of “gay marriage” simply because marriage has historically been defined in one way is an invalid appeal to tradition.

    For someone who seems to pride himself the use of the language of logicians, It’s surprising to see you so vehemently deny the existence of something for which there is physical proof of existence on the grounds that the word is “a crime against the English language”. I’m not even sure what the point of that is.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm

  18. Luke

    I’m fairly certain sarcasm has no place in a logical debate either. I don’t have a fancy Latin phrase for why it doesn’t, but I’m fairly certain Josh responded more appropriately to your post. I’d still appreciate love an answer to this question: How does gay marriage make it so that if a man marries another man, one of them is legally a woman. Or answer this (please, anyone!): How does gay marriage make it so that if a woman marries a woman, one of them is legally a man? In the states that have legalized gay marriage, the definition of marriage in the state has been changed to reflect Merriam-Webster’s inclusive definition that was so pithily ignored.

    Also, M-W.com makes no mention of the shape of the word “world” (until the tenth definition, and that’s not in relation to the planet’s shape). However, under “earth” it mentions “globe” and “sphere,” so I can only assume the dictionary says that the earth is not, in fact, flat.

    May 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    • Josh D

      @Luke:
      “reductio ad ridiculum” 😉

      May 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      • That’s called “reductio ad absurdum” and it’s not a fallacy but a legitimate form of argument. (Reducio ad absurdum in plain English: “If your premise is true then this consequence follows. The consequence is absurd so it must be false, therefore your premise must also be false.”)

        I do not extend to these radicals, who do not argue from within our tradition either legally or ethically, but from completely outside of it, the privilege of defining the terms of the issue.

        May 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm

  19. Josh D

    mmmmmkay……
    a) You’re wrong. Look it up.
    b) I’m not a fan of your pompous and condescending attitude, so you’ll have to forgive me if I decline to dignify any further commentary with a response.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

  20. I have to admit, Ben, your tone has been somewhat antagonistic throughout. I don’t sense a willingness to consider alternative perspectives as much as a dogmatic and somewhat repetitious assertion of your own.

    Truly, I suspect you and I agree on more than we disagree on, but I think this is one of those issues where a line-in-the-sand absolutist approach is simply not going to win any converts.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:56 am

  21. zixi1

    Who’s on first? I’m way out of my league here, and don’t mind admitting it. 🙂 I was too exhausted yesterday to even read your erudite arguments, much less understand or reply to them. Dagnab it! I’m not in much better shape today, so will just say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the debate, though I can’t add anything interesting or constructive to it. I would like to refer back to something Geo said, though in regard to sin and church. “consider how it might feel for a gay person– a person who truly believes they are the thing we call a sin” and “the Christian church may be losing a much larger war for the hearts of the LGBT community, who– like everyone else– need to be loved before they need to be told how sinful they are”. For the record, I’ve never treated any of my gay friends differently than any of my other friends. I don’t consider them “sin”, and don’t believe their lifestyle makes them worse sinners than I am. I’ve never tried to convert them or even discussed the subject, just loved them the same as I love my other friends. Anything else is between them and God, the same as my sins are between me and God. Many of them have been Christians, and have attended churches which accepted them. I’m on a slow connection that doesn’t allow me to watch videos, so couldn’t watch that one Geo referred to. However, I know the “biggie” for Christians is rejecting Jesus, and salvation is available to all of us, regardless of how much and in what ways we sin. Just wanted to clear up what probably sounded like a pretty hard-nosed stance.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:35 am

    • HEH! Thanks for that, Zixi. I know you– albeit digitally– well enough to know that you would never treat anyone at all with anything less than the respect they are deserve. I appreciate your comments. For the record, I know you are not a bigot or a homophobe. I understand that people can debate these concepts without being lumped into all-too-easy stereotypes.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:42 am

  22. Luke

    Zixi, I thought your first post was pretty outstanding. In a lot of ways, you summed up the difficulties my wife and I continue t come across in our conversations on the subject. She played college basketball, and a great many of her teammates were lesbians. I have a classmate who has stayed committed to her partner for over 28 years. We have extensive contact with men and women who are gay. These are men and women who we’ve loved for years, and it is extremely painful to look them in the eye and say “You can’t have what I have.” But I think you are right: at some point, a stand needs to be taken. I just don’t know where it is.

    George did a good job of pointing us to the right place though: Jesus. He (the author of truth, as Jim pointed out) lived a life of inclusion, not exclusion. He included the most reviled people of His day into His life and loved them. He didn’t make demands of them, didn’t require them to change. Instead, He lived a life that showed what true neighborly love is. That amazing kindness and goodness allowed people to see that living life to “get mines,” as the kids say these days, doesn’t help out.

    In light of that, I’m working hard to bite my tongue towards Ben. I’m tired of having my questions be ignored. I don’t mind having points refuted, so long as they are actually backed up by something other than Latin, which has happened once, and quite a few posts ago. I think my conversation with Ben needs to end here, before the words that want to come out actually do. I’m up for a beer with anyone from here that wants to actually meet up and talk about this more, but I think the anonymity of the internet is working hard at derailing legitimate conversation into debates over Latin phrases.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:22 am

  23. zixi1

    I don’t know any Latin and can’t meet for a beer, but am up for a group e-hug, with special thanks to Geo and Luke for relieving my mind, and to all of you for dusting the cobwebs off my brain with this very interesting and well-phrased discussion.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

  24. David Michael Lee

    God’s word, though unpopular with the ever-changing tide of “current culture” is still true. Sin is still wrong. The Bible clarifies marriage between a man and a woman. This may put Christians on the “wrong side of history.” Our focus is not being on the right side of history, but being on the right side of holiness. That being said, the debate and focus cannot be aimed solely on gay marriage. Holiness applies to every aspect our lives. How can we, with integrity, become so heated and emboldened over gay marriage when the divorce rate among Christians is still at 50%. I am a part of that %. With hypocrisy and pride among the same individuals that were enraged at the president’s endorsement at an all time high, how can we become so blind. What credibility do we have when our lives are not focused on living in complete holiness before the Lord?

    We must never back down to the pressures of what has become popular. At the same time, we must never compromise on any area that stains the purity of the fabric of holiness. So what, then, do you do? Choose to live with the clarity of your convictions that are based upon the never-changing Word of God, and not the evolving opinions of others. Refuse to live in a manner of divisive bitterness, but united with those who seek to live in the fear of the Lord Jesus Christ and who seek to honor Him and His word in their every day lives. You are not called to judge. You are called to live on the right of holiness, not on one issue, but in every aspect of life.

    May 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

  25. Don’t really see what I said on here as an attempt to win converts, just an attempt to correct errors.

    I think there are a couple somewhat tangential but still relevant things here that probably should have been stated first that weren’t:

    1. The reason we are even discussing “gay marriage” is because Barack Obama needed a bugaboo to distract from the failing economy.

    2. The burden of proof is on the proponents of “gay marriage” to explain why the law and/or our societal definition of marriage needs to change, not on the status quo to justify itself and “Why not?” is not an argument.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:01 am

  26. zixi1

    I’m really looking forward to Part 2. What will it be? Taxes? Gun control? Capital punishment? Hmm, I wonder.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 am

    • Argh! Zixi, I’m scared to even do a part 2! But your suggestions are definitely worthy of discussion. IF WE DARE. Do we? Mayhap.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:52 am

      • zixi1

        Sure we do. 🙂

        May 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

  27. Jim Cottrell

    As David pointed out, sin is sin and will separate one from God. Personally, I see adultery as a worse sin than homosexuality because there is a victim. The list of sins that include homosexuality doesn’t appear to rank them. That being said, the rain on Sodom and Gomorrah’s parade was as heavy as it gets. The picture I get loud and clear is that with sin comes consequences. Someone also rightly pointed out that calling people sinners is offensive. Compassion must be exhibited by Christians if they are really going to be Christ’s representatives. This being said, there appears to be a line that must not be crossed. Remember Lot’s wife? She looked back. She had at least daughters she left behind. Maybe it was her compassion for her children was the basis for her decision to look back. The line that Lot’s wife crossed seems less than “strengthening the hands of the wicked.” Because of this I see the need for laws that set limits on behavior on moral grounds. This may help others avoid the consequences of sin that might occur by legally legitimizing sinful behaviors. Also some sinful behaviors are mover obvious than others. Maybe this is why Sodom and Gomorrah were single out for special treatment or maybe they crossed some line that is above my reasoning.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:07 am

    • Josh D

      It’s interesting that people single out homosexuality when recounting the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. My understanding of the Biblical story of the destruction of the town had to do NOT with the fact that there were homosexuals – but because those people were so completely morally f***ed up that they would freely assemble at the house of any host and demand their visitors be sent out to be gang raped (pardon the graphic terminology). I’m not sure how offering your own daughters to these people isn’t a worse sin – but the point being… God didn’t destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because the men and women of the town engaged in loving, monogamous relationships same-sex relationships.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm

  28. Jim Cottrell

    I does seem that homosexuality was the defining, but not the sole sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sin was occurring daily before the visit by the angels, but probably similar.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20peter%202:7-10&version=NASB
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jude%207&version=NASB

    May 24, 2012 at 5:15 am

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