Chris Broussard is a dinosaur snarling at the oncoming asteroid

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435 Responses

  1. Xenocles says:

    I didn't see it that way. I saw it more as saying (shorthand) that the argument has been had, his side has lost, and that that's punishment enough for him. We need not excoriate him further; his slide into irrelevance is enough.

  2. Al Iverson says:

    I don't know. I think there are some scenarios when you ought to look around you and consider why you might be on the losing side, whether or not your choice looks silly/bad in the long term. I think that's the case here. There was a wonderful comic (which of course I now cannot find) yesterday titled something like "Gay Marriage in 2054" highlighting the chance that somebody from our generation, now somebody's grandparent, is going to look like an old, out of touch, hating fool, just like somebody today would look at their grandparents' potential hatred of people of other races. Take it in the spirit of "don't be that." Or don't. But my thought is, the world evolves, and you can either keep up or not. It's not about being on the fringe or not. It's about being accepting of others.

  3. Clark says:

    @Al Iverson:

    [ someone now against gay marriage ] is going to look like an old, out of touch, hating fool, just like somebody today would look at their grandparents' potential hatred of people of other races. Take it in the spirit of "don't be that."

    I think you're restating Ken's argument perfectly: choose the political stance that's so very au courante that even Barak Obama himself didn't support it until 2012 over the wisdom of the ages and the 2,000 year tradition of Christianity…and do it because you'll look foolish to the masses if you don't.

    I understood it the first time, and disagreed with it then.

    But then, heck, I accept all of traditional Christian sexual morality, so I look like a fool even by the sophisticated modern standards of 1700.

  4. Al Iverson says:

    Apologies; I didn't realize the argument was actually about Barack Obama thought and when.

  5. Clark says:

    The argument isn't remotely about that. The two sides of the debate seem to be:

    • a 2,000 year old religious doctrine says X
    • modern popular culture says Y

    I'm pointing out that the second side of the debate isn't even deeply convincing on its own terms.

    There are, IMO, much better arguments for the pro-gay-marriage side, based around individual autonomy, equal rights, etc. "Mood of the crowd" is perhaps the worst possible argument, and I'm merely saying that if you want to argue about gay marriage (which I really don't much care about one way or another), both you and Ken could do much much better than saying "everyone agrees", or "it's been all the rage for 11 months now" or "46% of Americans favor it".

  6. Clark says:

    Oatmeal sums it up here:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/gay_marriage

    Agreed; Oatmeal does a wonderful job of pithily summarizing a bad argument.

  7. For reference, a series of posts that we ran on the topic last year, without argument to the crowd, and without reference to whose beliefs are in fashion.

  8. Neil says:

    I think, as Clark says, Broussard knows his view is unpopular. But it isn't his goal or aspiration to espouse popular ideas. He's only concerned with espousing what he deems to be biblical ideas. A lot of Christians are like that. And one can certainly make the case that his view about homosexuality is biblical. Just read the second half of Romans chapter one if you doubt it. If you pay attention, you'll notice that progressives are mainly concerned with being considered popular and hip when it comes to their political and social views. Broussard apparently couldn't care less about how society sees him. After all, it was society that put his Lord and Savior to death.

  9. Matt says:

    I think your math might be off there Clark. Checking the Pew numbers against the latest estimate for the population of the US comes up with a number of approximately 243 million give or take a million or so who identify as Christian according to the Pew numbers.

    Which I'd take with a grain of salt to the extent that, granted I live in a very liberal area of the USA, a large portion of those self identifying as Christian are not practicing, may not have attended church ever (even as a child) and probably only hold the loosest of "Christian" beliefs. Of course the country has generally been shaped by such beliefs between a large number of original European settlers and founding fathers having strong Christian beliefs. Though not everyone, and just because you happen to share the same "top heading" for your religion, doesn't mean all that many of your beliefs actually line up. Amish beliefs are vastly different than Anabaptsist which are different than Quakers, which are different than Methodist or Lutheran or Universal Unitarian or Southern Babptist or Pentocostal or…

    Even a lot of core beliefs vary greatly among the different sects of Christianity (such as views on the Trinity).

    I think your arguments have some good grounding, but as with many things in life, seem a little too generalized.

  10. Clark says:

    @Matt:

    Which I'd take with a grain of salt to the extent that, granted I live in a very liberal area of the USA, a large portion of those self identifying as Christian are not practicing, may not have attended church ever (even as a child) and probably only hold the loosest of "Christian" beliefs

    100% agreed.

    "Christian" is mostly a cultural tag, not a religious one, as is "Jewish", etc.

    It was not my point to argue that 200-whatever-million Americans understand and believe in Christian theology. I hope my failure to make that clear didn't muddy my argument.

  11. Darryl S says:

    Well-said. I considered commenting on Ken's post but couldn't formulate a response that was both complete and succinct. You've said most of what I was thinking, though, and a lot more besides.

    There is a big difference between saying "Those other people are horrible sinners" and "We are all horrible sinners". One is self-righteousness; the other is a confession of weakness. I don't know Broussard's heart, but it seems like he might be on the "confession of weakness" side of things here, and if that's the case, I commend him for being humble enough to acknowledge his own sin, and strong enough to state what he believes.

  12. Grifter says:

    You're right that Ken was being dismissive…but wasn't the overall point to say something along the lines of:

    "Yes, he's a douchenozzle, but he can say whatever he wants and Nicholas Jackson's idea is ridiculous and stupid"?

    As in, no, it wasn't a well reasoned argument against the point, but rather a brief statement of Ken's whole-cloth disagreement with Broussard, before moving on to the real point of the article, about Jackson's stupidity.

    Not an argument, but a rhetorical flourish, if you will.

  13. Clark says:

    Even a lot of core beliefs vary greatly among the different sects of Christianity (such as views on the Trinity).

    I assert that, properly speaking, Christians can not disagree about trinitarianism because non-trinitarians aren't Christian. In general, I think that arguments of the form "X puts one inside / outside of the boundary of Christianity" are vital, but utterly boring to me…but the trinitarian one is somewhat more interesting (at least in a lexicographic / definitional sense), given that Christians believe in Christ and Christ is a member of the trinity.

    But to your greater point: yes, Christians can and do disagree.

  14. Walt K says:

    I find it surprising that so many people attach importance to Broussard's statement that he condemns all premarital sex. I don't know Broussard, so maybe he is genuine when he says that. But most people I know that make this type of argument are completely disingenuous. They don't lose any sleep at all over people's sex lives unless it involves homosexuality. They also seem to tolerate all sorts of other sins with barely a passing thought. But they will put their money where their mouth is when it comes to homosexuality.

  15. Mike says:

    Ken made a descriptive point, that people who oppose gay lifestyles are out of the mainstream and getting outer, and you're somehow taking it as an argument. I'm sure Ken could make his own arguments for gay marriage (if he supports it, which I'm not sure about), but he clearly wasn't doing it there. So responding to it as an argument is doesn't make sense. But as long as we're talking nonsense…

    You say Chris Broussard is, at least, being equal-opportunity in his sexual disapproval—he's not. In his world, straight people are allowed to live in righteousness and love. Gay people have to choose. That's not a world I liked living in, even as a straight person, and I'm glad to see an asteroid bearing down on it.

  16. Neil says:

    It seems "mood of the crowd" is a very effective political tool, even if it doesn't make a good logical argument. Just because something is currently popular, doesn't necessarily make it moral and just. Was the enslavement of blacks in the 18th century moral and just simply because it was considered popular and normal at the time? The "mood of the crowd" argument doesn't hold water.

  17. spinetingler says:

    "you'll notice that progressives are mainly concerned with being considered popular and hip when it comes to their political and social views."

    I'll notice that you apparently don't actually know any progressives.

  18. Clark says:

    but rather a brief statement of Ken's whole-cloth disagreement with Broussard, before moving on to the real point of the article, about Jackson's stupidity.
    Not an argument, but a rhetorical flourish, if you will.

    Absolutely agreed; Ken was just getting X out of the way before digging into the meat of Y.

    I, however, wanted to fight about X.

    I note, by the way, that people still like to argue about the flourish "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State".

  19. Lizard says:

    I got the impression more that Ken was saying there's no way for Nicholas Jackson to invoke the only real restriction left on speech due to its content, the risk of inciting imminent lawless action. Broussard's speech is not a direct, immediate, threat to anyone individually or generically; someone hearing Broussard is very unlikely to immediately run out and look for a homosexual to kill, unless they'd already been pretty much certain do so anyway. An example might be if, immediately after identifying the suspects in the Boston bombing, Rush Limbaugh had gone on the radio and started reading off the names and addresses of all Chechens in the Boston area, while telling his listeners "You know what to do!" and "We've allowed these people to live here long enough!". Had such a thing occurred, there might be some case to argue that this was incitement, not advocacy, and that it was a criminal act. Ken is arguing that the current state of affairs in America means there is no way any even marginally sane person could put Broussard's comments on the same level as the above hypothetical, and thus, any argument against Broussard's free speech on the grounds of direct, tangible, harm to be done as a short-term, immediate, consequence of that speech is void.

    I must also take exception to your "No special pleading" argument. The amount of heterosexual sexual sin tremendously outnumbers homosexual sin, simply by the raw numbers, but I'm highly dubious that Broussard has spent 1/1000th as much time condemning non-marital heterosexual sex as he has homosexuality. As you point out, a lot of prominent defenders of "traditional marriage" support it so much they've done it three or more times, but these people are rarely, if ever, condemned by conservatives, and certainly not nearly as much, by proportion, as conservatives condemn homosexuality. Further, by Christian belief, all sin is equal in the eyes of God…so why do so many conservatives spend so much of their time on a sin engaged in by approximately 5-10% of the population, and not on sins engaged in by nearly 100% of the population, such as lying, gossip, or greed? You will go to hell for any unforgiven sin, and there's no levels of hell or degrees of punishment (and if that doesn't prove God is an asshole, what will?), but those who wish to publicly condemn sin seem to focus on sins their own audience is less likely to commit. Funny, that.

  20. Ken in NH says:

    Let me see if I can make Clark's point about argumentum ad populum more clearly. If Broussard is wrong, merely or even partially, because he is in the minority, then gay marriage proponents were equally, if not more, wrong just 20 years ago.

  21. Clark says:

    @Neil:

    "mood of the crowd" is a very effective political tool, even if it doesn't make a good logical argument. Just because something is currently popular, doesn't necessarily make it moral and just. Was the enslavement of blacks in the 18th century moral and just simply because it was considered popular and normal at the time? The "mood of the crowd" argument doesn't hold water.

    Wonderfully said.

    Truth is truth, whatever the prevailing mood – as you illustrate so well with the example of the prematurely anti-slavery.

  22. Sheriff Fatman says:

    @Clark:

    First, let me say that I'd like to ban the word "ilk" from debate by fair minded people. Technically, it merely means "type" or "group"…

    Actually, it technically means "the same", in the sense of "the place of the same name". Certain Scottish landed families incorporate the name of their estate in their surname – e.g., "Cameron of Lochiel"; where the surname and the name of the estate are the same – e.g., "Johnstone of Johnstone" – this is sometimes rendered as e.g. "Johnstone of that ilk".

    [/pedant]

  23. Kilroy says:

    Whether basing bigotry on religious beliefs or inherited racism, it is still bigotry. The Bible says so many things that can be used on either side of most arguments that it really isn't a basis to prove what is a traditional Christian anything. The only thing provable is that in the hear an now, a group of bigots are basing their bigotry on parts of the Bible while ignoring others.

  24. Neil says:

    @Walt K The premarital heterosexual sex lobby isn't as aggressive as the gay lobby. So that might be why people don't make as much of a fuss about it. There's a difference in the way society views the two groups. One is a legally protected class, the other isn't.

  25. Grifter says:

    There's nothing wrong with a good semantics argument…

    I was just saying that I think you're reading it as an argument, when it was not meant to be such. It was meant to be a wholesale dismissal, and in general when you dismiss something wholesale you don't express it in perfectly comprehensive terms, you dismiss it in whatever way you find rhetorically pleasant, and move on. If the rest of the article was about the idea, I'd agree, the argument might be lacking. But it was meant to be exactly as dismissive as it was, so that Ken could succinctly and humorously express his opinion on Broussard's opinions even as he defends the man's right to have them.

  26. Kilroy says:

    hear an now? Jebus…

  27. Guns says:

    "the wisdom of the ages and the 2,000 year tradition of Christianity"

    Oh, this explains so much. It's telling that you feel the need to devote an entire post in order to create a false equivalence. Because yeah, issues and "debate" about homesexuality and gay marriage are obviously just "2000 year old christian values" vs. "2013's popular opinion". And not "2000 year old christian values" vs. "the ongoing, changing result of over 200 years of actually thinking about stuff and questioning things in a rational way."

    'Cause, y'know, phrasing it like that is indeed sort of equivalent to "dinosaur" vs. "asteroid". But you don't like that, because you mistakenly assume that a respect for religion should imply a respect for religious arguments. Nope. They're dumb. You want to refute hundreds of years of evolving, scientific insights into biology, genetics, psychology, sociology (plus the decades of patient effort needed to change the minds of non-scientists through rational discourse) with "No, because BIBLE!", you're getting the Dino-treatment.

    And as an aside, I just figured out why the phrase "2000 year old traditions" makes me want to punch an angel in the face. It's not "2000 year old traditions". It's "the traditions of 2000 years ago". The difference is subtle, but I have no doubt you see it.

  28. Mike says:

    Conservative christians do often rail against straight immorality… and are similarly criticized by progressives when they do so.

    Although I am still personally trying to figure out why so many of them have less trouble with my being an atheist than they do with my gay friends. Pretty sure "rejecting the idea of God" is higher on the sin chart than loving dudes.

    The changing attitudes of the masses is something that should be celebrated, but it isn't in itself that much of an argument for the cause, given that the masses also vote overwhelmingly for American Idol and 50 Shades of Grey.

  29. Ken White says:

    Clark:

    I always appreciate a challenge to something I have written, particularly by somebody whose analytical abilities I respect.

    You present an excellent case for avoiding argument-by-appeal-to-the-majority, and an excellent case for putting Broussard in the Christian context.

    But that's not what I was talking about.

    I do think that hostility towards gays is doomed as a cultural phenomenon. In talking about Broussard, I was (1) admittedly gloating about that cultural trend, which I like, but (2) more importantly, setting up the point that it is statist, thuggish, and ridiculous for Jackson to seek to abuse the force of law to suppress viewpoints that are increasingly marginalized in our polity. That actually follows the pattern of censorship: the less popular an idea, the more likely it is that tools of censorship will be used against it.

    Gay marriage isn't right because a majority now supports it; removing barriers to gays in public life isn't right because a majority supports it. You are perfectly correct about that. I believe those things are right for other reasons. Many things the majority have vigorously pursued have been wrong; many things a tiny minority have fought for have been right.

    (For what it is worth, I think that opposition to the rights of gays has been inextricably intertwined with abuse of government power through things like anti-sodomy laws and the like, but that's something of a side issue. The danger Jackson represents is the attempt by some to make gay rights inextricably intertwined with abuse of government power.)

    As to Broussard — commenters on my post left a fuller quote of his statement. I don't care for the "I should be able to say people are sinners and not Christians and in defiance of God without them saying mean things about me" school of argument. I think if you go on TV to give your negative opinion about someone being openly gay, you enter the marketplace of ideas. I think this is particularly stark when you choose selectively to condemn sin in the NBA, which is rife with terrible behavior.

    You take not-unreasonable issue with this sentence:

    If they are angered by people like Jason Collins, Broussard and his ilk are destined for lives of increasingly marginalized bitterness and resentment.

    I can see how you can read that as being unnecessarily offensive and insulting to people who have personal beliefs opposed to homosexuality. I could have been clearer. When I talk about "Broussard and his ilk," I mean to refer to culture warriors who are engaged in speaking out against gay marriage, against public acceptance of gays, and against removal of social and legal barriers to gays participating in public life. Plenty of people with personal religious beliefs about homosexuality will lead perfectly happy lives and will be kind and polite to gays they may encounter. But people who have decided to fight this cultural fight will be encountering disappointment.

    Nobody stopped Broussard on the street and demanded he endorse Jason Collins, or interrupted him in church to ask what he thinks about gay NBA players. He went on ESPN to push his agenda. That's absolutely his right as an American. But electing to be a culture warrior shouldn't be confused with electing to hold a belief. Jason Collins should expect reactions like that of Broussard; Broussard should expect reactions like mine.

  30. Clark says:

    @Kilroy:

    Whether basing bigotry on religious beliefs or inherited racism, it is still bigotry.

    Bigotry is showing intolerance. There is a difference between tolerance and full acceptance. If there are people who are banning gays from stores, forcing them to sit in the back of a bus, assaulting them, making their behavior a crime punishable with jail, then, yes, that's bigotry. If what we have is merely people who say "I do not think that God approves of X" or "I do not approve of X", that is not intolerance, it is merely disagreement.

    The Bible says so many things that can be used on either side of most arguments that it really isn't a basis to prove what is a traditional Christian anything. The only thing provable is that in the hear an now, a group of bigots are basing their bigotry on parts of the Bible while ignoring others.

    I'm never really convinced by "there's so much stuff written down that I can't be bothered to cite it, but trust me, I'm right and you're wrong" argument.

  31. Clark says:

    @Sheriff Fatman:

    Actually [ ilk ] technically means "the same", in the sense of "the place of the same name". Certain Scottish landed families incorporate the name of their estate in their surname – e.g., "Cameron of Lochiel"; where the surname and the name of the estate are the same – e.g., "Johnstone of Johnstone" – this is sometimes rendered as e.g. "Johnstone of that ilk".

    ilk
    /ilk/
    Noun
    A type of people or things similar to those already referred to: "reporters of his ilk".
    Synonyms: sort – kind – species – type – genus – variety – breed

  32. Rob says:

    wisdom of the ages and the 2,000 year tradition of Christianity

    As my dear departed mother was fond of saying, "Ye gods." There is no wisdom in the Christian proscription of homosexuality, only raw ignorance and xenophobia.

  33. Clark says:

    @Guns:

    It's not "2000 year old traditions". It's "the traditions of 2000 years ago". The difference is subtle, but I have no doubt you see it.

    So you're arguing that disagreement with gay marriage was the conventional wisdom of 0 AD, but was not the conventional wisdom of 1 AD, 2 AD, 3 AD … 2010 AD?

    I sometimes use word sloppily, but this was not one of those times: I very crisply meant "a tradition that has existed for 2,000 years".

  34. Xenocles says:

    I'd note as well that an appeal to tradition is just as fallacious as an appeal to popularity.

  35. Neil says:

    @Guns Are you saying that the mind of mankind has evolved over the millenia to now include a general acceptance, even a condoning, of homosexuality, and therefore such acceptance is necessarily good and right?

  36. Luke G says:

    I made this point in the original article but it's worth making here- did Broussard say that there should be any restrictions or different treatment under the law, or only that he thought it was a sin? Because I've got to tell you, I see a whole lot of sin in the world and if you feel I am a bigot because of it, then too bad.

    @Guns, specifically- has it occured to you that someone can simultaneously hold the belief that something is wrong, and that it should be legal? Because I'm not seeing "ban it" in Broussard's quote.

  37. Kilroy says:

    Bigotry does not require "showing", but I believe we are past that stage anyway. As far as contradicting Bible quotes, from an unquestionable source:

    "Why me, Lord? I've always been good. I don't drink or dance or swear, I've even kept kosher just to be on the safe side. I've done everything the Bible says! Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! What more can I do? I… I… I feel like I'm coming apart here! I wanna yell out, but I just can't dang-darn-diddly-darn-dang-ding-dong-diddly-darned do it! I just… I…"

  38. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    I always appreciate a challenge to something I have written, particularly by somebody whose analytical abilities I respect.

    You're too kind to me…as usual.

    But that's not what I was talking about.

    Agreed. I was being a poor co-blogger by only dedicating one sentence to noting our areas of agreement, and noting that I was picking a nit on a much bigger issue.

    I do think that hostility towards gays is doomed as a cultural phenomenon.

    I hope so – I dislike hostility to all opressed groups and have been a supporter of the Pink Pistols, to help gays fight off the very worst kinds of hostility.

    That actually follows the pattern of censorship: the less popular an idea, the more likely it is that tools of censorship will be used against it.

    We agree again.

    (For what it is worth, I think that opposition to the rights of gays has been inextricably intertwined with abuse of government power through things like anti-sodomy laws and the like, but that's something of a side issue.

    Similarly, the opression of blacks in the American South both during the slavery era and the Jim Crow era was a governmental project. Freedom and markets are corrosive to exclusion and bigotry; force and violence must be used to maintain them.

    I don't care for the "I should be able to say people are sinners and not Christians and in defiance of God without them saying mean things about me" school of argument.

    Nor do I. I have lots of weird and uncommon opinions, and I'm happy to stand up and take my lumps like a man. You and I are united in our scorn for people who use "bullying" as a synonym for "people are making fun of my [ stupid ] ideas."

    I think if you go on TV to give your negative opinion about someone being openly gay, you enter the marketplace of ideas. I think this is particularly stark when you choose selectively to condemn sin in the NBA, which is rife with terrible behavior.

    Agreed.

    I can see how you can read that as being unnecessarily offensive and insulting to people who have personal beliefs opposed to homosexuality. I could have been clearer. When I talk about "Broussard and his ilk," I mean to refer to culture warriors who are engaged in speaking out against gay marriage, against public acceptance of gays, and against removal of social and legal barriers to gays participating in public life.

    Ah! Yes, I'd certainly no fan of anyone who wants to use use (cough) majesty of the state (i.e. laws and truncheons) to enforce discrimination.

    I think we're in agreement on almost all points, with, perhaps, the exception of a point or two of theology, which we can save for some other time (or not).

    Thanks for your excellent response.

  39. Clark says:

    @Rob:

    There is no wisdom in the Christian proscription of homosexuality, only raw ignorance and xenophobia.

    Thank you for your well-argued theorem, backed up with copious details and footnotes. It will certainly change my opinion on this matter.

  40. NoPublic says:

    I assert that, properly speaking, Christians can not disagree about trinitarianism because non-trinitarians aren't Christian.

    I submit that Mitt Romney and his ilk (not to mention 20 million or so Jehovah's Witnesses) would disagree with you.

  41. Clark says:

    @No Public:

    I submit that Mitt Romney and his ilk (not to mention 20 million or so Jehovah's Witnesses) would disagree with you.

    I love Mormons to death and could think of no finer place to live than in a neighborhood where I was outnumbered by them 100:1.

    …and yet, yes, Mormons and I disagree on whether non-trinitiarians are Christian. They think that they are, and I think that they're the absolute nicest pagans I've ever met.

  42. Cowtowncoder says:

    A tiny addition to all that has been said: focus is NOT on what is the majority opinion du jour, but how it is changing. And specifically that it appears to follow familiar cycle of abolishing slavery, racial discrimination and emancipation of women.
    This, in turn, does reflect changing social norms and moral views, and changes in people's views of Right and Wrong.
    That an old book compiled by leading intellectuals of a middle-eastern tribe does not change is, well, hardly surprising; and its contents can only be considered truths with certain strict set of premises (aka blind faith).

    It is of course too early to know whether things turn out that way; but it would be intellectually dishonest to claim that there aren't eerie similarities. And it sounds like counter-argument here is simply "but Bible is right" — which is no better than saying "53% of people in the latest poll said X is right".

  43. James says:

    One point worth considering is the role that the mood of the crowd plays in the interpretation of equivocal scripture. Consider the passing of the age when churches accepted and even supported slavery (an unnecessarily lurid example, but the first that leaps to mind), or the slow accommodations made by the reactionary Protestant fringe on drink, dancing and movies over the past century (my own alma mater only recently ended it's ban on social dancing). Scripture on these matters hasn't changed, but its interpretation has.

    I have a grim appreciation for a man who stands up for the truth as he understands it, without regard to the mood of the masses. But on the question of homosexuality, I have to wonder: is this truth unequivocal, or is it the product of a previous mass sentiment imposing one interpretation on the scriptures where another would be equally supported. My Christian friends have convinced me that this is the case.

  44. Shane says:

    Stop this awesomeness! Stop it right now!

    I do not want to see an actual debate on ideas and merits, I want a sanitized spoon feed emotional plea ala Mory Povich, so I can hide from my own intellectual dishonesty.

  45. Jack B. says:

    I submit that Mitt Romney and his ilk (not to mention 20 million or so Jehovah's Witnesses) would disagree with you.

    Reverend Steve Winter would disagree, too. (Warning: If you're into weird theology and seventies arena rock, I've effectively ruined your day.)

  46. Nate says:

    To quote despair.com: Tradition-Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.

  47. Linus says:

    The "are Mormons Christians?" question is doomed to be bogged down in pedantic nerdiness, so let's just…actually, Popehat is the perfect place for such a debate, isn't it?

  48. David says:

    The Bible says so many things that can be used on either side of most arguments that it really isn't a basis to prove what is a traditional Christian anything.

    An utterance found in most instances on the lips of people not actually well acquainted with the contents of the Bible. (Most frequent ineffectual retort to this observation: "I've read it cover to cover!")

    You're right, Clark. The whole "wrong side of history"/"nothing but a dinosaur" rhetorical tack does not show Ken at his best. As argumentation, it's a nullity; as rhetoric, it's unpleasant without compensating wit.

    Happily, he tends to settle in this way only when it comes to issues in which he's emotionally invested, issues which play centrally into his self-construction as an enlightened moderate clearly different from "those" people– such as opponents of civil rights in a prior generation– whose hypocrisies and gambits he has come to loathe.

    He cares about those issues deeply, wants to "win", and sometimes cannot resist cheap sneering when expressing confidence.

    These, alas, are minor faults; they're offset by the Voltairian virtue of Ken's crusade against moral hypocrisy and asymmetrical notions of freedom.

  49. Rob says:

    Thank you for your well-argued theorem, backed up with copious details and footnotes. It will certainly change my opinion on this matter.

    What a disingenuous comment. Never mind that I've had enough discussions with xenophobes to know that "detailed and footnoted" arguments are usually wasted effort; just look at any of the more substantial posts above, none of which seem to have had any impact on your opinion. Are you really to have me believe that if I quote scientific studies about the "naturallity" of homosexuality to you, you'll change your mind?

  50. LT says:

    There is something beautiful and underappreciated about two men having a rational, civilized discussion and coming to terms in an agreeable manner. Is it wrong that I think it's kind of a turn on?

    Clark, if you keep this up you're going to have your own little fan following.

  51. Neil says:

    LOL @ Rob If something is deemed to be "natural" by the scientific community is it therefore necessarily moral and good in your view? The animal kingdom is filled with behaviors that, since they occur in the natural world of wild animals, can be considered "natural." However, if a person were to engage in the same behavior in society, they would be executed, imprisoned, or institutionalized.

  52. Ken White says:

    You're right, Clark. The whole "wrong side of history"/"nothing but a dinosaur" rhetorical tack does not show Ken at his best. As argumentation, it's a nullity; as rhetoric, it's unpleasant without compensating wit.

    Happily, he tends to settle in this way only when it comes to issues in which he's emotionally invested, issues which play centrally into his self-construction as an enlightened moderate clearly different from "those" people– such as opponents of civil rights in a prior generation– whose hypocrisies and gambits he has come to loathe.

    He cares about those issues deeply, wants to "win", and sometimes cannot resist cheap sneering when expressing confidence.

    These, alas, are minor faults; they're offset by the Voltairian virtue of Ken's crusade against moral hypocrisy and asymmetrical notions of freedom.

    Nuh-UH!

  53. David says:

    So you're arguing that disagreement with gay marriage was the conventional wisdom of 0 AD

    Il n'y avait pas d'an zéro.

  54. Malc says:

    I'm interested in at least two flaws in the argument that contemporary attitudes to social issues are simple popularity contests, often pursued for political reasons, and that those contemporary attitudes challenge 2000 years of tradition.

    First is the simple observation that we're not talking about 2000 years of any kind of absolute truth or wisdom, but 2000 years of politicians selectively editing, selectively enforcing, selectively ignoring a pile of source material to achieve ends that they felt were beneficial to their power base and/or viewpoints. Any argument that "the Bible" is or contains "the word of God" has to contend with the historical fact that "the Bible" has been edited and interpreted for 2000 years by humans (remarkably, nearly all of whom seem to be male). This doesn't mean that the contents and message aren't significant and important, etc. but that it is a socio-political, rather than theological, document. [In this regard I rather admire the Jewish tradition of "learning", which actively encourages its theologists to wrestle with different translations/interpretations.]

    Second, "traditional marriage" is a bogus concept thrown out by people whose intent is to block social change that threatens their power base. By "traditional marriage" they probably don't mean "marriage as it existed in 0050, 0350, 0650, 0950, 1250, 1550, and 1850"; what they mean is "marriage as it existed in 1950". You know, marriage defined as two people living with 2.3 kids and most of a dog in their own home with a Ford/Buick in driveway. In truth, "traditional marriage" looked much more like what is often called an "extended family" — even the name of the alternative reveals it's modernity: "nuclear family". So the real "traditional marriage" may have had two people being joined together in a ceremony, but socially the marriage resulted in a large family group of aunts and grandmas and cousins and uncles and so forth, who together raised the kids, tended each others' injuries, supported the widows and widowers, etc. Oh, and it didn't include divorce much, either.

    While that doesn't challenge the narrow "nature of the union" type definition, I find it disingenuous that those opposed to gay marriage often resort to assertions about the "best" way i.e. "traditional" way to be a family, ignoring the differences that already exist between "traditional' family structures and non-gay couples.

    It's also interesting to note that we've adopted many Greco-Roman concepts along the way, but as always we selective disregard practices we dislike (such as ancient Grecian social structures) in favor of those we do, while applauding the latter for its longevity.

    I believe morality to be important, but it doesn't come a book with "The Bible"/"The Koran"/"The Book of Mormon" written on the cover. Any and all of those can help craft and construct morals, but they aren't recipe books, and anyone who asserts otherwise seems, to me, to have missed the point. Of course, it's always easier to avoid thinking and turn to the "Book of Things We Hate (2013 Edition)", Chapter 10, Verse 97: "And there came unto Boston, where Gay Marriage was first legalized, some Chechens. And they were Bad"

  55. Clark says:

    @Cowtowncoder

    A tiny addition to all that has been said: focus is NOT on what is the majority opinion du jour, but how it is changing. And specifically that it appears to follow familiar cycle of abolishing slavery, racial discrimination and emancipation of women.

    As a person with reactionary tendencies, I disagree with the New England Puritan / Marxian narrative of never ending social progress (yes, I'm aware of Pinker's view). My take is that humans have an innate monkey-status based tendency to marginalize and exclude some and honor and adore others, and this gets expressed through the concepts of sin and redemption, in groups and out, high status groups and low.

    50 years ago tobacco use was socially normal and homosexuality was socially abnormal and low status.

    Today homosexuality is socially normal and tobacco use is socially abnormal and low status.

    200 years ago blacks were whipped and infants were venerated. It was socially abnormal to say that a black man was equal to a white – one could be disinvited from polite company for that opinion.

    Today one is ejected from polite company for using the n-word (reasonably so!) … but also for covering a case where a doctor is alleged to have broken numerous laws and killed infants.

    The wheel turns, and as one side rises from the muck the opposite side descends.

    This, in turn, does reflect changing social norms and moral views, and changes in people's views of Right and Wrong.

    Agreed.

    That an old book compiled by leading intellectuals of a middle-eastern tribe does not change is, well, hardly surprising; and its contents can only be considered truths with certain strict set of premises (aka blind faith).

    I disagree on that last bit.

    I am a former-atheist who came to Rome based on faith – but not on blind faith. I will not bore you with the details of my philosophic inquiry into objective morality, Plato's forms, the Church fathers, and more.

    it sounds like counter-argument here is simply "but Bible is right"

    I am absolutely not arguing "the bible says X, therefore X". I find that one of the stupidest forms of argument out there.

    I am merely arguing that

    1. Ken says !Q … and that anyone who says Q is a fool
    2. Ken claims affiliation with tribe X
    3. tribe X has a bunch of rules written in book Y
    4. book Y says Q

    therefore

    1. Ken should not be so quick to dismiss people who say Q
    2. Ken should reconsider the merits of Q, or at least consider moderating the vehemence with which he denounces Q believers

    Without the prior "K already claims affiliation with tribe X", there is no argument here – none at all. I acknowledge that.

  56. Ragashingo says:

    Very nicely said, Clark.

  57. David says:

    Nuh-UH!

    I know you are, but what am I?

    In any event, I couldn't in good faith call it a lazy rhetorical feint, because you're one of the most hard-workin' chaps I know. Besides– blog.

  58. Dictatortot says:

    Because yeah, issues and "debate" about homesexuality and gay marriage are obviously just "2000 year old christian values" vs. "2013's popular opinion". And not "2000 year old christian values" vs. "the ongoing, changing result of over 200 years of actually thinking about stuff and questioning things in a rational way."

    Gee, it's a damned shame that "thinking about stuff and questioning things in a rational way" was only invented 200 years ago. Wonder what fellows like Aquinas, Chrysostom, Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine, and Athanasius have come up with if they'd been, y'know, familiar with stuff like rational inquiry and its methods?

  59. Clark says:

    @Rob:

    Thank you for your well-argued theorem, backed up with copious details and footnotes. It will certainly change my opinion on this matter.

    What a disingenuous comment.

    I see nothing disingenuous about it; I note that I have changed almost every opinion I've ever had, based on good arguments and better data.

    Never mind that I've had enough discussions with xenophobes to know
    that "detailed and footnoted" arguments are usually wasted effort

    I cautioned Ken against using the word "ilk" because it makes it harder to reach rational conclusions when one demonizes one opponents.

    I suggest that your quest for truth might proceed better if you don't immediately label opponents "xenophobes". It is objectively verifiable that you and I disagree on certain things, but it is not objectively verifiable what my motivations are, nor that they are xenophobia.

    just look at any of the more substantial posts above, none of which seem to have had any impact on your opinion.

    Which ones?

    Are you really to have me believe that if I quote scientific studies about the "naturallity" of homosexuality to you, you'll change your mind?

    Oh, certainly I would not have you believe that.

    My arguments are not at all about the naturality or non-naturality of homosexual inclinations. For the record, given the data I have now, I am strongly inclined to believe that it is largely if not entirely genetic.

    I also think that preferences for rape, murder and chocolate-rather-than-vanilla are natural, and yet I disagree with all three (albeit only two on moral grounds).

  60. Clark says:

    @Ragashingo

    Very nicely said, Clark.

    Thank you!

  61. Clark says:

    @LT:

    Clark, if you keep this up you're going to have your own little fan following.

    Promise me you'll write to me when I'm in jail?

  62. Al Iverson says:

    Clark: It's a 2000 year old doctrine that has significantly evolved, in many other ways, over that 2000 years. Like that or not, it has happened significantly in many regards and will continue to happen. What you call the effect of modern popular culture, I call learning how to be nicer to fellow humans.

  63. NI says:

    Clark, I don't know you, and it's entirely possible that if I did know you, we'd like each other. So please take what I am about to say in the spirit in which it is intended, because what I am about to say will probably sound far more harsh than I mean it, but I'm really not sure how else to make a point that needs to be made.

    Your view of homosexuality, and Broussard's view, may well be kinder and gentler than the Westboro Baptist Church view, but you have no idea the pain and suffering and agony that your view inflicts on gays and lesbians. Not so much as it used to because the culture has shifted and there are now limits on how much pain the Christian church is permitted to inflict on gays, but in terms of raw human misery, your theology has done more than its fair share.

    Have you ever had a 14 year old crash in your spare bedroom because he had no place to go after his Christian parents kicked him out of the house for being gay, and you rescued him from street prostitution because that was the only way he knew how to survive? I have.

    Have you ever provided pro bono legal representation to an elderly gay man being forced out of his house because the Christian relatives of his long term partner (47 years), who died without the proper legal paperwork, were actively hostile to his relationship and were able to take advantage of a legal system that doesn't recognize his relationship? I have.

    Have you ever gone to the hospital to visit a gay teenager who attempted suicide (and nearly succeeded) because she couldn't take the incessant bullying at school from fellow students, several of whom are professing Christians? I've done that too.

    And when I think of the suffering that your belief system has caused, sorry if I can't bring myself to care that Broussard is catching some flak for continuing to propagate it.

    That's all.

  64. David says:

    Without the prior "K already claims affiliation with tribe X", there is no argument here – none at all. I acknowledge that.

    You know, @Clark and @Ken, we Christian Popehat bloggers should probably take into account that our tribal infighting may be alienating the Antichristian Popehat bloggers.

  65. NoPublic says:

    Today one is ejected from polite company for using the n-word (reasonably so!) … but also for covering a case where a doctor is alleged to have broken numerous laws and killed infants.

    [citation needed]

    First, a link to the Daily Beast. Second, an assertion that is demonstrably false and political/partisan rather than factual*. Not a good way to advance your rhetorical point. And isn't there a commandment about false witness?

    *If you can, in fact, find even a single documented case of anyone being ejected from anywhere or anything for covering the Gosnell case, I'll dial this back from "demonstrably false" to "willfully misleading" but that's as far as I'll go. I've spent lots longer than any of the current crop of folks who are hyperventilating on this case have on researching it and I have found no such instances.

  66. eddie says:

    Thank you for your well-argued theorem, backed up with copious details and footnotes.

    His theorem is as well-argued as yours (or rather, what I assume is yours, although you seem to have meticulously avoided an outright statement that you yourself hold the position that homosexuality is sinful). The sole support for that position is, in essence, "God says so". Need I point out that logic and reason can play no part in such an argument, neither to support it nor to refute it?

    I have lots of weird and uncommon opinions, and I'm happy to stand up and take my lumps like a man.

    An admirable stand.

    If this in fact is one of your opinions, I am happy to see it become uncommon and weird, and I stand ready to give you your lumps over it. I'm also, like Ken, happy to gloat over the continuing marginalization of that opinion, not because it makes my position right, but because my position is right and it feels good to see the right thing winning.

    [Ken said:]

    I can see how you can read that as being unnecessarily offensive and insulting to people who have personal beliefs opposed to homosexuality.

    Such people deserve to be offended and insulted. Even if they are otherwise good people (as most people are). Even if they come by those personal beliefs by means which most people would otherwise find meritorious ("deeply held religious convictions"). If you think less of someone because they are gay, then I think less of you, and I want everyone else to think less of you too. Please consider yourself insulted and please take offense.

  67. Neil says:

    Gee, Clark, who knew your theology is responsible for teenage gays being kicked out of their houses, laws that don't recognize gay relationships, and gay bullying?

  68. Jennifer says:

    I'd note as well that an appeal to tradition is just as fallacious as an appeal to popularity.

    Poppycock.

    A tradition that has survived for two thousand years (actually much longer if you count pre-Christian Hebraic and Germanic tradition) has proved that is consistent with a stable, self-sustaining society.

    Natural selection self-evidently works in human societies. The society that deviates from a self-sustaining set of cultural mores will wither out, fracture, or be overwhelmed by those that don't.

    State-condoned and culturally celebrated homosexual marriage may also be utterly consistent with a self-sustaining, flourishing society. Or it may not. No one yet knows.

    Maybe same-sex marriage will work out okay. Maybe it won't.
    Either way, we'll know in a couple generations.

    Personally, I suspect that whatever polity is written on the maps, the North American continent of 2113 is going to have a lot more in the way of traditionalist Mormans, reactionary 10-kid Evangelicals, and paternalistic hispanic Catholics, and a lot less in the way of fashionably tolerant SWPL progressives.

    But time will tell.

  69. David says:

    For the record, given the data I have now, I am strongly inclined to believe that it is largely if not entirely genetic.

    IIRC, the most recent empirical thinking is that it is largely epigenetic, with regulatory genes standing in some sort of causal relationship with hormone levels in utero.

  70. perlhaqr says:

    Clark: I agree with your general position (even though, or perhaps especially so, because I'm not in any way Christian) that there are vastly better arguments for being pro-equal-marriage than "it's popular".

    So I'm going to digress heavily. :D

    I assert that, properly speaking, Christians can not disagree about trinitarianism because non-trinitarians aren't Christian.

    So! LDS ("Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", "Mormons") folks: Christian or not Christian?

    I have definitely heard it argued that they aren't, because they don't believe in the Nicean Creed, that The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost are all one and the same entity. (LDS believe in the existence of all three, but that they are three separate entities.)

  71. perlhaqr says:

    This is what happens when I comment before reading all the other comments… :D

  72. Xenocles says:

    "A tradition that has survived for two thousand years (actually much longer if you count pre-Christian Hebraic and Germanic tradition) has proved that is consistent with a stable, self-sustaining society."

    Untrue. It has proved only that your stable self-sustaining society can survive that tradition. The same could have been said for many evil traditions throughout history. There's something to be said for the idea that longevity implies merit, but that is an assertion that still has to be proven.

    At any rate, both of the techniques I mentioned are classic logical fallacies.

  73. NoPublic says:

    Personally, I suspect that whatever polity is written on the maps, the North American continent of 2113 is going to have a lot more in the way of traditionalist Mormans, reactionary 10-kid Evangelicals, and paternalistic hispanic Catholics, and a lot less in the way of fashionably tolerant SWPL progressives

    Really? When was the last time a nation (or set thereof) shifted demographically that way in 4 or 5 generations? I realize there isn't a lot of sociological data on post-industrial nations but I can't recall any doing that in the last century or two.

  74. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    His theorem is as well-argued as yours (or rather, what I assume is yours

    My goodness, it appears I'm a terrible debater – I failed to
    back up a thesis that I'm not arguing for, and only presented evidence
    to support the one I am arguing for.

  75. Jennifer says:

    It has proved only that your stable self-sustaining society can survive that tradition.

    That is indeed by point.

    And yes – in 1860 the exact same argument could be made for the preservation of slavery. In 1960 for the inability to easily divorce.

    Time will answer this question as well.

    Humility comes in knowing that answer might not be the one our aesthetic preference prefers.

  76. perlhaqr says:

    They think that they are, and I think that they're the absolute nicest pagans I've ever met.

    Oh, what the hell. I'm going to nerd this up anyway. (I grew up LDS, but left the church, but don't hate it the way many ex-LDS do. So I can argue it without believing it or being rancorous about it. Yay!)

    What definition of "pagan" are you using here? I don't see "polytheistic" or "non-Abrahamic" as applying.

    Likewise, (although others certainly feel differently) I don't think it's unreasonable for a group that follows the (reported) teachings of Jesus Christ, without accepting the conclusions of some dudes who came along 300 years later, to call themselves "Christian".

  77. Clark says:

    @perlhaqr:

    What definition of "pagan" are you using here? I don't see "polytheistic" or "non-Abrahamic" as applying.

    A loose sloppy one, as I was headed out the door and chose, and then rejected, "heretic" as leaving me open to the charge of "how can they be heretics if they're not Christians?".

    That said:

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&ie=UTF-8#hl=en&gs_rn=11&gs_ri=psy-ab&gs_mss=admin.heav&tok=KfEhsSWzQDq49kkdkSq_bA&cp=8&gs_id=be&xhr=t&q=pagan+definition&es_nrs=true&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&oq=pagan+de&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.dmg&fp=356d05ee963977a&biw=1280&bih=644&ion=1

    pa·gan
    /ˈpāgən/
    Noun
    A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions

  78. Jennifer says:

    Really? When was the last time a nation (or set thereof) shifted demographically that way in 4 or 5 generations?

    I dunno. I'm sure there's an answer in the Consulate of the Greater Lakota Nation. Or maybe it's in one of those protestant churches down in South Boston, I forget.

  79. Lizard says:

    @Jennifer:

    "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

    So, I'm a little leery of the argument that "We've always done it this way, therefore, it can't be bad." If you want to defend "traditional marriage" (you know, where the parents of the prospective spouses get together and settle on a fair price — that IS the traditional type of marriage we're discussing, right, since the 'fall in wuv with your one true wuv' kind of marriage is a very modern invention), please do so, but not on grounds of tradition. At least not if you can't get Zero Mostel to sing it.

  80. Lizard says:

    Great, the link to my source quote didn't make it. Bugger all: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=388&invol=1

  81. Guns says:

    @Clark:So you're arguing that disagreement with gay marriage was the conventional wisdom of 0 AD, but was not the conventional wisdom of 1 AD, 2 AD, 3 AD … 2010 AD?

    I sometimes use word sloppily, but this was not one of those times: I very crisply meant "a tradition that has existed for 2,000 years".

    No, that is not what I'm arguing. What I'm saying is that the christian traditions of 1 AD were those of 0 AD, the christian traditions of 2 AD where those of 0 AD, those of 3 AD were those of 0 AD, christianty in 1200 followed traditions of 0 AD etc… What I'm saying is that my particular phrasing makes it clear that those traditions weren't questioned for a good part of those 2000 years. Oh sure, there were schisms in christianity, but those dealt largely with the issues of the secular power of the clergy ("should the pope get all the bling" and other interesting conundrums), very rarely with the actual morals.

    Only in the last (I'll be generous) 300 years have those morals and traditions come under question. And still, they're hardly, if ever, changed. A lot of them are just ignored ("don't take that literally"). And only really in the last 60 years have they truly been excised from day-to-day living in a western civilization.

    To state it differently: by invoking the "2000 year old traditions" line, you imply (and I call you a liar if you say you don't) that these are "good, tried and true traditions". That's not the case. They were, and are, largely horrible. "Traditions" in the absolute sense of the word, yes, but not the kind of traditions you want to invoke in an argument from authority.

  82. Darryl S says:

    …you have no idea the pain and suffering and agony that your view inflicts on gays and lesbians

    This is a problem that occurs when one sin is treated differently than another. It is fundamental to Christianity that we are all sinful; that's why we require a Saviour. A church is not a place where sinless people gather; it is a place where people gather who know they are sinful.

    Many Christians treat homosexuality as "worse" than other sins, but there is no Biblical basis for this. This tendency to identify a particular visible sin as being more condemnable or intolerable as any other sin — rather than realizing that it is one of the many sins that all Christians struggle with — is the source of the problems you cite.

    So: I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that, while I am not a homosexual, I am guilty of uncountable other sins of equal severity. And so I also believe that treating homosexuals as outcasts is not a Christian act.

    (See John 8:2-11, for Jesus's response to people treating an adulteress in much the same way as you describe Christians treating homosexuals today. Identifying something as a sin does not imply condemnation of the sinner…but sin is sin, and repentance is required.)

  83. Clark says:

    @NoPublic:

    Really? When was the last time a nation (or set thereof) shifted demographically that way in 4 or 5 generations?

    North America, 1650 – 1800.

    Not much left of the Old Guard, but if you want to visit them I hear they sell some nice jewelry and tax free cigarettes.

  84. naught_for_naught says:

    Under the heading, Old News

    Kudos to the kids in South Park for fighting to preserve our rich and textured lexicon. I for one don't want to lose this well-loved epithet.

  85. Tali McPike says:

    @Clark, based on your "came to Rome" comment, I'm assuming you are Catholic (given that Rome usually refers to the Vatican, and I've only ever heard Catholic converts, like myself, say something like that, instead of "came to Jesus"). If this assumption is wrong I apologize and you can disregard the rest of this comment, as this pretty much a "what do you think?" type observation post.

    Disclosure: The following is simply thoughts I would like to interject based on some of the above comments (particularly accusations of Homophobia/Xenophobia). I cannot speak for Christians as a whole, as this is coming from my Catholic world view.

    While there is no discussing/arguing with people who believe that religious beliefs is an invalid reason to oppose something, I think it would help the argument a lot if more Catholics remembered what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches on homosexuality. Particularly the following

    "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity" (CCC 2333) "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (CCC 2358)

    The Church teaches that being a homosexual is not a choice, that homosexuals are indeed born that way, and that we are supposed to avoid discriminating against them, instead accept them. I think far too many remember that the Church believes sex (homosexual or heterosexual) outside of the sacrament of marriage is a sin, but not enough remember this part.

    I'm curious Clark, as I'm not quite able to tell where exactly you stand on the "issue" of homosexual marriage. I can tell you believe it is a sin, but I'm not quite sure where you stand on the civil issue. Do you reject the idea of homosexual marriage entirely, or do you separate the sacramental definition from the civil definition and believe that homosexual couples should get the same benefits (insurance, taxes, etc) as heterosexual married couples, based on the CCC's admonition not to discriminate?

  86. NoPublic says:

    I dunno. I'm sure there's an answer in the Consulate of the Greater Lakota Nation. Or maybe it's in one of those protestant churches down in South Boston, I forget.

    OK, I'm gonna need some clarification here. Admittedly, the only Lakota peoples I've ever interacted with are the Oglala, but I don't recall a single church or temple on the rez the last time I was there. And while Boston (note: not a nation) may have shifted from Protestant/Episcopalian to Catholic during the Italian/Irish assimilation and back a bit recently I'm not sure that it got more conservative or paternalistic in the process.

  87. LT says:

    @Clark-

    I've never had a prison penpal before. Sounds like fun!

  88. enneract says:

    Using the bible to justify a position is like using a transcription of your schizophrenic hallucinations to justify a position. It holds no water at all.

  89. NoPublic says:

    North America, 1650 – 1800.

    Not much left of the Old Guard, but if you want to visit them I hear they sell some nice jewelry and tax free cigarettes.

    So we're postulating an invasion and subsequent genocide of the liberal North American peoples by a Christian, Catholic, or Mormon nation in the next 100 years? (also note: 1650-1800 is more like 7 or 8 generations, but I won't pick nits)

  90. Clark says:

    @enneract:

    Using the bible to justify a position is like using a
    transcription of your schizophrenic hallucinations to justify a
    position. It holds no water at all.

    Agreed.

    If you ever see me doing that, call my attention to it.

  91. LT says:

    As for the Christianity and homosexuality debate… the two are not mutually exclusive, though most people seem to think they are.

    I identify as Christian. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. I don't think homosexuality is a sin. There's a brilliant little documentary called "Fish Out of Water" that tackles the Bible verses specifically on homosexuality and their translations, and does a spectacular job of explaining the information of what they really mean with info from theologians and pastors.

    Just my two bits.

  92. Clark says:

    @NoPublic:

    North America, 1650 – 1800.

    Not much left of the Old Guard, but if you want to visit them I hear they sell some nice jewelry and tax free cigarettes.

    So we're postulating an invasion and subsequent genocide of the liberal North American peoples by a Christian, Catholic, or Mormon nation in the next 100 years?

    Surely your reading comprehension is better than that?

    Go back and give it another shot, please.

    (also note: 1650-1800 is more like 7 or 8 generations, but I won't pick nits)

    …he said, picking nits.

  93. Jenora Feuer says:

    If you pay attention, you'll notice that progressives are mainly concerned with being considered popular and hip when it comes to their political and social views.

    If you want more of a progressive view on this, look at the comments from another Clark, Fred Clark at Slacktivist, who is pretty consistent with his use of love thy neighbour as the prime commandment that overrules most other 'clobber verses'. From one of his more recent posts, Liberty Counsel redefining 'Christian' just as Falwell did, which talks about the marriage equality issue:

    “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” — 1 John 4:20

  94. Kevin says:

    @Clark

    North America, 1650 – 1800.

    Not much left of the Old Guard, but if you want to visit them I hear they sell some nice jewelry and tax free cigarettes.

    I'm having trouble understanding your argument here. Are you saying that the reason European settlers were able to conquer the continent from the indigenous population so easily was because of their lack of gay marriage? Cause it seems to me like their superior firepower and technology had a lot more to do with it.

  95. David says:

    Many Christians treat homosexuality as "worse" than other sins, but there is no Biblical basis for this. This tendency to identify a particular visible sin as being more condemnable or intolerable as any other sin — rather than realizing that it is one of the many sins that all Christians struggle with — is the source of the problems you cite.

    @Darryl S:
    The problem is perhaps not this, but something related. Even Christians who grant that every sin is equally effective in separating the sinner from God — and that breaking the law at one point makes one guilty of the entire law — cannot help but notice that some behaviors understood as sins were also singled out as crimes under Moses. Homosexuality is one of these, alongside murder, Sabbath-breaking, being an incorrigible teen punk, adultery, and about a dozen others.

    At various times, and in various ways, Christians have split this difference by maintaining both that all sins are equally heinous in one sense and that some sins — e.g., the ones flagged as capital crimes under Moses — are more heinous in some other sense.

    Confusion arises in the attempt to figure out what to do with that distinction when (a) the current political environment is a Christian theocracy, and when (b) the current political environment is not a theocracy. Failing to appreciate the differing terms of engagement under (a) and (b) may lead either to the direct inference that Mosaic crimes should be current Unitedstatesian crimes, or (more often) to the indirect inference that Mosaic crimes should not necessarly be crimes here and now but should still be regarded as, in some sense, especially heinous from a moral standpoint.

    So then, to say as you do that "there is no Biblical basis for this" sidesteps a much more complicated discussion about the historical disagreement over whether there's such a basis and over when such a basis may be culturally or politically pertinent.

    In Christendom, there have been traditions that find no basis in the Jewish theocracy for later Christian attitudes toward various classes of sin because they find little abiding relevance in the Hebrew bible at all for Christians. What your remark overlooks, Darryl S, is that there have also been traditions– the dominant ones– that deal in a more complex way with what the theologians call "progressive revelation" across the covenants.

  96. Clark says:

    @Tali McPike:

    @Clark, based on your "came to Rome" comment, I'm assuming you are Catholic

    I struggle with
    1900-1901 in the catechism, but other than that, yes.

    (given that Rome usually refers to the Vatican, and I've only ever
    heard Catholic converts, like myself, say something like that,
    instead of "came to Jesus")

    Huh! I'd never consciously noted the parallel structure before. Thanks!

    Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches on homosexuality. Particularly the following

    "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity" (CCC 2333) "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (CCC 2358)

    The Church teaches that being a homosexual is not a choice, that homosexuals are indeed born that way, and that we are supposed to avoid discriminating against them, instead accept them. I think far too many remember that the Church believes sex (homosexual or heterosexual) outside of the sacrament of marriage is a sin, but not enough remember this part.

    Yep, all very true.

    I'm curious Clark, as I'm not quite able to tell where exactly you
    stand on the "issue" of homosexual marriage. I can tell you believe it
    is a sin, but I'm not quite sure where you stand on the civil
    issue.

    I don't much think about it.

    Do you reject the idea of homosexual marriage entirely, or do
    you separate the sacramental definition from the civil definition and
    believe that homosexual couples should get the same benefits
    (insurance, taxes, etc) as heterosexual married couples, based on the
    CCC's admonition not to discriminate?

    I find the State to be immoral in its very concept and would like
    to see it destroyed. I have no more opinion on how the State should
    define the term "marriage" than on how the State should define the
    term "brownie".

    I am sure that once the state is knocked down, lit on fire, and has salt plowed into its remains people will manage to define and use the word "brownie" in some manner which is mutually comprehensible to them…and the same will be true of the word "marriage".

  97. NoPublic says:

    Surely your reading comprehension is better than that?

    Go back and give it another shot, please.

    Um. I quoted your entire post. Which referenced "the Old Guard" and "jewelry and tax free cigarettes" by which I inferred you mean Native Americans. Extrapolating from that, I note that the demographic shift of the North American continent during that era was due primarily to colonization and/or invasion by (mostly Christian) foreign nations and that the subsequent genocide against the Native Americans and acquisition of their lands was necessary to further the expansion of the colonial populations.

    Projecting that on the current North American population I can see no likelihood that an equivalent influx from any non-hostile nation state could shift the North American population demographics so drastically.

    What, exactly, do you believe I'm missing in your 30 or so words of wisdom?

  98. Clark says:

    @Kevin:

    North America, 1650 – 1800.
    Not much left of the Old Guard, but if you want to visit them I hear they sell some nice jewelry and tax free cigarettes.

    I'm having trouble understanding your argument here.

    I'm not making an argument. I'm answering a question. @Jennifer made a prediction about the future of North America. I have not thought it through and have no opinion on her prediction. @NoPublic asked when the last time a demographic shift of the size that @Jennifer predicted had happened.

    I answered his question.

    Nothing more.

  99. Anglave says:

    @Clark

    Though I'm a consistent Popehat reader, I'm only just becoming familiar with you as a blogger, and with your style in responding here.

    I wanted to say, bravo and well done.

    And, though I suspect we would disagree on a number of points, I get the impression I'd enjoy a discussion with you on said points. I promise I'd do my best to remain open to persuasion by logical argument.

  100. Ken White says:

    You're right, Clark. The whole "wrong side of history"/"nothing but a dinosaur" rhetorical tack does not show Ken at his best. As argumentation, it's a nullity; as rhetoric, it's unpleasant without compensating wit.

    Happily, he tends to settle in this way only when it comes to issues in which he's emotionally invested, issues which play centrally into his self-construction as an enlightened moderate clearly different from "those" people– such as opponents of civil rights in a prior generation– whose hypocrisies and gambits he has come to loathe.

    He cares about those issues deeply, wants to "win", and sometimes cannot resist cheap sneering when expressing confidence.

    To give this a bit more attention — though not as much as it deserves:

    In looking at lines like the dinosaur one, you can ask a variety of questions. Is it consistent with the speaker's stance elsewhere — in other words, is it hypocritical? Is it kind, or treating others as you would be treated? Is it convincing in the micro, in this communication? Is it convincing in the macro, as a way of addressing a particular social issue, over the long term? Does it aspire to be any of those things?

    Somewhat, not really, depending on the audience, only to the choir, and not really.

    opponents of civil rights in a prior generation

    This is an old argument David and I have had — to what extent is modern behavior fairly comparable to generations-old behavior, or a continuing part of it? Do different perspectives lead some people to see progress and others to see a glacial pace thereof?

  101. David says:

    …tackles the Bible verses specifically on homosexuality and their translations, and does a spectacular job of explaining the information of what they really mean with info from theologians and pastors.

    "What they really mean" may perhaps be understood better as "what they had virtually never been taken to mean until recently reconsidered in light of postmodern values and flexible hermeneutic practices".

    Rather than achieving textual understanding through tormented exegesis, textually interested Christians would be much healthier and more intellectually honest to acknowledge frankly that neither the Hebrew Bible nor the NT can, with a bit of assertion and good will, be brought into compliance with culturally prevalent views.

  102. NoPublic says:

    I'm not making an argument. I'm answering a question. @Jennifer made a prediction about the future of North America. I have not thought it through and have no opinion on her prediction. @NoPublic asked when the last time a demographic shift of the size that @Jennifer predicted had happened.

    I answered his question.

    Nothing more.

    And yet so much less. Forgive me for thinking you were actually trying to contribute to the discussion. I won't be likely to make that mistake again soon.

  103. Clark says:

    @Anglave:

    @Clark, Though I'm a consistent Popehat reader, I'm only just becoming
    familiar with you as a blogger, and with your style in responding
    here.

    I wanted to say, bravo and well done.

    Anglave,

    You're too kind. But, thank you. It sounds trite, but I really do appreciate kind words from your and others.

    And, though I suspect we would disagree on a number of points, I get the impression I'd enjoy a discussion with you on said points. I promise I'd do my best to remain open to persuasion by logical argument.

    As do I. I do not assert that I have reached the correct opinions on all matters, merely that I try – on my best days – to engage in a process of open-minded exploration that will hopefully cause my opinions to converge with what is correct.

  104. Clark says:

    @NoPublic:

    Forgive me for thinking you were actually trying to contribute to the discussion. I won't be likely to make that mistake again soon.

    Nor will I make the corresponding one.

    Goodbye.

  105. Jennifer says:

    So, I'm a little leery of the argument that "We've always done it this way, therefore, it can't be bad."

    Wow. Good thing I'm not making that argument.

    I'm not talking about a good/evil value judgement. I'm talking about the long term effects of a particular social more on the demographics and social cohesion of a society.

    Maybe it all works out grand. Maybe it doesn't. Color me agnostic, but enough of a believer in natural selection to be skeptical.

    To elaborate a bit – lots of people did personally unpalatable things to keep their – our – society running over the arc of WesternCiv. Lots of young men stuck with a single girl, despite a natural inclination to run free. Lots of young women gave up any hope of an independent life – to the extent they were able to have one – in order to pour all their energy into a family. Lots of older women turned a blind eye to a husband's indiscretions so her kids could keep a roof over their head and food in their bellies. Lots of men picked up a spear or a gun and slept out in the rain and the mud for months at a time to stand their turn on the wall.

    Lots of people – not just gays – have denied themselves for the sake of their families and their culture. In so doing, they piled up a heck of a lot of civilizational capital.

    Now we're rich enough we can eat through it at our leisure, and knock out any old wall in the civilizational house we don't like the look of.

    Maybe we can do it with impunity.
    Maybe we can't.

    Guess we'll see.

  106. naught_for_naught says:

    Using the bible to justify a position is like using a transcription of your schizophrenic hallucinations to justify a position.

    Whoa horsey! You lost me there. According to Modern Jackass, the religious texts of western civilization — Greek mythology, the Torah, the Bible, The Apocrypha and the Quran — document the evolution of moral thought and philosophy spanning 1000's of years. Law and Justice are central issues. The question here is, as it has always been, how does it apply.

  107. David says:

    And yet so much less. Forgive me for thinking you were actually trying to contribute to the discussion. I won't be likely to make that mistake again soon.

    Now, now, @NoPublic. Don't let your embarrassment at your having badly misconstrued the flow of discussion overwhelm you to the point that you get snitty. Is there really any doubt that Clark is "contributing to the discussion"… of his own lengthy post? No, and there's really no doubt that at the very moment you thought you were scoring a point, you were oafishly misreading.

  108. Darryl S says:

    So then, to say as you do that "there is no Biblical basis for this" sidesteps a much more complicated discussion about the historical disagreement over whether there's such a basis and over when such a basis may be culturally or politically pertinent.

    …there have also been traditions– the dominant ones– that deal in a more complex way with what the theologians call "progressive revelation" across the covenants.

    @David:
    A good point – I struggled a bit with what to include and what to omit from my remarks, since it's clear that there's a great deal of variance in the level of theological detail that people following this discussion have familiarity with.

    I decided to try to keep it simple, and that led to me stating some things (like this) as established fact when in reality there is (quite rightfully) historical and current debate over them. So a more accurate statement would actually be: After considering passages like the one in John 8 that I cited, and looking at how Jesus treated the societal outcasts of the time (adulteresses, tax collectors, lepers, etc.), I believe that the Bible teaches that we should no longer treat sinners as outcasts, or one sin as worse than another (barring sin against the Holy Spirit…and defining that could be the source of a whole other debate).

    So, I believe very much in the continued relevance of the Old Testament for modern Christians, and I suspect I have spent more time over the course of my life studying that than I have the New Testament (after all, there's a lot more of it). Particularly relevant to this conversation, I also believe that comparing the Jewish traditions and Mosaic law to the teachings of Jesus can tell us a lot about the reasons for those laws, and the danger of emphasizing law and tradition over faith and understanding.

    In short: Yes, others both historically and presently have reached different conclusions that I have. Everything I've said could have been prefaced with "I believe that…", but that gets tedious. I'm stating what I think is true.

    I could be wrong.

  109. NoPublic says:

    Now, now, @NoPublic. Don't let your embarrassment at your having badly misconstrued the flow of discussion overwhelm you to the point that you get snitty. Is there really any doubt that Clark is "contributing to the discussion"… of his own lengthy post? No, and there's really no doubt that you at the very moment you thought you were scoring a point, you were oafishly misreading.

    And if he'd been discussing his post that would be fine. But he wasn't. He inserted himself into an aside about tradition and demographic shifts I was having with @Jennifer and proceeded to


    a) completely ignore the context
    b) fail to actually make a useful point in the process
    c) be oblivious or obtuse about a&b

    I really don't think I'm the one who misconstrued, misread, or tried to score points here. And oafish? Please.

    P.S. I'm nearly impossible to embarrass. Just ask the folk at LOOG.

  110. Narad says:

    IIRC, the most recent empirical thinking is that it is largely epigenetic

    It should perhaps be kept in mind that Rice et al.'s review (PDF) and concomitant model are entirely speculative.

  111. Lizard says:

    @Jennifer…. so, what you're saying is, because homosexuals want to be allowed to make the same choice to form a legal bond that imposes obligations and duties as heterosexuals, thus doing more to engage in the self-sacrifice you seem to believe is necessary for society (yes, we must all be good little drones and live solely for the State)… it's bad, or at least risky, and the safe thing to do is for gays to avoid "marriage" and "commitment", because we're not sure what might happen if gay relationships became as staid and middle-class as straight ones?

    Uhm… sure.

    Add a second category to "Arguments I am always leery of": Any variant on "Marriage and family is a hideous, soul-crushing burden no one would engage in if they didn't HAVE to!" Orson Scott Card and some other anti-gay editorialists like to harp on that theme, which pretty much serves as proof positive that they're so far in the closet that can see Narnia.

    See, here's the thing — there really is no "experiment" here, no "risk", any more than there was with interracial marriage. The basic structure of marriage as it pertains to property, rights, obligations, and so on is not changed so long as it is between two adults, regardless of their race or gender. The idea that this is socially risky is a complete red herring. No one is going to "go gay" just because they can get married. The total number of homosexuals in the world won't change because of gay marriage, and thus, neither will the number of people who produce children. The human race is not in danger due to gay marriage, and the amount of social change required to absorb it is considerably less than that needed for women to have equal political and economic rights for men, or the abolition of slavery. With homosexuals being, perhaps, 5 to 10% of the population at most, homosexual marriage will affect far fewer families than cheap and easy divorce already has. When "family values" activists manage to get "marriages that end in divorce" to a lower percentage of all marriages than "marriages between homosexuals", then, perhaps, they might have reason to look at the effect of homosexual marriage on marriage in general. Not until then. (And, no, men aren't going to rush out en masse and divorce their wives because now they can marry a man, instead. Men, and women, who believe that most marriages are held together by fear of social disapproval of same-sex relationships reveal a great deal about their own private lives, but offer little of use when discussing society.)

    I find it interesting that advocates for gay marriage tend to speak of marriage in terms of love, commitment, and a desire to share one's life with the person one cares most for in the world… while those opposed to it tend to speak in terms of duty, sacrifice, and stoic endurance.

  112. BCM says:

    Thanks to both Clark for writing this and Ken for your response. The civil debate in the comments was appreciated as well.

  113. Jennifer says:

    No, I think Clark encapsuated the discussion between us quite nicely.

    I just wish I had been as un-snarky and gracious as Darryl S. Thank you for your example, sir.

  114. Christopher says:

    From my limited reading of the Bible, I think people who think it condemns homosexuality and premarital sex are standing on fairly solid ground.

    From my limited reading of the Bible, it also seems that the people who think it condones slavery are standing on fairly solid ground. Probably even more solid than the people condemning homosexuality.

    This is a big reason I am not a Christian.

    Anyway, I agree with the basic assertion here that popularity isn't a measure of moral correctness, but I have to take issue with this:

    "Let's have a rational debate or three. But demonizing opponents shuts down the cerebellum processors and spurs the lizard hind-brain to action."

    Some people deserve to be demonized. If you accused somebody of "demonizing the Nazis" that would be ridiculous because Nazis did demonic things.

    Well, Broussard is not a Nazi (He's not in the same galaxy as a nazi), but he is an irrational bigot. If he doesn't hurt anybody, he's entitled to his bigotry, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't call out bigotry as bigotry out of some bizarre sense of propriety.

    I don't think that having strong moral reactions to an argument prevents us from also arguing against it in a coherent way.

  115. Ken White says:

    He inserted himself into an aside about tradition and demographic shifts I was having with @Jennifer

    Today I learned that on Clark's own blog (which is also my own blog), Clark requires permission to respond to open comments to his own post, in an exchange involving his own friend.

    I really need to edit the "about" page.

  116. Clark says:

    @Christopher:

    Well, Broussard is not a Nazi (He's not in the same galaxy as a nazi), but he is an irrational bigot.

    irrational – adj – not logical

    bigot – n – one who treats members of a group with hatred and intolerance

    Broussard might be one or both of these two things, but as of yet I have no data to support that conclusion.

    What has he said that flies in the face of logic?

    In what manner does he treat gays with hatred?

  117. Jennifer says:

    Lizard –

    Again, I never said people should "be good little drones and live solely for the state," nor did I say anything at all like "Marriage and family is a hideous, soul-crushing burden.."

    Child rearing especially is a burden – and certainly one door that once opened, closes others if it is taken seriously. But "hideous, soul crushing burden?" I also never said anything about people "going gay" or men leaving their wives because of a policy change.

    Respectfully, I can't help but think you're raging far less against my actual words than what you imagine them to be.

    The sheer amount of straw men you've slain in your last post is astonishing – you sexy, shoeless god of war. ;)

    Finally, your assertion that "there really is no experiment here" is utterly unsupported.

  118. naught_for_naught says:

    While I dig most of what Rob is saying, I have to give points to Clark on this:

    I suggest that your quest for truth might proceed better if you don't immediately label opponents "xenophobes".

    If there is one term that makes me reflexively want to bitch slap the speaker whenever it's used, that's it. Like the term "racist", "xenophobe" is so overly and improperly used that it has made the term useless in describing what it is intended to describe.

    GOING COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC HERE:

    For the record and to provide an example, wanting to close and secure the border with Mexico (or Canada if they become a problem) does not make you a xenophobe.

    In the late 19th century, the roles were reversed. The Mexican government was desperate to close the border because bands of American Cowboys would regularly launch cross-border raids to steal cattle, and American courts would do nothing to protect the Mexican ranchers.

    In the sixties, Cesar Chavez formed a blockade on the American-Mexican border to prevent illegals from coming across the border and offer themselves as scab labor during farm-worker strikes. Chavez referred to this blockade as The Wet Line — showing himself to be both a racist and a xenophobe by the current standards of usage for both terms.

  119. eddie says:

    @clark: My apologies for misunderstanding your thesis. I'll try harder next time.

  120. NoPublic says:

    Today I learned that on Clark's own blog (which is also my own blog), Clark requires permission to respond to open comments to his own post, in an exchange involving his own friend.

    I really need to edit the "about" page.

    Well, no. He can obviously do whatever he likes on his own blog, up to and including metaphorically running naked through his living room.

    If, however, he's going to enter into a conversational thread in those comments it might behoove him to actually engage with it in context and make a cogent point relevant to the actual thread of discourse if he wishes to actually extend the dialogue. Regardless of who he might be in relation to this blog or any of those involved in the aforementioned discussion.

  121. Sam says:

    @Clark: I have a question that I've given a good bit of thought, but haven't really discussed with any practicing protestant Christians, myself being a lapsed Southern Baptist. Given that the intended meaning of Christian is "little Christ" (at least from the area of the sticks where I was raised), is Broussard's (or anyone else's) public comments consistent with the behavior of Christ? I was always more drawn to the wide acceptance Christ showed to the less fortunate and sinful rather than his condemnations (which often were directed at the Pharisees and others who misused the Church, rather than those outside its walls) but my biblical scholarship is admittedly out of date. Thanks for any reply.

  122. Jennifer says:

    Addendum 1 – for the record, I believe this – "With homosexuals being, perhaps, 5 to 10% of the population at most, homosexual marriage will affect far fewer families than cheap and easy divorce already has."

    … to be absolutely, 100% correct.

    However, I'm not convinced that if one sees a house fire raging in the kitchen, the best approach is to start pouring kerosene on the sheets.

    Addendum 2 – I do think the epigenetic theory is most likely, don't think (most, especially male) homosexuals have much if any choice in their orientation, and do deserve as much chance at happiness as any of us in their time on earth.

    I certainly don't think their sins are any worse then mine.

    …. I just remain skeptical that this particular beam in the house of Western Civ can be rejiggered with impunity. And I don't think the results one and two centuries out will be half as pleasant as the present fashion promises.

    But again, time will tell. Sometimes the finger has to touch the fire.
    And as Darryl says, I could be wrong.

  123. David says:

    @Darryl S– Good reply. Thanks.

  124. Sheriff Fatman says:

    @Clark:

    ilk
    /ilk/
    Noun
    A type of people or things similar to those already referred to: "reporters of his ilk".
    Synonyms: sort – kind – species – type – genus – variety – breed

    That's the common meaning. I believe we were disputing the technical meaning.

    Phr. Of that ilk, of the same place, territorial designation, or name; as Wemyss of that ilk = Wemyss of Wemyss. Sc. Hence ilk is erron. used for 'family, class, set'; any member of that ilk 1845.

    — Shorter OED.

  125. Clark says:

    @Sheriff Fatman:

    That's the common meaning [ of ilk ]. I believe we were disputing the technical meaning.

    Aha – the source of our mutual incomprehension! I was only trying to
    debate the common meaning, as I was giving advice for fruitful debate.

    Always happy to dispute technical meanings, though. I've got all 20
    volumes of the OED and have been known to peruse it for fun. Pick a fight on some other word, and I'm there! ;-)

  126. David says:

    @Christopher

    From my limited reading of the Bible, I think people who think it condemns homosexuality and premarital sex are standing on fairly solid ground.

    In this connection, see the pertinent passages in the Torah, and see in confirmation the reported remarks of Jesus and in Paul's comments endorsing the Torah in this respect.

    From my limited reading of the Bible, it also seems that the people who think it condones slavery are standing on fairly solid ground. Probably even more solid than the people condemning homosexuality.

    In this connection, see the limited but undeniable endorsement of indenture and post-bellum enslavement in the Torah, and see in contrast the imprisoned Paul's classic anti-slavery exhortation in the letter to Philemon, vv 15-18, in behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus.

  127. Sheriff Fatman says:

    @Clark:

    Pick a fight on some other word, and I'm there!

    BOTRYOLITE.

    20 seconds, go!

  128. Clark says:

    BOTRYOLITE.

    20 seconds, go!

    Left my hardcopy at home. DAMNIT!

  129. David says:

    BOTRYOLITE

    I object on the grounds that it is an anagram of bio-lottery. Liberty, too!

  130. Clark says:

    @NoPublic:

    If, however, he's going to enter into a conversational thread in those comments it might behoove him to actually engage with it in context and make a cogent point

    Given the way you're doubling down on this, I'm sure you'll win a bannanna with dreadlocks in no time.

  131. Jonathan says:

    @Sam,

    Going old school, "You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell." (Matt. 5:27-30)

    Christ absolutely showed wide acceptance to sinners – he invited all of them to abandon their life of sin and to pick up their cross and follow him. One of the key lessons here is not that sin is acceptable, because it never is (e.g., "Go and now sin no more"), but that the sinner is acceptable because of Christ's saving work.

    The trick is that, while the acceptability of the new life we put on in Christ is always available to us, we have to accept it. Like any gift, it must be freely received from the giver. For the Christian that means, among other things, trying our best to avoid a life of sin (and refusing to call good what is sinful).

  132. David says:

    I really don't think I'm the one who misconstrued, misread, or tried to score points here. And oafish? Please.

    @NoPublic, you know what they say: if the others in your corner of the tavern tell you you're drunk, then sit down and shut up– you're drunk.

    P.S. I'm nearly impossible to embarrass.

    This much is obvious.

  133. eddie says:

    Addendum 2 – I do think the epigenetic theory is most likely, don't think (most, especially male) homosexuals have much if any choice in their orientation, and do deserve as much chance at happiness as any of us in their time on earth.

    … as long as that happiness doesn't involve having sex with anyone other than a person of the opposite sex whom they have married.

    Yes?

    Were I gay, I wouldn't think much of such well-wishes.

  134. Jonathan says:

    @Clark,

    "I find the State to be immoral in its very concept and would like
    to see it destroyed."

    I don't want to derail the conversation, but I found this statement very interesting and was wondering if you could point me in the direction of any posts where you have developed or explained this position.

    As an aside, I came to popehat from Ars at the beginning of the Prenda saga, I've stayed for Ken's continued excellence and, now, yours. I can already tell from some of your earlier posts that we could find a lot to argue about, and that it would be a glorious (ly civil) argument indeed. Thanks for your posts!

  135. NoPublic says:

    Given the way you're doubling down on this, I'm sure you'll win a bannanna with dreadlocks in no time.

    I thought you flounced off a while back. Care to actually respond to the the thread of discussion in question or did you want to go home and try to find "bannanna"(sic) in your OED?

    Actually, never mind. I'll concede the point that this is your home turf and I've evidently violated an unwritten rule against commenting on the emperor's sartorial choices and reaped the wrath of the regulars. I'll trouble you no more with my pesky logic and reading comprehension and you can take your hairy phallic fruit home and fondle it in peace.

  136. Clark says:

    @Jonathan:

    "I find the State to be immoral in its very concept and would like
    to see it destroyed."

    could you point me in the direction of any posts where you have developed or explained this position.

    I'd love to elaborate at some point in the future.

    Until then, I recommend

    The Problem of Political Authority

    The Machinery of Freedom

    Anarchy, State, and Utopia

    Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

    and also

    Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty

    Two Cheers for Anarchism

    The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia

  137. Nate says:

    Admittedly I struggle with what I believe or don't believe on a regular basis (raised Catholic, but pro-gay marriage). I have found Clark's blog and the various comments to be quite enlightening regarding what the bible may or may not condone. However, my biggest question for many of the biblical rules is: Why? Why is it a sin?
    Much of the talk is regarding what the bible does or does not say, but never as to why it would say that. I would imagine at the time there was a good amount of reasoning behind each edict, and I think it would be nice to know or have suggested as to what that reasoning was. For me that reasoning would help me ascertain whether it seems reasonable to apply said rules today or to let them be a relic of the past.

  138. Sheriff Fatman says:

    @Clark, @David

    In the spirit of the late, great game show Call My Bluff, I offer you three choices:

    1. A radiated, spheroidal variety of borosilicate mineral.

    2. A diseased growth resembling a bunch of grapes below the fetlock of a horse, mule, or PONY.

    3. A Provencal eau de vie made from pencil shavings.

  139. Todd E. says:

    @ David – what is the difference between tortured exegisis, and eisegesis?

    Also, and this is more of an open question…when we talk about repenting, what are we repenting to? It seems that, with American culture especially, Christianity has become so conflated with American culture that it can be very unclear what the difference is between repenting to American social norms and reptenting to the ways of Christ.

    See also: Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

  140. Clark says:

    @Sheriff Fatman:

    My wager is on #1

    1. A radiated, spheroidal variety of borosilicate mineral.

  141. Jennifer says:

    … as long as that happiness doesn't involve having sex with anyone other than a person of the opposite sex whom they have married.

    Yes?

    No.

    I could care less who you do what with.

    I do object to further fracturing the makings of the bedrock legal and religious institution that's been the fundamental unit of social cohesion over essentially all of western civilization.

    But ultimately, time will tell.

    Were I gay, I wouldn't think much of such well-wishes.

    That's entirely understandable.

    I didn't think much of a lot of the advice I got as a kid. The years proved those old guys in the pulpit usually knew what they were talking about

    :)

  142. Lizard says:

    …. I just remain skeptical that this particular beam in the house of Western Civ can be rejiggered with impunity.

    On what is this skepticism based, though? This style of argument is usually the last gasp before social transformation occurs. It is, in essence, "We've run out of actual reasons, so, we're falling back on argument from uncertainty — we don't know what might happen, so let's not risk it!"

    Ending slavery (a part of nearly all human civilizations since the earliest recorded history) represented a much larger shift in social structure, and society not only did not collapse, it prospered. Granting women equal political and economic rights was likewise revolutionary compared to most of history, and, again, it did not destroy Western society. It is nigh-impossible to find an argument against gay marriage which not also made against interracial marriage, and, once more, this has not done much to destroy society. You need to articulate a verifiable threat to justify your skepticism — what do you think is going to occur, or might occur?

    The idea marriage is somehow about "family" is preposterous; there is no requirement to prove fertility in order to be married, there is no requirement that a couple produce children in order to have the legal benefits of marriage, etc. If you oppose gay marriage on the grounds that marriage exists to enable raising the next generation, you must first explain why there is nothing in the law that links the benefits of marriage to actually having a family, or which forces those who conceive outside of marriage to become married.

    A century or so from now, people will look on this matter in history books and put those who raised a fuss about it in the same category as those who predicted that traveling at speeds in excess of 20 MPH would prove fatal. We will be far more concerned about whether marrying a gender-swapped clone of yourself is incest or not.

  143. Jonathan says:

    Todd,

    Also, and this is more of an open question…when we talk about repenting, what are we repenting to? It seems that, with American culture especially, Christianity has become so conflated with American culture that it can be very unclear what the difference is between repenting to American social norms and reptenting to the ways of Christ.

    I think you meant 'convert' rather than 'repent', but regardless of that I imagine the answer is "it depends."

    Playing a little loose with the definition, to repent means to change your mind (about the acceptability of your past behavior, but let that pass) so your question could be paraphrased "When we talk about changing our mind, what are we changing it to?"

    The answer? It depends on the particulars of the individual and what they are changing their mind (repenting) about.

  144. Sheriff Fatman says:

    @Clark:

    My wager is on #1

    Damnit, you're no fun!

    (You're right, but you're no fun.)

  145. Lizard says:

    I do object to further fracturing the makings of the bedrock legal and religious institution that’s been the fundamental unit of social cohesion over essentially all of western civilization.

    Oaths of fealty to our feudal lords?

  146. Todd E. says:

    @Jonathan – precisely.

    My general understanding of repent as I grew up Baptist was much more "not only say you're sorry, but actually be sorry", which can be difficult to manage, and which Luther struggled with a great deal.

    My current understanding is much closer to "change your mind, and thus the behaviour which springs from it". There are, I have observed, certain moral standards (especially within the current gay marriage discussion) which are calling to repentance to a particular ideal from earlier this century which may never have actually existed, rather than what it might actually be like to be Christlike, to operate in a state of unconditional love and justice, etc.

    Themeatically, the bible appears to have movement and trajectory in it's overall moral fiber (i.e., what it is to be good in the day of Moses is much different than what it is to be good in the day of Jesus, is much different than the day of Luther, is much different…) though certainly, we could always use a further, more invasive analysis of what it looks like to Love God with one's whole self, and to love one's neighbor as one love's oneself…

  147. David says:

    I'll trouble you no more with my pesky logic and reading comprehension

  148. Clark says:

    @Sheriff Fatman:

    (You're right, but you're no fun.)

    The traditional phrasing is

    but, yes, I'm one of those weird techies with a higher verbal SAT than math. Knowing lots of roots and a bit of Latin is utterly useless in every facet of life…except wasting time here. ;-)

  149. princessartemis says:

    The Bible says so many things that can be used on either side of most arguments that it really isn't a basis to prove what is a traditional Christian anything.

    Without making assumptions about the commenter's views, I'll just mention that statements like this somewhat remind me of the several times I have come across people who truly believe that, because the Bible includes incidents such as those between Lot and his daughters and what the Sodomites did, that it thus endorses such behaviors.

  150. Malc says:

    @Jennifer

    I think there's a profound disconnect between the thesis that I think you're advancing (broadly, "it's worked OK for 2000 years, rocking the boat now risks everything falling apart in the next 2000 years"), and what I see as actually happening. And, it has to do with the definition of "marriage".

    No, I don't mean how many people and what their chromosomes look like, but what goals marriage achieves. Historically, marriage fundamentally was about child rearing, and all sorts of customs ("faithfulness", no sex outside of marriage) derived from those and inheritance issues.

    These days, "marriage" is about legal rights, particularly involving money and delegation of responsibility.

    So… in advancing the "it's worked for 2000 years" argument, you open yourself up to the observation that about 100 (give or take) years ago, huge changes occurred when society decided to allow the individuals in the marriage to separately own property, vote, etc.

    And therefore it becomes hard to assert that "it's worked for 2000 years", because such huge changes happened a century or so ago that that it seems impossible to claim the credit for the first 1900 years while ignoring the huge changes that happened immediately prior to the US's explosion onto the world's stage.

    To put it another way, WesternCiv seems to have _benefited_ from the last major set of changes, so expressing concern that the next set may be harmful seems to disregard _that part_ of the historical record.

  151. naught_for_naught says:

    you can take your hairy phallic fruit home and fondle it in peace.

    That sounds lovely.

  152. David says:

    @Todd E.

    @ David – what is the difference between tortured exegisis, and eisegesis?

    Exegesis is the interpretive practice of deriving and weighting the possible meanings of a statement from a consideration of its lexical and semantic scope and its relevant cultural and discursive contexts.

    It's to guide the meaning out of the textual givens and relevant supporting factors.

    Eisegesis is the interpretive practice of constructing and weighting the possible meanings of a statement irrespective of, or despite, its lexical and semantic scope and its relevant cultural and discursive contexts.

    It's to guide the meaning into the textual givens and relevant supporting factors.

    Eisegesis is one form of tortured exegesis: foisting anachronistic or linguistically|semantically|culturally|hermeneutically implausible meaning on the source. Other forms include, for example, denying or giving inappropriate weight to plausible meanings.

  153. Narad says:

    We will be far more concerned about whether marrying a gender-swapped clone of yourself is incest or not.

    Already anticipated by David Gerrold.

  154. Todd E. says:

    @David *sigh* What I meant to say, which apparently didn't translate, was…when you said tortured exegesis, did you, in essence, mean eisegesis, but, being as it is that that word doesn't get a lot of use, used the former instead?

    Wait, okay, I get it in your last sentence. At some level, this is a hermeneutic issue then, as with so many other things…

  155. Jennifer says:

    On what is this skepticism based, though?

    Historical precedent, mostly. "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up."

    Ending slavery (a part of nearly all human civilizations since the earliest recorded history) represented a much larger shift in social structure…

    See my comment of 10:44 AM. :)

    and society not only did not collapse, it prospered.

    …in a time when increasing mechanization and increasing availability of first steam and then fossil fuel power made slavery economically redundant.

    It is nigh-impossible to find an argument against gay marriage which not also made against interracial marriage, and, once more, this has not done much to destroy society.

    I haven't researched this enough to have an informed opinion.
    What specific sources do you recommend?

    You need to articulate a verifiable threat to justify your skepticism — what do you think is going to occur, or might occur?

    I'll answer that happily, but honestly don't have the time for the essay now. Ask me tomorrow.

    The idea marriage is somehow about "family" is preposterous

    Wild assertion w/o evidence. Also historically unmoored.

    there is no requirement to prove fertility in order to be married, there is no requirement that a couple produce children in order to have the legal benefits of marriage, etc.

    A favorite argument, but ultimately trying to use a fringe case to ignore the vast middle of the bell curve. Heterosexual marriage has been the predominant social structure for child rearing for virtually of western history.

    The nearest competitor is "matrilineal societies" as SWPL anthropologists call it, or "baby daddies" for those of us paying for or cashing WIC checks today.

    If you oppose gay marriage on the grounds that marriage exists to enable raising the next generation, you must first explain why there is nothing in the law that links the benefits of marriage to actually having a family, or which forces those who conceive outside of marriage to become married.

    Ever hear of a shotgun wedding? :)

    Also, there were laws to that effect in the early modern era – and they existed because when baby-daddy runs off, someone still has to pay for junior to eat. Rich societies can afford to cover it all with a grain dole. For a while, anyway.

    A century or so from now, people will look on this matter in history books and put those who raised a fuss about it in the same category as those who predicted that traveling at speeds in excess of 20 MPH would prove fatal. We will be far more concerned about whether marrying a gender-swapped clone of yourself is incest or not.

    We'll see.

  156. David says:

    @Nate

    my biggest question for many of the biblical rules is: Why? Why is it a sin?
    Much of the talk is regarding what the bible does or does not say, but never as to why it would say that.

    Never! Except in the Talmud, the Aggadah, the Midrash, Rashi, etc., and in about 1800 years of detailed, passage-by-passage Christian commentary….

  157. Jennifer says:

    To put it another way, WesternCiv seems to have _benefited_ from the last major set of changes, so expressing concern that the next set may be harmful seems to disregard _that part_ of the historical record.

    Good point.

    I'll just reply – "too soon to say."
    :)

    (cf birth rates, conflation of post-war economic boom w/family and social changes, and falling real wages over the same period as the workforce effectively doubled)

  158. David says:

    @Todd E.

    @David *sigh* What I meant to say, which apparently didn't translate, was……
    Wait, okay, I get it in your last sentence.

    Yes, the first two beats were a setup for the third, which (I think) answered the question you asked. :)

    At some level, this is a hermeneutic issue then, as with so many other things…

    In a sense every issue is a hermeneutical issue! (Or is it?!…)

  159. Lizard says:

    If you want to know the arguments put forth against interracial marriage, a good place to start would be googling Loving vs. Virginia, and then digging into the arguments and decisions that led up to it.

    On the silly notion that marriage in 21st century Western society is somehow bound to family…

    a)On what grounds would you permit a permanently sterile heterosexual couple to marry? Why would this not apply to a homosexual couple?

    b)If you support shotgun weddings, what do you do when the mother has children by more than one man, or one man has fathered children with more than one woman? Gatling-gun weddings, perhaps?

    c)Why would homosexual marriages, which represent a small segment of the total population, be significantly more impactful on society than the already existing percentage of deliberately childless heterosexual couples?

    d)Just as industrialization changed the economics of slavery, doesn't increasing control of women over their own reproduction, from birth control to abortion to in-vitro fertilization to storing embryos for later, change the equation of marriage? Nah, trick question — it already has, and that's why invoking "why marriage was done in 1400" is a pretty silly argument for considering "what marriage is today". (Industrialization is also responsible for much of women's liberation, a fact which undoubtedly drives some "eco feminists" to apoplexy — women are much more capable of competing with men as equals when brute body strength is of minimal utility… and urbanization favors small families with a high investment in each child, so a woman's best shot at reproducing her genes is producing few children and then earning a lot of money to pay for their education, as opposed to squirting out a dozen, hoping half of them make it past the first year, and putting them to work on the farm.)

  160. Tali McPike says:

    @Nate:
    The answer to your question lies in the Catechism (since you mentioned you are Catholic). Please note that while I am a practicing Roman Catholic and graduated from a Newman List Catholic University, IANAT (I am not a theologian)

    CCC 2301-2400 is all about marriage and the sexual act. I am only going to quote a few parts here (I have also quoted a few sections in my earlier comment)

    "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." (CCC 2357)

    Now note that it does not say being homosexual can not be approved, but that the homosexual act (intercourse with someone of the same sex) cannot be approved because it closes "the sexual act to the gift of life." This is the same reason the church is against birth control, because the church believes that sex is not for the expression of love (that is a secondary effect), but for procreation (or at least attempting to procreate…it is the willingness and desire to conceive a child that is important, not whether or not it actually happens) that can only happen through a "sexual complementarity."

    So then, what is a homosexual supposed to do, if the homosexual act is a sin?

    "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection"

    CCC 2359

    Now this doesn't mean much to someone who doesn't believe in God, and probably just sounds like a bunch of religious mumbo-jumbo, so here's the simple explanation of where we Catholics are coming from. As I stated above, Catholic teaching states that sex is only acceptable when between a married man and woman. For that reason, just as we believe that men and women should remain chaste until they are married (and for Catholics that means more than just civilly, but also sacramentally), we believe that those who are homosexual should be chaste as well. And its not impossible. If you are interested I can link you to stories about open homosexuals living their lives according to their faith.

    So basically this is how I reconcile my faith with my "support" (if you want to call it that) of homosexual marriage.
    There is a difference between being married sacramentally and being married civilly/legally. I have a friend who had to have 2 wedding because she wanted to get married at Disney World and Disney does not do Catholic weddings. So they were married and in the eyes of the state they were man and wife, but when they returned home they received the sacrament of marriage from their priest so that they were married in the eyes of God. One in a legal contract, the other is a spiritual covenant (which is why when you get divorced as a Catholic, you have to have your marriage annulled before you can marry again, and also why if a couple converts to Catholicism and did not have a christian wedding they have to also have to make that covenant…even if they have been married for 30+ years)

    Because the Catechism states that we should avoid unjust discrimination against homosexuals (CCC 2358), I don't see why we can't let gays and lesbians enter into the same kind of contract with its obligations and benefits, so long as Catholics (and other Christians) are not required to recognize them as sacramental/spiritual marriages as well.

  161. Random Commenter says:

    @Clark

    Sorry for being off-topic to the original post, but you mentioned something I was curious to hear more about. You said: "I accept all of traditional Christian sexual morality".

    Really? There are some… strange things… in the Bible on the topic of sexual morality. Do you actually accept things like:
    1) the decision of Lot to let a mob rape his daughters (2 Pet.2:7-8. Gen 19:8)
    2) Leah offering her maid for her husband to use (Gen 30:9)
    3) The story of Dinah (who has sex with a man her brothers disapprove of, so they trick the man's whole city into circumcising themselves, then while they are incapacitated, kill them) (Gen 34:1-31)
    4) That prostitutes (or people who act like them) should be burnt alive. (Gen 38:24)

    And that's just from Genesis.

    (Items taken from the Skeptics Annotated Bible)

  162. Clark says:

    @Jennifer:

    I'll just reply – "too soon to say."

    You've stolen one of my favorite quotes.

  163. David says:

    @Random Commenter

    …something I was curious to hear more about. You said: "I accept all of traditional Christian sexual morality".

    Really? There are some… strange things… in the Bible on the topic of sexual morality. Do you actually accept things like:

    So… your interpretive theory is that any descriptive statement in the text is, and should be taken as, a normative prescriptive statement in the first instance?

    (Items taken from the Skeptics Annotated Bible)

    There's a shock. Pardon the introduction of critical thinking and literary proficiency into your mindless, unreflective shoveling of sheep forbs.

  164. ChrisTS says:

    @Clark:

    I was raised as a Unitarian, by definition not a trinitarian religion, but we thought of ourselves as Christians. Unis believe in the god of the NT, not in Yaweh, Allah, or some other deity. We do not (usually) believe in the Holy Spirit as an entity, nor (usually) in the divinity of Jesus. We believe that Jesus was a great prophet who revealed the god of the NT and a moral view that was distinctively Christian. No oddly intervening Angel Moroni or new testaments, just that NT god and his prophet.

    I don't really care if anyone else regards the religion of my youth as 'Christian,' but I do think your claim is an odd one.

    What are Unitarians if they are not Christians? Hardly pagans, unless the word means 'not what I regard as a Christian but something else.' We do not worship Nature or animals; we are not polytheists – quite the contrary – and we are not Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.

  165. George William Herbert says:

    Guns wrote:
    "No, that is not what I'm arguing. What I'm saying is that the christian traditions of 1 AD were those of 0 AD, the christian traditions of 2 AD where those of 0 AD, those of 3 AD were those of 0 AD, christianty in 1200 followed traditions of 0 AD etc… What I'm saying is that my particular phrasing makes it clear that those traditions weren't questioned for a good part of those 2000 years."

    I am stunned by the lack of historical depth of this argument.

    Even in the purely religious sense, Christian traditions of AD0 resemble those of AD250 in essentially no way. Which resemble those of AD500 in no way, 750, and so on. Once you look to wider historical records the claim goes from wrong to absurd.

    And even in the purely religious sense, the vast majority of those who argue for unchanging nature and inerrancy of texts seem to miss that the English Language they're arguing in and whose version of the bible they're quoting is less than 1/4 the age of the texts, from a parent (Middle English) half the age of the texts, from a grandparent 3/4 the age of the texts, which is in fact younger than the Roman Catholic Curch or Nicene Bible. Minor details such as there being no surviving native speakers of Aramaic or Latin are of minor consequence.

  166. naught_for_naught says:

    There's a shock. Pardon the introduction of critical thinking and literary proficiency into your mindless, unreflective shoveling of sheep forbs.

    EDITED FOR ATTRIBUTION PURPOSES:

    There's a shock. Pardon the introduction of critical thinking and literary proficiency into your mindless, unreflective shoveling of sheep forbs, to mint a phrase.

  167. Lizard says:

    I must note, I am very interested in the Christian traditions of 0 AD, as compared to those of the present day. Could someone please tell me what sort of traditions Christians practiced in 0 AD? Even a handful of small examples would be nice. Also, how far back do these Christian traditions of 0 AD go? To be a tradition, it must have some age to it, after all.

  168. naught_for_naught says:

    @ChrisTS

    Someone in the comment section of Popehat noted recently that if you had two Baptists alone on a tropical island, it would only be a matter of time until the island would host two Baptist churches. The single common thread to all religions, to my mind, is that no matter how you worship there's always some other group cock sure that "you're doing it wrong" and willing to make a public spectacle of telling you so, as demonstrated by Chris Broussard.

  169. David says:

    @Lizard, I documented them all right here.

  170. David says:

    @George William Herbert

    the vast majority of those who argue for unchanging nature and inerrancy of texts seem to miss that the English Language they're arguing in and whose version of the bible they're quoting is less than 1/4 the age of the texts

    I think you'll find that many, and perhaps most, of the academics who argue in favor of inerrancy are trained in the original languages.

    In any event, it's pretty funny to watch a person say both this:

    I am stunned by the lack of historical depth of this argument.

    and this:

    Even in the purely religious sense, Christian traditions of AD0 resemble those of AD250 in essentially no way. Which resemble those of AD500 in no way, 750, and so on. Once you look to wider historical records the claim goes from wrong to absurd.

    You seem unaware that diachronic history involves continuities as well as discontinuities.

  171. Lizard says:

    @Naught — that might have been me, based on a joke my wife told me.

    "If you have two Baptists on an island, soon there will be two churches. First Baptist Church of Island, and Second Baptist Church Of Island, Reformed."

    Also:

    If you have one Jew on an island, there will soon be two synagogues: The one he goes to, and the one he wouldn't be caught dead at.

  172. Lizard says:

    I think you'll find that many, and perhaps most, of the academics who argue in favor of inerrancy are trained in the original languages.

    Only if the "original language" is that of KJV 1611. Most of those I know of arguing for inerrancy have not read anything else and see no need to; the KJV is God's final word on the subject, everything prior to that was rough drafts.

  173. naught_for_naught says:

    @Lizard

    Good stuff. I'll will be sure to crib the 2nd and give you appropriate attribution for the first.

  174. David says:

    @Lizard, I'm sure the rhetoric varies by region, etc., but KJVolatry is merely a perverse subset in the inerrantist camp.

  175. George William Herbert says:

    David writes:
    "I think you'll find that many, and perhaps most, of the academics who argue in favor of inerrancy are trained in the original languages."

    Some academics are, and some "popular" religious figures are as well. But by and large they are not, and almost without exception non-experts simpify the arguments down to "But my current bible says…", without any appreciation for the depth and changes in time and language.

    By and large, the bulk of those who are experts in the original languages and texts seem to dispute the idea of continuity or inerrancy. So those who support the idea and are experts are only a fringe of those qualified to analyze the problem.

    and:
    "You seem unaware that diachronic history involves continuities as well as discontinuities."

    There is very little that can be said to be continuous in a useful sense from 1 AD through the present. Threads weaving into a continuous tapestry, but the threads only last for shorter periods. In the religious sense, Christianity is not Jesus' religion, it's the religion of those inspired by him, and more specifically the religion of those inspired by the writings of those who knew him, or claimed to know him, or were inspired by teachings of those who claimed to know him, over the 100-200 years after his death. Those who now style themselves as most "pro-family" often are among those least schooled in the early writings and non-canon gospels of Jesus' family, who are largely conveniently written out of the current story, largely because they seem to have inspired the Gnostics.

    Not to mention the entire historical record vs religous assertion of history record divide.

    Even for the asserted continuities, as tangled as their cases are, it is one of the hallmarks of bigotry that continuous and discontinuous are blended to argue for current bias rather than looked at in a continuous fashion. I have yet to see modern Christian priests shamed and forced to cleanse themselves for uncovering their heads, failing to sound a trumpet on Yom Kippur, failing to sacrifice animals in the temple, Tzitzit, eating Pork (or beef, as it chews its cud) or shellfish, … But perform a marriage ceremony for two lesbians? tsk tsk.

  176. eddie says:

    Clark rightly points out that Broussard should be commended as a Christian for speaking out on this topic, for standing up for traditional Christian sexual morality and against what he sees as immoral.

    Similarly, I'm going to speak out against what I see as immoral, namely that very same traditional Christian sexual morality, and more specifically the Catholic catechisms which condemn homosexuals to a life of chastity. These catechisms are vile beliefs. Wise and loving people should reject them. If wise and loving Catholics cannot reject them without rejecting their faith, then they should reject their faith.

    You won't convince me that the catechisms are correct just by saying "God says so", and I certainly don't expect to convince you by saying "does not!" The catechisms go to no little trouble to explain why they are correct, and their reasoning is approachable even to non-Catholics (indeed, even non-theists) such as myself. They ultimately rest on a foundation which I reject, but I can at least appreciate the architecture. Similarly, I hope to make a case for my view that could plausibly lead at least one opponent of homosexuality to reconsider their beliefs.

    Catholic doctrine is that sexual pleasure is inherently immoral except between a married man and woman in the service of procreation. Homosexuals are thus denied the opportunity to experience sexual pleasure without being immoral, not even with a single partner with whom they share a bond of love and a lifelong commitment – the kind of relationship which, were they of opposite sexes, we would call a marriage.

    Well, so what? Yes, it's too bad for them, says the catechism, but they're called to chastity. That's just how it is. We still accept them with respect and compassion and sensitivity. The poor things. Shame about their objectively disordered inclinations.

    Catholic doctrine views homosexuals the way that the rest of us view sociopaths. Left to their own devices they'll try to commit horrible acts like theft, or murder, or orgasm. But they can't help it. They're just suffering from a disease.

    This is a terrible, terrible thing to think about your fellow human beings. Your friends and neighbors. People who love and dream and work and care just like you do, people who suffer and doubt and fear just like you do. People just like you, except that the person they love looks a little different than you might have been expecting.

    They're not sociopaths. They're not diseased. Their inclinations aren't objectively disordered any more than yours are.

    Wise and loving persons would reject those doctrines that say otherwise.

  177. George William Herbert says:

    eddie wrote:
    "Catholic doctrine is that sexual pleasure is inherently immoral except between a married man and woman in the service of procreation. "

    I am not catholic, but my understanding is that this is incorrect; they feel that sexual pleasure is an important part of the marriage, which brings the husband and wife together, and reinforces the family. They separately feel that children are good and birth control is prohibited, which leads to children. But you are not having sex to have children, per se.

    In my youthful non-catholic ignorance I believed as you did, but I have had my eyes opened on the matter by a friend who converted and their priest, and further research into the doctrines and teachings.

  178. eddie says:

    CCC 2351: "Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes."

    CCC 2363: "The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family."

    While I understand and, to a degree, take your points, I think my necessarily rough summary is sufficiently accurate for the discussion at hand.

  179. Tali McPike says:

    @George William Herbert

    "But you are not having sex to have children, per se."

    Correct, however the important thing this is that whenever you partake in the sexual act, you must be open and accepting of the possibility of having a child.

    That is why Catholics are supposed to follow Natural Family Planning (NFP). There is no outside force preventing conception, it is simply having sex at the times when a woman's body is naturally unable to conceive. And if you absolutely do not want to "risk" conceiving a child, you just don't have sex (much to both my and my husband's chagrin, this is the situation we have been in for almost a year, as my hormones have been very irregular since having our son and we are not in a position to be ready for another right now).

    So Eddie, Catholics do not treat homosexuals like sociopaths because they are called to chastity. The do the same things for heterosexuals both in and outside of marriage as well. If you are not married you are not supposed to have sex, period, it doesn't matter if you are gay or straight. And if you are married and are not in a position to bring another child into the world you are also called to chastity.

    Sex/Sexual Pleasure is not something we are entitled to, it is a gift, and the purpose of sexual pleasure is to encourage us to procreate. Think about it this way. If sex wasn't immensely pleasurable, there would be no biological benefit to having babies. Don't get me wrong, I love my son and in no way regret having him, but children are a burden to their parents, and childbirth is hell. So if sex wasn't pleasurable no one would be like "lets do that thing that makes babies"

  180. princessartemis says:

    @eddie, just to take issue with one narrow thing you said…"condemned" to a life of chastity? I know that's more difficult for some than others should the choose to live that way, but you make it sound like a life without sex is an empty, desolate place bereft of any joy.

  181. Sami says:

    I am a Christian, but not Catholic, and would take a really, REALLY strong issue with suggesting that the basis for a Christian view on any moral issue can be derived from a Catholic Catechism. Not least because Catholicism teaches practices that are in disagreement with Scripture, which is sort of a problem. (An example, to clarify I am not talking entirely from my arse: Catholicism teaches confession to a priest, followed by penance, is the path to forgiveness. Jesus, however, said that we should forgive others, and we will be forgiven by the Lord.)

    The Bible doesn't actually mention homosexuality very much. The prohibitions are in Leviticus (which also prohibits wearing mixed-fibre clothing, women teaching men, and so on, which… not so much with the observance, any more) and in Paul's stuff, which is also rather at odds, in many places, with modern morality, since Paul hated women.

    Notably, none of the condemnations come from Jesus. As a Christian, I personally attend most to what He says. In particular, that He commanded us to do only two things: Love the Lord, and love one another.

    John 13:34-35:

    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    Some people also cite Genesis against homosexuality, for Sodom and Gomorrah, but it's worth noting, in that respect, Ezekel 16:49-50:

    Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

    As people like the Reverend Adam Hamilton have pointed out, much of the way in which people use the Bible to defend anti-gay views is extremely similar in which people used the Bible to defend slavery. They were wrong then, and (some, including me, would argue) it's wrong now to use the Bible to oppose same-sex marriage and other expressions of equality.

    Bearing in mind that, arguments as a Christian aside, I would also argue, very strongly indeed, that any argument against civil rights based on religion is entirely irrelevant, because – particularly as a Christian – I believe very strongly that matters of Church and State should be separate. If people want to define marriage as an inherently religious institution (an argument not particularly supported by history, by the way), then I am opposed to marriage being a legal concept at all. If marriage is inherently religious, then civil unions should be available to everyone, and whether you define your relationship as "marriage" or not is between you and your conscience.

    (Bible quotations from the NIV.)

  182. Sami says:

    @Lizard: The version I heard is that the lone Jew will have three synagogues. The one he goes to regularly, the one he goes to for Shabbat, and the one he wouldn't be caught dead at.

    I think that hypothetical Jew is Orthodox, though. (So you need the synagogue that's an easy walk.)

  183. Sami says:

    Meant to include this.

  184. eddie says:

    So Eddie, Catholics do not treat homosexuals like sociopaths because they are called to chastity. The do the same things for heterosexuals both in and outside of marriage as well. If you are not married you are not supposed to have sex, period, it doesn't matter if you are gay or straight. And if you are married and are not in a position to bring another child into the world you are also called to chastity.

    The difference is that heterosexuals have the option. They can marry the person they love. They can decide to accept the possibility of getting pregnant. Suddenly sex is no longer sinful.

    Homosexuals can never have sex without being immoral. Because there's something wrong with them. Yes, yes, accept and respect them and all that, but there's something wrong with them.

    So says the doctrine.

  185. Christina says:

    I've followed the entire discussion, nodded and considered and so forth, and I think there is a point yet to be made:

    @ Jennifer:
    "…in a time when increasing mechanization and increasing availability of first steam and then fossil fuel power made slavery economically redundant. "

    One factor among many that contributed forward motion to the destruction of centuries if not millennia of a particular human tradition.

    Perhaps in this same way other current systems have been changing, making heterosexual church-sanctified marriage, not necessarily redundant, but at the very least no longer worthy of unique and superior status. Some of the things that come to mind: technologies that enable non-intercourse-driven reproduction; all of the factors that drive down family size and the need for children; the sexual and feminist revolutions, which have shattered the *other reason why heterosexual marriage was important (material support of women and children); democratic socialism (providing support for the elderly, who therefore don't need children and grandchildren to do that); the technology revolution, which means that current machines (microchips) do so much that the human workforce need is again being drastically reduced.

    What Clark says originally about the mob is misguided, and Ken's analogy to asteroids and dinosaurs is incredibly apropos. There really is no stopping what is going on here, because the mob isn’t forcing the change – the mob is proof of the change. The fact that a majority now supports gay marriage (and a supermajority of younger adults) is not about popularity, or Truth. It's about reality: a massive combination of innumerous factors in relentless forward motion. Now, there are Broussards; before, there were Luddites, saboteurs, hermits, you name it, wishing things wouldn’t change, wishing some discovery or event ten, fifty, two hundreds years before hadn’t happened.

    Theology and religion will either change with the forward motion, or be marginalized or crushed by it, as has always been the case. Egyptian mythology was also around for 2000 years – 3000, in fact – and it’s still gone. Within both Abrahamic and Christian history there has been enormous evolution of both doctrine and practice as well as systems. Here in the moment some may believe that they can put their finger in the dyke (sic) and hold back the tide of history, but they’re deluded.

  186. Lizard says:

    You'd think that a God who designed the world, including every aspect of human biology, would, if he intended sex to be only for reproduction, have simply made it so that any non-procreative sex would not be pleasurable, or even possible.[1] He could, for example, have designed the vaginal opening so that if there wasn't a fertile egg waiting, it would be shut solid. He could have made sure nothing except penis-in-vagina-with-egg-ready-to-go could produce an orgasm, or any kind of pleasure whatsoever.

    This is obviously not how the world is, leading to several possibilities:
    a)God is incompetent.
    b)God is sadistic.
    c)'a' and 'b'.
    d)God allowed us to have pleasure from sex even from acts that can't lead to offspring because God wants us to have some fun for its own sake.
    e)God doesn't exist.

    I go with 'e' as the most likely, followed by 'c'. All available evidence shows no gods; if there are gods, all available evidence is that they are both evil and incompetent. (This may be why allegedly atheist societies, such as the USSR, replace 'god' with 'government' — one bungling sadistic entity with absolute and unwarranted control over your life is as good as another, I'd say.)

    Every explanation for why God did things the way he did is, basically, fanwank. You're trying to excuse or explain the writer's crappy editing and poor attention to detail. Your ability to find some twisted way to fit the world as it is into your idea of God's intention does not mean you're correct. Ask me about the three origins of the Constructicons sometime.

    [1]Please don't say "Free will!". It's a cop-out. God made some sins possible, and some sins impossible. If God could decide that I am not able to murder someone halfway across the planet merely by wishing them dead, he could decide I cannot have sex unless its to have a baby. He doesn't allow me to have the choice of whether or not to wish someone dead, so he clearly had the power to put basically arbitrary limits on what kinds of sins I am physically capable of committing.

  187. eddie says:

    @princessartemis:

    People who choose lifelong chastity aren't condemned to it, of course, and no doubt many people find great joy in life even without sex. But consider this scenario:

    Imagine you're a married Christian who agrees with everything the Catholic Catechisms have to say about love and sex and marriage:

    "In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament." "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."

    Imagine that your church, however, had this extra clause: "Oh, and by the way, sexual relations between left-handed people are forbidden." And as luck would have it, you and your spouse are left-handed.

    I think being prevented from participating in the kind of spiritual union, the kind of giving of ones self and ones innermost being that is described above would qualify as being condemned.

  188. Tali McPike says:

    @Sami, I only brought up the Catechism because I am Catholic (as is Clark, and as I said in my second post I was explaining the reason WHY to someone who was raised Catholic). In fact I say I cannot speak for all Christians, but only from my own Catholic world view (and if you want to claim that Catholics are not Christians, then say so outright)

    Also, you are showing by your argument for not using the Catechism that you have never actually read the Catechism, because everything in it is based in scripture (as evidenced by the copious footnotes referencing Biblical passages, as well as doctors of the church and various church councils)

    As much as I would like to, I am not going to get into a theological debate on the sacrament of confession (as that would be grossly off topic), but I will say your claims on the subject show that you have not studied the Catholic Church's teaching in any depth.

  189. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    I'm going to speak out against what I see as immoral, namely that very same traditional Christian sexual morality, and more specifically the Catholic catechisms which condemn homosexuals to a life of chastity.

    These catechisms are vile beliefs. Wise and loving people should reject them. If wise and loving Catholics cannot reject them without rejecting their faith, then they should reject their faith.

    I understand your argument is as follows:

    1) Sexual activity is pleasurable.

    2) Pleasure is a hedonic good (by definition!)

    3) Telling someone that they should abstain from a hedonic good is – by utilitarian definition – bad.

    Catholic doctrine is that sexual pleasure is inherently immoral except between a married man and woman in the service of procreation.

    Close, but no. Married catholics are allowed (encouraged, even!) to have sex even after menopause, after radiation therapy induced sterility, etc.

    Homosexuals are thus denied the opportunity to experience sexual pleasure without being immoral, not even with a single partner with whom they share a bond of love and a lifelong commitment – the kind of relationship which, were they of opposite sexes, we would call a marriage.

    Well, so what? Yes, it's too bad for them, says the catechism, but they're called to chastity. That's just how it is. We still accept them with respect and compassion and sensitivity. The poor things. Shame about their objectively disordered inclinations.

    Yes; that is the Catholic view.

    Catholic doctrine views homosexuals the way that the rest of us view
    sociopaths. Left to their own devices they'll try to commit horrible
    acts like theft, or murder, or orgasm. But they can't help it. They're
    just suffering from a disease.

    No. Catholic doctrine does not say that those born with homosexual urges are sui generis. Those with homosexual urges are like those with philandering urges, like those with gluttonous urges, like those with deceitful urges, like those with tendencies to greed, wrath, envy, and pride.

    In short, Catholic doctrine says that every single one of us is tempted to sin. Perhaps not all in the same way, and not in the same degree, but all tempted to sin.

    This is a terrible, terrible thing to think about your fellow human beings.

    So it's OK to think that psycopaths are terrible people, but not those with homosexual inclinations? Why? Psycopathy seems to be an organic brain disorder – psycopaths and narcissists have far less control over themselves than any of the rest of us do.

    …but I digress.

    It may or may not be a terrible thing to think that, but it doesn't matter, because that is not what Catholics believe.

    In detail:

    Left to their own devices they'll try to commit horrible acts

    Catholics believe that we are all tempted to commit terrible acts.

    But they can't help it.

    Catholics believe that everyone has free will; gays can choose not to engage in sin the same way that the gluttonous or the envious can.

    They're just suffering from a disease.

    No. Catholicism does not embrace the everything-is-a-disease amoral model of mental health.

    People who love and dream and work and care just like you do, people
    who suffer and doubt and fear just like you do.

    People just like you,
    except that the person they love looks a little different than you
    might have been expecting.

    They're not sociopaths.

    Agreed.

    Their inclinations aren't objectively disordered any more than yours are.

    Perhaps true; my inclinations – a normal human tendency to gossip, overeat, boast, lie, etc. – are disordered.

    Wise and loving persons would reject those doctrines that say otherwise.

    Let me restate what I take your argument to be:

    1) Sexual activity is pleasurable.

    2) Pleasure is a hedonic good (by definition!)

    3) Telling someone that they should abstain from a hedonic good is – by utilitarian definition – bad.

    I argue that:

    1) Sexual activity is pleasurable.

    1a) … but it is not essential. Many people live their entire lives celibate. Many people choose celibacy. One dies without food, water or shelter. One slowly goes mad without companionship. But celibacy is not crippling; it is, at worst, an irritation, and one that declines with age. Jesus himself was a life-long celibate, as was his mother. Both found worthy projects to engage in.

    2) Pleasure is good.

    2a) … but it is not the only good.

    2b) Sometimes good things come bundled with bad. Eating ice cream is pleasurable. Eating enough ice cream that you develop diabetes is bad. Eating ice cream even when it ceases to bring pleasure, out of a frenzied desire to recapture joy once felt is bad. Eating ice cream to numb anxiety with drug-like carbs is bad.

    2c) All things have opportunity costs. To enjoy music at a concert may be good, but the time spent enjoying music is time not spent working, not spent with family, not spent improving onesself, not being thankful for what one has. Thus even something that is good can detract from other things that are good.

    3) Encouraging someone to engage in an activity that, on net, either has negative total value, or has value less than other opportunities, is not good but is neglectful.

    I can (and should) write a lot more about this because you raise good questions, but I don't have the time now.

    I find part three, secition two, chapter two, article six quite convincing, and I'd love for you to read all of it (there's not that much of it), but especially this part:

    2341: The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.

    Ben Franklin phrased this as "a man must master his passions or be mastered by them".

  190. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    The difference is that heterosexuals have the option. They can marry the person they love.

    Large numbers of heterosexual Catholics never meet a person that they fall in love with.

    Those hetero Catholics are called to chastity just as homosexual Catholics are.

    If 96% of people are hetero and 10% of them never find someone they love enough to marry, then 9.6% of the population are heteros called to chastity.

    If 4% of people are homo, then 4% of the population are homos called to chastity.

    All in all, 2/3 of those commanded to be chaste – even when they would prefer to be in a loving relationship – are heterosexual.

    This is not a moral principal that falls most heavily on homosexuals.

    It falls heavily on everyone on which it falls at all, I agree, but the majority of the people who carry this burden are hetero.

  191. Clark says:

    @Lizard

    You'd think that a God who designed the world, including every aspect of human biology, would, if he intended sex to be only for reproduction, have simply made it so that any non-procreative sex would not be pleasurable…

    This is obviously not how the world is, leading to several possibilities:

    a)God is incompetent.
    b)God is sadistic.
    c)'a' and 'b'.
    d)God allowed us to have pleasure from sex even from acts that can't lead to offspring because God wants us to have some fun for its own sake.
    e)God doesn't exist.

    This is the fallacy of the excluded middle:

    a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.

    Here's another possibility:

    f) God set the universe up to run on its own, but loves and cares for every sentient being inside it. We were not designed, but evolved. The problem of evil is resolved by the greater good of free will. We have not only the physiological capability of doing evil, but the mental and emotional ability as well.

  192. Tali McPike says:

    @Clark
    With that response I am now officially a fan girl.

    Also, I'm reminded of something from this article which very much ties in to what you are saying.

    So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic — it’s hard to be anything and Catholic — because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.

  193. Tali McPike says:

    Also, Clark, my husband says "hi five" for the response to Lizard, because he was about to help me write out a similar (although probably not nearly as eloquent) response

  194. ChrisTS says:

    @Naught:

    Oddly enough, there is a specifically (New England) Unitarian version of that joke:

    2 Unitarians from different congregations in the same town are trapped alone in a lifeboat. They create 2 separate churches, one one in the bow and one astern, but they continue to have rational discussions of their differences.

  195. I suspect that a century from now gay marriage will be regarded as an obvious failure that was too trivial to be worth opposing.

  196. ChrisTS says:

    As much as I enjoy the theological issues, I would like to return to Clark’s reference to ‘Truth’ (he might not have capped it).

    I gather we are speaking of moral truth, whatever its grounding in natural truth[s]. But no truth, moral or otherwise, can be established by appeal to authority any more than it can be by appeal to popularity, an error of which Ken was accused.

    I do not care, nor think it my business, what some or all Catholics believe to be the proper sexual morality for themselves, and therefore, obligatory for them. I do object to Catholics’ (or anyone’s) appealing to their chosen moral authority as the basis for pronouncing on the sinfulness of others. I very much object to their (or anyone’s) trying to use the law to enforce their authority-grounded moral views on others.

    Moral truth may be difficult to demonstrate, and we may never achieve complete consensus. But legal and social policy – at least that which restricts and constrains the lives and choices of citizens – ought to be grounded in an honest attempt at rational discourse, rather than in appeals to any subgroup’s selected moral authority.

  197. princessartemis says:

    @eddie, I think we will just have to disagree on what qualifies as condemnation. If the end result isn't a punishing condition, I find it difficult to apply the word condemned to it. YMMV

  198. Sami says:

    @Tali McPike: Correct, I haven't read the Catechism in detail. Nor am I likely to. I'm also not likely to get around to reading the Qu'ran or the Sruti texts.

    Regardless of any biblical footnotes, it isn't actually the Bible, and is in no way Scripture. I'll happily accept it as a reference for the Catholic viewpoint, but not the Christian one.

    I don't actually think Catholics aren't Christians. (Despite the fact that, at the convent school my non-Catholic mother attended as a child, the pupils were divided for prayers into either Catholics or Christians. The precise reason why that will never not be funny is that Catholics are Christians.) I think Catholic doctrine, historically and into the present, is in places at odds with Scripture, and I think that the Catholic Church as an institution has done many, many unChristian things, and I fear that it has imperilled the souls of its adherents, but I'm not saying that actual Catholic people are unChristian, or in any way inherently bad people. Some of the loveliest people I've ever met are the nuns at a hospital near where I live.

    However, Catholics are, at best, a subset of Christians. In the same way that I would disagree strongly with "people from Sydney and Melbourne" being represented as equivalent to "Australians" (despite that being quite popular as an approach), I disagree strongly with a Catholic perspective being represented as equivalent to a Christian perspective.

  199. Clark says:

    @ChrisTS:

    But no truth, moral or otherwise, can be established by appeal to authority any more than it can be by appeal to popularity

    Absolutely agreed.

    I do not care, nor think it my business, what some or all
    Catholics believe to be the proper sexual morality for themselves,
    and therefore, obligatory for them. I do object to Catholics' (or
    anyone's) appealing to their chosen moral authority as the basis
    for pronouncing on the sinfulness of others.

    It's not the "Particular Church" – it's the "Catholic Church", where "catholic" is a synonym for "universal".

    Judaism is a tribal religion – it is designed for Members of the Tribe, and not only does it not deign to make universal pronouncements, it is distinctly uncomfortable with anyone who does make universal announcements.

    Catholicism isn't like that. It, like Islam, believes that it was handed the instruction manual for life, the universe, and everything by God Himself.

    If you object to Catholics pronouncing on morality in a universal way, then you object to the very core of Catholicism ; you are objecting to the message that Jesus himself brought to Earth.

    Now, you can do that – that's fine. But you can't be intellectually serious and halfway tolerant at the same time.

    Moral truth may be difficult to demonstrate, and we may never achieve complete consensus. But legal and social policy – at least that which restricts and constrains the lives and choices of citizens – ought to be grounded in an honest attempt at rational discourse, rather than in appeals to any subgroup’s selected moral authority.

    Has anyone here suggested otherwise?

    I continue to desire a Nozickian anarchic meta-utopia, where the Catholics can have their cathedrals, the Jews their temples, the anarcho capitalists their agora, the communists their worker's collectives, etc.

    Let us all reject the use of force to compel obedience to moral dictates beyond those few required to build the meta-utopia (such as "no murder", "no rape", etc.) and allow the enforcement of tribal dictates only by groups where all of the members join and stay voluntarily.

    (The New Confederacy may enjoy calling their negroes degrading names, but at the exhorbitant rates they'll have to pay to hire actors for those roles, I don't think they'll have many to disparage.)

  200. Clark says:

    @Tali McPike:

    I am now officially a fan girl.

    Awesome, thanks!

    That might be the kind of world
    John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.

    LOL!

    Also, Clark, my husband says "hi five" for the response to Lizard, because he was about to help me write out a similar (although probably not nearly as eloquent) response

    Glad I could save you both some time.

  201. eddie says:

    @Clark:

    I understand your argument is as follows:

    I fear I've done a horrible job in explaining myself, then, as my argument is nothing whatsoever like that.

    Thanks for your comments. I understand most of them, agree with some, disagree with others, and appreciate them all. Probably the most productive reply I can give is to say that I wouldn't expect my pleading to persuade you, but I still hope it might persuade others.

    I also hoped you might see my point, but if you got utilitarianism and hedonism out of what I wrote, then I failed miserably.

    I can (and should) write a lot more about this because you raise good questions, but I don't have the time now.

    I'm especially curious to know which questions you think I've raised. I'm always happy to read what you write (you should get a blog or something!), but if it's more in the vein of pleasure, hedonism, and utilitarianism please be advised that, while interesting in its own right, I don't think what you wrote above has much to do with what I wrote before it.

    I skimmed 3:2:2:6 doing research for my other posts, and I've read much of it before when talking religion with Others Whose Blogs Must Not Be Named. I'll take another look. The Car Wars Rules Lawyer in me finds this kind of stuff fascinating.

    I find your math unconvincing. 10% of the straights are screwed (or not), 100% of the gays are (or not). But even those numbers miss the point. It's not about discrimination, or disparate impact, or utilitarianism. It's about treating people like human beings instead of a special class of moral defectives (which I know you will argue is not what's happening, and which is probably the focal point of our disagreement).

  202. Clark says:

    @Joseph Hertzlinger:

    I suspect that a century from now gay marriage will be regarded as an obvious failure that was too trivial to be worth opposing.

    I suspect that homosexuality will likely disappear within the next century, like deafness, color blindness, psycopathy, IQs under 120, obesity, etc. It will be a footnote among footnotes: just one more odd complexity of the pre-bioengineering era.

  203. Andrew Timson says:

    @Clark:

    Close, but no. Married catholics are allowed (encouraged, even!) to have sex even after menopause, after radiation therapy induced sterility, etc.

    Okay, there's something of a disconnect in my understanding of Catholic doctrine here. Can you (or someone else) try to help either point out my mistake, or bridge the gap?

    If infertile heterosexual couples are allowed/encouraged to engage in sexual relations, then what's the basis for saying that either infertile homosexual couples or fertile heterosexual couples with birth control shouldn't? None of them can result in procreation – what makes the one "acceptable" and the other two not?

  204. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    you should get a blog or something!

    I've got one!

  205. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    It's not about discrimination, or disparate impact, or
    utilitarianism. It's about treating people like human beings
    instead of a special class of moral defectives (which I know you
    will argue is not what's happening, and which is probably the
    focal point of our disagreement).

    Well said.

    I continue to assert that there is nothing in Catholic doctrine that treats homosexuals as a special class of moral defectives. Instead, it treats them as members of a very large class of moral defectives: human kind.

    I note that individual Catholics can be quite unkind and act in exactly the way you note. I chalk this up to the fact that they too are members of a very large class of moral defectives.

  206. eddie says:

    I suspect that a century from now gay marriage will be regarded as an obvious failure that was too trivial to be worth opposing.

    I'll cover that bet. What do you say, a C-Note?

    Actually, what with a century of inflation we should probably be staking ounces of gold. Bitcoin? Kilos lifted to orbit?

  207. Clark says:

    @eddie • Apr 30, 2013 @8:07 pm

    I suspect that a century from now gay marriage will be regarded as an obvious failure that was too trivial to be worth opposing.

    I'll cover that bet.

    I suspect that I can make a side bet on life extension arriving in the next 40 years, and somehow construct a straddle or a butterfly trade here to lock in profits…but I'm not sure quite how.

  208. Lizard says:

    So, did God decide on what was and was not moral after seeing what kind of universe he rolled up, or did he have an idea in mind of what morality was going to be before he started rolling, and then applied it without regard to how well it fit the universe he generated?

    See, the problem is, when you've got a god who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, there's not a lot of middle to exclude. The myriads of reasons why humans have to compromise and accept imperfect solutions do not apply when discussing a being of infinite power and the infinite knowledge needed to know the exact consequences, down to the last atom, of any decision he makes regarding how to use that power. God is without limits, even the limits of physics, because he decides them all. If he chooses to let a universe evolve so as to make some sins much easier than others… it's his choice and he's accountable for it. If he decided he wanted the challenge of letting the dice fall where they may, that, too, is his decision. If he saw the evolving universe would be one where the nature of existence is horrid, and he allowed the process to continue, then the horror can be laid firmly at his feet. He chose to allow homosexuality to exist, alongside an extremely powerful sex drive for humans. He could have decided to simply remove homosexuality from the list of possible human traits, but he did not.

    The god you describe is one who hamstrings himself solely to create amusement by means of artificial challenge. We, the people who live in the universe he decided to let exist, have to suffer — eternally — because he wanted to have a little fun by being surprised. As a DM myself, I certainly appreciate the value of relying on random tables and working with what you get, but, here's the thing.. if the world I create randomly isn't fun for my players, they walk away. I have to meet them halfway, even if that means fudging the rolls to make things more palatable. But the humans stuck at god's table have no such choice. We know he has the power to remake the world and do a better job of it, to apply a little creative license to the die rolls, but he chooses not to, preferring to see us suffer because the game, for him, would be less fun if he interferes.

    You can worship such a being if you wish.

  209. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    So, did God decide on what was and was not moral after seeing what
    kind of universe he rolled up, or did he have an idea in mind of what
    morality was going to be before he started rolling, and then applied
    it without regard to how well it fit the universe he generated?

    I really don't know if he's more an AD&D sort of guy, or a Classic Traveller type.

    The myriads of reasons why humans have to compromise and
    accept imperfect solutions do not apply when discussing a being of
    infinite power and the infinite knowledge needed to know the exact
    consequences, down to the last atom, of any decision he makes
    regarding how to use that power. God is without limits, even the
    limits of physics, because he decides them all.

    God is not the only one making decisions in the universe, though. We all have free will, make decisions, and contribute to the epic task of Creation (does this mean that maybe he's more an Amber Diceless personality?).

    If he chooses to let a universe evolve so as to make some sins much
    easier than others… it's his choice and he's accountable for it.

    That seems to make sense.

    (And as a side note, I'm sure glad that he made the sin of XXYAWEQWEEWE-12.2 impossible in this universe; I haven't even been tempted to engage in that my entire life!)

    If he saw the evolving universe would
    be one where the nature of existence is horrid, and he allowed the
    process to continue, then the horror can be laid firmly at his
    feet.

    Yes.

    He chose to allow homosexuality to exist, alongside an extremely
    powerful sex drive for humans. He could have decided to simply remove
    homosexuality from the list of possible human traits, but he did not.

    Yes.

    The god you describe is one who hamstrings himself solely to create
    amusement

    Asserted without evidence. We're back to the fallacy of the excluded middle. You can't figure out why He might do such a thing, and thus conclude that there are no reasons.

    by means of artificial challenge. We, the people who live in
    the universe he decided to let exist, have to suffer — eternally —
    because he wanted to have a little fun by being surprised.

    I'm sorry that your experience of the universe is one of suffering. I find that – despite the moral constraints, the illnesses, the failures, etc., that it's wonderfully exciting and interesting.

    Besides, if you're trying to make an argument for a callous evil God, I'd think that pediatric cancer or people who torture animals, etc. would be more convincing than "a mean Church which fails to give its approval to a sexual practice".

    We know he has the power to remake the world and do a better
    job of it

    I, for one, do not know that there is a better version of reality that could possibly exist. You assert that one without the possibility of suffering is better? I'm not sure that I agree.

  210. Lizard says:

    As Woody Allen said, "Being bisexual doubles your chances of a date on Saturday night".

    A transhuman world would not so much eliminate homosexuality as it would any overwhelming gender preference, so that people could choose their mates from the entire population of the world. (Hell, you could probably inject yourself with "kink of the month club" neural nanobots, so that you can choose what you might want to be into at any given time. I'm an extremely vanilla monogamous heterosexual. It would be rather fascinating to be able to change that at will. Some sports star or another recently tweeted that he couldn't understand why anyone would go out with guys when there's all the hot chicks out there. At some point in the future, he could take a pill and find out.)

  211. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    A transhuman world would not so much eliminate homosexuality as it would any overwhelming gender preference, so that people could choose their mates from the entire population of the world.

    It may very well play out that way, but I do not pretend to know what the equilibrium state will be.

    Hell, you could probably inject yourself with "kink of the month club" neural nanobots

    Yes; I was arguing earlier in the day, over the breakfast table, that this is quite likely to happen.

  212. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    Some sports star or another recently tweeted that he couldn't understand why anyone would go out with guys when there's all the hot chicks out there. At some point in the future, he could take a pill and find out.

    Setting 173 on the Mood Organ makes you never want to take that pill.

  213. eddie says:

    I suspect that homosexuality will likely disappear within the next century, like deafness, color blindness, psycopathy, IQs under 120, obesity, etc. It will be a footnote among footnotes: just one more odd complexity of the pre-bioengineering era.

    I'll take that bet, too.

    There will always be a group of people who view homosexuality[*] as a desirable trait for their offspring, not as a defect. They'll tick the box.

    * Or rather: the cluster of genetically-influenced personality and physical traits which we eventually determine are correlated with non-typical sexual preferences

  214. Lizard says:

    We're back to the fallacy of the excluded middle. You can't figure out why He might do such a thing, and thus conclude that there are no reasons.

    And this is the fallacy of applying human limits to God.

    If I fail to understand why God created the universe the way he did, it's because God chose not to give me the ability to understand.

    I wrote this back in the 1990s. http://mrlizard.com/OldSite/catgod.html

  215. Noah Callaway says:

    @Clark

    "I'm sure glad that he made the sin of XXYAWEQWEEWE-12.2 impossible in this universe; I haven't even been tempted to engage in that my entire life"

    Really, Clark? Never? Be honest. You know you want to. We've all wanted to XXYAWEQWEEWE-12.2 at one time or another…

  216. eddie says:

    life extension

    Amber Diceless

    Mood Organ

    I love you, man! (no homo)

  217. Tali McPike says:

    I haven't read the Catechism in detail. Nor am I likely to. I'm also not likely to get around to reading the Qu'ran or the Sruti texts.

    And this is what I take issue with. I wouldn't dare make a claim about Islam, Judiasm, Wicca, or any religion without first having an understanding of what they actually believe and why, which would entail reading documents by that religion about that religion.

    If an Atheist like Penn Jillette can take the time to study and understand religions he doesn't ascribe to (to enough to defend the Catholic Church's teachings in a discussion with Piers Morgan ) certainly you can have a similar courtesy to not make claims about something you don't truly understand.

    No the Catechism is not actually the Bible, but do you know what it is? It is a book written by theologians/Biblical scholars telling how to apply the teachings of the Bible to our lives. Because, as many of the comments here show, the Bible can be somewhat ambiguous in many areas.
    The Catechism is not a Holy Book for Catholics. However, we as Catholics recognize that we aren't much of an organized religion if we are each left to interpret the Bible for ourselves, because I could interpret a certain passage to mean one thing, and you can interpret it to mean another.
    Catholics trust that the Doctors of the Church, and the Theologians of the various councils know a lot more about the Bible than any one of us.

  218. Chris says:

    Can I just briefly address the somewhat snide remarks on the Bible's textual integrity? (leaving historical accuracy and moral truth aside for the moment)

    Determining whether an ancient document has been passed down through the ages to us intact involves comparing all the copies of it we have presently. The older the copies and the more they agree then the more likely it is that we have essentially the original document with us.

    Based on a huge number of extant manuscripts (more than 20k IIRC) and their age many made within a few hundred years after the events in question, we can be confident that the New Testament books we have are virtually identical to the books as they were written.

    The Old Testament has many fewer manuscript copies made much farther from their original date of authorship, but these fewer copies agree closer than the NT ones, and also by textual standards garner high confidence in their fidelity (especially with the discovery of the dead sea scrolls).

    Arguments that we can't trust the textual accuracy of the Bible would have to negate every document of antiquity by the same standard.

    Of course, as I said before, this doesn't address other elements of the truth of the text, just its transmission, the misunderstanding of which is a pet peeve of mine.

  219. JR says:

    I'm not Catholic, and haven't bothered enough to be a Baptist in decades, so I want to see if I understand the gist of this discussion. I worry that it will sound like I am mocking the religion, but I am really just relating my perception of the Catholic Church's doctrine as represented here. I'm not a religiously minded person, but moral philosophy still intrigues me. And most of what I know about Catholicism was learned watching Dogma and Sister Act.

    If those who are gay, unwed, or not seeking to procreate find it unbearable to exist without the experience of intercourse or similar acts, they have three options.
    1. Sin;
    2. Don't Sin;
    3. Repudiate the Catholic faith
    Also, whether someone agrees with the reasoning or not, it remains up to the heads of church and those they deem qualified to define their particular applications of the Bible's teachings.

    I think one big disconnect from the other Christian religions may be that they encourage a personal interpretation of the Bible.

  220. Aaron says:

    I am a former-atheist who came to Rome based on faith – but not on blind faith. I will not bore you with the details of my philosophic inquiry into objective morality, Plato's forms, the Church fathers, and more.

    Clark, I would personally be very interested in the details of your philosophic inquiry.

    In my own philosophic inquiry, I believe that morality must have some basis in the facts of our existence on this planet, which exist independently of any intentioned deity. I believe that a good–though not the only good–way to create a consistent, intellectually defensible system of morality is to create a wellness metric that applies evenly to all creatures. This is somewhat utilitarian, although my wellness metric is not hedonistic pleasure.

    My wellness metric is a combination of the amount of suffering caused and the amount of fulfillment. I say that an action which causes little suffering and much fulfillment is a morally good action, and an action which causes much suffering and little fulfillment is morally questionable. By fulfillment, I do not mean hedonistic pleasure; I define a second category, which is the feeling you get on completing a project, finishing a book, or otherwise after accomplishing a goal you have worked hard at. I weigh the negative effects of suffering above the positive effects of fulfillment, but as these are subjective phenomena, it is impossible to measure. Tendencies can be spoken of, and over the whole population.

    In this regard, I see sex between consenting adults as absolutely moral, or at least as absolutely not immoral. There may or may not be fulfillment, depending on whether you view sex as a purely hedonistic pleasure regardless of circumstance, but I see no or very little potential for suffering.

    Anyway, these thoughts are some of the results of my examination of my own beliefs and attempts to come up with a basis for morality that I believe to be both beneficial to society and intellectually defensible. I would absolutely love to read the paths and results of your philosophical journey, Clark.

  221. Aaron says:

    … and I could swear I closed that blockquote tag. Only the first paragraph was supposed to be a quote, and the rest was my contribution. Since I can't edit it myself, is there any chance someone with moderator access could fix my mistake?

  222. Nate says:

    @David: Have you read them all? Any suggestions for reading? I am generally interested in reasons why X is a sin relating to historical context.

    @Tali: Thank you for your response. I actually knew and understood these reasons but they generally lead me to more questions. (I'm currently in a questioning phase. Figure I'll come out at one end or the other.) Over the years I have ultimately decided I disagree with the church on this matter.

  223. Jacob says:

    You critisize Ken for making an appeal to popular opinion – in his case saying that popular opinion will soon be with proponants of marriage equality – because popular opinion is not an indicator of truth. I hope that is a fair summary. But isn't the argument from antiquity ("a 2,000 year old religious doctrine says X") a similar appeal to popular opinion? If nascent popular opinion is meaningless, shouldn't past popular opinion be likewise meaningless?

    In addition, when I hear comments like Ken's, or read a comic like the Oatmeal linked above, the argument that I hear being made isn't "Everyone will soon be on my side, therefore I'm right" – rather, the way I usually interpret it (perhaps generously) is that the person is arguing "I am right on this, and because I'm optimistic about human nature, I believe that my side will eventually win and be fully vindicated" . It's perhaps naively optimistic and brash, but it's also somewhat similar to religious beliefs that all wrongs will someday be righted

  224. Anony Mouse says:

    Hell, you could probably inject yourself with "kink of the month club" neural nanobots

    Heh. Shades of Always True To Thee, In My Fashion

  225. In the long run, we're all dead. says:

    > I think this is particularly stark when you choose selectively to condemn sin in the NBA, which is rife with terrible behavior.

    To quote the proverbial cop who answered a man asking why only he got pulled over: "Ever go fishing? Ever catch 'em all?"

    This isn't a good argument. Every one of the people you've ever singled out for abusing the legal system could point to someone you haven't and accuse you of being "selective," for example, but I doubt you've covered even half of the censorious asshats out there.

    This argument could be made about anyone complaining about anything. And just to be ironic, I will preemptively complain that anyone complaining about this post is being "selective" because there are a great many things out there on the internet that they could (and should!) complain about. Unfortunately, now I have to complain about myself for complaining selectively.

    Dammit, this is why it's such a bad argument.

  226. AlphaCentauri says:

    I'll join the folks questioning the assertion that one cannot be Christian without believing in the Trinity. Many people feel that being Christian involves following the teachings of Jesus. Jesus apparently didn't feel a lot of the many details we argue about among ourselves were all that important, as he is not reported to have said much about them and didn't bother writing his own scriptures, despite being literate. (Unlike Mohammed, who did write his own scriptures, despite being allegedly illiterate.) Christians got along 300 years without having any agreed-upon orthodoxy until Constantine felt it necessary to have a creed, so he could use the power of the state to enforce it.

  227. perlhaqr says:

    Jennifer: I do object to further fracturing the makings of the bedrock legal and religious institution that's been the fundamental unit of social cohesion over essentially all of western civilization.

    Fracturing? I'm not sure you're using that word correctly.

    The "fundamental unit of social cohesion" you're referring to is, I presume, "the family". Those of us who support equal marriage want to make more of them.

    A society in which homosexuality was not stigmatised is one in which (it seems to me) that–having that option–homosexuals would not join in heterosexual unions to blend in, with such unions–being based on lies–being weak. So we would have a society in which the heterosexual unions that get made were made by freer choice, and are therefore stronger, and in which more people overall have the choice to make familial unions at all.

    This seems likely (to me) to increase social stability.

    And, as a side benefit, since homosexual couples are incapable of reproducing on their own, and male homosexuals incapable of gestating via artificial insemination at all, we have a society that has childless families ready made for adoptions.

  228. naught_for_naught says:

    @perlhaqr

    I do object to further fracturing the makings of the bedrock legal and religious institution that's been the fundamental unit of social cohesion over essentially all of western civilization.

    I focused on this too yesterday but didn't want too jump in because Lizard and Jennifer were pretty deep into it, and I didn't want to interject. That said, the red herring-ness reflected in this argument is only made possible by its blithe dismissal of actual history.

    The high points of Western Civilization correlate nicely with the acceptance of homosexuals and homosexuality. Two key eras might be, going backwards in time, Medici Florence in the Renaissance and ancient Greece, the birth place Democracy and professional naked wrestling.

    Compare this to the low points of western civilization like the hundreds of years of hacking and slashing that were the dark ages. There was quite a bit of fracturing of bedrock then, and I don't think Clovis was gay. I think he was Catholic.

    What's really at work in the argument, IMO, is resistance to change. This is the world that Toffler predicted, and it's moving too fast — too fast unless you happen to be a member of a class that's still fighting for 14th amendment protections.

  229. Joshua Lyle says:

    @Tali McPike

    So if sex wasn't pleasurable no one would be like "lets do that thing that makes babies

    Except that people frequently do a number things, generally grouped under the category "fertility therapy", that are not at all pleasurable and in fact often quite painful (and often at least somewhat risky to long-term health) solely for the chance to have a child.

    So, first off, you are factually wrong — there is ample evidence that many if not most people would desire children and go to considerable trouble to create them even without brief sexual pleasure thrown is as a lagniappe — but beyond that your statements could also come off as quite hurtful to those that aren't so blessed as to be able to have children without undergoing a lot of extra suffering on top of what is usually mentioned in the ancient literature as the price of procreation, let alone those that tried them and still failed.

  230. Todd E. says:

    @ Sami – please provide verification that Paul hated women, rather than that he advocated stances that, within the culture of the time, made a lot of sense, but which do not necessarily have bearing within the current culture where women are A. educated, and B. allowed to speak for themselves and own property.

    @ Clark – your assertion that the RCC is the same as the Catholic church is flawed…not only because of the break off of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the many other denominations (Reformation, etc.) who broke off from the RCC. The things that the RCC holds to as true are not necessarily widely true of the entire church.

    @Lizard – You're attempting to force folks like Clark and Talia to defend a very narrow definition of God that they would never actually defend, and that most theologians in this venue would probably say is a poor version of God. Sort of like demanding that an American defend Dick Cheney or be a poor American…

  231. Todd E. says:

    I would also venture that any denomination/cult/etc. that refuses to acknowledge Christ as A. divine, and B. Saviour is not actually Christian.

    The actual modality (or lack thereof) of the Trinity aside, if your denomination thinks that Jesus was just some guy, then you aren't Christian (the name itself being about Jesus, the Christ) and I'm not sure why you're determined to be.

  232. ChrisTS says:

    @Clark:

    I was going to respond to this: "Now, you can do that – that's fine. But you can't be intellectually serious and halfway tolerant at the same time."

    But then I read this: "I suspect that homosexuality will likely disappear within the next century, like deafness, color blindness, psycopathy, IQs under 120, obesity, etc. It will be a footnote among footnotes: just one more odd complexity of the pre-bioengineering era."

    I don't think anyone who compares homosexuality with psychopathy, idiocy, etc. is in a good position to be advocating for toleration.

  233. Josh C says:

    @JR,

    No. Option 3 is (mostly) a subset of option one. The rules in question apply to everyone, not just to those in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

    Your construction is roughly equivalent to, "Person A wishes to act unethically. He has three options: (1) act unethically, (2) act ethically, or (3) leave the country."

    (There's a small nit in my first answer: you could, I think, leave the Roman Catholic church for some other interpretations which are part of the larger Catholic Church, e.g. the Eastern Orthodox church, and it wouldn't be a sin (per se). It would be (again, per my limited understanding) more like a procedural error. That's completely orthogonal to whether leaving allows sinless homosexual sex (it doesn't).)

  234. David says:

    @David: Have you read them all?

    @Nate Have you read any of them?

    Pick something and dive in. Cornelius a Lapide's comprehensive commentary is a fascinating starting point.

  235. Jennifer says:

    Don't have time for a full response (busy work day – don't expect more than this today) but a couple fast responses –

    A. Homosexuality in the classical world looked for the most part much more like what's seen in Afghanistan today than in SoHo. Well – that plus a vibrant market in selling pretty blonde Gaulish boys as sex toys. I'm not certain that's the model you want to be holding up as an example to the world.

    (I'll give you the Theban Sacred Band though. )

    As regards the dark ages – I assume you mean the part where Germanic tribes swooped in to clean house after a cosmopolitan Roman empire drained of virtus gave up the ghost.

    No, I'm sure we'll never see days like those again thanks to our modern enlightened ways. :)

    B. Adoption costs are in the tens of thousands of dollars, and overseas adoptions are common – precisely because there are already many more families wanting to adopt than healthy, young children needing a home.

    Thus, saying "we have a society that has childless families ready made for adoptions" is moot. Even if a homosexual family was just as good an environment for a child to grow up in as one with both a father and mother. Which – all other things being equal – they are not.

    C. Concur on Chris' point re: reliable transmission of scriptures. Whether one believes them or not is a wholly separate question. But a modern copy of Matthew is no less reliable a translation than a modern copy of – say – Polybius.

    Interestingly, we did not have this discussion when most liberal arts graduates actually knew Latin, a smattering of Greek, and perhaps some Hebrew.

    D. The argument about selective controversy is a very good one. It is a sad human tendency to rate as worse the sins in which one personally does not indulge. Such is the state of man. And brother, do I have some beams in my own eye.

  236. perlhaqr says:

    Adoption costs are in the tens of thousands of dollars, and overseas adoptions are common – precisely because there are already many more families wanting to adopt than healthy, young children needing a home.

    I'm not certain you've correctly picked the sole reason for the cost of such things. Actually, I doubt there is a sole reason for the cost of such things. But I suspect that "endless bureaucracy" has a role to play there.

    Even if a homosexual family was just as good an environment for a child to grow up in as one with both a father and mother. Which – all other things being equal – they are not.

    Blind assertion. And yes, I'm aware of the study that was done, and with the flaws in the methodology of it. Explicitly due to the factor which is highlighted in your original comment, as there is no possible way to do a study in which all other factors are equal, because in most cases homosexuals aren't even allowed to marry.

  237. JR says:

    Thanks Josh C. What about leaving all forms of Catholic worship in favor of Lutheran, Baptist, or other branch of Christianity that is less restrictive of gays?

    I don't think that finding a more compatible way to worship is quite the same as leaving a country because you disagree with the laws. More like moving to a different neighborhood because you felt uncomfortable around the previous neighbors and the things they said about you.

  238. perlhaqr says:

    Clark: pagan: A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions

    I… but… that's very circular, sir.

    So, are Catholics pagan? (Saints!) Or is it all of the Protestants that are pagans? Or are Christians the pagans, compared to Muslims, Hindus, and the Buddhists?

    I mean, the first entry in the LDS "Articles of Faith" is: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." I don't see how believing that they are three separate entities as opposed to one entity can make them "not Christian". I mean, I guess if you wanted to refer to it as a schism, between "Nicene Christians" and "Non-Nicene Christians", I would definitely accept that. Or, heck, even "Nicene Christians" and "Arian Christians". And boy, wouldn't that be nicely linguistically confusing for lots of people. ;)

    Catholicism isn't like that. It, like Islam, believes that it was handed the instruction manual for life, the universe, and everything by God Himself.

    Heh. So do the LDS. (Well, the angel Moroni, I suppose, but they believe that the Prophet is spoken to by God himself.)

  239. eddie says:

    I'll give you the Theban Sacred Band though.

    Eh. They haven't had a Top 40 hit in years.

  240. JohnD says:

    The problem with arguments about marriage is that people inevitably conflate the religious rite with the civil contract. The other problem with arguments about marriage is that people inevitably think that what we've seen in the past 100 years or so is the equivalent of a 2,000 year old tradition.

    As to the first, very few argue that opening the civil contract of marriage to gay couples would lead to the religious rite being opened as well. As Tali McPike has pointed out, many Catholics are considered to be married in the eyes of the law but not in the eyes of the Church. If gay marriage were recognized across the US (which I expect to happen as soon as someone makes an Article IV argument to the SCOTUS), then it would have zero effect on marriages in any given church. Those sects that allow them would still allow them and those that did not would still not.

    In addition, as the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion the views of any given religion on the state of grace (or lack thereof) of any given activity, be it using zippers or engaging in adultery, is irrelevant.

    As to the second, anyone arguing that marriage is only between one man and one woman has obviously not looked any further than the end of their pew. In the modern world, we have examples of polygyny (too numerous to list), polyandry (e.g., Tibet), ritual exogamy (Polynesia), men marrying young men (e.g., Afghanistan), men marrying young women (too numerous to list), serial monogamy (e.g., USA), and even examples where heterosexuality is tabu (e.g., the Etoro). Even if we restrict the question to Christian groups, then we have the examples of the Shakers (celibacy), the Oneidans (communal marriage), and the Celestial Church of Christ (polygyny) – not to mention the execrable examples of the Popes who had wives, mistresses, and catamites all at the same time.

  241. Todd E. says:

    You can't really argue against "what God says people should do, instead of what they do do" with "but people do do this". I mean, you can, but I'm not clear what the point is.

  242. naught_for_naught says:

    Sort of like demanding that an American defend Dick Cheney or be a poor American

    Actually, I think the willingness to defend Dick Cheney is the current standard for identifying "poor" Americans.

  243. Lizard says:

    Actually, I think the willingness to defend Dick Cheney is the current standard for identifying "poor" Americans.

    Oh, c'mon! Don't you remember the Congressional hearings, when Bush gave testimony while Cheney drank a glass of water? That's skill, man. Not many people could pull that off on live television. I DVR'ed it and freeze-framed, and I could barely see Cheney's lips move. Give the man credit for developing his gift!

  244. naught_for_naught says:

    …a vibrant market in selling pretty blonde Gaulish boys as sex toys…[is] not…the model you want to be holding up as an example to the world.

    You're right there, which is why I never presented that argument. Let's leave that lay where it is though and get back to the actual issue:

    You argued that the legalization of homosexual marriage threatens to fracture the foundation of Western Civilization.

    What I'm saying, and what your response conceded to, is that the Greeks, the primogenitor of Western Civilization, the culture that put the "Civ" in Western Civ, accepted homosexuality as readily as they accepted heterosexuality.

    And since they are Western Civ, the argument that their culture threatened to fracture the foundation of their culture is circular, paradoxical, makes no sense and is therefore rejected.

  245. naught_for_naught says:

    Don't you remember the Congressional hearings, when Bush gave testimony while Cheney drank a glass of water?

    Ahh, good times.

  246. Chris says:

    Ok, one more pet peeve: the dark ages, considered to be a period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the renaissance where scholarship, learning, and economic advancement ceased, is a myth not accepted by most modern historians. Even the scholarly usage of the term, referring not to a lack of progress but rather a lack of historical records, is no longer used due to a better understanding of the period.

    Crop rotation, saddles and stirrups, windmills, canal-building, heavy plows, eyeglasses, navigational compasses, and many more things were developed in Europe during this period, along with copious amounts of scholarly writings by the medieval scholastics.

  247. Rocks says:

    Most of what I would say to the main thrust of this post have already been said by better writers than I, so hopefully Clark will forgive me for choosing to nitpick on his nitpick of the previous post.

    "I note that Ken didn't argue that Broussard's theological interpretations are wrong. He argued that they're unpopular. As someone who actively prefers to be out on the intellectual fringes than in the mainstream, I find it weird and suspiciously neurotypical that Ken considers that an insult, but no matter."

    I find it in poor taste to conflate disagreement with someone else's choice of opinion (based on a decision to follow a particular religious sect, natch), and finding pleasure in said opinion going out of style, with dismissal towards people with autism. Additionally, it is not impressive to argue that it is wrong to assume bigotry in people who merely disapprove of something when one has slyly implied bigotry in someone else's disapproval of another opinion.

    And it's just such a bizarre comparison. How is deciding to believe in the literalness of the Bible or the virtues of anarchy compare to being neurodivergent?

  248. Clark says:

    @Rocks:

    I find it in poor taste to conflate disagreement with someone
    else's choice of opinion (based on a decision to follow a
    particular religious sect, natch), and finding pleasure in said
    opinion going out of style, with dismissal towards people with
    autism.

    You read something that wasn't there, Rocks. I was just making a joke that Ken and I are both Aspergers-ish nerds (true), and "berating" him, in a teasing fashion, for acting like a somewhat more normal person.

  249. Clark says:

    @Chris:

    The dark ages…weren't

    Hear hear!

  250. Jennifer says:

    What I'm saying, and what your response conceded to, is that the Greeks, the primogenitor of Western Civilization, the culture that put the "Civ" in Western Civ, accepted homosexuality as readily as they accepted heterosexuality.

    I'd strike "the" with "a" due to the heavy influence of Hebraic and especially Germanic traditions in Western Civ, neither of which was remotely so friendly (Tacitus has a terrifying story about where some of those bog men we're still finding came from). But certainly yeah, Greece and especially Rome are the biggies we look to.

    That said, there is a world of difference between "accepting homosexuality" and codifying homosexual unions as a distinct family unit identical to heterosexual marriage. Neither the the Greeks nor the Romans did so.

    In Classical Greece, a man might take a young man as lover, but his marriage was still to his wife. Even in Spartan society, the pederastic period was just that – a period. Eventually those little warrior boys were married off to girls.

    Finally – I'm not trying to stop any consenting adults from bedding whoever they want. I'm just not going to stand up and actively cheer for a social change I think has a dubious future.

    But again, time will tell.

  251. Clark says:

    @naught_for_naught:

    the culture that put the "Civ" in Western Civ, accepted homosexuality as readily as they accepted heterosexuality.

    I disagree, based on my reading on the topic.

    @Jennifer is entirely right that "homosexuality in the classical world looked for the most part much more like what's seen in Afghanistan today than in SoHo." The most typical arrangement was an age-stratified one, where the penetrative partners were usually men and the receptive partners were young boys.

    wikipedia.org:

    To fail to switch roles [ to become the penetrative partner after puberty ] was considered unmanly and irresponsible

  252. Nate says:

    @David Thanks for the suggestion. Truthfully, I hadn't heard of much of the Jewish commentary and after reading your comment immediately went to look it up. (I may be limited in what I know but I'm willing to learn.) Actually I have read some of the more recent commentary. The why's the authors discuss were often not the why's I was looking for, thus I incorrectly dismissed them. I just need to go back and reevaluate what they are saying.

  253. Cary Allen says:

    @ Clark

    "But then, heck, I accept all of traditional Christian sexual morality, so I look like a fool even by the sophisticated modern standards of 1700."

    You can't be serious. I haven't opened a Bible in a while, but I do distinctly remember that females that failed the virginity test at the time of marriage were to be taken to the city gate and stoned to death. There are other bits about taking women in war and assorted customs and rules that cut very sharply against your actual beliefs and practices, given that (I assume) you're not writing from prison.

  254. princessartemis says:

    @Cary Allen, perhaps you should endeavor to find out what "traditional Christian sexual morality" is first before expressing such incredulity?

    I don't recall stoning being traditional Christian anything, much less sexual morality.

  255. James Pollock says:

    I've noticed that every time someone starts talking about what God wants, it turns out that the person talking wants that, too.

    God wants you to stop worrying about what kind of sex other people are having. He'll deal with it when He feels like it, and in the meantime, it's none of your business. (citation of Scriptural authority is intentionally left as an exercise for the reader.)

  256. Clark says:

    @James Pollock:

    I've noticed that every time someone starts talking about what God wants, it turns out that the person talking wants that, too.

    God wants you to stop worrying about what kind of sex other people are having.

    And if I apply sentence #1 to sentence #2 I learn that James wants me to adopt his SWPL worldview.

  257. Clark says:

    @Cary Allen:

    I accept all of traditional Christian sexual morality

    You can't be serious.

    I am.

    I haven't opened a Bible in a while

    That's coming to seem like a precondition for joining in the comment thread…

    but I do distinctly remember that females that failed the virginity test at the time of marriage were to be taken to the city gate and stoned to death. There are other bits about taking women in war and assorted customs and rules that cut very sharply against your actual beliefs and practices, given that (I assume) you're not writing from prison.

    You're confusing "traditional Christian sexual morality" with "historical records of the pre-Christian era".

    They're within 2,000 years of each other, so I understand how you –

    Wait. No, I don't.

  258. naught_for_naught says:

    @Clark

    I disagree, based on my reading on the topic.

    The distinctions between homosexual institutions, as they were encouraged and practiced in ancient Greece and the practice of same-sex marriage here in the U.S. doesn't negate my challenge to the argument implicit in Jennifer's statement,

    I do object to further fracturing the makings of the bedrock legal and religious institution that's been the fundamental unit of social cohesion over essentially all of western civilization.

    That is to say, Homosexuals and homosexuality is not only not a threat to the foundations of western civilization, it was an integral part of it at its birth. Also, men being encouraged to be "a top" after a certain age doesn't change the fact that it was still a homosexual relationship.

    As a final bit of evidence I would point to modern day Canada — a country and culture that are certainly part of western culture. Gay marriage has been legal there since 2005.

    With all due respect, on this narrow issue, I think you're riding a loser.

  259. Clark says:

    Also, men being encouraged to be "a top" after a certain age doesn't change the fact that it was still a homosexual relationship.

    I think it does.

    There is this phrase "homosexual relationship" that you're using to describe two very different things.

    * in one case you're using it to describe a temporary sexually exploitative mentor/mentee relationship that compliments – but does not replace – life-long heterosexual marriage and child-raising.

    * in a second case you're using it to describe a life-long homosexual relationship that replaces the heterosexual equivalent.

    It seems to me that this difference is huge, particularly in the argument that Jennifer is making.

  260. Clark says:

    As a final bit of evidence I would point to modern day Canada — a country and culture that are certainly part of western culture. Gay marriage has been legal there since 2005.

    Ah, well, if it's been legal for 1/3 as long as the Simpsons has been on TV and civilization hasn't collapsed into post-apocalyptic raiding for slaves, fuel, and ammunition, then, yes, clearly you've proven your point that there's nothing detrimental about it.

    (Note: I am not arguing that gay marriage is detrimental – that's Jennifer's argument. I'm just arguing that your argument for why it is not detrimental is silly.)

  261. eddie says:

    in a second case you're using it to describe a life-long homosexual relationship that replaces the heterosexual equivalent.

    Gosh, I certainly don't want my heterosexual relationship replaced with a homosexual one.

    Fortunately, I don't think that anyone is proposing such a thing.

  262. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    Gosh, I certainly don't want my heterosexual relationship replaced with a homosexual one.

    Surely you understod me to be saying that Greek society did not say that some people were hetero and some were gay, but instead thought that it was every man's duty to marry and reproduce, while also allowing men to entertain themselves sexually on the side.

    (By the way, this is a fairly classic Mediterranean / Gallic cultural pattern.)

    Whatever its benefits or flaws, this system is not the same thing as modern gay marriage, and thus the argument that "gay marriage can't possibly have negative societal results because the Greeks basically did it" is wrong.

  263. naught_for_naught says:

    @Clark

    Yes, of course, the two are different, but those differences don't affect the legitimacy of my argument. In fact, they strengthen it if anything. Here's how.

    As we have agreed, homosexuality has always been a fact of human existence throughout the history of the western world. Over time the mores that surround homosexuality have changed dramatically. On that too I think we agree. Yet Jennifer (and now you by virtue of taking up her mantle) has/have shown no evidence that these changes have significantly harmed the "the bedrock legal and religious institution[s that are] the fundamental unit of social cohesion."

    It just hasn't happened. As proof of the contrary, I again refer to Canada. They have allowed gay marriage since 2005, and they are doing just fine. Their religious institutions are doing fine. There legal system is doing fine. They're just fine.

    My sister in law is flying in tonight from Prince Albert. I will confirm my assertions with her. If I am wrong, I will come back and concede defeat, but for now I'm marking this one in the win column.

  264. Ken White says:

    Their religious institutions are doing fine. There legal system is doing fine. They're just fine.

    Well, actually, because of their appalling and unprincipled approach to free expression they are approaching the point where it is illegal to express Biblically-based opposition to homosexuality. But that's not the fault of gay marriage; it's the fault of their "let's balance speech with the broader interests of society" approach to rights and their taste for recognizing a privilege not to be offended.

  265. JR says:

    Some people are arguing for gay Catholic marriage (I think they should be treated like any other private club and allowed to define their own requirements for participation).

    Some people are arguing that gay Catholic marriage will be detrimental to society as a whole (It's still their club)?

    I know it's very tangential, but I would be interested in hearing how gay people who are Catholic are able to cope without losing their faith. It must be very trying to find out that you are forbidden to ever follow your biological urges.

  266. naught_for_naught says:

    But that's not the fault of gay marriage.

    Thank you.

  267. Jennifer says:

    (Note: I am not arguing that gay marriage is detrimental – that's Jennifer's argument. I'm just arguing that your argument for why it is not detrimental is silly.)

    Honestly, I can't argue that legally sanctioned, culturally celebrated homosexual marriage is definitively detrimental. It's new in our experience.

    All I can say is that the historical arguments in its favor are weak or outright misleading, that promises that no it really isn't a slippery slope have already been proven wrong, and that the results of previous social experiments (don't worry about single moms, they're strong women, it'll work out fine) don't inspire a lot of confidence.

    Even if I didn't trust Christian teaching as regards the ideal state of human sexuality – I'd be dubious just from a naturalistic point of view.

    But dubious does not mean convinced, either way.

    It might work out great. I'd be perfectly happy to be wrong.
    I just don't expect it.

    And even if it didn't… I believe in human liberty and wouldn't stop anyone from shacking up with another consenting adult(s) and calling it whatever they damn well please.

    But tolerance does not equal endorsement, or an expectation that the price tag will be as insignificant as we've been promised.

    And finally.. 2005? Seriously?

    Heck, I think the long term societal cost of women's lib is still an open question, and that's been fifty years and most certainly benefits me personally.

    Get back to me in 2115 and we'll have a smidgen of meaningful data to discuss.

  268. Sami says:

    Clark suggests that ignorance of the Bible is a precondition for entering this thread. I dislike to be uncivil, but I might suggest that it is ironic for him to do so, given: You're confusing "traditional Christian sexual morality" with "historical records of the pre-Christian era".

    Ahem.

    "If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ 15 then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 "And the girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, "I did not find your daughter a virgin." But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 "So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. 20 "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you." – Deuteronomy 22: 13-21.

    Old Testament, yes. Jesus didn't say this. But Jesus *also* never said anything about homosexuality. If you sign on to Paul's epistles as being the Word of God, then you presumably sign on to these:

    A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. – 1 Corinthians 11:7.

    Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. – 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

    Among others that even basic research could, trivially, find. (@ Todd E., I am not your search engine.)

    The authority of the Catholic Church as heir of the ministry of Peter falls apart on its own history. The apostolic succession ends at the Cadaver Synod; any kind of moral authority in the papacy is pretty much annihilated by the time you hit the pornocracy.

    I'm pretty much done arguing, though, since I seem to be the only person here actually using the Bible as a source, and all, and arguing with self-diagnosed Aspies who think that homosexuality is a genetic disorder isn't necessarily the best use of anyone's time.

  269. AlphaCentauri says:

    @JR: See http://www.dignityusa.org/

    There are gay Catholics who hope the Church will change its teachings about homosexuality, as there are married Catholics who hope the Church will change its teachings on birth control, and as there are women in ministry who hope the Church will change its teaching on women in the priesthood. When I was young, any time our Catholic church started allowing girls to be altar servers, eventually someone would call the bishop to complain, and then he'd be forced to tell our pastor to stop it; now it's officially permitted and most of the servers at my local church are girls. When I was young, a female couldn't walk into church without some covering on her head; now hats in church is mostly a protestant thing. When I was young, women weren't allowed behind the altar rail, except to dust, and then they had to be nuns. Now women are Eucharistic ministers. Once upon a time, Galileo was condemned for claiming the earth orbited the sun; now Catholic universities are proud to employ cutting-edge researchers in the sciences. Stuff changes, but slowly.

    The public point of view on gay marriage has changed with dramatic speed, something that isn't very compatible with the way the Catholic Church operates. There's a lot to be said for having patience waiting for a large ship to adjust course if that same bulk prevents it being toppled in a storm, so many gay Catholics are faithful even though they believe the Church will eventually change its teachings.

    Other people may feel that the very speed of such an improbable idea becoming widely accepted is evidence the Spirit is involved.

  270. Lizard says:

    As someone married to a woman with a degree in theology from PCC, I know the party line on all the parts of God's Eternal Unalterable Absolute Truth that no one actually pays any attention. "Oh THIS part is symbolism and THAT part doesn't count any more but THIS part is literal and THAT part can't be changed and here's why: Latin word scholarly term Latin word Latin word scholarly term. See?"

    And, you know, I'd buy it… except that all 9,213 sects of Christianity disagree on precisely which bits are THIS and which bits are THAT, and the 9,214 sects have changed their opinions over time within themselves, so the 9,215 sects are still arguing about it.

    Let's not even discuss arguments over translations.

    You would think a God of infinite wisdom, who gave us His Word so that we would always know His will (well, except for the poor shmucks who weren't Jews and who died before Jesus, or after Jesus and before missionaries, and I know the party line response to THAT, too), would have written something less prone to arguments over interpretation than the 1st edition DMG. ("God is clear!", you respond. "It's just humans who choose to misinterpret the simple, obvious, and plain word of God for their own selfish and sinful ends!" All 9,216 sects of Christianity nod in agreement, and then point to everyone but themselves as proof of this.)

    It's trivial to construct internally consistent narratives and explanations of exactly how the Bible perfectly lines up with your moral standards of the moment. It's so trivial, in fact, that it's been done thousands of times. Like the saying says, "Standards are great! There's so many to choose from!"

    It's much more fun to watch, say, Catholics and Baptists debate than Catholics and atheists. An atheist is unlikely to know all the answers a Catholic has memorized to Bible questions, and may be momentarily taken aback by the fact someone HAS an answer, however questionable. (I think a lot of atheists have a Chick tract mentality, where the target of their questioning will just stammer "I… I don't know!" when asked a question asked a thousand times before.) Ah, but a Baptist, who knows all the same questions… but has totally different ANSWERS… that's much more interesting, because the Catholic and the Baptist both have to accept each other's premises of an identical God and an infallible Bible, and then explain how the other guy got it all so wrong. I suspect we no longer see nearly as much intersectarian rivalry in public (as opposed to the good ol' days, when you guys burned each other over it), because all the sects of Christianity have realized that if they debate each other too much, the undecided in the audience will realize that the vast edifices of seemingly scholarly theology are, basically, fanwanking. (And if you want more evidence, invite a Mormon along. They have just as many complex explanations and jutifications as any other sect, and once you see the pattern in one type of religious debate, you realize it's everywhere.)

  271. JR says:

    Thanks AlphaCentauri, that illuminated much for me. The picture painted by those citing the Catechism and ancient texts seemed a rigid and unchanging one.

  272. perlhaqr says:

    @Jennifer: Even if a homosexual family was just as good an environment for a child to grow up in as one with both a father and mother. Which – all other things being equal – they are not.

    It occurred to me on the drive home (l'esprit d'satellite?) that I hadn't actually responded to this correctly. I stand by my earlier statements, but they're actually irrelevant. Because in order for this to attach to the conversation at all, you have to argue not merely that a family life in a home with a married homosexual couple for parent is worse for the adopted child than a family life in a home with a married heterosexual couple for parents; You have to argue that a life in a home with a married homosexual couple for parents is worse for the potentially adopted child than a life in an orphanage with no parents at all.

    I think that would require a lot of evidence.

  273. Cary Allen says:

    "You're confusing "traditional Christian sexual morality" with "historical records of the pre-Christian era".

    They're within 2,000 years of each other, so I understand how you –

    Wait. No, I don't."

    Wait, I was taught that the Old Testament was the word of God the Father, who I think is still part of the Holy Trinity. Please correct this poor sinner if I have it wrong again.

    This is the crux of the problem with religious objections to same-sex sexuality. The New Testament doesn't mention it, so if you're dismissing the OT as "pre-Christian," then you're left with no evidence that Christianity prohibits it, or the opinion of your preferred arbiter, living or dead, of just what Christianity does or doesn't prohibit. There's considerable disagreement among Christians about that, so it's difficult to know just what you mean when you cite "Traditional Christian Sexual Morality," It comes off like something you made up.

    Arguments supporting Broussard are undermined by the fact that in his basketball commentary I have never heard him condemn athletes for celebrating with champagne, having multiple children with multiple women, or anything else as defying the will of God. So he's just picking out homosexuality in this instance because he finds it particularly icky, or something. It seems to me that people stitch 'Christian sexual morality' onto topics touching on homosexuality to give themselves cover for a visceral dislike of anything gay flavored.

  274. eddie says:

    The picture painted by those citing the Catechism and ancient texts seemed a rigid and unchanging one.

    God has always been at war with Eastasia.

  275. Jennifer says:

    perl – no, I don't have to assume that.

    Depending on the orphanage and the couple in question, for any given case it might or might not be true.

    But it's irrelevant to the statement that for most children, all other things being equal, a heterosexual household provides a better foundation than a homosexual household.

  276. Clark says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    When I was young, women weren't allowed behind the altar rail, except to dust, and then they had to be nuns. Now women are Eucharistic ministers. Once upon a time, Galileo was condemned for claiming the earth orbited the sun; now Catholic universities are proud to employ cutting-edge researchers in the sciences. Stuff changes, but slowly.

    Discipline can change over night. The Pope could declare that priests can marry tomorrow before breakfast if he cares too.

    Dogma can not change. Ever.

  277. Cary Allen, isn't it problematic to complain of a religion, which teaches as a fundamental tenet that all humans (save One) are born as flawed sinners in need of divine grace and forgiveness, that its adherents fail to condemn all sin, all the time?

  278. Clark says:

    @JR

    The picture painted by those citing the Catechism and ancient texts seemed a rigid and unchanging one.


    'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'

    'Four.'

    'And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?'

    'Four.'

    Sometimes the real answer doesn't change, no matter how much Big Brother wants you to think it has.

  279. Clark says:

    @Cary Allen:

    This is the crux of the problem with religious objections to same-sex
    sexuality. The New Testament doesn't mention it, so if you're
    dismissing the OT as "pre-Christian," then you're left with no
    evidence that Christianity prohibits it

    Spoken like a Protestant.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

    The word tradition (Greek paradosis) in the ecclesiastical sense, which is the only one in which it is used here, refers sometimes to the thing (doctrine, account, or custom) transmitted from one generation to another; sometimes to the organ or mode of the transmission (kerigma ekklisiastikon, predicatio ecclesiastica).

    Now in this respect there are several points of controversy between Catholics and every body of Protestants. Is all revealed truth consigned to Holy Scripture? or can it, must it, be admitted that Christ gave to His Apostles to be transmitted to His Church, that the Apostles received either from the very lips of Jesus or from inspiration or Revelation, Divine instructions which they transmitted to the Church and which were not committed to the inspired writings? Must it be admitted that Christ instituted His Church as the official and authentic organ to transmit and explain in virtue of Divine authority the Revelation made to men? The Protestant principle is: The Bible and nothing but the Bible; the Bible, according to them, is the sole theological source; there are no revealed truths save the truths contained in the Bible; according to them the Bible is the sole rule of faith: by it and by it alone should all dogmatic questions be solved; it is the only binding authority. Catholics, on the other hand, hold that there may be, that there is in fact, and that there must of necessity be certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible; they hold furthermore that Jesus Christ has established in fact, and that to adapt the means to the end He should have established, a living organ as much to transmit Scripture and written Revelation as to place revealed truth within reach of everyone always and everywhere.

  280. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    You would think a God of infinite wisdom, who gave us His Word so
    that we would always know His will (well, except for the poor
    shmucks who weren't Jews and who died before Jesus, or after Jesus
    and before missionaries, and I know the party line response to
    THAT, too), would have written something less prone to arguments
    over interpretation than the 1st edition DMG.

    Why would I think that?

    It's trivial to construct internally consistent narratives and explanations of exactly how the Bible perfectly lines up with your moral standards of the moment.

    Indeed – that's why I spent two paragraphs talking about "special pleading" in my blog post: to explain my answer and defeat this argument.

    the Catholic and the Baptist both have to accept each other's
    premises of an identical God and an infallible Bible

    I do think that Baptists, Jews, and others are worshipping the same God that Catholics.

    I'm less sure about Muslims – it occurs to me that their theology makes a lot more sense if we conclude that they're worshipping
    Something Else.

  281. AlphaCentauri says:

    Calling it dogma because it's something that can't change and then using it as the explanation for why it can't change is circular. Whatever happened to Limbo?

  282. Jonathan says:

    @AC,

    Do you mean how Limbo was never a dogma? Do you know what dogma, strictly defined, is?

  283. Chris says:

    @Lizard

    The same argument you made would also invalidate the whole realm of social science. Saying that because there exist a large number of interpretations of data that none of them can be right should be wrong on its face. We have standards of interpretation of various types of data, whether they are primary historical sources or social statistics. These standards eliminate many poor arguments from the get-go and give us guidance to determine which of the remaining ones are the best and why.

    As an example, let's return to the Trinity. First, within Christian sects (including all those that claim that name), there is very little disagreement with this doctrine. Catholics, protestants, and orthodox all accept it. Only mormons, jehovah's witnesses, and unitarians, among others, do not. I'm not aware of the specifics of the arguments of the latter two, but the mormons have to play games with the translation of the greek of the new testament in order to justify their beliefs. (as an example, John 1:1 states "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [a] God." We have many established rules for translation ancient greek, and none of them support placing the article "a" there)

    In contrast, arguments between Catholics and Protestants are on much stronger ground textually and philosophically. For instance, both sides have verses that are somewhat difficult to account for in their beliefs on the perpetual virginity of Mary. Neither side has difficulties that are insurmountable from the text, so the choice between them is more delicate and less obvious. This is no different from any well-reasoned debate in the social sciences, where both sides have good arguments.

    It is disingenuous to act as if all interpretations of a text are equally valid by current scholarly standards.

  284. Aaron says:

    @Clark

    By the way, my first comment (the wall of text) was directed at you. I'm not entitled enough to think that I am obligated to get a response, but I am still very interested in "the details of [your] philosophic inquiry into objective morality, Plato's forms, the Church fathers, and more."

    Is there any chance we could get a blog post on the matter?

  285. JR says:

    And we're back to denying homosexuals the ability to act according to their nature. I'm not knocking it; not being a Catholic means my opinion matters for zilch. I was kinda hoping there would be hope at the end of their rainbow though.

  286. Clark says:

    @Aaron:

    @Clark, By the way, my first comment (the wall of text) was directed at you. I'm not entitled enough to think that I am obligated to get a response, but I am still very interested in "the details of [your] philosophic inquiry into objective morality, Plato's forms, the Church fathers, and more."

    Is there any chance we could get a blog post on the matter?

    I'm quite interested in the topic and would love to share.

    It's a pretty big topic, and the idea of putting it on the front page of popehat is a bit intimidating, and I'd like to structure the post so as to preempt most of the obvious objections (where "preempty" means, at least, "indicate that I have previously thought about them").

    So, for that reason, I'm a bit torn – where will I get the time when I have so many other obligations and goals?

    And then there's an additional point: I don't blog at Popehat as "the religious blogger", the "anti-gay marriage blogger" (and, note again: as I want the state destroyed, I have no opinion on what sort of marriage licenses the state issues), the "Christian apologetics blogger", etc. I enjoy blogging here are the Hayeking / Nozickian / voluntaryist / anarcho-capitalist / set-the-police-on-fire guy. This post has already generated a bit of a firestorm, and a second religious post in the near future would risk packaging me as a brand that I don't necessarilly want to embrace.

    …so I'll have to think about it.

  287. Clark says:

    @JR:

    And we're back to denying homosexuals the ability to act according to their nature. I'm not knocking it; not being a Catholic means my opinion matters for zilch. I was kinda hoping there would be hope at the end of their rainbow though.

    Are not all ethical systems in the business of denying us all the ability to act entirely according to our nature? Golden Rule, Categorical Imperative, Code of Hammurabi, Shintoism, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, hadithas, Communist Manifesto – do any of these say "do whatever the !@##$ you please" ?

  288. Clark says:

    @Jonathan:

    @AC, Do you mean how Limbo was never a dogma? Do you know what dogma, strictly defined, is?

    Excellent.

    Next we'll be attacked because at one point in time liberation theology was bandied about as an idea, and then later it was declared anathema. "Which is it!?!?"

  289. Lizard says:

    Saying that because there exist a large number of interpretations of data that none of them can be right should be wrong on its face.

    Leaving aside that "social science" borders on oxymoron…

    When the argument is that the text was dictated by an infallible and all knowing entity who could foresee all possible linguistic shifts (after all, he created all languages at Babel), there should be no arguments over interpretation, and certainly no constant changes in what is and isn't taught as sin. The more dire the punishment for breaking the rules, the clearer the rules ought to be.

    Science, by its nature, has methods by which multiple conflicting interpretations of data can be resolved. "If interpretation X is correct, then, this experiment will show Y". If perfect truth is not arrived it, each successive round of experimentation will at least move us arbitrarily closer.

    However, there's no way to test interpretations of the Bible. We can't get a report back on the destination of souls, and God seems oddly more reticent to make public pronouncements on issues of late. (Pat Robertson notes that God rarely performs miracles where there are a lot of educated people around. God performs miracles in the modern world only in places where people are not burdened by too much knowledge. Yes. He really said that. This was not in The Onion.)

    It is disingenuous to act as if all interpretations of a text are equally valid by current scholarly standards.

    The validity of interpretations seems to have much to do with what society, at the moment, WANTS the text to mean. You can't claim a universal moral code revealed by a being of infnite wisdom that is also open to such a wide degree of interpretation that it is regularly used to justify completely opposed ideas, with such justification backed up by any number of scholars.

    You'd almost think that, instead of a single book of wisdom, the bible was a basically arbitrary assemblage of random religious works, a subset of all those available to the scholars of the time, none of which were tested for accuracy in any meaningful way. Given this random collection, very smart people then set to work finding ways to somehow make it all work. This is not uncommon — look at how Robotech was assembled from three completely unrelated series, for example. Humans are GOOD at filling in gaps between unrelated things.

    Also, @Clark:

    Why would I think that?

    Because if you don't think that, you're basically saying God outdoes Superman when it comes to dickery.

    Catholics, on the other hand, hold that there may be, that there is in fact, and that there must of necessity be certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible;

    Once again — fanwanking.

    I've commented elsewhere that the New Testament is basically Bible fanfic; Catholicism is New Testament fanfic. What your people call 'catechism', my people call 'fanon'.

  290. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Jonathan, the current catechism is appropriately conservative about the question of the fate of those who die guiltless but unbaptized. But previous popes were not shy about condemning various people who felt that unbaptized infants either went to heaven or else went to the same hell as the wicked.

  291. eddie says:

    do any of these say "do whatever the !@##$ you please" ?

    Well, now that you mention it, yes.

  292. eddie says:

    do any of these say "do whatever the !@##$ you please" ?

    Well, now that you mention it, yes.

  293. Basil Forthrightly says:

    @Chris unitarians

    I'm not sure if you're referring to unitarians generically, or to Unitarian-Universalists, the organized congregational denomination that is commonly referrered to by all and sundry as "the Unitarians", or amongst ourselves casually as "UU". The UU have no creed and no theology; a majority of UU are self-identifying as non-Christian, including Atheist.

    The UU resulted from the merger of two denominations with conflicting theologies and demographics. The Unitarians had originated as non-Trinitarians, while the Universalists believed in universal salvation (eventually – most Universalists believed in punishment after death for the wicked before acceptance by God). However, both groups tended to be much more concerned with things on this earth; as my minister put it during Sunday school, "acts are more important that faith". The two groups merged in 1961.

    I think there still some theologically unitarian Unitarian congregations in Eastern Europe, however they didn't do very well during the early 1940s.

  294. Ben says:

    Appeal to popular belief let me introduce appeal to tradition.

    Tradition, popularity.

    Popularity, tradition.

    You two would get along well if you weren't so alike.

  295. Basil Forthrightly says:

    @Clark "Are not all ethical systems in the business of denying us all the ability to act entirely according to our nature?"

    We deny ourselves the vast majority of the time, without threat of an external force, to live up to our ideals of ourselves and to seek the social approval of others, which is our nature. There is a lot of evidence that altruism is biologically based. For an introduction, see:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

  296. JR says:

    @Clark
    To varying degrees and regarding various things, yes. I came to this conversation with admittedly little knowledge of Catholics and their beliefs. What I've read here, via links, and after a little searching at Vatican.com has explained why the Church has ruled the way it did. I don't agree with their decision, but I'm not Catholic so it doesn't matter in a discussion of Catholicism among Catholics. I'm quite certain that I would never be able to keep up with people who have devoted an apparently significant amount of time to the study of their religion's morality and authority.

    I never once implied that people should do whatever they please, so I'm not sure where you're going with that.

  297. Tali McPike says:

    JR

    I would be interested in hearing how gay people who are Catholic are able to cope without losing their faith. It must be very trying to find out that you are forbidden to ever follow your biological urges.

    I know I'm a little late to the discussion, but I thought I would share this, especially since it it seems the only other direct answer you've gotten is "some Catholic Homosexuals hope it will change its stance."
    The Catholic teaching on this won't change, because its dogma (and Clark explained)
    And many people accept this and follow the church's teaching.

    Here's a post from a Gay Catholic and how he manages to be both

    And another from a Gay Mormon who also had to "cope"

    For many people of faith, their faith supersedes all else, including their sexual desires.

    And, while I'm not homosexual, I do have bisexual tendencies, but I employ self control and don't act on those urges. I've never done anything even remotely sexual with a woman, but that doesn't change the fact that some women can and do make me "hot under the collar"
    But my faith and the state of my soul are more important to me than the pleasure I could get from satisfying those urges when they happen.

  298. Guns says:

    @Clark:Are not all ethical systems in the business of denying us all the ability to act entirely according to our nature? Golden Rule, Categorical Imperative, Code of Hammurabi, Shintoism, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, hadithas, Communist Manifesto – do any of these say "do whatever the !@##$ you please" ?"

    You could've stopped at Golden Rule, since that is the only one that matters and the only one shared among all those "ethical systems", as you call them. Most, if not all religions that survived for any length of time have ethics that come down to "golden rule + some random shit 'god' doesn't like". One of those is beneficial to civilization, the other, by and large, detrimental. It is also immediatly clear in which of those two categories consensual homosexual relationships belong.

    It is thus complete bollocks to equate "thou shallt not kill", with "thou shallt not fuck another man in the ass with his consent." There are good reasons to suppress certain remnants of our evolutionary instincts, such as rape and murder. But you can't then say "and homosexual relations are banned by the same book or the same institution which also bans rape and murder, so therefore that must also be a good rule." That just does not follow. It's nonsense. Either you can defend the rule on its own merits, or you can't, and then it's a stupid rule.

  299. Lizard says:

    But my faith and the state of my soul are more important to me than the pleasure I could get from satisfying those urges when they happen

    Well, now I'm too depressed by this thread to continue. I'm bowing out.

    Clark… why do you spend so much of your time fighting against bullies in uniform on this Earth, but worship an even worse bully? Even if you believe he exists and has the powers he claims, you no more have to RESPECT him than you do any cop or bureaucrat who pushes you around. If you want to argue we should obey god out of fear, like most of us would obey any thug with a gun, well, fine. That's logical. But to obey god out of *choice*? That's indefensible.

    Some philosopher once quipped, "If God did not exist, we would have to invent him." I answer with the following:"If God did exist, we would have to destroy him."

  300. Clark says:

    @Lizard:

    Well, now I'm too depressed by this thread to continue.

    I'm sorry to hear that.

    I'm bowing out.

    …he said while raising a new argument …

    Clark… why do you spend so much of your time fighting against
    bullies in uniform on this Earth, but worship an even worse bully?
    Even if you believe he exists and has the powers he claims, you no
    more have to RESPECT him than you do any cop or bureaucrat who
    pushes you around.

    God doesn't push me around. If he did, then we'd have firm proof of His existence, wouldn't we?

    My take on it is that God is wise, and offers great advice on how sentient entities can coexist and achieve their highest expression and enjoyment in this universe.

    A mentor notices that you're drinking a lot and says "You know, I've seen a lot of people and a lot of things. You might want to cut back on your drinking a bit…at least, if you want a long and fulfilling life that you're proud of."

    A cop sees me with an open bottle, does a leg sweep, takes me to the ground, punches me twice while yelling "stop resisting", pepper sprays me, handcuffs me, throws me in a jail where I'm raped, and the end result is a $1,000 fine.

    One of these entities is a bully. One is a friend.

    If you want to argue we should obey god out of
    fear

    I have never argued that.

    to obey god out of *choice*? That's indefensible.

    And yet, I've just defended it.

    Some philosopher once quipped, "If God did not exist, we would have to invent him." I answer with the following:"If God did exist, we would have to destroy him."

    I once felt that way.

    Eventually I learned that it made sense to give a fair hearing to advice.

  301. Clark says:

    @Guns:

    Are not all ethical systems in the business of denying us all the ability to act entirely according to our nature?

    You could've stopped at Golden Rule, since that is the only one that matters

    This is the logical fallacy called "begging the question" – you assert your conclusion as a foundation for your conclusion.

    and the only one shared among all those "ethical systems", as you call them.

    The fact that it's the only commonality among them is entirely tangential to the point being discussed.

    Most, if not all religions that survived for any length of time have ethics that come down to "golden rule + some random shit 'god' doesn't like". One of those is beneficial to civilization, the other, by and large, detrimental.

    I am always amused by 20, 30, and 40 year olds who have not read much history and yet speak with grave authority on how 4,000 year old civilizational norms have nothing to do with civilization.

    It is also immediatly clear in which of those two categories
    consensual homosexual relationships belong.

    Asserted without evidence or argument.

    It is thus complete bollocks to equate "thou shallt not kill", with "thou shallt not fuck another man in the ass with his consent."

    I assert that certain norms of family formation are deeply compatible with open society, and other norms are not.

    I don't elevate the homosexual question as the most important of these norms, or even a particularly important one, but I do assert that there is a plausible connection between the two.

    There are good reasons to suppress certain remnants of our evolutionary instincts, such as rape and murder.

    Good reasons? Such as?

    It is impossible to justify these prohibitions without recourse to moral axioms (such as autonomy, individual freedom, owning your own body, divine mandate, etc.)

    In the end you come down to a set of unprovable axioms just as theists do.

  302. Jonathan says:

    @AC,

    "But previous popes were not shy about condemning various people … etc etc"

    So, no, you don't know what dogma technically means and is.

  303. eddie says:

    My take on it is that God is wise, and offers great advice on how sentient entities can coexist and achieve their highest expression and enjoyment in this universe.

    Your take on it is at odds with the common understanding of the word "morality".

    Do you feel that the proscription against murder is just mentorly advice on how to achieve one's highest expression? "Thou shalt not kill because it's, like, seriously uncool, dude."

    The distinction between bully and friend you have made is merely that you agree with the friend. Winston eventually saw the folly of his ways and started loving Big Brother, you know.

  304. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    Your take on it is at odds with the common understanding of the word "morality".

    We're specifically discussing "victimless sins" here, but none-the-less, my understanding of Christian morality is of a piece: all of the advice that constitutes it leads to greater human happiness. It's almost utilitarian.

    Do you feel that the proscription against murder is just mentorly advice on how to achieve one's highest expression?

    I find the word "just" entirely confusing in that sentence. What is higher than human dignity, expression and enjoyment?

    Does not murder do grave harm to the victim's expression and enjoyment?

    The distinction between bully and friend you have made is merely that you agree with the friend.

    I thought the distinction I made was entirely about the use of force and the presence of free-will.

    Can you explain to me why you're right and I'm wrong?

    Also, I note that I have changed my opinions on many pieces of Christian advice – I disagreed with them at first, but a few decades of life have shown me that even if advice is not fun in the short term, it's very fulfilling in the longer term.

  305. Jonathan says:

    @eddie,

    Do you feel that the proscription against murder is just mentorly advice on how to achieve one's highest expression? "Thou shalt not kill because it's, like, seriously uncool, dude."

    I think a closer paraphrase of Clark's position would run something like "Thou shalt not kill because it's wrong, and doing things that are wrong will only hurt you and your own dignity in the long run."

    In other words, it's 'mentorly advice' about objective realities and the effect they can and will have on you.

  306. Jonathan says:

    (Apologies to Clark if my paraphrase is unacceptable)

  307. Todd E. says:

    @Sami – you declared a thesis – "Paul hated women", then cherry picked two verses to back up your hermeunetic without any contextual critcism, then invited us to search Google for more content which supported your supposition, without every defending the actual contextual nature of the assertion. This is called eisegesis, and has little basis in actual textual criticism. I hope you have fun with that.

    @ Clark – Not all Protestants follow Sola Scriptura. Wesleyans, who come out of the Anglican tradition (Methodists, Nazarenes, etc.) follow what is known as the Quadrilateral, which uses scripture, tradition, experience, and fellowship/mentorship, and filters them all through the Spirit.

    @ Jennifer – when you say "all things being equal, children raised in a heterosexual home have a better start/chance", what do you use to back up this assertion?

  308. Clark says:

    @Jonathan

    (Apologies to Clark if my paraphrase is unacceptable)

    No, that was excellent.

    Or perhaps even:


    The word 'good' is defined as acts that promote enlightened self-interest (personhood, dignity, respect) and treating others in a manner consistent with the same standard.

    The word 'bad' is defined as the converse.

    Anti-Christians like to argue that large swaths of Christian morality are stupid, wrong, or bad because they prohibit all sorts of good things, like sexual adventurism.

    I'd argue that large swaths of Christian morality are wise, correct, and good because they prohibit destructive behaviors and encourage constructive behaviors.

    True, Christian morality says that you can't Roissy up some slut in a club and bang her the same night. However, that prohibition also results in less infants having their spines snipped and their pieces flushed down a toilet, fewer children left abandoned in poverty, etc.

    The time preferences expressed in Christian morality tend to have good effects over years, decades, and centuries.

    The time preferences of hedonism (as merely one example among many of alternative ethical systems) tend to work very well over minutes and hours.

  309. Clark says:

    @Todd E:

    @ Clark – Not all Protestants follow Sola Scriptura. Wesleyans, who come out of the Anglican tradition (Methodists, Nazarenes, etc.) follow what is known as the Quadrilateral, which uses scripture, tradition, experience, and fellowship/mentorship, and filters them all through the Spirit.

    Excellent; I had not known that. Thank you.

  310. Guns says:

    @Clark:

    I am always amused by 20, 30, and 40 year olds who have not read much history and yet speak with grave authority on how 4,000 year old civilizational norms have nothing to do with civilization.

    First of all, ad hominem. Second of all, you mean "religious norms", not "civilizational norms". They often intersect (see again the golden rule), but they are not equivalent. I refer you to the Dark Ages for many examples where religious norms were detrimental to the progress and general well-being of civilization.

    It is also immediatly clear in which of those two categories
    consensual homosexual relationships belong.

    Asserted without evidence or argument.

    True. My reasoning was as follows: I divided religious rules into two categories: golden-rule-based rules and non-golden-rule-based rules. Given the definition of the golden rule and the definition of "consensual homosexual relationship" (the men or women in question consent i.e. are perfectly alright with what they are doing unto each other), consensual homosexual relationships do not violate the golden rule Since they do not violate the golden rule, a rule prohibiting this behavior cannot fall in the golden-rule-based rules category. Since my division creates two mutually exclusive categories that by their definition include all rules in a religious system (one category contains X, the other category contains everything that is not X), then a prohibition of consensual homosexual relationships must logically fall under "non-golden-rule-based rules".

    This reasoning of course assumes that you accept the division I make, which might not be the case, feel free to argue this point. And indeed, you may very well not agree with my definition of non-golden-rule-based rules as "stuff 'god' doesn't like". But that was tangential to this particular issue.

    I assert that certain norms of family formation are deeply compatible with open society, and other norms are not.

    I don't elevate the homosexual question as the most important of these norms, or even a particularly important one, but I do assert that there is a plausible connection between the two.

    As a wise man once said: "Asserted without evidence or argument." Why would a family with two fathers or two mothers not be compatible with "open society"? Unless of course, by "I assert", you mean "I believe", in which case: great, good for you. Lucky you're not a homosexual then (I assume and hope for your mental wellbeing). But, although the First Amendment certainly gives you the right to do so, going around on blogs telling people how they're vile sinners and how they should suppress their natural desires and where they can and can't put their tongues and peepees does make you kind of an entitled dick, for lack of a better word. And again, as long as it concerns speech, you have an absolute right to spout any kind of hurtful, degrading speech anywhere you want. But why would you want to?

    There are good reasons to suppress certain remnants of our evolutionary instincts, such as rape and murder.

    Good reasons? Such as?

    It is impossible to justify these prohibitions without recourse to moral axioms (such as autonomy, individual freedom, owning your own body, divine mandate, etc.)

    In the end you come down to a set of unprovable axioms just as theists do.

    You are flat out wrong here. It is perfectly possible to show how not murdering, stealing, raping and other golden-rule-based rules have had a positive effect on the merging of tribes, the largely peaceful coexistence of large amounts of human beings, the increased sharing and passing on of knowledge and thus the creation of bigger, often more advanced civilizations. Similarly, it is not very difficult to draw a line from the other, non-golden-rule-based religious rules to an incredible amount of human suffering, the upholding of secular power by small groups of people and conversely the repression of other, large groups of people. I again refer you to the Dark Ages for numerous examples, or if you want more recent examples: circumcision and other genital mutilations in Judaism and Islam, or the pedophilia scandals among priests in the Christian faiths, which, curiously, seem to involve many more small boys than small girls, giving a strong indication that the church's de facto ban on homosexual relationships may be at least one of the causes for this incredible suffering.

    I admit, those examples are somewhat vague and some of them are speculative. However, you show me even some vague or speculative examples of how not killing, not raping and not stealing was at some point detrimental to civilization or the well-being of a huge amount of people, and, conversely, where other, "arbitrary" rules (as I see them) had a distinct positive effect, and then we'll see about doing more research to flesh out our respective arguments and examples. Unless I completely missed huge parts of history, I'd say you have quite a hard task ahead of you.

  311. Guns says:

    Goddamnit, it's not the q-tag either. What is it then, blockquote?

  312. eddie says:

    @Tali:

    The Catholic teaching on [homosexuality] won't change, because its dogma

    I of course am not an expert here, but I don't see anything in the Catholic dogmas that excludes homosexual marriage.

    I'm basing this on the list found here. The only dogma that seems relevant is this one: "The primary purpose of Marriage is the generation and bringing-up of offspring." This is listed as sententia certa, which Wikipedia assures me is a teaching of the Church which has something less than absolute certainty of its infallibility. But even assuming that it were de fide, the generation and bringing-up of offspring is certainly not constrained to male-female pairs. Anyone can bring-up offspring, and thanks to science and technology, the ability to generate offspring is becoming more widely available as well.

    Now, of course, there's a huge amount of supporting doctrinal material that makes it clear that what they really mean is marriage between a man and a woman so as to make babies the old-fashioned way. But that's not dogma. It could change.

    I bet it will.

  313. eddie says:

    Huh. No sooner had I posted that, but that I found out the dogma site I quoted from was based on the 1917 Code of Canon Law, and that the Code of Canon Law that is currently in effect (1983) is different.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3V.HTM

    Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

    That, of course, says "man and woman". But I'm not entirely clear on its status as dogma, and I'm not even sure how to find out. But I think the fact that the topic is covered in the canons which have changed surely indicates that the church's position on the topic can change and is not infallible dogma.

    No?

  314. Clark says:

    Guns:

    I am always amused by 20, 30, and 40 year olds who have not read much history and yet speak with grave authority on how 4,000 year old civilizational norms have nothing to do with civilization.

    First of all, ad hominem.

    Nope. It wasn't an argument against the man, it was merely stating something that amuses me about people in general, and about multiple people in this thread. It was an aside. My argument followed.

    Second of all, you mean "religious norms", not "civilizational norms".

    No, I meant "civilizational norms". I was speaking more broadly. Christianity doesn't say much about, say, having a good career, and yet I'm amused at hippies and artists who have it all figured out, and know that The Man invented work just to opress the little guy.

    They often intersect (see again the golden rule), but they are not
    equivalent. I refer you to the Dark Ages for many examples where
    religious norms were detrimental to the progress and general
    well-being of civilization.

    As was stated
    earlier by Chris
    , there is no such thing as the "Dark Ages".
    Historians do not use this term, and that is because it was not a dark
    age; there was much progress.

    Further, the term was political from the get go, intending to define the norms and prejudices of a later era as implicitly light as compared to the norms and prejudices of an earlier era that were declared "dark".

    Second, you've pointed me to a thousand year period and said "see!". See what? What aspect of religious norms were detrimental to progress in the 500 to 1500 AD?

    I don't elevate the homosexual question as the most important of these norms, or even a particularly important one, but I do assert that there is a plausible connection between the two.

    As a wise man once said: "Asserted without evidence or argument."
    Why would a family with two fathers or two mothers not be
    compatible with "open society"?

    I subscribe to the
    Chestertonian fence argument.

    the First Amendment certainly gives you
    the right to do so, going around on blogs telling people how
    they're vile sinners

    Is that what I've been doing? Can you give an example of me using either those words or that tone?

    and how they should suppress their natural
    desires and where they can and can't put their tongues and peepees
    does make you kind of an entitled dick, for lack of a better
    word.

    I've debated with you in good faith, striving to answer every question you raised.

    You, in turn, have called me a dick.

    Our conversation is over.

  315. Jennifer says:

    @ Jennifer – when you say "all things being equal, children raised in a heterosexual home have a better start/chance", what do you use to back up this assertion?

    Orwell's "first duty" quote aside, a fair question in this context.
    So –

    1. Logic.
    A. Children brought up in a household naturally look to their parents/guardians as role models, both consciously and unconsciously. Anyone who's been around children – or remembers their own childhood -should be able to take this as self evident.

    B. Given that most children will grow up to be heterosexual, having a full-time live-in model of healthy heterosexual relationship will be a more relevant, more instructive model than a homosexual relationship.

    C. The question of adult role models is doubly true when speaking of a boy raised by two women, or a girl by two men. It's nice to have Uncle Billy and Aunt Clarisse – but there is no substitute for full time immersion.

    As always, there are fringe cases. When one day you can run a brain scan on a 9 month old boy and say "yep, 100% sure this little man is gonna pitch for the home team" – maybe the answer's different.

    And the middle school level debater can always hold out the raging drunk hillbilly straight couple to compare to a nicely adjusted SoHo professional gay couple.

    But for the vast middle of humanity, apples to apples, it holds true.

    2. Personal experience. Of those people I've known raised in a homosexual household, two thirds have been maladjusted. As in literally walking through high school in their underwear handing out condoms to strangers maladjusted.

    3. Anecdotal reports of those raised in those situations. Google for more.

    4. The collective wisdom of people who've thought about for far longer than I have, and seen a lot more than I have. IE, doctrine.

    All of that is not to say growing up in a homosexual household is a uniquely bad situation. It's probably not worse than the present plague in the straight world of baby-mommas and baby-daddies – it certainly isn't anywhere near as bad by the numbers of people affected.

    It also isn't to say that homosexual parents don't love their children and want the best for them, nor is to say that CPS should be ripping those children away from them and placing them in foster care. I wouldn't support that at all.

    However, there is a highest and best environment for child rearing, and there is everything else. This is part of "everything else."

  316. Clark says:

    @eddie:

    I think the fact that the topic is covered in the canons which have changed surely indicates that the church's position on the topic can change and is not infallible dogma.

    No?

    It may help to think of the legal concept of stare
    decisis
    .

    Anyway, at any given point in time there are a few thousand theological questions which have been asked and answered correctly, for all time.

    There are an infinite number more that have not been asked, or asked and not yet decisively and definitively settled.

    Liberation theology was proposed in 1955 and debated for decades. In
    the 1980s then Cardinal Ratzinger, in his role as protector of the faith, declared certain elements of it as deviating from
    orthodoxy. In the 1990s several people who continued teaching these aspects of liberation theology despite censure were excommunicated.

    So, the Church in 1910 said nothing about it.

    The Church in 1960 was aware of it but had no formal position.

    The Church in 2010 declares that certain aspects of it are – dogmatically, I believe – beyond the pale.

    Has dogma changed? Yes. In the sense that a ruling has been made. Or, rather, an eternal truth has been discovered.

    Surely protons existed before 1920?

    (Actually, perhaps a bad example – I'm not sure they did. But that's another discussion.)

  317. Todd E. says:

    @Jennifer – I guess my observation has been that growing up with two straight parents is just as likely to mess you up as anything else, based on the people I know.

  318. Guns says:

    @Clark:

    I've debated with you in good faith, striving to answer every question you raised.

    You, in turn, have called me a dick.

    Our conversation is over.

    Let us first quote the part of that particular paragraph that you cut to completely warp its meaning, shall we:

    Unless of course, by "I assert", you mean "I believe", in which case:

    That is called a conditional, Clark. As in, I do not assert anything, and give you ample room to simply state that I got your intentions completely wrong. If you actually read the entire paragraph, instead of cutting and pasting to manufacture inconsistencies and wrong arguments (whoda thunk that ignoring half of an argument makes it not very rational), it is quite clear I am not, in fact, calling you a dick. What I said was: if a certain interpretation of your words was correct, your position would be incredibly arrogant and/or insensitive to the feelings of others. Which sort of is one of the definitions of dick. It's not because a point is not perfectly politely stated, that that point is invalid. Especially when I leave the door wide open for you to simply state "that's not what I meant at all", and clarify your point so the actual meaning becomes more clear.

    You choose not to do that, however. You pinpoint a nasty word, and then use that as an excuse not to rise to my very reasonable challenge in the last, and most important paragraph of my post. You know, the one where I actually concede the vagueness of some of my arguments (such as the one referring to the Dark Ages) and also concede that it would be perfectly acceptable for you to answer with a same level of generality or vagueness. A challenge which a man of your intellect would have no problems with, if his arguments held any merit.

    It would appear, however, that they do not. You attack some barely important edges of my arguments (which, even if refuted, do not invalidate the arguments themselves), call them flawed even when I admit so myself. You cut up paragraphs and take sentences out of context, saying I don't have evidence or arguments even when I provide it at an earlier or later point in my posts. At no point do you challenge the core message of my arguments or further clarify the crux of your own points, even when I directly indicate that I may have misunderstood them. Finally, you cop out because I said a nasty word somewhere.

    You may, naturally, choose to end the conversation from your end in such a way, but don't assume that I will subsequently not make every attempt to obliterate the pathetic illusion of a moral highground you so dishonestly crafted for yourself.

  319. Ken White says:

    You may, naturally, choose to end the conversation from your end in such a way, but don't assume that I will subsequently not make every attempt to obliterate the pathetic illusion of a moral highground you so dishonestly crafted for yourself.

    I'm not the only one who read this in Comic Book Guy's voice, am I?

    Anyway, I obviously don't agree with Clark on much of this.

    But I know with whom I'd rather discuss it.

    You're very impressed with yourself. Even though I am closer to agreeing with you than with Clark on substance, I'm not impressed with you. I'm annoyed by you.

    Are you really happy to be here?

  320. Clark says:

    @Guns:

    the pathetic illusion of a moral highground you so dishonestly crafted for yourself.

    A forensic psychologist was once hired to do a profile of me (long story). It was pretty deep: it involved hours of me being interviewed, and then went on to hours of her interviewing friends and family members.

    At one point she called up a friend who's known me for 20 years and asked "How often does Clark get angry?"

    The friend paused, then answered. "Pretty much never. He's really calm and rational…but people around him often end up losing their shit."

  321. Ken White says:

    A forensic psychologist was once hired to do a profile of me

    I am deeply disappointed this story did not end with a Chianti reference.

  322. "Guns"

    If you're going to dress your most important argument with terms like "peepees" and "dick," don't be surprised that your interlocutor fails to take you seriously.

  323. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    I am deeply disappointed this story did not end with a Chianti reference.

    LOL!

  324. Darryl S says:

    I'd just like to jump back in at this point and thank everyone who's contributed meaningfully to this discussion. This has been far more enlightening a debate than I would have imagined possible to have on the in the comments section.

    I haven't contributed much, because while I don't think I agree 100% with any individual commenter, there was generally raising the points I wanted to raise, and reading both the defenses and rebuttals has been illuminating.

    I will respond to one comment of Lizard's:

    I suspect we no longer see nearly as much intersectarian rivalry in public…because all the sects of Christianity have realized that if they debate each other too much, the undecided in the audience will realize that the vast edifices of seemingly scholarly theology are, basically, fanwanking.

    I suspect, rather, that this is because Christians today are in general more visible when speaking to non-Christians than to each other…and the points where different denominations/sects/whatever disagree are generally the finer details within a larger framework that is otherwise similar.

    So while Clark and I would have some serious disagreements in a theological discussion (the Heidelberg Catechism, for instance, does not pull punches in its criticism of Roman Catholicism), nevertheless, in the context of this debate, I agree with him far more than I disagree. Whether or not different Christians appear to be on the same side depends largely on who else is in the conversation.

  325. Darryl S says:

    And I apologize for some remarkably poor proofreading on my part in that last comment. Hopefully my meaning comes through anyway…

  326. Clark says:

    @Darryl S:

    http://www.catechizeme.com/catechisms/heidelberg_catechism/questions/80#

    the mass is basically nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

    LOL! Awesome. It's sort of nice to be taken seriously enough to be refuted and argued with. I further note that the vehemence here is because the Heidelberg catechism takes the questions of God, Jesus, transubstantiation and so on to be important enough as to merit righteous anger. The Christian who accuses the One True Church of idolatry is closer to Truth than the the SWPL who is too busy watching the latest episode of Girls to have an opinion.

    Heck, the pagan who drops to his knees and beseaches the Thunder God to be good to his people this coming year is closer to Truth than the the Girls-watching SWPL.

  327. Tali McPike says:

    I'd like to second Darryl S' sentiments. While I pretty much agree with everything Clark has said, and, like Darryl, I would have loved to comment more (but between taking care of my baby and dealing with wet and moldy walls/floors resulting from a leaky pipe in my apartment that hasn't been feasible, as well as the fact that Clark has said a lot of what I would have said, except a lot more eloquently). I will say that this has been an enjoyable debate and I am impressed that those involved debated with an overall civility that I didn't think was possible on the internet.
    It really does go to show how awesome Popehat readers (and authors…well except Via Agnus ;) ) really are
    with the overall civility of those involved

  328. Tali McPike says:

    ah dang it…I was supposed to delete that last "with overall civility of those involved" this is what happens when I try to comment while the baby is determined to get a hold of the keyboard.

  329. princessartemis says:

    Whether or not different Christians appear to be on the same side depends largely on who else is in the conversation.

    This is very true. I'm not Catholic but more Protestant, so I must admit watching one of my cousin's quinceñera was in some aspects "theologically" painful and made me cringe, nevertheless, there is much, much to agree on.

    Not entirely settled yet that *this* subject is one I agree on, in that a perfectly monogamous homosexual relationship isn't going to cause the same sorts of issues down the line as less than perfectly monogomous heterosexual relationships do, but I am not arrogant enough to believe I've got a wide enough angle on human history to have that one figured out.

  330. princessartemis says:

    Addendum to clarify; I am not arrogant enough to think I personally have a wide enough view. I'm not not suggesting that people who have stronger views and opinions on the issue do so out of arrogance.

  331. Jonathan says:

    Guns,

    This is tangential and probably not really worth bringing up, but:

    I again refer you to . . . the pedophilia scandals among priests in the Christian faiths, which, curiously, seem to involve many more small boys than small girls, giving a strong indication that the church's de facto ban on homosexual relationships may be at least one of the causes for this incredible suffering."

    I am really tired of this canard. Not only is there no statistical evidence supporting the idea that celibate priests are more likely to abuse children than other groups of men, it also suggests that homosexuality has some equivalency with pedophilia – an assertion that would, rightly, be with with incredulity and outrage if made in support of the opposite conclusion.

    The fact is that pedophilia is a disgusting perversion and sickness, full stop. There is no reason to trace it back to celibacy, heterosexuality, homosexuality, or any other root 'cause'.

  332. Jonathan says:

    As a (perhaps) final thought, I find it interesting how the phrase "mutually consenting adults" is so often introduced as the end-all-be-all concept for determining what sort of behaviour is acceptable, sexual or otherwise.

    While there are certainly good reasons for believing that the mutual consent of adults is a critical factor in evaluating what sort of behaviour people can acceptably engage in, fashioning it as the sole criteria is nevertheless (potentially) problematic. For one thing, it certainly makes a lot of behaviours acceptable such as incest, or weird sex-murder pacts. It also puts a lot of pressure on the historically mushy concept of 'adult'. For that matter, 'consent' can be a bit of a mushy concept itself.

    Of course, we might try to mitigate the consequences by appending some kind of "and doesn't hurt others/society" clause – but that's a whole 'nother bag of worms that probably winds up cannibalizing the concept it was supposed to defend.

  333. Guns says:

    @Ken:

    You're very impressed with yourself. Even though I am closer to agreeing with you than with Clark on substance, I'm not impressed with you. I'm annoyed by you.

    Are you really happy to be here?

    It's not so much that I'm impressed with myself, or that I'm angry with people here, it's that I recognize Clark's tactics. I'm pretty sure it's not very hard to spot. Complex arguments get pulled appart, then each sentence is "refuted" completely out of context, with the context, were it not ignored, invalidating the refutation. This annoys me. It's the creation of an army of straw men that take an incredible amount of effort to cut down, with lots of quoting myself and using another dozen paragraphs to explain exactly what I mean, without any possible other interpretation or opportunity for out-of-context shenannigans or nitpicking on technical terms. Afterwards the discussion will not have moved an inch in any direction, since no actual counterarguments have been given.

    If there is an "afterwards" at all. Most of the time, people get "annoyed" long before that. Thus, instead of fighting on the defensive until everyone has died of boredom, I make every effort to go on the offensive again. Claims like "I don't have to dignify this foul language with a response" provide a very easy angle for that offensive. And no, I don't put that language in deliberatly for that reason.

    By the way, I do not claim to be absolutely right in this discussion. I believe I am, naturally, but since my actual arguments were never really contested, there is still a chance that I'm talking complete nonsense, which I invite anyone to point out to me. If you like, I'll refrain from using any nasty words, since, really, that actually won't change anything, anywhere, in the slightest.

    And, yes, I do enjoy myself here. I like discussions, I like being (convinced I'm) right, and I like proving I'm right, in any way, shape or form. I do not like to annoy people, even unintentionally, so I apologize for that, but I don't really know what exactly it is that annoys you about me.

  334. Jonathan says:

    Guns,

    This isn't my fight, but I'm curious and bored at work. So.

    Unless of course, by "I assert", you mean "I believe", in which case: great, good for you. Lucky you're not a homosexual then (I assume and hope for your mental wellbeing). But, although the First Amendment certainly gives you the right to do so, going around on blogs telling people how they're vile sinners and how they should suppress their natural desires and where they can and can't put their tongues and peepees does make you kind of an entitled dick

    You claimed that the dick-calling was conditional. So I'm wondering, are you calling Clark a dick if he's asserting that children are better off with traditional parental structure, or is he a dick if he just believes it?

    And why is he not a dick in whatever is the reverse?

    (If it's not obvious: I'm not buying your argument that Clark selectively edited your innocent and generous post to make it *look* like you called him a dick, when any fair reading would show that you did no such thing.)

  335. Guns says:

    I have no problem whatsoever with any kind of personal belief. I do, however, tend to rather dislike it when people try and convince other people that there is something wrong with the lifestyle of two people who love each other, who love their children, and raise them in the best way they can, (at which, as any parent with adolescent children well knows, they will inevitably fail miserably), with no other backing than that he or she believes it to be so.

    Does that answer your question? I would prefer not to drag out this argument, since it is apparently not appreciated.

  336. princessartemis says:

    @Guns, it does not appear to me that Clark is attempting to convince anyone. His post was not an apologetic for Catholic stances on homosexual acts. The vast majority of his comments following have been answering and defending his beliefs and assertions, but unless I have drastically read him wrong, he has not made an effort to convince other people that their lifestyle is wrong. That may seem like a narrow thing indeed, but it's the difference between actively evangelizing and sitting back answering questions posed to him.

  337. Jonathan says:

    @Guns,

    I have no problem whatsoever with any kind of personal belief. I do, however, tend to rather dislike it when people try and convince other people that . . . [fill in the blank]

    This is interesting. To pick a nit, I'd ask what you would contrast against merely personal belief. I suspect that all belief is in at least some sense personal, even if held in common with others.

    Leaving that aside, I think it raises the interesting question of how 'personal' belief should inform our inter-personal and social dialogue. Obviously, one can behave like a 'dick' irrespective of the belief being transmitted. The question is, is the mere fact that a belief is critical or unsupportive enough to make one a dick for sharing it? Surely not, or else dialogue would cease to be a productive exchange of ideas and become a pointless communal browning of noses.

    That's no fun.

    I think this gets back to (what I perceived to be) the heart of Clark's original post. That is, the unfortunate cultural-political climate which blacklists and demonizes anyone who attempts to raise criticism or disapproval of gay relationships/marriage – even if it is done in a respectful and rational manner. This is not helpful to the critical activity of social discourse, regardless of what position one takes on the particular issue of homosexuality.

  338. James Pollock says:

    "And if I apply sentence #1 to sentence #2 I learn that James wants me to adopt his SWPL worldview."

    Probably, if I had any idea what "SWPL" means.

  339. JR says:

    @James Pollock
    SWPL
    He may be calling you a hipsters.

  340. Nate says:

    @ James Pollock, in my head I keep reading it as Swedish white people.

  341. James Pollock says:

    Thanks, JR. That was most helpful.

    Clark, if you WERE calling me a hipster(s), I laugh coldly in your general direction at the magnitude of your incorrectness. (Although I do live in the cultural Mecca of hipsterdom, or, more correctly, in the suburbs thereof.)

  342. Adrienne says:

    Jennifer,

    Even if a homosexual family was just as good an environment for a child to grow up in as one with both a father and mother. Which – all other things being equal – they are not.

    Actually, several studies NOT done by antigay catholics say that you are wrong. Citations include, just from what's immediately available in my bookmarks and head: the National Lesbian Family Longitudinal Study (which in fact measured *better* outcomes for children of lesbian parents in long-term committed relationships than for the children of heterosexual married parents); Gregory Herek's semi-famous 2006 literature analysis; this literature review (of several earlier studies) done by some folks in Australia; and this 2010 study about school outcomes.

    Now, of course there are methodological issues in all of these; there are methodological issues in any study involving human behavior, because people are fucking complicated. However, your statement makes it sound like there's a scientific consensus and/or that you're just self-evidently correct, and neither of those things is true.

  343. Clark says:

    @James Pollock:

    Clark, if you WERE calling me a hipster, I laugh coldly in your general direction

    I was using SWPL much more broadly than that to refer to the cluster
    of opinions that I might otherwise call out as the
    Francis-Fukuyama-end-of-history liberal-western-democracy third-way
    mixed-economy anti-traditionalist anti-reactionary affirmative-rights
    pro-choice post-religion NGO-friendly bobo "consensus".

  344. Adrienne says:

    Clark, you seriously just suggested (in a sly, deniable, linky way) that Muslims worship Satan. (in this comment, and the link therefrom.)

    Do you really think that's okay? Seriously?

  345. Clark says:

    @Adrienne:

    Clark, you seriously just suggested (in a sly, deniable, linky way) that Muslims worship Satan. (in this comment, and the link therefrom.)

    I did no such thing.

    It's not phrased so as to be deniable.

    Do you really think that's okay?

    Okay, how?

    OK as a logical deduction from the evidence?

    OK in a property rights sense in my own shared blog?

    OK as a thought crime in the 21st century?

    Seriously?

    Yes. It seriously occurs to me that the entity that Muslims worship very well have more in common with the Christian Devil than the Christian God.

    Am I sure of this? No.

    So what's your argument or objection when you ask "Do you really think that's okay?"? Do you think that this is hate speech, that ideas like this shouldn't be said aloud? Or that it's a thought crime, and they shouldn't even be thought?

  346. Jennifer says:

    Hello Adrienne!

    Leaving aside the question of social science in general, leaving aside what meat of those studies is even visible in the summaries – just skimming the bios of these study authors – why am I supposed to assume that studies done by Catholics are biased and wrong, but studies done (from what I can tell) by gays aren't?

    How is what you're pitching me different from an oil company showing off a study they've commissioned on environmental effects?

    Finally, if I had a six month old girl ready for adoption, and we could look in her brain and read out her DNA and know for absolute certain she was going to be a lesbian…

    … would you rather I place her with a straight couple, or a lesbian couple?

    Why?

  347. eddie says:

    would you rather I place her with a straight couple, or a lesbian couple?

    Nope.

    Why?

    Why would I?

  348. James Pollock says:

    Can you expand a bit so as to explain how "other people's sex lives are none of your damn business" (or, if you prefer the alternative construction, "your sex life is none of my damn business", which is equally valid) fits any of the other categories beyond "anti-reactionary" and "pro-choice"? For example, I'm struggling to find an example of how "pro-NGO" would apply, and I don't even get the references for some of the others.

    I DO get that "my religious beliefs are none of your damn business" does, in fact, conflict with the teachings of various proselytizing religions who feel it is their duty to bring me the good word of what they believe whether I'm interested or not, but the Mormons at least are polite about it and will wait to convert me after I'm dead.

  349. Adrienne says:

    Jennifer,

    It utterly doesn't matter to me, because growing up with gay parents doesn't make you gay, and growing up with straight parents doesn't make you straight. The research on that is quite clear, unlike the linked research on more nebulous outcomes.

    What i would like is for every single child to be raised by people who want her, love her, value her for who she is, and won't try to change things about her (like her sexual orientation, or her interests, or her college major, or her religion) out of bigotry or for their own convenience or self-interest. The genders of those people really could not possibly be less relevant to me.

    And no, i'm not saying that studies done by Catholics are biased and those done by non-Catholics are not. I'm saying that when someone has gone on record, in another context, as saying that they fully believe that gay people are disordered and shouldn't be allowed to raise children, then they probably aren't doing actual science very well. And that is the case with at least one of the very prominent "gay parents are worse than straight parents" study authors.

    FYI, at least two of the linked studies have the fulltext available at those links, as far as I can tell? So you certainly aren't limited to abstracts. And the ones at PubMed certainly contain more info about their authors, including citations of other papers that those authors have published, so you can get some information about the quality of their work from that, most likely. (Also, as far as i know, at least one of the coauthors of the Lesbian Longitudinal study is straight? I could be wrong but that is definitely my understanding.)

    It's sort of irrelevant to my point, though I will grant (on rereading what I've written above) that my point wasn't stated clearly enough. My point isn't "you are wrong." My point is "you have made an assertion as if it were either the scientific consensus or a self-evident truth, and it is neither." It may be true, or it may be false, but you are absolutely making an assertion that the data does not support.

    As an aside: It's astonishing to me, sometimes, the degree to which people snark at how the social sciences aren't real science. While I "am" actually a software developer, my BA is in social science (specifically, anthropology and sociology). I can tell you that social scientists spend years of school learning how to recognize bias, how to compensate for one's own inevitable bias, how to do good statistics, how to do even better statistics, how to talk very carefully about what conclusions it's possible to draw from any study, and how to compensate for the inevitable methodological limitations you run into because people are fucking complicated and you can't just lock them in rooms for their entire lives to get nice double-blinded research that's uninfluenced by other factors.

    But people seem to think that it's all just wild-ass assertions unbacked by evidence, or that people are fundamentally something so different from everything else in the universe that science *cannot* be done about them, or something. Even more amusingly to me (and I am not saying this is true of you, Jennifer; it's just true of a lot of people who make digs at social science), a lot of the people who scorn sociology, anthropology, and sometimes psychology nonetheless all-but-worship economics and political theory — both of which are *also* social sciences.

  350. Adrienne says:

    Whoops, my aside ended up as long as the rest of my comment. Sorry. I get wordy.

  351. James Pollock says:

    "Finally, if I had a six month old girl ready for adoption, and we could look in her brain and read out her DNA and know for absolute certain she was going to be a lesbian… … would you rather I place her with a straight couple, or a lesbian couple?"

    Having once been (tangentially) involved in an adoption, I'll chime in. If I was placing a child, I'd look for the best possible home, combining what I knew of the parents' emotional preparation for parenting, their emotional and financial security, and their desire to add a child to their home. Their sexual orientation(s) and distribution of genders would probably not be on the list at all, and if on the list, would be near the bottom. The added fact of foreknowledge you suggest would cause me to add to my wishlist of qualities "will not condemn the child for being a lesbian" and "will not try to alter the child's sexual orientation to suit their own interests".

    I'll freely concede that to the extent religious belief causes parents to reject their own children, I think it is the religious belief that is wrong, and also that it's possible I'm wrong about this, and that God could correct me if and when He feels a need to do so (though it hasn't happened yet.)

    The major reason to avoid placing adoptive children with same-sex parents is that the parents haven't had to legal protections of marriage to assist them. Now that some of them do, there's no legal reason to categorically exclude them, when and if they are prepared for the commitment and challenges of parenthood… (some gay pairings should not be raising children, just as some straight ones should not be. It's just that sometimes the straight ones get children anyway.)

  352. Adrienne says:

    @Clark,

    Okay, how?

    OK as a logical deduction from the evidence?

    OK in a property rights sense in my own shared blog?

    OK as a thought crime in the 21st century?

    And

    So what's your argument or objection when you ask "Do you really think that's okay?"? Do you think that this is hate speech, that ideas like this shouldn't be said aloud? Or that it's a thought crime, and they shouldn't even be thought?

    You're right; "Do you really think that's okay?" is bad shorthand. I plead it as the dialect of my people, coming through in a bad place for it.

    So let's take this in (extremely haphazard) order:

    I absolutely do not believe that the law should prohibit basically any sort of speech (with the exception of fraud and the possible exception of threats and certain sorts of incitement; I go a lot of different directions on that one, and spend a lot of time thinking about it.) I think hate speech laws, in particular, are horrifying.

    I emphatically do not believe in the idea of "thoughtcrime", insofar as I am deeply dedicated to the idea that nothing should be illegal to think, and that the privacy of one's own brain should be sacrosanct. (I point out as an aside that if you do in fact adhere to all of Christian sexual morality, then you do in fact believe in 'thoughtcrime' at least in a religious sense: see for example Matthew 5:28 on adultery.)

    So, from both a property rights perspective and a free speech perspective, you are absolutely free to make such statements — or any damned statements you like — on your own shared blog. And i will defend your right to do so, if required.

    However, many things that are (and should remain) "okay" in a legal sense are "not okay" in a social sense, an ethical sense, or both. Many things that are horrible nonetheless should remain legal; social problems mostly should be dealt with via social remedies, not legal ones.

    Which is to say: Certain thoughts and ideas and statements by and large make their possessor or speaker appear to be a complete asshole.

    I additionally believe that certain statements are irresponsible to make on a widely-read and well-respected blog such as Popehat, both because they lend ammunition to people whom one might prefer not to lend ammunition to, and because regardless of all the disclaimers in the world people might come to associate the larger entity with those statements.

    To sum up, in my probably-still-overly-wordy fashion:

    I think your belief and your statement are, and should remain legal and that you can think and say whatever you damn well please. I would be loudly clamoring for the heads of anyone who either sued you or attempted to get you arrested over it, and would fervently hope that the resultant Popehat signal found you about 20 lawyers, all of whom really wanted blood.

    However, I would be enthusiastically in favor of your being socially shunned because of your statement. I would be totally okay with the New York Times printing your statement, your real name, and your photo on page one. I would not oppose your being fired from your day job (whatever your day job is) because of it. Which is to say, I think what you said is detestable and that you should face social consequences for it (rather than legal ones; legal consequences would be in the category definitely not okay).

    (In reality, you are of course not going to actually face any consequences whatsoever; you've only said aloud what I'm sure many people believe. Hell, in some circumstances you might get a medal.)

  353. Adrienne says:

    Erg, gah, that was NOT all supposed to be bold. Tagfail. Can someone fix it? :(

  354. Dave Cannon says:

    Who is this 'Clark' guy who occasionally interrupts the useful and interesting legal discussions around here?

  355. eddie says:

    @Clark:

    The distinction between bully and friend you have made is merely that you agree with the friend.

    I thought the distinction I made was entirely about the use of force and the presence of free-will. Can you explain to me why you're right and I'm wrong?

    I'll do my very best.

    Case One: God's Law is simply a description of the universe. "Hey, buddy, this is how things are. Far be it from me to tell you what to do – you know, free will and all that – but I'm just saying. If you kill people, or have an orgasm outside of certain situations, there will be consequences and I bet you won't like them even if you're not smart enough to realize it in the short run. For one thing, you will not achieve your own highest human dignity, expression and enjoyment. But here's the real kicker: when you die, you will live again in eternal torment. I know, right? So trust me on this one. Killing? Orgasms? Bad ideas."

    Case Two: God's Law is God's Will. "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not kill. What part of 'commandments' do you not understand?"

    Both cases allow for free will in the philosophical sense of "free will vs. determinism" (and, for that matter, in the theological sense of "free will vs. predestination"). But they differ in the sense of freedom of human action; the first allows for free will (perhaps better phrased as "freedom") while the second embodies coercion – the threat of forceful punishment.

    You think that God is your buddy, like in case one. Officer Buttrape is a brutal thug, but God is just looking out for you. Case One, not Case Two. I submit that you only think God is your buddy because the things that you believe that God says one should do just happen to be the things that you believe one should do. Yes, I know that that's something of a tautology… Just bear with me, please.

    The question of whether God is passively describing the universe in which sinners are punished or is instead actively punishing the sinful is really just one of perspective. Since God is omniscient and omnipotent and is the creator of the universe, there's not really a meaningful distinction between the two. Philosophers and college students debate such matters endlessly and unproductively. I certainly don't intend to settle the matter here. The point is, the question of God the Mentor vs. God the Dictator is more amenable to emotional outlook than logical reasoning.

    As you put it: "My take on it is that God is wise". That's your take. You take it that way because God isn't telling you anything that you don't want to hear.

    Consider how this whole God thing might sound to someone who doesn't have the same priors you do. Someone who a) doesn't believe in God but hasn't necessarily ruled it out and b) is married to someone they love and c) is gay. If you were trying to convert them to Catholicism, your first hurdle would probably be to convince them that God is real.

    "Well, okay, maybe, sure. What else?"

    … and oh by the way, if you ever have sex again, you'll be eternally tormented.

    "Say what now?"

    No, really. God says so.

    "God is forcing me to be abstinent?"

    Not at all! It's totally your choice.

    "But he's going to punish me if I don't."

    No, no. He's not punishing you. That's just how he made the universe.

    "He made the universe such that I can freely choose between abstinence and eternal damnation."

    Right!

    "Okay then. This God fellow, assuming he even exists… he sounds like real dick."

    Freedom to choose between X and eternal damnation is not freedom, any more than is the freedom to choose between conscription and jail time. God gets no passes there. And just as setting a lethal trap for a burglar carries the same culpability for his death as shooting him yourself, creating a universe which punishes sin carries the same culpability as punishing the sin yourself. God gets no passes there, either. God has decided that you will be punished if you break his laws.

    God is your buddy because you already believe what he's telling you. To everyone else he is a tyrant, or a delusion.

  356. Todd E. says:

    @Adrienne contextually, there isn't actually a great deal of basis for the Devil as a character in the bible. He isn't in the old testament at all (Satan is a term meaning accuser, and is used for angels among other folks in the OT, and Lucifer is a latin translation for jupiter), so you wind up having to go to the NT for mentions, and even then…well. There are opinions.

    I think that (could be wrong) it would be closer to say that Clark is advocating that whatever it is that Muslims worship is not the same God that Christians worship, especially given that, depending on the particular faction of that faith that you follow, their god has no trajectory or progress at all…he is not, apparently, a restorative, graceful god.

  357. Adrienne says:

    @Todd E: I'm keenly aware of the lack of textual support for "the devil" (meaning a real power of evil, opposed to the God of Abraham) in the bible. In original Jewish thought, Satan was one of YHWH's servants, the guy whose job it is to be a pain in the ass, basically. (See: the whole book of Job.) The whole passage about the "son of the morning" isn't about a fallen angel. Et cetera ad nauseam. I'm something of a scholar of religion, in my spare time.

    But the bible passage Clark linked to is very specifically the one where that same Satan shows up to tempt Jesus, saying "worship me and I will give you stuff". Granted, Satan was probably at that point still conceived of as the pain in the ass helper, but by that point the figure also had a lot of "actual evil/equal-opposition to YHWH" mixing in from Zoroastrianism and other sources. And that sure as hell isn't what people mean today, when they think of Satan in that bible passage.

    Point being: it is absolutely, 100% clear what Clark meant by that link (and he admitted it in his reply to me), and it's not just "Muslims don't worship the same god as Christians." It's "Muslims worship Satan."

  358. Jonathan says:

    Adrienne,

    You believe that somebody should lose their job and be publicly shunned and shamed because they shared an opinion about the theology/misguidedness of a world religion..

    Wow.

  359. James Pollock says:

    Adrienne, it is a challenge to religious belief that countless have struggled with, basically, "if God is all-powerful, why is there (insert bad thing)?" Theologians seem hesitent to attack the premise, so the answer boils down to the infamous "He works in mysterious ways".

    Take, for example, the deliverance from Egypt. God wants His people delivered out of bondage, so why doesn't He just, you know, deliver them? Instead, you have the false drama of Moses petitioning Pharaoh, and Pharaoh saying "no"… so God goes all, you know, Old Testament on Egypt… and for good measure, God hardens Pharaoh's heart so he can deliver the full course of plagues before Moses et al can leave. Harsh. And, given an all-powerful deity, entirely fore-ordained.

    One of the greatest challenges in litarary creation is giving the bad guys a good reason to be bad guys other than simple "that guy is just evil" (It turns out that there ARE evil people in the world, but they rarely see themselves as evil, and in a lot of cases "evil" turns out to mean "had different priorities".)
    Lucas took a stab at it, for example… the Star Wars prequel are all about how Anakin Skywalker came to become Darth Vader. So Satan/Lucifer probably does arise from a time when the Jews in exile were influenced by Zoroastrian duality, but also fills a need to explain why there IS evil in the world when (it is assumed) God could have created the universe without any. Of course, it is also marginally possible that God was involved in a transporter accident which separated His good side from His bad side, but I'm not enough of a Trekkarian to fully examine the theology of that possibility.

  360. Adrienne says:

    Jonathan,

    No; my consequences were deliberately arranged in descending order of my okayness with them. So: I WISH he would be shunned by his friends. I would be fine with him being publicly named and shamed (but, by implication, would be unlikely to do so myself). And I wouldn't object to him being fired.

    By and large, I wish people didn't get fired for non-work-related shit; I think it's fairly appalling, because people's employers already have so much power over them. But I think a hypothetical Muslim coworker of Clark's would be quite justified in going to HR and saying, "I have to work with this guy who thinks I worship Satan and says so in public. Does that constitute a hostile environment?"

    Anyway, as far as I can tell, Clark is the sort of Libertarian who believes in the rights of business and property owners über alles. So if they fired him for a horrible remark on a blog comment thread, that's entirely within their rights, isn't it?

  361. Adrienne says:

    @James Pollock, I think you're talking to the wrong person. @eddie is the one wrestling with God and evil and free will. I'm just being angry at a bunch of other tangential bits of stuff.

  362. princessartemis says:

    Finally, if I had a six month old girl ready for adoption, and we could look in her brain and read out her DNA and know for absolute certain she was going to be a lesbian…

    … would you rather I place her with a straight couple, or a lesbian couple?

    Why?

    This is an interesting question, so I will take a stab at it.

    I am assuming all things are otherwise equal, that both couples are kind, loving, stable, good to one another, etc.. In which case I'd ultimately have to say the straight couple. Here is my why: the lesbian couple could role model for a lesbian daughter everything except what a good man looks like. As much as children need role models of their own sex, they also need to see, up close and personal, good examples of the other 50% of the human race. A loving straight mother and father can still model for a lesbian daughter how to have a good relationship, though admittedly it won't look exactly like what she will desire in the future, I don't think that outweighs having a good father.

  363. James Pollock says:

    "You believe that somebody should lose their job and be publicly shunned and shamed because they shared an opinion about the theology/misguidedness of a world religion..

    Wow."

    Conversely, you apparently believe that a person should have a right to a job even if they start mouthing off in ways offensive (and possibly inciteful), and that the public should have no right to shun and or shame people who behave in dickish* behavior.

    Wow.

    * "dickish" here defined as "being deliberately provocative and speaking/writing in a way that is calculated to offend".

    In summary, the fact that I have no right to prevent someone from publicly supporting, say, Illinois Nazis, I certainly do have the right not to employ any Illinois Nazis, and to shun and attempt to shame anyone who is. (which, of course, works both ways… the Illinois Nazis aren't required to employ me, and they can (and do) shun and attempt shame people who don't agree with them.
    This is the difference between saying "you can't do that" and saying "you shouldn't do that".

  364. AlphaCentauri says:

    Re: Allah vs. YHWH: I'm not Jewish, but I suspect Jews would have a similar opinion about whether the God Christians claim to worship is the God of Abraham.

    A Jewish friend once asserted that Christians believe in three gods, meaning the trinity — and that doesn't even count the devil, whom many Christians see as an independent supernatural being, not under control of God, who will only be subdued through a battle in the end times; a being with as much power as any pagan polytheist ever attributed to any of their gods. Christians would argue long and hard that they only believe in one God, but members of other religions don't necessarily buy it, any more than you may believe the God Muslims worship is the God of Abraham.

    The point being, if your religion only recognizes one God, and someone elses religion only recognizes the existence of one God, you're arguing about the nature of that God, not whether two different monotheistic religions are worshiping different Gods.

  365. Jonathan says:

    Adrienne and Pollock,

    Again, not my fight, but you all are creating a fictional situation and castigating Clark for it.

    He didn't go into the workplace chanting anti-muslim slogans or even just loudly sharing the opinion that they worship the devil. In the context of a religious conversation, he shared the opinion. The fact that a hypothetical muslim co-worker could overhear Clark's conversation doesn't mean that he would be justified in trying to get Clark fired.

    There are PLENTY of Protestants who think that Catholics are weird, freaks, and evil devil worshipers (just google Jack Chick if you don't believe me.) I've known several myself – even been friends with them. I would never try to shun them, shame them, or have them fired. That's ridiculous.

    I don't agree with Clark's suspicion – I think it's fairly clear that Islam falls within the Abrahamic tradition – but so what?

    And Pollock – give me a break. I said nothing about a right to employment. I said something about being astonished that one would be OK with a workplace where you get fired for sharing an extreme/outlandish/hurtful religious opinion in the context of a religious discussion. "In summary", you didn't engage with what I said at all.

  366. Adrienne says:

    @James Pollock: "can't" vs "shouldn't" — Yes, precisely! It's a lot of what I was getting at with legal vs. social consequences.

    Obviously there's not a bright line; if you live in a Company Town (or in Small Town Christianville, USA) and you have an opinion that someone in charge doesn't agree with, you could be not only fired but end up homeless, starving, and unable to work anywhere ever again. And that's not just, certainly, and I don't approve. And of course we do have, in US law, a notion of "protected classes"; you can't fire someone for being a member of one of those, at least in theory, because we as a society have decided that that's so unjust that we need a law to fix it.

    Things aren't black-and-white, not always and not even usually. But I'm okay with people facing social — not legal — consequences for things that they say or do that make clear that they are a bad person.

  367. Jennifer says:

    It utterly doesn't matter to me, because growing up with gay parents doesn't make you gay, and growing up with straight parents doesn't make you straight. The research on that is quite clear, unlike the linked research on more nebulous outcomes.

    Where on earth did you get the idea that was my objection?
    If you want to debate the "gays shouldn't be allowed to raise children" guy, you'll have to take that up with him.
    I only answer for my own opinions.

    What i would like is for every single child to be raised by people who want her,
    obviously

    love her,
    of course

    value her for who she is,
    no question

    and won't try to change things about her
    I should bloody well hope they try to change things about her. Otherwise potty training is going to be an adventure.

    (like her sexual orientation,
    I thought we were saying that was inborn?

    or her interests,
    meth is an interest. So is unprotected sex with the football team.

    or her college major,
    In a country where there are kids out there owing enough non-discharable debt to buy a small home for degrees worth exactly bupkis…. we're actually having this argument?

    or her religion
    I know this great snake-handling place down in Arkansas. Maybe the Heavens Gate people still have an opening.

    out of bigotry or for their own convenience or self-interest.
    you know everyone's motives without having met them?

    The genders of those people really could not possibly be less relevant to me.

    They matter to me.

    I want a little boy when he's getting beat up at school to have a strong dad to show him how to box and stand up for himself.

    I want a little girl to have a momma there when the whispers and posturing games start.

    And for the 90% plus of kids who are going to find themselves looking to the other side of the pasture for their one true love, I want them to have the experience of seeing that relationship modeled full time in their own home.

    How can you honestly say that just doesn't matter?
    I've known people to choose a sandwich with more discretion.

    All choices are not equal. Discernment is a virtue.

    Also, please re-read the last three paragraphs of comment 8:33 before replying.

    My point is "you have made an assertion as if it were either the scientific consensus or a self-evident truth, and it is neither.
    That's a fair critique.

    As an aside: It's astonishing to me, sometimes, the degree to which people snark at how the social sciences aren't real science.

    My degree is in a social science to – the snark doesn't come out of ignorance.
    I don't mind having that conversation another day, but don't really care to go wandering all afield today.

  368. Jonathan says:

    Adrienne,

    But I'm okay with people facing social — not legal — consequences for things that they say or do that make clear that they are a bad person.

    If (say) Clark has studied the teachings and theology of Islam and come to the opinion that may have made a grave error and are worshiping the devil instead of God, how does this make him guilty of being a bad person rather than guilty of a mistake?

  369. Adrienne says:

    @Jennifer,

    Why do the positive role models in a child's life have to be their parents? Why can't Uncle Bob and Aunt Gina's relationship model awesome straight relationships for a kid? Why can't mama's Cousin George teach the little boy how to box? (Hell, why can't mama teach the little boy to box? Gender essentialism is bullshit.)

    Oh, right, because US culture is all fucked up with this nuclear family thing, by and large, and no one else can be assumed to have any kind of status or closeness or permanence in anyone else's life, ever.

    My own opinion is that if we can talk about anything that could be considered (to use your phrase from 8:33) "a highest and best environment for child-rearing", then whatever that environment is, it is not a "nuclear family".

  370. Adrienne says:

    @Jennifer: (Not answering the rest right now, because i'm seriously having SIWOTI syndrome and actually crying from frustration, which is a sure sign that i'm overtired and need to be doing something else, like taking a nap.)

  371. Adrienne says:

    @Jonathan — I should not, not, not have said "bad person", because that's really unacceptable shorthand. I do try not to apply "you are a … " phrases to people when what I'm upset about is their behavior; people's actual innermost beings are unknowable. I plead frustration and tiredness, as noted in the previous comment by me, and I'll try to answer your actual question about mistake vs. badness at a later point when I'm not fighting that.

  372. princessartemis says:

    @AlphaCentauri, I had a Jewish acquaintance that told me something similar. She explained that since Christianity is mainly a Gentile religion, they are not bound to worship one god by law so can still be righteous in G-d's eyes, so long as they follow the Law of Noah. She also described ha-Satan as essentially a prosecuting attorney.

  373. James Pollock says:

    "give me a break. I said nothing about a right to employment. I said something about being astonished that one would be OK with a workplace where you get fired for sharing an extreme/outlandish/hurtful religious opinion in the context of a religious discussion."

    Are you not familiar with "at will" employment? Where the employee's employment can be terminated for ANY REASON AT ALL, whether it's a good reason or not? Or even no reason at all? In most states, you can fire an employee for having religious discussions at work even if you agree with them 100%.
    So, yeah, you were talking about a right to employment, because that's what you have if the employer has to have a good reason to fire you.

  374. JR says:

    I have some another question, if everyone wouldn't mind indulging me. On the topic of which couple would be good for which child: Is the example set by the parents to be considered the only source from which that child will obtain understanding?

    And an observation as well. It would seem that in any debate involving a line; the closer you get to it, the blurrier it becomes and the more vehement the declarations of position by the participants. Clark, having selected a line he knows the location of (not to mention all the defensive preparations performed by those who specialized in drawing the map) quite well, is under no such handicap. Good luck and God bless. ;)

  375. James Pollock says:

    "and won't try to change things about her
    I should bloody well hope they try to change things about her. Otherwise potty training is going to be an adventure.

    (like her sexual orientation,
    I thought we were saying that was inborn?

    or her interests,
    meth is an interest. So is unprotected sex with the football team.

    or her college major,
    In a country where there are kids out there owing enough non-discharable debt to buy a small home for degrees worth exactly bupkis…. we're actually having this argument?

    or her religion
    I know this great snake-handling place down in Arkansas. Maybe the Heavens Gate people still have an opening.

    out of bigotry or for their own convenience or self-interest.
    you know everyone's motives without having met them? "

    Man, there's a whole bunch of shoddy reasoning and argument here. For example, ignoring the important premise "out of bigotry or for their own convenience or self-interest" in all the preceding line items.

    I think it's safe to say that a non-potty-trained person will face increasing difficulties as she advances through life, so potty-training is rather clearly done "for her own good" (although of this list, it's probably the one that falls closest to ALSO qualifying as self-interested.

    Now, attempting to change a person's sexual orientation is going to be about as effective as trying to turn a leftie into a rightie, something that schools, particularly religious ones, have long attempted despite a 0% success rate. The fact that the attempt is futile doesn't keep people from trying.

    meth and sex with the football team are interests, but again, both carry clear and obvious downsides to the person indulging them, and thus are clearly not for the parents' self-interest.

    Choosing a college major for the parents self-interest vs. attempting to get a child to choose for their own interest… how is "but you'll be saddled with non-dischargeable debt and few career options?" in the parents' self interest?

    Gee, same problem with snake-handling churches or suicidal cults… avoiding these is in the parents' self-interest?

    That's a big 0-fer, unless you get a sympathy half-point for the potty training one, which is AT BEST a push.

  376. Jonathan says:

    @ Pollock,

    Keep up. I haven't said anything about what an employer CAN do – I said that I find it astonishing that an individual, say yourself, would feel satisfied with the prospect of an employer firing someone, say Clark, because he/she found out that Clark shared an extreme religious opinion within the context of a religious discussion.

    So, yeah, of course an employer can terminate an employee from an "at will" relationship for any reason. That doesn't mean you have to believe that every possible reason is "OK" or dandy. As you said, "can" and "should" are two different animals.

  377. Nate says:

    "Leaving aside the question of social science in general, leaving aside what meat of those studies is even visible in the summaries – just skimming the bios of these study authors – why am I supposed to assume that studies done by Catholics are biased and wrong, but studies done (from what I can tell) by gays aren't?

    How is what you're pitching me different from an oil company showing off a study they've commissioned on environmental effects?"

    I think that's the point. You cannot judge the contents of a study soley by who the authors are. Personal bias does not preclude good science, nor does lack of bias imply good science. Good science stems from methodology and narrow claims supported by presented data. I think Adrienne was trying to present dissenting studies that are on par scientifically (possibly better than depending on the study cited) with the studies saying children of homosexual adults are worse off than their counterparts. But again no study will be an end all to the discussion as it cannot account for all the variables.

  378. James Pollock says:

    "I want a little boy when he's getting beat up at school to have a strong dad to show him how to box and stand up for himself."

    Since not all dads have knowledge of either of these things, isn't this an argument that children should have at least two, and maybe more, to be SURE there's at least one dad who knows how to box? And what about the little boys who AREN'T getting beat up, but are actually delivering the beatings?

    "I want a little girl to have a momma there when the whispers and posturing games start."

    Gee, same problem here. Are you arguing "it takes a village"?

    "And for the 90% plus of kids who are going to find themselves looking to the other side of the pasture for their one true love, I want them to have the experience of seeing that relationship modeled full time in their own home."
    1950 called… they want their idealized family back. Heterosexual marriage doesn't guarantee good role modeling by either parent. Marriage doesn't guarantee good behavior (by either spouse) and never has.

  379. Nate says:

    Sorry, soley was supposed to be solely. Darn ly words.

  380. James Pollock says:

    "Keep up. I haven't said anything about what an employer CAN do – I said that I find it astonishing that an individual, say yourself, would feel satisfied with the prospect of an employer firing someone, say Clark, because he/she found out that Clark shared an extreme religious opinion within the context of a religious discussion."

    Gee, you make it SO HARD to keep up.
    You say A) an employer CAN fire someone for any reason, even if it's not a good one. But B) your AMAZED that ANYONE would be OK with it if an employer DID fire someone for any reason, even if it's not a good one. So you want employers to have this right, or at least accept that they do, but you're horrified by the thought that they might use it?

    Chew on this… the decision to hire someone, or to maintain their employment, is the employer's. I might disagree with any specific decision in any specific case. I might even agree with you that trying to get someone fired is almost always a dick move. But… it's their call. If you want people to never be fired because of this reason, you are taking away something from the employers, and muzzling THEIR rights of association.

    "So, yeah, of course an employer can terminate an employee from an "at will" relationship for any reason. That doesn't mean you have to believe that every possible reason is "OK" or dandy."
    Actually, it does. "you can be fired for any reason" = "every reason is OK or dandy" Duh.

    I'm amazed that you either disapprove of people exercising the right of free speech in asking for someone's job, or of association in the case of the employer's acting on the request. These are fundamental rights, and you're AMAZED that anyone supports them? Double Wow.

    For extra credit: distinguish between the case of asking a private employer to fire an employee for what they say or do, either on or off the job, and the case of asking the public to not re-elect (in effect, to fire) an elected official because of what they say or do, either on or off the job.

  381. Jonathan says:

    Pollock,

    I hope you're being intentionally obtuse, because you're right, it really shouldn't be hard for you to keep up.

    You're acting like this is complicated when it's really a very simple set-up:

    Adrienne said, and you supported her position, that she would like to see Clark shunned, shamed, and fired for what an opinion he expressed.

    I expressed astonishment that either of you would find such responses appropriate. (If I need to spell it out, I meant in a moral rather than legal sense.)

    You have the (legal) right to engage in consensual sexual relationships. That doesn't mean that I would think it OK (in a moral sense) if you went out and cheated on your wife. Especially if you did it to punish her for sharing an opinion you didn't like.

    In other words, the fact that an individual or entity has broad legal rights doesn't ipso facto mean that those rights will always be employed (ha ha) in a morally praiseworthy or acceptable manner. Therefore, the legal right of a company to terminate an employment relationship for any reason does not make every possible reason for such a termination morally praiseworthy or acceptable.

    You have indicated you would find it morally acceptable, if not praiseworthy(!), if Clark was fired for sharing a religious opinion in the context of a religious discussion. I am astonished by this. I am astonished by this because I regard it as mean-spirited and small-minded – qualities which I am always astonished to see proudly brandished by thinking people.

    The fact that you keep trying to somehow shift this to a discussion of what rights an employer has and whether I support those rights is baffling.

  382. Jonathan says:

    Perhaps it could all be stated far more succinctly:

    I support the legal right of an employer to terminate an 'at will' relationship.

    I think this legal right can be exercised for shitty reasons.

    I think it's astonishing (nigh shitty) to suggest someone be fired for a shitty reason, such as sharing a religious opinion in the context of a religious discussion.

    And, clearly, the statement that you would be "OK" with Clark being fired for this reason means that you find it morally acceptable, that you're cool with it, that you support it. Otherwise you're just casually mentioning that, you know, it's possible to be fired for this reason just like any other reason, and it really has nothing to do with anything being. This clearly wasn't the case, as it was outlined in a list of potential punishments for Clark.

  383. James Pollock says:

    "I hope you're being intentionally obtuse, because you're right, it really shouldn't be hard for you to keep up."
    Sorry, I didn't explain it well enough. I'm having a hard time figuring out what positions you've assigned to me.

    "Adrienne said, and you supported her position, that she would like to see Clark shunned, shamed, and fired for what an opinion he expressed."
    Shunning, shaming and even termination of employment, to varying degrees, are all perfectly valid reactions to someone's speech, which is what I said before. You seem to be staking out a "speech should have no consequences"-type position, which I find ludicrous. Adrienne's wishes and their relation to reality are part of your discussion with her, not me. I have this policy of only defending the positions I've actually taken.

    "You have the (legal) right to engage in consensual sexual relationships. That doesn't mean that I would think it OK (in a moral sense) if you went out and cheated on your wife. Especially if you did it to punish her for sharing an opinion you didn't like."
    Really? What if the specific opinion I didn't like was "I don't want to be married to you anymore, and I'm leaving, you'll hear from my lawyer"?

    "You have indicated you would find it morally acceptable, if not praiseworthy(!), if Clark was fired for sharing a religious opinion in the context of a religious discussion."
    Actually, A) I certainly never said anything that can be reasonably construed as "praising" if Clark were to be fired, and am in fact on record here saying exactly the opposite. Also B) it's entirely morally acceptable because… stop me if you've heard this… it's not my call to make, and just as I'd want other people to stay out of it when I make employment decisions, I should stay out of it when someone else makes employment decisions. I might (or might not) disagree with the decision(s) made, but it won't be because of morality. Finally, C) I don't object to what Clark said so much as the way it was said, which made it seem mean-spirited and hateful to no good purpose. I am opposed to people who think they can say mean-spirited and hateful things to no good purpose without consequence of any kind, and the correct consequence is social opprobation and shunning (and, extending to extreme cases, which this was NOT, yes, even loss of employment and business opportunity.)

    "I am astonished by this. I am astonished by this because I regard it as mean-spirited and small-minded – qualities which I am always astonished to see proudly brandished by thinking people."
    Opposition to mean-spiritedness is mean-spirited? OK. Perhaps it is.

    "The fact that you keep trying to somehow shift this to a discussion of what rights an employer has and whether I support those rights is baffling."
    The fact that you can't see that they're inextricably linked is equally baffling.

  384. JohnR says:

    @adrienne:

    First of all, your definition of outcomes are too vague. Which NLLFS study found better outcomes? The Goldberg's Substance use one says there is *more* substance use among children of lesbian parents, for instance. More importantly, why is ok to poison the well with in regard to Catholics, but then rely on research done by scholars (e.g., Herek's key reference C. Patterson) affiliated with LGBT advocacy groups?

    And the Rosenfeld study on school promotion you linked to said children of married HETEROSEXUAL couples had the least grade retention, and though he explains it "mostly" away on the grounds of social-economic factors, I still don't see how that is supposed to support your position

  385. James Pollock says:

    "I think it's astonishing (nigh shitty) to suggest someone be fired for a shitty reason"
    Then don't do it. Problem solved.
    "the statement that you would be "OK" with Clark being fired for this reason means that you find it morally acceptable"
    OK so far, because it would be none of my business, morally speaking.
    "that you're cool with it"
    As above.
    "that you support it."
    Oops. Overreach.
    I support the right of the employer to make his or her own employment decisions, "shitty" or not.
    "Otherwise you're just casually mentioning that, you know, it's possible to be fired for this reason just like any other reason, and it really has nothing to do with anything"
    Um, yeah. One more time… the employer is within his or her rights, and I have no say (legal or moral) in the matter. Now, there are some employment decisions I do have a say in (whistleblower for safety problems, for example, or fired for not giving in to the employer's sexual demands) but this is not one of them.
    "This clearly wasn't the case, as it was outlined in a list of potential punishments for Clark."
    Not by me. Again, on record saying the opposite. Don't let that spoil your moral outrage, though.

    Clark here. I have moved this to the thought crime thread.

  386. Votre says:

    Hmm…accepting something as objectively true with no rational basis for doing so,,,

    In literature it's called "the willing suspension of disbelief" and is considered the key factor that makes fiction possible.

    In religion, it's called "faith" and is considered a key element in attaining "salvation."

    In psychology it's called "self-delusion" or "magical thinking" and is considered a very bad thing to allow your brain to indulge in.

    If the Three Wisemen happened to be made up of an author, a priest and a shrink, I wonder how differently the Nativity story might have turned out.

  387. Clark says:

    @Votre:

    Hmm…accepting something as objectively true with no rational basis for doing so,,,

    I disagree that there is no rational basis for religions.

    I think that there are lots of rational reasons to believe in them. That is not to say that the reasons are utterly convincing or overwhelming, merely that there are some reasons.

    For example, "We are here and are alive and sentient and perceptive and rational. Clearly there exists a God that created a universe with parameters that supports intelligent life." makes as much sense to me as
    the anthropic principle, and more sense than some of the wilder ideas about universes creating black holes which spawn new universes with reset physical constants and intelligent life creates more black holes, therefore universes evolve over generations to support intelligence".

    In religion, it's called "faith"

    Yes, faith is required in religion, but I suggest that you don't know much about the role of rationality or degree to which it is an inquisitive and intellectual process as opposed to one of just rote memorization.

    But the point I am trying to make is how does one have a rational discussion about something, or attempt to expand awareness or raise questions when dealing with a topic that is fundamentally irrational

    I disagree that religion is fundamentally irrational. A question: is philosophy fundamentally irrational? I suggest that it is not – it is an inquiry into (quoting Wikipedia) " reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language."

    Religion tries to answer the same questions. Religion is basically the subset of philosophy that reaches the conclusion that god(s) exist.

    and where a good percentage of the participants accept such irrationality as a given truth – and actively resent any attempt to introduce an element of doubt.

    Do not judge Marxism by Marxists, Christianity by Christians, etc.

    It's a great idea. But it's not really workable.

    I disagree.

    We have a name for the time when people stopped murdering each other over differences of religion and started debating: the Enlightenment.

    Science and philosophy seek truth. Theology dispenses it.

    I deeply disagree with you.

    Pretty hard to have a meaningful discussion whenever religion rears it's head and points to the halo over it.

    If this is your experience of religious debate you've picked a very poor set of opponents.

    If the Three Wisemen happened to be made up of an author, a priest and a shrink, I wonder how differently the Nativity story might have turned out.

    I would definitely buy and read your 99 cent kindle short story to find out!

  388. Jennifer says:

    @A-
    Why do the positive role models in a child's life have to be their parents? Why can't Uncle Bob and Aunt Gina's relationship…

    They absolutely can. It doesn't make it the ideal – any more than a having a (straight) stepmom or stepdad is the ideal or cohabiting unmarried biological parents is the ideal.

    My garden grows okay in the sideyard. It'd do better with full sun. We do what we can.

    Hell, why can't mama teach the little boy to box? Gender essentialism is bullshit.

    Fascinating side topic, but one for another day.

    ..and no one else can be assumed to have any kind of status or closeness or permanence in anyone else's life, ever.

    I never said that.

    @JR
    I have some another question, if everyone wouldn't mind indulging me. On the topic of which couple would be good for which child: Is the example set by the parents to be considered the only source from which that child will obtain understanding?

    Absolutely not. But seeing Uncle Billy on the weekends isn't the same – and is not as good – as having Daddy in the house.

    (Assuming the obvious – that both Uncle Billy and Daddy are decent men. )

    @JP
    For example, ignoring the important premise "out of bigotry or for their own convenience or self-interest" in all the preceding line items….

    Great. We seem to agree on principles.

    All choices are not equal, and parents have a clear duty to provide support and guidance to their children.

    The distinction in context of the intitating discussion seems to be that you and A are arguing – specifically – that the decision to place a child with Straight Family A over Gay Family B or vice versa is one of self interest on the part of the person making the choice, not one made with an eye to the child's welfare.

    Is that indeed your position? If not, would you kindly clarify it?

    Gee, same problem here. Are you arguing "it takes a village"?

    Categorically not. At least, not in the context you seem to be using.

    Heterosexual marriage doesn't guarantee good role modeling by either parent. Marriage doesn't guarantee good behavior (by either spouse) and never has.

    Can you point to the place I said it did?

  389. Mordecai says:

    @Clark – saying you're "less sure" about who Muslims worship while linking to a biblical passage about the devil's temptation of Christ is a tad suggestive, wouldn't you agree? Even a cynical atheist like me finds that offensive, because I know some devout Muslims who would find it a hurtful and cruel idea. I agree with the general Popehat theme that offensive makes for bad law, but I also agree with calling it out when it's done.

  390. LT says:

    @Jennifer-
    I'm a former social worker. My mother just retired a few years ago as one as well- and her specialty was in placing children in foster and adoptive homes. I grew up with some of the children she placed, and we worked together a fair amount of time, so I got to know most of her families. Most were heterosexual families. Some were gay or lesbian.

    Now, kids older than five are hard to place long-term in foster care, much less adoptive care- many have behavioral problems or emotional issues. Even younger ones with special needs are hard to place long-term. The hard truth is, few are willing to take on the burden of caring for them. That said, social workers don't try to match kids with gay families to meet quotas unless they really, really suck at their job. Any good social worker will place a child, and monitor a child, to ensure that the family is what they emotionally need, regardless of the gender of the parents.

    Those kids lucky enough to get a long term foster home- or, even better, adopted- didn't care about the gender of their parents. They didn't care that they had two dads or two moms or one mom or a mom and a dad. They just wanted to be loved- and they got that. They got the unconditional love of parents who were willing to see them through thick and thin.

    I got to see a lot of these kids who have been fortunate enough to be adopted/fostered grow up, and any ill effects they suffered were from their times before going into stable care- not because of who their parents decided to love. They didn't magically become gay, or miss out on gender-specific activities or lessons. They grew up in a family, which is what every child wants.

    Now, if having two parents of one gender is bad in your view, I shudder to think what having only one parent must be like in your worldview.

  391. Jennifer says:

    My mother just retired a few years ago as one as well- and her specialty was in placing children in foster and adoptive homes. I grew up with some of the children she placed, and we worked together a fair amount of time, so I got to know most of her families.

    Great! A voice of experience in the field is wonderful.

    Now, kids older than five are hard to place long-term in foster care…
    yes.

    They just wanted to be loved- and they got that. They got the unconditional love of parents who were willing to see them through thick and thin.

    Beautiful – that is wonderful.

    However…. everyone seems to want to argue against a point I'm not making – that gays are definitionally unsuitable parents.

    And that's understandable. It's an easier argument to win. It makes one feel nice and inclusive and caring to make that argument. It's even fashionable.

    It is not, however, the point I'm arguing. As I've made extremely clear in the above posts. Count all the disclaimers up there, please.

    If I say "It is better to have a balanced meal of meat, vegetables, low-GI starches, etc than pizza and ice cream" – that does not mean I'm saying "better to f*king starve to death than have pizza and ice cream."

    Likewise – all other factors held equal, it is better for a child to grow up with her own mom or dad that it is to grow up with just her mom, just her dad, her mom, her dad, and their shared lover, or adoptive parents at all.

    That does not mean in a particular case adoptive parents of whatever gender might not be better than her original situation. It doesn't even mean that a particular gay couple might not be a better adoptive fit for a particular child than a particular straight couple.

    But for the broad middle of the bell curve of humanity – all other factors held equal – say I have to place a child in a first-marriage straight home or a blended family straight home or a gay home or a single parent home or a poly home and I'll choose the first every. single. time.

    Because while any of the others might be a decent option, and in most cases probably better than foster care, the first is the best option.

    Now, if having two parents of one gender is bad in your view, I shudder to think what having only one parent must be like in your worldview.

    See above.

  392. Jennifer says:

    (correction to above, pp10 – it is better for a child to grow up with her own mom AND dad that it is to grow up with..)

  393. Nate says:

    @Jennifer, et. al: I think two different arguments are occurring here.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I think what Jennifer is saying is that, "controlling for all other variables, a heterosexual household provides the best opportunity for productive (whatever definition you want to give it) child rearing. The reasoning behind this is that male and female identities are unique experiences and a child should have equal opportunity to observe both experiences. The best way to observe both experiences is to live in the home with both genders." This theory could be correct. At this time, to me, it seems impossible to test.

    I think what others are arguing, while theoretically Jennifer could be correct, this example cannot be proven and has little basis in our current society, i.e. we cannot control for all variables. The study of human interaction is subject to the human experience. Our experience is determined by society, personality, beliefs, interactions with others, etc. Thus, we can never truly say that X family is better than Y family. All we can say is that given these specific conditions and individual instance we believe that X could be the best placement for the child. Generalization is difficult because every instance is somewhat unique.

    The inherent lack of variable control is an issue with social science. To adequately control for all variables would generally involve what could be considered inhumane treatment of one or more groups. Also, we cannot control for individual personality.

  394. Robert White says:

    Having grown up in a "straight home with my own mom and dad", where there was alcohol and violence, I'd say that none of the arguments about sexuality have one wet slap to do with the question of marriage or of family. My natural family could have been worse, but it would have been pretty hard to do and besides…

    Marriage _provably_ has _never_ had anything to do with "children" as it's _primary_ nor overwhelming interest.

    Let's look at the catholic book of common prayer, you know, the version of the marriage vous we can all recite from memory "have and ot hold, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shalll… live". Note that it doesn't say "as long as we both shall breed nor mention ofspring.

    Let's look at the language of marriage. What do we get "in law"? We get mother in-law, father in-law, sister in-law, and brother in-law. But if one or both parties to the marriage come into the marriage with existent children, those are "step" relationships. Step-mother, step-father, step-son, and step-daughter. The relationship that is gained with respect to children is at least one step removed, and has to be separately cemented by the individual activity of adoption.

    Let's look at what happens when two unmarried people create a child… that would be… nothing… There is no legally mandated wedding. Each parent has its own parental rights and responsibilities to the child but nothing happens between the parents.

    What happens when an in-house parent is found to be unfit for one or more child in the household? The _child_ is removed from household but the marriage is left unaffected.

    What happens when a spouse is discovered to be sterile/infertile? Nohting. The marriage is left unaffected.

    All legal definitions of marriage have always been completely independent of any reference to children. Talking about marriage with respect to children is a complete red herring. A falseness of seeming that is being misused socially.

    So what _is_ marriage socially and legally? It is the "weft" of familial bonding. There is a natural "warp" thread of connections within societies created by the familial bond. We are stuck with our parents and our siblings and, indeed, our children by fact of biology and its inherent circumstance. We are raised to feel and believe that we "owe" our family some duty and allegiance. When we marry we tie these warp threads together with a deliberate weft, joining whole families.

    In short, we avoid and reduce the incidence of "adult orphans" via marriage. Each married person has gained siblings and parents "in law" and in custom. This cross threading of society makes it far stronger than it would have otherwise been.

    Real world (semi-counter) example. I was hit by a car and had my knee crushed. At the time I was living wit an abnormally close friend. We were not sexual partners et al, but we were otherwise "all but married". I was providing room and board for him to go to college and whatnot and he was similarly helping me with ongoing life issues. We had a true "domestic partnership" going on (as opposed to a "code for gay marriage replacement 'domestic partnership'"). [He is now married to a woman and living some distance away, this was a partnership not a marriage after all, which is part and parcel of why a "domestic partnership" is not a marriage nor a real marriage equivalent.]

    But I digress…

    After the accident I was generally unable to take care of myself for months. I was in that "in sickness" mode. The hospital basically assumed we were gay partners (all the better for me) and let him come in and deal with some of the stuff while I was gaffed to the gills on morphine. They released me to his care. And he did care for me by making sure I ate and such.

    Without my ersatz spouse, I would have had to be in the hospital for a lot longer, which would have broken me financially and likely left the state with a nontivial bill.

    Without my ersatz spouse, I wouldn't have been able to "work from home" and I would have lost my job. And there is a good chance the small company I worked for would have gone under since our one main customer had given a "deliver or we cancel our contracts" ultimatum for a product which I was writing 100% of the software for. (there is a month worth of pain-pill inspired crap code in that thing to this day. 8-). I would have definitely landed on unemployment and state medical assistance, and many others would have been financially impacted to the worse.

    And so on.

    Had I been "truly single" and had not the hospital treated us as "effectively married", my mangled knee would have been a far-reaching, indeed life changing social micro-disaster. Instead its a bunch of funny stories.

    Single adults, particularly as they age, are bad for social stability. They become islands of risk. Like over-built towers with no lateral supports, the vagaries of time and circumstance contrive to topple the lives of single people.

    Marriage is how we put off that toppling.

    Marriage exists "traditionally" and legally to increase the lateral stability of the lives of _adults_ by weaving obligation and support amongst _peers_ and leveling the circumstantial tension individuals must absorb moment-by-moment.

    The religious dressing is illusory. It is a vestigial organ left over from the tribal times and places where religion is/was indistinguishable from law as a social force.

    The completely secular definition of marriage _must_ encompass homosexuality or the social price-tag will be immense. In past ages we forced the gay guys to marry anyway just to keep hidden. We are approaching the first wave of retirement that didn't exist under that universal mandate of sham marriage. And the kids being born today will largely _never_ feel that pressure at all. In one generation we will see a massive change, and concomitant social burden, in the older adult population.

    In my age group, AIDS culled a lot of guys out of that first wave, but the second wave is right behind me, and it will come crashing down on our social system in about 2035 if this first finally-okay-to-be-gay generation hits late middle age without marriage rights and the interstitial bonds that marriage creates.

    The argument against gay marriage is doomed to be a "wrong side of history" issue not because of moral positioning but because the world is already feeling the first shock of all these isolated ageing adults. The organism of social awareness will respond to the stimulus and absorb the burgeoning demographic by re-imagining tradition and applying the "real rules" of marriage in favour of the "religious" version.

    It's inevitable. It's also "right". The "old guard" is always ousted.

  395. Andrew says:

    @Clark, thank you for the reasoned defence of faith in God as a rational position.

  396. princessartemis says:

    @Nate, seems to me that you've got a bead on the difficulty going on in the debate. It is as if someone stating X is very good means they are also stating all things !X are automatically horrible, when in fact they are saying nothing of the sort. They could state !X is good, or unknown, or any number of qualities other than horrible. Jennifer has repeatedly stated that !X is !horrible. Since I answered her question on where and why of the placing of an orphan guaranteed lesbian six month old, I'll go ahead and state for the record that I think that the Platonic ideal !X is extremely close to very good, which means a real life !X would work out to be sometimes better than X and sometimes worse.

    @Robert White, I like your thinking. It brings to mind something I've been thinking about off and on for myself. Finding compatible asexual partners when one introverted and is well and truly stuck in the "in sickness" phase (but could still offer something, surely?) is absurdly hard. 10%? Try being in the 1%!

  397. Kevin says:

    @Jennifer

    say I have to place a child in a first-marriage straight home or a blended family straight home or a gay home or a single parent home or a poly home and I'll choose the first every. single. time.

    IIRC, the justification you previously stated was that kids need a male role model to teach them how to box, and a female role model to teach them….. feminine things (I forget what example you used). So that answers the question of why a traditional family is superior (according to you) to a gay or single-parent family… but how does it apply to the other cases you mentioned: blended families, or adoptive families, or poly families? All of them have both a male and female role model in the home. In fact, based on this justification, wouldn't a poly family be the BEST option, since it provides the child with the widest possible exposure to the different genders and gender roles? More is better, right?

    [Note: I don't actually believe this, I'm just saying that it seems like the natural extrapolation from your justification, if taken at face value.]

  398. Josh C. says:

    @JR,

    Apologies for the slow answer. Generally, you're conflating a lot of things by just saying "sin." I think I know what you're getting at, but it's a bit confused. From a Catholic view though, as I understand it:
    You're assuming "go to another church" is a valid option. It is not. No matter what, leaving the congregation of the faithful is a doctrinal error ("process foul," writ large); going to a protestant church is a dogmatic error (i.e. rejecting god's grace, which is the sine qua non of a mortal sin). Baptists (for example) are not an acceptable alternative to the Roman Catholic Church. Their dogma has fundamental flaws. As such, their baptisms are not valid, their sins are not forgiven, and they do not receive sacraments. The same is true of most protestant churches (many Anglican churches do actually claim apostolic succession; the Catholic church disagrees).

    Perhaps a better analogy might be this: You have a restraining order against you which you dislike. Your options are (a) violate the law and ignore it, (b) respect the law and obey it, or (c) "opt out" of the law, sovereign-citizen style. (C) doesn't make any relevant changes to your options, but also sets you up for many later failures.

    These may be some good entry points for reading more broadly. They won't take long, and I do recommend them as helpful summaries of some parts of the skeleton of an extensive theological framework.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infallibility_of_the_Church
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_succession#Churches_claiming_apostolic_succession
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacraments_of_the_Catholic_Church
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin (n.b. the examples too)

  399. George William Herbert says:

    This has been a few good days to step away from this conversation, but backing up a bit, in levity:

    Clark wrote:
    "I really don't know if he's more an AD&D sort of guy, or a Classic Traveller type."

    You owe us the Classic Traveller "Popehat Blogger" character career type generation charts, and a short explanation for the types of causes which would cause the character to fail their survival roll in this particular service.

    Fatal papercut? Caught in bed with Prenda Law? Offended the wrong Federal Magistrate?

  400. Tali McPike says:

    @Clark

    I disagree that religion is fundamentally irrational. A question: is philosophy fundamentally irrational? I suggest that it is not – it is an inquiry into (quoting Wikipedia) " reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language."

    Religion tries to answer the same questions. Religion is basically the subset of philosophy that reaches the conclusion that god(s) exist.

    I minored in Biology (History was my major, in case anyone is wondering) at Ave Maria University. Our Core Curriculum required us to take 3 Theology classes (Sacred Scripture, Sacred Doctrine, and "Knowing the Love of Christ") and 3 Philosophy classes (Nature and Person, Ethics, and Metaphysics). I also took a few philosophy electives (if I hadn't gotten pregnant senior year I would have graduated with an additional minor in philosophy).

    Perhaps this is an overly simplified way saying the same thing you did, but this is what I came up with after taking all those classes.

    Science is the study of the physical (or as they would call it in philosophy, the corporeal). Its purpose is to explain the nature of the corporeal.

    Philosophy is the study of the incorporeal. These are things that are beyond the realm of science because the things it deals with, such as knowledge (epistemology), ethics, etc cannot be empirically tested. Things can be postulated and tested using logical proofs etc, but they cannot be tested and proven using scientific methods.

    Theology (Religion) is for the purpose of explaining the nature of (at least some of…namely those that argue for the existence of a higher being) the incorporeal things described by philosophy. An example of this relationship would be Aquinas' Five Ways proving (or at the very least arguing for) the existence of a god in general (and the Christian God in particular). Theology, then, describes the nature of God (who's existence was argued by philosophy such as Aquinas') as an all powerful, loving and forgiving God.

    TL;DR version: Science is the study of the corporeal, Philosophy is the study of the incorporeal, and Theology is the study of the Nature of the incorporeal that was argued by (some schools of) Philosophy.

    Now granted, I do not know if any of my professors would agree with me, it is just something I came up with to keep myself (as a lover and studier of science) to not loose my shit the next time someone says "there's not scientific proof for God" or when one of my Philosophy profs had issues with Quantum Mechanics (admittedly only one of the Philosophy profs took any interest in understanding QM and how its scientific principles relate to Philosophy)

  401. Benz says:

    You did present, indeed, a discussion about the aunt's lasagna. Too bad people often get so worked up about the underlying subject matter that they lose the ability to make sense. Glad to see some mention of logical fallacies in the thread. They are so often used by so many who find the need to argue about matters like this. Can I suggest that perhaps they should be in your Princeton High School Syllabus? A nicely filled-out list:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

  402. RogerX says:

    A religious thread? Oh great I get to contribute my nearly worthless opinion to a bunch of strangers!

    *ahem*

    God is just pretend, and the sooner humanity accepts that, the sooner we move one step further away from base tribalism and anti-progressive intellectual terrorism.
    /Libertarian Atheist

  403. Tali McPike says:

    Josh C said:

    You're assuming "go to another church" is a valid option. It is not. No matter what, leaving the congregation of the faithful is a doctrinal error ("process foul," writ large); going to a protestant church is a dogmatic error (i.e. rejecting god's grace, which is the sine qua non of a mortal sin). Baptists (for example) are not an acceptable alternative to the Roman Catholic Church. Their dogma has fundamental flaws. As such, their baptisms are not valid, their sins are not forgiven, and they do not receive sacraments. The same is true of most protestant churches (many Anglican churches do actually claim apostolic succession; the Catholic church disagrees).

    There is almost nothing in this that is correct.

    You're assuming "go to another church" is a valid option. It is not.

    Actually, if you don't believe the Church's teachings (whether it be on birth control, abortion, gay marriage, celibacy before marriage, or any thing else) as a Catholic, you have two choices. You either say "I may not understand why the church teaches this but I will align my beliefs so that I continue to be in communion with the church" or you say "I do not believe and I reject the teachings, and thus the church herself" You are, in fact better off doing that, because you are not in a state of grace (and thus unable to receive communion) if you do not do the first. There is no rule saying "once you are in you can't leave" My mom left after a crisis of faith about 15 years ago, about 10 years ago she came back into communion with the church. The church is a community of believers, and "cafeteria Catholicism" (believing certain things the church teaches, but rejecting others) is frowned upon more than leaving the church outright.

    going to a protestant church is a dogmatic error (i.e. rejecting god's grace, which is the sine qua non of a mortal sin).

    While you are sort of right that rejecting God's grace is the sine qua non of mortal sin, going to a Trinitarian protestant church is not rejecting God's grace, because you still ultimately believe that Christ died so that your sins are forgiven, through the grace of God. You are only in a state of mortal sin if you break the 10 Commandments (CCC 1857-8)

    As such, their baptisms are not valid, their sins are not forgiven, and they do not receive sacraments. The same is true of most protestant churches (many Anglican churches do actually claim apostolic succession; the Catholic church disagrees).

    This is absolute bullshit. With the exception of Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses (which it was discussed earlier in the thread that Catholics don't believe that they are Trinitarian Christians), and a few obscure faiths that I've never heard of before; baptisms from all major Protestant denominations are considered valid.
    My dad converted from Lutheranism 10 years ago and he didn't have to get re-baptized, nor have any of my other convert friends who had been previously baptized. In order for it to be sacramental 3 things must be in place: matter, form, and intent. Matter has to do with what is used in the sacrament (in the case of baptism its water), for is what is said (in the case of baptism it is "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and (of) the Son, and (of) the Holy Spirit") and the intent is what is desired (which in the case of baptism in to be washed of your sins and officially declared a believer of God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, or in the case of infant baptism, for your parents to have this desire for you). In fact, a valid baptism doesn't even have to be done by an ordained individual, or with holy water. While this is preferred, a baptism is still considered valid if its done in the kitchen sink by grandma, so long as the matter form and intent are all there. However this method is not encouraged, and ideally it is only to be done in the case of an emergency (such as the possibility of imminent death, particularly if a minister is unable to get there).

    Baptists and other protestants cannot receive the other sacraments (such as Communion) because the intent is not there. Protestants (for the most part) do not believe in transubstantiation (and there is a list of those denominations who do believe in it in such a way that they can take part in Catholic communion, including certain Anglican churches, even though they are not Catholics), which is key to the intent. Heck, there are also stories of married protestant ministers (I believe they were all Anglican of some sort, though I might be mistaken) who convert to Catholicim and are allowed to be priests (and don't even have to go through seminary again) even though they are married and have children.
    You can also receive the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage and not be Catholic (well, either the bride OR groom must be Catholic, but they don't both have to be).
    I could do this for the rest of the sacraments as well, but that would take up more time that I prefer to spend.

  404. JR says:

    Thanks for the reply Josh C, and the clarification Tali McPike. It's been very educational to see so many people's perspective of the inner workings of something so monumental as the Catholic Church.

    My primary interest is in philosophy; I don't really care what started it all. I had a thought while rereading some of the comments in this thread. There seems to be some confusion over the difference the various rights and wrongs: legal, social, and moral. Wouldn't it be awesome if there were a group of people working towards the philosophical equivalent of science's unified field theory?

  405. AlphaCentauri says:

    The church is a community of believers, and "cafeteria Catholicism" (believing certain things the church teaches, but rejecting others) is frowned upon more than leaving the church outright.

    Growing up Catholic and being taught in Catholic schools in a couple different dioceses, that was never something we were told.
    Perhaps they were saying it in other dioceses, but not in Chicago. There the emphasis was on "catholic" as well as "Catholic." We prayed in Mass every week "that they may all be one." The Church held ecumenical conferences with leaders of other faiths to improve understanding and tolerance. Every year on Holy Saturday, each parish welcomed numerous new converts who were drawn to the Catholic Church's ministry as an authentic witness to Christ. The Church acted as a light to the world looking for common ground as a foundation for helping all people seek truth. Practicing Catholics may not have agreed with everything the Pope said, but we respected his spiritual authority and at least for people like me, disagreement was a serious matter of reflection and study, not a matter of disregarding whatever wasn't convenient.

    Yes, there were people who insisted that all Catholics had to believe every detail or they weren't Catholic at all, but for the most part they were either 1. recent converts 2. people who weren't Catholic themselves, or 3. lapsed Catholics who never went to church anyway. The idea that the 95% of Americans who don't feel contraception is sinful are "Cafeteria Catholics" who should be actively pushed out of the Church was only revived recently.

    The Archdiocese of Chicago sent a representative to our parish one Sunday expressing concern that "only" 10% of adults were actively involved in a Church ministry. My own family was involved in music, liturgy committee, youth ministry, special religious education, stations of the cross, and a theology book discussion group, and we weren't unusual. Whereas ex-Catholics used to be the people who weren't very religious in the first place, now almost all the people I know who were once active in parish ministries are attending other churches.

    The Church has a problem. It's committed to a celibate male priesthood, and modern families with fewer numbers of children don't tend to hope for their children to become celibate. The number of new priests has slowed to a trickle. It has chosen the path of becoming a very small, very orthodox institution. Clark is the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Me and my family and friends were shown the door.

  406. Marzipan says:

    Indeed, I'd disagree with the position that Tali struck out against "cafeteria Catholics", at least as an entire class of folks. The catechism provides the ultimate "out" for those whose consciences demand they act against the doctrinal dictates of Holy Mother Church (1800). However, this presupposes that the conscience is well-informed such that the person opting to act against a doctrinal point has done sufficient work to inform said conscience (1783-1785). Many people don't do this kind of hard work, and these are the sorts of "cafeteria Catholics" that are likely spurned in Tali's experience.

    When going to the cafeteria of faith, a menu is prescribed for each day. Those who have taken care to understand the food choices and recognize that for their constitution another side dish is preferable, or who know that they have some sort of nut allergy that makes consumption of the recommended dish fatal to them are gourmands of the faith. Others who simply pick and choose randomly based on what looks perdy or what smells good are scorned as rubes.

  407. James Pollock says:

    "Because while any of the others might be a decent option, and in most cases probably better than foster care, the first is the best option."
    This is clearly an article of faith for you, and pointless to debate. It's equivalent to "all other things being equal, it's better to place the child in a household with right-handed parents"… it's flatly impossible to hold all other things equal.

  408. David Schwartz says:

    For example, "We are here and are alive and sentient and perceptive and rational. Clearly there exists a God that created a universe with parameters that supports intelligent life." makes as much sense to me as the anthropic principle, and more sense than some of the wilder ideas about universes creating black holes which spawn new universes with reset physical constants and intelligent life creates more black holes, therefore universes evolve over generations to support intelligence".

    It makes no sense at all, it's just an argument from ignorance that postulates something incomprehensible as if it was an explanation. Comparing it to anthropic principles to justify belief is nonsense. You don't have to believe some particular explanation for something. If you don't find any explanation credible, then you don't have an explanation, and that's okay. Nothing requires you to pick the least implausible explanation you are aware of and believe it.

  409. AlphaCentauri says:

    I think Clark mentioned in a comment somewhere that he won't be checking in for a couple days, so we should direct our comments to each other until he comes back.

  410. Tali McPike says:

    @Marzipan

    Those who have taken care to understand the food choices and recognize that for their constitution another side dish is preferable, or who know that they have some sort of nut allergy that makes consumption of the recommended dish fatal to them are gourmands of the faith. Others who simply pick and choose randomly based on what looks perdy or what smells good are scorned as rubes.

    Thank you for clarifying this point for me. When saying "cafeteria Catholics" I was referring more to those who are like "I know the church teaches contraception is wrong, but its easier than abstinence or NFP so I'm going to do it anyway." The rubes you were referring to. I should have been more clear in my earlier post.

  411. Robert White says:

    When your church can just change things, such as deciding the pope is infallible in 1869 (or 1870), and in so doing, decide it always had been… Well you kind of live in a word where the Cafeteria Catholicism is _universal_ amongst catholics; but it's like a kinder-school cafeteria where the teacher picks the meal of the day.

    Yes, I am an atheist (an agnostic atheist as opposed to a gnostic one).

    When faced with the idea of "god based reasoning" I experience a very high immune response. This is because all that reasoning is not well reasoned in the sense that it isn't based on solid predicates. Forget "provable", I am discussing an absence of "repeatable" and "consistent" reason. The predicates and dictates vary by person, and sometimes by the hour.

    As an example, there are the literalistic christians. If you pop open the bible and consult the four gospels and look up the resurrection, literally the scene that takes place at the tomb, each of the gospels tell a completely different version of the events. Jesus is present or absent, the number of people present are 1, 3 or 4. The place jesus hairs off to next is one of three choices etc. And yet those of the literalistic god reasoning bent don't even blink about factual disunion.

    Take the "ten commandments are the basis of law in the US" annunciators. If that were true then more than two-point-five of the commandments would be illegal in this country. (Murder, theft, and on some occasions "false witness" are illegal, the rest are not).

    Each member of each microcosm of "god thought" presents a belief that _their_ reasoning is reasonable. That, at first blush, seems all well and good. And if the reach of that reasoning were _only_ as far as the person doing it, it would be a "who cares" irrelevancy.

    But accepting _any_ "god based reasoning" as a social pillar is to submit oneself to the vagaries of whichever god-botherer you end up in front of. It is asking for, for example, a legal system where you will be held to the legal standards that each individual judge has chosen to write down in his personal book, alone, sacrosanct, and without appeal. It's madness.

    Look at this thread alone. Persons of allegedly the same faith and the same church are reaching wildly varying conclusions about what is or isn't apostasy. Now similar disunity happens under the law all the time. But under the law there is one version of the law that opinion attempts to converge on. That one version is subject to revision and constantly edited for consistency by the rules of precedent.

    "God based reasoning" is inherently divergent. It's practitioners can't even decide on what god is or which name they are going to call it/them by. Within each god-topic there are various sects, and withing each sect there are variant cults. It's nothing but schism all the way down.

    If the president said "[he] heard the mandate of god" lots of people would shout praise of the man and the god. If the president said "[he] heard the mandate of god coming out of [his] hair-dryer", people would call him insane, as if the _hair-dryer_ made all the difference in validity of hearing a voiceless mandate.

    People hand-pick their god, they listen to the mandates they want to hear and discard those they don't under the all-comforting swaddle of "what [they] believe".

    A black preacher shouting Leviticus on the subject of homosexuality but flushing it out whole-cloth about slavery. A while preacher just down the street, whispering the slavery part at a clan meeting. Both of them decrying Sharia.

    The legislature passing school vouchers to back-door fund religious education and then panicking when they realize that the islamic schools will get funded too.

    That there is some god based reasoning in action.

    Everyone making a logical fallacy imagines they are not. Only the other god-based reasoners are messing it up. _Their_ god based reasoning is right while those others just don't understand god in full correctness. If only they could hear the true words of god. Etc. Well there _are_ two words for basing logical thought based on the shifting sands of indoctrinated faith or faith born again by revelation…

    Unreasonable. Madness.

  412. David says:

    As an example, there are the literalistic christians. If you pop open the bible and consult the four gospels and look up the resurrection, literally the scene that takes place at the tomb, each of the gospels tell a completely different version of the events. Jesus is present or absent, the number of people present are 1, 3 or 4. The place jesus hairs off to next is one of three choices etc. And yet those of the literalistic god reasoning bent don't even blink about factual disunion.

    That's because they're not difficult to harmonize. Difference, contrariety, contradiction– these are three different things.

    There are, in fact, differences among the gospel accounts that seem contrary or contradictory. But the resurrection accounts (written by different people about different people in relation to different moments and aspects of the events in question) are not particularly troublesome.

  413. David says:

    Take the "ten commandments are the basis of law in the US" annunciators. If that were true then more than two-point-five of the commandments would be illegal in this country. (Murder, theft, and on some occasions "false witness" are illegal, the rest are not).

    Some Christian sects insist that the US is a "Christian Nation". This, of course, is incorrect. However, it interesting to consider how deeply and in which respects the law of Moses (and especially the Decalogue) did hold sway in the minds of some colonists well before the founding generation. See, for example, John Cotton's Abstract of the Laws of New England, influential in Massachusetts and in New Haven, which give weight to much more than 'two-point-five of the commandments'.

  414. Narad says:

    Wouldn't it be awesome if there were a group of people working towards the philosophical equivalent of science's unified field theory?

    Only if one thinks that the combination of gullibility, hubris, and Freud fraud that characterizes poststructuralism and its fellow travelers is "awesome."

  415. Adrienne says:

    @Jennifer,

    It's baffling to me that while you insist that gay marriage is an unproven social experiment, and may have detrimental consequences to society, you hold up (as "the highest and best environment for child-rearing", no less!) another social experiment that's less than a hundred years old, itself — that being the separate-household nuclear family. As you probably know, "a mom, a dad, and their kids living together in their own house separate from other relatives" is a really damn recent arrangement even in Western culture, and is still not the norm for most of the world.

    So how is it that you're so rah-rah about one recent experiment in the sociology of families and the structure of society, and so damn dubious about another?

  416. Jennifer says:

    Nate and Artemis – yes, you've captured what I'm saying. Thank you. :)

    Kevin –
    but how does it apply to the other cases you mentioned: blended families, or adoptive families, or poly families? All of them have both a male and female role model in the home. In fact, based on this justification, wouldn't a poly family be the BEST option, since it provides the child with the widest possible exposure to the different genders and gender roles? More is better, right?

    Good questions.

    The answer is no – because none give the children the sense of stability and permanence a traditional family does. A couple on their second marriage has already proven incapable at least once of keeping one one of – if not the – most sacred trusts a human can carry in this world. It might be utterly not the fault of either parent in the new family – but the child still has the sense in the back of his or her mind that "well… it happened once." Plus of course any parental tug back and forth with the ex(es).

    Next, a couple that has not yet married before having children has refused to tie themselves with that commitment. It remains an open floating question mark.

    As regards adoptive parents – by the time we're talking adoption, we're already in a damage control situation. The new parents could be the best parents ever…. but the best ever without abandonment trauma would be better yet.

    To reiterate – as Artemis put it so well – that's not to say that !X is going to be horrible – only that it will never, all things being equal – be quite as good as X.

    As regards poly – I'm assuming we're not talking the traditional polygamy (which has it's own set of issues) – but rather the spectrum of alternate relationship patterns old as the hills and currently called polyamory.

    No, I believe it would probably be among the worst – because from history, from anecode, and from personal observation they're inherently unstable situations. Almost always the parties involved eventually pair off, leave the relationship, or stew in resentment.

    Every few generations some flavor of free(er) love comes in fashion again, kids and discontented marrieds think they've discovered something new their grandparents never heard of, they proceed to break all the old taboos….. then promptly rediscover why those taboos were set up in the first place.

    The human API isn't new. The people that walked the streets of Rome or the pathways of Oneida had the same basic human wetware as a lawyer or construction worker today.

    Traditional marriage has lasted for thousands of years, and various poly experiments have come and gone.

    Like I said, I believe in natural selection.

    Adrienne –
    It's baffling to me that while you insist that gay marriage is an unproven social experiment, and may have detrimental consequences to society, you hold up (as "the highest and best environment for child-rearing", no less!) another social experiment that's less than a hundred years old, itself — that being the separate-household nuclear family.

    That's because you added the "separate-household" qualifier yourself.

    Given the financial status of our governments and the national retirement "insurance" program, I'd not necessarily count on the "I'm independent from my kids – I have social security and a state pension!" lifestyle sticking around in such numbers.

    Or do you intend to argue that the extended family household did not have a heterosexual marriage and their children at its core?

  417. Robert White says:

    Jennifer: Cite some sources please. How exactly was my "traditional" family, with it's drunken violence (both also "traditional" for many families as demonstrated by various tails of domestic violence and drunkenness) inherently better than a stable my-two-mommies family would have been?

    You are about to trot out "[I] said all other things being equal" but don't bother, "all other things being equal" is hand waving in any argument of congruence to "in a perfect world". That is, it is a universally mailable predicate that can be applied to dismiss any fragment of any position involving comparison. "Al things being equal" is a way of saying "I will only admit evidence I like".

    The actual congruence is that "bad marriages are bad" and its complementary predicate is "good marriages are good" are the only pivotal elements. You are strongly implying that all marriages between one man and and one woman are more likely good, and good for any children present, than any possible marriage not between one man and one woman.

    This is what you must now cite source for.

    I posit that the quality of the marriage, regardless of its constituent membership, is directly deterministic to the welfare of any children. That is a "good" marriage between two men or two women, or three men and seven women, would be better for any child than a "bad" marriage between one man and one woman.

    Again, since we must avoid "all things being equal" as false predicate because we are examining unequal things by the definition of arguing amongst contrasts.

    Further, you are arguing the merits of marriage as a child-rearing institution. I have previously (see above in this thread) argued that marriage is demonstrably _not_ about child rearing as a primary concern. Could you address this issue? I ask because your assumption of the "marriage is about kids" position is, as yet, unproved as a basis for determination on the issue of marriage at all.

    To claim that gay marriage would be bad because it would be bad for kids, is like saying driving drunk is bad because there is a fine (and so ignoring the traffic accident potential and larger legal and social problems that led to the drunk driving prohibition, and also falsely presenting the idea that fines only come from driving drunk).

    When honestly and completely analyzed, bad adults are bad at rearing children regardless of whom they marry if they marry anyone at all. Adults who are good at raising children will be good at raising children as long as they don't marry someone who is bad at raising children and then force them to raise children. Further being married is really an adult relationship issue that is foremost and universally about the lives of adults.

    Because of all of that, I find your entire line of reasoning to be unproved, spurious, and irrelevant to the issues at hand.

    Stated Clearly: When adults are bad for children, married or not, we take the children away, leaving the adults relationships (marriage et al) unchanged. And we have, for all of recorded history, tended to leave children in some pretty crap circumstances because "what a man does with his wife and his kids is his own business" is the Traditional™ approach to both marriage and child rearing.

    Any argument about marriage equity that hinges on child welfare are obviously bunk.

    Any argument to Tradition™ about _any_ social custom with legal implications is also absolute bunk.

    How "traditional" is :: (1) Child Protective Services [less than sixty years, I beleive] :: (2) No-Fault divorce [less than forty years] :: (3) commonplace intervention in domestic violence [still not terribly commonplace] :: (4) social Interracial Marriage acceptance [thirty years? but still fought or shunned in many places.] :: etc. etc. etc.

    In my lifetime alone we have discovered that a lot of things that were to-the-dawn-of-time Traditional Known Good™ (like beating your disobedient wife) were always really not so good at all. That's because we started to check the facts. We started to actually study the data instead of just saying "if it were good enough for pa…"

    So where exactly are your facts? Where exactly do we find any statistically valid, peer-reviewed evidence that one man and one woman are the optimal child rearing formula?

    The other model, "it takes a village to raise a child", is just as "traditional" and eschews nuclear family idea for child rearing whole cloth. It has also been "in force" on top of all of the other histories for family rearing.

    So really you have offered a shit-ton of repetition and exactly zero verifiable evidence (in this forum at least) for your position. I have shown where your reasoning is flawed but also offered no real evidence beyond the systematic disassembly of your presentation. In fact nobody here has been pulling out any stops toward establishment of fact.

    The problem with that is that you are trying to use your absence of fact and presence of presumptive opinion to limit the freedom and actions of others. That puts the burden of factual demonstration on your shoulders. So show me your proof please. You show my yours and I'll show you mine. K?

    Otherwise "we've heard you, and we are unconvinced because your argument for status quo is no more convincing than any other argument for status quo in the course of human history. If the status quo were always right you would be a silent, non-voting, sequestered, barefoot, impregnated, and well beaten by your polygamous older husband; crying to your slave 'mamy' and eunuchs wondering why things never change.

    Change is good, it has done great things for you, why are you trying to prevent it doing great things for others?

  418. Josh C says:

    @JR,

    Listen to Tali, not to me.

    @Tali,

    You are smarter than I am in this arena, having had much more formal instruction, and having spent more time thinking more deeply about everything involved.

    You say (or rather, I infer that you mean) converting to protestantism is not a mortal sin. I had thought (perhaps wrongly, and please do correct me), that while being Baptist (e.g.) wasn't inherently wrong, becoming Baptist was apostasy, which was.

    Similarly, when you present two options (reconcile or leave), how is leaving an option? (Of course prodigal sons are welcomed back; there's clear direction on that. That point is not really a defense of leaving though.) I'm certainly not defending some sort of pick-and-choose arrangement, but how is picking and choosing "none" anything more than a subset of that option? How, having left, do you get to a state of grace, even if you do go to a protestant congregation?

    My claim on baptism was pure, unadulterated sloppiness on my part. I wrote 'marriage' initially, caught that mistake as obviously wrong, and corrected it to something also wrong. Thank you for correcting me.

  419. JR says:

    @Josh C
    I'm loving this thread. We seem to have gone from discussing what the Church says about gay marriage, to why the Church says it, and now we seem to be dropping the Church out as a factor altogether in favor of a discussion on the relative merits of various child-rearing configurations.

  420. Robert White says:

    Josh C. : Finer point. "Apostasy" is the act of leaving a faith, so "being" anything isn't Apostolic but "becoming" something is to be apostolic to whatever you were before.

    One of the problems with most of these sorts of religious arguments is that most of the people doing that arguing haven't even settled on their vocabulary, or worse yet, settle on a vocabulary that is itself biased.

    For instance declaring blasphemy or apostasy to be a "mortal sin" or a "crime" self-services any faith because it says "you may enter, but to doubt or to leave is to imperil yourself" and so forth, and so also justifying "any means necessary" to retain and protect those being "led astray".

    So yes, by definition "being baptist" is not "mortal sin" but "being catholic and then trying to be (*other thing*)" is "mortal sin" etc.

    There is a famous saying about being told of god and hell, and how if you didn't know you were not in peril, "so why would you tell me?" etc…

    If I went around saying "having heard my words, you are required to obey only me, and deciding to abandon my words is a sure path to damnation" then would be espousing a dogma that serves me quite well. So too any church that inherently desires to only grow and never wane. It threatens damnation on the apostolic. Hell, they all do that.

    I'll bet baptist denomonations say the same thing about becoming catholic. And so too islam and moonies and scientology.

    It's universal. Arguing it as special circumstances unique to any one church or dogma is laughable.

    Distinctions without differences and all that.

  421. Robert White says:

    @David: Thank you for proving my point about literalism and the ten commandments. You have verified that the literalist position is not particularly literal or valid, and that the weight of the reference to the ten commandments vary.

    Since my point was that "god based reasoning is too variable to be the basis of a reasonable system"… well thanks for the support, Q.E.D. and all that stuff… 8-)

  422. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Robert White: I don't think "apostolic" is the adjective form of "apostate." (I'm not sure what is.)

  423. Robert White says:

    @Alpha: You are correct sir. That makes thinks more and less clear… 8-) Apostolic is derived from the apostles. Go figure that they would use the same root.

    Religion is just so consistently inconsistent. 8-)

  424. kritikk says:

    Actually, apostasis (from which apostate is formed) and apostle are not from the same root, only the "apo-" prefix is the same. "Apo-" in greek means "from" or "away from", so apostate means "he who stands, takes a position, away from" (stasis – stand, position), while apostle means "he who sends from" (the -stle from root meaning to send), meaning of course bringing a message from.

    Sorry, slight intrusion to explain the greek.

  425. James Pollock says:

    "Traditional marriage has lasted for thousands of years, and various poly experiments have come and gone.
    Like I said, I believe in natural selection."

    I believe the poly formula "married to one person, plus a little extra on the side" has been around approximately as long as "traditional marriage" has. Therefore, I assume you favor this approach to marriage, too, based on its longevity and its ability to survive down through the centuries.

  426. Robert White says:

    Actually the one-man one-woman model is largely a myth. For the most part it's been one-man many-women polygamy within the marriage. Monogamy is not statistically dominant in any historical perspective. It's maybe fifty-fifty, less so by far if you include diddling your slaves.

  427. Josh C says:

    @Robert White,

    Without addressing your other points, you may be reading to much into my disagreement with Tali: it's not so much a disagreement as it is her correcting me.

  428. Jennifer says:

    James –

    Are you asserting that adultery is a virtue?

    The wealthy, well connected, or socially dominant could manage to flout social mores with less consequence… but that didn't turn transgression into virtue, and more than – say – insider trading is considered a virtue today.

    Robert – to your second, shorter post – once again, read above. Search terms "WIC " and "baby daddies"

    To your longer argument – it will have to wait. Two jobs right now – maybe I can squeeze it in tonight.

  429. George William Herbert says:

    Jennifer wrote:
    "Are you asserting that adultery is a virtue?"

    Statistically, across the totality of the human condition, historically and today, it is a norm (practiced by a dominant minority and in some cases majority of the people). Low end estimates are 30% of married men and 25% of married women; other studies go as high as 70% of men and 60% of women. Even at the low end, over 50% of all marriages experience this in the US.

    Historically and in other countries, about the same.

    It may be a sin in some people's viewpoint; it may be violating trust and individual marriage partners' faith in the relationship, etc. But abnormal, it is not. The idea of the norm of fidelity being the default situation is self-deception.

  430. Chris says:

    I noticed a couple posts, possibly in the other thread. by people who actually studied the Muslim religion. I wish they would come back and provide more information. I'm currently agnostic but I've read up a little on most major religions. My knowledge is a bit scarce but this might help Clark change his views.

    From what I've read, the Muslim's main book is very similar to the Jewish book which is similar to the old testament. What makes the big difference is the extra books. Just like Christianity has extra books that only Catholics read and another that only Mormons read, Islam also has many different subsets that believe in different books.
    Adding to the confusion, even in one specific subset of a particular ideology you have people who will argue the fine details one way or another.

    Now let me repeat again that my knowledge is limited but from what I've read the Islamic religions were actually pretty inclusive of others up to a less than a century ago. The government takeover by the extreme fundamentalists blossomed in just the last few decades.

    What I'm trying to say is we don't judge all Christians by what the Jonestown group or other extremists did, please don't judge all Muslim faiths by the actions of the extremists currently in power.

    PS Thinking that a Muslim worships Satan is as silly as a Hindu thinking that a Christian worships Kali.

  431. Adrienne says:

    I have no idea if Jennifer will ever see this comment, but the newest and largest study about the children of gay parents says they're actually doing just fine, in some cases better than the children of heterosexual couples. In other news, arguments from "natural law": still stupid.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/06/05/worlds_largest_study_on_gay_parents_finds_the_kids_are_more_than_all_right/

  1. April 30, 2013

    [...] commenter over at the Popehat blog came to a realization about that [...]