Why we’re losing our right to speak out

Christian Examiner online | Chuck Colson | June 2008

Do you want to talk about traditional values on a college campus? Or do you want to speak out against same-sex “marriage”? You may have to enter the Whisper Zone. David Woodard is a political science professor at Clemson University—one who has first-hand experience on how dangerous it can be to speak out in favor of traditional values: He almost lost his job over it.

In 1993, Woodard was asked to testify about the political power of homosexual groups in American life. He agreed to serve as an expert witness for the state of Colorado, which was fighting to defend the recently passed Amendment Two, which made it illegal to give protected status based on sexual orientation.

In his new book, “Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong,” co-authored by my friend, the able South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, Woodard writes, “In that one decision, I unexpectedly jeopardized my academic career and entered . . . into the fiercest battle of the emergent culture wars.”

To publicly oppose the campaign for same-sex “marriage” and gay rights was, he writes, “the equivalent to being sent to the university Gulag.” He was denied an administrative position on the grounds that he was “ideologically incompatible” with the values of the university. He often found the word homophobe scribbled on his office door. The press viciously attacked him for his views.

But in private, Woodard was hearing a different message. People would call to whisper encouragement. So did parents and university staffers. Some students came into his office, carefully closed the door, and whispered their support. “The one thing they all had in common is that they were all scared, and they all spoke in whispers,” Woodard writes.

Homosexuality is not the only issue Americans can no longer speak freely about: Speaking up in support of any traditional belief will earn you attacks from secular elites. “Whether individual, parent, church, or business, Americans holding traditional values are trapped in a ‘whisper zone’,” Woodard and DeMint write, “surrounded by invisible electric fences that threaten to ‘shock’ them if they cross unmarked legal lines.”

. . . more

Comments

  1. It’s the normalization of anal sexual activity and the new diseases that it will introduce that I worry about. This isn’t rocket science. If gay marriage is sanctioned, then “safe-sodomy” will become part of the sex-ed curriculum in public schools as part of the continuing agenda to normalize homosexuality.

    But you equate gay marriage with the normalization of anal sexual activity, which is a non sequitur. For starters, do you really believe that gay marriage will “cause” homosexuality? To a rational person, this seems unlikely. Gay men are already having sex. If anything, widespread acceptance of gay marriage will create significant social (and legal) barriers to men who wish to stray from their partners. An increase–however slight–in monogamous gay relationships will likely result in an overall decrease in anal sex.

    Further, if we’re talking about sheer numbers, in the U.S. gay men are eclipsed in the performance of “sodomy” by another group: heterosexuals. In sheer numbers, more heterosexual couples engage in anal, and especially oral, sex than gay men. I realize you personally oppose “sodomy” wherever it occurs, but it’s fallacious to suggest that gay marriage and anal sex are the same thing.

    It doesn’t make sense for anyone–liberal or conservative–to argue that same sex marriage necessitates teaching about “safe-sodomy” in public schools. If the need is there to teach about safe anal sex, that need exists independent of the marital status of gay men.

    In the abstract, I have trouble understanding the mindset that we should define an education by what we don’t teach. If anal sex is risky, teach that! But don’t propogandize our students by intentionally leaving out information. I may be political moderate with some liberal leanings, but I don’t oppose teaching about abstinence in schools. Abstinence is the only surefire way to prevent disease and pregnancy. But lying to students about sex (or drugs, or Calculus) only serves to undermine their faith in what they learn in school. Standard condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than vaginal sex. Why shouldn’t every high school senior know that? What is the pedagogical value in lying?

    It’s the normalization of anal sexual activity and the new diseases that it will introduce that I worry about.

    So, anal sexual activity is okay when it doesn’t lead to disease? Or is this just another in a long string of red herrings? Are you throwing “evidence” my way because you feel I’m a materialist, even though you believe the evidence is only relevant when it supports the view you already hold?

  2. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “If gay marriage is sanctioned, then “safe-sodomy” will become part of the sex-ed curriculum in public schools as part of the continuing agenda to normalize homosexuality.”

    Well . . . yeah, but certain Christians, even fundamentalists or literalists say that oral and anal sex are acceptable within marriage.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13834042/
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/marriage/features/realsex/4.0.html

    Certainly this is not yet the standard view within the conservative Christian community. But within that community the “cat is out of the bag,” so to speak, and people are talking about it, going to lectures, and reading books about it. Once that happens, it may very well happen that sex-ed curricula will incorporate that — not because homosexuals are doing it, but because heterosexual married couples — even Christian couples are doing it.

  3. Jacobse says:

    Note 51. Phil writes:

    If anything, widespread acceptance of gay marriage will create significant social (and legal) barriers to men who wish to stray from their partners.

    I don’t buy this either. Homosexuals aren’t promiscuous because they can’t get married. Look at heterosexuals. There is plenty of heterosexual promiscuity as well. That’s why STD rates are at epic proportions among teens, or why restrictions on abortion are resisted. My hunch is not that many homosexuals will get married anyway. Even long-term homosexual partners are seldom ‘monogamous’ as I am sure you know. The push for homosexual marriage is not about stability anyway, it’s about the normalization of homosexual behavior.

    Further, if we’re talking about sheer numbers, in the U.S. gay men are eclipsed in the performance of “sodomy” by another group: heterosexuals.

    In sheer numbers, sure. It’s not a hard number to eclipse when homosexuals comprise 3% of the population. In terms of homosexual practice and ideology however, sodomy ostensibly replicates heterosexual intercourse. In any case, anal related diseases among homosexuals is a very serious problem as I am sure you know, and the heterosexuals who practice sodomy run the same risks.

    My point here though was this:

    It’s the normalization of anal sexual activity and the new diseases that it will introduce that I worry about.

    You respond:

    So, anal sexual activity is okay when it doesn’t lead to disease? Or is this just another in a long string of red herrings? Are you throwing “evidence” my way because you feel I’m a materialist, even though you believe the evidence is only relevant when it supports the view you already hold?

    Anal sexual activity is disease prone. There is no avoiding that. Normalize it, and disease will increase. It’s a huge health risk, as the numbers in the homosexual population bear out.

  4. #39

    Polygamy has already been tried and rejected. It tends to degrade women by treating them as property. It has often led to the abuse of young girls. And frankly, it doesn?t work mathematically; there aren?t enough women to go around.

    I agree. But don’t you realize that this is an appeal to human wisdom, hard won and born of centuries of experience? The proscription of homosexuality is similar, only the experience it is based on likely lies deeper in human history.

    Likewise, the negative social consequences of polygamy might not be immediately apparent, nor follow from abstract reasoning, but would eventually appear.

    So also the consequence of “gay marriage”.

  5. I don’t buy this either. Homosexuals aren’t promiscuous because they can’t get married. Look at heterosexuals. There is plenty of heterosexual promiscuity as well.

    So, are you saying that providing legal marriage for homosexual couples will not result in any increase in monogamy, and that, if we disbanded the institution of state marriage, there would no decrease in monogamy among heterosexual couples?

    Interesting.

    Even long-term homosexual partners are seldom ‘monogamous’ as I am sure you know.

    If someone said the same thing about African-American couples, would you and I agree that they were a bigot for drawing a generalization about a group of people based on the behavior of individuals? Yes or no?–if someone said, “I oppose marriage for blacks because black couples have lower monogamy rates than white couples,” would you think that person was bigoted?

    Or would you say, “Well, I disagree with their conclusion, but their logic makes perfect sense, and it’s the kind of argument that a moral, reasonable person would make?”

    In any case, anal related diseases among homosexuals is a very serious problem as I am sure you know, and the heterosexuals who practice sodomy run the same risks.

    Are you talking about HIV here? Or, do we just accept that “anal related diseases” covers anything that could possibly happen as a result of anal sex? HIV is caused, as I’m sure you know, by contact with the HIV virus. “Anal sex” doesn’t cause it, per se, but the disease vector in the United States was likely a gay men, so the disease grew in that population quickly before spreading slowly to other populations.

    Nonetheless, a couple who proposed marriage and chose to get tested for any number of STI’s could greatly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

    None of which is really relevant, because there’s no reason to believe that legal gay marriage will result in an increase in anal sex, and there’s some reason to believe that legal marriage will result in an increase in monogamy, particular among long-term gay couples.

    What most conservatives, even Christian conservatives, seem to fear about same-sex couples and same-sex relations is not how scary and vile they are, it’s how mundane and ordinary they are. The culture of fear of the late 1970s, where a gay man risked complete alienation from much of society by “coming out,” resulted in a gay culture which was disconnected from much of the rest of the country. “Integration” was not possible–despite the fact that gay men and women, in almost all cases, grew up in houses headed by heterosexuals.

    The social stigma, of which you speak so highly, resulted in a generation or more of gay individuals whose relationships had no place in most communities. Even if admitting to your neighbors that you and your partner were gay didn’t result in violence, it certainly didn’t result in social acceptance and a comfortable place in the social hierarchy.

    Today, that’s changing, and the natural evolution of that change is that gay couples can own homes together, go to church together (depending on their faith), and open up joint checking accounts. So-called “conservatives” find this disturbing: they were happier when gay relationships were furtive, secretive, and brief.

    The ugly underpinnings of the anti-gay-marriage movement lie in the desire to keep gay people as a scary morality tale, to prevent the “normalization” of homosexual couples, because when it can be seen that they’re normal, then it becomes clear that the emperor has no clothes.

    The idea of a gay couple buying a suburban home, finishing each other’s sentences and sharing a health plan or a retirement pension is what you’re really trying to prevent when you decry “the normalization of homosexual behavior.” You’re not preventing sex–you can’t–and you’re not preventing homosexuality–you can’t.

    What anti-gay-marriage folks oppose most vehemently is the most wholesome thing that the gay movement has ever sought. That says a lot about “conservatives,” and what they really fear.

  6. Jim Holman says:

    Tom C writes: “The proscription of homosexuality is similar, only the experience it is based on likely lies deeper in human history.”

    The whole concept of homosexuality as a sexual orientation is relatively new in human history, and the concept continues to evolve.

    When I was growing up I never even heard the term “homosexual.” I knew there were a few males who were “queers,” but I really didn’t know what that meant, except it was something that you didn’t want to be. I never saw a single TV show or movie in which someone played a “homosexual” on the screen. I wouldn’t say that homosexuals were “in the closet” back then; it was more like they lived underground, not even on the surface of the planet.

    I’ve posted here for . . . I don’t know how many years now. When I started here some used to argue that homosexuality was simply a “choice.” It has been a long time since I’ve even heard that argument.

    Not many years ago the “reparative therapy” movement was born, with claims that homosexuals could be cured. The problem is that cures were rare, and even those weren’t cures. The individuals in question simply ceased having same-sex relationships, but the orientation didn’t go away. And then it turned out that most of them continued in same-sex relationships anyway. A number of “ex-gay” leaders of the reparative therapy movement finally rejected the whole thing. Two leaders of Exodus International even left Exodus, fell in love, and begain living together.

    Even Ted Haggard, who had everything to lose and nothing to gain, at last couldn’t conceal who he actually is.

    Phil writes: “The social stigma, of which you speak so highly, resulted in a generation or more of gay individuals whose relationships had no place in most communities.”

    Such stigma simply leads to social isolation, alienation, misery, fear, and depression. It doesn’t help anyone or change anyone.

    Phil: “. . . when it can be seen that they’re normal, then it becomes clear that the emperor has no clothes.”

    They become worse than normal. They become boring — just as boring as the rest of us. No controversy, no parades in the street, no distinctive identity. Andrew Sullivan talked about that in his aptly-titled 2005 article “The End of Gay Culture.” At that point sexual orientation will be just another fact about a person — and not a very interesting or important fact.

    To some extent that’s already happening. At my last job there were a number of gays and lesbians. Nobody cared. Nobody joked about it. Nobody was made fun of. No one was seen as a threat. New hires were introduced in the company newsletter — “Frank and his partner Ed enjoy skiing and have a cat named Mitsy” — and no one raised an eyebrow. In short, there was almost a total disinterest in anyone’s sexual orientation. Expect more of the same.

    Of course the controversy will continue in certain churches. But that will be seen as rather “quaint,” the same way that religious prohibitions against dancing and card-playing are seen as quaint.

  7. Note 55. Phil asks:

    So, are you saying that providing legal marriage for homosexual couples will not result in any increase in monogamy, and that, if we disbanded the institution of state marriage, there would no decrease in monogamy among heterosexual couples?

    No. What I said was that homosexual “marriage” won’t decrease homosexual promiscuity, won’t result in a high number of homosexuals getting “married,” and won’t cause homosexuals in long term relationships to become monogamous. The push for homosexual marriage is really a push for moral legitimization of homosexual behavior.

    Further, I don’t accept the implied psychology parity between homosexuality and heterosexuality in your question. I think the pathology is different. It’s too complex to allow the simple sociological assertions your question contains.

    If someone said the same thing about African-American couples, would you and I agree that they were a bigot for drawing a generalization about a group of people based on the behavior of individuals?

    I’ve answered this before. I’ve told you that the linkage between homosexual “rights” and the black civil rights movement is illegitimate — as many black leaders assert vigorously. See my article: Gay Marriage Far Removed From Civil Rights Movement.

    What anti-gay-marriage folks oppose most vehemently is the most wholesome thing that the gay movement has ever sought. That says a lot about “conservatives,” and what they really fear.

    Nice try Phil, but the “fear” argument is old and it doesn’t wash. You are free to live with your partner. No one will stop you. Asking society to sanction your relationship as marriage is an entirely different thing altogether, and to pretend there are no social ramifications to this decision is foolish.

    The more I think this through, the more I see there can be no moral parity between homosexuality and heterosexuality in terms of cultural institutions. There can be a tacit admission of the homosexuality that obviously exists and respect towards homosexuals (which I certainly affirm), but there cannot be parallel cultural structures. Society will be either homosexualized or heterosexualized. It cannot be both.

  8. Jim writes:

    The whole concept of homosexuality as a sexual orientation is relatively new in human history, and the concept continues to evolve.

    Wow. Every generation but ours has been ignorant. And ours has no blind spots. I continue to be amazed at how you think cultural fads will persist into eternity. You mistake the possession of temporary cultural power for truth.

    …the same way that religious prohibitions against dancing and card-playing are seen as quaint.

    Maybe if you had told people in the 70s that smoking would one day be morally proscribed by irreligious folks that would have struck them as preposterous. Democrats in Minnesota prohibit wearing perfume at the state convention because that is offensive to some. Things change, and in very unexpected ways.

    Your description of “reparative therapy” is highly misleading. The truth is that roughly one half of (men at least) who were involved in homosexual behavior at some point eventually quit, go straight, and are highly embarrassed by their former behavior. You don’t hear much from them for obvious reasons.

    Likewise, you would have us believe that homosexuals are just so darn normal that it scares us. This is ridiculous. Frankly, every homosexual man I have ever met seems to have some sort of personality disorder, most often either extreme narcissism or a childhood wound involving distorted parental or peer relationships.
    The poster child for this has to be Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. If you think it is at all compelling to point to him and say “look, we’re completely normal” you are laboring under an ideological delusion.

  9. Even if homosexuals gain the right to “marry” throughout the world, it will not be marriage. Call it what you want, it will still only be a homosexual union. You can convince all the religious folks in the world to accept it. It will still be only a homosexual union.

    You can find all the biblical “scholars” in the world to make neat arguments explaining away those passages that prohibit homosexuality, but those passages will still be there.

    All the philosophical, political, psychological arguments in the world will not change that which is God’s plan for man.

  10. James K says:

    David S writes: “You can find all the biblical “scholars” in the world to make neat arguments explaining away those passages that prohibit homosexuality, but those passages will still be there.

    Explaining away inconvenient Scripture passages is hardly a practice exclusive to liberals. In Numbers 15:32-36, a man is stoned to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath, but I haven’t heard any condemnation of those who work on the Sabbath coming from conservative pastors in any recent memory.

    No conservative (or liberal, for that matter) really wants to bothered with Exodus 22:24 which forbids the charging of interest on a loan.

    Far from forbidding slavery, Exodus 21:1-4 and Lev. 25:44-46 regulates the buying and selling of people for one’s use, but most Christians today reject the notion that slavery is a moral good.

    I find it interesting that 90% of Scripture must be taken “in context” while the two or three passages regarding homosexuality are fully enforceable and must be taken at face value.

  11. Michael Bauman says:

    Same old question at the bottom of this debate that no one in favor of the normalization of homosexual behavior wants to address: what is a human being, i.e. their anthropology.

    Phil, JamesK, Jim et. all have a radically different anthropology than do traditional Christians. Only Christianity has been able to give me real answers to the questions I’ve had about my own nature since I became self-aware. The Christian answer is profound and beautiful full of hope and promise. The secular answer is truncated, dark, twisted and without hope or reason. The problem, IMO, is that it takes effort and obedience to even approach living as a Christian person, while it takes no effort to live within the secular mold. Within the secular vision, all you have to do is fog a mirror and you can do anything you want. What’s more the rest of us should allow, encourage and support whatever it is you want to do, because, that’s you. There is no foundation for any morality or ethics because there is no hierarchy of values. Any attempt to construct a hierarchy within a secular vision of man collapses quickly upon itself.

  12. Phil, JamesK, Jim et. all have a radically different anthropology than do traditional Christians.

    I’m willing to concede that traditional Christianity may have provided you with profound and beautiful answers to important questions.

    The question, in terms of civil laws, comes down to: is it right try to force others to live according to your own religious beliefs?

    It’s refreshing, though, to at least read someone who acknowledges the religious differences on this issue. Jacobse seems to be pretending that there isn’t a religious difference, and that Jennifer Roback Morse was not making a religous argument.

  13. Jim Holman says:

    Tom C writes: “I continue to be amazed at how you think cultural fads will persist into eternity. You mistake the possession of temporary cultural power for truth.”

    Well, for all I know we’ll be burning homosexuals at the stake 200 years from now. But I don’t think so. In the space of just 50 years we’ve gone from homosexuals practically having to live underground, to a situation in which they can live as openly as anyone else. I simply do not see how that is going to change.

    Tom C: “Your description of “reparative therapy” is highly misleading. The truth is that roughly one half of (men at least) who were involved in homosexual behavior at some point eventually quit, go straight, and are highly embarrassed by their former behavior. You don’t hear much from them for obvious reasons.”

    The only study of reparative therapy of which I’m aware is Spitzer’s study of 2001. It was a very flawed study, but as far as I know it’s all we have. In contrast to the “thousands” of successful therapy outcomes that he had heard about, it took Spitzer a year and a half to find 274 possible successful cases. Virtually all of these were evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, who obviously had a strong motivation to change. Of the 200 to whom he gave phone interviews, around half were referred to him by Christian therapy organizations. People who were unable to change were not part of the study.

    Even for those who changed, the majority became bisexual in orientation, not heterosexual, and many still retained strong same-sex attractions. 11 percent of males and 37 percent of females reported being only heterosexual after the therapy.

    But again, this was a study that included only people who had achieved some degree of change. Those who didn’t change weren’t included in the study. Given the large number of people who had gone through therapy, the difficulty of finding research subjects even with the help of Christian therapy organizations, and the partial success of even those who had changed, Spitzer concluded that perhaps 3 percent of homosexuals had an orientation that was changeable.

    Tom C: “Likewise, you would have us believe that homosexuals are just so darn normal that it scares us.”

    Most people are not frightened by that. The great majority of people who fear the “normalization” of homosexuality are conservative Christians, since that is seen as a threat to their theology (as far as I can tell.)

    Tom C: “Frankly, every homosexual man I have ever met seems to have some sort of personality disorder, most often either extreme narcissism or a childhood wound involving distorted parental or peer relationships.”

    But in arguing against civil rights protections specifically for homosexuals, Christian groups argued that homosexuals do not need such protections because they already are doing so well. The average education and income for homosexuals is above the average for all others. They are highly successful in many fields. They work successfully in the same occupations as heterosexuals. Again, this is the situation as described by Christian groups arguing against special civil rights protections.

    Regardless of the civil rights implications, that kind of success would not be possible were homosexuals somehow psychologically damaged or disturbed more than the average person.

    I don’t like arguing from isolated anecdotes, but sometimes they can be instructive. Mark Bingham, and openly gay man, was one of the passengers who fought with the terrorists on United 93, thus preventing it from striking a target in Washington, DC. He was a graduate of UC Berkeley. He was the CEO of his own public relations firm, and a rugby player. In 2000 he supported John McCain for president, and McCain delivered a eulogy at his memorial service, attended by over 500 people. McCain said

    I never knew Mark Bingham. But I wish I had. I know he was a good son and friend, a good rugby player, a good American, and an extraordinary human being. He supported me, and his support now ranks among the greatest honors of my life. I wish I had known before September 11 just how great an honor his trust in me was. I wish I could have thanked him for it more profusely than time and circumstances allowed. But I know it now. And I thank him with the only means I possess, by being as good an American as he was.

    This does not sound like someone with a personality disorder.

  14. Phil, As always you go way over the top with exaggerations and false arguments:

    The question, in terms of civil laws, comes down to: is it right try to force others to live according to your own religious beliefs?

    Nobody is forcing anyone to live according to our religious beliefs. Hoewever, the very definition of the word “marriage” means the union of a MAN and a WOMAN (biologically real man and woman, not the pop-culture transexual pregnant woman with a beard who the MSM calls a “pregnant man”). Trying to call marriage anything else is completely dishonest and grossly misleading.

    It is actually the radical homosexual lobby, the rabid anti-Christian leftists, and the secularists who are forcing our children to be indoctrinated according to their “religious beliefs.” It’s typical that you fail to see this. But it’s expected.

  15. Michael Bauman says:

    Again Phil you side-step the question, what is man? with an ad hominum attack. All of the rest is simply smoke screen. Be honest, you have a particular view of what it means to be human, you wish to enshrine that view in the political and cultural life of this country. Anthropological ideas are always founded upon some sort of cosmology just as is all morality is. The fact is that politics is always a story of “attempting to force one’s beliefs on others” — that’s what politics is. In paticipatory government, the minority ALWAYS has different beliefs, values and policies forced upon them by the majority. In more overtly tyranical systems, blatant force is used. Your argument is specious.

    It would be much more fruitful and honest to acknowledge your disagreement and state openly what you believe to be the nature of man and why you think such belief should rule the laws and culture. What the benefit to us is and why. You prefer to demonize anyone you deem ‘religious’ which is, again, a specious argument void of any content.

    Laws only work if they are an expression of how people should behave that is in accord with a culturally understood knowledge of who we are as people both as individuals and as members of society.

  16. After trying to denounce “conservatives” regarding biblical passages that concern slavery(a favorite chosen by atheists) and charging interest, JamesK writes:

    “I find it interesting that 90% of Scripture must be taken “in context” while the two or three passages regarding homosexuality are fully enforceable and must be taken at face value.”

    This is why homosexuality is un-biblical:

    A homosexual union cannot be consummated. The two cannot become “one flesh.” In a homosexual union the human seed has no welcome destination. It is either ingested or discharged in the human waste system. Both leading to the same outcome.

  17. Example of forced homosexual indoctrination of children in second grade in Massachusetts:

    The book referred to by the panel, “King and King”, depicts a “prince” who isn’t interested in a princess, but instead is “in love” with the princess’ brother. Their “love” is portrayed in a sympathetic manner, and the two “marry” each other. They are shown kissing on the lips at the end of the book, which was read to second graders in 2006 in Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts.

    Two families complained to the school district, which responded that the school district was not obligated to advise families about such matters, and would not allow parents to opt-out. David Parker and other parents with children in the school district responded by filing a federal civil rights lawsuit. After the suit was dismissed by Federal District Judge Mark L. Wolf in early 2007, the parents appealed. Now, the Federal appeals court has rejected their appeal.

    […]

    The three judge panel ruled that a lower court decision was correct when it denied parents the right to remove their children from such classes, while admitting that the purpose of the literature to which their children were being exposed was to influence children to “tolerate” gay marriage.

    Court: No Opt-out of Homosexual Indoctrination in Class for Massachusetts Parents
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08020404.html

    How’s that for imposing the homosexual agenda and “religious beliefs” on CHILDREN and families. Want to comment now Phil?

  18. Jacobse says:

    Note 62. Phil writes:

    The question, in terms of civil laws, comes down to: is it right try to force others to live according to your own religious beliefs?

    “In terms of civil laws…”? What?

    There are no civil laws that recognize homosexual coupling as a marriage. It’s only foisted on the public through judicial fiat, and even then the decisions are split.

    “…force other to live accoring to your own religious beliefs”? So we reduce the the history and practice of Western culture to a private religious belief?

    By this logic all social norms, and all law that deals with morality (though shalt not kill perhaps?) and fall under this impoverished rubric of “religious belief” become suspect, don’t you think?

    Or perhaps your notion of human desire as the foundation of rights and is the impoverished notion.

    Jacobse seems to be pretending that there isn’t a religious difference, and that Jennifer Roback Morse was not making a religous argument.

    Phil, please. What I don’t accept is your insistence that homosexual behavior is no more than a private matter on one hand, while you try to impose homosexual marriage on society on the other.

    Nor do I argue that these questions are not religious in character. Religion is the wellspring of morality — including yours, as I’ve made clear and explained effectively.

    What I don’t accept is your truncation of any notion of rights to private desire. The attraction a homosexual feels toward the same sex is not sufficient justification to redefine marriage to accommodate not only homosexuals, but anyone who will make the same case that as you do.

    Far fetched? Not really. You still have not been able to make a case against polygamy.

    And here too we see the difference between homosexual activism and Black Civil Rights. The homosexual activist paints his detractors as religious to push them out of the public square. The Black Civil Rights activists appealed to the religious tradition to effect a change of conscience. (Blacks don’t like the homosexual appropriation of their history and morality, as I am sure you know.)

    I do have to thank you for one thing, however. I’ve been looking around for a book that examines in more detail the reductionist approach to law and morality reflected in your arguments and found one — Mary Ann Glendon’s, “Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse.”

    Here’s the blurb for anyone interested:

    From Kirkus Reviews

    Here, Harvard Law School professor Glendon argues eloquently and persuasively that modern American political discourse, by emphasizing an ever-expanding catalogue of rights to the exclusion of duties and responsibilities, has lost the central role in civic life envisioned for it by the Founding Fathers. Glendon shows that, in American society, both sides in political debates frame issues in terms of individual rights–flag- burning, domestic relations, and human reproduction, for example- -and that this tendency impedes understanding and compromise. Such stark formulations, she says, ultimately lead to coerced, and often unsatisfying, social arrangements. Glendon makes a compelling case that the American political lexicon lacks a vocabulary for expressing normative and moral concepts that individual Americans understand and value highly, and that the legal culture, with its single-minded emphasis on obtaining civil rights (as opposed to cultivating moral norms), has actually contributed, albeit unwittingly, to the debasement of American political and legal discourse. Glendon calls for the inclusion of the “missing language of responsibility” and the “missing language of sociality” in American political dialogue, and for an increasing emphasis on individuals’ responsibilities to their communities as a necessary concomitant to the rights they exercise. A forceful and valuable analysis of the banality of modern American public debate.

    It’s out of print (published 1993) but plenty of used copies are available. Looks good. My copy arrived two days ago.

  19. The link between law and morality is not very clear to me, although the very language of rights is derived from an almost religious respect for the human person, it is true.

    Our country in particular has never had a fondness for imposing moral values on people to an extent greater than when we must necessarily restrict one person’s vice from impacting another’s liberties. It’s not that we condemn smoking or drinking, per se, but we restrict these when their use impacts others’ safety or health. We reward generosity to charities through tax deductions, but we do not penalize anyone for being a selfish miser. We grant marriage licenses, but the state has never had an interest (nor should it) in determining the intent and spiritual validity of the relationship involved. We don’t forbid stores from remaining open for business on the Sabbath (although it is clear that Scripture condemns this as a violation with no exclusions for necessity). We don’t imprison people for fornication or private drunkenness. Idolatry is condemned more than any other sin throughout Scripture, yet there is no law that forbids putting a sculpted idol in one’s home, whether it be Buddha or Krishna.

    So, I’m not really sure what system of ethics or morality Fr. Hans and others here think are being reflected in our nation’s laws. Also, to what extent do the conservative posters here think morality should be imposed via legislation so that it does not infringe on our liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution?

  20. The fact is that politics is always a story of “attempting to force one’s beliefs on others” — that’s what politics is. In paticipatory government, the minority ALWAYS has different beliefs, values and policies forced upon them by the majority.

    That’s a simplistic statement, and it gets repeated a lot around here. The fallacy is the idea that, “Well, since there’s always gonna be somebody who doesn’t like a law, we should just ignore the minority in all possible cases.”

    But that’s clearly not the recipe for a healthy society. Imagine a hypothetical country that is 90% Christian and 10% Jew. By your logic, all politics in this country will involve either the Christian majority forcing everyone to attend a Christian church, or the Jewish minority forcing everyone to attend a Jewish synagogue.

    But that’s a false dichotomy. The best solution, it should be obvious to any reasonable human being, is to leave the decision about where to worship up to the individual citizens. The Christians can go to Christian churches, the Jews can go to temple, and people who feel like staying home can do so.

    Somehow, this simple, elegant, logical solution becomes “tyranny” when it’s suggested. The logic of “Christians” on this board runs something like, “How dare they force us to allow them to go to their own worship services! My children have to see that!”

    I’m sorry, but the “oppression” and “victimization” that you feel when someone else gets to do something that you don’t want them to do doesn’t compare to the experiences of the minority whose rights you’re denying.

  21. Phil, please. What I don’t accept is your insistence that homosexual behavior is no more than a private matter on one hand, while you try to impose homosexual marriage on society on the other.

    Why do you keep insisting that giving people an option is “imposing” it on them? If a high school cafeteria decides to stock vegan macaroni next to the cheesy macaroni, they aren’t “imposing” vegan food on the students. If a city building decides to put a unisex bathroom in between the men’s room and women’s room for people in a hurry, they aren’t “imposing” unisex bathrooms on the populace. And if a state allows same-sex marriage in addition to mixed-sex marriage, they aren’t imposing it on the population.

    You keep trying to play the victim card here, and it just doesn’t work.

  22. Fr John says:

    I’ve been reading, largely behind the scenes, the posts and as I have a thought comes to mind. That thought is about the enduring nature of traditional marriage.

    My mind goes back to various experiments with marriage in this country ranging from the celibacy of the Shakers, the group arrangements of the Oneida community, to the polygamy of the Mormons. Each had its moment in the sun and each has faded away. There are remnants of each, for sure, but they inhabit a realm generally as large as a headline seeking media will give them and then they fade back into noise.

    In this day and age the experiment is “same sex marriage” and in some quarters of the culture it has significant support. But it, too, will fail in time. After an initial rush the numbers will trickle, as they have in Canada, to a handful here and there, the “edginess” will be gone and despite the spohistry of its proponents the primal mismatch that is at the core of every gay relationship will take its toll. In a hundred years or so same sex couples will be viewed with the same curiousity as the last Shakers.

    The problem will be that this experiment will, like all the other experiments with marriage, have its consequences. For the couples themselves, and all the participants in the various arrangements that will inevitably result from the legality of same sex marriage, there will be emotional, physical, social, and spiritual fallout. Press just a bit beyond the official MSM and you can hear the stories already and one day the tide will be so strong that even they cannot ignore it. For those who object to the new order there will also be a future of sanction and trial because this new order of things will not be content to live in a kind of rural obscurity like the Oneidas but intends to impose itself, despite its talk of tolerance, on a cultural and global scale. Gay activists in Europe and Canada are already very busy using the law to harass dissenters and the chances of it getting better, at least in the Western world, before it gets worse are slim. The years ahead could be very rough as we, and our children, face these people not as contestants in a philosophical debate but as our judges with the law’s hammer.

    Yet one of the things we understand as Orthodox Christians is that time is on our side. We know what the world will look like one day and we seek to live in the present as if that world is, at least in some small way, already with us. We don’t (rightly I believe) read the book of Revelation in our liturgical services but we should read the last few chapters for ourselves for it lays out the end of things and the end is as the beginning. This gives us hope and takes away fear.

    So what to do?

    I’m not sure what effect countless debates about the nature of things has on any of this. Although forums like this have dialogue its clear that we’re talking past each other, making points for our constituencies and changing nothing. In fact we may be burning precious time in debate that needs to be used for larger things.

    We as Orthodox Christians most certainly need to get out of our shells and live in the world as it is even as we are citizens of the Kindgom of God. We need to accurately assess it, speak to it in a language it can understand, and always seek for its transformation to what God wishes it to be. In some ways we need to avoid getting sidetracked in endless debates and politics and by living our Faith change the world from the bottom up. For too long Orthodox Christians have been on the bench, as it were, and we’ve failed miserably to present our ideas and live our Faith in the world. We’re largely invisible and because of it searching souls are thwarted on their way.

    We also need to see the sexual worldview of our times as a call of God on us to address these issues clearly, frankly, and with the larger context of our Faith. We’re long past the time when when we count on someone else to provide our children and all of us with a healthy education on sexuality. It’s time we, especially Priests, had the “talk” with our parishoners and anyone else willing to listen.

    It would be probably good for us, as well, to reflect on our own history and come to see if our sexual ethic has also produced the unintended consequence of promoting harm. Now before the “heretic” button starts getting pushed all over the blogosphere I am not suggesting that we should change our view but rather that it should be fulfilled with grace. Our grace to help and love those struggling with their sexuality should be at least as high as our standards of chastity. We chrismate people in prison, people who have sometimes committed horrendous crimes, should we not also at least have our doors open to the person seeking hope and healing in their struggle with sexuality? Have we sometimes singled out sexual sins and placed them in a special category that makes those dealing with them afraid to seek us out? Have we, by our attitudes, given the impression, even unwittingly, that doing violence to people struggling with sexuality is appropriate? We will not be able to reach everyone but if we have the genuine love of Christ for all those seeking help for any need, any passion, any sin, they will at least know they can find help, and not endless condemnation, within our temples.

    And this leads to the last point of this lengthy post. We will need to be there, as we should be for each other now, as the effects of our libertine attitudes about sexuality increasingly come to bear. Where are our hospitals? Where are our clinics? Where are our homes for mothers in crisis, our hospices for the ill and dying, our shelters from the storm? Until we can answer that all we have is words and for the teenager who just realized she was pregnant, or the young man selling his body on the street so that he can eat, or the folks lost in the swirl of one night stands at the loca bar, that’s all they’ll be, words.