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. Ron Lee says:

    I work in a public library. Most of my co-workers assume that I am a “right-thinking” individual because it never occurs to them (and I underscore, IT NEVER OCCURS TO THEM) that someone intelligent enough to work for a public library could be a conservative. When they appreciate their mistake, I am often subjected to a kind of low level ostracism. Nothing extreme. People just stop talking to me. Most of the time I suspect it is because they don’t know HOW to talk to me, since, once again, it never occurred to them, that there might be intelligent arguments for positions that they take it for granted are evil. It is very uncomfortable and very tiresome.

  2. Banescu says:

    The totalitarian impulses of the liberals and leftists in this country is truly frightening. The same people who on Monday say freedom and Constitutional protections entitle everyone to say and do whatever they please and every point of view should be heard, turn around on Tuesday and tell all the non-liberals, non-leftists, and non-radicals they disagree with to SHUT UP! The hypocrisy is simply astounding.

  3. As a teacher, I’ve noticed the opposite problem: often, teachers and students who hold conservative views about people who may be on campus are unwilling to voice them. This is distinct from teachers who hold conservative views about, say, foreign policy, who trumpet them loudly for everyone to hear.

    Perhaps this is because, as humans, they instinctively know that if they write in a paper or proclaim at a meeting that they believe that some of their colleagues’ relationships deserve a lesser legal status than their own, that they’ll be perceived as, in the least, boorish.

    But I’d say that college professors who speak out against same-sex marriage deserve the same rights as professors who speak out against global warming, the pro-choice movement, or interracial marriage.

    I wonder if others on this board (or even Colson himself) would agree, or if the point of this article is really that campuses should provide special platforms for particular religious views.

  4. James K says:

    There’s a substantive difference between applying social pressure (“shaming”, as Missourian used to call it) and using the power of civil legislation to punish someone for their ideas or beliefs. David Woodard actively campaigned to allow discrimination in housing and employment based not just on activity but on orientation (which may or may not involve any behavior whatsoever).

    For Woodard to then turn around and whine about getting passed up for a cushier position for his beliefs is the height of absurdity.

    I’ve thought about whether anti-discrimination laws are useful: at this point, I’m still not sure. I don’t see any good in forcing employers to keep in their employ (or hire people) they do not think will fit into their culture whether it’s because of religious or ideological reasons or for even far more superficial reasons such as appearance. Many employers seem to be able to avoid discrimination suits by having their employees sign at-will contracts, anyhow, not to mention the fact that most people are reluctant to file suit against a previous employer for fear of being blacklisted. At the same time: it would seem that justice demands that people be given a fair shake at making a living when they agree to abide by company policies and have talent.

    Perhaps the answer is to do away with anti-discrimination laws altogether.

  5. When people have little power, they argue for tolerance and equality. After they have achieved tolerance and equality, and then power, they become intolerant of what was previously the majority view.

    I wish I could remember where I saw this. It seems to me I saw it quoted in a discussion of religious controversy.

  6. Jacobse says:

    The public does not like homosexual marriage. Whenever the issue is given to a vote, it is roundly defeated. Only through coercion, judicial or social (chiefly through codes of political correctness), does the issue stand a chance of implementation. (California gay activists are working feverishly to keep it off the ballot.)

    Remember, even the California Supreme Court was split on the decision 4-3. One vote and it would have gone the other way. Hardly a convincing mandate for this massive project of cultural re-engineering.

  7. Whenever the issue is given to a vote, it is roundly defeated.

    Would that be an example of what John Stuart Mill called ““tyranny of prevailing opinion?”

    Are we all just competing to see who can be more persecuted? Christians, gays, liberals, conservatives, the Human Rights Coalition, the Prison Fellowship, me, and David Woodard?

  8. Phil asks:

    Would that be an example of what John Stuart Mill called ““tyranny of prevailing opinion?”

    Probably not. More likely it’s centuries of collective wisdom.

    Jeniffer Roback Morse makes some good points in Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ and the Persecution of Civil Society.

    I think Morse’s point about same-sex couples needing to be coddled by the state is very important and needs development. On its own, same-sex marriage can’t stand (no kids, etc. — at least naturally). It needs the mechanism of state to give the appearance of viability and, as the activists hope, moral parity with heterosexual marriage. It’s the same problem polygamists face when they try to normalize polygamy, although of course the polygamist relationship is not naturally sterile.

  9. Probably not. More likely it’s centuries of collective wisdom.

    Is it that “tyranny of prevailing opinion” only occurs when someone disagrees with the speaker?

    Jennifer Roback Morse takes the Colson/Woodard position to an odd extreme. She blames same-sex marriage for impositions on religious freedom, as if there is something inherently anti-religious about same-sex marriage.

    That’s not really true, unless one takes the stance that one religion is true and all the rest are wrong. Of course, this is the personal stance that Roback Morse takes, and probably the stance that most people of different religions take: why would we believe a faith if we didn’t believe it was True?

    She claims

    Legalizing same-sex “marriage” has brought in its wake state regulation of other parts of society.

    –as if same-sex marriage was the cause if state intrusion into other aspects of society. But that’s fallacious: a state that bases anti-discrimination laws on a new legal status granted to gay couples already had the right to do that, and could exercise that right in the future based on other legal changes.

    The many religions that support same-sex marriage don’t feel the “conflict with religious freedom” that Roback Morse writes about; it’s the powerful religions, one of which Roback Morse adheres to, which perceive this change.

    The result is that she’s arguing a policy position based on a specific religious view. She doesn’t come out and say this, perhaps because in U.S. culture it’s considered distasteful to try to press one’s religion on other people using the force of law.

    But the fact remains: either she is arguing that businesses and individuals deserve exemptions from anti-discrimination laws (or other laws) because of their religious beliefs, or she is arguing that her particular religion deserves special recognition, and special favors, from the state.

    The first position leads to the following conclusion:

    “People with deeply-held religious oppositions to same-sex marriage deserve the same exemptions from anti-discrimination laws as people with deeply-held religious oppositions to interracial marriage or interfaith marriage.”

    The second position leads to the following conclusion:

    “The religion that Jennifer Roback Morse follows deserves to be singled out for special exemptions to the law.”

    I happen to agree with the first position. Roback Morse isn’t really clear in her essay about which of these stances she actually takes, but she is disingenuous when she suggests that same-sex marriage is somehow antithetical to all religious beliefs, or that it is the only activity that a government could consider legalizing which runs contrary to the beliefs of one of the thousands of religions that people hold in this country.

  10. James K says:

    “It’s the same problem polygamists face when they try to normalize polygamy”

    While I don’t think obtaining any marriage license is a constitutional right, per se, given its origins, I’m wondering on what basis we deny polygamous sects the ability to marry as they see fit. Yes, the majority deem it wrong and immoral, but I never believed the majority have absolute power to control the minority, whoever that minority happens to be. If obese people became unpopular enough, what civil constructs (such as marriage) could be denied to them (and obesity is certainly a “lifestyle choice”): so “putting it to a vote” doesn’t really seem to be the final arbiter in these matters.

    Let’s not forget that most polygamous groups (as I’ve mentioned before) are entering these types of arrangements not out of some throwback to 60s hedonism but out of religious belief. The women in Texas who belonged to the fundamentalist Church of LDS were almost Amish in their appearance: not a stitch of make-up or skin showing. On what basis can the state insist that marriage licenses cannot be obtained when petitioned for them by these groups when they believe that their very path to salvation lies in such arrangements?

    Is it because of the children? What’s odd is that most conservative commentators harshly critiqued the state of Texas for removing the children from their parents’ care after the abuse accusation: so this argument doesn’t wash.

    Not only that, polygamy seemed to be blessed by God in the Patriarchal age (2 Samuel 12:8), so the moral element is also somewhat weak here (although Scripture clearly indicates what the ideal of marriage should be).

    Let it be known: I’m no fan of polygamy. I think in most instances it’s probably misogynistic and easily leads to heartache for all participants involved. I also can’t relate to the idea of “sharing” a spouse with five or six other people. I don’t think it will ever be popular in the sense of it being a common arrangement, whether the state blesses it or not. It’s been legally permissible to cohabitate with a dozen people for years, and few seem to decide to utilize that freedom (certainly no one I know).

    I just don’t see why it’s being argued so frequently in this debate why the majority should have the ability to determine how civil marriage laws should be applied for those with whom it disagrees.

  11. Jacobse says:

    James writes:

    Is it because of the children? What’s odd is that most conservative commentators harshly critiqued the state of Texas for removing the children from their parents’ care after the abuse accusation: so this argument doesn’t wash.

    Why is this “odd”? Child abuse is an area that also sees judicial abuse (false reports filed, social service personnel given police powers, etc.), something that conservatives recognize more clearly than liberals. Polygamy should not be sanctioned, but removing children wholesale from their mothers based on a single and unproven allegation is a different matter entirely. This is not an easy issue and requires more deliberation than what your conclusion displays.

    Phil writes:

    The result is that she’s arguing a policy position based on a specific religious view. She doesn’t come out and say this, perhaps because in U.S. culture it’s considered distasteful to try to press one’s religion on other people using the force of law.

    Same-sex marriage is anti-thetical to the Judeo-Christian moral tradition. Muslims certainly would not sanction it, nor do any of the polytheistic religions.

    Nevertheless, substitute the word “religion” with “morality” (since by “religion” you mean moral norms you don’t like), and the same could be said about homosexual “marriage,” — moreso given that it has been imposed through judicial fiat (again, even here the California Court was split 5-4).

    Like it or not Phil, all morality draws from a religious well, even your view that homosexual coupling should be granted moral parity with heterosexual marriage. Trying to deconstruct the religious/moral dimension of this argument in order to restrict the philosophical ground to questions of “rights” or politics doesn’t work. Politics and law are informed by tradition that religious/moral ideas have shaped. Put another way, politics follows culture, not vice-versa. Turn the dynamic around, and you have the prescription for tyranny.

    Ultimately you want to disenfranchise all religious views from the cultural debate, a position revealed through your deconstruction of the religiously based arguments rather than any engagement of the ideas that those arguments present. History, the moral tradition, the sociological structures necessary for social cohesion, etc. don’t factor much in your thinking. It’s a very “presentist”* view.

    *Presentism — Presentism is a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas and perspectives are anachronistically introduced into depictions or interpretations of the past.

  12. On what basis can the state insist that marriage licenses cannot be obtained when petitioned for them by these groups when they believe that their very path to salvation lies in such arrangements?

    I think the state has a legitimate basis to deny marriage licenses to people who are already in a valid marriage. One reason for this is because one of the primary functions of modern marriage is to provide a quick, simple answer to important, unexpected questions, such as, “Which person is best qualified to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated?” or “Which person shall be designated as the caretaker of your children if you are incapacitated?” or “Who shall inherit your estate if you die without a will?”

    We could list off all of the rights that spouses can exercise, but I think any married person is aware that they are myriad, and in fact, there are all kinds of hypothetical situations that a couple might never think about until an emergency forces them to do so.

    Group marriage, in most cases, does not provide a quick, simple answer to such questions, and providing a legal structure for group marriage would require much more than simply saying, “Okay, everyone can have more than one spouse.” Perhaps it would require establishing a hierarchy of spouses, or a mechanism for determining which spouse gets which rights. It would also require a new set of laws for terminating a marriage, and a way to determine which marital relationships were terminated and which remained valid in the event of a partial divorce.

    Most of these decisions would need to be made on a case by case basis by the people involved. As such, there seem to be legitimate logistical reasons for a state that wishes to allow polygamy in practice to leave it up to the individuals involved.

    Is it an infringement on religious freedom when a state bans polygamy where the spouses only get married in the church (and do not seek civil marriage licenses?) It would seem that such faith marriages are a collection of legal acts: it is legal for a man to live in the same house with multiple women. It is legal for a man to have sex with multiple women. It is legal for a man to father children with multiple women. It is legal for a man to refer to a woman as his “wife” in private social settings, even if they aren’t married. (Although it should be noted that in some states, persisting in doing that can result in a common-law marriage claim.) And so forth. Is it intrusive of the state to prevent such people of faith from living together as they believe they should, if they are not sexually or physically abusing children?

  13. Some thoughts on your post, Jacobse:

    nor do any of the polytheistic religions

    Actualy, a lot of new-agey polytheistic religious support it, as well as some of the “Goddess” religions and modern pagans. I think you’re really talking about Hinduism here, but it’s not accurate to say any of the polytheistic religions.

    Nevertheless, substitute the word “religion” with “morality” (since by “religion” you mean moral norms you don’t like),

    Actually, the word “religion” comes directly from the Roback Morse article that you linked to. She writes, “Unfortunately, these government-enforced changes conflict with a wide array of ordinary liberties, including religious freedom[...]”

    As I pointed out, Roback Morse is being disingenuous. She suggests that same-sex marriage is the cause of of government infringement on religious freedom, when in fact, same-sex marriage is a red herring in that argument (or, to borrow a Hitchcock term, it’s like a “MacGuffin.”) Basically, she’s saying that
    (1). When the government passes a law that your religion doesn’t like, it can then
    (2). Force people who hold your religious beliefs to do things they don’t want to do.

    She pretends that the solution to such an imposition on religious freedom is to prevent (1)–don’t let the government pass a law that your religion doesn’t like.

    I’m not trying to disenfranchise Roback Morse, I’m just pointing out her bad writing and faulty logic. The path to supporting religious freedom does not lie in “preventing the government from passing laws that you don’t like,” it lies in preventing (2): in not allowing the government to force people to do things they don’t want to do.

    By pointing to (1) as the problem and ignoring (2), Roback Morse is tacitly supporting the notion that it’s okay for the government to force people to do things that are against their religious beliefs, as long as it does’t force people to do things that are against Jennifer Roback Morse’s religious beliefs.

    She, of course, has every right to think that way, and to write that way. But it is not a “religious freedom” argument that she’s making, any way you slice it.

    the same could be said about homosexual “marriage,” — moreso given that it has been imposed through judicial fiat

    (What you said here was, essentially, that it can be distasteful to “press one’s moral beliefs on other people using the force of law.”)

    But let’s be clear: even if we accept the phrase “judicial fiat,” it would be more accurate to say that the California Supreme court permitted same-sex marriage through judicial fiat (not “imposed.”)

    Mixed-sex marriages are still available and quite popular in the state of California, and the court’s decision does not force Catholic churches or other religious organizations to perform marriages that are against their religions, any more than past decisions permitting interfaith marriages forced religious organizations to perform interfaith marriages against their will.

    If anti-discrimination laws are bothering you, as they seem to be bothering Jennifer Roback Morse, then fight the anti-discrimination laws. But don’t pretend that an imposition-on-your-rights is intrinsic to same-sex marriage; that’s faulty logic. People whose religions oppose same-sex marriage are not having anything more “pressed” upon them than people whose religions oppose mixed-race marriage. That’s not an effort to compare you to a racist, it’s simply a truism.

  14. Jacobse says:

    Note 12. Phil writes:

    Group marriage, in most cases, does not provide a quick, simple answer to such questions, and providing a legal structure for group marriage would require much more than simply saying, “Okay, everyone can have more than one spouse.” Perhaps it would require establishing a hierarchy of spouses, or a mechanism for determining which spouse gets which rights. It would also require a new set of laws for terminating a marriage, and a way to determine which marital relationships were terminated and which remained valid in the event of a partial divorce.

    Earlier this year you were arguing against my assertion that homsexual “marriage” would open the floodgates to anyone with a “rights” claim to marriage. Now you are saying that polygamy is a natural extension of homosexual marriage (which it is).

    Homosexual “marriage” essentially defines marriage out of existence — a dangerous experiment in social engineering to say the least. Why not polygamy? Why not father and daughter — they love each other, right? (We’ll assume the daughter is older than 18.) There really is no reason not to sanction any kind of relationship as a “marriage” using the logic that homosexual activists offer, which is to say the logic obliterates the received cultural tradition. Yes, the social observers are correct. If homosexual marriage becomes a cultural norm (presently it is not, as the people, when allowed to vote, make abundantly clear), it indicates severe moral, and thus cultural, decline.

  15. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    But let’s be clear: even if we accept the phrase “judicial fiat,” it would be more accurate to say that the California Supreme court permitted same-sex marriage through judicial fiat (not “imposed.”)

    Not “distasteful”, but wrong, just like Kelo and most other decisions arrived by judicial fiat.

    I don’t think that homosexual activists like yourself will ever see the error of homosexual marriage because I don’t really believe that marriage is the goal here. Rather, the cultural acceptance of homosexual behavior is the goal. Yet, here too, I think the goal is fleeting because the discomfort homosexuals feel really has its source in the person (cultural taboos merely reinforce it). Hitching the cause to the civil rights horse is a clever apologetic (and also explains why you categorize any opposition to the homosexual marriage crusade as a “religious” argument), but the fact remains, that apart from the five out of nine judges who are persuaded by these arguments, four were not and a large majority of the people are not either. (See my article: Gay Marriage Far Removed from Civil Rights Movement.)

    This issue needs to go back to the people, but I hear the homosexual activists are fighting tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. I can see why.

  16. Now you are saying that polygamy is a natural extension of homosexual marriage (which it is).

    Jacobse, I didn’t say that, and I don’t understand what part of my post you’re misinterpreting to get that.

    What I said was:

    I think the state has a legitimate basis to deny marriage licenses to people who are already in a valid marriage.

    If you’re going to respond, please quote me directly. Usually, I respect what you have to say (even when I vehemently disagree), but I’m a little appalled at this disregard for what I actually said.

  17. Jacobse writes:

    I don’t think that homosexual activists like yourself will ever see the error of homosexual marriage because I don’t really believe that marriage is the goal here. Rather, the cultural acceptance of homosexual behavior is the goal.

    I think another reason that homosexual activists like myself won’t see the error of homosexual marriage is because there isn’t an error to be seen.

    Your term “homosexual behavior” is a loaded term: the implication is that it’s all about sex–and scandalous, sodomite sex at that! Even “heterosexual behavior” seems a little trivial when it’s reduced to the act of insertion, doesn’t it?

    But if by “homosexual behavior” you mean homosexual relationships and all that they entail, like deciding who is going to buy groceries today or choosing whose family to spend Thanksgiving dinner with, then yes, I agree that one goal of the whole gay rights movement is to reduce cultural bigotry toward homosexuals.

    Of course, it’s not “bigotry” in your case, is it? If I suggested that you ought not be married to your wife for some reason, and that, in a perfect world, you would leave her and marry someone else, that would be the height of arrogance on my part. But when you make the same claim about me and my partner, you’re not being “distasteful” or rude or obnoxious, because you know better than me who I really ought to be in a relationship with, and your God is the True God and my religious beliefs are wrong.

    Am I misinterpreting you? Do you believe otherwise?

  18. Jacobse says:

    Note 16. Phil writes:

    If you’re going to respond, please quote me directly.

    I did. See note #14. If you are now saying that no, you don’t approve of polygamy, maybe you could clarify it since it reads as if you are arguing that you do. Should the state sanction polygamous relationships as well?

    Of course, it’s not “bigotry” in your case, is it? If I suggested that you ought not be married to your wife for some reason, and that, in a perfect world, you would leave her and marry someone else, that would be the height of arrogance on my part. But when you make the same claim about me and my partner, you’re not being “distasteful” or rude or obnoxious, because you know better than me who I really ought to be in a relationship with, and your God is the True God and my religious beliefs are wrong.

    Anyone can make the case that a moral onus against their preferred behavior is bigotry. It’s an easy one to make. Sometimes bigotry exists, other times there are legitimate reasons not to sanction particular behaviors.

    Take incest for example. Or polygamy. Certainly you are not arguing that there is not some measure of affection between a man and several wives, are you? But is this a sufficient reason to sanction polygamous marriages? No. Nor am I arguing that men don’t have genuine affection towards each other. But should the eroticizing of this affection be sanctioned as a marriage? No.

    You keep wanting to reduce the argument to “religious belief,” as if culture and society has no real interest in moral redefinition of marriage. But such a radical restructuring of relationships will have a huge effect on all areas of culture and society as the Roback piece pointed out. Like it or not Phil, the ramifications of homosexual “marriage” are huge.

    Dennis Prager wrote a piece a while back on homosexuality. It’s insightful for several reasons, including the explanation on how moral norms shape culture.

    Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality

  19. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “Like it or not Phil, the ramifications of homosexual “marriage” are huge.”

    What, in particular, do you think those ramifications are?

    I’m asking, because I really can’t think of any. Homosexuality is already widely accepted in the larger society. Even here no one suggests that homosexuals should be denied employment, or housing. No one says that homosexuality should be criminalized. Homosexuals serve successfully in the military; as I recall, the first American soldier wounded in the Iraq war was a gay man. I haven’t even heard much opposition here to the idea of domestic partnerships. And in many states homosexual couples are allowed to adopt, and I am unaware of any actual research that suggests that homosexuals can’t be good parents; quite the opposite.

    Given all that, it’s hard for me to understand why allowing same-sex marriage would have such a catastrophic effect on society.

  20. Note 18–

    The paragraph you quote in Note 14 is almost the entire text of a paragraph in support of the statement, “I think the state has a legitimate basis to deny marriage licenses to people who are already in a valid marriage.” You just omitted the first sentence.

    Now, obviously you’re not just lying and being devious, trying to misquote me here. So what’s the source of the miscommunication? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because I wrote hypothetically about what the state would have to do to create legal polygamy, without condemning it more than once.

    Just to be clear, a description of what the state would have to do in order to pass a law is not and endorsement of that law, in my book. It’s just a way to talk through a subject, to think clearly about it.

    You keep wanting to reduce the argument to “religious belief,” as if culture and society has no real interest in moral redefinition of marriage.

    Do you really believe that something that is enshrined as a religious belief is a “reduction?” The impression I get, typically, is that a person’s religious beliefs are more important than their opinions/policy positions/etc., because while an opinion or policy position can change based on new evidence, a religious belief is based on faith. For many people, a “religious belief” is the most important belief they can hold.

    So, when I suggest that Jennifer Roback Morse is defending a religious belief that homosexual relationships are wrong, or that homosexual marriage should be illegal, there is something irrefutable about my statement: I’m correct. In the post you linked to, it’s pretty obvious. Again, she’s the one–in a post that you suggested we read–who used the term “religious.” She says that homosexual marriage will result in a reduction of religious freedom. She’s wrong, and she uses faulty logic. But that doesn’t mean she’s somehow not writing about religious beliefs.

    Your position has been that, in the case where two different religious beliefs conflict, we should side with the majority religion, except in cases where your religion holds a minority belief. If it bothers you to write about religious belief, by all means, I invite you to begin your arguments with phrases like, “Even if there were no God” or “Even though there is no God.” It will help clarify the distinction between a belief that is specific to religion and a belief that ought to be held by all human beings, whatever their faith.

    Perhaps it bothers you that the entirety of my reasoning against legal polygamy is logistical, as listed above. My opinions about the morality involved are moot.

  21. Jacobse says:

    Note 20. Phil writes:

    The paragraph you quote in Note 14 is almost the entire text of a paragraph in support of the statement, “I think the state has a legitimate basis to deny marriage licenses to people who are already in a valid marriage.” You just omitted the first sentence.

    I omitted it because it makes no sense. Why would the state deny licenses to people already in a “valid” marriage. Sounds to me like you are redefining “valid” here, without actually saying so. Doesn’t “valid” mean already recognized by the state? — at least that what you seem to be arguing in defense of homosexual “marriage.” So why would a marriage already licensed need relicensing?

    So why not just come out and answer my question directly: would you prohibit polygamy? If so, on what grounds?

    Do you really believe that something that is enshrined as a religious belief is a “reduction?”

    In real life no, in your argumentation, yes. You tend to avoid any discussion of the broader cultural impact of homosexual (and polygamous I think) marriage by categorizing the objection as a private matter of personal conviction. You want to cast the argument solely as a civil rights matter (the gay experience is synonymous with the Black experience the reasoning goes) — largely for its moral force while ignoring completely whether the comparison is at all valid.

    So, when I suggest that Jennifer Roback Morse is defending a religious belief that homosexual relationships are wrong, or that homosexual marriage should be illegal, there is something irrefutable about my statement: I’m correct. In the post you linked to, it’s pretty obvious. Again, she’s the one–in a post that you suggested we read–who used the term “religious.” She says that homosexual marriage will result in a reduction of religious freedom. She’s wrong, and she uses faulty logic. But that doesn’t mean she’s somehow not writing about religious beliefs.

    No one is arguing this point. Roback, like myself, however, doesn’t accept your position that because the objections have a religious (and thus moral) dimension, they don’t belong in the public square. And no, she is not wrong — unless of course you believe that homosexual coupling should be granted moral parity with heterosexual marriage — which you clearly do, but many others don’t. This is an issue that can’t be reduced to private experience alone, whether through an attempt to marginalize the opposition by casting it as a “religious issue” (the pro-aborts tried that early on in their abortion crusade — it did not stick), or through arguments about privacy in the bedroom (“who is anyone to tell me who I can love?”).

    Your position has been that, in the case where two different religious beliefs conflict, we should side with the majority religion, except in cases where your religion holds a minority belief. If it bothers you to write about religious belief, by all means, I invite you to begin your arguments with phrases like, “Even if there were no God” or “Even though there is no God.” It will help clarify the distinction between a belief that is specific to religion and a belief that ought to be held by all human beings, whatever their faith.

    Phil, don’t you understand that this too is a religious belief? Man cannot live without religion, however imperfectly formed or understood, unless he willingly embraces nihilism, which is a terrifying prospect we are not created to bear.

    All you are saying here is that the universal norms should have authority. But think this through. Authority is not granted because of the universality of the norm. Rather, the universality is the authority! Let me put it more simply. “Rights” are not conferred by the state. The state can only recognize inherent (“inalienable”) rights that already exist! Trust in the state to confer rights and you have the prescription for tyranny. The Founding Fathers knew this, hence their understanding the freedom and morality are inseparable.

    If you want to argue that homosexual coupling is an inherent “right”, then you open yourself to a deeper examination of the issue than your recourse to “rights” language allows. You would have to admit that your construction of the authority of universal norms is faulty and your attempt to impose this right through the power of the state (judicial fiat once again) is dangerous. I don’t really expect you to do this however, because freedom can be terrifying too. Lots of people willingly give it up.

  22. Michael Bauman says:

    Fr. why do you continue to attempt to engage Phil? It is obvious that he is in a PVS and by his own morality ought to be starved to death.

  23. Why would the state deny licenses to people already in a “valid” marriage.

    No verbal trickery there. The state denies licenses to people who are already in a valid marriage because polygamy is illegal. So, if Tom is married to Theresa, the state will not issue a marriage license for Tom to marry Tameka, because Tom is already in a “valid” marriage.

    You’re correct–”valid” means already recognized by the state. It’s an important distinction, because most states recognize marriages performed in other states, as well as in other countries. However, if you and your wife (or husband) participate in an informal Wiccan “handfasting” ceremony, that will probably not be recognized as valid by the state, and you’d be free to obtain a marriage license without divorcing or annulling that marriage.

    So why would a marriage already licensed need relicensing?

    I think you’re reading “people” as “couples” here. It’s true that states issue marriage licenses to couples, but it only takes one person’s existing marriage to render a marriage license unobtainable.

    Roback, like myself, however, doesn’t accept your position that because the objections have a religious (and thus moral) dimension, they don’t belong in the public square.

    It’s not that I don’t think religious and moral objections to laws don’t belong in the public square, I just think it’s important that we recognize them as such. Roback(?) presents her argument as if she’s defending “religious freedom,” but that’s not really the case; she is advancing one religious viewpoint at the expense of others. Same-sex marriage is not intrinsically anti-religious, as she suggests. Legal same-sex marriage won’t lead to a reduction in “religious freedom,” as she suggests. That’s what I mean when I say she’s wrong: that she’s wrong.

    “It’s okay for the law to force people to do things they don’t want to do, as long as they don’t force people of my religion to do things they don’t want to do” is not an argument in support of religious freedom; it’s the opposite.

    Man cannot live without religion, however imperfectly formed or understood, unless he willingly embraces nihilism, which is a terrifying prospect we are not created to bear.

    The truth in a statement like that really depends on the specifics, doesn’t it? I mean, you sound like you’re speaking in the abstract– that man can’t live without foundational beliefs, even if those foundational beliefs are: “There is no God. We better do the best we can with our lives.”

    But is that what you really mean? Is a society of atheists inherently nihilistic to you? Or can atheists and agnostics hold “religious” beliefs that will allow the society to flourish?

    And if not, are you saying that we should embrace theistic religions, even if there is no God? You can’t make an argument in support of the truth of a religion by explaining how useful it is. A useful falsehood is still untrue.

    But I do agree with you that lack of belief in God, and also uncertainty about whether there’s a God, are religious beliefs, and deserve the same respect accorded to other religious beliefs.

    If you want to argue that homosexual coupling is an inherent “right”, then you open yourself to a deeper examination of the issue than your recourse to “rights” language allows

    Actually, all “rights” sound trivial when you take them to the level of specific examples. It’s ridiculous to say that “I have a right to read about Lindsay Lohan’s back fat in US Weekly.” But in this society, we recognize a right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, as well as a right to criticize public figures. One result of this is that we can read about Lindsay Lohan’s back fat in US Weekly. Of course, that’s not the primary purpose of the “rights,” but that doesn’t mean that they’re not important.

    Trust in the state to confer rights and you have the prescription for tyranny.

    I’d take that a little further: rights are not conferred by the state. Rather, they are denied to the state.

    I don’t believe that rights come from God; rather, they come from people. If you were the only person on the planet, you would have all rights. As you add people, you lose rights, because all other humans have rights too.

    As such, all rights are inalienable. The question is not, “What do I as an individual have a right to do?” It’s “What does the state have a right to require, prohibit, or compell?” You could substitute “society” for the state, if you want. As soon as you have two people on the planet, you have a society, and your rights are limited by the existence of the other person, even if there’s nothing official in writing.

    I don’t believe the state has a right to provide a service for anyone, even a single person, that it denies to anyone else–even a single individual, solely on the basis of that person’s race, religion, or gender. (I could probably come up with some more categories that should be off limits to the state, if ya want, but those seem to be germane today.)

    That’s not the only belief I hold about rights, but it pretty much covers the foundational assumptions of my arguments on this subject.

    You can probably come up with all kinds of hypothetical examples where you’d be horrified if the state didn’t consider and discriminate based on a person’s race, religion, or gender. (Actually, gender and religion are probably the biggies there. I have trouble imagining scenarios where you’d find race discrimination indispensible.) Sure, the state doesn’t need to provide a pap smear to men. But if the state provides a free pap smear to anyone who needs one, regardless of gender, the result is the same, without making “gender” a criteria.

    Bear in mind, this foundational belief does not lead to anarchy, no matter how big our definition of “religion.” I’m not saying that everyone can do whatever they want; only that if the state “allows” some people to do something, it cannot deny others the same thing based solely on their religion, etc.

    I’m also not saying that gender, religion, etc., are not important. They are, in fact, so important, that they should be left up to individuals. The state should have nothing to do with them.

    If the state wanted to issue licenses to human mating pairs, I would understand. And I would understand that such licenses would not be issued to gay couples. If the state saw reason to do that, it would be within its rights.

    But that’s not what marriage is, no matter how many times and how many ways you phrase it as such. The state does issue licenses to pairs who can’t mate. And it denies such licenses to others only because of the gender of one of the participants–for no other reason.

  24. Jacobse says:

    Note 23. Sounds to me like you are trying to create a rationale for the prohibition of polygamy using only legal logic. The problem is, the pro-polygamists argue their case with the same emotional logic you do, i.e.: if we love each other who is the state to say we cannot get married?

    So, again, should polygamous relationships be sanctioned as marriage by the state? Why or why not?

    But is that what you really mean? Is a society of atheists inherently nihilistic to you? Or can atheists and agnostics hold “religious” beliefs that will allow the society to flourish?

    Yes, that is what I really mean. Atheism that rejects the nihilism that is the end of a authentic rejection of God is not true atheism. It’s a pose that, ironically, depends on the implicit assertion that God is in order to have any meaning. (One cannot stand in opposition to something that does not exist.)

    To the extent that atheists hold laudable values, that cannot be attributed to any atheistic philosophical system since true atheism is precluded from making moral judgments. Morals must be relativized in atheism. To the extent that a moral hierarchy exists, it can only be attributed to a will to power.

    Moral atheists then, actually draw their moral code not from atheism, but from the Judeo/Christian moral tradition they ostensibly reject which, again, reveals their atheism is a pose, albeit it one they might hold sincerely and with conviction.

    I don’t believe that rights come from God; rather, they come from people. If you were the only person on the planet, you would have all rights. As you add people, you lose rights, because all other humans have rights too.

    Yes, this is clear. That’s why you are confused about the authority and function of moral norms.

    Your view is in no way new, BTW. Rosseau was the first to promote it when it rewrote Genesis to shift the locus of sin from Adam in the Garden to socialization. It was the first shift of the foundational narrative away from personal responsibility and laid the philosophical groundwork for the expansion of the state in ways that proved terrifying (starting with the French Revolution). Solzhenitsyn called Rosseau the father of modern totalitarianism.

    The problem with making man the touchstone of moral truth however, is that the state becomes the arbiter of what is true and what is the lie. That’s why you don’t object to legislation through judicial fiat. Again, Solzhenitsyn is very clear on where you logic leads. Read: A World Split Apart. I follow the same reasoning in my article: The Artist as Vandal: Culture and the desecration of religious symbols.

    Bear in mind, this foundational belief does not lead to anarchy, no matter how big our definition of “religion.” I’m not saying that everyone can do whatever they want; only that if the state “allows” some people to do something, it cannot deny others the same thing based solely on their religion, etc.

    It leads to moral anarchy, but because people cannot live with anarchy, it leads to state control of the private dimensions of human existence — the accepted definition of totalitarianism, BTW. Do you really believe Phil that if the culture does become homosexualized, you wouldn’t be among those advocating punishment for those who criticize it (hate crimes and all that). I don’t. And I would not be surprised if you thought you were doing good all the while.

    I’m also not saying that gender, religion, etc., are not important. They are, in fact, so important, that they should be left up to individuals. The state should have nothing to do with them.

    Then why do you defend the imposition of homosexual marriage by judicial fiat when the California voters have already voted a resounding no? Seems to me you believe exactly the opposite. You want to force homosexual marriage on a community that has already said no.

  25. Fr. John says:

    Perhaps Phil is not debating with us at all. Perhaps he is debating with himself.

  26. Michael Bauman says:

    If I were the only human being, I would have no rights. And I would cease being human. Rights and their incumbant resposibilities (as well as our very being) are only possible in a community of persons. ‘I’ only means something in relation, communion really. I only exist if I am responsible to someone else. As creatures we are contingent. Only our arrogance allows us to think we are existent in ourselves, autonomous in any way. The illusion of autonomy is the root of evil. Yet God affirms our unique personhood and our freedom to love Him (or not) and then love others. Marriage is a reflection of the commuion between God and His creation and the fecundity His love gives to us. Only one man and one woman can participate in such living symbolism. Any other combination is merely ignorant idolatry at best; blasphemy and conscious rebellion at worst.

    God tells Moses “I am” precisely because of His uncreated, Triune nature. He testifies of Himself. A truth that is more fully revealed at Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan. God is the only one who can testify of Himself.

    If you want to continue to blather around in your fantasy Phil, you are free to do so because of the freedom God gives us. It is a great gift, but used for rebellion, our damnation as well. Whether you acknowledge the truth of what marriage is or not does not change its reality one bit. I for one won’t continue to dignify your fantasy with fake respect. It is stupid and destructive to you and to others you influence. It is impossible to ‘dialog’ with fantasy. Personally, your fantasy horrifies me. It is rank with the oder of death and decay, the stuff of zombies and ghouls: fake human beings trying to be real yet always having to feed on others because they are without real life.

    St. Silouan is able to pray for people in such darkness so I commend you to his intercessions.

  27. Yes, that is what I really mean.

    So, in your view, there can be no society of people who don’t believe in God.

    And yet you dismiss me at the slightest suggestion that any of your arguments can be “reduced” to a religious belief.

    Look, every argument that you put forth requires that a person like me, or people who hold a number of other “religious” beliefs like or unlike mine, reject our religious beliefs and convert to your religious beliefs. You admit this in post 24.

    My political arguments don’t require that you convert before accepting the argument. To cite just one example, legal civil same-sex marriage need have no bearing on Orthodox marriage.

    In the depths of my heart, I believe that in a perfect world–in a perfect world–I would be married to my spouse, and you would be married to yours. You would believe in your God and I would disbelieve in mine.

    Somehow, I don’t get the sense that your version of a perfect world is the same. You believe that in a perfect world I would not be with my partner. If I held the same belief about the woman you are currently married to, I’d be unbelievably arrogant, just for thinking it!

    Do you really believe Phil that if the culture does become homosexualized, you wouldn’t be among those advocating punishment for those who criticize it (hate crimes and all that).

    Yes, I really believe that. I’m capable of supporting people’s rights to disagree with me. Are you saying that if there were a ruling Orthodox majority in our legislature, you would be among those advocating punishment for those who speak out against it?

    It’s odd that you suggest that a state which relies on the authority of the people leads to tyranny, but a state that relies on the authority of God is ideal.

    The former can be argued, it can be discussed, it can consider evidence, and it can move toward a better system of government. The laws of God are not subject to argument, to any evidentiary standard, or to being meaningfully changed by the people governed. That sounds an awful lot more like tyranny, Jacobse. And if you’re saying we should force these laws on people who don’t even believe in God, then it’s just plain-and-simple tyranny.

    Then why do you defend the imposition of homosexual marriage by judicial fiat when the California voters have already voted a resounding no?

    “California voters” are the state, Jacobse. As I mentioned, you can substitute “society” for the state. If society doesn’t have a right to provide a service for one person and deny it to any other based solely on gender, then society doesn’t have the right to ban any marriages based on the gender of one participant.

    More importantly, nothing was “imposed” on anybody. Same-sex marriage is permitted. That is a neutral position. Under the law, heterosexual marriages are unaffected. The rights of those who don’t like same sex marriage haven’t changed. They can still marry whomever they choose. No churches are forced to perform same-sex marriages–no imposition there. What is the imposition?

  28. If I were the only human being, I would have no rights. And I would cease being human. Rights and their incumbant resposibilities (as well as our very being) are only possible in a community of persons.

    I think that means basically the same as what I said. Is there a practical difference between having “no rights” and having “all rights” if you are the only person on the planet? We agree that rights stem from a community of persons.

    Whether you acknowledge the truth of what marriage is or not does not change its reality one bit.

    I agree with this. My marriage will not change the reality of your marriage one iota.

    Personally, your fantasy horrifies me. It is rank with the oder of death and decay, the stuff of zombies and ghouls: fake human beings trying to be real yet always having to feed on others because they are without real life.

    Which fantasy are you talking about? Are you saying that I’m a fake human being, trying to be real, but always having to feed on others because I’m without a real life?

    Sorry if I’m having trouble interpreting you; your prose is a little over-the-top today.

  29. James K says:

    So Michael, if it came to a vote to restrict marriage to ONE per lifetime, would you vote for or against it? Let’s do one better: Scripture is clear on the appropriate grounds for divorce: infidelity. That’s it. No outs for alcoholism, physical abuse, drug abuse or neglect. Should our divorce laws reflect this?

    Either you believe Scripture or you don’t.

  30. Michael Bauman says:

    I thought you didn’t want theocracy James? Economia would be the course here as well as in the Church. Allowing for human sin, but not encouraging sin–let alone endorsing sin. The Orthodox Church allows for divorce and re-marriage, although it is not recommended. It is a recognition of our weakness, which Jesus also recognizes.

    Your failure to understand rests, I believe, in your largely egalitarian, legalistic approach to morality. You want to be ‘fair’ to everyone. Not only is fairness impossible, it leads to all kinds of injustice and even judicial abuse such as when a father sexually abuses his daughters and the abuse is verified, the family court says it is simply not fair to keep him from visiting his children and forces the mother and the children to continue contact with him, the youngest girl is 6. That is the kind of obscenity to which egalitarianism leads: the cowardice that refuses to acknowledge what is obviously right.

    We would be better off as a society if public displays of skin by either gender and if sexual activity outside of marriage were not given social approval. We should encourage modesty and chastity in both boys and girls, women and men, rather than the reverse.

    Unfortunately, licentiousness is always easier than virtue. Virtue is uncomfortable if it is not just self-righteousness. The only way to avoid such self-righteousness is to look first at one’s own sins. The Scripture is full of such direction. Legalism is not the answer. Legalism really the much the same thing as licentiousness–a refusal to take genuine responsibility for one’s own lack of virtue. Hedonism revels in the experience of sin while legalism revels in the condemnation of sin without ever addressing its roots.

    Freedom only lasts in cultures that have a clear understanding of what is virtuous and is structured to support and encourage lives lived by that virtue. Hedonism leads to anarchy, legalism to tyranny. Since we cannot tolerate anarchy for long, anarchy leads to tyranny.

  31. Jacobse says:

    Note 27. Phil writes:

    So, in your view, there can be no society of people who don’t believe in God.

    And yet you dismiss me at the slightest suggestion that any of your arguments can be “reduced” to a religious belief.

    Let’s try it again Phil. What I said was that people cannot live without recourse to the transcendent, that all moral reflection reaches beyond present experience in ways that are “religious” whether or not one accepts the term. Further, atheism, when not embracing the nihilism that is the logical end of atheism, is just a pose — either intellectually dishonest or intellectually ignorant.

    Regarding the reduction of same-sex marriage to “religious belief” — that’s my charge, remember? I argue that your approach is to deconstruct the arguments against same-sex marriage, and then recontextualize them as solely religious in nature in order to dismiss them with a pithy:

    My political arguments don’t require that you convert before accepting the argument. To cite just one example, legal civil same-sex marriage need have no bearing on Orthodox marriage.

    … as if the cultural ramifications of such a wholesale redefinition of marriage, or the lessons and authority of the received moral tradition, or the truncation of “rights” to physical desire, among many other things fall outside of the bounds of examination. (See what I mean by “reduction”?)

    Thus, your ostensibly self-effacing moral exhortation:

    Somehow, I don’t get the sense that your version of a perfect world is the same. You believe that in a perfect world I would not be with my partner. If I held the same belief about the woman you are currently married to, I’d be unbelievably arrogant, just for thinking it!

    …really functions to brand all those who oppose homosexual marriage as “arrogant.” (Hey Phil! Quit imposing your morality on me!) And yes, your idea of a perfect world is certainly not mine, but as I said upstream, I am a social and moral conservative. I see utopian schemes as dangerous things. The historical record bears me out, BTW.

    It’s odd that you suggest that a state which relies on the authority of the people leads to tyranny, but a state that relies on the authority of God is ideal.

    Nice try Phil, but I rely on the authority conferred by a constitutional republic. In fact, I think the US Constitution works very well taking other forms of government throughout history into account, thank you. That’s why I oppose the imposition of the homosexual activist agenda through judicial fiat, remember?

    Having said that, I also agree with the prescription understood so clearly by the American founding fathers: freedom is inextricably linked with morality. Read Solzhenitsyn’s “A World Split Apart” to see a modern take on this important principle.

    Another article worth reading is Dennis Prager’s “Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality” that discusses the historical and religious antecedents of sexual self-control and its effect on culture and society.

  32. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “What I said was that people cannot live without recourse to the transcendent, that all moral reflection reaches beyond present experience in ways that are “religious” whether or not one accepts the term.”

    Actually, I tend to agree with you here. It is very difficult for people to discuss ethics without recourse to transcendent or metaphysical concepts such as “person,” “right,” “wrong,” and so on. Reinterpreting these in naturalistic terms just doesn’t work.

    But the thing is that the “transcendent” is not the same as the “received moral tradition.” One can have a worldview that includes the transcendent, but that also does not line up point-for-point with the received moral tradition.

    And the received moral tradition changes over times, and some parts of it are relatively new. For example, there’s nothing particularly “Christian” about the concept of freedom of religion. For centuries Christians persecuted Jews and even each other. Eventually, after various terrible wars and persecutions people began to figure out that freedom of religion was not a bad idea. But this occurred in relatively recent history. Over time people learned a better way.

    What’s happening is that homosexuality has become increasingly accepted in society, and it won’t be long before same-sex marriage is too.

    Look at what happened with the history of blacks in the United States. Slaves were freed in the 1860′s. Schools were desegregated in the 1950s, around the same time that the civil rights movement began. In 1964 the poll tax was abolished, and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965.

    But in spite of all that, as of 1967 sixteen states still had laws banning marriage between whites and blacks. These were overturned, not by popular vote, but by a Supreme Court decision. In fact, think it’s fair to say that those laws would not have continued to exist without popular support.

    And those laws were very much a part of the “received moral tradition.” At various times 41 different states had anti-miscegenation laws on the books, and most of those were not repealed until the second half of the 20th century.

    Interestingly, the original trial judge in what became the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia gave a religious justification for the law:

    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, 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.

    Welcome to the received moral tradition.

  33. James K says:

    Michael, you rejected this idea of “fairness” in another thread, but I want to make sure we’re speaking about the same thing.

    In the instance you provided, I would hesitate to call that “fair”. True fairness (I call it “justice”) carefully weighs the good of all parties involved and judges people without partiality: it’s not a matter of “making everyone happy”. The girl might have been wronged by permitting her abusive father access to her: justice would not have been done.

    If you’re going to appeal to Scripture in your arguments, you would do well to remember that justice is a prominent thread throughout all of Scripture.

    Isaiah 1: “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

    Deuteronomy 25: “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike.”

    2 Chronicles: “Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery”

    There are many others, but you get the point.

    We do refrain from legislating justice when it impedes on the reasonable liberties of people, and we generally don’t legislate moral conduct to the extent that the law becomes an intrusion into the lives of ordinary people (although there are exceptions).

    However, what I see happening in regards to gay Americans, however, is an astounding degree of partiality to the point where I question the motives and reliability of those who claim to care for the culture. To insist that civil marriage licenses should not be granted to gay couples because they are not in a “valid union” before God while remaining silent in regards to the millions of heterosexual couples enjoying the states’ blessings who are also in invalid unions (in the eyes of the church) sounds like scapegoating to me.

  34. Jacobse, you write

    Let’s try it again Phil. What I said was that people cannot live without recourse to the transcendent,

    When I suggest an interpretation of what you’ve said, and then you provide further explanation of what you wrote earlier, I don’t think you need the condescending, “Let’s try it again Phil”–particularly when you’re rephrasing what you wrote in a way that isn’t quite identical to what you wrote originally.

    I’m just pointing that out. You’re welcome to be as condescending as you want.

    (Hey Phil! Quit imposing your morality on me!)

    I think we have different views on what “imposing” means, Jacobse. It’s one thing to form moral judgments about another person based on your personal beliefs. It’s another thing to force another person to live by your own personal beliefs.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever put forth an argument that would limit your freedom in any way, except insofar as your ability to limit my freedom. Your argument is a snake eating its own tail: “You are imposing your morality on me by preventing me from imposing my morality on you!”

    You are welcome to be arrogant. It’s your choice.

    (And, what say you to the actual text of my assertion: If I suggested in writing that you ought not be married to your wife because your marriage violated my moral code–but not yours–would I be arrogant? If I wrote, say, that your wife ought not be married to you because she’s, for example, younger or older or more attractive, and that our entire society should devote itself to breaking your relationship up, you wouldn’t feel a teensy bit of an emotional response to that? Would “arrogant” be too strong a word, or too weak a word, to describe that hypothetical behavior?)

    Nice try Phil, but I rely on the authority conferred by a constitutional republic.

    Is a state that relies on the authority of a constitutional republic “relying on the authority of the people?” Earlier, you suggested that God was preferable to the people, as an authority.

  35. I’d just like to point out the elegant logic of the non-religious Dennis Prager post about Judaism and Christianity.

    Judaism cannot make peace with homosexuality because homosexuality denies many of Judaism’s most fundamental principles. It denies life, it denies God’s expressed desire that men and women cohabit, and it denies the root structure that Judaism wishes for all mankind, the family.

    Homosexuality is wrong because it denies God’s desire that man and woman cohabit, and form a family. Therefore, homosexuals should be celibate.

    That’s the non-religious logic supporting Prager’s point?

    An alternative interpretation, of course, is that Prager would be perfectly happy if his daughters married homosexual men who were forcing themselves to have sex with women because that’s what God wants. Except that perhaps using “God’s expressed desire” as a component of argument introduces a tiny little bit of religion into the argument.

    I have to ask, because I’ve long wondered–for all of the “home teamers”–Jacobse, Banescu, Michael, etc.–are there any bad arguments against same-sex marriage? For example, Dennis Prager makes several really dumb arguments in that essay. Are you willing to identify any of them? If not, are there any writers out there who support the same ends that you do, but make bad arguments in favor of your position?

    When I’m discussing an issue, I try to separate the good arguments from the bad. And certainly, I’ve acknowledged on this board that some arguments for same-sex marriage are bad. (For example, “Because we want it!” is insufficient.) But I’ve never once heard a home-teamer dismiss an anti-gay marriage argument as bad. It’s as if y’all believe that there can be no illogical, nonsensical, or flawed support to ban same-sex marriage. More than anything else, that impression makes a debater seem as though they really haven’t thought through their positions.

  36. Michael Bauman says:

    JamesK, unfortunately you are using an increasingly anachronistic meaning of the word “fairness”. As it has come to be used in the justice system particularly with sexually realted adjudications, is that any curtailment of desire is intrinsically unfair. It child custody cases, it is “unfair” to deny parental “rights” for any reason. Often it is simply a matter of money. In Kansas all custodial arrangements are joint even when primary custoday remains with one parent. Each parent has supposedly “equal” say in the raising of the children. It is almost impossible to have a parent declared unfit for any reason especially the male parent as long as he is willing or says he is willing to pay child support (whether he actually does is beside the point).

  37. Jacobse says:

    Note 34. Phil writes:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever put forth an argument that would limit your freedom in any way, except insofar as your ability to limit my freedom. Your argument is a snake eating its own tail: “You are imposing your morality on me by preventing me from imposing my morality on you!”

    Look Phil, your proposal to culturally sanction men marrying men and women marrying women is based solely on the notion that rights emanate from private desire. Some men want to marry twelve women. Do we sanction polygamy because some men are attracted to multiple women? Do we sanction incest because some men are attracted to their daughters? Your moral logic could not prohibit this.

    Marriage and family is much more than sexual desire (if you had children you would understand this). A long history, and a long moral tradition factor into the discussion, and while you want to reduce the question solely to a rights based discussion based on private desire, it just doesn’t wash. Your thinking is too bound to the ideas and mores of popular culture.

    This is reflected in your comment:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever put forth an argument that would limit your freedom in any way, except insofar as your ability to limit my freedom. Your argument is a snake eating its own tail: “You are imposing your morality on me by preventing me from imposing my morality on you!”

    You seem like a bright guy so I have to conclude that your insistence that the moral tradition is out of bounds is tactical. Again, the inherent weakness of your position is that justifies any formalized arrangement that involves sexuality — polygamy, incest, whatever.

    Put another way, your implicit point that homosexual marriage applies only to homosexual couples (one male + male, one female + female), draws from the same tradition that prohibits same-sex behavior. You want to borrow the authority of the tradition to limit same-sex marriage to a same-sex couple, but deny that that the same tradition prohibits same-sex behavior altogether. Your thinking is conflicted, although you don’t seem to be aware of it. (Read Solzhenitsyn again.)

    Note 35. Phil writes:

    It’s as if y’all believe that there can be no illogical, nonsensical, or flawed support to ban same-sex marriage.

    Oh, there are some — most based on ignorance of homosexual pathology. But why bother repeating bad arguments?

    That’s the non-religious logic supporting Prager’s point?

    Let me try from the other direction. Your argument that homosexual marriage should be limited to a couple (a non-mating pair?) draws from the tradition that you also argue is irrelevant because it references a touchstone other than the individual (let’s call it the religiously based view). Yet you want your cake and eat it too! You borrow from the tradition on one hand, and then claim it is illegitimate on the other. You cannot have it both ways.

    If you were really true to your convictions, you would have to admit that there could be no prohibitions to homosexuals “marrying” multiple partners, just as there ought to be no prohibition to heterosexual polygamy.

    Further, people simply can’t function without some kind of reference to the transcendent — and anyone who does not embrace the nihilism that is logical end of a-theism does, whether or not they admit it, as I pointed out above. But here too your insistence that rights are based on desire precludes a deeper penetration into the questions. Reductionism is a truncation of vision.

  38. Jacobse says:

    Note 33. James K. writes:

    To insist that civil marriage licenses should not be granted to gay couples because they are not in a “valid union” before God while remaining silent in regards to the millions of heterosexual couples enjoying the states’ blessings who are also in invalid unions (in the eyes of the church) sounds like scapegoating to me.

    Scapegoating? That’s not fair! How come you get to make a judgment but the other people don’t? Isn’t it wrong to judge?

    You need to expand your thinking James. Same-sex marriage is a whole lot more than what’s “fair.”

  39. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “If you were really true to your convictions, you would have to admit that there could be no prohibitions to homosexuals “marrying” multiple partners, just as there ought to be no prohibition to heterosexual polygamy.”

    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.

    Given all that, it’s a free country and people can make an argument for anything. In 1998 Republican Governor Mike Leavitt even suggested that polygamy might be constitutionally protected as a religious practice. This suggestion brought a lot of opposition.

    But look at it the other way around. Were polygamy legalized, would that somehow constitute an argument for gay marriage, or for incestuous marriages, or for marriage of adults to children? Of course not. Every situation stands or falls on its own merits or the lack thereof.

    Therefore I don’t see why it’s thought that legalization of same-sex marriage would somehow throw open the floodgates to every other kind of relationship being legalized as marriage.

  40. Michael Bauman says:

    JamesK, My ultimate question is, “Fair to whom”. Any attempt to impose ‘fairness’ always is unfair to one or more of the parties involved. If Soloman had been ‘fair’ by today’s standards, he would have cut the baby in two and handed a half to each of the contending parents. That is in fact what happens in most divorce situations.

    If we went back to the understanding that fair means relatively unbiased with no undue, corrupt or illegal influence, then ‘fair’ means something. However when combined with the leveling of egalitarianism and the abandonment of discernment in favor of ideolgy, ‘fair’ means only what I desire. In other words something is only ‘fair’ if I get my way. That is the ‘fairness’ of the petulant 2 year old when faced with a denial of desire. “Mommy that’s just not faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair!!!”(whine, snivel) or the adolescent version, Humph, everybody else gets to do it, why can’t I?(stomp, flounce, silent offended stare) or the countless variations that the adult world has adopted to express envy, deflect criticism of one’s own incompetence, rationalize sinful behavior of all types or escape accountablity. It is a game of denial and manipulation.

  41. But why bother repeating bad arguments?

    Perhaps to critique them, or to establish that one’s own arguments fit squarely within a logical or reasonable framework.

    Prager, for example, brings up the “direct correlation between the prevalence of male homosexuality and the relegation of women to a low social role.” As if Muslim societies, which condemn homosexual behavior with death, are hotbeds of female equality. As if the appeal of gay sex is so irresistible that heterosexual men will leave their wives in droves as soon as it’s socially acceptable to do so. As if, had Ancient Greece but condemned man-on-man love, everything would have been hunky dory for women. He writes as if Judaism was the only culture writing poetry about male-female relations, and that’s why the Jews “win.”

    It’s a little ridiculous. In some ways, Prager himself relegates women to a lower social role in making the argument. He fails to make the connection that if male homosexuality is harmful to women, but no corresponding argument can be made for lesbians, then he’s making an argument in support of lesbian relationships.

    Are you willing to admit that Prager is a little over-the-top in his claims? Or do you steadfastly stand by every assertion that he makes as if it’s all perfectly reasonable? Is there a single claim in Prager’s essay that you feel you could distance yourself from?

  42. James K says:

    Michael writes: “If we went back to the understanding that fair means relatively unbiased with no undue, corrupt or illegal influence, then ‘fair’ means something.”

    I agree, but how does one determine that there is, indeed, a biased, corrupt or illegal influence? How do you determine it?

    Personally, I look for consistency of approach, but I get scolded for “shallow moralizing” because of that all the time here. I was told that there is no reason one need even mention or critique the frequent hate-mongering sermons of someone like John Hagee or Pat Robertson even as we judge the entire life, beliefs and deeds of Jeremiah White as sinful and errant because of one sermon.

    This appears to me exactly like a “corrupt bias”: we will not judge as evil or speak up about the sins of those who otherwise share our political and/or religious ideals, no matter how detrimental to others or wicked those sins are. I don’t see how this serves to further the interests of some objective “Truth” that Christians claim exists.

    Not only the Right does this, the Left does as well, but it must be rejected nonetheless, whether personally or politically.

  43. Jacobse says:

    Note 39.

    But look at it the other way around. Were polygamy legalized, would that somehow constitute an argument for gay marriage, or for incestuous marriages, or for marriage of adults to children? Of course not.

    It sure does. Marriage is not a “situation.” How we view marriage has deep cultural ramifications, primarily because it is never separated from child rearing and thus the shaping of the next generation. Look at the damage divorce causes even among broken heterosexual monogamous marriages. Now we want to introduce even greater instability? This is foolish and irresponsible.

    Look at the disease adult sexual irresponsibility has fostered on children as they mimic the behaviors they see. We have an epidemic of STD’s in our teen population. This is horrible, a cultural catastrophe, but we lumber along as if the sexualization of the youth culture is inevitable. If homosexual coupling gets sanctioned as marriage, the next item on the agenda will be “safe” anal sex education in the schools. The anal canal must be treated as a sex organ (not to do so would be discriminatory against gays — it’s their mode of intercourse after all). Debasement gets normalized, and then we will start seeing feces related diseases on the rise. At least we can congratulate ourselves on our enlightenment as the children suffer from our irresponsibility even more.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Anal related disease is one of the big secrets that homosexual activists don’t want you to talk about. See: Gay Bowel Syndrome.

  44. Jacobse says:

    Note 41. Phil asks:

    Is there a single claim in Prager’s essay that you feel you could distance yourself from?

    Probably, but nothing that would detract from his central thesis. Prager defends a principle that moral libertines find anathema: the restriction and proper channeling of the sexual drive (especially in men) enables great progress in other areas. This can only be understood however, if a person holds that his behaviors might be judged by a standard other than private desire. It’s that troublesome notion of transcendent truth again; a touchstone might exist beyond what we feel at the moment that, God forbid, might even hold us accountable for what we do.

  45. Jacobse says:

    Note 42. James writes:

    Personally, I look for consistency of approach, but I get scolded for “shallow moralizing” because of that all the time here. I was told that there is no reason one need even mention or critique the frequent hate-mongering sermons of someone like John Hagee or Pat Robertson even as we judge the entire life, beliefs and deeds of Jeremiah White as sinful and errant because of one sermon.

    No, James. What you do is quote the sins of others as if their wrongs somehow ‘neutralizes’ the wrong-headness being discussed. Hagee’s or Robertson’s ideas have no bearing on Jeremiah Wright’s demagoguery and to bring them into the discussion was entirely out of place. And no, Jeremiah Wright was not being critiqued on the basis of one sermon. Quite the opposite.

    You have to break this reflexive moral equivocation.

    Look, Hagee and Robertson are not discussed because nobody here really takes them seriously. Think of them like, say, John Kerry. No one takes him seriously either — not really (except in Mass. of course, but politics there has always been a mystery to the rest of the country). So when you bring them up, you don’t look serious either. No one is going to take the time to refute them (or you).

    Wright was different because Obama took him seriously, that was the point.

  46. Michael Bauman says:

    JamesK, my point is simply this: ideology corrupts. When we choose to be guided by ideology rather than the truth, we all suffer the consequences. It is disingeneous to make an ideologically founded claim of bias as you do. Specifically what you see in your self as consistency, I see as moral and cultural eqalitarianism which ultimate translates into and unwillingness to allow any moral distinctions whatsoever. It also disallows any possibility of a hierarchy of values and being which is part of the Christian revelation. You demand perfection from Christians and nothing from the rest of humanity.

  47. The anal canal must be treated as a sex organ (not to do so would be discriminatory against gays — it’s their mode of intercourse after all).

    You really bring up anal sex quite frequently. Do you hold gays who practice exclusively oral sex (or, say, frottage) in different regard than you do gays who engage in anal sex?

  48. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “Hagee and Robertson are not discussed because nobody here really takes them seriously.”

    Really? Pat Robertson is the head of a global TV ministry, has his own television network and university, and was a former candidate for president. Hagee is the founder of CUFI, Christians United for Israel. He has a TV ministry that broadcasts programs on 160 TV stations in the U.S. On a number of occasions CUFI has met with White House officials. John McCain appeared at a CUFI conference and courted Hagee’s endorsement (before he rejected it). Newt Gingrich also appeared at the same conference, along with Rick Santorum and Tom Delay. President Bush also sent greetings to the same conference. Joseph Lieberman has spoken at CUFI events. Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer were on CUFI’s board of directors.

    If that’s not being taken seriously, what is?

  49. Jacobse says:

    Jim, if I followed James’ approach (and your implicit endorsement of it here), I would reply:

    “Yeah, but what about Jeremiah Wright! He’s a bigot too!”

    See the difference?

  50. Jacobse says:

    Note 47. Phil writes:

    You really bring up anal sex quite frequently. Do you hold gays who practice exclusively oral sex (or, say, frottage) in different regard than you do gays who engage in anal sex?

    Actually I don’t. And what I “regard” isn’t the issue here. 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. The “rights as private desire” logic doesn’t allow any other conclusion.

    Remember, the diseases brought on by anal sex is largely confined to homosexual populations. The culture has to take a long and hard look at the pathology before it decides whether the normalization of sodomy is something we want to embrace.