In Which I Try to Be Intellectually Honest

I don’t think marriage is the default best configuration for raising children.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to say that out loud, but I’m going to say it.

I don’t think marriage, as we sell it to people, is even a very good way for grown-ups to live.

That colors my discussion with Martin Kennedy and it’s not fair of me to not put all my cards on the table when he’s trying to put his (even though we’ve been giving him grief for doing it).

Families should be safe and nurturing places for everyone in them.  People should feel protected, supported, and free.  They should be safe.

I could start a list right now of every woman who I’ve heard dispare over how little her husband does compared to her in terms of keeping house and taking care of the children and just doing the emotional work of being present at home when he’s home and we’d still be here tomorrow.

At the same time, I could start a list of every woman I know who is married to a guy who doesn’t really have a job that could support him, let alone them, and who doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that he’s doing the equivalent of having moved back home with his parents, except he gets laid regularly.

And I could tell you stories about the men I know who are, in their hearts, done being married, but are afraid of leaving their kids unsupervised with their wives or the men who work full time and come home to find the wife and kids still in their pajamas in front of the TV, where they were when he left that morning.

My point is that, when I look around, I see a shit-ton of marriages in which one person feels (and I know you never know what goes on inside a marriage), and it looks that way from the outside, that they’re kind of in it by themselves.

Who wants that?

This is not to mention the bigger issues–the outragiously high number of kids who are molested by family members, the physical and emotional abuse, etc.–that far too many of us went through or witnessed.

It’s nice to believe that marriage is some cure-all for social ills–that it makes kids safer, that it makes men manlier, and that it fulfills women’s every need–and that if we just encourge people to get married, everything will be hunky-dory*.  But I don’t see it.

I literally look at all the married folks I know and I just don’t see that their lives are better or easier than mine.  I don’t think that I’m biased against marriage.  I have a hard time imagining being married–I’m old and I’m stuck in my ways and it’s not like folks are lining up–but I like the idea.  I like to imagine what it would be like to have someone who chose to be on my side at my side when I got home from work and what it would be like to watch that person grow old next to me.

That seems like a deep honor, for someone to share that with you.

But I don’t think you can blame folks for looking around and saying, “I don’t see how being married puts me in any better position than not being married.”  If marriage is such a great cure-all for the world’s ills, you’d not see only half of adults choosing to be in one and you’d not see half of marriages fail.

I want people to form loving families, where folks feel safe and taken care of and able to take care of the people they love.  If a man and a woman can do that through marriage, more power to you.  I will gladly dance at your wedding.  If a woman and a woman can do that through moving in with one woman’s brother and his son, Merry Christmas!  If two men, a father to one of those men, a baby they adoped, and a friendly neighbor can do it, great. 

Will gay marriage change marriage?

I think that, in some ways, it will.

But here’s what I remember and keep in my heart.  I remember being a suicidal fifteen year old in a town small enough to walk across who hated her life at every minute and who felt unsafe at school and less safe at home.  And I remember hearing about AIDS for the first time and reading about these families who were turning their backs on their sons, because having AIDS pretty much meant that you could not pretend you weren’t gay.  And I remember reading over and over again about these folks who had lost their families talking about moving to more gay-friendly confines and searching out and finding folks to be their families.

They made their own families.

You can go out in the world and find good people who love you and who want good things for you and you can make real, deep emotional connections to them, and they can be your family, if the one you have doesn’t work for you.

Forget everything else gay culture has given us; we’re blessed just by that notion.

And gay marriage?

If everyone had the idea that you marry the person you love, regardless of his or her ability to give you children, regardless of his or her ability to conform to gender norms, if you just go out and find someone you love and want to be with and want to take care of and can’t wait to fuck, and marry that person, that would be revolutionary.

It would change what marriage means to most people.

Obviously it would.

I believe it would change it for the better, though.

I can’t wait to dance at those weddings either.

*Hmm, that’s a phrase one wonders about its origins.  I already had to give up honyak.  Am I going to have to give up hunky-dory, too?  One doesn’t normally think of the Hungarians as being folks widely disparaged against, but I’m starting to suspect that all the nonsense words I learned as a child used to be words that made fun of Hungarians.  Explain that to me, people.

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118 thoughts on “In Which I Try to Be Intellectually Honest

  1. I think the pudding proof would be the rate of success for married vs unmarried.

    Criteria like:
    longevity
    health
    financhial success
    home ownership
    etc

    And then apply the same, or similar criteria to the children of married vs unmarried.

    I don’t know the stats, and don’t have an ivory tower cushy job that allows me tons of free time, to research them.

  2. Two conflicting thoughts:

    1) I read your post and just about cried right here at my desk. All of the disappointment and disillusionment that I have toward marriage is from having it pounded into my head (from my Christian school/church upbringing) that marriage was THE *right* thing that a good Christian woman does. Well, the white picket fence, etc., didn’t happen. At this point, I would much rather have a good community of friends for which we can all support each other and, as you said, feel safe.

    2) On the other hand, aren’t you contradicting yourself by saying that marriage isn’t good way for grown-ups to live and then you say that if gay people could marry it would be revolutionary and change the world for the better.

    Would you elaborate on this?

  3. * http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hunky-dory Looks like you’re safe.

    And as for less pedantic things like marriage, on the one hand I agree with you: marriage as recognized by our society is, in the first place, no cure-all for personal problems, often very damaging to the participants and their children, and not what everyone wants; other forms of households would be better for many adults and children. On the other hand, there are a lot of societies out there (and there have been an astronomical number of them over time), and while they all have different ideas about what a marriage is and what a household is (often quite similar, but different in each case — the subtle little ddifference that makes all the difference, as the local ice cream commercial of my childhood put it), they each have a prevailing idea about marriage/household and expect most people to conform to it. This sort of social cohesion, or conformity, seems to be a widespread feature of human societies. So I think you’ll have better luck trying to get our society to be less unkind to non-conformists than you will getting it to be a society where there isn’t a single dominant idea about standard people are supposed to conform to.

  4. My marriage is good. It hasn’t always been. We’ve had financial dry spells, sexual dry spells, communication dry spells.

    The thing about marriage, to me, that makes it a workable idea is the fact that if you take away the idea that there’s always a backdoor–the right to have an affair, the right to divorce–you have a crucible where two imperfect people are refined by the fire of unconditional love and commitment.

    Of course, that’s a really idealised version of marriage, and it only works if the two people IN the marriage are pursuing that same philosophy.

    That’s why I rail against no-fault divorce. I don’t care if gay people get married. It’s no skin off my nose. They aren’t going to do anything to ruin the idea of marriage as much as the whole “well, if I don’t like this I can back out.”

    Don’t get me wrong–I think divorce is necessary. If you have a person who violates the pure idea of marriage as a committment of unconditional love (hitting their spouse, cheating on their spouse, spending their paychecks at the dogtrack,etc.) then divorce is right and good.

    But I’ve just watched several close friends go through divorces. In all but one of the cases it was clearly an “I’m bored with the status quo” kind of thing. No Fault divorce allows the bored party to do whatever he or she wants while their spouse and children are left holding the bag.

    It is actually easier to get a divorce than to return something to a department store without a receipt. That’s some kind of fucked up for a society that goes on and on about the “importance” of marriage.

  5. Pingback: Volunteer Voters » Gay Matrimony Would Change The Institution Of Marriage

  6. I dunno. My religion considers marriage a contract, not a sacrament, and has always allowed divorce on easier terms than the Christian tradition that guides you. I don’t think that makes me or others married in my tradition less likely to work at making it work, though. Or any worse (or better, of course) at rearing children. Or any less likely to see the marriage as something that helps me and my partner become better people, for ourselves and for each other. I really don’t think it’s no-fault divorce that makes the difference. New York, IIRC, does not have no-fault divorce, but still has a lower divorce rate than Tennesse. The divorces are just very, very ugly, is all.

  7. There is a vast difference between commitment and marriage.

    A lot of people are married, a smaller percentage of those people are commited to a relationship. All the symbols, rings and picket fences won’t fix a partnership without commitment no matter what you choose to call it.

    I do believe that all people deserve the same legal rights and priviledges that follow a marriage contract. But as the divorce rates show, that contract isn’t always binding. It’s going to cost you something to get out of that contract, man, woman dog or cat.

  8. I’m not giving Martin shit for having an opinion, however it was derived. I’m giving him shit for ONLY having an opinion. I’m giving him shit for confusing basic terms like “marriage” with “two-income household”, “biological conception” with “parenting” and so forth — failure to think clearly, if you will. I’m also giving him shit for being wilfully oblivious to and for failing to engage an abundance of contrary data. Martin’s gut feelings, no matter how sincere and deeply held, are not a sufficient basis on which to sentence millions of Americans to real daily discrimination. That’s why I’m giving him shit.

  9. Bridgett, since when is pointing out logical fallacies, inconsistent premises, and a dearth of data giving someone shit? Let alone the question of whether he is, in fact, trying particularly hard to put his cards on the table.

  10. > There is a vast difference between commitment and marriage.

    It takes one judge to get you un-married, but it takes three psychologists to get you un-committed.

  11. I don’t know about Tennessee, Ginger, but in CA you can get divorced online.

    CompleteCase.com™ is North America’s premier affordable divorce service center. Our simple and inexpensive process will enable you to complete your divorce documents from the comfort of your home, without incurring the cost of an attorney, or dealing with lengthy completion and delivery periods. The total cost is $249.00.

    CompleteCase.com™ does not provide blank forms or divorce kits. You will receive completed documents, explanations and instructions. The documents are customized to the state or province you live in, your children, your income, your assets and other factors in your case.

    And, of course, looking for that I got half a dozen similar services. Fun, no?

  12. I just want to be clear that I didn’t say that we should stop giving shit to Martin. I just think that he is revealing as much as he can. I mean, we’ve talked about this before. Most people do not like to believe that they are bad people.

    Martin believes that gay marriage is wrong, I think, because it grosses him out. I think he thinks it’s morally wrong because he finds it disgustingly wrong. That’s a pretty awful thing to have to face–that you would deny folks something they desperately want, that is of no consequence to you, just because you think they’re yucky. So, instead, it’s about the definition of marriage or the well-being of kids.

    I myself find that twarupt noise kissing people on tv make to be disgusting, but that doesn’t mean I’m outlawing smooching.

    Ginger, what I mean is that I think the idea that just slapping two people together and pushing them to get married just because they are of the opposite sex and like each other in order to cure all of society’s ills is no good.

    If we define marriage just as a publicly sanctioned commitment a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman make to each other in order to set up state-approved households for the purpose of creating more citizens, I think that kind of marriage is shitty and not that great for folks.

    But if people married in order to get public recognition and community support for a private commitment to each other’s well-being that they’ve made, I could support that.

  13. If we define marriage just as a publicly sanctioned commitment a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman make to each other in order to set up state-approved households for the purpose of creating more citizens, I think that kind of marriage is shitty and not that great for folks.

    But if people married in order to get public recognition and community support for a private commitment to each other’s well-being that they’ve made, I could support that.

    I rather want both of these forms – a quick way to a state sanctioned household with certain protections and obligations under the law, and a public way to acknowledge that people love each other – to be available. I just don’t particularly think there’s any good reason to restrict it to anything past “consenting adults” (well, in the case of the legalized version, I’d want to make it “consenting adults who have thought this through or at least signed a form saying they did,” but still).

    But I understand what you mean. I think the big problem is in conflating what we’re doing with the two things. If you think marriage is supposed to be one thing (twoo wuv), but its parameters are those of another (contract to make babies), you’re setting up for … if not disaster, then certainly disappointment. Our lack of alternate structures really hurts us here too; staying together for the kids may be an admirable sentiment, but given the way things are structured within the law (power of attorney for spouses, etc.), it’s not always the best option for anyone involved. If there were a parenting contract distinct from a legalized romantic contract, that might help. And so on and so forth.

  14. But if people married in order to get public recognition and community support for a private commitment to each other’s well-being that they’ve made, I could support that.

    Agreed.

    I get what you’re saying…you’re coming at it from a politics of control standpoint.

    Mag, having been through a divorce with child custody, property and debt division, etc., I can quite confidently assure you that it isn’t something that could have been done online.

    It isn’t as easy as it looks. Just like an ad that screams how wonderful their product is until you look at the fine print.

  15. Oh, I’m not saying that the process is all that easy. I get that actual, individual situations are complicated and annoying and involve a lot of details.

    My point was that the ethos of ‘hey, just get a divorce!’ extends all the way to “from the comfort of your own living room.” Which is, indeed, the inverse of most simpler transactions; if I want to return something to a store (hell, even with a reciept), the sense is that I must have done something wrong to even want to do it. Did I break it on purpose? Am I too stupid to know what my size is? Am I not grateful enough for a gift I got?

    I don’t think that no-fault divorce is an awful thing. If nothing else, I view it as a necessary tool given how hard it is to get people to agree that domestic violence is actually happening (or to admit it in the first place) – if the judge doesn’t think your situation is really abusive, what recourse do you have? I do, however, think that the commercial structures around it (and media deployment, particularly in the case of whatever ill-advised celebrity marriage is making headlines), are problematic. What we see is important. If you’re bombarded by images saying that it’s quick and easy and painless (you don’t have to see your enraged spouse if you do it online! and you don’t have to listen to a lawyer tell you it’s a bad idea! and they guarantee the judge will agree with you!), and story after story of 15 minute annulled Vegas accidents, two year fightfests, and noisy celeb breakups… then yeah, it’s going to seem more logical.

    I think that’s particularly important in light of the (forgive the pun) romanticized view of marriage that’s often bandied about. I don’t think that the factors I pointed out above would be nearly as important if we weren’t constantly told that marriage is a sacred happy perfect time that makes men into Men and women into Women and so on and so forth. Because if you went into it thinking that it was beautiful and something to be worked at, and that it would have ups and downs and require effort … then you wouldn’t be so disappointed when those things happened. Frustrated, perhaps, probably sad and mad and tired… but you wouldn’t be blindsided to find out that it wasn’t everything they said it was.

  16. Hmm, that’s a phrase one wonders about its origins. I already had to give up honyak. Am I going to have to give up hunky-dory, too? One doesn’t normally think of the Hungarians as being folks widely disparaged against, but I’m starting to suspect that all the nonsense words I learned as a child used to be words that made fun of Hungarians. Explain that to me, people

    As a Hungarian, I can tell you we have been and still are widely disparaged. In the 19th century, many western European scholars referred to us as “savage Mongoloid Magyars”. Hitler called us subhumans. And today in some EU countries, a disparaging term for us, “Bozgor” (like “Nigger”) is widely used.
    By all means go on about things being “Hunky Dory.” But please don’t put me in the ‘savage’ category!

    Kristof

  17. Mag, yeah, I ended up doing the “no-fault” divorce upon the advice of my attorney because she felt it would be painful for my daughter to look up the paperwork when she grew up and it said “adultery” as the cause as well as the details.

    Looking back, it sure would have been more to my advantage if I would have had an avenue to collect alimony, etc., but I was so torn up and scared that I just did what she said. I truly feel my divorce attorney’s intentions were well-meaning and for the benefit of my daughter…but hell, she has already figured out a lot on her own, so what was the point?

  18. I probably should clarify or reiterate or whatever.

    If marriage is a contract–which I think State Marriage is–then dissolving the terms of the contract should be equal to dissolving the terms of any other contract.

    If marriage is a covenant relationship–which I think some forms of religiously-based marriages are–then the terms of that covenant are binding and should not be easily dissolved.

    A major problem with the Gay Marriage discussion is that it often conflates the two…and you have people who espouse the idea of a covenant relationship being sanctioned by the state. (Which is what I infer Martin to be doing.)

    That’s where you get all this business about “domestic tranquility” and whatnot.

    My purpose for bringing divorce–especially no-fault divorce–into the topic is to make the point that there has been less and less in common between State marriage and religiocultural marriage over the last 150 years than many anti-gay marriage folk tend to realise.

  19. That’s a good post Kat. You are troubled by no-fault divorce and point out that state marriage and religiocultural marriage have diverged in the last 150 years. Is that a good thing in your opinion? What are the implications for the state? If you were an infant would you rather have two parents with a deep respect for the concept of covenant or two who viewed their relationship as a contract?

  20. This issue came up a few days ago: in America, legal (State) marriage is not, legally speaking, a contract. You can not win a “breach of contract” suit regarding a marriage “contract”.

    Some religious groups might consider marriage to be a contract, and if they have a ‘religious court’ system, those courts might consider it to be a contract. But when you are standing in front of a legal judge, your marriage is not governed by Contract Law.

    Several states (3?) have “Covenant Marriages” (AZ, LA, …) Those Covenant Marriages borrow some terminology from Contract Law, but even those are governed by the statutes used to create that category of marriage, and are not legally contracts.

    BTW, the latest information that I read indicated that all of the state Covenant Marriage laws allowed for No Fault Divorce, the biggest difference was that both parties had agreed in advance to attend counciling before finalizing a divorce. IANAL.

  21. Bridgett, You will forgive me for not providing you with a disseration proposal regarding marriage, complete with stats, graphs, and glossy photos.
    I hope you’ll forgive me too for not rushing to embrace a radically different model when it comes to rearing children because some claim a right that I just don’t see. I am in awe when I consider how much power I have over my own children. I am dubious of people, hetero or homo, who have children merely because they WANT children. Children are not things. They are people.

    My gut feelings are not sufficient for many things, but that does not imply that they are wrong or that they are not worth considering (I never mentioned or relied upon gut feelings in the discussion). As a rule I think it wise to consider gut feelings or instincts.
    If someone hands me something to drink and it tastes like weasel piss I’ll spit it out. My gut, telling me to vomit, will have served me well. If something tastes good I’ll evaluate the contents. If it is loaded with sugar I’ll not drink it. My mind, in that case, rejects it.
    I’ve yet to hear an argument that persuades me that same sex marriage would be good for the society in which I live. And, I don’t see it as a right.

  22. Ha, Martin, I think that, if I were an infant, I’d want milk and a nap and that’s about all. I’m not sure tiny babies are great political thinkers.

  23. An aside…

    Aren’t most of the presidential candidates on the Dem side opposed to gay marriage? I’m not sure but I think I recall Sen Obama articulating his opposition to it.

    I think Kat’s post though is worthy to pursue. That is the thing isn’t it, the distinction between contract and covenant?

  24. Is that a good thing in your opinion?

    No. I’d rather State-sanctioned contractual marriages be different than religiocultural marriages. I think religiocultural marriage (hereinafter RcM) is approaching the issue of binding relationship from a wholly different perspective than a contractual marriage.

    What are the implications for the state?

    If the state is interested in stable partnerships for economic and social growth then I don’t see the state having any problems with a variety of marriage-type arrangements. Long-term binding contracts, whether between two people in love or between a company and its employee, an artist and her manager or whatever, are good engines for progress.

    If you were an infant would you rather have two parents with a deep respect for the concept of covenant or two who viewed their relationship as a contract?

    If I were an infant I suppose I would most like the couple who fed, changed and bathed me regularly. As an older person I would definitely prefer the Covenanted couple, insofar as I infer a commitment to family as being part of their views on the marital relationship.

    BUT–I don’t think the STATE can force people into that way of thinking. I don’t think the STATE can say “you should have a Marriage which follows the X or Y religious template.” Because people enter into those arrangements NOT solely for state reasons but because of religiocultural reasons.

    Just as I don’t think the STATE can tell me I have to attend St. Whomever Catholic Church, I don’t think the STATE can tell me I should be married according to Catholic rules of marriage.

    Of course because of my own faith background, the Catholic attitude toward marriage most closely resembles my own. But that’s because of my religion…not my citizenship.

  25. n America, legal (State) marriage is not, legally speaking, a contract. You can not win a “breach of contract” suit regarding a marriage “contract”.

    It’s not. And I think that’s the problem. It should be.

    But our current state-sanctioned “marriage” is an amalgamation of various religiocultural ideas borrowed from different societies.

    It makes for a spurious legal entity, imho, which is why we have all this fighting over “Gay Marriage”.

    Because what are we fighting over? A Contractual Relationship? A Religious Sanctification of a Relationship? Both? Neither?

    That’s where the skeeved-outness part comes from folks like Martin and My Dad and my Brother who think of Gay Marriage as a long hot swig of weasel piss. By viewing Marriage as a predominantly religious institution, they see the advancement of Gay Marriage as an attempt on the part of religious outsiders to justify a state of being they find abhorrent (homosexuality) and graft that onto a process they find sacred (marriage.)

  26. … I think religiocultural marriage (hereinafter RcM) is approaching the issue of binding relationship from a wholly different perspective than a contractual marriage.

    Yes. Covenant is to contract as being a son is to being an employee.

  27. … a long hot swig of weasel piss…

    Cracked me up with that line Kat.

    But it is more than being skeeved out. Me, or your brother, getting skeeved out is no big deal.

  28. Ha, ha, ha, well, then, Martin, I’m about to throw my hands up in the air and shake my head at you. You take religious marriage, define it however you want. Exclude near-sighted people for all I care. Make it binding and fast between a man, his wife, and your God.

    Over here, we’ll have a contractual arrangement called marriage that sometimes overlaps your marriage and sometimes does not.

    Ta da! Everyone is left feeling mildly like they didn’t get their way. Everyone can claim victory.

  29. Not so fast B.

    … Over here, we’ll have a contractual arrangement called marriage that sometimes overlaps your marriage and sometimes does not…

    That’s the rub isn’t it B? Where will it overlap?

    Kat’s infusion of clarity helped. The difference between contract and covenant is not small. The Judeo-Christian understanding of covenant is crucial to understanding not only marriage but the entire theology that Jews and Christians embrace.

  30. Kat’s infusion of clarity helped. The difference between contract and covenant is not small. The Judeo-Christian understanding of covenant is crucial to understanding not only marriage but the entire theology that Jews and Christians embrace.

    See, I’m a Christian, but this really bothers me. My church and my state are separate things, and my church has no business telling my state what to do. (And vice versa.) If we want to have covenant marriages that involve a lot of different things, good for us! Let’s do that. And we’ll set up church structures to help us live those lives, and deal with them when they stop working for us.

    But the state still has to deal with things like “who has the legal right to sign contracts for this child before they attain majority?” and “if this person is incapacitated, who gets to make major medical decisions for them?” A lot of that, right now, is covered in marriage-as-we-know-it. That’s where the two areas overlap, and that’s only because we’ve been mixing the two idea sets for a while.

    They don’t have to overlap at all, except for the part where they’re both generally undertaken by two consenting adults who love each other and/or want to enter into a long-term closer-than-most-people relationship with one another. Church can keep the bits about morality and love and sex, and the state can keep the bits about power of attorney, childcare arrangements, financial ties, and the other thousand or so laws/rules/requirements that come into play. If you want both, you undertake both. If you only want one, you only undertake that one. But they don’t have to be tied together the way they are right now.

  31. You will forgive me for not providing you with a disseration proposal regarding marriage, complete with stats, graphs, and glossy photos.

    Martin, if you are basing your arguments on something you claim is a fact (that one form of marriage is better than another) you bet your life you had better be able to prove that your ‘facts’ are facts. You don’t get to base a discussion on Premise A, be shown that Premise A is false, and say that you still think that it’s true without explaining why. That’s not an unreasonable request for you to deal with; the fact that you won’t suggests that you know there is no basis for your argument other than what you’d like to think. And for all you claim that you’re not relying on gut feelings in this discussion, without facts that’s all you’ve got going for you.

    ic: you used to could definitely be sued for breach of promise to marry, at least in common law countries. Many a cad was brought into court by his former gf’s family, into the 20th century. FWIW and not really relevant, but just another piece of legal trivia.

  32. Judeo-Christian

    Sorry, this is way off topic, but I love this word. I have never met a “Judeo-Christian” in my life but it always gets trotted ought when the Christian right want make a point seem to have a broader backing (sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t), yet behind closed doors they’re quick to say the Jews are going to hell with the rest of us heathens.

  33. Martin, I’m going to point out once more that you have no idea what theology Jews embrace. I’d like you to leave us out of your attempts to enforce one variety of Christian marriage on the rest of the world. You are, inadvertently I’m sure, being deeply offensive.

  34. See, I’m a Christian, but this really bothers me. My church and my state are separate things, and my church has no business telling my state what to do. (And vice versa.) If we want to have covenant marriages that involve a lot of different things, good for us! Let’s do that. And we’ll set up church structures to help us live those lives, and deal with them when they stop working for us.

    What she said.

  35. I have never met a “Judeo-Christian” in my life but it always gets trotted ought when the Christian right want make a point seem to have a broader backing

    I personally use it when I’m trying to address a concept which spans both historical and philosophical traditions.

    It always irks me to hear a pulpit minister or teacher talk about The Christian Concept of_______, when ______ is something that Christianity has borrowed from Judaism.

    I just thought it was funny that some are offended to hear Judeo Christian and some are offended to NOT hear it.

  36. Yeah. I feel the same way too when people start crowing about the uniquely Christian idea of thissnthat.

    On the other hand, “the entire theology that Jews and Christians embrace” is really winceworthy. They share a historical background and a number of theological similarities, but I highly doubt one could call them a united whole.

  37. Well, for one thing, a Jewish marriage is a contract. It’s a contract with very important theological implications, to be sure, but it isn’t a sacrament. So that lumping it in with Christian ideas of Covenant Marriage is highly problematic. I’m just saying.

  38. I’m not looking for a prospectus. I’m looking for any empirical support whatsoever for the central tenets of your argument. You have asserted, repeatedly, that gays should not be permitted to marry because of the (presumed) deleterious effects of their parenting. Further, you assert, without evidence and contrary to legal fact and social practice for the past 200 years, that procreation is a primary and necessary purpose of civil marriage in America. You repeatedly have muddled civil marriage with a metaphysical and specifically Christian commitment in which many of us married types do not partake.

    I am not concerned with the condition of your guts, your phobias about gay marriage, your religious schemas, or your folksy if bizarre tangent about drinking animal urine. I am interested in your proof. I haven’t seen any and further, I don’t believe you have any.

  39. Katherine, if you used the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ I would know that you almost certainly knew what you were talking about and were using it in an educated sense. I mean, heck, it would make sense the way you used it, because you use language carefully; it would point to a similarity or a continuity. Depending on the context, I might or might not like the usage, but there’s only a tiny chance that I’d think you didn’t know what you meant, or that what you meant would be significantly inaccurate. When Martin uses it, or when (as he has done before) he tries to use his misunderstanding of Judaism as proof of or support for his attempt to prove why his version of Christianity must be enforced on others, he (so far, at least) demonstrates a profound ignorance and insults Jews by mischaracterizing our beliefs and practices. Context is everything.

  40. Mag
    the church has no business telling the state anything? Does the church have no interest?

    I’ll jump in on the side of Martin Luther King Jr. His faith-shaped conscience compelled to speak out on a policy.

  41. nm,

    … on something you claim is a fact (that one form of marriage is better than another)…

    Believing that traditional marriage is better for society is not a matter of fact. It is my preference and my opinion that traditional marriage – no covenant marriage is optimal for children and therefore society.

  42. Dolphin,

    Jesus was a Jew, a Jew who adhered to the Mosaic Code. The concept of covenant begins with Adam and Eve, expands with Noah, further with Abraham, further with Jacob and the twelve tribes. Christ, we believe, expanded the covenant universally. We are united by blood, not physically but spiritually. We partake of His blood at Mass.

    As for being offended? Get over it.

  43. … You are, inadvertently I’m sure, being deeply offensive.

    And you are, purposely, trying to be offended. See advice given to Dolphin.

  44. Kat,

    Christians believe that Christ expanded the covenant not that we “borrowed” things.

    Don’t trouble yourself with those who say they are offended. They are offended by an opinion not be the use of “Judeo-Christian.” It is perfectly reasonable to use that term.

  45. Bridgett,

    What can I say? Are you married? Do you have children? Help me gain some insight here so I can see where you – with your empirical this and evidence that – are coming from.

    Are you a real person?

  46. Yea, NM I get it. A good person who you agree with can use “Judeo-Christian.” A Neanderthal, like myself, is offensive when he uses the term. What a phony you are…

  47. Christ, we believe, expanded the covenant universally. We are united by blood, not physically but spiritually. We partake of His blood at Mass.

    Ah. I see part of the disconnect.

    Martin is Catholic. I am an Anabaptist. Martin, it appears you and I at least are having a rehash of 500 year-old argument.

    the church has no business telling the state anything? Does the church have no interest?

    That would be my position, and the position of Zwingli, Simons and other Separatist Reformers.

  48. Kat,

    I have deep respect for the Anabaptists I know – Old Order Mennonites in KY. Yes, the infant baptism thing is a rub. And, I’d hate to not celebrate Christmas.

    You do know that Menno Simons was a Catholic priest.

    But, I love the Mennonites. Great people.

  49. Ow. That last spate made me wince.

    I’m with Kat. The church hasn’t any business meddling in the affairs of the state. Period.

    As for the MLK stuff, don’t go there. My grandparents marched with him. They were there. I’ve been steeped in him, his life, and his works my whole life.

  50. Yea, NM I get it. A good person who you agree with can use “Judeo-Christian.” A Neanderthal, like myself, is offensive when he uses the term. What a phony you are…

    I think she was saying that perhaps we use the term somewhat differently. I’m sure that I offend her at times when I use it, although I assure you that is not my intention.

  51. You do know that Menno Simons was a Catholic priest.

    And Luther was a monk. They both got over it. ;-p

    For the record, there were many Reformation folks who just wanted a New Boss, Same As The Old Boss and had no problem with a theocracy–as long as that cracy used their pet theo.

    It’s the folks like me who see earthly government as a corrupter of church ideals who are stubborn about this kind of thing.

    I’m a Mennonite (but not Old Order). And I do celebrate Christmas, btw.

    Yes, the infant baptism thing is a rub.

    Seeing as how it’s the crux of the matter, I guess so!

  52. Born an Anabaptist? Raised in the church?

    Well, I was born a baby. I made the choice to be an Anabaptist later.

    (Hah! a little Anabaptist humour there!)

    But yes, I did grow up in a Mennonite church. Don’t believe me, just try my potato salad, fried chicken and German-Chocolate cake.

    Do I vote?

    Yes. And I occasionally own guns. And I’m a lousy quilter. I’m a black-sheep Anabaptist, that’s for sure.

    Although I vote with less frequency than I used to and anyone who has known me for five minutes knows that I’m a libertarian.

  53. Believing that traditional marriage is better for society is not a matter of fact. It is my preference

    Then you need to stop stating it as if it were a fact, basing arguments on it as if it were a fact, and claiming that your preference trumps anyone else’s, which is the way you are conducting this discussion.

    And you are, purposely, trying to be offended. See advice given to Dolphin.

    Excuse me? Not only do you presume to know what my religion teaches better than I do, you presume to know what is in my heart and my intentions to you. I think that for anyone reading, the offense is clear. And as for why I am sure that Kat would use the phrase ‘Judeo-Christian’ differently than you do, it is because I know that she (1) has spent years studying Judaism with an open heart and mind and (2) has demonstrated over the time I have known her a care for and precision in the use of language which I haven’t yet seen you do.

    You don’t care that you offend? Fine. Don’t blame others for that fault.

  54. I approve of it just fine. I don’t think it’s an accurate parallel for the situation. As used, it’s the conversational equivalent of a Godwinning.

    We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

    Do you think the man that wrote that would be on your side? Do you really?

  55. Magni, don’t let him sucker you into changing the subject. Mr. “I admire B for her intellectual honesty” is engaging in a little intellectual weaselry here: he’s in a corner on his claims about marriage, so he’s changing the topic to Dr. King and divine covenants. Don’t let him get away with it.

  56. he’s in a corner on his claims about marriage, so he’s changing the topic to Dr. King and divine covenants. Don’t let him get away with it.

    Except that he does view marriage as a divine covenant. Which is generally the sticky wicket in the gay marriage conversation, and understandably so.

    It’s one reason I can sleep more easily at night being a Separatist. When one makes the mental decision to stop conflating church and state it’s easier to accept that the state makes decisions apart from the nature of the church.

  57. … The church hasn’t any business meddling in the affairs of the state. Period.

    Those are your words Mag. Not mine. I pointed out, simply, that Rev. King’s theology informed his activity and his policy preferences. Is it just faith-informed preferences with which you disagree that are a problem?

    What about Ghandi? What about the abolitionists?

    And specific examples are not needed. Are you implying that my faith-influenced opinion is not worthy for the public square? Kat agreed with you, but she admits that she votes. Does she leave her faith-influenced opinions at the door before voting?

    I think that Rev King would not have approved of same sex marriages. Are you implying that he would have? That seems preposterous.

    nm,

    I never stated nor implied that traditional marriage’s superiority was a fact. You assume too much.

    In a corner? I am fairly transparent in discussions. I will let you or anyone else know if something moves me, causes me to re-consider.

  58. … It’s one reason I can sleep more easily at night…

    Except that you’ll toss and turn thinking about whether or not you should be celebrating Christmas, a Catholic thing…

  59. Kat, I’m referring to his sudden veering from “marriage is a divine covenant” to “let’s change the topic to how Jesus expanded the divine covenant we partake in at Mass.”

    Martin, if by ‘transparent’ you mean denying what you have repeatedly claimed, sure. Magni is right; talking to you isn’t worth it.

  60. Martin, and yet King was always doing preposterous things. So, there you go. Too bad Rustin’s dead; we could have asked him.

    I still think your position is wrong and exceptionally and needlessly cruel. At the end of the day, which we are rapidly approaching, there’s no way around that.

    And that’s what it comes down to–how long are Americans willing to be cruel to their friends and families? A while, certainly. But eventually we lose our taste for it.

    Susan, yes, ha ha, the idea that individuals have the right to be secure in their person is so hilarious.

  61. Well, actually, given a different set of beliefs, it would appear that you do find the right of individuals to be secure in their persons hilarious. Or at least, not valid.

    But seriously, what sort of right can you think of that a person can be said to have, if the right can’t be exercised? I’m still struggling with that one.

    Also, what definition of autonomy are you using? I mean, if infants have the right to self-determination, which is the concept I’m working with, why the hell can’t they be great political thinkers?

  62. Shoot, maybe they can. I don’t know what goes on in baby heads. All I know is that they’re not going to ever be recognized as great political thinkers because their typing sucks.

    Susan, I mean autonomy in the sense of an immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority.

    Clearly, everyone is going to be subject to exercises of authority, but we ought to be immune for arbitrary exercises.

    See, here’s my problem with your definition of a right–by your definition, none of us have them. The government is big enough and strong enough to prohibit us from exercising any rights.

    I believe rights exist independently of whether or not governments get in the way of our exercising them. I have an inalienable right to liberty. If the government is going to impose on that, it better have a better reason than “Some folks think you’re temporarily an idiot.”

  63. Jesus was a Jew

    Martin, do you call yourself a “Judeo-Christian?” Didn’t think so.

    As for being offended? Get over it.

    Believe me, there’s little you could say that would offend me. It’s hard to take offense from someone who has such difficulty assembling a cogent argument.

    I think that Rev King would not have approved of same sex marriages. Are you implying that he would have? That seems preposterous.

    Hardly. Bayard Rustin was one Dr. King’s top advisers (who organized the March on Washington, no less) and was also an openly gay man. King’s wife, Corretta Scott King had been a loud proponent of gay rights until her recent death, and assured doubters that her husband would have felt the same. The King Center includes homophobia alongside racism as one of it’s “Triple Evils” I think you might be surprised at just how “preposterous” MLK Jr.’s commitment to equality of all people actually was.

  64. King was breath-takingly, wondrously, joyously, powerfully inspired and mobilized to do justice by Christ’s message of universal love. You find a lot of things preposterous that are readily demonstrable.

  65. That’s sort of a mischaracterization – by my definition, none of us have any truly “inalienable” rights. But really, yours isn’t any more helpful. You’re trying for the same ipse dixit that they used in the Declaration.

    Either rights come from the government (which is my stance), and what the government giveth, the government can sure as hell taketh away; or they come from a Creator, but you’ve already said that you don’t want to impose your theological views on anyone else. Besides, too many people have their own ideas about what rights the Creator(s) may have given us for that to be workable.

  66. Dolphin,

    King is dead so we’ll not know. It seems preposterous to me that a Black Baptist Minister in the 1960′s would have been in favor of same sex marriage. Maybe I’m wrong. Having a gay friend or co-worker gives me no insight. I might have gay friends. I try to treat gay people like I treat straight people.

    No, I don’t call myself a Judeo-Christian. Point?

    Glad you weren’t offended.

  67. … King was breath-takingly, wondrously, joyously, powerfully inspired and mobilized to do justice by Christ’s message of universal love.

    I agree, a tremendously inspiring person.

  68. King is dead so we’ll not know. It seems preposterous to me that a Black Baptist Minister in the 1960’s would have been in favor of same sex marriage.

    And his wife disagrees. You’ll pardon me if I assume she was better acquainted with the man.

    I try to treat gay people like I treat straight people.

    Really? How many straight weddings have you tried to prohibit?

  69. Well, Susan, if you don’t believe the Constitution, which holds the people have rights which are then either given to the government to manage or still held by the people, I don’t know what to say to you.

    I was arguing from the belief that we both believed in the fundamental worth of the American experiment.

    If you don’t, then, I guess you don’t.

  70. Yep. What B said. “People” (a flexible term — which “people” keeps changing and you’d probably like personhood to extend to what I’d call fetal tissue, but legally it doesn’t right now…I would like it to inhere to all humans regardless of their sexual preference or their bodily abilities, but it really doesn’t right now…we all have our wish list) have “rights” (historically flexible, but there are some basics — life, liberty or self-ownership/autonomy, property, though not directly in persons any more) because we are born with them. The Declaration says “endowed by our Creator” but the Constitution is more secular, grounding these rights in the very essence of human existence. That’s why they are now called “human rights.” That’s why many people insist on the personhood of fetal tissue that you might refer to as “pre-born,” trying to stretch this personhood and thus those rights into the womb. If they can get common agreement that this tissue is a person, then it has rights that must be recognized — not the situation at the moment.

    In the US legal system, as it has historically evolved since the 1770s, rights aren’t understood to be given to us either by gods or governments. In fact, you’d have to reach fairly far back into the 17th century to get a vigorous philosophical defense of people’s liberties being somehow organically dependent on government as a family’s existence depended on the father. (The guy you’d be looking for is Robert Filmer; the treatise, soundly rejected by Locke and most US political thinkers subsequently, is the *Patriarcha*). We can’t give or sell our rights away (that’s what unalienable means). Our rights belong to ourselves and we continue to hold onto most of them. By common consent, we agree to let government manage — but not abridge or suspend or alter — our rights. The government that abridges, suspends, or alters our unalienable rights without majority consent is acting illegally and it’s ok to overturn it.

    Most of the fundamental premises of American governance pretty much depend on the Constitution, which in turn depends on the articulation of foundational human rights. So…no Constitution for you, I take it?

  71. Dolphin,

    No need to assume, she lived with the man. But, he has no record of support or opposition to same sex marriage… does he? We are free to come to our own conclusions.

    … How many straight weddings have you tried to prohibit?

    None. Neither would I try to prohibit a same-sex wedding. No need. Whatever two men are doing it isn’t a wedding where they get married… as tradionally understood and recently codified in our federal law that was signed by Bill Clinton.

    That is not the point. I said I try to treat gay people… not particular behavior. One’s personhood is distinct from one’s behavior. I dissaprove of much behavior regardless of sexual preference. Some I approve… smoking cigars comes to mind.

  72. Really? How many straight weddings have you tried to prohibit?

    I’ve personally tried to prohibit one. I didn’t think my sister-in-law should have married the man she chose. Everyone disagreed with me.

    Until a few years later when it became obvious that he was a lazy, malingering child molester.

    Funny how the whole family started agreeing with me.

    But that’s beside the point.

  73. Thank you for the refresher course on legal theory. I hope your legs don’t hurt after that jump re: the Constitution and me, though.

    It seems to me that you must believe if “[t]he government that abridges, suspends, or alters our unalienable rights without majority consent is acting illegally and it’s ok to overturn it,” then it would follow that the government that commits any of these actions with majority consent is acting legally and it is therefore not ok to overturn it. Is that correct?

    Now … “people” have rights. So do “persons” – such as corporations. So do “the people.” If you can find a consistent jurisprudence for those three categories, I salute you.

    Also, why can’t I stop in my time machine at the 18th century? Nonsense on stilts!

    Yes, the Declaration takes the “Creator” stance, whereas the Constitution is indeed secular about the whole thing. But really, that doesn’t change the fact that if we (“the people”) decide that some rights aren’t rights, or that if (as I’ve been saying all along) rights are weighed against governmental interests and found wanting, those rights can be abridged, or abrogated. And what happens to those rights? Are they really inalienable? Which rights did the Ninth Amendment mean to be retained by the people? I haven’t seen a list, and we all seem to have different ideas about it. So who decides?

    I’d be happy to look at some of the rights specifically enumerated, as well as the ones we’ve found to be ours via the rumble in the penumbra or the magnificently named “substantive due process.” Sadly, I don’t have time right now, but I’ll try and make a list.

    Maybe I’m just more pragmatic, but the Constitution to me doesn’t seem to depend on foundational human rights, so much as it does on pitting coequal branches of government against one another to prevent tyranny.

  74. We are free to come to our own conclusions.

    Yes we are. I’d momentarily forget that you prefer to rely on your gut feelings to come to your conclusions rather than factual material. I apologize for that.

    Neither would I try to prohibit a same-sex wedding.

    Well if you’ve changed your views on same-sex marriage, then we’re now in agreement. If you have not then you ARE in fact trying to prevent the wedding of same-sex couples.

    Whatever two men are doing it isn’t a wedding where they get married… as tradionally understood and recently codified in our federal law that was signed by Bill Clinton.

    Because people like yourself are prohibiting it from happening (and in your example Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress who passed DOMA).

    Side note #1: Why is it that when right-wingers discuss gay marriage it’s always about “two men.” I wonder if lesbians never get brought up because too many straight men have positive associations with the word “lesbian.”

    Side note #2: Why is it that right-wingers think they are making some powerful argument for whatever view they’re toting, if they can only provide an example where Clinton appeared to share it it some fashion. Clinton signed DOMA. That was wrong, regardless of the fact that there was a veto-proof margin. He should have stood on principle and forced the GOP-controlled Congress to overturn his veto, he didn’t, that was wrong. His wife is even worse as she’s on the Armed Forces Committee in the Senate and has yet to propose a bill repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As I’m neither a Democrat, nor a partisan, you definitely can’t “win” an argument with me by throwing out the name Clinton, and I suspect that tactic really isn’t a very good one even with partisan Democrats.

    I said I try to treat gay people… not particular behavior. One’s personhood is distinct from one’s behavior.

    With regard to interpersonal interactions, how do you accomplish anything without behavior? Interpersonal interactions depend on behavior, unless you have developed some form of telepathy.

  75. … With regard to interpersonal interactions, how do you accomplish anything without behavior? Interpersonal interactions depend on behavior, unless you have developed some form of telepathy.

    I say hello to people who say hello to me. I don’t ask about their sexual practices. I try to notice and praise when someone does something that I think is good (don’t ask or know their sexual practices). I believe that all people have intrinsic worth and dignity. Get the idea?

    btw, why am I lumped with “right wingers?” Very few people who know me would think to categorize me as such.

    I think that Bill Clinton signed DOMA is interesting. That’s all.

    I do rely on my gut. I trust my instincts. No need to apologize.

  76. Gee, just last night you were denying that last bit. Hmmmm.

    So you never go to anyone’s wedding, huh? You just say hello to people.

  77. nm, Never denied relying or trusting my gut. On the contrary, I said that the gut should not be discounted. It is not enough but it can “tell” us something.

    I have gone to weddings. I have decided to not go to one – thought it was a sham. I would not go to a same sex shin dig.

  78. I say hello to people who say hello to me. I don’t ask about their sexual practices. I try to notice and praise when someone does something that I think is good (don’t ask or know their sexual practices).

    Is not saying hello or praising someone behavior? And when you praise someone for “doing something that [you] think is good,” are you not praising behavior.

    I believe that all people have intrinsic worth and dignity.

    This we agree on.

    Get the idea?

    If you’re suggesting that none of these things involve behavior, then no I don’t get the idea.

    why am I lumped with “right wingers?”

    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

    I would not go to a same sex shin dig.

    Strange, a few posts back you were saying you treat gay people the same as your treat straight people.

  79. I mean, wow. Should we blindly venerate the Constitution? Not so long ago it seemed everyone was agreeing that it, you know, explicitly authorized slavery. And I think everyone also agreed that slavery was, for lack of a better term, bad. So was liberty not a fundamental right for blacks? If we’re going off the secular base of the Constitution and its articulation of foundational human rights … it just seems like we missed a biggie, there. It may be that the Constitution provides all the rights of residents to illegal aliens – but it may not. We haven’t even decided yet.

    Hell, I’ve seen Aunt B. go off about how she can’t believe that we would take away automatic citizenship by birth – it’s in the Constitution! But it wasn’t, originally. That’s from the 14th Amendment. Is that inalienable now? Are any of those rights inalienable? Are you using “inalienable” in a sense equivalent to “fundamental?”

    Believing in the rule of law and that no law we pass can violate the Constitution – that’s my thing. No question. If you just want me to blindly venerate it … you can have that as your thing.

  80. I make judgments with respect to particular behaviors regardless of sexual practices.

    Interesting. Most righties claim it’s the sexual practices of gay people that they object to. Since you have just said that that isn’t the issue with you what particular behaviors to you think gay people engage in that in your judgment justifies denying them human rights?

  81. Dolphin, because of teh baybeez! He’s already said that his gut feelings (or the facts he can’t be bothered to produce, whichever side of his mouth he’s talking about at that moment) tell him that human rights are bad for teh baybeez.

  82. Dolph,

    (I think I can answer a question addressed to me nm). I see the confusion. My fault. I judge particular behaviors. Everyone does that. A behavior is either positive, negative, or neutral. If someone extends help to another in need – giving the thirsty a glass of water – then I judge it to be good, regardless of sexual practices.

    Sexual practices themselves can be positive or negative, depends on particulars. That can get rather complex.

    nm’s little commentary is instructive. Some might claim that humans have a right to engage in sexual relations with whomever they want. I would hold that a man’s sexual practices – promiscuity for example – can have a negative impact on his children.

  83. I judge particular behaviors. Everyone does that. A behavior is either positive, negative, or neutral.

    All of which is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

    He tells us in the Lord’s prayer that we are to always pray in His name, approaching the Father with humility. He tells us that we are forgive those that sin against us as God has forgiven our sins.

    We are all on equal footing in the sin camp, according to the teachings of Jesus. He reminds us again of this in the parable of the servant debtor. The story tells of the servant who owes a large amount to the king. The king forgives him, but then the forgiven servant goes to a man who owes him a few pennies to extort them. The king is angry–after all the forgiveness he’s shown the servant, it is a slap in the face to have that servant be miserly toward others.

    I think the attitude of judging others and evaluating them is a serious business. It may come naturally–but we are to strive to put it away as we take up our cross daily.

    Jesus asked us to do two things. Follow him and love each other. Period. If you are a Christian, that’s your road map. You have to let the God be the God. You be the one working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    There’s also a part in the Bible that talks about what you are to do with those in your fellowship who sin repeatedly. You are to go to them, work things out and then if you have to remove them from the fellowship, you are to treat them as “an outsider”.

    For years that passage has been used to justify the shunning of those we consider living outside of the way.

    But if you go back and read how we’re supposed to treat outsiders, you’ll see that instead of encouraging us to shun and villify those people, we are asked to love them abundantly with the heart of a servant.

    There is not a single soul on this planet for whom Christ did not atone. I cannot accept that it is within the scope of Grace for us to not extend Grace and Love to ANYONE.

    If God wishes to condemn a person for any reason, that is God’s business alone. We are not God. We’re his sheep. That means we follow.

  84. Well explained, Kat. I’d say that Christians are actually called to do three things, not two: do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. (I love this formulation because it is verb-driven and easy to remember.) However, since these activities amount to the method by which they are to follow God and love each other, I guess we are on the same page.

  85. Kat,

    Forgive yes, but forgiveness implies judgment. If someone steals we judge that that is wrong. We cannot escape making judgments.

    The Mennonite shunning is comparable to the Catholic concept of excommunication. You’ll note that the Catholic Church is unbelieveably slow to excommunicate and also that people can excommunicate, via behavior, themselves.

    In Matthew 23 Jesus condemns the behavior of the Pharisees, harshly and clearly: “Do what they say but not what they do.”

    Mother Teresa’s establishment of AID’s hospices was not an acceptance of gay behavior. I’ve heard more than one priest say that the purest confessions they’ve heard were from gays. And they forgave those men, as they have forgiven me, in Persona Christi… Christ forgives through the priest. They have to because that is what Christ did.

    Now if I were to say, or think, that a gay man’s sexual sin, his behavior, is worse than some sin of mine I would be condemned. I would condemn myself. He is no less worthy of God’s mercy than me.

    I am prompted to lay out this Catholic thinking because you are a Mennonite who shuns the practice of shunning. Perhaps you are not really a Mennonite or merely a cultural Mennonite. Perhaps you should investigate Catholocism. I have long suspected that it is not the concept of the Papacy that Protestants have trouble with. It is merely that each man wants to be his own pope.

  86. Martin,
    Aksimet ate my comment. Maybe B. will retrieve it.

    I do want to say one thing though, even if my comment never shows up again.

    I am an Anabaptist. I am not a Protestant. There is a huge difference.

  87. Pingback: Real Marriage « Midlife And Treachery

  88. Martin, this is a bad analogy, though it is commonly employed. The practice of shunning is social, the exclusion from an earthly community. The practice of excommunication is a spiritual penalty. Some Anabaptist groups use both. Some use only one. However, they are definitely not the same thing.

    In the Catholic Church, excommunication is its most severe spiritual penalty — a suspension of the central avenues of grace and ecclesiastical community to souls in mortal peril. It’s done to emphasize the seriousness of the spiritual error and to encourage repentance. Under canon law, it can be enforced in a number of degrees, from denial of the sacraments to denial of public intercessory prayers (though your friends can continue to pray for your redemption) to denial of ecclesiastical burial to civilia jura. Since 1983, however, Catholic canon law has not required secular exclusion of those people it has excommunicated.

    Father Lyons will be so proud. I was actually listening when he explained this all in CCD.

  89. I judge particular behaviors. Everyone does that. A behavior is either positive, negative, or neutral.

    Ok, so when it comes to the government granting of rights, who gets to decide which behaviors are positive, negative, or neutral. Why is the behavior of two members of the same-sex walking down the aisle and saying “I do” negative to the point of needing banned, while the same behavior is positive to the point of needing encouraged when two members of the opposite sex perform it? Are you suggesting that we run society based on your personal prejudices or should we instead seek some other more objective measure?

    I would hold that a man’s sexual practices – promiscuity for example – can have a negative impact on his children.

    I’d agree. I’d also find such a statement irrelevant to the conversation.

  90. Kat, Look forward to your comment. I do realize that you make a distinction. We don’t tend to. Church of Christers don’t think of themselves as Protestants and some others are like that. But fine, I’ll use Anabaptist as long as we agree that it was a break (protest) from something.

    Bridgett, I am highly impressed. Not only did you listen. You absorbed. I’d suggest though that they are somewhat similar.

    Dolphin,

    The “why” of the what makes a behavior “bad” or “good” is a far stickier question. Not sure we should get into that. We haven’t, I don’t think, agreed that a same sex couple is different from a hetero couple. If one does not see it as different then going further in discussion is no point (perhaps even then we shouldn’t).

    I don’t think my saying that a man’s promiscuity was irrelevant to the conversation. We were discussing the narrow question of “judging” behavior. It was a relevant example.

  91. I was a very good Catholic, Martin. It was because I understood Catholicism so well that I decided that it was disingenuous to label myself “in dissent” when in actuality I was “out of communion.” Some people go away mad or bitter, but I didn’t. I gained tremendously from my early spiritual education and it has shaped my adult life in lasting, positive ways. I still enjoy going to Mass with the rest of my family from time to time; it’s like visiting a difficult but beloved old friend. My decision to leave, however, has proven to be correct for me.

  92. The fact that anyone can, by the nature of their written or oral work, make the claim that they know the mind and purpose of God…

    It has always just stunned me, and will continue to do so.

    “God” is a mystery, and I believe those that claim they can interpret that mystery, and use that claim to recruit ‘faithful’ are walking in dangerous places…

  93. We haven’t, I don’t think, agreed that a same sex couple is different from a hetero couple. If one does not see it as different then going further in discussion is no point (perhaps even then we shouldn’t).

    Of course a same-sex couple is different from an opposite sex couple. One couple contains members of the same sex, the others members of the opposite sex. Black people are different from white people. Short people are different from tall people. What we haven’t agreed on is not that gay couples and straight couples are different but rather whether or not gay couples and straight couples are equal.

    Per the promiscuity example. If you were in fact randomly choosing such an example to demonstrate a criterion in determining the worth of a particular behavior versus simply trying to crudely equate a committed same-sex couple with a promiscuous individual, then I think you’ve brought us back to where we started. Sounds as if you are here using objective, factual information in making the decision whether a particular behavior is good or bad. If that is the case, why do you not apply that same standard when deciding whether gay people deserve the civil right of marriage, instead of relying on your gut?

  94. Well Bridgett, I applaud your integrity. Far better to leave over honest differences. Your journey does intrigue. I hope you’ve written your thinking, feelings, and experiences down somewhere. And, keep in mind, as you proceed, the door swings both ways…

  95. This morning, I feel the need to step in and reply directly to comment 52.

    Yes, bridgett *is* a real person. Good grief.

    (I now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion)

  96. I most definitely approve of “Civil Unions” between two–and only two HUMAN–individuals of whatever persuasion. That is fine. N-o-o-o problem-o.

    The word MARRIAGE, regardless as to its use by civil authorities, has its origin in religious doctrine.

    To force any religious doctrine to include those things which have been described as an anathema to the beliefs of that Church is flat-out wrong.

    To force religious institutions or facilities to host a ceremony which celibrates a behavior which is an anathema to the doctrines of that religion–is flat-out wrong.

    Either of these things is the direct interference by the Government; and is the equivalent of establishing a “State Religion”. (Don’t EVEN attempt to use the “Mormon example”.)

    Also, do not attempt to produce a “Secular” word MARRIAGE as a addendium to the english language. Just use a different word–if you are going to expand the meaning or change it.

    That isn’t being “libertarian”; it is a direct attack upon religious belief. The only argument is the WORD–and the insistence of the gays that-that is the word they wish to use.

    If you use the words Civil–as in governmentally sanctioned–union you will find little argument by the vast majority of people. The word MARRIAGE not only implies approval by the Church, but opens the door for legally forcing Religious institutions to host and perform services for the ceremony.

    That is why there are gay activists which are insisting upon the use of that specific word.

    You want bombing, terrorism, and another Civil War–fine. That one may be the one that does it.

    I just hope that there are enough titular “Christians” to kill every leftist in the country when it happens. Even if they lose it will be a blood-bath.

    I’ve reached the point where I don’t even really care anymore.

    Humanism meets all of the qualifications for the label of Religion–as does “Rationalism” and “Atheism”. It has long been the goal of the left to establish one of these “isms” as the “State Religion” in the US.

    THAT is where the rubber meets the road–and we are obligated by our ancestors to start a shooting war to prevent ANY doctrine from becoming “official”. It is called Tyranny.

    As long as our rights come from “God”, we do not have a despotic government. No matter how clumsy and retarded it becomes. Take out God, and there are no limits as to what the Government can do. At that point, there is no moral reason to accept governance by that Government. The shooting will start soon thereafter.

    Our entire culture is based upon self-restraint and trust, put so brilliantly by Bill Whittle in his essays. The fabric of it has been ripped and torn by the left to the point that it has become very weak.

    You know, we killed somewhere near 10 million indigenous peoples to get this land–we will kill 150 million to keep it. Don’t start the shootin’ war.

    Eric.

  97. B, you do get some great trolls. Not everyone can reconcile “I just hope that there are enough titular “Christians” to kill every leftist in the country when it happens. Even if they lose it will be a blood-bath” with “I don’t even erally care anymore.”

  98. Eqwatz,

    Wow, simply wow. I’ll leave all your call for violence and murder in the name of jesus alone, because it’s simply so extreme and bizarre that I think even martin would have to stop and think about it a bit before he jumped on the bandwagon with you, but I’ll address a couple of your comments.

    The word MARRIAGE, regardless as to its use by civil authorities, has its origin in religious doctrine.

    The English word “marriage” was not created until long after the institution of marriage had taken on both civil and religious meanings. If you track the institution itself back through history, you’ll find that, in Western society at least, the institution was constructed as a primarily a civil institution (though admittedly whichever paganistic religion was popular at the time was often somewhat intertwined with the government so it gets a little sticky). The Christian church (more specifically the Catholic Church, which as far as mainstream religions went, was synonymous with Christianity at that time) became interested in marriage only as it gained power and intertwined itself with the government. That is when marriage became “sacred.” Remember that it was Paul who said that marriage, while not quite a sin, was still something most good Christians should avoid. Religious marriage doesn’t pre-date civil marriage. At best, religious marriage was born the same time as civil marriage as a result of the integration of religion and government.

    To force any religious doctrine to include those things which have been described as an anathema to the beliefs of that Church is flat-out wrong.

    Which fails to be an acceptable reason for policy decisions in a country with freedom of religion. Not all religions share the same beliefs. There are many religions (and even subsections of religions) who welcome gays and lesbians as part of their celebrated creation.

    If you use the words Civil–as in governmentally sanctioned–union you will find little argument by the vast majority of people.

    So it’s often said, yet every opportunity for the anti-equality folks to prove it is met with voter-drives, campaigns and new legislation aimed at prohibiting the very civil unions you are claiming to support. Actions speak louder than words. The “vast majority” of marriage equality opponents are equally opposed to civil unions. The desire isn’t to “protect marriage” so much as to “hurt gay people.”

    The word MARRIAGE not only implies approval by the Church, but opens the door for legally forcing Religious institutions to host and perform services for the ceremony.

    Except that outside of American Family Association newsletters, this sort of thing doesn’t happen. Name one Catholic Church that has been forced by the government to perform the marriage of a divorcee? Marriage of gays and lesbians doesn’t imply that any particular church approves of a marriage any more than the marriage of atheists, or members of other faiths does, and it certainly doesn’t open the path for churches to be forced to marry anybody they don’t want to.

  99. … it’s simply so extreme and bizarre that I think even martin would have to stop and think about it a bit before he jumped on the bandwagon with you…

    Even me? Thanks I think. Being mentioned in the same post with someone threatening or warning of violence is too close an association.

  100. Martin, with all respect, someone who is capable of responding to “I’d like you to leave us out of your attempts to enforce one variety of Christian marriage on the rest of the world. You are, inadvertently I’m sure, being deeply offensive” with “And you are, purposely, trying to be offended. See advice given to Dolphin” needs to stop trying to be offended and get over it.

  101. The problem with my trolls is that I have such clever readers, some of whom are known for being pains in the ass and are known for doing whatever it takes to bring the funny, and so I get comments like Eqwatz’s and I can’t tell if they’re serious or if Sarcastro’s gotten bored while the rest of the family is at church.

    I mean, NM, of course you’re right that it does take an extraspecial something to jump from “Kill all lefties” to “I don’t even care any more” but more than that, I think I must be missing a book in the New Testament in every Bible I’ve ever owned.

    Please, someone, tell me, is there a book of Rambo right after the Gospels and before Acts, covering the years of Jesus’ life after the Resurrection where he came back all buff and bad-ass and just smote the shit out of all his enemies everywhere and encouraged his followers to do the same?

    I swear, it would explain to me so much about the present attitudes of some Christians and much of Western history.

    Seriously, you’re going to tell me that, if Jesus were walking around today, doing just want he did 2,000 years ago–hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors and illegal immigrants (for the sake of this comparison, I’m equating the Samaratins with the Mexicans), healing the live-in “servants” of wealthy politicians, encouraging people not to get married, and generally doing shit deliberately designed to annoy and piss off folks, that Eqwatz would be all “Oh, hey, look, that’s the son of God. Awesome!”?

    I seriously doubt it.

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