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Misguided Questions About Marriage

The Facebook page Liberal Logic 101 posted the meme at the right as a satirical point about how loose definitions sometimes become in the liberal camp.

For the record, I don’t know either person and I have no idea why they matter to this picture (beyond an educated guess).  Neither looks the race claimed, but I’m guessing each claims that race.

The idea, of course, is that the liberal has a loose sense of boundaries within a category.  Marriage and race both mean something, and the liberal (says the meme’s creator) is distorting these meanings.  One commenter summed it up nicely for the liberals who missed the point in the comments:

I think the point is that they are taking a set definition and turning it on its head. A dog is not a cat no matter how much you may want it to be. Words have definitions. You can create new words to describe things, but you cant change current definitions or they become meaningless. Imagine cops trying to find a criminal described as black when he is clearly caucasion [sic].

But, there’s a further problem with the mindset of the liberal as it pertains to marriage belied by the following questions, asked by a particular commenter:

Does the definition of marriage define the relationship between you and your spouse? How will it change your marriage if gays marry? Will you divorce your spouse if gays marry? Are you guided by hatred or by love?

A question of my own: What word appears in every single question?

Answer: Some form of “you.”

Yes, the focus for the commenter is how this affects you.

But marriage isn’t defined by how its redefinition would affect any specific individual.  Marriage is marriage, nothing more or less.  There is an ontology to “marriage;” it is the joining of a man and a woman so the two become one.  Each gender needs the complimentary characteristics of the other to be whole.

The commenter’s rhetorical questions were meant to show the conservative that he has nothing to fear by letting gays marry each other, for it won’t affect him an iota.  But this is the wrong way to think.

Marriage is a divine institution, ordained by God.  It isn’t our social construction to be played with as times change.  It is to be conformed to God’s expectations — not society’s.

Just like race has a clear and unarguable meaning (not something we can define as we please), so does marriage.  We cannot take anything that is ordered in a sense by its ontology and turn it into something that pleases us.  No matter how you try to define the words, a marriage will join the genders into one.  It cannot join members of the same sex.

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Freedom of Speech

As far back as high school, I often lamented that some folks read the First Amendment to say “Freedom of speech until you offend me, then I’ll sue your sorry butt.”

I wasn’t concerned with a Christian audience that might abhor profanity, so when I said it back in high school and college, I didn’t use the term “butt.”

The point still stands, and I see it more clearly than I ever did at 17.  There is a tide of public opinion now that values tolerance and diversity, except for some people.  “Tolerance” isn’t selective by nature, but secularists tolerate views selectively.

Recently, a Christian in the UK was demoted for expressing his opinion that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.  He did so on his own time, and on his personal Facebook page which is only open to his friends.

Now, legally speaking, regardless of privacy settings, there is no expectation of privacy on Facebook or Twitter.  I know this and I’m not going to argue otherwise.  But the comment on this story from Natalie sums up exactly what is wrong with the secular viewpoint:

No one limits the rights for private worship, promotion of christian beliefs in the private sphere. However, internet, blogs, facebook and twitter are all public domains. As a public servant, a representative of an actively secular institution- secular by the law of the land, no one should not publicly publish promotion of religious opinions and values in the public arena. No one ought to utilise public assets or services to promote religious views. This is a great aspect of freedom in western democracies and ought to be defended down to the smallest detail. The public servants were correct to chastise Christians for promoting their faith using public assets and in public spaces.

So, basically, once you can read it, it shouldn’t be allowed.  Like I’ve always said, “You have freedom of speech until it offends me.”

While I agree that the Internet and everything on it is public, this man is still entitled to his opinion and should be able to express it in a public forum, as Natalie may express hers.  Regardless of agreement.

I will argue with atheists.  I will challenge their points, views, biblical exegesis, and conclusions.  But I will never say that they don’t have the right to express their views in a public forum.  That’s precisely why the forum is public — so that differing opinions may be hashed out, challenged, and thought through.  Public means open to all.

Not being allowed to express religious opinions isn’t “freedom of speech” by any definition I can find.  It’s totalitarian oppression.  I know that my religious opinion has no value in secular mindsets.  But, I ignore opinions of no value.  Secularists don’t return the favor — they try to suppress my opinion.  Why?  That doesn’t make any sense.

Natalie’s promoting the evil she allegedly repudiates, though I doubt she sees it that way.  That’s actually the saddest part to all of this.  Christians have as much right to the Internet as atheists.  We just haven’t been as smart about using it.

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 4

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right. (answered)
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

These get easier and easier to answer.

Premise (4) is a nominal attempt to say that homosexual unions aren’t given full rights through a fallacy of special pleading.

However, that’s not the case for three reasons.  First, we have shown that homosexuality isn’t the typical order of things.

Second, we have demonstrated that heterosexual unions are superior by simple utilitarianism — which is the typical philosophy of right and wrong espoused by supporters of gay marriage (see NotAScientist’s comment for a great example of utilitarianism in action).

Third, marriage rights are regulated for perfectly valid reasons.

Therefore, it is easy to conclude that there is no special pleading going on.  Recall for something to be special pleading, there can be no valid reason for differentiating it from other cases.  In the case of gay marriage, there are big differences between it and heterosexual marriage, which is exactly the reason its forbidden in the first place.

This means (4) is out of gas.  And, it means I’m done without having to address (5) as a conclusion.  David has uber-failed to establish any of his premises as true.  In fact, they are all false.  Therefore, the conclusion is faulty and I will let this series stand, unless David cares to defend himself.

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Now we tackle premise (3), which is (like its predecessors) demonstrably false. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 2

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts.
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Premise (2) pretty much deserves a rhetorical “Are you kidding me?” in reply and nothing more.

David’s incoherent explanation:

According to the American Psychological Association, it has officially been declared that homosexuality is not a choice or a decision. (source)

Which we already acknowledged in the refutation of premise (1).  The issue with premise (1) is that homosexuality was immoral, not that it is “unnatural;” it is certainly found within nature and is likely a part of our human nature.

But that doesn’t make it “good.”

Now, this premise takes it that we haven’t proven it “inferior,” but it never takes the time to define what would constitute the act being inferior. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 1

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

It’s actually a funny story, which I’ll tell even though it has nothing to do with the actual argument that I’ll be critiquing from the site.  I was trimming my RSS feed and noticed that, very long ago, John W. Loftus had started a blog called Counter-Apologetics Master Program.  He intended to create a degree program to combat Christian apologetics.  I noticed that it hadn’t been updated in a long time, so I visited the site to see if it was even still active.

Turns out, the blog address had been abandoned by Loftus, but claimed by David.  David started his blog as a counterpoint to Matt Slick’s ministry CARM, even calling his blog by the same acronym.  Probably to get accidental traffic.

So, anyway, I literally wandered into this by total accident.

In a deleted post, David challenges CARM to reply to his argument in favor of gay marriage.  I don’t know if David deleted the post because it’s a terrible argument, or because he’s attempting to refine it.  However, I’m still going to answer it, a piece at a time, in this series.

Even though I’m not affiliated with CARM.

Read the rest of this entry

More on Traditional Marriage: Classic Francis Beckwith

When the mayor of San Francisco was passing out marriage licenses for gay couples in defiance of state law in 2004, philosopher Francis Beckwith suggested a better way to handle it than the legal remedy which was sought:

I believe, however, that given present circumstances that the best strategy is to take the mayor at his word and employ “street theatre” in a provocative way in order to force the other side to defend their marital nihilism in all its glory. Here’s the plan: Have about 50 folks go to San Francisco city hall and request marriage licenses, but not for gay marriages, rather, for other sorts of “unions” that are also forbidden by the state: three bisexuals from two genders, one person who wants to marry himself (and have him accuse the mayor of “numberism,” the prejudice that marriage must include more than one person), two married couples who want a temporary “wife-swap lease,” a couple consisting of two brothers, two sisters, or a brother and a sister, an adult mother and son, and a man who wants to add a second wife and a first husband in order to have a “marital ensemble,” etc., etc. Let’s see if the mayor will give these people “marriage” licenses. If not, why not? If not, then the jig is up and the mayor actually has to explain the grounds on which he will not give licenses to these folks. But what could those grounds be? That it would break the law? That marriage has a nature, a purpose, that is not the result of social construction or state fiat? If so, then what is it and why? (source)

Beckwith goes on that article to state that marriage isn’t a social construction, but an institution with precise meaning and confers a specific benefit to society.

. . . [O]nce marriage is defined merely as a contract between consenting adults rather than as an institution grounded in our natures as men and women, recognized and honored by the wider community, then marriage simply does not exist. According to the mayor of San Francisco, marriage is not something we enter; it is something we create or undo by our willfulness. It is not part of the order and nature of things that we honor and preserve by subjecting ourselves to its moral grandeur; rather, it is like the colors of traffic signals, diplomatic immunity, or the dollar amount of parking fines, arbitrary rules created by governments in order to facilitate safe travel, economic transactions, international relations, state funding, and/or public peace.

Marriage is a covenantal institution recognizing that men and women need each other to survive and flourish.  We’re two sides of the same coin.  If men can marry men, and women can marry women, why not the other institutions that Beckwith suggests, above?  No, marriage has a meaning and a purpose grounded in something greater than just state law.  It is grounded in our own nature, which must have both genders present to see its fulfillment.  Which means that folks like myself who, according to detractors, “deny” gays the “right” to marry are not denying them anything–they never had this “right” in the first place.  You can’t deny a man something that isn’t his to begin with.

On Traditional Marriage: Where Charlie Went Wrong

Martin over The Atheist Experience chided a recent caller going by Charlie the Atheist Homophobe:

When he called Tracie and me two weeks ago, the burden of his argument was that the word homophobia has a colloquial meaning that has changed and evolved from its dictionary definition, so as to incorporate such things as “disgust” rather than strictly “irrational fear” (the meaning of “phobia” in a nutshell). Charlie was supportive of this evolution of homophobia’s meaning, of course. (source)

Then, Martin points out that it is inconsistent not to be supportive of the same evolution for marriage:

While homophobia gets to expand its meaning to include a variety of emotional states, marriage does not get to expand its meaning to include a variety of relationship commitments, including same-sex couples (even though the almighty dictionary says it can). And Charlie’s whole justification for opposing any expansion of marriage‘s definition is an appeal to tradition and consensus, the very things he thinks should be ignored in the case of homophobia.

It’s a pure double standard, of the sort that people who are smart enough to know better often hold, so as to convince themselves that an intellectually and morally offensive point of view is in fact intellectually and morally justified. But as Russell said, if the guy isn’t actually out to impinge on anyone’s rights, then his word games are just so much noise.

Martin is absolutely right.  But, the essence of Charlie’s arguments hold, provided that he would have been more careful about phrasing himself. Read the rest of this entry

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