20 June 2012

The Case for Gay Marriage (3 of 3)

by Frank Turk







Yes, I know you have seen this video either at Desiring God or at TGC.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't watch it again.  Prior to the bombshell announcement last week here at TeamPyro, we were talking about what an appropriate secular definition of "marriage" was in order to sort of find our way to the place where we could understand what those demanding "same-sex marriage" were asking us for.  Look: let's be serious.  I am perfectly willing to concede that when we start talking about homosexuality, the LBGT people listening probably hear something like this.  Confessing that, or admitting that, or otherwise coming to terms with that frankly doesn't cost us anything.  It probably actually improves us by being able to walk 10 feet in the other guy's shoes.

But let's also be fair: the other side ought to be willing to demonstrate what they say they expect from us.  That is: if they want us to understand what we sound like to them, they have to at least ask themselves, "I wonder what we sound like to the other side?"  It's naive at least to demand someone hurdle the empathy barrier because they object to your demands, but in making your demands you have no intention of even facing good manners -- let alone demonstrate empathy.

But alert reader "Peter" found the previous thread and asked the astute question, "It is unclear to me why you need a definition of marriage. I am also unclear whether you are looking for a legal, sociological, or poetical definition.   Cannot homosexuals just say they want the same 'rights and privileges' that the institution of marriage currently provides to heterosexual couples?"

The answer, frankly, is "no."

If I told Peter that all I really want from life is all the "rights and privileges" of a handicapped person so that I can park in their spaces, would my demand seem at all out of scope?  See: the law plainly distinguishes between everyone else and the class of people who qualify for handicapped privileges in every parking lot in America.  It's not a constitutional crisis to say that everyone is not created equal, and giving a privilege to those for whom the parking places are designated is not the moral equivalent of racism.

"Well," Peter may retort, "that's because federal law has adopted a standard of equal access for public accommodations (ADA title III), and under that standard we 'must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment.'  The same-sex advocate is asking for the same thing: access, and an end to segregation and unequal treatment."  That is: they want a leg-up to level the playing field because in some way, the default state would be to leave them out.

There are three reasons this is probably unwise for Peter to go this way:

1. The assumption has to be that the ones being so-called "segregated" are in some way are "[people] who [have] a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."  If the advocates for same-sex marriage want to establish the problem as a "disability," that's a new one on me.  It would change the way this discussion plays out immediately.  Of course they do not see themselves this way, and I'm not asking them to.  But I am asking them to see that there is at least one major way in which definitions matter: they qualify the reason(s) for special privileges.

2. It should be noted that married is not a right per se, but a privilege. That is: if you are an intolerable cretin or a serial adulterer, the law recognizes that you are unfit for marriage.  If you are even infertile, the law recognizes that another person may see that as an insurmountable obstacle to being married to you.  You do not have a right to be married if you are unqualified or disqualified for marriage.  If this ever becomes untrue, I suspect that we won't have to worry about whether or not same-sex marriage is a question anymore.  If the state becomes the one to arbitrate who marries whom and whether it stays in force, I'll bet a lot of people will fight for the right to stay single forever.

3. There's more to it than the law.  See: the problem here which the advocates for same-sex marriage simply gloss over is that "rights and privileges" is a fairly-callow way to view the institution.  In fact, most days "rights and privileges" don't enter into it at all.

As Johnny Depp is clever enough to point out, "Marriage is really from soul to soul, heart to heart. You don't need somebody to say, okay you're married."  At least, until you don't want to be anymore.  Let's say, instead, that we adopt the brief definition provided by commenter Luke Wolford, who cites Living Sociologically by Renzetti and Curran.  He says the secular defition of marriage is given thus:
"Marriage: a socially approved union of two or more people in which each is expected to fulfill specific economic, sexual, and caregiving obligations and responsibilities."
What sort of proposal do you think this sort of arrangement would generate?  We covered that last time, but there aren't a lot of Romantic Comedies which would spring forth from this understanding of marriage.  In fact, I doubt there would be a lot of dour, duty-to-the-state sort of marriages if this is all that the institution ought to mean.

But think about this now: what if marriage means what Larissa says it means:
Marrying Ian meant that I was signing on to things that I donʼt think I ever wouldʼve chosen for myself — working my whole life, having a husband who canʼt be left alone, managing his caregivers, remembering to get the oil changed, advocating for medical care, balancing checkbooks, and on. The practical costs felt huge, and those didnʼt even touch on the emotional and spiritual battles that I would face.  
But in light of all the practicals, and emotionals, it was so very simple: we love each other. And we love God. And we believe He is a sovereign and loving God who rules all things.  
Our pastor who married us, Mark Altrogge, was with us on the day that our marriage was approved by a local judge. Because of Ian’s condition, the courts had to decide that it was in his best interest to be married. Mark said that he’ll never forget the words of the judge who approved our marriage license: “You two exemplify what love is all about. I believe that marriage will not only benefit you both but our community, and hope that everyone in this city could see your love for one another.”
This is why the definitions matter, and why, frankly, the law cannot hand this over to anyone.  It is outside of the law's purview.  It is not about the generation of "rights and privileges," but about the way loves works -- which is a surrendering of rights in order to serve and to save another person.

The rest, I think, is best left to the comments.  Mind your manners.







81 comments:

Nash Equilibrium said...

Frank, while I agree totally with your conclusions, I think point #2 is a weak argument to include. To my knowledge, the law doesn't really tell anyone who is mentally competent that they are unfit for marriage. They may not be able to find anyone who will marry them, but I don't think the law forbids them. Am I wrong?

GiftsandGiggles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dac said...

color me dense, but I don't see where your going with this.

Clearly, the state does decide what marriage is (or is not, or when it is not). It did in the case of the couple of the video. In addition, the state decides who receives financial benefits via marriage. The state decides how one is married (some states accept common law marriage, some do not, for example). The state accepted no fault divorce as a method of ending marriage.

Logically, your argument seems to come to the point of which the state may not (should not?) be involved in marriage. Ok, but then if we are honest, there are homosexual couples who meet the definition provided by Ian and Larissa.

Johnny Dialectic said...

It is not about the generation of "rights and privileges," but about the way loves works -- which is a surrendering of rights in order to serve and to save another person.

The come back to this would be that gays can love each other, too. If it's love as a basis, then why are they excluded from the expression of love in marriage?

There has to be something more, I think, than this. At least one part of the argument must be: if love is the basis, why can't three people in love get married? What right do you (gay activist) have to say that is not legitimate?

Peter said...

I admit I don't fully understand the post (yet), so I will refrain from a fuller comment.

Two quick points jump out at me though (and both have been mentioned above):

1) point #2 above is wrong, I believe. There is a state-recognized "right" to get married (provided you are both competent adults). There is no right to stay married (at least according to the state). But the fact that there is no right to stay married doesn't mean that marriage is a privilege; again, the ability to get married is a right (whether you can keep the marriage, however, is up to you.)

2) As pointed out above, there are homosexual couples who meet the definition provided by Ian and Larissa.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

dac, Peter, Larissa said that she and Ian love God and love eachother. Homosexuals cannot both love God and continue in their homosexual lifestyle because they're antithetical to eachother. They may think nice thoughts about Him, but loving Him is proven by obedience to Him (John 14).

Frank, thank you for this series of posts. I've been encouraged to speak to homosexuals on this issue with more grace to the end that they hear the gospel, and I've been encouraged again to be the husband God commands me to be a witness against the culture that says we can define marriage however we please.

Daryl said...

Guys,

I think that by virtue of the fact that the state can't force someone to marry you, makes marriage a privilege.

In the same way a cop can't pull you over because you're black, because pulling you over is, in some sense, a privilege granted to the police, not a right, per se.

We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no one needs to approve that, correct?

So I'd stick with the idea of marriage as a privilege, since there are necessary qualifications to it, that some one else is permitted to arbitrate.

As soon as you leave the arena of privilege and enter the arena of rights, the state (and anyone else) has almost no room to determine who can or cannot be married.
So what then, could stop a 12 year old from marrying a 45 year old?

DJP said...

If you help someone pursue what destroys his body and soul and call it love, does that make it "love"?

Eric said...

The following assertion is common: "the ability to get married is a right". Suppose for a second we were all to agree that it is so. I contend that the argument is immaterial, because every "competent adult" already has exactly the same right/ability: that being to marry a single person of the opposite sex. So, homosexuals are not indeed arguing for the same right to marry, but rather for a different right to marry. What they are arguing for is the right to marry whomever/whatever they want. They want rights without boundaries, just like they advocate for moral behavior without boundaries.

Frank Turk said...

Nash:

When any criteria is grounds for divorce, that criteria is disqualification for marriage rights. I think this aspect of the issue is under-inspected by both sides of the issue -- and that's a problem for the pro-traditional marriage side. We really do not say that marriage is only for one man and one woman: we say all manner of things about what does and does not qualify one to be married (for example: someone who is an unbeliever should not get married; someone who does not support his own household is worse than an unbeliever; etc.)

The law agrees with us, and frankly the other side agrees with us that there are some issues which disqualifies someone for marriage. It is not a blanket right which the government must protect at all costs like the right to vote or the right to own property: it is a privilege, and in that, a privilege which somehow pre-exists the scope of the law.

Frank Turk said...

dac: have more bacon. it will become clear to you.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny D said this:

[QUOTE]
The come back to this would be that gays can love each other, too. If it's love as a basis, then why are they excluded from the expression of love in marriage?
[/QUOTE]

Aha!

You say this like it is self-evident. Where are the same-sex definitions of "marriage" where the pre-eminence of the kind of love Larissa and Ian share is anywhere on the map?

Here's what I think: let's talk about what Love is. Let's do that. Because let's be clear about something: the secular world does not define "Love" the way we do, either. They do not mean what we mean -- and we have Christ to prove that.

I think when we define love properly (which, btw, subordinates sex in a huge way), this discussion gets very quiet on the other side.

dac said...

Webster -

Who decides what God thinks? Which magisterium ? And how does that get applied to marriage? Should the state decide what God thinks in deciding whom they allow to marry? Or should it be left to churches. In which case, some would, and some would not, marry homosexuals.

All -

Right or privilege is irrelevant so as it applies to individuals. The question is who "marries" people, and how do they decide whom to allow to be called "married" and under what circumstances. And then what benefits are conferred by that legal process.

It is not the individual who has the right or privilege - it is the state has the absolute right to declare what it sees as marriage - straight, gay, 12 or 90, polygamous or not

Darrel said...

When you exclude the Word of God from any argument (which is the case in this post) and go down the philosophical road (as you have down here) you have played into the hands of your opponent and are now on his turf and his rules---you will not win.

And a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.

If you want to win this argument for the sake of the Lord Jesus, then play by His rules, use the Sword of the Spirit---it's the only weapon we have.

dac said...

I wish I could have any bacon, not just more. sigh.

Jay Beerley said...

Bravo, Frank. Well done. I totally agree that in this discussion it is on us as Christians to proclaim that ANY marriage between a man and a woman is not OK, not just the ones outside of that union. There is much to what makes a marriage ok, the primary piece being that it exemplifies Christ's relationship to the church. Not sure what a homosexual union would represent: two Christs? Two Churches?

Frank Turk said...

Peter --

to your #1, I find it stunning that there are no legal codes in the US which call "Marriage" a "right" (as opposed to a "rite"), but only that this civil contract confers rights and obligations.

For example, in NY: check the definition of marriage

In California: check the definition of marriage

An just because we ought to, in Texas: check the definition

Marriage is never defined as a right -- until those who want something other than marriage start demanding it.

To your point #2, I am tempted to ask you you name any -- but that's crass. You'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of traditional Christian marriages invested in God-centered love the way these two young people are. But to say there are any same-sex couples with this view of love is, frankly, not as obvious as you seem to assert.

Let me put it to you this way: why isn't there rampant same-sex monogamy right now? The statistics say it's almost non-existent. (for reference, start with Laumann, The Social Organization of Sexuality; McWhirter and Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop)

Nash Equilibrium said...

Frank, thanks for the reply but I'm not sure that the fact the state can preclude people from something (or not) is what defines it as a right vs. a privilege. Using your example, you imply that voting is a right, yet the state can prevent 16 year olds from voting (and from marrying), and can prevent convicted felons from voting for the rest of their lives (making voting even less of a right than marrying, since the state can prevent felons from voting but not from marrying).

Again I don't disagree with your conclusion, but this particular point of argumentation seems to me to be un-Turk-worthy. lol

Frank Turk said...

Dac: OK: maybe less bacon. What you just said about government is, frankly, absurd. Marriage pre-exists government.

Jay Beerley said...

And from a governmental perspective, I think the major issue in this debate is not whether people have the "right" to marry, but whether the government can force others to recognize the legitimacy of their aberrant actions.
A person has the "right" to declare themselves an elder in a church, but a church does not have to recognize them as such. Is that somewhat of a good analogy?

Frank Turk said...

Nash:

I think you're going to argue yourself into the place where there are actually no rights using the reasoning you're following now.

I'll wait to see how you avoid it.

Frank Turk said...

Jay:

Aha!

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

dac, are you serious about your questions, or are you just being rhetorical? Methinks you play the devil's advocate to get us thinking.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

dac, besides, you ask and answer in your post - you believe that the state has the right to declare what is/isn't marriage. My friend, where do they get the authority to call this thing or that marriage?

Peter said...

Frank,

1) The right to marry is protected by the Constitution of the United States. See, among other things, the Supreme Court decision: Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

2) I thought we are talking about the love they showed for each other and for God? Not sexual monogomay. In any case, 1) I believe most lesbians are monogamous, 2) from a secular perspective, the state has never required that both parties in a marriage remain monogamous if both parties desire not to be monogamous. That is, from a purely secular perspective, why require something of homosexual marriages that has never been required of heterosexual marriages?

If, at the end of the day, what you want to say is that homosexual marriages can never be as good as heterosexual marriages because they fundamentally deny God's plan for humanity, I've got no problem with that. But recognize that it is a theological argument against same-sex marriage, not a "secular" argument.

dac said...

Does a gov't have the right to determine laws within it's political boundaries?

Note, I am not saying the gov't decisions are correct, biblical, good or that they should pass one law or the other. I am simply asking - does the US Govt have the right to make laws within it's political boundaries.

Jim Pemberton said...

'It is not about the generation of "rights and privileges," but about the way loves works -- which is a surrendering of rights in order to serve and to save another person.'

This definition is lost on people who constantly seek their own rights. Paul was all about this in 1 Cor 9. He was clear in what he expected as a reward: to present the gospel free of charge. What kind of a reward is that? We think of rewards as getting freebies, not giving them.

The sacrifice of marriage is when the going gets tough, the couple hunker down and weather it instead of getting out and seeking their own happiness elsewhere. The scourge of unrighteousness is when the moral standard is compromised in favor of rebellion against God. The homosexual lobby is all about changing the moral standard because they don't believe that there is an absolute standard. The only way to do that is for them to seek their own happiness, not sacrifice pursuing their happiness for the joy of pursuing God's righteousness.

That's the difference.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

dac, does declaring what marriage is rest within the boundaries of Government? I thought government's role was to enforce justice.

I guess that poses the question: is it unjust for homosexual couples to marry? That is an absolute question by the way.

Frank Turk said...

Peter:

To your new #1, you have ignored all the references to the constitution of marriage under law which I have provided for you. When Loving vs. Virginia calls the act a "vital personal right," it depends on a definition of marriage which, let's face it, the advocates of same-sex marriage are denying. Loving v. Virginia is explicit to reference Skinner v. Oklahoma as a source for the definition of marriage as a "right," and as such, it's a right which is utterly hung on "marriage and procreation," and the "survival of the [human] race." Let's be honest enough to say that same-sex marriage does not promote the survival of the human race in the sense the jurists here mean.

To your new #2, that you disconnect monogamy from the superlative form of love we are talking about, frankly, proves my point. You are not talking about the sort of love Marriage ought to talk about.

However, your claim that monogamy is not a requirement of marriage is laughable. Polygamy is illegal in all Western nations (the broader legal system we find ourselves in). Adultery is automatically grounds for divorce in all Western nations. You are wrongly conflating "that which the Law states plainly" with "those things a very few would abide without any qualms."

Your original question, which you are fleeing from, what whether or not the definitions around marriage matter. Plainly they do -- explicitly for the reasons you are leading the wild goose chase here. Once the definitions are clear, the rest follows. The "yeah buts" all sort of fade away.

Frank Turk said...

Jim --

I agree with you, but let's be very careful. The reason the same-sex lobby has any ground to tread on here is because, since the reformation (in the West), the place where marriage has been adjudicated and administrated has been the civil courts. The ones who taught them that marriage can be an inconvenience that can be terminated like a civil contract, frankly, are us -- the church, who has given divorce a very free ride for at least 100 years.

They learned this definition of marriage from us because we dropped the ball. They didn't invent it, but they are seeking to leverage it to the max.

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

So what we mean by the words we say or how we define what we are saying matters, huh? This reminds me of a certain Trinitarian argument that was going on a while back, and a more recent post concerning Limited Atonement and Evangelism.

And you were definitely wrong about one thing sir; I had not seen this video before. Thank you for that, btw; that testimony is a beautiful reminder of God's selfless love. Philippians 2:5-8

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Jeremiah, I was just thinking about the vows I said to my wife when we were married. I promised to basically give up my rights to happiness in order to serve her and make sure that she was loved and taken care of. I promised selflessness to her. I promised for better or worse to be out for her good - and that means I'll do as I have said even if she neglects her vow. My yes was a yes, my no a no.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Frank - I think you already argued your way into the place where there are no rights, since you're saying if the state can restrict who can do something, then that something must be a privilege and not a right.

So if you'll move out of that spot, perhaps I'll then be able to step into it?

Stan McCullars said...

The state referring to something as "marriage" does not make it so any more than the state declaring that abortion is OK make murder OK.

Frank Turk said...

Nash -- if there are any flaws in my argument, they do not justify the ones in yours.

[next]

Jim Pemberton said...

Frank,
I agree wholeheartedly and I apologize if it sounded otherwise.

The church indeed dropped the ball. I think the error crept in when we conflated the results of the gospel with the American dream: It's good to put up a fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of "your best life now." "We deserve to be happy because we are church-going, red-blooded Americans and we work hard to make a good life for ourselves." So marriage became a means for achieving our happiness instead of a divine institution for the glorification of God:

"Not having a good marriage? You must be outside of God's will because you aren't receiving God's blessings. So repent! Get a divorce and try again."

I hear this godless reasoning among church members even today.

Frank Turk said...

Jim -- I agree that we agree. :-)

Peter said...

Frank,

1) I ignored your references to the state statutes regarding marriage for two reasons 1) I did not understand why you were citing them. If you merely meant that the statutes don't use the word "right," therefore there is no right to marriage, this makes no sense. I would be willing to bet you a large sum of money that the statutes about voting also don't use the word "right," and the statutes about property also don't use the word "right." Whether or not a statute uses that word does not determine whether there actually is a right. and 2) I demonstrated that there is a right to marriage by pointing to a Supreme Court case. That case conclusively states that there is a Constitutional right to marriage (at least heterosexual marriage--as you seemed to be asserting that marriage, even heterosexual, was merely a privilege). Given that the Supreme Court has found a right (for all citizens of the US), it doesn't really matter what the state statutes say.

Now we can argue about whether or not there is a "right" to homosexual marriage. I was NOT asserting that somehow I've (magically) proven there to be one. You are free to assert that Loving v. Virginia doesn't support a right to homosexual marriage. I will point out, however, that at least one court has reached the opposite conclusion.

I think it is undeniable that there is a "right" to heterosexual marriage. Now, whether that has any bearing on homosexual marriage is open to debate.

2) I don't disconnet monogomay from the sort of Love that we are talking about. But I think we are talking about 2 different things: 1) an ideal marriage, and 2) marriages the state should sanction. I don't believe the state should only sanction ideal marriages; it is simply too difficult to figure out. I believe (and practice shows) that the state sanctions many, many marriages that are not ideal. And I think there are good reasons for doing this.

Also, I wasn't talking about monogamy versus polygamy. I was talking about a single marriage, where the parties identify themselves to be married to only person, but have sexual relations with other people (an 'open' marriage). The state has never said "that is not a marriage." Now if one person wants to discontinue this arrangement, they can etiher both agree to stop or get a divorce, and yes, adultery is grounds for a divorce. But the only way these people would ever get divorced is if one of them wants out of the arrangement; the state would not force them to get a divorce, which is my point.

Finally, my original question was why defintions matter to your "case for gay marriage." That is, I was wondering why the defintions were important to your argument.

dac said...

Gov't's role is "only" justice.

huh

Hard to justify that considering what both paul and jesus said on the subject, in particular since Rome did a whole of things that could not be classified as "justice"

Next

yankeegospelgirl said...

Some people have argued that perhaps there should just be a complete separation between "marriage" and "civil unions," with the former being a purely religious/spiritual union and the second being a purely legal union. The idea is that they don't have a problem with homosexuals having the latter, since it's not sanctioned by the Church.

But it's highly problematic for gays to have their unions legally recognized, because all the legal rights and privileges of marriage still apply, call it what you will. This means, among other things, that they can adopt children and engage in custody battles. As a matter of fact there was a case some years ago involving a lesbian couple in a civil union. One partner decided to leave the lesbian lifestyle and took her child with her, but her partner went to court and tried to vie for custody. Fortunately the child and his mother escaped and haven't been heard from since.

The point is that it doesn't matter whether you call it "marriage" or not. As long as the union has legal recognition, it's still unacceptable. That's what people proposing this solution don't seem to get.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

dac, I said it was their role, I never said they did it right all the time, and I forgot to add the word "uphold" to "enforce" - if the Scriptures teach that government has a different role, please let me know. I was thinking of Romans 13 when I wrote that comment.

St. Lee said...

There is a quote attributed to Abe Lincoln that goes like this: "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

With apologies to President Lincoln, here is how I might apply it:

How many marriages are there between homosexual couples if you call a union between homosexuals a marriage? Zero. Calling a union between homosexuals a marriage doesn't make it a marriage.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Frank - I concede the flaws in my argument, gladly. I'm really (no, really) not as concerned if there are flaws in my argument because I'm not likely to be arguing this issue in a highly-visible venue. You are likely to be doing that, though. So I'm just trying to help you sharpen the argument for your position, which as I've said, I agree with. Hence if I helped you see that there is a flaw in your point #2, then I'm satisfied, and there really is no need for me to justify my argument further and waste everyone's time. Thanks!

Eric said...

"I'm not likely to be arguing this issue in a highly-visible venue"...said the man arguing the issue on a blog with 6.23 million visits!

j/k Nash :^)

Nash Equilibrium said...

YGG - Yes that's precisely the wall I always run headlong into when it comes to this issue. It's easy to say "Wo cares? Just let them call it legal marriage, we know it really isn't actual marriage" until I get to the poor kids who get adopted by LGBT couples because in the eyes of the law they are just as viable as adoptive parents as a hetero couple would be. The kids are the victims of our apathy, really.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Eric - lol. In my case that amounts to precisely 0.000023 milliseconds of attention. Cumulative!

Frank Turk said...

Peter said:


| I think it is undeniable that there is a "right"
| to heterosexual marriage. Now, whether
| that has any bearing on homosexual
| marriage is open to debate.

If you mean that, Peter, why are you arguing with me? My view is that these are two radically different things as uncovered by the definition of each, and they cannot be made equal to each other.

Frank Turk said...

I'm having a prophetic vision, and it looks to me like dac is begging someone to ban him from a blog. I can't see for sure when this happens, or which blog, but I can see it coming.

With or without bacon.

CCinTn said...

Frank, I appreciated the link you had to the 2008 article which seemed to make a point that we need to be sharing the Gospel rightly in that Christ came to save sinners and that the Gospel is not a threat to believe or suffer the wrath of the crazy, vengeful Christian. I’m trying to understand you when you say in ‘08 that trying to help someone believe what we as Christians believe about homosexuality is a “stupid gambit” but then today it seems you are trying to get the gay marriage proponents to understand why gay marriage is not a marriage at all.

Is the difference for you that in the 08 article you were commenting on how we deal with an individual and today’s post as looking at it from a societal standpoint?

DJP said...

If DAC is banned, the water will fill right in. Though it must be trying to choose whether to ban him or give him an award for the most consecutive throw-and-misses.

CCinTn said...

Frank, the real issue I see is what you hint at in #2 when you said:
“You do not have a right to be married if you are unqualified or disqualified for marriage. If this ever becomes untrue, I suspect that we won't have to worry about whether or not same-sex marriage is a question anymore. If the state becomes the one to arbitrate who marries whom and whether it stays in force, I'll bet a lot of people will fight for the right to stay single forever.”

While the State may not have the eternal, end-all right to define marriage since God has already defined it for us, the State may surely co-op the right. At least in their own eyes and then allow or force any number of aberrations/abominations to be accepted or practiced. Think of societies with pre-arranged marriages of very young girls to their uncles or whomever. Or societies that practice polygamy or those that allow siblings to marry such as Brazil, Russia, France, India, Sweden, Belgium, Japan (per Wiki, so it has to be true). So as Christians, how do we engage the culture on this issue? Or do we?

Someday in the near future we may find ourselves saying it is better to obey God than man on this issue and many other issues.

Frank Turk said...

CC:

that's the best comment/question today.

1. What I actually said in '08 was this:

"The problem is convincing him that you don't want to bash his father's head in over it. That kind of ferocious evil is what Dustin Rowles associates with the moral affirmation "homosexuality is a sin". My suggestion is that helping him believe what you believe about homosexuality is frankly a stupid gambit. At best, you might get him to conceded that the Bible says such a thing, but because the people who did this to his dad allegedly believe the Bible, you can stick that Bible in the toilet and flush until your finger bleed."

That is: beating the drum of sin when the context is physical violence against people who are sinning is a stupid gambit. You might win the argument, but you'll alienate the person.

2. That is why I then said:

"What somebody needs to show Mr. Rowles' (and, apparently, many of the Pajiba readers) is that Jesus didn't come to make skinhead punks or redneck drunks out of his followers -- which is not a matter of tea-totalling and wearing nice suits. It's a matter of recognizing that those of us who are allegedly ambassadors of Christ bringing a message of reconciliation have to somehow overcome the wicked and misguided violence of people who have in the past, are today, and will in the future represent the Gospel as a threat rather than the strong tower which protects from all threats, and the safe haven from the storm. The Gospel is not the threat to believe or else I'll crush you like a bug: the Gospel is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst of all. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the worst one by far, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life."

That is: I do not mean you harm. I mean you good because I have received good. But I do not mean to tell you that good comes at no cost, or that good comes only as you like it.

You know: nobody faults a doctor who presents a diagnosis for terminal cancer. We can see clearly that the fault is not their diagnosis but the facts of the matter, and maybe all those diet Dr. Peppers somebody drank themselves. But the diagnosis can be received because the Doctor is known to mean well, and to be acting in good faith with his patient.

While I stand by #1, I also stand by #2 -- and they are not mutually exclusive. They are necessarily compatible. They are, in fact, the work of the Gospel.

Sir Aaron said...

Frank:

This is one of those posts that requires me to mull over your points for a while. So since I don't have anything Chantry-esque to add to the meta, I'll simply thank you for this thoughtful and challenging series.

Frank Turk said...

Where is Chantry anyway? Hitler will be very put out that he hasn't been policing the meta.

Sir Aaron said...

Indeed. He should be properly chastised when he shows.

Peter said...

Frank,

Are you serious? The end result of this whole endeavor is to say that a sociology textbook's understanding/definition of marriage is not equal to two people's lived experience/understanding/definition of marriage? Do you really believe this to be a fair comparison?

What you have done is set up a comparison of non-equals, and then found them to be non-equal. Big surprise.

No wonder I read this blog post repeatedly, trying to understand it. It doesn't really make any sense.

GiftsandGiggles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Maybe Chantry's doing something else. You know, something like... like... oh, what's the word I'm looking for?

dac said...

Feel free to ban me. The echo chamber needs only lemmings anyway. But how about a plain straight answer first?

Does a gov't have the right to determine laws within it's political boundaries?

DJP said...

It's one of life's little chuckles that such a singularly grim, humorless, and go-nowhere comment-generator has as an alternate ID a profile named "GiftsandGiggles."

Sir Aaron said...

@DJP: More excuses for Chantry. You Pastors like to stick together like that.

I think DAC is great. Who else can ask you to ban him while demanding that you answer his questions?

Jacob said...

I haven't seen anyone interact with Darrel's comment at 7:32 AM, June 20, 2012. I think he makes a good point. For convenience, here it is:
"When you exclude the Word of God from any argument (which is the case in this post) and go down the philosophical road (as you have down here) you have played into the hands of your opponent and are now on his turf and his rules---you will not win.

'And a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.'

If you want to win this argument for the sake of the Lord Jesus, then play by His rules, use the Sword of the Spirit---it's the only weapon we have."

Jacob said...

@Stan, who wrote: "The state referring to something as "marriage" does not make it so any more than the state declaring that abortion is OK make murder OK."
Except that quite clearly it does. After all, millions of babies are and have been 'legally' aborted. Thus the state has indeed made it so.

Frank Turk said...

Peter --

What's more than a little strange about your response is that you are the one who originally said this:

[QUOTE]
It is unclear to me why you need a definition of marriage. I am also unclear whether you are looking for a legal, sociological, or poetical definition. Cannot homosexuals just say they want the same 'rights and privileges' that the institution of marriage currently provides to heterosexual couples?
[/QUOTE]

You remember typing that, yes? It's you who have said that they should be treated as equal things without any understanding of whether or not they are the same -- let alone whether or not they are equal.

My point is very plain: they are not the sam thing, and therefore they are not equal.

Frank Turk said...

dac:

In the US? No. We have a constitution that says, "we the people ... do ordain and establish this constitution." It also says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The government can't just make any laws it dreams up.

Peter said...

Frank,

Do you believe you have made a fair comparison?

Frank Turk said...

Peter:

This is an interesting question. My answer is, "yes," but only because I gave the other side 2 weeks provide any definition they thought would be the right one to justify their side of the argument.

That is: it is as fair as the other side was willing to make it. You yourself were a lot less than cooperative even to provide a basis for the "rights and privileges" the other side is demanding.

Sir Aaron said...

@Jacob: That's a fair point, at least in my eyes (can't speak for Frank or DJP). It's very difficult to unravel various reasons for obeying God's precepts, principles, or commands. There are obviously certain commands that have a visible, earthly benefit for obedience. For example, thou shall not steal. I could make an argument from a strictly secular perspective that a society that does not enforce laws against thievery will lead to tangible negative consequences here and now.

The Church, especially since the reformation, has always struggled with the seperation of church and state. Just a quick read of a history of Calvin will show the struggle he had with this very issue.

This struggle leads to the type of discussions we have now. Which moral laws should the civil authorities enforce and why?

Frank Turk said...

I think there's a deeper issue here than whether or not the secular government should enforce a code of morals defined by any religion -- even if it is the true and only religion (and maybe especially if it is the true and only religion).

I think the question is really what causes a government to adopt one law or another (or none at all)? My position would be that the government is always a lagging indicator of the culture. That is: it is reactive and trails behind what is actually at work in the culture. For example, while it is utterly true that the legalization of Christianity in 313 made the further spread of Christianity possible, it happened because Christianity was already invasive and widespread in the Roman Empire. The choices were either to spend gigantic resources to squash it to death, or simply admit that it is what it is and it ought to be afforded a place in the Roman culture along side other religions. Law followed the trend in the culture: it did not set it. The example from failure I would call up is Prohibition, which doesn't work, has never worked, and actually caused the rise of an underground economy which empowered other kinds of lawlessness. The law could not lead even when the moral precept was, frankly, good for everyone.

What Christianity is really good at, as opposed to the law, is the reformation of men through confession of sin, repentance, and living as a consequence of our condition both as sinners and as forgiven people. Christianity triggers reform, and when we drop the ball in Gospel declaration and life, there is a decline in society, and the law follows us down the hole.

Should we advocate for laws that reflect our moral vision for our culture? If we don't, who will? But that said, our primary activity -- our best effort -- has to be in evangelism and real spiritual change among me so that saved men will not merely demand a law they cannot keep but will in fact repent of our own sinfulness and let the law be a lagging indicator of our real spiritual reform.

Mike Westfall said...

Regarding marriage as a "right": I wonder if there are any other rights that require a license to exercise?

My guess is, no. If you have to be issued a license in order to do something, then that something is not really a right, but a granted privilege.

Peter said...

Frank,

Do you remember when I stated that it was unclear what sort of definition of marriage you were looking for (legal, sociological, poetical)? You never provided any clarification (and the "best possible secular definition of marriage" is hardly a guideline).

At any rate, I offered a definition of marriage. I offered to use any definition of marriage that you'd use (except for any part of the definition that might require marriage needing both a man and a woman, rather, I'd replace it with just "2 people.") Given that your "definition" of marriage (if you can call it that) is to point to two people's experience (again, I'm not sure how this is any sort of definition), surely I can do the same thing? How about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B237YJBK_Tw

Or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwcOdWDPoTk&feature=watch_response_rev

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGh8dFp2oqk&feature=plcp

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyFt65gkkbY&feature=related


Furthermore, to now compare a sociological understanding/defintion of marriage (designed to encompass all possible forms of marriages, including loveless ones), with the specific definition/understanding of two people who are in a (presumably) loving marriage is patently unfair. Indeed, I'd call it intellectually dishonest.

Peter said...

Frank,

Or if you'd like words:

Marriage is a commitment to life,
the best that two people can find and bring out in each other.
It offers opportunities for sharing and growth
that no other relationship can equal.
It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.Within the circle of its love,
marriage encompasses all of life's most important relationships.
Spouses are each other's best friend,
confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic.
And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing,
and the love of the other may resemble
the tender caring of a parent or child.Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life.
Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher,
commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly,
and passes away more quickly.Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life
is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life,
new experiences, new ways of expressing
a love that is deeper than life.

When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage,
they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer
than any spoken or written words.
Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people
who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.

or

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?


or

Marriage is the closest kind of friendship.
Years of traffic wear away the lines
Between two souls with similar designs,
Ending more in unity than kinship.
Separate actors must play separate parts:
They must alone be riveted by need.
Far beneath that soil a single seed
Roots itself, tenacious in their hearts.
In love there is a trust beyond the word.
Each finds peace in each, as though the light
Needed the tranquility of night,
Deeper than what silence can be heard.

Frank Turk said...

Peter said:

[QUOTE]
the "best possible secular definition of marriage" is hardly a guideline
[/QUOTE]

Which is a statement, not an argument. Like the rest of his comments, so far, unfortunately.

Peter said...

Frank,

I am explaining (using statements) why your blog post doesn't make any sense.

Frank Turk said...

Peter: you lost the argument when you plainly admitted that same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are two different things. If you want to hit the reset button now and say, "oops," you have to establish that this is not the second iteration of your inability to, at least, engage with some degree of honesty.

If I accept even all of the videos you linked to as a cumulative definition of marriage, and I can demonstrate that these prove themselves to be different and therefore not equal to traditional marriage, what will your response be?

Peter said...

Frank,

Can you point me to where I said same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are two different things?

In substance, I don't believe they are. And I have never said so.

What I said was that Loving v. Virginia clearly provides a Constitutional right to heterosexual marriage. Wether Loving v. Virginia provides a Constitutional "right" to same-sex marriage is open to debate. But that is a legal question. And I believe in essence they are the same thing (whether courts/the law recognizes it or not).

I am still waiting for you to show any differences.

Frank Turk said...

Lastly, Peter said:

[QUOTE]
Furthermore, to now compare a sociological understanding/defintion of marriage (designed to encompass all possible forms of marriages, including loveless ones), with the specific definition/understanding of two people who are in a (presumably) loving marriage is patently unfair. Indeed, I'd call it intellectually dishonest.
[/QUOTE]

I suspect that peter has not read all of my post at this point. I think it's because if he did, he'd have to start over -again-.

I'll leave the thread open for another day for him to finish up, and then we'll call it quits.

Frank Turk said...

Peter said this:

[QUOTE]

Are you serious? The end result of this whole endeavor is to say that a sociology textbook's understanding/definition of marriage is not equal to two people's lived experience/understanding/definition of marriage? Do you really believe this to be a fair comparison?

What you have done is set up a comparison of non-equals, and then found them to be non-equal. Big surprise.
[/QUOTE]

It's meaning is transparent. And now, as we can see above, he can't remember saying it -- or else he wants it both ways.

He gets all the last words at this point. I have nothing left to say to a person who, frankly, doesn't even accept his own statements at face value.

Peter said...

Frank,

Are you obliquely referring to the last substantative sentence in your post? That is, "the way loves works -- which is a surrendering of rights in order to serve and to save another person?"

Ummm, I thinnk I agree. (Although I am not entirely sure what you mean by the word "save" here.)

At any rate, I have no idea how this shows anything.

Peter said...

Frank,

The "non-equals" I was referring to was 1) a sociological textbook's understanding/definition of marriage (which includes loveless marriages) with 2) Larissa's and Ian's understanding/definition of marriage (which is a loving marriage). As I said, that comparison is unfair (that is you are comparing "non-equals.")

At any rate, it seems clear that you've misunderstood me, and also pretty clear that you don't have any particular interest in either trying to understand me or continuing this exchange.

(Nor do I expect you to acknowledge that I straightened you out on a couple things--like the "right" to marriage.)

But good luck to you. Try not to do too much harm.

Sir Aaron said...

Frank: regarding your 9:49AM response, I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote. We are 100% in lock step.

Given what I just said, when you ask "Should we advocate for laws that reflect our moral vision for our culture? If we don't, who will?" I think the response by Jacob and some others is: How do we do that without pointing to the Bible? And even if we can, should we do it?

Of course, whatever the answer to those questions, they will fall far short of evangelism in reclaiming our culture and eventually our government.