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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

What Same-Sex "Marriage" Has Wrought in Massachusetts

(HT: Melinda at STR)

This is the conclusion of an essay penned by a resident in Massachusetts:

Homosexual “marriage” hangs over society like a hammer with the force of law. And it’s only just begun.

It’s pretty clear that the homosexual movement’s obsession with marriage is not because large numbers of them actually want to marry each other. Research shows that homosexual relationships are fundamentally dysfunctional on many levels, and “marriage” as we know it isn’t something they can achieve, or even desire. (In fact, over the last three months, the Sunday Boston Globe’s marriage section hasn’t had any photos of homosexual marriages. In the beginning it was full of them.) This is about putting the legal stamp of approval on homosexuality and imposing it with force throughout the various social and political institutions of a society that would never accept it otherwise. To the rest of America: You've been forewarned.

Read the whole thing. This is what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) meant by the "dictatorship of relativism." Conjugal relativism is a jealous God that will not tolerate any dissent.

Comments (57)

This is what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) meant by the "dictatorship of relativism."


Not quite.

I highly doubt that then Cardinal Ratzinger specifically had homosexuality in mind when he articulated that thought.

Cardinal Ratzinger: "We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires."

It doesn't matter that he wasn't talking specifically about homosexuality at the time. That issue as exposed in the article Dr. Beckwith posted is an *example* of "the dictatorship of relativism." If it helps, read Dr. Beckwith's comment like this: "This is [the kind of thing] Cardinal Ratzinger [. . .] meant by 'the dictatorship of relativism.'"

I.e., nothing's been wrenched out of context here, if that's what you were inferring.

Beth is right. That's what I meant.

[humorous remark excised - FJB]

Sheesh! I was just jokin'. I'll take down the remark, since I understand that senses of humor, unlike wealth, cannot be spread. (BTW, that's a joke too, but probably will be "hate crime" in the near future, since it makes fun of the differently vested. Again, a joke. Stop me, I'm out of control).

My thanks to NasicaCato for his charitable defense on my behalf.

For the record, the subject remarks (my above first post) were not meant to be contentious; on the contrary, it meant to imply a more significant point in then Cardinal Ratzinger's speech and that is the principal topic concerning the Truth that is Jesus Christ

and the Cardinal's judicious protest against the hideous relativist notion that any other truth is just as good.

As evidenced by those remarks, I was not saying that the content of Ratzinger's speech could not apply here (I thought the 'not quite' would've implied that). However, I was saying that a greater and more significant point was being made and that is Jesus Christ as The Truth.

Now, Paul Cella can proceed to hurl crude insults at me in concert with Beckwith; that doesn't change (nor address) that fact.

It's curious that a complaint against a 'dictatorship of relativism' is supported by citing 'research' that supposedly shows homosexual relationships are dysfunctional. Imagine for a moment applying such 'research' to heterosexual marriages. Denying couples the right to wed because last month's Psychology Journal said couples with a particular age difference or income status were more likely to divorce in 5 years than the norm....

The 'research' here is a joke, is probably relativism's best tool and I advise you to consult Chesterton's commentary on the 'research' of his day that promised 'scientific matchmaking'. There is no relativism here. If homosexual couples cannot form fulfilling unions it is a risk they choose to take if they get married and whether they can or not if entering such union damms their souls...well again it's their souls and not yours to choose. You are not obligated to recognize gay marriage anymore than you're obligated to recognize straight marriages that may conflict with your theological views (such as, say, John McCain's current marriage or perhaps Rudy Guiliani's bold 'anti-cosmopolitian' stance in marrying his mistress to whom he once provided a full time driver coutesy of New York City's taxpayers)

Ari, “Paul Cella can proceed to hurl crude insults at me…” Oh please. Expect something more Menckensque than the charitably pedestrian “quarrelsome”, if he was out to score a sardonic point at your expense. Frank's misfire was probably the result of sleep deprivation and over-exposure to Fox TV. You're stressed from following the daily tracking polls and Sarah's wardrobe changes too closely. (Custody of the eyes, my boy.) Western Civilization won't end Tuesday. It already has. The lost art of the refined insult, even here at W4 is proof of its unmourned demise and a jarring reminder to find another civilzation with a sense of humor.

Kevin:

And I suppose Beckwith's lewd comments supra, by your standards, were equally acceptable? Custody of the mouth (be that literal or figurative), my boy.

That is something not even lost on your Protestant confrere, Lydia.

What right do we have to engage in seemingly righteous protest & despair the lost of a civilized world when our own speech is no different than that of a vulgar street savage?

In fairness though, taking note of the more important issue in Beckwith's post, the redefinition of marriage to encompass such perversity is, indeed, something that many of us should be wary of in our debauchedly relativistic modern society as it seeks to embrace all things repugnant.

Aristocles, for crying out loud. It has been cut. You are tempting me to cut _your_ comment, as, indeed, Frank may well do (and understandably so) by continuing a thread-within-a-thread over something that *isn't there anymore*. You should be pleased. Give it a rest.

Imagine for a moment applying such 'research' to heterosexual marriages.

I'm sure it has been, since 50% of them fall apart. But I don't think you understand the objection, which is that homosexual relationships are not dysfunctional due to difficulties encountered pursuant to the union, but that the union itself is dysfunctional in its very foundation. Understanding this requires no research.

The 50% figure is tossed around but you could produce a figure higher. Take 20-23 yr old Italian men who marry women over 35. Suppose 95% of such marriages fall apart in less than 5 years. Should the state refuse to recognize such marriages? What about 99%? No doubt if you could put enough data into Excel you could find a niche with any level of failure rate you desire. The point is that it is not the role of the state to prevent people from entering such doomed relationships but the individuals themselves.

"The point is that it is not the role of the state to prevent..."

It is the role of the state to prevent the further weakening of an institution that both predates and sustains it. Your argument should be one that calls for greater education of heterosexual couples considering marriage. Not overturning over 6000 years of human experience and insight by adding more moral confusion to an already idiotized culture.

Kevin,

Implicit in your argument is a collectivist view of marriage when it should be an invidualistic view.....what do I mean?

Well you would reduce marriage to a collective metric that can be measured and massaged by various policies. For example, maybe the divorce rate in which you would love to report to us each year telling us things are getting worse or better and maybe implement an 'education program' which we can complain about when 5 years latter couples that complete it do no better by your metric. In essence you would treat marriage like the economy or some other collective enterprise.

In reality, though, marriage is an individual enterprise between two people. You don't really know what happens behind closed doors, inside bedrooms and living rooms and you shouldn't. Yes you can amass statistics and metrics but that tells you very little. If you tell me you are not divorced what do I really know of your marriage? What can I really determine about your relationship with your spouse? To really know about a lifetime committment to someone you need a lifetime, not an 'education program'. If I showed up at your door and announced I was going to try to help you 'prevent weakening' of your marriage you'd probably sock me in the nose! And you should!

So if you want to talk about 'preventing weakening' of marriage, as if we are talking about the shopping traffic on some small towns main street then explain to me exactly how the existence of married gay couples somewhere else prevents YOU from being a good husband, good father or inhibits you from being a better one.

Boonton,
The family is the most basic and important unit in any polity and its health, or lack thereof cannot be isolated in terms of impact from the rest of the community. Lockean/Liberal fantasies of autonomous individuals entering “transactions” of no import to others are just that; fantasies. Do we really need a long discourse on the various and devastating social pathologies that result from broken families? Is it not obvious at this late date that stable families are salubrious to maintaining a humane and civilized order?

You oddly, but perhaps revealingly raised the tolerance accorded divorce in today's society as an argument in support of gay marriage. Adultery, divorce, same sex couplings, polygamy and promiscuity arise from the modern delusion that the frequent exercise of our sexual organs is the Summa Bonum of human existence. How exactly does the state officially ratifying that view by redefining marriage, serve the interests of the rest of society? Raising one’s sons to be chaste, monogamous men anxious to bear the cross that comes with marriage and child rearing is not made easier when the rest of society accords the disruptive, transient nature of lust superiority over the permanence of Love.

The burden of proof is on you to make the case, since it is your argument that is radically novel in terms of history, anthropology and common sense.


Kevin

I think you got things a bit backwards, when you write:

The family is the most basic and important unit in any polity and its health, or lack thereof cannot be isolated in terms of impact from the rest of the community.

Yes but likewise it being so important is also an argument for not excluding anyone from it unless you have very good reasons. That doesn't make it 'transactional' but it does make it private. Your marriage is quite literally YOUR marriage, it isn't mine and it can't be mine. You can't lump it together in with everyone else's marriage the way you can lump all the business profits together to report on how a town or state or country's economy is doing. If your marriage fails it is your responsibility (and, of course, your spouses). It isn't the responsibility of your next door neighbor, not can you blame it on the gay couple three blocks down and no the gov't didn't fail you by neglecting to offer you an 'educational program' (do you hear how downright Orwellian you sound).

This isn't a new concept and it hardly requires one to become a Atlas Shrugged totting member of the Ayn Rand cult. Yes your stability is important to the community in the sense that you, as a member of our community contribute or deplete its health so yes we should care if you're starving to death. That doesn't give me access to the fridge in your kitchen because your hunger is 'my business'....nor does it give me authority to override your shopping list because I, in my wisdom, have decided the food you want to buy will not really satisfy your hunger nor take care of your nutritional needs.

This rests as your responsibility to yourself and society. Your error is seeing marriage as being a foundation from the top down. Foundations are from the bottom up. It is your responsibility to find stability for yourself so you can contribute to society's stability (hopefully by aiding those who are less able to acheive what you do for yourself).

Your argument, though, seems to ultimately rest on evading responsibility. I'll ask you again how does the existence of gay marriage inhibit your ability to be a good husband and father? If it doesn't, then what excuse does your neighbor have for creating a broken family? If he doesn't have an excuse either then this has nothing to do with broken families.

Raising one’s sons to be chaste, monogamous men anxious to bear the cross that comes with marriage and child rearing is not made easier when the rest of society accords the disruptive, transient nature of lust superiority over the permanence of Love.

Anyone who enters a marriage (gay or otherwise) thinking it's about enjoying transitory lust is going to get burned very badly...which makes this argument against gay marriage very strange. I'll rephrase the above question, explain how the existence of gay marriage makes it harder for you (or your son if you have one) to keep your pants on with a girlfriend? If it doesn't (and it doesn't) then this is yet another example of evading responsibility.

What makes this argument even more ironic is that in modern society there is no need to get married solely for sex. If sex is what you want you can easily get it without having to get married and no one will raise an eyebrow. Anyone seriously trying to enter marriage so they can enjoy 'transitory lust' is a complete fool.

Yes but likewise it being so important is also an argument for not excluding anyone from it unless you have very good reasons.

The argument is not about the state including or excluding anyone from marriage. The state can neither prevent two people from marrying who are capable of it, nor can it make two people who are incapable of marrying each other able to. The state cannot make or change marriage because marriage is prior to the state. All the state can do is recognize marriage and grant certain benefits to it for the benefit of society and the common good.

I'll ask you again how does the existence of gay marriage inhibit your ability to be a good husband and father?

The state's pretending it can alter the nature of marriage by legal fiat hurts marriages because it degrades them. It does so by treating relationships that are not and cannot be marriage as if they were. This degrades and ignores the true dignity of marriage because this dignity is based upon its nature.

Such an act is also harmful to society at large. It destroys justice because it treats things that are essentially different as if they were the same. It violates truth because it makes false claims about what marriage is. It undermines the common good because marriage and the family are the building blocks of the commonwealth and so an attack on the fundamentals of marriage and the family is an attack on the root of the commonwealth and its common good.

Boonton;
I’ll try to respond to your contradictory argument that straddles between the “nobody business but mine” canard and “This rests as your responsibility to yourself and society.”

First, Education is not always formal. It is found in the routine of everyday life. Clearly you understand the importance of social cues and behavior modeling. You understand the benefits of monogamy and fidelity. How then does allowing a social group well-known for their resistance to either, to redefine marriage benefit society as a whole? It doesn’t which is why you reach for the contradictory “nobody’s business” canard.

"Your error is seeing marriage as being a foundation from the top down"

Actually I see it as the essential pillar that props the rest of society's arrangements and activities, whether they are social, political or economic in nature.

“It is your responsibility to find stability for yourself so you can contribute to society's stability…”
Agreed, the relationship between myself and civil society is like marriage; complementary. I form a family based on the model offered me by society at large.

“Anyone who enters a marriage (gay or otherwise) thinking it's about enjoying transitory lust is going to get burned very badly…”

No kidding. Sex has been separated from its rightful place and it is why marriage and family life are in steep decline. And why “gay marriage” has little future beyond that as a tool for social leveling by those hostile to all vestiges of an older Christian order.

"I'll ask you again how does the existence of gay marriage inhibit your ability to be a good husband and father?"

See above. You have failed to share the revolutionary new insight you've stumbled upon that supports the overturning of over 6,000 years of inherited human wisdom. Why is that? What is also remarkable, you do so on behalf of a minority within a minority... A very significant number of gay people have no interest in the monogamy needed for married life. You live near New York and should know that. Instead you seem hell-bent in advocating a social experiment without any anthropological or historical basis for doing so.

I cannot believe the refuse that's being advocated here and, even more, the glaring neglect of the moral reality of it all.

That the State blesses the perversity of Homosexual marriages does not make such things "marriages" and, what's more, "moral".

The State cannot change the immoral nature of the act of homosexuality any more than it can change the immoral nature of stealing!

That people think the State blessing such things and declaring them to be so is righteous & even justified because it does not harm anybody else is such fallacious reasoning that would even welcome the likes of other repugnant acts as the previously mentioned bestiality.

The argument Boonton subscribes to is no argument at all; it is but a farce built on sheer relativistic lies.

Take 20-23 yr old Italian men who marry women over 35. Suppose 95% of such marriages fall apart in less than 5 years. Should the state refuse to recognize such marriages? What about 99%?
First of all, this is hypothetical. You might have more of a point if you actually had such numbers. As it is, you're comparing numbers you don't have to numbers we do have.

You are also conflating two different things. Marriage remains the foundation of society whether or not there are special cases of it that fail more than the norm. You would need to do a lot of extra work, and come up with special laws, to identify and weed out the special cases that are largely dysfunctional. And that still wouldn't reflect badly on the core institution of marriage. Marriage needs no vindication. After thousands of years of human civilization based around marriage, it is beyond dispute that it works. If it is working poorly in a particular society, then problem is with that society, not with marriage as such, and that that society won't be around much longer if they don't get their act together.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, is fundamentally incapable of being the foundation of society. It's flawed in its essential nature. You would need a super-duper Excel spreadsheet to find special cases that *do* approach being functional. There's just no societal interest in recognizing it. A society without marriage is a society that is doomed. A society without gay marriage, on the other hand, can get along quite nicely, as demonstrated by, oh, every society in human history. The outward dysfunctionality, proven by research, of gay "marriages" is just a reflection of their flawed nature, not the reason for it.

Your argument is like saying that it's okay for restaurants to serve food out of dumpsters, because some store-bought food turns out to be poisonous, and some dumpster food isn't.

The point is that it is not the role of the state to prevent people from entering such doomed relationships but the individuals themselves.
Boy, that's a winner of a defense of gay marriage right there! Really, you should be a lawyer and argue that in court.

But I can't help but notice that you've changed the subject. Nobody said anything about keeping gays from entering their doomed relationships. They can put on wedding dresses like Dennis Rodman and call it a "marriage" if they want to. The question is over whether the society should be forced, by government coercion, to recognize those relationships, along with all the other effects such forced recognition has (forced closings of Catholic adoption agencies, violation of religious liberty, etc).

Kevin:

And why “gay marriage” has little future beyond that as a tool for social leveling by those hostile to all vestiges of an older Christian order.

Exactly. There's not actually any demand for gay marriage to speak of, even within the gay community. The actual driving desire is to force everyone to assent to the notion that gay "marriage" is the same as marriage, and to run roughshod over peoples' moral misgivings and religious freedoms.

If gay people really had desire to be married in significant numbers, then the demand for gay marriage would've existed throughout all of human history, and would've been instituted long ago, particularly in the more gay-friendly societies.

Once gay marriage is established, it's hardly taken advantage of, beyond the initial show. As Francis pointed out "over the last three months, the Sunday Boston Globe’s marriage section hasn’t had any photos of homosexual marriages. In the beginning it was full of them."

And yet, despite the fact that there are hardly any gay marriages happening to speak of, those Catholic adoption agencies that were forced out of business are still closed down. That's the only lasting result of "gay marriage", and that's the real goal of "gay marriage" movement: not actual gay marriages, but the opportunity to "stick it" to Christians.

"...along with all the other effects such forced recognition has (forced closings of Catholic adoption agencies, violation of religious liberty, etc)."

I think that sums up the real motive for the many same-sex marriage advocates, who are neither homosexuals, nor gays interested in the traditional constraints of marriage. SSM will complete a project dear to their hearts; the de-Christianizing of society.

Deuce, sorry we simulataneously posted our agreement.

Conspiracy theories abound.

That said, the movement for Same-Sex marriages are not so much a specifically coordinated attack on any particular religious institution (although, admittedly, such becomes a consequence of it) as they are, in more secular terms, an abominable legitimization of a distinctly perverse & immoral act.

The State cannot change the immoral nature of the act of homosexuality any more than it can change the immoral nature of stealing!

You mean calling carjacking an alternative expression of property rights doesn't make it so? :)

Your marriage is quite literally YOUR marriage, it isn't mine and it can't be mine.

I suspect that this is some kind of relativism, in the sense that heterosexual marriage is marriage for me and homosexual marriage is marriage for you and polygamy is marriage for them. To each his own.

I do not think same sex marriage is a cause of the destruction of marriage. I think same sex marriage is an effect of liberalism applied to marriage. Once it is denied that marriage has an objective essence, the only thing left is the subjective will of the individual to define marriage anyway he desires. Liberals understand if marriage has an objective essence then it interferes with an individual's self-creation and self-definition. Since they hold the latter to be true, they have to hold the former to be false.

Kevin

"First, Education is not always formal. It is found in the routine of everyday life. Clearly you understand the importance of social cues and behavior modeling. You understand the benefits of monogamy and fidelity. How then does allowing a social group well-known for their resistance to either, to redefine marriage benefit society as a whole? "

Notice I didn't say 'nobody's business', instead I said individual responsibility. You're asking me how does the gay couple down the street, being able to legally marry, help me be a better married person? Well I don't think it does in any significant way and I don't think it hurts in any significant way. The responsibility is still mine and no it isn't the government's job to 'educate' me by only allowing good examples to marry. That being said, anyone taking on marriage who is not interested in monogamy is opening themselves up for pain. The only plausible way this argument would work is gays get married, then they keep having promiscous sex and this causes me to start sleeping around on my wife on the assumption no one is really monogamous anymore. But complaints about no-fault divorce aside, marriage legally facilitates monogamy more than its opposite and I fail to see a plausible argument here.

"See above. You have failed to share the revolutionary new insight you've stumbled upon that supports the overturning of over 6,000 years of inherited human wisdom. "

So on one hand gays won't bother to get married even if it is legal. On the other hand they single handedly overturn the basis of all straight marriages. On the other hand, homosexuality is unnnatural....figure out your argument and stick to it. If gays take part in marriage rarely, you've essentially got a few unusual marriages (like 60 year old women with 20 yr old men) that are not the norm, not even necessarily socially acceptable but legal. If gays take part in marriage extensively then they belie your assertion that they cannot form monogamous long term relationships. You are free to assert that even so they are still not as happy as they would be in a heterosexual marriage, but I see no particular reason to trust your ability to judge their happiness over their own....or more to the point I see no reason the state should deem your ability to judge their happiness as being superior to their own. Or gays will get married, will not be monogamous and will get burned badly...in which case they will stop getting married and the case will revert to former scenaro.

Aristocles

"That people think the State blessing such things and declaring them to be so is righteous"

The state does not 'bless' and declare things to be righteous. There are quite a few unblessed and unrighteous marriages that are no less legal than your ideal marriage.

The Deuce

"First of all, this is hypothetical. You might have more of a point if you actually had such numbers. As it is, you're comparing numbers you don't have to numbers we do have. "

Perhaps but the point is such numbers exist. Assuming 50% failure (measuring failure as a marriage ending in divorce rather than death...which is actually a bit restrictive IMO as a definition of a failed marriage) rate is average there will be groups with higher rates as well as lower rates. Given enough time and data I'm sure one could cherry pick a cohort with any level of failure that suits your purposes. I would consider the statistical argument to be more of a point if you were consistent in its application. If, for example, lack of monogamy on the part of gay males is a reason not to have gay marriage then rates of monogamy on the part of gay females would be a reason to have it for women. If you're going to say this isn't a reason then please dispense with the numbers game to begin with.

"You are also conflating two different things. Marriage remains the foundation of society whether or not there are special cases of it that fail more than the norm. You would need to do a lot of extra work, and come up with special laws, to identify and weed out the special cases that are largely dysfunctional. "

Here the case for individual responsiblity is all the more reinforced. If your 35 year old sister announced she was marrying her 19 yr old Italian boyfriend you might express private concern to her that such a union seems chancy. If the numbers I cited were true, you may even ask her to consider them. Even considering these odds, she might feel she is among the 5% and choose to go ahead with the marriage. The marriage license dept. may know to set aside divorce applications for 95 of them but nevertheless it is the individual's freedom to embark on such an arrangement, even if we may deem it a foolish and doomed from the start enterprise.

But to round out the case, there are non-state institutions that put pressure against foolish marriages. In the above example, the skeptical family is one. A Church that she belongs too may refuse to bless the marriage on the grounds that it doesn't comply with its theological stances or simply because the pastor feels it will not work and he shouldn't partake of it. This isn't relativism. Whether your sister is about to enter a lifetime of love or discover a year later her man has run off with the maid and 3/4 of her money is quite objective. What it is about, though, is individual freedom. At the end of the day if your sister bucks all advice to the contrary, I don't think the state should be your 'fall back' and refuse to recognize the marriage.

"A society without marriage is a society that is doomed. A society without gay marriage, on the other hand, can get along quite nicely, as demonstrated by, oh, every society in human history."

I've seen no real argument from you, though, as to who gay marriage would hurt except maybe gays themselves (although I'm not sure why a stable gay monogamous relationship that lasts a lifetime....or at least a while since nowadays most marriages don't last a lifetime is worse than the status quo).

"The question is over whether the society should be forced, by government coercion, to recognize those relationships, along with all the other effects such forced recognition has (forced closings of Catholic adoption agencies, violation of religious liberty, etc)."

Who exactly is being coerced? The notable case of Catholic Adoptoin in Mass was where the agency was working FOR the state, hence had to comply with state policies. I am unaware of any case where the Catholic Church was forced by coercion to recognize the remarriage of a divorced person, despite the fact that divorce & remarriage has been more or less permitted in mainstream America for 100 years or more. No one is forced to, say, show respect towards Brittany Spears's farcical 24 hour marriage that came after a night of drinking in Las Vegas nor the numerous marriages of Elizabeth Taylor that used to be the butt of so many late night jokes back when Johnny Carson ruled late night tv.

"as they are, in more secular terms, an abominable legitimization of a distinctly perverse & immoral act."

As I pointed out, one hardly needs gay marriage to have gay sex today.

Kurt
Your marriage is quite literally YOUR marriage, it isn't mine and it can't be mine.

"I suspect that this is some kind of relativism, in the sense that heterosexual marriage is marriage for me and homosexual marriage is marriage for you and polygamy is marriage for them. To each his own. "

Hmmmm, your bank account is yours and not mine. Is that some form of relativism? Please say so because I'll be happy to tap it in our common battle against relativism! It is actually quite absolute, your marriage is your responsibility. That's not saying, quite, 'to each his own'. It's more like saying you're reap what you sow. If you make a bad marriage, a broken family, you're reap the consquences for it as will the people immediately around you. If you do the reverse you're reap the primary benefits. It's a rather odd type of communism to assert, as some here seem to do, that the marriage three blocks down from you impacts you just like your own hence it's your business.

"Once it is denied that marriage has an objective essence, the only thing left is the subjective will of the individual to define marriage anyway he desires."

Assume that marriage has an objective essense, to the degree that your marriage deviates from that objective essense your marriage will fail to be a marriage, to the degree it doesn't it will be so. To use a simple analogy, you are perfectly free to try to bake a cake and substitute salt for flour. That is not relativism. What you produce, will not be much of a cake. On the other hand, you are free to bake a case and substitute splenda for sugar, what you produce may or may not be a good cake. In neither case, though, do you need to require the gov't to ban people who it feels violate cake's objective essense. If it is there, it will how itself and if it isn't its absense will.


Boonton,
Your argument has nothing new to respond to, as it is still a rehash of the following; "The current state of marriage in this country is a shipwreck - high divorce rates, out of wedlock babies, broken hearts, promises and homes have already torn our social fabric apart - what does it matter then if we allow a group notorious for their inability to form lasting relationships and stable homes, to also dance the marry & divorce 2 Step?"

Sorry, our goal is to restore the health and preeminence of the family in a rapidly disintegrating social order and to trim back the encroachments of a paternalistic State. You are advocating a radical departure in civilizational norms that only accelerates our cultural decline by reducing marriage to a rite of affirmation for those trapped in personal disorder.

"as it is still a rehash of the following"

Kevin, that's an argument I did not make and did not rehash. If you have no response to my argument please don't respond but if you do please try to address the actual points I made rather than trying to make up stuff I didn't say.

Boonton, you have reminded us several times of the high divorce rates that already exist, but have failed to enumerate how society as a whole benefits from "gay marriage". Your cake baking analogies are a poor substitute for a coherent and compelling case to invent a new understanding of marriage.


Assume that marriage has an objective essense, to the degree that your marriage deviates from that objective essense your marriage will fail to be a marriage, to the degree it doesn't it will be so.

True enough, insofar as one means that the less a relationship is properly ordered towards the ends of marriage the less it perfectly embodies the essence of marriage. But the argument against same sex "marriage" is that it is impossible for two people of the same sex to fulfill even the most basic requirements for realizing the essence of marriage because they are incapable of being in any way ordered towards the proper end of marriage. Thus this statement begs the question because it assumes an answer to the question being discussed, which is, "Are two people of the same sex even capable of instantiating the essence of marriage?"

To use a simple analogy, you are perfectly free to try to bake a cake and substitute salt for flour. That is not relativism. What you produce, will not be much of a cake. On the other hand, you are free to bake a case and substitute splenda for sugar, what you produce may or may not be a good cake. In neither case, though, do you need to require the gov't to ban people who it feels violate cake's objective essense.

The analogy fails because the nature of cake is not related to the nature of the commonwealth. The nature of marriage is. Marriage and the family are prior to and principles of the commonwealth. It is thus the duty and in the interest of the commonwealth to defend the proper understanding of the nature of marriage in way that it is neither the duty nor in the interest of the commonwealth to defend the proper understanding of the nature of cake.

"Boonton, you have reminded us several times of the high divorce rates that already exist, but have failed to enumerate how society as a whole benefits from "gay marriage". "

I pointed out the problem with the high divorce rate stats, you use them selectively. As for how society would benefit, as was pointed out all individuals are members of society so to a degree their well being impacts everyone. This does not mean individualism is out the door nor does it mean individual responsibility is out the door. With that in mind, I see gay marriage as an opportunity to either improve the lives of gays or at least be neutral. If it improves their lives that is additional security that indirectly benefits all, including other family members and friends who would then have more resources to devote to child rearing and other worthy activities. The counter argument being presented so far is that any benefit for a 'minority of a minority' would be swamped by harm to the greater majority. But unfortunately I haven't seen a convincing argument for why this would be so, this is the reason I'm harping on the question of how do YOU become a worse husband/father/wife/mother should the gay couple down the street be married rather than just living together.

"But the argument against same sex "marriage" is that it is impossible for two people of the same sex to fulfill even the most basic requirements for realizing the essence of marriage because they are incapable of being in any way ordered towards the proper end of marriage."

"Thus this statement begs the question because it assumes an answer to the question being discussed, which is, "Are two people of the same sex even capable of instantiating the essence of marriage?""

And to be honest with you I honestly don't know and I don't see why you should be given any greater authority than I have to answer that question. I would assume that you would agree that not all heterosexual couples are capable of instantiating the essense of marriage. That some people should not get married and some couples may be able to be married they shouldn't be married to each other. While I have no objection to you, other intelligent people, churches, families and so on contributing their opinions to such couples I wouldn't agree that the state should assume to insert itself in between them. Just as with the example of a heterosexual couple you just know in your heart is not destined for a healthy marriage, your authority ends with voicing your opinion, even withholding your own recognition of their marriage but not assuming authority to forbid it.

I would assume that you would agree that not all heterosexual couples are capable of instantiating the essense of marriage.

You would assume incorrectly. There may be heterosexual couples who will fail at achieving the proper end of marriage. But there are no heterosexual couples that are not, by their nature, ordered towards the end of marriage. Form (or essence) and end are related, but they are not the same. The end is what the form is properly ordered to achieve. That which is incapable of being ordered to the end is incapable of possessing the form (or essence) ordered to said end.

Marriage is ordered to the production of children. The essence of marriage is a couple who are essentially capable of producing children. "Essentially capable" means that the capability belongs to them based upon the the kind of couple they are, not based upon the particulars of their circumstances or choices. Thus, even couples that are infertile or choose to use contraception are essentially capable of producing children because infertility and contraceptive practices are particular to this couple, not essential to this type of couple.

Thus, while many heterosexual couples may not achieve the end of marriage, they are essentially capable of it. No same sex couple is so capable. Two men cannot make a baby. Neither can two women. This is essential to the nature of the couple, not particular to any individual same sex couple.

While I have no objection to you, other intelligent people, churches, families and so on contributing their opinions to such couples I wouldn't agree that the state should assume to insert itself in between them.

But the state inserts itself, and in an illegitimate manner, when it says that people of the same sex can "marry" each other, not when it says they cannot. Same sex "marriage" has never existed, even in societies in which homosexual conduct was openly tolerated. That is because marriage is ordered to the production of children. This is prior and necessary to the existence of the state and, as such, is in the interests of the state to support.

The state's insertion of itself into the matter by declaring same sex "marriage" to exist is illegitimate because, again, marriage and the family are prior to the state. The state itself grew out of marriage. Marriage linked various families together through joining families by bond and, more importantly, by blood through their offspring. These families were joined into tribes, and the tribes joined into nations. These tribes and nations eventually grew large enough to require adhering to some stable and organized forms of governance, i.e. they needed government. A state is nothing more than the stabilization of the authority of the government of a people or nation over a defined geographical area.

Thus, it seems to follow that the state declaring same sex "marriage" to exist be legal fiat is doubly illegitimate. First, because it is the inserting of the state into an area were no such insertion is needed. Second, because the state, by so inserting itself, undermines its own foundations. Following from that, it would seem that it is in the best interests of the state, both as a matter of prudence and as a matter of necessity, to refuse to meddle with the definition of marriage by declaring same sex "marriage" to exist.

And to be honest with you I honestly don't know and I don't see why you should be given any greater authority than I have to answer that question.

Because mere biology does not provide a lasting, loving bound in and of itself, the institution of marriage is necessary for the safe propagation, protection and nurturing of children and by extension, society itself.

Arguing that all marriages do not last or produce off-spring, therefore let's have gay marriage, is the tired sophistry of extolling the exception to negate the rule. Marriage is not just another civil right like voting or access to public facilities. It is the essential cultural form for expressing and sustaining a fundamental human truth; the roles of mother and father are unique and irreplacable.

You have expended an incredible amount of words and time arguing that the human race has been, up until now, wrong in its inherited understanding and ordering of marriage. Repeatedly asked to explain why, and at a minimum, detail the social benefits to a dramatic alteration of marriage,you shrug and offer; "I honestly don't know."

"Marriage is ordered to the production of children. The essence of marriage is a couple who are essentially capable of producing children. "Essentially capable" means that the capability belongs to them based upon the the kind of couple they are, not based upon the particulars of their circumstances or choices. Thus, even couples that are infertile or choose to use contraception are essentially capable of producing children because infertility and contraceptive practices are particular to this couple, not essential to this type of couple. "

Jesus would seem to have disagred, quite dramatically. As I recall, he asserted it was man and woman's nature to cling to each other and become one. He didn't even bother to mention children. Marriage is an end in itself. Your view of marriage is disordered IMO. Two become one and the one may, if all goes well, produce children and hopefully if that happens they will be in the best position to raise them well.

You'll note that there are certain marriages that make people feel uncomfortable. 'Mail order brides', for example, do not feel quite right. Marriages of extreme age differences (typically rich old men marrying young women) likewise tend to be derided. Yet these are quite well suited for 'producing children' (nice reduction of humans essentially the status of a post-industrial assembly line BTW). In contrast, every now and then we hear a story of two very old people who find each other late in life and marry...these stories are usually accompanied with an 'awwww'....yet as far as marriage goes these are the least likely to produce children....and if the 65 yr old couple told their adoring family members they were going to see fertility doctors to see if maybe they could produce children the warm feelings people would have would quickly turn to horror and maybe disgust. What squares this circle is that marriage is about two becoming one....children come later if at all (at least ideally, we all know the real world operates outside the ideal).

Kevin

"Arguing that all marriages do not last or produce off-spring, therefore let's have gay marriage, is the tired sophistry of extolling the exception to negate the rule."

I think you're missing the first thing you wrote:

"Because mere biology does not provide a lasting, loving bound in and of itself, the institution of marriage is necessary for the safe propagation, protection and nurturing of children and by extension, society itself."

1. As the case of the older couple demonstrates, marriage is not just about producing children.

2. A lasting, loving bond is a good in itself. Hence the old couple is greeted with happiness. The 'gold digger' coupld, though, is greeted with skepticism and is considered somewhat suspect. If you want to bring it back to children, though, keep in mind all individuals are members of the community and the family at some level. If grandma has a husband to help care for her it is that much easier for the parents to devote time and energy on their own children. If 'Uncle Bob' isn't alone that too decreases the burdens on those in the family who are working on the children. It goes without saying, pushing 'uncle Bob' to enter into a insincere heterosexual marriage is not a great idea for any children who might be accidently produced.

3. I don't buy that you're cherry picked studies prove anything about a biological inability for same sex couples to form lasting, loving bonds. I have no idea how the best same sex relationship compares to the average different sex relationship or the best. I've lived enough to know living in my own shoes is complicated enough, which is why I am so reluctant to presume to pronounce other people's marriages successes or failures as if they were stocks or bonds. If such relationships are biologically impossible, they will fail and gays simply won't utilize marriage in any material way.

Which makes me wonder if at least part of the opposition might be fear of discomfirmation of your assertions about biology? To assert that something can never happen is a bold statement since it only takes a single example to disprove such an assertion while a million observations that are consistent with the statement still fail to prove it. How would you respond to long lasting gay relationships that by all appearences are loving after asserting they are biologically impossible?

Boonton,
I didn't say long lasting gay relationships are biologically impossible, though they are so rare that one might draw that conclusion. Nor did I say marriage is just about producing children, there are clearly other goods attached to married life. At a time when we should be fortifying and bolstering the institution, you are arguing that its current state of decline is reason to completely redefine and further weaken it. Makes no sense and I think you're running out of ways to say the same thing over and over.

Kevin,

Thanks for keeping this conversation going in a productive manner. Where I'd disagree with your point(s) are:

1. You asserted that marriage was primarily about producing children whereas I hold the opposite. Producing children is almost absurdly easy for humans, unlike many other animals it is raising the children that requires so much from humans. In order to do that, as many members of the human family as possible must be stable and secure (the parents, of course, being most important). Because of this marriage is for most people, even the many who will never have children. There is no need to resort to obscure and abstract 'types' to tell us that the 70 yr old couple is ok to be married because they are of the 'form' to have kids when we both know a biological 'breakthrough' that enabled them to have kids would be considered very troubling.

2. I did not argue that marriage is in such a bad state today we might as well let everyone have their fun. On the contrary I argued that it is not so easy to judge a marriage as it is an intensly intimate affair.

3. I did argue that trying to deny one group marriage based on statistics is dubious. A similar argument can be constructed for various heterosexual groups and you wouldn't feel comfortable withthe state using that as support to intervene in couples who want to wed.

4. You have not shown, IMO, how gay marriage would weaken the institution. There are reasons to hope it might strengthen it, slightly, for some heterosexual couples (two examples....'Uncle Bob' is not alone giving the couple more resources to devote to creating new family members rather than caring for existing ones...another is 'Uncle Bob' is not entering a marriage with a woman that is not sincere and destined, in the long run, to be yet another statistic, possibly with a kid or two harmed in the wreakage).

Kevin,

Thanks for keeping this conversation going in a productive manner. Where I'd disagree with your point(s) are:

1. You asserted that marriage was primarily about producing children whereas I hold the opposite. Producing children is almost absurdly easy for humans, unlike many other animals it is raising the children that requires so much from humans. In order to do that, as many members of the human family as possible must be stable and secure (the parents, of course, being most important). Because of this marriage is for most people, even the many who will never have children. There is no need to resort to obscure and abstract 'types' to tell us that the 70 yr old couple is ok to be married because they are of the 'form' to have kids when we both know a biological 'breakthrough' that enabled them to have kids would be considered very troubling.

2. I did not argue that marriage is in such a bad state today we might as well let everyone have their fun. On the contrary I argued that it is not so easy to judge a marriage as it is an intensly intimate affair.

3. I did argue that trying to deny one group marriage based on statistics is dubious. A similar argument can be constructed for various heterosexual groups and you wouldn't feel comfortable withthe state using that as support to intervene in couples who want to wed.

4. You have not shown, IMO, how gay marriage would weaken the institution. There are reasons to hope it might strengthen it, slightly, for some heterosexual couples (two examples....'Uncle Bob' is not alone giving the couple more resources to devote to creating new family members rather than caring for existing ones...another is 'Uncle Bob' is not entering a marriage with a woman that is not sincere and destined, in the long run, to be yet another statistic, possibly with a kid or two harmed in the wreakage).

Boonton,

1)“Because of this marriage is for most people, even the many who will never have children.”

You’ve been touting the high divorce rates, so how can you argue marriage is normative if half end in divorce? Perhaps the endless quest for self-fulfillment isn’t conducive to the vocation of married life. Our society needs the witness, or if you prefer the behavior modeling of people willing to raise children at the expense of their personal self-gratification. Parenthood is an affirmation of life and belief in the future.

Marriage is first and foremost about the transmission of life through the act of self-giving. Other goods flow from marriage and childless couples clearly benefit from matrimony, but the protection of children and women are primary. Any couple who is closed off to the possibility of children by personal preference is sinfully contributing to the social anomie of disunion, dysfunction and despair. Gays cannot procreate and despite your best wishes otherwise, are mostly unwilling to adopt the virtues and practices required by family life.

2)“On the contrary I argued that it is not so easy to judge a marriage as it is an intensly intimate affair.”
The staggering social costs resulting from broken families cannot be denied under some contrived veil of unknowing, or hollow “who are we to judge” rubric. We must always monitor the health of our civilization’s most vital social institution. Otherwise, why bother with this discussion. We can simply accept whatever au courant reform or deformation that is put forth under the guise of progress.
3)“I did argue that trying to deny one group marriage based on statistics is dubious.”
. Nature or nurture, whatever the root cause, homosexuality is a biological/psychological and when acted upon, spiritual disorder. You don’t arrest the decline of an institution by introducing more disorder into it. Or am I missing a clever paradox here?
4)“ You have not shown, IMO, how gay marriage would weaken the institution.”
See 3 -with an addendum; the burden of proof to dramatically alter the status quo is on you. I suspect if you could make the case on how society as a whole would benefit from your proposal you would have done so by now.

Jesus would seem to have disagred, quite dramatically. As I recall, he asserted it was man and woman's nature to cling to each other and become one. He didn't even bother to mention children.

This only demonstrates that you read the text with a hermeneutic that is foreign to it. "Becoming one flesh" is, in its literal sense, an act that makes babies. This obvious meaning is confirmed by St. Paul in I Corinthians 6 where he warns against fornication because it makes those who do it "one flesh" with prostitutes.

nice reduction of humans essentially the status of a post-industrial assembly line BTW

You seem to believe that I've given you my entire philosophy of marriage. I haven't, though I suppose I have not been clear about this fact. There are secondary ends and goods to a marriage. They include mutual and complementary self-giving love ordered towards the good and help of the spouses. But this depends on said love being complementary, something that is false at its most basic level in a same sex relationship. Because complementary love includes being sexually complementary, and sexual complementarity is ordered towards the production of children. Secondary goods flow from the essence of marriage, i.e. from it being essentially ordered towards children.

In contrast, every now and then we hear a story of two very old people who find each other late in life and marry...these stories are usually accompanied with an 'awwww'....yet as far as marriage goes these are the least likely to produce children....

I can only assume that you did not understand my definition of "essentially ordered," since you quoted it at the beginning of your post and yet thought that this example somehow contradicted it. Being elderly and infertile is accidental to the kind of couple, since being elderly and infertile is dependent on what is specific to this couple. As a couple they are just as ordered towards procreation as a young and fertile couple. Being unable to achieve the end due to circumstances is not the same as not being ordered towards the end. I said as much.

brendon,

It's not that I don't understand your definition of 'essentially ordered', it's that I find it rather contrived. It isn't the circumstance of being infertile by accident that causes us to support such marriages. The counter example isn't the infertile couple but the couple that tries to be fertile when they really shouldn't. Consider the case a few years ago where a woman in her 60's gave birth with the help of fertility treatments. This was not viewed by many as a positive thing for obvious reasons and if that elderly couple announced they too were going to try for a baby I suspect you'd find a lot less support for their union...despite drawing closer to their 'essential order'.

Kevin
You’ve been touting the high divorce rates, so how can you argue marriage is normative if half end in divorce?

Again each marriage is unique and it is silly to assume that the easily measured metric tells you what there is to know simply because it is easier for you to measure. At the end of the day there are two people in that marriage and they know what is going on inside. Pastors, therapists, and sociologists (watching from Excel spreadsheets) have a much more limited view.

To illustrate please take a moment and read the question and answer found in this advice column: http://www.salon.com/mwt/col/tenn/2008/08/22/laughter_in_the_dark/ While I have no idea if the therapist is correct or not about his speculation over this older couple's marriage, it does illustrate in a striking way how even adult children can really be ignorant of the dynamics of their parents marriage. I'd be curious to know what you think of it.

Sure sure, measure the divorce rate and if some Church set up a new program for newlyweds I'd say it is perfectly sensible to use something like the divorce rate 5 years later as a metric to measure it's value. But keep in mind measurement is not control and the nature of the marriage is made by the two people in it....not the crude policies (your 'education programs') put on it from the outside.


Kevin
"See 3 -with an addendum; the burden of proof to dramatically alter the status quo is on you."

The burden to show it's a dramatic alteration is on you. As you asserted, we are talking about a minority of a minority hence not even 5% of legal marriages. The alternatives many have proposed such as civil unions or other types of non-marriage marriage are actually the true dramatic alterations in that they create a 'marriage-lite' that will compete with regular marriage among heterosexual couples.

The more hysterical 'what-if's that some critics push such as polygamy, incest or beastiality (and thank you for keeping this discussion on a high intellectual plane) would represent truely dramatic alterations to the status quo that would directly impact heterosexual couples that exist today and would exist in the future. Gay marriage, though, wouldn't. Now you may disagree but keep in mind I've asked several times here to show clearly how it would and despite good efforts I haven't received a clear answer.

Boonton,
If allowing homosexuals to marry is not a dramatic alteration to the consensus of several millennia then it would have occurred already. To think one has arrived at a historically unique insight into how human society should make its arrangements appears to me as a conceit. I've repeated myself several times and will do it one last time; homosexuality is a disorder ill-equipped to provide one with the interest or inclination for the disciplines of monogamy, child-rearing and obviously procreation. The fact that many heterosexuals fail to live the ideals of married life does not mean the natural distinctions between the heterosexual norm and the homosexual aberration are erased.

As for adult children being unaware of the dynamics of their early upbringing, I’ll rely on the common sense insight provided by lived experience. I've seen up-close the anger and confusion-fueled drug-taking, alienation, promiscuity and delinquency that young people resort to as a result of the trauma of divorce within the families. I am not too hopeful that many will, without the intervention of Divine mercy, mature into faithful spouses or good parents later.

I appreciate the tenor of your comments and agree; slippery slope arguments tend to be overwrought, insulting and counter-productive. However, you should reflect on a fatal failing of the secular outlook. It is incapable of forging a sustainable moral defense against slippery slope scenarios from coming to fruition. In 1968 very few people believed the legalization of abortion would lead to crimes previously condemned at Nuremberg. Yet here we are; praising the virtues of aborting Downs’s babies, mercy-killing, altering the genes of the unborn, creating life to destroy life and seeking the "right to die". As someone in favor of "gay rights", you should be as appalled as I am, at how many on your side would abort a baby carrying the "gay gene".


If allowing homosexuals to marry is not a dramatic alteration to the consensus of several millennia then it would have occurred already.

If you can learn anything from an instant asorbing of several millenia of history in one massive download...like plugging your brain right into wikipedia with a super high speed connection...it would be that there is no consensus. The history of marriage is riddled with polygamy, incest, arranged marriages, abusive marriages, child marriages and all sorts of diversity that few would find tasteful today either from a theological perspective or a cultural one.

when asking if something is a radical change the answer is a lot easier, in order to implement it do you have to change things a little or a lot. You learning a whole new language and moving to the other side of the globe is a radical change....but, of course, over millennia that's story is about as cliched as your morning cup of coffee. And like it or not gay marriage is a pretty minor change to existing marriage law while other 'slipperly slope' arguments like polygamy represent a massive change. (And like it or not we live in 2008 America (apologies to any non-US readers out there)....not 235 BC Turkey or Egypt under the Pharoahs). In the big sweep of history, the little sliver of our present time where marriages are the individual choices of the couples with families playing only an advisory role (should the couples permit) based on a period of romantic flirting is a lot more radical in terms of what came before.

As for adult children being unaware of the dynamics of their early upbringing, I’ll rely on the common sense insight provided by lived experience.

I encourage you to read the link I provided. The perspective is from inside a marriage (or at least imagining the inside of one particular marriage). The crux of my point is that our knowledge here is limited and as in many cases when our knowledge is limited we pretend that the knowledge we do have expands to cover up our blindspots...like the person who is inept with cars who relies only on the dashboard warning lights to feel safe that all is well.

I've seen up-close the anger and confusion-fueled drug-taking, alienation, promiscuity and delinquency that young people resort to as a result of the trauma of divorce within the families

A common narrative but I fail to see a case against gay marriage here. Unlike many other marriage policies, the activities of gay couples seem pretty much insultated from heterosexual ones. Take divorce. Not only do heterosexual couples avail themselves to it but each new divorce adds two older people to the 'marriage market' thereby increasing the temptation for other married people to 'jump ship' in search of a better deal. While there may be no way to square individual freedom with the reality that divorces are going to happen, it's pretty clear how the policy impacts many marriages...even those that don't actually end in divorce (but not always in a negative manner, no doubt some marriages have been improved because one or both parties know that divorce is a real danger should they refuse to change misbehavior).

On gay marriage the critics haven't done such a good job of articulating what 'transmission mechanism' will cause any significant impact on heterosexual marriages. The only argument I've seen is a very vague type of handwaving that can be summed up as "If this happens then all bets are off" without any real reasoning.

As someone in favor of "gay rights", you should be as appalled as I am, at how many on your side would abort a baby carrying the "gay gene".

And assuming such a gay gene is discovered, how many of your friends on your 'side' will quietly have abortions? How many born children have been disowned and denied by those on your side? And before you idealize the pre-68 world too much keep in mind, if nothing else, every fault of the post-68 world had its genesis in the pre-68 world and nowhere else. If people being good at all times were a precondition of interaction, neither of us would get out of bed in the morning. At the end of the day we can pontificate about other people's lives but we each must live our own and we try our best to do so in a good manner even though we are likely to muck a lot up.

blockquote>"The history of marriage is riddled with polygamy, incest, arranged marriages, abusive marriages, child marriages and all sorts of diversity that few would find tasteful today either from a theological perspective or a cultural one."

Thought you didn’t like slippery slope arguments, but here you are raising it. So, why are you opposed to polygamy? I read a therapist who said children benefit from exposure to many different personalities offering varied parenting styles. Sometimes Mom A can attend the school concert fill in while Mom B is working. Frankly, I find your argument discriminatory.


"At the end of the day we can pontificate about other people's lives but we each must live our own..."


Building and sustaining a humane civilization requires making vital moral and intellectual distinctions and I know this makes you cringe; judgments. Nothing in your argument suggests you are up to the task. Instead you are keen to level essential distinctions with the sanctimonious claim you're too tolerant to notice even the most obvious biological differences. You should be aware; nothing in your circular discourse suggests the welfare of children a primary concern of yours. And I find that beyond distasteful.

So, why are you opposed to polygamy? I read a therapist who said children benefit from exposure to many different personalities offering varied parenting styles. Sometimes Mom A can attend the school concert fill in while Mom B is working. Frankly, I find your argument discriminatory.

Well I didn't say I oppose it. I said it would be a dramatic change from our current legal and cultural environment. Your ancedotal hypothetical is one possible point in its favor. A more serious point against it, IMO, is that a three person relationship is a totally different animal than a two person relationship. As you add people arithmatically the number of relationships increases expodentially. Take the series Big Love for example. The man in the show is married to three woman. One a bit older and sensible. The other one a bit prissy and with a secret spending problem. the youngest a bit flighty but confident. If the show was about the man married to any one of these women it would probably be about a relatively stable marriage that's kind of boring. The show is interesting, though, because not only must the man juggle three relationships but also must navigate his wifes' relationships with each other. Likewise each wife not only juggles her relationship to her husband but with the other wives....and their children. You're right there are positive elements to it. Sometimes it's better to have two or three people 'at your back' when you're confronting a problem than just one. But there's a cost and that is added complexity. There's all types of secret keeping, back biting, and other political games even though the characters aren't particularly Machiaelvian (sp). Great fuel for drama but most people find a dramatic personal life rather stressful.

Other cultures probably managed this with strict gender roles and clear lines of authority that our culture simply doesn't subscribe too. I wouldn't send the police after such a family. I would leave them be provided no one is being strong armed or forced but before this is adopted as a template for a modern, developed culture the prototype needs to go through a lot more proof.

The other question is what polygamy are you talking about? There's probably several dozen styles you could implement, most of them are contradictory. For example, is it like a business corporation where all members of the marriage remain married even if one dies or leave or is it like a partnership where the loss of one member dissolves the whole thing and those left behind have to choose to form a new marriage if they want to remain together? Do new members have to be approved by all current members or brought in by just one? Are the wives married to just the man or to each other?


Long story short, each proposal must be evaluated on its own merits. Ruling in gay marriage doesn't require one to accept polygamy just like there are those who reject gay marriage but would advocate some form of polygamy be legal (such as some Muslims and fundamentalist Mormons). Polygamy would be a much more radical change to our current marriage law than gay marriage would. It wouldn't be very conservative to embrace such a radical change on just an ancedote (and a hypothetical one at that). Now I know where you're going, polygamy shows up numerous times in the history books but not gay marriage. So what? That doesn't alter the fact that either importing wholesale polygamy code from either Saudi Arabia or some land from the history books would require a massive change in our current way of doing things and unlike gay marriage it would directly impact existing and future heterosexual marriage by altering their own dynamics so there's little in the way of a firewall between those who want to try it and those who would rather not.

Building and sustaining a humane civilization requires making vital moral and intellectual distinctions and I know this makes you cringe; judgments. Nothing in your argument suggests you are up to the task.

Amazingly society has managed to exist for such a long time before you arrived on the scene. I wonder what it will do long after you're gone? I make judgements all the time, I just make them very carefully and I try to keep things in their proper perspective.

You should be aware; nothing in your circular discourse suggests the welfare of children a primary concern of yours.

Appeals to do something for 'the sake of the children' is likewise a very old and very cliched rhetorical trick used by people advocating things that have little or nothing to do with children's welfare. I'm not saying it isn't a primary concern of yours but keep in mind screaming 'think of the children' over and over again is different than actually thinking of the children.

"I make judgements all the time, I just make them very carefully and I try to keep things in their proper perspective."

A "proper perspective" formed by polygamy-themed TV shows is best left outside the city walls. But, by all means enjoy channel-surfing.

Polygamy would be a much more radical change to our current marriage law than gay marriage would.

Maybe, but polygamy has a much longer historical pedigree and precedent than gay marriage, and is closer to our view of marriage in one of its foundational aspects (i.e., polygamy is still ordered toward procreation). Gay marriage is historically speaking the more radical change.

I only used the TV show as an illustration of my argument about polygamy. Do you have an actual intelligent objection to my argument or are you going to wave your hands in the air and stomp your feet like a child because I used a TV show to illustrate a point?

Let me guess, you've spent several decades researching historical polygamy and perhaps living among polygamy practicing peoples in America as well as the developing world. Please don't leave us guessing, we await the posting of your CV.

Of course, if do happen to be some type of expert on polygamy I fully expect you to be able to easily address the things I said about it. No doubt you have something very important to say about the issue if a simple layman like me can get you so upset by using popular TV as a reference.

c matt

Maybe, but polygamy has a much longer historical pedigree and precedent than gay marriage, and is closer to our view of marriage in one of its foundational aspects (i.e., polygamy is still ordered toward procreation).

But what would be more radical to actually implement? To implement something you leave behind the abstract world of theory and start addressing the nuts and bolts of the situation. Go through the tiny issues one by one....property law, criminal laws, inheritance, contracts, government benefits like Social Security, tax forms, child custody, and so on. Each place where you encounter marriage you must see what changes need to be made to implement the policy (whether polygamy or gay marriage).

Keep in mind for each change you find yourself having to do the effects of your alerations will quickly become almost entirely unpredictable and unexpected consquences will multiply. Historical pedigree or not polygamy would require a massive amount of rethinking and tinkering with the 'code' of our society which adds up to a radical change which means a polygamy advocate has a tricky argument to make.

This, of course, is only the coding argument. There's also the spill over issue. As far as I can see, no one has demonstrated how gay marriage 'spills over' into existing heterosexual marriages or future ones....except maybe in a positive manner in that there will be somewhat less incentive for gay individuals to attempt a heterosexual marriage (ala Larry Craig) to 'fit in' resulting in real problems for both children and their partners. Polygamy has an immediate spill over into the 'marriage market'. The dynamics of existing marriages would immediately be altered (for example, a wife's voice can now be threatened with dilution by the husband bringing in additional wives to compete...even if the family does not opt for polygamy this threat may make itself felt).

I think your the error here is equating historical precedent with the degree of change. That's an error. Just because something was done somewhere in the past doesn't make it less dramatic to start doing it now than something we don't have a clear historical record for. No one has ever spent a week on the moon for a vacation. Yet there's historical precedent for cannibalism. What would be the more radical change for our society; moon vacations for multi-millionaires or McDonald's serving people burgers?

Boonton,

...in order to implement it do you have to change things a little or a lot.

Are you saying that homosexual marriages are acceptable because of its relative delta? If so, do we get to find other such acts as perverse or even worse once the delta for these become negligible?

If so, you have what other morally repugnant acts does your form of relativism not allow? Or do you find anythin morally repugnant at all? If so, how do you judge something to be the case?

What would be the more radical change for our society; moon vacations for multi-millionaires or McDonald's serving people burgers?

I hope you do know that it's natural for McDonalds to serve people burgers; it's not natural for men to engage in sex with each other or women to do likewise.

(sorry, I didn't have the guts to use the more precise Beckwith terms that was more descriptive of those acts.)

Let me guess, you've spent several decades researching historical polygamy

Yep, one needs years and years of studying, supplemented by long exposure to the best of pop culture (“Take the series Big Love for example.") , to judge the moral and cultural validity of polygamy and homosexual marriage. You may lack Margaret Mead's intellectual heft, but not her pretensions, commitment to the pursuit of truth and firm grasp of reality

Are you saying that homosexual marriages are acceptable because of its relative delta?

Errr no but the argument that homosexual marriages represent a radical change becomes false if it turns out they have a small delta. That's not even a real point that can be debated.

I hope you do know that it's natural for McDonalds to serve people burgers

Are you trying to make a joke or did you miss the cannibalism thing? It's burgers made out of people, not give burgers to people.

If so, you have what other morally repugnant acts does your form of relativism not allow?

The only relativism at play here seem to be your arguments against my position and that relativism seems to be of the 'throw everything at the wall and hope something, anything sticks' school. I was asked why we should reject a call for polygamy if we accept gay marriage and I explained so. Now either demonstrate an error in my reasoning or try something else.

Kevin

"Yep, one needs years and years of studying, supplemented by long exposure to the best of pop culture (“Take the series Big Love for example.") , to judge the moral and cultural validity of polygamy and homosexual marriage. "

As I recall the point about polygamy was some unnamed therapist speculating that multiple moms can make it possible to attend a school function and do a required shift at work. I don't presume to assert that I'm any expert on polygamy or that Big Love is a substitute for a serious academic analysis of it but at least the series did attempt to try to think out what it would be like to try to make polygamy work in a modern country in a family that is otherwise typically American.

Again do you have any real objection to what my thoughts on polygamy? Do you feel that I'm incorrect in asserting that adding more members to a relationship increases its complexity expodentially? That while there may be positives in some respects it will also generate negatives? If so please say so directly and explain yourself.

Kevin

"Yep, one needs years and years of studying, supplemented by long exposure to the best of pop culture (“Take the series Big Love for example.") , to judge the moral and cultural validity of polygamy and homosexual marriage. "

As I recall the point about polygamy was some unnamed therapist speculating that multiple moms can make it possible to attend a school function and do a required shift at work. I don't presume to assert that I'm any expert on polygamy or that Big Love is a substitute for a serious academic analysis of it but at least the series did attempt to try to think out what it would be like to try to make polygamy work in a modern country in a family that is otherwise typically American.

Again do you have any real objection to what my thoughts on polygamy? Do you feel that I'm incorrect in asserting that adding more members to a relationship increases its complexity expodentially? That while there may be positives in some respects it will also generate negatives? If so please say so directly and explain yourself.

Boonton,

You're a laugh!

For you to explicitly state that I'm the one making the relativistic claim that homosexuality is morally and objectively wrong whereas yours corresponds to truth is hilarious.

Would you kindly provide your splendid proof on why my claim that homosexuality is actually morally and objectively wrong is relativistic whereas yours is not?

And I'll of course leave out the bothersome words of Scripture out of this argument; most especially those tedious epistles by one particular chap.

Ari,
Boonton is posting here because the traffic at his aptly titled blog, "the ever wise boonton" is kind of like his form of argumentation - light.

Kevin,

It doesn't take religion to justify that things as homosexuality is objectively and morally wrong.

I think that's where Christians go wrong.

God didn't say that things as this is wrong just because He says so; God says such things are wrong because they are, in fact, wrong.

There is a moral reality out there that even certain secular folks as the cognitivists acknowledge; that morality corresponds to certain moral truths.

However, I'll not go into all that less I'm accused of engaging in yet another tangent and Beckwith gets my goat for doing so. (*wink*)

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