Dispatches from the Creation Wars

And I feel fine. But it seems as though yesterday’s official start of legal gay marriage in Massachusetts has provoked much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the religious right. This is to be expected, of course, but I can’t be the only one who is actually enjoying watching all of this feverish hand wringing. I just can’t help but be amused by blog entries like this one from a blog entitled, ironically, Sunny Days in Heaven. It appears as though the cloud of gay marriage is ruining this poor fellow’s day. He begins,

When words like marriage become debased (and thus meaningless as we see today in Massachusetts, people generally coin a new word or phrase.

Ah, yes. Obviously, the word marriage is now “meaningless” because homosexuals can get married. It’s no longer that ultra-special rite of passage it once was when a mere 95% or so of the population could get married. It’s no longer the sacred ritual it once was when any drunk could get hitched by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas at 4 am. I’m sure Mr. Butterworth, if he’s married, will immediately renounce his marriage. After all, he has declared the word meaningless and why would someone spend the rest of their life in something meaningless? But he’s just getting warmed up:

I expect that in the future starting with the evangelical Christian denominations, we will be hearing new terms to describe the marriages that they perform. Perhaps something along the lines of Christian Union, or One Flesh Theogamy (who knows?).

Since I’m in a helpful mood this evening, might I suggest “bigotamy”? No, no, you can thank me later.

The Christians will simply have to do what they did 2000 years ago in distinguishing the characteristics of their marriages as opposed to those of the pagans. They will not be able to ask for State sanctions, protections, or privileges, but some of the luster of marriage as a public vow, procreative function, and communal matter might be restored.

Poor Mark. Not only has his marriage, or those of his friends and loved ones, now become meaningless, but it lacks “luster” now that gays can do it too. You see, marriage had meaning and luster last week, when Liz Taylor could collect husbands like they were new shoes, when Britney Spears could get married on a lark in the middle of a drunken stupor and then say “My Bad” and have it annulled the next day. Back in the good old days, before THOSE people could get married, there was luster. Now we need some marital turtle wax to get that sheen back.

My favorite part of that last quote is his assumption that “the Christians” all must do something in response to this, as though he speaks for all Christians. Guess what, Mark? Some Christians don’t really care about this. Some Christians still think their marriage has plenty of meaning and luster even now that people you don’t approve of get to do it. Hell, they’ll probably just go on living their life, loving their spouse and upholding their vows as if gays getting married didn’t have anything to do with them. You know why? Because it doesn’t have anything to do with them. Go figure.

Oh, but he’s just getting started. He’s got PROOF that marriage is meaningless, you see:

If any should doubt that marriage is now meaningless read about the first “couple” in Mass. to tie the knot (Via The Corner NRO):
Yarbrough, a part-time bartender who plans to wear leather pants, tuxedo shirt, and leather vest during the half-hour ceremony, has gotten hitched to Rogahn, a retired school superintendent, first in a civil commitment in Minnesota, then in Canada, and now in Massachusetts, the first U.S. state to recognize gay marriage.

But he says the concept of forever is“overrated” and that he, as a bisexual, and Rogahn, who is gay, have chosen to enjoy an open marriage. “I think it’s possible to love more than one person and have more than one partner, not in the polygamist sense,” he said.“In our case, it is, we have, an open marriage.”

Yes, his proof that marriage is now meaningless is the fact that one of the gay couples getting married is choosing to have an open marriage. But millions of straight couples have open marriages (and millions more have secretly open ones as one or both partner cheats) and marriage has somehow managed to have meaning despite this. But this one bartender, he’s the one. Millions of straight couples can have open marriages and marriage has meaning for those who are monogamous, but THIS guy has an open marriage and, well, all hell is breaking loose. Literally, I imagine. You see, President Bush was right when he called marriage “our most enduring institution”. It has endured centuries of polygamy, arranged marriages, forced marriages, and even Zsa Zsa Gabor. But gay bartenders? That’s the last straw.

Comments

  1. #1 flatlander100
    May 18, 2004

    Wonderful! Have posted the link to it around. That last paragraph is a hoot and a half.

  2. #2 Lynnie
    May 18, 2004

    I agree flatlander this has to be one of Ed’s best creations LOL
    I just can’t wait for our meaningless wedding LOL

  3. #3 Rob Ryan
    May 19, 2004

    Thank you for posting your witty take on this gay marriage brouhaha. I have spent the last 24 hours weeping bitter tears over the farce that marriage has become now that THEY can do it. :-( Your post enabled me to gain perspective (I think it was the Britney part). Now my wife and I can soldier on with the knowledge that our marriage is special because WE make it special.;-)

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    May 19, 2004

    Thanks flatlander and the biased one.:)

    Rob hits the perfect note of sarcasm in his comment. I love it.

  5. #5 Maedhros
    May 19, 2004

    The dude missed the point: marriage isn’t meaningless, but ‘gay marriage’ isn’t marriage. Thats what he should have said.

    As it is, one can only laugh at his logic, which has rendered logic meaningless by its creation. I mean, how can I make a arguement knowing that somewhere out there, this guy is making no sense whatsoever? Hmm. That being said, I now renounce my rational nature and am going into the woods to drink. Although, that does seem like a logical conclusion to my arguement. Maybe I ought to stay here. Shit, this is confusing me.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    May 19, 2004

    The dude missed the point: marriage isn’t meaningless, but ‘gay marriage’ isn’t marriage. Thats what he should have said.

    And why is that? Because you say so? Let’s see, you’ve got the ceremony, you’ve got the commitment, you’ve got exactly the same legal and financial requirements and priveleges, how exactly is it not marriage? I mean, other than that you don’t want it to be so you prefer another term?

  7. #7 Maedhros
    May 19, 2004

    Marriage isn’t defined by the ‘ceremony’, much less the ‘legal and financial requirements’… Even the commitment does not define marriage. If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless. Why get married then? For legal benefits? Just because you love someone? All these are nice, but they aren’t the primary reason for marriage.

    Marriage is ordered to the procreation of children and thier care, and the mutual well-being of the spouses is a secondary end. Gay marriage completely ignores this fundamental end of marriage.

  8. #8 Jon Rowe, Esq.
    May 19, 2004

    “Gay marriage completely ignores this fundamental end of marriage.”

    You know the response: There are heterosexual marriages that ignore this fundamental end of marriage every bit as much as gay marriages, but they are allowed & uncontroversial. There are straight couples who have no desire or no ability to procreate — John Kerry & Terresa Heinz for instance. My aunt, who is over 60, is on her way to her 5th marriage. She & her soon to be husband have as much chance of conceiving a child as a gay couple.

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    May 20, 2004

    If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless. Why get married then? For legal benefits? Just because you love someone? All these are nice, but they aren’t the primary reason for marriage.

    Isn’t the primary reason for marriage decided by the couple getting married? Throughout the centuries, couples have gotten married for lots of reasons – because their parents said so, because they were trying to increase the numbers of a minority group (mostly in polygamous groups), because they wanted to preserve royal blood lines, because they needed a spouse to emigrate, because it made a kingdom more broad and powerful, because it gave them insurance benefits, and yes, sometimes because they wanted only to bear children. When I get married, it will be solely for love and that has nothing to do with whether we decide to have children or not. And guess what? We have that choice. So does every other person. They are free to define the purposes of their marriage, whether it includes children or does not include children, and a lot of other things about their marriage too. You know how much say you have in it? Zilch. Zero. Nada. You can talk all you want in the abstract about what YOU think that purpose ought to be, but reality does not spontaneously reorder itself to suit you.

    I have a sister who is infertile due to a lifetime of medications to combat rheumatoid arthritis. Others become infertile through physical trauma, car accidents, and any number of medical problems. Others simply choose not to have children. Who the hell are you to say that “If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless”?

    By your reasoning, the marriages of couples who are either infertile or choose not to have children are “meaningless”, yet I’m sure they find a good deal of meaning in their marriages. Again, your projections of where and how meaning should be found has precisely nothing to do with where it can be found. I doubt you would dream of enforcing your conception of the purpose of marriage on straight couples who are too old to conceive children. You wouldn’t pass a law saying they can’t get married because their marriage would be meaningless. You wouldn’t pass a law saying that every married couple MUST have children and forcibly inseminate them if they refuse. Yet you think that your conceptions of marriage’s purpose should be enforced against gay couples. So in the end, it comes down to the same argument. It’s not about the purpose of marriage, it’s about you wanting to deny something to homosexuals that you wouldn’t deny to heterosexuals.

  10. #10 DS
    May 20, 2004

    I have to agree with Ed here. My wife may have narrowly escaped eventual uterian/ovarian cancer when she and I were initially dating. She was rendered infertile by that ordeal.

    She is the most good natured, intelligent, woman that I’ve ever managed to somehow convince or sway into caring about me. Our life is awfully damn good.

    Procreation is the end result of breeding, not marriage.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    May 20, 2004

    No, no, no, DS. You just don’t get it. Repeat after Maedhros:

    “If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless”

    “If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless”

    “If procreation is not the end and purpose of marriage, then marriage is meaningless”

    What on earth makes you think you know whether your marriage has meaning more than him?

    P.S. Praise the Lord and pass the obfuscation

  12. #12 Maedhros
    May 21, 2004

    Hey, I check in to find Ed’s doing my work for me! :P

    First, in response to John Rowe: “There are heterosexual marriages that ignore this fundamental end of marriage every bit as much as gay marriages, but they are allowed & uncontroversial.”

    Yes, that’s the stock response. However, heterosexual marriages that ignore this are just as much in the wrong as homosexual marriages. Its just with heterosexual marriages there’s at least the possibility of this end being carried out. Something with the explicit unability to carry out the fundamental function of marriage cannot be marriage.

    Ed:
    I shouldn’t have said meaningless, that was a mistake. However, the arguement remains, if I can explain it clearly enough.

    First of all, I don’t care whether or not the world is going to reorder itself to me: I’m not trying to change the world, but simply discussing the objective reality of the world.

    It doesn’t matter for what reasons you or I or anyone else enters into marriage: we’re talking about the fundamental nature of marriage itself. If its just about love, you don’t have to get married. If its just about sex, you don’t have to get married. Why would you need to be married? To raise children. The essential end of marriage is to procreate: its only for this reason that marriage is necessary.

    Homosexuals are ‘automatically’, if you will, debarred from this kind of union simply by the fact that they cannot have a fruitful union. This doesn’t mean that straight couples can just do whatever the hell they want, however. I’m not ‘discriminating’ against homosexuals, but simply pointing out something about marriage that makes it rather silly to discuss ‘gay marriage’.

  13. #13 Rob Ryan
    May 21, 2004

    Um…you don’t need marriage to raise children, either. So marriage isn’t necessary for ANY reason. People do it because they want to, they think it’s the right thing to do, etc. Gay people want to marry for all the same reasons as straight people. Many want to raise children. Of course they can’t produce them together, but this is true of many straight couples as well. I don’t see what is so silly about discussing gay marriage.

  14. #14 Dz
    May 22, 2004

    “Um…you don’t need marriage to raise children, either.”

    Hmm.

    Nature, Society, and Religion have dictated, for thousands of years, that the proper way for the human race to raise children

    is to take a male and a female, establish a bond of love and commitment between them, ratify that bond with sex, the physical

    manifestation of their love contract, which actually produces the children, and then to actually raise the children within the

    context of the same love in which they were conceived.

    This is the path to happiness. This path necessarily involves suffering, and the surrendering of one’s own desires and will

    for the common good of the marriage. Given the selfish nature of just about every man and woman [myself included] it is no wonder that history has shown many, many deviations from this simple path, and consequently, many, many miserable people. But that only goes to show the way more clearly.

    Marriage is this contract, this bond of love, between man and woman. The formal ceremony is the celebration of the decision

    that the man and woman have made to give their lives to each other, and to their potential children.

    Those who seek to tear down marriage as an institution will have to work much harder than they already have. Or they may keep themselves occupied with feelings-based ad hominem attacks. They revert to these, it seems, because logic and rational thought easily trump their vain arguments.

    Marriage is the contract between the male and female as seen through society’s eyes. It is the bond that establishes a firm, stable ground for people to raise up firm, stable children, and it is what helps create a firm, stable society.

    In the Christian ceremony, the Sacrament of Marriage is performed between the two people, and the Church is a witness to this bond, before man and before God. Society further accepts the bond and contract as its fundamental building block. Marriage, and the family created by it, is the basis of all civilized cuture. Now society seems to be attacking marriage and the family wholeheartedly: we must defend marriage from those who seek to destory it. By defending marriage, we defend society and civilization, and all that is good and all that causes happiness in this human life.

  15. #15 Dz
    May 22, 2004

    ADDENDUM:

    Those who seek to tear down marriage as an institution will have to work much, much harder than they already have if they wish to succeed. Because they simply don’t have a leg to stand on. They do not have a cohenrent definition of marriage. They bankrupt it completely.

    In order to defend marriage as a procreative union, you have to criticize unions that work explicitly to prevent procreation. Infertile couples, older couples, etc do not try to remove the procreative aspect of their union. It simply vanishes as a course of natural events, and there is nothing wrong
    with this. They are not making themselves out to be gods. It is the couples that explicitly remove procreation from their union that err. Those who use contraception, those who surgically tamper with their reproductive faculties, those who join themselves in a union that cannot be fruitful by definition; all these are the ones who err in this fashion.

    The basic principle that causes the errors we see is a certain mentality, and that is what we must work to change. In our selfish day and age [and has man had any other kind?], we belive that we are the ones who decide when life begins and when it ends. Not in the abstract sense, but in the real, down to earth sense of creating babies and killing elderlies. We must relinquish what we have grasped with our own selfish paws.

    We are not to take matters of life and death into our own hands. If those matters are thrust into our hands, and we are forced to act, as in wartime, we must always bear in mind that we are not acting on our own authority, but as stewards, placed in charge by the Creator Himself.

  16. #16 Ed Brayton
    May 24, 2004

    Maedhros said:

    Hey, I check in to find Ed’s doing my work for me! :P

    Unless your job is showing how silly and inconsistent your own arguments are, I highly doubt that.

    First, in response to John Rowe:

    “There are heterosexual marriages that ignore this fundamental end of marriage every bit as much as gay marriages, but they are allowed & uncontroversial.”

    Yes, that’s the stock response. However, heterosexual marriages that ignore this are just as much in the wrong as homosexual marriages. Its just with heterosexual marriages there’s at least the possibility of this end being carried out. Something with the explicit unability to carry out the fundamental function of marriage cannot be marriage.

    Again, you ignore those who are infertile. DS said above that his wife was made infertile as a result of ovarian cancer. So by your “reasoning” (and the term is used very loosely here), since they have an “explicit unability (sic) to carry out the fundamental function of marriage” (as you define it, of course), their relationship “cannot be marriage”. But guess what? It IS a marriage. It’s a marriage whether you like it or not, whether you approve of it or not, and whether it fits your ridiculous judgements on what is or is not a marriage.

    I shouldn’t have said meaningless, that was a mistake. However, the arguement remains, if I can explain it clearly enough.

    Wow, this is a spectacular bit of cognitive dissonance. You’ve gone from the claim that marriages that do not result in children are “meaningless” to claiming that they simply “cannot be marriage”. If you shouldn’t have said they were meaningless, how does it make your position any less absurd that you now say that they just can’t exist? Especially when they DO exist, and as Jon points out, they are entirely uncontroversial and entirely legal everywhere? So to infertile couples, you’ve gone from saying “your marriage is meaningless” to saying “your marriage cannot be marriage”. And you regard this as an improvement in the reasonableness of your position? This is mental gymnastics on an Olympic level.

    It doesn’t matter for what reasons you or I or anyone else enters into marriage: we’re talking about the fundamental nature of marriage itself. If its just about love, you don’t have to get married. If its just about sex, you don’t have to get married. Why would you need to be married? To raise children. The essential end of marriage is to procreate: its only for this reason that marriage is necessary.

    Wow. Okay, let’s see if I have this straight. You don’t have to be married to have sex, so sex is not the “essential end” of marriage. Obviously true, since people have sex outside of marriage all the time. You don’t have to be married to be in love, so love is not the “essential end” of marriage. Obviously true, since people have loving relationships without being married all the time. Yet you then claim that marriage is necessary to have children. But people have children without being married all the time too. So here we have a case of logicus interruptus – you simply will not apply the same logic to childrearing that you do to sex and love. And that’s because the conclusion you want to reach is not supported by that logical conclusion. So logic goes out the window. The irony is that that was entirely the point I was making in the first place, that the arguments against gay marriage are fundamentally illogical and therefore the rationalizations become more and more ridiculous as you point out the illogic of their claims. And boy have you proven me right!

    Homosexuals are ‘automatically’, if you will, debarred from this kind of union simply by the fact that they cannot have a fruitful union.

    So are infertile couples. But of course, there are lots of other “fruits” that come from a marriage for those involved (and those involved are really the only ones that matter). Are you really going to tell DS that since he and his wife are “debarred from this kind of union”, that their marriage “cannot be marriage”? Of course you won’t. But you already did. You just know that that is a stupid statement, so you’ll back away from it before applying it to anyone but homosexuals.

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    May 24, 2004

    DZ wrote:

    Nature, Society, and Religion have dictated, for thousands of years, that the proper way for the human race to raise children is to take a male and a female, establish a bond of love and commitment between them, ratify that bond with sex, the physical manifestation of their love contract, which actually produces the children, and then to actually raise the children within the context of the same love in which they were conceived.

    Wow. Where do you even begin to counter the sheer volume of nonsense involved with that one sentence? I suppose you start at the beginning, with nature. It’s simply false to claim that nature dictates a “proper” way to raise children. Nature includes a vast range of ways in which members of a species mate and raise children, from the alpha male impregnating as many females as he can and the females raising them by themselves to the exact opposite, and virtually every possibility in between. Indeed, other people draw the opposite lesson from nature, that men were “designed” by nature to try and procreate with as many females as possible in order to insure the survival of their lineage. This is in fact an argument made for polygamy, that if you look at numerous species in nature you will find that the men mate with multiple females. And they’re right. But where both they and you are wrong is in drawing one simple example from “nature” and making it prescriptive rather than descriptive.

    Do “society” and “religion” support your position? Nope. Human societies, like “nature” observed in other species, provide a wide range of models for mating. In many societies and religions, the model for thousands of years was polygamy, including the bible. Monogamous marriage for love is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon on the scale of human history. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I fully support monogamy. But to claim that it has been the norm for thousands of years is simply false. And frankly, I just don’t care what religions say on the matter. The answers on marriage coming from various religions are hopelessly confused. Some are polygamous, some are not. Some allow divorce, some don’t. In fact, some do both, as the Catholic Church is against divorce, but allows anullments (especially for big contributors). Some allow men to marry women as young as 12, while others call that pedophilia. The point is that if anyone thinks that there is a single model of marriage, dictated by nature and society and religion, that has existed for thousands of years and that we are just now making a change that will bring down this “traditional” model is simply full of shit. Not a single premise in that string of statements is true.

    Those who seek to tear down marriage as an institution will have to work much, much harder than they already have if they wish to succeed. Because they simply don’t have a leg to stand on. They do not have a cohenrent definition of marriage. They bankrupt it completely.

    Who is trying to tear down marriage? I support marriage completely. I support it so much that I want gay couples to be able to partake in the joys and the burdens of marriage just like straight couples can. Being for gay marriage is being for marriage.

    In order to defend marriage as a procreative union, you have to criticize unions that work explicitly to prevent procreation. Infertile couples, older couples, etc do not try to remove the procreative aspect of their union. It simply vanishes as a course of natural events, and there is nothing wrong with this.

    Gay couples don’t try to remove the procreative aspect of their union either – the plumbing just doesn’t work toward pregnancy. This is due to entirely “natural events” and there is nothing wrong with this.

    It is the couples that explicitly remove procreation from their union that err. Those who use contraception, those who surgically tamper with their reproductive faculties, those who join themselves in a union that cannot be fruitful by definition; all these are the ones who err in this fashion.

    Wow. I’m just going to leave that statement there all by itself as a testimony to stupidity.

    The basic principle that causes the errors we see is a certain mentality, and that is what we must work to change. In our selfish day and age [and has man had any other kind?], we belive that we are the ones who decide when life begins and when it ends.

    Double wow. No, the basic principle is that each individual gets to decide for themselves whether to have a child or not. It is their life, is it not? Would you ban birth control and force everyone to have children even if they do not want to do so? Can you imagine being raised the child of parents who did not want you but were forced to have you because birth control was illegal? Welcome to Orwell’s world.

    Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick, do you type that nonsense with a straight face?

  18. #18 PZ Myers
    May 24, 2004

    Whoa. I thought it was horrible enough that a gay bartender had single-handedly destroyed my marriage (and I don’t even know the guy!), but now I learn that the fact that we have used birth control for almost 30 years means our whole relationship has been a sham. The fact that we haven’t had 10 or 20 kids is what has really destroyed marriage.

    Forget the gay bartender. It’s all my fault.

  19. #19 Dz
    May 27, 2004

    Sorry about the length, but I wanted to be clear what I was referring to.

    DZ wrote:
    Nature, Society, and Religion have dictated, for thousands of years, that the proper way for the human race to raise children is to take a male and a female, establish a bond of love and commitment between them, ratify that bond with sex, the physical manifestation of their love contract, which actually produces the children, and then to actually raise the children within the context of the same love in which they were conceived.

    Quoting Ed:
    Wow. Where do you even begin to counter the sheer volume of nonsense involved with that one sentence? I suppose you start at the beginning, with nature. It’s simply false to claim that nature dictates a “proper” way to raise children. Nature includes a vast range of ways in which members of a species mate and raise children, from the alpha male impregnating as many females as he can and the females raising them by themselves to the exact opposite, and virtually every possibility in between. Indeed, other people draw the opposite lesson from nature, that men were “designed” by nature to try and procreate with as many females as possible in order to insure the survival of their lineage. This is in fact an argument made for polygamy, that if you look at numerous species in nature you will find that the men mate with multiple females. And they’re right. But where both they and you are wrong is in drawing one simple example from “nature” and making it prescriptive rather than descriptive.

    Ed, we are not talking about “numerous species in nature.” We are talking about humans, and human nature, not some vague, separated, abstract nature. Random examples from the animal kingdom are irrelevant to this discussion.

    (And, incidentally, your angle here is terminal to your position, for where in the animal kingdom do natural homosexual relations exist? Homosexual relations are accidental to the species, and a deviation from the norm. Can you honestly believe that species tend towards their own destruction by nature?)

    Ed wrote:
    Do “society” and “religion” support your position? Nope. Human societies, like “nature” observed in other species, provide a wide range of models for mating. In many societies and religions, the model for thousands of years was polygamy, including the bible. Monogamous marriage for love is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon on the scale of human history. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I fully support monogamy. But to claim that it has been the norm for thousands of years is simply false. And frankly, I just don’t care what religions say on the matter. The answers on marriage coming from various religions are hopelessly confused. Some are polygamous, some are not. Some allow divorce, some don’t. In fact, some do both, as the Catholic Church is against divorce, but allows anullments (especially for big contributors). Some allow men to marry women as young as 12, while others call that pedophilia. The point is that if anyone thinks that there is a single model of marriage, dictated by nature and society and religion, that has existed for thousands of years and that we are just now making a change that will bring down this “traditional” model is simply full of shit. Not a single premise in that string of statements is true.

    Put all the world’s religions together. Check the average. Society and religion do provide a model. That model is monogamy.

    “Other species,” and “marriage for love” are not relevant. I am not talking about what SOME societies do. I am talking about what society and religion IN GENERAL tell us. And they certainly do establish certain patterns. And one of those patterns is monogamous, heterosexual unions as the fundamental building blocks of culture and society.

    The last two thousand years of Western Christian culture have been almost entirely monogamous. Yes, thousands of years. The Bible says explicitly that polygamy is not allowed anymore. (And that was thousands of years ago).

    I don’t see how you have any substance behind your claim that “Not a single premise … is true.” I don’t believe that you have shown a single one of them to be false.

    DZ wrote:
    Those who seek to tear down marriage as an institution will have to work much, much harder than they already have if they wish to succeed. Because they simply don’t have a leg to stand on. They do not have a cohenrent definition of marriage. They bankrupt it completely.

    Ed wrote:
    Who is trying to tear down marriage? I support marriage completely. I support it so much that I want gay couples to be able to partake in the joys and the burdens of marriage just like straight couples can. Being for gay marriage is being for marriage.

    Ed, what is your definition of marriage? Can you define it?

    DZ wrote:
    In order to defend marriage as a procreative union, you have to criticize unions that work explicitly to prevent procreation. Infertile couples, older couples, etc do not try to remove the procreative aspect of their union. It simply vanishes as a course of natural events, and there is nothing wrong with this.

    Ed wrote:
    Gay couples don’t try to remove the procreative aspect of their union either – the plumbing just doesn’t work toward pregnancy. This is due to entirely “natural events” and there is nothing wrong with this.

    No pro-creative aspect can possibly exist in homosexual relations! This is the same rationale for opposing bestiality, and other sexual deviations. In these sorts of relations, sexuality is entirely separated from its natural, procreative role. That is where the abnormality and the error lie.

    DZ wrote:
    It is the couples that explicitly remove procreation from their union that err. Those who use contraception, those who surgically tamper with their reproductive faculties, those who join themselves in a union that cannot be fruitful by definition; all these are the ones who err in this fashion.

    Ed wrote:
    Wow. I’m just going to leave that statement there all by itself as a testimony to stupidity.

    Likewise.

    DZ wrote:
    The basic principle that causes the errors we see is a certain mentality, and that is what we must work to change. In our selfish day and age [and has man had any other kind?], we belive that we are the ones who decide when life begins and when it ends.

    Ed wrote:
    Double wow. No, the basic principle is that each individual gets to decide for themselves whether to have a child or not. It is their life, is it not? Would you ban birth control and force everyone to have children even if they do not want to do so? Can you imagine being raised the child of parents who did not want you but were forced to have you because birth control was illegal? Welcome to Orwell’s world.

    No, Ed, the life of the child does not belong to the parents. It is a separate, unique life, and it belongs to the child. The idea here is that we do not have the authority to be the arbitrators of life and death on such a level. Your own body is only your own up until a point.

    Banning birth control does not “force everyone to have children.” It simply removes the lie that people are telling in order to separate children from sex. People want to deny this natural, casual connection, for the same reason they have been trying to do it for years — because of their own selfish desires.

    When people have sex, children may result. It is as simple as that. If you are not open to the possibility of children, don’t have sex. And for goodness’s sake, don’t try to seperate the two. All hell breaks loose when you do.

    It’s really not that arcane or difficult of a position to see. Nature agrees wholeheartedly with this, society and religion have shown us the way for thousands of years; happiness and fulfillment flow from this path. Try it out and see.

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    May 27, 2004

    DZ writes:

    Ed, we are not talking about “numerous species in nature.” We are talking about humans, and human nature, not some vague, separated, abstract nature. Random examples from the animal kingdom are irrelevant to this discussion.

    And you ignored entirely my discussion of the history of the human species as it regards marriage. There simply is nothing in history to suggest that “human nature” requires specifically monogamous, heterosexual marriages. Marriage is not a natural institution (as opposed to mating, which obviously is), it is a legal and cultural one. The concept of a single, lifelong, monogamous marriage is a relatively new invention on the scale of human history. That doesn’t make it either right or wrong (and I personally favor it entirely), it just makes your simplistic argument that it is compelled by “nature” to be unsupported. Different human cultures have a wide range of definitions and conceptions of marriage, and individuals within those cultures even more so.

    (And, incidentally, your angle here is terminal to your position, for where in the animal kingdom do natural homosexual relations exist? Homosexual relations are accidental to the species, and a deviation from the norm. Can you honestly believe that species tend towards their own destruction by nature?)

    LOL. Well, we have observed homosexual relations as a minority preference among virtually every species that has been observed. The fact that it is a minority preference, and hence a “deviation from the norm” is as irrelevant as the fact that albinos are a “deviation from the norm”. The mere fact that it exists in every species proves that it doesn’t “destroy the species”. It exists as a minority in every species; it exists as a minority in our species. So does red hair. So do many other traits. That has absolutely no relevance to the issue at hand.

    Put all the world’s religions together. Check the average. Society and religion do provide a model. That model is monogamy.

    Wow, you determine “human nature” by a mathematical average? Okay, let’s take just the three major monotheistic religions. Islam, with a billion adherents, is explicitly polygamous (but only for men, of course) to this day. Judaism and Christianity were explicitly polygamous until something changed that (and I don’t know what it was). Virtually all of the biblical patriarchs were polygamous, the bible includes specific rules for polygamous marriages, so it obviously was considered normal. So that’s 3 for 3 for which monogamy is, at best, a late change in the conception of marriage. So much for that argument.

    I am not talking about what SOME societies do. I am talking about what society and religion IN GENERAL tell us. And they certainly do establish certain patterns. And one of those patterns is monogamous, heterosexual unions as the fundamental building blocks of culture and society.

    So you rule out Islam, with about 1/6 of the entire world’s inhabitants, from your survey of societies? You rule out all of biblical history from your survey of what society tells us. You only rule in the conclusion you want to reach and then – surprise! – you reach that conclusion and invoke the support of “society”. This is hardly an honest appraisal of the situation. By the way, how many people in those societies that do demand monogamous marriages for life actually HAVE monogamous marriages for life? In our society, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and it’s even higher in other western nations which, allegedly, support monogamy for life. And of the 50% that don’t, a sizable percentage are adulterous. So your entire argument for monogamy for life being part of “human nature” comes down to some societies (only the ones you choose to include, of course) demand, on paper at least, monogamy for life, while most of the people IN those societies don’t actually live it. That’s pretty weak.

    The last two thousand years of Western Christian culture have been almost entirely monogamous. Yes, thousands of years. The Bible says explicitly that polygamy is not allowed anymore. (And that was thousands of years ago).

    And the 2 thousand years before that, it was entirely polygamous. And you are wrong to say that the bible explicitly outlawed polygamy; there is no verse that does so that I am aware of. It simply faded away. But in the Levitical law, allegedly handed down directly from God, polygamy is considered normal. That’s one reason why the Muslims, who consider the Mosaic books, remain polygamous today. At very best you have the last 2000 years, out of at least 120,000 years of the history of Homo sapiens (probably a bit longer) when one religious tradition inexplicably changed its mind, without changing its sacred texts, and decided to go with monogamy, and in which the majority of its adherents don’t actually live that way even though they pretend to think it’s a good idea. Again, a pretty weak argument for proving that this is part of “human nature”. If human nature is defined by what the majority do (and that was the argument you used against homosexuality above, that it was a “deviation from the norm”), then the numbers suggest that monogamy is not a part of human nature. A fairly small percentage of people, even in ostensibly monogamous cultures like ours, actually have a single mate for life that they are faithful to. By your reasoning, then, this is a “deviation from the norm”.

    Ed, what is your definition of marriage? Can you define it?

    Sure. Marriage is the conferring of legal status on an ostensibly long term relationship. That has little to do with monogamy, by the way. Some relationships are monogamous and lifelong without being a marriage, and most marriages are not monogamous despite the promise to be.

    No pro-creative aspect can possibly exist in homosexual relations! This is the same rationale for opposing bestiality, and other sexual deviations. In these sorts of relations, sexuality is entirely separated from its natural, procreative role. That is where the abnormality and the error lie.

    The same is true of infertile couples, as has been pointed out to you a thousand times. You keep ignoring that. So the same rationale can be used to ban marriage for infertile couples. But of course you won’t follow your logic to that conclusion because it would show how ridiculous it is. So you just pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I said:

    Double wow. No, the basic principle is that each individual gets to decide for themselves whether to have a child or not. It is their life, is it not? Would you ban birth control and force everyone to have children even if they do not want to do so? Can you imagine being raised the child of parents who did not want you but were forced to have you because birth control was illegal? Welcome to Orwell’s world.

    And DZ said:

    No, Ed, the life of the child does not belong to the parents. It is a separate, unique life, and it belongs to the child. The idea here is that we do not have the authority to be the arbitrators of life and death on such a level. Your own body is only your own up until a point.

    LMAO. You have taken missing the point to a whole new level here. The life of the child may not belong to the parents, but the decision on whether to HAVE a child certainly belongs to the parents. But you would rather it belong to you. You would force parents to have children.

    Banning birth control does not “force everyone to have children.” It simply removes the lie that people are telling in order to separate children from sex. People want to deny this natural, casual connection, for the same reason they have been trying to do it for years — because of their own selfish desires.

    LOL. Okay, at least you’re now explicitly for banning birth control. Now let’s see where this logic leads. You claim that raising children requires marriage, but you’re now in favor of banning birth control. So now every married couple has to have children, even if they don’t want to have them. Which means they’re also forced to raise them, so now you’ll have lots of children being raised by people who don’t want to be parents – I bet that’ll work out great for the kids, eh? And of course you’ll have families having more children than they can afford to raise, so you’ll have a lot more poor kids. Or a big expansion in welfare programs. But that’s not even the biggest problem. What about non-married couples? If you don’t want children to be raised outside of a marriage, you sure as hell don’t want to ban birth control, which would result in a lot more children being born to those who aren’t married! Oh, but maybe you have a plan to stop that too. How do you go about banning premarital sex without putting cameras in every bedroom and having a police state? Good luck coming up with a good explanation for that one.

    When people have sex, children may result. It is as simple as that. If you are not open to the possibility of children, don’t have sex. And for goodness’s sake, don’t try to seperate the two. All hell breaks loose when you do.

    But people DO have sex, and you can’t stop them without going beyond what even the Nazis or the communists did in policing people. The only thing that banning birth control will do is cause MORE children to be born out of wedlock. Or push up the number of abortions enormously. Surely you prefer birth control to abortions? The only alternative to this is to ban premarital sex, but how would you enforce it? If a woman gets pregnant and isn’t married, do you throw her in jail? What about the man? Or do you just institute surveillance in every bedroom? Or maybe we institute the Islamic law and stone women to death if they’re not a virgin when they’re married? That sounds like a great idea, eh? Just how immoral and barbaric are you willing to make the government in order to enforce your allegedly moral code?

    It’s really not that arcane or difficult of a position to see. Nature agrees wholeheartedly with this, society and religion have shown us the way for thousands of years; happiness and fulfillment flow from this path. Try it out and see.

    LOL. I am mongamous. Strictly so. But that’s my choice. Unlike you, I don’t pretend that I’m in tune with nature, or that I have the backing of God. And I have no desire to enforce my choices on others. I’m not an authoritarian as you obviously are. I believe people are free to make their own choices, especially one as monumental as whether to have a child or who to pledge their love to. There is no choice more personal, more pertinent to whether one has control of their own life than those. And in my worldview, individuals are free to control their own life. You prefer to control other people’s lives, based upon this ridiculous notion that God and/or nature compels you to do so. Osama Bin Laden could not have said it better himself.

  21. #21 Dz
    May 28, 2004

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    Just a quick note to say thanks for this discussion so far… I appreciate
    the way everyone has remained so civil and whatnot even while hotly
    debating such matters… And thanks for hosting it on your blog.

    (but we’re not done yet, I’m working on my response…)

    Again, thanks…
    -Dz
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