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Calling out The Call – [Prop 8] October 28, 2008

Posted by caseyww in Politics.
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First, I want to ask a favor.  Please take a minute and read the page A Note on Comments.  Even if you’ve never commented here at Valence before and don’t plan on ever commenting I’d still appreciate if everyone checked it out.  Go ahead…click it and meet me back here in 94.7 seconds..

Back?  Great.  As I write this post we are about eight days out from what I consider to be a monumental election day.  As such, I can’t resist taking a small break from our philosophically inclined discussion on skepticism, truth and evidence to talk about politics.  But don’t you worry Valencers, we’ll be back to probing the outer limits of faith and science soon.

I toyed with the idea of providing a comprehensive “Valence Voting Guide” for everyone to print out and take to the ballot box but thought better of it.  I may be a headstrong voter but I know this kind of conceit would probably only invite a strong right hook from everyone.  Instead I’d like to confine my discussion to one particular divisive proposition here in California:  Prop 8.

For those of you outside California here is the skinny on Prop 8.  Currently gay marriage is legal in California under the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution upheld by the State Supreme Court.  Titled “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”, Prop 8 will amend the California Constitution to recognize marriage as strictly between a man and woman.  For more history you’ll have to read on at the link.

First, I’ll state that I unequivocally oppose Prop 8.  I hold that marriage is a civil right that should not be withheld from consenting partners in this country.  This is not a matter of whether homosexuality is in itself moral but instead a question of whether we should be denying equal treatment under the law based on sexual preference.   We should not.

Now, I know the following question is inevitable: “But do you think homosexuality is immoral and what about the biblical judgment on the subject?”

I’m not planning on spending much time on this but in anticipation of the question I do want to preemptively answer.  I do not consider homosexuality to be immoral and I think the biblical treatment of the subject is inconsistent at best and at worst is heavily biased by a homophobic cultural context that we should be striving to move beyond.

That being said, with this post I’m not particularly interested in addressing the morality of homosexuality itself (even though I anticipate this will be a hot topic in the comments section).  Instead I would like to question the morality of the current religious outcry in support of Prop 8 and ergo against the homosexual community itself.  Below is a promo video for “The Call” which is holding a rally here in San Diego on Nov. 1st.

Let me ask:

Is it moral to frame such a complex issue like gay marriage as the ultimate title bout between the very forces of Light vs. Darkness?  No.  Do I really need to remind us that these are people’s lives we are talking about?  Committed and loving lives which are strikingly similar in character to yours saving they are gay.  They are not the forces of darkness, they are not evil, they are not responsible for society’s decline and they are certainly not our enemies.  To paint this issue as one of light and darkness is insultingly simpleminded.  If we want to talk about darkness then let’s talk about slavery, torture, bigotry or poverty.  How is it that none of these genuine moral causes is significant enough to mobilize Christians “this November” to fill an entire stadium in protest?

Is it honest to assert that the sanctity of marriage is threatened by allowing homosexuals to participate?  No.  First, if the very fabric of our marriages stays intact only by excluding gay relationships then this is more an indictment of the security upon which our marriages are built than it is an accurate measure of a threat.  Second, the sanctity of my marriage is built on the love my wife and I have for each other and the commitment we have personally made, neither of which could ever be diminished by someone else’s relationship, gay or straight.  To assert otherwise is to claim that the very existence of gay marriage itself literally has the power to steal away our ability to be fulfilled in marriage.  It is misleading and dishonest to charge homosexuals with such a serious and yet unsubstantiated crime.

Is it right to characterize gay relationships as a flood from which God must protect us in his infinite mercy so much so that the very soul of our nation hangs in the balance?  No.  In fact this claim is startling in its hypocrisy.  The soul of our nation is one that thrives on equitable rights and religious freedom.  We have a secular state that is beautiful exactly because it seeks to provide rights to the least among us regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.  The Call pretty clearly states that Prop 8 is a religious law at its heart which is meant to levy back the dangerous floodwaters of homosexuality.  The real flood I see here is a tide of religious fundamentalism which is trying to overwhelm our nation’s Establishment Clause and return us to a medieval theocratic state.

In conclusion, let me be clear that I’m not arguing that the Christians among us must revise their doctrine on homosexuality (even though I think they should).  I understand that I probably haven’t changed anybody’s mind on whether homosexuality is a sin.  Nevertheless, no matter what your personal verdict is on the morality of homosexuality, the Christian community’s response to gay marriage through The Call is inexcusable.

The response is unapologetically hateful, misleading, alienating, condemning and arrogant.  Where is the emulation of Jesus?  Where is the loving your neighbors, or removing the plank from your own eye, or feasting with those whom the religious elite label as sinners?  Are we this unaffected by the teachings of our own savior?  When asserting that this is an issue of light vs. darkness it is astounding to me with what stunning irony the majority of the Christian community has chosen the darkest of all positions.

For those Christians here at Valence I would like to add a special note.  You may be reading this and thinking, “Well that’s not me. I’m not going be at The Call. Don’t make the mistake of lumping all Christians together.”

Let me say this simply: silence on this issue indicts every one of us as complicit.  The gay community whom you claim to want to reach and love will only hear those speaking the loudest.  From every pulpit, street corner and water cooler available we should be denouncing the kind of homophobic reaction The Call represents.  Most of all we should be voting NO on Prop 8.


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Comments»

1. Michelle Wilson - October 28, 2008

I’m going to comment just to not be conspicuously absent on this one. I believe that God has forbidden homosexual sex just as he has forbidden sex outside of marriage in general. I am not going to tell you how I am voting on prop 8 in this venue. But, I will say this. I strongly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman only. I also strongly agree with Casey’s concerns about the message the prop 8 hype sends to the homosexual community.

2. Nancy O. - October 28, 2008

I know and love gay people who are dear to me. But I am with Michelle and believe that God has forbidden the act of homosexual sex. So I love the people but I oppose the act; just as they love me but oppose my view. None of us are perfect. I sin, they sin, we all sin but we still care about each other and are not hateful toward one another because we believe differently on that and other issues. I am voting Yes on Prop 8 because that is my conviction and I would not impose that personal conviction on anyone else or say that we “should” be voting No on Prop 8 because someone else thinks strongly about it, just as I would not say what Presidential candidate people “should” for.

3. Eric - October 28, 2008

Nancy O., you wrote in comment #2: “I am voting Yes on Prop 8 because that is my conviction and I would not impose that personal conviction on anyone else…” But the problem with Prop 8 is precisely that it gives legal authority to your personal conviction on this matter! Voting yes is equivalent to imposing your personal convictions. If Prop 8 is defeated, nobody’s personal convictions win: we’ll all just have the same rights and be legally allowed to marry one another, and we’ll still be free to disagree with one another about it. You wouldn’t be required to personally “tolerate” homosexual marriage, any more than you are currently required to “tolerate” homosexual sex (which will continue to exist regardless of Prop 8, mind you).

If Prop 8 passes, on the other hand, an entire group of people (some individual members of which you claim to “love”) will not be allowed to legally marry, with no particular benefit to you other than that your personal convictions will be enshrined by the law. That seems incredibly selfish and petty to me, and I agree with Casey in wondering how this view can be reconciled with Jesus.

4. Eric - October 28, 2008

By the way, thanks for sharing the video, Casey. I’m appalled. I can’t wait for the day when a massive gathering like that has the same social stigma as a Klan rally — I see absolutely no difference.

5. bear - October 28, 2008

But Casey, how do you feel?

6. bear - October 28, 2008

wait….the word “forbidden.” Forbidden? Really? This one is tough for me.

7. JRAW - October 28, 2008

Nancy,
What if your personal conviction actually imposes upon thousands of people – the entire gay community. That’s the point exactly. Your convictions can be your own, but your expressing them through a vote for prop 8 immediately makes them into impositions.

8. JRAW - October 28, 2008

Eric, I write my first comment on this blog before yours is posted on our computer, and it looks like I’ve plagiarized your words. I swear they were original at the moment.

9. bear - October 28, 2008

Okay, I cannot believe what I just saw. Is that video for real? Please tell me this is a joke. Is it? I am going to pretend that it is for real because I did see a close friend of mine put this on a board and recommend it. I am appalled, and thank you Casey for a place to say just that. First) the voice of the narrator seems like a parody of importance or significance. Second) the video itself combined with the narration makes the people in the video look, well, silly. It reminds me of a video I might have made in High School about the Yeto chasing us around our campsite. I agree with any call for prayer and fasting, for humbling ourselves, for repenting and starting fresh—even fighting for something, but this video makes a mockery of Jesus in my opinion. Light vs. Darkness? Really? Where is the Sudan video for example? I am so disorientated by this video that I can’t even write coherently. This video is like a Robert Smigel cartoon without the cartoon. I realize that the intentions were to rally people, and if they are going to fill a stadium with people, I can only hope that God will have mercy on everyone there and really give people a heart change. I am praying that the Holy Ghost will give people, if nothing else, divine inspiration of making videos.

Here’s the thing. If I am a gay person, I am not excited about this. But that doesn’t matter. I should at least feel invited. No way does a gay person feel invited to this. The Kingdom of God is about a time and “place” where at long last, all are invited as beloved children. Where all are expected regardless of…well, no sermonizing for me, but you guys get the idea. Where is the invitation for ALL to pray and fast? I keep thinking about Light vs. Darkness, and then I keep thinking about the same sex couples that I know, and I just don’t see it like this. I see lots of stuff, but not the epic struggle that the video suggests, and in my opinion should be reserved for the epic struggles that fire aplenty in plain view. Stuff like this….at least what the video portrays—is not the Kingdom of god, but the Kingdom of man full of judgment.

10. moomooaudrey - October 28, 2008

Well said, Bear. I have nothing to add except that I’m embarrassed on behalf of all Christians and saddened by the video…really embarrassed. Blah.

11. Roy - October 28, 2008

Casey – you got some “marbles”. 🙂 You remind me of Jeremiah the prophet or John the Baptist…saying things and knowing there would be repercussions. Thanks!!!

I have to say I don’t know enough about the Bible’s stance on the sexual act between the same gender. I only know that it’s cited in a couple of places and it’s considered a “sin”. I get really confused when people say things like “it was only immoral during that time” or “we don’t really understand the context or the meaning of that word” or “is it really wrong?”. I also get confused when I hear reputable christian leaders make “as a matter of fact” statements that homosexuality is a sin and it’s immoral. They say it with such strong conviction. And these are leaders that many respect (that I even respect from a teaching standpoint). It’s confusing! 🙂

I used to live in black and white statements where I understood everything through this lense. It’s easy. You just pick the side that you “know” is “the right one” and you’re done. Everything and everyone else is wrong and should be opposed. I’m sure I still have some of that in me but I’m trying to live with the tension of not having all the answers to everything. Some may think this is a cop-out, but I don’t think it is.

The fact is, we don’t have all the answers to many of the questions we have. I encourage others to take these confusions, questions and feelings and bring them into the presence of Jesus. It’s when we engage Jesus with these tough issues that we see how they affect US; not others; US! What do these issues bring up in us and how is God in it? These are tough questions because they put the focus on US, not others. I would venture to say that my stance on prop 8 and what it may make feel is something that I can bring into the Presence of Jesus and talk about it, listen, probe, pray, wrestle with. And after we’ve done that, do we have a deeper awareness of Love and Mystery or are we still fixated on “fixing” others?

I have much respect for your position and heart, Casey. There’s a true sense that you care. 🙂

12. Nancy O. - October 29, 2008

My comment about not imposing my conviction on others was directed to the statement that Casey made, “Most of all we SHOULD vote No on Prop 8”

Of course, anyone who votes one way or the other on anything is imposing their personal conviction; it just rubbed me the wrong way when Casey stated that we should vote the way that he believes.

13. Eric - October 29, 2008

JRAW — no worries at all. I’m more than happy to see what I say and believe repeated, and more importantly I’m glad to see you join in on the conversation.

Nancy O. — I sincerely doubt it would have rubbed you the wrong way if Casey had written that we should all vote yes on Prop 8. Perhaps because I agree with Casey, I didn’t see what Casey wrote as a call to vote how he believes, but rather as a way to get all of us to think about what Prop 8 actually entails despite our differences in belief. That, to me, is a legitimate way to discuss politics amongst friends.

The sad reason why the Yes on 8 campaign has been as effective as it has is because it capitalizes on people’s beliefs rather than on the actual political ramifications Prop 8 will have if it passes. To its credit, the No on 8 campaign has done its best to focus on those political ramifications and to point out the flat-out lies that the Yes on 8 campaign has been telling (for example, saying it will have consequences in our schools — the California Superintendent of Schools appears in the most recent No on 8 commercials to debunk that lie).

14. Nancy O. - October 29, 2008

Eric,

In your sincere doubt you do not know me and you are wrong about how I might have felt if anyone was to say that we all should vote the way one person believes, whether I agree with the person’s view or not.

You know Casey, I don’t. The last statement he made was that we should vote no. I don’t know him well enough to know that he didn’t mean what he wrote as it was written.

15. Nancy O. - October 29, 2008

Casey,

My apology for misinterpreting your statement; I understand now that you were not telling all the readers how they “should” vote, you were simply expressing what you believe.

The way things are written often times are interpreted in different ways, especially when we do not personally know the author.

16. Antony - October 29, 2008

When I’ve stopped shaking in total shock and anger, I might say something about The Call – but for now, let me just echo some of the above comments – I think it’s everything that is wrong with American Christianity. Enough before the rant really begins…

I actually want to ask Michelle a question. But first the qualification, I know this is the second post in a row that I’ve picked out something that Michelle has said and want to push on it. You’re not my target, Michelle, you just happen to articulate points that I have questions about – which I think is a good thing 🙂

So, Michelle, you said: “I strongly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman only.”

This is not an uncommon claim among Christians or among the more traditional cultural groups (a large overlap, I know). And I have never understood what that claim means or what it’s supposed to signal, defend, or do.

I feel that it’s a way of ducking the question because it leaves “marriage” undefined, which is funny because it’s meant to be a definition of marriage. But it ‘defines’ marriage by pulling it out of its context. Is it a political concept? Is it a moral concept? A religious one? A social one? A historical one? All of them? None of them?

So when one says “marriage is between a man and a woman only”, it’s usually backed with scripture. This means it’s a religious claim. Thus, it follows the church would only marry heterosexual couples. Okay, fair enough.

But that’s NOT the question on the table right now – it’s a political question. Should the STATE define marriage as between a man and a woman only?

So this is a question about legislating morality. It’s a question about how closely one thinks their personal moral sense of right/wrong ought to be reflected in the laws of the state.

It seems to me that the governing principle, especially in a plural community, cannot be moral rightness because the substance of what’s “morally right” is not shared by everyone in the community; and politics is about sharing the world with others – living together. In that case, what is “politically right” must use a different measure than one particular sense of morality.

So to return to the political question: Should the state define marriage as between a man and a woman only?

The state would need to show that it was in the public’s best interest to do so. It would need to produce some evidence (there’s that word) that gay marriage is some sort of flood that risks washing away the very fabric of society. Up to this point, I have seen no such evidence.

17. Mark N. - October 29, 2008

I agree with Eric on this. Religious freedom is one of the bedrocks of this country. A church and its members have every right to decide how their particular institution decides to treat and recognize gay marriage, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about here is not religious. What we are talking about is civil. A way of treating people in the eyes of the government, not the eyes of God, or the eyes of His various churches. The Vote No on 8 crowd has focused on that as Eric mentioned. The Vote Yes crowd has done everything to distort the truth on this making it seem as though the government would impose its will on schools and churches. It has not done some now, nor would it do so. The Vote Yes crowd seems to want to imply that if the Vote No crowd wins that there will be some ramifications – a vote no on 8 merely preserves the status quo.

What is truly at stake here are basic equalities offered by the government. To treat gay relationships separately and differently makes gays strangers to the state’s tax, divorce, child custody, child welfare and various other laws. Before gay marriage, courts were forced to employ old common law and various other equitable doctrines in order to protect the children of gay couples and there was no way of truly recognizing the dissolution of a gay relationship, which left no easy way to divide property or decide on child support. Courts had wide discretion which left gay couples and their children with absolutely no security.

What we are talking about here is not how we as religious people feel about gay marriage. What we are talking about with this proposition is the state and its relationship with a group of citizens. There are numerous state related matters that any particular church may find objectionable. Religious freedom comes with the necessary distinction between how we feel as religious people and how the state must separately govern its people. This is not always an easy distinction. But here I think there needs to be some recognition that gay couples will always exist and the state or religious institutions cannot do anything to change that. The decision here is, recognizing that reality, whether we should make a group of citizens stranger to the state’s laws and the benefits it gives other committed couples.

18. caseyww - October 29, 2008

(RE: Comment 17 and above)

Mark N. (et. all)-

Well said guys. I was hoping someone would further expound on the political ramifications of Prop 8 here in the comments. I appreciate the clear description delineating moral beliefs from civil rights.

19. jesh - October 29, 2008

Finally, my first comment on the blog… Casey, you chose the right topic to get me fired up enough to post!

First, I want to agree with so much that has been said (Bear, Mark, etc.) and say that I feel much the same as Casey does regarding the Call and it’s embarrassing agenda (especially since it’s a political agenda masked as intercession).

What I want to comment on is the morality of the response of Christians to gay marriage (not the morality of gay marriage itself) and to homosexuality in general.

In my reading of the Bible and of Jesus’ teachings, there’s a lot about the love, grace and mercy given to sinners. And there’s a lot about Jesus spending time with “tax collectors and sinners” despite the social ramifications of associating with them.

In watching the Church’s response to Prop 8, I’ve seen very little evidence of God, of His heart, or of anything Jesus taught his followers about love.

What I do see are parents who want to hide their kids’ head in the sand instead of teaching them about the world we live in. I see blatant homophobia (which, I must say, I’ve witnessed many times throughout my years in Christian community and church life), and I see hatred. To call any group of people a force of “darkness” has to come from a place of hate.

Instead of spending the tens of thousands of dollars to rent the stadium, why didn’t the Call use that money to feed the malnourished in San Diego (or save kids from sex-trafficking, or buy winter coats for all who will sleep outside this Christmas)?

Instead of identifying all that’s wrong with “them”, shouldn’t we examine our own hearts for evidence of homophobia, hatred and self-righteousness?

Instead of spending 40 days praying and fasting leading up to the Call, why not spend 40 days having meals with people who are different from you, and who are in need of love?

All of these things would take work, relationship and energy, which in my observation, isn’t something most Christians are willing to give to the gay community. They would rather make sure Prop 8 passes and consider themselves done, and wash their hands of the issue. Then they can go on in life, surrounding themselves and their kids with people who think, act and look just like them.

How sad is it that Christians have come to believe that its best to isolate ourselves from the world, when Jesus said just the opposite?

20. Michelle Wilson - October 29, 2008

Hi Anthony!
I apologize for being intentionally vague. I am seeing too many people in our church say things which fail to love each other that I am now committed to being a voice within the church for civil discussion. I don’t feel I can do that while being on a side. I have an opinion, but I also see the validity of others’ opinions. This blog is just not far enough removed from Coast for me to be willing to choose a side publicly. I would be happy to answer any and all questions you put to me in private. The best I can say here is that I believe that having homosexual sex (and therefore homosexual marriage) is outside of God’s plan for human sexuality. I also believe that God deeply loves all people and has called us to love others regardless of which sins happen to be the most tempting for them.

21. Michelle Wilson - October 29, 2008

Ack! Sorry Antony for the accidental ‘h.’ Noticed it just after I hit ‘say it.’

22. Antony - October 29, 2008

(Blerg, the internet stole my last post!)

Michelle, I don’t mind the ‘h’ – it happens all the time.

I understand that we all take a position publicly that we think will have the best effect on our community. But I’m not sure that having no public position actually fosters civil discussion.

Civility is the way that we treat each other with love and care in difficult conversations, where there is deep (or any) disagreement. So to have no public position is not to foster civility, it merely papers over the tensions and difficult issues that are a reality in the community. The absence of conflict is not the same as civility.

But, of course, I can understand if you see your role in Coast right now as being a mediator, rather than as a discussant, then there is a place for having no public position. You step in to restore the civility of the conversation that gets derailed. I respect that role.

So, if you see yourself as a mediator, and find this forum to be the wrong place for you to speak, then I encourage you to e-mail me a response to my last comment (#16) – ajplyon@gmail.com – because I’m really interested in your thoughts about this.

23. Doug Anderson - October 29, 2008

As a Christian, its always hard for me to swallow political agendas spewed from the pulpit (or in this case, from a large stage in the middle of a football field). I so desperately wanted the Call to be a call to prayer and fasting that would align the Christian collective with God’s heart going into the election. Friends I know and respect that are going to the Call all seem to think that is what they are participating in. Unfortunately, they are instead going to an event focused on a political agenda, not God’s heart, effectively alienating a whole people group that Christians are specifically called to engage and love.

I would prefer to hear from a pastor, church or para-church organization a reminder of how my heart and mind should be seeking God’s heart and will in any political issue. How would Jesus approach this issue? Well, he wouldn’t stage a politcal rally to force change through the system of government. He would show people true love and acceptance in relationship and then go to the cross and pay their sacrifice himself for the chance that they could be reconciled to the living God. Oh wait, he did do that.

If you’re not a believer in Jesus, I still think you can respect his motives based on what he claimed to be truth. As a believer, I should be finding a way to love others corrupted by sin (any sin) and making myself willing and ready to sacrifice in some way for them, if needed.

I do see homosexual sex to be a sin (just like heterosexual sex outside of wedlock) and see no inconsistency in the Bible here. Homophobia does corrupt and deteriorate the Christian response to this class of sinners (cause we’re all in one class or many) but that doesn’t change the categorization of the act itself as sin. It just means, in general, Christians suck at being Christ-like. I know I do, at least.

A few questions I was hoping ya’ll could help me with (I honestly don’t know the answers):

Is marriage a civil right or a state-recognized religious institution afforded certain civil rights?

With gay marriage being legal in this state, are chruches allowed to deny marrying a gay couple solely based on their sexual orientation? If so now, how long would you forsee it staying that way?

24. Antony - October 29, 2008

Doug –

To answer your questions (as best as I can):

One of the problems with marriage in this country is that it has never really been clearly defined as either a civil or religious institution. It is both, and being such a foundational institution, it dates back to a time when speaking of a religious and political split would not have made sense (such as in old school medieval Europe).

Now some countries have addressed this problem. For example, Spain, which allows gay marriage, holds the position that the state is only in the business of civil unions. That is, according to the state, you apply to change your civil status and access a package of civil rights that they grant to any two consenting adults. ‘Marriage’ (in the way that it’s different from a civil union) is now strictly a religious institution – so only those wedded by a church officiant can technically claim to be ‘married.’

In the United States, we have not made that clear delineation, so when people speak of ‘marriage’, it tends to be an intermixing of the secular (that is, the civil union) and the religious (the vow or sacrament of holy matrimony).

As for your second question, churches – under the right to the freedom of religion – are allowed to deny any couple the right to be married in their church. For example, the Catholic church refuses to marry non-Catholic couples. And they have that right. Thus, by extension, a church can refuse to marry gay couples based on claims that it violates their religious principles.

The last part of that question calls for an opinion: I think that it will remain this way until the cows come home. Given the freedom that churches currently have to marry or not to marry heterosexual couples, gay marriage is just another particular example of that, not a special case.

Also, since the state provides a secular opportunity for getting married, the church’s refusal to marry a couple does not prevent that couple from getting ‘married’ and accessing the civil rights that come along with that change in civil status. So, it seems to me, that there would be no reason that the state would ever force a church to marry couples that did not align with their religious beliefs.

So are my two cents.

25. Mark N. - October 29, 2008

I know this is a difficult topic and I appreciate the discourse. I’m sure others will chime in on this, but I’ll attempt to answer your questions:

(1) Is marriage a civil right or a state-recognized religious institution afforded civil rights?

Marriage may either be recognized by the state or religion or both. However, all benefits and legal obligations are the state’s recognition of the union and have nothing to do with any religious institution. There are marriages that are completely civil (which given that many churches elect not to recognize gay marriage are what the majority if not entirety of gay marriages are). They do not involve any religious institution and are merely the state’s recognition of the relationship which confers certain benefits and obligations on those that enter it. These benefits and obligations are only between the individuals involved and the state. A church may choose to recognize the union or not.

(2) Are churches allowed to deny marrying a gay couple solely based on their sexual orientation? If so now, how long would you foresee it staying that way?

Yes. Churches are free to deny marrying anyone for whatever reason. The state may not force a religion to do anything. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Which generally means that Congress may never force a church to do anything. To force a church to recognize a marriage would be antithetical to this fundamental principal and would be unconstitutional. The short answer to your question is – it would stay that way forever.

26. Mark N. - October 29, 2008

Doug- One more comment regarding your first question. Currently, the best example of a completely civil marriage would be two atheists deciding to marry. No religion would participate in the union, but they would be conferred the benefits and legal obligations of marriage by the state.

27. Doug Anderson - October 29, 2008

Not to be coy on a serious blog but there are some who find this statement hard to believe:

“There are marriages that are completely civil”

Sorry, had to be sarcastic for a second…

28. Karen DeArmond - October 29, 2008

Casey you have picked a hard subject, one that most of us won’t agree on. So here goes…

Sin is sin, whether it is gossip, lying, sex outside of marriage, stealing, murder, hate, etc. Is one worse than another? Some would say yes, I say no, all keep us from God. My view is based on the Bible, God’s Word. For ALL have sinned. But Jesus…took our sins, took our penalty to the Cross.

I do believe marriage is 1man and 1woman, does that mean I hate the gay community? No.

As someone mentioned earlier, Jesus hung around with the street people, yes he went around the ‘religious’, did not have nice things to say about them because God had become a religion to them. It was all about show, not about Love. Jesus did not come to condemn but to give of Himself for us.

Did God say some harsh things about homosexuality? Yes he did. He says some harsh things in Proverbs 6 about how much he hates violence, In Matthew he warns what will happen to the person that harms a child and if you keep digging you can find more. The thing is God so loved the World…everyone. Love is used 311 times vs 87 times for hate in the Bible.

Here I go defending God.

I viewed the video, no matter the intent of the person speaking, the people were there to pray for our nation. I was in DC in September and I had the privilige of standing in the Lincoln Memorial and praying for our Nation. It was amazing so please do not assume that everyone in that video was there to ‘hate’ the homosexual.

Still praying for you all

29. Mark N. - October 29, 2008

To get back in the thick of it though (I did appreciate Doug’s comment though – there may be no such thing as a “civil” marriage 🙂 ) – I think the point with Proposition 8 is that we would be forcing the state to fall in line with religious views. The state and only the state would be recognizing these marriages. All of us as religious people are entitled to think what we will of homosexuality, but we are not talking about that. We are talking about the state’s treatment of a group of citizens. As Casey mentioned in his initial post – the non-religious arguments against the state recognition of gay marriage do not hold water and have generally been dismissed by even the most conservative courts (take Iowa for example where the issue is currently being examined). One of the fundamental principles of this country has been equality under the law. Proposition 8 in its application runs counter to that. It would treat people differently in the eyes of the law and denying certain rights and benefits. There are many things that a particular religious institution may find the state does that run counter to its beliefs – certainly there are many things that would be deemed sinful that the state permits – but I think there is distinction between our religious morality and what amount to civil rights. Because the secular arguments against gay marriage do not hold water I don’t see how the state can justify treating a group differently.

30. benson - October 29, 2008

casey: found this via audrey. love that there’s some good discussion here. we’re going to needed threaded comments here soon with all the posting activity. i know some resources if you want to go that route.

thecall: i’ve been at two Calls myself. lou engle (founder the narrator of the video), is someone i deeply appreciate and i consider him a spiritual mentor in many different ways. this isn’t the first time i’ve heard lou use such language, so i don’t think its just a mis-articulation of what the conference is supposed to be about. i do believe lou and many others see the issue of homosexual marriage in this light. whether or not people are there to pray doesn’t change the fact that the language they are using is framing the discussion.

legislating morality: to jump onto @mark’s comments. as christians, the minute we expect government to enforce what we believe to true about the kingdom of God, we’ve muddied the waters.

i think there’s an ongoing assumption that the way God interacted with israel (theocracy) is the way that God ought to be interacting with america. from what we read of jesus in the gospels, i don’t see any intention to establish that kind of rule of government here on earth. and subsequently, i don’t see any framework for christians’ to legislate morality in this country.

even if we do believe homosexual behavior is wrong and subsequently believe that homosexual marriage is wrong –> this does not mean we ought to legislate this belief. for example, if in my “kingdom” i believe that wearing red is wrong, i can’t suddenly impose this on another kingdom. they’re not under my jurisdiction.

likewise, we can’t impose what we believe about homosexuality on a nation that is fundamentally a kingdom of this world. if someone is gay and wants to come to our churches, that is something that we can speak into. we can decide if we want them in or not. but we can’t expect to hold this standard to civil government. i can’t support prop 8 with that in mind.

there is also a broader issue of integrity on the issue… if the church is speaking out against homosexuality, that’s fine. but i don’t understand why we are legislating against gay marriage. we don’t legislate against no fault divorce. how come we aren’t vehemently fighting against that too? i guess its hard to when 50% of our marriages end in divorce. i feel like fundamentally the church is reacting to laws by legislating the the opposite law instead of pointing the finger at ourselves. we are no longer the authority on what is good and evil because we don’t have integrity to say those things. i’d like to see pastors speak as vehemently about gay marriage as they would about the rampant pornography usage in the church and the rampant divorce rate.

31. Michelle Wilson - October 29, 2008

Here is a random wrench for the whole discussion after i said I wasn’t going to get into it. My lesbian (or bi-sexual? Who sleeps with who hasn’t exactly come up in casual conversation.) cousin lives with a married couple. The three of them think of themselves as a family but my cousin is not legally married and the other two are. (They were married before they met my cousin.) For those of you that are pro gay marriage, what should we do for my cousin who cannot be married to the people she loves? Should her lover be allowed to be in two marriages at the same time? Should we allow for three way marriages? I don’t know how many people are in my cousin’s shoes, but perhaps we don’t want to try to redefine marriage so that it suits anyone’s preferences but make other kinds of allowances for partnerships outside of the traditional concept of marriage.

32. Michelle Wilson - October 29, 2008

RE 16
Antony,
I think I can answer that here. I would say that what marriage is at its core is a spiritual thing. I say that because it is referenced in the beginning of Genesis and seems to be a part of every human culture. I think it has deep spiritual roots from the time of creation and has to do with the way we are made. This is different from a religious thing which I hope makes sense. It is also a part of our culture, so it is a cultural thing. It is also a legal thing since we regulate it. (And it is something we have religious beliefs about.) i believe that we will maintain the most spiritual health if we keep our cultural and legal ideas of marriage in line with how it was created.

33. benson - October 29, 2008

to follow up my post about legislating morality. i realized that i just explained myself out of being able to legislate that child slavery is wrong. or slavery at all 🙂

my analogy doesn’t hold up when we talk about human rights issues. and quite frankly, i don’t mind if i’m “imposing my morals” on a mass murderer by legislating a law against murder. so scratch that argument. 🙂

i think my question is whether prop 8 is the best way for us to engage the issue of gay marriage in our society. without pushing for similar props against adultery and divorce, i think we’re on thin ice.

34. Mark N. - October 29, 2008

Benson –

Your last post raises issues Antony was discussing. I think the point with things like murder is that apart from religious convictions and teachings about it there are a variety of ways the state can defend it apart from invoking the church. I think here the problem is that there really aren’t many. Sure tradition is one, but apart from tradition we really are left (at least in my view) with very little to support the state treating homosexuals differently. The protection of children, the need not to set up a parallel structure of laws, etc. all seem to favor equal treatment. Just my two cents. This is difficult, but I think there is a definite line between the state and church here that is often extracted from the debate. The state does not fall in line with any one religions ideas of morality, nor could it under our Constitution.

35. paul - October 29, 2008

Find the part in the new testament where Jesus says, “I love all my children… except you homos. You can’t get married and have the same rights as everyone else”. I’ll wait for a direct quote from Jesus himself.

And please, don’t quote some law from the old testament. If you want to get literal and start quoting laws from the old testament then you’d better be prepared to stone your own daughter on your own doorstep if she is not a virgin on her wedding night.

Just give me evidence for your dogmatic assertions Nancy and those that agree with her. I want you to show me where the savior, Jesus, says he is against gays getting married. If you cannot find this, then you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you got this info from a pastor or a friend, and didn’t actually stop to think about it for yourself.

Sorry for sounding condescending… This issue, and others like it, where people have a blatant disregard for the rights of others because their own sensibilities are slighted troubles me deeply.

36. paul - October 29, 2008

Speaking of deeply troubling I caught this statement from Karen and I had to take a step back:

“Sin is sin, whether it is gossip, lying, sex outside of marriage, stealing, murder, hate, etc. Is one worse than another? Some would say yes, I say no, all keep us from God.”

I would start by asking “what is sin?” and then going down that road, but really I think I’ll just say this:

If you believe that there is some sort of equal immoral degree between two people who happen to be gay (BTW, its not a choice, it has been proven to be genetic and is found in 10% of many mammal species) who love each other and have sex, and a white supremicist who decides to drag some poor person who happened to be black behind his truck until his entrails come out of his body, then you have been seriously deluded by religious dogma.

What makes something wrong is the suffering caused to other people period. There is no suffering that can in any way be explained by two consenting adults choosing to love each other, be married, and have sex even if they are gay.

If you had children, and one happened to be gay, would you love them any less? Would you look down upon them for “sinning” and think their soul would go to hell? What kind of “loving God” would put someone in eternal fire because they loved someone who happened to be of the same sex? I ask again, show me the evidence from the bible where Jesus said this is wrong? If it was such a huge issue, wouldn’t you think Jesus would have said something about it?

To me, this issue creates a polarization between christian communities into these two thought processes: You are either a Matthew 25 Christian, or you are a Revelations/Old Testament Christian. I don’t think this is fair in any way. There is a huge amount of room for many thoughtful Christians to explore between these two areas. But I do feel this issue really shows where some Christians priorities go.

Please… stop reading the evangelical dogma… go back to the real thinkers of your faith. Start with Jesus, move down to Martin Luther King Jr., then go to Chesterton and CS Lewis.

37. Nancy O. - October 29, 2008

Paul,

Nobody has said anything about not loving gay people; to the contrary, I have said I have gay friends that I love very much.

You asked where in the New Testament it indicates that homosexuality is immoral:

New American Standard Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were santified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God”

The Living Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Don’t you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, or homesexuals – will have no share in this kingdom. Neither will theives or greedy people, drunkards, slanderers or robbers. There was a time when some of you were just like that but now your sins are washed away, and you are set apart for God, and he has accepted you because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the spirit of our God have done for you.

Paul, “The real thinker of my faith” is Jesus Christ.

38. Karen DeArmond - October 29, 2008

Paul,
So you think I am speaking out of what I have heard from others? Actually not. To anyone that I listen to whether it is a pastor or some actor on TV giving his/her views I will make my own determination on what they are saying by studying it for myself. I have a mind of my own which I enjoy using. Let’s start with Jesus…

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus

His words not mine. You cannot separate the truth of the Old Testament from Jesus, he qutoed the OT through most of his teachings. Jesus himself stated that he and the Father are one.

Let’s define sin: it is an offence; missing the mark; faults. That describes all of us. No one is without sin. It is we humans who put levels on sin. A serial murderer is not as bad as a person who murders one person who is not as bad as someone who accidently kills someone who is not as bad as someone who hateful as bad as someone who gossips. Jesus said hate is the same as murder.

Homosexuality is a hard issue…how can I like someone so much, enjoy hanging out with them yet not agree with their lifestyle? It doesn’t matter what their lifestyle is. I love my Brother in law, Bill, Casey’s father, I don’t agree with everything he believes and he does not believe with all I believe. I love Bill for who he is and that will not change and I believe he feels the same about me. He’s a very funny guy who makes me laugh.

My priorities in life: my relationship with God, to live what I believe; to be the kind of woman that honors God by my attitudes, behaviors, by how I love my children, my grandchildren; my mom; my sister and her family; my brother and his family; to teach women that they do not need to live in fear or shame or bondage from abuse of any kind. That they can learn to live full lives in joy.

What would Jesus say? Come all who are weary and I will give you rest…and much much more.

39. bear - October 29, 2008

Karen, you say “how can I like someone so much, enjoy hanging out with them yet not agree with their lifestyle? It doesn’t matter what their lifestyle is.” I agree with this, somehow, despite all of this, I still can hang out with Casey.

But then, I digress. (with worhless sarcasm no less).

Sorry to all.

Paul, you make some good points. By some theological standards: Jesus did mention it through Paul. There is much that Jesus did not say.

This is not a defense, but whenever we zoom in on this kind of close, textual reading, it oftens fails unless we do honest exegesis, and I am not sure that Casey intended that for this blog. I suggest we focus on the propostion and its legality/morality etc, and let’s stay away from the application of sin in our lives.

Just a thought.

Bear

40. Nancy O. - October 29, 2008

Bear,

It’s difficult for some of us to put our man-made laws/legalities before what we believe is God’s law (His Word).

It is clear to me by reading all of the posts that every one of us has huge hearts and care very much about the people who will be affected by Prop 8. But each of us will vote according to our own personal, deep convictions and do individually what we each feel is right.

41. Antony - October 29, 2008

Re: #32

Michelle, thanks for the answer. I totally disagree with you 🙂 But your response has given me pause to articulate exactly why that is…

For me, the difficulty in your position for me comes in the conclusion where you say: “I believe that we will maintain the most spiritual health if we keep our cultural and legal ideas of marriage in line with how it was created.”

I think the “we” of which you speak is slippery. If you mean by “we” those who share with you a belief in the Genesis creation story as something that actually happened, in which we see the actual origin of marriage as a spiritual and cultural institution, then there’s no problem. Such a community would automatically align ‘spiritual health’ and their cultural/legal ideas of marriage.

But if the “we” here includes people who do not hold that the Genesis story is fact (which I think is our situation in this plural society), then your position has “spiritual health” as defined by a non-shared value (the Genesis story) trumping all other cultural or legal ideas about marriage (which have been myriad throughout history, even within ‘Christian nations’).

So I return to a version of my original question: Should the state legislate based on a particular conception of right and wrong? Because to advocate aligning our politics (our cultural/legal ideas) with ‘spiritual health’ is to say that the state should be in the business of legislating against sin.

I’d argue that political regimes that hold this view are intolerant and tend to curb citizen freedom (we call them fundamentalist – the Taliban, for example). Now, I mean to provoke a little, but I don’t mean to say that I think a position against gay marriage is tantamount to being a member of the Taliban. I mean to point out the shared rationale – the idea that a particular view of ‘spiritual health’ ought to dictate the character of the law. And how once you start merging morality and law, where does it stop?

Someone brought up divorce, which I think is a good example for a number of reasons. Under this scenario, to align ‘spiritual health’ (the morally right) with our laws would require us to outlaw divorce. But, I think many of us agree, while divorce is never a good thing, there are reasons why persons need to be legally divorced. And countries with very stringent divorce laws tend to also have larger problems with domestic violence because their law upholds marriage in letter even when the heart and substance is absent.

Which touches on my last point: I think the law is a terrible way of dealing with ‘sin’ in a community. That is, legality does not change the reality of the way that people live. Laws just don’t make people moral…

We talk back and forth here. Everyone gives their two cents. We engage in interesting conversations, but we tread lightly as we don’t want to impose on other’s beliefs. Breaking with that, I want to say that I want to persuade those voting ‘Yes on 8’ that it’s a bad vote, no matter how good their intentions. I think it’s antithetical to our political values (freedom, justice, and equality), and our spiritual values (love). So that said, I’ll probably keep posting here, but if you’re thinking of voting Yes on 8 and want to have an honest and tough conversation about it in the next week, contact me.

42. Antony - October 29, 2008

If you don’t want to fish for my e-mail above, it’s ajplyon@gmail.com

43. paul - October 30, 2008

Sorry to stir the pot further, but I figure there are other posters here that have already created tremendously thoughtful posts on this subject, and I have nothing else to add to their already comprehensive understanding of the subject’s moral stance and where it falls in line with you know, what we base our laws on… The Constitution (Eric, Bear, Antony and Mark N.).

I do think its important for those Christians who view the Bible as the word of God to be able to show where their Savior has said this. Corinthians is not the word of Jesus, it is from Paul. Now if you think Paul’s word is as good as “gospel” (bah dum bum!), and you agree with everything he says then you must also keep to these excellent pearls of ancient wisdom:

2 Corinthians 6:14 –Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
This basically says to keep away from unbelievers and do not marry or be friends with them because they are “unrighteous”.

2 Titus 2:9 –Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

These are but a small pick of what paul has said. What makes you choose to live by the one statement he made in Corinthians regarding homosexuality and then not following the two terms above it? If you did, you would not be together with any unbelievers (ie: those following a different religion or no religion at all) in friendship or marriage because they are NOT EQUAL to you; You would also be ok with slavery, because Paul obviously doesn’t see any problems with slavery.

You see, you choose what you think is good in the Bible. Your brain is the guarantor of your moral intuitions, so when you say the bible says “homosexuality is bad” then you need to take the rest of it with as much seriousness, OR you have to explain why you personally consider something bad… you cannot just escape to the word of the bible when deciding on how to govern other peoples lives.

The other problem is the word sin. What does this even mean? Does it mean moving away from God? The problem with sin is that victimless crimes can be considered a sin which have ZERO bearing on morality. Again I stress, being immoral is promoting the suffering of humanity while things that are moral are explained in the increase of the well-being of humanity. Being homosexual is not immoral, but it might be a “sin” because the book you are picking and choosing ideas from said so… not because it comes from promoting well-being (morality) or increasing suffering (immorality), but because ONE guy (Paul) said that God told him this was wrong.

44. Nancy O. - October 30, 2008

Paul,

Do you believe in any God? If so, why? If not, why?

45. Paul - October 30, 2008

I personally do not believe in a creator God, but I do see some validity in believing there is a possiblity for some sort of greater consciousness than ourselves–which many would call God. Of course, none of that really matters because even if I did believe there was a creator god, that would not then necessitate me believing much of the doctrine of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, et al.

Again, i really do want to apologize for being so confrontational about this… my knee jerk reaction to anyone who does not see that they are pseudo-rationalizing bigotry makes me insane.

Interestingly Nancy, I do go to church with my wife. I normally really enjoy the experience… the pastor seems tolerant and his heart is in the right place even if i don’t agree with much of his reasoning, at the least, I can find compassion and understanding. But 2 sundays ago this pastor (an african american man) who preaches mostly to a minority church (there is a greater ratio of African Americans and Latinos in the audience than caucasians) decided to impose his belief of Prop 8 (that it should pass) onto the congregation. Besides the fact that doing so is completely illegal, I cannot help but be stunned at the absolute irony of a minority preaching intolerance and bigotry to other minority cultures. His argument about the “sanctity” of marriage is extremely weak to say the least (Casey, you have already done a bang-up job decimating that fallacy)… but the fact that he can’t draw the comparison between what he is preaching, and what white preachers used to preach about the “sin” of interracial marriage. They too used their own selective interpretation of a passage in the bible to sanctify their bigotry. If god does exist, and he/she/it has unconditional love for all living things, then I cannot see this god ever condoning treating people as second class citizens by denying them rights. But on the other hand, if God exists, and he told me to kill another person, or persecute another person, I’d tell him to go to hell.

46. Doug Anderson - October 30, 2008

Paul, you raise some good questions and your view point on how Christians should view the Bible is interesting. I think its important not to get in a “tit for tat” with you on this because we could go back and forth forever on how you view a statement in the Bible vs. how I view, etc. But I will say a little in response to try and make a few points. Sorry if this hijacks the post a little…

I agree, no believer should marry an unbeliever or be in close enough relationship so as to have their “progress” in life altered or detered significantly away from the path he/she chooses (which a believer would hope to be “God’s path”). This is not to say that believers can’t be friends with unbelievers or be in relationship, but it does limit the amount of give and take in that friendship. To really explain my heart behind this so that you could see this doesn’t come out of arrogance would take up too much space here and may be beyond my writing capabilities anyway. Forgive me for a half answer.

For the second statement you brought, Paul isn’t saying “yay slavery!” but is suggesting a heart posture here. You’re dealing with a group of people that care more about their status in the next life than in this life. So if my soul is in better shape because I submit to my slavemaster, then that is what I should do. Being a slave or indentured servant is a horrible thing, as is being imprisoned for preaching about Jesus and being executed for it. But Paul suggests Christians would be better off accepting that fate in anticipation for a future/better fate. I’m not strong enough in my faith to live this way, neither are most people, but the Bible suggests we would be better off if we were.

So, I’m not sure any of my answers will sit well with you Paul and you may have rebuttals or more examples to quote. The problem is, you want to throw some rules of Christianity at me to make me see how I don’t like them, but I don’t care about the rules. I don’t live by the laws of Christianity, but by the Spirit of Christ. Sounds like an easy escape, I know, but its the only way I could follow Christ. I hate rules, I like to break them cause they suck. But I like serving God because he’s good to me (selfish, I know) and I like showing people that an imperfect human like myself can still be considered redeemed and called by God.

I want to just finish up on the questions you raised about sin. Sin is anything taking me farther away from God. That’s a pretty vague explanation I know, but perhaps I can say it differently. Sin and immorality are not just about the suffering caused to other people, it also includes suffering you cause yourself. A major reason many don’t see certain sins as sin is because they don’t believe they’re causing themselves any suffering. But, in relation to how it keeps you from God’s presence, it is sin.

The other problem with sin is that it perpetuates itself. The Bible does talk about this, especially in Romans 1, but I’ve also seen it played out in my own life. I had sex outside of wedlock in a few of my past relationships. At the time, I knew it was one of those rules I hated to follow and it felt good and didn’t seem to cause any suffering. But then (and i’ll summarize here) I found myself lying to others, abandoning friendships, using women, breaking commitments and hearts, causing a whole shit-storm in my life that drew me away from the man of God I truly wanted to be in my heart. I know that’s my own crap and I’m not going to throw it on someone else, but that’s why I see homosexual sex as immoral, because it will lead to a breakdown in morality and a breaking of relationship with God. I don’t expect you to totally agree, just trying to give you a different side. Oh, and I’m not talking about homosexuality as a sin, but the actions it perpetuates. I don’t believe the propensity to sin is, in itself, a sin. Its once we act upon that potential that sin enters in. This is true for all sin and temptation.

That all said, I agree, the laws of the state and the country aren’t here to govern morality. If the Church (the collective of Christian believers) needs the government to affect higher morality in this country, then the Church is crippled and they lack belief in God’s transforming love.

47. Paul - October 30, 2008

Great response Doug, I will have to think about what you have said. My only real qualm is this

“I know that’s my own crap and I’m not going to throw it on someone else, but that’s why I see homosexual sex as immoral, because it will lead to a breakdown in morality and a breaking of relationship with God. I don’t expect you to totally agree, just trying to give you a different side.”

I think we are confusing “sin” with “morality” again. Things that are “sinful” or move away from “sin” CAN be issues of morality, but they are interpretations of morality by a specific religion. Morality in general deals with the suffering and well-being of humanity but someone commiting a “sin” doesn’t necessarily make it actually immoral… it is just considered wrong to a specific religion. I would love to dig deeper into this with extensive examples, but alas, my co-workers are getting suspicious of my “work ethic” haha.

48. Doug Anderson - October 30, 2008

A quick response to the sin vs. morality question. I do recognize it to be my own interpretation of morality based on my belief system. If some act is immoral because it causes suffering to humanity or a human (or more broadly, another life form) then I contend that all sin is immoral because all sin causes suffering, either to others or to one’s self. There will be disagreement here because I see separation from God as suffering and others don’t. I’m cool with disagreement if you are.

49. Paul - October 30, 2008

haha I’m cool with disagreement, but I would then ask you, what suffering to one’s self or others would there be if one is gay? Wouldn’t there be greater suffering to oneself if they were gay but decided to suppress who they actually are because people around them thought it was icky?

50. Doug Anderson - October 30, 2008

Well, Paul, I think you and I are using different definitions of suffering. Or at least that’s what I’m gathering. On second thought, maybe its not different, I’m just coming from a position that suffering in this life is lesser to the suffering in the next life.

Of course, that makes the argument convenient for me, I recognize. My beliefs establish what suffering sin causes in the non-present, I claim present suffering to be nothing compared to the possible suffering to come, then I tell you to accept current suffering to avoid the later suffering you don’t even believe in… I see it doesn’t answer all people’s belief systems. (oh and, when I say “you” I don’t literally mean you).

That aside, I do think denying oneself now will give one great gains in the next life. If you don’t believe in the next life, I can’t compel you with this argument.

In the same way, going forward, I’m denying myself sex until i get married because I think there’s something better than feeling good now. That is a much lesser struggle/suffering than being gay and not acting on it for the rest of one’s life. I see that too and I have compassion for that person. What can I offer them? Relationship with the living God and a strength in spirit that empowers one to do all things in Christ. Not a free pass from suffering here and now, but a joy in all things. I know it doesn’t solve an unbelievers plight… but that’s why I think people should accept Jesus.

51. Paul - October 30, 2008

I understand what you are saying Doug, but we, as a whole, and even Christians don’t rationalize morality in terms of what “suffering” would happen in the next life. In fact, Christians when explaining how good their religion is often use examples of how Jesus treated people in this life (such as the parable of the Good Samaritan or the Sermon on the Mount, or the golden rule). Maybe some of the more thoughtful bloggers on here can help try to differentiate between suffering now, and suffering in the afterlife as it pertains to the worldview of christians and how we should rationalize it.

I personally do feel it is a cop-out (no offense) to suggest that someone SHOULD suffer, or have suffering imposed on them for the salvation of the afterlife. The main reason? We have NO evidence that there is an afterlife, but we have plenty of evidence that we do exist right now. Again, I’m not saying there isn’t an afterlife, but i do find it a bit too aesethic to be forced to suffer now so you might be rewarded later… nor do I think we can legislate any law or moral conviction based on what some people claim the afterlife will be like.

52. caseyww - October 30, 2008

(RE: Comment #46 to here)

First, Doug I’m so glad to see you commenting! I appreciate the insight you have here and the clarity that you express it with. I hope we’ll get to see a more of you around here at Valence in the future.

From what I can gather it seems like we agree on the issue of what the state’s stance should be on gay rights and the discussion here with Paul has moved on to more of a personal justification for why we may or may not condone homosexuality. That is, you gave an example of the suffering you have personally endured by having sex outside of marriage and therefore would call this act immoral by Christian standards because it violates ‘God’s plan’. But you wouldn’t presume that the state should be outlawing premarital sex. The state should be making laws with the intent to establish civil rights and also protecting us from infringing on each others rights. Gay sex between consenting adults is not infringing on anyone else’s rights and can not justifiably be categorized as causing suffering in a secular sense. Like I said, I don’t think we disagree here I’m just summarizing.

You did make an assertion in Comment #46 that I have a hard time with:

The problem is, you want to throw some rules of Christianity at me to make me see how I don’t like them, but I don’t care about the rules. I don’t live by the laws of Christianity, but by the Spirit of Christ. Sounds like an easy escape, I know, but its the only way I could follow Christ. I hate rules, I like to break them cause they suck. But I like serving God because he’s good to me…

I don’t necessarily want to harp on this subject because it’s a bit off topic and so I may return to this idea in a later post. I have a hard time with this statement because, you’re right , it is an easy escape but I think one that is common in the Christian community. It’s the idea that “Christianity is more about relationship than religion.” But this is only invoked when people are faced with some particularly disturbing things about God. It allows us to be more attached to the idea of who God is instead of actaully grappling with who the Bible claims God is.

I speak from a personal perspective here in that I’ve speant a lot of time telling myself not be bothered by the immoral character flaws that the Bible attripbutes to God and found at the end that I was being illusive and dishonest with myself. Like I said, I don’t want to derail the conversation, but maybe in the future we can return to this topic.

53. caseyww - October 30, 2008

(RE: Comment #31)

Way back in comment #31 Michelle brought up an interesting question that I don’t think anyone has addressed yet but one that I think is an interesting and common objection to gay marraige:

For those of you that are pro gay marriage, what should we do for my cousin who cannot be married to the people she loves? Should her lover be allowed to be in two marriages at the same time? Should we allow for three way marriages? I don’t know how many people are in my cousin’s shoes, but perhaps we don’t want to try to redefine marriage so that it suits anyone’s preferences but make other kinds of allowances for partnerships outside of the traditional concept of marriage.

Michelle- You seem to be asking the question: “If we reset the definition of marriage to include homosexualty then what next? What’s to stop us from including all kinds of wacky relationships as marriage?”

This is a classic slippery slope argument that I think is problematic because it assumes that it may be justified to deny rights to one group of people if for nothing else in order to draw a line in the sand. I think we have to examine the costs and benefits of multi-person marraiges by their own right. This is a completely separate issue that either stands or falls on it’s own merits despite whether gay people can be legally married in 2 person unions. (By the way I think it’s interesting that paligamy is closer to what you are describing which God was fine with for quite a while.)

I’d like to hear what others have to say on this point if anyone is interested in commenting.

54. Doug Anderson - October 30, 2008

I do think we should return to this later, but mostly because this is too much thinking in one day for me…

I will say, I appreciate you bringing this back up because I didn’t feel my answer was complete or sufficient. I also discount the “its more relationship than religion” argument (even though I inadvertantly made that argument). I want to expand on this more in another post maybe someday but my quick response is this: I devalue the “rules of Christianity” because I believe the proper heart and love for God naturally produces the results that rules try to force.

And for me its not about being disturbed by who God is. Just that if Christianity is about following a set of rules, screw that. Let’s face it, we should all be disturbed by God to some extent. I would want to hear more on the immoral character flaws you have struggled with, Casey. But, I think we need beer for that discussion and I can’t drink at work.

55. Doug Anderson - October 30, 2008

Sorry, my last post might be confusing… its in response to #52.

And I wasn’t asking casey about his character flaws but the ones he sees the Bible attributing to God.

56. caseyww - October 30, 2008

I gotcha Doug. And yes I agree about the beer. Perhaps in the future we will have to organize a group pub blog. Everyone goes to pubs in their respective cities with laptops and we get into the deep shit.

(By the way Valence has now copyrighted the term Pub Blog)

57. Sam - October 30, 2008

Paul Said:

“Again, I’m not saying there isn’t an afterlife, but i do find it a bit too aesethic to be forced to suffer now so you might be rewarded later… nor do I think we can legislate any law or moral conviction based on what some people claim the afterlife will be like.”

A few things–Nowhere in what Doug said implied that he is/has been Forced to suffer. He has chosen how to live based upon Christian ethics, in light of his real life experience… Trust me, I was the man’s roomate for about 6 years (my god.. that long?) His old habits caused him PLENTY of suffering (chuckles).

Also, the tenants of the Christian moral law (both Old and New Testaments) are not required for salvation. The whole Jesus thing took over the topic of salvation some years ago…

The Law is in place (as the bit Karen quoted) to serve a purpose. All of the rules regarding what Jews could eat in the Old Testament?–Pork, etc? Pork is one of the more dangerous meats to eat–if undercooked you have a very good chance of getting salmonella, or numerous other diseases that could often be fatal if untreated, etc. I suppose the Law could have read “order your porkchops well done” instead, but I think God tried to keep it simple.. humanity is not that bright. Either way, the Law served a true, pragmatic purpose in this life.

Similarly, I believe that all of the Laws serve (or have severed some time in the past) one purpose or another. Since it’s the topic of the hour..What about not having sex before marriage?

I know that there is a LOT of truth (from personal experience) to the idea that if you are out looking for a good lay.. you are likely to find one. Yay! Except for the one problem.. few people are JUST out looking for a good lay. They are also looking to find personal fulfillment in a relationship by sharing their lives with another person. Sorry–most folks out looking for a good lay ARE looking for much more, they just don’t know where to look. However, when out looking for a good, quick lay, am I going to find what I long for in a mate?

Here is where the concept of absenence can be helpful, if we are trying not to JUST go out looking for a lay, our field of vision expands. (I’m picturing George in the episode of Seinfeld where he and Elane give up sex.. ahh. greatness.) If we attempt to refrain from our more primal wants we’re less likely to objectify the other sex (or our own sex, if such is your preference… booyeah…segway!)

This is part of the holistic truth of the bible I mentioned in our previous exchanges, Paul. Because Jesus makes it clear that salvation is dependent upon a relationship with him.. the “law” no longer becomes a “law” in the sense that we know it (like Prop 8) but rather the law becomes a kind of truth. Now, I speak for myself on that one, though I’m a Christian I practice more of what Vonnegut liked to call Disorganized Religion. But that’s neither here nor there.

Okay on with the segway! I, like many others here, (including Paul) do not believe that the government has a right to impose restrictions based upon any particular religious ideals–with one exception: if it is the opinion of the majority, because, well, the majority rules, whether we agree with it or not.

As such, I believe that every person has the right to vote their conscience (which is the intent of a democratic state). All I (personally) ask is that people are consistent in their beliefs and that they are conscious of the reasonings behind their thoughts and beliefs.

Paul’s moral metaphysical criteria dictates that things are amoral if they cause harm to other people in your society. Excellent. By that law, if something does not cause others harm, then it should be permissible (I won’t even touch how slippery THAT slope can get.. that goes back to the last topic about our sources of morality).

My own moral metaphysics say that homosexuality falls generally in line with sexual sin (as noted in previous posts), and, as such, is amoral. However, because, as I interpret Christianity, Sin is Sin and I commit enough amoral acts every day that I wouldn’t even dream of throwing a stone at anyone else as The Call does. So, though I am personally not a fan, I would never want to judge someone else for it.

58. Sam - October 30, 2008

Stupid emoticons changing prop 8 in parenthesis into a smiley.

59. jordan - October 30, 2008

Paul,
I think this may get confusing as I type it out but please be patient and try to see the whole picture that I am attempting to paint.
First you responded with other quotes of Paul and asked about their validity and quickly summed them up with what YOU think they mean. To speak directly of the “equal yoke” this was not a verse telling us to stay away from or separate ourselves from all that believe different doctrine than us. If you study the original text it is speaking to being brought together as ONE, or as it’s commonly called now, marriage. You applied a rather broad scale that I thought needed to be addressed before the literal meaning of the teaching was lost in a quick judgement rather than the genuine meaning behind this wisdom given to us by Paul.

What I find to be interesting is that there is a lot of talk about separating the moral issue from the legal issue. Now know that I love God and do consider myself a ‘Christian’ but in no way do I force my beliefs down the throats of any other person, at the same time I am very passionate about my beliefs. I believe that I posess the same passion as the founders of this great nation. Extreme? Maybe, but if you don’t buy that let’s examine the foundation of this nation. The old testament book of law is where the majority of our nation finds it’s roots. As the years have passed the nation as a whole has liberalized the laws little by little and the country has been pushed off of it’s foundation little by little and is beginning to crumble. Imagine if you will a home or structure on a fresh concrete foundation. See it? Good now let’s pull a huge John Deer tractor up to one side. I know this seems stupid but ts the only analogy I can think of. So there’s our house and the tractor, now the tractor raises to scoop to about the middle of the wall on one side of the house and begins pushing very slowly so as not to hurt the facad of the house. Because the home is well built there is no movement and all seems fine. Over time as the tractor continues to push little by little the house begins to shift off the foundation, but just a little. More time and the tractor still pushing and the wall opposite of the tractor begins to crumble as it’s pushed further off of the foundation. Still more time and more pushing from the tractor, and now the innerworkings ofthe house are stressed and strained, the plumbing, the electrical everything is coming apart. And still yet the tractor pushes away. I could go on and on, but I think you understand the chain of events from here on out. This is how I see this nation. A solid foundation laid out and everything built from the ground up and for the last couple of centuries we have been pushing this country off of it’s foundation and now it’s starting to crumble around us. Because the bible was used to establish the laws of this country I don’t think it logical to attempt to separate the moral from the legal.

Quick question, do you enjoy the teachings and philosophy of Socrates? I think we all know that he was a great teacher and a founder of western thinking. With that said, there is NO actual writtings of his ever recorded. His students carried on his teachings and noted that Socrates had first come to these revelations. So should we discredit his teachings or believe that his students passed on his work accuratley so as not to disrespect a great teacher. This is touching back on the commets you made that Paul said it not Jesus.

In an attempt to summarize, if I still lived in California I would vote against gay marriage because this brings us further off the foundation of our nation.

Paul if your not sure of the context of a particular scripture you should study it rather than apply a generalization therein taking the entire verse out of context to ensure that it supports your view.

60. Mark N. - October 30, 2008

Not sure you’re right that the bible was used to establish the laws of this country. The founding fathers were pretty clear in their belief that no faith would be the nation’s faith and strongly advocated that there would be a separation of church and state. Sure Christianity had its influence, but American law is a product of numerous influences probably finding its closest roots in the English legal system (which itself is derived of many sources). Our Supreme Court building and its courtroom friezes provide some indication of the wide variety of influences on our legal system and on law in general throughout the ages (the walls have some bibical figures, but also images of Eastern, Roman and other law givers). Law in this country is meant to be separate from any religious institution. Law is not meant to emulate Christian teachings. Law based on our strong belief in religious freedom is civil – separate from religious life. As a religious person I have struggled with this distinction at times, but given the plural community we live in I understand the necessity for it. We are a nation of tolerance and religious freedom, but that doesn’t mean our law is amoral. Our law is the product of consensus of the plural community we live in and the values we all share regardless of faith. This must remain separate and is one of the true bedrocks of this country. Legislating faith belief is not part of a tolerant America and does not hold true to the fundamental constitutional value that church and state are separate.

61. Nancy O. - October 30, 2008

Paul,

You pointed out that the scriptures I offered from 1Corinthians were not spoken by Jesus but by Paul; therefore, they are secondhand and possibly invalid.

From the mouth of Jesus, He said in Matthew 19 that God created man and woman, and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. That, to me, along with the scriptures I quoted, which directly address the subject of homosexuality, is enough evidence to cause me to believe that God’s intention is for a man and a woman to unite in marriage and homosexuality is “immoral” or “unrightous”.

As I see it, the law that is currently in place is in alignment with the biblical principles that I believe. I choose to vote to support what I believe is God’s directive in what I fully believe is His Word, the Holy Bible. I can’t vote against what I believe He clearly communicates.

You will vote according to your heart and conscious and I will vote according to mine. I do not feel like I stand on higher ground or on lower ground than anyone. I simply am living according to the way I believe God wants me to and it is as simple as that.

62. Roy - October 30, 2008

Some comments on the prop 8 deal and how this seems to touch people different ways…

1. There’s a sense in the Christian community that some have used the homosexuality issue as their banner to stand up for righteousness,holiness and purity. I think some, not all, do this with a narrow-minded attitude and feel like they’re a Christian because “they’re standing up for what they believe to be true.” When in fact, the rest of their lives are falling apart or they show traits of self-righteousness with the rest of their lives, which really deteriorates relationships they’re in and their quality of life. I think there is a backlash within the Christian community with respect to self-righteous, narrow-minded people and there are some who are upset with the way it’s affected the christian witness. (hope I’m making sense…if you need me to elaborate, let me know).

2. There are also some in the Christian community who have taken the homosexuality issue as a means to say, “See, this christian community stuff is a bunch of bullspit and I’m tired of it…” when in reality, they’re dealing with anger towards the church or some form of offense they may have been hit by. I think it’s really easy to be angry about something wrong within the christian community and then use a topic/issue to avoid NOT dealing with hurts or offenses suffered. I’m just saying…we’re very complicated people; full of emotions, thoughts, experiences…and to somehow not be self-aware of these movements in our lives is unfruitful. (Again, if you need clarification let me know…I know I have a point in here somewhere).

3. I’ve been following the Anglican church’s wrestling with the homosexuality issue within the church and it’s been interesting to see that the main leaders (N.T. Wright and Rowan Williams) are wrestling scripturally, morally, ethically, etc. I recently read an article by Wright where he basically says, from a scholarly standpoint, homosexuality is a sin of idolatry because it’s not the original image-bearing plan of God. So, in essence, this act (and every sex act outside the a covenant marriage) is a sin of idolatry…i.e. it doesn’t reflect the image of God. Now, if we are engaged in a relationship with God and the goal is towards union with God, then there are choices/decisions/thoughts/attitudes/actions/relationships that moves towards God and this perfect union and away from God…which leads to NOT reflecting the image of God. So, here’s my tie into Prop 8, at what point doe this Prophetic voice speak out in order to influence humankind? I hear the argument about the state establishing civility and I can imagine that may be tough now and days, but at what point does the Prophetic voice (and please don’t take the word prophetic as a charismatic thing…it actually just means proclamation) speak in order to influence others so that there is movement towards union with God (with transformation as a by-product)? This is where I’m having a problem with No on Prop 8.

4. I also believe, though, that for me to even say, “Well, we have to love the gay community” is such a crock of spit. It’s like they’re the gentiles and we’re the privileged ones that “are called to LOVE others”. I’ve heard that line, “Well, we need to love the gay community” and the tone it was said in was more of a “Well, we need to change them so that they can think and act like normal christians.” I think it’s sad that this self-righteous stigma has made christians who struggle with homosexuality feel less than, feel like they’re the outsiders. That sucks.

Let the heat come…I’m wrestling with this just like everyone else so be gentle. 🙂

63. Mark N. - October 30, 2008

To maybe add to or clarify my last post – American law is certainly derived from Judeo-Christian values, but there are numerous influences on it including Greek and Roman law, Enlightenment thought, etc. Law, whatever it may be derived from, is constantly in flux. Legal formalists and legal realists were in a constant battle over whether law was science and could therefore be determined beyond dispute. The legal realists are generally seen to have won the day because our law is a social construct. Any way…all of this is part of a much longer discussion, but the long and short of it is that American law is derived of many roots, not derived entirely from the bible.

64. Jordan - October 30, 2008

Mark,
I am glad you opened that door. The phrase “Separation of Church and State” is one that needs to be looked at again. This phrase as it is referred to in the first amendment says that the “State” or Government can not meddle in the business of the church or their doctrine or belief. It was NOT to keep the influence of the church out of government. I do agree that there were other influences in the development of our country, which is why I did not say that it was the only influence. There is much to be learned from all history and I believe that the founders understood this and took this into consideration. But still leaned more heavily on the BIBLE to establish the laws.
You spoke of true bedrocks, but I implore you to reevaluate that statement. Look back to the beginning of this country. The tolerance for liberal thinking came later, way later. The men that founded this country like any other country was a group of like minded men setting parameters to protect a way of life which appealed to them and invited others that shared their views to join them. I think that if they were here today they would be upset that the original “American Dream” has been perverted and diluted. You also spoke of a “Tolerant America” which I also find to be inconsistent with the original plan for this nation. The founders meant for America to be a place to escape Monarchy and come to place where they could vote for a leader that they thought would equip them to live life without the oppression and if they didn’t like it they could move to another country without having to “escape”. With that said the founders wanted to keep the country with in certain parameters. Similar to this Blog that Casey has created. Casey might become frustrated by the direction that we are taking this post because it may not be where he intended for it to go. In reality though all he can do is ask us to address another point but he cant make us do it. This is the risk you take in providing a place of freedom. Some people will not share the same vision and the original topic is only discussed by a handful of people while the rest of are expressing radical ideas and effecting the rest of the people here. This is a bit of an exaggeration but it is the same thing just on a much smaller scale. You also spoke about the walls of the Supreme Court Building. I would hardly find this applicable when speaking to the founding of this nation or the ideals of the founders as it was not built until 1935. Thats almost 135 years after the country was founded.
Sorry bout the rants but I love to study the origin of our nation and the thought process that took place. The Origin of our nation is a far cry from what most people think it was. Lets not assume that the direction of the nation now is where the founders intended for it to go.

65. Jordan - October 30, 2008

Casey
I joked about derailing the conversation but I hope you know that it is not my intention to do so. This blog takes so many side roads its ridiculous but at the same time its interesting and addictive. I appreciate you providing such a mental stimulus. And the pub blog…well…in Texas they take their drinking very seriously and don’t want any distractions, so they don’t provide WiFi at the bars. Sorry I won’t be able to participate.

66. Mark N. - October 30, 2008

Jordan,

I respectfully have to disagree with what you’ve said. The founding fathers were insanely liberal in the sense that their thought and the government that they created around it was an incredible departure from any form of government that preceded it. This country was founded on preservation of freedoms and freedom is in its truest sense is tolerance. The protection of free speech was meant to permit and tolerate dissension, the freedom of religion was meant for all faiths to be equal in the eyes of government, both procedural and substantive due process were meant to protect freedom from government complusion, promote privacy and the right to live an individual life. Government was made to be tolerant and exist for the benefit of the plurality not pursue dogma. Nothing in the constitution to me suggests that American was made to be anything but tolerant. The ideas that formed this nation were liberal and radical ideas. They have formed a nation that allows for greater freedoms than any in history (the promotion of individual freedom happens to be one understanding of the term liberal). That is why it is so fundamental that we protect this separation and the multi-faith society that this country was founded on. The alternative is the theocracy that America left behind.

67. Antony - October 30, 2008

There are three specific things that I want to respond to:

(1) Jordan, your claim about the US’s foundation is just FALSE. I think Mark has covered much of this ground, but I think it requires repeating because it’s such a prevalent myth in this country, and it has no basis in facts. Yes, as Europeans, most of the Founders were deeply rooted in Judeo-Christianity. But they were a mixed bag when it came to their religious convictions. Some were good Anglicans, several were Deists, and Jefferson would have checked the ‘spiritual but not religious’ box on the survey. If you want to include Tom Paine (the man credited with starting the Revolution with his pamphlet – Common Sense), he was an atheist.

The models that create the foundation of the country are multiple (as Mark said). The first is that the colonies each had a history, all of which were grounded in English common law. But in the bigger picture, it’s actually the Roman Republic that is the model of the American state. Even the Enlightenment thought they adopted is heavily influenced by the Roman republic (such as Montesquieu and Locke). They are more likely to quote Cicero than the Old Testament.

To claim that this is a nation founded on the Bible, let alone the Old Testament, is historically untrue. So, if one wants to make an argument about staying ‘true’ to our founding principles, then one ought to actually adhere to what those principles were – Republican liberty and Enlightenment equality and tolerance.

(2) Several people have said (Sam, Nancy O.) that we should be satisfied with each of us voting our conscience. Sam says this is the purpose of the democratic state. I disagree, if by conscience you mean your personal moral sense of right/wrong. There is a reason that we have a public/private split because one’s ‘conscience’ is not the law of the land. And certainly the law of the land is not just the majority’s ‘conscience’ – that’s the tyranny of the majority – something the Constitution is designed to avoid. The point of the liberal-democratic state is that you can have a political opinion that creates the space for a diverse range of people to pursue their ‘life, liberty, and happiness.’ And so when persons confuse their moral conscience for their political conscience, tyranny is close behind.

(3) Roy, I found your response to be very thoughtful. I really think the Anglican example is relevant and shows the struggle that some Christians are really engaging in. I even think your point about standing up as the prophetic voice is important. There are many problems in this world that call out for persons to make a stand. But, for me, it again comes down to the question of the medium in which you stand up for the prophetic voice. Is it in taking away the civil rights of a group of people? That is what a Yes on 8 vote will do.

My problem with the Christian defense of Prop 8 is that they argue that they are standing up for righteousness in the world. How? By denying gay couples visitation rights in hospitals? By refusing to recognize they are in committed relationships even though they ARE?

I honestly do not understand how a “Yes on 8” can be construed as standing up for the prophetic (does it change the world or just the law?) – I can’t see how it’s being Christian (which I take to be a good and loving neighbor). And I haven’t seen a single argument for “Yes on 8” that makes me think otherwise.

68. Jordan - October 30, 2008

I do understand that the founding fathers were radical in their ideas based on the time and that is not a dispute. However, now, they would be considered to be very conservative. I also know that when you refer to the freedoms as laid out in the constitution that we enjoy are also found in the AMENDMENT section. English law is a resource that was used you are correct so lets evaluate English Law. English Law says that there is no law against murder but that it is a common law crime in that a person committed murder previously and the Judges whom sat on those cases declared it to be illegal. But what is that based on? A Judge thinking it was bad or mean? Come on, bring the English into it and deny that there is no religious influence on the laws. Thats absurd. There has been so much religious oppression in the past of the English that it’s ridiculous and we as a nation borrowed from the tradition of the Romans but not so as to adopt their law but in ways of regulating our government and holding them accountable. I have yet to refer to “SYSTEMS” of government. I was speaking to the beliefs. And yes Antony and Paul, I have said that there were more than ONE influence but that the bible most certainly did play a part in the laws and constitution. The tolerance that you speak of comes from the bible and tolerance does not mean acceptance. I encourage you to think on this point. The way you like to think of what America means is not at all what it was meant to be in the beginning the men that founded this country were speaking of accepting radical ideas that fell in line with their beliefs. You make way more of their intentions than they ever did. Please do not be disillusioned to think that I am a critic of this country or where it has come from. I LOVE this country and served if without hesitation and would do it again. I am merely speaking to the origin of this great nation.

69. Roy - October 30, 2008

Antony:

I’m beside myself that YOU would find my comments “thoughtful” and “important”. I seriously have much respect for you. You are very thorough in your responses and you can tell you’re putting a lot of thought into your comments. I love it. 🙂

As far as christian’s standing up for prop 8 as standing up for righteousness…I know well-intentioned people that really feel they’re doing the right thing by voting yes. They feel a personal conviction that I might say is authentic. I know there are also people voting No feeling that this is not the medium to stand for righteousness.

A mutual friend of ours asked a leading “philosophy” professor from “USC” about his take on Prop 8 and how christians ought to respond. After the professor had shared these absolutes in his lecture, he bowed out and said that it’s such a personal conviction and should be given much time, thought and prayer (or something to that effect). I thought to myself, “This is someone who many christians glean info from and HE won’t give a straight answer.” It goes to show how personal this stuff really is.

that’s it. I really don’t have much more to say. 🙂

Blessings and peace be with you all!

70. Antony - October 30, 2008

Sorry to be drifting off-topic here, but I do think affirming the secular roots of this state is important in understanding why the state should not be in the business of legislating particular conceptions of morality.

Jordan –

Actually, to separate the ‘system’ of government from the ‘beliefs’ about government and its purpose is a nonsensical distinction – they are the same thing. One designs a system of government to uphold and perpetuate certain beliefs. A separation of powers is meant to prevent tyranny (of one or of the majority), for example.

I saw that you recognized the multiple sources that have fed into the founding of this country. That said, you recognized it and then ignored it to argue that the farther we move from the Bible, the farther we move off our foundation. It’s that claim that I find to be problematic.

You keep saying our foundation is influenced by the Bible, but I’m at a loss as to where you get this opinion. What in the Constitution is influenced by the Bible? Even pressing it into the Bill of Rights – which ones are influenced by the Bible? None of them, as far as I can tell.

I have put a lot thought to toleration and its meaning. I don’t believe tolerance to be a Biblical virtue (show me the evidence). And in a certain way, you’re right – tolerance is not acceptance. That is, tolerance does not require you to become what you are not. But it is the acceptance of certain beliefs and persons as part of the community in which you exist (you don’t have to hold the beliefs, but you must accept them as options for others). This tolerance – the one at the core of the American project, enshrined in the First Amendment – is the one learned from the experiences of the English Civil War. It is a political value for dealing with deep difference in a community.

I’m not sure what you meant when you said that I “make way more of their intentions than they ever did.” I’m not sure if you’re underselling me or them. I’m not interested in canonizing them. And I don’t think divining their intentions should determine what we do in this country today. That said, to point out what they were reading, and the historical and political contexts they experienced, helps explain why a claim like our nation was founded on the Bible is, at best, misleading.

71. Mark N. - October 30, 2008

Jordan – I’ll get into more of the substance of your post later, but I want to say this – the Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791 – 4 years after the Constitution. To argue that they are any less meaningful or foundational is absurd.

72. bear - October 30, 2008

Antony, when you say,

“My problem with the Christian defense of Prop 8 is that they argue that they are standing up for righteousness in the world. How? By denying gay couples visitation rights in hospitals? By refusing to recognize they are in committed relationships even though they ARE? ”

Just wondering (not advocating) if gay couples were allowed a deeper civil union that granted the rights of marriage without any assault on the definition, would you be in favor of this? A kind of middle gound of sorts for something we could consider, maybe, new?

73. Jordan - October 30, 2008

I noticed that there was never a response to the question that I asked about Socrates. Please tell me if his teachings are valid or not due to the fact that there is no recorded writings credited to Socrates.

74. Jordan - October 30, 2008

Mark
Who was talking about the bill of rights? You kinda lost me.
Antony
First let me say that I am enjoying this spirited debate.
Now, I think we will go all day about what we think “tolerance” is. I simply disagree with the fact that tolerance is anything more that an agreement to disagree.

I never talked of the System of government. It is simple to draw a distinction of the reason the country was founded and the system of keeping the law. Even our system has changed though and as you might imagine has become looser and looser. Simple example, where are the nooses for the simple theft of cattle or the guillotine for the act of treason or deserting the Army. Now it’s a little while in jail a fine and it’s all a distant memory. But the moral of the story Don’t steal, and your word is your bond,, wait I know I have heard those before…….that’s right the Bible. I know I play to the extremes with some of my examples but this the Legal system as it was in its original form. But one thing that has never changed is the fact that this country was founded on morals, most of which are biblical teachings. I think this should sum it up. I believe that the moral foundation for this country is mainly derived from the bible.

Very quickly I was not attempting to belittle you or the founding fathers. Simply saying that you are giving more credit than I believe is due.

Last thing sorry, I noticed still that you have been reluctant to respond to a point that you brought up and asked the “Christians” to explain to you about the teachings of Paul. I copied them below to save you the trouble of having to search them out. I look forward to hearing from you again.

“First you responded with other quotes of Paul and asked about their validity and quickly summed them up with what YOU think they mean. To speak directly of the “equal yoke” this was not a verse telling us to stay away from or separate ourselves from all that believe different doctrine than us. If you study the original text it is speaking to being brought together as ONE, or as it’s commonly called now, marriage. You applied a rather broad scale that I thought needed to be addressed before the literal meaning of the teaching was lost in a quick judgement rather than the genuine meaning behind this wisdom given to us by Paul.”

“Quick question, do you enjoy the teachings and philosophy of Socrates? I think we all know that he was a great teacher and a founder of western thinking. With that said, there is NO actual writtings of his ever recorded. His students carried on his teachings and noted that Socrates had first come to these revelations. So should we discredit his teachings or believe that his students passed on his work accuratley so as not to disrespect a great teacher. This is touching back on the commets you made that Paul said it not Jesus.”

75. Jordan - October 30, 2008

Mark
The comment “Who was talking about the Bill of Rights?” that i made was a joke.

76. paul - October 30, 2008

Jordan,

“I noticed that there was never a response to the question that I asked about Socrates. Please tell me if his teachings are valid or not due to the fact that there is no recorded writings credited to Socrates.”

1) All of his teachings (even if they were NOT produced by him) still hold valid as tools for the study of philosophy

2) He never claimed to be born of a virgin, miraculously heal the sick and rise from the grave

There is nothing out of the ordinary in Socrates work. True it is brilliant and revolutionary, but we all agree that this work came from a mortal, and a very unpleasant mortal at that We don’t revere the man, we revere the work so if he didn’t write it, that wouldn’t all of a sudden destroy the foundations of modern western philosophy as we know it… just like finding out that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays would not destroy Shakespearian theatre. You see… I believe socrates said these things, but I am open to arguments that could prove he didn’t. But I don’t really care because its not the man thats important in this situation (unlike Jesus), its just the message that is important.

Jordan,

“But the moral of the story Don’t steal, and your word is your bond,, wait I know I have heard those before…….that’s right the Bible.”

Unfortunately, you make this statement and it implies to me that the Bible is the first written law to say stealing is bad. It isn’t. In fact you could go back to ancient egyptian civilization, ancient babalonian civilization, ancient Chinese and many other ancient latin civilizations that totally precede the people of the old testament and see many of the laws that are now in the Old Testament.

Jordan,
“However, now, they [the Founding Fathers] would be considered to be very conservative”

I don’t think this works with any of the founding fathers except maybe John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. By conservative in todays terms you mean these things:
1) the degradation of government run social programs that benefit the majority of the people
2) no taxation except enough to pay for a military and minimal other services (many conservatives today are trying to get rid of the public school system)
3) Much of modern day conservatism as we know it relies HEAVILY on Imperialism through pre-emptive attacks on sovereign nations
4) Modern day conservatism spends extreme amounts of money on the military, yet it goes mostly to private contractors… most modern conservatives in the senate did not vote for the new GI bill because they felt it would “allow soldiers such a good deal to go to school, that they would leave”.
5) The dismantling of regulations reducing the protection of the “general welfare” of the people is another important part of today’s conservatism
6) The blatant disregard for the constitution through the dismantling of the 4th amendment, 1st amendment AND what Cheney calls the Unitary Executive. These conservatives believe the president should have (and they have excercised this much to the chagrin of the founders) MORE power than the other branches.

NONE of these ideas would sit well with the main founders of this country (Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Franklin and the thinkers Locke and Paine). Adams would be ok with the Unitary Executive idea, but he (along with Alexander Hamilton) would be the main founders that could be considered (and this is probably a stretch too) conservative today.

77. Antony - October 30, 2008

Re: #72

Bear,

I actually think this is a hard question to answer. Basically, if gay couples got all the goods and rights of being married but were denied the label, would that be okay? In a certain practical way, I’d be okay with that. Call it whatever you want ‘marriage’ or ‘civil union’ as long as everyone has equal rights…

But in the end, I think that RECOGNITION matters. So to call committed heterosexual couples ‘married’ and committed homosexual couples in a ‘civil union’ is not actually equality. It’s giving a different status to each (even if the ‘benefits’ are the same).

So I’d only be okay with it if the state declared that as far as it was concerned all committed couples are in civil unions. If a couple wants to get married, that is a matter between them and their church. At that point, marriage becomes strictly a religious institution, and churches are free to define essentially as they please.

At that point, ‘civil unions’ would be fine with me.

78. jordan - October 30, 2008

Paul
Again let me say that I am enjoying this debate. I would be full of crap if I said that I am not learning anything.

I do think that some of your ideas of conservatives is quite a bit extreme. But that is neither here nor there. To attempt to get back on the subject of Gay marriage rights, I think that it is wrong and I would like to see some of the scientific “evidence” that says that gay is not a choice it is a way that some are born. Is there a difference in a strand of DNA or something that can be predicted or maybe it’s an inherited trate? Please show me something that says that gay people have no choice. And please make sure that there is “adequate evidence” to prove it. I say that jokingly as there was never a clear definition of what that actually is. But I would like to hear of evidence that shows that it is not a choice.

79. Sam - October 31, 2008

Antony Said:

“I disagree, if by conscience you mean your personal moral sense of right/wrong. There is a reason that we have a public/private split because one’s ‘conscience’ is not the law of the land. And certainly the law of the land is not just the majority’s ‘conscience’ – that’s the tyranny of the majority – something the Constitution is designed to avoid. The point of the liberal-democratic state is that you can have a political opinion that creates the space for a diverse range of people to pursue their ‘life, liberty, and happiness.’ And so when persons confuse their moral conscience for their political conscience, tyranny is close behind.”

So instead of people voting their own conscience, they should vote along the lines of what is politically correct (aka the political conscience)? As i said before, I personally do not believe that the Government has the right to restrict civil liberties to certain segments of the population. However, I do not believe that I (or anyone) have the right to tell other people what to vote. You are right regarding the nature of our system, luckily, the provision ensuring that the Country is not run by the tyranny of the majority (or minority) are institutional through the Courts as well as through the representative branches of government. However, you are suggesting that people should not vote based upon what they believe, but rather what is PC. Are you serious?

Though I may not agree with what the majority think, I believe that every person has a right to vote their conscience. Would I LIKE it if everyone had the best interest of all of society in mind when they vote? Yes… but their right to hold their own opinion, even if you and I consider it shortsighted and ignorant, is sacred to our system.

Back onto topic and the most recent post:

If we start going into the direction of genetic propensities and DNA to determine what should and should not be legal then we will need to rethink a LOT of things. People have been found to have a genetic propensity toward alcoholism, drugs, as well as antisocial and even criminal behaviors. Because the genetics imply that it is part of a persons genetic wiring, does that make it all permissible? Of course not. Likewise we shouldn’t use genetics as a basis of the discussion of homosexuality.If we do, we set an idiotic legal precedent.

I am not saying that homosexuality is or is not genetic, I am saying that that question is (or at least should be) irrelevant when looking at the subject of legal rights for homosexuals.

80. Paul - October 31, 2008

“However, I do not believe that I (or anyone) have the right to tell other people what to vote. You are right regarding the nature of our system, luckily, the provision ensuring that the Country is not run by the tyranny of the majority (or minority) are institutional through the Courts as well as through the representative branches of government. However, you are suggesting that people should not vote based upon what they believe, but rather what is PC. Are you serious?”

If we were voting to resume slavery, wouldn’t you try and compel people how to vote? Wouldn’t you explain to them that they are human and thus deserve equal rights as all humans do under the constitution and the foundations of this country? Can’t we also agree that it is unequovically wrong to not stand up to, as Antony has put it, “the tyranny of the majority”? Isn’t it patently obvious that there is a right way to vote on this issue and a wrong way based off of basic human rights and equality? Antony is in no way describing what is “politically correct”, actually he is describing what is “foundationally correct” based on the constitution and bill of rights. “politically correct” is a euphomism for being effete or light in the loafers. Antony is asking people to go back to the foundations of our country, understand the philosophy of the people who created it, and vote according to those foundations. Our political structure (though not perfect) creates a playing field that ideally helps to include people and protect their rights as people. The Bible, or any other holy book has, at best, a muddy view on how to treat other people in a political arena (some verses are good on this subject, while others are not).

Hey Jordan, here is a link to a wikipedia article on homosexual behavior in animals… from there i think there are links to actual scientific journals ( i would get more links, but i need to go to work 😉
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sexuality#Homosexual_behaviour

In the end, I want to say I have gone off topic, and will return back to the main problem at hand in my next posts.

81. bear - October 31, 2008

I recently wrote an article for Wiki denostrating the ability of Ringtail cats to turn invisible.

Anytony, thanks for your response.

Bear

82. Michelle Wilson - October 31, 2008

Antony,

Your response only makes sense if truth is relative or if what I believe is wrong. If the Bible is actually true, then everyone experiences increased spiritual health when all our definitions stay in line with spiritual truth.

I don’t think not legalizing gay marriage is denying freedom to gays. I think that people have created a legal entity of marriage to help us deal with the longstanding human pattern of male-female marriage. I would make a distinction between not expanding that to include other kinds of long term love relationships and denying rights to certain groups. Not legalizing gay marriage does not attempt to outlaw gay sex, gay civil unions, or even gay wedding ceremonies. It only leaves our definition of marriage unchanged.

By the way, this is not a stance on Prop 8. If only the spiritual health of a nation was as simple as voting for a proposition!

83. Antony - October 31, 2008

Sam –

Paul did a good job of explaining my point, but since it was directed to me, I will chime in. You said:

“However, I do not believe that I (or anyone) have the right to tell other people what to vote. You are right regarding the nature of our system, luckily, the provision ensuring that the Country is not run by the tyranny of the majority (or minority) are institutional through the Courts as well as through the representative branches of government. However, you are suggesting that people should not vote based upon what they believe, but rather what is PC. Are you serious?”

(1) Paul is right, “politically correct” is deployed as a term of derision (whether you put in quotes or not) – it’s meant to hide the substance of my point under something that certain groups instantly dismiss as liberal, effete, blah, blah, blah.

(2) You focused on my use of the word “should” – this is a forum for opinions. My opinion is that people SHOULD vote based on a political conscience, not simply their personal moral one. It’s not that they MUST. I’d never stop anyone from voting as they please. One can’t defend liberty AND compel others to vote in a particular way. I think it’s a willful distortion of what I said to even head down that path…

That said, I think it’s important to not let people hide behind their claim that “you vote how you believe, and I vote how I believe” as a way of ending the conversation, as if all attempts at persuasion are an attack on people’s right to believe as they please. As if there is nothing to say to one another, and there is no space for persuasion and discussion within the community.

My “should” is meant to persuade people that when engaged in politics, people should vote their political conscience – and given our political context (the United States) – the trump political values are liberty, equality, and tolerance.

None of these values is without bounds, and we have a long history as a community of sorting out where those limits should be. But the idea is that we start with the right as given, and we have to find a compelling reason to not protect those rights. And if our sole reason for denying tolerance, of denying the rights of liberty and equality to a certain group of persons is an individual’s ‘moral conscience’ that is not a valid political reason.

As a community, we now protect a number of rights that I think most of us would find problematic morally. The free speech of hate groups is a good example. As long as it’s speech, we have no right to curb it. It’s only when it moves beyond speech to being a threat against another’s life and liberty that the law can stop it. So, I find the content of their words morally wrong and hateful, but politically, I don’t think we can silence them just because I don’t share their morality.

– – –

Everyone –

I’ve followed a rabbit trail away from the point, but to bring it back (at least one more time): All of this discussion about the relationship between politics and morality in this country is meant to persuade those who are voting ‘Yes on 8’ for no other reason than that they believe homosexual sex to be a sin that they are voting incorrectly for the following reasons:

(1) The law is not meant to legislate morality in this country. In the US, we have political values that are distinct from particular moral conceptions, and this division has served every single one of us well – it defends us when our opinions or lifestyles are not shared by the whole community.

(2) Changing laws does not change hearts, which is what morality and sin are about – a move of the heart towards or away from God.

The best articulation of this I’ve ever heard is Jamie Wilson’s sermon called “Should Christians Legislate Morality?” (go to http://www.coastvineyard.org/messsages.php – it’s near the bottom). [Qualifier: I know Jamie has not taken a position on Prop 8 – so I do NOT mean this to say that he endorses my political position, but I think that, for me, he captures here the way in which Christians are called to act in our community and why there ought to be a distinction between loving and legislating.]

84. Antony - October 31, 2008

Michelle –

While I was writing the last post, you posted. So a quick response, I think that I’m politically right even if your beliefs are true. Politics is not about truth, it’s about living together.

And that your position requires people to agree with you that “if the Bible is true…” is problematic politically. Now, I understand it as a moral position, and this is something that you have a right to believe in private. But we do not live in a society where you can pass legislation for the sake of the nation’s ‘spiritual health’ – that is antithetical to the what the United States is about.

And I have to disagree with your view that to deny homosexual couples the equal right to marriage is not denying them freedom. By that argument, you can defend every roadblock to increasing the scope and application of rights and equality in this country’s history. Take the example of women’s right to vote. Following your logic, women should not have gotten the right to vote. It was not denying women freedom – they never had it. Similarly, as marriage is for heterosexuals, not homosexuals, so politics was for men, not women. Why should we EXPAND those rights to include those it had never included?

I think the answer is that our understanding of what constitutes rights and equality had changed. The arguments against women’s suffrage just did not hold water, and we gained the political will to change that. And I would argue that today, our sense of equality ought to again expand and recognize the equality of homosexual couples before the law.

I think that it is a much easier to defend an expansion of equality, rather than a contraction of it.

85. Paul - October 31, 2008

Bear,

“I recently wrote an article for Wiki denostrating the ability of Ringtail cats to turn invisible.”

Haha I like that. Just one question, did you actually source your document to other reputable scientific journals and articles like the wiki article i posted?

86. Paul - October 31, 2008

After thinking about this issue, and especially how people think about it I think we as a society have a huge misunderstanding of government and our role in it. It really isn’t a religious issue, though people who are religious think that it is. This is truly a rights issue, and should be viewed exactly as any other rights issue this country has faced.

I blame our education system (isn’t this a cop out too?) for not properly instilling the importance of understanding our history, government system and the importance of our role in it. Let’s face it the average american probably has no idea how many senators we have or for how long their terms go for. I know, it sounds like i’m nitpicking but I do feel that understanding the process of our government is just as important to understanding your own worldview when voting on an issue.

87. Jordan - October 31, 2008

Paul,
Wow you are quick to say that everybody ELSE is undereducated therein implying you are the only authority and that your opinions are factual but are based on unsubstantiated theories that you find on Wikipedia. Careful how you tread, as you are the only one claiming that we as a society fall short of your abilities to discern truth. You say,
“After thinking about this issue, and especially how people think about it I think we as a society have a huge misunderstanding of government and our role in it. It really isn’t a religious issue, though people who are religious think that it is. This is truly a rights issue, and should be viewed exactly as any other rights issue this country has faced.”

Although you attempt to make it sound like our entire society is unintelligent, it seems to be more targeted at those here on the blog that dont share your OPINION. I encourage you to reserve passing judgement here in the blog. I am not saying to not share your opinion but to be sensitive.

88. Paul - October 31, 2008

Jordan,

I will only say this… I meant no offense, nor am I implying that the people that blog here that disagree with me are “unintelligent”. Let’s stop this part of the discussion right here.

As to my unsubstantiated theories, when I have more time to write about those issues I will point you to articles in Nature and other like science journals on the topic.

89. jesh - October 31, 2008

I want to respond to Bear’s question about whether or not it would be ok to have “civil unions” granted to gay couples, giving them the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples. I know Antony addressed this a bit, but I think it’s important because I hear a lot of people suggesting this as an option.

The reason I don’t think it’s ok to give gay couples the option for civil unions and not to marriage is that it still denies gay couples the right to get married. It seems so simple to me, that to deny a particular group the right to get married (a right given to all consenting adults over 18) is to deny them human rights.

I agree with Antony that if all State “marriages” were called “civil unions”, then it would be ok. But to give one group the right to get married and another the right only to have a civil union is simply discrimination. To go down the road of legislation that designates two groups of people as “separate but equal” makes me really nervous, and should do the same for anyone who knows our country’s history of civil rights.

Finally, I want to ask a question to all the married people writing on this blog: How does a gay couple’s marriage threaten or devalue your marriage?

I ask this because I myself am getting married in 5 weeks, and it doesn’t bother me in the least that gay couples will be getting married that same day [hopefully]. So I’d like to hear from those of you who feel that it’s important to keep gays from getting married in order to “protect” the sanctity of your marriages.

90. Paul - October 31, 2008

Jesh, I think you raised an excellent question:
How does a gay couple’s marriage threaten or devalue your marriage?

I think that question should lead to other questions such as, “what does marriage mean to you?” “What does a good marriage look like?”

I think we can find some common ground on these questions.

91. jordan - October 31, 2008

Paul
I would like to look at more of the evidence that you have and at the same time keep this blog true to the direction that Casey is trying to take it. With that said if you would like to e-mail me further about this topic or any others that we may come accross please feel free to send the links and or your opinions. As I said before, I truly am enjoying the debate.

Dearmond28@gmail.com

92. bear - October 31, 2008

I recently heard an amzing quote that I need to share: “I have no probelm with hay marriage. If you don’t want gay marriage, then don’t get gay married.”

amen

Paul, unfortunately my Ringtail Cat entry was removed within the first 8 minutes. Soon I will open a blog that will allow me the chance to speak freely, walk down any rabbit trails I wish to, and be free from the trevail of blogs. :

And….as a married person, I am not threatened by gay marriage. Actually, I am way more threatned by what I would consider, the “fading of gender” and all the truth and beauty that is a part of the wholeness of a man being a man, a woman being a woman, and what they are made for and made of. This is a different topic for a different blog, but one I consider to be just as serious. This view, however, has little to do with gay marriage–even in the christian view, where we are a broken humanity, I have a hard time with two truly loving people NOT being able to be together–even if I know full well that they will face the same issues of immorality and idolotry that I will face in my straight marriage.

Bear

93. Sam - October 31, 2008

Antony, nice reversal/reframe there. Except I wasn’t criticizing your idea that people “should” vote one way or another. I was defending my own point of view. You began this tangent when you said that you disagreed with what I had said (specifically) regarding people’s right to vote. My statement was that: “I believe that every person has the right to vote their conscience (which is the intent of a democratic state).”

I said that everyone has a RIGHT to speak their conscience while you re-framed the the question of being a matter of should and attempted to undermine what I had said and then claim that I had manipulated the discussion by altering the original claim. Your original claim was that you disagreed with my assertion that everyone has a RIGHT to vote how they will (you explicitly said this). It was THAT claim that I was refuting.

Paul–the fact is that not everyone agrees with your point of view. And though I myself DO share your point of view on the topic, I fully allow that everyone else can have whatever opinion they want, and they can vote accordingly.

Many fundamentalists, from Christians, to Muslim to Jewish, hold the belief that homosexuality is innately wrong. They also hold true that the moral laws that they cling to and embrace are as obvious and inerrent as you believe the natrual laws to be.

You said earlier:

“Can’t we also agree that it is unequovically wrong to not stand up to, as Antony has put it, “the tyranny of the majority”? Isn’t it patently obvious that there is a right way to vote on this issue and a wrong way based off of basic human rights and equality?”

Fundamentalists use the SAME logic. It’s just that they operate on a different set of assumptions than you do. Saying that everyone should stand up aligned with your particular Politically Conscience point of view is Tyranny of its own, and is one of the clearest violations of the concept behind the exclusionary clause that I can think of (Politically Conscience is what I had meant by PC.. not politically correct, I was being lazy this morning.)

I am not arguing the issue here with you guys–we agree on what should go down. So we can let this go I think, I just had to restate my position after it was thoroughly distorted.

Additionally, my pointing out that people will vote how they believe was a precursor to pointing out that we are not dealing with a matter of people’s ideas on this topic. Everyone is coming from a place of belief. Ideas can be changed with evidence and logical argument, beliefs, not so much. I have yet to see anyone seem as if their view has been persuaded by this discussion–it has been a healthy display of ideas and logic behind why people believe what they do, and that is great

94. paul - October 31, 2008

Interesting article on Prop 8:
http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/story/1358907.html

95. daniellui - October 31, 2008

wow. a lot of people have commented here. I would never dream of having this kind of response. awesome.

Anyways, thanks for writing this. I have been feeling more and more alone in my views, and it’s nice to hear somebody articulating similar views. I am currently struggling with prop 8 and how to vote. I’ve just had 2 of my friends come out of the closet to tell my group of friends how much this would affect them. At the same time, many of my supporters (I work for Intervarsity, and we fundraise… it’s our blessing and curse. ha.) have made it a point to say that they really want me to be at the call. So I will be an unwilling participant there for their sake. I don’t know if i’ll run out screaming.

I had been to the call several years ago in LA and SF. My own views had not been formed back then and I did not notice some of the blatant political things said… but I really didn’t remember that. What I remembered was a solemn assembly of prayer and fasting. I remember one of the biggest subjects of prayer was reconciliation of the fathers to the sons (and mothers to daughters). It deeply impacted who I am today as a Christian.

However, now I look at the advertising and the rhetoric flowing out from there… and it’s not the same call that I remember (Kind of like McCain of 2000 vs. McCain of 2008. ha.)

Anyways, all I have to say is that I’ve been mulling over this, my heart has been heavy and very conflicted on this subject. thanks for voicing this.

(and man. you get a lot of comments. you are a super star)

96. caseyww - October 31, 2008

I’m back! After my long…1 day absence? Wow, I’m really enjoying the conversation so far, thanks everyone.

(RE: Comment #93)

Sam-
Something you said above kind of depressed me:

Ideas can be changed with evidence and logical argument, beliefs, not so much. I have yet to see anyone seem as if their view has been persuaded by this discussion

While, I agree that there is great potential for this to become a polarized discussion I still hold out hope that this space would be one of vulnerability. (This deep in the comments section it’s hard to see the subtitle of the blog above).

I don’t think beliefs should be insulated from the standards of evidence like I’ve said in previous posts. I do agree with you, however, that beliefs are much harder to have a reasonable discussion about but mostly I attribute this to a somewhat overprotective stance we usually take when it comes to belief. If our beliefs are true then they don’t need to be protected with such zeal.

I’ll personally put myself on the chopping block here. I believe that the state should allow gay marriage. If anyone can present compelling evidence that this belief is in error I’d be happy to revise my stance. So far, I haven’t seen any evidence whatsoever that gay marriage being legal would have the kind of negative effects on our society that it would be worth suspending the civil rights of some of our citizens over.

97. Sam - October 31, 2008

Casey Wrote:

“I don’t think beliefs should be insulated from the standards of evidence like I’ve said in previous posts…”

I agree with you and the concept that people should be willing to review their ideas with an accessible mind (if not open). I agree that the reality is depressing.

My favorite quote on the topic is actually from Chris Rock in Dogma (though credit for the words goes to the man/writer Kevin Smith):

“I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.“

98. caseyww - October 31, 2008

(RE: Comment #92)

Bear-

On gender roles you said:

Actually, I am way more threatned by what I would consider, the “fading of gender” and all the truth and beauty that is a part of the wholeness of a man being a man, a woman being a woman, and what they are made for and made of.

(You’re right, this is bit off topic but not too far for me not to find it interesting.)

My dear Ransom, I can see you now, surrounded by Malacandra and Perelandra. This is one of my favorite moments in all of CS Lewis’ writing…maybe the only that has moved me to tears. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with Lewis’ idea that gender is a divinely endowed characteristic of which our human forms are only a faint reflection. This implies that there is a transcendent standard for what gender should be and that we can reflect more of who God is by embracing this pure form. It also implies that there is a standard away from which we can fade. I hope this isn’t to vague of a reference…I know it won’t be for you Bear.

I don’t think homosexuality is a fading away from the true form of gender. Instead it is a window into to the real spectrum that gender actually is. Homosexuality highlights that sexual preference is a continuum which almost defies a rigid definition. All the research into sexual preferences shows that we all lie somewhere on this spectrum…some of us representing what traditionally would be characterized as the ideal forms of gender more or less than others.

To bring it back to the topic at hand, I would assert that there should be no privileged point on the spectrum of sexual preference. All should be treated equitably (especially by the state but personally I would extend this to religious belief also).

99. Nancy O. - October 31, 2008

Besides the reasons why I’ve already stated about why I plan to vote yes on Prop 8, I am also deeply concerned about my daughter if it does not pass for the following reason:

The California Education Code (51890) mandates that children be instructed about marriage. If Prop 8 fails, young impressionable children such as my daughter may be taught about marriage between same-sex partners. This already occurs in Massachusetts publice schools where same-sex marriage is legal, and parents there are not given the choice to opt out or even be notified prior to the instruction of their children. This isn’t to say that this will happen in California but I am afraid it could.

I do not want my young, impressionable child taught by a teacher that she idolizes about same sex marriage (homosexuality) without my consent. I would like to retain my right as a parent to talk with my child about the subject of homosexuality when I deem she is mature enough to think and decide about how she feels and what she believes for herself.

People say why would you not vote No on Prop 8 because it will not hurt you – but it can also affect my child and that’s a very serious matter to me.

100. caseyww - October 31, 2008

(RE: Comment #99)

Nancy-

I’m surprised this argument hasn’t come up yet in the comments here.

Unfortunately the idea that our children are going to be taught about gay marriage if Prop 8 is struck down is a blatant lie that is being spread by the Yes on 8 lobby. It is patently false.

Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education. And no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it. California’s top educators including Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell and California Teachers all agree: Prop 8 has nothing to do with education.

Concerning your question about Massachusetts:

Fact: California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don’t agree with. The opponents know that California law already covers this and Prop 8 won’t affect it, so they bring up an irrelevant case in Massachusetts.

But these facts may even be beside the point. What is the real danger in your daughter learning about the diversity of relationships that exist (assuming she’s at an appropriate age)? You stated early on in the comments section that you have many gay friends whom you love. What kind of message is it to your daughter that these friends and their lifestyles are so toxic that if her impressionable young mind was informed of their very existence she may be irreparably corrupted?

I believe it would do our children well to learn that there are people who are different than them in this world and that we need not react with fear and bigotry to lifestyles that are different than our own.

A separate thought: Your argument about education is a logical fallacy in that it’s an argument from final consequence. Just because education could change here (which it won’t) doesn’t mean that this is adequate reason to deny homosexuals equal rights. These are two separate issues and our childrens’ education is an issue that should be considered separately.

101. jordan - October 31, 2008

casey
I want you to know that I am taking a lot away from each post that I read, be it yours or someone elses in a comment. I agree with what you said in your last post as you addressed Bears comment about losing the u derstanding of what a real man or woman is supposed to be. I actually agree with you on this one. I think it requires a full embrace of your gender to come out of the “closet” an say that you are gay. If there is any blurring of this line there would be a difficulty in determining that they are gay. I believe that coming out of the closet is a huge step for a man or a woman because they have to understand that they are desiring to enter a relationship that is not fully accepted and even in some areas putting a target on themselves. I want to write more about this but I think that I need to think more about this so I can articulate my point more effictivley.
Until then……..Happy Halloween!

102. Nancy O. - October 31, 2008

Casey,

You need to reread my post.

I did not say there is a danger with my daughter learing about the diversity in relationships, I pointed out that I want to teach her when I deem she is mature enough to think for herself and decide how she feels and what she will believe!

I did not say anything about it being a toxic issue regarding knowing of my gay friends very existence.

I agree with you that we do our children well to learn there are people different with them in the world. That, to me, is elementary. Based on the post that I wrote, do you think I am acting with fear and bigotry by stating I want to teach my child about differences when I deem she is ready for it?

You cannot say with certainty that although education could change, it wont.

103. Nancy O. - October 31, 2008

Casey,

I also did not say there is any mention of education in Prop 8. Not sure where you came up with that either.

What I said is under the California Education Code (51890) my child MAY be taught about marriage, including gay marriage, when it is I, as her parent, that would like to retain the right to teach her when I deem she is mature enough!

The California Education Code indicates, among other things, that the education of family health and child development, including the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood are to be be offered in the public school system to grades kindergarten and grades 1 to 12.

It is your opinion that the fact that Massachutes does not give parents the right to opt out of this instruction is irrevelant in relation to Prop 8, which is true at this point, but what I said is that even though that might not happen in California, it can and you can’t guarantee that it will not.

My points are valid. Your argument was full of misunderstanding of what I wrote.

104. Nancy O. - October 31, 2008

Casey,

One more thing about your statement that “we need not react with fear and bigotry”.

You directed wrote that comment to me. Do you know what a bigot is? It is a person who is intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and predudices, especially one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

You’ve invited people to be vulnerable in this forum. But, Casey, implying that I am reacting with fear and bigotry is a nasty, hateful thing to say to anyone, even when they are a stranger to you. Is that the kind of treatment you expect your guests to be vulnerable to?

Just because I disagree with you, does not mean I am a bigot. I do not agree with you with some points but I will never resort to judging you by calling you names that aim straight for the heart.

That, to me, is an example of intolerance.

105. Bill Whitsett - October 31, 2008

Wow…great stuff!
Belief’s do change…there is hope. Mine have.
Was riding in a car one day when Casey was about 8yrs old…just he and I. 20someodd years ago..saw a sign, some billboard that looked as if it leaned towards a positive homosexual agenda. I turned to my son then and told him something along these lines…”the world is changing, things that were solidly wrong are now being looked on as gray area’s. Asked him to remember, that some things will always be “wrong”, no matter what the world calls “right”. That was me…20yrs ago. That was me, a men’s minister for a small church, an elder on the board, firmly rooted in denominational theology that called homosexuality an abomination, a plague, deviant sexual act, abnormal, sick..and yes, absolute sin.
Like the words to an old Bob Segar song…20yrs now, where did they go.
Going to post this now, have to take a break due to unexpected company..and no way to “save” until later…more to follow.

106. Bill Whitsett - October 31, 2008

20yrs now, where did they go.
I have changed. What I once believed and held onto as solids have become liquids. Life has a way of showing us, teaching us, molding us, sometimes breaking us and re-shaping us.

I have learned that what I believe today may in fact change again, and not to be so staunch and unbending. My “absolute truths” of 20yrs ago no longer ring so true. I have had to return to the drawing board on alot of issues. It was not in a week long debate albeit, but time weathers all stones. Sometimes we have to strip away all that we hang onto and start over again.

Have read alot here about our founding fathers….I remember a phrase….”Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, I think now that it was just not for those who read our Bible, not just for those who have sex the same way we do. It was to be held out to “all men, all women”.

Isnt it pretty well historically noted by the way that a couple of those founding fathers who in the hindsight of time come away so noble and honorable…had affairs with their slaves, (Thomas Jefferson) and had hidden in desk drawers porn of the day (Benjamin Franklin)..one of the reasons he loved going to France so much, he was quite popular with the ladies. And yes, a couple were even rumored to have been a little on the effiminate side, a little limp wristed with their hankeys.

If sex is just a device to procreate and advance the evolutionary trail, then of course homosexuality can be seen as an abnormality…but, abnormality does not contain the moral stance of wrong or right (does it?). It is just out of the norm.

Stupid hypothesis: Bilogically/Genetically couldnt the homosexual gene be nature’s way of controlling the population of a species? Just me thinking out loud, I have nothing to back that up with.

But since sex is not just a procreation device…ask any heterosexual couple using birth control, age limitations, or person who (huhemmm???) sexually takes things in hand? (We are all adults here?)…that seems to me to be just as then “abnormal”…and does the Church call birth control a sin? Does the State step in and vote on a Prop that calls for the end of Self-Pleasure? These things do not carry the stigma that has plaqued homosexuality for so long, because they are so main-line accepted. So any sexual act where procreation is not allowed to flourish is out of the Will of God and therefore a sin….?
Any woman who uses birth control is practicing abnormal sexual practices, and you are out of the will of God? How archaic would that be! Or is it just the two men together thing that disgust you? If it is pleasurable for them, if they find love in it, if they commit to each other for a lifetime, make promises that even straight people have a hard time fullfilling….why not let them get married in the eyes of the State?

Oh Yes…I have changed my beliefs.

Is their a line that should be drawn legislating morality…yes, and the words “consenting” and “of age legal” should be quantitive in it. Two consenting legal of age, adults should be allowed the right to pursue “Life, liberty and Happiness”, be they male and male, or female and female.
At my gut core level…I know it to be right.

So much good that conversation did with him 20someodd years ago! (grin)

107. bear - October 31, 2008

I tried not to go here, but….Casey, thanks for the CS Lewisness that you know I so appreciate—especially the specific allusion you made. I might, if I had the energy, explore what you said here, “This is one of my favorite moments in all of CS Lewis’ writing…maybe the only that has moved me to tears.” AS proof enough, or as N.T. Wright would say, as a ‘signpost’ to something transcendent. I am not sure that would make it very far on this post—not because of its lack of validity, but it would seem that the overall construct of these posts, while gracious, not only leave no stone unturned, but seems to grind the stones into bits until they are unrecognizable…wow…that was overly dramatic…

When I say “Fading gender roles” this has less to do with sexuality and more with a trend away from woman being a woman and a man being a man. What would follow here is the question you raise by your comment

(Casey)

“it is a window into to the real spectrum that gender actually is. Homosexuality highlights that sexual preference is a continuum which almost defies a rigid definition. All the research into sexual preferences shows that we all lie somewhere on this spectrum…some of us representing what traditionally would be characterized as the ideal forms of gender more or less than others.”

ALL the research? Maybe, and I trust you. The main issue for me is not sexual preference as much as what happens in that direction (as cultural pressures and confusions about identity factor in). Women who move toward maleness in dress, action, word and deed. Men who take up a feminine role etc…there is a transcendent beauty of a woman who fulfills her gender role: she was created by God, or by particles, or she adapted, whatever the path, she is meant to bear children. There is an unearthly beauty in a woman (or female animal for that matter) who is fully mother. Men are intended to impregnate the women. I would not argue that all animals have the same gender roles, but all animals do have them (just not always the same. In other words, the Lioness hunts not the male. Both penguin parents take care of their newborns. While the gender roles differ, they are roles just the same. It would be fair to argue that human beings also have gender roles that are not constructed but innate. They may be adaptable or evolutionary, but there are some inherent aspects which we cannot overlook. A same sex couple cannot have children unless something intercedes from outside their union. This is simply a fact—not a judgment on the ability to parent (although that may be another topic). There is what I would call, a violation, or a shift of some kind that seems unintended based on the way humans were made (however they were made). This needs to be dealt with.

Again, this is not to comment on the goodness or badness of same-sex couples, only an observation and a thought regarding purposes (and beauty) of Gender.

There are also deeply cultural aspects to gender that I would say are somewhat transcendent between men and women, but those are less likely to be argued successfully, and they relate much more to the bending toward or the hope for a more transcendent connection—or a random result of cultural influences (not likely).

I really am surprised by the level of thought and maturity of this blog, and it is my sincere hope that perhaps the people gathered here might move toward solutions and activism in some of these issues. I think the pub is a good start.

Bear

108. caseyww - October 31, 2008

Nancy-

I have reread your post 3 times.

Gay marriage is legal in California right now. Is your daughter learning about it school? My point was that we do not live in Massachusetts and that there are legal provisions already present in California to preserve your rights as a parent to opt out of education you deem inappropriate. Prop 8 will not change that. In fact a no vote on Prop 8 keeps things exactly the same as we have them now. Your assertion that education could become more liberal with a no vote on Prop 8 is just patently false.

This is also an argument from final consequence. I’ll say again that we shouldn’t be denying people rights because homosexual ideas might trickle down to the school system. Homosexuals either deserve civil rights or they don’t. The school system is a completely separate issue.

Secondly, I did not call you personally a bigot. If any offense was taken it was not intended.

However, I will not apologize for using the word bigot in general. I agree with your definition that a bigot is intolerantly dedicated to their opinions and willing to treat a specific group with hatred. I think you exactly summed up what The Call video represents and why I decided to write on this subject.

Further, I do worry about these messages being passed onto our children, even if inadvertently. I believe that holding the position that we should shield our children from homosexual ideals in the school system provides the opportunity for bigoted ideas to develop in the next generation by classing homosexuals as de facto immoral. By guarding our children (I’m speaking as a community not specifically your daughter) from homosexual ideas at school we are sending a message that this is a subject/group of people is so dangerous that we must actively protect our children from influence. I won’t apologize for finding there to be an unspoken bias in this position.

109. Nancy O. - October 31, 2008

Casey,

Same-sex marriage has only been legal in California for approximatley 5 months (I think), so no, the public schools have not included that fact in their health education curriculm that I know of; however, they may introduce it whenever they wish – possibly next year (?)

I understand that at this time I have the perogative as a parent to opt out of marriage and sex education in the school for my child, and I thank God for that only because I want to be the one who teaches my child about those subjects because I know her and I will know how and when to introduce her to it. As a side note, I strongly believe in not controlling the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of any individual, including my own child. I want her to be who she is and form her own beliefs with the information she is provided. I will provide her with “all sides” of all kinds of life issues as I raise her and then step back and give her complete freedom to be who she is and believe how she chooses. That is her right.

I am with you in not believing that Prop 8 will change anything about education, except it is possible that same-sex marriage can be included in the public schools curriculm. I am not opposed to that. I just want to be the one to teach my child not only about homosexual orientation but hetrosexual orientation, as well. Those are sensitve subjects to teach and there is nobody more in tune with who she is and how she should be taught than her mother.

I do not believe in shielding children from homosexual or hetrosexual ideals in the school system. I just want CHOICE as a parent regarding when and how my child is taught. We have that choice in California and I pray to God (literally I will tonight) that our rights as parents do not change and become what they are in Massachuttes.

I appreciate you, Casey. I know men aren’t always comfortable hearing people say things like this – but for a few hours I was so pissed off at you and now I see that you have heart by clarifying the bigot thing that I took personally and didn’t need to.

Goodnight.

110. Michelle Wilson - November 1, 2008

Bear,

This continues to be off topice, but I’m confused about your concerns about gender roles.

“Women who move toward maleness in dress, action, word and deed. Men who take up a feminine role etc…”

I don’t think I know what you mean by this or how one distinguishes between gender roles which are created and gender roles which are cultural. What constitutes a male or female “deed, word, etc?”

Michelle

111. bear - November 1, 2008

Michelle,

My previous post is far too brief to fully address the issue, so I will address your question in an abbreviated fashion here:

Regarding

“Women who move toward maleness in dress, action, word and deed. Men who take up a feminine role etc…”

And your specific question:

What constitutes a male or female “deed, word, etc?”

Let’s take Lions. A lioness has a specific created role to hunt, raise the young, and be the lifeblood of the pride. All animals have specific roles that are a part of their gender. True, they flow back and forth into what, by some human standards, may seem like cross-gender activity, but that is a construct we put on them. Human beings face a host of other issues. Imagine for a second that suddenly, the culture of a specific pride of lions was able to be influence—culturally—by some kind of women’s movement where suddenly the male lions had to hunt or feed the young. The Pride would perish, or the strongest lion would survive. This is a powerful truth about the importance of the gender roles in this case. Survival depends on it.

To answer your question about what constitutes a male or female word or deed: I would refer you to many biblical texts you know very well, any bio 101 text book, and Anthropology study on gender, or a number of other sources. Let me assure you that I am not saying that “women should stay home and nurture” while the men go off to hunt. The glass ceiling is shattered in my opinion. I am simply concerned about the loss of the truth of who we are as male and female regarding what we may have been designed for, or the beauty of being a woman (bearing children) and being men etc…more later when I don’t have a baby typing with me….:) Does this help to clarify at least what I meant?

Bear

112. Michelle Wilson - November 1, 2008

Sorry, Bear.
I honestly can’t think of any Biblical texts you would be thinking of. There’s instructions for head coverings and not talking during church which I don’t think are what you mean. And there’s the Ephesians passage on submitting to each other, but that one doesn’t prescribe any specific types of things a man or a woman should do or not do. I can’t think of any passages that say what behaviors, speech patterns or clothing items are female and what are male. And you said you aren’t saying women should stay home and nurture, but the only example you’ve given so far is women bearing children. I’m lost.

The lion example doesn’t really make sense to me. Sounds like you’re saying the survival of the species depends on the females doing all the work while the biggest male lounges around, demands to eat first, and goes on an occasional mating marathon. I’m glad I’m not a lion and I would hope humans survival doesn’t depend on a similar arrangement.

113. bear - November 1, 2008

Michelle, it seems that your interpretation of what I am saying is mostly colored by your own experience. This isn’t a jab, but I didn’t expect that you would glean what YOU said from what I wrote.

I will attempt to describe it more clearly, but I must say that this is a much larger concept, and I am trying to resist taking this wide turn away from “calling out the call,” but others may care about this. so…

But let me ask you a question: are you saying that other than child bearing, men and women have ambiguous gender roles? Eve and Adam, for example, could have been two women if Eve had the appropriate genitalia to suit the second Eve?

The lion example is to illustrate that—males and females have some unique gender roles. I am not sure why this is confusing? I am trying to boil it down. (and I will a bit further down).

Scientifically, Sexual Dimorphism is a fact. It is incredibly important to the reproductive cycle for animals, including humans. It causes the attractions needed, it is a system that allows human beings to naturally attract one another, and it is evident in all species.

Stop. You know what; this is not worth my time because to put in all the research will only raise 200 more questions. I assumed that science was pretty clear regarding the need for males and females of different species to have some determined behaviors. The Lion example was meant to say that IN THE CASE OF THE UNIQUE GENDER ROLES ASSIGNED TO LIONS the females do much of the work regarding the everyday survival of the pride. IF they do not fulfill their gender roles then the pride’s survival is threatened. THIS IS WHY the gender roles matter.

It would follow then that each species has specific gender roles that it is equipped with through DNA, God, adaptation cycles, and evolutionary tracks, whatever it may be. IF those roles are interfered with in a way that is not a product of the natural evolution of the species, then that species is at risk. (SIMILAR TO THE LIONS). Okay. I love lions, but they are sleeping now.

As far as the biblical examples. I won’t argue theology with a pastor for right now, but this might be a good conversation for a Sunday morning after church. In the Bible I have read, women, “do” all kinds of things that women are supposed to do—most especially not limited to “talking in church,” although I don’t blame them after all the years of not getting to talk. IT would seem that starting with Eve, who was made as a “helper,” which is then connected through typology to many other meanings which then take on many attributes and specifics regarding what this “helper” will do—particularly in essence. In this, I don’t mean going to the red tent during menstruation, although that certainly is specific. What might be more important in these kinds of examples are the “Godly” purposes behind such direction. “Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, Male or Female,” did not and does not mean that there are no more Greeks, Jews, Slaves, free peoples (of middle earth ) Males, or females. It means something deeper that I know you understand.

And, let’s not forget the Bible is a story, and it is a story that tells tales about all kinds of things that women and men do, and in the telling we learn about character, and beauty, and integrity, and sensuality, and all kinds of other characteristics, and behaviors an actions that are attributed to different genders.

But I will say, and I don’t know how you get lost in this….”Child Bearing,” is the most important one of all.

Alright, sorry for the long post on this. This should really be a discussion which is my general feeling about blogs anyway.

My real question is, before the new post comes, did anyone actually go to the CALL?

Bear

114. bear - November 2, 2008

I just reread what I wrote,and I relaized that it sounds a bit defensive on my part–so thusly offensive. I didn’t mean that, in act–when I stop myself in the middleof the previous post–it is due to my own frustration with myself:) I highly respect thepeople posting on this blog.

Bear

115. Michelle Wilson - November 2, 2008

Bear,
I’m really not trying to say anything. I’m just asking what you feel the Bible actually says are supposed to be the male and female distinctives you’re talking about. Seeing as it is biologically impossible for men to bear children, I was hoping for some more examples. I genuinely don’t understand what you are trying to say which is why I was asking.
Michelle

116. bear - November 2, 2008

Michelle, I don’t know what you mean by,
“I’m really not trying to say anything” what does that mean? It seems you were trying to say you didn’t understand the lon example. It isn’t the worlds best example, but do you get it now? Also, you prove the point I was trying to make when you say,

“Seeing as it is biologically impossible for men to bear children”

What if a woman decided that she didn’t want to mate? Thus my point.

But more importantly, I will consider deeply what you are saying because I respect your opinion, but would you do me the courtesy of adressing these previous questions? So often people (us in this cae) are saying the same thing in different ways.

But let me ask you a question: are you saying that other than child bearing, men and women have ambiguous gender roles? Eve and Adam, for example, could have been two women if Eve had the appropriate genitalia to suit the second Eve?

also, do you think that your husband fulfills a role, as a father (and a male) in your life and the life of your children, that is part of a unique design of the creator? In other words, if he wasn’t there in this role–if he was another mom, or simply absent, would this make a difference in fulfiliing what could be considered part of a transcendent design? IF you do believe this, how does a husband learn how to be the most “Godly” husband he can be? Does the Bible explain this?

Bear

117. Michelle Wilson - November 2, 2008

Bear,
I’m feeling a little bewildered and attacked. I’m really just trying to understand what you’re saying. I think we should take this offline.
Michelle

118. Nancy O. - November 2, 2008

Comment 105, 106

Bill,

I am interested in learning how you went from A-to-Z in your beliefs regarding homosexuality and what part or non-part the bible played in the change of mind; however, I don’t want to go way off topic here, so if I am, maybe this type of question will come up later (?)

119. bear - November 2, 2008

Michelle, I agree, and I ask that we do so. Casey and everyone else–sorry for the side debate. Time to retire from blogging.

Bear

120. Bill Whitsett - November 2, 2008

Bear…dont you dare retire. I find your post “fascinating”, “interesting”, and worth chewing on. Michelle, I know your position and that here you feel vulnerable to speak really your “mind”, ever think about assuming a “pen name” to allow yourself some freedom? I dont have to agree with you, to be open to you, under any name. Nancy…A-Z, I love it, you did not imply that one was better than the other, so I assumed based on what you have written in the past that you believed “A” to be the better position than “Z”…then I checked myself, I dont want to assume, it was a very open and honest question better left between us two than delt with here…so here my home address billloree@yahoo.com, email me there I wil be glad to answer your inquiry to the best of my ability.
Back to the subject at matter: Did anybody attend “The Call”? dying for some feedback….but really, honestly, Nov 4th will tell the tale…Presidents will be chosen, Props will pass or fail, and tomorrows sunrise will still be beautiful.
Casey…over 120 post on a blog…you very obviously, hit a vein and dealt with a very important topic….good stuff.

121. Bill Whitsett - November 3, 2008

One more comment….
The Video shown here…I am both humored by it, while enraged over it, very odd mixture of feelings.

Whoever did the narration has got to be hired as the next voice-over once Batman puts on his costume.

We are bombarded daily with various types of sales pitches and propaganda…you cannot walk down the aisle of a Wal-Mart without everything being labeled “new and improved”, guess what, it aint! I guess I consider that “harmless propaganda” “lies” that I am hopefully intelligent enough not to fall for. This Video is not harmless…it is propaganda at its worst, yes, even reminscent of the wave that Hitler unleashed on Germany, and I know those are strong words. It is filled with false images, and lies of the utmost and if taken at first glance, face value, one might seriouslly believe that an image of Aimee Semple McPherson was a person who ushered in a wave of pure revival, a sweeping hand of God unleashed. Do some research…type her name in your search engine, know some Church history…She died of a drug overdose (suicide), she faked her own kidnapping scandal to cover an elicit month long love affair with a staff member, she was charged numerous times with pilfering the offerings, divorced three times, etc. etc. etc. Her success was based on the culture of the times, and the vulnerablility of a depression era mentality…she was a fake. Her image in that video as a “move of God” a lie.

If people think that the mentality presented in that video is going to “Save California”…and I know there are many who do,…God help us all.

122. bear - November 3, 2008

Thanks Bill, for saying this about the video. While I wouldn’t take it as far as german WWII proppganda, it is certainly in that league. My original post regarding the video was simply about the video and not so much the CALL which I don’t know too much about, but yeah, Bill, I agree.

Bear

123. casey - November 3, 2008

(RE: Comment #121)

I’m glad someone brought this up. I flirted with including a critique of The Call’s use of church history in my original post but then decided to just stick to the things they were saying about homosexuality in relation to Prop 8. McPherson isn’t the only name that they dropped. I thought it particularly interesting that they used a picture form the Jesus movement of a woman getting baptized. A little research reveals that the minister doing the baptizing is Lonnie Frisbee a man who was ostracized from the Jesus movement he helped found for being gay.

124. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

I haven’t changed my mind about how I will vote on Prop 8 tomorrow. I read and reread everyone’s comments and there wasn’t a single comment that proved to me that what is clearly stated in the bible is wrong.

Will I face angry, impatient intolerance and personal bias for being who I am and standing for what I believe? Will I be thought of as ignorant, uniformed, hateful, or intolerant because I believe the bible is right when others say it is wrong? Do others who oppose my opinion think their reasoning is more loving, understanding, intelligent, better thought out, and superior than mine – making them right and me wrong? Will I face adversity for standing up for what I believe?

Comment 120:

Are others who divorce, have illicit affairs, steal, and commit suicide wrong?

Why would these things be pointed out as wrong if they do not change anyone elses life in any way?

125. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Correction – I meant comment 121 not 120

126. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Should have finished the original post before hitting the enter button.

The question – why would these thing be pointed out as wrong if they do not change anyone elses life in any way?

That same question was used asked of me regarding why I wouldn’t vote no on Prop 8. So – if same-sex marriage and other things such as divorce, illicit affairs, stealing, committing suicide, etc. do not affect me in any way – does that mean I should be in favor of making these things lawful?

127. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

This is bad. Sorry for yet another post about the same thing. I KNOW divorce, illicit affairs, etc. are not unlawful. The point I am trying to make is if the actions of others do not affect me and do not change my life in any way, whether it is suicide, same-sex marriage, stealing, divorce, illicit affairs – or whatever – does that mean I should approve of those things?

128. bear - November 3, 2008

Nancy, I think you make some good points in 125-127. The problem for me is when you say,

“clearly stated in the bible is wrong.”

What if someone thinks that the Bible is NOT clearly stating it?

Bear

129. Antony - November 3, 2008

Re: #124-127

Nancy O –

Don’t play the victim card here. You’re not being persecuted or oppressed as you make it sound. Yes, there are people reading these comments that think you are making the WRONG political decision. Yes, there are people here who think that their arguments are better thought out and indeed much more loving than yours. It does not disrespect your opinion to believe that you are WRONG. Disrespecting your opinion would be to block you from commenting here and muzzling your free expression because “we” don’t want to hear it…and that is not happening. So with all due respect, Nancy O, you’re wrong for voting Yes on 8. Your argument is not compelling in the least.

Your argument boils down to one thing: you interpret the Bible to hold that homosexuality (or if that makes you afraid of being a bigot, then “homosexual sex”) is a sin. From this interpretation, you have decided to vote to change the California constitution to deny same-sex couples the right of legal recognition for their marital unions.

Nobody has shown you the Bible is wrong (nobody tried). Then again, you’ve made no argument about why your INTERPRETATION of the Bible is right. And so, even if the Bible is truth, one has to contend with the fact of interpretation – why should I or anybody else accept your interpretation of the judgment the Bible hands down on homosexuality or anything else?

And beyond all of that. I think that several people here – myself included – want to make the point that even if the Bible has the TRUTH – it’s still wrong to use the law to compel people to conform with your personal religious morality. The TRUTH of the Bible is not at issue here. The fact is that we live in a political community where claims to the ‘truth of the Bible’ are not a basis for deciding how to live with one another. They don’t stand up in Court because the Bible is NOT our political-legal document – we have the Constitution and a body of law that determine the content of liberty and equality and the extent of tolerance.

Last thing, I believe that Bill brought up the point that same-sex marriage is a case LIKE divorce and illicit affairs. Hardly anybody in this country argues that divorce should be illegal because we understand that another person’s divorce does not hinder our personal ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ That said, many more persons (every member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints for example) take divorce to be a serious sin and so they choose to not get divorced or at least recognize their choice as one that is morally difficult.

The question that Bill was getting at was what makes same-sex marriage different than these other things? Why legislate against the marital recognition of two consenting adults but not these other things. That, it seems to me, was his point.

130. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Bear,

You have a way with words that has caused a few of us to feel attacked. “Don’t play the victim card here” is condesending. You blatantly tell people they are wrong for voting in opposition to what you believe. Who do you think you are, Bear?

In defense of myself, there have been a few statements made directly to me; for example, #45 Paul stated his knee jerk reaction to anyone (in this case his comment was relating to a previous comment he made to me) who does not see that they are “pseudo-rationalizing bigotry” makes him insane. In #79 Sam stated that everyone has a right to vote their conscience and added that they have their right to hold their own opinion “even if you and I consider it shortsighted and ignorant.”

If Bill brought up a case of how same-sex marriage is a case like divorce and illicit affaris, I missed it and that comment is not what I was referring to in the first place. My questions are in reference to him outlining the reasons why Aimee was a “fake”. He pointed out that she was divorced 3 times, overdosed on drugs (committed suicide), had an illicit affair, stealed offerings, etc. My question to him had nothing to do with how you responded to me on his behalf.

The bible is clear to me (of course I understand my interpretation might not be the same as yours) regarding homsexuality. See comment #37 and read the scripture 1Corinthian 6:9-11. I understand what you are saying; you might read it and say you believe it doesn’t really mean what it says. I read it and believe it means exactly what it says. We have two different intpretations but I will not blatantly tell you that you are wrong like you have told me – simply because our views are different.

You said that nobody tried to show me the bible is wrong but Paul said that scripture is not valid because it was spoken by Paul and not Jesus. To me, that was Paul’s argument that the scripture (bible) is wrong as I understand it.

131. casey - November 3, 2008

Nancy-

You may want to direct your comment towards Antony. Bear just asked a question in #128.

132. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Thank you, Casey. So sorry, Bear. My response is to Anthony. Casey, I have to ask you – would it be better for me to exit this forum? I feel like I might be interfering and seriously, I don’t want to do that.

133. Eric - November 3, 2008

Nancy O. — Let me preface this comment by stating that I honestly don’t care how you vote tomorrow, on this proposition or on anything else. I’m not interested in changing your mind, but I am interested in the way you are presenting and supporting your opinion, so that’s what I’ll comment on.

I’m reading 1 Corinthian 6:9-11 — both the New American Standard Bible and The Living Bible versions; thanks for providing us with both in your comment #37.

In the NASB version, “fornicators”, “idolators”, “adulterers”, the “effeminate”, “homosexuals”, “thieves”, the “covetous”, “drunkards”, “revilers”, and “swindlers” are all referred to as “unrighteous” and we are told that they “shall not inherit the kingdom of God”.

In the TLB version, it’s “those who live immoral lives”, “idol worshippers”, “adulterers”, “homosexuals”, “thieves”, “greedy people”, “drunkards”, “slanderers”, and “robbers” who “have no share in the Kingdom of God”.

Now, let’s assume for the sake of argument the following three things (none of which, I should add, can be taken for granted, but like I said, it’s for the sake of argument):

1. the original Bible is the word of God,

2. these translations do not differ in any significant way from the original Bible,

3. each of the terms used in this passage has a definitive meaning (“those who live immoral lives”, for example, is quite a catch-all).

Assuming all this, the passage pretty clearly states that none of these sorts of folks will inherit the Kingdom. Sounds to me like God has made it pretty clear, then, what punishment these sorts of folks are going to endure. So who are we to do them any more harm here on earth? The passage doesn’t say “…and thou shalt enact laws to ensure that none of these people have the same earthly rights as the righteous” or anything like that, and you don’t seem to be arguing that, for example, thieves and drunkards shouldn’t have the right to marry — or are you?

Perhaps you think that each type of behavior deserves a different (and appropriate?) earthly punishment: thieves should be jailed (or maybe we should cut off their hands?), drunkards shouldn’t be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinery, homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and so forth. But now we’re back to the point addressed in so many comments here already: stealing and drunk-driving and so forth does affect other people in tangible ways, so earthly legislation on those things in some way at least makes sense. You have yet to make an argument that gay marriage affects anyone else in any tangible negative way (or even that it’s an appropriate earthly punishment for homosexuality).

In sum, I’m not convinced that your biblical defense of your opinion about gay marriage is solid. The only conclusion I can draw from the Corinthians passage is this: God has already told us how certain earthly behaviors will be dealt with, and He did not ask us to deal with them separately. Earthly punishments happen for earthly reasons; let’s let God deal with the afterworld.

134. Antony - November 3, 2008

Nancy O –

You addressed #130 to Bear, but I actually wrote it, so I’ll respond. I feel that’s important because there are a few things to answer to.

First, I don’t think that you should exit the forum. Referring back to Casey’s first post and his post on commenting, this is a place of vulnerability and one of the things that means is that people will disagree and they will disagree strongly. So please, don’t take disagreement or challenging of what you say as a call for your exit. Instead, see it as a challenge to make yourself clearer and to maybe help those who are not coming from where you are to understand why your opinion might be worth holding myself.

I really don’t think it’s condescending to think that (and voice the opinion that) somebody is wrong for voting “in opposition to what I believe.” And the reason is that it’s not just one belief against another – a particular vote is an OPINION, not a self-expression of belief.

There are reasons that one holds opinions. We weigh evidence and consider arguments before arriving at our opinion. So when somebody holds an opinion that is different than one’s own, I think, they can make the claim that they think the other opinion is wrong – that is, the other opinion does not does not weigh the evidence correctly or does not make a persuasive argument or case.

So please do not confuse disagreement with disrespect or being condescending. My opinion (meaning a judgment arrived at by weighing evidence and arguments) is that a Yes vote on 8 is wrong. And there has been nothing from those who have defended Yes on 8 to change my opinion.

I will grant you – as you pointed to that earlier conversation with Paul – that there was some discussion about your interpretation of the Bible and maybe its overall truth. Sorry, it got lost in the blur of 130+ comments. But I think even Sam’s comment that you reference is merely saying that all have a right to an opinion whether we think it ‘short-sighted’ or right or wrong. You must admit that you think some of us here have the wrong opinion about what the Bible says about homosexuality and what the relationship of the state’s law to personal morality is, otherwise you would agree with those other opinions about voting No on 8, and you don’t.

One last note, you say that the Bible is clear to you. Does that mean that you are beyond being vulnerable and discussing it? I think Paul’s point is interesting – how does one deal with St. Paul’s claims about what parts of Jewish law are carried forward with Jesus? How should we understand Jesus’ silence about certain things (such as homosexuality)?

Lastly, the Bible can’t be clear to you because the word you cite from I Corinthians is “homosexuality” and that is not a concept current in the first century Mediterranean world. It’s a term coined in the 19th century. Before that there was certainly sex between members of the same gender, but ‘homosexuality’ as a lifestyle or a marker of identity did not really exist. So it seems to me that the clarity of the passage in I Corinthians is created by ‘easy’ translation, and probably does not actually capture what the passage says in the original. Now, I don’t know this and I don’t have the Greek to do the work myself. But it’s this sort of thing that I think people in this forum should raise. You claim it’s clear. I have reasons to at least suspect it’s not that clear. Now a discussion can begin about that…

135. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Eric,

What you shared is powerful and makes sense to me. It seems right. It is up to God, not me, to deal with individuals the way He sees fit.

On the other hand, would I “enabling” what He despises by voting no?

136. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Anthony,

I said your statement “Don’t play the victim card here” felt condensending.

I didn’t say voicing your opinion that I am wrong is condensending.

Thanks for inviting me to stay. I have never seriously argued my points of view with anyone, so I am learning as I go along here. Men can straight talk common sense with each other and women, at least this one, comes more from a place in the heart, so I am finding that I am feeling a little too sensitive at times when I don’t need to.

Eric’s statement really sunk in with me. I think because instead of arguing from his point of view, he completely put himself in my place. I have to say – I am really thinking about my choice to vote yes now.

137. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Eric,

I am having trouble separating law and ethics. By “sanctioning” (voting no) same-sex marriage, I feel that I am going against what God despises; therefore, against my own personal ethics.

Homosexuality did not physically, tangibally hurt Jesus when He was here, on earth but I believe it might have grieved His heart. I don’t think He would have voted no. In that sense, it would hurt me to vote in a way that I do not think He would approve of.

Does this make sense?

138. bear - November 3, 2008

Nancy, I have to say–I so value your thoughts, and I think that my ability to tell you this gets lost in the “trying to make a point.” I also have kids, and it is mainly education that gives me pause in the Prop 8 issue, and even though–“no” wins out for me, it is still very much worth considering with regard to empowering teachers–and others in ways that I am just not sure of yet.

blah blah blah
I value you, and I find myself wanting to leave often, but somehow–I keep coming back–even if I bewilder and attack Michelle 🙂 it isn’t my intent–

Bear

139. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Thank you, Bear. Honestly, I feel good that you value my thoughts. I am struggling with my choice after reading Eric’s comment but leaning more yes because the question keeps popping in my mind, “What would Jesus do?” I think I know what He would do and I want to follow Him.

I don’t have any strong or elequent arguments to make. For me, morality is relative to my experience with God. I think that’s what it all boils down to for me.

140. bear - November 3, 2008

Nancy, (and anyone else) I just read this book, Simply Christian, by N.T. Wright. Do you know him? IF not, try Google, and you will soon find out that he is one of the most renowned biblical and historical scholars of our day. Anyway, in this book, which is akin to a modern day Mere Christianity, he wrote something that kind of blew my mind yet made sense all at once. Allow me to paraphrase because I just lent the book to my brother…but it was something like…..It is silly for us to live by the credo, “what would Jesus do,” rather we need to think of, what would Jesus want us to do? This made sense to me because while I always feel myself falling short when I try to do what Jesus what do, I feel quite empowered or even fulfilled when I find myself doing what He said to do—he really did tell us how to live—so when I focus on the greatest commandments, Love God, Love my neighbor, I get the sense that I am doing what he said to do, and I am somehow on the right path. Does this make sense? Anyway, just wanted to share that.

bear

141. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Would Jesus want me to sanction something He despises? Would voting no be loving people? If I vote the opposite, will I be hating them?

I don’t even know what it feels like to hate a person. I truly have never felt hatred toward a person. But I know what it is to love and I don’t believe sanctioning homosexuality and same-sex marriage is a demonstration of that love, nor is opposition to it opposite of love.

For me, I am at peace simply following what I think Jesus would want me to do.

142. Nancy O. - November 3, 2008

Bear,

I just googled N.T. Wright and now I can hardly wait to go to the bookstore and buy the book. After I read it, I will let you know!

Goodnight for now!
🙂

143. Eric - November 4, 2008

Nancy O. — I’m honored to hear that my comment caused you to think a little differently about your position. I hope it’s not to late to answer your “what would Jesus do?” question, not because I hope it’ll decide your vote, but because I hope it’ll cause you to think on this one more time before you cast your vote. I think Jesus would say, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Or maybe: “Turn the other cheek.”

144. Nancy O. - November 4, 2008

Eric,

What you shared had me up all night thinking. Your “argument” was very effective because you put yourself in my position instead of only sharing your point of view. Thank you for caring enough to take the time you did.

145. Nancy O. - November 4, 2008

I have two girl friends who got married last month. They had a party; none of the attendees knew what their real plan was. A minister, one of their sons, performed their surprise wedding ceremony. It was a touching time as their deep, genuine love was shared and they made their committments to one another. It was obvious to all how hugely important this moment in time was for them, which was no less important than it was for my husband and I when we married.

I received an email from them asking me to please consider how painful it would be if Prop 8 passes. They asked me to please think about their hearts when making my decision.

I have another friend whom I love dearly. He struggled during high school years dating girls, all the while trying to be someone he is not. To this day he he worries about what God thinks about him. I ache for him and wish I could take away his pain.

I have come to a conclusion in the eleventh hour on this election day. What does Jesus want me to do? I believe I finally know what He doesn’t want me to do and that is – He doesn’t want me to be responsible for causing anguish to anyone.

So I will go to the voting booth today and leave this all up to God. This is, afterall, His responsibility – not mine.

146. bear - November 4, 2008

wow.

147. Eric - November 4, 2008

Indeed — wow. I’m deeply moved, Nancy O., as I’m sure your friends that you mention would be if you told them.

148. caseyww - November 4, 2008

Nancy-

I have to say thanks for the thoughtful consideration. I appreciate your willingness to be open (esspecially in a forum that isn’t always the friendliest:)) on such a sensitive issue. I’m obviously overjoyed to see your response to Eric’s comments at the eleventh hour and your willingness to reconsider a position that so many of us feel so passionately about.

Earlier in the post you said:

I appreciate you, Casey. I know men aren’t always comfortable hearing people say things like this – but for a few hours I was so pissed off at you and now I see that you have heart…

I’d like to say, ditto. You know, I can’t promise we’re not going to continue to piss each other off from time to time in the future but nonetheless I’m greatly encouraged to have you posting here and I look forward to many more open-minded discussions to come.

149. Nancy O. - November 4, 2008

Thank you Eric, Casey, and Bear. It was Eric’s comment that made all the difference and I very much appreciate that he met me where I was at and wrote it. In the end…the question wasn’t what would Jesus want me to do but rather what would Jesus not want me to do. That was a simple question to answer. I feel really good about it.


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