Uncle Midriff: I have some questions for Ensis. Unordained has asked one of these already, but I will re-ask it here since it fits:
1. How does someone else's gay marriage harm you?
2. How does someone else's gay marriage harm society?
3. How does the government not allowing gay marriage benefit you?
4. How does the government not allowing gay marriage benefit society?
5. How does the government allowing gay marriage harm the church?
6. How does the government not allowing gay marriage benefit the church?
I am asking these questions sincerely as I am honestly curious about your answers to them.
Unordained: And because we haven't said this enough times: we're not going to redefine marriage to include marriages to children, animals, dead people, plants, minerals, incapacitated persons (vegetables) ... because behind all this is a basic principle -- informed consent -- which we, for physiological reasons, for legal-due-process reasons, don't extend to children, animals, dead people, plants, minerals, or the comatose. For the same reason we finally recognized that women could make their own decisions in marriage, and then recognized that there was no compelling reason to prevent mix-raced marriages, I think we'll recognized that gays are consenting adults too, capable of making these decisions. They're not children. They're not idiots. We have no right to be paternalistic toward them. If we run into aliens, it's possible we'll need to re-evaluate: if they're as mentally and emotionally superior (or inferior) to us as the relationship between adults and children, maybe we should prevent that. Any other situations you're worried about?
But let me guess: you don't trust that. Obviously I would say nice things like "no, we won't allow pedophiles to marry children", but I have no power to prevent it, just as I'm powerless to get you to release your death grip. If we do this, society as a whole clearly has no objective morality (suddenly,) and without that, it's apt to do *anything*. It's a slippery slope, regardless of my good intentions. And once again, this is the last straw, the line in the sand. To protect children, we have to oppress gays. Obviously.
Ensis: It's all fluid Unordained. Informed consent? Marriage is easier to understand than informed consent. Marriage was 1 man and 1 woman well before anyone had spoken the words. People of age 13 or 14 have been married for centuries before anyone had a problem with it. The tides have turned. They will again. What is wrong (by your standards) will be right, what is right will be wrong, and pretending like Informed Consent is some objective standard for moral acceptability is just silly. It seems that everything is relative in your system, but to what?
NoGunsLibertarian: Hey! I am invited into this private discussion, now! It makes me feel elite! I gotta tell ya, Ensis, I feel like the institution of marriage is too important to let the government define it. Governments of all kinds have been doing and advocating immoral things throughout history.
To put any group of bureaucrats in charge of defining what God has already defined is unnecessary and dangerous.
For this reason, I advocate that any two adults be allowed to form a legal partnership, so that they will have joint property, be able to visit each other in hospitals or prisons and so on. The ability to enter into this contract for a partnership would be limited to consenting adults, as are all contracts.
This would get the government out of the consecration business (where they have no business, anyway) and get them back into the civil contract business, where their place is more appropriate.
Unordained: Fluid? You remind me of that anti-evolutionist "scientist" telling the congregation of the little baptist church that science changes it's mind all the time, but the bible never does, and therefore the bible is perfectly true and science is useless.
I'd like to think that over time we've learned a few lessons about good governance, that it's more than just trends and fashions. Democracy, less child labor, free press... We may be drunkenly zigzagging down the road, but I think we're getting somewhere. We'll have our setbacks, sure, but our societies are experimentally figuring out what works. The US is now the longest living republic, yes? Maybe that can be attributed to our separation of church and state, or the lofty goals of our bill of rights? Time will tell, one nation isn't a statistically significant sample. But do you see what I'm saying? Do you see what I mean by tangible yet?
Uncle Midriff: #1. So the harm it causes you is that it offends you (your sensibilities, what you consider to be holy, etc.)?
Just to be clear, I'm asking these (and any other questions below and elsewhere) in complete sincerity. I'm trying to gain an understanding of your position on this matter, and these questions are my tool for doing that. I realize that in this type of discussion, it would be easy and maybe even reasonable to assume that I'm asking these questions with some sort of snarky or incredulous tone, but I want to assure you that I am not.
#2. I'm not interested in the accuracy of your predictions of the harm caused by gay marriage to society. What I am interested in is getting as clear a picture as possible of your position on the matter. I was/am also not interested in leveraging any threats against what I might perceive to be your potential arguments or in placing any traps.
Thank you for your answer. However, I feel the need to point out that, in my brief time in this discussion, I have not articulated my position on this issue. One could try to assume the nature of my position based on the fact that Unordained was the one to add me to this group, but, as evidenced by his own participation in this group, he has no problem hanging around and discussing things with people with whom he disagrees. :-)
#3. I did not intend to imply that the only reason you would hold the position that you do regarding this matter is because of and only because of some sort of benefit to you personally. I apologize for the miscommunication. Thank you for your answer.
#4, #5, and #6. Thank you for your answers.
I will spend some time thinking these over and will make another post addressing them and my own views on the matter soon (probably tomorrow night).
Ensis: Uncle Midriff, As to #1, yes. I view it as extremely intolerant to force the issue. People like Unordained are choosing who to trample, who to favor. Christians aren't likely to blow you up and the cultural tides are ebbing for us. We simply aren't the cool kids anymore. So our wishes aren't considered. The things we are sensitive about just aren't on western minds. For instance, we don't like our beliefs referred to as "magic." Would you say such a thing about Hinduism in India? I don't think so.
As to #2, I'm good at sensing traps. If you weren't laying one, that's fine. But it's good for me to be clear and reasonable and be aware of any logical fallacies I'm treading close to. Please don't think I think less of you. I'm a trap layer myself. :)
#3. No harm done. I'm not offended. But I do want to point out that the line of questioning seems to be attempting to build a case that we Christians have no real reason for opposing gay marriage.
In reality, what many of us see is this: if we are right, many people like Unordained are doomed. And if we are wrong, it doesn't matter a whit. The universe would be no better and no worse a place in any objective sense if we all just murdered each other. Afterall, we kill animals and that's fine. They kill us, and that's fine. They kill each other and that's fine. Why shouldn't it be fine for us to kill one another? There is no possible answer that satisfies that takes it's root in culture or nature. Culture is shifting sands and nature? We master nature. We make nature work for us. From a sheerly scientific mindset, justice, culture, right and wrong do not exist. They are simply ideas. At best, they are ideas that describe reality in rather arbitrary terms. So they are, at best, no better than your average sothern baptist fundie looking down their nose at someone who is doing wrong according to our book.
To quote Death from the Hogfather: "Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged."
I'm tempted to agree. If we can compromise without compromising the definition of marriage, why not?
Unordained, when will you realize that if there is no standard there is no progress? There can be only movement. Who is to say whether we are moving in the right direction? Who can define the virtues by which we should be judged?
Unordained: Great point -- so we just skip compromise, vote each other to the death, and see what remains? Awesome.
Christians are hardly under attack, with ninety-some-odd percent of the population. You're already using the force of law against the innocent, and claim that to ask you to stop is to trample all over you? Actually, I can see that. Occasionally a sniper has to shoot the terrorist with the gun. Ain't pretty. From the newly-victimized person's point of view, I can see how that would be harm.
Ensis: "Christians," that is, those that call themselves that without actually living up to the name (that is, following Christ) may be numerous. But those who do are indeed under attack. Why, just the other day, some bloke decided my religion was bigotry. Can you imagine the intolerance? ;)
Uncle Midriff: I don't think people disagreeing with you is what Unordained meant by "attack."
Ensis: Come on. Bigot? Idiot? Magic? Say that to a Muslim in Iran. Say it in a language he speaks. Find out what happens. People take offense when you insult their intelligence.
And this is an every day thing for a "creationist" like me. People have no idea what we really believe and think. It's far easier to get sound bites from people who are less well studied.
Unordained: Did I say those easily offended Iranians were tolerant?
There's a difference between a farmer with his shotgun trying to throw you off his property, and one coming into your home in the middle of the night for some target practice. I see this issue here as merely getting you to stop trampling on others -- after that, I'm through with you. I have no I interest in coming into your church and redefining anything. I don't care to change your morals. I've made that clear. I want you to take your hands out of someone else's pocket, not put mine into yours. Is that really so complicated?
We get plenty of great soundbites from the highly educated creationist, thank you very much.