The real threat to the legitimacy of marriage

Ironically, gay marriage opponents are a bigger threat to marriage’s continuing legitimacy than gay marriage itself.

With each passing generation, anti-gay bigotry is seen as less acceptable. Fifty years ago, no politician would have dared to express support for gays in public; today, even conservative politicians feel obligated to stress that they’re not being judgmental of gays even as they support anti-gay laws. (Hence, asked about gay marriage, George Bush’s first response was “I am mindful that we’re all sinners. And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of the neighbor’s eye when they’ve got a log in their own.”)

Moreover, poll after poll after poll shows that the younger generation is far more supportive of gay rights – including gay marriage – than previous generations. This matches my experience; many of my heterosexual friends have questioned if they’ll get married or not because they’re not sure they want to be part of an exclusionary and homophobic institution.

If lesbians and gays continue to be locked out of marriage, marriage itself will lose legitimacy. It will be seen as something done by the homophobic and backward, rather than something decent, non-bigoted people do. If folks like Eve and Maggie Gallagher really want to preserve marriage as an institution, they better hope that they continue losing the same-sex marriage debate.

UPDATE: Will Baude of Crescat Sententia disagrees (politely, of course). The permalink doesn’t seem to be working, but you can go to August 7 2003 and then scroll down to “gay marriage.”

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56 Responses to The real threat to the legitimacy of marriage

  1. 1
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    More on the actual substance of the post later, but am I the only one who found President Bush’s quote (“I am mindful that we’re all sinners[...]“) to be a nifty, pseudo-Biblical way of saying “Now I don’t have a problem with gay people. Some of my best friends are homos, but…”

    (And before someone decides to point it out to me, I know that his quote really is a paraphrase of Biblical teachings, but I say the quote was pseudo-Biblical because he pretty much took them out of context and, well, used the second one poorly. Unless the President was confessing to having some homosexual thoughts of his own, why bring up the “mot of dust” line except to sound Biblical?)

  2. 2
    ms lauren says:

    this is just one more reason that bush irritates me so, his attempt to “codify” marriage between a man and woman (excuse me, but codify doesn’t even sound like a real word) based on biblical codes of conduct. someone on calpundit commented that wrapping bigotry up in a biblical cloth doesn’t make it better, it just makes bigotry prettier for the common person. that’s been running through my head all week long…

    i asked my boyfriend the other day if he wanted to be half of the first straight couple joined in a civil union (unless it’s been done already). while i want the legal securities of marriage, i don’t want to be part of the marriage institution, which anymore i find to be wholly patriarchal and laced with so much religious connotation that i can hardly swallow it anymore.

    so, gay marriage? nah. screw marriage. leave it to those who believe in its exclusionary model.

  3. 3
    ms lauren says:

    then again, ask me what i think once i am proposed to.

  4. 4
    Scott Martens says:

    Ms Lauren makes a point that I expect will start to come up in the American discussion of gay marriage. When France established its “civil union” law a few years ago – a compromise between those who wanted legal gay marriage outright and those who wanted gay partners to have no legal status – only about one in ten of the people who got civil unions shortly after the law’s passage were gay, and it seems to me the heterosexual marriage rate dropped precipitously that year. Since then, I believe that something like 19 out of 20 civil unions are between straight people.

    It turned out that millions of straight unmarried couples liked the idea of a more open form of partnership and that they were the primary beneficiaries of the new law, not gay couples. Now, there are people saying that if France had wanted to preserve the sanctity of marriage, they should have just let gay couples get hitched. France doesn’t recognise church marriages anyway, so there’s fewer religious issues involved.

    That’s one of the reasons why more devoutly Catholic Belgium just legalised gay marriage instead of expanding its nearly useless “registered partnership” law. The conservative parties decided that legal gay marriages but no gay adoptions was a more tolerable compromise than having civil unions that amounted to nearly the same thing as marriage.

  5. 5
    Amy Phillips says:

    I won’t get married ever, on principle. I just don’t think it’s any of the government’s business who I’m in love with, and I have no desire to register my love in some database somewhere. But if I didn’t have that objection, I would still decline to be part of any institution that discriminates based on whether or not someone’s love is socially acceptable. If other people who have that socially acceptable love don’t stand up and boycott the bigotry inherent in making marriage a club that only the government-approved couples can join, they’re being hypocrites if they say they support equal rights for gay people.

  6. 6
    Hestia says:

    If other people who have that socially acceptable love don’t stand up and boycott the bigotry inherent in making marriage a club that only the government-approved couples can join, they’re being hypocrites if they say they support equal rights for gay people.

    Well, I’m not sure it’s that simple. I think you can both believe in the personal significance (for lack of a better word) of marriage while simultaneously excoriating the institution of marriage.

    Or maybe I mean to say that even if it’s a techinically hypocritical stance, I don’t think worse of married couples. Marriage isn’t like shopping at Wal-Mart: for some people, there’s simply no alternative to a religion (or government)-sanctioned union. And those who feel that way can still work to include gays and lesbians in that tradition rather than eliminate it entirely.

    Besides, nothing really happens if two people don’t get married (except for new anthropological studies on the importance of marriage in a 21st-century society); the “boycott” has no real effect other than to assuage the couple’s consciences. Which isn’t to say a decision made on that basis is a bad one; just that it’s relative.

    But I could be wrong; I’d love to hear other opinions on the matter.

  7. 7
    ms lauren says:

    hestia:

    to what studies are you referring i this statement – nothing really happens if two people don’t get married (except for new anthropological studies on the importance of marriage in a 21st-century society)? hopefully you aren’t referencing “the case for marriage.”

  8. 8
    Hestia says:

    Oh, no, ms lauren, I didn’t have any particular studies in mind. I was just being a little snarky about studies in general while trying to point out that they don’t have much to do with the reality of daily life.

    Really, I like studies, especially anthropological ones. Go studies!

  9. 9
    Stentor says:

    Speculation: The boycott could, through those studies, reinforce the idea that the institution of marriage is in dire peril, thus making defenders of traditional marriage even more motivated to hold their ground.

  10. 10
    Amy Phillips says:

    I do. (no pun intended) I think worse of married couples who realize that they’re joining a bigoted institution and do it anyway for the same reason that I think worse of people who say, “Torturing and killing animals is probably wrong, but meat is tasty, so I’m not going to become a vegetarian.” If you want to have a wedding and declare in front of your friends/family/church/coven/Elvis impersonator that you promise to love and cherish your partner for as long as you both shall live, that’s great, and I’m happy for you. But if you go and sign that marriage license knowing that you’re joining a club that doesn’t welcome some segments of the population based on demographics, I consider that a morally bad choice. Is it the worst thing you could do? Not even close. But would it be better if couples who could get married choose not to tacitly condone that bigotry by supporting an institution built on it? Absolutely.
    The person who said that defenders of traditional marriage may become even more determined in their bigotry may be right. But that makes me even more determined not to marry, and to try to convince others not to marry. I don’t want to be associated with such meanspirited rhetoric, and if they’re willing to let marriage die as an institution rather than allow couples they don’t approve of to join it, that merely proves my point that it’s a club we shouldn’t want to be a part of.

  11. 11
    carla says:

    My whaddyacallhim and I have been intermittently working on this question. On one hand, I think it’s important for people to be able to publicly acknowledge when something important happens, particularly births, deaths, and partnerships. We’ve talked about getting married because we want to share our commitment (non-monagamous though it may be) with the other people who are important to us. At the same time, I’m an atheist and he’s agnostic and leaning toward atheist, so a church is out of the question. I’m also not particularly fond of the idea of finding some judge to declare our partnership valid in the eyes of the state. I’d like to do it the way the Quakers do it, but not being deists and not being part of a Meeting seems to prohibit that option.

    As for Amy’s objections, the institution–in the sense of a publicly declared and acknowledged partnership–is not necessarily bigoted, even if most of the current available manifestations of it are. I think it’s a legitimate choice to try find a way to reclaim the notion of partnership, or recreate or reinvent it. (Similarly, I think that torturing animals–and poisoning the groundwater with pesticides–is wrong. I eat meat–but I try to do so in the same way I eat vegetables, i.e., responsibly, with some notion of the effect of my choices on the environment. I find producers who don’t torture their animals, or fill them full of antibiotics and hormones, in the same way I look for organic vegetables.)

  12. 12
    Hestia says:

    Good points, Carla.

    Amy, do you live in America? Do you disagree with the state of the government? If so, why aren’t you making an “immoral” decision by staying in this country?

    Are there any cases in which working for change from within the system is better than disavoing it entirely, and why can’t marriage be one of those cases?

  13. 13
    Amy Phillips says:

    I live in America. I disagree with the state of the government. I don’t leave because there’s no other country whose government I agree with more. I try as best I can to keep the government out of my business, and I’m working for change from within. This is one of those cases where I don’t really have a choice but to be a part of some system, so I choose the one closest to my ideal and then work to change it.

    Yes, there are cases in which working for changes from within the system are better than disavowing it entirely. I don’t think marriage is one of those cases. First of all, I don’t see how a bunch of married heterosexuals voting for politicians friendly to gay marriage is more effective than a bunch of unmarried straights casting the same votes. But moreover, I think that if you have a choice not to become a part of a club that is, by definition, bigoted, you should choose to eschew any association with such bigotry.

  14. 14
    Hestia says:

    Amy, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t see how a bunch of unmarried heterosexuals voting for politicians friendly to gay marriage is any more effective than a bunch of married straights casting the same votes. So.

    Some people believe that there’s no alternative to marriage. I’m not about to dismiss those beliefs as easily-abandoned and thus unimportant.

    If one day my partner of six years and I decide to marry–and it’ll probably be because it “feels” more permanent, along with all the legal benefits (hospital visitation rights, etc.)–we will. But we’ll both continue working towards a society in which everyone can get married.

    If at that point you prefer to call me a bigot rather than understand that I’m someone who believes both in the significance of marriage and the fact that it should be available for everyone, well, everyone’s entitled to her own opinion, I guess.

  15. 15
    Hestia says:

    PS. You say, “This is one of those cases where I don’t really have a choice but to be a part of some system, so I choose the one closest to my ideal and then work to change it.”

    Well, I think Finland has a better political system than the US. Can I therefore judge you harshly because you refuse to make the (according to me) easy decision to move to Finland?

    And can’t you see that some people “choose” marriage because it’s closer to their ideal than not being married–but still work to change it?

  16. 16
    Simon says:

    I’m a heterosexual married man who supports gay marriage rights. I do not appreciate being told I’m part of a “club” that discriminates against gays.

    Firstly, I’m trying to change the rules.

    Secondly, married people are not a “club” the way that members of the Augusta National (or whatever it’s called) are a club. There is no election, no party line, on marriage that I am called upon to support as a married person. I do not personally approve of what some other people do with their marriages – ignore their sexual vows, get divorced at the drop of a hat, get married at the drop of a hat. But what they do with -their- marriages is completely irrelevant to what my wife and I do with -our- marriage. And that, by the way, is why I support gay marriage. My marriage needs no “defense” against married gays.

    (And it’s absolutely unlike weeping carnivores. Nobody’s making anyone get married.)

    Thirdly, in the absence of a civil union law with teeth, legal marriage is the only way in the US to get certain civil benefits; and religiously, it is the only way to express a certain level of commitment. Amy says she stays in the US because, despite its flaws, it’s still better than anywhere else. Well, my wife and I got married because, despite its flaws, the legal institution of marriage is the best way to get what we want.

    If you don’t like it, don’t do it. I won’t think any worse of you for it. But, Amy, keep your comments out of my marriage.

  17. 17
    NAIRA says:

    I EM A LADY.
    I WANTH TO FIND A HAZBENTH WITH HELP OF YOU.

  18. 18
    NAIRA says:

    I EM A LEDY.
    I WANTH TO FIND A HAZBENTH WITH HELP OF YOU.

  19. 19
    Jack&Jill..not Jack&Bill says:

    I am doing a gay marriage persuasive essay in my composition class at the moment and have been reading up on this topic. I came to this site and saw all the comments and thought I might pitch in my two cents.
    You all seem to complain about “marriage” being just a club for us discriminating straights. Well people I think it is time to wake up. America was founded on the basis of Christianity (it began as a safe haven for different Christian religions disagreeing with the Church of England). Christianity and the Bible clearly states HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG! If you don’t believe me read Genesis 18:20. Homosexuality and other immoralities were occuring, so God himeself destroyed it. Another point. Marriage was created by God. It is a vow between a man and a woman to God to be together in wedlock until death do they part. It was not created by governments, it was accepted by governments. Therefore, why should they change the definition of it and allow un-natural relationshiops. My third and final point is, if gay marriage were legalized it would open a door to every other kind of un-natural relationships. With gay marriage legalized, how could you prevent a man from marrying multiple woman? How could you prevent a person from marrying their dog that they love so much? You wouldn’t be able to. By defining marriage as the union of a MAN AND A WOMAN, you disallow the possibilities of other un-natural, society harming relationships.
    In closing, I have no hate toward gays or lesbians. I believe what you do in your own bedroom is your business and no one else’s. But its when the gays and lesbians bring their relationships public and then try and convince society that they are equal to men and women marriages, that is when I get angry. I know this message is going to “ruffle” some feathers, seeing the rest of the messages are pro-queer. So take your best shots, I’m a junior in high school and I love controversy…especially when I have the Bible and society on my side!

  20. 20
    zuzu says:

    I just read Genesis chapters 18-20 (I assume that’s what you meant, instead of chapter 18, verse 20). Don’t see any specific references to homosexuality. In fact, it’s not real clear why Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked.

  21. 21
    Amanda says:

    There are a number of references and parallel stories throughout the Bible that make it clear that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t about how anal sex is icky. The most cringe-worthy aspects of the story and the parallel ones are the mob violence and gang rape–it’s curious to me that homophobes seem so comfortable with the part of the story that implies that the mob in Sodom intends to visit murderous gang rape on the visitors but balk at the same-sex aspects of it.

  22. 22
    Barbara says:

    Jack & Jill whoever you are: polygamy is the norm for marriage, my sweet, throughout all of history, monogamy is a Christian “innovation.” “Biblical” marriage as Jesus outlined it in broad terms did not permit divorce. So, I assume you will proposing next that divorce and remarriage be prohibited.

    Your assumption that this nation was founded on Christian principles is totally misplaced. The Holy Roman Empire was founded on Christian principles, the United States was founded on the principle, among others, that the State should keep its nose out of religion. There are no overarching Christian principles in the Constitution, I challenge you to recite them to me and cite the specific Biblical passages that said constitutional provisions supposedly embody.

    Marriage is whatever people make of it. Atheists get married as well as devout Hindus and all manner of people who have nothing in common, theologically speaking, with you.

    And by the way, somebody who uses the term “pro-queer” in the same paragraph in which he/she/it professes no hatred of gays is, umm, not being honest with us.

  23. 23
    Kelli says:

    It seems that Jack & Jill needs to go to Bible Study and She also needs to take an American History course.

    Sodom and Gomorrah is a story not just found in the Bible, but there are similar stories in other ancient text about similar cities. The story like many in the Bible is about the very wicked. There was more going on than just homosexuality.
    I mean if you just watch the John Huston movie “The Bible” you can see that the place was just a den of evil.

    They wanted Lot to give them two strangers they didn’t even know so they could all kinds of things to them and they didn’t care if the strangers wanted to participate. And I think they also wanted Lots daughters. It is a story of a group of people stopped caring about anything but their own desires, pleasures and lusts not about homosexuality.

    It is about how they had given into sins of the flesh. Which are NOT just sex, but many other things such as guttony and sloth. And the reason God destroyed the cities is because they would not be redeemed from their MANY sins.

    As for the founding of America I do believe that had a lot to do with taxation with out representation and a government who was not concerned with the welfare of the people, but of the welfare of an Empire.

    While it is true that some of the first europeans came to this country seeking religious freedom, they did not come here to found a country on religious ideals (except maybe the Purtians who tried to convert anything breathing). They came to escape persecution since they didn’t follow the Church Of England, or the established churches in Germany, Holland and France.

    That is why there is this in the First Amendement: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

    Any other questions. If so please see your Pastor, Reverend, Priest or whatever religous instructor you have and your nearest American History Professor.

  24. 24
    alsis38 says:

    “…I believe what you do in your own bedroom is your business and no one else’s. But its when the gays and lesbians bring their relationships public and then try and convince society that they are equal to men and women marriages, that is when I get angry…”

    Well then, I think you should join my new crusade to exempt gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in same-sex couples from paying taxes until such time as they are allowed the option of legal marriage. Really, you’re billing them for a married lifestyle which you fully intend to bar them from acessing the benefits of themselves. That hardly seems a fair –dare I say “charitable” or “Christian”– thing to do.

    And as usual, it’s always cute to see the Purity Patrol boiling it alllll down to “what they do in the bedroom.” Because the quest for legal marriage isn’t really about anything else. Just fucking FUCKING FUCKING ! Same-sex couples aren’t Like Us. Why, they don’t ever take a breather from FUCKING long enough to bicker about what movie to rent Thursday Night, to mow the lawn, to clip coupons, or to look for an enviro-friendly diaper service for the kid when they settle down together. It’s allllll about FUCKING.

    Why are you Bible-thumpers so damn obsessed with sex, anyway ?

  25. 25
    Kelli says:

    Because they are too busy thumping on it. If they’d stop to read it they would realize that they are supposed “be fruitful and multiply”.

    If they were following that particular law then they wouldn’t have time to know what anyone else is doing.

  26. 26
    mythago says:

    Why do the ‘phobes always refer to doomed het couples, like Jack and Jill, or Adam and Eve, to make their case? Geez, people, try some positive role models. Falling down hills and getting cast of out Paradise doesn’t exactly make the case for girl-boy pairing.

  27. 27
    Joan says:

    I think it would be feasible to have a society where marriage was a religious institution only, not a legal one.

    No joint tax-filing status, no automatic transfer of your assets to your spouse when you die (you would need to make sure you had a will), no divorce court (although family courts would still be needed to deal with child custody and support when parents split up).

    The only complication I can see would be health care benefits for your spouse (of course, if we had universal health care, that wouldn’t be a problem either).

    Then, each person’s definition of marriage and divorce would be between them and their church. For fundamentalist Christians, it would be one man and one woman. For Muslims and Mormons it could include polygamy. For other faiths (or no faith), it could be whatever they think it should be.

  28. 28
    Andrew says:

    mythago: I’d always thought Jack and Jill were brother and sister anyway, not a couple. (So Jack and Bill’s name seemed rather creepy to me)

  29. 29
    zuzu says:

    Why are you Bible-thumpers so damn obsessed with sex, anyway ?

    I ran across a post at Slacktivist that is pretty enlightening on this point. The post is about the whole hullabaloo over the “Desperate Housewives” bit on Monday Night Football (and addresses sex, not race, which I believe was a huge factor):

    The hubbub over this skit reminded me of a section from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters (which I appear to have leant to somebody again, so I can’t provide the exact quote). The book is a series of letters from a demon, Screwtape, offering advice to his nephew Wormwood, a junior-level tempter. Wormwood has been trying to lead his client into sin with bawdy jokes, but his uncle advises him not to bother. The client, Screwtape notes, enjoys bawdy humor because he finds these jokes funny — and that’s not a response that’s useful for Our Father Below.

    Dirty jokes, the master tempter says, are only useful with dirty minds — with clients who enjoy such jokes not because they’re funny, but because they provide a kind of sexual thrill. With clients like that, these jokes help to nurture the kind of joyless, mirthless, obsession with lust that results from a real captivity to sin. But people like Wormwood’s client are just enjoying a good laugh — which is exactly the sort of thing The Enemy (i.e., God) wants for them and therefore ought to be avoided.

    The people cluck-clucking about the Monday Night Football sketch as an example of the crassness of TV culture have a point, I suppose. But the skit also serves as a kind of Rorschach test. The response to it separates people into Screwtape’s two categories and illustrates, yet again, that many of our friends on the religious right have dirty, dirty minds.

  30. 30
    mythago says:

    The only complication I can see would be health care benefits for your spouse

    I can see a lot more complications than that, but then, I know far too many couples who have ‘just lived together’ and never bothered to do any paperwork to protect themselves.

    Good point, Andrew. Ew.

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  33. 31
    Jack&Jill..not Jack&Bill says:

    I am doing a gay marriage persuasive essay in my composition class at the moment and have been reading up on this topic. I came to this site and saw all the comments and thought I might pitch in my two cents.
    You all seem to complain about “marriage” being just a club for us discriminating straights. Well people I think it is time to wake up. America was founded on the basis of Christianity (it began as a safe haven for different Christian religions disagreeing with the Church of England). Christianity and the Bible clearly states HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG! If you don’t believe me read Genesis 18:20. Homosexuality and other immoralities were occuring, so God himeself destroyed it. Another point. Marriage was created by God. It is a vow between a man and a woman to God to be together in wedlock until death do they part. It was not created by governments, it was accepted by governments. Therefore, why should they change the definition of it and allow un-natural relationshiops. My third and final point is, if gay marriage were legalized it would open a door to every other kind of un-natural relationships. With gay marriage legalized, how could you prevent a man from marrying multiple woman? How could you prevent a person from marrying their dog that they love so much? You wouldn’t be able to. By defining marriage as the union of a MAN AND A WOMAN, you disallow the possibilities of other un-natural, society harming relationships.
    In closing, I have no hate toward gays or lesbians. I believe what you do in your own bedroom is your business and no one else’s. But its when the gays and lesbians bring their relationships public and then try and convince society that they are equal to men and women marriages, that is when I get angry. I know this message is going to “ruffle” some feathers, seeing the rest of the messages are pro-queer. So take your best shots, I’m a junior in high school and I love controversy…especially when I have the Bible and society on my side!

  34. 32
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    Gay marriage will probably win out in the end. I can see the writing on the wall.

    My question is will God’s blessing of the United States also be at an end on that day?

    The United States is a Christian nation with Christian laws written by Christian men despite whatever atheists say. Look at what the words say on the change in your pocket if you need proof.

    No country has been more blessed than the United States our armies are stronger our economy more prosperous and our land more fertile than any other.

    Our country is also the only country founded on the Christian God(to my knowledge).

    I don’t believe in coincidences. Is our recent recession the beginning of God withdrawing his blessing from our nation? I hope not and I hope I am wrong, but what if I am not?

    The gays get their marriage, but does the United States lose what makes it great in the exchange?

  35. 33
    Robert says:

    The United States is great because we have brilliant political institutions, a solid history of individual rights melded with an appreciation of the merits of voluntary collective self-organization, a sensible economic system, and the greatest diversity of social and cultural capital the world has ever seen.

    I am not in a position to speak definitively about God’s blessing and the criteria thereof, but strictly from my parochial and limited perspective, it seems odd that He would withdraw a boon because we were showing excessive toleration, when he apparently did not withdraw it over slavery, theft of land and treasure from the Indians, the generations-long oppression of women, etc.

  36. 34
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    I cannot speak for God and no mere man can claim to except for maybe the Pope, but the argument over whether he is directly appointed by God himself is a debate for another day.

    The bible does not endorse or condemn slavery although God is angered by his chosen people(the Jews) being enslaved by heathens(Ra Worshipping Egyptians) and gives Moses the power to free them. The bible also has commandments dedicated to how you should treat your slaves if you do have them, so Judaism and slavery are not incompatible although Christians would have a hard time justifying slavery since Jesus didn’t own slaves and said that one man having the power of life and death over another was a sin(said to pontius pilate when pontius pilate informs Jesus that he has the authority to order his execution.) I believe Jesus would look favorably on the United States banning Slavery with the 13th ammendment.

    The bible is rather clear on the proper role of husband and wife. The wife is supposed to honor and obey her husband. The husband is to love and cherish his wife. Denying women suffrage was not a good thing, but it isn’t incompatible with the Bible’s instructions. Again our laws were not in contradiction with biblical law then and they aren’t now.

    The bible’s message on war is unclear in places, but clear in that God does not love war. God does command his followers to make war and even take promised lands from other people in places of the bible though. Whether Western expansion was justified or whether Christians are justified in taking land from nonchristians is not clear. The Jews were cursed to never have a homeland free of strife for refusing to go to war to capture the promised land when God commanded them to. Whether taking America from the Native Americans was right or wrong is again unclear. I honestly don’t know if Jesus would have felt the constant encroachment on Native American lands was right or wrong. Just as I don’t know if the crusades in God’s name to retake the holy lands would have met with divine approval or divine condemnation.

    The bible is rather liberal in its guidance on how to properly enjoy God’s gift of sex. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Basically as long as no one is paying for it or married to someone else your good to go. I am surprised that scripture isn’t the motto of every college fraternity in America.
    The bible’s position on homosexuality is contested, but again it does give examples. About 4 scriptures discuss homosexuality none of them say anything good about it. The city of Sodom which the bible points out was guilty of embracing homosexuality is outright destroyed although proponents of homosexuality say that it is unclear whether that was the sin for which they were destroyed. The people of Sodom were also guilty of attempting to rape angels. Whether the angels were male or female is a matter of contension. I cannot say one way or the other and better theologians than myself have spent their entire lives arguing the meaning of the destruction of sodom and gamorah.

    Paul, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus all have scriptures which can be interpreted as condemning of homosexuals.

    Although the clarity of all of the above scriptures has been called into question due to the gay marriage issue one thing is certain nowhere in the bible does it offer acceptance of homosexuality. The bible does say that even homosexuals who ask for forgiveness can ascend to heaven. Our society is currently voting on whether to accept homosexuality or not.

    Like the above examples of slavery, women’s suffrage, and manifest destiny homosexuality is an issue which tests the dedication of our society to Christian ideals. Although we all have the potential to resist evil on the personal level we also have the potential as a society to stand against corruption by evil.

    I cannot say for certain whether Jesus would approve of gay marriage, but I can say that we should all pray to him for wisdom on the matter and make sure we make our decision on the matter as Christians should with no other factors distracting us.

  37. 35
    mythago says:

    Jesus wasn’t married, either, which by your reasoning suggests that Christians would have a hard time justifying marriage. (And in fact, they did! Paul grudgingly approves of marriage as the only way to have sex without burning in hell, but sees it as distinctly inferior to a live of celibacy.)

    I do not see a strong movement among Christians to ban adulterous marriage, or marriage which makes a wife an adulteress (as Jesus explicitly stated). I would think that, these things being explicitly condemned in the Bible, Christians who believe the law should follow Christian mores ought to fight hard against such marriages rather than focusing on same-sex marriage. But then again, it’s easier to tell the other guy what he shouldn’t do.

  38. 36
    KellyK says:

    About 4 scriptures discuss homosexuality none of them say anything good about it. The city of Sodom which the bible points out was guilty of embracing homosexuality is outright destroyed although proponents of homosexuality say that it is unclear whether that was the sin for which they were destroyed. The people of Sodom were also guilty of attempting to rape angels. Whether the angels were male or female is a matter of contension. I cannot say one way or the other and better theologians than myself have spent their entire lives arguing the meaning of the destruction of sodom and gamorah.

    Probably because so many people *want* for it to be a clear condemnation of homosexuality that they completely ignore the fact that the the reason is given pretty plainly: ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.’ (Ezekiel 16:49) But making it about homosexuality gives Christians carte blanche to condemn and hate an entire group of people, so that’s the prevailing interpretation.

    John Shore has a good post on the Bible and homosexuality here: http://johnshore.com/2012/04/02/the-best-case-for-the-bible-not-condemning-homosexuality/

  39. 37
    KellyK says:

    The bible is rather clear on the proper role of husband and wife. The wife is supposed to honor and obey her husband. The husband is to love and cherish his wife.

    So, from this, an egalitarian marriage is as much a threat against God’s blessings as a same-sex one is. Should all the opposite-sex couples who treat each other as equal partners have their marriage licenses revoked?

    The huge, glaring problem with the push to continue denying same-sex couples equal rights under the law is that everybody’s marriage is against someone’s religion. But, like Mythago said, you don’t see people lining up to make second marriages illegal. Or interfaith marriages.

    The US might be a Christian nation, but it is not supposed to be a theocracy.

  40. 38
    Grace Annam says:

    Tyrannus Evisceratus:

    I cannot say for certain whether Jesus would approve of gay marriage, but I can say that we should all pray to him for wisdom on the matter and make sure we make our decision on the matter as Christians should with no other factors distracting us.

    Um. Do you mean that to apply even to people who aren’t Christian? They should make their decision on the matter as Christians should and with no other factors distracting them?

    Grace

  41. 39
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    “Um. Do you mean that to apply even to people who aren’t Christian? They should make their decision on the matter as Christians should and with no other factors distracting them?

    Grace”

    I only recognize three religions Judaism, Islam and all true branches of Christianity (including Catholicism.) The bible only recognizes those three religions. The old testament is very clear on the fact that the israelites are not to engage in homosexuality, so Judaism is forced to condemn homosexuality(its really no use trying to convince them the Torah has already made the decision for them) . The new testament is more unclear on the practice and Jesus has no teachings on the subject(to my knowledge), so Christians have to do a lot more introspection when we ask ourselves if we should allow gay marriage.

    Islam has already made its choice on the matter, and I salute their solidarity and swiftness on the matter although their punishments are very severe(summary execution for all homosexuals).

    Christianity is really the only religion where this matter is seen as a choice, so I stand by my above statement. If your asking what an Atheist or a believer in an non religion(confucianism or hinduism) should do then they can just make a decision or personal preference like they do on anything else.(they have a much more important decision to make than gay marriage anyway do they convert to a religion or do they keep on their wayward path)

    Props on having the most logical response to my post.

    “Jesus wasn’t married, either, which by your reasoning suggests that Christians would have a hard time justifying marriage. (And in fact, they did! Paul grudgingly approves of marriage as the only way to have sex without burning in hell, but sees it as distinctly inferior to a live of celibacy.)

    I do not see a strong movement among Christians to ban adulterous marriage, or marriage which makes a wife an adulteress (as Jesus explicitly stated). I would think that, these things being explicitly condemned in the Bible, Christians who believe the law should follow Christian mores ought to fight hard against such marriages rather than focusing on same-sex marriage. But then again, it’s easier to tell the other guy what he shouldn’t do.”

    Well if you watch the Davinci Code there is some speculation that he was married, but I am not gonna stake my argument on a hollywood blockbuster.
    The bible has many passages promoting marriage like “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

    Jesus attended a wedding in John 2.

    I think if he disaproved he would have said something. Christians do not need to defend their own marriages as the bible clearly gives approval for them. The bible doesn’t even forbid sex outside marriage as long as no prostitutes are involved and no one is married to someone else.

    1 Corinthians chapter 6 (TEV)

    12 Someone will say, “I am allowed to do anything.”

    Yes; but not everything is good for you.

    Christians do not approve of adultery. Societal acceptance of adultery does not cause Christianity to embrace it. Societal acceptance of adultery shows the flaws of our society and not inherent flaws in christianity. Think about your friends and family that have ever had adulterous affairs. Did any of them end well for them? God loves his children (even homosexuals) and he wants what is best for them. Adultery is not what is best for them. Even if Gay marriage was made legal tomorrow Christianity could not open its arms to homosexuality as a moral practice.

    Yes from a political and financial standpoint it makes perfect sense for Christianity to just shut up and stop taking political flak for refusing to give homosexual groups what they want (acceptance), but God’s approval of our actions means more than their approval of our actions. We could just take their money and sell them the acceptance they want, but that is what a cult does not a religion. A religion values its beliefs more than any earthly treasure just as Christ could not be turned even when Satan offered him dominion over the Earth.

    “Probably because so many people *want* for it to be a clear condemnation of homosexuality that they completely ignore the fact that the the reason is given pretty plainly: ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.’ (Ezekiel 16:49) But making it about homosexuality gives Christians carte blanche to condemn and hate an entire group of people, so that’s the prevailing interpretation.”

    and

    “So, from this, an egalitarian marriage is as much a threat against God’s blessings as a same-sex one is. Should all the opposite-sex couples who treat each other as equal partners have their marriage licenses revoked?

    The huge, glaring problem with the push to continue denying same-sex couples equal rights under the law is that everybody’s marriage is against someone’s religion. But, like Mythago said, you don’t see people lining up to make second marriages illegal. Or interfaith marriages.

    The US might be a Christian nation, but it is not supposed to be a theocracy.”

    The egalitarian marriage part first. God gave his two creations man and woman free will. Egalitarian marriage is not incompatible with the bible and neither is unegalitarian marriage. I don’t recall any passages of the bible that deny women their rights or that guarantee women their rights. God left that up to us. The Bible does recommend that the husband love and cherish his wife and that the wife honor and obey her husband. Nothing in those words says to me that they are not partners in the marriage. I mean some men will exploit the term obey, but he clearly isn’t living up to the word cherish then is he.

    On to the part about everyone’s marriage being against someone’s religion. I only follow one religion and I only acknowledge two others. Of those three Christianity, Islam and Judaism none of them prohibit a man from marrying a woman. Two of them prohibit same sex marriage and one of them is currently conflicted. I don’t recall any passages of the bible that condemn interfaith marriage although I don’t know of any church that encourages the practice.

    Christianity frowns on second marriages. It is society that allows them to take place. People act like Christianity is all powerful. Only God is all powerful he gives his followers the tools to resist corruption and be delivered from temptation, but the Bible tells us that one day the earth will be ruled by the Anti Christ and that only the second coming shall save the remaining faithful. Basically we can’t live perfectly in this world since this world is imperfect and we are also imperfect.
    Our society cannot have the blessing of God while ignoring his words since God tells us that societies which turn away from God will be turned away from by God. The worst thing for any society is to be turned away from by God.

    The United States is a Christian nation, but it isn’t a theocracy anymore as it was under the Puritans. Whether that is good or ill is open to debate. I have seen Theocracies ignore the tenants of their faith to do great evil and I think it is for the best that we are not a theocracy.

    I read John Shore’s blog post and he is right about a lot of things. Christians have singled out homosexuality as an abominable sin while treating other sins as less than. We should as Christians be embracing of all people willing to learn the God’s truth. Gay Right’s groups want more than we can give though. We cannot tell them their lifestyle isn’t sinful and priests that perform a same sex marriage are encouraging a sin.

    I don’t like your assertion that Christians are purposefully misinterpreting scripture to justify hating a group of people. Christianity does not wander around looking for groups of people to hate. The bible is ancient and dates back before homosexuality was frowned upon. Why would the original Christians purposefully misinterpret scripture to deny themselves alternative methods of sex that no one had ever called sinful or wrong before. The ancient greeks which predate the birth of Jesus were apparently big fans of homosexuality. These scriptures have remain unchallenged for thousands of years. I think it is far more likely that groups are willfully misinterpreting scripture now to achieve a political goal which is itself a sin.

    Christianity did not suddenly spring up with an anti gay crusade to deny gay’s marriage we have been here for two thousand years preaching the same beliefs. The people who are pushing an issue/agenda if you will are the gay right’s groups.

  42. 40
    Charles S says:

    “Judaism is forced to condemn homosexuality(its really no use trying to convince them the Torah has already made the decision for them).”

    The main branch of Judaism is Reform Judaism (most religious Jews belong to this branch). Reform Judaism recognizes same sex marriages. Given that your description of Mormonism on the other thread (as a cult) mark you as a religious bigot, I’m not sure I want to know what you categorize Reform Judaism as so that you can justify your quoted false claim. Just to head off where I expect you to go to justify your false statements, it is readily apparent that you are not a Jew, so you do not get to say who are real Jews and who aren’t, nor do you get to say how Jews should interpret the Torah.

    Of course, you don’t actually speak for Christianity either and a growing number of Christian denominations perform same sex marriages, so your personal anti-gay bigotry and the bigotry of your particular denomination can not really be defended as an integral part of Christianity any more.

  43. 41
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Charles S -

    I don’t really think you need to go to another thread to show that Tyrannus is a religious bigot; his opening statement about how he only recognizes three religions (and a rather narrow minded view of all three) shows this pretty well.

    But I do have to make a factual correction:

    The main branch of Judaism is Reform Judaism (most religious Jews belong to this branch).

    That’s only true for American Jews, all over the world Orthodox Judaism is still a larger denomination. This doesn’t affect the validity of what you’re saying in any way, and I don’t want to derail this conversation, but for several reasons not pertinent to this thread, Americans ignoring non-American Judaism is a red flag for me.

  44. 42
    Charles S says:

    Eytan,

    Fair enough and my apologies. I wasn’t intending to ignore non-US Jews, I was just wrong about what percentage of US Jews are Reform. I had thought it was a significant majority rather than a weak plurality, and therefore enough to balance out the Israeli Orthodox.

    According to wikipedia, of 5.4 million Israeli Jews, 58% are orthodox equivalent (although I’m not clear whether the 25% who are labeled traditionalists are Orthodox, so it might be only 33% who are Orthodox), 42% are secular. Of 5 million US Jews, 42% are reform, 38% are conservative, and 7% are orthodox. So, indeed, the largest branch in Israel and the US is Orthodox (if the Israeli masorti/traditionalists are counted as Orthodox).

    The web site of Progressive Judaism claims that 38% of Israeli Jews identify with Progressive Judaism (versus 25% who identify as Orthodox). If that were accurate (and the “identify with”/ “identify as” hedge is a paraphrase of the dodgy language used on that web page), then Reform would be the largest branch in Israeli and the US by a small margin, with Orthodoxy still probably winning out once non-Israeli, non-US Jews are included.

    Thanks for pointing out my error! I now know more about Jewish religious demographics than I did before tonight and won’t make this mistake again.

  45. 43
    Eytan Zweig says:

    According to wikipedia, of 5.4 million Israeli Jews, 58% are orthodox equivalent (although I’m not clear whether the 25% who are labeled traditionalists are Orthodox, so it might be only 33% who are Orthodox), 42% are secular. Of 5 million US Jews, 42% are reform, 38% are conservative, and 7% are orthodox. So, indeed, the largest branch in Israel and the US is Orthodox (if the Israeli masorti/traditionalists are counted as Orthodox).

    The masorti/traditionalists in Israel are almost entirely Orthodox-leaning, by default if nothing else. A lot of them aren’t even aware of the existence Progressive branchs of Judaism, as those are not acknowledged in Israeli law or the education system. Anecdotally, I never heard of non-Orthodox Judaism until my Bar Mitzvah, even though both my parents actually identify with non-Orthodox branches. Even though I was Bar Mitzvahed at a Conservative, rather than an Orthodox, synagogue, at the time I myself assumed that the distinction was simply that Orthodox = Israeli and Conservative = American and that the reason my parents chose that synagogue was because it was more accomodating of my father’s English monolingual side of the family.

    The statistic on the progressive Judaism website seems a bit misleading to me – it does not explain who they asked. My guess is that many of the people surveyed are secular Jews who are far more likely to identify with Reform/Progressive Judaism than Orthodox Judaism if forced to make a choice.

    The reform synagogue my parents occasionally attend, which is one of the most active in the country, has a congregation consisting almost entirely of secular Jews who go there only for major holidays and identify that more as a cultural action than a religious one (both my parents count among that group). I would think that a large percentage of the congregation would identify as atheist if pressed.

    (In addition, while Israel and the US are by far the largest Jewish communities in the world, European Judaism is still a significant percentage and I think most of it is Orthodox, though I can’t back that up with any figures).

  46. 44
    Charles S says:

    “My guess is that many of the people surveyed are secular Jews who are far more likely to identify with Reform/Progressive Judaism than Orthodox Judaism if forced to make a choice. ”

    That was my guess too, not because I know anything about Israeli Judaism, but just because of the “identify with” versus “identify as” language. My suspicion would be that the survey might even have been one in which Progressive Judaism was not identified by name, but instead identified by associated beliefs and practices.

  47. 45
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    cult
    noun
    1.
    a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

  48. 46
    mythago says:

    Now I’m dying to know where Tyrannus thinks Islam is mentioned in the Bible.

  49. 47
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    Ok this is how it works

    Abraham was promised a son by God, but Abraham was 85 years old and his wife Sarai hadn’t born him any children. Sarai offered Abraham her handmaiden Hagar and the child born under the customs of that time would be counted as if Sarai herself had given birth to the child.

    It works and Hagar gives birth to Ishmael who is according to the Islamic faith the progenitor of their people.

    The problem is Abraham didn’t obey God and his wife Sarai conceives Isaac the progenitor of the Judaic people.

    God had already promised Abraham that Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. The thing is that promise gets extended to Ishmael who Abraham wasn’t supposed to have.

    On top of that an Angel prophesizes that both sons shall have great nations, but also that Ishmael would be “he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.”

    It is one of the rare pieces of the bible that Muslims, Jews, and Christians all agree on.

    Christians and Muslims are still fighting today.

  50. 48
    mythago says:

    I know the story. But you said that “the Bible” recognizes Islam. Now you’re saying that Islam points back to the Bible. Indeed it does – in the Quran. Please explain to me where in the Bible Islam is recognized. What you’re saying is that any later religion can say “Our own teaching say that this story in the Bible is all about us, even though the Bible doesn’t mention us really” and you’d say the Bible mentions that faith. Do you really want to go there?

    Your other theology is equally poor. Jesus approves of marriage because he attended a wedding? He spend time with tax-collectors and prostitutes; does that mean he approved of whoring? Does that erase everything Paul said? The Bible never forbade the Israelites to have same-sex marriage; it forbade men from having sex with other men (depending on your interpretation, this could mean any sex at all, or just a specific act) and said nothing about women. Quoting Hebrews to say that the Bible recognizes marriage ignores Jesus’ and Paul’s later teachings about marriage, and frankly is like arguing that Christians aren’t allowed to eat shrimp.

    Interfaith marriage is specifically prohibited by Jewish law. I’m rather surprised you didn’t know that.

    As for marriage, again, in the US, Christians are free to say whatever they like about homosexuality, just as they are allowed to call people whoremongers for divorcing a wife to marry a mistress. The problem isn’t your opinions about homosexuals. The problem is the pretense that Christians should insist on civil marriage law mapping Christian theology but only regarding same-sex marriage. Jesus taught that divorce should never happen save for adultery; where are the million-dollar donations for a campaign to ban no-fault divorce? Where are the lobbyists and the political campaigns to make it illegal to remarry after a divorce?

    Those are rhetorical questions, obviously. Christians don’t really want to give up their option to divorce and remarry. But since few of them believe they’ll ever want to enter into a same-sex marriage, it’s no skin off their noses to forbid it.

  51. 49
    Jake Squid says:

    I only recognize three religions Judaism, Islam and all true branches of Christianity (including Catholicism.) The bible only recognizes those three religions.

    Yeah. And Nostradamus recognized the USA.

    Mythago is correct in everything she says in comment # 48.

  52. 50
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    God gave Ishmael a great nation and saved his life in the desert for a reason, and I don’t think it was so it could be a nation founded on a false faith. Obviously Islam is recognized by God. If you have an argument why Islam isn’t a real faith I would be glad to hear it.

    I didn’t know that interfaith marriage is banned by the Jewish faith, but it makes sense they are few and they need to keep what members they do have in the faith. The rule makes sense. If the Jews want to make a push against interfaith marriage I will not stand in their way.

    Jesus did spend time among prostitutes and whoremongers, but he showed them a better way to live while he was among them. He attended a wedding and that is all the bible says. It doesn’t say he spoke against marriage or promoted celibacy. He didn’t teach a better way to live than marriage. Genesis also makes it clear that God expected his creations to reproduce.

    The bible forbiding Jewish men from having sex with other men is pretty clear to me. Saying it means not to have sex at all appears to me as wishful thinking. Why doesn’t it say not to have sex at all which again would conflict with Genesis? Also why does the bible specify that adultery and whoremongering is a sin if no one is supposed to have sex or get married at all?

    One the issue of divorce law your acting like Christians are all powerful in this country. We have already established we aren’t living in a theocracy like the puritans once did (they had some strict divorce laws.) You don’t want to live in a Theocracy, but you also want Christians to get their way every time. Yes Christians are the majority, but there are secular motivations in this imperfect and evil world as well. Greed, power, ambition, lust all weaken the Christian cause. You have politicians making decisions on what advances their career the fastest you have states looking at division of property. You have atheists in this country in high offices some open about it some not. Some politicians are atheists who feign religion, because it helps them get elected. You have divorce lawyers making a fortune. You have the Supreme court ruling that what the founding fathers originally intended is secondary to progressive ideology. You have agnostics who wont make up their minds. Last but not least we have Satan himself poisoning the minds of men against God with his lies.

    Against all that we are supposed to muster a movement to ban divorce that I am guessing you wouldn’t even support if it did exist. Christians never plan on getting divorced nobody does. Nobody goes into marriage thinking well if it doesn’t work out I can get a divorce. Politicians think like that, but regular people don’t. I find the argument that we are all jealously guarding the right to get divorced highky unlikely. What about all the gays who marry a straight person then come out and get a divorce they would have to stay married forever under this new theoretical movement. The right to divorce is not Christians alone and they probably use it the least compared to other groups.

    Finally your acting like this is one big conspiracy of Christians to keep gays down. What are we gaining from this? Truth be told we are losing out on this issue since we aren’t gaining any gay followers because of it and we are losing younger followers who are being taught by gay marriage groups that Christians are a homophobic hate group. If we were a political party we would have said fine get married a year ago, but we aren’t we can’t bend our beliefs according to what the polls do from this year to next year. Christianity could be one guy and the entire rest of the world could be gay, and he doesn’t have to hate the world, but he can’t say that homosexuality isn’t a sin because he is a Christian. The Pope could increase the number of Catholics by millions if he would just allow birth control, but that isn’t his belief and he can’t compromise it.

    The fact that Christians are united against this and are probably still gonna lose this fight (I can see the writing on the wall) shows that the end times are coming. When Christians no longer hold sway over what their own governments do it means something else is holding sway over them.

  53. 51
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    You have gained a witty sidekick it seems.

  54. 52
    Charles S says:

    “The fact that Christians are united against [marriage equality]”

    That is not a fact. Many Christians and multiple Christian denominations support marriage equality. You can shed your anti-gay beliefs and remain a Christian in good standing.

    Also, I know other people asked you for them, but I think we have heard enough about your particular beliefs about which religions are legitimate and which aren’t. Please drop the topic.

    Lastly, just as an aside, don’t ever post a dictionary definition of a word on Alas again. You have lost that privilege.

  55. 53
    Tyrannus Evisceratus says:

    This is your blogspace and I have said everything I have to say, so I will respect your request to leave.

    A man by the name of Dan Savage is making trouble, and I need to go confront him anyway.

    To other posters: Please no more responses to my above posts(or any of my other posts on this blog) as I no longer have the ability to respond to them.

  56. 54
    mythago says:

    Darnit, Charles, I was looking forward to Tyrannus’ explanation of where in the Bible that God’s reasons for saving Ishmael are set forth. (Maybe he has some bizarro-world Bible from an alternate parallel which would be worth TONS of money on eBay, yo.)