Saturday, January 12, 2008

Don't Tell ME What To Do!

This topic is by request of a friend known only through the blogosphere. I hope I address it suitably and it is about the accusation by some that Christians seek to control others. Indeed, this accusation eminates also from other, more liberal Christians of those more conservative. It is baseless either way.

Christians of the more conservative variety seek to spread the Word of God in order to glorify Him. It is done by evangelism and preaching what the Word of God is and means for us in our day to day lives. I personally belive that everyone benefits who lives a Christian life whether one believes in a deity or not. I believe a society benefits as more of its people follow Christian teaching regarding behaviors. In fact, I believe the only proper response to the preceding statements is as follows: DUH!

I often gravitate to issues of sexuality because there is no better arena where the beliefs stated above are so well illustrated. As everyone knows, the Bible sanctions sex only within the confines of the traditional marital arrangement of one man/one woman. If this was followed by everyone, as well as the Biblical description of what love means in a marriage, is it not easy to see how society would be better off? No divorce, no unwanted children, no STDs, no abortions, no Monday night football (wait a minute...) So the Christian desire to see all follow the Way of the Master is a desire that all should benefit by doing so.

But this hardly means we intend to control or force others to join in lockstep under a malevolent God or religious leader. Heaven forbid. This is not beneficial. Rather, we seek to persuade only and hope our arguments are compelling enough that others join us willingly. God gave us choice and free will. We only seek to provide intel that would lead to others making the choice to follow of their own free will

So why the charge? Two main reasons, really. The first is that some enjoy certain activities God considers improper and/or forbidden to us. They simply don't want to stop enjoying them.

The second is that while they continue to enjoy these forbidden activities, they don't want to be considered wrong, bad, sinful, and strongly resent such implications. Of course, for most of them, theydo believe those actions are wrong and their anger betrays this. As the person reminding them of the sinfulness of the actions, the Christian is considered to be "trying to shove their ideology down their throats".

In addition, it is far easier to dismiss the source of the opinion, in this case the Bible, rather than to debate the merits of the position. As indicated above, there are indeed practical benefits for society in adhering to Christian teaching. But those insisting on answering the call of their personal desires are confounded by any reminder of what they know inherently about those desires. The admonishment, "Shame on you!" has long fallen from favor, but the nagging feelings of shame still plagues and to whomever aroused that sense of shame in the sinner is guilty of cramping of the style. A most heinous crime. But consider: most people who are secure in the knowledge that their actions are righteous cannot easily be aroused to anger by those who say they are doing wrong. They simply ignore the accuser. Those who get angry do so for having been forced to face the unrighteousness of their actions. A very awkward and uncomfortable situation.

Also, Christians are also labelled as controlling for voting according to conscience. We'll vote to support traditional marriage, for example, because we feel it aligns with the Will of God as well as for the benefits for society in doing so. The accusation begs the question of why the opposition isn't being controlling for voting as they see fit? Frankly, I don't much care about the source of an idea if the idea is a good one and I don't care about the source if the idea is crap. Each side weighs an idea against their own ideology and common sense.

So in conclusion, charges of Christians forcing their will are really akin to tantrums by those who understand that their position on a given issue is indefensible, just as a child throws a fit when he doesn't get his way.


Mark said...

All I have to say in response is...DUH!

Les said...

You're amazing. In fact, you're one of my favorite people ever.

"...we seek to persuade only..."

So laws are only a species of persuasion then?

ELAshley said...

Laws are passed by the majority. No one group-- Christians, Agnostics, Moral Relativists --passes laws to rule over others.

Laws are a species of Compulsion. which is why it's very important to vote. And vote in those who will "represent" from a just and moral foundation, knowing instinctively what is Right and what is Wrong.

Marshall Art said...


I think you're mixing two separate points. On the one hand, simply indicating that another is doing wrong in the sight of God is often considered to be a sign that the Christian wants to control the other. Kind of a one-to-one situation.

On the other hand, when a Christian votes on issues based upon the teachings of his faith, it is considered by others as a sign that he intends to support a theocracy. This opinion is without regard to whether or not the position of the Christian itself has merit or benefit for the community. In other words, should a Christian say, "I'm voting to support this idea because the Bible says, yada yada yada..." The proper response is not to dismiss the idea outright simply because it's Biblically supported, but to say, "Let's look at the issue from every angle and consider its impact on society. We'll then vote to support it if it looks like it will be a benefit to society." You darn well know that not every Christian will agree one way or the other. So the source of the idea, Biblical teaching, is really irrelevant. To some, however, knowing that the idea is derived from Biblical teaching is enough to crap on it without ever really pondering the idea itself.

But ya know? I AM pretty amazing, ain't I?

Bulls lose again, this time to Orlando. I believe we've regained our position as bottom feeders from our hated rival for it, the Bucks. What a competition!

Les said...

"I think you're mixing two separate points."

Right back at ya'. As I've attempted numerous times to explain, legislation doesn't arbitrarily equal personal conviction. When I say someone can marry someone of the same sex, I'm not saying I approve of their lifestyle. That's a world of a difference, and that, quite frankly, is the ONLY part of this whole debate that really concerns me. Again, I'm in complete agreement that people who don't approve of the gay lifestyle have every right in the world to debate the pros and cons of their position. That's not trying to "control" people by any stretch of the imagination. It's called freedom of speech. However, I will NEVER agree that a government should in any way, shape, or form undermine the privileges of the gay community simply because people have a fundamental problem with homosexuality.

Let's follow up on something you said a while back - if marriage is an entity legally recognized and worked into the tax code, just like Social Security, then why are you so concerned about it losing its "specialness"? Again, straight peoples' Social Security benefits aren't any less "special" because gays also get Social Security, so what's the big deal, Art? If you're so concerned about the whole "costs to me" issue, why not retroactively go after the money all those divorcees out there who took advantage of marital tax or insurance benefits received before their marriages fell apart? I'm just not buying the "costs" argument. Could it be that somewhere, deep down inside, there's a degree, however minimal, of "Sodom and Gomorrah" syndrome raging?

Marshall Art said...


I don't think I've ever indicated, at least not on purpose, that I don't harbor anti-homo sentiments that spring from my faith. At the same time, I don't praise those who whore around and without regard to their partner. I'm not fond of pedophiles either. It simply so happens that though these behaviors, as well as other behaviors, are not condoned Biblically, they also are detrimental to society as I've sought to explain, and you've chosen to dismiss. Now, I've gone out of my way to show how homosexuality is unworthy of the honor shown traditional marriage by legislation and tax codes without using any religious references whatsoever. I've also sought to frame it in a "cost to society" point of view as opposed to a "cost to me" point of view, though that is a concern as well.

Divorcees don't need to pay back whatever bennies they accrued whilst still married, because during that time they were entitled to them. It's enough that they no longer qualify once they've become single once again. But for the record, I think easy divorce is a bad thing, not only for society, but more so for the former couple and any kids that they produced during their marriage. But that's a whole 'nother issue.

The trouble between you and I on this issue is that I acknowledge the stark differences between traditional and homo marriages and you prefer to believe there are none and that you see the whole thing as entirely benign. I've listed a quite a bit as far as the downside of homo marriage and it's the totality where we see the greatest impact. Were it only one point, our culture might not be so at risk. But faced with the big picture, it's a different story.

And once again, the state sanctioning and licensing of traditional marriage acknowledges the ideal and it's ulitmate benefits to society that other arrangements don't provide. They may offer some of the bennies, but not all of them. Like all good laws, this one encourages people to seek the ideal, it enables and allows the ideal to blossom. It's similar to tax law encouraging others to engage in the activities that bring about wealth and productivity.

As far as SS, it's not based upon nor does it have anything to do with sexual behavior and thus not a good comparison.

Les said...

"...I acknowledge the stark differences between traditional and homo marriages and you prefer to believe there are none..."

That's incorrect, Art. The difference lies in which particular unions you and I believe deserve to fall under the label of "marriage". Of COURSE there are differences between straight marriages and gay marriages, most obviously evidenced physically by the nature of the genitalia involved. Yet I would argue this - it's not like straight marriages come from some sort of uniform assembly line, either on a physical OR emotional level. Let's be honest here - some people get married to solidify business relationships. Some get married for companionship late in life. Some get (or stay, as is the case with several people I know) married for the aforementioned tax incentives. We've seen Playboy bunnies marry incoherent billionaires. Some people marry to get around immigration issues. Some wed simply to shut their parents up. Some get married because the clock is ticking and they want a kid - then divorce shortly thereafter because the incentive for the child was the only motivating factor behind the arrangement. Some gay men marry lesbians for nothing more than appearance and legal purpose, only to live their own lives nowhere near their legal spouses. Prisoners with no chance of intimate conjugal visits often marry their sweethearts nonetheless. I'm also sure men with impotence issues marry healthy women quite often. Common theme here? It's not all about knockin' da' boots and it never has been, which is why the SS comparison is perfectly relevant to this discussion.

From an emotional and mental health standpoint, how many replays of the Scott Peterson story have we seen or read about? How many times do we hear about husbands beating their wives? Domestic violence is in no way monopolized by any particular sexual persuasion, my friend. If the numbers you've researched show a higher percentage of domestic disturbance in gay households, I would rather look for solutions to the problem as opposed to flaunting the data as some sort of validation of my own opinion. Gee, I'm just brainstorming here, but could it be possible, just possible, that years of mockery and social minimization can take a toll on one's psyche and potentially lead to emotional dysfunction later in life? Do you think there might just be a similar reason why crime rates are higher in communities marginalized by the cultural mainstream? What's a common excuse we often discover from people who flip out and shoot up their schools? Social exclusion!

Look, nobody lives their lives exactly the same. It seems to me that a critical piece of your platform finds its basis in the following premise - that homosexuality is a mental disease that will ultimately result in domestic decay and physical disaster. The problem with that theory is that it assumes everybody is the same, and that everybody reacts to events that shape their lives the same. That couldn't be further from the truth. How do I know this? Simple. I know gay people who don't fit the mold you describe. They're not violent. They're not promiscuous. They're just people living their lives.

Here's the bottom line - you're absolutely right about differences. Your marriage isn't the same as Elton John's. Guess what? It also isn't the same as Scott Peterson's or Anna Nicole Smith's. The "specialness" of your marriage or any other future traditional marriages is in no way diminished because of the trainwrecks epitomized by those I just listed. Traditional couples will continue to view their marriages the same whether a gay couple chooses to wed or not.

Marshall Art said...

So you're saying that because there are dysfunctional cases among hetero marriages, or that there are reasons of convenience or economics, that we then should allow any and all other dysfunctional situations to be recognized, sanctioned and/or licensed by the state? How does THAT benefit society?

You seem to want to look at those who've misused or abused the institution as a reason to support others to do so as well. I'm saying that our current standard supports an ideal that is the most beneficial for society. The homo version from the start falls short by virtue of its personnel which negates the possibility of procreation. The fact that some heteros don't want to have kids, or can't, isn't dealt with for a number of reasons, the first being that it is too intrusive on the part of the state. At the same time, those who don't want kids can change their minds, and those who can't can adopt. (Plus it can't always be known in advance that the ability to conceive might not exist)

At the same time, knowing some who seem "normal" doesn't negate the body of points againt the idea. My point is their "persuasion" indicates a mental defect or abnormality that isn't based on any degree of outrageousness, but on the desire themselves. We also differ on the state of mind itself: you think it's an effect and I'm saying it was there at the beginning (in general--it can be a paradigm awaiting a shift). In other words, words that shouldn't have to be spoken over and over, their desire is abnormal, perverted, deviant from the norm.

And I really wish you'd stop saying that my argument is one of its impact on MY marriage, when I've stated continually and categorically that it is an assault on the institution.

Back to the list of hetero marriages you've presented. I'd argue that it is there that we should spend any time doing the tweaking and educating. How can we prevent another 72 hr Brittney Spears-type marriage? Mandate pre-Cana(sp)? a waiting period after applying for the license? How about strict guidlines preventing divorce? Can't see any of those ever getting done. The other points on the list present equal difficulty. None of them, as I've said, justify adding homosexuality to the equation.

In an effort to at least try to tie this to the topic of this thread, let me just say that all I've said and presented regarding this dispute between us aligns with Scriptural teaching. The history of the issue and its details support the teachings as being sound and beneficial to us as human beings. It is a piece of the entire Biblical position on sexuality and what is or is not proper and beneficial for us, as well as being pleasing to God. (Remarkable how that always plays out in that way. That God--He's smart) Yet, there's no "forcing" being done beyond what a majority of voters decides. That is, when they are allowed to decide, rather than being "forced" the opposite way through judicial activism. For my part, I'd much rather not deal with any Constitutional changes like a Marriage Amendment, but those changes that have taken place on the order of some black robed asshole is far worse as it overrides the will of the people. Talk about controlling!

Les said...

"And I really wish you'd stop saying that my argument is one of its impact on MY marriage, when I've stated continually and categorically that it is an assault on the institution."

Let's say gay marriage gets legalized tomorrow. Tons of gay couples immediately get married. The day AFTER tomorrow, a straight couple gets married. Is the "specialness" of their marriage diminished?

"You seem to want to look at those who've misused or abused the institution as a reason to support others to do so as well."

And once again we're looking at the same thing from two completely different starting points. It's YOU who's highlighting the bad apples, Art! Can't you see that? You're making the assumption that gay couples inevitably live a decadent, unhealthy, and destructive life, and I'm trying to tell you I know that's just not true because of those that I know personally. I'd much rather highlight those positive examples to show the detractors that yes, indeed, gay couples are capable of living lives like yours and mine - with the obvious exception of that whole gay thing. You, on the other hand, are highlighting bad gay relationships in an effort to stigmatize the entire gay population. As for me, while I'm certainly not arbitrarily dismissing your concerns about homosexuality (even though it might seem I am by the tone of our arguments about this), I'm only pointing out the bad seeds in straight marriages to illustrate that the root causes of disastrous marriages have NOTHING to do with the sexual orientation involved. Gay people are going to be gay whether they're allowed to marry or not, so I'd rather focus my attention on equal marital rights for both straights and gays instead of looking for ways to penalize people who live their lives differently than I do.

About procreation...

There's adoption. There's surrogate parents. There's in vitro. In short, if kids are on the agenda, there's options. As a product of divorce, I know for a fact that families don't have to be bound by blood alone.

Mark said...

Allowing gay couples to raise children is child abuse.

Les said...

So let's say a gay man agrees to father a child for a lesbian couple. According to you, Mark, that child will then be raised in an environment of perpetual abuse. I certainly hope you're not suggesting the state removes the child from its parents.

Marshall Art said...


"Let's say gay marriage..."

Try it this way: Because nature has designed man for woman, and because that union is "unique" for it's ability to procreate, and because within that setting a child is best suited, that state has deemed it worthy of special considerations. It does not agree that any other relationship adequately benefits society because no other is meets the criteria of this foundational bedrock of society.

"You, on the other hand, are highlighting bad gay relationships in an effort to stigmatize the entire gay population."

Not so. I'm highlighting the downsides to society of such relationships. In addition, we see that there are more serious and immediate downsides to the participants. Even if the couples you know are as peachy as they seem to you to be, they are, by the research statistics, the rare cases. And even if I were to concede your rebuttals trump my arguments, the one that can't be trumped is the fact that other relationships can demand the same thing as the homosexuals and there would be no preventing them.

"I'm only pointing out the bad seeds in straight marriages to illustrate that the root causes of disastrous marriages have NOTHING to do with the sexual orientation involved."

That is in question if you've looked at the sources I've offered. And the fact remains that state licensing of marriage has EVERYTHING to do with sexual orientation. One man, one woman and the children the produce is the basis of our society. It unique in this sense and thus, special. Again, that would be the institution, not a specific marriage.

And you really have to compare one type of union to the other, not a specific marriage to another. It is the "type" of union that is special. All things being equal, healthwise, mentally and emotionally, if you drop two couples on two separate islands (and they survive the fall), the hetero couple can populate the island. The homosexual couple will simply die at the end of their lives (which on average are shorter than average life expectancies). This is what makes the traditional special and unique and worthy of the honor given by state licensing.

"So let's say a gay man agrees to father a child for a lesbian couple."

They have consciously deprived the child of the best possible setting in which it could be raised, just to pretend they are just like anybody else. They are no better than any other couple that views children as a way to accessorize. And that's worse than letting them marry.

Marshall Art said...

There are lots of different arrangements of personnel that call themselves "family". But the best you can really say is the they are "family-like". Some are really close to "family". Common-law arrangements, for example, except that after a time, the law views them as married and the household as a family. Congregations, sports teams, companies and many others all consider themselves "families", but none of them truly are. Of course they're all close. Of course they all care, and even love each other.

The typical rebuttal might point to a household where the mother is an uncaring slob, the father is an abusive alcoholic, and the kids hate them both and each other. The rebuttal might say, "You call THAT 'a family'"? And I'd say, "Yes. I do." It's dysfunctional to the extreme, a bad family, but a family nonetheless. It matched the criteria of the state. It lacks the one extra point that most everyone would feel is required, but one over which the state cannot concern itself: love. There is no way for the state to tangibly measure for it. For the purposes of licensing, it is irrelevant.

Marshall Art said...

For anyone who was interested in commenting on the topic of this thread, don't let Les and me get in your way.

hashfanatic said...

Well, as long as you ASKED...

Marshall, I cannot for the life of me understand your seeming obsession about the personal affairs of gay people.

You invoke the issue constantly, and surely you must realize you'll never change any minds about it.

It's similar to the never-ending abortion debate, where Americans will never agree on, but your need to make your opinions known on whether or not queers can marry, the relative arguments over the morality of people you've never met...

I'm not even approaching my opinion on your outlook on the matter, because we've done that number to death.

Now, some of your posters appear to be worthy, intelligent individuals who seem legitimately interested in engaging in what, for them, is meaningful dialogue.

The way you express the opinions to them seems to be a source of great angst and, what I am wondering is, why squander such good will on such a divisive subject, when the emotional aspects of your replies obviously cause great pain and vexation.

What is so vital about this subject to your life, that you continually engage them this way?

Marshall, you should give this thought. I dislike you intensely but your friends here seem totally in your corner, and maybe you should think twice before saying such things, over and over, and alienating what could develop into great, meaningful, long-term blog buddies!

Everybody understands that some adhere personally to very strict interpretations of Scripture, and one's right to practice their religion should be sancrosanct.

I'm asking you, Marshall, for the benefit of those who seem interested in what you have to say, to please change your tone and try to walk in a spirit of love, even if your conflicting emotions get in the way.

Not everyone on God's green earth will see things Marshall Art's way.

Don't be so IRRITATED along the way, because it's not even your journey to begin with.

Les said...

" should think twice before saying such things, over and over, and alienating what could develop into great, meaningful, long-term blog buddies!"

On the off chance you're referring to me, hash, I wouldn't worry too much about Art alienating me with the manner in which he argues his beliefs. We've been launching artillery strikes at each other for, what, four years now? If there were any alienating to be done between the two of us, I'd think that would have already happened, no? Not everybody has thin skin when it comes to online political scream sessions (which these aren't, by the way).

I don't know about you, but I personally enjoy watching the execution of one's debate tactics. One thing I've noticed about Art over the years is that he's mastered the art of the pivot. For example:

"Try it this way:"

Um, NO. I asked the question because I wanted a specific answer to my question. Art, however, chose to steer the conversation back to a discussion based upon a variation of the "procreation is the most important part of hetero MARRIAGE and thus it should be rewarded by the state" argument. What Art will always refuse to acknowledge is that even if gays can legally wed, there is absolutely NO loss of "specialness" in hetero marriages. One obvious aspect of his argument will always fundamentally hold true - one male and one female can produce issue. THAT'S the only real "specialness" we're talking about here. However, BIOLOGY provides that specialness, NOT a legal marital arrangement. Can't unmarried couples have kids? In addition, as we've covered numerous times, since issue isn't the sole motivation or end objective for every single marriage, such a prerequisite is essentially rendered moot.

Here's another example:

"Not so. I'm highlighting the downsides to society of such relationships."

That's exactly what I said. You're highlighting the downsides of SUCH RELATIONSHIPS to society. You're focusing on the bad examples to illustrate your points, instead of focusing on positive cases that should serve as examples to the gay community. Talk about a glass-is-half-empty perspective!

The bottom line is this, hash - I like talking to Art about the so-called wedge issues because it's interesting to see how far it goes before we hit the wall. He obviously ain't gonna change his opinion, and I'm not gonna change mine. That said, the arguments offer insight into opinions I don't share, and for me, that's invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Les.

For what it's worth, we all have to live together (somehow).

Sometimes I enjoy watching you all go at it, I just don't want to see it all go awry, and I believe Marshall gets something positive from the dialogue.


Marshall Art said...

Hashdaddy's returned!

"Well, as long as you ASKED..."

I don't know that I asked anything, and if you were responding to the last comment of mine, I don't see how your comments were in any way focussed on the topic of the thread. It doesn't surprise me...I'm just sayin'.

"Marshall, I cannot for the life of me understand your seeming obsession about the personal affairs of gay people."

I didn't bring it up. In fact, Les was carrying over from a previous post, a series in fact, provoked by a comment of his about the subject, which he brought up previous to that.

"What is so vital about this subject to your life, that you continually engage them this way?"

This is actually a good question, so kudos for that. It is actually no more or less vital than a host of other issues that will have an impact on our culture, a culture in which my descendants will have to negotiate. I believe the impact will be strongly negative, even if it looks rosey in the beginning. I believe that I am duty bound to cast my vote, express my opinion, and stand firm for principles and values that are beneficial to the culture, and against that which will erode or destroy them. I believe that sometimes doing so might seem hurtful, but the truth often hurts and I'd be a coward to stifle the truth for the sake of public perception and adulation. Far better for me to be shunned for speaking the truth than to be praised for buying into the lies.

It doesn't matter how well my words persuade or how pathetically impotent they may be for not persuading. The reason it has gotten to the point it has is due to good men doing nothing.

I hope that answers the question for you. As to my tone, it is my business how I respond to comments here and elsewhere. Should you be so bold as to create your own blog, by all means, feel free to dictate how commenters comment. I think I can truthfully say that the only limitation I've ever placed on YOU was that you not suppose you can speak of my daughter as you do of me. She is, as are her sisters, off limits to anyone unless I solicit comments about her by posting something about her.

Just so's you understand, I do not hate anyone. I do not hate YOU, for example, though I find your comments mostly goofy, and some of your positions ill-considered. But I'm not going to bend over backwards in order to avoid "hurting someone's feelings", especially when it's a simple thing to gain clarification or explanations. I will not simply let a stupid comment go by without snarkiness. I stand, sit actually, ready to absorb whatever snark comes my way. It's fun. Bring it on.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to correct a few problems regarding Les' last. Know that you don't have to hide behind "anonymous" here. Whether I know it's you or not, it won't change how I respond to a stupid or intelligent comment.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to correct a few problems regarding Les' last.

Les said...

"I didn't bring it up."

Dude, the following was in the thread's main posting:

"We'll vote to support traditional marriage, for example, because we feel it aligns with the Will of God as well as for the benefits for society in doing so."

I brought it up? Given the context of your blog's comment history, what else could "traditional marriage" have been referencing, Art?

Marshall Art said...


The "Pivot"! Wow! You should see me in the low post!

"Try it this way:"

This was an attempt to express an opinion in different words. I was not ducking your question, just trying to illustrate it in as clarifying a manner as possible. That you saw it as a dodge suggests I failed greatly. My bad.

"What Art will always refuse to acknowledge is that even if gays can legally wed, there is absolutely NO loss of "specialness" in hetero marriages."

And what you refuse to ackowledge is that I have repeatedly insisted that I am concerned for the institution, or even the very definition if you will, of marriage. NOT a specific marriage. I think where you're continually missing it is that I'm speaking of those who would insist that their poor facsimile is not the same as the genuine model, no matter how much they force their way. That no one, neither the individual nor the state, is oblidged to accomodate 2% of the population who want to believe they are just the same as the other 98%, particularly when they clearly are not.

Biology is only part of the equation. The main overriding factor in the worthiness of traditional marriage is that it is the ultimate expression of nature's purpose and intention. It is a symbol of the source of our history. Most of the population recognizes this as something to support over other arrangements. For most of history, the only variation was "not-married". Everything else, all other variations, was considered unworthy of state honor by comparison. It's not even so much a hetero/homo dynamic as it is a hetero/non-hetero situation, if you get my drift. That too many hetero marriages are less than perfect isn't even relevant.

"That's exactly what I said. You're highlighting the downsides of SUCH RELATIONSHIPS to society."

You misunderstand. By "such relationships" I was referring to homo relationships. So the downside to "such relationships", state recognized homosexual relationships, for our culture is the total of all that I discussed in those three posts, and likely a few more I didn't.

And that points to a debating technique of yours, but I haven't come up with a catchy name yet. Let's name it "Bob". "Bob" is the technique whereby you take one point of an issue and run with it as if the whole game stands or falls upon its own self rather than the totality of all that stands along side it. And on top of THAT, there's the fact that this issue is but a part of a larger issue of the current state of human sexuality, wherein a plethora of wackiness ensues.

Les said...

"And what you refuse to ackowledge is that I have repeatedly insisted that I am concerned for the institution, or even the very definition if you will, of marriage. NOT a specific marriage."

And you can put an end to this maddening display of tire-spinning by explaining to me how you can separate the two in your head. Let's get this point cleared up before we proceed, shall we?

Marshall Art said...

"I brought it up? Given the context of your blog's comment history, what else could "traditional marriage" have been referencing, Art?"

I was making a point regarding the topic of alleged Christian control. I could have used abstaining from sex before marriage. In any case, I did NOT bring it up as a subject for discussion---you did in fact select it for disucussion when you went further saying, "Let's follow up on something you said a while back..." Then we got into it. I was perfectly content to focus on the topic.

"Let's get this point cleared up before we proceed, shall we?"

Let's! As a man, are you personally affected by everything that impacts mankind? I believe our votes are important because what results affects the nation. But I know several people for whom nothing political ever tangibly affects them. In the same way, the institution of marriage can be impacted without effect to me and my wife. The meaning of the word changes without the meaning of my relationship. Whereas it now means one man united with one woman, as it is with me and the missus, our union remains the same even though the word will now include every other conceivable arrangement of personnel. Thus, the institution has changed, has been affected, has been impacted, but not my relationship, my marriage to my wife.

With that in mind, it's not difficult to see how society will be affected, by changes in laws, changes in how society must relate to the institution, what can be said of it, how it might or might no longer be honored, and none of it having the least impact on the union between my wife and myself. We are a marriage, we are not marriage.

Les said...

"...when you went further ..."

When one "goes further", that means one is expanding on something that's already been started. Art, if you truly thought you could slip the traditional marriage issue into your post and I wouldn't notice, then you just don't know me at all. If you're going to not-so-slyly use the gay marriage issue to make a point about something else, then you'd better damned well be willing to respond to people who are going to call you on it without complaining about getting "off topic" - as if certain parts of your argument are now somehow irrelevant to the bigger picture because you don't feel like discussing their relevance in this particualar thread. That's bullshit. You went there, I followed.

"Thus, the institution has changed, has been affected, has been impacted, but not my relationship, my marriage to my wife."

I'm going to assume we can agree that the "loss of specialness" would fit into the whole "changed/affected/impacted" category here. So if it's true that YOUR specific marriage, YOUR specific relationship would remain unaffected by gay marriage, then what makes you so different from all the other traditional marriages that, according to you, will somehow be diminished by gay marriage? Don't they all fit under the institution of marriage umbrella, just like YOURS does? I'm confident each and every one of them would feel EXACTLY the same about the status of their specific marriages as you do about yours, so I'm asking you - where is this phantom threat on marriage? You can't exclude yourself from the institution as a whole, Art, because you became a PART of that very institution when you signed the marriage license! Don't get me wrong - I agree with you COMPLETELY that your marriage would be just fine. What I don't get is how you can see a threat to the institution and separate yourself from that threat as if your marriage would be somehow be immune. THIS is the disconnect that needs explaining.

Marshall Art said...

I don't know how many different ways I can say it: "A" marriage is distinct from "the institution of marriage".

Look again at the concept of mankind. You are an example of mankind, which might be described, for the purpose of this discussion, as the entire population of men. Mankind might be described as a group of men with particular characteristics which generally, but not necessarily, describes each man. Let's say the description "brave" and "honorable" are the common factors. Let's say you are brave and honorable as a matter of upbringing, choice, and your general nature. Then, due to a series of liberal efforts and behaviors, mankind in general becomes more selfish and dishonorable. Would this mean that each man, yourself included, automatically change with the liberal influence? Of course not. But mankind has changed in the general sense. This change is obviously a negative one that will impact the culture. But you are the same.

Thus, though the institution of marriage will change, and that change will negatively impact our culture, in ways already mentioned, it does not follow that MY marriage will in any way change.

And finally, nice try about changing the subject, which is supposed to be about Christian control. I offered an example of where this charge arises, and you take the example as a point of discussion. Would it have been better if I offered no examples of the allegations? Would you have run with any other example presented and digressed to that as opposed to sticking with the posted topic?

Les said...

I'm gonna throw a couple more thoughts at this, then step aside and let you get the final word, cuz we just don't agree on this, and we're going nowhere here.

"Look again at the concept of mankind."

I completely reject this analogy. We're talking about a legal arrangement called marriage - NOT inherent traits of mankind as a whole. Not quite the same scope. "A" marriage and "the institution of marriage" are directly interconnected, sharing a somewhat symbiotic relationship. Since "a" marriage is one part of "the institution of marriage", the legal and social status of "a" marriage is affected when the legal and social status of "the institution" is affected. I think our disagreement lies in how you and I determine the virtue - or lack thereof, in your opinion - of such effects. When tax codes affect the institution of marriage, then "a" marriage is directly affected. Similarly, when "a" marriage ends badly, then the divorce statistics of the institution are directly affected. See what I'm gettin' at? No one marriage sits on an island immune from statistics, laws, etc. that affect the institution, because individual marriages are a PART of that institution.

Now, if you'd simply word your argument in terms of your RELATIONSHIP, then I'd agree with you 100%, Art. You're absolutely correct - gay marriage would have zero impact on your personal relationship with your wife. Nor should it have any impact on how the two of you view your marriage, because it's YOUR marriage. The only difference would be that those who could legally benefit from the term "marriage" would be more inclusive. You see that as a threat to the very institution itself - I simply don't.

Since we're talking about a legal entity and its benefits here, I'd offer a different point of comparison. I pay the Milwaukee County Parks System $50 or so at the beginning of the golf season. In return, I get a reduced fee every time I golf at a County course. While I'm no pro, I'd still consider myself a golfer if asked. Guess who else gets to buy a card if they so desire? Non-golfers! Does that mean my discount is less valuable? Nope. Does that mean my membership card means less to me? Nope. All it means is that my golf membership card is available to people other than strictly golfers. If we substitute the golf metaphor with the marriage issue, your version demands that golfers - and ONLY golfers - get to buy the County card. I, on the other hand, realize that while non-golfers (or even shitty golfers) might not fit the membership mold I may have envisioned, they're still free to sign the dotted line and give themselves an opportunity to learn and improve.

"...nice try about changing the subject, which is supposed to be about Christian control."

How did I begin this thread? My very first comment dealt with LAWS. Can you think of a more tangible form of control? You mentioned voting based on one's faith in the very next comment, so how is this point not completely relevant here? You just so happened to mention the "support" of traditional marriage in your post, so of course that's the instrument of control I'm going to address. I mentioned early in my second post that I agreed with the idea that the discussion and promotion of one's values in one's personal life is in no way a version of control, so obviously I'm going to debate with you the areas that I DO feel are susceptible to officious control - the LAWS OF THE LAND!!! That's what I do, Art. Sue me.

Marshall Art said...

You'll be hearing from my law firm, Dewey, Cheatam and Howe.

More later.

Marshall Art said...

OK, this is getting both more stupid as well as more fun:

I looked at your first response, and then I looked at the next two comments and found no homo references. But then, in the next comment, from you, you get right into the topic. So nya nya nya nya nya nya!

As to your golf reference, I think it supports MY argument. A membership at a golf club provokes the notion that golfers are members. To find out non-golfers are allowed now changes my perception of what a golf club membership means and/or is. My perception is now tainted by the thought of those pathetic pretenders with their limp swings and their rainbow golf bags. It used to be something special damnit! And look what they're doing to the fairways---they don't replace their divots! Don't even talk to me about the greens! Minimum 5.5 hrs for 18! I can't stand it! They're even affecting MY marr, uh, membership!

Les said...

I promise - no more debating the pros and cons of gay marriage.


"I looked at your first response..."

And I looked at your initial article. You know as well as I do what "we'll vote to support traditional marriage" alludes to. Don't try to hide behind the "polygamy/incest slippery slope" bullshit - this is about stifling gay marriage and you know it.

Marshall Art said...


Of course it is. It's also about stifling all the other variations as well and the continued support for the traditional.