National Review: For gay marriage and against Christian teaching

I am not going to write an extended refutation of Jason Lee Steorts’s National Review article defending legal same-sex marriage. His arguments have been dealt with extensively elsewhere (see here or here for instance). But several quick comments are in order:

1. The National Review is a leading journal of conservative opinion. It should not be lost on us that many conservatives are eager to shed the albatross of traditional marriage. They view it as a political loser. Younger conservatives can hardly comprehend any reason to oppose gay marriage. At this point, the Republican party is divided on the issue with traditional social conservatives being the only ones holding the line. Those social conservatives have always been viewed as a key part of the Republican coalition. For the time being, they still are. But how long will that last? That a leading journal of conservative opinion would publish an article like this tells us something about the future of political conservatism in America.

2. Steorts presents his article as a conservative case for gay marriage because marriage norms help to curb promiscuity and the social ills that flow from it. Steorts argues that marriage will give gay couples “standards of conduct that we traditionally associate with marriage, namely exclusivity and fidelity subsequent to a vow of permanent commitment.” What the article fails reckon with is that those cherished norms—monogamy and fidelity—cannot be abstracted from defining what marriage is. And that is the point that this article fails to answer—the definition of marriage.

If society eliminates the heterosexual norm from marriage, what would keep it from eliminating the monogamy and fidelity norms as well? Gay activists have admitted that they are not merely trying to obtain “equal” marriage but to destroy marriage by redefinition. Michelanggelo Signorile, for example, has argued that gay marriage might help to remove the monogamy norm from our concept of marriage. He writes:

Rather than being transformed by the institution of marriage, gay men—some of whom have raised the concept of the ‘open relationship’ to an art form— could simply transform the institution itself, making it more sexually open, even influencing their heterosexual counterparts. And who’s to say that broadening the terms of the marriage contract wouldn’t strengthen the two individuals’ commitment to it?

-Michelangelo Signorile, “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” Out Magazine (May1996), 113.

This National Review piece fails to recognize that if we do not conserve the heterosexual norm of marriage, there is no reason to believe that the other norms will stand. Thus this article is not conserving marriage. It is contributing to its annihilation.

3. This article is clear about who stands in the way of gay marriage being widely accepted—Christians. Even though Steorts calls them “traditionalists,” it is clear that Christians are the main targets of his argument. He says that Christians are telling a “noble lie” about marriage. He says that Christian opposition to same-sex marriage is an “unlovely pharisaism” that should be rejected “however ancient or canonical its provenance.” Those last couple phrases are jarring to read in a leading conservative publication because they are nothing less than an explicit call for Americans to reject Christian tradition and teaching. If anyone out there still thinks there is a permanent and inevitable alliance between Christians and the GOP, this article should disabuse them of such thinking. If political conservatives pursue this kind of culture war against Christians, whatever alliance there might have been will disappear.

4. Finally, this article shows the limited appeal that natural law arguments have with secular people. Steorts rejects natural law arguments outright, saying that natural law partakes of the is/ought fallacy—that we can observe what is and know therefore what ought to be. In a very revealing paragraph, he writes:

The whole argument appears to have been crafted especially to avoid grounding in revelation or metaphysics an ethics that has traditionally been grounded in revelation or metaphysics. It thereby offers traditionalists who already accept the ethics on the basis of religious or metaphysical belief a way of talking about that ethics without mentioning those more robust beliefs. It also serves as a lowest common denominator in terms of which traditionalists of varying stripes can agree to express themselves. All of this is immensely useful as marketing. But it comes at the price of reducing to the status of a not-very-persuasive suggestion the ethics that it serves to market.

We need to see what is going on here at the theological level. Steorts is kicking against the goads of divine revelation. He understands that the natural law is based on a theological principle that God has revealed the verities of nature. He rejects that revelation in both its specific and general forms. He will not tolerate natural law because he will not tolerate revelation. And that is the issue.

Yes, this is a debate about public policy. But we cannot escape the larger worldview concerns that drive this discussion. Steorts is siding with secularists in saying that Christian views have no part in this conversation. Why? The ultimate explanation is a very old one (Rom. 1:21).

84 Responses to National Review: For gay marriage and against Christian teaching

  1. James Stanton May 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    I see this as part of an unavoidable development. It used to be politically beneficial to fear-monger about the sexual revolutionaries in federal elections and now it is a political liability nationally..

    “If society eliminates the heterosexual norm from marriage, what would keep it from eliminating the monogamy and fidelity norms as well?

    I would argue that society has already eliminated the monogamy and fidelity norms. It’s nothing for today’s generation to switch from partner to partner outside of marriage. It’s trending even inside marriages with swinger culture. Infidelity is far from unusual. In any case, these are larger and greater failures that Christians have failed to aggressively confront that exist separate from the rise of gay marriage.

    I think that social conservatives buying into the foolishness that gay marriage in any way redefines Biblical marriage confers a societal and political legitimacy on gay marriage that it might not otherwise have.

    • philipcfromnyc May 22, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

      Conservatives would be better off trying to roll back no-fault divorce laws that standing in the way of gay marriage, if strengthening marriage is really their goal (not that they will succeed in this endeavor). Heterosexual marriage is no longer a bastion of fidelity and monogamy, as so many social conservatives argue.

      Gay persons wish to marry for the same reasons that heterosexual persons wish to marry — to express to society their commitment and dedication to each other, and to provide an optimal environment for the raising of children (a surprisingly high percentage of gay couples are currently raising children). Every argument social conservatives have made against gay marriage has failed to take these two issues into consideration. Instead, such conservatives take to quoting particular gay activist comments as if those comments are reflective of the gay and lesbian population’s wishes as a whole (they are not).

      The “responsible channeling of procreation” arguments have all been eviscerated by the courts. When gay couples marry, absolutely nothing happens to the marriages of heterosexual couples. Data from Massachusetts (where gay marriage has been legal since 2004) bear this out — there has not been a drop in the number of heterosexual couples who have chosen to marry, and there has not been a rise in the number of heterosexual couples who have chosen to divorce. As an obviously exasperated Judge Richard Posner, of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit wrote in response to such anti-gay marriage arguments, “Go figure.”

      • jonakc1 May 24, 2015 at 1:56 am #

        if strengthening marriage was really their goal, conservatives would stop preaching feminism from the pulpits…

    • Andy Bungalow June 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      In response to those frequent claims that same and different gender parents are the same, the issue is far from settled.

      You can start by reading: http://askthebigot.com/2015/04/27/study-the-studies-what-the-data-really-tells-us-about-same-sex-parenting/

      Of the several dozen extant studies on same-sex parenting in the past two decades, only eight have used a random sample large enough to find evidence of lower well-being for children with same-sex parents if it exists. Of these eight, the four most recent studies, by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Dr. Douglas Allen and two by Dr. Paul Sullins, report substantial and pertinent negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents. The four earlier studies, by Dr. Michael Rosenfeld and three by Dr. Jennifer Wainright and colleagues, find no differences for children with same-sex parents because, due to errors in file coding and analysis, a large portion of their samples actually consists of children with heterosexual parents. When the sample used by Wainright’s three studies is corrected of this error and re-analyzed, these data also show negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents similar to those reported by Regnerus and Sullins. More importantly, they also show substantially worse outcomes for children who have lived an average of ten years with same-sex parents who are married than for those who have lived only four years, on average, with unmarried same-sex parents. At this time, the three largest statistically representative datasets used to address the question—Regnerus’s New Family Structures Survey, with 3,000 cases; the National Health Interview Survey, with 1.6 million cases; and the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, with 20,000 cases—have all found that children with same-sex parents fare substantially worse—most measures show at least twice the level of distress— than do children with opposite-sex parents on a range of psychological, developmental and emotional outcomes.

  2. buddyglass May 21, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    “If political conservatives pursue this kind of culture war against Christians, whatever alliance there might have been will disappear.”

    Who’re they going to vote for instead? Certainly not the Democrats. The likely scenario would be a permanent-minority third party that will never have the Oval Office and will probably never have more than 1 or 2 Senators, but might take a handful of seats in the House. And whose members would (natch) caucus with the GOP.

    • James Stanton May 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      Well, I think Denny underestimates the extent to which social conservatives also identify as economic and political conservatives who want to be part of a winning coalition. In the end it’s more about being anti-liberal than authentically conservative. It seems everyone, just about, votes for the lesser of two evils and that will continue to happen regardless of how the Republican Party evolves on gay marriage.

    • philipcfromnyc May 22, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

      As this slice of the Republican party grows older, it will shrink due to attrition (older people eventually die). This minority is doomed — the ship has already sailed, with 38 states currently having legalized gay marriage. The US Supreme Court appears poised to strike down anti-gay marriage bans, and an opinion is expected next month. The only question at this time is whether this opinion will be written broadly or narrowly — a broadly written opinion would provide the gay community with legal ammunition to fight subsequent issues, whereas a narrowly written opinion would merely extend the right to marry to gay couples.

      • buddyglass May 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

        I expect opposition to same-sex marriage will remain fairly strong in certain states and congressional districts for a long time to come. Mississippi, Alabama, etc. Those are the places my hypothetical protest party could expect to make inroads.

  3. Kent McDonald May 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    I think Christians have ALWAYS had a skeptical alliance with the Republican Party. Yes, there are a number of Republicans who hold to traditional conservative social issues, but we shouldn’t be surprised when push comes to shove that a non-believer will give way on many of those issues to avoid confrontation. When a non-Christian conservative sees the way those florists and pizza parlors are treated, they take quick stock of the situation and decide that the bottom line of their business means more to them than holding the line on social issues. Christians should not have been surprised at so-called conservative republican politicians wetting a finger and like a Clinton test which way the wind is blowing and change their position to protect their re-election chances. A true statesman stands on principle. If your house is built on sand without a foundation in Jesus Christ, when the winds of social change arrive the house will fall. Should Christians abandon the Republican party? No, as buddyglass said above that would only result in a struggling third party that never gains an electoral foothold. Our only hope is to get even more active in the Republican party. We need to actively encourage strong believers to become more politically active. We need to diligently work to outnumber the non-believers in the party if we hope to keep Biblical issues alive in the party.

    • philipcfromnyc May 22, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

      Doing as you advocate would backfire horribly, for the simple reason that younger persons are much more accepting of gay marriage than are older persons. Furthermore, the most recent Gallup poll places the percentage of Americans who approve of gay marriage at 60% — the highest percentage ever benchmarked, up five points from just a few months ago. All that your approach would do would be to repel younger Republicans and to drive them out of the party, or to make them active within the party in efforts to change the overall tenor of the Republican party with respect to the issue of gay marriage. I cannot see how pouring more gasoline on the flames could possibly extinguish the fire.

      • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 2:38 am #

        “and that the legalization of gay marriage will STRENGTHEN these family units?”

        “Gay marriage” is not a family unit, but a Trojan horse to destroy the family.

        “Unless you propose banning adoptions by gay persons, and banning the usage of assisted reproductive technology by gay persons, your argument rings hollow.”

        Actually, both ought to be banned.

        “The studies which have been conducted in this area by sociologists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals all reach exactly the same conclusion — children raised by gay couples fare just as well on every measure of emotional and mental health as children raised by heterosexual couples.”

        You mean like this study?

        http://www.nationalreview.com/node/418758/print

        “Gay couples…”

        There’s no such thing as a gay couple. Homosexuals (especially men) are notoriously promiscuous. What about gay thruples?

        “To quote from Judge Richard Posner’s brilliant decision…”

        The courts are rigged because they preemptively discount religious arguments and natural law arguments. Having dictated what evidence is permissible, it’s easy for them to ridicule weak arguments. Those are the only argument they allow.

        “No heterosexual marriage will be influenced one iota by permitting gay couples to marry. Heterosexual couples will remain free to raise their children with love and affection…”

        To the contrary, the homosexual lobby’s animosity towards religion and parental rights is destroying heterosexual parenting. For instance:

        http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14899/

        “Gay persons wish to marry for the same reasons that heterosexual persons wish to marry — to express to society their commitment and dedication to each other, and to provide an optimal environment for the raising of children (a surprisingly high percentage of gay couples are currently raising children).”

        In general, “gay persons” don’t really care to marry. For instance:

        The “problem” with that is that as surveys have shown, while most homosexuals want both corporate benefits and gay marriage to be legalized, they don’t actually want to get married. As Homosexual advocate Dan Savage has argued, “monogamy is boring.”

        Holland has had gay marriage for over a decade, yet only 20% of gay couples there have chosen to marry (as compared to 80% of heterosexual Dutchmen) similar stats can be found in Massachusetts. There tends to be an initial “novelty” surge and then the same-sex marriage rate declines. There is also a huge disproportion between the number of Lesbian and Gay Male marriages. Lesbians are simply far more likely to marry…. I’m struggling to remember the Pew figures but I remember reading in 2013 that 3/5ths of all gay marriages reported nationwide were female-female.

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/gay-couples-tie-the-knot-for-health-benefits-1431475509

        “The ‘responsible channeling of procreation’ arguments have all been eviscerated by the courts.”

        Citing judicial opinion is an illicit argument from authority. Judges don’t determine reality. They don’t have the inside corner on truth and falsehood, right and wrong.

        “with 38 states currently having legalized gay marriage.”

        Generally imposed by judicial fiat rather than popular demand and the consent of the governed.

        “younger persons are much more accepting of gay marriage than are older persons.”

        Younger people generally become more conservative after they marry and begin raising a family.

        Many liberal couples have dogs instead of kids. In that respect, liberal ideology is threatened by a demographic death spiral.

        • Ryan Davidson May 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

          Steve,

          Your comments seem to assume that LGBTQ people are somehow monolithic. That’s far from the truth.

          As I noted below, it’s unsurprising that only a minority of gay men avail themselves of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage generally only appeals to gay or queer men from the white-collar professional classes. By my observation, many of these men are asexual or demisexual, who simply have a stronger emotional attraction to the same sex than to the opposite sex. Their “marriages” look a lot more like vowed friendships than anything else. In many cases, sex plays a fairly peripheral role in these couples’ relationships. Many of them swear off anal sex altogether.

          In the circles where I move (corporate attorney in a major urban center), most of the folks coming out of the closet these days fit into this mold. They fall fairly far from the stereotypes of gay people that seem to flit about the minds of many evangelicals. In fact, most of these guys are fairly ascetic. At my former law firm (DC office of an elite NY corporate firm), most of the highest-billing associates identified somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum. In another era, most of these guys would probably have entered religious orders. In this day and age, the law firm becomes their monastery. Even so, there’s a deep human desire to form an emotional bond with someone else who cares about you deeply. So, they commit themselves to a close friend in “marriage.”

          Research on asexuality and demisexuality are at a fairly nascent stage. But because the sexualized “nuclear” model of the family doesn’t generally work for asexuals and demisexuals, many of them have tended to congregate somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella (usually as B or Q). In many cases, these folks are the leading proponents of same-sex marriage. And, within the world of those who read NR, these are probably the only LGBTQ people with whom folks have any significant contact.

          When your arguments against same-sex marriage rely on inaccurate stereotypes of those who are actually seeking to enter that institution, it’s no wonder that the culture sees no reason to pay heed to you.

          • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

            Actually, the so-called “stereotypes” are promoted by homosexual activists like Dan Savage. Andrew Sullivan. They frankly admit that homosexual marriages are open marriages. There’s no intention to be monogamous. And that’s not counting all the homosexual men who avoid marriage altogether. You naively believe homosexual propaganda.

          • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

            I’d add that Ryan’s comment misses the forest for the trees. The real issue isn’t, in the first place, the behavior of individual homosexuals, but the public policy which the homosexual lobby and its allies are imposing on the nation.

            A policy that tramples on Constitutional protections for freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. A policy in which the gov’t, instead of defending Constitutional protections, is prosecuting citizens for exercising their Constitutional rights.

            It comes down to a choice between a police state and a free society.

            • Ryan Davidson May 23, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

              Steve,

              Your comments strike me as mischaracterizing large swaths of those who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. That’s no less dishonest and sinful as supposing that Fred Phelps represents all evangelicals. If your analysis fails to account for the real desires of real people, then it’s bound to fail. And they should fail…because they are simply based on error.

              Yes, I agree that there are public policy issues worthy of discussion. But once we start issuing marriage licenses to grandma and her boyfriend, to middle-aged divorcees, and the like, withholding the legal benefits of civil marriage from committed same-sex couples becomes a bit harder to defend under any kind of consistent rationale. In my view, it makes more sense to classify non-procreative committed relationships under some kind of civil partnership. But social conservatives opposed such measures, voting to pass constitutional amendments against same-sex civil partnerships in 18 states. So, now we’re stuck with a one-tier system.

              I spend about a week a month working from Zurich. Switzerland has a two-tier system that works quite well, where same-sex couples can avail themselves of registered partnerships but not marriage. Opposite-sex couples who unite after childbearing age also typically avail themselves of registered partnerships rather than marriage. The same goes for younger couples who don’t want kids. In my opinion, the Swiss system makes a lot more sense than what we do here (which could be said for a lot of things in Switzerland). But we made this bed…

              I don’t understand your constitutional arguments. First, it’s unclear to me how I have a constitutional right to prevent someone else from getting married against my will. After all, I don’t have a constitutional right to live in a society that’s free of things that offend my sensibilities. Nor do I construe myself as living in a police state merely because other people can do things that I find personally offensive. If those things harm me directly, that’s a different story. But it’s hard for me to see how I’m remotely affected by the fact that my colleague and his same-sex partner can walk down the street and get a marriage license at the county courthouse.

              • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

                “Your comments strike me as mischaracterizing large swaths of those who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum.”

                That’s like the so-called moderate Muslims, who are invisible and inaudible.

                The alleged “spectrum” is irrelevant in terms of public policy. What matters are the activists. The policies which they muscle through. Policies which potentially impact everyone.

                This isn’t live-and-let-live. Just the opposite.

                “If your analysis fails to account for the real desires of real people, then it’s bound to fail.”

                Jeffrey Dahmer was a real person with real desires.

                “withholding the legal benefits of civil marriage from committed same-sex couples”

                i) Ah, yes, the mythical “committed same-sex couples.”

                ii) And even if they were committed to each other, so were Bonnie and Clyde. Being committed to an evil relationship isn’t better than a noncommittal evil relationship.

                iii) What about committed incestuous couples? Say a mother and son. Are you on board with that? What about pederasty? Are you on board with that? What sexual activities, if any, do you think the state shouldn’t sanction?

                “I don’t understand your constitutional arguments. First, it’s unclear to me how I have a constitutional right to prevent someone else from getting married against my will.”

                All 13 states which ratified the Constitution had anti-sodomy laws on the books. How’s that for starters?

                “Nor do I construe myself as living in a police state merely because other people can do things that I find personally offensive.”

                Are you deliberately misrepresenting the issue? Take freedom of speech. That implies the corollary freedom not to be forced to express views I disagree with.

                “If those things harm me directly, that’s a different story.”

                That’s irrelevant to civil liberties. When the state coerces a businessman into saying things he disagrees with, that violates his Constitutional freedom of expression.

                And that’s detrimental to a free society.

                “But it’s hard for me to see how I’m remotely affected by the fact that my colleague and his same-sex partner can walk down the street and get a marriage license at the county courthouse.”

                You’re not trying very hard. When gov’t prosecutes private businessmen (and women) for exercising their Constitutional rights of free speech, free association, and/or religion, that’s a direct assault on their civil liberties. That’s what totalitarian regimes do.

                • James Bradshaw May 24, 2015 at 8:05 am #

                  “What about committed incestuous couples? Say a mother and son.”

                  Biological kin already have legal protections in place. Two men who are not related have none. “Oh, but they can obtain other legal protections, such as a POA or will”. Those benefits are in civil marriage. If you object to the other benefits and obligations, which ones are they, exactly?

                  “What about pederasty?”

                  You seem rational. You don’t see a substantive difference between an adult consensual sexual relationship and what is, essentially, rape? Not that you can make a case against adult-minor relationships from Scripture. The rabbinical traditions permitted marriage for girls as early as twelve, and while they generally paired off youths who were close to around the same age, it wasn’t inconceivable for an adult male to take a younger bride.

                  “All 13 states which ratified the Constitution had anti-sodomy laws on the books”

                  In some of these states, it was also completely legal to buy and sell human beings for fun and profit. Our American ancestors had some blind spots, so I wouldn’t look to them as an infallible reference point.

                  “When gov’t prosecutes private businessmen (and women) for exercising their Constitutional rights of free speech, free association, and/or religion, that’s a direct assault on their civil liberties. ”

                  I’d agree, but where is this happening? Where is someone being fined or imprisoned in the US for their personal beliefs or their inability to associate with like-minded individuals? This used to happen to gays barely five or six decades ago when police raided their establishments, but I’m doubting you care much about that. Now, personally, I’m not the litigious type, and I think it’s unfortunate that some will use a lawsuit to compel a small business to provide services in scenarios where they’re uncomfortable. However, the question of whether a business (and a for-profit, secular business at that) should be afforded the same rights and freedoms that individuals do is another question altogether.

                  • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

                    “Biological kin already have legal protections in place.”

                    That’s disingenuous. Homosexual activists don’t take their cue from law. Rather, they change laws to reflect and enforce their social agenda.

                    The fact that incestuous marriage is currently illegal has no more bearing on how homosexual activists reason than the fact that homosexual marriage was traditionally illegal.

                    “You seem rational. You don’t see a substantive difference between an adult consensual sexual relationship and what is, essentially, rape?”

                    i) You seem to have difficulty follow the nature of the argument. Ryan raises an objection. I respond to Ryan on his own terms. My reply is modeled on how he frames the objection. It’s a standard mode of argument.

                    Rayan simply said “It’s unclear to me how I have a constitutional right to prevent someone else from getting married against my will.”

                    I cited a counterexample that’s analogous at the level of his objection.

                    The fact that pederasty is different than consensual sex is irrelevant to the comparison, since Ryan’s objection was unqualified.

                    ii) In addition, on what basis do some homosexual activists deem pederasty to be immoral? What is their source and standard of morality? Do they believe in objective moral norms? If so, where do they derive objective moral norms? Divine command theory? Natural law theory?

                    If, conversely, they deny moral realism, then they’re in no position to condemn pederasty.
                    ?iii) Various cultures, past and present, practice pederasty. For that matter, various cultures past and present, practice rape. What makes you think consent is a necessary moral precondition? What makes your social conditioning superior to the social mores of other cultures?

                    What about NAMBLA? It lobbies for the abolition of age of consent laws. Do you disagree? If so, by what moral authority do you presume to condemn NAMBLA?

                    “Not that you can make a case against adult-minor relationships from Scripture. The rabbinical traditions permitted marriage for girls as early as twelve, and while they generally paired off youths who were close to around the same age, it wasn’t inconceivable for an adult male to take a younger bride.”

                    i) You’re indulging in a bait-and-switch. Pederasty is a form of homosexual activity–which Scripture uniformly condemns.

                    ii) You cite no evidence from Scripture for adults who marry prepubescent girls. Moreover, sexual maturity is taken for granted in Biblical marriage. That’s a precondition of child-bearing.

                    “In some of these states, it was also completely legal to buy and sell human beings for fun and profit. Our American ancestors had some blind spots, so I wouldn’t look to them as an infallible reference point.”

                    i) Once again, you’re not following the nature of the argument. The question at issue, as Ryan cast it, was Constitutionality rather than morality.
                    ?ii) On a related note, you fail to distinguish between a hermeneutical reference point and an ethical reference point. Whether or not you happen to agree with the Constitution is irrelevant to what it means.

                    “I’d agree, but where is this happening? Where is someone being fined or imprisoned in the US for their personal beliefs or their inability to associate with like-minded individuals?”

                    You’re not trying very hard. Take the bakers in Oregon who’ve been driven out of business by the state. There’s the florist in Washington who’s been prosecuted.

                    “However, the question of whether a business (and a for-profit, secular business at that) should be afforded the same rights and freedoms that individuals do is another question altogether.”

                    Private citizens don’t forfeit their civl rights and civil liberties when they go into business. For instance, do you think 4th amendment protections don’t apply to private businesses? Do you think police have the authority to break into the premises and remove records without a search warrant?

                    • James Bradshaw May 27, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

                      “In addition, on what basis do some homosexual activists deem pederasty to be immoral? What is their source and standard of morality?”

                      It depends. Theists like myself who reject Biblical inerrancy may still have general ideas about what types of behavior we believe a creative and enlightened Supreme Being would approve and not approve of.

                      Others are materialists and may construct moral ideals out of a certain pragmatism: what is moral is simply what keeps one out of jail.

                      Others derive their system of values from a personal sense of empathy and human solidarity.

                      Unfortunately, having certain beliefs about the Bible or God guarantees nothing in terms of whether one will act morally or that one can infallibly know what the moral action is to begin with. It should, but it doesn’t (unless you wish to assert that Christians have been univocal about matters of morality throughout history).

                    • steve hays May 27, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

                      “Unfortunately, having certain beliefs about the Bible or God guarantees nothing in terms of whether one will act morally or that one can infallibly know what the moral action is to begin with.”

                      Unless you have a justifiable standard of morality in the first place, you can’t fall short.

                • Ryan Davidson May 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

                  Steve,

                  With all due respect, your response strikes me as a bit unhinged. It is no less disingenuous to judge all LGBTQ people by the conduct of a few ignorant activists than it is to judge all evangelicals by its activist minority. Therefore, it ought not to be a surprise to you when the average Joe elects to ignore what you have to say. When people have LGBTQ relatives, friends, and colleagues whom they love, appreciate, and/or respect, you’re not going to win them over by suggesting that they should ignore what they know and give credence to stereotypes that live on in the fantasies of right-wing activists more than in reality. There is no “gay agenda” or “gay lifestyle” or the like. My gay lifestyle this day consisted of waking up, eating breakfast (black coffee and a beet-kale-apple smoothie), going to church, and reading a book on my Kindle with a Sixpoint Lager close at hand. I’ll watch hockey later today. Then, I’ll go to the gym, read my Kindle some more, and go to bed.

                  • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

                    “With all due respect, your response strikes me as a bit unhinged. It is no less disingenuous to judge all LGBTQ people by the conduct of a few ignorant activists.”

                    So you’re admitting that LGBT activists who denounce religious liberty protections are unhinged?

                    “Therefore, it ought not to be a surprise to you when the average Joe elects to ignore what you have to say. When people have LGBTQ relatives, friends, and colleagues whom they love, appreciate, and/or respect, you’re not going to win them over by suggesting that they should ignore what they know and give credence to stereotypes that live on in the fantasies of right-wing activists more than in reality.”

                    The reality of gay sex is reflected in CDC warnings about the grave medical risks associated with homosexual activity.

                    “There is no ‘gay agenda’ or ‘gay lifestyle’ or the like.”

                    People with a militant social agenda naturally deny that they have a militant social agenda. We judge them not by their denials, but by their public policy initiatives.

                    “My gay lifestyle this day consisted of waking up, eating breakfast (black coffee and a beet-kale-apple smoothie)”

                    What about a gay lifestyle that consists of anal sex, rimming, fisting, golden showers, and/or scat?

                    • Ryan Davidson May 24, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

                      Steve,

                      As I already explained to you, there are a substantial number of gay men who do not engage in the activities you described. Perhaps that comes as a shock to you. If so, you need to get out more. I see only a limited slice of the LGBTQ community, i.e., mostly white-collar legal, financial, and scientific professionals. Among that crowd, you won’t find too many people engaging in activities that would pose any kind of health risk. Moreover, as I noted before, most of us are asexuals or demisexuals, whose attraction to folks of the same sex is largely emotional.

                    • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

                      “I see only a limited slice of the LGBTQ community, i.e., mostly white-collar legal, financial, and scientific professionals. Among that crowd, you won’t find too many people engaging in activities that would pose any kind of health risk.”

                      If you only meet them in a professing setting, how would you know what they do after hours?

                    • James Bradshaw May 24, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

                      Steve writes: “What about a gay lifestyle that consists of anal sex, rimming, fisting, golden showers, and/or scat?”

                      You didn’t mention oral sex. Is that because you know that heterosexuals practice this with some regularity? In regards to the rest of it, those are the fringe behaviors of circus freaks (particularly the latter three) … or contortionists.

                      What’s your point, though? Heterosexuals are only participating in missionary-only, procreative sex with their spouses? That they might engage in things like “bakakke”, prostitution, sex slavery, infidelity, pornography, rape and pedophilia is a fiction concocted by the liberal media?

                    • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

                      I don’t mention oral sex because I have no opinion one way or the other on that score.

                      Yes, heterosexuals can engage in kinky sex, just like homosexuals. Heterosexuals can be just as depraved.

                      The obvious difference is that kinky sex is the only form of sex available to homosexuals. Bodies of the same sex are not designed to have sex with each other. They aren’t physically complementary. Therefore, the only recourse consists of various expedients contrary to nature, which are often physically destructive. Considered, for instance, the heighten risk of colon cancer among homosexual men. Not to mention colectomies.

                    • Ryan Davidson May 25, 2015 at 12:26 am #

                      Steve,

                      So, now you’re an expert on the sex lives of gay men? There are plenty of gay men who have never engaged in any of the acts toward which you have expressed disapproval. As I noted before, there are plenty of us who identify as gay or queer for whom sex is a rather peripheral part of our identity: We tend to be asexuals or demisexuals who tend to form emotional bonds preferentially with members of the same sex. Oddly enough, you seem to be far more interested in (if not obsessed with) gay sex than most gay men I know.

                    • steve hays May 25, 2015 at 1:04 am #

                      “So, now you’re an expert on the sex lives of gay men?”

                      There are gov’t health agencies that discuss that in lurid detail. I’m getting my information from official sources.

                      “There are plenty of gay men who have never engaged in any of the acts toward which you have expressed disapproval.”

                      And why are you so uncomfortable discussing it?

                      “Oddly enough, you seem to be far more interested in (if not obsessed with) gay sex than most gay men I know.”

                      A defensive maneuver in misdirection on your part.

                      I’m discussing gay sex because the topic of the post is gay marriage. Lots of folks who support gay marriage in the abstract have never bothered to acquaint themselves with the nitty-gritty details. From a PR standpoint, it’s a lot easier to promote homosexual marriage as if that’s an innocuous parallel to heterosexual marriage so long as you don’t talk about what homosexuals actually do with each other or to each other.

                      When, however, we get into the medical details, it doesn’t seem so noble and idealistic after all.

                      Your complaint is like complaining about a frank discussion of what hard drug use amounts to.

                    • Ryan Davidson May 25, 2015 at 12:44 am #

                      Steve,

                      And, for the record, I, like most people, can see a rational distinction between consensual gay sex and child rape (which pederasty includes). Harming others without their consent (or against their express will) is one key distinction.

                      But I don’t see any need to expend government funds trying to prevent a grown man from voluntarily engaging in conduct that may require him to wear diapers by the age of 50. Further, I see no causal nexus between withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples and saving the aforementioned gentleman’s anal sphincter. In fact, as you noted, such men are probably not likely even to avail themselves of a same-sex marriage.

                    • steve hays May 25, 2015 at 1:31 am #

                      “And, for the record, I, like most people, can see a rational distinction between consensual gay sex and child rape (which pederasty includes). Harming others without their consent (or against their express will) is one key distinction.”

                      The question at issue isn’t whether most folks can see the difference, but whether your worldview can justify moral distinctions. You’re ducking the issue.

                      It’s revealing when we see homosexual activists suddenly become very judgmental about alternative lifestyles they don’t approve of. What is the objective basis for your value judgment? What makes your moral opinion superior to the moral opinion of the pederast?

                      Are you a moral realistic? If so, what grounds your moral realism?

                    • Ryan Davidson May 25, 2015 at 11:11 am #

                      Steve,

                      I’ll respond one final time, as I don’t see a big need to continue this discussion further.

                      I see no reason why you insist on reducing LGBTQ people (or LGBTQ men) to some arbitrary set of kinky sexual acts, especially when many of us don’t even engage in any those acts. For some reason, you seem to be more comfortable engaging with LGBTQ people via negative caricatures of your own making rather than via the real lives of real people. So, you shouldn’t be surprised when the culture sees no need to listen to you. After all, your arguments are directed to a threat that has little existence outside of your own imagination.

                      Regarding my ethical reasoning, my worldview at least includes the notion that there’s a difference between imposing harm onto people without their consent (or contrary to their express will) and joining other adults voluntarily in risky conduct. I don’t see why this is such a foreign concept to you. When your “biblical worldview” can’t distinguish between rape and consensual sex, you’re unlikely to find too many people who are going to accept its conclusions.

                    • steve hays May 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

                      “For some reason, you seem to be more comfortable engaging with LGBTQ people via negative caricatures of your own making rather than via the real lives of real people.”

                      So you’re saying that when gov’t health agencies warn homosexuals about the grave medical risks caused by various homosexual activities, that’s a negative caricature. There are no real homosexuals who do that in sufficient numbers to generate these public health and safety warnings by gov’t agencies.

                      “After all, your arguments are directed to a threat that has little existence outside of your own imagination.”

                      That the gov’t is prosecuting businessmen and women for exercising their 1st Amendment rights is easily documentable.

                      “Regarding my ethical reasoning, my worldview at least includes the notion that there’s a difference between imposing harm onto people without their consent (or contrary to their express will) and joining other adults voluntarily in risky conduct. I don’t see why this is such a foreign concept to you.”

                      If you bothered to do much reading in secular ethics, you’d be aware of the fact that many secular philosophers deny moral realism, viz. Michael Ruse, Joel Marks, Alex Rosenberg, Quentin Smith, J. L. Mackie, Massimo Pigliucci.

                      “When your ‘biblical worldview’ can’t distinguish between rape and consensual sex, you’re unlikely to find too many people who are going to accept its conclusions.”

                      You have the issue exactly backwards. Are you unable to follow the argument? The question at issue is not whether a biblical worldview can distinguish between rape and consensual sex, but whether secular ethics can justify a moral distinction between the two.

        • James Bradshaw May 23, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

          “There’s no such thing as a gay couple.”

          I’ve been monogamously partnered for over four years. That’s not 50 years, but we’ll see. I like Dan Savage a little, but as I said, he doesn’t speak for me. Should I assume you share the moral character of men like Ruben Israel or Fred Phelps (or Josh Duggar) merely because they’re more prominent and vocal than you?

          Regardless … I’ve certainly had far fewer sexual partners than one of the authors of Scripture. Solomon had hundreds of wives and just as many concubines. Not a single passage exists implying he ever repented of all of this sexual mischief.

          Despite that, he was supposedly infallibly able to hear the voice of God and to put His thoughts to papyrus with 100% accuracy.

          David’s multiple wives never prevented him from being considered a man “after God’s own heart”. Lot was considered righteous even though God knew he’d impregnate his own daughters after a little (or a lot) of wine (although I must wonder how one can be sufficiently drunk to lose the inhibition of having sex with one’s own offspring while still being able to “perform”). Abraham was considered righteous despite marrying his half-sister (the daughter of his father) and having as his other wives Hagar and Keturah.

          But condemn gay couples who are striving to commit to each other if it makes you feel better.

          • jonakc1 May 24, 2015 at 2:02 am #

            yes James
            you have hit the nail on the head
            conservatives are so hypocritical…

            considering they rage so much about christian bakers and freedom of expression
            I wonder if these conservatives will rage in support of a baker denying service to blacks under “freedom of expression”

            if gay marriage is passed, it has to be completely tolerated, intolerance from christians should not be allowed
            just like intolerance on racial equality is Not allowed…

            • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 2:31 am #

              i) To begin with, you’re confusing what people should do with what they should be free to do. That’s a fundamental distinction.

              Although people shouldn’t be racially intolerant, it hardly follows that people shouldn’t be free to be racially intolerant.

              A free society has tradeoffs. The freedom to do good includes the freedom to do bad.

              The alternative is a totalitarian regime. Those don’t have a good track record on human rights, in case you hadn’t noticed.

              ii) Suppose, during the Vietnam war, a girl’s parents sold her to a pimp to become a child prostitute, servicing American G.I.s.

              (That isn’t just hypothetical. Child sex trafficking is rampant in parts of Asia.)

              After the Viet Cong take over, the family flees to the US, where they start an Asian foot mart.

              The girl, now in her late teens or early twenties, works at the family business. But due to her experience, she despises American men. He refuses to serve American male American customers who come into the store to buy goods.

              Do you think she should be prosecuted by the local DA? Should she be fined?

              • steve hays May 25, 2015 at 1:11 am #

                Since it’s a private business, she should be free to refuse service, even if she’s wrong to do so. You also have no concept of or appreciation for the principle of limited gov’t. Even though the Mosaic law had a fairly detailed penal code, there are many evils it didn’t outlaw.

                • Curt Day May 26, 2015 at 7:12 am #

                  Steve,
                  What conservatives don’t understand about limited gov’t is that the more limited the gov’t, the more limited is the democracy we have. But the more limited democracy we have, the more elite-centered rule we have. And conservative have problems recognizing that because they generally do not consider elite-centered rule from the private sector to be a threat.

                  • Johnny Mason May 26, 2015 at 9:04 am #

                    Curt, you are a self-professed socialist, so your thoughts on limited government and totalitarianism are not worth a hill of beans. It is your ideology that has killed more people in the name of equality than any in history. It has killed Christians, Jews, gays, women, children, the elderly, and the infirmed. It has thrown people into gulags and gas chambers. Everything you have said in the above paragraph is patently false, shows a complete misunderstanding of limited government, and has been thoroughly debunked by history. But then I wouldn’t expect anything less from a socialist.

                    • James Stanton May 26, 2015 at 11:38 am #

                      Johnny, you usually make some very rational points but this is not one of them. Democratic socialists have dominated much of European politics in the last several decades and much of South American politics in recent years. There is a significant difference between democratic socialism, social democracy, and the totalitarian regimes that you are referring to from the early to mid 20th century. You are being uncharitable, to put it mildly, by conflating Curt with the likes of Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot. Why should you be taken seriously if you can’t understand this basic point?

                    • Johnny Mason May 26, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

                      There is no difference in ideology between the democratic socialists, the national socialists, and the socialists of Marxism. They are all un-democratic. They all view property the same. Their goal is a communist utopia. They all just disagree on how to get there. They are all a road to serfdom. Margaret Thatcher who got elected after years of Democratic Socialism ruling Britain said the following: “Socialism’s results have ranged between the merely shabby and the truly catastrophic – poverty, strife, oppression and, on the killing fields of communism, the deaths this century of perhaps 100 million people.” And here: “No theory of government was ever given a fairer test or a more prolonged experiment in a democratic country than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect. Far from reversing the slow relative decline of Britain vis-à-vis its main industrial competitors, it accelerated it. We fell further behind them, until by 1979 we were widely dismissed as ‘the sick man of Europe’…To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukaemia with leeches.”

                      Curt may very well recoil at Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. And well he should. But what he and others do not understand is that their ideology, if fully enacted, will all come to the same conclusion. So you can put a different adjective on it, but it does not change the outcome.

                    • James Stanton May 26, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

                      Thanks for the reply. It clarified for me that you know very little about political theory outside of rote talking points. It’s laughable to compare parliamentary politics in Britain to the “killing fields of communism”. Your assertions would be the equivalent of me claiming that economic conservatism are akin to the fascist policies of Hitler or Franco or Pinochet. The simple truth is that you believe the worst of your domestic opponents and thus you can justify tarring them with sharing ideologies with mass-murdering dictators.

                    • Johnny Mason May 26, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

                      That was Margaret Thatcher who said the killing fields quote, and she was facing Democratic Socialism at it zenith. And I will take her and Hayek’s thoughts on political and economic theory any day.

                      Curt is a fine example of a “Democratic” Socialist when he says that those who “will define the terms and write the laws” are not those who do so by democratic means or via legislatures but by fiat through tyrannical means. He, who is an ardent supporter of “Democratic” Socialism, sees no place for the people in deciding what it’s laws should be, sees no value in state legislatures and votes on popular referendum. The only thing that matters is what he thinks is best for the people. He has a problem with Christians or the majority having “the final say as to how to define terms and who will determine the law”, but has no problem when he is the one doing it.

                    • Curt Day May 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

                      Johnny,
                      Can you respond to my comments without making personal remarks about me? Seriously! What I want to see is for Christians and nonChristians to share society as equals. That means that no group uses any kind of majority advantage to make laws that deny the full equality of those from other groups.

                      BTW, there is a standard to which all forms of referendums and legislation is accountable to. It is called the Constitution and, in particular, the amendments to the Constitution. To let legislation and referendums be the final say without regard to the Constitution is to make that document moot.

                    • Curt Day May 27, 2015 at 7:22 am #

                      Johnny,
                      And it was Pinnochet, even after his crimes were well known, whom Thatcher admired and honored. And the problems that Thatcher’s policies brought in and how they were introduced are documented by people like Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky. And what we have seen in today’s neoliberal capitalism is a stagnation of income, if not decline, for most of the population and spikes income for the wealthy. Consider also the reemergence of problems such as childhood diseases in England because of the economic system Thatcher introduced. Also consider who has benefitted the most from the recovery of our economic collapse of 2008.

                    • Curt Day May 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

                      Johnny,
                      this is my second attempt to answer your charges. My first comment was blocked and Mr. Burk could explain why. I sure have no clue.

                      Second, your attempt to conflate all kinds of socialism including the national socialists movement of the Nazis is based neither on history nor ideology. You fail to account for the dissent and following purges of socialists in the Soviet Union following Lenin’s ascendency–of course that doesn’t include Stalin’s purges. Contemporary Socialists to Lenin, such as Pannekoek, Kautsky, and Luxemburg offered criticisms from their own socialist perspectives of Lenin as does a current socialist of sorts Noam Chomsky. Documentation for all of this is available on the web.

                      In addition, historian Orlando Figes accurately describes how Lenin rejected reliance on the soviets for control over Russia. Note that the soviets were elected workers’ councils who made decisions for the workers at a particular location. The idea of relying on the soviets is a form of democracy and reliance on the rule of the proletariat is at the heart of socialism. That Lenin departed from that especially when he denounced the left-leaning socialists of Russia along with dismantling the soviets and purging all dissent should indicate that not only does Lenin show that Socialists are not all the same, it could point to what some believe that Lenin was not even a socialist. One has to ignore history and the writings of socialists not to consider this possibility of Lenin.

                      Also, your picture of Britain’s ‘socialism’ is a little skewed in terms of both what is socialism and the financial hardships they endured. This is especially true since the time of Thatcher, Britain has been employing neoliberal capitalism. Here we should note that the first instantiation of neoliberal capitalism was Chile when the US enabled a military coup to overthrow of the democratically government of Allende. We could talk about Pinochet’s crimes or the crimes of Argentina’s military leader who was his contemporary because both ushered in neoliberal capitalism with tyranny. Something similar could be said about Yeltsin in Russia as he literally dismantled Parliament. Thatcher installed a neoliberal form of capitalism on the heels of Britain’s war against Argentina.

                      We currently have a neoliberal form of capitalism here and the state of our democracy has been declining. In the meantime, even if you were to group what Britain did as ‘socialism,’ you will find vast differences between the freedoms enjoyed by its society and those of the old USSR and Red China. In addition, comparing postwar USSR economy with that of the USA misses significant variables that have nothing to do with socialism vs capitalism. For example, the USSR lost tens of millions of people and saw the destruction of much of its country because of the war. The US, for the most part, lost only military service members and were barely touched at home with attacks. In addition, since the world’s reserve currency has been the dollar, we have the freedom to spend without the constraints of budget shortfalls that other nations do not enjoy. Take away these two differences and then the comparison of the USSR economy with that of America’s would be more fair. Now that isn’t to defend their totalitarian form of government, it merely gives context to the economic comparisons.

                      Finally, please tell me what my ideology is as a socialist. I want to know what you think I believe.

                    • Johnny Mason May 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

                      @Curt – Hayek answers all these “objections” in his book Road to Serfdom. A book he dedicated to “The socialists of all parties”. He argued, successfully, that tyranny is the inevitable result of government control of the economy and central planning, even if that is not the desire or intent of those wishing to do so.

                      You are correct that Lenin and Stalin killed socialists and communists, but that is not because they were not communists, that is because that is what the communist ideology births. Had the Mensheviks gotten power instead of the Bolsheviks, the same would have occurred. Trotsky, who was no friend of Stalin and a Menshevik supporter, was calling for a purge of all those who would stand in their way in 1919. Solzhenitsyn explains this in horrifying detail in the Gulag Archipelago. In fact, the murders, the gulags, and the terror did not end with Stalin. It continued with Kruschev and well into the 1980s. The same misery happened under Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Castro, and the Kims. The common thread is collectivism. The human misery that followed is the inevitable result of socialism.

                      The post war Russian economy had nothing to do with it’s military losses, but with its economic system. The fact that you think it would have faired better otherwise discounts the terrible state of the economy prior to the war. The famines and agricultural decimation was caused by Lysenko and others who centrally planned their farms and collectives. Anyone who questioned these plan was sent to the gulags and farms/collectives that did not produce the yield predicted by these plans were accused of sabotage. Communist Russia systematically killed, imprisoned, or exiled its best people, its best farmers and engineers, the very people who knew that the central planners were wrong, that those were in control had no idea how to farm or engineer anything, but such is the fruit of socialism.

                    • Curt Day May 27, 2015 at 9:19 am #

                      Johnny,
                      Don’t know if my last response will be published here, but in either case, let me try to respond to your last note in a more concise manner.

                      First, stating that Hayak answers those objections in a book that I have no time to read answers no questions. Can you share how he answers those questions.

                      Second, you seem to make 2 conflations that confuse rather than provide answers here. First you conflate assertions, such as the ones Hayak makes in his book or Solzhenitsyn made with facts Assertions are not facts. Assertions can be made into a hypothesis that can be tested. But assertions themselves are not facts. In addition, you seem to conflate centralized governments with socialism. Centralized gov’t is not socialism. There were centralized gov’ts before socialism and there are such gov’ts afterwards that were not socialist. For example, the Pinochet gov’t was a centralized gov’t because the people objected to the economic reforms, the intro of neoliberal capitalism, he made. His gov’t was not a socialist gov’t, but rather followed a historical pattern. That pattern was that gov’t supported by industry or military leaders opposed socialism and democracy. Note that industry leaders favor centralized leadership of the workplace. And you can see historical examples of such opposition to socialism with what happened to the Paris Commune as well as the Spanish Revolution, Nazi Germany, Chile and Argentina in the 70s, and Yeltsin in Russia.

                      In fact, Rosa Luxemburg, a contemporary of Lenin, criticized Lenin for establishing a bourgeois dictatorship. Why did she so label what Lenin did that way? It is because Lenin assembled a central committee comprised of a limited number of people rather than relying on the soviets. To her, and many others, Lenin did not bring socialism to the Russia. Rather, he led Russia away from Socialism. And if that is the case, then what follows Lenin in example cannot be blamed on Socialism or at least the Socialism that expresses what people like Luxemburg adhered to. And again, centralized gov’t does not equal socialism.

                      We might also note that neither democratic socialism nor libertarian socialism follow the model implemented by Lenin. Again, centralized gov’t does not equal socialism.

                      Finally, you seem to deny the obvious about Russian history. Please tell me how losing up to 1/4 of your people and seeing much of your land devastated by war does hurt your economic performance? How? In addition, how do the past tyrants that the revolutions in Russia, China, and Cuba, and note that we supported some of these tyrants, not affect the revolutionary movements that replaced them. I could add one final point here. Historian Orlando Figes identified the writings of nonsocialist Russian writers as providing the inspiration for Lenin’s totalitarianism. Now think what that indicates if what Figes says is true. This is a point to consider since Lenin battled many of the socialists of his day. And again, that indicates that socialism is not a monolith and thus one cannot make the generalizations you make about it with any of certainty.

                  • steve hays May 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

                    The more powerful the gov’t, the more that disempowers the public. Power is concentrated in bureaucrats.

                    The private sector doesn’t disempower the public. In principle, any private citizen can begin his own business. It’s just a matter of talent and diligence.

        • jonakc1 May 24, 2015 at 1:59 am #

          what is wrong with being promiscuous?
          what is wrong with three men marrying each other?
          worry about yourself, not others…

          • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 2:16 am #

            This is not a live-and-let live situation. This is gov’t prosecuting dissenters for the thought-crime of endorsing Christian ethics. To say “worry about yourself, not others” is utterly clueless regarding what is really taking place.

            • Ryan Davidson May 24, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

              I’m not aware of even a single instance of someone being criminally prosecuted for discriminating against a gay person. In some locales, there are hate-crime enhancements when the target of a predicate criminal act was selected because of his or her sexual orientation. But, in such cases, there was an underlying criminal act. I’m unaware of a single instance where someone faced criminal prosecution merely for discriminating against a gay person.

              For the record, I believe that the actions taken against the bakers in Oregon are unconstitutional, and will probably not withstand judicial scrutiny. The fine is disproportionately excessive. Even so, that is not a criminal prosecution; it is simply a civil fine whose intent is to shift the economic externalities of the bakers’ conduct from the victims onto its perpetrators. As such, the fins should be proportional to the economic hardship imposed by the bakers’ conduct onto the couple in question. Something like $500 seems more appropriate.

            • steve hays May 25, 2015 at 1:25 am #

              To begin with, you’re the type of person who’s utterly obsessed with the bogyman of “hypocrisy.” That’s the prism through which you seem to filter ever ethical debate.

              In addition, you simply impute hypocrisy to others. No doubt that’s more comfortable for you than self-examination.

              You also confuse the issue of “serving” someone with celebrating vice.

              In addition, the real issue is the role of gov’t. Do you believe in limited gov’t or totalitarian gov’t? Totalitarian regimes don’t have a very good track record, viz. Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, North Korea.

              Most adulterers and divorcees don’t begin by informing the baker that they are adulterers or divorcees.

              BTW, there are some Biblical grounds for divorce.

              • Curt Day May 26, 2015 at 7:17 am #

                Steve,
                When protesting the ‘celebrating vice’ results in the right to deny the equality of another person or group of people, then you begin down the journey toward totalitarianism. And considering that the Nazis denied the equality of some because of their opposition to certain vices, limited government becomes more of an extraneous variable here. And please note that it was the Nazis who ran on the platform of reestablishing traditional values.

                See, we have to realize that government is like sex. Size doesn’t matter, fidelity does. And in each of the examples you cited, government’s fidelity to people was found wanting.

                • steve hays May 26, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

                  Curt,

                  Your objection is incoherent. You inveigh against denying equality to a group of people, but in the very next sentence you inveigh against the Nazis. What do you think they were if not a group of people?

                  Casting every issue in terms of “equality” is morally vacuous. You need to learn an elementary distinction: treating like things alike, treating unlike things unalike.

                  To treat unequal things as if they are equal is amoral and unintellectual.

                  Evidently, you think it would be a good idea to suppress the Nazis. So, in reality, you’re very selective about your egalitarian principle.

                  Homosexuality isn’t a morally equivalent alternative to heterosexuality. You presume to compare the incomparable.

                  Totalitarianism is the opposite of individual freedom. That isn’t hard to figure out.

                  In addition, Nazism was a political movement. That’s completely different from the action of private individuals.

  4. James Bradshaw May 21, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    “If society eliminates the heterosexual norm from marriage, what would keep it from eliminating the monogamy and fidelity norms as well?”

    So fine. Let’s call it something else.

    “Are you married?”
    “Well, no, but I am in a domestic partnership”

    Yes, legally it has all the same benefits, but people will know immediately that you are not a heterosexual. Problem solved.

    “Michelangelo Signorile, for example, has argued that gay marriage might help to remove the monogamy norm from our concept of marriage”

    I don’t care what this guy says. He doesn’t speak for me. If there’s anything useful in his point, it’s that infidelity doesn’t have to end a marriage, that’s all. Otherwise, he’s just another talking head on the radio spouting his opinions.

    “Those last couple phrases are jarring to read in a leading conservative publication because they are nothing less than an explicit call for Americans to reject Christian tradition and teaching.”

    If legal gay marriage requires Christians to reject their traditions, then so does the legal recognition of Mormonism, Judaism, Buddhism and every other creed that Christians find heterodox. In the eyes of the law, all of these sects are treated equally and have the same tax exemptions.

  5. Johnny Mason May 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    People keep looking at marriage through the lens of adult desire, and they forget that children are the ones who will be harmed the most by SSM. They will be denied a mother and a father willfully. They will have at best only one biological parent. And worst of all, children will become more commoditized as adult desires shift from marital rights to a “right” to children.

    http://theweek.com/articles/556203/defense-natural-family

    • James Bradshaw May 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

      “People keep looking at marriage through the lens of adult desire, and they forget that children are the ones who will be harmed the most by SSM. ”

      You’re asking for a stricter legal standard to be applied to gay couples than exists for heterosexual couples.

      Heterosexual couples are given civil marriage licenses even when they have a history of assault, theft and even sexual assault. What adoption agency would give children to such parents? Heterosexual couples are not tested for fertility. They are not asked whether they can afford the expense of raising children. The law indiscriminately extends marital benefits to two people regardless of their intentions to have children or their interest and capacity of raising them, so long as they are a man and a woman.

      Yet, no matter how affluent or charitable a gay couple may be or how clean their records are, they are somehow unworthy of the civil benefits of marriage?

      This is incoherent.

      I think you’re confusing this with adoption rights. It’s a worthy topic, but it’s not exactly related.

      • Johnny Mason May 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

        “no matter how affluent or charitable a gay couple may be or how clean their records are”… they can never provide a child a mother and a father. It’s not incoherent. It is common sense and natural.

        It is your position that is incoherent. Marriage is the union of a man and woman, the bringing together of a husband and a wife, a mother and a father. And the state is interested in marriage because of the children that this union may produce. The whole reason the state is involved is because of children. So these two items go hand in hand, and to believe otherwise is to ignore history and nature.

        Yes, there are terrible parents of all stripes, who abuse and neglect their children, but no matter how wonderful a gay couple is they will never provide that missing mother or father.

        The family has been under assault for quite some time, and we are already seeing the damage that gay couples with kids are doing to the concept of family in society, in our laws, and in the courts. SSM eliminates the legal principle that biology is the primary means of establishing parental rights and responsibilities. SSM undermines the legal principle that children are entitled to a relationship with both parents.

        From the article I posted:

        “The liberation of adults from the moral claims of their biological children is a trend that long precedes same-sex marriage, which will do its own small part in extending that logic deeper into family law courts”

        • jonakc1 May 24, 2015 at 2:10 am #

          why can’t a gay couple provide what a mom and dad can?
          don’t you christians chastise men for not being domestic enough and being the perfect homemaker?
          Historically a role in most societies and according to biblical instruction a responsibility of women
          thus since roles can be swapped under servant leadership, it is clear roles do not exist and a mom can full fill dad’s role ( provider protector leader) and dad mom’s role ( nurturer, home maker etc)
          so 2 men can do the exact same thing, and provide a perfect even complementarian marriage for their kids…

          • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 2:38 am #

            “why can’t a gay couple provide what a mom and dad can?”

            That’s hopelessly confused. The fact that men and women can do many of the same things hardly means men and women are interchangeable.

            Wolves and humans can both hunt game. Does that make wolves and humans interchangeable?

            Men and women are psychologically different. Children benefit from the difference.

            Moreover, two men can’t both be the actual parents of children. At best, only one can.

            As a rule, kids are best off with their biological parents. there’s a built-in psychological bond.

            You’ve made a number of flippant comments about a very serious issue.

          • Denny Burk May 25, 2015 at 7:59 pm #

            Dear jonakc1, Please post first and last name on future posts. No pseudonyms. Thanks! -Denny

    • philipcfromnyc May 22, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

      I quite honestly find this comment ludicrous. Has it escaped your attention that a large percentage of gay couples are currently raising children, and that the legalization of gay marriage will STRENGTHEN these family units? Unless you propose banning adoptions by gay persons, and banning the usage of assisted reproductive technology by gay persons, your argument rings hollow.

      The studies which have been conducted in this area by sociologists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals all reach exactly the same conclusion — children raised by gay couples fare just as well on every measure of emotional and mental health as children raised by heterosexual couples. Gay couples actively PLAN to raise children, whereas heterosexual couples frequently bring children into this world entirely by accident. Which group do you think will do the best job of raising children, given this fact? To quote from Judge Richard Posner’s brilliant decision below:

      “In other words, Indiana’s government thinks that straight couples tend to be sexually irresponsible, producing unwanted children by the carload, and so must be pressured (in the form of governmental encouragement of marriage through a combination of sticks and carrots) to marry, but that gay couples, unable as they are to produce children wanted or unwanted, are model parents — model citizens really — so have no need for marriage. Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.”

      (Excerpted from Baskin v. Bogan, #14-2386 through #14-2388 and Wolf v. Walker, #14-2526, handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on 09/04/2014, striking down the gay marriage bans of the states of Indiana and Wisconsin)

      No heterosexual marriage will be influenced one iota by permitting gay couples to marry. Heterosexual couples will remain free to raise their children with love and affection, despite the fact that so many such couples bring children into this world without planning for this to happen, and despite the fact that they are frequently unmarried.

      If this “child centered” versus “adult centered” argument is the best that the anti-gay marriage side can come up with, they are truly grasping at straws.

      • Denny Burk May 23, 2015 at 12:32 am #

        Hey, Philip. Thanks for commenting. You need to use forts and last name when commenting. Thanks again!

  6. robert reilly May 21, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    My favorite part is Steorts’ embrace of Hume’s “is/ought” distinction.

    There being no such thing as nature or essences, we cannot know things through their causes — which means we really cannot know anything — which means we can do anything we want.

    Or perhaps I should say those with power can make us do anything they want.

  7. Ryan Davidson May 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    My thoughts on your four points…

    1. DC-based conservatives have favored SSM for some time. They’ve simply recognized that there are no longer negative consequences associated with making their views known. After all, many DC-based activists of all political stripes identify as gay. These are suit-and-tie gays, not pride-parade gays. Even so, they favor SSM.

    2. I don’t see this happening. From my observation, SSM is much more popular among the suit-and-tie crowd than it is among the pride-parade crowd. Most gay men I meet in my professional context (corporate lawyer) are probably better categorized as asexuals or demisexuals who tend to have a stronger emotional attraction to men than women. Sex doesn’t generally figure prominently in their relationships. In fact, many of their marriages are probably not too different from the “vowed friendships” that Wes Hill discusses in his recent book (but without an explicit commitment to celibacy). In coastal cities, the term “gay” has simply come to refer to a wide range of people who have rejected heteronormative social identities. If anything, I suspect that SSM will lead us to think of marriage in more explicitly contractual terms. See Gary Becker’s prescient article, “A Theory of Marriage”.

    3. The “noble lie” criticism strikes me as somewhat apposite. Evangelicals functionally practice marriage in a way that’s made major accommodations to Enlightenment individualism and Freudian sexual theory. Much of our opposition to SSM seems to neglect that.

    4. The criticism of natural law also strikes me as largely apposite. Tracey Rowland and other conservative Catholics have made much the same criticism of the Finnis-George conception of natural law. So, the question, then, rests on whether you believe that divine revelation is a sufficient basis upon which to base public policy. In a pluralistic society, we probably have to answer that question in the negative. The only persuasive argument against SSM is going to be one based on cost-benefit analysis. And few folks at NR would object to that as a basis for making policy.

  8. jonakc1 May 22, 2015 at 3:46 am #

    if people still believed men and women were different, gay marriage would not be so popular…
    but christians bought into feminism, so they deserve this…

  9. johnhughmorgan3 May 23, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    Divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, fornication, adultery, no standards, idolizing family, idolizing children, idolizing sex, trashing nonmarrieds, excluding nonmarrieds from definition of family in BF&M, incorrectly defining marriage in BF&M, silence on sexual ethics in pulpits, hiring non-Christians for top positions in SBC – No one else but the church is to blame for the demise of traditional marriage.

    • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 11:31 am #

      To begin with, there’s no such thing as “the church” in general. That’s just a handy abstraction. There are churches. Good, bad, and indifferent.

      Churches are not to blame for the demise of traditional marriage. To the contrary, churches stood in the breech. Churches have been a preservative. Things would have gotten far worse, far quicker, had it not been for churches.

      Finally, we need to resist defeatism. Until Jesus returns, there are no decisive battles. We win some, we lose some. Today’s defeat may be tomorrow’s victory, and vice versa.

      • Christiane Smith May 23, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

        Hi STEVE,
        when most Christian people refer to ‘the Church’, they are referring to the Body of Christ . . . for people of my Catholic faith, it is called ‘the mystical Body of Christ’ but for others, the idea of the Body of Christ is described in sacred Scripture as a ‘unity’ ‘in Christ’, with Christ as the Head of the Body

        How this belief is reconciled with the belief of many that each Church is a completely separate entity, I do not know. I expect that for some, like yourself, there is a denial of the validity of the teaching of ‘THE Church’ as a union of baptized Christian souls within the Body of Christ . . .

        it is not without meaning that recently Pope Francis called on ALL thoughtful Christian people to contribute to a meeting and discussion on the importance of the family and of marriage for Christians and for the world . . . for Francis, ‘the Church’ extends to all those who are baptized believers in the crucified and risen Lord. This recognition enforces Catholic belief in the reality of ‘the mystical Body of Christ’ and also recognition that the whole Body of Christ should contribute input into those matters that involve all Christian people and that matter to the common good of mankind.

        • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

          I didn’t say that local churches are “completely separate entities.”

          There are many theological metaphors for the church.

          Baptism doesn’t make someone a Christian.

          If Pope Francis really cared about marriage and the family, he should publicly defend the beleaguered archbishop of San Francisco. Likewise, to my knowledge, the USCCB has been deafening in its silence regarding Cordileone’s detractors. Your church has hung him out to dry.

          The unity you valorize is nonexistent within your own denomination.

          • Christiane Smith May 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

            Hi STEVE,
            thank you for your reply . . . I do not know the Cordileone story, but I will examine it and I appreciate you sharing your concern regarding it . . . in my faith, we have no doubt of the reality of the unity of all Christian people within and through Christ Himself . . . if you don’t want to call it ‘Church’, I can accept that, but please know that for many Christian people, this shared unity is both blessing and responsibility . . . we bear one another’s burdens, we share one another’s pain and concerns, and above all, we share a professed belief in the crucified and risen Christ . . . thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me and God bless

            • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

              True, I don’t call your denomination “the Church.” And I’m not in union with the church of Rome. Indeed, union with the church of Rome is to be avoided–just as I avoid other sects with grave theological errors.

            • steve hays May 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

              I’d add that if Pope Francis really cared about the sanctity of marriage, he’d silence Cardinal Kasper rather than making him the spokesman for these issues.

              • Christiane Smith May 24, 2015 at 1:21 am #

                Hi STEVE,
                I like Pope Francis. He is a man of humility before the Lord and that is unusual in our modern time where so many struggle with hubris and anger. And it is the humble among us who are blessed with a grace that seems needed now that there is so much of division and negativity. He cares about marriage and the family and he openly sought the advice of many faith communities within Christianity because he knew that every one is needed in the Body of Christ, and there is no one who is dispensable.
                I think Francis marches to a different drum than the one you seem to follow, because while it seems impossible that you would approve of the following advice, he likely would embrace it and live it:

                “”Love not just those of your own tribe, your own class, family or people,
                but those who are different, those who are strangers,
                who are strange to your ways,
                who come from different cultural and religious traditions,
                who seem odd, those you do not understand.
                Love as the Samaritan loved the man he found beaten up by robbers, somewhere on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.””
                (Jean Vanier, The Body Broken)

                Peace of Christ to you, Steve. May God give you to drink deeply of the well of the sacred Trinity and so, be blessed. 🙂

                • steve hays May 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

                  Francis marches to the drum of Cardinal Kasper, who’s the court theologian under the pontificate of Francis. Kasper represents the liberal wing of the church.

                  • Christiane Smith May 25, 2015 at 3:41 am #

                    Hi STEVE,
                    my own opinion is that Pope Francis is being led by grace to point the Church towards Christ the Lord.
                    Together with Archbishop Cordileone AND Cardinal Kasper, and the people of western Christianity, Francis celebrates the great event of Pentecost.
                    The power of the coming of the Holy Spirit can transcend fear, division, time, and place; and is able to guide all Christian people toward safe harbor within the Presence of Christ.

                    ““O Morning Star,
                    splendour of light eternal
                    and sun of righteousness:
                    Come
                    and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
                    and the shadow of death.”
                    (O Oriens, from the ‘O’ Antiphons)

                    “And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
                    (1 Cor 15:26)

                    ‘. . . every trace of Light begins a grace in me, a beckoning.
                    The smallest gleam is somehow a beginning and a calling;
                    “Sleeper awake,
                    the darkness was a dream.”

                    (Malcolm Guite)

          • Ryan Davidson May 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

            John’s comment refers specifically to the SBC. And certainly those assessments are generally (although not universally) true of the SBC and of most other evangelical denominations and churches. I’ve spent my whole life in PCA and SBC churches. While John’s description is probably not descriptive of certain smaller, more conservative churches, it pretty much describes what I’ve seen in the larger, wealthier, more influential churches in both denominations.

    • jonakc1 May 24, 2015 at 2:04 am #

      you forget feminism and justification of role reversal under ” servant leadership”…
      kids grown up seeing mom and dad as no different ( dad does mom’s duties under servant leadership)
      so of course they will see that Gender does NOT matter, since are roles are flexible..

  10. Curt Day May 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    There are two equality issues when it comes to same-sex marriage. The first one is rather obvious: the equality of homosexuals to enter into the same kind of union with the partners of their choice that heterosexuals do.

    The second equality issue determines who will define the terms and write the laws. It is in this second equality issue that many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians fail to recognize their attempts to establish what is for them a presumed privileged position in society. For these Christians want the final say as to how to define terms and who will determine the law. They don’t want to share society as equals with nonChristians especially when those nonChristians cross some traditionalist line. The fight over same-sex marriage includes the attempts by many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians to maintain their privileged status in society. And what they don’t realize is how that presumption of privilege is what many nonChristians are actually reacting to; it isn’t about their personal rejection of same-sex marriage.

    With this second equality issue comes what should be a searing question for all of us religiously conservative Christians: Why is evangelism not enough? Why must we control culture, especially through legislation, over this issue? Why can’t we answer the “threat” that same-sex marriage poses to society through evangelism? Why isn’t evangelism enough?

    Certainly evangelism alone is enough to sway those who would listen. But that might not be the chief concern held by conservative Christian opponents to same-sex marriage. Their chief concern revolves around control issues and their personal dependence on authoritarianism–provided that the right people are in places of authority.

    In the end, democracy just might be the real target of religiously conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. And by democracy, I am not referring to political structures that allow people to vote for the leaders of their choice. Rather, I am referring to democracy as a state of being for society where no group, even majorities, prevents other groups from participating in self-government as equal partners. The real threat to those opposing same-sex marriage is a broader equality than they have outwardly recognized.

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