Friday, May 18, 2012

Ramblin' on Recent Issues

Just a couple of quick things regarding recent controversies...

Please note that in all of this gay marriage discussion I've taken NO position, pro or con, regarding homosexuality. That was on purpose, btw, to watch the various conclusions that people would jump to. The only position I've taken is that I don't feel it's in any way right or American for my personal religious beliefs to determine your personal freedoms and protections. An America which is no more than a Christian version of the Taliban or a Christian version of a fundamentalist Islamic country under Sharia law isn't an America I want to see or live in.

Let's look at this notion of "redefining" marriage. Total BS. My advice would be to tune out, immediately, someone who uses any form of an argument that includes the words "redefining" or "definition" in conjunction with marriage. Why? Because prior to the gay marriage debate, had you asked someone who uses that argument to define marriage, I'd give you infinity-to-1 odds that their definition would NOT have been "one man, one woman". The irony is that words like "definition" and "redefining" have been co-opted and redefined by cultural warriors, because we know that in a culture war - "He who defines, wins." Their definition of marriage is a RECENT one. 20 years ago, their definition would've been something about "two people coming together for life" or something or other. "One man, one woman" is ambiguous, and could describe the queue down at Burger King - so it isn't even a definition, but a parameter which needs a definition. Use an argument like "redefining marriage" and you might as well be waving a white flag at me, cause you're just a shill for your culture, having bought the propaganda on emotional levels, with a shallow faith that's threatened by any wind of change or disagreement.

In the bible, there's no sanctioning of a piece of paper signed by an officer of a local civil court. That's all the gay people want. If that threatens your faith, you have no faith. None. "But, but, Lew...They'll force churches to marry them!!!" SMH. Don't be so gullible. Churches/pastors can already discriminate regarding who they'll perform ceremonies for. This won't change that. In the unlikely event that they tried to force churches to marry them, then, and only then, you'd have a legitimate argument, and I'd be right there with you raising hell about it. 

It also doesn't help the other side of the argument when the loudest voices I've encountered in the last week have belonged to people who've been married and divorced on multiple occasions, or have many children by many different women, or have fat asses from being lazy gluttons, or are dishonest people, or who listen to Rush Limbaugh describe the President as "declaring war on traditional marriage", when ole Rush seems to be doing a smash up job all by himself, what with 4 failed marriages, and fail to see the hypocrisy.

Step out of a black and white world and into some color, people.


  1. you are right on. I look at it this way. I personally still feel that homosexuality is wrong whether you were born that way or not...BUT....and this is a big BUT.....Others don't believe like I believe and should not be forced to live like I live. Last I checked we all had a choice to follow Jesus or not. And if someone decides not to follow him, what business is that of mine? Sure, I can try to get them to change, but in now way should I force them to abide by my religious beliefs. I may even be wrong but that is correct about every aspect in others 'beliefs'. If in fact it is WRONG to be homosexual, then guess what? God will deal with it when the time is due, won't he? WHy should they be forced to live the 'christian' lifestyle when God himself said we all had a choice. Gays marrying has no effect on me whatsoever other then the 'ewww' factor, which is fine with me. No-one has the right to 'not' be offended. If you don't like something, don't do it. But others shouldn't be forced to live a certain way because of someone else's religious beliefs, and that is all this whole fight is about, others religious beliefs and nothing more.
    Also, what I can't stand is are the one's crying about the sanctity of marriage. The one's who cry about it the most are married numerous times, had numerous affairs. I would love to ask them which marriage that 'the sanctity of marriage' applies to. The first marriage, their 2nd one, their 3rd one? And actually get an honest answer.

    1. Thanks, Anon.

      That's what I was taught concerning religion and the power of the state. Your religion dictates what YOU can and can't do but has no (and should never have any)power over what other people can and can't do. Our country was founded on this principle.

      Religious wars in Europe killed too many people, on one side and then the other. Religion does not belong in government. Period.

    2. Anonymous. You, sir, are fabulous. Or madam. For some reason I assume you're male. Either way, thank you for saying exactly what I'm thinking.

  2. It's not the government's job to dictate morals. It's the government's job to protect American citizens and their property. The Bible lists drunkenness as a sin; how come the Christian community isn't trying to make drunkenness illegal? It's perfectly legal to be drunk. However, it IS illegal to drink and drive. The distinction is because drinking and driving provides a threat to other people and their property. It's not a moral issue, it's a safety issue.

    There is a federal law that states (paraphrasing here) a legal contract in one state must be upheld in other states. Marriage, in the ink and paper sense, could be defined as that. I wonder if someone will bring that up regarding the amendment issue?

    1. That's one reason they claim to "need" the amendment.

    2. "'But, but, Lew...They'll force churches to marry them!!!' SMH. Don't be so gullible. Churches/pastors can already discriminate regarding who they'll perform ceremonies for. This won't change that. In the unlikely event that they tried to force churches to marry them, then, and only then, you'd have a legitimate argument, and I'd be right there with you raising hell about it."

      Just a FYI, I'm from Canada where gay marriage is already legalized & has been for several years. There have already been a number of cases where pastors have been charged & brought to court for refusing to marry same-sex couples. I think it has more to do with the fact that people who are authorized to perform marriages here are considered government representatives or some such thing- I don't know if that's the case in the US.

    3. @Natasha...Clergy here in the US can discriminate as to whom they will perform ceremonies for. Most bible colleges and seminaries teach prospective pastors a litany of qualifications a couple will need to achieve before the prospective pastors can marry them - a certain amount of counseling, certain doctrinal positions, et cetera.

    4. I agree with you on so many levels, Lewis. I think gay marriage should most definitely not be banned in this country because it is not our job to pick which Christian morals everyone else must abide by.

      However, I do want to be careful with assuming that pastors would not face any kind of increased pressure to marry gay couples. While I doubt that the government would create laws about it, I think there would be a lot of private citizens who would consider refusal to marry gay couples as hate crimes and probably try to take legal action at the individual level against the particular church. (I don't know what the results of that legal battle would be, but that's not quite the point). I think legalizing gay marriage would create a favorable situation for people who want to accuse pastors of perpetrating hate crimes and discrimination.

      Is this a reason to keep gay marriage illegal? No. Of course not. But it's important, in a debate like this, to recognize how far each side's concerns are valid, and I don't think the church's fear that they would face increased pressure is 100% unfounded.

    5. "I think there would be a lot of private citizens who would consider refusal to marry gay couples as hate crimes"

      No; that's a severe misunderstanding as to what a hate crime is. The best they could come up with is a civil rights/discrimination complaint, and, even so, religious groups in the US are broadly free to discriminate. They are not considered a public accommodation (i.e. those places where discrimination is banned under the Civil Rights Act.

      Hate crimes are violent crimes and property crimes that are motivated by bias. So if a gay couple came to a pastor to be married and the pastor beat them up, or spray-painted epithets on their car, that would be a hate crime. But refusing to marry them? No. They are just as free to refuse to marry a straight couple because they are living together, not "saved", not tithing church members, etc.

    6. Exactly what Joy said.

      Churches/pastors can make any rules they want about who they will/won't marry: Family of church members only, Christians only, people who ascribe to our doctrinal beliefs only. Religious freedom is sancrosanct in American.

      All a church needs to do is be plain in THEIR by-laws about who they will marry. That's where they need to put their religious beliefs about "one man, one woman". They don't need to force the whole country to support their position with our actual laws.

    7. Bridge, religious fanatics actually went their way to outlaw drunkenness: they got the 18st Amendment passed. A little more than a decade later, the American people finally realized what a bad idea that was an repealed it. But there are still vestiges of the Prohibition era lingering in many states. Homosexuality might be the new "in-thing" for most fundamentalist churches right now, but give it some time and people will realize just how discriminatory it is.

    8. I agree with you guys, for the most part. Although notice that I didn't say the law would consider it a hate crime; I said certain individuals might. My point is that legalizing gay marriage could put more social pressure on the church (not legal pressure), and there will be more instances of individuals feeling that this has opened the door for them to accuse non-willing pastors of being somehow anti-American or hateful.

      I personally know people who would level the accusation of "hate crime" against someone whether the act had anything to do with violence or property under the legal definition. The law wouldn't back them up on it, but it's still damaging and hurtful to start using that allegation against people within a community.

      Again, let me repeat; this is not a reason to keep gay marriage illegal. It's simply something we have to be realistic about so we won't be surprised by it if it happens, and we will know how to handle it in a way that maintains the dignity and freedoms of both parties.

      I know America does not have all the same legal structure as other countries (such as Canada) that have legalized gay marriage, but we do have to assume that if church and state clashed a bit in those countries, that we will have some working-out to do in our own situation. It may be a bumpy road for awhile, even if it doesn't look exactly like their path.

    9. Anon,
      "I personally know people who would level the accusation of "hate crime" against someone whether the act had anything to do with violence or property under the legal definition. The law wouldn't back them up on it, but it's still damaging and hurtful to start using that allegation against people within a community."

      When I read this, I wonder what special protections, if any, you would like to see for people who believe that it is a sin to be (or, as views on that are shifting) or to be and express romantic love as a gay person, that are not currently afforded to gay people? Surely it is "damaging and hurtful" to hear that you're going to hell, that homosexuality is not something that God will forgive.

      Or even if you don't hear those specific words, what if you sit among the people whom you consider your community, and worship God with them, but you know that you cannot be yourself, not fully yourself among them, because many would shun and/or pity you because of something that is not a characteristic you can control, and is likely something you have trouble accepting about *yourself*.

      Might that be "damaging and hurtful"?

      I am not denying the right of people to hold different views of what scripture says. I also do not approve of government telling churches what to do and what not to do (presuming the church is not doing something that is illegal, eg, child abuse). I don't see, though, why holding a particular interpretation of scripture affords them protection against potentially getting their feelings hurt.

    10. Petticoat PhilosopherMay 22, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      I don't get it. You acknowledge that there would be no legal backing for a person wishing to bring hate crime charges against a pastor who refused to marry gay couples. So what are you worried about? That marriage equality will open the door to people saying things that will hurt those pastors feelings? I'm sorry, but tough.

      If that is your fear then, yes, I think it is founded. Marriage equality will probably help homosexuality to become more accepted in American society and, as that happens, more people may well start to look with disapproval upon religious leaders that discriminate against LGBT folks. They might think they are being bigoted and hateful. They might even say so which, in many ways, could constitute social pressure. Guess what? Those religious leaders do not have a right not be socially pressured, any more than anyone else does.

      And what of the social pressure that gay people face? Those same religious leaders, along with many other cultural forces exert a CONSTANT social pressure on them to not be gay. They have to deal every day with the fact that a large segment of their fellow Americans thinks they are disgusting, sinful, depraved, weak, or just plain shouldn't exist. That sounds like pressure to me. What anti-gay religious leaders might face is NOTHING compared to what your average openly gay person faces, every day, before they're old enough to get a driver's license.

      When anti-gay religious leaders discriminate or when they preach their anti-gay views, many people (I'm one of them) believe that they contribute to an atmosphere in which gay people feel pressured, bullied, or just plain unwelcome in their own country, and that upsets them. These religious leaders have every legal right to direct their organizations as they see fit and they are allowed to discriminate. That is a right conferred upon them by the first amendment and, as repugnant to me as the actions that it protects are in this case, I will defend that right until I die.

      But religious leaders do NOT have a right to protected from the reality that their words and actions hurt, and that that makes a lot of people angry. They do not have a right to be protected from the changing social tides of this country. They do not have a right to protected from social pressure and disapproval. Any more than gay people do now. You are siding with the powerful in a serious way.

    11. Wow. Um....okay.

      I'll repeat it again. I think gay marriage should be legal, and I don't think that we should keep it illegal out of fear of what the church will or won't be "forced" to do. And for what it's worth, I think the way the church has treated homosexuals is horrendous. Far from being "afraid" that homosexuality might become more accepted and open, I would welcome a climate that no longer discriminated against them.

      I'm simply saying that, realistically, when other countries have openly permitted homosexuality, there have been some scuffles between the church and the state. I just think we should be prepared for some scuffles here, rather than pretending they won't happen. Those scuffles will probably be good and necessary in the end. I'm not at all advocating that we avoid those scuffles and allow homosexuals to keep feeling like second-class citizens. I'm just saying, let's not jump to conclusions and assume those scuffles won't happen and that church and state will settle smoothly into complimentary roles right from the get-go.

      I'm not sure why you guys are so ready to see me as an enemy; I think we basically believe the same about how badly the church has treated homosexuals, and I think we basically believe the same things about what rights the gay community deserves.

    12. And by the by, Petticoat Philosopher, I completely agree with your assessment that religious leaders already exert said pressure upon the gay community every day. Thanks for bringing that up; it is often easy for us to forget how constant is the struggle of those whose voices are the minority. I'm sorry if, in the context of that, my comments sounded like I was pitying oppressors over the oppressed. That really wasn't my intention. My intention was to debate what real-life consequences might happen from hypothetical situations in the future. That in no way negates that the reality right now is that gays are discriminated against every day.

    13. Petticoat PhilosopherMay 23, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      Well, I'm glad we agree about the issue of pressure on the LGBT community and their treatment by a lot of religious leaders. I apologize if I jumped to conclusions about your views.

      But I'm still not entirely sure what you are worried about if you readily acknowledge that anti-gay religious leaders won't be legally vulnerable. All you seem to be talking about when you speak of "scuffle" is strong criticism of such leaders, because that would be "damaging and hurtful" to them and their communities. I think that's why a couple people have responded how they did. Because fretting about how hurtful it will be to anti-gay clergy to have their views criticized while not even mentioning the hurtful things that gay people are subjected to all the time (in many cases WITHOUT the legal protections that religious leaders are afforded) seems like a blatant double standard. I don't view you as "the enemy" at all, but I would urge you to really consider the implications of what you're saying here.

      Also, "scuffles" between LGBT-affirming people (including clergy) and non-LGBT-affirming clergy is NOT a conflict between church and state. LGBT-affirming people are not acting on behalf of the state, nor do they speak for the state when they speak out against religious homophobia. They are private citizens speaking their minds, as they have a right to do. I am not denying that such conflicts exist or that LGBT people and their allies will not be empowered to speak up more if the state ceases to discriminate against gay people in the area of marriage (because that's all we're talking about). But that does NOT constitute an attack of the state upon the church, or any conflict between church and state and all. All that is is a shift in public opinion which, yes, may create social pressure on those being left behind. Nothing illegal or unconstitutional about that.

      Again, I don't you're "the enemy," I'm just confused. What exactly are you worried about besides the possibility (or the probability) that legal non-discrimination will empower people to say things that might make anti-gay clergy feel bad?

    14. I agree: I do not see Anon as "the enemy", and never have.

      I don't understand the concern that some people might have their feelings hurt basically because of the recognition of other people's rights. I'm not going to be verbally attacking clergy or anything--I just don't see why it's worth much time thinking about it.

      Though since the topic was brought up, let's not forget that some of these anti-gay clergy will be protected by the insular arrogance I've observed in *some* clergy members who interpret scripture in a way that leads to sexist conclusions, and then see that their interpretation of scripture is implemented accordingly in their church and in as many marriages as they can influence. I don't see these particular men as having hearts soft enough to be disturbed by people who are bothered by the fact that gay people can't get married in their church.

    15. Speaking of hate crimes, please read this article and look at the graph:

      Anti-Christian (Protestant and Catholic) hate crimes don't even ping this chart because there aren't many of them (compared to hate crimes against Jews; the number of hate crimes against Christians are is about 1/9 of the number of hate crimes against Jews) and their proportion in the population is much greater. Who has the greatest chance of being victim of an actual hate crime, i.e. be attacked or have their property damaged or destroyed? Who has the most cause to be outraged?

  3. Yes! Exactly. The ONLY possible way homosexuality may be viewed as a sin is through the lens of religiosity, which should have zero bearing in our secular nation. If people here want to be homophobic bigots in their homes and churches, fine, that's their right, but once they try to limit the freedoms of their fellow Americans through those beliefs, that is just so obviously messed up. Things NEVER end well when religion is forced on people through legislation.


  5. The legal authority to conduct marriages should be removed from pastors and religious bodies. This should be considered to be beyond their capacity. The couple seeking a union should have their lawyers draw up the necessary documents,get them signed and then registered at the Town Hall. The state should have no part in the choice or the purpose of such partners because that's their private business. Should they, in addition, ask to have their union blessed by some particular religious group, which is good but not necessary, then they should of course be willing to submit to the teachings on marriage and divorce of that religion. Only scoundrels would use religion for their own ends but then avoid them and quickly run to the Law Courts for a divorce when things don't work out as expected.

    1. The only flaw with your plan is the "couples should have their lawyers" clause. I don't what demographic you are from, but it's wealthier than mine! Most of us don't have lawyers on retainer.

      I do agree that pastors should not have the legal authority of the state to "marry" people. Everyone should be legally married at the courthouse, and then followed up with a religious ceremony if it's important to them. That's how it is in other countries, and it makes way more sense.

    2. Funny-- I'd take the other view. I think marriage should be a solely religious thing, with the government(s) not involved at all.

    3. Why would you think that? Marriage is a legal status: it legally makes your spouse your next of kin and automatic heir. It also establishes legal parents of children born into the marriage without DNA tests/medical proof. That legal status is the only point of marriage. It was intended to protect widows/widowers and orphans from having to go through probate, being kicked out of the family home, and/or being excluded from medical/funeral decisions.

      Religion is completely separate from the legal system. People of any or no religion benefit from the legal status of marriage. Couples of any or no religion (and their children) stand to suffer great legal harm without the benefit of the legal status of marriage.

      A church wedding is an add-on. Making the legal arrangement of marriage into some kind of religious ritual with religious obligations is completely unnecessary as far as the law is concerned. It adds nothing legally to the arrangement at all, and is merely a public display of the faith and beliefs of the two people getting married.

      It is unconstitutional to mix private religion with laws that govern everyone. I think it's already a huge mistake to ALLOW clergy to perform weddings. It should have always been confined to the local county clerk's office or a justice of the peace. it would be government establishment of religion if the law were to REQUIRE clergy to marry people.

      I am puzzled by your p.o.v., Michelle. Do you not know anyone who is not religious? Do you not know anyone married at the courthouse? I know many non-religious people who were married by civil authorities. Do you think non-religious people should be forced to convert to a religion before they could get married?

      What a scam it would be for religions if the law declared everyone had to pay a clergy to perform their wedding! Easy money and completely unconstitutional.

    4. Excellent points. Yes, I am acquainted with folks who come from a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds and count a number of them among my friends.

      I think what I actually want is a time machine: The legal status would not be called "married" at all, but be referred to by an entirely different term. A government that does not include a state religion should never have co-opted the language of religion to identify a particular legal status. Please correct me if I am mistaken about the history of the terminology.

      I am certainly busted in the, "If wishes were horses, we all could ride," sense. :)

    5. I don't know the etymology of the word "married", to be honest. I remember reading the term Goodwife in British Literature of the Middle Ages though! =D

      I am embarrased to admit that most of my pre-Christian era reading is confined to the Bible. I know that people of other nations and continents had what we call marriage, though in most cases it amounted to sexual slavery. Dad is either paid by or pays the groom to take ownership of the young woman in question.

      I have only read English translations, where of course the terms wives and concubines were used. AS best I understand the terms, a wife is entitled to more decision-making power in the master's household than a concubine. The Asian movies I have watched show special entitlement to the first one to marry the master.

      I have a lot of work to do today, but finding out the etymology of the English word "marry" is going on the wish list. =)

  6. Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions. G. K. Chesteron

    1. Loving your neighbor is both virtue and conviction - and simply the right thing to do.

    2. True. But loving doesn't mean we have to condone/tolerate the sin. Hate the sin, love the sinner! :)

    3. Why hate sin? Jesus never said, "a new command I give to you, that you hate sin." He never said, "Hate sin as the Father hates sin." He didn't say, "Hate the sin in others lives as you want them to despise the sin in your own life." Insert big Southern smile here, then turn and walk away.

      It's so weird, that statement, and I do mean weird in the literal sense. It's just a fancy way of saying, "I really do hate you, but it's so ugly to admit. Let's be civil about it and instead of calling you a faggot to your face I'll just advocate for laws that keep you and your kind away from me and my kind."

      Though I do see why one would choose your way of phrasing it both for the catchy alliteration and the brevity.

    4. I suspect I'd hear something similar from my in-laws. It's a bit too late, though, since I observed a pamphlet on their kitchen table a few years ago about how to treat those who are "enemies of Christ", namely gay people (and others I won't mention here, as I don't want to get too far off-topic). They'd say what you say, but I don't see their gay or lesbian friends, or gay or lesbian relatives...probably because folks know better than to "come out" (read: "be themselves") around them.

      There's a blog here I link to below, though it claims to debunk the "love the sinner, hate the sin" from the fundamentalist perspective, I believe that some evangelicalism is merely fundamentalism with more smiles + alcohol and an attempt to seem hip.

      Also, why in the world is being gay or seeking a relationship (even a monogamous, committed one) with another person of the same sex the only time "love the sinner, hate the sin" comes up? How 'bout the sin of hubris? What about compulsive liars? How about those who steal?

      How does that phrase not apply to *all* of us?

    5. "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12: 9).

      Psalms, Chapter 97, Verse 10
      Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.

      It's very unbiblical to wish harm on unbelievers and those that mock his name. But its very biblical and what God's word says to hate evil. Because I love God so much I will hate anything that he hates, for he hates much that opposes his will and his word. God's servants hate evil, and hate what God hates, for such is an enemy of God. Its wrong to hate sinners, but its biblical to hate their sin.

      Sin is like a cancer. When someone has cancer, we don't stop loving them because of it, but we hate what the cancer does! God hates what sin does to his children, but He still loves them.

    6. IT does apply to all of us. Hate the sin in ourselves as well!!

    7. Problem is, most Christians are more interested in officiating over and labeling the sins of others than in examining themselves. "Sinners" won't be won over with officiating, or with people pointing out the sin in their lives, or with Christians trying to legislate away things they consider to be sin.

      Another HUGE problem - a heck of a lot of what the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian community very publically pronounces to be sinful isn't evil in the slightest.

    8. I personally am of the opinion that any one who quotes G.K. Chesterton on this subject has already invalidated their own argument. The man was a vicious racist (and not just against those with a different skin color then his, but rather against anyone who had the audacity to be NOT ENGLISH), a raging misogynist and blatantly anti-semitic.

  7. Lewis;
    I hope your parents are proud of you, because if you were my son my buttons would be flying off. YOU ROCK, kid. Preach it!

    There is so much here i want to comment on - tho the comments on the whole are so brilliant I'd be redundant. What courage I read here. It gives me hope for my country when I see so many people leaving the fundie movements.

    I knew about Rushdoony years ago. I was friends with a couple who were involved with him. (I'd never heard of him.) I didn't think anything of it , not being interested in their brand of christianity, until I saw the interview on '60 Minutes." I still feel the chill when Rushdoony calmly replied to Mike Wallace that yes, he'd do away with the Constitution. The very instrument that literally saved his parents' lives. What an ingrate.

    I would love to see a study or two on why we are producing this Taliban mentality, in my generation or younger. What is wrong with these people? Why are they so afraid?

    And thanks for the warning about the 'Unless the Lord..." article; I had the wastebasket handy. If someone had suggested to my tough, common-sense, Naval officer dad that I shouldn't go to college, he would have beaten them up. Now THAT would have been paternal protection!

    Keep putting it out there, Lewis. You are doing the Lord's work!

    Navy Brat

  8. Well, I went completely off-topic there, sorry.
    We are having an exciting time up here in the Great Unchurched, godless, knee-jerk liberal Northwest. Our legislature passed a law allowing same-sex marriage, and then the cretins (oh, sorry again, so uncharitable) the conservative element got enough signatures to get a referendum on the next ballot. So we fight the battle all over again....

    I have family in same-sex relationships. They have, amazingly, raised entirely heterosexual children. they pay their taxes and support their communities. They are such a terrible influence, I just don't know what to say. The country is plainly going to hell, with all these gay soccer moms.

  9. But, Anonymous June 22, 2012 8:46 PM, the *only* time I have ever heard, "Love the sinner: Hate the sin", is when someone who believes gayness is sin is talking about the way that LGBT people should be treated.

    I have never before heard "Love the sinner: Hate the sin", said about any sin of any heterosexual person.

    So while you may apply the saying even-handedly, I don't think that is common at all.

  10. I hope all is well with you, Lewis.
    You've been awful quite.
    I miss your presence in the blogsphere.

  11. Hey Lewis, I hope everything is going well for you. I rarely comment here, but I visit your blog several times per week.