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On Gay Marriage Arguments

March 3, 2010

A short while ago, a friend told me about a graduate student he knew who was teaching an undergrad philosophy class on love and sexuality and was soliciting arguments against gay marriage. A left-leaning feminist, she herself supported gay marriage, but she wanted to present, discuss, and philosophically analyze the arguments for it and against it. She didn’t just want to impose her own views on her students and was seeking to understand the arguments contrary to her own, specifically those that appealed solely to reason.

I don’t know what arguments she was able to gather, but upon hearing about her search, I thought about how most of the arguments that I hear against gay marriage appeal to scripture, theology, and church documents, hardly recognized authorities in our postmodern, pluralistic society. Moreover, I noted that the argument over gay marriage seems to be one that opponents are losing. Not long ago Ellen DeGeneres coming out on her show was a big cultural deal. Today some states in the union recognize same-sex unions. If I were a betting farmer, I’d bet the farm that our society will generally come to see gay marriage as a moral, legitimate, and socially-beneficial institution. Then speculations about its effects on society will be put to the test.

I pose two questions to our readers and to my fellow contributors:

1. What are the most persuasive arguments against gay marriage that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

2. How would opponents of gay marriage most likely succeed in turning the cultural tide against gay marriage?

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126 Comments
  1. March 3, 2010 8:43 am

    It depends on what “marriage” is. If it is a utility for the “happiness” of the adults, then there is no argument against it, or anything else. Its a “do your own thing” sorta thing. But then, why should the state take any interest in it, one way or the other?

    But if marriage is centered on children and property (which is what it was always about from the standpoint of the law), then homosexual marriage is just silly. No one ever talked about this. Socrates might have loved Alcibiades; he didn’t marry him. The whole idea makes no sense. Any number of cultures have tolerated or even encouraged homosexuality; none of them spoke of marriage.

    The reason that homosexual marriage becomes an issue is that so many socialized benefits are distributed in marriage, especially spousal insurance. But these distributions were based on a particular model of the family, a model that is no longer the norm.

  2. Ronald King permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:08 am

    Kyle, I cannot begin to clearly identify the arguments against gay marriage without identifying the underlying fear and hatred of the opponents of gay marriage and how these repressed and denied feelings unite these opponents to a history of violence against gays. Any group that has been identified as being less than human is going to have a lot of rage. In a “free” society the oppressed group will then begin to express that rage against the oppressors and begin to demand equality within the context of that particular society.
    The reaction of opposition to this rage without an attempt to understand the pain of the oppressed group creates further harm and division.
    Opponents to gay marriage can only “win” if they outnumber their opposition. “Winning” in this case does nobody any good.

  3. March 3, 2010 9:39 am

    If gays are “oppressed,” this might be the mildest oppression in the history of the world. To identify opposition to gay marriage as “hatred” strikes me as silly. Surely, there may be some who “hate” gays (as opposed to “hating” homosexuality), but as I pointed out, there have been any number of cultures that tolerated or encouraged homosexuality, but “marriage” simply did not occur to them. It made no sense, even in a “gay” context. And it still doesn’t.

  4. Curt permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:42 am

    You present the question with having to deal with
    reason and not religious belief. Is reason ever
    to be separate from faith? This is not a real world
    question, it is an imaginary one. Does truth change?
    I ask because you wrote: I thought about how most of the arguments that I hear against gay marriage appeal to scripture, theology, and church documents, hardly recognized authorities in our postmodern, pluralistic society.

    And? Is the problem with scripture, theology, or
    church documents or society and peoples hearts?

    The way you present the question is flawed,
    it is a pseudo intellectual exercise that
    serves no purpose. Sorry to be so harsh, but
    it is just how I see it.

  5. grega permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:47 am

    “But if marriage is centered on children and property (which is what it was always about from the standpoint of the law), then homosexual marriage is just silly.”
    This will not win the day and frankly should never win it – in my parish alone we have a good number of wonderful gay couples ( women and men) with children – these couples and all homosexuals that commit to the lifelong commitment of a marriage very much deserve equality.
    Regarding the property issue – you must be kidding – in case you missed it gays likely will own some of the nicest houses on your block – particular the double income no kids type.

    In my opinion in the context of our time and society there are no good arguments against gay marriage – and in a good society like ours this fact does lead to the proper change in attitudes, policies and laws.
    Gay will marry around here unlike in other corners of the world – we will be better off for it.

  6. March 3, 2010 9:58 am

    Well, the arguments of new natural law theorists–arguments advanced by Robert George and John Finnis in particular–are taken seriously by non-religious academics to the extent that they respond to them in print. So far as I am aware, these are the strongest arguments against gay marriage that prescind (or claim to prescind) from theological grounds.

    Perhaps these arguments are sound; perhaps not. My own view, of course, is that–regardless of the success of these arguments–marriage as it exists in fact in advanced capitalist countries is so hopelessly deformed that the prudential course of action is to remove oneself from these debates.

    Rather than worrying about gays wanting to obtain a civil marriage, people like George and Finnis should rather be worrying about why it is that only 25% of married Catholics are fulfilling the obligations of sacramental marriage. The demands of charity begin at home, after all.

  7. Ronald King permalink
    March 3, 2010 10:24 am

    John, look at the history of violence against homosexuals.

  8. Melissa permalink
    March 3, 2010 10:30 am

    Separating US civil rights from morality is difficult because the latter was the foundation for the former.
    If you take an anthropological view of marriage, it might help. Anthropological findings point to the creation of the marriage ritual as a protection of sexual access rights, and thus ensuring the passing on of stronger genetic material. And while homosexual action was common for comfort and pleasure, as a tool to continue species survival, it’s obviously lacking.
    The other problem is simple linguistics. Marriage as a term is inherently religious, and because our civil laws were based in religious morality, it was acceptable to use as a broad term. But the process of “marriage” in the US is twofold: one is to receive a legal union from the state recognizing certain civil benefits. The second is a religious ceremony. Most people think of “marriage” as the religious ceremony, and not the conferring of legal benefits. So homosexuals can get whatever legal benefits they want, because that’s their civil right. But a religious ceremony is not a civil right.
    Lastly, the conference of legal benefits is not always guaranteed to anyone. Heterosexual couples can be refused a license for certain reasons. This then leads to the conclusion that even legal unions are not a “right”, but a privilege.

  9. March 3, 2010 10:35 am

    Grega, the issue about property is not how it is used by the individuals, but as families. Property represents the material basis for the continuation of the family into the succeeding generations. Who gets it, what right the spouse and the children have, all determine the kind of continuity that the family has. But generations, and succession, is no longer a central issue in marriage; it is merely an optional feature, like leather seats in a car.

    In considering any institution, one must start from the purpose of that institution. If marriage is centered on the adults, there is no argument for or against any particular form of marriage. But in that case, why does the law need to be involved at all? Let the adults make what arrangements they will. Who cares? Certainly not the law.

    As for the houses owned by gay couples, that is where the problems begin, because they are now learning the meaning of two words that were never before uttered among gays: “community property.”

  10. March 3, 2010 10:48 am

    The question as state is an example of what is known as a category mistake. If God does not exist and is not a part of the discussion then, why not let people do whatever they want? In other words, SSM is a moral issue only if God has a plan for humanity that extends beyond this life.

  11. March 3, 2010 10:58 am

    I agree with John’s first comment. The real cuplrit here is not “gay” but “marriage”. The demand for gay marriage is a logical outcome to the changing definitions of marriage by heterosexual people. In our individualistis culture, marriage has been transformed from an institution centered on the bearing and rearing of children to a fluffy romantic encounter designed to satisfy individual wants and needs (and one that can be discarded when these wants and needs are no longer satisfied). As long as this remains the cultural view of marriage, the march toward gay marriage is unstoppable.

  12. March 3, 2010 11:01 am

    I agree that Georges arguments are good. Also I would recommend a lot of stuff Arkes has done. I will try to find some links and post them

    I thin the Natural Law arguements are pretty compelling. Also I think it should be clear that burden is on the side of Gay marriage Advocates to explain what this “right” is based on and why just 30 years a good bit of gay community were very against the concept of Gay marriage

    I will try to post thos elinks later

  13. March 3, 2010 11:03 am

    ” I cannot begin to clearly identify the arguments against gay marriage without identifying the underlying fear and hatred of the opponents of gay marriage and how these repressed and denied feelings”

    I don’t amny opponents of gay marriage that have this outlook. In fact most of the people I know that oppose gay marriage do no shun Firendship with gays

  14. March 3, 2010 11:11 am

    “Perhaps these arguments are sound; perhaps not. My own view, of course, is that–regardless of the success of these arguments–marriage as it exists in fact in advanced capitalist countries is so hopelessly deformed that the prudential course of action is to remove oneself from these debates.”

    I am afraid there will be no removing oneself from the debate which I think most people don’t realize. It is not just a case fo LIVE and LET LIVE. The advocates of gay marraige do not believe in that. If this is enshrined as a “Fundamental right” there will not all sorrts of laws and unoffical “laws” that will come in to sanction those that do not believe in these new regime of laws.

  15. brettsalkeld permalink*
    March 3, 2010 11:24 am

    I am with John’s first comment and MM.

    To me the best arguments against gay marriage aren’t against ‘gay marriage’ per se, but against the contemporary understanding of marriage that does not have any intrinsic connection with children. Until childless marriages became something more than a personal tragedy, the idea of same-sex marriages had no traction whatsoever. The argument is essentially, “What interest does the government have in sexual/romantic encounters between consenting adults?” As to property rights, hospital visitations, decisions about removing life support, these can all be legally distinct from marriage. Anyone should be able to appoint anyone they see fit with their power of attorney or equivalent.

    As to turning the tide against gay marriage, I don’t know that it can be turned, but getting married with an understanding that children follow naturally from this union and living accordingly is probably your best bet.

  16. March 3, 2010 11:24 am

    Jh,

    Well, I don’t think you’re right about that; but if you are right, that would only be good for the church.

  17. March 3, 2010 11:42 am

    “Well, I don’t think you’re right about that; but if you are right, that would only be good for the church.”

    Well I am not sure how it would be good for the Church unless one’s postion is the Catholic Church on a core doctrine has been preaching error for 2000 years.

    THe rights of Christian believers will come under severe attack. I often use the case of interracial marraige(that some feel makes the case for gay marraige which I cof course disagree).

    It is pretty astounding to how in just a short period of time we got from the Loving Case to the Bob Jones Case. We could see a similar effect on various religious colleges

  18. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:45 am

    “an institution centered on the bearing and rearing of children to a fluffy romantic encounter designed to satisfy individual wants and needs”

    (Preface: my wife & I (well, more she than me heh) might be pregnant soon)

    What Minion describes sounds more like animal husbandry. Must make for heart-warming wedding vows. Lacking a collective soul, we all have individual wants and needs. Otherwise, who’d get out of bed ? Your definition doesn’t even strike me as doing justice to the Catholic concept. That people frequently get married and divorced for stupid reasons is another matter, nor is it new. Staying married while loathing the partner may have made for a lower divorce rate, but that’s about it.

    To love and be loved in return is universal, independent of children or sexual orientation. Love can manifest itself in having children (who, ahem, have individual wants and needs)

    Your breeding-centered argument doesn’t even apply. Gay couples can rear (and bear, in the case of lesbians) children – and frequently do. I know 3 gay couples (with 6 doctorates between them. Gay couples’ household income is 80% above the national average) who’ve adopted children from dire (straight) circumstances.

    There being no real reason to bar gay couples from equality other than dislike or disgust, it’s only logical that acceptance is growing daily. Eventually, as with slavery, enough people are convinced of, sometimes shamed into, acceptance. Much like prohibition created vast organized crime, moral and legal shunning of gays created pathologies, whether caused by the NYPD or seminaries.

    Book recommendation: Stonewall, by David Carter.

  19. March 3, 2010 11:47 am

    Ok let me put up a couple of links

    ARKES talks well on this subject and I can recall that this mp3 presentation was really worth listening too

    http://www.eppc.org/conferences/eventID.87/conf_detail.asp

    There are also numerous resources here

    http://www.marriagedebate.com/ssm.php

  20. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 3, 2010 12:04 pm

    The Catholic rite of marriage (I’m class of 06) could be used for gay couples:
    ” I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

    I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

    Sounds like we’re supposed to attend to each others’ wants and needs, no ? :D

    Some may mourn the absence of “obey” from the wife’s part – while she’s not within earshot. Surely if the church could drop that, other “revolutions” are possible ;-)

  21. March 3, 2010 12:16 pm

    I have to agree with MM — same sex marriage is the logical next step in our culture’s drifting vision of what marriage is. Appealing to what marriage “ought to be” versus what marriage in the US *is* inevitably is going to lean on some moral postulates, which explains the phenomenon Kyle observes that arguments against same sex marriage are often derived from scripture or Church documents.

    Given a cultural understanding of marriage as a contractual arrangement between romantically attracted partners, there isn’t a logical reason that same sex couples should be excluded. That’s not the Catholic vision of marriage, but neither is how it is practiced by heterosexual couples currently.


    Your breeding-centered argument doesn’t even apply. Gay couples can rear (and bear, in the case of lesbians) children – and frequently do. I know 3 gay couples (with 6 doctorates between them. Gay couples’ household income is 80% above the national average) who’ve adopted children from dire (straight) circumstances.

    Many family arrangements are capable of bearing and raising children, and do so. Must they also be added to marriage?

    And your household income statistic proves too much. Isn’t the most likely explanation for the higher household income for same-sex couples that most same sex couples do not have children, and thus neither parent needs to compromise their careers to care for children?


    Much like prohibition created vast organized crime, moral and legal shunning of gays created pathologies, whether caused by the NYPD or seminaries.

    This is irrelevant. People are responsible and accountable for their own behavior. Does abuse only happen from marginalized populations? Should we suspect all gays of abuse because they come from a population that is currently marginalized?

    If same sex marriage is a good idea, it’s a good idea. Not because if we don’t, then gays we be marginalized and might abuse people, and we don’t want that to happen…

  22. March 3, 2010 12:19 pm

    I agree with everything that Gerald said above. And I agree with how he presented it.

  23. March 3, 2010 12:20 pm

    “There being no real reason to bar gay couples from equality other than dislike or disgust, it’s only logical that acceptance is growing daily.”

    However are the parties in this “equal” That is hetrosexual couple versus a homosexual couple.

    In fact the term homosexual is a oxymoron as original copy is. The calssic defination of sex demands two genders.

    So for equality the parties have to somewhat similary situated. Are they here?

    In a sense Bill Clinton was very right when he said “I did not have sex with that woman” because he did not have real sex.

    As to “love” are the loves of a borther and sister diminished because they cannot enter into the contract of marraige? Are the loves of two male hetrosexual frioends diminished because they cannot enter into the contract of marriage.

    What makes these “Loves” different from the case of homsexual marraige.

    There could be of course a compromise. That the State could set up a system of the legal benefits of marriage that was not based on the underlying sexual act. That is two older sisters for tax purpose and other reasons could enter this contract just like two gay men could.

    However this goes no where because the Gay Marraige Advocates realize that they would lose the moral anchor and reasoning that opens up all the othet doors

    We are not talking about equality of “Loves” What we are getting at is the need to proclaim that various “sexual acts” are equal which I think to say the least is problematic. I think even among hetrosexual couple there is a belief that there is a difference in what is going on as to some sexual activities theyengage in and true sexual intercourse. We know this. In fact a good bit of John Pauls Theology of the Body(which I think plays a role here in this discussion centers on that “Union”

  24. March 3, 2010 12:28 pm

    Jh,

    The best thing for Catholicism in America would be a healthy dose of social and political alienation. We would all be much better off if we occupied the social marginalization that Muslims currently occupy.

  25. phosphorious permalink
    March 3, 2010 12:49 pm

    I would object to the claim that “marriage” is a specifcally religious (and presumably Christian) phenomenon, and that homosexuality has tradtionally been seen as something quite different than heterosexuality.

    Take Plato’s Symposium as an instance: Aristophanes’ myth of the “doubled humans” describes homosexuality and heterosexuality as a single phenomenon, with a single explanation. Romantic love came in two varieties, but they were the same kind of thing. And, if I remember correctly, both were fertile, heterosexual relations produces children, homsexual relations produce philosophy.

    I’m not saying that the greeks have any special authority here, just that the idea that homosexual relations are of a kind with heterosexual relations is NOT an new-fangled innovation that would have left previous societies scratching their heads. The idea is an old one.

  26. March 3, 2010 12:52 pm

    “Some may mourn the absence of “obey” from the wife’s part – while she’s not within earshot. Surely if the church could drop that, other “revolutions” are possible ;-)”

    Well I am not sure the Church can overthrow the Natural law and Tenology of the body.

  27. March 3, 2010 1:00 pm

    ” lean on some moral postulates, which explains the phenomenon Kyle observes that arguments against same sex marriage are often derived from scripture or Church documents.

    Given a cultural understanding of marriage as a contractual arrangement between romantically attracted partners, there isn’t a logical reason that same sex couples should be excluded. That’s not the Catholic vision of marriage, but neither is how it is practiced by heterosexual couples currently.”

    Absent from this God’s plan and his grace for his planet. I know it seems that this is the most important part of human history because We are currently living in it. However my Faith tells me God is in control and so I don;t think we should be assuming things will just go from bad to worse.

    That being said I think the arguemnt against gay marraige based on Reason can be easily based on things besides Divine Revelation

    One major thing is apparent. That it is very rare in hisotry to see gay ammraige or its equivilant in any culture. Why is there no Gay Marriage in korea? Why is there no gay marraige or its equivialant in those Brazil Indian Tribes we used to find?

    Even in areas where there is some interesting same sex practives (for instance see the current massive confusion USA Military forces are having to deal with by their Afghan borthers in arms) it is seen as different from marriage”

  28. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 1:12 pm

    Thank you all for the comments and the discussion. I’ll have more time to formulate my thoughts later today, but I’d like to respond now to the comments of Curt and Lamont, who challenge the very basis of my questions.

    Curt wrote:

    You present the question with having to deal with
    reason and not religious belief. Is reason ever
    to be separate from faith? This is not a real world
    question, it is an imaginary one. Does truth change?

    It is a real world question, especially as in the real world, not everyone shares everyone else’s religious faith. If you going to persuade someone of another faith or no faith at all that your position on the morality to an action is true, you will need to appeal to reasons they can accept. Furthermore, we approach moral questions from different angles. There’s nothing wrong with considering the morality of gay marriage from the standpoint of reason alone. Reason is one way of approaching the truth. Saying that doesn’t infer that truth changes. Indeed, a Catholic understanding of morality holds that the moral law is accessible to reason: we can arrive at knowledge about morality through the use of reason. Hence the existence of moral and ethical philosophies.

    And? Is the problem with scripture, theology, or
    church documents or society and peoples hearts?

    It’s a fact. Not everyone shares a belief in or the same understanding of scripture, theology, and church documents.

    The way you present the question is flawed,
    it is a pseudo intellectual exercise that
    serves no purpose. Sorry to be so harsh, but
    it is just how I see it.

    Then philosophy serves no purpose and is only a flawed, pseudo-intellectual exercise!

    Lamont wrote:

    The question as state is an example of what is known as a category mistake. If God does not exist and is not a part of the discussion then, why not let people do whatever they want? In other words, SSM is a moral issue only if God has a plan for humanity that extends beyond this life.

    Not true. The attainment of moral knowledge doesn’t require religious faith. There are, after all, atheists and agnostics who speak truthfully and intelligibly about morality. Furthermore, positing the existence of God and a divine plan for humanity doesn’t give us much more of a basis to tell people not to do whatever they want. We can tell them that eternal misery awaits those who live contrary to God’s plan, appealing to their desire for happiness and wellbeing, but that’s basically the same appeal as that of an argument an atheist could make: acting immorally can be shown to lead to a life of misery.

  29. March 3, 2010 1:14 pm

    To follow up on the views expressed by John and MM (the latter of whose thoughts, in my view, Mr. Naus reduces to a much baser meaning than MM intended), I wonder if a few questions about children aren’t important to raise.

    First, would anyone deny that it is the ideal good for a child to grow up with a father and a mother? Or to put it another way, would anyone say that it is the ideal good, or good at all, for any given child to grow up without a father or mother? I ask that question in honesty, and I think this question is more complicated than it first appears on the surface.

    Now, of course, a multitude of children do in fact grow up in single households, or without parents at all. But in this case, the lamentation that often accompanies its recognition indicates that there is within the human heart an inherent intuition that the ideal good is for a child to grow up with a mother and father.

    Some Catholic thinkers argue that even in cases where a child grows up in a single parent household, or without parents, the absence only reinforces what ought to be the case; that is, reinforces the ideal good as the ideal good. They further argue that this is entirely undermined in cases where gay couples either procreate via AI, or adopt a child – in these cases, so these Catholic thinkers argue – there is a denial that the most ideal good for a child is to have a father and a mother. In effect, so the argument goes, gay marriage (assuming marriage is intrinsically bound up with child rearing) asserts in its very structure that having two fathers or mothers is just as good as having a father and a mother.

    A second question: is it the case that this is so? Is it the case that gay marriage in fact asserts that it is just as good to have two fathers or mothers as it is to have a father and a mother? Or does gay marriage still somehow reinforce the idea that it is the ideal good for a child to have both a father and a mother?

    It seems to me that if one is going to advocate the good of gay marriage, one must also advocate another, new, revelation of what is good for a child: namely that it is equally good for a child to have two fathers and no (or minimally involved) mother, or two mothers and no (or minimally involved) father, as it is to have a father and a mother. Otherwise, one tacitly admits that gay marriage is not really and fully marriage.

    My third and final question then is this: do all advocates of gay marriage maintain the above principle, namely, that having two fathers or mothers is just as good as having a father and a mother? This question seems as interesting to discuss as the issue of gay marriage in general.

    Again, it is obviously the case that the ideal is not the fact. However, insofar as the human person is also a teaching/learning creature, and insofar as teaching/learning is also concerned with striving for betterment (and hence implicates ideals), this theoretical side of the issue, it seems to me, is not irrelevant. Thus, it ought not be dismissed by the simple fact that it is an ideal. (After all, is it not ideals that inspire the whole gay marriage movement?)

  30. March 3, 2010 1:21 pm

    Phosphorous

    As to Aristophanes see this thought here

    http://www.gaypatriot.net/2010/01/30/gay-pashtuns-or-social-acceptance-of-homosexual-behavior/

  31. March 3, 2010 1:29 pm

    One other thought on Gay marriage. I think th fact that a huge segement of the gay community until recently was against it is important. It is also important I think to recgnize we are not just seeing a hetrosexual version of it.

    The cat has been partially let more out of the bag recently in Straight circles as to exactly what gay folks mean by marraige

    I encourage all people to read this good Get Religion piece

    See
    Got news? Monogamy and gay unions

    http://www.getreligion.org/?p=25999

    This reality needs to be discussed. What sort of creature are we setting up here. Shall Gay marraige evolve into something very different. How will such a view of “Monogamy” affect traditional marraige and norms. It seems that if we are talking equality that we could see certain causes for Divorces( and the sanctions for it ) such as Adultry disappear.

    Yes I know everyone knows the gay couple that have been together and true to each other for like 40 years. However I have to say among my gay friends I see a lot more of what is in that article.

    What will the effect of that have on society as a whole

  32. March 3, 2010 1:41 pm

    I think Brent presents a straightforward case. In short, the case for same sex marriage must ultimately rest on one of the following premises:

    1. It will not undermine the norm of children being raised by their mother and father.

    2. Than norm is not useful — there is little or no value in children being raised by their mother or father.

    3. The suffering of SSA adults under the current regime outweighs the suffering to children from this norm being undermined.

    The challenge is that people don’t see institutions like marriage as a vehicle to promote norms that may be idealistic, but to set a minimum baseline for what’s acceptable.

    So excluding same sex couples from marriage is seen as declaring same sex couples as unacceptable, rather than an acknowledgement that it represents a less than ideal arrangement for the raising of children.

  33. March 3, 2010 1:45 pm

    It is sort of amusing that on this thread we have all sort of fallen into the error that Gay Advocate groups do.

    Major Gay groups proclaimthat they are equal rights of Gay, lesbain Bisexual, and transgendered people.

    However whenever a Senator gets caught in a bathroom or a minister gets caught in a same sex encounter in a hotel room look how quickly that Bisexual flys out the window.

    What shall we do with this animal and what form of “marriage” can be obtained for them that is equal.

    This brings up the other elephant in the room. That many people over a lifetime differing degrees of same sex attraction.

    Father Scalia I does a wondeful presentation on this and the possible errors we are getting into here at his article “A Label that Sticks”

    One final resource that I will give. Father Scalia did a excellent Theology on Tap Presentation on this in the D.C. area

    That can be listened too here where is there is also a brief overview. He touches on issues that if I recall correctly were not just scriptual or Church pronouncments

    http://courageman.blogspot.com/2009/01/father-scalia-does-tot.html

  34. Chris Sullivan permalink
    March 3, 2010 1:50 pm

    I think the argument is from the Common Good.

    Society has an interest (and an obligation to so do) in promoting and giving special support to heterosexual marriage as the natural institution for the procreation of children and the best environment for raising them.

    Therefore, heterosexual marriage is due a special legal status and protection.

    Other living together arrangements (both homosexual and merely friends living together nonsexually etc) ought to be granted a proper legal status but not that identical to marriage, because of marriage’s special value to children.

    God Bless

  35. March 3, 2010 2:28 pm

    That’s a great summary John (McG), and I’m very curious to hear any responses to it.

  36. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 3, 2010 2:39 pm

    “The best thing for Catholicism in America would be a healthy dose of social and political alienation. We would all be much better off if we occupied the social marginalization that Muslims currently occupy.”

    As always, this topic brings out the viciously depraved.

    “Same-sex intercourse carries the death penalty in five officially Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen. It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in Iraq under a 2001 decree by Saddam Hussein. The legal situation in the United Arab Emirates is unclear. In many Muslim nations, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria or the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines or corporal punishment. In some Muslim-majority nations, such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, or Mali, same-sex intercourse is not forbidden by law. However, in Egypt gays have been the victims of laws against “morality”.

    In Saudi Arabia, the maximium punishment for homosexuality is public execution, but the government will use other punishments, i.e. fines, jail time and whipping as alternatives, unless it feels that homosexuals are challenging state authority by engaging in a gay rights movement. Iran is perhaps the nation to execute the largest number of its citizens for homosexuality. Since its Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4000 people charged with homosexual acts. In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban homosexuality went from a capital crime to one that it punished with fines and prison sentence, and a similar situation seems to have occurred in Iraq.”

  37. March 3, 2010 2:47 pm

    Kyle,
    Of course you can base morality in general on reason alone. The question you raised concerns the moral status of marriage apart from any theological considerations. To consider the moral status of marriage, when presented as a civil contract between two person’s who agree to care for each other; it is roughly the same as asking, what is the moral status of friendship? To try to argue against it by reason alone appears to be an irrational act of sheer prejudice.

    It is only when marriage is understood as preparation for union with God that the complementarity of the sexes becomes the critical factor. It is far better to explain the theology of the body to people, than it is to try and construct an argument that can only make you look stupid.

  38. March 3, 2010 2:59 pm

    Whoa there, Mr. Naus — I may not agree with wj on this topic, but the treatment of homosexuals in “Muslim” nations has nothing to do with his point.

    Plenty of Catholics already want to act as if they are a persecuted religious minority, he’s just saying that it would be a good thing for the Church if they were. The analogy is U.S. Catholics to U.S. Muslims. wj wasn’t analogizing to gay citizens anywhere.

    Why do we have to bring up vicious depravity?

    R

  39. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 3, 2010 3:18 pm

    Apologies to wj, you’re correct, “R”, I misread there. He wrote occupy, not employ. I suffer from PBSD, Post Blogmatic Stress Disorder :)

  40. M.Z. permalink
    March 3, 2010 4:16 pm

    Without rehashing much of the ground above, I’ll add a few more things.
    1) Children have become a social burden rather than a familial burden. Since at least the 60s, the idea of family hasn’t really extended beyond the household anyway. The household has for the most part displaced the family institutionally. One consequence of this is that people look to the household to define themselves. It is unusual to hear a gay man describe himself as being grafted into his spouse’s family, but it is equally unusual for the modern woman to describe herself as having been grafted into her husband’s family.
    2) The controlling authority that decides who is family is no longer a clearly defined partriarch or matriarch. If a person doesn’t get married, he doesn’t have to worry about their live-in friend not being welcome at Christmas. Yes, you will occasionally hear of someone no longer being welcome in a family, but the ability to socially shun nonconformists is largely absent.
    3) The stigma behind waiting until later to marry and have children is gone. You do not hear people socially condemning IVF. Young people that find themselves expecting a child are actively encouraged to have their children adopted and they are most certainly not pushed to wed.

    The biggest problem with these 3 things is that your typical Catholic doesn’t have a problem with any of them. They in fact are likely to call them progress.

  41. Curt permalink
    March 3, 2010 6:06 pm

    I do not understand why you framed the question the way you did. I could cover a lot of ground, but I
    will try to be brief. What is the purpose of vox-nova? I can only tell you about my journey.
    I was raised Catholic, told about God and believed.
    But, I never really gave much thought to Jesus.
    It was just another name like Santa Claus.
    After confirmation, I quit going to church.
    In 1990, I began watching a Protestant channel.
    In just a few weeks time, I had a conversion to
    Christianity. I truly believed in Jesus, the
    power of the Holy Spirit came into my life
    in a very powerful way and gave me the desire
    to be holy. How did this begin? Watching a group
    of men discuss bible verses, realizing life is short,
    they had a joy. They were out of this world,
    unique. I wanted what they had. Do you want people to stop being sexual immoral, stealing, lying,
    xyz,,,, What if you get them to stop? Is that
    the purpose of life? Or is the purpose of life
    to be open to a relationship with God? A positive
    yes, instead of a negative no. People do not want
    to read a document, hear canned speeches. A joy
    filled Christian is what the world needs. You wrote
    people do not have the same faiths, that is true,
    people reject God and Christain beliefs. Just about
    everyone that can tell me of their own conversion
    experience realized they were in a position of
    spiritual poverty. Totally hopeless without
    Christ. You know what? I want people to have
    Jesus. That is why I consider your question
    faulty. I agree philosphy has value, but
    I still maintain this question is a valid as
    sticking your head in a vise just to see what if?

  42. Rodak permalink
    March 3, 2010 6:08 pm

    Christians should be self-marginalized. The problem is that Christians want everything everybody else has, and to be favored by God to boot. Good luck with that. Homosexual marriage is the least of the Christian community’s problems.

  43. Chris C. permalink
    March 3, 2010 6:58 pm

    I agree with those who have made the point that faith and reason are inseparable. Taking the question as presented, the best arguments against it are that, while there may have been such things as Gay relationships in the pagan world, including the preChristian world, there was no legal recogntion of anythinkg resembling gay marriage, or the formalization of a gay relationship. Marriage rites have exisged in one form or another for a long as human history. Not until the present has gay “marriage” even been presented as a theoretical possibility. This suggests a strong natural law argument against legitimizing gay relationships; so called marriage included, without appealing to divine law and revelation.
    A second viable argument, is that if marriage is not, must fundamentally between one man and one woman, there is simply no basis to restrict or define it in any meaningful way whatsover. If desire is thedriving criteria, on what sound philosophical basis should marriage by made limited to 2 and only 2 people? Why not any combination of either gender?
    As to what can be done to stop it, I think that ship has sailed. Our morality at the cultural level has been declining imperceptably, little by litte for a very long time.Sooner or later it will be enshrined into law among that other great legal abomination, abortion.
    Of course, as Catholics, we do believe in the power of prayer. That however takes us clearly into the realm of faith and not reason.

  44. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:14 pm

    I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme in the comments so far that the arguments against gay marriage need to defend an understanding of marriage that binds the meaning of marriage intrinsically to the procreation of children. In this reading, if marriage doesn’t include such in its meaning, then there doesn’t seem to be a strong case against gay marriage. I’m inclined to agree with this line of thought. The question, then, is whether an argument appealing to reason can be made that marriage includes this meaning and should always include this meaning. That marriage has meant this doesn’t infer that marriage should mean this, at least not if we take the naturalistic fallacy seriously. What metaphysical or moral argument can be made that our society should define marriage only in a way that binds its meaning to the procreation of children?

  45. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:14 pm

    Lamont,

    If I understand you correctly, your position is that a sufficient case against gay marriage cannot be made without including a religiously-informed understanding of marriage as preparation for union with God. If this is the case, then do not those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds seek to enshrine their religious understanding of marriage in civil law? It would seem that they do. How can there be religious freedom when the civil law is used by religious people to institutionalize their religious beliefs?

  46. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:14 pm

    Curt,

    I want people to know Jesus as well, and I certainly have no qualms about proclaiming the Good News to those who do not know it or do not believe it. Nor do I object to people opposing the idea of gay marriage on religious grounds. After all, from the Catholic standpoint on marriage, gay marriage doesn’t make any sense. My motivation for this post is not to speak against evangelization, but to explore whether or not opponents of gay marriage have a rational basis to oppose gay marriage in our secular society—because if they do not have such a basis, then they would seem to be fashioning the secular law to fit what they hold on religious grounds to be the moral law. I don’t see how people can do this and still maintain religious freedom. If I seek to shape the law according to my religious beliefs, I cannot logically object to people of other faiths seeking to do the same.

  47. Josh Brockway permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:23 pm

    “Homosexual marriage is the least of the Christian community’s problems.”

    Amen Rodak.

  48. March 3, 2010 7:34 pm

    With respect to the issue pertaining to the methodology of the post, which a few have challenged on the grounds that, e.g., religion and reason cannot be so easily separated, some thoughts are worth noting.

    First, I am myself sympathetic to the idea that there is a universal set of rational principles that all agree upon (identity, non-contradiction etc.). This would seem in fact to allow us to find that set of universal principles – namely, reason – enabling a conversation about gay marriage that does not make direct appeal to transcendent principles of revelation.

    However, too much scholarly work has been done in the last 20 years or so to merit a bit more reflection on this view. (MacIntyre e.g.).

    The idea that reason is a universal a priori, established outside of communities of practice, already privileges a wholly modern, rationalist enlightenment view of reason, forged largely by Kant and his legacy. Kantian reason, and all modern reason for the most part, sees itself as autonomous from the dogmatic precepts of faith. But this is only one story, and one that is by no means the most influential even in a supposedly “secular” society like the US.

    Still, even if we were to grant that Kantian, autonomous reason were the predominant way of understanding reason as such, limiting a discussion to this is in many ways as arbitrary as saying that we should discuss the issue in the context of Christian thought.

    Now, that said, I have no problem at all approaching the gay marriage issue from the perspective of (Modern, autonomous) reason; though I do think one is far more limited given the anemic mode of reason to which it appeals. I do, however, have a problem with the assumption that this is somehow a category more universal than faith traditions, or that this kind of reason is by default what all human beings share in common.

    Kantian reason is, in my view, no more beneficial to shaping society than, say, Thomistic reason, or any other mode of reasoning that is disciplined by the principles of a transcendent faith. In fact, I am greatly sympathetic to the views expressed, e.g., in Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory, arguing that not only are the social sciences unaware of their own theological assumptions and impulses, but that Christian theology has shaped social discourse and must therefore have an equal voice in the continued shaping of society.

    So long as one is aware that the limitation of the discussion to ‘reason’ still privileges a particular narrative or discourse, I for one have no problem with it.

    But I would question the assumption that most US citizens agree on this narrative as a normative structure for thinking.

  49. March 3, 2010 7:49 pm

    That marriage has meant this doesn’t infer that marriage should mean this, at least not if we take the naturalistic fallacy seriously.

    I think a respect for the common opinion of mankind should lead us to suspect that such a widely held belief does have a firm foundation. When I see widely varying cultures and times treating something in the same way, I suspect the operation of a common wisdom rather than a common fallacy. The whole of mankind can get something wrong, to be sure, but when I found myself at odds with all of history and a diversity of cultures, I always suspect that I am the one who got it wrong, and not everybody else.

    Or is the purpose of life
    to be open to a relationship with God?

    I can’t answer that question because I have no idea what it means. But this I know: Christ is not some utility for our personal benefit, and nowhere does scripture ask me to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. What it does ask me to do is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love my neighbor, etc. No one can claims to love Christ if he does not do these things; the only way to be open to God is to be open to our neighbor. My personal experience of people who claim a personal relationship with God is that they always use this “relationship” to validate whatever it is they wanted to do anyway.

  50. March 3, 2010 8:04 pm

    As long-time readers of this blog know, I am a gay man in a committed relationship.

    I’ll try answering Kyle’s question from what would convince me that the granting of legally equal recognition to myself and my husband as married would be unjust and harmful to others.

    A few things, first, however:

    1) monogamous marriage is neither a Jewish nor a Christian institution. Luther even endorsed polygamy in one particular instance because, as anyone can see, the Bible does not prohibit it. As I teach my students, monogamy is good old-fashioned pagan morality.

    2) The sacrament of marriage is the elevation of a human legal institution above the natural level. Marriage per se, as a rearing ritual devised by humans to guide the potentially very destructive desires of their children and ultimately of one another, need not reflect the union of God and humanity. That is a matter of revelation. To argue from biological reproduction (as does George et al.) is not to argue from the full array of being human with desires, feelings, emotions, and a personal sense of freely, deliberately chosen ends as mediate, yet still mediating a sense of the ultimate. In other words, the failure of gay men and lesbian to reproduce biologically is not an argument against the ability of them, together, to reach their fullest human potential. George merely reduces humans to their biological potential, which seems to me a bit of a disservice to what we are.

    What needs proving, to my mind, is two-fold:

    1) Gay and lesbian people are sick. We are not a naturally occurring variant of human sexuality. All human sexuality is flawed and in need of guidance. We’re all fallen. The question, however, is whether same-sex desires are inherently destructive. To prove sickness, harm needs to be shown to the individual. A person with pica might want to drink lead-based paint, but that will cause harm. If gay and lesbian people are healthy, mentally and physically, are not disqualified from any job in the public or private sector by mere same-sex attraction, then what constitutes our illness? The absence of a good (in this case, reproduction) does not mean the absence of all good. Furthermore, as many previous posts have pointed out, reproduction isn’t nor has it even been the only thing that marriage is about.

    2) Real harm must come from the very recognition of the illness as a variant of what it means to be healthy. Redefinition of normal will call for adjustment, but adjustment is not harm. That a group, once deeming itself not just the norm but natural, must have to adjust to seeing itself as merely a majority does not constitute harm. The white majority in the US has created a world that best serves white people, and everywhere men have created a world that best serves men. Letting others in as full participants has created much stress amongst whites and males, but a larger pool of competitors does not constitute harm.

    In fact, psychological “normal” can create a lot of problems. If you work in schools, perhaps you know all the literature on the development of racial identity in teenagers and how much more stressful being a minority can be for young people as they try to “find themselves. Being robbed of the sense that one’s desires and attractions are natural is something most gay and lesbian people of my generation went through. Being told we were sick was the corollary of the statement that heterosexual is what God intends. (See Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal).

    Far greater harm, however, comes from failing to recognize that being gay or lesbian is a part of one’s pysche; that it goes just as deep as any straight person’s desires. The failure to recognize this, of simply being willing to admit that we are, that we exist, and that we have a right to be seen and heard for what we have to say for ourselves, is both a denial of our humanity and an admission of great discomfort with difference. To create a world where naturally occurring, non-harming, difference is punished is, in my eyes, the real sickness.

    If, however, this is what you believe, namely that God intends all to be straight, then say it, pass laws, and follow through with it: “God is a being (I know that’s theologically incorrect) that doesn’t want there to be any gay or lesbian people; It means for all of us to be straight, and so something is wrong with non-straight people. We must pass laws that make God’s will effective.” To me, this is no different from passing laws that make black people have to sit at the back of a bus in order to create whiteness.

    We are different, just as men and women are different, and whites and blacks and others are different, but do we make laws specially suited to enforce difference as a deficit to one group and an advantage to another? Isn’t the law supposed to fight against such things? Hindu temples, synagogues, Baptist churches, and Catholic churches, etc. are different institutions, but do we make different laws that enshrine those differences, so that the majority can use the powers of a different institution, the state, to enforce themselves as morally superior and thus entitled to greater rights and breaks in life?

  51. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 8:09 pm

    If I may quote an old message of my own . . .

    John L. McKenzie, in Dictionary of the Bible says:

    Marriage in Israel was neither a religious nor a public concern; it was a private contract, and it is this conception which leaves so little room for it in Hb law, which deals only with the exceptional cases. The contracting parties were not the bride and groom but the families, i.e., the fathers of the spouses; the brothers of the bride had the disposal of the girl if the father were dead.

    That was the kind of marriage Jesus knew and spoke of. It’s certainly not our idea of marriage today.

    People talk about marriage today as if it were an institution that hadn’t changed since prehistory. Even marriage within the Church is relatively recent (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries).

  52. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 8:18 pm

    Two random thoughts . . . .

    First, whether a child is better off being raised by a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple is open to empirical investigation. So far, I don’t believe there is research to show children are worse off in a stable home with heterosexual parents than in a stable home with two males or two females. On the other hand, we know it is a disadvantage to live with only a single parent. And according to a CNN article, “While 28 percent of white women gave birth out of wedlock in 2007, nearly 72 percent of black women and more than 51 percent of Latinas did.” And people are worried about same-sex marriage!!!

    Second, many people seem to assume that if gay marriage is widely accepted, gay people will make marriage less monogamous. Nobody seems to think marriage will make gay people more monogamous.

  53. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:03 pm

    Brendan Sammon,

    A hit! A hit! I do confess. And here I stand, faithful son of Derrida, using language much too akin to a rationalistic modernist. How the postmodern papist has fallen. ;-)

  54. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:07 pm

    John C. Médaille,

    I get respecting the common wisdom of mankind. I only meant to note that one falls prey to the naturalistic fallacy by deriving and “ought” from an “is.”

  55. Kevin permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:09 pm

    David,

    Jesus quotes Genesis 1:27, “male and female he created them” as the ideal marriage. He was referring to this as the ideal marrige, that is one man and one women in the Garden of Eden united by and with God. He criticized the contemporary(to His time) Jewish marriage situation in Matthew 19:3-12.

  56. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 9:17 pm

    ES,

    Thank you for commenting and bringing a thought-out alternative voice to the discussion. I want to give your points and questions some thought before I answer so that I can give, I hope, a worthy response. I’ll try to reply in more detail later this evening.

  57. March 3, 2010 10:10 pm

    ES,

    Your post assumes a norm to marriage, which may be part of our culture, but is not Catholicism, as evidenced by things like the celibate clergy.

    Because Peyton Manning can throw a football better than I can, there are opportunities open to him that are closed to me, and he receives compensation, endorsement oppurtunities, etc. that I don’t.

    Does this mean that I am “sick?” No. Are those who deny me the same opportunities that are open to Peyton Manning logically compelled to throw me in jail? Certainly not. Is this denial indicative of reducing me to my throwing ability? No. But my throwing ability is what matters in determining whether I can be an NFL quarterback. And procreation is part of what determines if a couple is a marriage.

    I understand that opposition to same sex marriage would be hurtful to those who are same sex attracted. But it does not mean we do not want you to be heard, and all the other things you lob out there. It just mean that your relationship is not the same as a heterosexual marriage, and asking me to pretend otherwise is to ask me to lie.

  58. Dan permalink
    March 3, 2010 10:23 pm

    I think we need to realize that gay marriage is very much a social experiment without experimental evidence. Keep in mind that virtually none of the proponents of gay marriage were actually raised by a gay couple. We can speculate all we want on the effects of gay marraige on children and society, but until we have a few generations of empirical evidence, we will not know.

    Personnaly, having been raised without a father myself, I can point to serious issues I have in my current life which are very much caused by the absence of a male role model growing up. Nobody can convince me that it is equal for a child to be raised in an environment where that role model will not be present. A child needs a male and female role model to understand their own gender identity and the proper way to relate to the world.

    And frankly, I find it offensive that people focus so much on the “love” and “equality” of the couple, as if it were all about them. Of course, all these people think is that a child needs “love”. That’s hogwash. A child needs love and a proper understanding of their gender identity, which they CANNOT get from homosexual parents.

    If you want a gay marriage that precludes adoption, then I agree that based on modern understandings of marriage, there is little argument against it. If you want to bring children into the equation, it is a different ballgame and I would oppose that vehemently based on my experience. And I would suggest that an examination of those who have been raised in environments similar to mine would agree with me.

  59. March 3, 2010 10:36 pm

    Here is one possible argument:

    1.) Marriages must be consummated
    2.) Consummation requires male-female sexual activity.

    The first is uncontroversial. Consummation is, at least as integral to marriage as consent, of not more so.

    For the second, I’d point out that consummation is sexual union. It’s sex that unifies. How does sex unify? If our feelings or emotions are what are unified, then the sex is not necessary to effect the union- but everyone agrees that it is.

    The only way I see sex as unifying (and not our feelings, etc) is if a man and woman mate. In doing so, they form a single reproductive entity. The answer to the question “what reproduces” is a mated man-woman pair, not simply any one person alone. Notice this is true irrespective of whether either is actually able to reproduce (there is no impediment to the elderly or infertile getting married, so long as they can consummate their marriage) Man-woman mating still forms a single entity in a rigorous, biological sense. This alone allows for consummation.

    (I suppose that one could counter that there are true Josephite marriages, where both parties are celibates, as was the case for the parents of Jesus. This, however, would move the topic over to asking what the New Testament thought about gay marriage, which is a much weaker position for gay marriage advocates to argue from. And you wanted natural arguments anyway.)

  60. March 3, 2010 10:46 pm

    Kyle, I plead guilty as charged to what you call the “naturalistic fallacy.” Hume notwithstanding, I know of nothing other than the “is” from which to derive the “ought,” or indeed, to derive anything. I will not separate the ontological from the deontological, nor treat the good, the true, and the beautiful as anything other than aspects of being.

  61. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 10:47 pm

    And procreation is part of what determines if a couple is a marriage. . . . .

    Whether or not a couple has — or even is able to have — children is certainly not a test for whether they are married. And we are close to a point (if we haven’t reached it already) where the majority of children are born out of wedlock. It seems to me any argument resting on the idea that marriage must be about procreation would exclude from marriage couples who can’t (or won’t) have children.

    I don’t think it will do to make arguments against same-sex marriage based on some ideal of marriage that does not exist today. The question, it seems to me, is the following: Given the institution of marriage as we have it today in the United States, what argument can be made against allowing same-sex couples to marry? We are, after all, talking about changing marriage laws in the United States. So it seems to me the arguments against same-sex marriage have to be about marriage in the United States, not in the Garden of Eden. (I am not sure that it makes sense, actually, to argue that Adam and Eve were married.)

  62. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:12 pm

    It just mean that your relationship is not the same as a heterosexual marriage, . . . .

    My question here would be which heterosexual marriage? Elizabeth Taylor’s third marriage (to Mike Todd)? Liza Minnelli’s fourth marriage (to David Gest)? Once again, if you are going to set up some ideal of heterosexual marriage and compare individual same-sex marriages to that ideal, you have to compare individual heterosexual marriages to that ideal as well. Would you honestly argue that a same-sex couple who has been together 35 years and offer each other love and support is “inferior” to Liza Minnelli’s last marriage?

  63. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:17 pm

    Because Peyton Manning can throw a football better than I can . .

    But in a world obsessed with football, where 95 percent of the men could throw like Peyton Manning, your inability to throw like Peyton Manning would be seen quite differently than it is in this world.

  64. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:22 pm

    A child needs love and a proper understanding of their gender identity, which they CANNOT get from homosexual parents.

    Dan,

    If this is true, then psychological studies should be able to demonstrate it. Please cite some.

  65. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:27 pm

    EC,

    Do you think it might be possible to prove the points you say need proving? I’m far from convinced that proving those are the only avenues available to those who seek to show why society shouldn’t support gay marriage, but, assuming for argument’s sake that they are, could one conceivably show that same-sex desires are inherently destructive, etc.? What sort of evidence would you consider admissible and what evidence would you claim to be irrelevant?

  66. David Nickol permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:36 pm

    Here is one possible argument:

    1.) Marriages must be consummated
    2.) Consummation requires male-female sexual activity.

    James,

    Please note the following:

    Most states consider a couple to be married when the ceremony ends. Lack of subsequent sexual relations does not automatically affect the validity of the marriage, although in some states non-consummation could be a basis for having the marriage annulled.

  67. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:51 pm

    John,

    If someone were to say “I am homosexual; therefore, I should be homosexual,” I would call that line of reasoning fallacious. The “I should” doesn’t follow from the “I am.” The same fallacy is at play in the statement, “Marriage has historically been defined as x; therefore, it should always be defined as x.” Of course, there may be sound reason to define marriage as x and only as x, but I don’t think one can logically make the leap from the “is x” or “has been x” to the “ought always to be x” without first establishing premises that show why x is the way it has to be. Looking at a religious argument, for example: if marriage was instituted by God for the purposes of spousal unity and the procreation of children (two becoming one), then believers of this understanding of marriage have a logical basis on which to deny the possibility of gay marriage and to insist, at least among themselves, that these two purposes are essentially bound to the meaning of marriage. Because we’re talking about essential purpose, the “ought” is bound to the “is” in a way that I don’t find fallacious. The question I’m exploring (perhaps not well) is whether or not we can arrive through reason at a sound conclusion that the meaning of marriage ought to be bound to procreation of children. If we can, then opponents of gay marriage have a non-religious basis on which establish or strengthen such a meaning of marriage in civil law.

  68. March 4, 2010 12:05 am

    Kyle, a watch ought to keep good time; that is part of the being of a watch. A watch that does not do so is a bad watch; that which does is a good one. The telos of a thing arises from its being; it can have no other source, and we may examine its function according to this telos. Now, whether homosexuality is well-suited to the ends of man (and no puns here, please) is a matter that can be debated. But the debate must rest in the nature of man, of marriage, of sexuality, and of the purposes of these things. There is no other source of the “ought,” no free-floating platonic ought divorced from actual realities. Here alone the debate begins and ends.

  69. grega permalink
    March 4, 2010 12:12 am

    Oh man JohnMcG is this the best you can do in responds to ES genuine, smart and heartfelt post?
    So we heterosexuals are the Peyton Mannings of this world – how humble of you/us.
    In my view it is rather telling when smart folks like yourself run out of real arguments and instead have to resort to not particular convincing mental constructs to hide behind.
    In my view gay marriage and full acceptance of homosexuality as a genuine expression of human sexuality is a done deal – future generations will look at this issue like we look at slavery today – what took them so long they will ask-unfortunately we can not rest – plenty of other things to worry about in a world with a large majority of poor and starving fellow humans. For me the more interesting question for us is: What is the terrible injustice flying under the radar right now (for all of us). The type of thing that future generations will wonder ‘How could they miss that?’

  70. Curt permalink
    March 4, 2010 12:14 am

    I realize I gave the most unintellectual answer,
    perhaps some would call it “hick” ,”wishful thinking”, “bible thumper”. But the church exists to evangelize. If it fails at that, does anything else really matter?

  71. March 4, 2010 6:48 am

    John McG,

    The argument from analogy with football does not apply. Access to legal recognition and equal status of a relationship within the state of one’s citizenship is not based on a competition of physical excellence and stamina. Sports are about skill sets; finding a healthy and helpful arrangement for human living that accords dignity and recognition based on the reality of what we are is not about exclusion of minorities who aren’t “as good as” or “as competitive as” the majority.

    Straight society has whittled the qualifications for marriage down such that it can be a larger, more capacious category of coupling than it has been. Now, some wish to retrench and heighten the ramparts to assert some sort of difference from the non-reproductive, while it keeps the state’s benefits of marriage for itself. Taking away, for straight people, the need to reproduce to qualify as married, and then throwing it in the face of a gay or lesbian couple is what many have been doing. It’s like Jim Crow laws.

    I am not hurt by the assertion or recognition of difference. If you read the last paragraph of my previous post, I think that you will that I do not have a problem with recognizing that difference per se is not the problem. The question is whether marriage can become a genus of relationships (not theologically but, as the original question asks, civilly) rather than something just for straight people. The question is whether the state, in its duty to protect its citizens from harm, should hold the difference between straight and same-sex coupling as of such significance that the latter should be barred from equal status.

    Kyle,

    As for the demonstration of harm: I do not know of harm that my sexual orientation causes either to myself or to others. I do not know of harm that my husband and I cause by our life together. This is what needs to be shown to me.

  72. March 4, 2010 8:09 am

    I know that what I’m going to say next is always said in this context, and I’m sure that a stock response is ready in the wings, but here goes anyway: if we are going to deny marriage to homosexuals because their marriage cannot produce offspring, do we not also have to deny marriage to any individual who is infertile, for whatever reason? And wouldn’t we also have to dissolve unions found to be infertile after the fact? “I’m sorry Mr. Jones, but Mrs. Jones is irreversably sterile. I’m going to have to report this to Marriage Central. You’d best begin making the necessary arrangements.”
    In fact, there is no non-religious definition of marriage as “one man, one woman, for the purpose of procreation.” There is not even any single religious definition of marriage. How many wives did you say Solomon had, again? Marriage was first a matter of property rights, and is–still today–finally a matter of property rights, whether it was formed in a religious or in a civil ceremony. Just ask any divorce lawyer.
    I don’t think that anyone is proposing that the federal government require the Catholic Church, or any other church, to marry homosexuals. All that is being asked–or demanded–is that the Catholic Church, and any other church, not prevent homosexuals from being married where they can be married.
    If, however, the Catholic Church, or any other church, would like to given up its status as a religious institution and register as a political party, thereafter to follow the rules pertaining to political parties, then it would be able to interfere in the lives of non-Catholic citizens in the same way that the Democratic party or the Republican party can attempt to interfere in the lives of non-Democratic or Republican citizens. All you would need to give up to do that is God.

  73. March 4, 2010 8:15 am

    Btw, I think that what someone says is “I am homosexual; therefore I am homosexual.” It is something given by nature; it is not a choice. There is now, and apparently always has been, a fairly consistent percentage of persons in any given population born with a same-sex orientation. It may well be a matter of natural law.

  74. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 4, 2010 8:36 am

    John,

    I agree that the telos of a thing arises from its being; its “ought” is implicit in its “is.” When we’re speaking of a telos, we’re not deducing an “ought” from an “is” so much as pointing out that the “ought” is an already present aspect of the “is.” The question, then, is can we offer proof that human sexuality has a telos and that its telos is and can only be what we say it is?

  75. Ronald King permalink
    March 4, 2010 9:40 am

    Well it seems that we are missing the influence of the interpersonal neurobiology of attachments within the limbic system of the mammalian brain and how the prefrontal cortex of the neocortex of the human brain creates belief systems to support these powerful primitive signals.
    Every major human social system, philosophy and theology is based on the interpretation of these signals. As far as adult bonding is concerned marriage is the outcome of the males’ objectification of the female and the desire to create security of ownership which is the result of several neurotransmitters released during the mating rituals that create an overwhelming sense of reward and attraction to the female. What is significant for the male in this mating is the increase of testosterone which enhances his drive for more reward chemistry and increases his desire to control the object of his desire. In other words, he becomes more predatory in his actions with a strategy that gives him the best chance for success. If he is not taught empathy early in his life then it is up to his mate to teach him this new feeling and behavior. This would be new emotional learning and what we know to be true is that the protein that responsible for new emotional learning is scarce after the age of 25.

    In other words, every system we have is based on subjective influences and supported by “objective” beliefs.
    There is too much to explain here. However, same sex marriage seems to be the human beings’ desire to be validated as being valued and having value in a culture that is the result of primitive drives for security and predictability in order to maintain a sense of control in a reality where we have no control.

  76. March 4, 2010 10:03 am

    ES,

    I agree that straight society has whittled down the requirements for marriage, which is why I’m somewhat ambivalent about efforts against same sex marriage. I think they are somewhat imprudent, and I can certainly understand why some would see them as purely motivated by bigotry.

    Still, I think the notion that children should be raised by their mother and father is worth preserving. There may be better ways to preserve this than opposing same sex marriage, but I do think that establishing it continues and locks in the whittling away of this norm that has already happened.

  77. March 4, 2010 10:04 am

    Rodak I am having problems with copying and pasting here but this is reference to the last two paragrapsh of the comment you made at 8:09 am

    First I think people need to be quite aware of what is at stake here. The issue is not if the Catholic Church will be required or required to marry Homosexuals or bi sexuals or people with varying degrees of same sex attractions.

    The big issue as to religious liberty is what happens when this Fundamental right is enshrined. There will be all sort of laws to further that right and to change peoples attitudes toward homosexuality. This is just how things are done. Further there will be laws that will go and sanction a good bit of private Conduct. This is not a Libertarian Fansasy land here where everyone can do what they want. There will not be a LIVE AND LET LIVE attitude by the gay marriage advocates. This is how these things work.

    Second, As to your last comments. Should the Catholic Church now just sit on the sidelines and say nothing about abortion, Euthanasia, State execution, racism, immigration, and a million different issues? Why do people get upset over abortion and gay marraige and th4 Church making their view known but all this other stuff is ok. Maybe you don’t think it is ok. However I don’t think the First amendment anywhere comes close to saying the Church cannot be involved in those issues

  78. March 4, 2010 10:54 am

    jh–
    I think you’d better take another look at both the first amendment and the basis of the tax-exempt status of the churches.

  79. Dan permalink
    March 4, 2010 11:22 am

    “If this is true, then psychological studies should be able to demonstrate it. Please cite some.”

    Me. I think that’s about as empirical as it can get. Were you raised without a father? If not, I hardly think you’re as qualified as I am to understand the nuances of a life can be impacted by not having a proper male role model in my life. I don’t think

    I will also turn the tables on you and ask the same question in reverse. If your postulate is true, then there should be enough empirical evidence to demonstrate it. Please cite some.

  80. March 4, 2010 11:23 am

    Again, just to pose a few questions, not out of the spirit of contention, but out of the spirit of trying to think through this issue.

    To Mr. Nickol:

    First:

    I don’t think it will do to make arguments against same-sex marriage based on some ideal of marriage that does not exist today.

    Why is it acceptable for gay marriage proponents to advocate the cause of gay marriage based on “some ideal of marriage that does not exist today,” (which is de facto the case otherwise there is no cause at all) but it is unacceptable for opponents to do so? Is it not hypocritical to allow one side to argue from their idealism but to deny to the other?
    Moreover, isn’t the whole conversation, which aspires to create a more ideal situation for marriage, rooted in ideas on both sides?

    Second:

    First, whether a child is better off being raised by a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple is open to empirical investigation. So far, I don’t believe there is research to show children are worse off in a stable home with heterosexual parents than in a stable home with two males or two females.

    You are the first on this stream to answer that question in this way, and I cannot fault your answer with respect to the conditions in which you frame it. Empirical data is certainly important, I agree. But I don’t think anyone in this discussion is a pure empiricist (indeed, ‘pure empiricism’ is not possible since the choice to absolutize empirical evidence cannot itself be determined by empirical evidence. But I digress.)

    I say this in order to suggest that one need not appeal only to empirical data to make a strong argument. One can appeal to something like the nature of a phenomenon. Now certainly it is a mistake to univocally reduce the identity of a thing’s nature to one vision of it, precluding any new visions or insight from enabling us to see a thing’s nature more clearly. But it is equally a mistake to refuse any discrete, integral identity to the nature of a phenomenon.

    So while empirical evidence would indeed be important to understanding the best conditions for raising a child, we may also look to the nature of child rearing, the nature of what is involved in ‘giving a child life’.

    My question to you is: if we grant, as you do (at least as a possibility), that having two mothers or fathers is just as ideal as having a father and mother, does this not reduce child bearing to the kind of ‘animal husbandry’ that Mr. Naus so vehemently protested? Let me explain.

    Animal husbandry involves breeding animals with a rather open view of the end of this breeding. Some are bred for food, others for racing, others for work etc.
    The point is, in such husbandry, the act of biological procreation is entirely cut off from the act of raising the animal; the emphasis is on the biological components of birthing rather than the whole of raising the offspring. Now in the case of animals, this may not be such a big deal (though, those of us sympathetic to a Wendel Berry type world would see it as a big deal).

    But in the case of human beings, I wonder if one can so easily divorce the act of biological procreation from the act of child rearing. In other words, the act of procreation includes all of the following: the biological act of intercourse, the carrying to term of the child AND the continued raising of the child.

    If one agrees with this principle, then one necessarily admits that the ideal for any child is both a mother and a father since the mother and father are required – by necessity of nature – in the initial steps.

    To put it another way: if divine law has ordained that life is given only through a male and female, and if this is not reduced to the biological process of birthing only but includes the whole bringing about of life, then the ideal must also include the father and mother at all stages of the act of bringing about life.

    To suggest that after the life is biologically created – that is, after the baby has emerged – the mother and father are no longer necessary for its fullest good, is to either concede a form of breeding that is akin to animal husbandry, or to enact a direct rebellion against the divine ordination of things.

    Again, we are talking about ideals here, so pointing out the facts association with how far we all fall from this ideal does little good unless one is willing to concede that gay marriage also falls short of this ideal.

    But that is not the position you took. You in fact asserted that it may possibly be just as ideal for a child to have two fathers or two mothers as it is for a child to have both.

    Now, I pose these questions as one who is ambivalent on this issue. And I am very much interested in hearing both sides. I don’t believe empirical evidence is the final deciding factor, since given the radical contingency of human existence, empirical data refers to a sphere of almost unlimited factors. No science can rely solely on empirical data, but rather, in order to function, infer various laws from the data collected.

  81. Dan permalink
    March 4, 2010 11:31 am

    Sorry, sentence fragment in the post above. Fat fingers.

    The arguments here are all about procration, and if the arguments are centered around procreation alone, they are insufficient (just as arguments about love, etc..).

    The real issue is the RAISING of children. Gay marriage is similar to state-endorsed gay adoption, or single-parent adoption. All of which put a child in a position of serious disadvantage.

    Further to David’s inquiry above, I will pose the question: How could a heterosexual daughter, raised by two women, understand how to relate to men when she comes of age and encounters a totally different relational system than she has ever seen in her day to day life? Better yet, how could two male parent be qualified to explain the complexities of a woman’s body as their daughter enters her teenage years?

    The relationship is fundamentally defective when it comes to raising children. Of course, the argument will be made that a loving homosexual parent set is superior to a dysfunctional heterosexual parent set. While that’s likely true, as a society there is something dreadfully wrong if we structure our society around an arrangement that is not in the best interest of our children and future generations. We have an obligation to strive for the ideal, not accept something fundamentally defective because of the problems with some concrete implementations of the ideal.

    The whole crux of any argument for or against gay marriage needs to consider the well being of the children brought up in such environments.

  82. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 4, 2010 12:47 pm

    Standard procreation has no qualifications, in fact the least qualified usually procreate the most. Adoption, on the other hand, is a highly scrutinizing process. I’d say the average adoptive parent is more qualified than the average birth parent, since a filter is applied to the former. As far as gender is concerned, much of it is mere societal construct.

    Interestingly, blacks and Latinos, featuring skyhigh out of wedlock birth rates, oppose gay marriage far more than whites. In those communities, coming out is also far more difficult, often even dangerous.

    Dan, your imaginative powers need some expanding. Explaining “the complexities of a woman’s body” is not that difficult, nor is the body that complex – or mysterious. Not to mention that ideals are dangerous. Visit a state-run group home sometime and tell the kids they can’t be adopted. Then, visit them in prison a few years later.

    By your logic, hetero parents couldn’t and shouldn’t raise a homosexual child. Couples are couples, what gender they have is really not that important. Spend some time with gay couples. They’re really not different, except interior decoration will be superior ;-)

  83. M.Z. permalink
    March 4, 2010 1:25 pm

    Standard procreation has no qualifications, in fact the least qualified usually procreate the most.

    Generally women determine who’s qualified to procreate with them. (Men certainly have choice in the matter, but a woman’s choice is determinative.) I would say that they are generally well-qualified to make the choice. Certainly there are instances of discretion lacking, but I wouldn’t hold that against the general population.

    I’d say the average adoptive parent is more qualified than the average birth parent.

    There are several problems with this. For starters, adoptive parent population is miniscule compared to the birth parent population. While it follows that people in the NBA are better basketball players than the general population, the fact that we are evaluating this based on average isn’t the significant factor. If we want to host 10,000 basketball games in one day, we are going to get a better outcome doing so using the general population than by using the population of NBA players. For if we tried to do so using NBA players, we’d either have to significantly change what playing a basketball game means or what being an NBA player means in order to accomplish our goal. That doesn’t mean a couple of NBA teams playing basketball can’t be part of our general population attempting to play 10,000 games in one day. It menas they can’t and shouldn’t be seen as normative.

    [communities] featuring skyhigh out of wedlock birth rates, oppose gay marriage far more than whites.

    Rather than being interesting or ironic, it may be causal. In the white community, there is significant support to ameliorate the consequences of out of wedlock birth. That they are ameliorated is often confused to mean that they aren’t there.

  84. M.Z. permalink
    March 4, 2010 1:25 pm

    In the end, this is why I believe gay marriage advocates do not truly want marriage as much as they want to get rid of marriage.

  85. March 4, 2010 1:37 pm

    Kyle, we are effectively saying the same thing, I think, but I am not inclined to adopt the language Hume, since it divorces the moral order from the ontological order.

  86. March 4, 2010 1:56 pm

    There is a Light on in the Vatican Window for all the world to see……
    This is why there is Church Teachings on Homosexuality.
    In RCIA I learned that Catechism of the Catholic Church is Subject to scripture, not the other way arround, so let us start with the Catechism and see what scripture it takes us to. Lets Keep it simple.

    http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art6.shtml

    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357
    Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358
    The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359
    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

  87. March 4, 2010 2:26 pm

    Rodak

    I have looked at the First amendment and the basis of the tax empetion of Chruches.

    Neeldess to say almost every major Faith community has some sort of Lobby and the Supreme court has upheld challenges to it.

  88. March 4, 2010 2:31 pm

    Gerald,

    A few questions for you:

    Standard procreation has no qualifications, in fact the least qualified usually procreate the most.

    I wonder how you judge who is and is not qualified to procreate. Unless of course, you claim that teenagers, who might fit the bill, are the ones procreating the most (which is simply false). So I am genuinely curious about your own criteria.

    Currently, I’m reading Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak all about the eugenics movement in the US and how it greatly influenced the Nazi extermination machine. The elites in the US at the time believed that they could rid the population of those deemed unfit through sterilization, segregation and even euthenasia. Comments like yours run rampant across the pages of the (pseudo)scientists who also attempted to render such judgments. Should your statement be grouped thus, or can you offer reasons to justify it?

    Adoption, on the other hand, is a highly scrutinizing process. I’d say the average adoptive parent is more qualified than the average birth parent, since a filter is applied to the former.

    I think that this comment ought to be considered more deeply also. Are we to believe that some heady systematic process of abstract criteria is more capable of determining how good a parent will be than the heart-felt process of entering into a marriage? Sure, there are going to be mistakes on both sides: people rush into marriage as easily as they rush into adoption. But to suggest that some filter created by organizations whose interests also include making money are better at determining the quality of parents is a rather myopic view.

    Explaining “the complexities of a woman’s body” is not that difficult, nor is the body that complex – or mysterious. Indeed. Spoken like a man. I have a whole line of women willing to contest your claim here.

    Not to mention that ideals are dangerous. Yes, when it comes to inhibiting action, they are (as your example indicates). But this discussion is – as Kyle has instructed – to be done on the grounds of reason alone. Ideals are quite reasonable to include in such a discussion. Further, I’ll echo what I wrote above: why are proponents of gay marriage allowed to use ideals but feel quite justified in denying it to opponents of gay marriage?

    By your logic, hetero parents couldn’t and shouldn’t raise a homosexual child. This of course assumes that how one is raised has no bearing whatsoever upon the sexual composition of the person. I myself am open to the possibility that genetics may play a role in sexual preference and identity. But I cannot concede a reduction of identity to only one of its sources. To deny that how one is raised and the choices one makes has nothing to do with how one understands human sexuality, its expressions, purpose and function is a reduction I cannot concede. Human identity in general is far too complex to be reduced to any one single factor. (Thus the idea that gender is a social construct is only partially true. If it is absolutized, it is false.)

  89. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    March 4, 2010 4:37 pm

    “I wonder how you judge who is and is not qualified to procreate. Unless of course, you claim that teenagers, who might fit the bill, are the ones procreating the most (which is simply false). So I am genuinely curious about your own criteria.”
    The “my baby daddy” phenomenon. “Sloppy” habits regarding sex/birth control. Unstable relationships, financial want etc. On the other hand, I blame myself, my “class”, if you will, for being part of the reverse problem, not having children or too few, although stability etc. are given. Personally, I am changing that now ;-) What I mean is that, e.g., great cities like San Francisco or Seattle are short on children.

    “to suggest that some filter created by organizations whose interests also include making money are better at determining the quality of parents is a rather myopic view.”
    I’m not saying that, I mean that it is much harder to qualify for adoption than for getting “knocked up” accidentally. A consequence being that gay couples adopt the unwanted “results” of straight behavior.

    “Explaining “the complexities of a woman’s body” is not that difficult, nor is the body that complex – or mysterious.”
    I don’t think it’s more or less mysterious than a man’s – that we exist at all is incredible, so different plumbing doesn’t throw me any further :) I recently started to keep track of the “stats”, the “egg timer” as I call it. I’m very vicarious when it comes to that – then again, spouses are supposed to be one flesh :)

    “But I cannot concede a reduction of identity to only one of its sources.”
    The reason this happens is because society isn’t equal yet. The minority always stands out. This “reduction” is performed by segments of society and often by members of a minority themselves, but the latter is mainly caused by the former. External definition can easily lead to self-definition. “Black power” was a result of white oppression. It often has counterproductive results – such as the concept that there is a proper way to be “authentically” black, gay, etc. (the notion that studying is a no-no for blacks, eg. The “international gay lisp” that a segment of gay men embrace is another)

    “Human identity in general is far too complex to be reduced to any one single factor.”
    This is very true. However, in regards to sexual orientation, many people ask “what went wrong” when someone is gay. In essence, their essence is being questioned, and, in turn, unfortunately many gays feel a need to justify themselves. There are some very idiotic guides on how to keep your kid from “becoming” gay, for example. They usually focus on males, lesbians seem to be an afterthought.

    “To deny that how one is raised and the choices one makes has nothing to do with how one understands human sexuality, its expressions, purpose and function is a reduction I cannot concede.”
    Again, this, to me, assumes that there is something that could have been done about “it”, that it’s somebody’s fault, an unfortunate accident and so forth. This search for a cause is quite insulting. While it is factually an irregular phenomenon (as is, say, high intelligence) that comes with some biological limitations in terms of sex, there’s no reason why a moral judgment should be attached to it. It’s simply because it involves sex that people get awkward about it.

    “the idea that gender is a social construct is only partially true. If it is absolutized, it is false”
    I agree. Certain biological facts cannot be altered (beyond cosmetics at least). The problem arises when people take their values and claim natural law status or some such for them. Women have been told since time immemorial that they cannot do certain things because they are female, that they are less intelligent, morally suspicious and so forth (frequently endorsed by men with little familiarity with women). The history of the West alone is disgusting in this regard. That which supports one’s power becomes morality.

    So, gender is a combination of fact and fiction. Other people’s fictions, however, should never be allowed to impede one’s life. Embracing, internalizing other people’s fiction is tragic. “Re-education” for gays, or “Courage” come to mind.

  90. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 6:45 pm

    I will also turn the tables on you and ask the same question in reverse. If your postulate is true, then there should be enough empirical evidence to demonstrate it. Please cite some.

    Dan,

    Same-sex couples can be effective parents, researchers find

    Children raised by same-sex couples appear to do as well as those raised by parents of both sexes, suggests an international research review that challenges the long-ingrained belief that children need male and female parents for healthy adjustment.

    “It’s more about the quality of the parenting than the gender of the parents,” says Judith Stacey of New York University, co-author of the comprehensive review. It will be published Friday in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

    Sociologists Stacey and Timothy Biblarz of the University of Southern California, spent five years reviewing 81 studies of one- and two-parent families, including gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples. “No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being,” they conclude. . . . .

    From The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children

    . . . . The AAP is not alone in supporting the right of every child and family to the legal, financial, and psychosocial security that results from having legally recognized parents who are committed to each other and to the welfare of their children.

    The American Academy of Family Physicians’ Congress of Delegates agreed to “establish policy and be supportive of legislation which promotes a safe and nurturing environment, including psychological and legal security, for all children, including those of adoptive parents, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.”

    The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted resolutions stating that “the APA believes that it is unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges … and shall take a leadership role in opposing all discrimination in legal benefits, rights, and privileges against same-sex couples.”

    “The APA opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care, and reproductive health services; believes that children raised by a same-sex couple benefit from legal ties to each parent; supports the protection of parent-child relationships through the legalization of joint adoptions and second parent adoptions of children being raised by same-sex couples; and shall take a leadership role in opposing all discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care, and reproductive health services.”

    The American Psychoanalytic Association position states, “Accumulated evidence suggests the best interest of the child requires attachment to committed, nurturing and competent parents. Evaluation of an individual or couple for these parental qualities should be determined without prejudice regarding sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian individuals and couples are capable of meeting the best interest of the child and should be afforded the same rights and should accept the same responsibilities as heterosexual parents.”

    The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) “encourages the adoption of laws that recognize inheritance, insurance, same-sex marriage, child custody, property, and other relationship rights for lesbians, gay, and bisexual people. NASW supports the adoption of local, state, federal and international policies/legislation that protect the rights and well-being of the children of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.”

    Related policy from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states, “The basis on which all decisions relating to custody and parental rights should rest [is] on the best interest of the child. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals historically have faced more rigorous scrutiny than heterosexuals regarding their rights to be or become parents. There is no evidence to suggest or support that parents with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation are per se different from or deficient in parenting skills, child-centered concerns and parent-child attachments, when compared with parents with a heterosexual orientation. It has long been established that a homosexual orientation is not related to psychopathology, and there is no basis on which to assume that a parental homosexual orientation will increase likelihood of or induce a homosexual orientation in the child. Outcome studies of children raised by parents with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, when compared with heterosexual parents, show no greater degree of instability in the parental relationship or developmental dysfunction in children. The AACAP opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation against individuals in regard to their rights as custodial or adoptive parents.”

    In June 2005, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates overwhelmingly endorsed a policy that calls on the AMA to “support legislation and other efforts to allow adoption of a child by the same-sex partner or an opposite-sex non-married partner who functions as a second parent or co-parent to that child.”

    On the matter of same-gender marriage, in May 2005 the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) approved a statement in support of legalizing same-gender marriage. Approval by the organization’s board of directors in July 2005 made psychiatry the first medical specialty to publicly support same-gender civil marriage. Specifically, the APA policy states, “In the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, the American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all rights, benefits, and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes restrictions to those same rights, benefits, and responsibilities.”

    I am not suggesting that there are no mental health professionals who oppose these views or studies that don’t contradict positive studies. But simply to claim it is obvious children of same-sex couples are deprived compared to children of opposite-sex couples is not good enough when there are scientific studies on the matter.

  91. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:11 pm

    Why is it acceptable for gay marriage proponents to advocate the cause of gay marriage based on “some ideal of marriage that does not exist today,” (which is de facto the case otherwise there is no cause at all) but it is unacceptable for opponents to do so? Is it not hypocritical to allow one side to argue from their idealism but to deny to the other?

    Brendan,

    That’s an interesting question. I would not deny anyone the right to have his or her idea of marriage based on ideals from religion, philosophy, personal experience, and so on. My point is that what would be changed if civil law permitted same-sex marriage is the reality of what marriage is in the United States today. Civil divorce, no-fault divorce, and legal marriage after civil divorce did not change the Catholic ideal of sacramental marriage. We’re not talking about a change in marriage so much as a change in civil law.

    if divine law has ordained that life is given only through a male and female, and if this is not reduced to the biological process of birthing only but includes the whole bringing about of life, then the ideal must also include the father and mother at all stages of the act of bringing about life.

    First, let me note that you are not just posing a question that would rule out same-sex marriage. It would also rule out adoption. Before I continue, note that the question this thread is attempting to answer was posed as follows:

    What are the most persuasive arguments against gay marriage that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

    Now, of course, if God so constructed the world that a child conceived and raised by opposite-sex parents necessarily fares better than a child conceived by one set of parents and raised by another, or fares better than a child conceived by heterosexual parents and raised by same-sex parents, who can argue with God? But how can we know that is how God constructed the world? And if the world is constructed in this manner, wouldn’t empirical studies reflect that?

    I would like to say, by the way — and this is a matter of personal opinion, but perhaps empirically verifiable — that it seems to me children are better off in an extended family, with aunts, uncles, and grandparents all looking after them (as well as other members of the community) and providing “role models” (for lack of a better term).

  92. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:19 pm

    Kyle, a watch ought to keep good time; that is part of the being of a watch. A watch that does not do so is a bad watch; that which does is a good one.

    Suppose my grandfather gave me a watch given to him by his grandfather, and it no longer runs at all. Suppose my young son saved his meager allowance and sacrificed buying things he dearly wanted to buy me a cheap watch that consistently runs slow. Watches (and human beings) are not mere machines. If God intended people to be like watches, and to perform as mechanisms with rigidly defined functions, he seems to have failed miserably.

  93. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:22 pm

    Neeldess to say almost every major Faith community has some sort of Lobby and the Supreme court has upheld challenges to it.

    jh,

    And needless to say, when the Supreme Court makes a decision, they are to be presumed correct, that’s the last word on the subject.

  94. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:42 pm

    In the end, this is why I believe gay marriage advocates do not truly want marriage as much as they want to get rid of marriage.

    MZ,

    Actually, I think there is a movement for gay marriage because a lot of us grew up in a society where the “happy ending” was for two people who loved each other to get married and live happily ever after. It is interesting to me that when, as a gay man with zero romantic interest in women, I watch a movie or read a novel or see something on television about a heterosexual couple, I can empathize with them, and pull for them to overcome whatever obstacles would separate them so they can love each other and live with each other.

    I don’t know why some straight people seem not to believe that two men or two women might want to marry each other. Is there some disgust factor that keeps straight people from empathizing with same-sex relationships?

    The one gay couple I know who has bothered to go to another state (I live in New York) to get married are in their sixties and have been together for decades. Do you think they got married to strike a blow against heterosexual marriage or marriage in general?

    There may be, somewhere, nefarious politically minded people who are angry at heterosexual society and want to destroy marriage. (I find it difficult to believe, but I suppose it is not impossible.) But in reality, I think there are just a lot of gay people out there who want to get married. And then there are other gay people (perhaps a larger number) who may not want to get married, but who know other gay people who do and want to support them.

  95. Curt permalink
    March 4, 2010 9:15 pm

    Kyle, I have a question for you. You wrote how would you argue against gay marriage without reason, religious beliefs etc. Then later you said people
    have different faiths and you do not want to take
    away other peoples liberty, religous beliefs, etc.
    It would not let me copy and paste what you wrote,
    I made a brief summary. Sorry if I misrepresent
    what you wrote.

    If you feel this way, then are you against secular
    laws for stealing, murder, etc? You are imposing
    your beliefs on non believers. Why did you pick
    homosexual marriage and not another topic?
    Cause it is hot topic guaranteed to generate
    debate?
    Granted, my question isn’t lofty.

  96. March 4, 2010 9:29 pm

    Mr. Nickol,

    I’ll concede that some states do not recognize non-consummation as grounds for annulment, and that their interest in marriage ends at the ceremony. They might have had any number of prudential reasons for doing so (consummation is hard to verify, and if couples plead it as grounds for annulment, how can you verify the claim?) At any rate, unless you are offering this legal fact as evidence that consummation is not essential to marriage (!) my argument stands.

    While the legal status of consummation is an interesting point, when said in response to my original argument it is simply the lawyers trick of “when the facts are against you, plead the law”. That might win cases and influence people, but it’s no way to dialogue towards truth.

  97. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    March 4, 2010 10:14 pm

    Curt,

    I’m not against secular laws forbidding murder or theft. Nor am I necessarily against the secular law not recognizing gay marriage, so long as a legal basis can be built on reasonable grounds people of faith or no faith can agree upon. This is not to say that everyone must agree for a law to be legitimate. A murderer may disagree with laws against murder, but that disagreement is hardly a cause for not outlawing murder. We can also show why murder is wrong and why it’s harmful for society to allow it without invoking religious beliefs. Moreover, most everyone agrees that murder is wrong. There’s no debate going on that murder is just swell and should be legalized. There is a debate over whether or not gay marriage is right or wrong, beneficial or destructive. As many people are fighting against the idea of gay marriage, I am curious as to whether their fight can be supported without recourse to religion. That’s the underlying “why” of my post.

  98. March 4, 2010 10:28 pm

    Mr Nickol,

    But suppose I did want to talk law?

    The better objection to the argument would be that it would prohibit quadriplegics from marrying. Whose heart wouldn’t go out over that? If the law lets spinals marry, why not let homosexuals marry? That might be one good reason to avoid a consummation-argument in a legal context. I don’t now what I would appeal to to argue the legal case. I’m not sure that the weight of the law allows for a reasonable objection to gay marriage.

  99. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 11:03 pm

    At any rate, unless you are offering this legal fact as evidence that consummation is not essential to marriage (!) my argument stands.

    James,

    Consummation is not essential to legal marriage in most states. What we are discussing here are possible changes to state laws. Since most states do not require that a marriage be consummated, the fact that (by your definition) same-sex couples cannot consummate a marriage is not an impediment to gay marriage in those states. We’re not talking about marriage in the eyes of the Church or in the eyes of God. We’re talking about legal marriage as it exists in the United States.

  100. David Nickol permalink
    March 4, 2010 11:39 pm

    James,

    Your unstated assumption is that for a marriage to be consummated, the spouses must have heterosexual intercourse. That is just another way of saying marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

    I don’t think that is what Kyle was looking for. If I understand him correctly, he is looking for arguments against changing laws to allow same-sex couples to enter into identical legal arrangements as opposite-sex couples who are currently married. I think probably many (most) people on Vox Nova believe a same-sex couple cannot enter into a “real” marriage. That’s not really the question at hand. A divorced Catholic cannot enter into a second “real” marriage, but I doubt that anyone here would argue that a divorced Catholic cannot legally remarry.

  101. Ronald King permalink
    March 5, 2010 7:16 am

    Kyle, The only thing that seems to support the opponents of gay marriage is fear.

  102. David Nickol permalink
    March 5, 2010 8:26 am

    The better objection to the argument would be that it would prohibit quadriplegics from marrying. Whose heart wouldn’t go out over that?

    James,

    The heart of the Catholic Church?

    Paraplegic man denied church wedding
    June 09, 2008
    An Italian bishop has refused to allow a church wedding for a paraplegic man who was rendered impotent by a crippling automobile accident.

    A spokesman for Bishop Lorenzo Chiarinelli of Viterbo explained that although the bride was aware of her fiancé’s condition, their union could not be celebrated as a Christian marriage because impotence is grounds for annulment.

    The couple– whose identities were not disclosed– were married in a civil ceremony. Their pastor, having been refused permission to witness the union in a Catholic ceremony, attended the civil event.

  103. March 5, 2010 10:08 am


    uppose my grandfather gave me a watch given to him by his grandfather, and it no longer runs at all. Suppose my young son saved his meager allowance and sacrificed buying things he dearly wanted to buy me a cheap watch that consistently runs slow. Watches (and human beings) are not mere machines. If God intended people to be like watches, and to perform as mechanisms with rigidly defined functions, he seems to have failed miserably.

    This proves too much.

    While the faulty watch may still be a watch, it would not be a good idea to make that a model for future watches, would it? One wouldn’t set out to construct a watch that did not keep good time. A goal of making a watch is that it keep good time.

    In fact, this undermines one of the arguments deployed in favor of same sex marriage — that we don’t declare that (heterosexual) couples who are unable to conceive are therefore not married. I submit that the faulty watch is more analagous to these couples.

    A same sex couple would be analagous to a watch that was designed from the beginning not to tell good time. It may still have value as a fashionable accessory, or it may have sentimental value, but it is not a functioning watch. And if you set out to construct an unreliable watch, you are challenging the very nature of what a watch is.

  104. Kevin permalink
    March 5, 2010 4:34 pm

    Ronald,

    Why do you think it is fear? Perhaps Catholics are listening to their bishops? Do you believe our shepherds are fearful?

    This is not an answer to Kyle’s question or for us to evangelize the world but it should be sufficient for all Catholics to profess to other Catholics what we believe on this issue.

  105. mary permalink
    March 5, 2010 6:07 pm

    James

    consummation is not essential to legal marriage in Italy too.

  106. David Nickol permalink
    March 5, 2010 10:42 pm

    Why do you think it is fear? Perhaps Catholics are listening to their bishops?

    Kevin,

    As I understand it, opposition to same-sex marriage and opposition to artificial birth control are two positions derived from the same fundamental principle. If Catholics are listening to their bishops about same-sex marriage, then why aren’t they listening about birth control?

  107. Kurt permalink
    March 7, 2010 2:25 pm

    Before the issue of gay marriage, we might address the more basic question as to if a student should be allowed admission to a Catholic school if his parents are gay. Archbishop Chaput answered that question in the negative last week.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jfTmvT_dixBFADA9lgMgHEZL4uLwD9E8NOG80

  108. David Nickol permalink
    March 7, 2010 8:35 pm

    Kurt,

    Following the link from the news story to the statement from the Archdiocese, we see the explanation the Archdiocese gives is as follows: “To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.”

    After I read that, I said to myself, “Okay, now what’s the real reason?” If Denver Catholic schools can accept non-Catholic students, I don’t see how they can discriminate against children of same-sex parents.

    Even from an “orthodox” position (which I certainly don’t take), how can the Archdiocese claim it is better for a child to learn error at home without contradiction than to learn error at home and truth at school?

  109. Kurt permalink
    March 8, 2010 9:27 am

    David,

    Yes, the school has a number of students who are not being expelled even though their opposite sex parents are not in relationships approved by the Catholic Church.

    I think the real reason is obvious, and it is a betrayal of Christ.

  110. March 8, 2010 9:57 am

    Before the issue of gay marriage, we might address the more basic question as to if a student should be allowed admission to a Catholic school if his parents are gay.

    Why? Because it makes bishops we don’t like look bad?

  111. Kurt permalink
    March 8, 2010 12:08 pm

    You think it makes Archbishop Chaput look bad? Some day he is upholding Catholic orthodoxy.

  112. March 8, 2010 5:18 pm

    Yes, “some say” that, but not the most influential voices in our culture.

    Because a superficial look at this makes the Church look cruel. A child is before them seeking education, and it is being denied, all because the Church doesn’t approve of the behavior of the parents.

    But, if you go deeper, it seems the Church has 2 options:

    1.) Gloss over or water down the Church’s teaching of homosexuality, which is an injustice to the other parents who sent their children to the school for a Catholic education.

    2.) Teach the Church’s teaching, which is very likely to cause the child stress, in that she is being taught that her family is evil.

    For those who dissent from the Church’s teaching, #1 may be unproblematic, but even from this perspective, is it fair to the other students in the school?

    Some might say that this merely highlights the cruelty of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. But most don’t advocate “evangelizing” children of gay parents by preaching to them about the evils of homosexuality.

    I’m not sure I have the answer, but I don’t think the simple knee-jerk “those intolerant bishops” way this is going to be spun captures the whole truth.

  113. March 8, 2010 5:34 pm

    I should mention the same would apply to divorced and re-married parents, which have not been subject to this policy, as far as I know.

  114. Kurt permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:08 pm

    John McG writes: Teach the Church’s teaching…that her family is evil

    That is the Church’s teaching? That her family is evil?

    If you say so.

    But would it also not cause stress for other students as they are taught their uncle or aunt are evil? That their best friend’s family is evil? And so on.

    And yes, the children of divorce and re-married parents are not also expelled under this policy, just children who have gay parents.

    No does the school kick out children whose parents are racist.

    I guess if these kids are either very stressed or under the instruction of people who do not teach the Church’s teaching on racial justice and on marriage.

  115. David Nickol permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:56 pm

    There is a major discussion of this issue over on dotCommonweal under the heading Lesbian couple’s child barred from Catholic school.

  116. March 9, 2010 11:15 am

    I’m not saying their her family is evil; I am saying that is what the headline would be.

    I think the Church tends to look the other way with re-married couples, for better or worse. I think this is impossible for same sex couples, because it is impossible for authorities to pretend that the couple is living within Church teaching.

    But I see we’re on the consistency gotcha game bandwagon, so I’ll sign off.

  117. digbydolben permalink
    March 9, 2010 12:36 pm

    The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church continue to damn themselves in the eyes of the majority of folks in the developed, Western world. How sad, how pathetic: Christianity is ending in its homeland “with a whimper.”

  118. Kevin permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:21 pm

    Digby,

    The bishops are not placed in their position to court wordly opinion. And the bishops and ourselves are not Catholic so we can merely submit to the current majority opinion. Bishops are appointed to speak the truth that is Jesus Christ as witnessed in scripture, traditiona and the magesterium.

    Perhaps we will let the Archbishop of the Denver diocese who is the teaching authority on faith and morals in his diocese have the last word on this incident.

  119. Kurt permalink
    March 10, 2010 5:46 pm

    John,

    Your position (as clarified) is that the Church will either be viewed as glossing over her moral teachings or teaching this child her family is evil. And you resolve the problem by removing the innocent child from Catholic education so that when her classmates are taught what will be interpreted as that their former classmate’s family is evil, she will not be there to suffer the resulting stress.

    I think that is a lousy solution.

    As far as I can tell, the only lesson learned by the schoolchildren at SHJ is that their Archbishop is not a very nice man and he is telling one of their beloved classmates to take a hike and don’t come back.

    Well, not a pleasant lesson to learn, but certianly factually accurate. Unlike some of their other school lessons, I bet this one will not be forgotten.

  120. David Nickol permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:01 pm

    As has been pointed out over on dotCommonweal, the same reasoning that applies to excluding the children of same-sex couples from Catholic school would seem to apply to admitting them to CCD classes or any form of Catholic instruction. By the reasoning of the Archdiocese, it would appear that same-sex couples may not raise their children as Catholics. In fact, I can’t see how the arguments made by the Archdiocese would not apply to baptism as well as instruction in the Catholic faith. So the children of same-sex couples should not be allowed to be baptized, attend Catholic schools, or receive any formal instruction in Catholicism.

  121. Kevin permalink
    March 11, 2010 12:18 am

    David,

    Baptism of an infant to parents who are living together is often denied. Probably most priests ignore it but many do not. They take the denial of baptism from this part of canon laww:

    [T]here must be a founded hope that the [child] will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason. (CIC 868 §1)

    It happened to my sister who was “living in sin” when her first was born. She was denied baptism much to the chagrin/shame of my mother.

  122. digbydolben permalink
    March 12, 2010 3:32 am

    Kevin, I’m just glad I don’t live in the Denver diocese. This Archbishop is what Jesus called a “whitened sepulchre.”

  123. Ellie permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:24 pm

    So if gay marriage is ok then why can’t a man and little boy marry if they love each other? Why can’t a man take 3 or 8 wives, (hey, why not if its all “love”) why can’t a father marry his own daughter, (if she consents no matter how outraged some will be to say she is brainwashed). The problem with marriage is that it is based on sexuality. Many people seem to confuse love with sex. Yes, sex and love can go hand in hand, but there are myriad forms of love that do not possess sexual desire, such as parent/child, friend/friend, brother/sister etc If the issue is all about love, then why cannot the above groups marry eachother (no matter how perverted it may seem). Marriage, and a love between a man and woman, whether one likes it or not, is more about sex, and being attracted to that partner so you can reproduce. It is rather unnatural and egotistical to be attracted to the same sex. It does not really occur in nature (no matter how much a commercial scientist can pound his fist on the table and be paid off by gay groups and say that it occurs among penguins), really? Is that based on sex and for the mere purpose of reproducing? Monogomy exists to prevent diseases and possible incest, which also leads to disease.

    To end my comment I would like to rephrase your questions:

    What are the most persuasive arguments against man/boy love that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

    2. How would opponents of man/boy love most likely succeed in turning the cultural tide against man/boy or adult/child marriage?

    What are the most persuasive arguments against polygamy that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

    2. How would opponents of polygamous relationships most likely succeed in turning the cultural tide against polygamous marriage?

    What are the most persuasive arguments against bestiality that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

    2. How would opponents of bestiality most likely succeed in turning the cultural tide against interspecies marriage?

    What are the most persuasive arguments against incest that appeal to reason and not to religious belief? I’m looking for arguments that appeal to history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and so forth, but not to theology or revelation.

    2. How would opponents of incest most likely succeed in turning the cultural tide against incestous marriage?

  124. digbydolben permalink
    March 13, 2010 3:49 am

    This is a bit late, but I thought ya’ll might be interested:

    [video src="http://www.princeton.edu/WebMedia/media/lectures/20100218_publect_sullivan.mp4" /]

  125. Ronald King permalink
    March 13, 2010 10:30 am

    Kevin, What are we to do if the bishops understanding of the truth is based on his limited understanding of God’s Love? Since God’s Love is infinite and we are finite wouldn’t the truth expressed by we finite beings always be relative to the level at which we understand and are open to God’s Love?

  126. David Nickol permalink
    March 13, 2010 11:33 am

    Kevin,

    I don’t understand why people “living in sin” can’t bring their children up Catholic. I suppose if they make clear an intention only to have the children baptized and not bring them up a Catholic, then that passage from canon law would be clearly applicable. But that case that’s in everyone’s mind at the moment is of course the lesbian couple in Colorado, and they appear to have been practicing Catholics who were raising children as Catholics.

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