Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lately, I've Been Rethinking My Position on Gay Marriage

In the past, I've been vaguely opposed to legal gay marriage, albeit without any substantial passion. It certainly hasn't been an issue that has captivated me, as it has others.

But on this recent election day, I had to take a firm position because there was a constitutional proposition on the ballot here in Florida to ban gay marriage:

Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

The ban passed with more than 62% of the vote.

Now I had to choose to either vote for or against this amendment, so I could not longer waffle on the issue. I decided to vote against this intiative. Here's why:

I see no particular reason to ban gay marriage. And my default political paradigm is to restrict government power, not enable it. So what arguments are there to ban gay marriage? It certainly has been a hot issue, especially given the surprising constitutional amendment recently passed in California.

One common argument that I've heard and read alot is that gay marriage should be banned (or simply not legalized) in order to preserve marriage between one man and one woman, as it always existed since the beginning of time. I hope that I don't have to explain how historically preposterous this position is. Monogamous heterosexual marriage is the historical norm in American history, but certainly not world history. Anyway, the historiocity of an activity (e.g. slavery, domestic violence) does not by itself validate its continuation.

Another argument is that gay marriage harms the marriages of heterosexual couples. I just don't see this works. The health of my marriage is dependent upon the emotional health of my wife and me, and our ability and willingness to commit to each other. If a gay couple next door gets married, I simply don't see how it affects us. If a heterosexual marriage is negatively impacted by the gay marriages of others, then it was pretty weak to begin with.

Now some opponents of gay marriage have argued that it is an attack on heterosexual families by undermining the values that heterosexual couples who are opposed to gay marriage teach to their children. Well, shoot, I meet plenty of people every day whose values are completely contrary to those that I wish to teach my child. But that still doesn't mean that I should get to use government force other people to live according to my lifestyle (e.g. no worshipping false gods, hanging out in strip clubs, or being ungenerous to the poor). Teaching my kid my values is my responsibility, not the responsibility of other people. And I certainly don't want people with values contrary to mine using government force to interfere in my upbringing of my child. Mind your own damn business and I'll mind mine.

One argument against gay marriage does have some traction: legalizing gay marriage can lead to legalizing polygamy. Well, I guess that it could. Discussions of legalizing polygamy have resurfaced now that supporting gay marriage has become mainstream. But if we believe that consenting adults should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies and relationships without government interference, then maybe this is a discussion that we need to have.

Anyway, I had to make a decision when I had the ballot in front of me, so I voted against the ban.

It's not so much that I support gay marriage as much as I oppose government. The idea of using government force to define interpersonal relationships gives me the libertarian heebie jeebies. So I followed my default position and voted against the ban. I'm making no commitment in support of legalized gay marriage, but opponents are going to have to come up with better arguments before I'll get on board.

32 comments:

johnmeunier said...

This strikes me as very consistent with what I know of your philosophy.

But, how does this political and legal issue interact with your theology? Does God oppose gay marriage?

John said...

Well, libertarianism is essentially a political, not moral philosophy. I consider homosexual activity to be a sin, and that gay marriage is inconsistent with Christian principles. But Christian principles, or those of any other religion, are irrelevant in public policy formulation.

Kenny said...

I would've voted against the Florida proposition as well, but only because of the 'substantial equivalent' clause. (See my discussion of the California initiative, which I voted for, here.) I support allowing all people to freely exercise all of the substantive rights associated with marriage, but I don't think anything genuinely counts as marriage if it isn't between a man and a woman. Of course, it's better to use language badly than to deny people their rights!

Larry B said...

Without considering the moral issues, I don't fully understand why I should have to support allowing gays to marry. That case has not been made for me.

Amendments are only put on ballots to stop judicial branches from telling the public they must accept gay marriages, it isn't "big government" intervening in private lifestyles.

In the case of marriage, government has to be involved for the continuity of society in order to define a legal framework for the care and protection of children who are necessary for the continuation of a society. If a government chooses a single model as it has here in the US, what is the compelling reason to extend that model? I don't see it. Asking government to extend it isn't getting government out of the way, it is getting them more involved in more peoples relationships.

John Wilks said...

John, you've crafted a fine example of libertarian thinking. I also think you've pointed out how as Christians we can tolerate something on a socio-politcal level which we disagree with theologically.

Dave said...

So my question is this... if you disagree with it from a "moral" stance, what will you do when the UMC is sued:

-- to allow gay marriages
-- to allow for homosexual ordination
-- to allow married gay pastors
-- to prevent preaching that it is a sin?

it's a very slippery slope... if a private company can be sued, like eHarmony, to have to change their product offering to inlcude homosexuals, do you not think they won't sue the church?

Anonymous said...

It's not so much that I support gay marriage as much as I oppose government. The idea of using government force to define interpersonal relationships gives me the libertarian heebie jeebies. So I followed my default position and voted against the ban.

John:
Good day. Your logic escapes me. Respectfully, I ask the following:

How can placing the amendment on a ballot, for we the people to vote upon, be construed or described as using government force? Judging by the actions of those disappointed with the results in California, they appear hellbent to use the government to force others in acknowledging their viewpoint of marriage.
Is changing the very definition of marriage by judicial fiat or otherwise acceptable to you?
If it is acceptable to redefine the definition of marriage to suit homosexuals, why not for polygamists (which you acknowledged) or pedophiles?
In addition to changing the very definition of marriage; when did marriage become a right? Aren't gay activist attempting to use the force of government in asserting such?
-----------------------------------
If a heterosexual marriage is negatively impacted by the gay marriages of others, then it was pretty weak to begin with.

I strongly, and respectfully disagree. You could easily substitute gay marriages with divorce and I would still strongly, and respectfully disagree.

I am a happily married man in what we would consider a strong and healthy marriage. (Of course strength or weakness of one's marriage are arbitrary and relative measurements, yes?)
I remember when my wife and I had a less than lovely exchange in front our little ones when two of the three began to cry. Our bickering was and remains a rare occurrance. When we turned our attention to the kids and wondered why they were crying, we were told that they were afraid that we were going to have a divorce. We were absolutely astonished in that we have never talked let alone thought of a divorce. Our parents and married siblings are married, so their exposure to divorce via our families is virtually non-existent. The subject had come up again later as idle chatter, and we told them that we as a family do not consider that a topic to even talk about in jest.
Since that episode, there have been more occasions than I care to recount of families and friends from church or else where that have had a divorce. We (my wife and children) talk, we wonder, we pray, we grieve and we hold each other a little tighter as we see the debris in the aftermath of the divorce of others.
My point is that just as the divorce of others around us do have an impact on our marriage and children; so too would changing the very definition of marriage to suit homosexuals adversley impact the marriages of others irregardless of strength or weakness.

Respectfully,
Joseph

David said...

Are Christian principles irrelevant in public policy formation? I think you've left out one important consideration...

Recently a national dating service was forced by the courts to choose between facilitating gay relationships on their original website or setting up a separate but equal site for that purpose...

I also remember, not too long ago, when a Catholic sponsored adoption service/agency chose to withdraw from a state rather than allow the courts to force them to allow gay couples to adopt using their services...

If a state prohibition against gay marriage was to be overturned how long would it be before the UMC was dragged into court and forced to celebrate gay marriages in our churches?

Just a thought

Anonymous said...

The idea of using government force to define interpersonal relationships gives me the libertarian heebie jeebies.

No matter how you voted, you were voting on how government is to define marriage!

Respectfully,
Joseph

John B said...

What I'm hearing from John and those who have commented seems to me to be a church and state issue.

Does any religious group or at least those hold to the traditional understanding of marriage, one man and one woman, have the right to dictate to the state via the voting booth how marriage should be defined?

I say No. So in this I agree with John's arguments.

Does the state have the right to tell religious groups how to conduct their affairs?

Again I say, No.

However, as several individuals pointed out, if judges can overrule the will of the people, like what happened in California in May, or force businesses to change their business strategies, like Eharmony then judges can force churches and other religious groups to conform to their values rather than the values the group holds.

It is for this reason that homosexual marriage must be opposed. As much as John might want it (I voted for Barr,), we don't live in a libertarian country. We live in a country of mini-dictators in black robes, who force their will upon the people regardless of what the people think.

Anonymous said...

Does any religious group or at least those hold to the traditional understanding of marriage, one man and one woman, have the right to dictate to the state via the voting booth how marriage should be defined?

I say No. So in this I agree with John's arguments.


John B. et al:

From my perspective, those of us who hold to the traditional understanding of marriage as one man and one woman are not dictating anything to the government. We simply wish to uphold the traditional understanding/definition of marriage. (We didn't start the fight, the fight came to us so to speak.) Those who agree, which may include religous groups do so for various reasons including religon - and not one particular faith, but a wide variety of faiths.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but the amendments that have been placed on ballots in several states in the last few election cycles regarding this matter were not driven by "the church" or "religous groups". Various religous groups and/or organizations may have taken a position on the amendments, but to the best of my knowledge, they did not "dictate to the state" to place these measures on the ballot.

Respectfully,
Joseph

John said...

Larry B wrote:

Amendments are only put on ballots to stop judicial branches from telling the public they must accept gay marriages, it isn't "big government" intervening in private lifestyles.

A mass referendum is just as much big government as is an irrersponsible judiciary. Majority rule is just as capable of being tyrannical as is an autocracy.

In the case of marriage, government has to be involved for the continuity of society in order to define a legal framework for the care and protection of children who are necessary for the continuation of a society. If a government chooses a single model as it has here in the US, what is the compelling reason to extend that model? I don't see it. Asking government to extend it isn't getting government out of the way, it is getting them more involved in more peoples relationships.

I think that I see where you're going here, but I find the logic dropping off. This ballot initiative was a restricting, not liberating measure. It said "only", thereby excluding some relationships as invalid.

John said...

Dave wrote:

So my question is this... if you disagree with it from a "moral" stance, what will you do when the UMC is sued:

-- to allow gay marriages
-- to allow for homosexual ordination
-- to allow married gay pastors
-- to prevent preaching that it is a sin?

it's a very slippery slope... if a private company can be sued, like eHarmony, to have to change their product offering to inlcude homosexuals, do you not think they won't sue the church?


When these abuses of free speech and the free exercise of religion take place, I plan on opposing them.

Although some homosexual activitists have abused state power to restrict critical views, it does not follow that legalizing gay marriage must necessarily lead to such abuses.

Gord said...

Now I support, wholeheartedly, same-sex marriage. I see no reason it poses a threat to mixed-sex marriage, how it threatens families, or how it threatens the well-being of children (fwiw I also see no reason sexual orientation should be relevant in a persons fitness to be an adoptive or foster parent).

However I think the churches are fighting the wrong fight. The problem is that we have accepted that what the church calls marriage and what the civil status of marriage means are the same thing. My proposal is that the legal term "marriage" should cease to exist. All couples have accesss to a legal status called civil union but no couples are legally married. Marriage can then be a term used by religious groups to describe a covenant committed relationship between two people (who may or may not have chosen the legal status of a civil union).

Furthermore, I would see that to make this change more obvious clergy would no longer be allowed to perform the civil union side of the equation -- all legal status changes would have to be done by an official of the government.

This allows the rights issue to be handled easily since all couples (mixed-sex or same-sex) have access to the same status. ANd it allows religious communities to decide what they consider allowed as a covenant relationship.

John said...

How can placing the amendment on a ballot, for we the people to vote upon, be construed or described as using government force? Judging by the actions of those disappointed with the results in California, they appear hellbent to use the government to force others in acknowledging their viewpoint of marriage.
Is changing the very definition of marriage by judicial fiat or otherwise acceptable to you?
If it is acceptable to redefine the definition of marriage to suit homosexuals, why not for polygamists (which you acknowledged) or pedophiles?


No one is changing my definition of marriage at all -- or anyone else's. How does someone else's relationship somehow harm me?

I think that homosexual sex is wrong. But lots of people do it. How do their homosexual relationships hurt me? If they want to get married, how does it damage me?

As for pedophiles, I think that we can say that children cannot (or should not be able to ) consent to marriage and so this isn't a real danger.

In addition to changing the very definition of marriage; when did marriage become a right? Aren't gay activist attempting to use the force of government in asserting such?

When did marriage become a right? Would you be asking this question if heterosexual marriage was illegal?

Is marriage a right? I think that it is. I think that you have the right to do anything you want that doesn't harm anyone else without their consent.

My point is that just as the divorce of others around us do have an impact on our marriage and children; so too would changing the very definition of marriage to suit homosexuals adversley impact the marriages of others irregardless of strength or weakness.

1. How much control do you think you should have over society at large in order to ensure that your children are taught the values that you want them to live?

2. Who decides what are the appropriate values to support through state power?

Let's say, for example, Christian parents live in an American neighborhood with large Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist minorities. These Christian kids live in close proximity to these other religions. They often play together. And then the start asking questions about these religious differences. They start to wonder if Christianity is the only legitimate religion -- and they take these doubts to their parents.

Should the parents have the right to use state power to ensure that people of other religions are not in a position to influence their children in a way that is contrary to their religious values?

John said...

David--

All of these things that you have listed are bad, but I wonder how you conclude that my separation of Christian principles and public policy leads to them?

John said...

It is for this reason that homosexual marriage must be opposed. As much as John might want it (I voted for Barr,), we don't live in a libertarian country. We live in a country of mini-dictators in black robes, who force their will upon the people regardless of what the people think.

Sort of like how those mini-dictators of the U.S. Supreme Court forced Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka upon the people regardless of what the people thought, right?

the reverend mommy said...

Dear John,
This is the EXACT reason I could not vote for this.
I do not wish the state to legislate morality.

Amen and preach on.

Larry B said...

John Said
I think that I see where you're going here, but I find the logic dropping off. This ballot initiative was a restricting, not liberating measure. It said "only", thereby excluding some relationships as invalid.

I'll try to unpack it a little further and see if my logic holds up.

I start with the premise that the societal motivation for marriage is to encourage the continuation of a society by an organized definition of who and what circumstances are used to bear children and raise them into adulthood. In the case of the US (and many others) that is thought to be best achieved by instituting a single arrangement involving a man and a woman. In a democratic society, free choice of a mate within the bounds that they be of the opposite sex to facilitate the biological act necessary for having children, seems to be most compatible. The fact that sexual and romantic attraction increases the likelihood of children being born and helps to enable people to sustain their arrangement in order to complete the rearing of children is another argument for allowing free choice in a mate.

Having said that, what does a homosexual couple bring to the table that qualifies their relationship as marriage for the purpose of society? The very definition of the relationship is based on their preference to have sexual relations that do not have the capacity for children being born.

Our current laws no longer restrict them from having sex as they choose, nor does it restrict anyone from having sex with consenting adults in any arrangement they desire. In that way, we have given the largest possible freedom to sexual expression in our country that we can.

I cannot understand, then, how affirming that a marriage operates between a man and a woman is in any way an "only" rather than a "liberating" law. Making marriage legal for homosexuals does not liberate them to create children as a product of their natural sexual relations, it is a biological impossibility.

Attempting to redefine what must, at it's core, be performed by members of the opposite sex to realize the purpose for which it is designed to serve society, is an illogical notion for me. A homosexual couple cannot perform that function.

Having said that, I am aware that as a society we have conferred rights on a marriage, mostly designed to assisst in the maintenance of the marriage and clarify responsibilities in an ordered fashion, that others may look at and say that they want those rights too. It is, in my opinion, wrongheaded though to view marriage as the essential element to be desired because the purpose of marriage for society is not to gain those rights, but to continue the society through children. There should be a robust discussion of whether the rights conferred to marriage ought to be limited to only marriage as defined by the state, or if they could be extended to others, but not at the expense of gutting the societal purpose for marriage.

John said...

Larry B wrote:

I'll try to unpack it a little further and see if my logic holds up.

I start with the premise that the societal motivation for marriage is to encourage the continuation of a society by an organized definition of who and what circumstances are used to bear children and raise them into adulthood. In the case of the US (and many others) that is thought to be best achieved by instituting a single arrangement involving a man and a woman. In a democratic society, free choice of a mate within the bounds that they be of the opposite sex to facilitate the biological act necessary for having children, seems to be most compatible. The fact that sexual and romantic attraction increases the likelihood of children being born and helps to enable people to sustain their arrangement in order to complete the rearing of children is another argument for allowing free choice in a mate.

Having said that, what does a homosexual couple bring to the table that qualifies their relationship as marriage for the purpose of society? The very definition of the relationship is based on their preference to have sexual relations that do not have the capacity for children being born.


So, then, should infertile people be forbidden to marry? Let's say that a pair of 70-somethings wishes to marry. They are as biologically incapable of bearing children as a gay couple. By your reasoning, they should not be able to legally marry.

Kenny said...

Larry - Your unstated premise that the state has the rightful authority to organize human relationships as it sees fit in order to produce positive outcomes for "the continuation of society" is, frankly, terrifying. This reaction is only reinforced by your appeal to purely contingent factors ("a democratic society"; "increas[ing] the likelihood of children being born") to justify "free choice in a mate" (as if this needed justifying!). What stands in need of justification is the use of coercive force by the state to implement its chosen social order.

Larry B said...

John wrote:

So, then, should infertile people be forbidden to marry? ..... By your reasoning, they should not be able to legally marry.

Yes, the logic could lead to this. I believe however that it is impractical and entirely too invasive for the state to probe the actual child bearing potential of each and every couple who applies for marriage. Therefore it is reasonable to only limit marriage to a man and a woman because this is the core requirement for marriage to support childbearing and accept that there may be some instances where a man and a woman can't bear children as a matter of practical application.

As a side note, in your specific example, many older couples marry out of a sense of obligation to their faith to not have sexual relations outside of marriage. It isn't uncommon though for those who don't feel obligated by faith to simply live together, as I understand it is often better financially in terms of their social security benefits for them to remain unmarried. Thus it is possible for the state to use it's other policies such as taxes to discourage a particular behavior without explicitly legislating it out.

Larry B said...

Kenny,

The states organization of relationships for it's own continuation is most certainly a tradeoff of freedom for protection. I wouldn't disagree with that, and if you find it terrifying to trade your freedom for protection of the state, then I certainly can't argue with your perspective. For me, I find that the alternative would be something akin to anarchy, and I admittedly do not have the resourcefulness nor gumption to thrive (or even survive) in an anarchical existence.

I appreciate the states organization of private property ownership and the protection of that right and I also appreciate the organization of a market economy and the protection of that market economy to facilitate broad trade opportunity for me as an individual.

I fail to find any coercive force though in the state indicating to the populous that a man and a woman defines a marriage. You are not required to have children in wedlock, but you will be required to support the child financially. That is the only coercion I am aware of in the state in regards to marriage and children.

Marriage rights are incentives to follow the model that the state desires, not coercions as you imply.

As a side note, I only mention free choice in a mate in our culture as deference to past and current cultures where marriages are arranged and not freely chosen. I realize our model is not the only model for marriage regulation within a society. One of my Indian coworkers recently completed his arranged marriage as required by his social conventions.

jockeystreet said...

John, I appreciate your stance here. I think it takes a little bit of perspective and humility to be able to say that one's own personal, moral convictions do not need to be law. I personally have absolutely no problem with gay marriage on either level (I have the opposite of "a problem" with it, actually; I wholeheartedly embrace it), but I can understand why some may object on a moral level, theological level, etc. I can understand and respect those objections even though I strongly disagree with them; what I have a hard time understanding and respecting is the tendency so many have to wish they could make their objections the law of the land. There are plenty of things that I believe in very strongly, that I consider to be moral laws, that people around me think little of or ignore completely. I can't imagine wanting to force them to live by those beliefs.

I think most of the objections raised to legalizing gay marriage are, quite frankly, nonsense. And to be honest, I have a hard time believing that the people who voice these objections can possibly believe what they themselves are saying. Gay marriage will somehow cheapen the relationship I have with my wife? Really? How? I don't get that. Marriage only exists as an institution for the rearing of children? Really? Who made that rule? Who actually believes that? And shame on the person who would imply that marriage without children is somehow less valid, somehow less meaningful. I know plenty of couples who either by unfortunate biology or happy choice will never make children together. Shame on the person who would belittle their relationship.

Larry B. stated, in response to your comments on exactly that point, "I believe however that it is impractical and entirely too invasive for the state to probe the actual child bearing potential of each and every couple who applies for marriage." But if childbearing is the one essential role of marriage, couldn't we reasonably say that, while we won't test everyone's childbearing potential (awful costly, that), we would be safe in passing a law that said no woman over, say, 60 could marry? If not, why not?

And the notion that the state will start dictating theology to churches is extremely paranoid. It's just not based in reality. The example of Catholic churches being told they must consider certain couple for adoption, etc, just doesn't hold up. I would assume that the faith-based organization in question was using public funds, in which case, sure, the state has the right to dictate to some extent how those funds will be spent. Church doesn't want the state telling it who it needs to serve in it's soup kitchen? Then it shouldn't ask the state for money to run said kitchen.

I've rambled long enough. Sorry. But I find the illogic of these arguments exhausting and, often, offensive, and it is hard for me not to want to respond at length.

David said...

"I would assume that the faith-based organization in question was using public funds,"

Jockeystreet, you are familiar with the folk philosophy about what happens when you assume?

Catholic charities received no money form the state in support of their adoption efforts.

The sovereign state of Massachusetts threatened them with loss of their state permit permitting their operation as an adoption agency if they failed to include homosexuals amongst their clients.

They voluntary ceased operations in the state.

This is a fact. No amount of embracing homosexual marriage or the glbt agenda makes it any less true.

And I too am a bit offended that one can so casually dismiss my thoughts out of hand as "nonsense" based on biased assumptions with no real effort to ascertain the facts of the matter.

davek

jockeystreet said...

I have indeed heard the folk philosophy, and perhaps I shouldn't assume. But I know that Catholic Charities gets 65% of its funding from government. That's my money, your money, the gay guy down the street's money. If they want to spend our money, they have to spend it the way that you, me and that guy down the street tell them to spend it; ie, in accordance with the laws of the land, even if those laws don't gel with their theology at times. If they don't like it, then they need to stop accepting the money.

Now, I'm "assuming" that because they receive 65% of their funding from government, that at least some of the dollars in their adoption programs also came from government. I could be wrong. Perhaps they set up a completely separate organization with separate leadership and oversight and book keepers and payroll and infrastructure and staff and that completely autonomous agency sharing the same name handled adoptions exclusively. But that doesn't seem likely to me. While assuming prematurely ("prejudging," as it were) does indeed make something or other of you and me, I think using the god-given noggin to rationally assess probabilities is maybe not so terribly offensive.

I hope I am not casually dismissing a point of view. I have heard these arguments again and again. This is not my first reading of these ideas. I have listened to them, thought them over, argued against them, tried to find the sense in them for years now. There is no sense in them. They are not sensible. Non-sensible. Nonsense. The rational basis behind them is so thin, I have an extremely difficult time understanding how one could really, truly believe in them. Sorry if I offend; but the effort on the part of some to deliberately and systematically exclude a portion of society from being treated as full equals strikes me as deeply offensive, and it is difficult sometimes to speak to that in rosy, polite words (though I think I try to keep that frustration from bubbling over into just plain meanspirited jabs and screechiness; that gets us nowhere).

As I have said and will continue to say, I respect your right to believe very differently than me. Always have, always will. I respect your right to hold religious convictions that I do not share, and I will always argue that the state should stay out of your church. I do not respect anyone's desire to force their convictions on me or on anyone else.

John said...

Yes, the logic could lead to this. I believe however that it is impractical and entirely too invasive for the state to probe the actual child bearing potential of each and every couple who applies for marriage. Therefore it is reasonable to only limit marriage to a man and a woman because this is the core requirement for marriage to support childbearing and accept that there may be some instances where a man and a woman can't bear children as a matter of practical application.

Wait -- suddenly the state is being too invasive for your tastes? How about we do as Jockeystreet proposes, and ban marriage for women over 60?

Larry B wrote:

As a side note, in your specific example, many older couples marry out of a sense of obligation to their faith to not have sexual relations outside of marriage.

That sounds like a good reason to let gay couples marry. But aren't you straying from your view of marriage as procreation only?

It isn't uncommon though for those who don't feel obligated by faith to simply live together, as I understand it is often better financially in terms of their social security benefits for them to remain unmarried. Thus it is possible for the state to use it's other policies such as taxes to discourage a particular behavior without explicitly legislating it out.

What business of is it of the state to encourage or discourage mutually consensual activities between adults? As Kenny said so well, you need to justify the use of coercion by the state to enact its chosen social order. "Marriage rights are incentives to follow the model that the state desires, not coercions as you imply." Really? Let's say that the state decided to eliminate the personal income tax -- except on Christians. As an incentive. Would that not be a punitive and coercive action against non-Christians?

Now for the Catholic Charities example that Jockeystreet and David are talking about: this is exactly why churches should never, ever accept government money. The government is like a drug dealer, giving you a freebie to start out. And then, as you get more and more addicted, making greater and greater demands. Kids, stay off drugs and government money.

Jockeystreet wrote:

As I have said and will continue to say, I respect your right to believe very differently than me. Always have, always will. I respect your right to hold religious convictions that I do not share, and I will always argue that the state should stay out of your church. I do not respect anyone's desire to force their convictions on me or on anyone else.

AMEN!

Larry B said...

John B says:

Wait -- suddenly the state is being too invasive for your tastes? How about we do as Jockeystreet proposes, and ban marriage for women over 60?


I suppose my argument is getting lost in trying to thread it into a comment loop.

Here's a recap of what I think regarding the US.

1: The state has an institution called marriage
2. The state either implicitly or through law has defined this to be between a male and a female.
3. Without bringing any personal value judgements into what marriage should be - the only purpose the state has for marriage is to encourage the continuation of society through childbearing.
4. The state has conferred benefits on marriage.

In regards to your question, I see no value in the state recognizing a marriage based on the participants wanting to have sex with members of the same sex. It does not have any potential for producing children.

There are numerous arguments to be had if we bring value judgments in such as individual happiness, self esteem, sexual satisfaction etc. but I do not think the state has to or should concern itself with this. That is the problem we have now - we cannot see past the fact that when you argue for or against gay marriage you are arguing for a particular value system because you have moved past the primal purpose of marriage for the state. It just depends on whose side you sit as to whether you think values are being forced on you.

My own personal position is Kenny's suggestion that the state should not be involved in marriage at all and is what I would actually prefer. That is why I object to continuing to expand the definition of marriage to include not only child bearing, but sexual and personal satisfaction as being something that the state should be regulating.

So I think the end goal is to get the state out of as much as possible - it seems that the current direction to expand marriage to a broader population with a broader meaning is the opposite of what one would want to do if they were following a libertarian viewpoint. If you disagree, I would be curious to understand how expanding participation in a government regulated institution is in line with a libertarian viewpoint.

Michael said...

I think that Christians have to make a distinction and choose one side or the other. John maintains that "Christian principles ... are irrelevant in public policy formation". While I will agree on one level, I also believe that such perspective cannot simply be dismissed as a matter of "separation of church and state" as if our faith is an inadequate and illegitimate source. For the faithful, are we informed and influenced by faith or by politics? In the end, which will Christ care more about?

The faithful don't even have to "tolerate" homosexuality or abortion or any other social hot-button issue. We can do no less and do no more than acknowledge its existence and reality but can tolerate it only if we are willing to endorse it as a viable choice.

John said...

Larry B wrote:

3. Without bringing any personal value judgements into what marriage should be - the only purpose the state has for marriage is to encourage the continuation of society through childbearing.

But isn't this itself a personal value judgment?

In regards to your question, I see no value in the state recognizing a marriage based on the participants wanting to have sex with members of the same sex. It does not have any potential for producing children.

Neither do marriages between infertile people, such as the elderly, have any potential for producing children. So why not, as Jockeystreet suggests, ban marriage for women over 60?

So I think the end goal is to get the state out of as much as possible - it seems that the current direction to expand marriage to a broader population with a broader meaning is the opposite of what one would want to do if they were following a libertarian viewpoint. If you disagree, I would be curious to understand how expanding participation in a government regulated institution is in line with a libertarian viewpoint.

My view is consistent with a libertarian viewpoint in that it allows greater personal, individual choice in marriage, not less. Banning gay marriage restricts choice, whereas legalizing it expands choice.

Anonymous said...

John:

Thank you for your time and responses. I remain baffled on some of your reasoning.

Earlier, you replied:

As for pedophiles, I think that we can say that children cannot (or should not be able to ) consent to marriage and so this isn't a real danger.

Later you state:

My view is consistent with a libertarian viewpoint in that it allows greater personal, individual choice in marriage, not less. Banning gay marriage restricts choice, whereas legalizing it expands choice.

Would not allowing children (lets define as less than 16 years old) to marry expand choice? If people are able to arbitrarily change the definition of marriage to two people of the same sex, do you really think that it isn't a real danger of people wanting to expand the choice to include children? Multiple wives and/or husbands? (I readily acknowledge that the latter - multiple husbands - is extremely unlikely.)

Respectfully,
Joseph

Larry B said...

John says:

3. Without bringing any personal value judgements into what marriage should be - the only purpose the state has for marriage is to encourage the continuation of society through childbearing.

But isn't this itself a personal value judgment?


No I considered it axiomatic for this discussion. If that isn't an acceptable axiom for this discussion, then my arguments don't follow and the truth value of my syllogistic reasoning based on that axiom is wrong.

Neither do marriages between infertile people, such as the elderly, have any potential for producing children. So why not, as Jockeystreet suggests, ban marriage for women over 60?

I already stated that as a matter of practicality there doesn't need to be that level of discrimination. I don't deny that the syllogistic reasoning would require this outcome, however if it a requirement for a point to be valid that the results of syllogistic reasoning using that point always be implemented, then both of our positions result in bizarre extremes. You had already conceded that your own syllogisms lead you into a position that would require supporting polygamy at a minimum and there are several other expanded choice options that would have to be implemented under your definitions.

In the end, my primary point of contention is that a libertarian should never advocate expanding participation in a government institution and should be looking for ways to minimize or eliminate the governments role. By first allowing government to institute marriage as a state controlled privilege, we have brought them into the fold. You now claim that they should increase their role by legislating further purposes for marriage, under the assumption that expanding peoples choice to become involved in the governments institution somehow limits government involvement. I see it as increased involvement, you argue that it isn't.

That is the point where I leave off at having to agree to disagree.