28 May 2012

Quick Thoughts on Christians and Marriage

Religious 127 Comments

Over the past few weeks I have seen a lot of secular libertarian commentary on the issue of gay marriage. I don’t think there is an adequate understanding of the traditional Christian view on this issue, so in this quick post I just want to try to frame the issue a little more correctly. This is obviously a really touchy subject, especially since I know plenty of openly gay people and it’s awkward if I write something and then they think, “Oh, Bob must despise me.” So, I hope that’s not how this post comes across, but anyway I really do think people aren’t understand what a truly “Christian” view is.

First of all, it is absolutely ridiculous if a Christian carries around signs saying, “God hates f***!” etc. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, if you’re a Christian then you think we are all sinners, and so you had better wear a shirt that says, “God hates all of us!” to be consistent. But oops, you wouldn’t do that, because you also think God loves all of us.

Second, it’s not quite right when secular critics say, “Why would God punish someone for the way he was born?” Or at least, that’s not the discriminatory zinger that the critics think. By my understanding, the most one could say is that the Bible condemns sodomy, or if you will, acting upon one’s homosexuality. It’s not one’s orientation per se that it the issue. And if you say, “Well that’s still absurd, why is the Christian God telling me to not act on my natural urges?” well OK, but He also tells heterosexuals not to sleep with other men’s wives, not to get drunk, not to rob a bank even though getting money is fun, etc. Yes, go ahead in the comments and draw a distinction and say that heterosexuals get an approved outlet for some of their urges, whereas the homosexuals don’t, but my point is that the critique (“I’m being punished for the way God made me”) isn’t really limited to the issue of gay marriage, it has more to do with free will and God’s sovereignty altogether.

Third, I personally don’t even get into the issue of, “Is homosexuality a sin, according to the Christian Bible?” It would be hard to deduce that merely from the prohibitions in the Old Testament, since there are plenty of things there that Christians no longer endorse. There are writings from Paul that would carry more weight (to a modern evangelical Christian), but then again Paul says a lot of stuff in his writings that modern Christians don’t necessarily take at face value.

Since Jesus said–in reference to a heterosexual caught violating the Mosaic code–”let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” I don’t really even get into this issue. I have done all kinds of stuff that I believe is a sin, like going to websites that I shouldn’t. So there’s no way I’m going to get worked up about how other people are living their lives, because you’re going to see nothing but rampant sinners all over the place if that’s how you want to approach the world. (In other words, if some evangelical is pointing at a gay couple and telling me, “Hey Bob, there go two rotten miserable sinners, don’t you agree!” I will say, “Sure, and the same is true of any heterosexual couple, without the work of Jesus on the cross.”)

Finally: The thing about the marriage issue from a Biblical Christian perspective, it seems to me, isn’t that we’re endorsing “sin” or not. Rather, the reason this is such a big deal for Christians is that people are using the government to try to culturally redefine a crucial institution. Look, let me be clear; I am NOT even saying here that I think the government ought to go one way or the other one this issue; there really isn’t a good answer, once government starts wading into this matters. (It’s like asking, “Should kids be allowed to pray at lunch in a government-run school, or should teachers be able to say, “Merry Christmas” in December?” There’s no principled, non-slippery slope answer to that.)

What I am saying is that it is very understandable why Bible-believing Christians would be really upset if the government sanctions homosexual unions and calls it “marriage.” The correct Christian objection (it seems to me) isn’t, “Ugh! I hate those freaks so much! No way! Hate hate hate!” Rather, the correct Christian objection–if the Christian is going to object–is to say, “I’m sorry, that’s just not what marriage is. God established marriage to be a union between one man and one woman. It’s why Jesus didn’t endorse divorce, and it’s why homosexual unions just can’t count as marriage. Yes, by all means let’s change the tax code so we’re not penalizing people unfairly, but I cannot go so far as to say, ‘Yes this is marriage just like these other relationships’ because I simply don’t believe that’s true. I’m sorry if that offends somebody but given my views of how the universe was created and Who created marriage in the first place, that’s what it is and a majority of voters can’t change that simple truth.”

I am not going to bother making an explicit analogy, because the last time I did that people got offended. So, in your mind, come up with something ridiculous that the government would then want to call “marriage,” and see if you can understand why people would object to that. Not because they want to stymie the person involved, but because they would say, “Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s just not what a marriage is.”

I do agree that the evangelical Christians have done a terrible job getting their message out. In particular, I really wish they would tell Rush Limbaugh and other multiply-divorced people to keep their mouths shut on the topic, in a gentle way of course.

127 Responses to “Quick Thoughts on Christians and Marriage”

  1. Wolff says:

    “OK, but He also tells heterosexuals not to sleep with other men’s wives, not to get drunk, not to rob a bank even though getting money is fun, etc. ”

    Presumably there is a strong same sex attraction biological dynamic occurring with homosexuality or are you denying this? Are you just as sexually attractive to men as you are women but resist the urge to be with men for religious reasons? To put it bluntly, have you ever gotten an erection around another man? Personally, I haven’t yet I don’t think it’s because I’m consciously resisting attraction. There’s something about the opposite sex that turns me on in some cases that has never existed with the same sex and I assume there is a biological component at play.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Wolff I don’t understand why you’re asking me that. Yes I think there is a biological drive, just like there is a biological drive behind me being attracted to a married woman.

      • Egoist says:

        just like there is a biological drive behind me being attracted to a married woman.

        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. (j/k, I know what you meant, it just reads funny when you look at it in a certain way)

        Convenient that you are permitted to act on your sexual urges, isn’t it?

        What if your son or daughter had biological urges to be with the same sex? Would you “sit down and have a chat”, hoping to convince them to be lonely, and emotionally and sexually unfulfilled for the rest of their lives? Will you be so strict, so relentless in telling them they are acting against some cosmic morality, that you had no idea they have become depressed, such that one morning you wake up for the weekly session that homosexuality is a sin, and hence you are a dirty sinner who is going to hell if you act on those urges, only to discover your son or daughter in their bedroom closet with a rope around their neck?

        Also, if God is against homosexuality, then why did he make so many “lower” animals practitioners in homosexual behavior? Did you know that male giraffes have sex with other male giraffes more often than they do with female giraffes? There is homosexual behavior in virtually every animal species. 1 in 10 pairs of black-headed gulls are lesbians. Geese and ducks have been found to be engaging in lifelong homosexual monogamous relationships.

        1500 animal species have been documented as engaging in homosexual behavior.

        What’s worse? A heterosexual Christian man who has been divorced 5 times, raises criminal children, or a homosexual Christian man who is monogamous and married to another man for life, and raises intelligent, peaceful, productive “Christian” children?

        If a Christian man or woman can lust after another man or woman’s spouse, act on it, and still be considered a Christian, since everyone is a sinner anyway, then why can’t a Christian man lust after another man, or a woman lust after another women, act on it, and still be considered a Christian?

        Remember, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone. If you “permit” a homosexual man or woman to consider themselves as Christian, then why not consider a homosexual man who is married, a married person? If you say a Christian can sin and still be a Christian, despite going against God’s will, then why can’t homosexuals live in sin and still be married, despite going against God’s will?

        I don’t believe you when you say gay marriage “doesn’t make sense.” I think that is just an excuse being used in place of “I don’t like gay marriage”.

        If you saw a lifelong monogamous pairing of female ducks, would that “not make sense” to you? Or did God make homosexual animals to suit his own homosexual desires? Oops, that is perhaps going too far cerebral. Maybe next time.

        • joshua says:

          But but but what about the man who can only satisfy his sexual urges with children?

          (Not saying they are equivalent. Just arguing that “X kind of sexual urge exists, therefore it cannot be immoral” is not usually accepted by people as valid for all X. It’s usually a debate about what belongs in that set – which urges you’re going to forbid, not whether to forbid them at all.)

          • MamMoTh says:

            That’s ok if he is a priest.

          • Egoist says:

            But but but what about the man who can only satisfy his sexual urges with children?

            I don’t separate behaviors into “moral” and “immoral.” I treat all actions as either acknowledged egoist, or unacknowledged egoist.

            One either satisfies one’s urges by pretending they are not egoist driven, or one satisfies one’s urges by acknowledging they are egoist driven.

            Mammoth below made a joke, but it illustrates my point: Priests who molest boys do so for the sake of being exalted, so as to gratify their egoism. Priests don’t want to be egoists, so they look to God and Hell for answers, they look outside themselves, but they can’t shake their egoism, and so in the end they molest boys for their own sake.

            Since my egoism is generally satisfied by living among non-pedophile victims, I derive quite a bit of pleasure watching, or myself bringing about, pedophiles being hurt badly.

        • Tel says:

          “Convenient that you are permitted to act on your sexual urges, isn’t it?”

          I kind of got the impression that Bob was talking about those occasions where he might be attracted to a woman married to someone other than himself. Christians do make some effort to control their biological urges you know.

        • zee says:

          @Egoist:

          I was wondering if there is a good book on amazon or elsewhere that explains the egoist view on morality and stuff like that, if you had any suggestions.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          “Convenient that you are permitted to act on your sexual urges, isn’t it?”

          But no heterosexual Christian gets “permission” to act on all his or her sexual urges! (Permission is a silly concept to employ here, but never mind.) You are not even engaging Bobs argument, you are just rattling off a script.

          • Egoist@hotmail.com says:

            But no heterosexual Christian gets “permission” to act on all his or her sexual urges! (Permission is a silly concept to employ here, but never mind.)

            Try to at least make it appear that you are able to understand context.

            Heterosexuals get biblical permission to act on their sexual urges.

            Gays do not. Leviticus.

          • Egoist says:

            In other words I didn’t say ALL their sexual urges. I said their sexual urges.

            You’re misinterpreting what I said.

        • Matt Flipago says:

          To all the LGBT supporters who say things like “emotionally and sexually unfulfilled for the rest of their lives”… Watch you language, much of it is very hurtful to asexual and those who can’t marry for whatever reason. Life can certainly be emotionally fulfilling without sexual relations, even to those who have sexual attraction to other people. To argue otherwise is horribly offensive.

      • Wolff says:

        What makes it wrong to sleep with a married woman? Isn’t it because she is married as opposed to being a female? If she was single, would it still be immoral? I don’t see how being gay changes the analogy since the morality of the situation is based on commitment, not sexual organs.

  2. MamMoTh says:

    I didn’t know visiting Krugman’s blog was a sin.

    • rayray says:

      That was going to be my joke.

  3. Egoist says:

    Rather, the reason this is such a big deal for Christians is that people are using the government to try to culturally redefine a crucial institution.

    That would have been a plausible reason, had it not been for the blatantly obvious fact that 99.9% of the number of Christians who make this argument on a Sunday, nevertheless turn around and start hollering at the government to culturally redefine something else on Monday, which means of course the reason really isn’t about not wanting the government involved in people’s personal lives. It has to be something else.

    How many Christians are anarchists? I would not have said anything here, but you said “Christians” with an “s.” Well, Christians with an “s” are almost entirely pro-state in some form or another, and almost all Christians want to use the state to culturally redefine social relationships that would otherwise exist in a natural state of anarchy. I think the “small government” tactic is a front for Christians with an “s”. Not talking about you personally of course.

    You know how you can see that it is a front? Hardly any Christian is spending any time and effort appealing, protesting, calling, contacting, lobbying, etc, other citizens who themselves “redefine” marriage and get married anyway, in their own way. No, they don’t worry about that, they worry about the state “redefining” marriage. And why only the state? It’s because they are already statists want to use, or are already using, the state in their own way to culturally set the “definitions” for everyone else, including those citizens who have already defined marriage as including homosexual unions.

    Not because they want to stymie the person involved, but because they would say, “Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s just not what a marriage is.”

    Really, if the only objection you are saying Christians should be making is that marriage “is” a union between a man and a women, and that “redefining it wouldn’t make any sense”, then you are making the same mistake the haters are making. You are presuming that a changed convention to a word definition means the referent to which the definition refers has changed. You believe that if marriage is “redefined” to include homosexual unions, that heterosexual unions will no longer be what they were before. After all, they can’t use the word “marriage” any more, right? Gays are now married! That means heterosexual unions are no longer what they were before, right? Wrong. We “redefine” words ALL THE TIME. Remember when snail mail used to be called mail? It was redefined. Does that mean snail mail is any different than it was before? No, it’s the same, we just use a different word.

    It’s the same thing with “marriage.” Marriage is DEFINED by Christians as between a man and woman. OK, keep your definition. You can’t say, especially as a libertarian, that gays can’t adhere to their own definition of marriage. Who are you to define words for others? You don’t see gays telling you that you should “define” yourself as “a bear.” No, they will just define you as that, and let you define yourself the way you want. Regardless of what definitions you use, you’re not changing the referents.

    Christians arguing over the “definition” of marriage are like PhD Christian economists arguing over the definition of the unit of currency. Should we define them as shekels or dollars? Don’t use the state to redefine the shekel into a dollar! We won’t be able to stand that! Our silver dollars will chemically change, leaving us with nothing!

    • joshua says:

      Well, Christians with an “s” are almost entirely pro-state in some form or another…

      You clearly haven’t met some of the people I have.

      • Egoist says:

        Perhaps you didn’t clearly see me writing “almost all.”

        I am aware of Christian anarchism. They are just vastly outnumbered by Christians archists, and so I think what I said is fair.

  4. Yosef says:

    Bob, you said, referring to the correct Christian objection, ” “I’m sorry, that’s just not what marriage is. God established marriage to be a union between one man and one woman. It’s why Jesus didn’t endorse divorce, and it’s why homosexual unions just can’t count as marriage.”"

    Would you then say that any, in order to be consistent, Christians who seek to ban gay marriage must also seek to ban divorce? After all, government accepted divorce is also redlining the institution away from God’s endorsement.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Yosef that’s a good question. To be clear everyone, I am NOT myself saying, “The government shouldn’t recognize gay marriage.” I really don’t know what to think about it, since there are problems with either approach if you take the traditional Biblical view. I think it’s like saying, “If you had to run a Soviet farm, Bob, would you plant corn or something else?”

      Yeah Yosef that’s probably right. I think a Christian who is hardcore with the Bible saying government can’t even allow a Justice of the Peace to marry two guys, should also say a Justice of the Peace can’t marry someone who has previously been married but is now “divorced” (since such a thing doesn’t exist). Probably though, a lot of them would call your bluff if you said that to them!

      • Yosef says:

        Bob, I think you are mistaken. It’s their bluff that is being called.

        Also, you should plant beets.

    • Tel says:

      I think the more relevant point is that people should be free to form communities with other people who have similar lifestyle choices to themselves. You don’t shove your nose in my business, I don’t shove my business under your nose. Think of it as a peace treaty.

      You enjoy peace right?

      • Yosef says:

        Tel, I am afraid I don’t know what you mean by telling someone not to “shove my business under your nose”.

        If someone walks with their partner down the street, or kisses in front of a child, are they shoving their business under your nose?

        • Egoist says:

          Not unless they kiss or hold hands in the volume of space that resides just below your nose, which according to my spiritual text of laws, extends outward by 1 foot. Any kiss beyond that, and people are in their own bubbles, and any attempt by you to stop them, would be you shoving your business under their noses.

        • Tel says:

          You look for legalistic answers to what is a common sense problem. If you want it to work then I’m sure you are clever enough to get it to work. If you want it to fail then probably you can achieve that as well.

          • Yosef says:

            Sorry, but “common sense” is a hand wavy way of saying ‘i know the right answer when i see it, but don’t have a principle to explain it’. Common sense is not a universal idea, and what is sensible to you may not be to others.

            Yeah when a group of people is looking for legal recognition of their relationships, by a legal entity known as the government, i look for a legalistic answer. But I’m quirky like that.

            • Tel says:

              Like I said above, think of it as a peace treaty. So imagine you have two nations that might go to war, but they agreed on a treaty instead. Do you [A] look very closely for loopholes in the treaty and then exploit those loopholes to the utmost just to prove you can? Or do you [B] think to yourself, “It’s really nice to live in peace like this and my life is pretty good all things considered, so I’ll put my effort and into productive things and I’ll go that little bit of extra distance just to avoid pissing off my neighbour”?

              That little mental balancing act is what common sense is all about, and if there’s a shortage of it around, then we all end up killing each other. Would be a shame, but from a historical perspective, pretty normal. I’d like to see everyone go for option [B], but if push comes to shove, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I’m on the winning side. What’s your strategy?

  5. joeftansey says:

    If the prohibition on homosexual acts weren’t in the bible, would you support gay relationships? My gut is that even if the OT didn’t comment on it, the 99% of the same people would still be crying about the sanctity of marriage.

    Oh and an obvious omission from the OP is lesbian marriage. They obviously don’t (need to) have anaslex [sic] and yet christians aren’t walking around saying that lesbian relationships are a-okay.

    (btw Bob in the first paragraph, you write “aren’t understand”. I was going to work this into a sarcastic bite, but and then I was going to work THIS into a sarcastic bite, but I will choose not to. End communication.)

    • Egoist says:

      Oh and an obvious omission from the OP is lesbian marriage. They obviously don’t (need to) have anaslex

      One doesn’t “need” to have sex, but one can desire it. There are a positive number of lesbians who desire anaslex.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      ” They obviously don’t (need to) have anaslex [sic] and yet christians aren’t walking around saying that lesbian relationships are a-okay.”

      Read Aquinas so you can understand the standard Christian objection here. (By the way, for Aquinas the worst sexual sin of all would be, I think, masturbation.) Then you would have a clue what you are talking about. (And, by the way, I suspect Aquinas got this wrong, and am thinking of writing a paper on that, but his argument is a lot better than the strawman you are attacking.)

    • Matt Flipago says:

      Romans 1:26-27 makes a fairly clear reference to lesbian, but homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament. I don’t know why you care about the old testament though, homosexual acts were mentioned multiple times in the New Testament .You can still interpret that some homosexual acts are okay, but clearly the bible and the church taught that certain kinds of homosexual acts, at least in the form of pagan worship, and prostitution were wrong for both sexes.

      Also, Aquinas thought that masturbation was more of a sin AGAINST chastity, than say fornication by consensual lovers, but that rape, adulatory, etc were less sins AGAINST chastity but also sins AGAINST justice. Since justice is a more important virtue than chastity, rape and adulatory and incest were far, far worse.

  6. joshua says:

    Render to Caesar the definition of marriage that is Caesar’s, and to God the definition of marriage that is God’s.

    • Tel says:

      It would be kind of neat if there was a different word for religious marriage and legal marriage, but I doubt either side would admit the concession to the other.

      Deep down, this is about gays saying, “we want to be accepted” and they are using the power of government to try to get that acceptance by force if needs be. It won’t work, it can’t work. You can use a gun to make a man pretend to be your friend, but that’s the end of it.

      • Egoist says:

        It would be kind of neat if there was a different word for religious marriage and legal marriage

        But it’s a war over the definition of marriage. Christians like Murphy don’t want gay people to use the same word they use to describe their own relationship. Since they marry for the sake of God to gratify their egoism, marriage becomes sacred, rather than egoist. Thus, any other person who blasphemes against that which is sacred, such as despoiling one’s idea of marriage, somehow means their own marriages are under threat.

        Incidentally, this is why we see instances of closeted homosexuals who are married to members of the opposite sex, being homophobic themselves. How many times have we seen soapbox Republicans who are married, preach about the virtues of heterosexual marriages, the “sacredness” of them, only to be found on Saturday night in a men’s bathroom with another man?

        The reason Christians are antagonistic towards homosexual marriages is because they have made it sacred in their minds. When something is made sacred, that shuts the door on egoism, and so making marriages “sacred” shuts the door to egoist marriages, which of course includes gay marriage.

        This is why you see so many Christians gleefully sliding down the slippery slope and believing they have played a trump card by saying “What’s next, marrying a chimpanzee?” Unfortunately, gays don’t have the correct answer to this, because they almost all hold humanism as sacred, so they respond the same way a Christian would respond to Islam: “Oh come on! We are not saying we’re calling for THAT! Don’t be a fool. Our sacredness resides in “humanity”, so all manner of human marriages are permitted.” Of course then we end up with two religious clans warring against each other, one in the name of God, the other in the name of Humanity, and I say it’s an illusion to put the ego in God, and it is no less an illusion to put the ego in Humanity.

        Reclaim it, and marry ANYTHING you desire, and understand that the only thing that can stop you is the might of other egos, and the only “rightful” thing that can stop you is the might of other egos.

        This is why Christians, even Christian anarchists, want to retain the power of the state the way it is when it comes to marriage. Notice how Murphy didn’t say “The state should NOT be in the business of marriage IN ANY WAY.”

        No, he sheepishly says “I really don’t know what the state should do”, which is, coming from a libertarian, codespeak for “Boy, am I glad that my Christianity just so happens to coincide with state power, so I can with relief say I don’t want the state to set the definition of marriage”, which of course is just another way of him saying he wants the state to continue to use their might the way they are currently using their might, namely, by only recognizing heterosexual marriages.

        It is similar to how a pro-slavery advocate during the 19th century would say “I don’t want the state to set parameters on slavery” when debating advocates of slave emancipation, knowing full well that the way things are, the way the state currently uses its might, enables slavery to continue. Of course the Humanists who believe only the central state could abolish slavery, just want to abolish one form of slavery for another, codified in secular statism, which is just another religion.

        It would be neat if there was a different word for acknowledged egoist marriages and unacknowledged egoist marriages.

        • Tel says:

          Sure, so if Christians gave up on the word “marriage” and started using some new word that they invented and was trademarked and protected and absolutely reserved for only Christian use then we could all be happy right?

          There would be no “reclaiming’ necessary since this new word would never belong to anyone except for Christians.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Egoist wrote, Notice how Murphy didn’t say “The state should NOT be in the business of marriage IN ANY WAY.”

          I actually did say that the first time I wrote on this topic. I didn’t think, as an anarchist, I had to spell that out, but I was wrong.

          • Egoist says:

            My apologies. I guess I am relatively new so I didn’t get to see it.

            That must be annoying to have to repeat yourself all the time. Ah well, that’s probably what comes with being an educator.

            If only there was some program where when you write about topics, it automatically links to the previous discussions on them “on the fly” so to speak, and you can point and click which ones you want to link to and which ones not to. Kind of like a prof saying “Last week we talked about X”, but in meta-digital form.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Egoist, the post was from May 10 where I explicitly said I was a pacifist and rejected all forms of government involvement in marriage. I’m surprised you don’t remember, since you commented a few times on that post.

              • Egoist says:

                Maybe you can help me understand a little more on what you meant by these passages from this week, because I don’t see consistency between May 10 and today, which I think is partly the reason why I forgot (the other, more relevant part being my memory isn’t the best):

                “Look, let me be clear; I am NOT even saying here that I think the government ought to go one way or the other one this issue; there really isn’t a good answer, once government starts wading into this matters.”

                and

                “What I am saying is that it is very understandable why Bible-believing Christians would be really upset if the government sanctions homosexual unions and calls it “marriage.””

                The second passage looks exactly like a sanction of current government involvement in the form of defining marriage as between a man and woman, and enforcing it as such in terms of legality, benefits, etc, because it looks like you’re saying Christians are happy about the way the government involves itself now, which is only sanctioning heterosexual marriages, and not sanctioning homosexual marriages.

                That doesn’t look like “I / we prefer it if the government didn’t involve itself in marriage at all”, because that would actually require the government to actually sanction all marriages, including gay marriages, by their actions of no discrimination, the same way I would actually be “sanctioning” whatever it is you do by not physically involving myself in your affairs.

                Do you see why I would pounce on that second passage? It looks like you’re saying that as a Christian, you would not approve of the government sanctioning gay marriage, which looks to me like a tacit approval of current government involvement in marriage in the form of their actions concerning legal enforcement, benefits, etc.

                If one’s position really was “The government should not interfere in marriages whatsoever”, then shouldn’t that mean one would have to say they support the government sanctioning every form of marriage and not discriminating amongst various forms of marriage.like they do now?

                In other words, why should an ANARCHIST get upset if the government permitted all forms of marriage? Isn’t it the case that only a pro-state person would get upset if the state permitted some form of action? Saying that the state should not permit a particular form of action, is to me a tacit sanction of state intervention.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Egoist wrote:

                In other words, why should an ANARCHIST get upset if the government permitted all forms of marriage?

                Because this isn’t an issue of the government “permitting” anything, it’s an issue of the government actively declaring that certain people are married. Nobody is saying, “The government should throw two guys in jail if they walk around saying they’re married.”

                Look, by an analogy, let’s say someone wants to fill government libraries with nothing but books written from socialist intellectuals in the 1940s praising Stalin. Then I say, “Jeez, I can understand why libertarians might be upset about that policy. Given that the government is running libraries, there’s no good answer to this, but I can certainly understand why a lot of libertarians would rather the library have less pro-Marxist stuff and more Hayek.”

                Then you would lecture me and say the true anarchist position is for the government to permit its shelves to be filled with pro-communist propaganda?

              • Egoist says:

                Because this isn’t an issue of the government “permitting” anything, it’s an issue of the government actively declaring that certain people are married.

                Can you explain the difference? To me, those are exactly the same thing, praxeologically speaking.

                If I am a father, and I introduce my daughter and her new husband in a private ceremony, no state intervention allowed, as “Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to introduce Mr and Mrs Smith”, am I not sanctioning this marriage, by me refraining from using force to stop it, and in so doing, am I not “declaring” that these two people are married?

                A person “permitting” two people to be married is the flip side of the coin of “declaring” them to be married, is it not? Declaring goes along with permitting. One cannot “permit” an action without “declaring” that action is taking place, right?

                Why are they different?

                “Look, by an analogy, let’s say someone wants to fill government libraries with nothing but books written from socialist intellectuals in the 1940s praising Stalin. Then I say, “Jeez, I can understand why libertarians might be upset about that policy. Given that the government is running libraries, there’s no good answer to this, but I can certainly understand why a lot of libertarians would rather the library have less pro-Marxist stuff and more Hayek.”

                Ah, so I was right after all. Your usage of the government library as an analogy, shows that you currently view heterosexual marriages as like filling a governmental bureau, where the only books “permitted” in the library are heterosexual books. After all, an empty government library, the anarchist ideal, would be pretty useless, wouldn’t it?

                Maybe it’s in your subconscious, and it shows through your words in a way that you can’t tell, but to me your analogy looks like a sanctioning of government libraries that are filled with heterosexual books only, and speaks out against government getting involved in libraries in general when there is the possibility of gay books being placed on the shelf too.

                Then you would lecture me and say the true anarchist position is for the government to permit its shelves to be filled with pro-communist propaganda?

                No, I would lecture you and say the anarchist position would be to seek to abolish the government library, and in the meantime, recognize it would be hypocritical to sanction the government putting in libertarian books in the library, but not socialist books because we don’t want government involved in library books.

                The anarchist would say they don’t want ANY books in the government library, indeed they don’t want any government libraries at all, but in the meantime, the anarchist would have to accept that because private libraries that open up would contain socialist books, it would be silly to argue over the definition of these books, by saying “Those aren’t books. It doesn’t make any sense to me that you would call these books. To me a book is libertarian and only libertarian oriented. The government should not declare that those socialist books are defined as books, because that would be government intervention in books. Yes, the government currently defines libertarian books as books, and I implicitly depend on the government to set the definition of what a book is and what a non-book is, and here is where Egoist has an issue with my view.”

        • Tel says:

          “Of course the Humanists who believe only the central state could abolish slavery, just want to abolish one form of slavery for another, codified in secular statism, which is just another religion.”

          I’m pretty confident that if you actually want to abolish individual slavery (like one person exerting ownership of another by force) then you need a strong central state to achieve that. We still see elements of slavery popping up in the modern world, there have been some quite recent prosecutions.

          If you want to mostly get rid of quite a lot of slavery, and don’t mind if it happens here and there, then a loose knit anarchic system can do that. You can have a state that is powerful but stays within Constitutional limits, it worked for quite a long time, but requires citizens to take it seriously. We just got lazy about doing maintenance.

          • Egoist says:

            I think it is laziness that makes statism possible in the first place. Isn’t it easier to believe one should be taken care of into adulthood, than not believe it?

        • Carrie says:

          Egoist, you and I have disagreed in the past and will surely disagree in the future. But today I want to say “well done.” This is an excellent comment– I wish I’d written it myself!

          • Egoist says:

            You’re an interesting person, Carrie.

            The last time we interacted you wanted me dead, and this time you’re heaping praise on me. I seem to be like one of your pets, where you’ll welcome me with open arms when I am “good”, and you’ll put me down when I’m “bad.”

            That’s OK, I am a pet to others, and I have pets of my own too.

            It is vain to expect or desire universal agreement or universal disagreement between unique entities. Note that Rationalists are very similar to Christians in this respect. There is an ideal person Rationalists and Christians have in mind (not necessarily the same ideal of course), and everyone is expected, called upon, to sacrifice their selfish Earthly desires for the sake of that ideal, thus becoming a hybrid Rationalist self-interest, or Christian self-interest. Carrie’s self-interest, and Egoist’s self-interest, are to be eradicated, so that Rational man is exalted, so that Christian man is exalted.

            I hold that there can only be temporary, localized, delimited unions of Earthly selfish interest. Some might last a moment, some might last one’s entire lifetime.

            I think this is a major reason why marriages became sacred. Long lasting monogamy is an Earthly symbol of extending one’s existence. It is a symbol of consistency, of eternal existence. A series of short marriages is a symbol of finitude, of limitation, which those who hold God or Humanity as sacred, recoil against. I’ve seen it. Hard core atheist humanists chastising individuals having short marriages, such as some celebrities. Imagine that! Atheists and theists having something in common.

  7. Locke says:

    Before this thread goes further into the crapper, I commend Bob’s post as a fellow Christian and libertarian. It makes some important points that I regret to see are already being misconstrued.

    However, it is not obvious to me, though I confess my ignorance of many Bible passages, that marriage – one man, one wife – is “God-established.” Between David, Solomon, Jesus, and Paul alone, there are many “Godly” men who do not fit this rubric.

  8. Tel says:

    I’d just like to point out that a lot of people lose all sense of context in a debate like this. On the whole, minority groups living in Christian dominated countries tend to get treated with tolerance. Try being gay in Saudi Arabia or Iran or even Singapore. Since gays are pretty much a minority in every nation (probably for biological reasons) I think it’s worth spending a little bit of time every day, being thankful for the tolerance to be allowed to be gay at all, rather than pushing for more and more.

    It’s kind of gone the same way with feminism, first they wanted equality, and then they discovered that equality meant working 8 hours a day banging your head and they discovered that it really sux (which is kind of what the men were trying to tell them all along). So now they want better than equality, to get past the suck, so they can get the benefit of having men work for them, but still keep the political power to make decisions. Well, the name for that is “inequality”, so have fun with that.

    • Yosef says:

      Yeah Tel, like feminists, gays want “better than equality”. They want super marriage. The right not only to be with someone of their choice, but also free candy on Tuesdays.

      Now of course, one could make the argument that the treatment of gays in this (and similar) country have improved is because the country moved away from a religious orientation, and become more secular, while countries likes Saudi Arabia and Iran still embrace their religiosity.

      But I don’t have time for that. I am too busy being thankful “just being allowed to be” Jewish at all, rather than “pushing for more and more” (like previous generations of Jews had to in this country).

      • Tel says:

        Gays already have the right to be with someone of their choice, they have had that for decades.

        • Yosef says:

          Tel, how are you considering “the right to be with someone”? I mean it in the sense of being allowed to marry, or even civil union. There are still states where that latter option is not allowed. Indeed, North Carolina has now joined that er proud list. So tell me how gays in North Carolina can be with someone of their choice?

          • Tel says:

            I just mean it in the common English that the right to be with someone means the right to be with someone.

            If you want to talk about marriage, fair enough, but that’s an additional thing. So as you are perfectly aware, gays in North Carolina can be together, live together, sleep together, whatever they want. Of course they can be with someone of their choice.

            Obviously for some people that’s not good enough and they want more than that. Please don’t pretend that just because you can muddy the meaning of words, this implies the concepts are not clear.

            • Yosef says:

              Tel, you wrote “So as you are perfectly aware, gays in North Carolina can be together, live together, sleep together, whatever they want.”

              Whatever they want? So if they want to get married? (Or adopt kids?)

              It’s not an “additional thing” to say that gay want the same legal right and recognition as straight couples

              • Tel says:

                Yosef, how about you actually detail what exactly homosexuals are missing out on in Western democratic countries, and don’t go into business of pretending they don’t have the right to be together. Explain what real difference a state-sanctioned marriage will deliver.

                Now go and contrast that with more than half the countries on Earth where it is illegal to be homosexual at all, and in many places even a quick kiss will get you a death sentence. In Singapore, a rumor can get you locked away.

                Once you have put those two side-by-side think hard about the whole big picture thingy. There are so many more important issues to chase up, why push someone’s tolerance on a small matter, when the guy you are pushing is right now offering you a better deal than anyone else on the planet?

              • Carrie says:

                I know, right? In many countries, people of a particular race or ethnicity were tortured or shackled. At least in the United States, some slave owners provided a few meals and a shack to sleep in.

                Once you have put those two side-by-side, think hard about the whole big picture thingy. There are so many more important issues to chase up. Why push someone’s tolerance on a small matter like abolition, when the slave master you are pushing is right now offering you a better deal than anyone else on the planet?

                This is disgusting.

              • Ken B says:

                “This is disgusting.”

                Whereas completely misrepresenting Tel’s comment is not?

              • Carrie says:

                Ken B., intentionally misrepresenting someone’s comments is indeed disgusting. I sincerely do not believe that is what I have done. I do not see what else Tel could mean by:

                “I think it’s worth spending a little bit of time every day, being thankful for the tolerance to be allowed to be gay at all…”,

                as if those in the minority should be grateful to the majority for “allowing” them to be what they are.

              • Ken B says:

                @Carrie:
                Here is your characterizatrion of Tel’s remarks:
                “when the slave master you are pushing is right now offering you a better deal than anyone else on the planet?”

                Well not all of your characterization; you also talked about torture.

              • Carrie says:

                Well, yes, as Tel was saying that gay people in the USA should be grateful that at least a kiss here doesn’t result in a “death sentence” or being “locked away,” as it does in other countries.

    • Carrie says:

      Since [tall people / short people / diabetic people / people with an extra finger / libertarians] are pretty much a minority in every nation, probably for biological reasons, these mutants should spend a little bit of time every day being thankful for the tolerance Tel bestows on them by allowing them to exist. He could, after all, rightfully call for them to be burned at the stake, since they are the deviant minority.

      • Egoist says:

        Since [drug usage / group sex / incest / fist fighting] are pretty much a minority in every nation, probably for biological reasons, these deviants should spend a little bit of time every day being thankful for the tolerance Carrie bestows on them by allowing them to exist. She could, after all, rightfully call for them to be burned at the stake, since they are the deviant minority.

        Every argument anyone makes against someone else, no matter how remote, I submit always carries with it one’s own self-reflection, however remote or up close.

        • Carrie says:

          Haha. The difference is that, while I think something like drug usage is immoral, I do not claim it should be illegal. Nor would I call for the death of people who engaged in the activities you listed. (Please note, you keep saying that I “called for your death” in our previous interaction. I did not say it would be moral to initiate force against you; I was pointing out that the behaviors you engage in, including drug use and group sex, would likely lead to your demise, and that it is through your own fault and your own actions that you will self-destruct.)

          Additionally, the activies you list are choices, whereas sexual orientation is not.

          • Egoist says:

            The difference is that, while I think something like drug usage is immoral, I do not claim it should be illegal.

            Are you saying there is a difference between these behaviors being illegal in the opinions of statesmen, and “illegal” in the opinion of you, such that it is OK for you say I should die, but it’s not OK for the state to say I should die?

            Nor would I call for the death of people who engaged in the activities you listed. (Please note, you keep saying that I “called for your death” in our previous interaction. I did not say it would be moral to initiate force against you; I was pointing out that the behaviors you engage in, including drug use and group sex, would likely lead to your demise, and that it is through your own fault and your own actions that you will self-destruct.)

            I actually didn’t say you are calling for force to be initiated against me. I said you wanted me dead. There is a difference.

            In the passage I am referring to, you said:

            “Good riddance, you druggie murderous slut. Keep doing what you’re doing so that your hideous existence is extinguished from an otherwise enjoyable world.”

            “Keep doing” in combination with “so that your hideous existence is extinguished” is you wanting me dead, so that the Earth will be more enjoyable for you.

            If I didn’t know any better, it looks like you are now trying to frame that desire behind the protective shield of rationalism, that allegedly turns your endorsement of me dead, into some scientific pronouncement of “If you do A, then B will happen.”

            Look at what you wrote, and tell me again that is wasn’t you wanting me dead.

            I’m still here though! I haven’t died from those behaviors. In fact, my life has been insuperably fulfilled by them. They are pleasurable to me, and that’s all that matters to ME.

            Should I instead take up smoking cigarettes with dollar signs on the filters, so that I can ingest a symbol of industrialism directly into my lungs until I hack up blood and die at 77? Would that be a “rational” self-interested behavior?

            • Carrie says:

              Yes, I am saying that “If you do A, then B will happen.” I’m not saying one drug ingestion causes instantaneous death (though it can), but that drug use causes physical and mental decline over time, as a general trend.

              As such, I do not drink, smoke, take drugs (including caffeine, food coloring, GMOs, etc.) So no, I would not classify smoking a cigarette with a golden dollar sign as a rational behavior; I view such activity to be self-destructive.

              • Egoist [edited by RPM, originally attributed to someone else though Egoist is the author] says:

                Yes, I am saying that “If you do A, then B will happen.”

                I know that is what you ALSO said, I just reject your statement that it is ONLY what you said.

                I’m not saying one drug ingestion causes instantaneous death (though it can), but that drug use causes physical and mental decline over time, as a general trend.

                It doesn’t cause physical or mental decline in me. It enhances my physicality and mental prowess.

                As such, I do not drink, smoke, take drugs (including caffeine, food coloring, GMOs, etc.) So no, I would not classify smoking a cigarette with a golden dollar sign as a rational behavior; I view such activity to be self-destructive.

                Doctors have shown that a glass of wine per day is actually good for you.

                Doctors even prescribe marijuana to their patients.

                You’re sitting there telling me stuff that is unscientific, and yet you’re claiming it’s “rational.”

                How about this:

                You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs because it pleases you to not ingest these things. Your life is enhanced by not taking them. That’s fine. For you. For me, my life is enhanced differently.

                You can’t tell me that what’s good for you must be good for me, because if that’s true, there wouldn’t be any peanut allergy deaths.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Dude, that was uncool.

              • Egoist says:

                Hahaha

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Just so you know Carrie, that wasn’t me.

              • Carrie says:

                Thank goodness! For a moment I wondered if one of my earlier suspicions about Egoist was true– that her account was some kind of joke or college philosophy project in which the assignment was to pick as wacky a philosophy as possible and try to convincingly argue from that perspective.

                Bob, it’s a shame to trouble you with this, but is there a relatively simple way you could enhance blog security so that a particular screen name gets assigned to a single person and can’t be hijacked by another reader?

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Carrie I don’t know if that’s possible. Does anybody else know?

              • Tel says:

                Since the little icon is linked to email address and since the email address is not published, it is difficult (not impossible) to fake the icon in a way that cannot be readily detected: right click the image, open it in a new tab, and look for the gravatar code. Carrie’s code is eda123562504364b8e6997e0a287c6d6 for example, my code is d5380405efc665d1feea17da8b4ae804 and only someone who knew our respective email addresses could fake those codes. This might include people who had admin access on other blogs where we post, or people inside gravatar itself, or one of the many mysterious haxors on Bob’s blog who change the settings all the time.

                Egoist chooses not to insert such an image, and in my opinion he/she/it deserves to be allowed that choice, with all the advantages and disadvantages implied by people being able to easily borrow the name.

              • Ken B says:

                Re security: It depends on what software your blog host provides. As tel says, since emails are private you could have a database that enforces a one-name one-address rule. If your host doesn’t provide a facility for that though it involves coding. That won’t stop spam like stuff — you know the kind I mean, your spam filter labels it ‘major-freedom’ apparently but it will stop the more egregious impersonations.

          • Egoist says:

            Additionally, the activies you list are choices, whereas sexual orientation is not.

            I disagree. I think it depends on the individual, since all individuals are unique.

            Some individuals have a “non-rational” drive to have gay sex, other individuals have a “rational” desire to have gay sex. Nature and choice are just another way of saying this.

            I’ve met people who went from being heterosexual “by nature”, then to homosexual “by nature”, then back to heterosexual “by nature”. You can say they chose this, but they are convinced it was who they were at those times and that they didn’t have a choice, they just were attracted to various genders over time.

            I’ve met people who are bi-sexual “by nature”, but are monogamous “by choice”.

            I’ve met people who believe they are gay “by nature”, and by all rights would convince any doctor, but have had occasional straight sex “by choice.”

            I’ve met people who are straight “by nature”, but have occasionally “experimented” by choice.

            In other words, I subscribe to what Kinsey found to be the case in his studies: There is a gradual scale, and I go on step further and say that this scale can change for a person over time. I don’t accept that every person in the world is one sexual orientation and there is no choice in the matter. For most people, that might very well be true, but just one example falsifies it, and there have been many inconvenient counter-examples.

            • Carrie says:

              I think everything you said here confirms my assertion that sexual orientation is not a choice.

              In each example you cited, the individual knew that his attraction was part of his nature; his attraction for men, women, or both did not feel like a conscious choice. A man who is gay may choose to act counter to his orientation (by marrying a woman, for example), but his underlying orientation at that time is still homosexual.

              In short: attraction or orientation is not a choice, but acting for or against one’s orientation is a choice.

              • Egoist@hotmail.com says:

                I think everything you said here confirms my assertion that sexual orientation is not a choice.

                In each example you cited, the individual knew that his attraction was part of his nature; his attraction for men, women, or both did not feel like a conscious choice.

                I put “by nature” in quotes to suggest choice for some people, and not choice for other people.

                A man who is gay may choose to act counter to his orientation (by marrying a woman, for example), but his underlying orientation at that time is still homosexual.

                Sure, but another person can choose his orientation.

                I don’t accept that every single person in the world does not choose their orientation. It could be the case that most don’t choose, but I have not only met people who have chosen who they are attracted to, but I cannot possibly make definitive claims about every single human in the world before even having met them. It’s far too overgeneralizing.

                In short: attraction or orientation is not a choice, but acting for or against one’s orientation is a choice.

                I disagree. It COULD be a choice, and it COULD be not a choice, depending on the individual person.

      • Tel says:

        Please, get a grip, exaggeration is not an argument. If you want to make the case the modern homosexuals are being treated like slaves then you will need to provide evidence or something (not counting bondage photos).

        Believe me, I’d be just as happy to leave everyone alone if they leave me alone. The problem is, the world simply does not work that way. You might like it to work that way, you can even make some suggestions, possibly useful suggestions. Just go easy on the foot stamping.

        Yes as it turns out, intolerance is on the rise pretty much everywhere and if you want to look at the fundamentalist churches you can find it there, and if you want to look at the Atheists who go out of their way to ridicule the religious people who were otherwise minding their own business, you will find plenty of intolerance there. You find people intolerant of their neighbour earning more money than they do, and yes you find homosexuals going out of their way to stir up trouble as well. Consider the case of Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall who just happened to decide to book a holiday at a B&B where the policy was only to accept married couples, not long after a gay advocacy group had already warned that B&B. There’s a good article here:

        http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/01/theres-a-line-in-a-silly-pop-song-i-like-we-are-all-made-of-stars-i-like-to-hold-it-quite-close-to-the-front-of-my-mind-bec.html

        “Whose life is better as a result? Obviously not religious bed and breakfast owners. But is mine? No of course it isn’t. I’d rather sleep in a ditch than spend a night in the home of people who dislike me. All the case has done is to harden the identities of both Christians and gay people and forced onto both of us an armour which I, for one, would prefer not to be encumbered with. I detest the legislation that was used against the Bulls: but now, in the backs of the minds of the majority of my fellow citizens, is the germ of an idea that all gay people are hell-bent on transforming every public and private sphere into our image. Quite what the impact of the law will be on those bouncers who stand outside the night club on Marine Parade in Brighton, and ask potential entrants: Do you know this is a gay venue? will be, I’m not sure. Presumably it will have to stop, and young gay Brightonians will just have to put up with sharing their space with people who hate them. We had a system of unwritten rules, and they worked. Now we have case law that forces people to take sides and stop using their common sense. I cannot call this ‘progress’.”

        Because of that court case, the sum total of intolerance in the world is more than before.

      • Tel says:

        A second take on the same subject. It isn’t entirely a stupid concept that all people who live a pretty reasonable life and thus have something to lose (and certainly I include myself in this) should stop and be a bit thankful about what they do have rather than whining about what they don’t have.

        Of course I don’t like paying tax, but I still pay what I have to. I don’t think it’s fair that complete idiots seem to have a magic ability to get into positions of power, but I still follow the laws, even the dumbarse laws. Speaking of what’s fair and not, I’ll insert this quote:

        Daughter: “But Daddy, that’s not fair.”
        O’Rourke: “Honey, you’re very cute, and that’s not fair. You’re very smart, and that’s also not fair. Your parents are well-to-do, and that’s surely not fair. You were lucky enough to be born in the United States, and that’s really not fair. You better hope that life never becomes fair.”

        I copied from an article that was itself a copy from memory of P. J. O’Rourke giving an interview, some of the words may be wrong.

        http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2012/04/24/president_obama_better_hope_life_never_becomes_fair_99634.html

        • Carrie says:

          Let us not confuse metaphysical luck or “unfairness” with human-chosen discrimination and injustice.

          • Tel says:

            Sure humans do make choices.

            Out of all the world’s religions the Christians have made the choice of being more tolerant on more issues than any other I can think of, except perhaps the Buddhists. So why does everyone think it’s such a great idea to demonize Christians these days?

            Go explain your problems to the Muslims, see how sympathetic they are.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Tel, I’m curious, are you a Christian yourself? Or are you just saying, you as a bystander to the dispute, don’t understand why certain Americans get so worked up over Christians?

            • Tel says:

              I’m an Atheist but I mostly hold mostly Christian values (and some Buddhist values), not because I think God will kick my arse, but because overall I think they are good values. I do make an effort to study various religions, but I only occasionally actually go to a church (and then it’s Unitarian).

              I have no personal problem with gay marriage (nor any other kind of marriage, nor with people who want to go for polygamy or incest if that’s what floats their boat) but I totally don’t feel comfortable with the sort of antagonism that has been growing around in recent years, and the gay community are at least partly to blame for politicising their position and putting other conservative religious people on the back foot. The whole “don’t ask don’t tell” scenario worked so well because people generally NOT to get involved in each other’s private lives. I’d like to go back to that.

              I used to hang in a lot of pretty progressive circles at university and stuff and gradually the overt intolerance started shitting me. Those people really do think that if you have a religion you are dumber than dirt (not all of them think that way, but quite a lot do). Bad moon rising down that track.

              Jesus Christ had some good ideas, I believe he was just a smart guy, not the son of God, but the effect of the idea is what matters, not where it came from. A powerful idea will stand on its own, regardless of who came up with it.

  9. An2 says:

    I think Bob’s post is far better than the obvious hatred of gays by many Christians on this issue. It is ironic that he must twist himself into knots to try to be consistent with an ancient book in order to do the right thing, which is to mind your own business about consensual relationships. Who the hell cares if they call it marriage? It’s a word.

    • Egoist says:

      If a brother and sister consent to a romantic relationship, would you call it incest, or dirty, or would you call it a relationship the way you consider your own relationships?

      If a 15 year old and a 30 year old consent to having a romantic relationship, would you call it statutory rape, or dirty, or would you call it a relationship the way you consider your own relationships?

      I agree with your assessment of Murphy. I too think he’s definitely far better than 99% of the Christians out there.

      • An2 says:

        I’m not sure about all the possible cases — and no one cares about my opinion — but you better have a good reason to make it your business, i.e. get the government involved.

        • Egoist says:

          Good….according to you, right?

          • An2 says:

            Well, you could ask that for any use of coercion, couldn’t you? Welcome to tyranny.

            • Egoist says:

              I could ask that of anyone, but I was asking about your reference to “good.”

              Your purposeful non-answer should give me argumentative permission to answer it for you, so I will just assume you meant according to you personally.

              Since you then used the word “tyranny”, does that mean you consider yourself a tyrant for having a conception of the good that everyone must abide by, by force if necessary?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Who the hell cares if they call it marriage? It’s a word.

      So you can tell all those gay activists to go home and worry about paying down their credit cards, right? It’s just a word, guys (and gals). Quit marching and writing letters to the editor, right?

      (BTW I’m not here doing a Rush Limbaugh-esque critique of “gay activists.” My point is that you can’t tell Christians to chill out, it’s just a word, as if they are the only ones who think this is a big issue.)

      • An2 says:

        Well I think the gay activists should chill out, and call for government to get out of the marriage business, as long as they can get the same treatment in terms of legal issues. But with the current situation, it’s the Christians that should be straight-up chillin’ (pun intended) even more.

  10. Niels van der Linden says:

    “God established marriage to be a union between one man and one woman.”

    So you believe in a being that created the universe, and that being also gets to create the meaning of the words we use?

    Do you believe we should adopt the intentions of that being for a particular reason?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Yes, He’s infinitely good and wise. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I think His attributes are, so of course His views on what marriage is would be of paramount concern.

      Now what would make me change my mind, is not to convince me to reject God’s views, but instead to show me that modern evangelicals are wrong when they say God supports marriage between one man and one woman. E.g. the polygamy of the Old Testament, which not only seemed tolerated but actively necessary to fulfill the prophecies made to Abraham, would be one route to take.

      • Egoist says:

        What about showing the bible to contain fiction? Would that be sufficient for you to rejecting one or more of “God’s” views as in the bible?

        Could it be that the writers of Leviticus were just against homosexuality for some “Earthly” reason? If not, why not? People write crap and call it sacred all the time. Just look at Scientology.

        Not that you would care, but do you know what amuses me to no end? Christians who tattoo “Leviticus 18:22″ on their arms. I laugh because of Leviticus 19:28.

        • Dan says:

          Did you come up with that joke on your own? You should post that on Facebook. It would spread around in no time. Dr. Murphy might even write a status update about it.

          • Egoist says:

            I know it’s funny, but it actually occurs:

            http://i.imgur.com/Upqb6.jpg

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Egoist I think Dan was referring to the fact that that photo was floating around Facebook a few days ago, and I Shared it as my status update, saying that I appreciate a critique of Christians along those lines. I know it’s unbelievable, but it actually occurs.

              • Egoist says:

                That’s hilarious. Don’t I feel like the arsehole.

                Ah, well, I’m not on Facebook, since I think it has become a tool for the state to gather information on people so as to better control them, so the inside joke at my expense went way over my head.

                Thanks a lot, Dan.

              • integral says:

                I just read some online versions of leviticus 19:28, and they all seem to refer to tattoos made in ‘honor of or to grieve the dead’, or something like that.

    • Tel says:

      Of course common usage defines the words we use, but common usage is such that if a guy tells you, “I’m married” you would expect that he has a wife, and statistically that would normally be the case.

      Besides, common usage never requires laws to be passed.

  11. MamMoTh says:

    I think the anti-gay stance of the Catholic Church and most of its spin-off comes from the belief that Judas screwed Jesus.

  12. dhlii says:

    Lets just divorce the state sanctioned contractual and legal aspects of marriage from the religious ones.

    Catholics – atleast as religious dogma, see marraige as forever. There is no such thing as divorce.
    But we are well past Catholics demanding the law share their particular framework for marriage.

    From the perspective of the state marraige is a civil contract.

    If a particular church holds a broader of narrower view of the scope of that contract – fine.
    I see no compelling reason to force WestBoro Baptist to marry homosexuals, or to recognize those marraiges in a religious context.

    I also see no compelling reason that the state can not confer precisely the same legal status on a relationship that one religious group or another abhors – or conversely get itself entirely out of the marriage business completely.
    Eliminate all special state protections subsidies and benefits.

    I have my own view of god and morality – it is different from Bob’s. But I can tolerate Bob or even Rev. Phelps ranting about his so long as the state is not forcing me to live by their morality.

  13. Tom E. Snyder says:

    Oppressed people do not want equality with their oppressors; they want to trade places with them.

    • Tel says:

      Before you go in search of revenge, first dig two graves.

  14. Jorge says:

    “the reason this is such a big deal for Christians is that people are using the government to try to culturally redefine a crucial institution.”

    The idea of “culturally redefining” marriage is absurd and incomprehensible. Marriage logically means different things to different people. Marriage is defined at the individual level regardless of what the government’s policies. The only thing at issue is whether some people can get the government to coerce against individuals simply because those individuals define marriage in a way they don’t approve of.

  15. Christopher says:

    Bob, what are your thoughts on the ‘civil union’ approach, then?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_union
    Would you be fine with it, if they give it a different name?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Christopher there is no right answer to this. I’m not even saying I’m opposed to government implementing gay marriages. Again, it’s like I’m saying, “I have no idea what crops a Soviet farm should plot,” and then you say, “Well Bob, surely nobody would regret more apples. Who doesn’t like apples?”

      • Egoist says:

        How about the Soviet commissaries merely declaring that black market capitalist farmlands exist, the way they declare communist farms to exist?

  16. Ken B says:

    A thoughtful post overall Bob but you repeat one important error when you claim Since Jesus said–in reference to a heterosexual caught violating the Mosaic code–”let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” He did not; that stroy from John is a later interpolation. It is absent from *all* the earliest maanuscripts and the best ones, and absent from the early discussions we have of that section of John. It’s a great story, probably the best Jesus story. But it’s not authentic.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I realize Ken B. you need to periodically say this, but you know that the modern evangelicals who are fretting about gay marriage, just about all believe that Jesus actually said that regarding the adulteress. So, take it as me making an argument to them, from the axioms we share (though you reject).

      • Ken B says:

        Interesting take Bob. When Krugman misstates something about Hoover, and you point out the facts, would it be right to say I realize Bob Murphy you need to periodically say this …?

        Did I get your audience wrong? Was your post *directed at such evangelicals* or directed at the FreeAdvice readersship? Because my comment was at the latter, that they not be misled.

  17. Daniel Kuehn says:

    re: “I have done all kinds of stuff that I believe is a sin, like going to websites that I shouldn’t. “

    Paul Krugman?

  18. James Strong says:

    Why is the government in the position of defining what marriage is? Why are seculars looking at the government for a validation of their commitment to their partner? Why do Christians care about civil marriage when the marriage that matters to them is of religious origin?

    The government’s concern with marriage should be entirely practical and completely focused on the *public* aspects of marriage.

    Therefore I believe it would be best if the government stopped using the word “marriage” altogether for *all* types of unions and simply used “civil unions.” It’s never going to happen, but this way gay people could call themselves married if they wanted to and religious institutions can continue only marrying heterosexuals.

    • James Strong says:

      Oh, no edit function. Bummer. I apologize for the typos and sloppy writing. I accidentally hit submit before I was done.

      • Ken B says:

        So say we all, from time to time.

  19. RichardsDay says:

    Good try Bob…
    …but no cigar!
    By declaring homosexuality (fornication, bestiality, pedophilia???) as “OK”, we are shaking our puny little fist at God, much like a four-year old to his father, saying, “I don’t care what you say, I’ll do it my way!”
    God calls those things an abomination. That’s his judgment on the matter. No sense in beating around the bush with semantics.
    And yes, we all struggle with sin in our lives every day, it’s part of our nature that we won’t escape until we get our new glorified resurrection body. Our loving Father will forgive us those sins when he sees we are resting in His Son’s righteousness, but he’ll surely give us a good whippin’ if we are unrepentent of them.
    God bless you, Bob
    Richards

    • Bob Murphy says:

      RichardsDay, I never said it was “OK.” I was explaining the standard evangelical position on it, and then I was pointing to what some of the Scriptural basis would be. I am not as confident as you are that God is saying that. For example, He also says anyone who works on the Sabbath shall surely be put to death. You don’t think He intends us to do that today, right?

      • joeftansey says:

        Would that ever have been a good idea? :/

        • Ken B says:

          This is Bob’s standard line. God has adapted his message over time to fit man’s capacity to understand. Back when the bible was first revealed people were not sophisticated enough to understand that mashing babies against trees was terrible but making a baby toy on the Sabbath was not, so God just conformed to the limited understanding of those old timers: He said, smashing good, toy-making-sabbath bad. This to serve His greater purpose; He moves in mysterious ways.

          • Egoist says:

            God has adapted his message over time to fit man’s capacity to understand.

            This is, incidentally, exactly what is expected by the philosophy of egoism. Christians put their ego into God, and yet they cannot loose their own egoism. As they themselves change over time, so does the conception of God. Sure, there are some “eternal” characteristics, but the “human” aspects of God, they keep changing all the time. First we’re supposed to kill non-virgins on their wedding day, then we’re not.

            And yup, the whole time Christians are actually believing they are talking about a changing God, rather than a changing population of egos.

  20. Steve says:

    In life there are boundries and the truth is a narrow part, either ways are nothing but abyss.So in vain do we bend our councience to suit our dealings.The commandiments of the lord will not change,adultry will continue to be adultry and homosextuality is nothing but an obormination. About thirty years ago,it was sexual revolution that did not noboby any good.Today it is homosexuality and maybe thirty years from now,we may be battling with dog sexuality or have you not heard about the story of a man who wanted to wed his dog. Maybe when that time comes, it will still be the same aguement of “Choice”. Shame on the devil.

  21. Egoist says:

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/06/01/47019.htm

    Reason #54,249 why I won’t teach my children out of the bible.

    • Tel says:

      The link you provided has only limited information, and only from one perspective. I don’t know why this guy was seeing a Psychiatrist, nor why he was in hospital, so I don’t really know how it started. I agree that it is wrong to restrict someone’s freedom by preventing phonecalls, or by blocking family from visiting — I think that should apply in every situation, regardless. I have read other cases where US hospitals have prevented their patients from leaving (one patient had to sneak out of there) which is totally weird. I’m not sure what rules apply over there.

      Getting to the issue of whether the hospital is predjudiced against gays, if it were me and I needed an operation, I’d be wanting the guy who is poking around in my guts with razor in hand, to be completely comfortable and at ease with the whole situation. If he has any problem at all, I would very much prefer to hear about that FIRST so I can consider taking my buisness elsewhere.

      Thing is, now that government has got itself involved, people have to PRETEND to not be predjudiced. Of course, government cannot make people like one another, it can only force them to outwardly give the appearence of liking one another. Thus, a valuable source of information for the patient is taken away.

      If a hospital knowingly takes on a patient and offers a promise of service, and then later changes position and refuses service, that’s a clear breach of contract, and breach of trust. I’m not sure if that applies in this case, don’t know what representations were made.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      If that story is accurate, it is reprehensible, but it’s not consistent with the Bible. Murder is against the OT too, yet that doctor apparently had no problem treating murderers. If you and I were both trying to reason with this doctor, I think I would have more success, since I could say, “Your actions are not consistent with the Bible in any way, so how do you think you are serving God’s will?” Whereas you would say (correct me if I’m wrong), “I don’t believe in any rules or principles except what gives you the most satisfaction in the long run, and I think you’d find you’d be happier if you stopped acting on this irrational prejudice.”

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        “I don’t believe in any rules or principles except what gives you the most satisfaction in the long run”

        Has he made statements to this affect, or are you generalizing (i.e. are you saying that this is an atheist attribute)?

        • Bob Murphy says:

          He has made plenty of statements to that effect, JF. I’m directing that at Egoist’s stated worldview, not atheists in general.

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Okey dokey. As you know, I try to stay out of these debates, but I do read the posts and comments. Just making sure that you aren’t lumping me in with the guys that you are constantly arguing with. I’m probably one of the few atheists that cannot stand to be associated with other atheists. LOL An online acquaintance of mine came up with a good name for these atheists: Atheistkult.

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