Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Video/DVD: For the Bible Tells Me So

I promised to write the next installment on my GLBT series, tonight.  I will, but it won’t be the post I hoped to get to, my second on Romans 1.  That’s because I just saw the film, For The Bible Tells Me So and my reactions are too personal to simply engage in exegesis at this time–maybe tomorrow.

To recap: I am arguing that the traditional teaching of the church(es) that ALL same-sex relationships are sinful has been mistaken–a misuse of a handful of biblical passages taken out of literary and historical context. I hope to argue for a single standard of sexual morality for all people–either voluntary celibacy (which Scripture specifically describes as a spiritual gift not given to all people) or monogamy. This would replace the double-standard currently held by most churches which allows celibacy or monogamy for heterosexuals, but demands that gay people either be celibate (whether or not they have the gift necessary) or to be “changed” into heterosexuals and hide themselves in heterosexual marriages–with devastating effects on their spouses, children, and themselves.  I have wanted to argue for this in a careful, step-by-step fashion.

As always, I urge new readers to this discussion to read the previous installments before commenting on the latest installment.  To date, there have been seven (7) major posts and an addendum. See: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, addendum on pro-GLBT “over reading,” 6, & 7.  This is addenum 2: Reaction to For the Bible Tells Me So.

For the Bible Tells Me So is a 2007 documentary about Christian families, raised with the traditional teaching that all same-sex genital intimacy is sinful (in many cases being taught that it is the MOST sinful act possible), dealing with family members who are gay or lesbian and their struggles with their children “coming out.” It is directed from a pro-inclusion viewpoint, but not all of the families come to a fully accepting perspective–some are stuck in a “love the sinner, hate the sin” viewpoint.  The biblical passages which are used to justify the traditional perspective are examined by a number of biblical scholars and theologians, most, but not all, of whom have come to a perspective of full inclusion. Those who disagree with full inclusion are mostly treated with respect. (For instance, I thought the section interviewing Dr. Richard Mouw, Christian philosopher and President of Fuller Theological Seminary [and, thus, briefly, a former boss of mine when I was Visiting Professor at Fuller in 1999 and 2000], who adopts a “welcoming but NOT affirming position” based on his reading of Romans 1, was done very well. I do not think Mouw would consider himself distorted or parodied at all.)

The only ministers who are treated more negatively in the film are those who actively promote hate and/or legal discrimination against GLBT persons. For instance, televangelist Jimmy Swaggert (who has frequented prostitutes!), does not come across well.  Nor does Focus on the Family founder, James Dobson, Ph.D., a child psychologist and leader of the Religious Right–and one of the major leaders of both conservative Christian activism for anti-gay legislation and a leader in so-called “ex-gay” ministries of “reparative therapy.” Yet, Dobson was treated with more respect in the film than I could have managed. Even Dr. Mel White, a former member of the Religious Right (ghost writing books and films for the likes of the late Jerry Falwell) and, since coming out of the closet, an ordained minister in the pro-gay Metropolitan Community Churches and founder of the pro-GLBT activist group, Soulforce, gives Dobson more credit than I think I could. Because White and others basically claim that when Dobson stuck to his roots of giving Christian families advice on parenting, he was a positive force for good. I disagree. I think much of his parenting advice is very harmful, and was even before he became obsessed with the supposed evils of “the gay agenda.”

The film synopsis gives this description of For the Bible Tells Me So:

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?

Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

I think this is a powerful film for introducing this topic into churches or contexts where either the subject is never discussed (the “don’t ask, don’t tell” de facto policy that rules so many congregations, silently ignoring the barely-closeted individuals and couples in their midst) or where ONLY the traditional teaching has been heard and no serious airing of other perspectives has been given.  The film, by itself, will probably change few minds. But it could begin some true dialogue.

The most powerful piece of the film for me was the testimony of one elderly woman who, when her daughter came out as lesbian in college (by writing a letter home), reacted very negatively.  She eventually came to an inclusive viewpoint–but only after her daughter committed suicide. (Because of family, church, and social rejection, GLBT persons attempt suicide at much higher rates than the national average–especially LGBT teens).  All I could think was, “Thank God, I went through her journey BEFORE any child of mine came out and contemplated suicide. Thank God, it did not take such a horror to begin my journey to full inclusion.”

This is not an area where I feel proud of myself. On no other matter of controversy have I hesitated to wade into things. But here I was a moral coward. I waited until I was married (not until 28!) before I even went into a library and checked out materials on the subject–other than the standard, pre-approved evangelical books with the standard, pre-packaged answers. (I flashed my wedding ring around at the check out desk so that anyone noticing the books I was checking out did not think I was gay!) And I have said and written so little about this because I know that championing an inclusive position could prevent my ever getting another church-related position or a teaching position in a church-related institution. As Peggy Campolo says, there is more than one closet in the church and more of us than gays and lesbians need to decide to come out of our closets.

But I am glad that people like Rich Mouw were treated so well in this film. Because I know that not all traditionalists in this matter are ignorant or filled with hatred or biblically or theologically illiterate, etc. I know that from the inside, too. I am sure that part of the reason it took me so long to come to a welcoming and affirming position of LGBT folk is residual homophobia from church and society (not family–my parents were inclusive before I was and wondered what took me so long!), but those weren’t the ONLY reasons. 

I am a Christian social activist. But I have a deep loyalty to Scripture as the Word of God in and through human words, the living witness to the Word Made Flesh in Jesus Christ.  My usual complaint about American fundamentalism is how unbiblical it is.  So, I know I came to this “issue” (and GLBT persons hate being an “issue” as one might well imagine) not wanting to jump on some politically correct bandwagon.  I think that is a strong feature of such welcoming-but-not-affirming Christian leaders as Rich Mouw, Tony Campolo, the late Stanley Grenz (taken from us all too soon), N.T. scholar, Dr. Richard B. Hays, theologian Marva Dawn, the evangelical feminist Catherine Clark Kroeger, my friend and former colleague, Dr. David P. Gushee, and others. I think it is a strong component in the way some of my readers who reject my conclusions do so. I understand because I was once where you are–and my having changed my mind does NOT make you wrong or me right. After all, I have met many who were pacifists but changed their minds after 9/11–and I think they were right before and are now wrong.  Being willing to change one’s mind is a sign of maturity–but no particular change of mind is guaranteed to be a change for the better. That applies to me as well.

So, seeing this film should open discussion, not close it.  It does not “make the case” for full inclusion of GLBT persons–but only exposes folk to that viewpoint in a powerful way.

I would hope that everyone viewing this film would come away agreeing that gay bashing is wrong, that holding up signs saying “God hates fags” is wrong, that people who give death threats to gay people or inclusive churches (as they have to Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson) are sick and need treatment, and that civil laws which discriminate should be ended. Beyond that, the film itself only raises the issues about full inclusion in the church–it does not and cannot answer them definitively.

But the “issues” are placed in the right context–in the midst of discussions in families and churches about how best to love children, aunts, uncles, parents, etc. who are gay. If, in viewing the film, the option of hate is ruled out and the only remaining debate is over whether love is best expressed in welcoming but NOT affirming, or in welcoming AND affirming (as my church teaches and I have concluded), then it will have accomplished a great good. I hope many of my Gentle Readers will order For the Bible Tells Me So at the link and watch it in churches and homes with friends and begin open and honest–even painful and tearful–discussions.

July 6, 2008 - Posted by | Biblical exegesis, discipleship, family, GLBT issues, homosexuality

16 Comments

  1. My wife and I saw that movie on Sundance a few weeks ago. We loved it. A very well done documentary. It did a great job of mixing stories in with summaries of theological and scriptural arguments. One of the better films we’ve seen lately.

    Comment by sandalstraps | July 7, 2008

  2. I wonder if requiring “monogamy” of the GLBTs is too restrictive. This comes back to the issue of the “B” in GLBT. If a Bisexual is sexually attracted to BOTH males and females, wouldn’t a more “affirming” approach permit him/her to embrace both sexual attractions. Why shouldn’t we allow a “marriage” that consisted of three persons (bisexuals), rather than two? “Faithfulness” would consist of faithfulness among the three of them. This would seem to be the most “affirming” position.

    Just as we need to move beyond the mere “welcoming” (but really bigoted) approach of Mouw. Hays, Gushee, Campolo etc., so we need to move beyond the pseudo-“welcoming” (but really bigoted) approach of W-W with regard to Bisexuals.

    I personally am ashamed of my former biophobia and now urge all members of the peace and justice community to embrace my consistently affirming stance.

    Comment by JimR | July 7, 2008

  3. JimR,

    I, too, wrestle with monogamy as a requirement for morally acceptable sex. By “wrestle” here I mean just that; I have no answer at the moment.

    Minimally I suggest that, of course, consentuality (I don’t think anyone is seriously arguing that non-consentual sex is morally acceptable) is required. To that I would also add something like covenantal, though (and here is the tricky part) I don’t know exactly what I mean by that, nor how to measure it. By covenental I mean that a sexual relationship has been entered into freely by all parties involved, that it aims to affirm all parties involved, and that all parties involved agree to whatever rules or guidelines are established for the relationship.

    Something like this may preserve the good done by the monogamy requirement – that is, preserving that sex is a powerful good, to be taken seriously but also, of course, with humor and joy – while also allowing for a greater degree of flexibility.

    But, as I type this, I’m not sure that it is entirely clear what I’m driving at, nor that whatever it is that I’m driving at advances us very far. In any event, for me, if monogamy is lost something must replace it. And that something must do the kinds of good work that monogamy does in treated sex as something both powerfully and seriously moral. It must preserve the dignity of persons in sexual relationships, even if it also allows for greater freedom within consentual and mutually affirming sexual relationships.

    It is, in other words, simply not enough to say – without doing some additional ethical work – that imposing monogamy on bisexual persons constitutes biophobia. But I’m going to have to mull this over more so as to not produce such a confused comment in the future.

    Comment by sandalstraps | July 7, 2008

  4. I don’t really understand this discussion here. It sounds like we’re taking this topic to the conclusion that the Church should affirm anything and everything because it makes sense. Apparently a trio is “monogamous.”

    How are you supposed to affirm healthy relationships when there isn’t a standard? Apparently monogamy isn’t good enough. Can we then just affirm heterosexuals who, by natural orientation, are non-committal to any relationship? Polygamists (apparently sandalstrap is arguing this already)? Bestiality (JimR mentioned this elsewhere)?

    Of course in this climate, if you manage to create a logically sound argument, you’re still labeled a “-phobe” regardless of what your motives are, your emotions are, etc.

    There’s a problem with just affirming a lifestyle simply because “that’s how I’m born” because we were born into violence, oppression and plenty of things we rightly place moral restraints on.

    What’s I’m getting at is we need to base our morality on Scripture, and we should not just use whatever morality we want.

    I’m anticipating MW-W’s future writings on this topic as I’m very interested in addressing this issue from a biblical perspective, and I agree so many in the Church today come at it unbiblically. I’m also working with congregations here to engage the very large local GLBT community.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | July 7, 2008

  5. Steven Kippel,

    I was decidedly not arguing for polygamy, or, for that matter, anything else. I was instead exploring what a Christian sexual ethic might look like if it did not insist on monogamy. I also argued that anyone rejecting a mandate for monogamy should propose something to replace that mandate.

    What I’m saying is, in fact, the exact opposite of “anything goes.” I would also call your attention to the word “minimally,” as in, that which I tentatively proposed as some kind of concept that would accomplish the same thing as a requirement of monogamy while holding out the possibility of the permissibility of multiple sexual partners would be the minimal possible restriction. My comment was, in other words, a thought experiment about what a Christian sexual ethic that does not require monogamy might minimally look like, and by no means some strong and final argument for the jettisoning of monogamy and the acceptance of polygamy.

    Comment by sandalstraps | July 7, 2008

  6. I find it amusing that straight people have the gall to say even one word about monogamy, given their pathetic track record. Huge percentages of straight married people (perhaps as high as 50% of straight men by the age of 40) are involved in extramarital affairs and nearly 50% of straight married people participate in the serial “monogamy” of divorce.

    Clean up your own back yard first, eh?

    “If a Bisexual is sexually attracted to BOTH males and females, wouldn’t a more “affirming” approach permit him/her to embrace both sexual attractions. ”

    No. That’s ridiculous. Polygamy and bisexuality are not the same thing. Not surprisingly, that’s why we use different words for them. That statement is as silly as saying, “If a heterosexual man is attracted to women, wouldn’t a more “affirming” approach permit him to embrace all his sexual attractions to any woman he wants?”

    “I personally am ashamed of my former biophobia…”

    Former? You’ve still got plenty of work to do buddy. I don’t know you, but I’m assuming your comment was meant to be funny.

    Comment by Alan | July 8, 2008

  7. Michael,

    I’m glad you found the doc. helpful. I too think it’s an excellent tool that will open up conversations. The film has its roots in a presentation given by my friend Steve Kindle. Steve is straight, married, and committed to the full inclusion of GLBT people in the church. The film was originally intended to focus on his ministry, but as you can see it morphed into something much bigger.

    Comment by Bob Cornwall | July 13, 2008

  8. Alan, we certainly can talk about what appropriate sexual relationships should be, regardless of past or present conditions. Clearly this is discussing a future goal, or a standard for achievement, and many fail. This is why grace is so important.

    Why can’t I talk about monogamy? I’m not polygamous, I’ve been with one woman and I wouldn’t be with another. I’m not the voice for all heteros, and not one gay/lesbian is the voice for all of their affiliated column as well.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | July 14, 2008

  9. I think discussions of monogamy are fine, as long as they’re grounded in reality. They almost never are, in my experience. For example, this statement:

    “Can we then just affirm heterosexuals who, by natural orientation, are non-committal to any relationship? Polygamists (apparently sandalstrap is arguing this already)? Bestiality (JimR mentioned this elsewhere)?”

    is problematic because from a practical standpoint it suggests that we don’t already, as a society, affirm heterosexuals who are non-committal. We do. Heck, even polygamists can get married once legally. It’s called straight marriage, and any of those folks can wander down to the Clerk’s office and get married. Arranged marriages, third marriages, Russian brides, polygamists, abusive alcoholic codependents locked in a cycle of violence and despair — they’re all fine, as long as the participants are the owners/operators of differing genitalia. Straight folks still get a pass good for one free marriage, regardless of how they structure it (and given the statistics I’ve seen, the majority of straight men anyway, do not structure their marriages to fit the ideal of monogamy.)

    Sure, fine, talk about monogamy; it’s an important topic. However for some reason the *only* time I see the topic discussed is in reference to LGBT issues, which becomes tiring. The subtext of those conversations nearly always seems to be that we queers have cornered the market on promiscuity and that straight folks are all June and Ward Cleaver.

    Comment by Alan | July 15, 2008

  10. Perhaps in your experience, Alan, but I don’t think you can speak for the majority of people, so I won’t take you seriously on this issue. You’re placing your opponents in stereotypes and putting talking points in their mouths. This is hardly conducive of productive conversation.

    We do affirm heterosexual monogamy, you’re right. But that’s not the point we’re talking about. I’m OK with same-sex marriage. I don’t care what people do. What’s their business is not mine. So there goes your straw man, and there goes your stereotype.

    The underlying point still exists. In a conversation about morality the nature of people does not make the basis for morals.

    The argument that people are born gay (which I accept) means their proclivities should be affirmed is silly. This is for the exact same reason that people (especially men) are born polygamous. Yet society has deemed the natural bent of man should be tempered.

    We’re not talking about promiscuity here, so there goes your other straw man. I’m not saying gays are not monogamous. What I’m saying is the argument has no valid point in a discussion about morality.

    Affirming healthy relationships doesn’t even relate to legal matters. You’ve already made this point for me. What is allowed legally doesn’t affirm healthy relationships because codependent people are married, abusive people are married, healthy couples aren’t married. When we’re talking about “affirming healthy relationships” we have to decide what that means. Apparently it’s being defined here as two people in a loving, equal relationship. But why not a loving, equal relationship between three or four people? What about a loving, equal relationship between siblings?

    And don’t try to confuse the issue by saying I’m trying to place homosexuals on the same level as incestuous relations and the like. That’s not what I’m doing. What I’m doing is trying to fix an argument that is logically flawed.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | July 18, 2008

  11. “Alan, but I don’t think you can speak for the majority of people, so I won’t take you seriously on this issue.”

    And yet you bother to reply? LOL Well no matter, I find what you’re writing interesting, if curious, so I do indeed take you seriously on this issue, whether you afford me the same courtesy or not. Honestly, I find it a bit surprising that, after a whopping 2 whole blog comments, a person has already decided whether or not to “take me seriously”. Either you have amazing powers of discernment, or you have quite the jerky knee. (j/k)🙂

    I’m not speaking for the majority of people, I’m speaking only for myself, so I’m not sure what your problem is with anything I’ve said. Perhaps I’m confused as to your meaning, but how does quoting statistics about infidelity of straight married men mean I’m “speaking for the majority of people”?

    I don’t have to speak for the majority of people to state clearly what our laws do and do not allow. Laws, by the way, which have been passed by our duly elected representatives. You may not agree with those laws, but they’re still passed and approved by the majority. Pointing out that the law, passed by the majority, allows nearly anyone with different genitalia to get married is hardly “speaking for the majority of people.”

    “OK with same-sex marriage. I don’t care what people do. What’s their business is not mine. So there goes your straw man, and there goes your stereotype.”

    Perhaps you’ve misunderstood something I’ve written, but I haven’t assumed anything about anyone’s particular position on the issue of same-sex marriage here, except for our blog host, and then, only because he’s already told us. In order to demonstrate that I’ve stereotyped you, please quote the part above where I said, “Steve is against gay marriage” or anything of the like. I don’t mind correcting myself if I’ve typed something I didn’t mean to say, but I don’t much appreciate having people make unfounded accusations with no evidence and then try to put words in my mouth. If you’re simply taking my very general comments and applying them specifically to yourself, then I’d suggest you stop. Not everything is about you. 😉 And if I mean to refer to someone specifically I have no problem doing so quite clearly.

    “We’re not talking about promiscuity here, so there goes your other straw man. ”

    Straw man. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 😉

    Speaking of straw men, “The argument that people are born gay (which I accept) means their proclivities should be affirmed is silly.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Your point is? Did someone say that here? You criticize me for bringing up a very common argument (gay promiscuity) that is often used in these conversations (surely you realize that, no?), though not in this one in particular. Then you do the exact same thing, bring up a common argument (born gay therefore affirm), that has not been brought up here. This is a point I want to argue about, as I don’t think that bringing up common arguments people use in these discussions is a bad thing.

    “But why not a loving, equal relationship between three or four people? What about a loving, equal relationship between siblings? … And don’t try to confuse the issue by saying I’m trying to place homosexuals on the same level as incestuous relations and the like. That’s not what I’m doing. What I’m doing is trying to fix an argument that is logically flawed.”

    Those sentences are oddly self-contradictory. Interesting.

    “Why not a loving, equal relationship between three or four people?”

    Who knows? Frankly, who cares? When the issue comes up, I’ll think about it. I honestly spend very little time thinking about polygamy, bestiality, or incest. So let’s discuss gay marriage and then talk about other, completely unrelated issues. One thing at a time. Gay marriage requires simply expanding our understanding of marriage from man/woman, to same-sex partners. It has nothing to do with the numbers of, nor familial relationships between, nor species of, the partners involved. Changing the definition to allow for multiple partners is a different sort of change, and perhaps it’s useful to discuss too if one wants. But it fundamentally has nothing whatsoever to do with gay marriage. I just don’t see the need to confuse the issue by talking about 10 different unrelated relationship types. Nor do I see the need to do so only when talking about gay marriage, as is usually the case.

    I’m honestly not sure what you disagree with in my comments. The fact that at least half, if not a majority of heterosexuals have screwed up marriages? The fact that those screw ups are rarely/never discussed with reference to the topic of “traditional marriage” (whatever that means) or “defending marriage” (whatever that means)? The fact that the “bestiality, incest and polygamy” crowd only talk about bestiality, incest, and polygamy when they’re talking about gay marriage? None of these points is controversial and we see example after example all around us in the news every day. So again, I’m not sure which of those points you disagree with.

    And, like it or not, our society does indeed affirm nearly any marriage as long as it’s straight. I understand how some people would like to draw a line between what is legal and what is “affirmed”, but from a practical standpoint such an argument looks, frankly, rather silly when one is on the outside looking in. I think that having the position of privilege to discuss the nuances of marriage would be nice. Unfortunately some of us don’t have the luxury to debate it in the abstract.

    Perhaps if you were to take a deep breath and relax a bit, and you might see that I don’t really disagree with much that you’re saying here, other than one point — the reality vs. the ideal. Relaxing a bit might also elevate the tone of the discussion. Perhaps you’ve simply misunderstood my points, or perhaps I haven’t been clear enough, or perhaps I’ve misunderstood your points, or all of the above. As I read your comments, it seems to me that you’re talking about an ideal and I’m simply reminding folks of the reality. Either way, no big deal, though I don’t see the need to get snippy over honest disagreement and/or misunderstanding, as I detect in your comment. But it does appear, and perhaps I’m wrong, that you’re attempting to find disagreement where I don’t really see that any exists.

    Comment by Alan | July 18, 2008

  12. Oops

    “This is a point I want to argue about, as I don’t think that bringing up common arguments people use in these discussions is a bad thing.”

    should say

    “This is a NOT point I want to argue about, as I don’t think that bringing up common arguments people use in these discussions is a bad thing.”

    Comment by Alan | July 18, 2008

  13. Half of your post is attacking me. I haven’t written you off or said I would take you serious in general, only on “this issue.” I reference where you say “in my experience” when you said these “discussions of monogamy” aren’t “grounded in reality.”

    You’re coming to this discussion as an extension of other discussions you have had, which may have not been grounded in reality. I can’t take you serious on this issue regarding your knowledge of conversations I may have had or the majority of people who have had this discussion.

    So let’s have this discussion, and you can include it into your “experience,” but don’t make this discussion a part of your past, and certainly don’t begin the discussion with the assumption that I am not “grounded in reality” (as you have already asserted.

    But it’s hard to have this discussion because you’ve already dismissed having this discussion because of the track record of heterosexual fidelity. This is ridiculous, of course. A discussion about what _should be_ doesn’t have to be a discussion about _what is_. This is the same as saying I cannot talk about what I am going to do tomorrow because today I am doing something else.

    I think perhaps we may be talking about different things. You seem to be talking about allowing gay marriage and I’m talking about the argument being made. I’m criticizing the argument, and you’re writing tomes about the cultural inequity between gay and straight marriage (which I believe we’re mostly aligned on already).

    So let me just try to restate myself in the most clear language I can muster, keeping in mind I’m playing the devil’s advocate so the argument can be stated again without such objections.

    The argument is that the state of one’s sexuality is not a choice, it is a natural inclination in the same way one prefers green to red. Therefore, their union should be approved, and their orientation affirmed. Relationships which are monogamous and equal are to be affirmed regardless of the sex of the partners.

    That’s fine, as long as we have already established a moral system which affirms monogamy and equality. As you have pointed out, monogamy is a problem with heterosexuals. You seem to suggest I’m accusing gays of not being monogamous, and therefore their relationships don’t fit the argument. That’s not what I’m saying. You keep bringing up statistics about heteros. That’s fine, because it only helps the counter argument I’ve made.

    Since so many are not monogamous, and this is evidenced to be a natural born instinct in many, the same argument applies for polygamists.

    You simply can’t use one’s inborn nature as the basis for a moral argument because we affirm many morals which are contrary to nature.

    The line can be drawn between these different categories for the purpose of critiquing the argument because the same argument can be applied to any of the other categories referenced. And even though I’ve said making these connections doesn’t not place gays and polygamists on the same moral level, you think it’s contradictory to say this. My critique does not judge anyone, and doesn’t not draw conclusions to the answer of any of the arguments. I could make the same argument for kittens, or even heterosexuals, and it doesn’t mean they’re on the same moral level based on this critique.

    Merely, the fact that you can argue against the same moral argument if you changed the subject shows that you can argue against the original argument with the safe efficacy in the minds of many.

    I hope this is then making sense. I’m not arguing against the argument, I’m just offering an opinion on the argument’s robustness.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | July 23, 2008

  14. I believe a more effective would have to be made against the “traditional” purpose of marriage. You hear it defined as a “safe environment for raising children.” With this definition, same-sex marriages do not fit so well. Clearly many marry and do not have children, or are unable to. But one rule is that failure to respect a convention or moral guideline does not invalidate it. So we cannot approach this issue from a perspective of, “heteros have a a terrible track record.”

    Conservative talking heads have used this term derogatorily, but married must be redefined.

    If marriage is defined (as previous) an “equal, committed, monogamous relationship with the purpose of supporting one another financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually” you have more latitude to then extend the argument for same-sex marriage.

    The only problem then is we still have to deal with incest or unequal partnerships. For example, adult siblings can make the argument that they would fit this marriage successfully, and convention refuses (contemporaneously) mostly on grounds of eugenics, but also because these relationships do tend to be unequal. (The unequal bit would have to be the main challenge in a same-sex relationship between siblings.) And this also brings up the question of mentally challenged persons marrying, because this could lead to an unequal relationship.

    I’m probably taking this a bit too far, so I’ll just end by saying this is a challenging and multifaceted issue, and it can’t be dealt with in broad strokes, stereotypes, or demeaning language.

    Comment by Steven Kippel | July 23, 2008

  15. “Half of your post is attacking me. ”

    I’m sorry that you feel that way. I’ve re-read everything I’ve written here and don’t see a single word that I would construe as an “attack” had it been directed at me. Again, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, or perhaps you’ve misunderstood what I’ve written (or both). In any case, whatever you’re perceiving as an “attack” wasn’t meant as one, nor can I figure out why you’d even assume that was the case in the first place.

    “I am not “grounded in reality” (as you have already asserted.”

    No, I really didn’t. I would ask you to re-read my comments a second time. I didn’t say anything about *you* not being grounded in reality. I can’t even figure out where you’ve come up with such a thing. I did say that in my experience *these discussions* of monogamy are never grounded in reality. I’m not sure what that has to do with you, since I cannot remember a time in my life when I’ve had this, or any other discussion with you. (And I’m honestly baffled why you’d take all this so personally and apparently feel so persecuted by what I’ve written.)

    Oh well. Again, somehow I’ve given offense that wasn’t intended and no amount of clarification seems to have fixed that. So, I think it probably isn’t helpful to continue discussing this more as you’ve apparently decided to see me as attacking you, and now you’re also misquoting me for some reason. I hope that perhaps in the future we can have more productive discussions.

    Take care!

    Comment by Alan | July 24, 2008

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