55 Comments
  1. Laws restricting the marriage rights of same-sex couples have been struck down, and will continue to be stuck down, because there is no EVIDENCE to support the contention of those who argue that gay marriage undermines society.

    You have an argument about the potential outcome of this course for society. But the fear of a potential outcome is not evidence enough to justify the denial of privileges to a minority. Some facts about actual damage would be helpful.

    If this sort of reasoning were enough before the courts – that voters’ concern that social institutions would be undermined by the extension of particular rights to a minority – there would still be segregation in the South.

  2. I haven’t had the chance to listen to the show yet, but will weigh in anyways. Ryan says there is no evidence to support that gay marriage undermines society. I would be interested in the types of evidential proof Ryan seeks. There is also the argument that the full effects of gay marriage will not be observed for some years as it is only a tiny portion of today’s marriages. The question is whether there are enough warning signs for us stop our present course of action as a nation supporting gay marriage.

    I think the comments of Ryan as well as Kristen Powers (the author of the USA Today editorial) reflect a great divide in the understanding of the problem. Kristen Powers has an utter lack of understanding of the message of the Gospel. She may not even be aware she wants to separate the Gospel message from its foundations (the same foundations which do not approve of homosexual behavior). Further, what Ms. Powers really thinks of many Christians is we have a “double standard and selective morality” which “reinforces the idea among Christians that gay people are morally inferior and don’t deserve to be treated fairly.”
    It will take more than someone making a statement that she is wrong because she is convinced by the examples she gave in her editorial her position is justified. But even if she is successful in showing some Christian leaders are hypocrites, this does not make the message untrue. There will always be headlines from people who claim to be Christians acting poorly. Bad behavior gets headlines, good behavior rarely does. But each time Ms. Powers sees a headline of some objectionable behavior by a Christian it will reinforce her view. She will continue to see Christians as self righteous bigots.

    Yet her misunderstanding should not be an impediment for those who seek to follow Christ and do right. As Paul says in Ephesians, we should rather “speak the truth in love.”

  3. Doug,

    If are you addressing Ryan comments wouldn’t it be more appropriate to address him personally rather than in “3rd person”…it’s very impersonal, and in my opinion, rude.

  4. Dave,

    It’s best to avoid accusing someone here of being rude. Better to assume the best, namely, that Doug is not assuming that Ryan is the only one reading here and so he’s talking about Ryan’s comments. We also strictly forbid any personal attacks of any kind the forum here, in which case, it’s wisest to steer clear from criticizing someone’s style of communicating, lest the posts degenerate.

    Thanks!

  5. Yes, you’re right. Funny thing is I was just coming to the site to take back what I said realizing it was accusatory and saw your post…I apologize.

    I also apologize to you, Doug. I was presuming on your intentions which was wrong.

  6. Thank you both Dr. Brown and Ryan. Also certainly to Ryan, my intent is not to attack you personally. While I disagree with Ryan, I think Ryan’s comments are cogent enough to warrant comment.

  7. Ryan – Here is a place with some facts, statistics, and things to consider: unitedfamilies.org. Go to Families Issues Guides and then Sexual Orientation.

  8. There will always be 2 camps when speaking about morally relevant topics in todays society. The issue of homosexual marriage is one of several. There are those who feel it should be allowed and the other who say no. So the problem becomes, where is the truth as both sides cannot be right. It is then that we have to turn to a source of Higher authority whose truth is the cornerstone of all truth. The answer can only be found from the pages of Holy scripture. We often have the misconception that WE created truth when, in fact, GOD is the author of truth. Unfortunately, those who do not agree with scripture take out their frustration on those who understand God as the author of truth. I will simply point out, don’t take it out on me, I am simply the “mail man.” If you have an issue w scriptures stance on a particular subject, go to God with it! He is big enough to handle your greatest questions and would love to hear from you.

    It seems lately I have often heard sceptics make the statement “Well the Bible only mentioned this once.” My question then is “How many times does God have to say something for it to be true?”

  9. Michael Brown,

    Thank you for upholding the Word, fighting the good fight, and swimming upstream against the unadjucicated realities of a culture without knowledge pursued of Christ. We affirm your best efforts and care for all people everywhere, with a warm heart.

  10. To Rebecca, thanks for offering that link.
    I want to be clear that I’m not offering any accusations at all of hypocrisy or bigotry. I am also not attacking scriptural arguments against homosexuality. I am well familiar with the reasoned, heartfelt, positions adopted by those who find homosexual behavior to be wrong.

    My point is simply this.
    I think we can all agree that submitting the rights of a minority to a popular vote is dangerous. That is a principle stretching back to the Founding Fathers that, as a Christian minority, I think we should embrace. I think we can further agree that the bar must be set high when determining, as a society, to withhold a privilege from any particular group that the rest of us enjoy.

    The legal arguments against Gay marriage amount to speculation that if we extend the institution of marriage to accommodate Gay couples, then x,y, or z will happen.
    Can we really, in good conscience, discriminate based on an imagined outcome?

  11. Yes, the most effective method of reaching out ‘is’ sitting down with someone, getting past the rhetoric of false ideas, loving the person and letting them know ‘who’ you are. This works wonders, within the person in need of truth, and in yourself as well :).. What a concept! Blessings to you and I’m thankful for the willingness we have to link together in christian solidarity to chain down the ‘bigger’ beast of ‘Secularism'(in spite of our theological differences which can be seen as a ‘lesser’ beast at the moment).

  12. Ryan suggests that discrimination based upon imagined outcome challenges a good conscience. The presumption is that in the entire history of mankind we have not acquired the knowledge to understand the nature of marriage, as well as the nature of male and female. The notion of gay marriage is driven by both a philosophical and political agenda. Gay marriage is not some innocent speculation regarding an extension of marital rights. It arises out a desire of change society to embrace complete acceptance of a gay orientation. It is not simply allowing one person to care for another. It is the insistence that gay orientation is as normal as heterosexual orientation. Gay marriage does not occur in a vacuum. I say good conscience does not change the definition without sufficient reason. Mostly see gay marriage proponents want what they want. Those who oppose gay marriage may do so on more than one basis. A Christian has guidance from Scripture which opposes homosexual behavior. But beyond that there still the idea that a whole host of problems arise out of same sex marriage. Procreation must occur outside of any same sex union. Sex itself is merely and act of pleasure. Gay activists do not like the notion that their motives may be less than noble. And much more sympathy can be generated being a victim. Discrimination in and of itself is not wrong. We discriminate daily in the brands we choose to buy, the food we eat and the God we worship. The test is whether there is sufficient reason to discriminate. Not only do I imagine that gay marriage will be bad for society. I imagine that it will probably be likely that the outcome will be bad. I imagine children will engage in more promiscuous behavior exploring gender identity. I imagine that problems of sexually transmitted disease will again raise its head. The gay community was stunned by the far reaching implications of the aids epidemic. While I have no immediate statistics to cite, I imagine that depression and corresponding drug use, both prescription and self medication will rise dramatically. In my good conscience, I cannot allow such a radical change in the definition of marriage to go unchallenged.

  13. Doug,

    I agree with you that discrimination is not, in and of itself, wrong where there is sufficient reason to justify it. I think you have conceded that the argument against marriage equality is based largely on imagined outcomes.

    Until 1967, it was illegal for whites and blacks to intermarry in several Southern states. The most significant court ruling that supported these laws this sort was Pace v. Alabama in 1883. In upholding the conviction of a married interracial couple for fornication, the Alabama State Supreme Court wrote that “the amalgamation of the two races, [produces] a mongrel population and a degraded civilization, the prevention of which is dictated by a sound policy affecting the highest interests of society and government.”

    Please, don’t think I’m drawing parallels between this kind of racism and opposition to Gay marriage. I’m not, at all.
    I do think there is a parallel between the nature of the legal arguments that upheld racial discrimination and those put forth to oppose Gay marriage.

    The courts and legislatures of Alabama and its neighbors were very, very wrong about the need to defend marriage and civilization from the imagined outcomes of racial intermarriage. Can you be so confident that we aren’t equally wrong to defend marriage and civilization from same-sex unions?

  14. Ryan,

    We really do disagree. The idea that we don’t know the exact outcome does not mean we cannot make an educated guess. To use an extreme example we could only imagine the power of the atomic bomb before it was dropped on Japan. We also disagree that the ban on gay marriage is the same as racial discrimination. one deals with a physical attribute and the other deals with behavior. In one instance a person has no control over their skin color, in the other the person has significant control over their behavior. The quest for gay marriage is not about the right to live together, nor is it about obtaining insurance coverage for same sex partners. It is about elevating homosexual relationships to the same status in every respect as traditional marriage.
    Perhaps the biggest difference between us is that you cannot imagine that gay marriage represents a threat to society while I do. Indeed, much of modern psychology has contributed greatly to this view. Yet the few times I have looked at the source material for some of the more well publicized studies I find that the underlying studies and source materials are flawed, biased and often written by academia which is involved in gay activism. That does not mean that there are not studies out there which document the numerous problems in the gay community. For instance, see

    http://www.traditionalvalues.org/pdf_files/statistics_on_homosexual_lifestyle.pdf

    Part of the objection to gay marriage is that these problems would be institutionalized. Not only is gay marriage not in the best interest of society, but it is not in the best interests of gays themselves.

  15. Doug,

    I clearly state that a DIS-similarity between racial discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    That said, my point in the last post was that as recently as a generation ago (since laws against interracial marriage were only invalidated in 1967) large numbers of people were convinced that racial intermarriage would fundamentally undermine society. The courts and voters that defended these laws made what they felt were educated guesses about how mixed marriages would be bad for children. Bad for the participants of these marriages. Bad for civilization as a whole.

    Do you think you feel more confident of your rightness about Gay marriage, than our society once felt in its rightness about inter-racial marriage? Does it feel more true to you now that society will suffer, than it felt to the voters and legislator and justices who upheld racial discrimination?

    They believed, wielded facts, had conviction, and were dead wrong.
    Are you willing to pin our Constitution’s bedrock claims of equal rights and privileges on your beliefs, your facts, your conviction that this discrimination now is justified?

  16. Let me briefly follow that up. I feel like this is sliding towards a personal exchange, and I don’t want that. I don’t think that opposition to same-sex marriage makes one a bigot, or a hypocrite, or the other various terms that get tossed around when these discussions turn nasty. Its not how I feel, or a tone I ever want to adopt.

  17. Ryan,

    You said:

    That said, my point in the last post was that as recently as a generation ago (since laws against interracial marriage were only invalidated in 1967) large numbers of people were convinced that racial intermarriage would fundamentally undermine society. The courts and voters that defended these laws made what they felt were educated guesses about how mixed marriages would be bad for children. Bad for the participants of these marriages. Bad for civilization as a whole.

    I don’t really think this is a fair comparison because those people were steeped in racism…and many really did think they were subhuman, degenerate and without intelligence, as horrible as it is to believe. Their hatred blinded them and fueled these lies. As to gay marriage, the issue is rooted in behavior that humans choose to act upon. This behavior will be multiplied to coming generations, especially if encouraged by the government in it’s marital laws.

    That being said, I don’t believe government policies are the answers to these problems. But I do believe they will have an impact on it not multiplying so rapidly.

    I do feel the church has lost much credibility with it’s hypocrisy for they were in the forefront of the atrocities in Alabama and beyond. I can see why there is an immediate connection in their(gay people) minds to race relations in the past. There really was moral hypocrisy, I don’t think anyone can deny that.

  18. Dave,

    I think that they were not only steeped in racism – they had a world-view that included ideas about biology and social order very different from our own. We see the world more clearly now. The question is whether we can be confident enough in our understandings to legislate discrimination.

    An example of what I’m talking about is your description of the desire, felt by a homosexual individual to seek a same-sex partner, as a behavior that could “multiply” rapidly. The inference is that people are not born with this desire, but adopt it for one reason or another, such that it might “multiply” amongst the population.
    We don’t know that. Decades of research have not produced a clear answer, and I think anyone has to concede that point.

    So is the idea that it’s a choice to be homosexual the next “fact” to end up on the scrap-heap of “facts” on which we have founded discriminatory laws?

  19. Ryan,

    Well, as far as the world-view they had 50 years ago, I think it is fair to say that because of their arrogance about themselves being “better” than African Americans they were subject and deceived into believing anything that fed that pride. Human nature is the same then as it is now. Racism is nothing new. I really don’t see how biology or social order plays a role in this specific topic of slavery and segregation. Slavery was for money, and the ending of segregation was like a slap in the face to them. There is a place for understanding the why’s and reasons to understanding culture and time periods, but sometimes its just the brute reality of human nature. It’s not like they were being “led of the Spirit” to hate and dehumanize African Americans.

    As to the second point, we don’t need research for some things. We are all born with desire for what we shouldn’t do. I am not debating whether or not homosexuals are born with the desire or not. We all have things we need to overcome and have a certain bend towards. My point in that behavior is learned was speaking of young children, especially those adopted by homosexuals in a marriage type situation. It IS a fact that culture is desensitized slowly to things that are wrong, generation by generation. Violence, promiscuity, sexualized tv, etc are all things that we are subject to be desensitized by.

    I don’t believe discrimination is the issue. Of course in a case of two homosexuals it would “feel” that way to them. But then what about pedophiles saying they feel discriminated against…or people who commit incest. Where does it stop? Where does the cry of discrimination cross a line we shouldn’t cross.

    I’m not an advocate for discrimination against anyone. I just don’t believe that in the case of same-sex marriage discrimination is a valid argument.

  20. …as Dr. Brown mentioned, the real issue is changing the planet long fundamental realities of marriage and pro-creation. If two people want to do whatever they want with each other that is there business and decision.

  21. Dave,

    I want to say that if I continue to post, it isn’t because I’m intent on wining a debate – I just really value dialogue on these issues that can avoid accusations of a radical agenda or of bigotry. I also want to understand more fully the positions of those I disagree with, and I appreciate you fleshing out your arguments.

    As to your point on discrimination, marriage bans don’t just “feel” like discrimination to gays and lesbians – they ARE discriminatory. The question is whether that discrimination is justified. We discriminate against convicted pedophiles by prohibiting their contact with children because documented patterns of continued abuse support it. In other words, a social harm has been observed and, based on that, we discriminate.

    No such pattern of harm has been observed from same-sex unions. As much as one might argue for the harmfulness of homosexual behavior, there is no evidence of harm from same-sex unions in any of the states and municipalities where it has been legal.

    And to that you may argue, we don’t see a harm from Gay marriage “yet.” But when will we observe it? In ten years? In fifty?
    The arguments for prohibiting same-sex couple from marrying are essentially unfair because they create the possibility of postponing the promised social damage indefinitely.

    I think a central question is this: If Massachusetts, with legalized Gay marriage, showed no social ill effects after fifty years, would you change your mind about the harmfulness of Gay marriage? Or would you just think it might take another hundred years to show up?

  22. Ryan’s last post catches something of a notion of “justice delayed is justice denied.” Yet the problem I have with Ryan’s arguments is they all appear to be straw men. The argument goes there has been discrimination in the past, so this is no different. This analogy really skips the actual analysis of why we should have gay marriage. Thereafter, opponents are forced to demonstrate the harm of gay marriage. In the absence of any data (meaning a history of gay marriage to draw statistics) we are told to we haven’t proven our case. But why should the opponents of gay marriage have to prove the effects of gay marriage which has not become entrenched in society. Isn’t the burden upon those who want to change the system to show how it is broken? In the absence of any actual arguments why gay marriage should exist, it becomes plain that the gay marriage movement is nothing more than special interest politics.

    There really is no answer to the argument that biologically men and women are much better physically paired for marriage, than same sex couples. That discussion is disregarded by all gay activists. That is also why most people do not think homosexuality is normal.

    The church has been at the front of civil rights and the dignity of man from the beginning. A notable example can be seen in from William Wilberforce in England who advocated the abolition of the slave trade. More recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. who is involved in civil rights. This is why criticism of the church for as an opponent to the civil right of gay marriage is odd. The church has always been against homosexual activity. And the reason has been because Scripture condemns it. Whether it intends to or not the implication is that the Bible got it wrong. Julea Ward was recently expelled from a counseling program at Eastern Michigan she refused to counsel a homosexual couple and affirm their relationship. A federal judge sided with the university and upheld the expulsion. Julea Ward is seen in many circles as a religious bigot. Significantly, at issue was a code of ethics for the counselors. The idea that someone would actually rely upon the Bible for their source of values above a code of ethics was an anathema to her professors. Gay marriage is not just about gay marriage. It is about the very fundamentals of how we define our culture, our laws, our very sense of what is right and wrong.

    Gay marriage is really a social experiment as much as anything else.

  23. Doug,

    The firing or discipline of people with religious convictions concerning homosexuality is unfortunate, and frequently wrong. People have a fundamental right to think and speak freely, and to live out their consciences.

    The real straw man in these debates is the suggestion that the honeymoon of same-sex marriage will be the destruction of every freedom we hold dear and corruption unseen since Sodom.
    The real straw man is the suggestion that the rights of majority are jeopardized. That is the language and argument of demagogues: This, or else doom.

    The slippery -slope argument is simply fallacious. Gay marriage does not equal the loss of religious freedom or the erosion of the family any more than eggs equal omlets.

    What you have offered is just a way of evading the central fact of the issue.
    We discriminate against homosexuals when we deny them the privilege of marriage. By our Constitution, we are are to be treated as fundamentally equal, unless a deeply compelling reason exists to withhold a right from particular citizens.

    Therefore, it isn’t for gays and lesbians to prove they deserve equal access to the institution of marriage. It is for you, the opponents of Gay marriage to meet the tremendously high standard of proof that denial of these rights is essential.

    Your argument turns the Constitution on its head.

  24. “Gay marriage does not equal the loss of religious freedom or the erosion of the family any more than eggs equal omlets.” – Ryan

    I’ve seen several men come out as homosexual that had wives and children. Now that homosexuality is less likely to be seen as a disgusting malfunction more will turn to what is now being seen as a viable, healthy alternative. Families will be destroyed and they will be less common – by homosexuality, by promiscuity, by fornication, by immodesty, by adultry and by other such means.

    “Allowing” gay marriage is senseless. There is no reason that the government should encourage homosexual unions. We shouldn’t want homosexuals to stay together, we should want them to become well. This isn’t about civil rights – as gays are allowed to be in relationships already, this is about homosexuals getting a pat on the back from the government. Gays also want to force society at large to approve of them – as an insult to God. Not everyone is entitled to be encouraged by the government and society for whatever their behavior may be. This has nothing whatsoever to do with civil rights.

    The constitution doesn’t guarantee that all types of behavior will be encouraged by the govenrment. Now maybe Ryan thinks we’ll have to start encouraging polygamous and incestuous marriage? – which is what would happen if those were legalized. Homosexuals should NOT get special treatment like the healthy ideal heterosexual foundation of family. We have no reason to think that the nation would benefit from more homosexual activity.

  25. Ryan,

    I do sense your just trying to win a debate. It seems you have sincere opinions that you want to talk through. I should also note that this is not a topic I am very passionate about. I tend to “feel” for the underdog in every day life. But I lose some compassion whenever someone is repeatedly demanding for their perceived rights to be met politically. I get annoyed when homosexuals do it and I get annoyed when Christians do it. That’s just me.

    It just seems your points sometimes get a little vague. Almost like your intellectualizing the language used. What I mean is, for example, you mentioned that it’s not a manner of discrimination but “justified” discrimination. While that in definition is accurate, we both know what the term “discrimination” means these days. This word isn’t used today unless it implies the discrimination is wrong. So what I mean to say is I’m not sure if your creatively getting off topic:-) or if you are just a deep thinking guy, hence the slight confusion on my part…not to mention in forums like these you can’t “see” tone or voice inflection!

    As far as your argument goes for having “proof” of the effects of gay marriage, I don’t think it is very strong. I would have to agree with Doug on the point where he said “Isn’t the burden upon those who want to change the system to show how it is broken?”

    However, to be honest, with more people living as homosexuals I am not surprised they want to be married. It’s the “logical” sequence of things. In some ways I feel like the standing up against same-sex marriage is like standing up against hangovers. The issue isn’t the hangover, but rather the night before and the many liters of alcohol consumed…does that make sense? I mean is the issue the homosexuality or the obvious result? Not the best analogy, but that is all I could think of at the moment.

  26. Doug,

    I think you made some good points. But I strongly disagree with you on the idea that the church has been at the forefront of civil rights, specifically in this country.

    The church in this country has not only not been on the forefront, but we have been the cause of the NEED for there to be civil rights! Slavery and segregation come to mind. The good ol’ bible belt demanding their right to keep and sell slaves is for starters. Then when they lost that battle they demanded for segregation to remain law.

    And I don’t think using Martin Luther King Jr. is a fair analogy. He was the “underdog” in the fight FOR civil rights and he himself was the Christian. The “church”(especially southern) at large opposed King. This is the very ammunition being used against us.

    While I don’t view civil rights for homosexuals on an even playing field with civil rights for racial equality, the truth is we have given the gay community a valid argument against us when it comes to our report card on civil rights.

  27. Dave,
    If I were interested in winning a debate, I wouldn’t be writing here. And I tend to think we should all be passionate about the rights of our fellow citizens.

    Perhaps I am “intellectualizing” a debate, but I am certain we’re all making this a conversation about abstractions.
    But actual people are being denied.
    The lesbian couple across the street from me are not an “agenda.” They are loving partners caring for one another through old age, even as one slowly declines and succumbs to MS. I tell you, their realtionship doesn’t look like what Juan calls “a disgusting malfunction.”

    This conversation is about big issues and big ideas, but it is also about my State denying these two, particular people a privilege my wife and I enjoy.

  28. “This conversation is about big issues and big ideas, but it is also about my State denying these two, particular people a privilege my wife and I enjoy.” – Ryan

    There are people living together all over the country as friends, in non-sexual unions. Are you going to let them get ‘married’ too – to enjoy this privilege your wife and you enjoy? Sometimes there are more than two people living together non-sexually too – so we ought to allow for a many person ‘marriage’ between friends.

    If we’re talking about money related stuff, the end result is that no one gets special treatment (stuff has to get paid for). The State may as well go ahead and remove the privilege your wife and you enjoy right now. Maybe that would make it easier for your neighbors. It would certainly make more sense than giving your neighbors special treatment and denying the friends who live together, your other neighbors.

  29. Ryan,

    Please explain to me why “marriage” should now be RADICALLY redefined as the union of two people rather than the union of a man and woman? And while you’re at it, please tell me why the number “two” is important. Why not three people?

    I’m not stopping two lesbians from living together, but I will not radically redefine marriage to sanction what they’re doing — not the least because in God’s eyes, it is sinful and destructive.

    But please do answer my questions when you can. Thanks!

  30. And what would be wrong with marrying your dog or horse? Some people talk to their house plants. Maybe there could be a meaningful relationship solemnized with them. You see YHWH is the creator of all these “beings.” Since He is their owner, He is the one that gets to make the rules. He knows what is best.

    Since He made all things for his pleasure, not ours, it doesn’t even matter what is best…it only matters what is pleasing to Him. What might seem reasonable to us because of our culture or sentiments, may not make sense in the bigger picture. He can see the whole picture at once. We can barely see past our noses in comparison.

    Is YHWH the judge of right and wrong, good and evil, or do we presume to know better than He? The story of the first man and woman should be lesson enough for us to see how easy it is for us to swallow ideas that are not meant to be ingested (no matter how pleasant they look or taste).

    When we take the position of deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong we are dethroning our true King and judge and sitting in His place. Not a good move. Lucifer is not the one we should imitate or listen to…unless we would rather spend eternity with him instead of YHWH. Asbestos I can tell asbestos is not my favorite fabric for comfortable attire 🙂

    It is hard to give up our ideas and replace them with YHWH’s ideas. It is difficult for us to subject our carnal minds to YHWH’s law/instructions/Torah…but it is right and, at least ultimately, best for us. The price we pay in giving up things for Messiah’s sake and the kingdom is worth it in the long run. This race is not a 100 yard dash.

    If we really love our neighbors as ourselves we would want them to be accepted into the kingdom, not make their sins more comfortable or acceptable. The first word of the Gospel is repent. That goes for us as well as them, whoever the them is. Whatever the sinful lifestyle is, it is worth giving up for the future reward.

    The laws of our land reflect someones version of morality…it just as well be the One’s that invented morality. Actually it would not be just as well…it would be much, much better.

    Shalom

  31. Dr. Brown,

    I really hope that your trip to Israel is going safely and well. You asked me two questions, and I’d like to address them.

    First you asked why should marriage be radically redefined now as the union of two people, rather than the union of a man and woman?
    Not to be flippant, but my answer is that it should be redefined “now” because the Constitutionality of laws limiting the definition of marriage are in question now.

    I think we agree that our government can not discriminate without justification, without violating our guarantees to equal treatment. The fact that heterosexuals enjoy the benefits of marriage, while homosexuals are denied those privileges though living in analogous relationships, is unequal treatment. And, entirely independent of arguments about the mutability of sexual orientation, there just isn’t a coherent argument for the radical inferiority of homosexual relationships given that heterosexuals legally marry regardless of their old age, drug use, diseases, sexual proclivities ability, or inability to have children. Aside from the mixture of genders, no definable and ubiquitous difference exists between homosexual and heterosexual unions. And the mixture of genders alone does not compel the State to favor one sort over the other.

    Further, scant evidence exists to support the central claim that same-sex marriages pose a future danger to society that we must legislate to avoid, while homosexuals themselves do not. Which brings me to your second question: why the number two is important for unions, rather than three or more? I think a faulty assumption underlies this question: that one radical change will lead to further, cascading changes.
    More importantly, this question also turns a conversation about same-sex marriage away from the concrete present and toward imaginary scenarios. This frees opponents of same-sex marriage from engaging the reality of actual people, and we end up shouting about about men marrying dogs, or incestuous marriage, or seething gay-married hordes marching across our schools and churches.

    The fact is, no necessary connection exists between gay marriage and polygamy, or incest, or bestiality. Debating polygamy in the same breath as same-sex marriage only clouds a straightforward and discrete question of equal treatment for homosexual couples. I’m certainly glad I’ve never had to prove that by asserting my rights to social privileges, I wasn’t opening Pandora’s Box.

    With warm regards…

  32. Ryan,

    Interesting response. I’m interested to hear Dr. Brown’s thoughts.

    On a side note, this is exactly why I hate politics! 🙂

  33. Ryan,

    Thanks for the kind wishes on my Israel trip, and thanks for answering my questions.

    May I be so direct as to say you actually didn’t answer either of them?

    Until you recognize why the state has an interest in marriage at all, you can’t address why marriage should be redefined. It has nothing to do with discrimination. Marriage exists for a purpose, which is not to sanction the love of two people but to have a social institution for procreation and for nurturing a family. That’s the only reason the state cares about it. For a short and clear read, have you seen Frank Turek’s book on this? http://www.amazon.com/Correct-Politically-Same-Sex-Marriage-Everyone/dp/1607081628/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289889554&sr=8-2 It also demonstrates how same-sex “marriage” does, in fact, hurt everyone.

    As to my second question, until you can answer that directly, you can’t even begin to address the first. Again, what’s the big deal about “two”? And why is polygamy wrong anyway? It’s been around a lot longer than same-sex marriage, and is widely practiced around the world. Plus, there’s no “slippery slope” argument here at all. We’ve already been told by Newsweek that polyamory is the next wave, and polyamorists are now clamoring to be recognized legally. So, again, since you’re arguing to radically redefine marriage in ways that human history has never known (despite the presence of homosexuals throughout history), please tell me why marriage should be limited to two people, unless those two are male and female.

    In all your sincere concerns about “discrimination,” you fail to realize the dramatic implications of the social experiment you advocate, which are both social and moral, and you fail to realize that you have already opened the Pandora’s Box with your very arguments. The only solution is to close the box and return to moral and social and spiritual sanity.

  34. Dave,

    On the subject of politics, I am happy to say that we strongly agree!

    Dr. Brown,

    With respect, I think I answered both questions. Marriage is being redefined now because the legal petitions of same-sex couples have exposed an inequality in our laws that must be addressed. And, as I said, unless you can evidence that a homosexual union is fundamentally inferior to any heterosexual union, there is no Constitutional justification for the Government to favor one over the other.

    With due respect, I think we disagree about the importance of your second question. Am I to think that if it were possible to build an unassailable case for two-person marriage, it would ease your fears of same-sex marriage? I doubt it. Though, I do think the definition of marriage as a union of two persons is more robust than defining marriage around gender and physical sex – when one would have to litigate whether a trans-sexal could marry their sexually ambiguous partner. But fundamentally, I’m not arguing for the redefinition of marriage; I’m arguing for an end to the discriminatory favoring of heterosexual unions over homosexual unions. And if one flows inevitably flows out of the other, that social challenge is not justification to perpetuate this particular inequality.

    But to return to the subject of polygamy and Pandora’s Box, you mention that polygamy has been widely practiced around the world since time out of mind. This would seem to damage your argument that a definition of marriage other than one man and one woman leads to an endless expansion and unraveling. For untold ages, polygamy has lead only to more polygamy. Not exactly a runaway train of declension.

    My questions for you would be these:
    You propose we legally promote a particular kind of marriage – between one man and one woman. You want laws that enshrine a State interest in certain marriages for the purposes of procreation. What bulwark then prevents us from further refining this definition? We could exclude the sterile. Drug addicts. The diseased. The mentally disabled. Convicted felons. Anyone whose unions might produce unfortunate offspring.

    And, as I said in my previous post, heterosexuals legally marry regardless of their old age, drug use, diseases, sexual proclivities, or inability to have children. Aside from the mixture of genders, no definable and ubiquitous difference exists between homosexual and heterosexual unions. Why should our Government extend a blanket favoritism over one but not the other?

  35. Ryan,

    Alas, you’re still missing the whole point of the discussion, with due respect to your attempts to answer. Because I’m in the middle of a busy schedule here in Israel, may I ask that you take the time to read the book I referenced before we continue further in the discussion? Your questions have been answered many times before, and to be candid, you have still have failed to explain why marriage should be redefined (really, you have not come close to approaching an answer yet, other than some judges think it’s unfair that same-sex couples can’t marry!).

    As Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council pointed out a few years ago:

    Question: Even if “marriage” itself is uniquely heterosexual, doesn’t
    fairness require that the legal and financial benefits of marriage be
    granted to same-sex couples—perhaps through “civil unions” or
    “domestic partnerships?”

    Answer: No. The legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an
    entitlement to be distributed equally to all (if they were, single
    people would have as much reason to consider them “discriminatory”
    as same-sex couples). Society grants benefits to marriage because
    marriage has benefits for society—including, but not limited to, the
    reproduction of the species in households with the optimal household
    structure (i.e., the presence of both a mother and a father).

    Homosexual relationships, on the other hand, have no comparable benefit
    for society, and in fact impose substantial costs on society. The fact
    that AIDS is at least ten times more common among men who have sex with
    men than among the general population [actually, more recent data shows
    it is closer to fifty times more common!] is but one example.

    In short, “Society gives benefits to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society.”

    Lastly, re: polygamy, that is far more in keeping with the purpose of marriage (albeit still very wrong) than is same-sex “marriage.” Please do your best to grasp the argument before trying to reply, OK?

  36. Ryan,

    One last point, which, I hope, will help. You wrote, “unless you can [provide] evidence that a homosexual union is fundamentally inferior to any heterosexual union, there is no Constitutional justification for the Government to favor one over the other.”

    Do you not recognize the patent absurdity of your question? Any thinking person can list many major differences between the two unions (I’m sure you can if you try), yet you somehow think because two people love each other their relationship should be sanctioned as marriage. Honestly? And what do you tell the couples coming forward now who are close blood-relatives and want to marry? Will you “discriminate” against them?

  37. Dr. Brown,

    I would happily continue this discussion, given that I’m read the literature you suggest, but hopefully without the condescension.

    You’ve confused “different” with “inferior.” And my question is hardly absurd. Until it is possible to demonstrate inferiority, there is no legal case for discrimination. As it stands now, the extension of the marriage privilege covers heterosexual couples regardless of whether they can produce the desired benefit for society. In other words, some heterosexual couples function socially in ways indistinguishable from homosexual couples but receive unequal benefits. That is capricious.

    As for Peter Sprigg’s suggestion of social detriments from homosexual marriages, I can only say that we have known so much about the world. We’ve known that the nature of black Africans suited them best to slavery. We’ve known that Jews were secret corrupters. We’ve known that Native Americans colluded with Satan. We’ve known that Irishmen were nearly subhuman and disloyal. We’ve known that women lacked the wherewithal to own property or vote. Each group had its turn as the dangerous ones whose full inclusion seeming threatened the foundations of our society.

    And now some would enshrine yet another inequality in our laws. Because we really do know how Gays are. Really?

  38. Ryan,

    There’s no condescending attitude here on my part, simply surprise if you can’t recognize profound differences between homosexual unions and heterosexual unions, and why one is called marriage and the other is not.

    So, you’ve read the Frank Turek book, for starters? I just want to be sure that you’ve processed the rational and logical arguments presented there before rehashing them here.

    As for your comparisons with Africans or Native Americans, once again, you make a profound error here, since sexual and romantic inclinations and behavior cannot rightly be compared with skin color or ethnicity while, in some past cultures, homosexual behavior was welcomed and even celebrated (such as in some ancient Greek culture), yet even there, there was no thought of same-sex “marriages.”

    Your constant mantra of “it’s not fair,” is not an argument at all — again, I mean no disrespect — and you have yet to provide a syllable that would indicate why the definition of marriage should be changed. Not a syllable. So I repeat once more: Until you actually come up with an argument of substance, it’s difficult to respond to complaints of discrimination. And please, when you do try to come up with an argument of substance, explain why we should limit marriage to two people. That too is a question that you have not truly addressed yet.

    So, in short, you’ve read Frank Turek’s book, correct? If so, what was wrong with his arguments?

    And, you have some kind of argument other than “You’re discriminating against gays,” and you can actually tell me why your redefinition of marriage should be limited to two people?

  39. Ryan,

    Is any of your view of the discussion related to your view of the church’s role in politics? Dr. Browns answers seem to be coming from a biblical perspective whereas yours seem to come from a constitutional perspective. That statement has is simply an observation on my part. Is it possible this is more of a “separation of church and state” issue? I may be completely off on that, just curious.

    Is there a thread on the church’s role in the political arena? I have many questions and thought on that topic.

  40. Ryan,

    One last comment re: the “inferior” nature of same-sex unions as compared to heterosexual marriage.

    Let’s start here: They cannot procreate on their own, which is a massive problem, and is the rule, rather than the exception to the rule (in contrast to, say, a barren woman or infertile man who are married, which is the exception to the rule).

    Then, if children are brought into the same-sex household, it is guaranteed that those children will be deprived of either a father or mother for life. That is very serious! Who then, is indispensable? The mother or the father?

    Next, children raised in such a household will never have modeled for them the proper relationship between a man and woman (father and mother), which is also a serious drawback.

    All this makes a same-sex union seriously inferior to heterosexual marriage — and this is just the beginning of the list (which also includes the serious health risks of male-male sex, along with bisexuality, which further tax the government and can hurt family life, and this by the choice of the participants; and the fact that studies are pointing to issues with the sexual identity of kids raised in same-sex households; etc.)

    Anyway, just the first three reasons listed above point to the clear inferiority of a same-sex union as opposed to the God-ordained, male-female relationship.

  41. Dr. Brown,

    I think it might be a bit of a stretch to describe as entirely insubstantial arguments have held in court in every major Constitutional challenge to bans on same-sex marriage.

    But you miss my last point utterly. I make no comparison at all between the nature of discrimination against homosexuals and discrimination against African Americans, or Native Peoples, etc. etc.

    The comparison is between the ways in which this discrimination has been defended. The argument is always, fundamentally, that God’s social order is at stake, regardless of the characters or the issue involved. And you make the same, bankrupt claim.

    In a sense I think Dave is correct about this being a Church-State issue. You find homosexuality to be a moral evil. I do not find homosexuality to be a moral evil, and so the same fragments of evidence that in your sight manifest all the consequences of deviation from God’s order, looks like bits of straw in the wind to me.

  42. But on the bright side, same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, is legal in Massachusetts, and recognized in New York State. Its inevitable in California given the course of the Prop 8 appeals. Which means that, in a generation or two, we’ll have some meaningful evidence about the merits of same-sex marriage to debate.

  43. Ryan,

    I take it that you are not believer in what the scripture plainly states, but think that you can make your own rules, and are wise enough to do so.

    Shalom

  44. “I do not find homosexuality to be a moral evil…” – Ryan

    What do you think about people having sex with plants, animals, and inanimate matter (or incest, polygamy, etc.)? Those options make just as much sense as homosexuality. People could be much more free sexually, and they would be – but society is holding them back.

    Society needs men and women together – that’s all – so that’s what gets “special treatment” from society. Why would society go to the trouble of supporting all the unnecessary, diverse malfunctions. To be fair? Well, in all fairness, we don’t need those other unions. No one does. It’s really that simple. Nothing else makes any sense.

    Also, why does your homosexual couple deserve benefits and not my non-sexual group of friends?

    And I’m interested in you explaining why you are pro-homosexual marriage but reject the other funky stuff.

  45. Ryan,

    At least it’s become clear that: 1) you reject the witness of the Bible entirely (in which case you’re entirely welcome to continue posting here, but at least that point is clear now if it wasn’t before); 2) you still have not given a single reason why we should consider radically and almost totally redefining marriage, nor can you tell us why marriage should be limited to two people if they are not male-female; 3) you do not have substantive answers about the inferior nature of homosexual unions, even based on the few points I made; 4) apparently, you’ve not even read the Frank Turek book for starters. (Again, please correct me on this if I’m wrong.

    The issue is really not a Church-state issue; it’s an issue of what is best for society, and in Canada, religious freedoms and freedoms of conscience have been stripped in oppressive ways in recent years because of a desire to remove any notion of “heteronormativity,” while little by little, the same things are happening in America. Gender itself is coming under attack, and time will only tell how utterly destructive to society that attack is.

    As for the ruling of a few courts (like Iowa or Judge Walker), those rulings would be laughable if not so pathetic and poorly reasoned, not to mention utterly overstepping what the Constitution said and/or intended. More importantly, should the Supreme Court ultimately handle the Prop 8 case and decide in its favor, would you then say, “Fine. I accept their reasoning?”

    But all this potentially clouds the issue, which is that your only reason for suggesting that marriage be radically and almost totally redefined is because “it’s not fair” that same-sex partners can’t have their relationships sanctioned by the state. I do hope you can see this and recognize the emptiness of your argument, which, coupled with your inability to respond to the other points raised, should give you pause for that.

    That being said, I’m delighted that you’ve chosen to weigh in here with your thoughts, and for doing so in such a civil manner.

  46. I did neglect that you asked me to treat Dr. Turek’s arguments, which are many.

    But, I can summarize.
    1) Dr. Turek’s view of homosexual behavior is based on such sparse and unreliable data that it shades towards outright bigotry and, not surprisingly, deals almost exclusively with Gay men. Further, it depends entirely on the existence of a God-given design and moral standard for sexuality. He repeatedly demeans even the concept that homosexuals can have a loving relationship.

    2) Dr. Turek has a good deal of data on illegitimacy and the like in places like Norway, but in not a single instance can he show a causal link between a social ill and the legalization of same-sex marriage. I wish I could underline that.

    3) Thus, his statements about what “will” happen to “traditional marriage” and children, and disease rates when same-sex marriage is legalized in US States are pure speculation.

    4) His data demonstrating the benefits of a “traditional family” is just swell. but he can’t show that allowing same-sex couples to marry will alter those statistics one bit. That relies on our assumption that fewer people will engage in traditional marriages, or that two parents of the same sex would invariably do worse than parents of opposites sexes.

    5) He argues that it is not unfair to discriminate against a “socially destructive relationship,” such as the union of close blood relatives. That’s true! But as an argument for exclusively heterosexual marriage, this only makes sense if you think homosexual relationships are uniformly socially destructive, and lack the potential to be socially constructive – and that heterosexual unions are invariably constructive.

    He certainly tries to find some way in which any and all heterosexual marriages are uniquely constructive, but ultimately it all falls back upon the reflection of the diving ordering of things. Bogus.

    6) He tosses out every imaginable boogeyman – from the indoctrination of children, to State intrusion into the Church, to AIDS costs. There’s a word for this: fear-mongering.

    7) I could continue, but its 1:30, and I’m tired.

  47. Dr. Brown,

    I do not reject the biblical witness. I reject the efforts of men to defend simple prejudice as God’s order. I’m made suspicious by the fact that our perception of God’s design is inescapably through the eyes of culture. And our culture rejects homosexuals. It calls them fags, and even at its mildest mocks them as unnatural, and associates them with filth, chuckles reflexively at a Gay joke. So I think its fair to wonder how clearly you really think we can see God in this issue, peering through that lens.

  48. Lastly, I’ll gladly read whatever you have to say, but I plan to step away from this conversation at least for a while. Frankly, I’m a cabinetmaker who works quietly alone – I’m not used to this sort of exchange.

    With warm regards and hopes for safe travel,

    Ryan

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