The “Evangelicals” Who Are Not Evangelicals

At the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim recently reviewed Steven Miller’s excellent book The Age of Evangelicalism, which I also reviewed at The Gospel Coalition. In my review, I suggested that evangelicals’ necessary engagement in politics has defined evangelicals by their politics and politicians, such as George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.

Swaim helpfully raises the problem of the use of the term “evangelical” in the media:

For the past 20 or 30 years, ["evangelical"] has designated nearly any Christian believer, Protestant or Catholic, who feels strongly about his or her faith. Which is to say that it’s not a very helpful word. Indeed, many evangelicals, or rather people who might otherwise be known as evangelicals, have long since disavowed the term. Steven Miller in “The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years” doesn’t work very hard to define it; he says only (in a parenthetical aside) that evangelicalism is “the label commonly given to the public expression of born-again Christianity.” That definition is at once too narrow and too broad. It’s too narrow because it deals only with “public expression”—that is, politics—as if evangelicalism were primarily a political creed. And it’s too broad in that it conflates people who want nothing to do with one another. What, other than perhaps a rough similarity in voting patterns, do followers of the mega-church Texas pastor Joel Osteen have to do with members of the primarily northeastern Orthodox Presbyterian Church? Not much.

Many readers will know historian David Bebbington’s standard definition of evangelicals as Protestant Christians marked by biblicism, crucicentrism (the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross), activism, and conversionism. I have argued – and continue to argue in my forthcoming biography of George Whitefield – that for eighteenth-century evangelicals, an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit was also a defining mark, one that set them apart from their forebears more than biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism.

I agree with Swaim that the term evangelical, as used in the media, obscures fundamental differences between those lumped together as people who “feel strongly about their faith.” There are at least four types of Christians who often get cast as evangelicals who really are not evangelicals, if that term has any meaning.

The first and most obvious are theological liberals who, because of their background in evangelical churches or seminaries, still get lumped in with evangelicals. A substantial evangelicalism must embrace basic orthodoxy, in accord with historic Christianity and the great creeds. So, for example, when Rob Bell declared himself a universalist, he put himself beyond the evangelical pale (implicitly denying the need for conversion, among other problems). Yet some in the media will still refer to him as an evangelical. The media has a particular interest in calling such folks evangelicals, because it allows for the ever-popular narrative of the liberal evangelical dissenter (“evangelical pastor denies hell,” “evangelical pastor conducts gay wedding,” etc.).

The second group are Reformed/confessionalist Christians, often associated with traditional Presbyterian or Reformed denominations such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This is the easiest category of the four, because many of these Christians would tell you that they are not evangelicals, even if the media would regard them as such. Some of these folks will tell you that they might be evangelicals, but that the doctrines and confessions of Reformed Christianity are the center of their faith, not the born-again feelings of typical American evangelicals. D.G. Hart is one of the preeminent examples of the Reformed critics of evangelicalism.

The next two groups are more difficult cases, because they might well affirm evangelical distinctives when asked, but they put other emphases at the center of their public message. One is advocates of the prosperity gospel. The line here is a fine one, because most evangelicals would tell you that, aside from being true and salvific, faith in Christ is also helpful in negotiating the challenges of life (finances, marriage, work, etc.). But when person-centered therapy – ways to overcome barriers in order to have “your best life now” – becomes the center of a church’s teaching, they’re not evangelical any more. I once heard a prosperity preacher tell a congregation repeatedly at the end of a sermon, “Do you want your dreams to come true? Accept Jesus.” If this does not give you pause, you’re likely not an evangelical.

The fourth group – and the one that presents the most critical problem, given the public’s impression of evangelicals described by Steven Miller – are those for whom American politics and patriotism are the center of Christianity, at least as communicated in public. We see this problem more clearly on July 4th weekend than at any other time. Evangelicals are grateful for the blessings of the American tradition, not least religious liberty. But we cannot tie our faith to American civil religion.

This takes me back to my earlier thoughts on what I call “paleo evangelicals” and the controversy over the work of history writer David Barton. As I wrote at Patheos, that 2012 blowup illustrated that

there are many evangelicals who have reservations about the blending of American national history with their faith. Our faith needs to be focused on Christ, the paleos say, and rooted in the deep, wide tradition of orthodox church history. We do not base our faith, in any sense, on the personal beliefs of Jefferson, Washington, or Adams. Especially when viewed from the perspective of the global church, American civil religion looks peculiar, at best. Yes, Christianity played a major role in the American founding, but that fact does not place the founding at the center of Christianity. The paleos admire many of the founders, but do not wish to read the founders alongside Scripture, as Barton would have us do in his Founders’ Bible.

I know that some readers will bristle at efforts to draw boundaries for who’s in, and who’s out, as an evangelical. But if the term is going to have any utility, “evangelical” must mean more than those the media designates as serious Christians.

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  • kierkegaard71

    What is the assumption that the name “evangelical” must continue to have usefulness and relevance for the Church and her relationship to the world? When you factor in mis-labeling, variant emphases in theology, hyphenation, etc., I am trying to understand why a term – whose absence the Church survived for the first 17 (?) centuries of her existence – must maintain permanent validity. I have grown up thinking that the “evangelical” expression of Christianity is the truest expression of the gospel, and that Roman Catholicism and Orthodox understandings of the gospel “muddy the waters” to a woefully deficient point – to the point that they should not be considered “true gospel”. To me, “evangelical” is useful if one considers its essentials the truest expression of the gospel (however, even this latter assertion was softened greatly by “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”). If the “evangelical” project is not an attempt at seeking the “true gospel” (and thus drawing some hard lines), it seems to me like the rest of the “define evangelical” analysis is reduced to mere sociology. Of course, I stand open to correction.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Funny that Love Wins has been out for years now, and folks are still quoting assumptions about it instead of reading it. The book doesn’t teach Universal Redemption, and Rob Bell isn’t a universalist. Not sure if that’s deliberate misinformation or just laziness.

    • Thomas Kidd

      I’ve read the whole thing.

      • http://www.craigladams.com/ Craig L. Adams

        Then it is deliberate misinformation.

        • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

          Exactly. The book simply questions the possibility of postmortem reconciliation to God through Christ and actually denies Universalism. I’m a little surprised that years later folks are still putting out misinformation on Rob’s position.

      • Danny Jang

        Someone else must be a universalist! ; )

      • Murakami’s Elephant

        It’s entirely possible for you to have read the whole thing and have *misunderstood it*

        Given that Rob Bell has repeatedly denied that he’s a universalist, I suspect that’s the case. http://www.christianpost.com/news/rob-bell-denies-being-a-universalist-49417/

    • geoffrobinson

      I’m not saying we should sacrifice to Ba’al. I’m just raising questions about whether it’s OK.

      Yeah, he’s a universalist.

      • Esther

        Universalism – and one can correct me on this if I am wrong – is saying that everyone ends up in heaven whether you are evil or good, believe in Christ or something else. So it doesn’t matter how you live your life or what you believe. …. Love Wins – as I see it, and one may still disagree on this with me as well – says however that it DOES matter what we believe. That what we believe here and now WILL define where we’ll end up in eternity. But that it won’t be because of traditional views, like this being because of God deciding ‘who’s been bad or good’ and Rob – i believe – is saying, because of people’s own decission to not be in God’s present. But Love wins saying that possibly after death, people technically have the opportunity to repent and that technically God would honour that repentance with grace based on Christ’s sacrifice. But that possibly, according to Love Wins, in reality this will not happen. Traditionally it won’t happen because of God’s decission and I think Rob is saying it is not likely to happen because of the heart of the people themselves. It’s like infinity fixes our finite decissions after the threshold of death.

  • Artistree

    I only know a handful of Reformed confessional Christians and they all would consider themselves evangelicals but would note the differences between themselves and the free-church type evangelicals on some doctrinal issues.

    One also has to think about who is one to say who is evangelical and who is not; by what authority ? The book “Evangelical Catholicism” by George Weigel and its huge readership and success ( although I have not read it) shows that a large number of conservative Roman Catholics consider themselves “evangelical”.

    Outside the Church I attend, our church sign reads: “Saint Mary of the Snows Anglican Church”, and the sub text reads “Traditional, Evangelical, and Spirit Filled”.

  • J. Inglis

    Good article, but would be better without throw away lines like “implicitly denying the need for conversion”. That is not the case (note: I am not a universalist) any more than “Calvinism implicitly denies the need for missions.” Conversion is required, even under a general universalist belief that all will be saved, if one wants others to experience the abundant life preached by the apostle John and to be filled with the Spirit in this life, rather than merely saved by flames. Note that I specified “general”; it is of course true that some universalists decry conversion, but that is not true of all nor a logical conclusion (if all one is concerned with is getting in the pearly gates, then one doesn’t need conversion, but if one wants to follow Christ fully then of course conversion is needed–hence whether conversion is necessary depends on what one is talking about). Given your core definition of evangelical, one could certainly be an evangelical and an universalist.

  • paganmegan

    When I was born again, 38 years ago, an evangelical was a Christian who engaged in evangelism; that is, he or she made it a priority to share the Gospel with others. By contrast, a Christian who believed the Bible was literally true was considered a fundamentalist. Over the years, fundamentalist came to be regarded as a dirty word, so fundamentalists took on the more positive term evangelical, ultimately sullying that term as well.

    This hijacking of terms has always struck me as ironic. Given fundamentalists’ clear hostility toward secular culture, they make rather poor evangelists.

    • SALLYFARRAR

      Megan- It was the Christians who stood out in their life styles and personal code—above the sinful fray—-that led me to embrace Jesus back during the Jesus Movement of the Sixties and early Seventies.
      I had had my fill of sin and seeing what the world’s definition of “peace” and joy had led to.
      Even so, Come Lord Jesus, come.

  • fredx2

    A bit off topic, but I think people forget why Evangelicals got into politics in the first place.Nowadays, we are lectured ad infinitum about how bad it is for Evangelicals to be involved in politics, while the same people laud the political involvement of every left leaning group.
    In the Jimmy Carter years, there was a sense the nation had gone off the rails – everyone was pushing weird ideas like divorce is good, mens and womens roles were hogwash, little girls and boys were exactly the same, no difference, and it was only the way they were socialized that made them different. Murphy Brown, a bit later, told us that women should have babies without men at all. Sex, now that contraception had arrived, should be had by all as much as possible.
    It was a time of widespread social nonsense. I have listed only a few of these things, but
    I remember that things got so bad in the public sphere – mostly driven by the media, that Bill Simon, a former treasury secretary, actually wrote a book called “Time for Truth” in which he began to challenge some of the widespread PC stuff that was being touted in the media nonstop.
    So, Evangelicals got into the political process because they objected to liberals taking our society apart, stick by stick. I remember in 1979 or so, thinking – ‘these are the only people sticking up for common sense ideas” and welcoming their entry.
    But now it has become chic to pooh-pooh their inbovlement, while at the same time praising the involvement of the religious left in politics.
    My point is that the Evangelicals get a lot of credit for saving this country from a lot of complete junk that could have sunk us.

    • SALLYFARRAR

      As I recall, it was seeing the Leftwing High Priests such as Jackson, Sharpton and someone you’ve never heard of, Rev. William Sloane Coffin, and their ilk bringing their version of Christianity into the political scene that alerted the Christian leaders to the fact that they had better follow the example of, say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and push back and resist the forces that were diluting the pure message of the Gospel and using it for political purposes. The passage of Roe v Wade when infanticide became legal was another watershed moment for evangelicals and their need to get involved in politics.

      • rrhersh

        Kudos for how you manage to compare people you don’t like with the Nazis without actually naming them. This allows you to play the injured innocent, should anyone be so crass as to point out what you did.

        • SALLYFARRAR

          Thank you. It wasn’t intentional but now that you mention it—
          The Nazis did, in fact, practice infanticide to almost as great a degree as we in the U.S. now do…..and do with alacrity and the “blessing” of the “Church”. Even evangelicals.
          Have we fallen or what? It is no longer God bless the USA but God have mercy on the USA. Imho.

          • rrhersh

            Only if you believe that zygotes are fully human beings. Of course if you believe that, then there is the problem that zygotes fail to come to term for innumerable reasons, usually without the mother even being aware of it. Any decent person who actually believed them to be fully human beings–especially a sexually active woman, with this slaughter of countless innocents happening within her own body!–would be agonized by this and would be working tirelessly for solutions to what is obviously one of the great crises of human history. Yet what I actually see is careless indifference. What to conclude? It could be that these people are moral monsters such as would put Hitler and Stalin to shame. More likely is some combination of they don’t actually believe what they claim to believe, or they have never given the topic a moment’s thought.

          • davidshockey

            Bogus argument. It’s like saying that we don’t care about people who are killed by lightning strikes because we haven’t done anything to prevent lightning.

          • rrhersh

            Interesting analogy, because while we can’t prevent lightning, we can take precautions against it. Evangelicals claim to believe that zygotes are babies, yet are utterly uninterested in increasing their likelihood of coming to term. This is like having your child be killed in a fire caused by a lightning strike, shrugging it off as just one of those things, and never considering installing a lightning rod in your next house containing your next children. Except that deaths by lightning are comparatively rare, while zygotes not coming to term are very common, so actually the position you are arguing is far more monstrous.

          • davidshockey

            “yet are utterly uninterested in increasing their likelihood of coming to term”
            I reject that assertion. Many pregnant women go to great lengths to ensure that their pregnancy continues to term. I personally know women who spent months on complete bed rest and had to have physical therapy to be able to to walk again afterward.

          • rrhersh

            Note that I wrote not of fetuses in general, but specifically of zygotes, i.e. the fertilized egg. Zygotes routinely fail to “take” for any number of reasons, and are flushed from the system in the menstrual cycle. Generally there is no overt symptom, except perhaps an unusually heavy menstrual flow. Morally, however, this makes no difference. If, after all, you had reason to believe that there was even a small but non-trivial chance of there being a dead baby in your garbage can out back, you would sit up and take notice. You wouldn’t simply shrug it off and wait for collection day to remove it from your property. Yet a zygote in a menstrual pad is treated differently. It goes into that garbage can without a second thought. If one believes that a zygote is simply a cell, this is unremarkable. If one believes that it is a baby, this is astonishing.

          • davidshockey

            You make a good point, however, the presence of a dead baby in one’s trash implies that someone has done something illegal. Also, a full-term baby that is now dead had a much greater chance at a full life than a fetus that was only a few days or weeks old. The greater emotional response to the former event is logical.

            The misconception that you base your argument on is that people who believe that life begins at conception are not allowed to be pragmatic.

          • rrhersh

            Ah, I see: you are embracing situational ethics. You argue as if there were nothing to be done about zygotes failing to come to term. Why is that? Why should we assume that there is no possibility of modern medicine increasing the zygote’s chances? If there were a chance of saving that baby in the garbage can, I fully expect that you would take extreme measures to maximize this chance. Yet what measures are being taken to save those zygotes? Where are the special funds for crash programs of zygote-saving research? You seem to be arguing that they are absent as a pragmatic reaction to lower emotional response. That seems rather sociopathic, if you actually believe that zygotes are on the same moral footing as babies.

          • davidshockey

            You are implying that normal responses to these situations are somehow bizarre when they are nothing of the sort. Any normal person would have very different reactions to A. a stillborn birth, B. death of a 10-year-old child, C. death of grandpa who is 89 and has been in a coma for 3 years. The difference in these situations is emotional attachment to some extent but also a pragmatic (maybe unconscious) assessment of the impact on their life.

            Case C is more to your point emotionally. If Grandpa dies in his nursing home bed everyone will be sad but few would say it is a good idea to go to great lengths to prevent his death. On the other hand, if someone purposefully smashed Grandpa’s brains out they would want the murderer prosecuted. The same people who would not be very upset if Grandpa drifted off quietly still don’t want him murdered.

            In the same way, perfectly normal people can view the death of a days-old fetus with relatively little emotion (compared to a full-term child) but can still consider it murder if the fetus were purposefully terminated.

          • rrhersh

            We seem to have reached the point in this little tete-a-tete where you are simply ignoring what I write. Sure, I get your point about emotional reactions. My previous post was about practical actions. You seem to be arguing that there is no practical obligation where there is no emotional engagement. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you merely haven’t thought this through.

          • davidshockey

            It isn’t my intention to ignore your points. I’m making the point that emotional investments are partly the basis for practical decisions in these cases. It seems to me that you are turning up the dial to try to make these decisions seem self-contradictory when they are not.

            But let’s turn away from emotional investments. In the real world resources are limited and people make decisions they would not make if their resources were unlimited.

            Many people whom you are characterizing as sociopathic would be very willing to spend much on saving zygotes if resources were not limited. But since there is a limit on expertise, people, and funds, people make the very logical decision to use resources where those resources will have the best effect. This is practical if you think it thru.

      • lawrence090469

        Actually, the christian right political movement formed around the cause of racism and white supremacy. They were for it. Bob Jones University vs The United States. Conservative Catholic Paul Weyrich had trouble selling the abortion issue to Protestants. They didn’t care, and it took some persuasion. He writes about it in his memoirs. But come around you did, and a notion that is younger than the Happy Meal is now a non negotiable point of tribal membership. Thus, you have always been at war with Eastasia.

        • SALLYFARRAR

          I am neither a racist nor a white supremacist.

          • lawrence090469

            Of course not. You probably have more black friends than I do. However, “Roe v Wade when infanticide became legal was another watershed moment for evangelicals” is not an accurate view of history. Please, don’t take my word for it. Look it up.

    • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

      My point is that the Evangelicals get a lot of credit for saving this country from a lot of complete junk that could have sunk us.

      It’s funny you say that because I never lived through the Jimmy Carter years, but what you describe sounds a lot like what is going on now. Divorce is permissible, even if you don’t get “permission” from a male pastor; men and women are being allowed to define their own roles more and more; people who are born with boys bodies but who ‘know’ they are really girls are allowed to be themselves; contraception is being fought in courts but is by no means defeated.

      It sounds like the Evangelicals rode off to join a fight, and in 20 or 30 years have made very little progress. It doesn’t found like they saved us from a lot of junk; it sounds like they’ve just been successful in slowing down the progress of freedom.

  • Andrew Dowling

    A major mark of an evangelical is repeatedly setting boundary lines to determine who is and isn’t an evangelical. Partly why the term is meaningless.

    • http://www.craigladams.com/ Craig L. Adams

      It ought to mean: someone who is actively concerned about spreading the message of Christ. Setting boundary lines, and misrepresenting the writings of a self-proclaimed evangelical doesn’t seem very not very “evangelical” to me.

  • John C. Gardner

    I am a member of a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation and a confessional Lutheran. I also consider myself in many ways as a paleo-evangelical or Christian with very strong negative reactions to American civil religion and American foreign adventurism. I consider myself an independent who leans Republican because I am pro-life, support traditional Christian marriage and stand with Christians such as John Leland and Roger Williams on the issue of religious liberty. I am probably a conservative outlier in that my wife, mother and I participated in the civil rights movement during the sixties. All of us are mired in sin and need God’s grace daily. We also need to support efforts to help others who are in need. Thank you for this very valuable post.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      Thank you for your participation in the civil rights movement. I don’t think that makes you an outlier at all. As someone who supports traditional Christian marriage, I bet you strongly dislike the fact that the whole argument for gay marriage boils down to a flawed analogy to the civil-rights revolution.

      • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

        I happen to be pro-gay marriage. I have never thought of the argument for it as an analogy “to the civil-rights revolution”, although I see some overlap. Maybe a lot of people do… I don’t follow the situation closely, but is it the “whole argument”? Or even the core of the argument?

        I do think the matter of whether sexual orientation is chosen or not is a vital factor (analogous to one’s race not being chosen, but “given”). So there can be honest discussion of the evidences pro or con on that, while there is no controversy in that regard as to one’s race. And I’ve found few Christians to be much informed, or caring to be, as to scientific study of the origins/causes of sexual orientation.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          It is obviously a side issue here, but my experience is that the pro-gay marriage side wants to cast the issue in terms of whether the historical legal regime in which marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples each of whom is presently unmarried, of the age of majority, and unrelated to one another amounts to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation which should therefore not be officially sanctioned. The analogy to the civil-rights revolution arises when one suggests that such discrimination is justifiable. It amounts to “the whole argument” as I understand it because manifestly there are both religious and secular reasons to treat heterosexual marriage relationships as deserving of special protection and esteem. Those reasons are so powerful that the only sustainable opposing argument is the one that just insists that discrimination is bad no matter what. This argument draws heavily on the emotionalism of the (very well justified) opposition to racism and racist laws and practices that had its origin in the civil-rights movement.

          • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

            Thanks for the detailed explanation. I appreciate anyone who can and will do real analysis and can articulate it as well. I don’t have time for a thought-out reply right now, but wanted to mention that my own concept of the most appropriate way to deal with same-sex marriage, for both “religion” and society is probably this: Legislatively (by law) let ONLY religious institutions “marry”, not “the state”. The state would only issue “civil unions” with the basic rights/privileges of current marriage… to anyone of majority age, not related (closer than 2nd cousin or whatever) and regardless of gender, etc. Then people who want to call theirs a “marriage” and have religious sanction, can be wed by whatever church they choose… all churches being free to “discriminate” on gender or other bases as they might wish.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Thanks for your thoughtful reply. But I think that there are complexities here that you’re overlooking. In essence, you are proposing that the current legal/social institution of marriage be replaced by a new but equivalent institution identical in every respect except for (i) the name (“civil union”), and (ii) one of the core requirements for marriage (that the relationship is between persons of the opposite sex). Men and women who traditionally said to one another “let’s get married honey” might feel deprived if by virtue of not wanting to go see a pastor or priest they had to say, “lets get civilly united.” It sort of lacks the same ring to it, you know?

            And it means that the whole of family law – that is, the law related to marriage, divorce, community property, etc. etc. – gets applied to same-sex couples. Why? As nearly as I can tell it is because those same sex couples want their relationship to have the same *status* as the marriages of their heterosexual friends and neighbors. And why do they want that? Answer: Because they want their sexual orientation to be treated as equally valued in society. (And the idea that they SHOULD be regarded as equally valued gets back to the civil-rights analogy that was the jumping-off point for this digression which has nothing to do with the question of what evangelicals are or are not.)

            The point here is that there is a social cachet to marriage. You have heard it said – and I believe – that families are the foundation of society. That means men and women coming together to become parents, not as the burdensome afterthought to passion but as a conscious choice to care and provide for persons other than themselves. I am mindful of course that there can be married couples who are unable to bring children into the world or who selfishly have no intention of doing so, but I am equally mindful that they are in the minority and that the institution of marriage still holds out the powerful justification that it provides for the best possible environment for the protection and education of children in the broadest senses of those terms. The same-sex marriage argument simply says, treat same-sex couples the same way even though their relationships will clearly not produce any children and even though the relationships are orthogonal to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture. At the end of the day, there is no justification for doing that. The idea that we HAVE to do it anyway is fueled primarily (as I said) by a misplaced understanding of civil rights.

          • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

            I too realize we are “off topic”. I’ll try to be real brief in reply. First, while I’ve not tried to think my suggestion thru every implication, I do realize the things you’re pointing out… and don’t personally have a problem with them. That will vary by individual, I realize. The current situation is already muddied re. civil unions vs. marriage. So while the idea (I won’t call it “mine” as I’m sure others have brought it up) might be called “radical” (to the root of the issue) I think that mainly relates to terminology and symbolism… especially if the current trend continues toward most or all states eventually recognizing same-sex marriage.

            In other words, I don’t see the real and important operations of society (and largely via strong, stable families which we have not-enough-of currently, same-sex marriage aside) being affected much by granting the “social cache” of marriage more broadly, do you? The percentage of gays in the population will always remain quite small, I have no doubt. (Fears to the contrary I know of no basis for, tho I think they must exist strongly in many people.)

            Your own explanation points out, by implication, that we don’t intend to be in the business of evaluating people’s motives and intentions for getting married (except in relation to legal manipulations such as getting a foreigner residence status, all along intending to divorce soon after or for that sole purpose.) And, as you say, heterosexuals may not plan on having kids which is deemed acceptable by most. And, conversely, some gay couples DO intend on raising kids and there are options for births or adoptions that do not impinge negatively on other couples or on society. (That I know of anyway… not a deep student of the area recently, though marriage and family counseling was my Master’s and my practice for a decade… basically the 80s….Oh, and as a then-Evangelical Christian, btw, by most definitions.)

      • Sven2547

        I bet you strongly dislike the fact that the whole argument for gay marriage boils down to a flawed analogy to the civil-rights revolution.

        The whole argument? How about Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

        • trytoseeitmyway

          How about it? Marriage laws deprive no one of liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

          • Sven2547

            You seriously don’t see how banning someone from marrying is a deprivation of Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness?

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Hey I have an idea. Why don’t you actually say something instead of just asking silly rhetorical questions. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is a phrase from the Declaration of Independence. Not sure if you know that. It doesn’t have any legal force. Even if it did, Thomas Jefferson would be surprised if you told him he meant that same-sex marriage had to be recognized in law. People who are unmarried are not deprived of liberty. People who are unmarried have the same right to pursue happiness as people who are married. The use of those phrases in the Declaration of Independence don’t guarantee anyone anything that they think is cool or fun or sexy or things like that. In fact, the use of those phrases in the Declaration of Independence aren’t intended to create a right to anything at all. A lot of people would be happier if they had the right to do things that are still considered illegal or that are not subsidized or given special status in law. In general, these are not thought of as deprivations of anything. This thought has probably never occurred to you, but there you go. I hope this answers your question.

          • Sven2547

            Oh, I agree they don’t have legal force, it’s just the basis for our Constitutional form of government. People have rights, and a just government uses its powers to defend and secure those rights.

            What does have legal force are things like the Free Exercise Clause, and the 14th Amendment, both of which can be (and are) used to overrule these pointless same-sex marriage bans.

            Question: whose rights are secured by a ban on same-sex marriage? Who does that serve? Who does that protect? Nothing. Nobody. It only serves to limit what millions of Americans can legally do, for no logical reason. If it doesn’t secure or defend the rights of Americans, it is an unjust use of government power.

            Justify the ban, if you can.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            So clearly this is an explicitly civil-rights argument, just as I said. There is no ban on same sex marriage. What there is, is a recognition that a certain type of human relationship deserves special protection in law. And even before those protections arose, the general culture recognized those relationships as having special status.

            Why? Well, you know why, even if you don’t want to acknowledge it. It is because the social construct of marriage is in principle uniquely suited to the rearing of children and to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture. And same-sex relationships are in principle orthogonal to those things. So we don’t refer to same sex relationships as marriages any more than we refer to other kinds of social relationships as marriages. Calling same sex relationships marriage removes the marriage-and-family underpinnings of the institution of marriage and the logic of recognizing same sex relationships as marriages can then extend to many other forms of relationships likewise involving affection and close affiliation. “Marriage” would lose its unique place in society and culture, which is the result you wish to achieve merely because you want to insist, counterfactually, that homosexuality is equivalent for all social purposes as heterosexuality. It’s not.

            I hope that answers your question. Thanks for taking my suggestion of expressing your thoughts as declarative statements. It helped.

          • Sven2547

            So clearly this is an explicitly civil-rights argument, just as I said.

            I didn’t reference the Civil Rights Movement anywhere in my comment, so I don’t know who you think you’re replying to.

            There is no ban on same sex marriage.

            That is blatantly, laughably false. There are a number of US states with laws on the books with explicit prohibitions of same-sex marriage. I can start quoting them if you wish. Then maybe I can watch you try to spin that a “prohibition” is not the same as a “ban” (lol)

            t is because the social construct of marriage is in principle uniquely suited to the rearing of children and to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture.

            If that were so, I would expect laws on the books banning infertile people from marrying, or requirements that married couples produce children. This isn’t the case, however. Marriage isn’t babymaking and babymaking isn’t marriage. It never has been in the entire history of American jurisprudence. This argument has been struck down over and over and over again so many times I am astounded that some people still think it’s valid.

            “Marriage” would lose its unique place in society and culture, which is the result you wish to achieve merely because you want to insist, counterfactually, that homosexuality is equivalent for all social purposes as heterosexuality. It’s not.

            And that’s your opinion, which you are entitled to.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            1. You’re making a civil rights argument. It is explicitly based on the mistaken idea that the laws regarding marriage in a majority of states (and for all history up till a few years ago) fail to give equal protection to persons of differing sexual orientation. The argument is mistaken because the marriage law regulates conduct and relationships, and does not impose a disability based on sexual preference orientation. If a man wants to have sex with a 12 year old girl, for example, no one says to him that he has lost any rights due to his orientation. They just say to him that he can’t *do* what he wants to be able to do.

            2. I say again, there is no ban on same sex marriage. If same sex couples want to cohabit, they can. If they want to say they’re married, they can. The only thing is that the states that haven’t changed the marriage law to solemnize same sex relationships as marriages . . . have not done so. It’s not a “ban” in any sense of the word; it is just a refusal to re-purpose the legal concept of marriage. I always know a poor argument when someone has to use the word “blatant” to support it. Not to mention the cretinous “lol.”

            3. Whether or not infertile people are “banned” from marrying has nothing to do with the fact that the social concept of marriage is in principle uniquely suited to the rearing of children and to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture. What percentage of heterosexual marriages have produced children or care for them? What percentage of homosexual marriages have produced children (zero) or care for them (that number is not zero but is much lower than the heterosexual marriage number)? Since marriage customs have arisen independently of legal regulation, there is no requirement that the customs be tailored perfectly to the purposes; customs, as you know, evolve to respond to circumstances in a way that is not consciously directed. The law can and does support the social construct by adopting regulation relating to marriage (don’t marry your cousin, don’t marry someone under age, don’t marry someone who is already married and, by the way, don’t marry someone who isn’t of the opposite sex) and the marriage relationship (community property laws, spousal support laws, laws relating to custody of children, etc., etc.). There is absolutely nothing, repeat nothing, wrong with the state recognizing the value and social significance of marriage qua marriage by adopting laws tailored to it. By contrast, it will prove to be seriously unwise to repurpose those laws in a way that is orthogonal to the social value that has always been very, very, very important to the health of human society.

            4. Thanks for granting me entitlement to my opinion. I’m especially entitled to my opinion because there is no sound counterargument. To repurpose the law relating to marriage by extending it to a variety of non-marital relationships (there was already a federal court decision extending the same-sex-marriage equal-protection rationale to polygamous relationships, and the internal logic scarcely stops there) will trivialize an institution that is already under pressure from the equally prevalent idea that sexual partnerships don’t need no piece of paper anyway ’cause we just got our love, you know? I don’t know if you pay any attention to illegitimacy statistics but they’re shocking. But anyway you agree that I’m entitled to my opinion, so thank you. It is not an opinion, but an actual fact, that homosexuality not equivalent for all social purposes as heterosexuality, so perhaps you agree. The law is entitled to take that distinction into account and I hope that it continues to do so, even in those places where the distinction has been waved away on civil rights grounds.

          • Sven2547

            You’re making a civil rights argument.

            It’s a civil rights argument, sure. But that’s irrelevant to your earlier charge that marriage equality advocates have hijacked the Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s.

            If a man wants to have sex with a 12 year old girl, for example, no one says to him that he has lost any rights due to his orientation. They just say to him that he can’t *do* what he wants to be able to do.

            The reason pedophilia is illegal is because it HURTS people. Laws banning it protect people’s rights; that’s WHY laws exist. Laws banning same-sex marriage protect no one.

            I say again, there is no ban on same sex marriage.

            Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state. — Arkansas Code, Title 9, Subtitle 2, Chapter 11, Subchapter 1, section 9-11-208 (c)

            Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state. — Constitution of Georgia, Article I Section IV

            Any marriage between persons of the same gender is prohibited — Mississippi Code, section 93-1-1

            The following marriages are prohibited: … (d) a marriage between persons of the same sex — Montana Code, section 40-1-401

            The following marriages are prohibited and declared void: … (5) between persons of the same sex — Utah Code, Title 30, chapter 1, section 2

            A marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited. — Code of Virginia, Title 20, section 20-45.2 (overruled by a federal court)

            So you have two options here: you can be honest and admit you were mistaken (that’s okay, mistakes happen) when you repeatedly claimed that there are no bans on same-sex marriage. OR you can compound your embarassment by claiming that these prohibitions are not bans. Choose wisely.

            I will ignore your idle name-calling in the interest of continued discussion.

            Whether or not infertile people are “banned” from marrying has nothing to do with the fact that the social concept of marriage is in principle uniquely suited to the rearing of children and to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture.

            You can keep repeating that until you are blue in the face, but it won’t make it any more valid. If marriage was really about child-rearing, you propose a law to make it about child-rearing. You haven’t done that though, you’re just picking on homosexuals. To quote the recent judgment in Brinkman, Burd, McDaniel-Miccio v. Colorado:

            The avowed State interest can be distilled down to encouraging procreation and marital commitment for the benefit of the children. The problem with this post-hoc explanation is that it utterly ignores those who are permitted to marry without the ability or desire to procreate. It is merely a pretext for discriminating against same-sex marriages.

            This argument is bunk. Find another argument, because this one is legally and logically unsound.

            Thanks for granting me entitlement to my opinion. I’m especially entitled to my opinion because there is no sound counterargument.

            Your opinion is not an “argument”, and certainly not a “fact”. You have offered neither justification nor support. It is merely a naked assertion. Further, even IF homosexuality is not “equivalent for all social purposes” (whatever that means) to heterosexuality, so what? That’s still not a justification for these tyrannical laws.

            To repurpose the law relating to marriage by extending it to a variety of non-marital relationships … will trivialize an institution that is already under pressure from the equally prevalent idea that sexual partnerships don’t need no piece of paper anyway ’cause we just got our love, you know?

            You’re the one trivializing marriage here. My position is that it’s about love, commitment, support, togetherness and bonding. Yours is that it’s about babymaking and tradition. Seems kinda flimsy if you ask me.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            You think that it is trivial and flimsy to assert that the institution of marriage has the social value it has acquired over centuries (which you want to dismiss as mere tradition) due to its importance to families and the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture. Good. This tells us how much value to place on your assessments of these matters, which of course is none at all. You don’t understand anthropology and you don’t care to be bothered with it, because it would just get in the way of your fallacious idea that homosexuality has the same social-capital value as heterosexuality. On the other hand, you imagine that it is really terribly insightful to claim that however the value of marriage has been viewed over those centuries, what marriage is really “about” is bonding and togetherness. But many warm and gregarious people frequently form non-sexual relationships that are “about” bonding and togetherness, so on your logic those relationships are all equally entitled to be treated as marriages since that’s all that marriages are “about.” Since you can’t possibly understand how that logic trivializes the social institution, I really can’t help you further but, believe me, most people get the point.

            Your argument also illustrates how the pro-SSM argument ultimately reduces itself to a legal argument to the effect that equal-protection jurisprudence arising from the civil-rights era is applicable, now, to the legal definition of marriage. This is what I’ve been saying and for some reason I can’t fathom, you want to dispute it. Yet here you are citing case law that is to the effect that equal-protection jurisprudence arising from the civil-rights era is applicable, now, to the legal definition of marriage. If there is a policy argument – that is to say that if there is a claim that treating homosexual relationships as equivalent to heterosexual ones in the context of family law strengthens social capital – you have yet to say what that argument is. Instead, you turn a blind eye to expressed concerns about the parlous state of marriage and family in the land today, and seem perfectly content with the idea that marriage should be “about” only the two (or is it three? four? five? more?) people involved, and not “about” children or grandchildren or providing for their future needs, requirements and flourishing. It is your assumption, and that of the judges you cite as well as other advocates for the abandonment of marriage as it has always been understood, that the right to marry should naturally include the right to marry one of the same sex for reasons of equal protection that allows you (you think) to shift the burden to the other side to justify the contrary principle, even as you know for ideological reasons that you will never consider the burden to have been met. I actually DID meet the burden of justification by showing how marriage strengthens social capital; the best you could do was call that “bunk: and quote a judge writing about the equal protection clause. You obviously didn’t realize how that proves my original point, but maybe now you see it.

            Setting aside flawed equal protection arguments – and they ARE flawed for the reasons I’ve stated even if it turns out that five justices disagree with me – you have been unable to muster a single reason as a matter of substantive social policy why homosexual relationships should be regarded as having equal social value as heterosexual ones. In social capital terms, the relationship between heterosexuality and procreation and the relationship between marriage stability between opposite-sex partners to child well being, is hard to beat. Impossible to beat, I should say. And I think you know that.

            As far as prohibitions and bans are concerned … well, I know that you want to hear from me on that. My statements were to the effect that a mere statement of what marriage is and what marriages are entitled to recognition is not a “ban” remain true. You’ve provided seven, if I counted correctly, examples of state laws that go beyond that to say what marriages are not, and to say that those non marriages are prohibited. Those seven state prohibition statutes aren’t criminal laws and don’t carry penalties (if something is banned, isn’t there usually some criminal or civil penalty associated with it?) but (here’s the part you’ll like) if you want to call them bans that’s OK with me. Since that is seven states out of (I think) 31, all you’ve done is to reference a minority of state laws which undercuts my original contention not at all.

            The back and forth in blog comments gets to be tedious and no one reads them as far as i can tell. You go ahead and have the last word. Just assume that I disagree even if you don’t hear back from me, OK? Thanks for helping me illustrate how orthogonal your position is to the purposes and values of marriage as they have been understood by the vast majority of humankind over the great sweep of human history.

            And, did you notice, I never did say anything about God or Jesus or the Bible. Amazing, huh?

          • Sven2547

            …the intergenerational transfer of wealth and culture.

            Why is it that only heterosexual marriages allow for the transfer of wealth and culture? Homosexual ones can do that just as well. This is a red herring.

            On the other hand, you imagine that it is really terribly insightful to claim that however the value of marriage has been viewed over those centuries, what marriage is really “about” is bonding and togetherness. But many warm and gregarious people frequently form non-sexual relationships that are “about” bonding and togetherness, so on your logic those relationships are all equally entitled to be treated as marriages since that’s all that marriages are “about.”

            That’s a silly thing to say, and a straw-man to boot.

            Setting aside flawed equal protection arguments – and they ARE flawed for the reasons I’ve stated

            You haven’t stated one single reason an equal-protection argument is flawed, as far as I can tell.

            you have been unable to muster a single reason as a matter of substantive social policy why homosexual relationships should be regarded as having equal social value as heterosexual ones

            I still can’t even tell what you mean by “social value” here. You keep wriggling around.

            My statements were to the effect that a mere statement of what marriage is and what marriages are entitled to recognition is not a “ban” remain true.

            Not even close. Let’s say, for example, that I passed a law that only males are “entitled to the recognition” of being eligible voters. That would be a de facto ban on women voters. Your Orwellian spin doesn’t change that.

            Those seven state prohibition statutes aren’t criminal laws and don’t carry penalties (if something is banned, isn’t there usually some criminal or civil penalty associated with it?)

            You are wrong again. You really should stop pontificating about things you clearly do not know. In Wisconsin, for example, you can be fined up to $10,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to 9 months (Wisconsin Statutes, 765.30).

            if you want to call them bans that’s OK with me. Since that is seven states out of (I think) 31, all you’ve done is to reference a minority of state laws which undercuts my original contention not at all.

            At what point did I say these 7 were an exhaustive list? These were just 7 examples. Many other states have similar language prohibiting (banning) same-sex marriage. And I only needed ONE to invalidate your assertion that there are no bans on same-sex marriage. I can’t believe that after being factually proven wrong, you continue to spin that you’re right somehow. Truly nothing can get through to you, can it?

            And, did you notice, I never did say anything about God or Jesus or the Bible. Amazing, huh?

            You would have been more honest if you had, because the alternative is just the repetition of lies.

            It’s not a fluke that marriage equality wins in court time and time again. It’s not “judicial activism”, it’s not the public school system, it’s not the dark forces of the Abyss, it’s not some conspiracy to ‘destroy the family’. It’s because, in the 20-or-so years we’ve been having this discussion, not one rational, Constitutionally-defensible reason to ban same-sex marriage has been articulated. Not one. So until you do, you’ll keep losing.

          • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

            I have to say…the part where he said there are no same-sex marriage bans on the books, and you showed a half dozen examples, and he then suddenly pretended like that’s not what he said…pretty much made my day.

          • Sven2547

            It’s a popular claim, and I can’t imagine why. It’s absurd on its face. If something is unlawful in a state, it is banned by definition. There are 31 states where you cannot lawfully marry a member of the same sex. Thus, it is banned in those states. This isn’t a complex concept, but the anti-equality crowd refuses to call it what it is.

            So people like trytoseeitmyway try to spin that it’s not really a ban; that states just “recognize” a specific kind of marriage. But when that recognition is to the exclusion of others, it is still a de facto ban. I again refer to my hypothetical example of a state that only “recognizes” men as being citizens… thus banning women from voting.

            But even despite that, there are (as I’m always happy to point out) plenty of state laws that do not use the Orwellian phrasing of “we only recognize opposite-sex marriage”. It’s easy to find examples of explicit prohibitions of same-sex marriage. I personally head to the Wikipedia page “Same-Sex Marriage Law in the United States By State”, and do a word find for “prohibited”. Easy as pie.

            And then there’s always the final claim (it’s quite predictable). ‘It’s not really a “ban” if there are no legal penalties’, they say. First of all, that’s not the definition of a “ban”. Again: if something is unlawful, it’s banned, period. But second and more obviously, there are penalties, such as the one I cited from Wisconsin. Up to $10,000 and/or up to 9 months in prison is a steep penalty indeed.

            You’ll never see an admission from trytoseeitmyway that he was factually wrong time and time again, though. That would take a modicum of intellectual honesty that is extraordinarily rare among the anti-equality crowd.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “What percentage of heterosexual marriages have produced children or care
            for them? What percentage of homosexual marriages have produced
            children (zero) or care for them (that number is not zero but is much
            lower than the heterosexual marriage number)?”

            So you seem to be saying that prohibiting infertile people for marrying is un-neccesary because their % of total married people is so small. But so would the number of homosexual marriages compared to heterosexual marriages . . .so that argument falls on its face. Conservative fears about homosexuals going back to the 1970s bans on gay teachers in schools is this ridiculous notion that if you grant homosexuality as a legitimate social/sexual orientation, they will “convert” straight children to their way of living. This is really the underlying concern, because if you accept homosexuals are only around 4-6% of the total population, what effect is same sex marriage having on marriage overall being an institution that produces children and “transfers wealth and culture?” None.

            “By contrast, it will prove to be seriously unwise to repurpose those laws in a way that is orthogonal to the social value”

            The courts disagree. Many married heterosexual people do not have children, either by choice or due to medical factors. The conservative argument will never be consistent until you start advocating for a law that forces married people to have at least one child (or at least to attempt to have one . . good luck with that Orwellian nonsense).

          • trytoseeitmyway

            That isn’t what iI’m saying at all. You have to read what I wrote to understand what I’m saying. Trying to recast it in straw-man terms doesn’t contribute anything.

          • Donalbain

            So clearly this is an explicitly civil-rights argument, just as I said. There is no ban on same sex marriage.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_constitutional_amendments_banning_same-sex_unions_by_type

          • Donalbain

            Ask Mrs Loving if that is true.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Earlier in this thread, Sven2547 was trying to say that the pro-SSM argument somehow *wasn’t* wholly tied up in the flawed civil-rights analogy. I guess you put him in his place, didn’t you. :-)

            The flaw (since I know you’ll ask) is that anti-miscegenation laws concerned a statutory disability solely on the grounds of race to contract marriage between a man and a woman. Between a man and a woman. Please make a note of that, between a man and a woman. No one doubted that marriage was intended to be a relationship between a man and a woman, and no one has doubted that interracial marriages could be “marriages” in concept or in principle. The purported policy justification for the laws had to do with an idea that races needed to be kept pure, or some such thing, and that mixed-race children would be undesirable. Children. Please make a note of that, children. So it was intended to deny members of a particular race the right to enter into a relationship in which they would have the right to enter if not of that race.

            You don’t want to accept this, I know, but those circumstances do not justify an argument by analogy in support of SSM today. Homosexuals have never been deprived of the right to contract marriages. Every man, every woman, has the EXACT SAME RIGHT to enter into a marriage with a person of the opposite gender as any other man or any other woman has had. Sexual orientation is not, repeat not, a ground for forbidding a person to exercise the right that has always existed to marry a person of the opposite gender.

            But, wait, you say. Homosexuals don’t WANT the right to marry someone of the opposite gender. They want to have a new and different right, one that has NEVER PREVIOUSLY EXISTED, to marry someone of the SAME gender. It is not that anyone is depriving anyone of the SAME RIGHT that everyone has always had (namely, the right of an unmarried adult to marry at most one unrelated person of the opposite sex who also meets a minimum age requirement and who is also unmarried), but simply that you folks want to create a new and different right by just taking the words “of the opposite sex” out of the above definition. The effect of that is no different than if you likewise omitted the word “unrelated” or if you eliminated the words “at most one” or the reference to a minimum age requirement. Now, don’t get me wrong – you can propose any of those changes that you may wish, or oppose any such change if you wish to oppose them, and that’s OK with me. Just have the honesty to recognize that you are creating a NEW right or a NEW relationship and that someone might have a perfectly legitimate objection on policy grounds.

            It is your utter refusal to discuss the policy and the effect of such a new right that troubles me. You want to insist that it is a matter of fundamental fairness, and damn the consequences. But you’re wrong. It’s not. Fairness is giving everyone access to the same right that everyone else has. This is met by allowing everyone to enter into an opposite sex marriage with one unmarried and unrelated person of legal age. If you want to fiddle with the fundamental requirements, I think that you should consider policy issues such as whether you are helping or hurting the formation of families in which children have the best chance to flourish. You don’t want to have that discussion because you know how it comes out.

          • Donalbain

            No one doubted that marriage was intended to be a relationship between a man and a woman, and no one has doubted that interracial marriages could be “marriages” in concept or in principle.

            Yes, they did.

            You don’t want to accept this, I know, but those circumstances do not justify an argument by analogy in support of SSM today. Homosexuals have never been deprived of the right to contract marriages. Every man, every woman, has the EXACT SAME RIGHT to enter into a marriage with a person of the opposite gender as any other man or any other woman has had.

            Every black man had the same right to marry a woman of the same race as him. There was no denial of the right to contract marriages.

            It is your utter refusal to discuss the policy and the effect of such a new right that troubles me. You want to insist that it is a matter of fundamental fairness, and damn the consequences.

            OK.. lets discuss the consequences.

            http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0065730

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/200811/why-not-allow-gay-marriage

            https://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/lgbt/marriage-equality.pdf

            Now.. what part of the consequences would you like to discuss?

            I think that you should consider policy issues such as whether you are helping or hurting the formation of families in which children have the best chance to flourish. You don’t want to have that discussion because you know how it comes out.

            Yes. I do know how that comes out.

            http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/gay-parents-as-good-as-straight-ones/

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Good. There should by all means be a policy discussion regarding the social effects of legitimizing SSM. You think you know that the discussion comes out in your favor but even the papers you cite are far more modest in reaching their conclusions. There are others which could be cited too. https://www.spuc.org.uk/news/releases/2013/march02 We can agree that there is bias in study design on both sides. But let’s look at it this way:

            1. There is evidence that rates of OSM is declining in the US, Canada and Western Europe. Will legitimized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            2. There is similarly evidence of declining birthrates in those same areas. Will legitmized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            3. There is evidence that rates of illegitimacy are increasing in those same areas, particularly among sociology-economically disadvantaged subgroups. Will legitimized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            4. Is there any correlation in your understanding between legitimacy/two-parent families and the intergenerational transmission of wealth/poverty? If so, why do you think that is?

            5. What percentage of heterosexuals marry? What percentage of homosexuals marry? What is the explanation for the difference, and what do you expect the trend to be over time? Why?

            6. What percentage of opposite-sex unions (OSUs) directly concern the nurture of children (including grandchildren)? (OSU refers to OSMs and co-habiting couples both.) What percentage of same-sex unions (SSUs) directly concern the nurture of children including grandchildren? (SSU refers to SSMs and co-habiting couples both.) What is the explanation for the difference, and what do you expect the trend to be over time? Why?

            7. I take it we can agree that persons whose personality includes same-sex attraction do in some percentage of cases become biological parents. What is the effect of SSM on that percentage?

            8. Show me the study that demonstrates that there is anything better for children than a married father or mother in a stable marriage.

            It is likely you don’t have all of this data at your fingertips. Some of it may not have been adequately studied to date. I’ll take your best estimate if you will just explain your estimate briefly. You may think that some or all of these questions are not relevant, but I think that they are part of the policy discussion and would appreciate your responses anyway.

          • Donalbain

            1. There is evidence that rates of OSM is declining in the US, Canada and Western Europe. Will legitimized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            I am unconcerned, and you have not shown how this is a consequence of same sex marriage.

            2. There is similarly evidence of declining birthrates in those same areas. Will legitmized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            Again, you have not shown that this is a consequence of same sex marriage.

            3. There is evidence that rates of illegitimacy are increasing in those same areas, particularly among sociology-economically disadvantaged subgroups. Will legitimized SSM check that trend? What do you think WOULD check that trend, or are you entirely unconcerned about it?

            Again, you have not show that this a consequence of same sex marriage. You know, for someone who wanted to talk about the consequences of same sex marriage, you have brought up a lot of things that you have not shown are a consequence of same sex marriage. Who knows, you might come up with one in a minute,,

            4. Is there any correlation in your understanding between legitimacy/two-parent families and the intergenerational transmission of wealth/poverty? If so, why do you think that is?

            Damnit! No luck yet. Nothing here about the consequences of same sex marriage..

            6. What percentage of opposite-sex unions (OSUs) directly concern the nurture of children (including grandchildren)? (OSU refers to OSMs and co-habiting couples both.) What percentage of same-sex unions (SSUs) directly concern the nurture of children including grandchildren? (SSU refers to SSMs and co-habiting couples both.) What is the explanation for the difference, and what do you expect the trend to be over time? Why?

            So close.. so very close.. but you didnt explain any way that same sex marriage will have an influence on the number of different sex couples who will raise children, so this is no a consequence of same sex marriage at all.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Ah, the old burden-of-proof fallacy. OK you don’t want to have a policy discussion after all. Too bad.

          • Donalbain

            I put up some links to data showing the ACTUAL consequences of gay marriage. You, however, want to talk about the ones you imagine, without even showing how they are real. What exactly is there to talk about in that situation? You carry on whining. I will carry on celebrating the weddings and marriages and families of my friends, gay, straight and everything else you can imagine!

          • trytoseeitmyway

            You’re wrong. You did not “show” the “actual” consequences. You referenced a meta study whose author explicitly acknowledges the serious weakness in the purported studies included in his review. It is not as thought there have not been contrary conclusions from other studies, as you know. You referenced another paper that admitted ongoing declines in marital rates and that additional studies would be needed to draw firm conclusions. You want to take these uncertainties as though they were proof of your contentions, which they’re just not. And the papers you referenced COMPLETELY IGNORE the questions I raised, which you are working very hard to ignore as well. So keep sticking your head in the sand, but everyone can tell that’s what you’re doing.

            The gay marriages you mention celebrating … what percentage of those have led to raising children who were not part of the family before the so-called marriage? How would your experience compare to national averages? How does that compare to the percentage of OSMs leading to childbirth or adoption?

            And why are you afraid of the answers?

          • Donalbain

            So far, two of them have led to the raising of children. I don’t know the national average. I also don’t see why that matters at all. A gay couple who marry but do not raise children do not actually have any more of an impact on people than a gay couple who do NOT marry, or a straight couple who do not have children. What are the actual consequences you want to talk about? The fact that gay marriage does not affect the rate of straight marriage (as shown by one of the studies I linked to) is not a consequence, it is a LACK of a consequence.

            What are the ACTUAL consequences of gay marriage that you want to talk about? Please note, that if you want to discuss the consequences, please be prepared with some evidence that the consequences you claim actually EXIST.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Now when you say that two of them have led to the raising of children, that wasn’t quite my question. I was asking about a percentage, and I was exuding raising children who were already the children of one of the same-sex partners. (Because we know that, contrary to frequent insistence to the contrary, gay men and women do have children, just not from their same-sex relationships. What happens in some cases is that a member of the same-sex couple has a child from a normal relationship and brings that child with him or her to the new, same-sex relationship.) And I was asking about percentages and averages because I would still invite you to concede what is obvious, namely, that same-sex couples DON’T adopt previously unrelated children in anything even remotely close to the percentages that opposite-sex couples give birth to or adopt children. Once you concede that, we will be well on our way to identifying the consequences you want me to identify.

          • Donalbain

            OK.. so infertile couples do not have children, regardless of the gender of the couples. Now what is the consequence of gay marriage? Note that unless your next post actually says what the consequences you believe will happen ARE, then we are done.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Aw, gee, just answer the question. You’re not conceding the obvious are you? Once you concede that, we will be well on our way to identifying the consequences you want me to identify. Unless you next post actually speaks to the fact issues I’m raising, we are done. :-)

          • Donalbain

            Fair enough. Have a nice day. Once again, you can whine all you like.. I will celebrate the marriages of my friends.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Fair enough. You have a nice day too. I think you’re the guy who seems to be whiny but I guess we each have our own perspective. :-)

  • Tom Van Dyke

    “…those for whom American politics and patriotism are the center of Christianity, at least as communicated in public. We see this problem more clearly on July 4th weekend than at any other time. Evangelicals are grateful for the blessings of the American tradition, not least religious liberty. But we cannot tie our faith to American civil religion.

    This takes me back to my earlier thoughts on what I call “paleo evangelicals” and the controversy over the work of history writer David Barton.

    David Barton is not an evangelical, then? Whose call is this? Whose evangelicalism is it, anyway? ;-)

    If a certain brand of politics doth not evangelicals make, we must also be cautious to not use politics as a cudgel to disqualify them either.

  • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

    “The media has a particular interest in calling such folks evangelicals, because it allows for the ever-popular narrative of the liberal evangelical dissenter (“evangelical pastor denies hell,” “evangelical pastor conducts gay wedding,” etc.).” – I would add that many of these folks themselves have a particular interest in calling themselves evangelicals. Many of our more provocative voices in Christian blogging and writing espouse views that would be right at home (and therefore not at all controversial) in the context of mainline Christianity. But position yourself as an evangelical writing for other evangelicals, and you have an audience because you’ve created controversy. I’m not necessarily implying that people are doing this in a mercenary, tactical way, just that it’s an obvious dynamic, in the Christian blogosphere at least.

  • geoffrobinson

    Call me old-fashioned, but I want to define “evangelical” in terms of the evangel. The gospel as recovered/rescued by the Reformation.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      I’d not previously heard or read the phrase “the evangel” before your comment. Thank you. But having looked it up, I confess that I don’t understand what you’re saying. “Evangel” means the gospel, literally translated as good news or the good message. Christians understand the gospel – hence, the evangel – as the message, or the teachings, of Jesus Christ. Any Protestant is welcome to understand those teachings in the manner of the Reformation, but that understanding is not inherent in the word “evangel,” which you seemed to be suggesting. “The evangel” is not synonymous with Lutheranism or Calvinism, although I can appreciate how a Lutheran or a Calvinist might disagree.

      In the very literal, very old-fashioned sense, an evangelical could be anyone devoted to the gospel, regardless of doctrinal differences regarding what the gospel exactly is. I agree that’s not how we tend to use the term today; but the article is about different understandings or senses of the term.

    • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

      I find the comment of “trytoseeitmyway” (below) to be pertinent to what you seem to be desiring. For many, many years I thought of the gospel as clearly set out in the NT. Eventually, deeper study and reflection caused me to realize why (besides “Satan’s work”) Christians have had different views of it over two millennia, literally from the beginning (as seen in a close reading of the NT). Would be nice if such things were indeed simple (as in “simplicity of the gospel”), but they are not.

  • Doug Milford

    Ironically, the sociologists and scholars of religion who were part of the Fundamentalism Project (and who were not all uniformly happy with the term “fundamentalism”), for better or worse, served to shift popular opinion and journalistic use of the word. Fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones III, who formerly wore that label as a badge of honor, recognized the shift and then dropped it publicly or accepted the evangelical label without protest. American evangelicalism was formerly scorned by fundamentalist leaders as it emerged from and defined itself, in part, against fundamentalism. “Fundamentalist” took on new meaning as its leaders attempted to eschew the term, even as journalists and pundits unknowingly cooperated by conflating it with “evangelical.” So perhaps this is another category of “evangelicals” who are not evangelicals?

  • SALLYFARRAR

    It was the Christians who stood out in their life styles and personal
    code—above the sinful fray—-that led me to embrace Jesus back
    during the Jesus Movement of the Sixties and early Seventies.
    I had had my fill of sin and seeing what the world’s definition of “peace” and joy had led to.
    Even so, come Lord Jesus.

  • Church Politics

    The Grace of God gave us the nation of America and the imperfect men that founded it. The majority of evangelicals diss the founders – whichever group Mr. Kidd puts them in. Mr. Kidd and the rest of us, owe our lives and lifestyle of prosperity and liberty to the founders. Liberals like Kidd misrepresent the founders, (that would be lying) because they have a grudge against America. David Barton painstakingly documents this view in his many books, the latest which is “The Jefferson Lies”. The way this book was handled by the evangelical community and Thomas Nelson publishers was shameful, and attests to the lengths the church will go to distance itself from the founders and the nation they set up.
    Barton does not want us to “base our faith” on what the founders such as Jefferson believed. He simply wants to enlighten us as to the truth, because of the decades long attack from the progressives on the founders.
    The founders cleared the way for a government and culture to be most like the kingdom of God. This is what you are against.., right Thomas Kidd? You don’t just have a problem with the founding, you have a problem with the Bible being the authority in America. You know…like in DC and the local public school, and city council.

    • Andrew Dowling

      David Barton is a proven hack . . he has no credentials as a historian. To even call him an academic is an insult to scholarship.

      • Church Politics

        Barton is credible, reasonable, gracious and backs up his writings with thousands of original source documents. How about you…, genius, have you even read any of his books? They are compelling to say the least. Barton has pretty much been black balled by the evangelical community, which makes sense, because the church is in general anti-American and anti-historic Christianity – and not evangelical.

  • davidshockey

    Evangelicals are churches who evangelize. They can be anywhere in the political spectrum. Other meanings applied to the word by the media were just lazy conveniences.

  • Ben English

    It seems more and more that Evangelical is a political signifier more than anything else. The legality of abortion, marriage equality, and increasingly the terror of a supposedly imminent one-world-government. So I think the media can be forgiven, Mr. Kidd, for lumping these blurry tribal boundaries into one huge conflagration whose primary commonality is not the nature of their faith in Christ but specific points of conservative activism with a thin veneer of appeals to the Bible to justify it.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    Seems kind of funny to me that you’re so eager to decide for yourself who is or is not a real Evangelical. I wonder if any of those other Christian groups asked you to make such a distinction.

    Does Rob Bell call himself an evangelical?


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