The Inevitability of Gay Marriage

gay marriage rightsA century ago, America was embroiled in social change. Some of the issues in the headlines during this period were women’s suffrage, the treatment of immigrants, prison and asylum reform, temperance and prohibition, racial inequality, child labor and compulsory elementary school education, women’s education and protection of women from workplace exploitation, equal pay for equal work, communism and utopian societies, unions and the labor movement, and pure food laws.

The social turmoil of the past makes today’s focus on gay marriage and abortion look almost inconsequential by comparison.

Christianity on the right side of social issues

What’s especially interesting is Christianity’s role in some of these movements. Christians will point with justified pride to schools and hospitals build by churches or religious orders. The Social Gospel movement of the early 20th century pushed for corrections of many social ills—poverty and wealth inequality, alcoholism, poor schools, and more. Christians point to Rev. Martin Luther King’s work on civil rights and William Wilberforce’s Christianity-inspired work on ending slavery. (This doesn’t sound much like the church today, commandeered as much of it is by conservative politics, but that’s another story.)

… but maybe not on same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage seems inevitable, just another step in the march of civil rights. Two years ago, before the tsunami of legal wins for the gay rights side, Jennifer Roback Morse (president and founder of the Ruth Institute for promotion of heterosexual marriage and rejection of same-sex marriage) was asked if she feared being embarrassed by the seeming inevitability of same-sex marriage. She replied:

On the contrary, [same-sex marriage proponents] are the ones who are going to be embarrassed. They are the ones who are going to be looking around, looking for the exits, trying to pretend that it had nothing to do with them, that it wasn’t really their fault.

I am not the slightest bit worried about the judgment of history on me. This march-of-history argument bothers me a lot. … What they’re really saying is, “Stop thinking, stop using your judgment, just shut up and follow the crowd because the crowd is moving towards Nirvana and you need to just follow along.”

Let’s first acknowledge that Morse could be striving to do the right thing simply because it’s right, without concern for popularity or the social consequences. I would never argue that someone ought to abandon a principle because it has become a minority opinion or that it is ridiculed. If Dr. Morse sticks to her position solely because she thinks it’s right, and she’s not doing it because of (say) some political requirement or because her job depends on it, that’s great.

Nevertheless, the infamous 1963 statement from George Wallace comes to mind:

I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

That line came back to haunt him. To his credit, he apologized and rejected his former segregationist policies, but history will always see him as having chosen the wrong side of an important issue.

Uh … no, we were on the correct side of that issue all along!

Christianity has similarly scrambled to reposition itself after earlier errors. Christians often claim that modern science is built on a Christian foundation, ignoring the church’s rejection of science that didn’t fit its medieval beliefs (think Galileo and Creationism). They take credit for society’s rejection of slavery, forgetting Southern preachers and their gold mine of Bible verses for ammunition. They reposition civil rights as an issue driven by Christians, ignoring the Ku Klux Klan and its burning cross symbol, biblical justification for laws against mixed-race marriage, and slavery support as the issue that created the Southern Baptist Convention.

Arthur Schopenhauer observed, “All truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; third, it is accepted as self-evident.” And then the opposition claims that it was their idea all along!

The same-sex marriage issue in the United States is halfway between Schopenhauer’s steps 2 and 3. Check back in two decades, and you’ll see Christians positioning the gay rights issue as one actually led by the church. They’ll mine history for liberal churches that took the lead (and flak) in ordaining openly gay clerics and speaking out in favor of gay rights.

If someone truly rejects same-sex marriage because their unbiased analysis shows it to be worse for society, great. But it is increasingly becoming clear how history and the public will judge that position.

Truth never damages a cause that is just. 
— Mohandas Gandhi

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 7/4/12.)

Photo credit: Spec-ta-cles

About Bob Seidensticker
  • smrnda

    Same sex marriage has been around long enough, in enough places that I think if the sky was going to fall we would have seen some evidence. It’s kind of how people freak out about legalization of pot. I don’t use pot, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to make it a criminal offense when alcohol and tobacco are not. One person I talked to seemed to fear *reefer madness* – that once legal, everybody going up and down the road would be high out of their minds and society would fall apart. But that’s absurd – we could already do that with alcohol, and drunks aren’t causing havoc everywhere, and mass drinking is usually confined to special spaces, like frat houses and Mardi Gras and people are at least made aware of the risks.

    One thing you might want to consider is you seem, as an atheist, to be pragmatic and utilitarian in your ethics – no bad consequences, no problem. The problem is some Christians tend to go with a view that some things are just *intrinsically* bad. If I point out secular nations where people don’t feel any shame over premarital sex, they point out that the tragedy is those societies *aren’t* falling apart while tolerating sin. If gay marriage happens and nothing bad happens, it’s horrible since it means we’re *accepting sin.* It seem silly, but I don’t know how to reason with someone like that – it’s like taking a totally different ethical standard in which results and consequences aren’t relevant.

    • Pofarmer

      “If I point out secular nations where people don’t feel any shame over
      premarital sex, they point out that the tragedy is those societies
      *aren’t* falling apart while tolerating sin. If gay marriage happens and
      nothing bad happens, it’s horrible since it means we’re *accepting
      sin.* It seem silly, but I don’t know how to reason with someone like
      that – it’s like taking a totally different ethical standard in which
      results and consequences aren’t relevant.”

      You are exactly right about this. Once you accept something as sin, or even the notion of sin, that you can sin against a God, by doing something that has absolutely no negative consequences in the here and now, then you have closed of your mind to reason.

      • MNb

        “I don’t know how to reason with someone like that”
        Don’t. Laugh at them. Mock them.

        • smrnda

          I do. And I intend to do better once I get some puppets finished.

        • RichardSRussell

          I know he was only an actor reciting a line that someone else had written, but it was a good line:

          “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”
          —Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), TV doctor

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          That’s a keeper.

        • MNb

          Hugh Laurie being an atheist might very well have written the line himself.

          http://hollowverse.com/hugh-laurie/

          Calling Laurie “only an actor” is a bit underappreciating:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bit_of_Fry_and_Laurie

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbzfINsCcVY

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I love Fry and Laurie. I think I liked them in Black Adder and Jeeves and Wooster better, however–perhaps I didn’t see enough.

    • MNb

      You probably know that marihuana is semi-legal in The Netherlands. A couple of border cities (notably Maastricht) experimented with a total prohibition. That lasted for a couple of months because of unforeseen and undesirable consequences.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/netherlands-marijuana-coffee-shops-crackdown_n_3390075.html

      http://www.l1.nl/nieuws/216765-coffeeshops-maastricht-op-%C3%A9%C3%A9n-na-dicht

      May 31 2013: all but one shops closed.

      http://maastricht.gezien.nl/nieuws/maastrichtse-coffeeshops-mogen-weer-open.html

      December 5 2013: all shops open again.
      Note that the biggest nuisance does not come from Dutch users, but from tourists – ie Germans and French. German and French authorities are all too happy to shift responsibility and nuisance to The Netherlands.
      Also note that the rate of hard drugs addicts in The Netherlands is not higher than in other countries; if anything illegal soft drugs increase the risk of moving on to hard drugs.

      • smrnda

        What are the laws like in Germany and France? Could stricter drug laws elsewhere cause that sort of usage when people finally can do the drugs they want?

        • MNb

          Marihuana is strictly forbidden in both Germany and France, though some cities might be a bit more tolerant. The answer to the second question I wouldn’t know. The idea behind Dutch policy is to separate soft drugs trade from hard drugs trade.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      That is an odd concept–something doesn’t actually cause harm but yet it’s still “intrinsically” bad. What could that possibly mean if it actually wasn’t bad? Just bad in some sort of cosmic sense? But then doesn’t that just get us back to sin–it makes baby Jesus cry, and that’s enough?

      Ditto–I don’t know how to reason with that thinking either.

      • smrnda

        What I get is that it “offends god” and that we should care about offending god more than anything else. God hates it, so we should to. Of course, that logic seems about as solid as “the Chairman of the Party says this book must be burned, so we’re all going to burn out copies of it.” Maybe the similarity is that if you don’t burn the book, the Chairman will burn YOU.

        In some sense, I can *get this* in the sense that something might not really be harmful, but if it bothers somebody you don’t do it. For a while, I was doing comics where I drew blood from one of my veins using the usual blood-test equipment I got from a medical supply catalog, and I would use a quill pen to draw part of my comic in my own blood. I’m not in health care, but I can draw blood and stay sanitary and safe, but this behavior was so alarming to people I know that I quit doing it. I think Christians genuinely imagine some angry god up there who is so pissed over this stuff, the way someone might be over someone who keeps saying “fuck” in front of their grandparents or their kids.

        Some of the hostility I think comes from the fact that many Christians are living lives of frustration and difficulty as they try so hard to avoid offending their god, and I think they resent people who just freely live life on their own terms. Gay marriage is just really flaunting that to them, but I think they should be wondering what kind of god is throwing a hissy fit over some guy wanking or the fact that two women are holding hands.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I wonder how much of it is jealousy–they didn’t have sexual freedom when they were younger, so why should these young whippersnappers today have it?

        • smrnda

          That’s an all to common sentiment about any sort of improvement or change. For a less morally charged example, I notice some older people getting incredulous about kids being given cell phones – to them, it seems like some frivolous luxury they made do without back in their day. (Note – they also are probably forgetting their own use of pay phones to call parents and such, which no longer exist.)

          At the same time, I don’t have kids but I’d probably get my kids a phone once they were old enough to ever go anywhere alone. I can’t see why, if you could afford it, it’d be a bad idea. I see it as increasing safety.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And a few generations back, it was cars, not cell phones. “Why do you kids these days have to always be driving around? Why, back in my day, we stayed on the farm, and we liked it!”

          (I plan to get a cane when I get older just so I can shake it for emphasis when I make a proclamation like this.)

        • smrnda

          Maybe the fact that technology is my job makes me more positive about changes and advancements.

          I wonder if there were primitive humans who scoffed at those people who kept using that *fire* thing all the time.

        • MNb

          I strongly dislike cell phones and Facebook. So predictably my son calls me a conservative (he’s partly right). I don’t buy the increasing safety argument; there is no evidence for it.
          But that’s not relevant. I have tried to teach my son to look at technology etc. with a critical eye. If he decides that cell phones and Facebook are useful to him then it’s up to him to decide. I took this position when he was 13 (the age kids develop critical thinking skills). So he uses both. The important thing for me is that he indeed doesn’t follow fashion just for the sake of it.
          Note: since a year I own a cell phone too. I almost always have switched it off (much to hilarity of both my son and my female counterpart, who agree that I’m nuts) and only use it to call my son at the other side of the Atlantic.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Don’t you at least call your SO to say, “Hey, I’m at the grocery store; do you need anything?”?

          That’s all I use mine for.

        • MNb

          No, I ask before I leave house – just like the old days!

        • wtfwjtd

          “Some of the hostility I think comes from the fact that many Christians are living lives of frustration and difficulty as they try so hard to avoid offending their god, and I think they resent people who just freely live life on their own terms.”

          Yep, lots of Christians seem to feel pretty impotent these days, I really think with this issue especially it’s an attempt at substituting political power for the lack of spiritual power. I love how molly alice’s cartoon illustrates the issue:

          http://mollyalicehoy.tumblr.com/post/46632894153/basically-every-conversation-i-had-this-past-week

    • david fairfield

      I’ve been keeping on top of the ssm progress every day, reading comments and blogs until I’m bleary eyed. After hundreds of opinions, your words strike me as the closest to my own personal thoughts. I know that some Christians are so rooted in the evil of it all that they can’t be reasoned with, and your post might rationalize our points of view to any one of them…if they were capable of rational, reasonable thought.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        I have some respect for the anti-abortion stance, but the anti-SSM stance? It just seems to fail on all sides as a reasonable thing to worry about.

        A Christian might say that for them SSM makes no sense, but all this excitement about it? Especially now, when it’s obvious where things are going. They have so little to point to in terms of objective harm that comes from it. Is this really an argument to sink with?

        • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

          Well, I think that crying against SSM somehow gives them the feeling of following Jesus’ example, of going “against the world”: surely, it’s far cheaper and comfortable than fighting against social inequality, tyrannical regimes, financial grip on politics… Something Jesus might have found more valuable than yelling at two guys holding hands.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Jesus worship is a pretty big tent. You can help the poor … or fight against taxes or health care that would help the poor. You can be “pro-life” while being pro-death penalty. You can love all people or hate fags.

          WWJD?

        • RichardSRussell

          I don’t recall Jesus having much to say about the benefits of marriage. Most of the references I’ve run into deal with the wedding at Cana, where he was certainly a valuable guest (producing the wine as well as the entertainment), but that wasn’t exactly an overt verbal endorsement of the institution.

          And, of course, Paul had nothing good to say about it.

          So I’m not sure where the Christians get their ideas about marriage being Biblically based.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          God made one man and one woman in the Garden of Eden!

          Duh. Do I gotta connect the dots for you?

        • Greg G.

          …and sheep.

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, apparently the Big Guy had to do just that for A&E, since they seemed too innocent (or stupid) to figure it out on their own. In fact, I heard that the light dawned as soon as they got to the part about the knowledge of good … “Hey, baby, ya know what would be good right about now?”

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Jesus said that after the resurrection there will be “neither marrying nor giving in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). This makes me think he would agree with Paul that marriage was a lesser institution than chastity for people who were unable to control themselves and needed a sexual outlet. Both had little good to say about “things of the world” in general.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          The NT isn’t much of a champion of the Right’s view of marriage. It’s odd that they don’t care. Or don’t know.

        • MNb

          Who cares about arguing in terms of harm if you have a god at your side?

    • R Vogel

      There is no way to reason with it. They take social mores and call them ‘intrinsic’ or ‘absolute’ and think that gives them more legitimacy than ‘we have always done it thus.’ For some issues you can shoe-horn an ex post ‘rational’ argument, but for marriage equality there just is no justification in any sense beyond tradition. This is why you keep hearing such bizarre pronouncements like ‘A child deserves a mother and a father.’ What that could possibly mean in the context of marriage equality no one knows, but it plays well in certain circles.

      I totally agree that in 10 or 20 years all the memories of the past opposition will be purged from the collective memory, or, like when you bring up christian support of slavery and segregation, the millions that held that opinion will no longer be ‘true christians.’ I don’t think christianity is alone in that regard, but it is pretty infuriating nonetheless. ‘We have always been at war with Eastasia.’

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        They’re going to wind up like George Wallace. He sort of recovered his career on the correct side of civil rights, but those doubling down now on conventional marriage might wake up regretting that baggage in a decade.

        Schadenfreude.

      • RichardSRussell

        This is why you keep hearing such bizarre pronouncements like ‘A child deserves a mother and a father.’

        There are a couple of variations on this which, used as comebacks, seem to provoke more reflection than merely rolling your eyes:

        (1) “Would you generalize that to ‘a typical child is better off with 2 parents than with 1’?”

        and

        (2) “If 2 parents are good, wouldn’t 3 be even better?”

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

      Yes, most religions have historically had deontological ethics, where what matters is not the consequences but following certain rules (in the form of divine commands). More liberal variants usually follow utilitarian ethics now, but conservatives are still deontological. This has to be understand or their position will indeed make no sense to you.

      • Jeff

        I understand it just fine. Some people will accept “because I say so” as justification for ridiculous rules handed down from an authority figure. It still makes no sense.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Agreed.

    • Jason

      According to Leviticus (20:19??), he who sleeps with another man must be stoned.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        I dissect the reasons that’s uninteresting here.

  • RichardSRussell

    You know, it would be great if social progress really were inevitable, but it’s not. The Greeks had a tremendous head start on the Renaissance until they were crushed under Roman military might. The Romans themselves had a pretty decent standard of living until Rome fell to the Vandals. Weimar Germany was still a world center of art, music, and culture until it fell under the Nazi jackboot. Populist uprisings that threw off the yoke of tyranny in places as diverse as Russia (the czars), China (Japanese Empire), Cuba (Batista), Iran (the shah), Egypt (Mubarak), etc. had a brief springtime of freedom before falling under the yoke of a different oppressor who often turned out to be even worse. Look at those poor people in Syria. They can’t even get rid of Assad, and if they did, who’s poised and ready to step in? ISIS, the worst fucking scumbags on the face of the planet.

    Same deal here in the US. Fighting Bob La Follette, Teddy Roosevelt, the muckrakers, the trust-busters, and the progressive and populist/agrarian movements managed to shackle the robber barons, wind down the Gilded Age, and enact reforms such as the civil service, child-labor laws, worker’s comp, etc. But, beginning with Reaganomics in 1980 (an adaptation of Britain’s Thatcherism), the Gilded Age began its great comeback.

    Women knew that 1973’s Roe v. Wade wasn’t going to be the end of their battle for abortion rights, but who among them would’ve guessed that, in 2014 (!!!) they’d find themselves fighting the revanchists over contraception fer krissake!

    Liberty is sweet and always welcome, but it’s not permanent. Every generation has to fight its own battles. It would be great if they were all new ones, further expanding the bubble of human rights, but that’s not the lesson of history. Sometimes it’s just the same old shit, different day.

    Still, it gives us something to do.

    • MNb

      While I agree with your general point (social progress is not inevitable) your older examples are a bit shallow ….. the Greeks were not crushed by the Romans, but by Alexander the Great and his father. The Romans were smart enough to move the centre of their Empire to Constantinople long before the city of Rome (which was not even the capital of the western part) fell to the totally non Vandal Odoacer, while the city got sacked for the first time by the also totally non Vandal Alaric I in 410 CE. The Roman Empire continued for another 10 centuries and did a lot better than western Europe most of the time; note that its inhabitants never called it Byzantium. And they generally spoke ….. Greek.

      • RichardSRussell

        I love the depth of knowledge available on this blog. Thanks.
        In my own defense, I generally speak ….. Geek.

      • Jason

        Also not really correct to say that Alexander crushed the Greeks. He was taking revenge on the Persians on behalf of the Greeks and founded many, many Greek cities. If it were not for Alexander, there would probably be no one studying ancient Greek today.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          But Alexander led the Macedonians to defeat the Greek city states, no? After that, he indeed kicked some Persian ass.

        • Jason

          It’s true that he had to use military force to get some Greek states and leagues under his power before he fought Persia. From as far back as we know until the time of Alexander the Greeks fought each other, so to say that Alexander crushed the Greeks it a bit misleading. The Athenians also subdued many Greek cities. Alexander may have been a Macedonian but he wasn’t exactly an outsider. If we have to say some particular group “crushed” the Greeks, then I think it would have to be the Romans when the region of Greece was swallowed up by the Roman Empire (ca 100 BCE). But the whole notion that some particular group crushed the Greeks (as if they were a united country anyway) is an oversimplification.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, he was trained by Aristotle. I realize he wasn’t quite an outsider. Nevertheless, defeating the Greek city states didn’t happen by diplomacy.

          Is your point that “crushed” is the wrong word and that “beat” or “subjugated” would be better? You seem to be making too subtle and small point to be making all this fuss.

        • MNb

          “he was trained by Aristotle”
          Sort of. Aristoteles of Stagyra was appointed by Alexander’s father. Alexander strongly disliked his father. Alexander was about 15 when Aristoteles (then older than 40) was his teacher. Given the two characters Bertrand Russell rightly wonders if Alexander learned anything at all from Aristoteles.

        • Jason

          Not trying to start a debate or make a fuss. I just saw one oversimplification being corrected with another. I have some knowledge of the subject so I pointed it out.

        • Jason

          Main point: Alexander did not defeat all the cities in Greece once and for all. That’s what “crushed” suggested to me. The Romans are better candidates for that since after Greece was taken by Rome, it was never again a sovereign region until modern history. If by “crushed”, you mean “won some battles”, then I guess I many many people have crushed Greece.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I didn’t use “crushed,” but if Greece became Alexander’s bitch, I don’t know that we can stray far from the sense of that word.

        • MNb

          “to say that Alexander crushed the Greeks it a bit misleading”
          What else is this but crushing Greeks?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chaeronea_(338_BC)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thebes
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Megalopolis

          “The Athenians also subdued many Greek cities.”
          Did I deny this? And so what? How does it follow that “Alexander crushed the Greeks is a bit misleading”?

          “he wasn’t exactly an outsider”
          He was highly probably considered an outsider by the Greeks, who called everyone outside of Greece – including Macedonia – barbarians.
          The point is of course that because of Alexander and his father the typical Greek political system of city-states came to an end. If it’s Greek culture you’re talking about – the Romans didn’t destroy that either.

        • MNb

          “and founded many, many Greek cities”
          Yeah – but not in Greece.

        • Jason

          Exactly, which makes him more of a Greek imperialist.

        • smrnda

          He seems kind of like a Greek *cultural* imperialist – but it’s an interesting case where you had a definite Hellenistic culture that existed (in various forms) in a number of politically distinct city-states. Of course, I don’t know a lot about Alexander so for all I know he invented the whole pan-Hellenistic culture thing.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      One thing that disturbs me deeply is the failure to progress on racism. Until Obama was elected, I might have said that white racism was very close to being a thing of the past. Then he was elected and it was like somebody’d shined a racism-sensitive light on people. Suddenly, a lot otherwise-rational friends and family rabidly hated the man “for his policies,” none of which they could explain accurately. Fake scandal after fake scandal fabricated by the right wing, all of them transparently ridiculous and all of them believed whole-heartedly.

      Then came the attacks on voting rights for blacks, and the stand-your-ground (murder-a-black-man-with-no-consequences) laws.

      By the time Trayvon Martin’s murderer was made a hero, my illusions that racism might be over were gone for good.

      • MNb

        I have more bad news for you. It’s back in The Netherlands too.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Isn’t that because of the influx of Muslims? If so, my conclusion would be that when everything is peachy, it’s easy to sing Kumbaya. It’s when you’ve got to share or there are problems and you’d like to find a scapegoat that things are tough.

          Reminds me of the meditation advice that being out in the woods by yourself is pretty peaceful, but that’s not reality. If you can be peaceful in the woods but not in the city with a job and responsibilities, then maybe your meditative practice isn’t as perfect as you’d thought.

        • MNb

          Influx of muslims plus 9/11 plus black Dutch objecting “Zwarte Piet”.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwarte_Piet

          It resulted in the “excellent” joke “zeurpiet” – whiney pete.

          http://nedermeme.nl/2013/10/quinsy-gario/

          Indeed – Quinsy Gario, mentioned in the Wikipedia article.

        • Jason

          Agreed and good point. I grew up in the Deep South where, to be sure, there has been a lot of racism, but as I got older and began to travel more, I discovered that the people most critical of the south were the people from culturally and ethnically homogenous areas. Diversity is harder. The seeds of hatred are everywhere.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I grew up in Richmond, VA during the desegregation troubles in the 70s. I felt that the rest of the country was looking down on us, though roughly the same thing happened in Boston at roughly the same time.

        • wtfwjtd

          Didn’t Virginia close some public schools rather than integrate them? As I read the story, it was a pretty sorry spectacle. That was shortly after the Loving v. Virginia decision I believe (legalizing “mixed race” marriage), and the haters were feeling rather restless I guess.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          That sounds right, but my memory isn’t reliable on that.

          The scary inner-city school that I might potentially have been bussed to in middle school has now been made part of Virginia’s Governor’s School program. It’s now quite prestigious, and my niece graduated from there.

          Times change, sometimes for the better.

          On the topic of Loving v. Virginia, I’d love to find some article (op-ed, preferably, or perhaps a letter to the editor) from the time of that decision that used Christian arguments to rail against the pro-mixed-marriage decision. So far, no dice.

        • smrnda

          I live in a fairly diverse area which seems to have low racism, but I think that you do get lots of racism when people who are possibly *used to* being a homogeneous majority find that some outsiders are moving in. This spot has been highly diverse for a while, and is better educated than average, which might be the case.

          Chicago is a kind of odd example of racism – much of the city and the suburbs had a lot of white flight during previous decades, and it’s clear that the Black population is pissed and shat on quite frequently – contrast the behavior of cops in trendy Wicker Park as compared to Englewood, which has its own sort of ‘stop and frisk’ going on – you also see the fact that the Black population seems particularly stuck in the bad areas, and is usually the first to feel any sort of social service cuts.

          I do think that diversity can be difficult – people living in homogeneous areas might have racist feelings, but they don’t have outlets and targets, and people are horribly tribal at times.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I heard someone talk about Salt Lake City decades ago. He wasn’t a Mormon, but that was OK. Mormons were about 90% of the population. But then as the fraction shrank, more rules seemed to spring up that gave advantages to Mormons.

          It’s been a while, and I’m wondering if they were what I remember–city government making Mormonism a requirement for certain jobs–is actually correct. Anyway, the point of the story is that a tiny minority might be better tolerated than a growing minority.

        • smrnda

          I think once you realize your majority status isn’t so solid, people have to reach out to find ways to remain in power. If Mormons are 90% of the population, you might be assured power by numbers alone, but if more of the population isn’t, you might start getting some non-Mormons in positions of power.

          You see similar things in spots like Malaysia, where the Chinese tend to do better, economically, than the Malaysian majority.

          Things might get better once you reach a point where nobody clearly has a majority anymore, but that’s tough to get to and rare.

          *ADD*

          I also wanted to add that southern racism seems very different from northern racism to me. Paula Deen seems quite racist, but wanted Black entertainer wearing stereotypical costumes to perform at a wedding. No northern white racist would want that. A norther white racist would probably run away from a Black guy offering shoe shines, but would interact better with say, a Black accountant. Northern racism might have a stronger classist streak, and racist opinions are usually dogwhistled in the north into discussions of *the poor* who might just *happen* to be more likely to be non-white.

    • smrnda

      I think some people just hate modernity, and I agree with your sentiment that progress isn’t so uniform

      Carl Panzram was a totally unrepentant serial killer who was being sentenced to death in Leavenworth, Kansas for killing someone within the prison – he was in for life (I believe) for another murder. People out in KANSAS were protesting the death penalty for this guy in the 1930s.

      And today, we’ve got quite a few fans of the death penalty. People whose grandparents and great-grandparents who might have been Wobblies who are now working minimum wage jobs are buying all the boss’ lies about unions.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        Carl Panzram was only convicted of one murder-the prison guard (though he confessed to murdering 21 people before this, and some have been confirmed). He was in prison for burglary. This murder occurred in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, however, so it was out of Kansas jurisdiction. Panzram asked the judge to give him the death sentence, refused to appeal, and even threatened people who tried to intervene on his behalf. It’s fair to say he wanted his fate. You’re right, though-things have changed dramatically. I recall hearing Kansas voters gave heavy support to the American Socialist Party back then. Since the death penalty was abolished in that era, one can presume there was more left-wing sentiment overall.

        • smrnda

          Thanks for the info I read his memoirs years ago and need to re-read them.

          All said, the fact that he was able to kill so many and then end up in jail for burglary makes me think that we should be grateful for better forensic technology. I recall that Panzram often just moved, started using a new name, and then killed again – he was “John O”Leary” in NY and I remember he would hire sailors to work on a ship and then killed them.

          I wonder if that sort of rural, working class left wing sentiment can be resurrected, though I’m fairly pessimistic.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Yeah, his actual violent crimes had only been known of while he was in prison already, ironically (he’d previously helped another man kill a prison warden while escaping, and raped a woman when let out on furlough). Some of the recent notorious mass murderers were also arrested for something else at first: Ted Bundy, driving offenses, assault on an officer (twice-he escaped from Colorado, murdered some more women in Florida, then was caught in basically the same way) and Timothy McVeigh, arrested for speeding while leaving the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • MNb

    A nice cartoon, about ISIS, but with a much wider application:

    http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4484/Foto/photoalbum/detail/1834962/536747/0/Spotprenten.dhtml

    “So I must live according to the rules of this hell – or I will go to Hell.”

  • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

    Quite true!
    Many Churches held the same position of “Animal Farm” main villain Napoleon; he at first rejected his arch-enemy Snowball’s ideas, just for claiming them as his own in a second moment!
    Yet, I think it is more difficult today to manipulate the past, so I guess people will surely remember which side these “Christians” took on this issue.

    • hector_jones

      They’ll say what Christians say today about slavery – they’ll insist that the bible doesn’t endorse discrimination against gay marriage, (so don’t you dare blame the bible or christianity for intolerance of gays and gay marriage, even though the fingerprints of christianity are all over the crime scene) and that it was thanks to Christianity that gay marriage was finally legalized – just like that nincompoop who was here a few days ago arguing that slavery was tolerated by society ‘until Christianity’ but he didn’t seem to know what the word ‘until’ meant.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        Well, it’s only slightly stretching credulity to say that “until” doesn’t mean “at that moment” but “at that moment, which might stretch on to 1800 years or so.”

      • $28895381

        I see it more like the adage in sports where a historical event happened many decades ago and about 20,000 people witnessed it live, but now millions claim to have been there.

        There are churches and Christians that have backed same sex marriage from early on in the movement but they were on the fringe, not the majority. Decades from now, most Christians will claim that these same churches represented the majority belief back then and the ones that opposed same sex marriage were the fringe ones.

        • Scott_In_OH

          This is exactly right. What I’m hoping is that we’ll be better this time around at keeping track of the official pronouncements of, say, the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention (two of the biggest Christian groups in the US) that were unequivocal in their opposition.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          After all the hassle we’ve gotten from the Christian right, there’s nothing I’d love more than reminding them of their Bronze Age imbecility for years to come. I wonder if it works that way, though–people may simply be happy enough to welcome American Christianity on the correct side of the issue for a change that they’ll let it go.

          I agree–it should be easy to document. Still, the human memory is pretty flexible. Today’s homophobe 20 years from now might remember just a few vague indiscretions.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I agree, to be honest. It’s not like we don’t have the SBC’s founding documents that show that the desire to support slavery was crucial in creating the denomination. It’s not like we don’t have the declarations of secession that show the seceding states were explicitly concerned about being able to perpetuate slavery. And yet, I didn’t know about the SBC business until a year or so ago, and for most of my liberal youth, I was ready to believe economic conflict between the industrial North and agricultural South was the main (only?) cause of the Civil War.

          STILL, I’m hoping we’ll be better this time! I know that I won’t forget.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Nor I, but it does raise the “high road” question. Should we delight in rubbing Christians’ nose in their past idiocy or let it go?

          I suppose the enlightened route would be to gently remind everyone of the lessons learned occasionally. “Yes, even you Christians have made bad moral decisions from time to time.”

        • Scott_In_OH

          For me, it’s more important than that, since it’s part of what has led to my move away from Christianity. They got something really important absolutely wrong (actually 3 really important things recently: SSM, ACA & contraception, and the response to child molestation). Furthermore, they didn’t get it wrong by accident. Their wrong conclusions were the correct interpretations of their religious doctrine that says most sex is wrong, and purity, rather than consent, is the foundation of sexual ethics.

          To pretend, ten years from now, that they were the ones leading the charge for civil rights for same-sex couples would be to pretend that their ethical worldview is worth paying attention to on other issues and that their argument about where ethics come from is sensible. That’s dangerous, and I won’t make that mistake again.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well-said Scott. As a former fundie turned atheist, I had never really stopped to consider or realize just how nutty and twisted that Christian morality and ethics could be. Bob’s blog, and the knowledgeable commenters here, have helped me take these bizarre doctrines to their logical conclusion, with eye-opening results for me. Christian ethics aren’t just misguided, they are spectacularly wrong in so many ways. Like you said, complacency is dangerous to free people everywhere, and I will do my best not to make the same mistakes again.

        • al

          so what have you put in its place? You do know that there is not one shred of evidence for atheism being true. Right?

        • MNb

          There is not one shred of evidence for any form of theism be true either.
          There are all kinds of atheist ethics, ie moral systems that don’t depend on one god or another. Check for instance Camels with Hammers.

        • al

          I know there are all kinds of “atheist ethics” because its all opinion and nothing more.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, atheists get their morality from evolutionary programming and society. Christians do the same, though they want to pretend otherwise.

          Atheism is simply the lack of belief in god(s). That’s it. There’s not supposed to be a moral component to it.

        • Pofarmer

          now you are really showing your ignorance. Revel in it,

        • wtfwjtd

          Atheism is the default position, the null hypothesis, in the absence of evidence for any god or gods. Furthermore, it’s up to the deist or theist to actually show how their non-existent god communicates his (made-up) morality to mankind, there’s no evidence for any kind of objective morality either.

          In its place, empathy-based ethics serves quite nicely to inform us of our actions, as does metaphysical naturalism, and a host of others.

        • al

          Atheism is not the “default position, the null hypothesis”. Do make stuff up. There is plenty of evidence for God. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean He does not exist.

          BTW- there is no proof that metaphysical naturalism is true.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Is there also plenty of evidence for Zeus? He had millions of people believing so. Or Allah? He has over a billion. Does “has a religion” automatically mean that there’s plenty of evidence behind the belief?

          What is the default position? That Yahweh is the Creator of the Universe? Sucks to be a believer in any other religion, I guess.

          Is unicorn-belief also the default, where naysayers must shoulder the burden of proof? Or is it OK to use logic and common sense here?

        • Greg G.

          Put in its place? A vacuum of religion is a worthy goal. It’s like a doctor asking a patient which disease he would replace his current infirmity with. A world that functions on rationality, critical thinking, empathy, and a sense of responsibility to help make a better society would solve a lot of problems.

        • al

          Atheism is a vacuum. There is nothing to it.

        • Greg G.

          Exactly. It is a conclusion based on the lack of evidence in favor of any god and the evidence of the claimants producing excuses for the lack of evidence which makes the claims indistinguishable from imaginary beings. Atheism is not a philosophy or a religion. It is simply a by-product of critical thinking.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like you’re brimming with evidence for your position.

          What’s your best argument for theism?

        • Pofarmer

          Not one shred of evidence for atheism being right. Exactly what kind of a claim is that?

        • Greg G.

          There is not one shred of evidence against atheism, which by itself is evidence of atheism being right.

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder if Angry Al here even understands what atheism is? Al himself is an atheist to many Gods. All Atheism says is, I’ve heard your story, and I ain’t buyin’ it. In that sense, unless an individual is lying, atheism can never be “wrong” because it’s a personal statement about lack of belief in another persons position. To even make a statement like “not one shred of evidence for atheism being true” indicates that the person making the statement is rather clueless. Another thing that is interesting to me, is when theists come on, and I think Al did it, miguel de la pena did it, asmondious did it, and say ” you can’t dissprove the ressurection” or whatever other tidbit. This in itself assures me that they themselves cannot prove it, and they KNOW it. They attempt to shift the burden onto you to hide the obvious weakness of their own position.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s a useful reminder to the theists here, that they are pretty much an atheist just like me, with one exception–I take my atheism one god further. As you point out, so far, they cannot seem to come up with any reasonable explanation for believing in their god while disbelieving in all others.
          Yeah, it’s pretty weak when all you got is “I know you are, but what am I?” So much for the obvious, overwhelming evidence for their particular god that we are accused of overlooking, but that they can never seem to get around to presenting.

        • Al

          Ok. We know that there is nothing to atheism. There is no evidence or proof for it. Atheism is lazy think. It offers nothing. It does not lead to a better understanding of the world or how to live a fulfilling life.

          Your refusal to accept and believe in God is not based on critical thinking. You don’t offer any positive reasons for atheism nor are you able to refute Christianity’s claims. All you can say is “I ain’t buyin’ it.” Talk about an obvious weakness.

        • Pofarmer

          No evidence or proof for what? What claims does atheism make?

        • Al

          Atheism claims there is no god. So where is the evidence? If no evidence then give some good reasons that would support such a claim.

        • Pofarmer

          Some atheists claim there is no God. Most atheists claim there isn’t sufficient evidence to say there is a God, and if there were a God, the christian version of it isn’t likely to be correct.

        • Al

          Again, no evidence nor good reasons here. Just more assertions.
          There is more than sufficient evidence for the existence of God.

        • Pofarmer

          If there is more than sufficient evidence, then it ahould be easy for you to convince, no?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Oh? Show us then. Give us a couple of great arguments for God.

        • Pofarmer

          There is more than sufficient evidence for the existance of zues.

        • Pofarmer

          I will say this, as well. For me atheism has led to a much better understanding of the world and how we fit into. Far from being lazy, now you can’t accept religions pat answers and have to actually look at where the evidence leads. Suddenly you are reading about nuerology, psychology, biology, evolution, physics. So, yes, my refusal to believe in your God us very much a product of critical thinking.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Come to my lecture at the Atheist Alliance of America in a week in Seattle. You’ll hear 25 arguments for atheism.

          http://aaaseattle2014.com/

          Any argument showing the correct view of the world has to have some advantages of the incorrect views that it replaces.

          This entire blog is full of arguments against Christian claims. They don’t exist for you simply because you’re too lazy to search for them (the button you’re looking for is labeled “Search” BTW).

        • Al

          Can’t make it. Wish I could. Will you post the audio so I can download it and listen to it?
          How about making just one argument and then we can see if it has any merit.

          Your arguments against Christianity are essentially straw men.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          If the conference makes audio and video available, yes, I will post that in the blog.

          Search the archived blog posts. You’ll find plenty.

          Your arguments against Christianity are essentially straw men.

          (1) It’s easy to trash talk. How about manning up and showing me?

          (2) I don’t need to make one argument against Christianity. The Christian apologist has the burden of proof.

        • MNb

          Good idea. Why don’t you make just one argument for christianity? Let’s see if it has any merit.
          You want to discuss the Cosmological Argument? The Ontological one? The one from Morality and/or Beauty? You want to know why the Resurrection is a myth? Why it’s theological and moral implications such? Why Jesus as described in the Gospels wasn’t morally impeccable? The Problem of Evil? The Problem of Hiddenness?
          Pick your choice. Give us your view on it; then we will not be capable of attacking strawmen (your remark is of course nothing but “you’re attacking a version of christianity that’s not mine” – well, then the attack is no meant for you).
          You’re welcome.

        • MNb

          “It does not lead to a better understanding of the world”
          It actually does.

          Theism: Thunder and lightning come from an angry god.
          Atheism: We must look for an explanation without god.

          Theism: God expressed his anger by whiping out almost the entire global population by means of a Great Flood.
          Atheism: It’s a myth.

          Etcetera, etcetera. Everything – including “how to live a fullfilling life” – that has ever been addressed by theism has a better secular answer. Of course that’s not evidence for atheism yet, but at least for agnosticism.

          “nor are you able to refute Christianity’s claims”
          There are no christianity’s claims. Two christians have three different, often mutually conflicting claims about any christian issue. Your claim is that god is immaterial? John2H2 is a mormon and claims he is material. Etc. etc.
          Give me the claims of your version of christianity and I’ll refute them.
          I actually have two positive reasons for atheism, but for the moment I prefer to defend the agnostic position, ie show that all your christian claims are either not typically christian or are wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Good points. Seeing the argument from a meta standpoint to see the strategy (or lack of one) is helpful.

        • Pofarmer

          I will say old Al here is pretty shrewd. He is careful to generally make no arguments of his own, hoping you will make statements he can somehow pounce on.

        • MNb

          The nasty thing of course, like I wrote elsewhere, is that we were taught those christian ethics when we were kids and hence tend to take them for granted. That applies to me, raised secularly in a secular society, as much as to you. It’s hard to undo centuries of such influences.
          If you have a lot of time to burn I invite you to read and think thoroughly about altruism and the role it plays and has played in western societies.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I’m delighted that the blog has been helpful! That was always the goal.

          Speaking of Christianity and morality, you might enjoy Hemant Mehta’s latest video, comparing God to an abusive boyfriend.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoxzD2Qy60M&feature=youtu.be

        • wtfwjtd

          That little video is a classic! I think of all the Achilles’ heels of Christianity, ethics is probably the worst, and the area that is ripe for some serious push-back. For me, I finally realized that I could no longer be a Christian, primarily because my ethics and morals had long since outgrown the crude, victim-blaming, apologizing-for-god’s-atrocities morality of Christianity. This is one of the most effective and productive aspects of your blog for me, and helped me finalize the fact that for me, there was never any doubt about the direction my life needed to take going forward. And, of course there is plenty of other cool stuff too, I find nearly all of it very helpful and thought-provoking.
          A “relationship” with god is very much like that of an abusive boyfriend, one for which even good people continue to make excuses for. How sad and misguided.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for the feedback. I hope that the blog continues to be useful.

        • Pofarmer

          It took me a long time before I realized that many of the abuses handed down by the Catholic Church, and/or it’s members were applications of it’s doctrine, not abberations from them. That’s why they look sort of shell shocked when someone points out how bad this or that thing they did was.

        • smrnda

          I think a study was done on a plane crash where many people claimed to have seen footage of the crash on TV, even though no such footage had actually been seen. Recall is rather tricky.

          How many Protestants are aware that Protestants were not even always anti-abortion? This seems like a very “we have always been at war with EastAsia” issue.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Re your last paragraph, I have a few of those quotes here (at the bottom).

    • Derrik Pates

      It depends on who’s doing the manipulating, and who’s being manipulated. See David Barton and his following for examples of how at least some Christians are more than willing to be fed utter lies, and accept them unquestioningly.

  • hector_jones

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call gay marriage ‘inevitable’, Bob. It’s been legal where I live for about 10 years now and I still haven’t tied the knot.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      OK–you got me there.

  • Jason

    Nice post. I’m in full agreement but just want to point out one aspect of all of this that it overlooks. Christianity itself is changing rapidly. The fundamentalists will be with us for a long time to come, but it seems like there are more and more reform movements. Many Christians are moving the direction that the Unitarian church moved a long time ago. Perhaps they believe in God, but otherwise they are essentially humanists in their view of the Bible, etc. Bob’s posts suggests that Christianity consistently opposes things like civil rights and then deceptively pretends they were on board all along. This may be true for some. But these social movements also lead to reforms in Christianity. Ergo, most Christians today really are against slavery and segregation. It’s not an act; and that’s a good thing. I expect that in 25-50 years there will be far fewer Christians who actually oppose gay marriage. The ones that do will be on the fringe; and that’s a good thing.

    These are just observations based on my own experience. If anyone has real numbers about how Christians are changing, please share. There may be setbacks, but I’m of the mind that fundamentalism will inevitably die out.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The Church was commandeered by conservative politics when Paul of Tarsus insinuated himself into the organization. Liberal churches that advocate the ordination of women, same-sex marriage, and other affirmations of love are nearly as radical today as was the original school that Jesus belonged to back in his own time. Michel de Montaigne mentions gay marriage in his travel writings from the 16th century. The monks who participated in the practice were burned at the stake.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      Some have read between the lines and inferred that Paul’s unstated burden was homosexuality. He might’ve done the Haggard thing and doubled down on homophobia.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Much of Jewish homophobia stems from Greek practices of the time. There are stories of Greeks treating teen Goth boys as sex slaves.

  • Al

    The only reason this issue has gotten such traction is because of the corruption of the courts and politicians.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      I’m not following. You’re saying that same-sex marriage is such an obvious win-win for society that only duplicitous politicians explain why it’s such a contentious issue within society?

      • Al

        Its not a win-win for society. Its the further destruction of marriage and the family. Gay marriage has only been possible because corrupt judges have made it possible by overturning the will of the people and by spurious decisions.

        • Jeff

          Expanding the list of who all can get married = destruction of marriage.

          Increasing the number of families = destruction of family.

          I….. don’t follow?

        • hector_jones

          Apparently if gay marriage is legal then lots of straight christians will run off on their spouses because a gay marriage is just too darn tempting.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah. Same-sex marriage has been legal in WA state for half a year, I think, and all of a sudden, guys are looking pretty hot to me.

        • smrnda

          I really don’t get the whole notion that there’s been any real decline at all. Divorce is more common, but so what? The only people who complain are people who view it as *intrinsically bad* if people get divorced. They can cite stats that kids in married families do better than kids in families that are divorced, but then we have to weigh that against a lot of factors that tend to predispose people to getting divorced like economic factors. If by saying ‘children of divorced parents are having a tough time’ and we find out that what we’re really saying is ‘children of poor parents are having a tough time’ we’re saying nothing intelligent.

          the idea that ‘back before no fault divorce things were better’ we really don’t have any data on that. we weren’t compiling the type of data we use to determine how well kids are doing or how well couples and individuals are doing until recently. So we have no stats. The assertion that things were better in the past seems a bit silly to me as well – the idea that you don’t abuse your kids is a pretty recent one. Back when beating your kids was acceptable, are we really saying things are better, or is it just people saying ‘we liked the Dark Ages better than modernity?”

          I’d also like someone to explain how my marriage is the downfall of civilization.

        • MNb

          Nah, if divorcing parents are getting nasty – ie focusing on hurting their exes instead of focusing on the interests of the children – the children will have a tough time indeed, poor or not poor. I know this from two experiences. My parents divorced when I was 6, because my father discovered that he was mainly gay. I divorced when my son was 9. Both divorces were nasty and I’m certainly not free from blame.
          As I had learned from the mistakes my father made back in 1970 (I don’t blame him, but are rather thankful that I could learn) I could protect my son though. He never came the plaything (ie an instrument for revenge) my sisters and I were, no matter how hard my father tried to avoid it. Five years after our divorce I got on good terms again with my ex; it must be noted that she deserves most credit.
          Such nasty divorces are quite common, as a quick glance at relevant statistics will show. That might very well be a factor why kids with married parents do averagely better. But I would be highly surprised if kids after a smooth divorce did worse.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Is your ex in the same country as you? If not, trading the kids back and forth must be (or have been) difficult.

        • MNb

          Same village; it’s about 15 minutes with a bike to her house.

        • smrnda

          I know many such people, one of whom said that the great thing about divorces is that you get a larger, supportive extended family.A bad marriage is a tough thing for a kid to go through, and most people I know whose parents divorced just wished their parents had done it sooner.

        • wtfwjtd

          I have seen the following statement, or something similar, in court ruling after court ruling legalizing same sex marriage: “The proponents have won their rights as equals in a free society, while their opponents have lost…absolutely nothing.”
          That pretty much says it all.

        • asmondius

          Pseudo-families.

        • MNb

          You’re violating Matth 7:1 once again.

        • asmondius

          My conscience! Where have you been?

        • wtfwjtd

          Says who? You?

        • Jeff

          Increasing the number of families = destruction of pseudo-families.

          This makes about the same amount of sense.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          In a time when the institution of marriage is crumbling, both because Christians are getting divorced and because young people don’t see much use in it, you’re going to turn up your nose at a new group that wants to embrace it? I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

          I’m married and have been for over a third of a century. I have a family. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. You say that same-sex marriage is destroying marriage and family? I’m listening–show me.

        • Al

          I agree in part with what your saying. However, gay marriage is not the solution.It will actually create more problems. I would not be surprised to see homosexuals divorcing at a higher rate than heterosexuals.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I repeat: when someone preaches about the importance of marriage to America, they put me in the front row.

          I’m listening. What is this “destruction of marriage and the family” that will come about when same-sex marriage is legal?

        • Al

          Redefining marriage to include same sex opens the door to all kinds of configurations for so called “marriages”. As I said, it was the courts and the politicians who are at work destroying marriage by various rulings. No fault divorce comes to mind.

          There is no reason to think that same sex “marriages” will stay together any longer. It will probably be worse. Here is one example:
          Lesbian couples twice as likely as gay men to end civil partnership as ‘divorces’ up by 20%
          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lesbian-couples-twice-as-likely-as-gay-men-to-end-civil-partnership-as-divorces-up-by-20-8866454.html

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Are those other marriages valuable? When there’s a critical mass of proponents for them, let’s consider them. When it’s just you lying awake at night sure that there will be millions of people wanting to marry their sex toys, that’s beneath consideration.

          You do know that marriage hasn’t been a constant in this country, right? Look up “Loving v. Virginia” on this blog if you want more. And, of course, polygamy was A-OK with God in the Bible.

          Your second paragraph is off topic. If some subset of marriages need help, aren’t you eager to see them get it to strengthen their marriages?

        • Al

          What do you mean “valuable”? There is no critical mass.

          Though there was some polygamy in this country it was never widespread and it was never among homosexuals.

          Those who practiced polygamy went against the command of God. You knew this. Right?

          The only marriage worth supporting is between one man and one woman. All others are perversions of this.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Those who practiced polygamy went against the command of God. You knew this. Right?

          Read your Bible. God never prohibits polygamy, and he never punishes it. “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” (2 Sam. 12:8).

          The only marriage worth supporting is between one man and one woman. All others are perversions of this.

          And we have Al’s say-so!

          (Got anything better? That’s not much.)

        • Al

          Read Matthew 19 for God’s standard on marriage. The ancient Jews were not to have more than one wife.

          You not only have my say so but the say so of Christ Himself.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, let’s talk about what Jesus said about marriage. He says that divorced people who re-marry are adulterers. So why aren’t religious people like yourself laying awake at night trying to figure out how to prevent divorced people from re-marrying? Why is the government sanctioning “sin”? Surely there’s not a double standard at work here, is there?
          And, let’s see, about gay marriage, Jesus says…absolutely nothing. Hmmm…

        • Al

          Jesus clearly defined what marriage involved I.e. one man and one woman for life. He left no room for any kind of same sex marriage nor polygamy.

        • wtfwjtd

          …so you are advocating a double standard then. Jesus clearly states that re-marriage after divorce is sin, period, end of story. I guess there’s going to be a lot of otherwise good and moral people, some of whom happen to attend church regularly, that are going to burn in hell for this. Oh well, it’ll make God happy I suppose, that’s the important thing.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I just showed you wrong with the quote above from your own Bible. You may have a problem with polygamy, but God doesn’t.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          There’s way more re-marrying people than gay people who want to get married. You’re right: if following the Bible were the issue, that would be where Christians would be focused.

        • asmondius

          He emphatically states that marriage joins male to female, Bob. The intent isn’t hard to decipher.

        • wtfwjtd

          Jesus also emphatically states that those who divorce and re-marry are filthy sinners who will burn in hell for it. From what little we do know of Jesus, being divorced is far, far worse than being gay, according to his own words. This intent isn’t hard to decipher, either.

        • asmondius

          Name a society or nation which was built upon homosexual unions.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          “Never do anything for the first time”?

        • asmondius

          Loving vs. Virginia involves race, not sexual predilection or gender.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          3 things that you’re born with. Yes, I see the similarities.

        • asmondius

          Look to those places where it has been legal for a generation.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I’m looking. I don’t see any problems. You?

        • Ann Kah

          Quite possibly. Especially since so many heterosexual couples these days don’t bother to tie the knot officially. Don’t worry about same sex marriage ruining the institution of marriage: heterosexual couples have done that very nicely themselves, thank you.

        • asmondius

          Many people run red lights – let’s do away with them.

        • Ann Kah

          Where have you been, asmondius? It’s been nice and peaceful without you. Very pleasant to debate without someone throwing in the odd gratuitous non sequitur.

        • asmondius

          Ah, life can be complex.

          A simple logical observation is not a non sequitur. We don’t repeal ideals simply because many fail to achieve them.

        • hector_jones

          You must be a real hit down at the fortune cookie factory.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          What a blessing that asmondius is back to piss on things. I knew they didn’t smell quite right.

        • asmondius

          Is your wife equivalent to a man?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          This seems to be a tangential question.

        • hector_jones

          I don’t think you understand what ‘corrupt’ means. What quid pro quo is involved?

        • asmondius

          I don’t think you understand what ‘quid pro quo’ means.

        • Ann Kah

          The “will of the people”, fickle entity that it is, must not ever be allowed to govern the private and personal matters of the individual. You apparently do not understand the concept of RIGHTS. One’s private behavior is not subject to a public referendum. Nobody asked for a vote to decide whether you or I should marry the person of our choice. I see no reason why our opinion should be consulted regarding the lives of strangers.

        • asmondius

          How did Obama get elected?

        • Ann Kah

          By a vote, of course, a vote to choose people for governmental office. That is NOT a vote to take away the constitutional rights from someone.

        • asmondius

          Everyone in the society has a stake in its institutions, including marriage. There is no ‘right’ in the Constitution for two men to pretend to be equivalent to their own parents.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          “be the equivalent of their own parents”?

          Dang–now I can’t use that argument anymore.

        • chynna

          WRONG, heterosexuals are the only ones who have been destroying marriage for over 50 years, Same sex marriage has not even been part of it at all.

          The very first marriage every recorded on the earth was a same sex marriage in Egypt over 6,000 years ago. THEY HAD MARRIAGE FIRST”

          Ever citizen has the right to freedom and the persuit of happiness.
          The Supreme Courts have already stated clearly for over 40 decades that Marriage is a RIGHT.

          Treaty of Tripoli. – 1796

          Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said State never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

          Religion has never had exclusive rights to marriage and never did.

        • asmondius

          ‘The Supreme Courts have already stated clearly for over 40 decades that Marriage is a RIGHT.’

          Since 1614, huh?

    • MNb

      Ah yes, The Netherlands which legalized same-sex marriage 13 years ago as the first country in the world (yup, our politicians do some things right) are totally corrupt.
      Not.

      http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/

      • asmondius

        And how has the Netherlands benefited from formally recognizing fantasies?

        • MNb

          Less corruption than in your good old far more religious USA. Less teen pregancies. Lower abortion rates. On average better educated people.
          Plus more happiness.

        • asmondius

          Ah, so the Moroccan gangs have left?

          And of course, the ‘Jewish Problem’ was settled during Ww2.

        • MNb

          Ah – your god has punished The Netherlands for gay marriage by killing off the jews during WW-2. And the Ferguson, Missouri riots are caused by legalized marriage in the USA.
          You make even less sense than always, dear silly Asmondius. Only a brain poisoned by christian bigotry can come up with the logic “Moroccan gangs” and “killed jews during WW-2” are the consequences of legalized gay marriage. Be sure I’ll remember this when you complain about atheist logic.

    • chynna

      Sorry, but the constitution was written to include ALL citizens. The USA was never a christian nation and christian do not have special right no matter what they believed.

      Ever citizen has the right to freedom and the persuit of happiness. The Supreme Courts have already stated clearly for over 40 decades that Marriage is a RIGHT.

      Treaty of Tripoli. – 1796

      Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said State never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

      Religion has never had exclusive rights to marriage and never did.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        In my state, the actual marriage is the signing of the papers with a notary or justice of the peace. The ceremony with family and friends is just for show.

        • asmondius

          No, that’s just the state’s recognition of the union.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          State recognition = marriage?

      • asmondius

        I was not aware that a treaty was a founding document of the country.

  • asmondius

    Inevitable?

    Too bad about the recent decision of the European Court, eh Bob?

    • MNb

      Well, yes, same sex marriage is not a human right. So what? The fight will be fought in the member nations. There is no doubt who will win.
      Apparently you have no idea what the European Court is and what it does. Hint: it’s nothing like Supreme Court in the USA.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      And this means what to same-sex marriage? Spell it out. I’m stupid.


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