Chesterton’s fence

Kevin Staley-Joyce at the First Things blog quotes a great passage from the great G. K. Chesterton (from The Thing):

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected
across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to itand says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.”

To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put
there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable.

How could you apply this principle? You can see how Mr. Staley-Joyce applied it by clicking the link, but what are some other applications of Chesterton’s fence?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jonathan

    Certainly within the life of the church it has application. Just witness all the knocking down of ‘useless’ barriers in ELCA, for example.

  • Jonathan

    Certainly within the life of the church it has application. Just witness all the knocking down of ‘useless’ barriers in ELCA, for example.

  • Dan Kempin

    How about the fence of limited government? It seems to be rather bulldozed at the moment.

  • Dan Kempin

    How about the fence of limited government? It seems to be rather bulldozed at the moment.

  • Orianna Laun

    Reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Fences.”

  • Orianna Laun

    Reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Fences.”

  • Don

    Interestingly reform does not denote destroying and rebuilding from the ground up. Rather is signifies change and improvement based on the same basic values.

    The danger in reformation morphing into deformation always lies in the realignment of the foundation.

  • Don

    Interestingly reform does not denote destroying and rebuilding from the ground up. Rather is signifies change and improvement based on the same basic values.

    The danger in reformation morphing into deformation always lies in the realignment of the foundation.

  • Carl Vehse

    “It is highly improbable that it was put
    there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street.”

    Oh, I think this is a very plausible explanation, especially in the Washington DC area around the west end of East Capitol Street SE.

  • Carl Vehse

    “It is highly improbable that it was put
    there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street.”

    Oh, I think this is a very plausible explanation, especially in the Washington DC area around the west end of East Capitol Street SE.

  • Joe

    Seems highly applicable to the worship-wars in the LCMS. One should stop and ponder why its is that Lutherans have worshiped in the way we have been for so long before it is labeled stogy and tossed in the trash heap.

  • Joe

    Seems highly applicable to the worship-wars in the LCMS. One should stop and ponder why its is that Lutherans have worshiped in the way we have been for so long before it is labeled stogy and tossed in the trash heap.

  • fws

    ok. the problem here with this is rather basic.

    Destruction of a tradition:

    What exactly will be “destroyed” or “torn down”??!! tell me. I can´t tell from this poetic article. Will marriage be destroyed? forbidden? discouraged? damaged? HOW? Let´s make this personal shall we and take it out of abstract theory: Allowing a couple of homos to obtain a piece of paper called a marriage license destroys what part of YOUR marriage? Will men and women stop getting married if this happens? will people get divorced because this happens?

    “gate” as social order/limits:

    Gates exist to prevent social chaos. OK: You really think that giving a couple of queers a paper called “civil marriage contract/license” will INCREASE lawlessness, libertine attitudes, hedonism, result in more unbiblical sexual activity, more STDs, less stability for children of gays? or is the opposite a more likely consequence?

    We don´t really KNOW a good reason why the gate should not be removed, but until we know we should leave it.

    Gates are meant to exclude, separate, to fence in or to fence out. The problem with this, is that, right or wrong, the BURDEN of proof, in THIS situation, where the government is excluding, and separating and discrimination, is that the burden is on the GOVERNMENT to show why this is necessary. see the iowa supreme court decision on this. NOONE here would want to live in a society that descriminates “just because we have always discriminated”. Some day, when christians are even more in the minority, this “victory” for traditional morality will seem bittersweet when the same logic is turned against us. if we followed THIS logic, we would then of course still have slavery, and blacks could not marry each other or white folks. the same arguments used now against gay marriage licenses were used then to exclude blacks from marriage.

    Discrimination , per se, is NOT wrong. we discriminate legally against blind folks, as a group/category, getting drivers licenses. But the reasons for this are readily apparent and the logic is non-religious and practical.

  • fws

    ok. the problem here with this is rather basic.

    Destruction of a tradition:

    What exactly will be “destroyed” or “torn down”??!! tell me. I can´t tell from this poetic article. Will marriage be destroyed? forbidden? discouraged? damaged? HOW? Let´s make this personal shall we and take it out of abstract theory: Allowing a couple of homos to obtain a piece of paper called a marriage license destroys what part of YOUR marriage? Will men and women stop getting married if this happens? will people get divorced because this happens?

    “gate” as social order/limits:

    Gates exist to prevent social chaos. OK: You really think that giving a couple of queers a paper called “civil marriage contract/license” will INCREASE lawlessness, libertine attitudes, hedonism, result in more unbiblical sexual activity, more STDs, less stability for children of gays? or is the opposite a more likely consequence?

    We don´t really KNOW a good reason why the gate should not be removed, but until we know we should leave it.

    Gates are meant to exclude, separate, to fence in or to fence out. The problem with this, is that, right or wrong, the BURDEN of proof, in THIS situation, where the government is excluding, and separating and discrimination, is that the burden is on the GOVERNMENT to show why this is necessary. see the iowa supreme court decision on this. NOONE here would want to live in a society that descriminates “just because we have always discriminated”. Some day, when christians are even more in the minority, this “victory” for traditional morality will seem bittersweet when the same logic is turned against us. if we followed THIS logic, we would then of course still have slavery, and blacks could not marry each other or white folks. the same arguments used now against gay marriage licenses were used then to exclude blacks from marriage.

    Discrimination , per se, is NOT wrong. we discriminate legally against blind folks, as a group/category, getting drivers licenses. But the reasons for this are readily apparent and the logic is non-religious and practical.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Speaking of fences, every civilization known to man in the past has assumed that marriage was between a man and a woman, even in the case of multiple marriages. That fence in the contemporary West is in disrepair and in danger of being bulldozed. Same with other items in the sexual “revolution.”

  • Peter Leavitt

    Speaking of fences, every civilization known to man in the past has assumed that marriage was between a man and a woman, even in the case of multiple marriages. That fence in the contemporary West is in disrepair and in danger of being bulldozed. Same with other items in the sexual “revolution.”

  • fws

    #6 Joe:

    noooooo! “we should keep things the way they are even if we don´t know why they are that way.

    We know why the liturgy is there. and we can easily compare the “Jesus content” of every alternative. there is NO form of worshíp that is more intrinsically full of christ and the bible than the Holy Liturgy.

    This does NOT look like something that is, and we don´t know why it is, but we leave it there because the alternative MIGHT be worse. no!

  • fws

    #6 Joe:

    noooooo! “we should keep things the way they are even if we don´t know why they are that way.

    We know why the liturgy is there. and we can easily compare the “Jesus content” of every alternative. there is NO form of worshíp that is more intrinsically full of christ and the bible than the Holy Liturgy.

    This does NOT look like something that is, and we don´t know why it is, but we leave it there because the alternative MIGHT be worse. no!

  • fws

    #6 Joe. at the same time, i would not make my “last stand” over such a thing. we have to argue with others in society and compromise. the argument to leave something standing because we dont know why it exists but there must have been a good reason at some time in the past that maybe still holds true is lazy.

    we are required to argue and explain. the alternative looks alot like a parent/child relationship. “why”? “because I said so!”

  • fws

    #6 Joe. at the same time, i would not make my “last stand” over such a thing. we have to argue with others in society and compromise. the argument to leave something standing because we dont know why it exists but there must have been a good reason at some time in the past that maybe still holds true is lazy.

    we are required to argue and explain. the alternative looks alot like a parent/child relationship. “why”? “because I said so!”

  • Carl Vehse

    Joe (@6), right on! Look at the descriptive language LINOs use in an attempt to offer Methobapticostal worship styles as alternatives to Lutheran liturgical worship: “Contemporary,” “Praise,” and (this one’s a pip!) “Blended.”

    What’s next? “Liturgical Latte”? “Ecumenical Expresso”?

  • Carl Vehse

    Joe (@6), right on! Look at the descriptive language LINOs use in an attempt to offer Methobapticostal worship styles as alternatives to Lutheran liturgical worship: “Contemporary,” “Praise,” and (this one’s a pip!) “Blended.”

    What’s next? “Liturgical Latte”? “Ecumenical Expresso”?

  • Jonathan

    @ fws “What exactly will be “destroyed” or “torn down”??!! tell me. I can´t tell from this poetic article. Will marriage be destroyed? forbidden? discouraged? damaged? HOW?”

    The fouth commandment, the sixth commandment. The morals and mores of the traditional family will decay. And yes, eventually marriage will cease–is that not the real aim of bulldozing the “marriage” fence?

    Luther’s Large Catechism on the 6th Commandment is highly instructive.

  • Jonathan

    @ fws “What exactly will be “destroyed” or “torn down”??!! tell me. I can´t tell from this poetic article. Will marriage be destroyed? forbidden? discouraged? damaged? HOW?”

    The fouth commandment, the sixth commandment. The morals and mores of the traditional family will decay. And yes, eventually marriage will cease–is that not the real aim of bulldozing the “marriage” fence?

    Luther’s Large Catechism on the 6th Commandment is highly instructive.

  • fws

    #12 Jonathan

    ok so you are going to take THIS argument to congress. hmm . don´t agree that that is a wise or even christian strategy.

    “The morals and mores of the traditional family will decay. And yes, eventually marriage will cease” Ok. you are saying this:

    because we allow gays to get a marriage license, the morals and mores in my own family will start to decay, and my children will not marry.

    wow. are you SURE of this?

  • fws

    #12 Jonathan

    ok so you are going to take THIS argument to congress. hmm . don´t agree that that is a wise or even christian strategy.

    “The morals and mores of the traditional family will decay. And yes, eventually marriage will cease” Ok. you are saying this:

    because we allow gays to get a marriage license, the morals and mores in my own family will start to decay, and my children will not marry.

    wow. are you SURE of this?

  • Mike Rado

    Interesting points. My form of marriage is the only one acceptable. My way of worship is the most blessed. Anything else takes down the fences I use to keep myself safe.

    Which one of you guys is the Pope?

    It’s not the form of worship that’s important; it’s the canon that drives our beliefs that guides our worship. And we keep our own marriages intact, thank you very much. What happens under my neighbor’s roof doesn’t have much of an impact on me.

    The family next door is unchurched. The one across the street is Muslim. Another family used to go to my church; now they’re in a mega-box unaffiliated church. But I go where I go and worship how I want.

    Who am I to tell them that their choices are better than mine? Who am I to put up a fence that says, they’re wrong.

    Open the gate. Tell them about your beliefs – your church’s canon. Listen to them about the forms of worship they like. Let it influence your worship style. It’s OK. Jesus didn’t use your liturgy; neither did his apostles or the disciples of the early church. Just don’t compromise your church’s beliefs, because that’s what’s really important.

  • Mike Rado

    Interesting points. My form of marriage is the only one acceptable. My way of worship is the most blessed. Anything else takes down the fences I use to keep myself safe.

    Which one of you guys is the Pope?

    It’s not the form of worship that’s important; it’s the canon that drives our beliefs that guides our worship. And we keep our own marriages intact, thank you very much. What happens under my neighbor’s roof doesn’t have much of an impact on me.

    The family next door is unchurched. The one across the street is Muslim. Another family used to go to my church; now they’re in a mega-box unaffiliated church. But I go where I go and worship how I want.

    Who am I to tell them that their choices are better than mine? Who am I to put up a fence that says, they’re wrong.

    Open the gate. Tell them about your beliefs – your church’s canon. Listen to them about the forms of worship they like. Let it influence your worship style. It’s OK. Jesus didn’t use your liturgy; neither did his apostles or the disciples of the early church. Just don’t compromise your church’s beliefs, because that’s what’s really important.

  • Jonathan

    “because we allow gays to get a marriage license, the morals and mores in my own family will start to decay, and my children will not marry. wow. are you SURE of this?”

    Yes, it’s just a question of the time it takes to destroy the fence. People will not respect their father and mother (who is my father/mother?), nor will they lead chaste and decent lives, and society will suffer immeasurably for it.

  • Jonathan

    “because we allow gays to get a marriage license, the morals and mores in my own family will start to decay, and my children will not marry. wow. are you SURE of this?”

    Yes, it’s just a question of the time it takes to destroy the fence. People will not respect their father and mother (who is my father/mother?), nor will they lead chaste and decent lives, and society will suffer immeasurably for it.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Regarding the marriage fence – The sexual revolution against this natural fence really won its major victory against marriage, children, and the family in enacting into law no fault divorce.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Regarding the marriage fence – The sexual revolution against this natural fence really won its major victory against marriage, children, and the family in enacting into law no fault divorce.

  • Economist Doug

    It’s hard to argue that SSM is an unprecedented attack on the institution of marriage.

    Marriage has been chipped away for a long time. A ridiculous concept like SSM wouldn’t even be considered if the institution of marriage was in good shape.

    One of the more destructive acts against marriage was to loosen divorce laws.

    It has become an institution more vulnerable to the frivolity and capriciousness of emotions. Marriage has become a less serious institution based almost solely in convenience and lust.

    If marriage lacks a foundation besides lust and convenience than the objections to SSM drop away.

  • Economist Doug

    It’s hard to argue that SSM is an unprecedented attack on the institution of marriage.

    Marriage has been chipped away for a long time. A ridiculous concept like SSM wouldn’t even be considered if the institution of marriage was in good shape.

    One of the more destructive acts against marriage was to loosen divorce laws.

    It has become an institution more vulnerable to the frivolity and capriciousness of emotions. Marriage has become a less serious institution based almost solely in convenience and lust.

    If marriage lacks a foundation besides lust and convenience than the objections to SSM drop away.

  • Jonathan

    Wuh? “Convenience and lust” as a reason TO get married?

    Dude, are you married? It is sooo much more convenient and lustful to be unmarried.

  • Jonathan

    Wuh? “Convenience and lust” as a reason TO get married?

    Dude, are you married? It is sooo much more convenient and lustful to be unmarried.

  • Economist Doug

    #18 I’ve been married several years.

    The trend away from marriage (low marriage rates in liberal states) is probably due to the recognition that if all marriage is about is legal/economic convenience and lust, then it’s a toss-up whether it’s worth the loss in independence.

    None of my non-Christian acquintances of the 18-30 generation are married to the partner they share a home with.

    In Scandinavia marriage rates are extremely low but they’re a bit further along in the process having created SSM years ago.

  • Economist Doug

    #18 I’ve been married several years.

    The trend away from marriage (low marriage rates in liberal states) is probably due to the recognition that if all marriage is about is legal/economic convenience and lust, then it’s a toss-up whether it’s worth the loss in independence.

    None of my non-Christian acquintances of the 18-30 generation are married to the partner they share a home with.

    In Scandinavia marriage rates are extremely low but they’re a bit further along in the process having created SSM years ago.

  • Joe

    Frank – I guess I read it a bit differently, I was thinking the point was that you leave the fence in place why you determine if it should be there. And, while I agree that we should know why we worship how we do, I think that most Lutherans do is unfounded. So I guess my point was that I saw the principle that if someone wants to change the form of worship they need to successfully make the case for change first and then (and only then) can it be changed.

    Radio – I think you are making a bad assumption that worship style and doctrine are not intrinsically linked. It is an assumption that comes from poor education as to why the liturgy is as it is.

  • Joe

    Frank – I guess I read it a bit differently, I was thinking the point was that you leave the fence in place why you determine if it should be there. And, while I agree that we should know why we worship how we do, I think that most Lutherans do is unfounded. So I guess my point was that I saw the principle that if someone wants to change the form of worship they need to successfully make the case for change first and then (and only then) can it be changed.

    Radio – I think you are making a bad assumption that worship style and doctrine are not intrinsically linked. It is an assumption that comes from poor education as to why the liturgy is as it is.

  • fws

    Comment #15 jonathan

    like
    Mike Rado said in#14 ….

  • fws

    Comment #15 jonathan

    like
    Mike Rado said in#14 ….

  • Peter Leavitt

    Economist Doug, you might reflect on whether your eighteen to thirty friends who are not married to their “partners” understand the sacredness of a lifelong marriage between a man and a woman in the interests of properly bearing and nurturing children.

    What you blithely refer to as SSM, while presently rather cool, is in the process of being seen for what it is as the product of disordered and rather sinful perverted desire. Much in the way That Roman Polanski has discovered it is not cool to be a pederast, due to Christians and secularists coming to see the wisdom of the traditional fences of civilized folk, including that of the one that regards homosexual behavior as beyond the pale.

    It could well be that your vaunted young folk set hasn’t a clue when it comes to matters of morality and civilization, much in the way that the vaunted, sophisticated Bloomsbury set in the early TwentiethCentury was discovered to be a dangerous fraud.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Economist Doug, you might reflect on whether your eighteen to thirty friends who are not married to their “partners” understand the sacredness of a lifelong marriage between a man and a woman in the interests of properly bearing and nurturing children.

    What you blithely refer to as SSM, while presently rather cool, is in the process of being seen for what it is as the product of disordered and rather sinful perverted desire. Much in the way That Roman Polanski has discovered it is not cool to be a pederast, due to Christians and secularists coming to see the wisdom of the traditional fences of civilized folk, including that of the one that regards homosexual behavior as beyond the pale.

    It could well be that your vaunted young folk set hasn’t a clue when it comes to matters of morality and civilization, much in the way that the vaunted, sophisticated Bloomsbury set in the early TwentiethCentury was discovered to be a dangerous fraud.

  • Economist Doug

    #22 I think you’ve misread me. I’d be very glad if SSM weren’t a serious proposal.

    However in the present culture there are no fences to maintain the sanctity of family.

    Marriage as an institution has been turned into a tool for self-gratification. It isn’t possible to deny same-sex couples the degenerate institution marriage has become.

    I’m not saying things weren’t idyllic in the past. People got married for non-romantic reasons but typically they stayed married and cared for each other.

  • Economist Doug

    #22 I think you’ve misread me. I’d be very glad if SSM weren’t a serious proposal.

    However in the present culture there are no fences to maintain the sanctity of family.

    Marriage as an institution has been turned into a tool for self-gratification. It isn’t possible to deny same-sex couples the degenerate institution marriage has become.

    I’m not saying things weren’t idyllic in the past. People got married for non-romantic reasons but typically they stayed married and cared for each other.

  • Mike Rado

    Joe #20

    Joe, I don’t have a bad education about liturgy I think it’s a wonderful way to worship. I just don’t think it’s the only way.

    Further, I think the argument people make, holding their missals up as if they were Biblical shields, is more about comfort than doctrine. Liturgy has changed over the centuries and it will continue to change. Martin Luther wrote hymns the people could sing; I’m sure God didn’t abandon the churches because people were singing new music.

    I’m not discounting the importance of liturgy either. But the order of worship and the style of language and whether someone gets up and provides a witness to how God has helped in his or her life doesn’t impact the doctrine. And whether instrument of choice is organ, keyboard, guitar, or a drums doesn’t change the doctrine.

    And if it takes three different services with different worship styles or music styles to attract a broader range of people to your worship services where they can learn about your doctrine, then it is indeed important to maintain your canon and its doctrine, but speak to the people in their vernacular…and that includes lanuguage, music, and worship styles.

  • Mike Rado

    Joe #20

    Joe, I don’t have a bad education about liturgy I think it’s a wonderful way to worship. I just don’t think it’s the only way.

    Further, I think the argument people make, holding their missals up as if they were Biblical shields, is more about comfort than doctrine. Liturgy has changed over the centuries and it will continue to change. Martin Luther wrote hymns the people could sing; I’m sure God didn’t abandon the churches because people were singing new music.

    I’m not discounting the importance of liturgy either. But the order of worship and the style of language and whether someone gets up and provides a witness to how God has helped in his or her life doesn’t impact the doctrine. And whether instrument of choice is organ, keyboard, guitar, or a drums doesn’t change the doctrine.

    And if it takes three different services with different worship styles or music styles to attract a broader range of people to your worship services where they can learn about your doctrine, then it is indeed important to maintain your canon and its doctrine, but speak to the people in their vernacular…and that includes lanuguage, music, and worship styles.

  • Cincinnatus

    We seem to have missed the point that Chesterton was speaking of Catholicism in this case, as in most others.

  • Cincinnatus

    We seem to have missed the point that Chesterton was speaking of Catholicism in this case, as in most others.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, why is everything about being gay to fws? I’m going to start reducing all issues to a question of pedophilia as an identity just to spice up the discussions.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, why is everything about being gay to fws? I’m going to start reducing all issues to a question of pedophilia as an identity just to spice up the discussions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@26), (speaking of missing the point) as regards your question, I’m going to guess that you didn’t read the First Things article that Veith linked to.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@26), (speaking of missing the point) as regards your question, I’m going to guess that you didn’t read the First Things article that Veith linked to.

  • Cincinnatus

    Nope, I’ve just read Chesterton. I see now that it is about homosexuality. My point about fws still holds, though.

  • Cincinnatus

    Nope, I’ve just read Chesterton. I see now that it is about homosexuality. My point about fws still holds, though.

  • Joanne

    I first heard the “fence” saying way back in the early 60s when I was in school in Texas. It went “Never tear down a fence until you know why it was put up,” and I thought that cattlemen had worked it out on the great plains. You never know.

    Anyway, I’ve remembered and used it in decision making processes all my life. It’s been marvelously useful. It doesn’t say, don’t tear down fences. It says don’t tear them down till you know why they were put up. “Say, there ain’t a bull in this pasture just over that rise is there?”

    I used it liturgically when the RCs and then the Lutherans made the simple, fashionable and seemingly logical change of “and with you” instead of “and with your spirit.” Nothing could be more ancient than the “et cum spiritu tuo” and the “kai to pneumati su.” The “your spirit” certainly makes no obvious, drive-by doctrinal sense now, but did it ever? Does it still with a bit of inquiry?

    I tear down fences. Sometimes, I have to put them back up before the bull gets all the way across the pasture. Still, I tear down fences, rarely, slowly, and always ready to put ‘em back up, or only partially back up.

    Most people who get paid to manage, work like this. It’s part of the decision making process. Risk taking with work processes.

    I can’t imagine taking this kind of risk with marriage, sin, eternal life, and God’s wrath. On the other hand, Christians are God’s beloved children, firmly established in his hands. They shouldn’t be fearful of taking risks and making mistakes with a loving Father.

  • Joanne

    I first heard the “fence” saying way back in the early 60s when I was in school in Texas. It went “Never tear down a fence until you know why it was put up,” and I thought that cattlemen had worked it out on the great plains. You never know.

    Anyway, I’ve remembered and used it in decision making processes all my life. It’s been marvelously useful. It doesn’t say, don’t tear down fences. It says don’t tear them down till you know why they were put up. “Say, there ain’t a bull in this pasture just over that rise is there?”

    I used it liturgically when the RCs and then the Lutherans made the simple, fashionable and seemingly logical change of “and with you” instead of “and with your spirit.” Nothing could be more ancient than the “et cum spiritu tuo” and the “kai to pneumati su.” The “your spirit” certainly makes no obvious, drive-by doctrinal sense now, but did it ever? Does it still with a bit of inquiry?

    I tear down fences. Sometimes, I have to put them back up before the bull gets all the way across the pasture. Still, I tear down fences, rarely, slowly, and always ready to put ‘em back up, or only partially back up.

    Most people who get paid to manage, work like this. It’s part of the decision making process. Risk taking with work processes.

    I can’t imagine taking this kind of risk with marriage, sin, eternal life, and God’s wrath. On the other hand, Christians are God’s beloved children, firmly established in his hands. They shouldn’t be fearful of taking risks and making mistakes with a loving Father.

  • fws

    Comment #28
    Cincinnatus said:
    Nope, I’ve just read Chesterton. I see now that it is about homosexuality. My point about fws still holds, though.

    dear brother… todd is gently pointing out that the article vieth links to here IS about homosexuality. I was responding to the post by having it be about homosexuality.

    I find your comment on child molestation to be DEEPLY offensive dude. I could respond in kind, but unfortunately i would regret responding in kind and then having to appologize to you. your comment was EVIL.

  • fws

    Comment #28
    Cincinnatus said:
    Nope, I’ve just read Chesterton. I see now that it is about homosexuality. My point about fws still holds, though.

    dear brother… todd is gently pointing out that the article vieth links to here IS about homosexuality. I was responding to the post by having it be about homosexuality.

    I find your comment on child molestation to be DEEPLY offensive dude. I could respond in kind, but unfortunately i would regret responding in kind and then having to appologize to you. your comment was EVIL.

  • Cincinnatus

    So pedophilia is an unacceptable identity but homosexuality is not (because pedophilia as an identity isn’t defined by actions either)? Upon what grounds, sir?

  • Cincinnatus

    So pedophilia is an unacceptable identity but homosexuality is not (because pedophilia as an identity isn’t defined by actions either)? Upon what grounds, sir?

  • Cincinnatus

    Another argument that continues to appear which I find to be completely unacceptable:

    Many here–not limited to fws–argue that we might as well permit homosexual marriage since heterosexuals have already corrupting the institution first by reducing it to the level of “contract,” and next by subjecting it to the ravages of a divorce culture. This is ludicrous logic. Though “marriage” in the modern West is a decrepit institution, it is not yet dead. The certain way to kill it would be, in fact, to expose this blessed sacrament to individual definition: i.e., to the idea that self-described “love” is the foundation of marriage. In the end, this will only reduce marriage to a tax deduction in the United States. The argument is akin to arguing that we may as well permit standard murder since we already legalize abortion and euthanasia in certain circumstances (i.e., that we have already botched the sanctity of life beyond possibility of retrieval).

  • Cincinnatus

    Another argument that continues to appear which I find to be completely unacceptable:

    Many here–not limited to fws–argue that we might as well permit homosexual marriage since heterosexuals have already corrupting the institution first by reducing it to the level of “contract,” and next by subjecting it to the ravages of a divorce culture. This is ludicrous logic. Though “marriage” in the modern West is a decrepit institution, it is not yet dead. The certain way to kill it would be, in fact, to expose this blessed sacrament to individual definition: i.e., to the idea that self-described “love” is the foundation of marriage. In the end, this will only reduce marriage to a tax deduction in the United States. The argument is akin to arguing that we may as well permit standard murder since we already legalize abortion and euthanasia in certain circumstances (i.e., that we have already botched the sanctity of life beyond possibility of retrieval).

  • Cincinnatus

    Thirdly, another spurious argument: the idea that affirming gay “marriage” won’t destroy marriage. This, of course, depends entirely upon your definition of marriage. If, like most contributors to this discussion, you are a Christian, then you most likely do (and ought) agree with the notion that marriage is a sacrament ordained of God–at least in the “order of Creation.” Granted, my gay neighbors saying their vows legally will only harm my own marriage as much as my other neighbors deciding to abort their baby will harm my child: not at all, namely. However, legalizing gay marriage will do two world-historic things:

    First, it will redefine the institution of marriage contrary to the manner in which it has been defined by Christendom for millennia as the sacrament established by God to bless the love and generational continuation of the human race between a man and woman. This is no small matter. Many will, of course, correctly retort that this is the business of the Church, and no church has yet been forced to accept this earth-shattering cooption of the sacrament that is, in fact, fundamental to human society and the political order.

    Consequently, however, this legalization will represent a fundamental and irreversible break between the Church and State in America, a severing of the American government from its roots in the Christian social order (by which I do not mean that America is a “Christian nation”). This, too, is no small matter, for, until now, the American social order has been developed largely within the framework provided in the broadest since by the institutional and informal structures of Christendom. It will signify no less than the fact that Christianity no longer defines the Western social order, no longer sustains its integral units, and, in fact, is no longer a central facet of the American project at all. The legalization of gay marriage will establish once and for all the status of Christianity as an “outsider” to the American project, an alien entity that exhibits more or less minimal influence upon the social order. More than that, it will establish the fact that the State and no longer Christianity, no longer “transcendent” conceptions of morality and social norms determine the shape of the social order. This, again, is no small matter. It is, in fact, world-historic. Some may applaud this as good, some may dispense with it as hyperbole, but I challenge anyone to demonstrate it false. I would conclude that it is problematic, for there is no guarantee that the State will do a better job of instituting a moral or orderly society than the Church, than, really, the society itself–and social norms do not arise ex nihilo.

    All this to say: the definition of marriage matters. At this point, I don’t much care what the state says, for the ineluctable tides of history seem to be quite firmly on the side of the so-called homosexual agenda, which is really less an agenda these days than a majority consensus awaiting its inevitable confirmation by the State.

  • Cincinnatus

    Thirdly, another spurious argument: the idea that affirming gay “marriage” won’t destroy marriage. This, of course, depends entirely upon your definition of marriage. If, like most contributors to this discussion, you are a Christian, then you most likely do (and ought) agree with the notion that marriage is a sacrament ordained of God–at least in the “order of Creation.” Granted, my gay neighbors saying their vows legally will only harm my own marriage as much as my other neighbors deciding to abort their baby will harm my child: not at all, namely. However, legalizing gay marriage will do two world-historic things:

    First, it will redefine the institution of marriage contrary to the manner in which it has been defined by Christendom for millennia as the sacrament established by God to bless the love and generational continuation of the human race between a man and woman. This is no small matter. Many will, of course, correctly retort that this is the business of the Church, and no church has yet been forced to accept this earth-shattering cooption of the sacrament that is, in fact, fundamental to human society and the political order.

    Consequently, however, this legalization will represent a fundamental and irreversible break between the Church and State in America, a severing of the American government from its roots in the Christian social order (by which I do not mean that America is a “Christian nation”). This, too, is no small matter, for, until now, the American social order has been developed largely within the framework provided in the broadest since by the institutional and informal structures of Christendom. It will signify no less than the fact that Christianity no longer defines the Western social order, no longer sustains its integral units, and, in fact, is no longer a central facet of the American project at all. The legalization of gay marriage will establish once and for all the status of Christianity as an “outsider” to the American project, an alien entity that exhibits more or less minimal influence upon the social order. More than that, it will establish the fact that the State and no longer Christianity, no longer “transcendent” conceptions of morality and social norms determine the shape of the social order. This, again, is no small matter. It is, in fact, world-historic. Some may applaud this as good, some may dispense with it as hyperbole, but I challenge anyone to demonstrate it false. I would conclude that it is problematic, for there is no guarantee that the State will do a better job of instituting a moral or orderly society than the Church, than, really, the society itself–and social norms do not arise ex nihilo.

    All this to say: the definition of marriage matters. At this point, I don’t much care what the state says, for the ineluctable tides of history seem to be quite firmly on the side of the so-called homosexual agenda, which is really less an agenda these days than a majority consensus awaiting its inevitable confirmation by the State.

  • Cincinnatus

    No response fws? I suppose you’re off engaging in moral equivalence somewhere else?

  • Cincinnatus

    No response fws? I suppose you’re off engaging in moral equivalence somewhere else?


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