Damon Linker Tries to Warn that Making Consent the Sole Criterion of the Good will Lead to Incest

is met with, “Yeah?  So What?” by his readers.

I hate being right all the time.

Let’s review, in order to prepare for the future, where making consent the sole criterion of the good will lead (here, here, and here).

It will lead, not to the triumph of personal autonomy and a golden age of Total Sexual Liberation, but to the domination of the weak by the strong, as it indeed, already is doing economically and will eventually do in every nook and cranny of life, including sex.

The normal room temperature state of fallen man’s social relationships with one another are master/slave. This was true for the entire history of the human race absolutely everywhere, until well into the Christian era. Christianity only managed to extirpate slavery with a centuries-long effort, full of fits, starts, and backward steps and the victory has always been tenuous at best.  Get rid of Christ and slavery will return very swiftly, as indeed it already is.  Incest will not be the bottom of our slide.  The question “What’s so sacrosanct about consent?” will be the bottom.  And a civilization that  has carefully scrubbed from its mind and heart the concept that a victim under the jackboot of a master is made in the image and likeness of God will be a civilization ill-prepared to reply when the man in the jackboot spits out that question before grinding the face of his victim with his boot.

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  • Joseph

    I never doubted you once. I always knew you were right. I’ve been saying the same thing in the presence of people twirling their index finger in a circular motion around their temple while saying, ‘Koo koo’. It’s one of those things that sounds too crazy for those who don’t sit down and map consequences to their logical ends.

  • Everyone has “dogma”. Consent acts as a secular dogma. I find the “master/slave”, idea gets peoples attention. Life for blacks in the South after the Emancipation Proclamation was not exactly the America dream. Imagine house slaves working in a lovely mansion. What if they preferred their life as slaves over the prospect of being thrown out into the mean streets of the South to fend for themselves? They could have willfully signed a contract with the plantation owner to forfeit their freedom and remain his legal property. Under the dogma of consent, couldn’t slavery be reinstituted as legal in the U.S.?
    More stuff like this here

  • Slippery slope arguments make total sense in the absence of a reason to oppose the slide. Human ingenuity makes any action not proscribed by reason (and a good many actually so proscribed) pretty much inevitable.

    • Human ingenuity makes any action not proscribed by reason (and a good many actually so proscribed) pretty much inevitable.

      Well, this is exactly where a slippery slope argument becomes a fallacy.

      It is not logically necessary, nor even (future-)historically inevitable that incest will be legalized. If the argument claims this, then it it falls to the slippery slope fallacy.

      However, the slippery slope argument does apply validly insofar as it demonstrates that no further obstacles prevent the legalization of incest, as well as when it points out actual trends moving in that direction.

      It is fair to say that legalizing incest is possible, and that it seems likely; but to say it is inevitable is a fallacy.

      (For what it’s worth, my guess is that you’re using “inevitable” as a kind of mild hyperbole, and don’t actually mean “logically necessary”, but I have great difficulty passing up the opportunity to clarify slippery slope arguments. Thank you for your indulgence.)

      • “(For what it’s worth, my guess is that you’re using “inevitable” as a kind of mild hyperbole, and don’t actually mean “logically necessary”, but I have great difficulty passing up the opportunity to clarify slippery slope arguments. Thank you for your indulgence.)”

        I would say he’s using inevitable as “culturally necessary”, not “logically necessary”.

        After all, a good many things might happen that could intervene. One thing that might intervene is ISIS invading Washington DC and turning the United States into a Shariah State. Or would that intervene? I’m not sure incest is illegal under Shariah Law.

      • Yeah, basically what Ted Seeber said (in this thread).

      • That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        I think “fallacy” in a strict sense refers to a commonly invoked form or class of invalid argument. And we must recall that invalidity is meant in the formal logic sense, and “formal logic” herein indicates a term of art rather than a sliding degree of strictness. In common parlance, it refers to any common argument that is not underpinned by bullet proof logic, or in the internet vernacular, it has memetically transformed to simply mean any commonly repeated argument (also called a “meme”) that the speaker finds unpersuasive. It is perhaps fallacious to assume that any one of those senses of the word fallacy holds.

        At any rate, I believe that the original poster is making a post hoc ergo procter hoc… mistake. The issue with making consent the “sole criterion for the good” is a problem that is, strictly speaking, limited to strict logic, as it remains unproven that human norms are controlled by logic, and further the degree to which human behavior is controlled by human norms.

        The consent ergo incest argument, properly understood, is actually a reductio ad absurdum against consent being the sole arbiter of the good as an issue of philosophical reasoning, not of the public health/morals issue of incest incidence. If you’re actually claiming that enshrining consent in law will lead to increased incest incidence, I’d like to see some evidence before we get into whether or not it is, on balance, an acceptable thing.

        Of course, we then have the additional step of deciding how much human suffering/constraint we’re willing to create by using the threat of state-backed violence (and understand, that is what laws are) to reduce the incidence of something.

        Which is all a long winded way of saying that long winded discussions on the the logical implications of things is not necessarily the most accurate and precise way to predict the future, nor the best way to decide what we’re going to do about it. To further prove the point, I will note that macro-economists have successfully predicted 9 out of the last 5 recessions.*

        This post brought to you by someone who has been having every side of this argument for over a decade and is kinda tired of it.**
        —-
        *A quote from a very funny bit of stand up.
        **I went to a very strange middle school

        • Well, there are formal fallacies and informal fallacies. When slippery slope is a fallacy… need to give this some more thought. And research. Goodsearch, here I come!

          Not to make you more tired of the argument, but I think the difference between slippery slope (non-fallacy version) and reductio ad absurdum is that slippery slope argues for a historical possibility whereas reductio argues for a logical implication. But both take a current principle and extrapolate to further (presumably unforeseen) conclusions without adding additional premises.

  • And people don’t understand when I call fornication rape.

    • chezami

      That’s because fornication is not rape.

      • Depends on the definition of consent. For instance, under the yes is yes definition just passed and signed into law in California- if she’s drunk, fornication is rape. If she was asleep, fornication is rape. If she was incapacitated in any way, fornication is rape.

        I hold that the definition of consent has become so incredibly nebulous, that absent written documentation to the contrary, consent is unprovable in a court of law- which actually makes MOST fornication into rape.

        Your link makes practically the same argument- that if consent is all you have, anything becomes permissible, because consent can always be claimed.

        • Sus_1

          You minimize what rape is every time you make these ridiculous comments. Rape is violence, not sex.

          • Rape is violence to the one who is raped. To the rapist, rape is sex.

            That disconnect in points of view is at the very center of what rape is, at the very center of why rapists exist; and by denying that disconnect exists, the rape culture is spread.

            • D.T. McCameron

              To the rapist, rape is sex.

              Are you sure? I could’ve sworn it was more about power and domination and control, the ultimate objectification of the other person (second only to murder).

              And of course, those who sin do violence to themselves. So, might it be said that were we to know, really know what we do, we would never consent to fornication (or any sin)?

              In a manner similar to how masturbation is rightly called “self abuse”?

              • “Are you sure? I could’ve sworn it was more about power and domination and control, the ultimate objectification of the other person (second only to murder).”

                Ask a rapist. Most of them didn’t do it for political power, domination, or control- or would even know about political power, domination, or control. Those are terms that come from women’s gender studies, not from real life.

                “And of course, those who sin do violence to themselves. So, might it be said that were we to know, really know what we do, we would never consent to fornication (or any sin)?”

                Yep, that’s my point. If we really understood what we were doing when we sin, who would consent to it?

        • jroberts548

          1. Under every state’s law, if she’s asleep or incapacitated or too drunk to consent (what “too drunk” means depends on the state), it’s rape or some form of sexual assault.

          2. California’s affirmative consent law is about college sexual assault standards. It is not about the crime of rape. No one is going to jail for violating California’s affirmative consent standard.

          3. The lack of consent has to be proved by the prosecutor. So it doesn’t matter whether consent is unprovable in a court of law. The burden isn’t on the defendant to show consent in a rape trial. What the prosecutor has to show is some variation of the defendant not reasonably believing that the victim consented (though different states apply that standard differently).

          4. Even with written documentation, you could show a lack of consent if the writing was obtained through fraud or duress. I don’t know why you’re talking about written documentation.

          • 1. Yep, and that’s why consent is often not actually present, even if she said yes.
            2. If nobody’s going to jail over it, then that is just the rape culture turned systemic.
            3. It should be on the defendant to prove that consent happened. The burden of proof on the prosecutor in this case is continuing to promote the rape culture.
            4. I’m talking about written documentation because for the 6000 years *before* the sexual revolution and rape culture came into being, written documentation was the standard.

            • jroberts548

              You literally don’t know a single thing about anything at all, do you?

              1. Typically, unless you’re a rapist, she’s not asleep or otherwise incapacitated.

              2. California still has rape laws. They’re just independent of the new affirmative consent standard.

              3. What? Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how stacked the criminal justice system already is against defendants?

              4. I don’t even know what this statement could mean. Are you telling me that all non-rape sex was within marriage for 6000 years (which is only a tiny sliver of the period of time there have been humans), and that those marriages were written down? Are you serious? The sexual liberation did not invent fornication. And marriage being memorialized in a written instrument is also relatively new, at least on your nonsense 6000 year time-scale.

              • 1. Plenty of college pregnancies result from “I was drunk”. Plenty of rape cases stem from that as well.
                2. By the new consent standard, anybody breaking the consent standard HAS COMMITTED A RAPE and should be prosecuted as such. Not to prosecute them, would be to support the rape culture.
                3. Yes, the culture should be against criminals. Always. That’s the reason they are called criminals. I am not for letting sexual criminals continue to commit crimes. I fail to understand why anybody would be.
                4. By Jewish law, yes. Men and women used to get stoned to death for it. True, the sexual revolution didn’t invent fornication. They just made fornication moral, for the first time in the history of the world.

                • jroberts548

                  1. I have no idea what that has to do with your insane belief that all fornication is rape. Yes, if she’s too drunk to consent, that’s rape. That does happen.

                  2. Nope. Under California’s new affirmative consent standard, the rape laws are still there. People who break California’s rape laws in California have committed rape. That is orthogonal to the affirmative consent standard.

                  3. Defendants are defendants, and criminals are criminals. If you don’t understand the difference, I hope you don’t vote or reproduce.

                  4. Jewish law is about 3000 years old. You’re missing about 3000 years, and you’re also missing the overwhelming majority of all people, if you’re trying to support your imbecilic claim that for the 6000 years prior to the sexual revolution there was always written evidence of consent.

                  • 1. You claimed “Typically, unless you’re a rapist, she’s not asleep or otherwise incapacitated.” I’m saying that among college students, the rapists who do it do not think of their act as rape. Under my definition it is, under your definition it is, under THEIR definition it is merely fornication.
                    2. The definition of rape is sex without consent, under California’s law (and every other rational law). The definition of consent is intimately connected to the definition of rape, in all 50 states.
                    3. I understand the difference, but I also understand the reason why defendants should have a burden of proof to be set free. You seem to side only with criminals, not with the victims.
                    4. Jewish law is based on Babylonian law, which had the same set of guidelines. Ultimately both are based on the semitic cultures of Ur, ALL of which fornication outside of marriage quite violently, as have most human cultures except the modernist ones that promote fornication.

                    • jroberts548

                      1. That’s fine. That doesn’t magically turn all fornication into rape. It means that some rape is not recognized as such by the rapist.

                      2. You’re an idiot who does not understand the concept of law.*

                      3. See 2.**

                      4. See 2. Also, you’re pulling historical facts out of literally nothing.***

                      ETA: * Something’s definition for one law is not necessarily the same as its definition for other laws. For instance, corporations are persons for most purposes. However, you can’t go to jail for murdering a corporation.

                      **The wrongfully convicted are also victims. There would be more of them in the fascist society you envision.

                      ***The Babylonian influence on Jewish law is about 2500 years old, so you’re chipping away at that 6,000 year figure you made up. Even then, law is prescriptive, not descriptive, and it’s not uncommon for rape and fornication to be treated as separate things by premodern societies, including for most of the Church’s history.

                    • 1. Never said that it did. I said that fornication is treated as rape historically, and that rape is often considered fornication by the rapist.

                      2. ad hominem attacks are not relevant to the discussion.

                      3. ditto.

                      4. I’m not talking about what is, but what should be. Definitions of words are important, and thus, should be immutable.

                      “Even then, law is prescriptive, not descriptive, and it’s not uncommon for rape and fornication to be treated as separate things by premodern societies, including for most of the Church’s history.”

                      So what? Has nothing to do with my point, that the punishment for rape and fornication was identical for almost all premodern societies, and that the sexual revolution decriminalizing fornication encourages rape.

                    • jroberts548

                      You said that fornication is rape.

                      And it’s an insult, not an ad hominem. “You’re an idiot, therefore you are wrong” is an ad hominem. “You are wrong, and an idiot” is a conclusion followed by an insult. I’ve already explained why you’re wrong; I’m not going to keep retyping that California’s affirmative consent law and its rape law are different laws.

                      If you meant that some rapists think they are merely fornicators, then you should say that, instead of making the baseless claim that fornication is rape, and then arguing that claim with a bunch of irrelevant bullshit.

                    • I’m saying that most fornicators are really rapists; that they don’t understand that the only difference between fornication and rape is a thought in the woman’s head that can be changed after the fact.

                      If you think you are merely a fornicator- the chances are extremely great that by postmodern feminist standards, you are a rapist. And deserve to be treated as one.

                    • jroberts548

                      “Theodore Seeber • 4 hours ago
                      And people don’t understand when I call fornication rape.”

                      Nope, that’s not what you’re saying. You said that fornication is rape.

                      ETA: If you find that people don’t understand you, it might be because you’re deliberately saying the wrong thing due to either bad faith or brain trauma.

                    • Most of the time, it is. Most of the time when men think they are fornicating, the woman they are doing it with think it is rape.

                    • jroberts548

                      That’s still completely different from what you said earlier, and has no relationship to reality.

                    • Not at all, it is the point of what I said earlier. Fornication is rape. What most Americans call fornication, is morally rape, even if the law does not treat it as such- and the law is extremely mistaken to NOT treat it as such.

                    • jroberts548

                      You’ve said literally nothing that supports the claim that sex outside of marriage is sex without consent.

                    • Marriage is the traditional form of consent. Has been for a very very long time. The entire reason for legitimizing the union between man and woman was to avoid accusations of fornication and rape.

                      The modern form of consent is so nebulous that it is not provable in a court of law. The way people like you, who encourage rape, get around that is to make the prosecution prove that consent did not happen, but doing so harms the victims of rape, because doing so mislabels a rape as mere fornication.

                    • jroberts548

                      And even with that marriage as the traditional form of consent, the Church has long drawn a distinction between fornication and rape. Why do you reject the Church’s teaching?

                      I wish fascist assholes like you would take two seconds and reflect on the very real difficulties that would arise if the burden of proof was placed on the criminal defendant.*

                      *ETA: Namely, the prisons would be full of innocent people.

                    • “And even with that marriage as the traditional form of consent, the Church has long drawn a distinction between fornication and rape. Why do you reject the Church’s teaching?”

                      The distinction isn’t as wide as you think it is. Both are crimes against chastity (along with a load of other stuff, paragraphs 2331-2400 inclusive).

                      “Namely, the prisons would be full of innocent people.”

                      They already are. And seven out of ten rapists go free.

                      But a fornicator isn’t innocent.

                    • jroberts548

                      But it is a distinction. They are different. Which means when you say “Fornication is rape,” you’re rejecting the Church’s teaching in favor of your own.

                      Do you sincerely believe that prosecutors and judges should be able to incarcerate people for things that aren’t against the law?

                    • I sincerely believe that secular law should be the same as canon law. Secularization was a bad error that has caused a great deal of harm.

                      My “fornication is rape” formulation is an attempt to communicate how serious fornication is to an unbelieving secular culture, to raise the level of awareness of sin, in a belief that no good man will consent to sin once he knows it is a sin.

                      So rather the reverse. I want to give the judges LESS to do, by simultaneously preaching a law that more correctly identifies wrong and is more merciful about setting it right.

                      Thus, fornication is rape- because all sins are best judged by the victim, not by the perpetrator, whom, as Augustine taught, would not sin if he knew what he was doing was a sin.

                    • jroberts548

                      Not even when Bishops were temporal heads of state was canon law the same as secular law. What you’re proposing is wholly alien to Catholicism. Your position has more in common with ISIS or with the government of Saudi Arabia than you do with the Church at any point in history.

                      Lots of things are bad. You don’t have to misidentify them as other things to get that across. For instance, Coors Light is bad. Murder is bad. Only an idiot would say “COORS LIGHT IS MURDER.”

                      Or for instance: Nazis were fascists. You’re a fascist. But it would be wrong to say that you’re a Nazi. You’re a distinct sort of fascist, which has very little in common with Nazism (except for a hatred of due process).

                    • “Not even when Bishops were temporal heads of state was canon law the same as secular law. ”

                      And we should fail to reach for the ideal because people in the past failed to reach the ideal?

                      “What you’re proposing is wholly alien to Catholicism. Your position has more in common with ISIS or with the government of Saudi Arabia than you do with the Church at any point in history.”

                      Yes, Christianity always contains an element of hypocrisy. Once again, I ask, so what? Failing to reach the ideal is not reason to stop reaching for the ideal; sinning on the way to Heaven is no reason to start striving for Hell.

                      “Lots of things are bad. You don’t have to misidentify them as other things to get that across.”

                      It is people who identify bad as good that you need to reach. For somebody who actually likes Coors Light, I think I’d probably choose a different metaphor than murder though. Sex in a canoe, probably.

                      “Nazis were fascists. You’re a fascist. But it would be wrong to say that you’re a Nazi. You’re a distinct sort of fascist, which has very little in common with Nazism (except for a hatred of due process).”

                      I don’t hate due process. What I hate is incoherent and self-contradictory laws. Laws should be more like a computer program- IF you do this THEN this will happen ELSE this happens, with no variation.

                      That’s a law you can depend upon.

                    • chezami

                      You *badly* misunderstand Church teaching if you want to make civil society a theocracy. It is the Church that *invented* the idea of the secular. Please stop talking.

                    • You are correct in a way; but Protestantism suggested the secular authority should be more powerful than the religious authority. Read Pope Pius IX for more info, he wrote a ton of encyclicals on the topic of secular modernism.

                    • jroberts548

                      Which encyclical advocates a totalitarian theocracy?

                      I’ll give you a hint, but in latin: Nullius.

                    • Yep, or at least, that was one of them:
                      http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9nullis.htm

                      There were several others before that.

                    • jroberts548

                      Nope. That’s an encyclical in favor of the pope preserving the papal states. The pope, when he had the papal states, never attempted to make the secular law in Rome fully conform to the Church’s law.

                      Nullius means none. The answer is none. There are no encyclicals where the pope advocates your insane position.

                    • It advocates for the Pope controlling the papal states. Why would the Pope follow a different law than the Church?

                      And yes, the ideal is an insane position to those who wish to promote sin.

                    • jroberts548

                      You think the saints wish to promote sin? I’ve heard of people trying to be “more Catholic than the Pope,” but this is extreme. When St. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo, and he allowed the brothels to remain open, he was trying to promote sin? When St. Thomas Aquinas (building on St. Isidore of Seville) wrote that the human law should legislate less than the divine law (i.e., less than the ideal), he was trying to promote sin? I was unaware that the angelic doctor was so wicked.

                      Every single Bishop, and every single Pope, failed to criminalize fornication as rape. Most allowed brothels to remain open. Are you more Catholic than every Bishop and every Pope, many of whom are saints?

                      Bro, do you even Catholic?

                    • ” When St. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo, and he allowed the brothels to remain open, he was trying to promote sin? ”

                      Yes. Saints are not impeccable, they can make mistakes too.

                      “When St. Thomas Aquinas (building on St. Isidore of Seville) wrote that the human law should legislate less than the divine law (i.e., less than the ideal), he was trying to promote sin?”

                      As of late, I’ve had my doubts about St. Aquinas’s arguments as well. He also wrote that evil and sin did not substantively exist- which I’ve seen some “Catholics” take to mean that evil should not be judged or punished at all.

                      Such attitudes are pushing me towards a heresy, and away from the Church- because to fail to oppose evil, is to promote it. All evil needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

                    • jroberts548

                      Or maybe St. Augustine, being vastly smarter than either of us, had the good sense (and the grace) to realize that trying to impose too much morality through the temporal law would do more harm than good. That seems more likely.

                      Likewise, just because some people manage to completely misinterpret Thomas’ teaching on evil, doesn’t mean you should reject the doctor of the Church. It means you should reject the teachings of the people who misinterpret him.

                    • “Or maybe St. Augustine, being vastly smarter than either of us, had the good sense (and the grace) to realize that trying to impose too much morality would do more harm than good. ”

                      And thus, he chose instead to promote sin- to promote a known evil. I’m not sure why some people think evil is better than good; why promoting good is evil. But even the “smartest” can fall into error.

                      “Likewise, just because some people manage to completely misinterpret Thomas’ teaching on evil, doesn’t mean you should reject the doctor of the Church. It means you should reject the people who misinterpret him.”

                      And yet you just gave me an example of Thomas teaching that evil is good, that the human law should not strive to teach the ideal.

                      So which is it? Should I reject your interpretation, or should I reject the Angelic Doctor himself?

                    • jroberts548

                      Toleration of evil isn’t the same as promotion of evil. It isn’t the same as teaching that evil is good. It means that tolerating one evil may be better than the alternative.

                      You should reject your own incorrect, anti-Catholic belief that human law is capable of enforcing the ideal.

                    • “You should reject your own incorrect, anti-Catholic belief that human law is capable of enforcing the ideal.”

                      In other words, human law is worthless, and we shouldn’t bother to have anything be illegal. That’s exactly the “alternative” that I can’t bring myself to tolerate.

                      I’m to the point that toleration of evil, is promoting evil, because I don’t see *anything* where tolerating evil does anybody any good at all.

                      I’ve seen one too many children grow up without a father due to tolerating divorce, one too many children having to fend for themselves on the streets due to tolerating drug abuse, far too many friends die of AIDS due to tolerating homosexuality. I don’t see toleration leading to anything good.

                    • jroberts548

                      And I’m sure all those fatherless kids would be better with both parents in jail for adultery or fellatio or in vase indebito or any number of other sins you’d incarcerate them for.

                      We can use temporal laws to promote parts of the ideal, just in a limited way. This is why we jail people for murder but not for fornication.

                    • “And I’m sure all those fatherless kids would be better with both parents in jail for adultery or fellatio or in vase indebito or any number of other sins you’d incarcerate them for.”

                      I didn’t say they had to be jailed. Canon law gives us a few other options, including repentance.

                      “We can use temporal laws to promote parts of the ideal, just in a limited way. This is why we jail people for murder but not for fornication.”

                      The more limited we get- and soon enough, consent to be murdered will be just as real as consent to fornication- the further away from God we get, and the worse things get for the victims, which apparently, are not worth protecting in your reading of Aquinas.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      @Theodore Seeber:

                      I’ll try a shot at trying to dissipate your doubts that are, as you yourself
                      admit, pushing you toward heresy. I do not wish to turn this into a debate,
                      I’ll just give it a shot.

                      Also, before I proceed, I’d advise you not to engage in discussing those doubts
                      in public forum debates. For example I’ve already had an experience with
                      jroberts548 and, even though I concede that he’s a smart man with some good
                      points, he tends to suffer from the prevalent Internet conditions of just
                      wanting to be right about everything and ad-hominem-ize everyone who disagrees.
                      Nothing good will come from discussing those doubts that are pushing you away
                      from the Church in this way.

                      So, I’ll begin.

                      I seriously believe your error is in this: “toleration of evil is
                      promoting evil”. I do agree with you on this, but you’re confusing “not
                      legislating on evil” with “tolerating evil”.

                      Of which I reply…
                      is the only way to fight evil to outlaw it?

                      I do agree with
                      you that in an ideal society, every sin would be outlawed. But we’re dealing
                      with a sinful humanity with Original Sin in it and a twisted conscience.

                      I’ve tried
                      several times to talk people into a more moral point of view. To no avail. If
                      people don’t want to understand why their sins are sinful, they’ll close their
                      hearts and do it anyway. That’s why you can’t impose morality on people. You
                      may force them to act in such and such way, but you’ll not make them moral.
                      Once they find a loophole, they’ll do it. Just look at the Prohibition that you
                      had in the USA and how it turned out to be.

                      I have this
                      experience in other realms of my experience, outside of religion. I’m a
                      physician. I do know that smoking cessation has only one (and just one!)
                      predictive factor of success: the motivation of the smoker to quit. If the
                      smoker doesn’t want to quit, every attempt will fail. This has been
                      scientifically proven.

                      Also, you must
                      understand that we’re dealing with sins of the senses, which are particularly
                      addictive. No one should be legally punished for acting upon an addiction. The
                      fornicator may want to quit, but not being able. If there was a strict
                      prohibition, that fornicator would suffer greatly, even if the sentence would
                      be lifted, he/she would still have to deal with judgment and stigma.

                      You talk about
                      Canon Law. I’m no canonist, but I know that Church doctrine doesn’t impute
                      guilt into a person that sinned without its full consent. If you can’t make
                      people sin without their full consent, why would you make them more virtuous
                      without their full consent?

                      Yet, that’s what
                      God wants from us. That we live a virtuous life. He doesn’t want a bunch of
                      people being forced to do Good. He wants people embracing Good out of their own
                      free will.

                      You say that
                      people should follow their beliefs to their logic and final consequences. But
                      you’re not doing that. If you say, just like that, that tolerating evil is
                      promoting it, what you’re really saying is that there is no greater promoter of
                      evil than God. Just look at what God has tolerated: the Canaanites (when he
                      said to Abraham that he would not allow entrance into the Promised Land as yet,
                      for their sins were not still unforgivable) for hundreds of years, the Holocaust
                      for 4 years, the Gulags for decades. He didn’t intervene. At least not directly
                      and not immediately.

                      God tolerates
                      evil in a certain measure, exactly because He knows our hearts.

                      Mind you, I do
                      think that abortion should be a crime. I do think that divorce and prostitution
                      should not be allowed (which is different from saying they should be actively
                      and legally punished). But fornication, homosexual acts and other deviations of
                      the senses are too personal and addictive to be dealt with by way of Law. I do
                      think other means are more effective.

                      I don’t think
                      that human law is worthless. I thing human law has worth in its respective
                      context. I don’t think human law is the answer to every single problem and sin.

                      These are my 2
                      cents. Take them if you wish. If you don’t, may God bless you in your journey.
                      Unfortunately, I’m on a spiritual crisis myself, so I don’t have the strength
                      to help more than I did. I sincerely hope you reconcile yourself with the
                      fullness of Church teaching. Pax Christi.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      just wanting to be right about everything and ad-hominem-ize everyone who disagrees.

                      I don’t support how he made some of his points, but I don’t know if that’s entirely accurate either.

                      However, I do want to focus on what you said about going through a spiritual crisis. I am so sorry to hear this! I hope it passes soon, and please be assured of my prayers!

                    • chezami

                      Stop talking. YOu don’t know what you are talking about.

                    • wlinden

                      So according to you, if laws can not produce an ideal society by themselves, “Law is worthless”. This is a classic expression of “Making the perfect the enemy of the good”.

                    • It’s worse than that- I’ve been wrongheaded enough to put up with lawyers and laws thinking that they were at least an ally of the good. But it turns out I was extremely wrong about that; government is incapable of even approaching an ideal society, and the only use of laws is to punish your neighbor for the speck in his eye while ignoring the beam in your own.

                    • Such attitudes are pushing me towards a heresy, and away from the
                      Church- because to fail to oppose evil, is to promote it. All evil
                      needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

                      Such attitudes are pushing you beyond heresy into the loss of Christianity entirely. Our infallible, impeccable Lord proclaimed “Resist not evil.” He turned the other cheek. He let an evil man betray Him, castigated Peter for taking up the sword to defend Him, and submitted willingly to the evil of death, yea, even to death on a Cross. That is how He conquered evil. By turning the other cheek.

                      It is legitimate for Caesar to deploy the sword of justice, just as it was legitimate for God to come forth in wrath and justice against the enemies of Israel in the days of the Old Covenant. But it is also legitimate for Caesar to show mercy, as did the Son of God, when He took the form of a slave, and submitted to death at the hands of the imperial hirelings of the Evil One.

                      Ted, you are saying that tempering Justice with Mercy is the same as injustice. Not even Islam preaches that, much less Christianity. You are in grave error. I admire your sincerity, but please: Repent. Submit to the Church. Your soul, your very faith in Christ, is in peril if you continue to say that Justice always trumps Mercy. Judas Iscariot, (i.e, possibly, “the Sicarius”), may have been a Zealot, an advocate of violent resistance against Roman injustice. Judas rejected Christ. Dante places Judas in the deepest pit of Hell.

                      Repent. I mean this sincerely: I will pray for you. Pax Christi.

                    • You are right. Justice without mercy is tyranny. But what is mercy without justice?

                    • You are also right: we need both mercy and justice. Which we need most in a given situation is a prudential and pastoral matter, not a logical or dogmatic one. That Augustine and Aquinas, among many others, have judged that mercy is prudent for princes with regard to certain sins should, I hope, suggest to you that you should reconsider your position. However, if you are now granting that Augustine and Aquinas were choosing mercy over justice in these instances, rather than actively “promoting sin,” I will be grateful for that. All the best to you.

                    • I have no doubt that they were choosing mercy over justice. It is the moderns who refer to their words in support of ONLY mercy, that I’ve got a problem with. Sadly, that seems to include a caricature of Pope Francis as described by the secular media. I don’t speak enough Italian or Spanish to know how true anybody’s interpretation of Pope Francis is. I’m currently reading an English translation of his book that seems to suggest that justice is, at best, a fourth degree consideration for him; far behind mercy. But I hope that is as accurate an impression as those who preach liberty without consequence.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      What you say now is significantly different from this:

                      ” When St. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo, and he allowed the brothels to remain open, he was trying to promote sin? ”

                      Yes. Saints are not impeccable, they can make mistakes too.

                      I wonder if something is causing you to remain ignorant of how inconsistent your statements are (on this and other related topics). It may or may not have to do with your diagnosed condition; after all, many people who are not autistic fail in similar ways. Either way, it would seem that discussing certain matters with you may not be the best course of action.

                      Nonetheless, I believe that God, in His Justice, offers the Mercy which you are so uncomfortable with to all sinners. This includes you and me, and I think it is reasonable to hope that both of us might be able to laugh about these days in the life to come 🙂 God bless you!

                    • I am not all the way there yet. Mercy, like sin, has consequences. It is possible to be merciful and still be promoting sin. I am sure the aborted children of the prostitutes in Augustine’s and Aquinas’s brothels might feel a bit differently than you do about the supposed goodness of prostitution.

                    • jroberts548

                      People aren’t computer programs. That’s why the law can’t work that way, and that’s why Bishops (as temporal rulers) didn’t try to impose too much law on their subjects. That’s what fascists like you don’t understand.

                      As between SS. Augustine, Thomas, and Isidore, and some whackjob fascist on the internet, I’m going to stick with the saints for my understanding of the relationship between secular law and the Church.

                      ETA: I somehow missed that you chalked up the failure of St. Augustine and every Bishop that was ever a temporal ruler to live up to your insane ideals as hypocrisy. This is wrong. Their ideal for the relationship between secular law and Church law was what they achieved. They did not meet your ideals; they did meet their own, which also happen to be the ideals of the Church.

                    • Laws should be more like a computer program – IF you do this THEN this will happen ELSE this happens, with no variation. That’s a law you can depend upon

                      Ted, you’ve talked openly before about how your place on the autism spectrum colors your views. What you’re asking for here, with apologies for the Bulverism, is painfully obviously an example of that. With that in mind, please consider the following argument, and see if it changes your view:

                      There has been excellent conservative commentary lately about the regulatory capture at the SEC (revealed in the Goldman recording that’s been in the news) and about how it highlights that systems based on codes of RULES (which is what we have now and what you’re advocating for) are brittle. If you want robustness, you need a legal system based on PRINCIPLES. Less “law,” and more “equity,” in antique legal jargon.

                      That’s open to its own abuses, but it’s more anti-fragile and resistant to loophole lawyering and regulatory capture. The U.S. Constitution is based on principles, and it’s been a huge success, despite being vulnerable to “living constitutionalist” abuses. Still, in religious and secular contexts alike, although neither principles or rules are perfect, the letter of the law can kill, whereas the Spirit can liberate.

                      It’s also more humane, and more in keeping with our nature as enfleshed souls, as opposed to purely rational angels. Indeed, the attempt to treat mankind as purely rational angels (“computers”) turns us into beasts–look at the beastliness of Stalinist and Maoist central planning (which I know you oppose) for examples. A computer-like system of IF-THEN modules would be all letter. And be demonic–because demons are fallen angels, and so far more rational and computer-like than men, subject to Pride and Wrath, but not to Lust or Gluttony–in a way reminiscent of Lewis’ “Hideous Strength.”

                      BTW: Of course you’re horridly wrong in your quixotic crusade to deploy fornication (a mortal sin) and rape (a far graver mortal sin) as synonyms. But I’ve learned over the years on Patheos that it’s pointless to argue with you on this point, so I won’t, and I know you won’t stop pitching it until somebody bans you. It’s sad, really.

                    • chezami

                      And you are dead wrong. Stop saying false things.

  • PalaceGuard

    “…making consent the sole criterion of the good…” Until such time as it is replaced by “to each according to their need”, and consent goes by the wayside. (And I remember people trying to make just such an argument back in the early days of the sexual implosion…ahem…revolution. After all, it’s just sex. Just a natural bodily function. So, what’s the big deal?)
    Said it before, will say it again, every slippery slope I laughed at in my youth has become a triple black diamond.

  • Morris

    Damon Linker has the same disability as many on this form when it comes to the word “libertarian”.

  • Obviously Linker is correct. The problem with Linker as an advocate for morality is that he himself is such a nominalist that he can’t really argue his point beyond throwing out something which might shock (like incest) and then saying “Are you SURE you want THIS, people? Huh?” So when people throw back “meh” at him he’s out of ammo.

  • Oh my. That article is illustrated with a photo of the
    sibling couple and . . . their daughter. Yikes. So I’m thinking the German
    decision is an example of “hard cases make bad law”: as with the way
    sympathetic tales of women unable to leave abusers led to our anti-marriage
    regime of no fault divorce, I think the German jurists took a look at this
    family and didn’t want to break them up.

    Which makes me wonder—assuming this couple repented of their
    sin tomorrow, what ought they to do? Live chastely (i.e., appropriately enough,
    “as brother and sister”) but stay together in the same home for their child? Or
    what?

    Relatedly, how do anti-incest laws on the books now handle
    this sort of thing? I honestly have no idea. Does child protective services
    swoop in and take the child away? Or is it just that the anti-incest laws prohibit
    marriage in the first place, rather than regulating what happens to people who
    somehow got a marriage in a laxer jurisdiction? Or what?

    This is related to civil SSM, I think. Sure, it embodies a
    sinful lifestyle. But in already existing families with kids built around SSM,
    what would ought a suddenly repentant couple to do? Stay together for the kids
    but live chastely? Does anyone here actually think the law should the law (say in a non-SSM jurisdiction) get involved in a case like that?

    Sin is sin. No argument here. But I wonder if “let’s keep
    kids with the parents they know” is the logic at work here. If it is, it’s a
    logic that certainly has my (ambivalent) sympathy. It’s one thing to say that people ought not to form sinful unions. But already existing unions seem to be a whole other casuistic can of worms.

    • LFM

      Well, yes, but the German ethics council mentioned in the article suggested that legal penalties against incest between adult siblings should be revoked, to the extent of allowing them to marry. That’s more than merely accepting the existence of families created by incest.

  • neoconned

    The bulk of the comments I (admittedly) scanned on the original article have a kind of “that can’t happen because incest is, like you know, weird and icky and you people are just crazy because we as a society won’t let that happen” to which I would reply that not long ago (maybe 20 years) gay marriage was considered an equally ridiculous notion. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. There is now nothing that will prevent any legally recognized marital arrangement from becoming a reality. Only the most juvenile intellect fails to grasp this.