Training up children in the way they should go

Towleroad reports on a Boston Globe editorial debunking a popular anti-gay lie: The claim that public schools are “indoctrinating” children.

From the editorial:

Voters should also know that Massachusetts is not, in fact, teaching children to read, write, and have same-sex marriages. In 2006, a teacher in Lexington did read second-graders a book about a prince who marries another prince. But it wasn’t a regular subject. … And the books had previously been made available for parents’ review. Not surprisingly, the scary ads omit these details.

The Lexington litigation was highly unusual, and the scores of other school districts in the state simply haven’t been convulsed with controversy about same-sex marriage. That’s not to say the issue never arises; children increasingly have peers whose parents are married to adults of the same sex, and they’re bound to ask questions. But it’s noteworthy that the one case of pro-gay indoctrination that marriage opponents regularly cite is more than half a decade old — and misleading to boot.

Misleading? There’s no way to be sure of that just yet. What we know is this: One teacher in Lexington, Mass., read children a story about a prince who marries another prince. But what about the long-term effects?

Mark Regnerus and Bradley Wilcox should conduct a longitudinal study of that second-grade class — now in eighth grade — to measure whether, as predicted by the scientists of the religious right, they do, indeed, all turn out to be gay because of this horrific misconduct.

I’m exaggerating, of course. The religious right isn’t really deathly afraid that these children will all turn gay because they once heard a nice story about a same-sex couple. The religious right is actually deathly afraid that having once heard such a story these children will grow up to be more tolerant of and kinder too same-sex couples.

And the prospect of such tolerance and kindness terrifies them.

* * * * * * * * *

These photos of smiling college students cheerfully recording their opposition to same-sex marriage and their support for Minnesota’s failed anti-equality ban makes me sad in two directions.

First there’s the top-level contempt for others being expressed there — the eagerness to see the law used to further marginalize the marginal, which is always just a generally mean thing to do.

But then there’s the harm being done to these kids, too. And yes, these are kids. They’ve been encouraged to do this, instructed to do this, and praised for doing this. But in not too many years, though — maybe 10 or 15, maybe less — they’ll regret it.

And then what? It may be part of a larger crisis of faith in which they turn their backs on everything they learned at their “Bible-based” alma mater — Jesus and the Bible along with the presumption of homophobia.

Or that crisis may force them to double down in order to preserve their identity and never have to regret being the smiling haters in these photos. That kind of white-knuckled clinging to the indefensible isn’t uncommon, but I’ve never met anyone it allowed to be happy.

(Oh, and note this is Northwestern College in Minnesota — a private evangelical school which is not at all the same thing as Northwestern University.)

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  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    That’s not to say the issue never arises; children increasingly have peers whose parents are married to adults of the same sex, and they’re bound to ask questions.

    I am fascinated by the language in that article.  “Children increasingly have peers whose parents are married to adults of the same sex, and they’re bound to ask questions.”

    Children’s peers are also children, yes?  So why didn’t the writer think to say, “Children increasingly have parents married to adults of the same sex, and they’re bound to ask questions.”  Of course children whose parents are adults of the same sex are bound to ask different questions from those with married opposite-sex parents, or those whose parents are not married, or those with single parents, or those whose parents are missing entirely.  I just think it’s interesting that the children with married same-sex parents get relegated to “peer” status here–instead of being children themselves, they get to be part of the alien peer group who undoubtedly exert peer pressure.

  • WalterC

     I think the target audiences here are the heterosexual parents of (assumed heterosexual) children, who are supposed to be concerned that their children might be negatively affected by knowing the child of two homosexual parents.

  • Hth

     Generally the children of same-sex couples don’t have that many questions.  It’s just how their household is.  In fact, what is most likely to raise questions for these kids is why talking about their families is troubling to peers and schools, but it’s funny how nobody ever seems to worry about how to answer *those* kids’ questions.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, to be fair, the rate at which peers-of-children-of-married-same-sex-couples grows is much higher than the rate at which children-of-married-same-sex-couples grows. So it is more true that children are increasingly in the first group than that they are increasingly in the second.

    This is in much the same sense that when I married my husband and we invited three hundred people to our wedding, the number of people married to members of the same sex went up by two, and the number of people invited to weddings of same-sex couples went up by… well, I don’t know exactly, but quite a bit more than two.

  • vsm

    Using a story about a prince to teach egalitarian ideas to children? What a paradoxical idea.

  • Guest

     Fairy tales are often about princes and princesses, because at the time a lot of these stories were being repeated and passed on, princes and princesses made a useful metaphor for young people who haven’t come into the personal sovereignty of their adulthood yet.

    The hero/ine symbolically earns adulthood in these stories, through the metaphor of the prince/ss becoming a king or queen– someone who is responsible for taking care of others.

  • vsm

    I doubt that’s all there is to it. Why would the prince make a better metaphor for that than the farmboy or the young unmarried tailor, who also appear in such stories?

  • Guest

     Of course that’s not all there is to it. For instance, princes and princesses are probably often heroes because royalty could be presumed to have a lot more freedom to do as they pleased, including gallivanting around on adventures.

    Still, while our current culture has made “princess” mostly about dressups and materialism and privilege, I think in the original fairy tales, the metaphor served other purposes besides venerating wealth. “Prince” and “princess” are symbols of potential. The main task of princes and princesses is to get ready to become something else. The inherent definition of a prince or a princess is that they are prepared to one day take charge of the task of caring for others.

    When a young tailor grows up and becomes a tailor there’s not much demarcation from adolescence to adulthood there. When someone becomes a king, he becomes responsible for other people, which is nicely symbolic of achieving adulthood. “Tailor” and “farmer” don’t really express adulthood metaphorically to the same degree. Even in quite a few stories that feature farmboys, tailors, shepherds, soldiers, and simpletons, they end up becoming kings, partly to show their boldness being rewarded, and partly to symbolize the fulfillment of adulthood.

  • David Starner

    Notewise, I graduated from Northwestern (Oklahoma State University). It’s much nicer to just abbreviate it Northwestern.

  • readerofprey

    What interests me is the kid in the picture holding the sign that says “I’m voting yes because marriage is a spiritual covenant, not a secular issue,” which seems to imply that he should be against the government recognizing marriage AT ALL, not just recognizing homosexual marriage.  And yet, he’s not campaigning against secular marriage.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    There is a sizeable contingent of people who, when pressed, beat the “government should get out of the ‘marriage business’ altogether” drum.  That marriage should be an entirely religious institution.

    Which raises several questions, including 1) are they really willing to give up the numerous public benefits they receive by being married and 2) how do they expect people like me, who have no religious affiliation at all, to marry?

  • Veylon

    In the first case, no, they generally haven’t realized that the public benefits do in fact come from the government and in the second don’t care. In some countries, the government only recognizes civil unions and leaves marriages as a private issue.

  • Lori

     

    how do they expect people like me, who have no religious affiliation at all, to marry?   

    I suspect most of them don’t. I further suspect that many of them would be surprised at the idea that you would have any real desire to be able to. If you don’t think fornication will send you straight to the lake of fire for all eternity why would you want to get married?

  • Lori

     

    how do they expect people like me, who have no religious affiliation at all, to marry?   

    I suspect most of them don’t. I further suspect that many of them would be surprised at the idea that you would have any real desire to be able to. If you don’t think fornication will send you straight to the lake of fire for all eternity why would you want to get married?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Oh, I know it.  I once asked a couple of people on another site what they thought I should do about this, and the consensus was that I should either not get married, or pick a Random House of Worship and get them to do it for me (the implication being that I would either lie about my religiosity, or that they would be open-hearted enough to marry a heathen, and if they were, I should just suck it up and be happy I got to compromise my principles).

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     One thing I’ve noticed is that people only started arguing that marriage should be abandoned by the state once gay people started wanting it.

    Funny that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    (the implication being that I would either lie about my religiosity, or
    that they would be open-hearted enough to marry a heathen, and if they
    were, I should just suck it up and be happy I got to compromise my
    principles).

    Don’t be silly. As a heathen, they felt safe in assuming you had no principles to compromise.

  • arcseconds

     I think this is the best solution, actually.   The Government could have some criteria for kinds of relationships it recognises, including formally entering in to a standard, Government-backed contract, the purpose of which is for boring but necessary Governmenty things like how to tax a partnership, what happens to any children in the case of dissolution of the contract, what happens to property in the case of death, and stuff like that. 

    As it’s an entirely bureaucratic affair, and not called ‘marriage’, it would be much clearer that all that’s at stake with opening these arrangements to non-traditional relationships is whether or not they get the civil benefits of the relationships these arrangements are currently extended to.  It cuts away the whole ‘attack on religion’ and ‘redefining marriage’ – the only question that’s left is, given that same-sex couples are going to be living together and raising children together anyway, do you want to make these boring bureaucratic matters difficult and annoying for same-sex couples?

    Put like that, it makes the objection to government recognition of same-sex partnerships quite petty, quite impotent, and quite mean-spirited.  

    It would also allow religions to focus on what’s really important to *them*, as their activities could be quite orthogonal to what the Government is up to.  Remember Fred’s anecdote about saying to his pastor when it looked like the marriage license wasn’t coming through on time  “let’s just do the marriage anyway, and leave the paperwork ’till later”, and how uncomfortable his pastor was with this?   I thought that an absurd situation.  Plus if that’s not a conflation of church and state, I don’t know what is.

    As for how you’re going to get married, easy.   It’s entirely up to you (and perhaps your culture) as to what counts as marriage.    Most of my non-religious friends have had ‘religion-lite’ weddings, largely to meet family expectations, but some have opted for marriage celebrants, but whatever works for you.  Make promises to your loved one in the privacy of your own home and then come out and announced that you’re married if you like.

    Or, less conventionally, if you want to you can marry your toaster in a ceremony presided over by a 10-year-old.    If people go and complain to the Government that you’re assaulting traditional marriage, then the Government just shrugs and says “we have no opinion on what counts as ‘marriage’, no more than we have on what counts as ‘proper religion’, ‘beautiful music’ or what ‘bodacious’ really means. “. 

    Anyone who’s really interested would have to take it up with you personally, which I think is OK, so long as there’s reasonable legal protection to stop them interfering in your life too much.   Also, I doubt many people will take your relationship with your toaster very seriously, but hey, if you do, you’ve successfully redefined ‘marriage’ for those people.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I think this is the best solution, actually.

    While I have no problem with an approach like you describe, I’m reluctant to call it a “solution”, as that presupposes agreement as to what the problem is.

  • Daughter

     In many states, an individual can apply to become a “marriage official” for one day. I have known several friends who have married this way: a friend of theirs applied for the one-day license and performed the marriage ceremony. This allows you to have the wedding of your choice, if you don’t want a justice of the peace to perform it.

  • Daughter

     And of course, even if you go the JoP route, you can always hold a separate ceremony with family and friends, again tailored to what is meaningful to you.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yes, that’s true.
    I am at a complete loss for how this is a reply to my comment, so if there was a broader point here I’m afraid I missed it.

  • Lliira

    Uh… so how would an atheist get married? It’s not just a bureaucratic arrangement to me. Calling it that nauseates me. It means promising to share my life with someone else, to have sex with him and him alone, to romantically love him and him alone, to care for in sickness and in health, until one of us dies. It means sharing the fact of this mutual promise, the most important one we will ever make, before the entire world, because it is such an important matter. Pretending marriage is nothing more than a bureaucratic arrangement — well, we’re right back to where we used to be then, throwing away all the progress in companionate marriage that we and our forebears made. Might as well let other people decide it, if that’s all it is. How many cows are you worth?

    Besides which, no one wants to marry their toaster. A sadly large number of grown men want to kidnap teenage girls and “marry” them. That is very much something the government must stop. (And it must end the parental consent laws that allow a parent to hand over a girl to a grown man.)

    Marriage is a social thing. We do not live entirely private lives: we cannot and we should not. The solution is to stop discriminating against consenting adults, not to dismantle something that is still centrally important to so many of us.

  • Tricksterson

    Everyone knows Atheists don’t believe in Marriage!

  • arcseconds

    Uh… so how would an atheist get married?

    Clearly I haven’t made myself clear, if you’re inclined to say this.

    You get married however you like.  With a faux-religion-lite ceremony if you wish, or with a celebrant, or with vows exchanged in the privacy of your own home.   I’m repeating myself – but I’m not sure how to make this any clearer.

    You back it up with a Government-sponsored contract (assuming one is available to you), or not, as you see fit.

    It’s not just a bureaucratic arrangement to me. Calling it that
    nauseates me. It means promising to share my life with someone else, to
    have sex with him and him alone, to romantically love him and him alone,
    to care for in sickness and in health, until one of us dies. It means
    sharing the fact of this mutual promise, the most important one we will
    ever make, before the entire world, because it is such an important
    matter.

    What does the government have to do with any of that though?  Very little – I’ve never heard of any government checking up to see whether you love him or someone else or no-one at all (except in the case where someone’s an immigrant, but while I can vaguely see the necessity of this if I squint really hard, it still seems majorly invasive to me), and they hopefully aren’t checking up whom you’re having sex with.   Those are grounds for divorce, of course, but they don’t inevitably result in anyone pushing for divorce.

    Even now, the government is principally only concerned with the bureaucratic stuff.  So let it only be concerned with the bureaucratic stuff, and let’s not call that stuff  ‘marriage’, because I agree: when people get married, they’re not primarily entering into a legal contract of a particular sort.

    I’m not sure why you think the government needs to be involved here.  What would you do if the government refused to recognise your relationship – because you two are the wrong races or sexes or religions or they think you’re just marrying him for his citizenship?  Would you then say “Oh, well, the government won’t recognise our relationship, so no point in promising you anything, or having a party, or announcing our love to our friends – actually, I’m just going to go have some random sex with strangers now, see you next Tuesday?”

    Hopefully no.  In the absence of government, people would still get (and have in the past still got) married  (without government contracts) in whatever way they see fit.

    Pretending marriage is nothing more than a bureaucratic arrangement —
    well, we’re right back to where we used to be then, throwing away all
    the progress in companionate marriage that we and our forebears made.
    Might as well let other people decide it, if that’s all it is. How many
    cows are you worth?

    You seem to be stuck with the assumption that marriage is whatever the government does.  I explicitly said that under my proposal, the government would *not* deal with marriage at all – it wouldn’t call anything marriage, and it would only deal with bureaucratic matters.    Yet you seem to think I want to reduce marriage to bureaucratic matters.   The only way you can reach that conclusion is by ignoring what I actually said and assuming the current set-up, which is pretty confused (not all churches recognise all marriages, for example) but principally yields the whole area to the government.

    I think I’m doing exactly the opposite: freeing marriage from bureaucratic matters, to allow it to be what’s really important about marriage: a solemn promise made between two people in front of their community, whatever that may be.

    Besides which, no one wants to marry their toaster.

    No, it was purposely chosen to be an absurd example, my intention was to show how little we have to fear from people who decide to ‘marry’ things we don’t think as marryable.

    A sadly large number
    of grown men want to kidnap teenage girls and “marry” them. That is
    very much something the government must stop. (And it must end the
    parental consent laws that allow a parent to hand over a girl to a grown
    man.)

    The problem here, though, is not primarily that they’ve chosen to use the word ‘marriage’ to define their relationship.    The situation is no better if the man in question never claims to be married to the girl.  She’s still been kidnapped, the man is still trying to have a relationship with the girl that we think can only be properly done between two adults, we still think she’s incapable of the kind of consent necessary, and there’s plenty of laws apart from the marriage act or whatever that are designed to prevent this from happening.

    I can see that it might be seen to be a bit creepy if a man and an underage girl decide to call themselves ‘married’ without actually doing anything that’s otherwise illegal.  But if that happened today, really, what could the law do about it? Maybe they could prevent them from saying ‘marriage’, but they could just say “betrothed” and it would be just as creepy.   I don’t think creepiness can really be systematically outlawed…

  • Isabel C.

    Which is cool, except…it leaves a lot of people out in very material ways. I have no interest in promising to have sex with or love only one person; I have no interest in promising to love *anyone*, at that. I’m not interested in marriage on a romantic level at all. 

    On the other hand, I could see a situation in which I wanted to get the tax benefits, shared insurance, and so forth of marriage with a good friend, someone I care about deeply and whose life I would like to remain a part of. Or hell, I’d like to have a business arrangement with someone amiable for reasons of citizenship or insurance or whatnot. The fact that I can’t do that, because the way society is set up makes it exclusive to romantic love for no reason that I can see, nauseates *me*.  

    As long as marriage confers material benefits, that part of it *should* be available as a purely bureaucratic arrangement.  I think it’s more important to stop discriminating, naturally, but theoretically? The government should not be in the business of sentiment, and your emotions shouldn’t have that much to do with your insurance benefits. 

  • Isabel C.

    Of course, we could always render my whole argument irrelevant with universal health care and similar, as well as more varieties of commitment/transition/etc ceremonies. I’d be totally for that–indeed, more so.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    So, now I’m curious.

    If, thanks to the intervention of a perverse genie, you had a choice between a cultural redefinition of marriage such that two adults can commit to mutual support without any romantic or erotic component whatsoever and receive the same benefits we now grant married couples, or a redistribution of benefits such that single people get the same benefits married couples get, which would more closely approach your preferred state?

  • Isabel C.

    Mmm, perverse genie.

    Actually an easy choice: single people get benefits. Everyone gets benefits. I think it’s important to recognize all sorts of emotional bonds, but I think it’s *more* important to make sure people get decent health care even if they don’t have those bonds, or don’t have them with people who have nice jobs, or whatever. 

  • Greenygal

     It cuts away the whole ‘attack on religion’ and
    ‘redefining marriage’ – the only question that’s left is, given that
    same-sex couples are going to be living together and raising children
    together anyway, do you want to make these boring bureaucratic matters
    difficult and annoying for same-sex couples?

    I am, oh, about 90% sure that’s not what would happen.  What would happen is that people would go “Oh, my god, we were right!  Gay people really do want to destroy marriage!”  This proposal is redefining marriage as we currently have it–and that might even be a good idea, I don’t know, but it’s terrible public relations.

  • arcseconds

     Well, often the best solution isn’t necessarily the most popular one :]

    I think there’s a lot of benefit in arguing *for* this proposal anyway, as it puts pressure on people to clarify what they really regard as being important about marriage.

    I’m pretty sure that if they thought about it, most people (*especially* religious people) would realise that the thing that’s most important about marriage is not that it’s sanctioned by the state.   Most people don’t think it’s just about getting certain kinds of legal rights and tax breaks.

    (perhaps I really mean christianity here, where the traditional understanding is that marriage is a sacrament.

     I understand that for Muslims marriage is a lot more like a contract, and historically at least they’ve been much more open towards divorce (at least legally speaking) than Christianity has.  I recall reading somewhere that failure to provide sexual satisfaction was grounds for a woman to divorce her husband at some point.)

  • Wednesday

    Okay, I have an honest question here: Is it really, really so difficult for most people to understand that a word can have more than one definition depending on context? Because as far as I’m concerned, we already have a distinction between religious marriage and civil marriage, and there is no problem that needs solving by changing the name of the legal status. But I’m a mathematician, so I’m used to working with definitions that change depending on context, and it can be hard for me to grock that not everyone sees things this way.

    Looking at how other people use the word marriage, it certainly _seems_ to me that most people actually do recognize multiple definitions of marriage based on context. We know there’s a difference between legal and religious marriage because we recognize people can be married by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas — marriages that are civil but not sanctified by any religious ceremony — and because we still use the words “married” and “wives” when we discuss cultures that practice polygamy (including the FLDS) even though those marriages aren’t recognized by our law (and frequently our religions). The LDS church recognizes two kinds of marriages with different theological meanings — Temple Marriages and the marriages that all other straight monogamists have . The Catholic church also officially recognizes and not-recognizes a second marriage after a divorce depending on the context. Conservative Judaism officially both recognizes and not-recognizes same-sex marriage and interfaith marriage depending on the rabbi and congregation and couple involved.

  • WalterC

    I think what you’re describing isn’t actually a failure to understand that one word can have more than one definition. I think what you’re describing is a (bad) logic argument, called equivocation — when someone pretends not to know that words can have more than one meaning in order to undermine their opponent’s arguments. 

    This is often accompanied by strawmanning, and is a close cousin to the rhetorical device used in the past election (“Acts of terror” vs. “terrorist attacks”) — which involved pretending not to understand that two slightly different phrases can have the same definition. 

    It’s a pretty effective argument if you’re aggressive enough and loud enough. The masters know how to subtly shift from definition to definition depending on what argument they need to use at the time, without telegraphing it to their opponent.

  • arcseconds

     equivocation is a logical fallacy, and you don’t need to have intent to commit logical fallacies.  Sometimes one ends up finding one has committed them despite oneself.

    I don’t think most people think there are really multiple definitions of marriage, or maybe they do on some days but not on others (this kind of split-opinion is pretty common, I think, on a lot of matters) or maybe they kind of agree there are multiple definitions but they’re all about instantiating the same concept – see my earlier remark re: platonism.

  • Wednesday

    I’m wary of drawing conclusions from Fred’s pastor because that’s a single data point, and, well… there are pharmacists who claim to think hormonal BC is an abortificant, eg. And in some states there is still a bit more entanglement than there should be — in NY clergy can be arrested for solemnizing marriages without licenses, although I think it boils down to whether they say “by the power invested in me by the State of New York…” or not.

    (perhaps I really mean christianity here, where the traditional understanding is that marriage is a sacrament.
    So what you really mean is Catholicism, then? Since most protestant denominations don’t consider marriage to be one of the sacraments. I’m sure you mean well, but some of us are getting really tired of the assumption that Catholic tradition somehow deserves to determine what marriage is for everyone else.

    If people really only have one operational definition of marriage independent of context, then how do we explain the evidence of recognizing Vegas marriages and divorced-not-annulled marriage and polygamy? 

  • Carstonio

    I don’t know Arcseconds made the “marriage is a sacrament” reference, but I had assumed that it involved a lack of knowledge about the denominations instead of a Catholic-centric worldview. 

  • arcseconds

    (*chuckles*)
    Apparently sometimes I give the impression of being a Catholic, this isn’t the first time. 

    It would be odd if I had a Catholic-centric worldivew, as I’ve never been a Catholic, hardly know any Catholics, don’t live in a place where there are many Catholics…

    Apparently the Anglican church views marriage as ‘Commonly called a Sacrament but not to be Counted as a Sacrament of the Gospel’, or possibly as ‘sacramental rites’ :

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

    Anyway, I shouldn’t have said ‘sacrament’ as we’re starting to get bogged-down in hair-splitting niceities about what a sacrament is and who has them and who thinks marriage is a sacrament and who thinks it isn’t, but is instead some kind of sacrament-like thing.

    My point was really that Christianity on the whole doesn’t think of marriage as being primarily a government-backed legal contract between two persons, but rather a God-backed spiritual union or something like that.  

  • Carstonio

    I don’t know if that would describe all of Christianity, but I would agree that such a view effectively rejects the notion of secular government. The US bishops make arguments against contraception mandates and same-sex marriage that make some twisted sense only if one assumes that all citizens and their institutions are Catholic.

  • arcseconds

    I don’t know if that would describe all of Christianity, …

    There’s virtually no statement you can make that would be true of all people and sects that call themselves Christian.   They tend to want to call less than four entities ‘God’ is about as safe as you can get.

    In my personal experience (which isn’t all that extensive, but has a degree of breadth to it nevertheless) of church services and listening to Christians, both ministers and lay people, plus what I’ve read on the internet, suggests quite strongly that this is the usual position articulated by Christians, as I’ve hear the ‘marriage is God’s plan for us’ kind of line many times, but I’ve never heard anyone say anything to the contrary, not even to say “but those so-called Christians over there don’t believe this” (except, of course, when it’s heterosexual marriage only people mischaracterising the position of Christians who are OK with same-sex marriage).

    ( I’m sure there are many Christians who don’t think this at all nevertheless, but then there are many Christians who don’t believe in God.  )

    I’ve just tried to check out what the usual Lutheran position is, and apparently Luther did rather like the idea that marriages are in the domain of the State, but he still seems to ultimately think marriage is God’s design:

    http://www.lutherquest.org/walther/articles/700/719.htm

  • Joshua

    There’s virtually no statement you can make that would be true of all people and sects that call themselves Christian.   They tend to want to call less than four entities ‘God’ is about as safe as you can get.

    I have a memory from my religious studies days of a Maori Christian movement, recognised by the Anglican Church in New Zealand as a christian denomination, that added two new elements to the Trinity. So.

    Looking around the web, I think it might have been the Ratana Church, which features a five-pointed star in its emblem. I may have misunderstood something along the way, of course.

  • arcseconds

     

    … but I would agree that such a view effectively rejects the notion of secular government.

    As I mentioned before, I think the basic idea here is platonism:  marriage is a kind of relationship that’s in the mind of God, and we’re supposed to instantiate it as best we can here on Earth, and the State is supposed to help out with this.

    (Lots of Christians who are OK with same-sex marriage appear to believe something of this sort too; it’s not just conservatives. )

    They also seem to believe that marriages practised by non-Christians are good in so far as they also approach this ideal.

    So there’s nothing wrong with a secular State having marriage laws, just so long as they help to bring about the right sorts of relationships.

    (there’s a difference of opinion as to what count as those right sorts of relationships, of course)

    But I think the view is also usually that this is far from the only idea that God has for us.  God also has ideas about justice and mercy, which we’re also supposed to instantiate, through the State where appropriate.

    Do you also think someone who argues that God wants us to look after the poor, and therefore wants a reasonable welfare system, is rejecting the notion of secular government?

  • Carstonio

    Do you also think someone who argues that God wants us to look after
    the poor, and therefore wants a reasonable welfare system, is rejecting
    the notion of secular government?

    Yes, if “God wants us to look after the poor” is the only argument your believer has for implementing a reasonable welfare system.

    The reason for secular government is that citizens belong to many different religions. Some believe in gods different from the person’s god, some don’t believe in gods at all, and some believe in the same god but have different stances about what that god wants. So the lawmaking process is about taking those beliefs off the table.

     The platonic ideal you mentioned is a sectarian argument and, at best,
    is meaningless to people who don’t share that particular religious view.
    Your believer is essentially arguing that the state is supposed to
    help in carrying out the will of hir god, and that’s fundamentally
    theocratic regardless of what that will might be. As Fred wrote in his King and Huck column some time back, the person has a civic responsibility to translate these ideas into secular terms when proposing secular
    laws, otherwise the person is essentially pushing theocracy.

  • Wednesday

     Okay, now you’re moving from “people don’t understand that there’s civil marriage and religious marriage and this is a problem we should solve by catering to their ignorance and changing the name of the legal status” to “Christian denominations teach marriage as a religious institution”. The latter is indisputable, but completely irrelevant, because religious institutions are not people and the US is not and should not be a theocracy. Catholics are not Catholicism. The Church and her bishops and
    archbishops teach that using birth control is a mortal sin, but most
    American Catholics disagree. Southern Baptists are not the Southern Baptist Convention, and are capable of disagreeing with the SBC’s sexism (among other things). Lutherans are not the ELCA, as evidenced by the wide variance among ELCA congregation and clergy stances towards LGBT inclusion in the church and LGBT rights in the law.

    And two major forces against LGBT rights — the Catholic Church and LDS
    Church — do in fact doctrinally distinguish
    between their ideal of religious marriage and other people’s marriages
    (both religious and civil).  Even if marriage is primarily religious for
    them, they still recognize as part of their teachings on
    marriage
    that other types of marriages exist.

    So not only does it not matter that the religious institutions themselves teach marriage is a primarily religious status, but some of them even officially recognize the existence of non-their-religion marriages.

  • arcseconds

     

    Okay, I have an honest question here: Is it really, really so difficult
    for most people to understand that a word can have more than one
    definition depending on context? Because as far as I’m concerned, we
    already have a distinction between religious marriage and civil
    marriage, and there is no problem that needs solving by changing the
    name of the legal status.

    Apparently it is.  The fact that Fred’s pastor was extremely reluctant and uncomfortable  about marrying Fred and his fianceé  without the marriage license speaks volumes, I think.   A pastor, of all people (I would have thought), would be the first person to say “what the State thinks is just a convenience – marriage is in the eyes of God!  So let’s do the holy vow thing immediately and the paperwork later”.

    Also, people really swallow this whole ‘marriage is between one man and one woman’ thing, even people who aren’t otherwise flagrant Worley-type homophobes are really uncomfortable about this.

    There’s a lot of platonism around in Western culture, and I think this is one example.  There’s a Form of Marriage out there somewhere (in God’s brain, maybe) , and it has a Man and a Woman in it, and if our institutions of marriage don’t follow that as closely as possible, then they’re fallen, debased, diseased institutions.

  • Ross Thompson

    I think this is the best solution, actually.

    What you describe “an entirely bureaucratic affair, and not called ‘marriage'” is what we currently call “marriage”. Why not keep the same name, and let religious groups chose their own name for their ceremonies; maybe “handfasting” or “joining” or “wedding”.

    That would involve a lot less change to the current set up, and it would mean not having to tell a big chunk of the country that they’re no longer “married”, just because it didn’t happen in a place of worship.

  • arcseconds

    What you describe “an entirely bureaucratic affair, and not called ‘marriage'” is what we currently call “marriage”.

    If this was true, no-one would be saying “marriage is (by definition) between one man and one woman”. 

    They could only say “the marriage statute currently only permits one man and one woman to marry” or something like that, which in and of itself isn’t an argument against change.

     Some people even put ‘marriage’ in scare-quotes when describing same-sex relationships that some state has legally recognised, because they view this (or say they view it) as a conceptual impossibility that these people are married.

    People don’t do this with things that they think are purely legal matters.   If the government raises the minimum age for a drivers license to 21 years, people wouldn’t say things like ‘you can’t do that! 18 year olds by definition can legally drive” or refer to drivers under the age of 21 as ‘unlicensed drivers” in scare-quotes because really they are licensed drivers but the pig-headed government refuses to recognise them as such. 

    It’s not just that people occasionally have turns of phrases which indicate that they don’t think of marriage entirely in terms of government-backed contracts and rights of access and inheritance and so forth, they also say things like this:

    MARRIAGE

    Baptists assume a true marriage to be between a man and a woman. To
    that end, Baptists hold marriage is the most sacred and basic of
    societal units. They believe the strength of a society’s marriages is
    the greatest cause and indicator of societal health. In addition,
    marriage is viewed as a microcosm of our relationship with Jesus
    Christ. They believe that God meant for a marriage to help us
    understand, to some degree, God’s vast and intricate love for us.

    Healthy marriages, therefore, are important to Baptists.

    ( http://www.christianbaptists.com/baptist-beliefs/#marriage )

    and this:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09707a.htm

    etc. 

    Contracts and governments scarcely get a mention.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    As one of those people (though one who, recognizing that it is all but a lost cause, supports SSM whenever it comes up), let me answer: 1) Yes, though that’s easier for me to say since i’m not married. I’ll let you know in a few years if I still agree. 2) However the hell you want.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Just looking at some of those signs the college students held up… did they learn nothing in their civics classes about the separation of church and state?  Because if so, this represents a real failure of our education system.  

  • P J Evans

     It’s possible they don’t get civics in school any more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s a little hard to buy. I think they just don’t value the rights of others. It’s a pretty common thing regardless of what you learn about the law.

  • Tricksterson

    Note, it’s an evangelical college, so no, probably not, at least not anything we would recognize as seperation of church and state

  • Scrawl

    Exactly. Preceded by private high schools, private junior high or middle schools, and private elementary schools. Also, most likely spending a good deal of time in church and youth group. It takes actually having other life experience to see anything wrong in that kind of indoctrination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Or, of course, instead of private, homeschooling.  Not to disparage homeschooling in general, but the ones who might use Barton as a textbook.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yeah, but heck, that sort of thing should be taught in high school American Government classes.  At least, I thought that was a basic course required to graduate high school in the U.S.  I know I had to take it, I assumed it was mandatory everywhere else.  

  • Tricksterson

    I didn’t.

  • Jurgan

    I’m really curious about picture #10 in the college student article.  They don’t support gay marriage, but they do support giraffe-on-tiger relationships?  I’d very much like to know the story behind why they dressed that way.

  • Loki100

    Ten years from now this will be their secret shame. Just like voting for George Wallace is the Southern Baptist Convention’s secret shame.

  • Kadh2000

    From the comments on that webpage, they were Halloween costumes over which they wore the t-shirts.

  • Nick

    I can’t be the only one who sees picture #6 and thinks “closet case”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What, because he’s not conventionally attractive and looks “wispy”, he’s got to be gay?

    Come on. It’s one thing for people who doth protest too much (like George Rekers and his whole career built on being an “expert witness” to destroy families of same-sex partners) to be tagged as being a little too eager to proclaim their heterosexuality, and it’s another to make a snap judgement based on one picture.

  • Scrawl

    I feel like I grew up with some of these youth and their perspective. They are coming from very sheltered upbringings and do not fully understand what they are saying here. Not that it excuses their ignorance, but it does take some time to get away from that…especially if they continue to be surrounded by that atmosphere at their college.

  • Justme

    I think these “kids” are adults, albeit young ones, and able  to make up their own minds about how they feel about same sex marriage.  I don’t think, Fred, you can just pass the buck.  They’ve made the choice to get themselves photographed for the campaign.  Were they encouraged to do it?  Almost certainly.  Will they regret it 10, 15 years down the road?  Maybe some of them.   But if you hold that opposition to same-sex marriage is immoral, they’re not without moral culpability here.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    But if you hold that opposition to same-sex marriage is immoral, they’re not without moral culpability here.

    (nods) Sure. Can you clarify what in Fred’s post said otherwise?

  • Justme

     I’m saying that calling  them  “kids” and saying they’re being manipulated seems to imply that they don’t know what they’re doing or that it’s not their fault they feel the way they do.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Ah. Well, OK; if that’s how it seems, that’s how it seems. Thanks for clarifying.

    For my own part, though, it doesn’t seem that way: they are kids, they are being manipulated, they do know what they’re doing, they have some moral culpability, and talking about whether the way they feel is their fault is so confused as to be equally misleading either way.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I think these “kids” are adults, albeit young ones,

    I work in a Walmart that’s about half a mile from a college with over 20,000 students.  I see students in this age group pretty much all day, every day.

    They’re kids.  Trust me.

  • Wednesday

    Speaking as someone who teaches this age group, I’d say: yes, they’re kids… but they’re kids who are frequently capable of behaving like adults, and in certain circumstances should be expected to do so. It’s a tricky balance to find.

    In this case, I think we should show them that we expect them to behave like adults
    (read: not making shitty arguments like “I want to amend the constitution to upgrade the ban on some marriages that my religion disapproves of in the name of freedom of religion!” and “pot should be legal because the Declaration of Independence says Pursuit of Happiness! Therefore I have a constitutional right to pot!”), but understand that sometimes they’ll still make those shitty arguments because they are still kids and therefore still learning, and part of the learning process requires a certain amount of making shitty arguments as you learn to make better ones. So we should show some amount of patience when we explain why those are shitty arguments.

    By contrast, full adults who make those same shitty arguments are not owed any patience. We can choose to give it to them, but it’s perfectly reasonable to give them none.

  • Wednesday

     And unlike the rest of you I can’t edit, but I want to mention also… there’s huge variation in the maturity of college kids, even if we consider only those in the traditional age range of 17-23. Some of them are full-fledged adults even as freshmen; some* are still kids at graduation.

    *Full disclosure, I was one of these.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah; I’ve noticed even early 20somethings can still act kind of teenager-y. Full maturity doesn’t seem to set in till around 25 or so. (and even then you get some statistical outliers…)

  • Lliira

     The brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. Doesn’t matter what your life is like, it’s a biological fact for all of us, though I’m sure it can be messed with by alcohol, health problems, alcohol, physical trauma, alcohol, drugs, and alcohol.* So, yes. Based on a combination of science, observation, and remembering what I and my friends used to be like, I call college kids “kids”.

    “Kid” doesn’t mean little kid, of course. 21-year olds are fully capable of taking responsibility for their choices. They also tend to be more quick-witted and flexible than those of us whose brains have formed. Though the brain continues to make new connections so long as you keep challenging it; it’s not like it’s growth till 25 and atrophy afterward, unless that’s what you choose.

    *Ages 17-24: everyone around me seems to enjoy getting totally wasted, and that seems to be the only thing they enjoy. They would rather get drunk than have sex. Ooh, there’s one guy in the room who isn’t drunk *glom*. Age 25: wait, now everyone’s focused on their careers and nothing else, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Age 30: Now they’re all getting married, to nice but very boring people. Age 35: STOP POSTING PICTURES OF YOUR BABY’S POOP ON FACEBOOK. I don’t know that we really get any more mature, actually. Maybe our obsessions just change.

  • Dan Audy

    I found the spread of gay marriage particularly useful in ending the squabbles between my daughter and her best friend over who got to be the princess and who was ‘forced’ to be the prince in their games.  Despite my encouraging them for several years that they could both be princesses and prevent me from having to mediate arguments, they insisted that it wasn’t realistic.  After their favourite ‘uncles’ got married when Canada (finally) got its act together and they both thought that was great, they decided that ‘Princess marry Princess’ was a much better game because they both got to be what they wanted and wear all the nicest dressup clothes.

  • reynard61

    Mark Regnerus and Bradley Wilcox should conduct a longitudinal study of that second-grade class — now in eighth grade — to measure whether, as predicted by the scientists ignorant, whiny, pearl-clutchers of the religious right, they do, indeed, all turn out to be gay because of this horrific misconduct.

    Fixed that for ya!

  • Lori

    So, about the guy whose reason for voting “yes” is an arrow pointing at the young lady next to him, who I presume is his girlfriend/fiancee.

    Two possibilities come to mind.  The first is that he’s voting “yes” because that’s what she wants and their relationship dynamic is that what she wants, she gets. The second is that  it’s a really blatant form of “screw you, I got mine” from a guy who has no interesting in marrying another guy and therefore sees no reason why any other guy should be allowed to.

    Neither of those possibilities speaks particularly well of that young man.

  • Lliira

    Here is what I believe it is:

    I have seen many arguments from the religious right that if men can marry men, they will no longer marry women. Then, since marriage is the only protection for women against other men, and is the only safe place for a man to channel his sexuality, women will be constantly gang-raped. Straight line, this is what’s gonna happen. It’s what they really believe. They also really believe that unless men marry women, men will not care for women enough to “allow” us to have any rights whatsoever.

    He thinks he’s protecting women by opposing gay marriage. I know, it makes no sense. But I’d bet that’s what he’s thinking.

  • Tricksterson

    Why would a man who wanted to marry another man be interested in raping a woman?

  • Julian Elson

    Rape is not necessarily about attraction. (Sometimes a straight man who is intent on sadistically degrading another man might rape that man.) I don’t know of any specific cases of gay men raping women, so I wouldn’t actually say I know that it happens, but I wouldn’t say it’s an outlandish idea: a rapist could be motivated by the desire to dominate or just hurt the victim. It’s significantly less likely than a straight man raping a woman, though.

  • Tricksterson

    Granted for the sake of argument but I think what they’re really afraid of is that if gays are allowed to marry this will somehow translate into straight men getting rape.  Don’t ask me how.

  • Ross Thompson

    Why would a man who wanted to marry another man be interested in raping a woman?

    Because sexuality isn’t binary? And rape isn’t about sex?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Because male sexuality can only be controlled within heterosexual marriage. All men are rampaging sex maniacs unless they are married to women. Men don’t really want to get married — the only reason they do it is because they have been taught that they have to, and that it’s the right thing to do, and they will be smoten if they don’t. All men are potential rapists at the very least. “Rape” means doing sexual stuff to someone who isn’t your wife. Anything sexual you do to your wife cannot be rape.

    (If you want a real answer: rape is about power, not about sex. It has nothing to do with attraction. But that’s not what these people are thinking.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    (If you want a real answer: rape is about power, not about sex. It has nothing to do with attraction. But that’s not what these people are thinking.)

    Can what they’re doing be fairly considered “thinking”?

  • The Guest Who Posts

     That… says a lot about the person making the argument.

  • Tricksterson

    More llikely he’s been indoctrinated into the idea that f gays are allowed to marry heterosexual marriage will wind up being degraded or even made illegal.

  • PandaRosa

    and what would be so terrible about that?
    heteros don’t deserve marriage anymore

  • Lori

    That doesn’t speak well of him either.

  • The_insane_protagonist

    These pictures are so sad, especially for me because I was just like them at that age. They probably really don’t know any better. Some of them may very well come around to reality later in life and have to live with deep remorse over both their own attitudes and actions and the fact that their youth was stolen from them by their parents/churches/etc.

    That was my experience, anyway. I’m one of the lucky ones who escaped that twisted worldview, but as per Fred’s fears I didn’t escape with my religious faith intact.

    I mean, I’ve gained a lot of happiness and a new, better, sexier (and much queerer) self-identity, but it hurt a lot to lose something that was such a big part of who I had always been…

  • PandaRosa

    One thought on the prince-marries-prince book, is that I trust it’s well written. Children enjoy a good story, not polemics, no matter which side they come from. If the two princes have adventures, share ideas, and are friends, that’s often what children are drawn to and will remember, what stays with them, and the business of the princes  getting married will seem natural. If it’s set up like one of those “morality lessons” like in my old Sunday School readers the book will just gather dust, reducing We Must All Get Along to We Must All Wash Our Hands And Eat Our Peas just bores children.
    Puts me in mind of The Giving Tree.

  • Dash1

    @Loki100:disqus 

    Ten years from now this will be their secret shame.

    Not that secret, unfortunately for them. As someone who emerged from this kind of background, I’m grateful that at least a goodly bunch of the idiotic things I said and did to try to prove to my parents that I was really trying to be a good Christian aren’t readily accessible all over the internet.

    @Ruby_Tea:disqus 

    Random House of Worship

    Thus giving a whole new meaning to “publish the banns.”

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea
  • Dash1

    Indeed! So, given how Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan ended up handling the event, we can hope at some point to see at least one of these young people showing us the picture of him/herself to illustrate the speech s/he is making in support of equal rights in one of the last holdout states: “If I can change, Alabama can change!”

    It will be sadder if the student has to explain to his/her gay child what s/he is doing in the old internet photo  trying with self-satisfied and toothy grin to limit that child’s rights.

  • Lliira

    It may be part of a larger crisis of faith in which they turn their backs on everything they learned at their “Bible-based” alma mater — Jesus and the Bible along with the presumption of homophobia.

    Good.

    When someone is taught a whole bunch o’lies, any crack to get the truth in there is a good thing. And they’re being taught that Jesus and the Bible means you must hate and be ignorant, including about Jesus and the Bible. Half of them are being taught that they are lesser beings than the other half, and half of them are taught they may do whatever they wish to the other half so long as they properly own her first. Turning their back on “Jesus and the Bible” means turning toward freedom for themselves, as well as for other people they hate. And then there are the number of closeted people in that group — which is every single one, because not one of them has accepted and embraced their own sexuality, whether it be straight, lesbian, in-between, or none of the above.
     
    Whether they decide to be Christian or not afterwards, it does not matter one whit. What matters is that they free themselves, and in so doing, stop trying to cage the rest of us.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You get married however you like.  With a faux-religion-lite ceremony
    if you wish, or with a celebrant, or with vows exchanged in the privacy
    of your own home.   I’m repeating myself – but I’m not sure how to make
    this any clearer.

    You back it up with a Government-sponsored contract (assuming one is available to you), or not, as you see fit.

    This is how the French do it, IIRC.

  • arcseconds

     and the Germans too, I think…

  • Ross Thompson

    This is how the French do it, IIRC.

    It’s how the Americans do it, too. With the caveat that some Americans are legally forbidden from marrying.


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