Jim Wallis sounds an uncertain trumpet on marriage equality

“If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”
— 1 Corinthians 14:8

Evangelical author Jim Wallis, a longtime peace and anti-poverty activist, has finally announced his support for marriage equality. Or, rather, has finally conceded that he will no longer oppose same-sex marriage.

What Wallis actually said, in an interview with Marc Lamont Hill of Huffington Post, was this:

WALLIS: We’re losing marriage in this society. I’m worried about that — among low income people, but all people. How do we commit liberals and conservatives to re-covenanting, reestablishing, renewing marriage?

HILL: Men and women? Or men and men?

WALLIS: I think we should include same-sex couples in that renewal of marriage. I want to talk about marriage first. Marriage needs some strengthening. How do we re-covenant a permanent commitment that’s — to parenting is really important to the common good. But then, let’s start with marriage, and then I think we have to talk about, now, how to include same-sex couples in that deeper understanding of marriage. And that could be the common ground. So, yes, I support equal protection under the law. I always have.

HILL: But same-sex marriage as such, would you support it?

WALLIS: I think that’s what, equal protection for many, many people, including young evangelicals, is becoming marriage equality. What I’m saying is let’s not just argue that issue back and forth, let’s go to a deeper commitment to marriage that’s inclusive. I want it to be inclusive. So my answer is yes. But I want a deeper commitment to marriage that is more and more inclusive. And that’s where I think the country is going.

That is what an uncertain trumpet sounds like.

After being pressed three times for a straightforward answer, Wallis finally said, “My answer is yes, but.”

Contrast that with Steve Chalke’s announcement of his support for marriage equality. Chalke, a well-respected British evangelical leader, had a lot to lose, but he stepped forward — on his own initiative — and sounded a clear trumpet before what he knew would be a hostile audience. That is what leadership looks like. That is what being a “prophetic” voice means.

At Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner provides a brutally appropriate response to Wallis’ late-in-the-game hemming and hawing, “The ‘Prophetic’ Voice of Jim Wallis Jumps on Marriage Equality Bandwagon“:

In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Jaweed Kaleem last week, Wallis described what motivated him to write yet another book about How Everything Would Be Divine If Everyone Listened To Jim Wallis. (Especially you, ladies!) “The vitriol. The screaming. The polarization. The paralyzation. The hate. The fear. And I thought we’ve lost something really significant, this ancient idea called the common good.”

Oh, man, don’t you wish all those gay and lesbian people who simply wanted to have the same rights as straight people would stop with all their vitriol and screaming? Jeez.

As part of his book roll-out with the Huff Po team, Wallis gave a video interview to Marc Lamont Hill, who opened it with reminding Wallis that “you’re a leader of the religious left.” … In true “leader” form, when asked by Hill about same-sex marriage, Wallis replied, “this issue is changing rapidly,” noting that “young believers, 62 percent of young evangelicals now support marriage equality.” Because that’s what leaders do. They wait for public opinion to tell them how to lead. And then they wait for an interviewer to push them to speak plain English — and even then they use behind-covering doublespeak.

Susan Russell is similarly underwhelmed, writing “Jim Wallis Evolves: Sort Of“:

It’s lovely that Wallis is “evolving” on granting my marriage the same protections his has — truly. But in point of fact it is long past time for one purporting to be “a leader of the religious left” to support a Protect Marriage Movement that protects all marriages and Family Values that value all families.

And Hemant Mehta chimes in with “It’s About Damn Time: ‘Progressive’ Christian Finally Voices Support for Marriage Equality“:

It’s one embarrassingly small leap for mankind. … Let’s not pretend Wallis is a role model here. Role models do the right thing no matter how tough it may be, not wait for the political climate to change and then jump on the bandwagon that other people built.

Although I haven’t been in touch with him for many years, Jim Wallis is an old friend. I knew him back when he still had the beard — before the TV-friendly makeover and before his books came out in prestigious hard-cover editions. We worked together repeatedly throughout the 1990s and I remain fond of him. I like the guy and I retain respect for him.

But I’m not going to try to defend him from this criticism. I couldn’t even if I wanted to, because it’s accurate and richly deserved.

What I want to try to do, instead, is to explain Wallis’ blind-spot here — to explore why even though he really has been for many years a “prophetic” voice on economic justice, he has been the opposite of that for LGBT people for just as long.

I covered some of this previously two years ago when Wallis recoiled in fear from running a “Believe Out Loud” ad in his Sojourners magazine (see “My hope is built on nothing less” and “Jim Wallis and Believe Out Loud, Part 2“). At that time I wrote this about Wallis:

I don’t think that Wallis is a post-evangelical timidly masquerading as something else. I don’t think he’s being disingenuous, I think he’s just wrong.

Wallis is, like my one-time boss Ron Sider, an evangelical Christian. Wallis and Sider have both been radical, prophetic voices on economic justice because they are evangelical. Their long-time, staunch commitment to justice for the poor arises from their evangelical faith. The only thing that distinguishes them from the rest of the white evangelical subculture is that they’ve read more of the Bible. And they’ve read it with the same evangelical eyes — the same “common-sense,” face-value, “literal” approach.

For most white American evangelicals, that approach starts and stops with a very selective selection of Bible verses. It’s mainly focused on the passages involving sex. But the Bible has a great deal more to say about money — about wealth, poverty, possessions, justice, widows, orphans, aliens and the downtrodden — than it does about sex.

If you’re familiar with Wallis, you’ve probably heard him talk about the “more than 2,000 verses” in the Bible that deal with economic issues. What if one reads those 2,000+ verses and responds to them in exactly the same way that most white evangelicals respond to the far smaller set of verses dealing with sexual morality?

Well, you wind up becoming Jim Wallis or Ron Sider. (Or, nowadays, Shane Claiborne.)

The point here is that Wallis and Sider never really disagreed with the substance of the sexual politics of the religious right, but mainly with what they saw as its misplaced priorities. For Wallis, the Bible’s 2,000+ clobber texts on wealth, poverty and possessions made that issue a greater priority than the six infamous clobber texts on homosexuality. But he still tended to approach the Bible as an evangelical reader — regarding clobber texts as authoritative and clobber-texting as a valid, proper hermeneutic.

I think this is a mistake — a bad process that leads to bad conclusions. I don’t think clobber-texting is a valid hermeneutic. I don’t think it’s a hermeneutic at all. But I do respect Wallis and Sider for the integrity and consistency they have shown in allowing that evangelical approach to apply to far more of the Bible than most other evangelicals are willing or able to allow.

But there’s also another side here. Or, rather, there’s also The Other Side here. And that suggests another, more insidious, dynamic at work in Wallis’ long-time avoidance of LGBT equality.

Back in the day, Sojourners magazine had a kind of cousin-publication called The Other Side. TOS was a radical, progressive magazine published by an “intentional community” of evangelical Christians based in a rough part of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood (just up the block from Sider’s house, actually).

Unlike Wallis’ Sojourners, TOS was unqualified in its support for the full equality of LGBT people in the church and under the law. This was, for TOS, an imperative of the Golden Rule and a biblical mandate based on the same kind of radically reconciling, radically inclusive hermeneutic that Steve Chalke would arrive at decades later. They championed this cause forcefully and presented their arguments for it clearly and biblically.

Those arguments were never really engaged, or even heard, in the evangelical subculture. There was no point in listening to such arguments when the conclusions they produced were unacceptable. And so The Other Side magazine became a pariah in the white evangelical subculture.

That meant they were shunned and ignored by the very people they were trying to reach. And it meant they were cut off from the Christian sources of funding they needed to become sustainable. Other funders helped to bridge the gap for a while — Mr. Cockburn chipped in from Canada, and the Hewsons sent checks from Dublin, among others — but financial support from American Christians was never enough to make the publication viable. It limped along for a while before gradually fading away and closing shop in 2005. (Dee Dee Risher wrote a tribute to TOS in Sojourners that year titled, “A Clarion for Justice.” Talk about sounding certain trumpets.)

I think Wallis and Sider took two lessons from the noble failure of The Other Side. First, they learned that the evangelical audience they were called to reach would never be willing or able to hear their message of economic justice if they were in any way perceived as “pro-gay.” And, unpleasantly, they learned that the funding they relied on from evangelical donors would disappear if they strayed from the subculture’s officially approved “stance on homosexuality.” That latter lesson wasn’t one they needed to learn from TOS — it was something many of those donors themselves stated, sometimes explicitly.

Remember, though, that Wallis did not agree with The Other Side. His clobber-texting approach couldn’t accommodate their interpretation of those clobber texts. So it wasn’t that Wallis was fearfully being disingenuous — stating one thing publicly while secretly believing the opposite in private. He really was opposed to LGBT equality because he really believed the Bible required that of him. (I know this because we discussed this in the early ’90s, and at that time, unfortunately, I agreed with him.)

So the point here is not that the constant threat of financial reinforcement of the tribe’s anti-gay “stance” prevented Wallis from stating his mind. But I think that — for far too long — that threat contributed to preventing Wallis from changing his mind. It prevented him from allowing himself to question the strictly enforced official “stance.”

And when you don’t ask questions, you’re not leading. You’re following.

When it comes to marriage equality, Wallis still seems to be a follower. But at least now he’s following a better set of leaders.

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  • So he’s no longer an opponent, although he doesn’t want to be seen as an ally. Whee. This is me waving a tiny flag. Wheeeee.

    How do we re-covenant a permanent commitment

    You don’t, because it’s foolhardy to create the expectation that all marriages be permanent unions. No one should be forced to stay with people they no longer love or who abuse them.

  • LL

    What’s amusing to me (as an unmarried – but not homosexual – person) is how people are “worried” about marriage, like it’s a terminally ill patient. And what they perceive to be the things killing the patient – same-sex marriage and premarital sex and, of course, feminism.

    Not the shitty marriages that still exist to provide an example of what marriage shouldn’t be but often is. Not abuse. Not poverty. Not racism. Not the shitty economy. Oh no. None of those are complicit. It’s just those darn gays and the people boinking out of wedlock and the feminazis who are responsible.

    This is why I have difficulty having respect for most religious people. In addition to being abundantly stupid, they are even more hypocritical than they are stupid, if that’s possible.

  • He really was opposed to LGBT equality because he really
    believed the Bible required that of him. (I know this because we
    discussed this in the early ’90s, and at that time, unfortunately, I agreed with him.)

    This part of your post really touched me. It’s not just that you changed your mind about what Christ’s justice means and became an activist for equality; it’s that now that you are on the side of equality, you’re honest and unashamed about admitting that you used to not be. A lot of people never admit previous mistakes — they’d sooner pretend they always had the opinions they have now. I admire you for being as unafraid to own your mistakes as you are to correct them.

  • other lori

    When everybody, their grandmother, and their Republican senator now supports marriage equality, you don’t get progressive bonus points for it. Nice try, though, Jim.

  • MaryKaye

    You shouldn’t force unhappy couples to stay together, but you can try to provide tools to increase the chance that marriages will work. My sister was married in a liberal Catholic church, and they required her and her fiance to take a marriage-preparation class. She was skeptical but ended up regarding it as quite valuable. She told me that the best part was the panel discussion involving one rather conventional and one extremely non-conventional (in terms of lifestyle and gender roles) couple. They talked honestly about what had worked and not worked; what you had to do to stay happily married; being prepared for rough spots. If you are serious about supporting marriage this would be one way to start.

    You could also try to combat societal forces that break up marriages: one place to start would be immigration laws that split families. You could also look at the prison industry, which is a big destroyer of families, and at work situations which make putting energy into one’s family next to impossible.

    It is stupid to try to support marriage by forbidding loving couples to marry. It is a bit less stupid, but quite useless, to support marriage by whining about divorce. You have to *do* something positive to make a positive difference.

  • walden

    Thanks for this explanation. Not every “prophetic” leader is on the leading edge of everything, and some that are good on one issue are ignorant or wrong or belated on others. Elijah had a lot to learn, for example. Jesus seems to have grown throughout his ministry (viz. his exchange with the Syrophoenician woman). And most have blind spots, too. We just have to follow that moral arc of the universe, if we can!

    Thanks, too for the shout-out to “The Other Side” which I never knew about til the year it was gone. Forty years is a pretty good run for any magazine. I wonder, though, about the notion that Wallis was drawing any funding/editorial lessons from the closure of The Other Side. Surely Sojourners (with its own track record of nearly 40 years at that point) didn’t need to take lessons from a scrappier, less prominent publication. I just think Sojourners has always had its set of biases (shifting to be sure, as we all do over time). Having lost track of DeeDee Risher, I hope she’s gone on to do more wonderful things in ministry, writing, and art.

  • JustoneK

    To further the analogy, they’re very much not doctors who are doing all this diagnosing. They have zero training, by and large, and usually zero experience “curing” it. So on top of not recognizing what the symptoms actually are, they’re attributing them to completely unrelated (frequently unsubstantiated) phenomena.

    It’s folk medicine. It endures because people are always afraid of new. They don’t share most of the same reality, and it’s coming to a head.

  • I can get behind classes like that (at least, provided they’re proper classes about communication and whatnot — I can readily imagine ones like the image in the last thread, “There’s no such thing as a victim, we’re all supposed to suffer!”).

    Sadly, too often, I’ve heard people say they want to support marriage by making divorce illegal. See Iowa.

  • On Sider, I should point to this book:
    and on Wallis, I should point to this page:

  • Victor Savard

    (((Evangelical author Jim Wallis, a longtime peace and anti-poverty activist, has finally announced his support for marriage equality. Or, rather, has finally conceded that he will no longer oppose same-sex marriage.)))

    Whow! I just heard on our Canadian news but “I’M” sorry to say that I just got the tail end of “IT” from Andrew saying, I mean reading that bus drivers left their uniform at home and are wearing a pink dress on the job because they are Fed…. UP with all that bullying that is taking place NOW!

    Will YA smarten UP sinner vic! Before you jump off the roof, you should at least get all the fact of the story first. You know that I agree that bullying should not be taking place anywhere and/or against anyone. What do you want U>S (usual sinners) to do sinner vic? Do you want U>S to eleminate and/or destroy all those video game because they are violent NOW?

    Good idea Victor and while we’re at “IT” “I” think that we gods will put an end to all guns that kill people. Hey we took yours on the year that you died in the early 90’s for five years and Victor they sent YA a letter five years later saying that if you brought in a Canadian F.A.C. in order to get “IT” back. I guess you’re right Victor, there’s no way that they would have ever given a FAC to a little retardo as yourself and besides you’re dead so why worry about “IT” NOW?

    Tell YA what! If you kiss our butt Victor! We gods will gladly make sure that your rifle is gift wrapped and given to you the next time around NOW and……

    End YA say sinner vic! Look sinner vic! I want this world to know that you are no more a god than I was ever made in the IMAGE of GOD (Good Old DAD) so give “IT” UP cause most humans still know that “IT” is not what humans have invented that kills but those who choose to Kill who are responsible and….

    And Yes Victor! That’s why we want to keep all these tools out of your hands NOW and….

    End….YA! There’s no use talking to you sinner vic cause you and your alien gods have an answer for everything NOW!

    Go Figure folks! :)

  • I’m not sure it’s an idea I’m behind, but it might be reasonable to suggest that we as a society might get better at determining which unions aren’t going to be permanent, and encourage those people to pursue some alternative to marriage.

  • ReverendRef

    they required her and her fiance to take a marriage-preparation class.


    I require six sessions (as well as a few other canonically required things) of marriage prep. In my priestly career, the majority of people coming to me asking if I would marry them turn a few shades of gray when I give them the booklet outlining the requirements for getting married in the church. They take the booklet, politely say, “Thank you,” and I never see them again.

    I’m never really sure why these people don’t start out by renting the gazebo at the city park and hiring a local JP.

  • P J Evans

    That assumes that people don’t change as they get older, and that’s clearly an incorrect assumption.

  • cyllan

    Despite the fact that I am not Christian, one of the reasons I wanted to be married by my childhood (Presbyterian) pastor was because he insisted on having a Marriage Prep meeting with the two of us before he would agree to the wedding. It turns out that my then-fiancee and I were sufficiently prepared that he told us that one would do it, but I wanted that double-check to make sure I’d done all of the sane things one should do before getting married.

    Our 13th anniversary is next month, and while the marriage class isn’t the reason we’re still together, it most certainly helped smooth out some rough spots along the way.

  • > I’m never really sure why these people don’t start out by renting the gazebo at the city park and hiring a local JP.

    (nods) Yup, agreed. That’s what I did for my wedding and it was quite lovely. But a number of my peers felt obligated to have a “church wedding”, either to satisfy family members of to satisfy their own expectations or both.

  • Richard Hershberger

    I got married in the Catholic Church, despite my not being Catholic, for my wife’s sake: my (Lutheran) church doesn’t fetishize this like the Catholics do. So I went through pre-Cana. Did I find it valuable? Not really. On the other hand, it was held at a monastery, and I like monasteries, so that was nice. If you have to jump through a hoop, it is better to do it in a congenial setting. We celebrated our tenth anniversary last summer, so my lack of appreciation of pre-Cana seems not to have hurt things. The priest who married us is always glad to see us. We are the only couple he married that summer who are still together. What to make of this? Heck if I know.

  • Richard Hershberger

    I subscribed to Wallis’s magazine for a year, but never felt tempted to renew the subscription, despite the years-long deluge of appeals. I never before now understood why it didn’t quite click with me: why what I read in the magazine didn’t seem right, so much as merely less wrong. This post is very helpful. It makes much more sense now.

  • ReverendRef

    I won’t get into all the technical stuff as to why that would or would not have worked if I were involved, but I will say that I find it very cool that you thought enough of your marriage to want to pursue pre-marriage prep.

    while the marriage class isn’t the reason we’re still together, it most certainly helped smooth out some rough spots along the way.

    That’s kind of the idea — to provide tools to help cope.

    And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary.

  • Worthless Beast

    Same here.
    I mean, I was getting to think that (on the Internet) I was the only person in the world who openly admits to past wrongheadededness in this. I mean, most of the world seems to want you to “have always been perfect / to have always been on our side,” so to admit that “I once subscribed to the stupid thing” is like a death-knell to anyone’s respect. You may be on the right side now, but you weren’t always, so you suck for life. It’s like the idea we have that criminals cannot change that keeps people from even trying to help them do so, or something.
    I actually think “having once been one” makes one’s arguments stronger – because you know how the other side thinks, you know that they aren’t all monsters, that some of them believe unfortunate things sincerely because it was what they’re being taught by authorities they respect, because they don’t know any of the people they are hurting and etc. I think being able to address ignorance from having once been ignorant is an underappreciated thing.
    Because the world wants you to be perfect since the day you were born. It takes guts to admit when you aren’t.

  • stardreamer42

    You forgot no-fault divorce — that’s the biggest bugaboo, and the driving force behind nonsense like “covenant marriage”. Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder, and all that crap.

    If you really want to make marriage more of a permanent commitment, don’t waste time on making it harder to get OUT of, make it harder to get INTO. Make people think more about the kind of commitment they’re committing to before they’ve done it, and you’ll have fewer cases of buyer’s remorse afterwards.

    Of course, this approach presumes that most people will be getting married in a religious context, so perhaps it’s not so useful for our increasingly secular / nominally-religious society. You can’t force people to go to church, after all, let alone to actually be devout.

  • No it doesn’t. Though it does assume that the general pattern of how people change as they get older can in many cases be predicted.

  • Of course, making it harder to get married is a good quick way to ensure that homosexuals and other maligned groups are actively prevented from marrying whether it’s legal or not.

  • I know that I have linked this 2008 New Yorker article “Red Sex, Blue Sex” before, but it seems appropriate to this.

    A big thrust of the article is in the comparison between the way red states treat their sexual mores and blue states leads to some interesting contrasts. One of the things that they mentioned is that red states, on the whole, tend to a culture that is very clear in the kind of sexual mores it expresses, while being in line with the wider culture on the sexual mores it actually practices. On the other hand, blue states tend to be a bit more murky on the sexual mores they express, but are pretty solid about the sexual mores that they actually practice.

    One of the points was that red states put a lot of cultural value on the idea of marriage and family, condemning sexual promiscuity and adultery. However, things like adultery still happen in red states, and the emphasis on marriage and lack of valuing of birth control among the unmarried (as something that implies you were looking for or expecting to have sex) leads to lots of young pregnancies and early marriages to avoid losing face. Unfortunately, a marriage that is rushed forward due to unfortunate circumstances tends not to be a very lasting one, producing broken families more often than not.

    In contrast, blue states tend to express fewer “firm” moral valuation of sex and family, but on the other hand consider things like young pregnancy as a dangerous thing that ends careers and life plans before they have begun in earnest. Hence, there is a lot more acceptance of birth control, more careful family planning, later average age of marriage, etc. But thanks to better assets at the time of childbirth and more time spent selecting a partner for whom one is a good long term match, the blue state model tends to lead to a more long-term stable family structure, even if the expressed mores are less strong about how much they value family.

    It is a good read.

  • I kinda wish I could go and be a Poe out there, attend one of their rallies and say, in a reverent, awestruck voice, “You mean even if I hit her, she still can’t leave me? Wow. Bless you guys, you really are doing God’s work here!”

  • You know Gary North is completely insane, right? He wants to execute all the gays. And atheists. And adulterers. Assuming you’re not covered in the above, just wait…he’ll get around to you eventually.

  • Partially irrational, not completely insane. I have learned throughout my life that even the wackiest people can harbor excellent ideas. I am an atheist. Could you cite your sources for your last four sentences?

  • Lunch Meat
  • lowtechcyclist

    I’m still not sure why Wallis has changed, other than that the bandwagon was heading down the road without him. If he still believes in the clobber-texting approach, those clobber texts are still there. I don’t see how you get out of that bind without disavowing clobber-texting itself.

    The former math teacher in me says: maybe he came up with the correct answer, but it doesn’t mean much if he doesn’t show his work.

  • Treatment of atheists as foreigners isn’t the same thing as executing them.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    From Lunch Meat’s link:

    Gary North is a Christian Reconstructionist who is on record endorsing the stoning of children who curse their parents, LGBTQ individuals, adulterers, fornicators, women who have had abortions or encouraged or assisted in abortions, and blasphemers

    Do atheists not count as blasphemers? And if not, how do you feel about the right to vote?

    North: “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel.”

  • Ah. You’re right, then. That still doesn’t discount from North’s criticisms of Wallis.

  • cyllan

    We had a number of conversations leading up to this that centered around making sure all three people involved in the service were comfortable with the rituals and professions of faiths that were involved. The fundamentals of our various beliefs align sufficiently that the fact that we express those fundamentals through different systems wasn’t actually an obstacle.

    It was important to me (and to my spouse) that we be married by someone who had wrestled and questioned their faith because it underscored one of our vows — that we would support one another in our questioning and in our faith journey.

    I will say that I really recommend considering the wedding as a microcosm of what you-as-a-couple want your marriage to be. Our vows were by no means standard, but even 13 years on, they are vows that still have meaning and that we attempt to live up to.

    Circling back around to Mary Kaye’s point: we did not promise to be together until death. We didn’t promise to be monogamous. A number of the decisions that we made in our wedding would be anathema to the more hardline Covenant Marriage people. But, because we worked at it, and because we discussed it ahead of time, we have a relationship that is, basically, what they want. We’re committed adults raising a family. Making sure that other people are in a position to do what we did — by providing support networks, counseling, child care that is non-stressful — is a great way to build a working relationship. Mandating that you can’t divorce the spouse that just trampled all over your marriage vows is not.

  • cyllan

    Even better, build up a support network so that it’s not just two people trying to manage impossible tasks like raising a child. Right-wing conservatives like to hand out a lot of shit to liberals who say it, but it really does take a village to raise a child. The better your support network — no matter how fast you got into a marriage, the better your chances at staying married. The more options you have, the stronger your family will be, and the more stressed out you are, the more likely it is that the day-to-day grind will wear you down.

  • Lunch Meat

    North is being ridiculously inconsistent. His complaints about the social gospel are basically that it says the government should support the poor through enforced taxation, despite the fact that this is exactly what is instituted in the Old Testament law he claims to want America to follow. If he is going to advocate for the stoning of disobedient children, he should advocate just as strongly against the charging of interest, for the year of Jubilee, and for farmers to be forced to leave the extras of their crops for the poor and the widows.

  • All that’s discussed in the critique of Sider I linked to.

  • Lunch Meat

    With respect, I am not going to read that because I can tell just from the title that it is going to make me angry and I have better things to do tonight. All I’ll say is that starting off characterizing his opponents as “guilt-manipulators” is basically saying they are not in good faith. Not interested.

    If you have a brief summary or quote stating succinctly and fairly, without biased language, why the laws about the poor should not be enforced while the laws against adultery should, please link to it.

  • Nick

    Wallis did say that we should *include* gay marriage in our “renewal” and “deepening” of the definition. Maybe he has changed his mind on homosexuality itself and is just being spineless.

  • banancat

    Why should marriage be presumed to be permanent and all others should find something else? Why not keep the term for the more common (both currently and historically) practice and allow others who intend permanency to find an alternative?

    But in any case, why should they even be different? And why should it ever be difficult to get out of even if the original intent was permanency? Who would it ever benefit to keep people in dysfunctional relationships?

  • Really, find someone who doesn’t make Adolph Hitler look like a liberal and I’ll try it out. Not going to pollute my mind with this guy’s garbage.

  • I think trying to make it harder to get married is, as AnonymousSam says, more likely to cause problems for already-marginalized groups than it is to solve any problems.

    Other people have already discussed the importance of providing tools and support networks for married and engaged couples. But I think another thing that’s worth mentioning is the importance of accepting and honouring the choice not to get married.

    I’ve often heard it said that we’d have fewer bad parents if more people were open to the idea that it’s okay not to have children. Similarly, I think we’d have fewer unhappy marriages if more people were open to the idea that not everyone must or should get married.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wanting to murder a good chunk of the population simply for not sharing your exact beliefs is “partially irrational”?

    WTF do you consider insane, then?

  • Carstonio

    “Losing face” encapsulates an entire culture. One legacy of slavery is a corrupted set of values, prizing appearance, status, honor and tradition. What the New Yorker article describes for the red states is a slightly milder version of the sexist idea that a young unmarried mother brings shame on her family.

  • JustoneK

    Whether or not most conservatives realize it, that exact support network is (usually) what they enjoy and keeps them stable. It’s built in. To extend it to more people potentially disrupts their service, and that’s terrifying.
    And there still seems to be this idea that not being tapped into that network means you don’t want what it provides, not that you never had an opportunity to tap into it at all.

  • other lori

    In fairness, though, isn’t that how most people come to the opinions they do on most issues? It’s not that they’ve given it much thought, it’s that they jump on the bandwagon.

    I know many people around Wallis’s age, including my parents and ILs, whose thinking on these issues probably followed the same trajectory: if you’d asked them about gay rights in the early 1990s, they would have been opposed; if you’d asked them in the early 2000s, they’d have said that they support legal equality for LGBT people, but not marriage; if you ask them today, they think gay couples should be able to marry.

    If anything, Wallis is just kind of exemplifying the trajectory of many in his generation on this issue. I don’t know, while I don’t think it points to anything special or good about him, I still think it’s pretty astonishing that so many people changed their mind so completely on the issue in such a relatively short period of time. Wallis might seem like he changed his mind too late, but if you consider that, in 1994, 25 years after interracial marriage was legalized everywhere, only 48% of Americans said they approved of it, it seems like most people figuring out that gay marriage should be legal when it’s still illegal in most states is pretty impressive, as a trend.

  • A homeopath who happens to be a flat-earther, scarcity-denialist, creationist, a supporter of Fomenko’s chronology, and a Marxist who refuses to use lowercase letters may be fully irrational. Also, I do not like the use of the word “insane”. It suggests that the source of an idea is more important than its truth or defensibility.

  • A homeopath who happens to be a flat-earther, scarcity-denialist, creationist, a supporter of Fomenko’s chronology, and a Marxist who refuses to use lowercase letters may be fully irrational. Also, I do not like the use of the word “insane”. It suggests that the source of an idea is more important than its truth or defensibility.

  • That was me. I accidentally hit the “X” button. Respond to the repeat.

  • Do I really have to copy-and-paste arguments?
    “But Sider is correct about one thing. The Jubilee law is not
    binding today, on several counts. It referred specifically to the
    land of Israel, which God had divided among the tribes. By divine
    fiat, the Israelites became the “original owners.” The previous
    owners – the Canaanites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc. -were forever
    dispossessed, because God had declared that the land belonged to
    His people. No other landowner can make this claim. I may buy
    or sell property, but I cannot claim a “divine right” to anything in
    the sense that the Israelites could. We cannot establish the Jubilee·
    anywhere outside Palestine, for we have no starting point. Who is
    the original owner of your property? The Indians?”
    -From the critique of Sider I linked to.

  • Again, from the critique of Sider I linked to:
    “Two points are of special importance here. First, gleaning was
    not indiscriminate. Landowners apparently had the right to specify
    which of the “deserving poor” could glean on their land, and
    special favors would be granted by the owner (Ruth 2:4-16).
    Gleaning was not simply a “right ” which could be claimed by any
    poor person against the field of any landowner. In no sense was
    property held in common. God required landowners to allow the
    poor to glean, but the owner nevertheless had the right to dispose
    of his property as he saw fit, within the boundaries of the law. The
    gleaning law cannot be used as a basis for social redistribution of
    Second, gleaning was hard work – much harder than normal
    harvesting. Gleaners had to labor arduously in order to gather
    sufficient food. Only a little would be left after the reapers were
    finished: a small cluster of grapes here, a sheaf of grain there.
    Israel was no Welfare State. Recipients of charity had to be diligent workers. The lazy and improvident could expect no saving intervention by a benevolent bureaucrat.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    That argument seems fundamentally flawed, but I can’t put a finger on why…
    …oh yeah, maybe because it’s theological, and we’re looking for secular.
    Also, no, not the Indians. Try ‘Native Americans’ or ‘First Nations’ or use the names of the specific tribes to which you refer. Or ‘American Indians’ if you’re speaking of people who prefer that term. Indians, no qualifier, are invariably from India.