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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  • lowtechcyclist

    The reason we know who Jim Wallis is, is that he’s been an intellectual proponent and defender of certain ideas. That’s why people have thought he was worth listening to, or worth taking issue with.

    If he’s now OK with gay marriage because that’s where the bandwagon is going, there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it negates any reason we might have to be discussing his change of mind, rather than that of Joe Blow down the street.

    The very fact that we are having this conversation is why we should be asking what Wallis’ basis was for changing his mind.

  • Carstonio

    Good news from Fred’s neck of the woods:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/04/11/delaware_the_next_blue_state_to_move_on_marriage_equality.html

    This afternoon, most of the state’s leadership — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senate president, speaker of the house — will gather in Wilmington to announce legislation that would legalize gay marriage. All they need to do is alter Delaware’s statute on marriage, which prohibits unions between “people of the same gender.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    So the “lazy and improvident” deserve to go hungry?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I am quoting, not paraphrasing. I do not like the use of the term “Indians”, either. As we are discussing theological issues, your first sentence is a non-sequitur.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Funny, because debts are a secular matter, not a matter of theology or morality.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Of course, if food is sufficiently scarce.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s not.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I know.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Lastly, in regards to interest laws and the poor, according to Exodus 22:27, the truly needy were people with only one set of clothing. According to Deuteronomy 23:20, unbelievers were allowed to be charged interest. Matthew 25:27 suggests interest was allowed to be charged on business loans to fellow Israelites.

  • Carstonio

    “Uncertain trumpet” is a good description. Wallis appears unsure of the exact limits of the legal realm, at least on the marriage issue. Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that their goal is also strengthening marriage, and Wallis is enabling their disingenuous argument, or at least treating it with a seriousness it doesn’t deserve. A “deeper commitment to marriage” shouldn’t even be part of the discussion, since the millions of same-sex couples who seek marriage equality are already willing to make that commitment. The term is so vague that it’s tempting to suspect Wallis of using it euphemistically. Perhaps he really believes in Charles Cooper’s strange argument before the Supreme Court about relationship modeling.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    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.

    North is not quite so literal about what counts as Israel and what doesn’t when it comes to the laws he does want to uphold:

    Why, then, do so many Christians say that there’s no such thing as biblical law for today’s civil governments? Why do they choose to live under the control of something other than God’s civil law? Why do they continue to choose Egypt and Babylon as their homes? How long will they continue to argue that any law-order can be accepted by Christians, no matter where or when they live, except one law-order, namely, the law-order ordained by God for His people and delivered by Moses and the prophets? How long will they continue to defend the legitimacy of Egypt and Babylon and continue to deny the legitimacy of Jerusalem?

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    wallis was sort of my gateway into progressive faith/politics in college, (and i actually visited the Hill with sider on a call-to-renewal lobbying day.) your take is fascinating and, i think, true.

    at least he’s not actively standing in the way of lgbt equality? #babysteps

  • Lunch Meat

    “Do I really have to copy-and-paste arguments?”

    Do you really expect me to read a 453-page book for an internet discussion?

    I should note that I have not read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, so my conclusions about a Christian response to poverty are from my own study, and I don’t know what specific proposals Chilton’s critique is responding to. It looks like Chilton thinks that the economic laws about Jubilee cannot be applied today because it wouldn’t make sense, and the laws about gleaning cannot be construed as support for welfare to those who don’t work because they are not equivalent. That’s a fair statement.

    However, we’re not talking about Chilton’s critique of Sider–we’re talking about North’s. And North is being inconsistent if he agrees with the idea that the laws about economic justice cannot be applied today because in our contexts they don’t make sense, cannot be applied easily, or are untenable. The man wants to stone people! If North wants the Old Testament law, he should want all of the Old Testament law. If gleaning is not equivalent to modern welfare, fine–let’s institute gleaning as it was! Is North advocating for that? If not, he is inconsistent. Is North advocating for a definition of needy as “only possessing one outfit of clothing”? If not, he is inconsistent. He is not allowed to make arguments about reasonableness or context if he wants disobedient children and blasphemers to be stoned.

    Particularly the argument about Jubilee makes no sense with respect to North’s consistency. If it’s inapplicable today because it was based on divine fiat, then the *entire law* is inapplicable because it was based on divine protection and blessing! The beginning point of the law is “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” None of us have been brought out of Egypt, so why should this apply to us?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    There are pragmatic considerations too. Raising a child alone is difficult, especially when one does not have a lot of job skills or experience to leverage into resources to provide for the family. Having a spouse with an income to supplement your own (and get tax breaks for being married with a dependent) can make a difficult situation (and having a child is always difficult no matter how much joy a parent might take in that challenge) a little easier.

    If the fetus was aborted, that would stop the problem, but again that runs smack into cultural mores that try to clamp down on that sort of thing. Preventing the pregnancy in the first place with appropriate birth control would be even better, as a pregnancy that does not happen is not subject to consideration for termination in the first place. But again, cultural mores demanding abstinence before marriage discourage birth control in unmarried persons.

    In this later case, I think it is not just a matter of face for the unmarried persons. I think that a lot of them genuinely believe that they should remain abstinent until marriage and think that they will. Unfortunately for them, they are just as human as anyone else, and just as subject to the same desires and lapses. As the Vulcans say, “There is nothing logical about the Pon-farr.”

  • other lori

    I’m not sure Wallis really needs to have changed his view of any particular verses to change his mind. He’d just have to think differently about how to apply those verses.

    He could take the view of Richard Foster in Money, Sex, and Power (and that was written in the mid-80s, so it’s possible Foster too has changed his mind since then) that homosexuality is always and inherently sinful, but that if somebody is unable to be celibate, they should be encouraged to “practice their homosexuality” in the most moral context possible, which he considered to be a monogamous, marriage-like commitment.

    Or he could take a position more along the lines of J.R. Daniel Kirk in Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?, who believes that the Bible does rather unequivocally condemn homosexuality, but that that necessarily doesn’t mean that’s the last word on it, and is open to the possibility that the presence of faithful LGBT Christians in the church today signals God doing a new thing requiring some former laws to be let go, along the lines of Gentile believers in the early church leading Christians to conclude that laws around diet and circumcision could be let go.

    I don’t know. I’m not really a fan of Wallis, but it’s more a matter of disliking his tone; he always comes across as patronizing to me. But it’s possible that he still interprets the “clobber verses” the same way he always did, but has altered his view of how to apply them and what importance to give them.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It’s not the people that count; it’s the land. By “Israel”, Chilton means “Palestine”.

  • other lori

    This is an area where I think we need balance. Yes, there are marriages that are so damaging that it’s better for both parties and their children, if they have them, to get out. But, really, based on the research, as much as we hate to admit it, kids are the ones who tend to benefit from marriages staying together. The idea that kids are better off with happily unmarried parents than unhappily married parents doesn’t seem to be backed by research findings (and the idea that people are happier after divorce also doesn’t have much backing).

    We shouldn’t force people to stay in marriages at all costs, but I also think we need to perhaps encourage sticking with relationships more than we do. I think a lot of it just involves tools: I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I’ve read a few places that couples that divorce generally don’t have more conflicts than couples who don’t divorce; it’s not really a matter of conflict or unhappiness but what tools a couple has to deal with that conflict and unhappiness. A particular peeve of mine is that insurance plans rarely if ever cover marriage counselling, and marriage counselling is expensive. You’d think that if we value marriage as a society as much as we say we do, we’d be willing to make some investments into things like making marriage counselling more affordable and widely available.

    I just don’t think we’re really being honest if we pretend that nobody benefits if marriage stay together, especially if kids are involved.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Do you really expect me to read a 453-page book for an internet discussion?

    -Of course not! I do, however, expect you to know how to use the “Find” feature.
    North opposes welfare-statism, which, according to him, is “economic aid to the poor in the form of government policies that can be enforced only by the threat of systematic violence”. For North on gleaning (in his “Boundaries and Dominion”), see http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnde/Chapter60.htm
    The argument about Jubilee is that it only applies to Palestine.

  • EllieMurasaki

    welfare-statism, which, according to him, is “economic aid to the poor in the form of government policies that can be enforced only by the threat of systematic violence”

    How does he propose to ensure that the poor collectively stop being poor?
    The argument about Jubilee is that it only applies to Palestine.
    Which still makes no fucking sense considering we are discussing debts, not morality or theology.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Here’s North on the Jubilee: http://www.garynorth.com/public/592.cfm

  • Lunch Meat

    You can’t seriously claim to object to the possibility of government violence in the service of feeding the hungry when you’re *advocating stoning of disobedient children.*

    I completely disagree with his distinction between “civil crime” and “sin” in the law. Just because a punishment is not listed does not mean that it was not viewed as a violation of the law and a crime. And I still think it’s inconsistent to complain about context and taking things literally and what makes sense in society when you’re advocating the stoning of disobedient children. Even if gleaning wouldn’t work in a non-agricultural society, he makes no effort to describe what *would* be analogous in the modern world, or to offer a proposal to make sure that poor people *are* offered opportunities to feed themselves by working. He is inconsistent and I cannot take his criticisms seriously.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Sure, they are. I was responding to Fred’s

    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.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is about the morality of how one treats poor folks and debtors, as I recall. And the theology of what God thinks about people who mistreat poor folks and fail to forgive unpayable debts.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Which’ above is the Bible, sorry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    I’m all for calling people on the ad hominem fallacy, but when someone is provably worse than Hitler — more people would be killed under Biblical rule than under the Third Reich, such as EVERY CHILD EVER BORN — one might safely dismiss his views as very far out of polite discussion.

  • Lunch Meat

    lol @ North using “genocide” as a scary word and arguing the OT order is no longer in force when he advocates for the stoning of disobedient children.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Apparently, North advocates stoning disobedient children as a potentially more effective substitute for the (far more expensive) Drug War. http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnde/Chapter49.htm

  • EllieMurasaki

    “North advocates stoning disobedient children” is all we need to know to dismiss his opinions.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    No. As I have said, even the wackiest people can harbor good ideas.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Maybe. But I’d like to hear it from him, whatever his reasoning is.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, they can. That doesn’t mean it’s worth listening to whatever good ideas might be held by someone who thinks it’s a good idea to KILL DISOBEDIENT CHILDREN.

    Find someone who isn’t batshit and who has the same good ideas as North, and cite that person instead. Assuming North has good ideas; I certainly haven’t heard any.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    North is obsessed with the letter of the law over the spirit. How ironic that he claims Luke 4:18-21 has Jesus abolishing jubilee. It seems to me that Jesus is actually calling out the Pharisees for falling to live up to the spirit of Jubilee and saying that therefore he’ll take it from here:

    He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” And then he dropped the mic.

    (To be fair, I’m Jewish- and no expert on Luke- so I am quite frustrated with North’s bizarrely literal and outmoded understanding of Leviticus.)

  • Kubricks_Rube

    What good ideas are you saying North has? If it’s his understanding of Jubilee, then wouldn’t a “wacky” exegesis on the one part of Leviticus call into question his supposedly interesting thoughts on another? These are related topics; it’s not like he’s saying to stone children on the one hand and bemoaning the designated hitter on the other.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    North is by far the most prolific writer among those who advocate free markets using the Bible. Also, by “children” North means “adults who live with their parents”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Prolific’ != ‘saying anything worth hearing’.

    Specifying adult children DOES NOT IMPROVE MATTERS.

  • other lori

    I’m not sure how much of it is conscious, though. I just read an essay with my students last semester about how people seem to have a built-in capacity to deny when they were wrong. People reconstruct their past in terms of their present. It seems like, unless you are going to take the time and effort to be really ruthlessly self-reflective, the natural tendency isn’t to say, “I used to believe X, then realized I was wrong, and now I believe Y,” but to say, “I was heading toward Y all along.”

    I think part of the problem is that admitting you were wrong about X leaves open the possibility that you might be wrong about Y, too. If you acknowledge that you’ve been wrong in the past, it means you might be wrong about things right now. And, on the internet at least, nobody is wrong about anything.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That’s supposed to be better? And I thought it was bad that your primary objection to slavery was “slaveowners denied the slaves (unseen) opportunity.” You’re starting to remind me of Just Sayin’ on the mental health thread — “Sure, he thinks the entire British civilization is out to start wars in Syria and that there’s a global conspiracy against Russians and the decline of Christianity can clearly be measured by Easter becoming a commercial holiday and that all relates to why we’ve become barbarians, but BESIDES THAT, I’m sure he’s got a very good point about antidepressants.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There’s got to be a limit to the Poisoning the Well fallacy, especially when you do it to yourself.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, fair…but seriously, what has he said that’s worth a hearing?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s kind of like dissociation from one’s past self fueled by cognitive dissonance. I could almost consider it a variant of the dissociative disorder I coined in my Abnormal Psychology term paper*, but most of the time, it’s pretty obvious it’s just ego getting in the way of admitting their faults. :p

    * Dissociative Severance, a disorder categorized by abrupt, complete loss of identification with one’s life up to the assumption of the disorder — their memories of past experiences, beliefs and relationships remain, but the sufferer has no recognition of them as something that relates to themselves in any way. It’d be like if you woke up tomorrow morning and everything that happened up to that day felt like something you’d read in a book, instead of something that actually happened to you.

  • Carstonio

    Very true. I wasn’t denying the existence of those practical considerations. My point was that these are ignored or discounted by the value system. I’ve heard defenders of that system insist that those considerations make shaming of single mothers necessary, but usually it’s a rationalization for women’s sexuality as male property.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Actually, I’m agreeing with you. I think if a person poisons their own well to the point of making themselves a noxious presence, then they fully deserve to be thought of as having no credibility. A stopped clock is correct twice a day; that doesn’t mean it’s a reliable timepiece.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    And I thought it was bad that your primary objection to slavery was “slaveowners denied the slaves (unseen) opportunity.”

    -Why?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Because it makes you sound like your sole identification with the slaves was in what kind of business ventures they’d have been capable of if they hadn’t been slaves, which is a particularly inhuman and dehumanizing way of regarding people who were already being treaten as subhuman creatures.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Your primary objection isn’t that people were forced to do backbreaking labor, or raped and forced to bear children, or tortured and killed for putting a toe outside exceedingly restrictive lines. Your primary objection is denial of opportunity.

    You don’t see the problem with that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Also, as a self-admitted atheist, why DO you give a shit what the Bible says?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Backbreaking labor is done by non-slaves all the time (esp. in Nigeria and Bangladesh). I have no problem with employers setting up “exceedingly restrictive lines”, or punishing workers brutally for going outside them (if this is part of a voluntary employee-employer agreement). Rape was largely confined to female slaves and was certainly not committed by all (or even most) male slaveholders. Citing only the worst instances of a practice to condemn all of it is simply lazy, as is not comparing that practice’s results with alternatives.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So… you have no actual problems with slavery then.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Growling due to annoyance]. Didn’t I answer this question a dozen or so comments back?
    “I was responding to Fred’s

    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.


    -And ancient history is fun.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I do have problems with slavery: namely, that it caused large distortions in the Southern economy, similar to those under socialism, only on a decentralized scale, deprived opportunities for economic (and other) advancement to millions of people, and deprived millions of choices over what to do with their lives. Slavery also helped to deprive many of a spirit of personal responsibility and helped cement racism and its pernicious effects.


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