Gay Marriage: Is it Right to be Wrong?

You will notice, when observing heated debates about various issues in our society that those engaged in battle do not actually discuss whether the actions they are debating are right or wrong. The arguments are being conducted on a different battlefield than the real one. The deceivers hope by winning a battle on one battleground to have an assumed victory on the other. It is like defeating Jimmy on tennis court one and assuming you have beaten the world champion on center court at Wimbledon.

Let’s take the example of homosexual “marriage”–although one could take any number of current debates and apply the same critique.

The arguments for homosexual marriage are only three: sentimentalism, utilitarianism and political correctness. The sentimental argument goes like this: “Kevin and Fred are really nice guys. They love each other. I don’t know why you have to be so negative and judgmental!!!” The sentimental argument in this case, as in most issues in our society is usually the first and predominant one. The problem with it is that your emotional judgment is only as valid as the next person’s. Why should your affection and warm feelings towards Kevin and Fred trump my feelings of repugnance at what they do? Is there any reason why your kindly feelings are any more valid as a form of argument than my feelings of disgust? We think that kindly feelings are “nicer” in some way and therefore better, but that is in itself, a sentimental argument. Feelings of disgust are proper and fine when the thing considered is disgusting. When I step in dog poop and walk it all across the new carpet my feelings of disgust are correct.

The sentimental argument is specious. So is the utilitarian argument. The utilitarian argument goes like this: “Civil marriage provides stable and permanent legal and social standing to homosexual couples. This will help them to normalize and stabilize their relationships, provide peaceful co-existence between them and those with whom they disagree and provide a stable and secure psychological and social background for them and their families so they can contribute positively to society.” Nice. Sounds good. However, with all utilitarian arguments there is an underlying flaw. There is nothing wrong with a utilitarian argument. The problem is if the argument is only utilitarian.

If the usefulness of the proposition is the only criteria for it’s acceptance, why then anything which is useful is good. I have written much more on the tyranny of utilitarianism here. Suffice it to use an example: let us say that it is much more economical and easy and pain free to terminate the life of grandma as she lies drooling in her nursing home bed. Shall we give her a pill and put her to sleep? Let us argue that a particular group of people like homosexuals or Jews or gypsies are a curse on society and should be first locked away and then eliminated. Shall we do so because we have convinced ourselves that it is useful? Of course not. A utilitarian argument may therefore be a useful argument, but if it is the only argument, then it is not useful, but dangerous, for it lays the precedent for other “useful” argument that bring horror

The third argument is for political correctness or civil rights. It goes like this: “It’s Kevin and Fred’s right to marry if they want to! This is a free country! They have the right!” The problem with this argument is who determines what is a civil right and what is not? Is it majority rule? When has the majority ever been right about anything? Read More…

 

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://digihairshirt.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Richer

    This is a home run, Father! Great article!

  • u3

    Fr. Dwight, you are completely correct in your entire argument here!! I love it! You truly hit the ‘nail on the head’ with this. Once sentimentalism and p.c. are gone from the argument then homosexuals, and their supporters, have absolutely nothing to argue about. In the end they will just revert back to uncivility by accusations, name-calling, and illogical and unrational judgment. Some people think that whoever yells the loudest wins the argument. We could all scream at the top of our lungs that 2+2=5 and it would still be wrong in every situation…then we would only end up being hoarse and still incorrect with nothing more to say. It would be nice for these supporters of gay-unions to learn more about theological anthropology…start with that and then argue from there. I agree 100% about sodomy and the ‘inability’ to openly talk about this…the anus is only meant for exit…not entry, and it is dirty, dirty,dirty, that’s why that type of bacteria is only contained in that part of the body. Thank you, Fr. Dwight, for having the courage to tell people they’re wrong, even though people can’t stand to hear that.

  • Tom Miller

    Whether you are a Christian who believes that homosexuality is a sin (not all do), or a gay activist working for equal access to civil rights (getting a marriage certificate at your county courthouse is a civil right), it seems we all need to go through a process of forgiveness and reconciliation. As the Dalai Lama has said, “All of us want to be happy. No one wants to suffer. If we act and behave with that in mind, then it will be a good thing”.
    I believe in cultural peace, not cultural war, and I believe that when we divert the tens of millions of dollars that we are currently spending on this culture war to useful areas, that we will be better.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Why not check out what the Dalai Lama thinks of homosexuality?

      • Tom Miller

        The Dalai Lama like Jesus has never condemned homosexuality as sinful.

        • Buzz

          Jesus never condemned extortion, embezzlement, child pornography, animal abuse, and any number of other things, either. By your lights, those things are all okay then.

    • Douglas Johnson

      Oh Gracious Tom,

      When you parents inflicted suffering upon you (say, a good spanking) for doing something wrong, were they forsaking “cultural peace”? Your comment is going to make my eyes roll all day, probably cramping them by about 4 o’clock.

    • m delaney

      Conceding a a point in the interest of appeasment is cowardly and dangerous. This is exactly the danger of political correctness that Fr. is talking about. What if your agrument is for euthenizing the old or inferm? What if your a proponent of child sex ( ie. NAMBLA) or legalizing heroin, by all means , lets allow it, we wouldn’t want to offend or upset anyone.

    • Louis E.

      I am not a Christian,but believe it profoundly harmful to have “marriage” that fails to unite male to female treated as anyone’s “civil right”.There is a secular public interest in securing the existence of opposite-sex relationships that is completely nonexistent in the case of same-sex sexual relationships,and the existence of civil marriage is justified exclusively by the extent to which it serves that public interest by securing to opposite-sex relationships the preferential treatment to which their being opposite-sex entitles them (regardless of reproductive intent or capacity,which are private matters).

  • Bob

    “The arguments for homosexual marriage are usually only two: sentimentalism and political correctness.”

    And there you go, starting off with a false narrative. Marriage, civil marriage provides protection and stability to loving couples and their families. Strive to be a bit more honest and we’ll have this conversation.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I will correct the post. You are right that utilitarianism is also an argument.

  • Pingback: The “dictatorship of moral relativism” « The Greenroom

  • Steven Rogers

    The whole problem with your argument is that you are starting with the conclusion that gay relationships are wrong. Of course you are basing this on a religious doctrine you believe in and that makes it your choice to believe so. What your religious belief does not do however is decide how other people who do not share your particular superstitions should think and feel. Unless of course you would like to live in theocracy which explicitly follows your Biblical rules (and anything else is surely just men layering complexity on the document). Then of course you must want to take us back to an era where it is just and right to stone a man for gathering sticks on the sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36), blasphemers also get stoned (Leviticus 24:16), as do adulterers (Deuteronomy 22:22).

    You may want to live in such a world but many do not share your views and in a civilized society your choices and views are absolutely no more valid than those of others – you just think they are and that closes your mind and your heart.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The post was not about the rights and wrongs of homosexuality, but about the methods of argumentation going on. I could just as easily have written about the immorality of bankers giving themselves fat bonuses.

      • Another Bob

        Actually, Father, your post is a perfect example of classic demagoguery. The demagogue ALWAYS declares himself the arbiter of which “methods of argumentation” are legitimate and he ALWAYS reserves the right miscast arguments arguments he doesn’t agree with.
        So arguing that gay people have the same rights as straight people is just “political correctness.” Arguing that same-sex marriage would be a positive for the participants in such marriages and by extension society as a whole is mere “utilitarianism” and we all know (hitler) where that (nazis) leads to (death camps). And basic moral arguments that it’s just wrong to treat gay people differently when it comes to their full participation in civil society — well, that’s just sentimentality. And whose to say that your sentimentality is better than my sentimentality?
        So you see, folks, it’s not really even ABOUT gay marriage at all. It’s really about the reason I’m always right, which is that all arguments that don’t lead to the same conclusions I have drawn are illegitimate by definition, because I say so.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          The post was not about homosexual marriage. It was about the faulty reasoning used to defend homosexual marriage. I could have written a post using any number of issues to illustrate my point.

          • Another Bob

            Indeed. And my comment was not about gay-marriage, per se, either, but about the thinly veiled demagoguery of self-appointed arbiters of legitimate argument.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            or you could debate the points of the actual post.

          • Reverend Robbie

            I think that Bob’s point was that the points of the actual post were an insufficient representation of the actual arguments that gay rights advocates actually make. I’ve heard each of these, in some form, but they are hardly the primary or most common arguments. The primary argument for gay rights is this: There are insufficient reasons to grant marriage rights to straight couples while denying them to gay couples. Belief that God does not like homosexuality, or the position that homosexuality is gross, or the argument that homosexuals can’t have children, do not constitute sufficient reasons to deny gay couples who love each other the rights that are given to straight couples with no additional barriers.

            Unless there is sufficient reason to disallow a marriage, if two consenting adults who are in love are not allowed to marry when other consenting adults who are in love are allowed to marry, then there is unjustified discrimination. That’s the common argument, and Bob correctly points out that you did little to address it. Saying that homosexuality is an absolute moral sin (because God exists, created morals, and told you that homosexuality is immoral by making you repulsed by homosexual acts), is not a sufficient reason for discrimination.

      • Les

        I typically find that the argument for something that I am against is name-calling. That is, if I don’t like then I must be an ignorant *ss. They never say why I should feel/vote/think their way – they just insult me when I don’t.

    • Louis E.

      I am not religious at all (though not atheist) and consider the existence of two sexes in the species to render any attempt to justify same-sex sexual relationships completely irrational.Neither the desire to do something,nor the cause of that desire,nor the fact that others have done it have any bearing on whether doing that thing is right or wrong.

  • Johnny West

    Keep your religion out of our laws. Separation of Church and State. The days of the papal rule over civil matters are long over, THANK GOD.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Part of our religion is “Do not lie, do not steal, do not murder.” Shall we remove those parts of our religion from the state’s laws too? I’m afraid it is not as simple as you suppose.

      • Michael

        No, society keeps the good and ignores the rest. Besides those rules you mentioned are not unique to your religion, nor did they originate with your religion.

        • Robert M

          Nor did the natural law concerning sexual morality originate with the Christian religion. Religion doesn’t create these laws, but it does bear witness to them.

        • Jason

          Actually they did. Before Christianity lying, stealing and murder were not seen as wrong as we do today. They had Gods who were patrons and protectors of liars, thieves and murderers and no one thought anything was wrong with the idea to pray to Mercury to protect your thievery. Actually try knowing *something* about history before stating it.

    • u3

      Anyone that says that Church and State should be completely separate either has a profound misunderstanding about religion and/or a profound misunderstanding about the state. Both effect the lives of its citizens…just look at Fr. Dwight’s great response. Hatred of one or the other drive people to completely separate the two.

    • Les

      The constitution of the US says the government shall make no law interfering with the Church (but it still does). There is nothing in there that says the Church shall not try to persude the government (despite attempts to prevent it from doing so).

  • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.blogspot.com James

    Then let us discuss, father, whether such activities are morally good, morally evil, or morally neutral.

    Also, I noticed you talk a lot about Kevin and Fred, but make no mention of Kate and Sarah or what they do. To have a fair treatment of the issue means you must also discuss the morality of cunnilingus and the range of all that two women can do, which is quite different than that which two men can do. In fact, many married couples do these very same things as Kate and Sarah do as foreplay—with the Church’s blessing. Do you find these activities disgusting? Morally repugnant? If disgust is a reason why Kevin and Fred’s relationship is immoral, then what about Kate and Sarah’s?

    I do look forward to your upcoming column on the matter.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      As you’ve discerned, this is not a post on sexual ethics, but on the philosophy of the argumentation going on.

  • Ashley

    If you use disgust as your guide for judging right and wrong, you are committing exactly the same error as the “sentimental argument” you are complaining about: you are using an emotional response as a guide to morality. Why should your response trump the feelings of people who are not disgusted by gay relationships or gay sex care? Should we use the power of the state to outlaw human bonds because you find homosexuality gross? If enough people find your marriage disgusting, should we outlaw it?

    At the end of your piece, you state that “Furthermore, when moral relativism reigns it is not long before chaos and anarchy prevail. (It’s a logical consequence–if there is no right and wrong you may do as you wish)”. Can you identify a society which has descended into chaos and anarchy because of moral relativism? The problem with your statement is that it is not a simple logical consequence. It’s an empirical question, and it’s obvious from comparisons of highly religious and highly secular nations that belief in absolute or relative morality has nothing to do with individual or collective moral behavior.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I agree. One’s feeling of disgust is no more ground of argumentation that one’s feeling of kindness. That was my point. There are plenty of examples of moral decadence leading to societal decay: Greece, Rome, Russia, France…

  • http://robertrovegno@hotmail.com Robert

    Well you can also say that when “the Church” decides what is right and what is wrong the rulers of that church will decide based on what is good for them and what consolidates power and wealth in their hands. They too when they decide what is right and wrong will use their power when they have it to enforce their decisions. This is shown by the history of the church, from the early days when they had little power to later days when they had much.

    • Anglican Peggy

      The Church does not decide for itself what is right and wrong. The Church only preserves God’s moral teaching. The Church’s stance regarding homosexuality is just that, preserving what God has taught.

  • Bernie LaSalle

    Framing the argument about the morality of sex between consenting adults is intellectually bankrupt. The relationship of marriage is about many more things than sex. However, since you are focused on sex, all of the acts you describe can and do take place between heterosexual couples. Does this make these couples immoral?
    When people are discriminated against because of who they are by focusing on what they do, the discrimination is wrong and in this case it is a larger transgression than the one you are afraid of. Gay and lesbian people were born who they are. As a person of faith you would understand this as “God created them”. You may not understand how how people that are fundamentally different than you can be part of Creation but, like so many other things in life, you don’t have to. It’s called faith. Religious people use and depend on it everyday to help them accept the things in life they do not understand. It’s puzzling to me there seems to be so little of it around among people who profess to believe in it.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The post was not about homosexuality, but the type of argumentation going on.

    • Joseph Wingate

      Born who they are? So murders, rapists, pedophiles were born that way?

      “However, since you are focused on sex”

      Who is focused on sex? How about today’s culture, read the article about the college up in PA promoting a sex and masturbation class in a chapel.

      “all of the acts you describe can and do take place between heterosexual couples.”

      And you are saying that this is okay? So many husbands cheat on his wives too, doesn’t make it right.

  • Ashley Cruseturner

    Dear Fr. Longnecker, Thank you for a thoughtful piece. But I would argue that you have mischaracterized the dynamics of debate in modern American politics. In the main, we begin with a presumption of individual rights. We begin with a presumption that government should not impose its will on individuals. Surely, we overcome this inherent sympathy for the rights of the individual in myriad ways: we confiscate taxes, we conscript individuals for military service, we enact laws against murder and speeding and all manner of sexual deviations, etc. We justify all this, usually, in utilitarian terms–what is good for the community may necessitate limits on individuals. And while the debate is often argued in moral terms–it is much more a collective, secular morality. And that collective morality evolves (devolves). We are now products of the “rights revolution,” and we are quite accustomed to rolling back legislation that promotes a more traditional morality. For example, you and I would surely agree that the most devastating immoral sexual act in our society is adultery (once against the law in many American communities). But, long ago, the community decided to set aside the “right and wrong” of the adultery debate for the sake of convenience and individual liberty. The debate over homosexuality in our society is simply following that path.

    • Douglas Johnson

      Ashley,

      I think you make an error right at the beginning when you write:

      In the main, we begin with a presumption of individual rights. We begin with a presumption that government should not impose its will on individuals.

      Let’s go back to the Declaration of Independence. We begin with the presumption that our rights can’t be taken away because they come from God, not men. Now keeping that in mind I think you can see the conflict with the rest of what you wrote.

      • Ashley Cruseturner

        Thank you for engaging, Fr. Longnecker. I appreciate it very much. By “we begin with” I was actually referring to “us” in the modern era . The eighteenth century (and the nineteenth for that matter) is really an entirely different kettle of fish. Our modern era really begins with incorporation and certainly runs through the “rights revolution” era . So, perhaps you could reread me with that in mind. I am not basing my argument on the DOI; rather I speak regarding our current conception of rights and due process and equal protection.

        • Douglas Johnson

          Ashley Cruseturner,

          I thought I should point out that it was I that responded to your comment, and not Fr. Longnecker.

          I think you are correct that for nearly half of the nation, it is now an entirely different kettle of fish. But roughly half of us still actually believe you (or anyone or any government) don’t have the authority to take away my rights that are given to me by God.

          And I also agree that things had changed on that in the 19th century. After all, half of the country then followed the thinking of John Calhoun who argued that our founding documents never recognized individual rights as coming from God, but rather he argued that the founding documents only bestowed rights to state governments and it was for those state governments to decide how to distribute individual freedoms.

          • Ashley Cruseturner

            Sorry about my mistake, Douglas. Thank you to you for engaging. My point relates only to how we go about deciding public policy issues. You make a good point that the nineteenth century (Calhoun especially) would have seen our modern conception of individual liberty over corporate freedom/responsibility as patently ridiculous.

      • Michael

        But whose God? I know many people who believe in God that have no problems with gay marriage.

        • Douglas Johnson

          Michael,

          When you say “I know many people who believe in God” do you mean that you know many people that believe in the whole panoply of Roman Gods and Hindu Gods and so forth, or do you mean that you know people who believe in one, true God? And if they mean one, true God, then that would mean that they have to regard counter-beliefs as false, right?

  • Pingback: Gay Marriage: Is it Right to be Wrong? | CATHOLIC FEAST

  • Mary

    There are some who think God changes His mind and Right and Wrong can also therefore flip places. Not so. God does not change nor do His Words change. Right and Wrong are not relativistic. Our personal whims will not change God nor will they change Right and Wrong.

    There are some who would re-write God’s words to make them fit their own wishes, removing and changing words to make God neuter, or even feminine. This is also wrong headed. No, God is Spirti and not physical, one might say, but remember Jesus, born through Mary, was both Man and God and He was not without gender. Because of our Patristic background, (pun intended) it is necessary to address and think of God as masculine. Re-writing scripture is foolishness and should be viewed as such.

    Those who would try to change our perceptions of who God is, are in fact showing they don’t actually believe He is a real person(s), rather they think He was created by the mind of man. These are worshipers of humanity, not of God.

    Now as far as same sex marriage goes, I personally, have absolutely no problem with it. But God does and has said so in no uncertain terms. I would wish Gluttony were a virture rather than a sin, because I really love to eat wonderful foods! But no matter how much I might wish that, Gluttony is now and always will be a sin. God simply does not change according to anyone’s whim. He is a real person(s) and not my personal “plaything” to be moved and stretched like rubber into any shape so desired.

    I am sorry if what I have said offends, but it has to be said and the truth so often does offend. Love the sinner (me as well as you) but do hate the sin.

  • Anglican Peggy

    I had an online argument with a gay man once regarding homosexuality. At some point in this lengthy argument, he took the position that his feelings were and should be his only moral guide. He argued that this was as it should be for everyone. I tried to argue from reason that if everyone lived like him, then society would descend into a kind of hyper-Balkanization in which people could not only no longer find agreement with anyone else but in which the possibility of communicating with one another would be entirely lost. This would inevitably lead to the end of the possibility of cooperation and therefore of society as we have known it.

    His response was to tell me that he didn’t care about that. His feelings were more important. He didnt care about Reason. Reason was fine for me but not for him. He chose to live by a different standard.

    My point in recapping is just to show how right Father L is about moral relativism but also to show how far gone some people are. I ultimately had to admit that it was impossible to find even a sliver of common ground with this person. If we couldn’t agree to use Reason as common ground, what more was there to say? This will be our future I’m afraid.

  • Douglas Johnson

    I know this post wasn’t about the redefinition of marriage per se, but I’ve spent much of the past decade reading and arguing about this topic. I’ve heard everything so many times and I’ve made the arguments so many times that it wears on one after a while (although that’s no excuse to take off your armor!). I have to say, this is the best piece I’ve read since I don’t know when. I’m going to read this over and over until it’s hardwired.

    My only complaint is that it would be nice if, when I clicked page 2, I got the whole thing on one page so that I could save it to my Evernote account without having to ever worry about a corrupted link. I can cut and paste and all that to solve the problem, but there are a number of reasons why it’s good to give us everything on one page (e.g. Instapaper articles). Just a suggestion…

  • Michael

    Are remarriages wrong? Yes from the point of view of a Catholic. If a previously married Catholic wishes to divorce and remarry the Catholic Church is free to stop that person from remarrying in the Catholic Church. Society has said however that the Church does not have a right to stop them from marrying in another church or civilly.

    The Catholic Church has the right to determine who they can and cannot marry, but they cannot require that society necessarily enforce those beliefs.

    I know many gay couples, some with children, some not. Some are good couples, some are not. Some are good parents, some are not. Some marriages have persisted, some have not. They’re just like my straight friends in all those regards.

    • Joseph Wingate

      So Michael what you are actually saying is that you would rather live in Pottersville?

      • Michael

        I have no idea what that means.

    • Louis E.

      That they are of the same-sex is an objectively bad thing about their couple-ness.This is not a religious issue in the slightest,nor am I a religious person.Human society needs only opposite-sex couples,and the complete cessation of same-sex coupling would be a boon to the species.

  • Lynda

    Succinct. Rational analysis of reasoning. Reason enables us to recognise what is good and what is evil. This is without recourse to the further wisdom endowed by faith responding to God’s revelation beyond our given nature. Sadly, utilitarianism often gets adopted by certain Christians to argue for acceptance of intrInsic evil in a society – they wish to be accepted y powerful elements in society, and have a more (falsely) peaceful life.

    • Michael

      Utilitarianism is the rational the Catholic bishops used to justify the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children. One would think the protection of children against sexual abuse would be a moral absolute but they weighed it against the “good of the Church” and opted to keep it quiet and move the abusing priest elsewhere.

  • Michael

    Do you honestly hold that rights are merely a matter of political correctness? Does that same disdain hold for the right to free speech, the right to practice a religious faith, the right of assembly.

  • Michael

    “Furthermore, when moral relativism reigns it is not long before chaos and anarchy prevail.”
    I don’t know of one moral relativist and I bet you do not either.

    A moral relativist is a person that maintains that there is no absolute moral code save what a particular society in a particular time dictates. For instance that person would maintain that slavery is wrong now, but was okay 200 years ago or that it was right to exclude women from voting in the 19th century but not in the 20th.

    People like the Pope are quick to brand those who happen to disagree with him on certain issues as moral relativists. It’s like branding them immoral or amoral. They have morals and principles, it’s just they are different than his.

    Maybe the next pope will do less name calling and have more respect for those that differ in opinion.

  • Gerry

    Father, you made the most common mistake of defenders of marriage. When you call same-sex pseudo-marriage “gay marriage”, you’ve conceded more than half the battle.

    • Louis E.

      I concur…one should only speak of “same-sex” and not “gay” alleged marriages,as whether or not either party to a marriage identifies as “gay” is of NO significance to the necessity that marriages unite male to female.

  • Mary

    2Timothy

  • Seattle Mom

    Sigh, Why do the Christians always feel that their way is the only way? I have traveled all over this world and not everyone believes in this same God. America is a FREE nation, free of religious persecution (sp) which means that those of us who do NOT believe in a certain punishing God, will have all the benefits and respect of the Government which governs the United States of America. I am not gay but I have served in the US Marine Corps and have seen what Nations that are ruled by a chosen God can do to its people. Horrible. The taliban pushes its values on its citizens and they have no choice on what to believe. I do NOT want that in my America. That is what I fight for.

    • Joseph Wingate

      Well as a former Marine..
      I, Seattle Mom, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

      Did you not repeat these words?

    • Douglas Johnson

      Seattle Mom,

      I was at a gathering the other night where a lively debate was taking place and a woman who had been standing by most of the time spoke up and said pretty much exactly what you just said. Participants on both sides of the debate all just politely kept quiet. The poor woman was a bit put off that no one responded to what she said and then walked away. I wondered whether she really believed she had described the world, history, and Christianity accurately in her comment, or if she was just venting.

      I’m just curious, if you were at an in-person gathering and someone made Fr. Dwight’s comment, is that how you would respond? Do you really think Christians don’t know that there are other religions? Do you think the appropriate posture for Christians is to behave as if their religion is not true? Don’t you believe your religion (secular humanism) makes radical metaphysical claims? Do you think you stand on neutral ground? Do you think the founders wrote the 1st amendment to protect the government from religion?

      I don’t mean to argue with you. I’m just curious what grounds your thinking.

  • Mary

    Seattle Mom, It is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    You have come to a Christian blog in order to complain of their Christian beliefs???? :-) Oh dear you are a funny thing aren’t you…. :-)

  • Lynda

    We can’t determine who God is and what his laws are – we can only recognise them through reason, supported by revelation.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    You continue to try to change the subject of this post. It is not about same sex marriage, as such. Nor is the posting specfically about whether homosexual acts are a sin. That was an example. Father Longenecker could have used any sin as an example, though I doubt he would have gotten as much response had he used Gluttony or Stealing as he did using a “hot” topic.

    It is about whether what is right can be changed, according to individual whim, to wrong or wrong to right. In otherwords can sin be designated as a virtue just because one wishes it to be. It can’t. Right comes from God.

    You ask whose God, and that pretty much tells us who you are and what you believe.

    • Tom Max

      Sure, Mary, what is right and wrong comes from your God? But didn’t your God promote the owning of human beings as slaves? And when your God changed his mind, did he/she do it because it was the right thing to do or because the U.S. Supreme Court forced it to? What about granting African Americans the right to vote, marry, or marry White people? I don’t recall seeing on the news God riding down on a golden chariot to let everyone know that he had changed his mind? So who decided what was right in that situation?

      In fact, God doesn’t even believe you should have rights to your own reproductive system. And your church is run by a group of old men. Hmmm, putting anything together yet Mary?

      This blind faith has caused untold pain and suffering on untold millions of human beings.

      Lets start thinking for ourselves. We can easily look within ourselves, throw in a bit of empathy for our fellow human beings, when we want to decide what is “right”.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Or you could try to understand Christianity rather than being content with a smug sophomoric load of bigotry

        • Tom Max

          Thank you for emphasizing my point Fr. Longenecker. I think the “right” way to treat people is with empathy and understanding. And you have demonstrated the way “right” way according to Christianity is to call me sophomoric, mug, and a bigot.

          So what did I misunderstand about Christianity? Am I incorrect that Christianity promoted slavery in the Bible?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            I do understand you. You’re ignorant, and because of this I have sympathy for you. Please understand that my using the term “ignorant” is objective. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This doesn’t mean I think you’re a bad person or not a nice person and that I don’t like you.

          • Michael

            The New Testament is neutral on slavery, offering some advice on the proper treatment of slaves but never condemning it. It’s interesting that when modern society is accused of moral relativism, slavery is one issue that almost everyone in our society would condemn as not justified under any circumstances. And yes, 2000 years ago was a different culture, but as soon as we seek to justify it then, aren’t we moral relativists?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            What is slavery? Does it simply mean buying a person and making him work for you without wages and without personal freedom? Too simplistic.

            What about the ten year old child who works in a sweatshop in Indonesia for ten cents a day so we can buy cheap consumer goods in Wal Mart? Is that slavery or not, if it is slavery are we right to congratulate ourselves for having done away with slavery when it is arguable that our entire wealthy way of life in America is provided by what is virtually child slave labor?

            Have we really done away with slavery, and are we really so righteous and advanced as you think? No.

            To press matters, and to use an American example, if you were an African American 150 years ago, which was to be preferred, to be a slave on a Southern plantation owned by a kind and benevolent landowner who looked after you and your family for life with good housing, health care and education or to be “free” working in a factory in a Northern city and living in a cramped, crime and disease ridden ghetto and being paid a wage on which you cannot exist? Is that freedom?

            The moral absolute, therefore is not slavery or freedom. This is something which changes according to circumstances and societies. What is a moral absolute is that we treat each of our fellow human beings as we would like to be treated ourselves. What is a moral absolute is that we should “love God and love our neighbor.” This is why the New Testament, while it does not condemn slavery, undermines it with a principle that is much higher, and which solves the abuses of slavery: to treat every fellow human being as an equal and to be kind forgiving and generous to all.

          • Michael

            “To press matters, and to use an American example, if you were an African American 150 years ago, which was to be preferred, to be a slave on a Southern plantation owned by a kind and benevolent landowner who looked after you and your family for life with good housing, health care and education or to be “free” working in a factory in a Northern city and living in a cramped, crime and disease ridden ghetto and being paid a wage on which you cannot exist? Is that freedom?” Obviously neither. That’s a false dichotomy.

            Are you saying that slavery is justified in some situations?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Of course not. Just making the point that saying we have got rid of slavery is naive and simply not true. If you enjoy a Western standard of living with cheap consumer goods you benefit from what is virtual slave labor.

          • Michael

            I’m not saying we’ve gotten rid of slavery, but we have gotten rid of the idea that slavery is okay. As for sweatshops and child labour in the developing world that is our next step. Unfortunately that has become one of the foundations of our western capitalistic system and needs to change. Is captialism bad? No, not in moderation, and not if the rights of individuals are put ahead of profit, but unrestrained capitalism we see in many developing countries is wrong just as it was in the 18th century in the west. When people want unfettered capitalism I tell them to read Dickens.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I’m just finishing an excellent book: “Christianity, Islam, and Atheism–The Struggle For The Soul of the West.” (by William Kilpatrick) And one chapter titled “The War of Ideas” urges Christians to stop apologizing for defending what they strongly believe is right. At one point he quotes Mark Steyn: “There’s no market for a faith that has no faith in itself.” At another point Kilpatrick urges Christians to be bold in their defense of what they believe. Indeed, Kilpatrick observes, gays and Muslims together have Christians virtually apologizing for their faith instead of defending it.”

  • Mary

    LOL :-)

  • Mary

    I agree with you Deacon Bresnahan and feel you have made an excellent point. I was not laughing at you, but at Fr. Longenecker’s response. (Note that my laugh was entered 4 minutes before your response)

  • Mary

    Hey, Tom… (looks left…looks right then whispers in a loud whisper) I ain’t Roman Catholic but I have read the bible, both in English and in koinon (first century Greek, as the New Testament was originally written) and I know what it says. I am Catholic though, just not Roman.

    I am joyfully happy to say, I do belong to God, as you mentioned. Body, soul and spirit and, yes, that includes my reproductve parts.

    My faith has no proof, which it is why it is faith, ya know. “…Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unproved…” but it does have reason, so it is not blind. I would venture to guess I have more research hours put in on the subject than you do. ;-) and have read the church fathers and have a broad knowledge of secular history as well as church history, which I would venture to say you have not. I am not only thinking for myself, but am in fact thinking logically, which can’t really be said of you my dear.

  • Mary

    Oh, by the by, are you aware that Moses’ brother and sister really got on his case about the fact that Moses had married a black woman? She was Ethiopian, of the land of Cush. God struck them both down with Leprosy, because of their bigoted complaints. Guess you would have known that though, if you had read the bible, and would not have used that particular accusation.

    Look and see if you can find out who the bible calls the accuser, then you will know who is speaking through you. ;-) You really should educate yourself before talking about a subject. :-)

  • Mary

    Correction: He struck down Marium, but not Aaron. Though that was also a punishment to Aaron and he was horrifed at this particular punishment. Interesting God used a fatal skin disease as punishment, don’t you think… after all the complaint was about the black woman Moses had married.

  • Mary

    Yes, you are mistaken about the slavery thing. Just the opposite of what you said, in fact. “…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus…” Galations 3:28.

    You see, Christ sees us with unbiased eyes and we are called to all be brothers and sisters. Christianity raised both women and slaves up to be equals in a time when this equality did not exist. So what you have stated in your ignorance is particularly unjust, in addition to being wrong. It is all through the New Testament. You have been listening to propaganda. I suggest you educate yourself.

  • FW Ken

    No, Tom, the Bible doesn’t promote slavery. It acknowledges it as an existing social institution and offers a variety of ameliorations, as do papal writings over the centuries.

  • Glenn Juday

    The science is settled, so to say. The survival of species in the environment depends on the population achieving a reproductive rate greater than mortality rate, and for long-lived organisms in particular achieving a total completed fertility that does not deviate far below replacement level for a prolonged period. The population of the people born in the U.S. and people living in most nations of the world, developed and less developed, does not currently meet this standard. World human population will increase for a couple more decades almost entirely on the basis of increasing proportions of old and very old people. As the age pyramid is inverted, the loss of unique gene combinations, the basic stuff of biodiversity that improves long term survival prospects for organisms, is inevitable. Within populations, this loss is greatly magnified as the proportion of individuals who do not reproduce increases. In long-lived species such as humans it takes a long time for these trends to work themselves out, but once the acute effects become obvious it is increasingly challenging to reverse them.

    These are biological facts. Same sex marriage has arisen in this particular context. It can be usefully evaluated with respect to these issues, yet I have virtually never heard these issues addressed in public discourse. I have heard, preference-based arguments, rights-based arguments, natural order, pure relativism, sentimentalism, utilitarianism, many others, but nothing on this subject.

    At the least, in scientific terms, increased prevalence of same sex unions has the effect of decreasing reproduction and genetic diversity. Yes, artificial reproduction or surrogacy outside the homosexual union by natural means counteracts this effect. But math, specifically numbers and percentages, are highly unsentimental, and they ultimately impose themselves because these are almost certain to remain relatively rare exceptions. If I had to guess, I would say that the simple recounting of these facts and consequences will sooner rather than later induce an angry response that this is a dangerous, essentially fascist and backward, retrograde series of observations. And it will be delivered with the righteous anger of someone who believes that preventing these observations is striking a blow for intellectual freedom. But nature will be unmoved.

  • Mary

    But back to the subject of the post which is not same sex marriage nor whether homosexual acts are a sin. The subject is whether sin is relative or static.

    ” 11hrs,12minsago 11hrs,12minsago

    There are some who think God changes His mind and Right and Wrong can also therefore flip places. Not so. God does not change nor do His Words change. Right and Wrong are not relativistic.

    Our personal whims will not change God nor will they change Right and Wrong.

    There are some who would re-write God’s words to make them fit their own wishes, removing and changing words to make God neuter, or even feminine. This is also wrong headed…Re-writing scripture is foolishness and should be viewed as such.

    Those who would try to change our perceptions of who God is, are in fact showing they don’t actually believe He is a real person(s), rather they think He was created by the mind of man. These are worshipers of humanity, not of God.

    Now as far as same sex marriage goes, I personally, have absolutely no problem with it. But God does and has said so in no uncertain terms.

    I would wish Gluttony were a virture rather than a sin, because I really love to eat wonderful foods! But no matter how much I might wish that, Gluttony is now and always will be a sin. God simply does not change according to anyone’s whim. He is a real person(s) and not my personal “plaything” to be moved and stretched like rubber into any shape so desired.

    I am sorry if what I have said offends, but it has to be said and the truth so often does offend. Love the sinner (me as well as you) but do hate the sin.”

  • Mary

    Slavery, not just in theory but by name and fact, still exists today. Do a web search on slavery today, if you dont believe.

  • Charles E. Mac Kay

    I was involved in a discussion about this. It was a good discussion because it raised the points you mention. I always stay away from controversy and follow the line they can do what they want because they’ll do it anyway but the discussion got heated. I said have you really thought what they do to each other and the effect it has on the body. When they close the door do you think about what they do I for one now find it disgusting. It was an excellent discussion and changed me

  • Mary

    Wonder why no one wants to address the subject of this post but keep trying to change the subject…. Could it be they don’t like the subject because they can’t refute it? Interesting…

    • Michael

      The subject of the post. Is it right to be wrong? As a parallel. I think libertarism is wrong (if you are libertarian, substitute liberalism). A society that bases itself on libertarianism hurts itself and hurts the people in that society. Do I want people to stop being libertarians? Yes? But I would defend their right to that position, defend their right to assemble and run for public office, but I object to their position.

      The same with gay sex. I don’t understand it or agree with it, but unlike having a libertarian in office, it doesn’t affect me at all having a gay couple living up the street. It is their right to that lifestyle.

      Here in Canada we’ve had gay marriage for over a decade now. Some Churches celebrate gay marriages, some don’t. It’s up to them. Some people agree with it, some don’t. It’s up to them. But after 10 years, the overwhelming percentage of Canadians accept that adults have the right to marriage, straight or gay. What conservative churches here are afraid of is that when they condemn gays and gay marriage, young people especially see that thay are condemning their friends and they don’t like it. Preach against gay marriage all you want, but you lose the youth, as they would rather accept their friends’ lifestyle than condemn it even if they personally do not agree with it. If you are a conservative religious, be afraid of gay marriage, but there is nothing you can do to oppose it without losing people of principle in your congregations. I know dozens who have left their church they grew up in because of this.

    • Reverend Robbie

      Mary,

      The stated subject is, I think, moral relativism. I have my position on this, which I have presented in other comments to this blog. I chose not to address it above because the author of the blog chose to bring up an example and presented that example poorly. That example is fair game to discuss. Gay rights is a slam dunk matter of unjustified discrimination and is much easier to discuss than the epistomological concepts of absolutism and relativism. If you bring up gay rights and make inaccurate statements about it, we will refute them whether or not you ask us to, but especially if you use it as an illustration for your broader point.

      I am what some would define as a normative relativist, but such labels are tricky. I think that we must determine our values for ourselves, but we can argue and even fight for those values regardless of whether they are absolute or are handed down by God. I also believe that morals are the methods by which we bring our values to realization, and that within that context there is something much like objective moral absolutes, because some activities help us realize our values while others hinder that goal.

      Regarding whether people change what God says to suit themselves, I feel that, to some extent, all believers do this, but it is a bit more complicated than that. Sometimes people are convinced to believe things that are not necessarily in their own best interests. This gets into meme theory. I don’t really care to dive into this topic too much further because I don’t believe in God in the first place, so it’s pretty much only academic to me.

  • Mary

    So Michael, do you think what is or is not sin changes according to the times? Do you think something that is considered evil, can later be named good? Please address the issue of the post.

    • Michael

      I won’t use the word “sin” as sin implies a deity but I do maintain that issues like racism, sexism, slavery, etc are wrong in all times and places. I appreciate that there are circumstances that make societies more susceptible to these actions but the actions are not morally right.

      I had a professor of moral ethics who once maintained that actions like murder are justified in some circumstances. He went on and on with this discussion and then tried to generalize it to all moral issues. That there are always circumstances where certain actions can be justified. This being the 80′s and the apartheid South African state was the subject of much debate I then asked him if he could describe a situation where apartheid was justifiable. He scrambled and talked out the clock and was saved from embarrassment.

      There are many things that were once considered evil, that are now considered good or at least morally neutral. I am one of them. I am an atheist.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        The problem with your position is that there is no clear definition of racism, sexism and slavery. Who decides what these things are? Catholic moral theology is based on clearly identified actions. For example, it is wrong to take the life of another person. From the basis of this action a person’s guilt can then be determined. The action is wrong, but the guilt of the person may be ameliorated or increased depending on circumstances and intention.

        How can you judge whether an action is racist or sexist or whether a person is enslaved? Of course there are clear examples that no one would debate, but there are so many vague or subjective examples that while we can say these attitudes are wrong it is much more difficult to identify them as crimes and prosecute.

        • Michael

          Racism – Attributing all members of a group with the same characteristics – “All Atheists are evil, all Catholics are stupid, all Muslims are terrorists, etc.” Essentially branding someone with an attribute mere because of their race or group membership.
          Sexism – If you were a woman you would understand. Now there’s a sexist statement,
          Slavery – Treating people as property.

          It sounds like you are a moral relativist. You dismiss passing moral judgement because there are “there are so many vague or subjective examples”.

          Is Catholic morality based only on actions. Then it’s deficient. It’s actions and intentions surely, with the emphasis on the latter. If I cut someone with a knife, it’s not wrong if I’m a doctor. If I

  • Vijay

    The biggest mistake that people who think the bible condones slavery is equating what happened in America with slavery in the times of the bible. Slavery then was a beneficial institution which provided for slaves and had none of the connotations associated with racism. White people and colored people were slaves too. In my own country of India, people employ many servants who “live” with their employers for life. They are well taken care of, fed, and even married and sent off. In almost every case I’ve seen in India, they are considered another member of the family. The problem with our culture is trying to superimpose our definitions on the times of the bible.

  • Vijay

    Dear Reverend Robbie,

    If there is indeed “A” God, (which it appears you might believe) and not a million other gods as a commentator above suggested, then His decree that homosexual union is wrong is more than sufficient of a reason to object to gay “marriage”.

    Nonetheless, as a human being, who may not believe in the existence of such a God, the evidence of nature, that the primary purpose of reproductive organs is reproduction is also more than sufficient for me.

    As a biologist, with masters and doctoral degrees, post-doctoral experience and a scientist, there is no question in my mind that normalizing homosexual union (and contraception by the way) would eventually stagnate the human race (by not being fruitful and multiplying) and ultimately hinder evolution. The fact that homosexual union does not result in reproduction and does not provide the environment meant by nature for the continuation of the species only further convinces me.

    Your thesis that consent between 2 adults alone should be sufficient is flawed. Two adults can give consent to a number of things: gang-raping a woman, cannibalizing an individual , etc, etc . Consent alone does not make something right. Moreover 10 adults might consent to living together in one marriage. Just because all these things are possible, it does not mean that a state founded on a system of laws and moral convictions must enable every behavior that loving consent is given to. The state and its people have a right and a duty to pass laws that ensure the eventual well-being of its citizens. Thus heterosexual marriage and the raising of children has generally been looked on with favor in the United States, Western Europe and many countries throughout the world, with tax breaks and many benefits provided for families, in recognition of the fact that raising the next generation of citizens imposes a heavy financial burden on families, as opposed to simply loving a person of the same sex and periodically engaging in non reproductive sex for pleasure.