Polygamy and the Police State

Here’s how same sex marriage will lead to a police state: First this article on Slate calls for the legalization of polygamy. The call for polygamy sort of springboards from the argument for same sex marriage. The piece argues from various viewpoints, but the underlying principle is the same: “Let us decide what marriage is.” Here is the defining last paragraph:

The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.

Here is the real philosophical issue, and it lies beneath the same sex marriage debate–indeed beneath virtually every debate in our society. The proponents of polygamy (in this case) argue that marriage is “plastic”. In other words, its elastic. Its rubbery. It stretches. Its jello. It conforms and adapts and changes according to your needs.

Furthermore, marriage is only plastic and elastic because everything else is too. In other words, there is no such thing as Truth. This is what B16 and Pope Francis call “the dictatorship of relativism.” Nothing is secure or certain because nothing is revealed as Truth because if there were such a thing as revealed Truth there would have to be an objective source for that Truth. There would have to be TRUTH and TRUTH must be something which is reasonable and able to be articulated, and how can there be a source for a Truth that is reasonable unless that source is, itself reasonable and if reasonable then able to reason, and if able to reason, the intelligent and if intelligent then self aware and if self aware, then existent.

For the Catholic everything is connected. If marriage is plastic and elastic, then everything is plastic and elastic. We are “on the edge of a grimpen where there is no foothold.” Everything is up for grabs, there is no certainty and if no certainty, then no security. This is the philosophical and theological wilderness in which our culture if foundering.

However, people cannot live together in society with complete plasticity and elasticity. In a society where anything goes everything goes…downhill fast. Where moral disintegration exists societal disintegration soon follows. Everything starts to come apart at the seams. Societal chaos threatens.

Now here’s where I begin to really get the creeps: When there is no certainty in a society–no moral absolutes and no reason and no rules, then something must be done. People demand security. As disorder and chaos increase people demand order and control. However, without any greater moral absolutes, with a rejection of a greater lawgiver and a higher code of behavior the only force left to bring about order in society is the government, and the only laws the government will see fit to put into effect are the laws which help to preserve and consolidate the government’s already existing power and wealth.

The laws will have to be arbitrary because society will have already decided that all laws are arbitrary. Likewise the enforcement of the laws will rely merely on brute force because there will be no reason for the laws and therefore no reason (apart from force) to obey the laws, and there will be no justice because justice is based on reason and equity and a rationale that assumes there is such a thing as Truth. Law and justice will be the rule of force and nothing else.

Thus the ultimate irony that those who wanted a society “completely free” from absolutes where everything was plastic will end up with a police state where nothing is plastic and the total control is drastic.

  • Lynda

    When there is no recognition of objective morality, of the Natural Law, of man’s dignity and nature, of the natural institutions that arise out of his nature – marriage, family, nation, then the all-powerful states and globalist elites can easily control the disarmed, docile, deadened population. We are living under tyranny. Might is right. Truth is what the state, UN, etc. dictates. And don’t forget that Christians are “terrorists”.

  • Matthew

    Father, please pray today for the people of New Zealand. Tonight our Parliament will vote to legalise same-sex marriage.

    The political debate here has been the most acrimonious of any political issue that I have seen in my lifetime. Although opinion polls suggest 50 – 60% of the population oppose this measure, our politicl leaders have pressed on regardless. Efforts are underway to delete the words “husband” and “wife” from our statute books and to see “non-discrimination” promulgated through the public education system.

    America matters, Father. President Obama’s endorsement of same sex marriage has been very influential here in New Zealand. Our politicians, our culture, our institutions here look to the USA for leadership and guidance. Where the USA goes, we go, where ever that may be…

  • Ken

    Elastic materials return to their original form after being deformed. Plastic materials remain deformed. The sacrament of marriage is unchanging, but with all the deformations that the legal definition has endured we should at least hope that the legal definition is elastic. It will at least then have the ability to return to its original state.

    • Michael

      The sacrament of marriage is unchanging. It didn’t change when civil divorce was allowed, it didn’t change when civil consanguinity rules were relaxed and it will not change when civil gay marriage is allowed. But not all members of society marry with the sacrament of marriage.

  • Lila

    I keep telling other people that same-sex marriage is only the next door in a hallway full of doors. The door after this one is the push for acceptance by the general society of polygamous relationships. After that door, the next opens to legalize polygamous marriages. The door after that is to feel sorry for pedophiles who were born that way and can’t help it, and how they need acceptance, not “judgement”. The door after that is to make pedophilia no longer illegal because it is genetic, not a crime. The door after that…and that…and that… Of course, no one believes me. I will not live to see the last door in this hallway opened. But my descendents will, and I will be praying for them.

    • Michael

      Pedophilia will always remain illegal because it an adult sexually exploiting a young person who is not deemed a rational moral agent. If anything laws have been strengthened in that regard.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        You have clearly not read any of the pro-pedophilia literature. They repudiate all ideas of exploitation and say the adult-child relationship should be consensual. They point out that many adult-adult relationships are exploitative. They argue that such concepts as ‘consent’ or being a ‘rational moral agent’ are ridiculous and artificial. They ask why ‘consent’ or ‘rational choice’ should be determined by chronological age alone. Why, they say, is a person suddenly able to make a rational choice of consent when they reach a particular birthday. Furthermore, they argue from psychology that children are sexual creatures too, that they enjoy sexual intimacy and they argue that the adult child sex should always be in a loving and caring permanent relationship. In other words, all the arguments used to endorse homosexuality can also be used to endorse pedophilia. It may seem shocking, abhorrent and disgusting to you. Homosexuality was greeted with the same outrage and repugnance only a short time ago.

        • Michael

          That literature may exist but that bears no relationship with society mores or legal precedent. There is a huge body of legal and ethical teaching that distinguishes children from adults (can’t vote, can’t work, must attend school, can’t marry, etc.) Whereas rights between consenting adults have changed (homosexuality is not illegal and punishable by prison) sexual relations with a minor is being treated more and more seriously.

          Just because there is literature and people arguing a point doesn’t mean it will ever be accepted. If that were the case I could argue I should be warning everyone of a Catholic theocracy because Catholics like Michael Voris, S.T.B. are arguing for it.

          http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=22765

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            The arguments for homosexuality were once obscure and considered crazy and that they bore no relationship with society mores or legal precedent. A huge body of psychological, medical and historical and ethical teaching was in place that showed homosexuality to be a deviant psychological condition. Eventually the minority opinion–which was considered bizarre and dangerous and disgusting was accepted.

          • Michael

            Homosexuals were once executed in the west and in my lifetime many western jurisdictions imprisoned them. Sometimes change is good. We certainly don’t want to go back to that practice.

          • Jay

            “There is a huge body of legal and ethical teaching that distinguishes children from adults”

            The courts have already started to overturn that. Children can now get abortions without parents being informed or granting consent. The courts say a girl old enough to get pregnant is able to give consent to an abortion… Is she a minor or not? Is an abortion a procedure that should involve adult judgement or not? If the courts say a girl is able to give consent without parental involvement to an abortion how do you defend laws that say they are not able to give consent to sex or marriage as well?

        • Imperious Dakar

          And interracial marriage was regarded with repugnance a short time before that.

          Just because the majority dislike something, doesn’t automatically make it bad. The Catholic Church itself has condemned the idea that moral values should be determined democratically.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Indeed. Repugnance by a majority was not the force of my argument.

          • Michael

            Yes you did. You said the minority’s opinion that the majority “considered bizarre and dangerous and disgusting was accepted.”

      • Theodore Seeber

        Only for now. After all, in moral relativism, consent means nothing.

        • Sundoga

          Just exactly the opposite. In a society that acknowledges that all morality is a choice, consent is the sole and necessary safeguard.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Very insightful. I think you’re right. The history of the last hundred years reveals man pushing to break more and more taboos. Once one is broken and made “normal” then onto the next. It won’t stop until someone says no, and it’s very hard in a democracy for any one person to say no. “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer/Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

  • Psy

    “The door after that is to make pedophilia no longer illegal because it is genetic, not a crime.”

    What legal argument would or could they possibly use to legalize that?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Freedom of choice.

      • Michael

        It should be obvious that sex between adults is legal because they are rational moral agents while sex between an adult and a child is illegal because children are not capable of making a rational commitment to sex with an adult and hence laws exist and will continue to exist against adults exploiting children for sexual purposes.

        While what age constitutes the ability to marry has often varied (canon law places a minimum of 16 on the male and 14 on the female) the trend in most civil jurisdictions has been to increase the age required for marriage and treat adults exploiting children with increased legal action.

        • Imperious Dakar

          I have always thought it was kind of messed up that the age of consent is so often years younger for girls than boys. Doubly so when you consider all the risks and dangers of pregnancy (especially for young girls, whose bodies may not be physically ready for intercourse and pregnancy yet).

          Is there any theological justification for this state of affairs?

        • Theodore Seeber

          Bigot! You just gave an argument against somebody’s deeply held beliefs, and all beliefs are equal under moral relativism.

          And that, is why argument about consent is nonsense. Without religion, NO moral justification can be made for anything at all.

          • Michael

            Why would you think I am a moral relativist? Have you fallen for the canard that atheists are all moral relativists. In fact. saying religion is the justification for morals makes you a moral relativist. Take any modern moral issue. Even within mainstream Christianity you can find a complete spectrum of positions. Saying that religion should determine societal values would give us the complete spectrum of practices, all equally valid.

    • Luke

      Last week, “A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill available to people of any age without a prescription. The order overturned a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require a prescription for girls under 17.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/05/health/morning-after-pill/index.html

      If girls can “legally” decide to take the morning-after pill, or, as often happens, decide to get an abortion without the consent of their parents, why can’t they decide to have relations with an adult? And if girls can do it, why can’t boys?

  • http://www.sjccdalton.com Fr. Paul W.

    The Chattanooga Times Free Press recently editorialized in favor of polygamy: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/mar/30/get-government-out-of-marriage/ : “Rather than dictating which type of marriages should be legal and who can marry whom, the government should get out of the marriage business entirely. Marriage should be dictated by love, not government. For those who fear that government renouncing its role in marriage could lead to plural marriages, there’s an easy solution: Don’t become a polygamist.”
    I was going to respond, but it’s hard to argue with an editorial board that has lost their collective mind.
    Interestingly, a quick Google shows that many gay marriage advocates (including those on Slate) were arguing against Polygamy and the “slippery slope” (generally Santorum was the object of their scorn).
    The argument has gone from an obviously commonsensical DOMA to “so what?” We’ve skipped the slippery slope altogether and just jumped right off the cliff.
    Fr. Paul, Dalton GA

    • John

      Ah, the old “Against abortion? Don’t have one.” trope. God protect us.

    • Michael

      It’s interesting that there are some calls for polygamy out there (from a minority of religious and secular authorities but no calls (that I know of) for polyandry. Indeed while many societies practiced or now practice polygamy (pre-exile Israel, 19th century Utah, Saudi Arabia today) virtually none practice polyandry.

      And the reason for that is the reason that polygamy is not legal in civil society. It’s an unequal position of power of men over women. Almost without exception, women in polygamous relationships are in subservient positions to the man and as our consciousness is raised to accept women as equals in society this is now not acceptable.

      One can’t argue this from a religious point perspective as polygamy occurs in many sacred texts and the state can’t prefer one over another. But fortunately equality in a civil marriage relationship is a standard that society now accepts.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        This is a simplistic answer which avoids the obvious situation of adult women who choose to be in polygamous marriages. To be the devil’s advocate, why should they and their husbands not have the freedom to celebrate the form of marriage they choose? By banning polygamy aren’t you forcing those women who would choose polygamy to be submissive to laws they do not wish to obey?

        • Michael

          There are many laws I do not wish to obey at times (mostly involving parking spots) but society has determined that certain commons laws followed by everyone is best. We have laws protecting women in abusive situations. But if a person witnesses a husband beating his wife, no protestation on her part that she must be subservient to her husband can stop legal action. Polygamy is almost like that and almost always dictated by a religious injunction in a religious tradition where men are the ones in power.

        • http://www.sjccdalton.com Fr. Paul W.

          The best response is from the approach of “what interest does government have in regulating marriage (and plural marriage)?” The answer is sociological and demographic, and the problem is polygyny (one husband, many wives). When women can choose polygamy, they choose based on security and protection (not love, as the TFP opined). They choose the male who can best provide for their needs and their children. So what happens is powerful, wealthy men get the women and the rest of the males are leftovers. This skews the game and changes society dramatically. Historically, monogamous societies are more successful than polygynous ones, e.g. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/01/monogamous-societies-superior-to-polygamous-societies/ or http://reason.com/archives/2006/04/03/one-man-many-wives-big-problem
          Fr. Paul, Dalton GA

          • Michael

            A bit like what China is facing now with a surplus of males over females.

          • Robert Slanton

            Christianity already legitimized polygamy when it endorsed the welfare state. We don’t need government recognition of polygamy, because it already exists de-facto.

            Its not about wealth really that determines who gets the women, but the men who have the most “game.”

            A relatively small number of socially adept “player” men are impregnating multiple women, while a growing number of single men are forced to finance the very behavior that denies them a family of their own.

            Any woman who is halfway attractive can walk into any bar any night of the week, hook up,get pregnant, go on welfare for the rest of that child’s youth.

            Meanwhile millions of men throughout the western world spend years preparing themselves to be a provider and at the end of the long road they find that so many women in their group have gone on to be single mothers.

            They don’t get to have a wife or family, but must spend their entire lives alone getting taxed into slavery in order to pay for the bastard children of other men.

            The church calls this dynamic “social justice.”

            Middle and lower class women are being lured away from marriage and family with plentiful welfare benefits.

            Wealth redistribution is primary reason why the bastardy rate has climbed to approx 50% throughout the western world. It has destroyed the nuclear family, any sense of community, and its destroying the churches as all the damaged children of single mothers are unlikely to be raised in any faith.

            Yet, the churches support all of this in the name of preventing abortions and helping “poor families”. Is this strategy even effective? Is a few generations of forcible wealth redistribution to “help the poor” worth the collapse of civilization?

            Instead of forcing women to bear the consequences of their bad decisions, which would severely curtail their bad behavior, they have created in the western world what has never existed before in any civilization.

            Namely millions upon millions of men who despite having a decent income, have absolutely no hope of ever having a family of their own. What these rootless males eventually do is not clear. Some are dropping out of society entirely, some are looking to emigrate to non western countries.

            Some may just decide to take revenge on a society and religion that has betrayed them in the most cruel way.

            The following article focuses on what “social justice” did to the family in Ireland, but it could equally apply to nearly every other western welfare state.

            Brides of the State

            Scroll down past the commentary, by Roger Eldridge the article begins about a 1/3 of the way down.

        • Paul Rodden

          Or…why marriage at all?

          If people aren’t religious (religion being a practice of the immature, childish, and superstitious, like belief in Santa), then why don’t these more mature people just live together in any way they agree? They can symbolise their union in any way they like.

          These people sound like little kids whining at their parents to break the rules so they can have a pre-prandial snack, not grown ups.

          However, if they are claiming to be religious, then they know religions have rules, so they should know better than to try it on before dinner…

          In either case, they’re trying to assert their ego rather than the common good, and that is what distinguishes a child from an adult.

  • Imperious Dakar

    I do think that some facts should be added to this debate.

    Its true that marriage has virtually always been between men and women, from the time of the Roman empire to the present day. But its worth examining what marriage really is and was.

    The idea that marriage is between a freely consenting man and a freely consenting woman who are both considered citizens and equals under the law, with the same rights and privileges, is actually a very modern idea (and certainly wasn’t widely accepted until the modern era).

    Traditionally, marriage was between one man and one or more women, who may or may not have freely consented to the marriage, for the purpose of securing property rights and establishing paternity, with the women and children considered the possessions of the husband.

    For instance, the Bible is full of references to ‘Godly’ patriarchs with many wives, and the history of Europe is full of arranged marriages among the nobility and royalty (often for the purpose of securing strategic alliances). Heck, married women couldn’t even own property in their own name until the last century or so (link to source http://womenshistory.about.com/od/marriedwomensproperty/a/property_rights.htm) because from a legal point of view their identity was essentially absorbed/consumed by their husband upon marriage.

    So we should all be grateful that virtually no one in the West practices ‘traditional’ marriage anymore.

  • http://yahoo rooksie

    Father, you say, “In a society where anything goes everything goes…downhill fast. Where moral disintegration exists societal disintegration soon follows. Everything starts to come apart at the seams. Societal chaos threatens.” I would say ditto to that and more. What can be said of a society that has sanctioned the murdering of 50 million of its citizens the past 40 years?! The moment that so called august body of black robed men determined in 1973 that a baby is not a baby his or her mother’s womb, then the great pandora’s box was opened for bag of plastic crap you referred to. We are a societal body that is rife with cancerous throught its members. Only our Lord and Savious Jesus Christ, the Great Physican, can only heal us, and the medicinal usage of some kind of painful “chemo” therapy for our society is long overdue.

  • Paul Rodden

    Father. Firstly, I wish to apologise for allowing the smugness of a couple of posts get the better of me the other day and so I ended up being a hypocrite. :( After all, it is your blog. Sorry.

    Secondly, I think you’re so right on this issue. It seems to me several of your latest articles are different variations on a theme. Namely, ‘Ed’, ‘Cults and Common Sense’, and what you’ve been saying about hate and evil, recently are all ‘common sense’ as you put it, to anyone who’s rational, God aside even, aren’t they? And yet, why is there what appears to be such self-deception or a huge blindspot or ‘scotoma’ – an inability to see – this inevitable outcome which, if not ending in a Police State, is then likely to end in some sort of ‘Mad Max’ Dystopia instead?

    It seems as if some, if not many, people are completely unaware of this darkness or blindness (unless they’re eating, drinking, and making merry…) which, to me, seems to point overwhelmingly to something sinister, and dare I say it, ‘supernatural’ as it seems outside any form of human control. But as an aside, if this is the case, the possibility of a Good God at least becomes feasible.

    Yet, the whole question of what we can do seems hopeless in the face of it – apart from prayer – and it seems so hard to accept in the light of Providence (What is God up to?). I feel rather like Job, and thoroughly depressed, despite knowing I ought to have Faith and Hope. Is it about Arks, Barques, and lifeboats?

    Is it getting to you? If not, what are you doing to ‘keep afloat’? I realise it’s a personal question, so feel free to ignore it, as I’ll understand, but thanks for listenin’ anyway. :)

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thanks for your comment. It is an interesting question. First of all, the Lord said something to me which I will share with you: “Be yourself. Preach the gospel with joy. Don’t argue with atheists.” It seems simple, but if you follow this–along with the other stuff good Catholics do–you will remain full of hope and joy.

      • Paul Rodden

        Thank you, Father.
        However, later on yesterday, I came across your other post on the issue at Catholics Online (Where was God When Boston was Bombed?) and that was incredibly uplifting. Thank you for that, too.

  • John

    I have long argued that the next step in the gay marriage debate wasn’t “marrying a goat,” (as some orthodox assert) but the legal recognition of polyamory in all of it’s various forms.

    10 years ago, I worked with a gay man who was part of gay “love triangle,” for lack of a better way to describe it. He was the third member of an already-established “gay marriage” between two men. The Monday he returned to work dejected because he thought he was going to get a ring over the weekend, thus formalizing his participation in the relationship, is one that has always stuck in my head as a red flag.

    I was an Episcopalian at the time, and the Gene Robinson bomb had just gone off within the church. As I watched the theology bend and twist to conform to various points of view, and as the voices from Episcopal priests grew more insistent upon gay-this and gay-that, I couldn’t help but wonder what those same priests would say if presented with three gay men who wanted to get “married.” Who would the priest be to deny them? If they all said they loved one another and wanted to devote themselves to one another, then how could he possibly argue against them?

    One of my favorite lines from The Screwtape Letters is the idea that the road to Hell is a slow, gradual descent, without markers or signposts. Not so much anymore.

    • Michael

      Just for your information, love triangles are not exclusive to the homosexual community. Unfortunately heterosexuals do it as well.

      • Steve S

        You’re right, Michael. Sexual immorality of all kinds is practiced by heterosexuals. Your comment, however, ignores John’s logical point. If consent is the sole criterion of the good, and therefore the sole criterion of “marriage”, then there is NO ground whatsoever to deny three men or three women from getting married. You deflected the issue of polygamy earlier in the thread by asserting peremptorily that society should reject polygamy because it is necessarily based on and contributes to the exploitation of women. You must be a bigot or something. How dare you tell consenting, loving adults what they can and cannot do. Polygamaphobe! (?)

        All sarcasm aside, the only reason there has ever been a binary aspect to marriage is because it only takes one man and one woman to create a new human being, which is ultimately the only legitimate interest that the state has in any sexual relationship. The generation and protection of children (and by extension, the natural ties of kinship and property rights/responsibilities) are the only reason the state has any interest in sexual relationships. By removing the idea of procreation from marriage (a process which, I admit, was begun long before same-sex marriage), we have logically also removed the binary limitation of marriage. So on what ground can you deny three men, who freely consent and declare their mutual love, their civil right to have their relationship recognized by the state as “marriage”?

  • Imperious Dakar

    Furthermore, I have often wondered how compatible traditional CHRISTIAN marriage is with true equality between men and women.

    True, Feminism emerged in the area formerly known as Christendom (within the last century and a half or so), and women achieved formal equality in the West first. But Father Longenecker himself states that Christianity is inherently patriarchal (link to source: http://www.catholic.org/hf/faith/story.php?id=36100) and I think history (such as European laws concerning coverture) back him up.

    Now there are plenty of liberal Christians who would disagree with this analysis, but if the father and I are right, it calls into question whether Christian wives can ever really be equal to their husbands (in theological terms if nothing else).

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The true ideal of Christian marriage treats men and women as equal and complementary. The ideal of patriarchy and hierarchical structure within Catholicism includes the premise taught by Christ that “the greatest among you must be the servant of all.”

      • Imperious Dakar

        The thing is Father, that virtually never works in practice.

        If you give unregulated (or simply not very well regulated) power to any fairly large group of people over another relatively large group of people, abuse of that power will inevitably occur.
        Moreover, it seems that the the more people and time involved, the greater the abuse that will occur.

        It can’t be a coincidence that the virtually all the heavily patriarchal countries left in the world (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc.) also treat women terribly.

        A perfectly good social system might still fail due to the people involved. But when a system fails over and over again, at some point any reasonable person must ask ‘is the system itself a failure?’

        Moreover, Christianity might not be as strongly patriarchal as you and I have thought.
        Consider the fact that the women’s rights movement (i.e. Feminism) whose initial goals included things like giving women the right to vote and to own property in their own name, emerged in the Christian West.
        It seems dubious that such a thing could occur in completely patriarchal nations.

    • wineinthewater

      I think traditional Christian marriage is the only model that is compatible with equality.

      The equality of Christianity is a radical equality. It is an equality that says that despite their differences, the sexes are equal, that their differences are actually part of what makes them equal.

      The equality of this age is a banal equality. It is an equality that says that they only way to be equal is to be the same, to be interchangeable. It doesn’t honor human dignity because it knocks both women and men down in order to make them equal, it denies both of them those unique characteristics from which their true dignity partially derives.

      • Michael

        Then how should the husband and a wife in a marriage be unequal (beyond who gets to give birth)?

        • Jay

          Are you saying that the ability to give birth is not a significant difference?

          • Michael

            Jay – No I’m not and I didn’t use the word significant. And I take it by not offering up any other difference that’s all you can see. So we’re in agreement. Biology aside, men and women are equals.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Men and women are equal but not the same.

        • Imperious Dakar

          That’s a good question Micheal.

          I have always been suspicious of people arguing for ‘Separate But Equal’ status for groups traditionally regarded and/or treated as inferior.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            “Separate but equal” is different from “Equal but not the same”

          • Michael

            But biology aside how are truly men different from women. And are those differences merely the social constructs we have built up over the centuries and in the last 100 years have begun to realize are artificial.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            It is not thinking men and women are different that is artificial.

          • Michael

            Fr. Longenecker – From your statement I assume you mean that in terms of mentality men and women not different. That is an artificial construct society has created. Does that equality also extend to role in secular society as well (as opposed to any religious role that may be required or denies them)?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            The philosophical problem with your “such and such is an artificial construct society has created” is that anything at all might be called “an artificial construct that society has created.”

            Thus I may just as confidently assert that feminism is an “artificial construct that society has created” and therefore reject it. I could say Atheism is an “artificial construct that society has created” and reject it. Indeed I may say the idea that you might be able to say anything that has meaning is “an artificial construct that society has created” and reject it.

            This is the core problem with relativism in all its forms: with only a small bit of ingenuity and imagination anything at all can be made to vanish down the rabbit hole of nonsense.

          • Michael

            The artificial constructs that I were referring to is that society previously deemed that women could no vote, be university professors, medical doctors or political leaders. These were artificial barriers we have enacted against women. Artificial in this sense means things that are not real. Less controversial would be the artificial barriers we previously erected against non whites. They had and have no reality in fact, only in practice.

            And what, pray tell, does this comment have to do with relativism? f anything it’s the opposite. It’s saying that the equality of women is a moral imperative that can’t be arbitrarily deemed inapplicable in some circumstances because we don’t want women doctors or we son’t want women politicians, etc.

      • Imperious Dakar

        Perhaps…

        You have to keep in mind that traditionally men have been regarded as superior (to women), and that was used as justification for barring women from the priesthood, practicing law, owning property in their own name, etc., etc.

        As a result, women’s rights advocates are naturally suspicious about arguments, theories, and idealogies, that all stress the essential differences between men and women. Suspecting that such things are overt or covert means to degrade and devalue women (in comparison to men).

        I admit I often suspect as much myself.

  • Paul Rodden

    Just an observation:
    It seems that everyone’s bickering over slippery slopes in sexual relationships, whilst the thrust of Fr L’s argument as I read it, is being completely ignored: that of the real possibility of a police state where all this bickering would become utterly meaningless anyway.

    Although not wanting to undermine the issues of sexual mores and practices one bit, isn’t that a discussion for elsewhere? Maybe I’m missing something, but to me, he points to a far bigger concern…

    • Imperious Dakar

      Not necessarily.
      You have to remember that the law (i.e. government power) was used not that long ago in the West to help enforce Christian/traditional sexual mores. Moreover, plenty of conservatives want the government to start doing so again.

      So their all related issues.

      • Imperious Dakar

        Different in what way though Father?

        Because were going by the traditional understanding, equality between the sexes is not acceptable.
        Due to traditional belief that men are superior and women are inferior.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          I’m sorry to hear that you do not believe equality of the sexes is acceptable.

          • Imperious Dakar

            Actually, I do believe equality of the sexes is acceptable.
            But I am NOT a traditionalist Father.

            However, I suspect you already knew (or at least guessed) that.

            Do you deny that men have traditionally been viewed as superior to women?

      • Paul Rodden

        Thanks for replying, ID
        However, a comprehensive and clear reply would take too much space, so it’s not easy to address here. So, no doubt I’ll be misunderstood…

        As to your first point, I’d argue the culture itself also upheld those values, not just the law. That is, by and large, the laws represented what people, in general, also held as valuable or evil. That is, it seems to me there was a significant overlap between the Set: ‘Statutes’, and the Set: ‘Cultural Mores’.

        So, for example, a policeman would clip a kid round the ear for a misdemeanour, and when the parents heard what their kid had done, he’d get a second clip round the ear.

        However, what I believe is being suggested in the piece is more like what happened in the French Revolution and similar regimes since. Namely, the laws would no longer reflect the generally held values of the populace, but the utopian notions of the Philosophes , ‘Cognoscenti’, ‘Experts’, or what have you, and everyone would be tested on their Procrustean Bed, and anyone who doesn’t fit is sent for ‘therapy’ or ‘rehabilitation’, or worse…

        In other words, it seems the overlap between the two Sets would be very limited: hence ‘mountains of corpses and oceans of blood’, as in these regimes just mentioned.

        Therefore, your next point about ‘conservatives’ is right in a sense, except it could be argued that they are not like the first example where there’s a close correlation between law and custom/mores, so they are NOT simply aiming ‘to start doing so again’, except this time there is a radical disjunct between cultural mores and statute, as the statutory/moral system is being handed over to the Philosophes and Experts to fix it, and the Police State is the effective means to that end (as are guillotines, concentration camps, etc.).

        So, instead of government, through it’s promotion of cultural relativism, seeing itself as the one of the factors which has broken the society in the first place, it now arrogates to itself the role of its saviour.

  • Kim

    My sense, Father, is that you’re arguing both for and against the same thing. At one point you fear that the state will be arbitrary, then you ask it to be arbitrary about one of the most personal of human relationships.

    We live in a secular state which, I realize, rankles many Catholics. However as a secular state the state’s obligation is not moral order but justice. It is the Church’s obligation to maintain moral order among adherents. I have never seen a single argument to force churches to provide sacramental marriage for civil marriage, just as no priest is legally obligated to provide ceremony for atheists who might think a Catholic marriage would be interesting or ironic. As a Catholic I firmly believe that marriage is what the Church proclaims it to be. As an American I also firmly believe that YOUR marriage is whatever you want to make it. This isn’t moral relativism. This is citizenship.

  • Paul Rodden

    To add to the pot…
    Interesting piece posted @ Crisis magazine by Dr Donald DeMarco earlier today: The Slide Toward State Control
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-slide-toward-state-control

  • Nishkalank

    Everytime I comment, it is stated that I had already commented . Will you please check up and let me know why such ignorance is displayed ?

  • Nishkalank

    is trend ofdecay in sexual morality is not going to end soon. Money, power and Governments are backing the gay marriage. Many nations have already legalized it. Already demand for legalization of incest and polygamy has been voiced by some in western nations. Once the marriage is defined as a contract between two persons, the erosion has started. On what ground these law makers can arrest the demand for incest, for polygamy and polyandry, for beastiality ? Can Some lawyers or few professors or few governments decide what is good and bad for the general public ? In course of time, all the abovesaid deviations will have to be accepted . Then will dawn the era of freedom for SEX

    • David Hart

      <blockquoteOn what ground these law makers can arrest the demand for incest, for polygamy and polyandry, for beastiality ?

      Firstly, do you understand the meaning of ‘informed consent’? We can deal with bestiality right off the bat by noting that adult humans are able to give meaningful, informed consent, both to having a sexual relationship, and to committing to a state-backed formal recognition of their relationship (whether that relationship is in fact sexual or not) – whereas non-human animals can’t.

      Now, to polygamy and polyandry (I think you meant to say ‘polygyny and polyandry’ – ‘polygamy’ means ‘many spouses’, ‘polygyny’ literally means ‘many women’ and ‘polyandry’ literally ‘many men’ for those not familiar with the Greek). It is true that some people want to form more-than-two-person relationships, whereas others don’t. Now I admit that having polygamous marriages may present a bureaucratic difficulty, in that it makes it much harder to disentangle who gets what share of the property when one party divorces or dies, but I don’t really see how it prevents an ethical problem, as long as everyone is fully on board.

      Indeed, polygyny (but not polyandry) is still routine in parts of the Muslim world, and has been normal over vast swathes of humanity for much of our history. Even among Christians, there has been sustained debate over centuries about it, and some flavours of Christianity that condone it even today, so the question is clearly not as settled as you would like to think.

      So if three or more people, genuinely giving enthusiastic consent, want to form a plural marriage, why do you think they shouldn’t be allowed to do so? (Bear in mind that we already to permit them to have a three-or-more-way sexual relationship, we just don’t let them register that relationship with the state in the same way that hetereosexual couples and some same-sex couples, depending on location, are allowed to – your answer must be why you think polygamous marriages should be outlawed, not why people shouldn’t be in polyamorous relationaships).

      For that matter, what are your reasons for wanting to continue to prohibit incest? Bear in mind that this is a slightly different question, because we’re not just talking about refusing to let people marry, we’re talking about criminal penalties for having sex – which alreadyvary wildly with some States offering life imprisonment for incestuous sex, and others offering no criminal sanctions at all – and the various states can’t even agree between themselves whether sex between first cousins counts as incest (there are places where first-cousin marriage is not just permitted but routine).

      So what are your reasons for wanting to prohibit
      a) same-sex marriage
      b) polygyny
      c) polyandry (if different from b)
      d) polygamy with more than one man and more than one woman in a married ‘unit’
      (if different from b and c)
      e) incestuous marriage
      f) bestiality?

      You had better have some reasons, reasons based on verifiable facts about reality, not just on religious taboos, if you think that the law ought to be taking your position seriously, so let’s hear them.

  • ron a.

    Father—I think Plato and Aristotle came to pretty much the same conclusion as you—and they did it without the benefit of being as “civilized” as us, i.e., as oh so! “evolved” as us. Yet their brilliance shines through the millennia. However, unlike our cultured intelligentsia, I suspect they were deficient in hubris!


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