Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue: Prolegomena 4 – Emotions

Same sex marriage is an emotional issue to begin with, and the stakes have been significantly upped by the passage of Prop 8.  So I have no doubt that my blogalogue with Rod (which I intend to start tomorrow, on the eve of our lunch in Dallas) will provoke strong reactions in the comment section and in the blogosphere.

I’m not averse to emotion in this conversation.  Keith Olberman’s monologue last week is a good example of emotion being used to good effect:

I’ve also done what I can to hear from the voices of the GLBTQ community who have been most immediately impacted by these election results.  Here’s one that caught my attention.  Money quote: “Finally, I fear for you.  If the God you worship is the one about whom

I’ve read, you’ve got some serious explaining to do.   As the woman in
John 8, I’d offer you the first stone, but I’m already bloodied by
proposition 8.”

But emotion cannot win the day, as Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly warned.  Nor, I hope, will Rod and I rely on emotion to direct our dialogue.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope we can allow emotion to play a role in our blogalogue but not to overwhelm us.

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  • Your Name

    I’m almost holding my breath waiting for this blogalogue… there shall be comments and there shall be bloggin all around, but shall there be love??? – Remembering Love and it’s zoe definition are interchangably summed up in Jesus and His 33 years of example. We shall see… I hold back till tomorrow…

  • … forgot to give my name in my first comment. HI! 🙂

  • Tony, you never cease to amaze me. You are my hero.

  • He looks slightly awkward during that monologue but the message was good, so it works. Can someone please explain to me however, how a marriage has a 50/50 chance, that statistic was not designed to tell us what the chances a marriage had of making it. A marriage’s chances are based on a variety of factors, and the 50/50 statistic is only designed to tell us the number of marriages that fail.

  • Jason

    It always causes me to shake my head in disbelief when the unregenerate twist and distort Scripture for their own rebellious purposes. May God have mercy upon us all.

  • Jason

    BTW, Olbermann’s commentary is also a good example of the unregenerate judging situations by their heart, which, according to Jeremiah, is deceitfully wicked, instead of by God’s unchanging standard of holiness.
    The only emotions that his commentary evoked from me were extreme sorrow for his rebellion against God and love…love that caused me to get on my knees and pray that the Lord would convict him of his sin and grant him repentance and faith before it is too late.

  • Tony, i watched this piece by Olberman live and he brought me to tears. We in the LGBTQ community need straight allies like him and you who will come along side us, fight with us, stand up with us, and keep speaking the truth. THANK YOU!
    i am looking forward to this discussion, but fear what is going on over at pomomusings will be repeated here. The same arguments on both sides and getting nowhere. My hope and prayer is that someone on the fence will learn something new and think differently. i pray we all respectfully converse and all be open to the possibility that we could be right or wrong or somewhere in between. Life is not black and white.

  • A Walker

    Marriage is a long-term family contract that exists precisely because, in nature, sexually active heterosexuals produce children who have a right to long-term provision and education. The marriage contract therefore protects the material rights of all parties involved in the partnership, especially women and children.
    The State has an interest in this issue because this heterosexual relationship is the machinery responsible for producing and educating the citizenry. This reality is concrete and self-evident–it is based on natural biology, not religion or dogmas.
    “Gay marriage,” in contrast, is a misnomer, as gay sex does not produce children or the citizenry. So whereas heterosexual marriage is essentially a “family contract,” gay marriage amounts to little more than a dissolvable “romance contract” or “cohabitation contract.” After millions of years, gay attraction has never produced a necessity for a social contract.
    Society cannot afford to legally redefine marriage as a romance contract for all, so long as children and their material rights and needs are at stake.

  • Scott

    Hi Tony,
    I’m a regular reader of your blog, and I’m anxiously awaiting this discussion.
    I live in California, voted against Prop 8, heard about a lot of generally “apolitical” conservative evangelical (the faith community I identify with locally) pastors talk about voting yes on Prop 8 from the pulpit, heard my own pastor give such a sermon, and talked with him about it for about two hours afterwards. I should also point out that my primary firsthand exposure is to Asian American churches.
    I feel pretty plugged into both the progressive and emergent church discussions. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised at how little discussion I heard about Prop 8 from those channels. The conservative evangelical voice was clearly the dominant religious voice I heard, apart from some mainline liberal voices (although I personally heard much less from the latter).
    All this to say, I want to hear a post-evangelical, post-liberal discussion of this, and I’m hoping to find some of this here.

  • A Walker (4th post from the top),
    I just want to push back a bit- I hear this abstracted argument from conservatives in different forms all the time (some as simply as saying “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”) and some with a more clearly articulated viewpoint like yours.
    Your argument about marriage (and any similar one) is flawed for the simple reason that people that cannot reproduce marry all the time. Marriage is, if anything, a thoroughly unnatural institution for this reason alone; perhaps I am unclear how you are defining the word “natural.” As I am sure you know, anyone who marries a post-menopausal woman is going to be unable to reproduce. Your view is essentially one of social darwinism- that the only value in a marriage to the state is for the continuance/improvement of humankind and betterment (or I should say populating) of the state. In fact, to carry this argument to its end we might wonder if it would be appropriate to screen couples applying for marriage licenses to remove applicants that cannot reproduce from the pool.
    I would guess that most people define their marriages in by the standards of their love for one another and see the paperwork as a formality with lines to wait in, witnesses to attend to, fees to pay, and forms to file. The wedding is the demonstration of the romance. The state extends rights to those who marry, many of which apply to couples that have no children. So again, if you are correct we should assume the government should actually at the very least strip these rights that have nothing to do with children from the marriage contract (tax benefits, hospital entry, estate laws, etc.). Most people have a hell of a lot of sex without producing, nay, without even wanting to produce nearly as many kids and have a great time while doing it. Most people get divorced. It would seem evident that most people, gay or straight, view marriage as a dissolvable “romance” or “cohabitation” contract.
    Now, with regard to your statement about a family contract, gay couples do in fact have families. Whether you consider them to be families or not, two parents and one or more children that are entrusted by the state to be the parents of those children constitute a nuclear family by all definitions. So if children HAVE been entrusted to gay couples by the state via adoption, why should they not have the same rights you say favor the children? Or perhaps, once again, to extend your argument a bit further, we should protest the government extending rights to parents who adopt children. These children are not the biological product of the parents, and by your argument the machinery is broken and the family should not be state sanctioned or protected. Even if you think these families are not families, by your admittedly secular argument, there is a fly in the ointment. Say that these families are ruled illegitimate by some court, what then to do with the children who love their adopted parents and would be devastated to lose them? Gay couples produce happy kids as well. So you say that after millions of years no gay relationship has produced a need for a social contract, but clearly gay couples have children and thus by your own logic require a social contract.
    Finally, what do you think about female-female reproduction? It is on its way:
    So if marriage is a contract for reproducing couples, it looks like in about five years your argument should in fact be that women can marry one another because they can biologically produce their very own children without men or any donors or anything of the sort. So if females can reproduce would you support female-female marriage? It seems that by your logic anything other would be a deviation in ethics.
    These are just a couple of examples of why society can afford and must redefine marriage, not as a romance contract but as a contract securing the same secular rights you claim are secured to protect and nurture children. Perhaps, with Tony Campolo, as a purely secular contract stripped of christianized terminology like “civil union” or “domestic partnership” to replace the term “marriage,” a term that is broadly defined by any number of religious institutions.

  • cp

    I thoroughly applaud your post, Colin.
    I am a female who married with no desire to reproduce . . . ever.
    My desire not to give birth stems GREATLY from the fact that there are FAR too many parentless children in the world, for whom God has called on us to care. I believe that reproduction in the US Christian culture is largely based on ego, yet that is hidden amongst claims of God’s will. Reproduction has nothing to do with the right to marry. It is a separate, complex issue.

  • Charles Cosimano

    The notion that people have to be able to reproduce in order to marry, is, of course, absurd to the point of idiocy. No one would deny older people the right to marry.
    As far as the holiness of the Judeo-Christian God is concerned, a simple reading of Numbers 31 will show any decent person what that holiness and that god is worth. So what have is the argument that people should not marry because a divine version of Marvin the Martian will get sooooo annoyed that he will split into three again and really confuse everyone.
    Sorry, you have to do better than that.

  • A Walker

    The contract of marriage, a long-range social contract between heterosexuals, is predicated on the issue of human population. Since active human heterosexuals reproduce at a 98% rate, and since that creates dependents at material risk of economic destitution (woman and children), a social contract is necessary to protect the parties from becoming victim to a fleeing spouse. That’s what marriage is. If you doubt it, go sit in on legal divorce proceedings and see what legal compensation gets transacted.
    Mentioning a rare exception or so to the fact of human reproduction doesn’t change this procreative reality of biology and anthropology, around which marriage is based. We don’t make contract law around rare exceptions to the rule; contract law evolves around the rule of things. The rule here is that heterosexuals mass produce humans by the billions and thus need a contract to protect the material rights and needs of those family members.
    The procreative fact is material, concrete, and unique among all human relationships. Nature simply has not tasked homosexuals with the long-range responsibilities of procreation. It is the heterosexuals who have been given that responsibility—-and marriage is the legal contract for this scenario. Gay marriage makes as much sense as male breast feeding.
    As for divorce (no-fault divorce, that is), you are correct that it rewrote marriage from being a permanent family contract into a temporal, dissolvable, romance contract—with tragic results. No-fault divorce, introduced by progressive feminists in 1970, was the greatest disaster to women’s and children’s legal protections in the history of marriage. By absolving the fleeing partner of responsibility, the woman and her children lost their legal recourse and economic protections. As a result, the No.1 cause of poverty for women and children today is divorce and unwed pregnancies. No legal protection (i.e., no traditional marriage contract) spells doom for women and children. That’s why we can’t continue down this “redefining marriage” path.
    Your claim that not all sex acts are reproductive is irrelevant. Even fully contracepted heterosexuals have an average of two babies over the course of their adult lifespan. So, reproduction is simply a biological reality for something like 98% of all active heterosexuals. (That’s billions of people, and billions of babies needing long-range care from the people who sired them. Thus the need for a social contract. Gays have no similar situation.)
    As for adoption, the State is foolish if it places children with just anyone. The State has a responsibility to place children in stable permanent homes. And stable permanent homes rarely exist among people who aren’t bound in a permanent marriage contract. So, as far as children are concerned, the best and most stable home is one where there are two parents bound by a legal contract to stay together. Again, if you mention divorce, I will reply that divorce = chronic chaos for children’s home-and-development environment. Divorce is legal child abandonment/child abuse.
    Next, gays do not have children. What percentage of gay couples of human history have “had children”?
    So, yet again, we see that marriage is a contract arising from the fact of human reproduction—a massive biological phenomenon that requires a social contract to protect the material rights of women and children.
    Finally, if mere “couples” of any type required a social contract for their material survival, civil unions would be everywhere. But no such reality has ever arisen in history, nor is there any such “survival coupling” phenomenon taking place even today. Procreation, however, is alive and well for billions of humans on this planet. As such, it requires a strong social/legal contract to protect the economic survival of women and children.

  • A Walker

    To Charles,
    Non-reproducing marriages are extremely rare. We don’t make contract law around rare exceptions. Contract law arises around a dominant rule — in this case, the rule that heterosexuals produce babies to the tune of billions on this planet. As such, this requires a social contract to protect the long-range economic/material rights of women and children.

  • Jason

    It amazes me that people can argue against what is obvious. Male and female, sperm and egg, are needed for reproduction, period. My wife and I tried it in August, and it worked really well. God designed reproduction in this way.
    Colin is making a reproductive argument using technology as the basis for that argument. Technology allows us to circumvent, but it does not trump or eliminate what is clearly a design issue.
    Homosexual couples can’t reproduce naturally. Female-Female reproduction cited by Colin doesn’t happen by design. You need enormous amounts of money, test tubes, and surgery. By the way, my wife and I made a baby without all of this stuff. Homosexual couples can’t have children by design, as my wife and I did.
    Colin, to suggest that homosexual couples have broken machinery, and to insinuate that that situation is equivalent to an infertile heterosexual couples’ machinery, is a plain ignorance of the facts. Colin, homosexual couples have a design flaw. Their parts don’t fit together. It’s that simple.
    Arguing for homosexual marriage from the perspective of reproductive design is a losing, disingenuous argument, every time.

  • “Finally, I fear for you. If the God you worship is the one about whom I’ve read, you’ve got some serious explaining to do. As the woman in John 8, I’d offer you the first stone, but I’m already bloodied by proposition 8.”
    I’m not sure why that quote would add anything to the value. Her feelings were hurt, but what does that have to do with the Bible? Someone should remind her that at the end of John 8 Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” He says the same thing to those sinning sexually today, whether homosexual or not.
    And talk about hyperbole! No one suggesting stoning her. The people of California just reiterated a previous vote that was undone by some rogue judges. They get Civil Union status in California already! All they are denied is the name of marriage, and for good reason.
    I don’t see how any Christians can understand the Bible and support “gay marriage,” which results in people mocking God every day. It is profoundly unloving to encourage people to sin.

  • “The notion that people have to be able to reproduce in order to marry, is, of course, absurd to the point of idiocy. No one would deny older people the right to marry.”
    Charles, that is not the argument we’re making. For one, exceptions don’t overturn a rule. And “gay marriages” can never provide a mother and a father to a child, so why should the state encourage them or regulate them?
    I know that the “rights” talk makes for a good sound bite, but what rights are we talking about? The right to relationships? You’ve got them. The right to be married? Uh, sorry, but you already have the right to marry a living being of the opposite sex of the same species under certain conditions (i.e., no incest, bestiality, polygamy or necrophilia). And who are you to pull up the drawbridge after gays get these “rights” and leave the other groups hanging? Do you hate them? Why else would you oppose their rights?

  • Jason:
    “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” is a slogan, not an argument. There has been homosexuality throughout the history of primates — and I use that word advisedly, since monkeys, gorillas, etc. have also been shown to have gay or at least bisexual behavior.
    A Walker:
    If you include the developing world, 98% of marriages may produce children. But I doubt it. And it’s certainly a far, far lower number in the developed world — and getting lower all the time, given the plummeting fertility rates, especially in Europe.
    Think of all the second marriages of divorcees in their 30s and 40s. Think of the women who wait until their late 30s to try to have babies and fail. In my own life, for that matter, my marriage ended in divorce at age 31 after five years and NO KIDS. And, when things were good, we did try …
    So I see nothing wrong with defining marriage as a partnership between two people in love seeking government-recognized rights and responsibilities — and notice I said two people, no threat of polygamy.
    BTW, your argument about gays, marriage and child-rearing is circular to say the least. You say gays can’t adopt children because they can’t marry — but you say they can’t marry because they can’t have children (naturally). Talk about a Catch-22.

  • Pat F

    Thanks for opening this discussion in such a constructive manner.
    I would only like to point out that there is a discussion about anthropology (who the human person is) that is underlying the gay marriage legal debate — which often descends to a series of emotional assertions. The anthropological discussion is usually avoided.
    The way it is avoided is by saying something to the effect of “our job is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code” (see Goodridge v. Dept of Public Health). This statement will eventually be contradicted when the interlocuter ends up having to define marriage in some way, usually something like “the exclusive and permanent commitment of the partners to each other”. This definition of marriage is not self-evident, and is therefore a practice in “mandating our own moral code”! (Especially given the fact that the majority of Americans do not agree with that definition, not to mention the historically & culturally various forms that marriage has taken). Why exclusive? Why permanent? What is commitment? (Honest questions).
    So the first step in the debate, it seems to me, is to un-mask what I call the ‘liberal argument’ that truth claims are not made in the public square. Such claims are constantly being made, and the gay marriage issue is no different.
    From that point, the debate becomes “Which claims are true?”

  • –“Finally, I fear for you. If the God you worship is the one about whom I’ve read, you’ve got some serious explaining to do. As the woman in John 8, I’d offer you the first stone, but I’m already bloodied by proposition 8.”–
    So, we have this bit of hyperbole (as someone else here accurately put it), and Olbermann’s usual bias. Yeah, Jones, that’s real fair and balanced.
    Btw, have you bothered asked ,Jones, what God thinks about this issue? And I mean the God of the Bible, not the god of vague mushy feelings and contemplative new-agey vibes.

  • I have not taken the time to read all of the comments made here (sorry, I’m playing catch up a little with this blogologue) but I do have some initial reactions to Olberman’s diatribe.
    First, since Olberman does not seem to share the religious sentiments of many involved I will not hold him to being consistent with the things he says about God and/or the Bible. However, if he seeks to dismiss their arguments out of hand, I would like to ask him for a little charity. If someone is going to use the “black=gay” argument to say that we were wrong then, we are wrong now, I believe they should not try and pit this as an argument against the Christian view. The Bible certainly does not place race and sexual orientation on the same footing the way civil rights proponents are accustomed to do.
    Second, the argument that gays have been forced into sham heterosexual marriages because same-sex marriage was outlawed is a total non-sequitur. It is a problem that we view marriage as a right, and apparently in Olberman’s case as a necessity. For the Christian, the Bible never claims marriage to be a necessity. Marriage is at best a privilege, like a drivers license, and in the case of America it is up to the people to decide who that privilege is extended to. No one is arguing that blind people should be granted the right to drive in order to satisfy their need for speed, and though the grounding of the objection is different, the idea is the same: we have decided against it because we do not believe it is in the best interest of the country.

  • Todd:
    So gays can’t get driver’s licenses?
    Because if that’s all a marriage license is — a privilege requested from and granted by the state — which most pro-gay marriage supporters say it is, what’s the big deal? Unless gays should not get ANY privileges from the state, of course.
    Religious ceremonies will go on as houses of worship want them or don’t want them, under the First Amendment. But by your own logic, if the civil law stays as it is, a lot of gays might want to start researching mass transit.

  • Larry,
    Please, if we are going to continue this interaction, do not misrepresent my comments. My argument was not that gays should not be extended any privileges from the state. What I said was that the people of the state get to decide who they feel it is in the best interest of the state to extend specific privileges to. This is why blind people can’t get drivers licenses, because it is not in the best interest of the other drivers, pedestrians, homeowners, etc. Similarly, the people in the states which have asked the question have decided that it is not in the best interest of the family, the society, the children, etc. to extend the privilege of marriage to homosexual unions. That is their prerogative, and as you know I argued elsewhere, is why our focus as Christians must be on what the Bible says and if we are going to abide by that.

  • Mike Margarit

    It is sad that society and “Christians” in general has decided that God has nothing to do with anything pertaining to our lives and the way we are to conduct ourselves. Morality has been replaced with new age thinking. The Holy Spirit has been completely taken out of churches and out of the lives of parishioners. The Emerging Church is another one of those sects that has decided that they are the ones that can convey the truths of the Bible and what God really say’s about sin. They are the ones that have come up with another Gospel another god and another spirit and a new way to worship the creator.
    This is nothing new and it surely is a sign that the end times are close at hand. We may say that, in this modern era, the spirit of the Sadducees is alive and well and has come to us in the garb of modern Christianity and in the Emerging Church They have completely taken out the Holy Spirit’s work and have replaced Him with their own intellect. Helping communities and making sure that they don’t offend, is their main objective.
    No where in my Bible have I seen anything of the sort. Paul say’s in the book of
    2 Timothy 4:2-4:
    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
    That’s what this is all about. May God help us all.

  • Mike Margarit

    I’m really perplexed as to your comment regarding of posting scriptures to the issues at hand. I would really like to know what you really think about the author of the Bible and how we are to interpret scripture. How can you and I come to different conclusions in interpreting scripture. The Holy Spirit is the one that brings you to those truths as born again believers and born of the Spirit. The Bible is a difficult book because it came from the infinite to the finite-from the unlimited, all powerful God, to limited man. As we approach the Bible praying that the Spirit will be our teacher and will guide us to a better understanding of His Holy Word as He is the author of it. So their should be no ambiguity when it comes to the Word of God, as He is the author and finisher of our faith.
    Is God, a God of confusion? Shouldn’t you be extremely concerned about someone’s eternal salvation, just as our precious Lord is. Also being a concerned brother, shouldn’t you be concerned about protecting the church from wolfs (false teachers).
    I’m really confused. Please explain to me as to how you come to your conclusions as to delete someone from your site, if they disagree with your assessment of God and interpreting scripture. The only reason that I would quote scripture in a post, is because, that is the ONLY way that we can distinguish truth from error. Show me any other way as to how we can combat the spiritual world and the schemes of the enemy.
    God Bless,