[Turing 2013] Christian Entry #5

This is the fifth entry in the Christian round of the 2013 Ideological Turing Test.  This year, atheists and Christians responded to questions about sex, death, and literature.  



“Is there any reason that marriage (civil and or sacramental) should be limited to the union of two persons?”

Yes for both Civil & Sacramental Marriage (opposing both), though for different reasons. I’ll expand on Civil Marriage first. The state recognizes marriage through privileges for people who are ‘married’ in the eyes of the law for the purposes of raising a family. A man wants to live with another man and raise a family, that’s not an issue for the law. It’d be inappropriate for the state to differentiate here. However if a man wants to live with 2 women or 4, he’s free to do so, but legally it becomes more complex. We don’t have a mechanism for splitting marital assets between more than 2 people. How would survivor benefits work? Would wife #1 get as much as wife #4? Could giving legal status to this situation make fraud easier? The idea of a 2 person marriage is embedded too deeply in our law to open it up to legally recognizing polyamorous relationships.

Sacramental Marriage is a simpler situation. The promises of a Sacramental Marriage are more than just lip service in front of family and friends or the signing of a legal document. Sacramental Marriage is a covenant relationship between a man, a woman and God, formed for the purpose of procreation. The authority that grants a Sacramental Marriage is beyond the reach of the state and granted according to God’s own standards, and those standards are clear on what is, and what is not Sacramental Marriage.

“If your answer depends on religious revelation, could people outside your tradition reasonably disagree, or does your argument depend on truths that almost everyone can acknowledge”

People get on together best when they don’t impose themselves on their neighbors, nor that their neighbors impose on them. My own feelings on homosexual or polyamorous relations don’t pass the smell test for legally telling people how they should be behaving, though I remain opposed to polyamorous Civil Marriage for reasons stated above. Similarly, Sacramental Marriage belongs in God’s sphere, and the laws of that land there, so to speak, are clear. I don’t know if this qualifies as revelation, but it’s the way I see it.



“When, if ever, is it permissible or even obligatory to end a life?”

With our modern ability to manage pain, I have a tough time buying any instance of it being permissible, let along obligatory, to end a life. Someone lying sick in a bed or claiming they’re just so sad they’d prefer to have someone kill them isn’t in the right frame of mind to make such a decision. There is a potential for a recovery that they couldn’t possibly know one way or the other, and once you’ve moved on you’re on a one-way street. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had to witness much suffering, especially amongst loved ones who’ve passed. Were someone’s pain to be beyond acceptable management, and I’ll admit an ignorance in this area, I might be more flexible in my views.

There’s also the issue that once we would legalize the ending of life in that manner, that people would be pressured to do it. This is unacceptable, even if it’s only in subtle ways. We owe our neediest people better than that.

“Is there a difference between intervening to kill and simply not administering medical treatment that might prolong life?”

Yes, the latter is leaving the matter to God’s judgement who might just make a decision that would surprise you. The former makes the claim you know how matters will unfold.


You can vote on whether you think these answers were written by a Christian or an Atheist here.  Comments are open to discuss the substance of the post and for speculation about the true beliefs of the author, so please vote before looking at the comments.

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  • Jakeithus

    This entry is concise, coherent, and quotes the questions before responding. For those reasons alone, I appreciate it very much. It also seems close to being exactly how I would respond to the questions that were raised, the only differences being my personal belief that something being legally complicated shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether or not something is a law, and spending more time stressing what should be society’s commitment to life for the neediest among us.

    Maybe it’s personal bias, since I see myself in the arguments, but I would say very likely Christian (or a very skilled forger).

  • Martha O’Keeffe

    This one I vote as “very likely Christian”. The arguments hang together from the stated viewpoint, though I don’t think they’d be very convincing to someone outside that. More of a jumping-off point for further discussion than a final statement, I think.

    Still, nice clear basic presentation here. And I wouldn’t even quibble in this case if someone goes “Ah, Catholic!” 😉

  • Brendan Hodge

    This probably underlines that “don’t say too much” is a good strategy, but I don’t see anything that sets off my radar. I’ll go “likely Christian”.

    • EMMilco


    • Agreed. I’m slightly suspicious that this may be an atheist who figured keeping things short would reduce the chances of inadvertent “tells,” but if so ze succeeded.

    • I think it’s too general. There doesn’t seem to be any advanced knowledge of Christianity here, which makes me think atheist.

      “God might surprise you…” is kind of an illogical argument that I think an atheist might enjoy making if he were impersonating a Christian.

  • JWP

    It seems odd to assert that the purpose of civil marriage is to facilitate raising a family, but then oppose multiple marriage on the unrelated grounds of legal complexity.

    I discovered that I’m barren a few years into my marriage. Since then, I’ve offered the spouse a no-fault divorce to leave him free to marry someone fertile. (He hasn’t taken me up on it because he is awesome that way.) The only way my marriage is going to raise a family is if we are able to add someone with a functioning uterus. In cases like mine, legalizing multiple marriage would actively facilitate raising a family – which is the previously asserted purpose of civil marriage.