Culture Wars and Second Bests

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A commenter in an earlier post mentioned this piece at TechCentralStation, by James Miller, arguing that libertarians can't appeal to a "hands-off" principle of neutrality to decide the gay marriage question, and so are forced to "take sides" in the culture war.

First, this is a bad argument. Just as failure to restrict an activity does not constitute endorsement of that activity, neither does equal access to government benefits imply endoresement of those who accept the benefit. On Miller's premises, the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws "endorsed" interracial marriage and, presumably, the Supreme Court wrongly decided Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, where it ruled that neutral vouchers guided by the "true private choice" of parents did not count as state endorsement of Catholicism just because parents might use them at parochial schools. I await Miller's announcement that he believes that vouchers offend the Establishment Clause.

Second, this is an issue only if you buy Miller's earlier argument that marriage shouldn't be an entirely private affair— that argument is actually significantly less compelling, and indeed, confused in enough delightfully different ways that I'm not even going to try to deal with it here.

Anyway, the same article was linked by the right honorable opposition over at the Corner, and Jonah Goldberg offers the distinct (and rather better) argument that libertarians don't normally accept the notion that a government benefit that's inappropriate in the first place should be extended evenhandedly. So, for instance, we don't want to expand affirmative action to include more groups, or pay Social Security benefits to everyone (not just the old).

First, I think we can certainly come up with a number of counterexamples. I mentioned vouchers above. We might prefer to have government exit the education business, but many of us regard it as a second best to at least let parents choose the destination of those tax dollars from among a wider range of options. And I'm pretty sure that there are very few libertarians who would defend legislation that excluded some disfavored ethnic group from receiving postal service, student loans, or welfare benefits, even assuming that this were politically feasible and would realize tax savings.

Note also that the examples Jonah picks don't work all that well. Affirmative actions is, more or less by definition, dependent on inequality. If you extend it to everyone, it's the same as extending it to nobody. Then there's Social Security, which at least in theory (if not in practice) is supposed to be "equally" available to all. Every old person was a young person at some point, after all, even if the converse doesn't hold. And here, the "second best" solution libertarians are inclined to accept for the time being (i.e. private accounts) would be a way of remedying the present inequality in the system—not between young and old per se, but between those with longer and shorter lifespans. The ability to bequeath or borrow against a personally owned account is, indeed, a way of distributing the (admittedly improper) Social Security benefit more equitably.

NEXT: Where Are They Now?

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  1. Who the fuck cares what “libertarians” have to say about gay marriage, vouchers, or any other argument?

    Arguments are either good or bad on their merits, regardless of who is making them. The only reason to even mention libertarianism, conservatism, liberalism, etc., is to point out your own lack of a coherent argument.

  2. “Arguments are either good or bad on their merits, regardless of who is making them. The only reason to even mention libertarianism, conservatism, liberalism, etc., is to point out your own lack of a coherent argument.”

    Well yes, though perhaps not in the sense you mean, PLC. Most people do not have a coherent set of beliefs that lack self-contradiction. Such a thing is very difficult. Most of the existing political traditions and schools are the result of attempting to form a rigorous coherent set of beliefs and arguments.

    The reason to mention such a school is to point out that one attempts to follow a coherent set of beliefs, rather that muddling through on each issue. It signifies an acceptance of various broad premises and axioms that one attempts to apply in all or nearly all areas, as opposed to a constantly shifting set of arguments of convenience.

    It’s a shorthand that allows someone to check their own beliefs and arguments for signs of inconsistency and hypocrisy.

  3. Deciding any given issue on the merits of the particular case involved could be described in any number of ways. Labeling it as “muddling throiugh on each issue” seems a tenditious description.

  4. If you’re going to insist on Libertarians deciding the morality of gay marriage – then shouldn’t you expect Libertarians to weigh in on the validity of astrology?

    The TCS article almost seems extra-topical as we used to say in debate class.

  5. fyodor,

    Of course I understand THAT – that’s drift, and it occurs as needed. This is DISTINCTLY not that.

    “Marriage” as a concept has always, for the history of civilization, meant “one man and one (or more) women”.

    Now you are taking the word for that concept and applying it to something different. See “1984” on how that sort of thing works. If you don’t have the vocabulary to talk about a concept… And no, I don’t think the “1984” reference is out of line – this is an attempt to literally, consciously, and with a specific, culture-changing goal in mind redefine our language out from under us. If it can be done with one term, it can be done with others.

    As I said, it’s not the legal benfits (or penalties, as some have mentioned) that bother me. I am rather firmly in the camp that the government should just butt out of the whole thing.

    It’s the same thing with “he” as the English gender-neutral pronoun for people. I am quite willing to use a different pronoun, but “it” won’t work (people aren’t “it”), so until a reasonable alternative is offered, I will continue to use “he”. If you take offense, you show your own ignorance of the English language – or your own laziness for not coming up with a better term. Your choice.

    “Marriage” means “one man and one (or more) women.” If you want to come up with something that means “2 people of either (any?) sex”, that’s fine, and marriage would be a specific subset of that term. Redefining a word that has been used literally for MILLENIA to mean a specific thing is arrogant, inefficient, and basically dumb.

  6. Do those of you who “don’t care one way or the other” really beleive that Gay Marriage is at the bottom of the slippery slope we’ve been sliding down for the past 40 years?

    Boy, are you in for a suprise. And your children…. i shudder to think.

  7. I think it all comes down to semantic confusion. Many of the people opposed to gay “marriage” probably wouldn’t much care if it were called “civil partnership” or “civil union” or somesuch. The word “marriage” is freighted with all kinds of historical and religious baggage that just doesn’t need to be hauled into the current fracas.

    The terminology of gay “marriage” invites the error of thinking that the various religions will also be forced to recognize gay marriage. That needn’t (and, in the US, cannot Constitutionally) be the case.

  8. Deoxy,

    Okay, you understand THAT, yet you then contradict it, best as I can tell. What difference does it make how long a word has had a particular definition? Language changes in response to current needs and trends. How long a word’s been around may affect its malleabiity–and then again, it might just as easily not. It’s up to the current population to decide. (You’re probably joking about the millennia anyway, right? English didn’t exist two thousand years ago, and I believe neither did French, from which the word is derived.)

    As for 1984, the horror of that fantasy is based on a government program to remove (not change the meaning of) words that might inspire independent thought. The only aspect of the current situation that relates to 1984 is the judge in Massuchessetts works for the government. Otherwise, there’s nothing to your analogy. The judge is not a bureaucrat assigned to decimate our language to control our thinking. Gay marriage has been part of the lexicon for a while now, and if dictionaries don’t reflect that yet they will soon…

    Hey, I just looked it up at dictionary.reference.com, and same-sex marriages are recognized there.

    So what was your point again…?

  9. Deoxy –

    Actually, not only do many cultures currently allow polygamy, but you’ll find several polygamous marriages in the Bible.

    Also of note, the Church suddenly got interested in marriage sometime about the 17th century. Prior to that, marriage was secular matter. So, reframing marriage as a civil and legal matter is just a reversion to the way things were for a long time. If we’re having to change the meaning of marriage, it is only because certain religious leaders got us into the mess.

    More importantly, though, is this. You are free to define *your* marriage on what terms you see fit. Why do you insist on forcing everyone else into that same model? Do you honestly think that you’ve discovered the one-size-fits-all relationship?

  10. Actually, I guess 1984 did have that freedom=slavery thing going on in addition to the elimination of words, so I correct myself on that detail. And for what it’s worth, I do agree that interests in society can try to change or coin words to effect political ends, and yes that is what has happened here, since only a generation ago people might not have even imagined the concept of gay marriage, and yet now they do. My point is that what made conscious changes in the language seem horrible in 1984 was that they were being used by the government as means of repression and control. Now, this may not even be possible; still show us that the new meaning of “marriage” was contrived by the government and how it represses or controls, and you’ll have a point. Otherwise, I’m afraid you don’t.

  11. He seems hell bent on state laws being a moral benchmark. Perhaps we should take the state off the moral pedestal and realize that state action/inaction does not equal condone/condemn.

    I don’t consider state law to mean that the state is proclaiming something to be moral, just that our elected representatives are (in theory) reflecting the will of the people who elected them.

    If someone who believes that the consumption of alcohol is wrong works in a convenience store selling alcohol, does this mean that the person condones alcohol usage? They can sidestep the issue and simply do what their employer tells them to do.

  12. Why is it de rigeur to have an opion regarding moral aspects of gay marriage? Or to suppose that sexual preferences have any moral aspects at all?
    Please enlighten me!

    (I confess I cannot feel anything but indifference about that gay marriage thing and do not understand the fuss).

  13. Who cares what “libertarians” think?,
    Well I do, and I submit that you should too. One of the great advantages of libertarian philosophy is that it is based on a coherent ideology. In theory individual application should be derived from a set of guiding principals. (As directly opposed to weighing each issue on its merits. I have another word for that: Prejudice, but that’s another topic) It is worth discussing how our principles apply in this situation, to determine the ‘proper’ libertarian position (i.e. the one that promotes individual liberty, limits state power etc.)

    Why should I care?,
    Even if this issue is of no importance to you, you should recognize that it is of utmost importance to others. You should care because it concerns the equal application of the law, the powers of the state and ultimately the liberties enjoyed by the people. It may not affect you directly, but you should lend your principled support anyway. After all, aren’t there things you care about that most of us couldn’t give a shit about? Wouldn’t you expect principled people to support you against excesses of the state even though it doesn’t affect them personally?

    Marriage is traditionally defined. You’re ruining the concept. Etc,
    You are allowed to be married by the church or institution of your choice. Your marriage has whatever meaning you endow it with. The nature of other people’s marriages does not diminish the significance of yours. (If it did then you should be far more threatened by heterosexual divorce than gay marriage)
    Deoxy,
    You say you are willing to grant the legal rights to gay couples just not the title of “married”. OK but equal application requires that the state recognize you and your wife as only a “civil union” too. Personally, I agree with fyodor. The language is changing, stop yer whining schoolmarm.

    What is the libertarian position?
    I’d like to say that gay marriage is a good halfway point. On the road to the state not recognizing (discriminating) ‘marriage’ at all, merely enforcing contractual agreements freely entered into by adults. However, one of the ‘goodies’ of marriage is that a spouse can not be compelled to give testimony against their spouse. I am in favor of upholding this recognition of a privileged relationship but I can see a whole can of worms.

    What’s up with those guys at National Review?
    They are assholes. Every word they put to paper is the most insipid illogical indulgence of sanctimonious bigotry since the Inquisition. I wish we could just ignore them, but since their friends are in the White House, they’ve become the biggest threat to liberty on the planet.

  14. I’ll vote with KJ. I really don’t care.

  15. AA,

    Would that note be a high C? 🙂 Well, there’s really no arguing with a bible thumper, you got God on your side afterall, and you seem to even know Jesus personally, as you seem to know what would offend him. I will agree with you, as I’ve already noted, that pushing for marriage to include same-sex unions effected an agenda driven change in the language. But so what, we all have the right to try to influence others. It’s rather a stretch to associate such with 1984, in which a concerted effort was made by government functionaries to contrive various language changes (particularly deletions) to effect repression and centralized control. If the goal in 1984 had simply been championing one platform over another, it would hardly seem so demonic. As always, the solution to speech that displeases you is more speech. I suppose I can’t blame you for despairing that the word “marriage” has been captured by the “sodomites” (ha-ha, but to be more realistic, those who would allow the expansion of both the word and the institution beyond its traditional formation), but I won’t allow you and the like to associate this success with 1984’s totalitarianism.

    As for what the government allows being an endorsement, now it is you who is playing with the language, and not in a genuinely accepted manner. Sure, allowing interracial marriage is an endorsement of the notion that government should not prevent interracial marriage, but it is not an endorsement of any particular behavior by any individuals in the real world. Similarly, allowing gay marriage only endorses the notion that government should not be in the business of meddling one way or another.

    Alas, we can agree that most likely government shouldn’t be in the marriage business to begin with. Unfortunately it is, and thus it must choose between suppression and discrimination on one hand and freedom on the other.

  16. Aaron,
    Holy shit. I bet they love you over at NRO. Has anybody thrown a net over you yet? Here’s my favorite quote: “…this in turn is an insult to Jesus Christ, for He is Himself a groom.”

    ROFLMAO
    OH MAN that’s funny stuff, unless of course you’ve been elected to public office.

  17. fyodor;

    “It’s rather a stretch to associate such with 1984, in which a concerted effort was made by government functionaries to contrive various language changes (particularly deletions) to effect repression and centralized control. If the goal in 1984 had simply been championing one platform over another, it would hardly seem so demonic.”

    Orwell wrote more than 1984, and objected to manipulation and degradation of the language by people with no government office. Read “Politics and the English Language”.

    “As always, the solution to speech that displeases you is more speech.”

    What do you think I’m doing?

    “I suppose I can’t blame you for despairing that the word “marriage” has been captured by the ‘sodomites'”

    You misread me. I don’t despair of it.

    In the long run my side wins.

    “As for what the government allows being an endorsement, now it is you who is playing with the language, and not in a genuinely accepted manner. Sure, allowing interracial marriage is an endorsement of the notion that government should not prevent interracial marriage, but it is not an endorsement of any particular behavior by any individuals in the real world. Similarly, allowing gay marriage only endorses the notion that government should not be in the business of meddling one way or another.”

    You’re not just “playing with the language,” You’re lying.

    This isn’t about allowing, or not preventing, it’s about government issued marriage licenses. The government does not permit them to be issued, it issues them. I’d be thrilled if the government suddenly became passive or just enforced contracts, but that’s not the way it currently works.

    You know this. Everyone old enough to debate this topic knows it. Please don’t talk as if you didn’t.

    Warren;

    “I?d like to say that gay marriage is a good halfway point. On the road to the state not recognizing (discriminating) ?marriage? at all, merely enforcing contractual agreements freely entered into by adults.”

    Regardless of what you think of the spousal privilege, having written the above is pretty good evidence you’re an idiot, unless you mean to debase marriage to such an extent that no one will bother. That is, to abolish marriage itself, not just marriage licenses.

    Don’t bother. It won’t work.

  18. Deciding any given issue on the merits of the particular case involved could be described in any number of ways.

    “Unprincipled” and “arbitrary” certainly come to mind. “Random” probably fills the bill, also.

  19. Aaron,
    You seem to be insisting that homosexual couples are inherently inferior to heterosexual couples. In which case, more than an idiot, you show yourself to be a bigot.

    But perhaps you misunderstand me. We seem to be in agreement that the state should not issue marriage licenses. You don’t need to be married in the eyes of the law to be married in the eyes of God. You can still be married by your priest, reverend, shaman, what-have-you. But allowing homosexuals to marry (by whatever church they are accepted in) in no way debases your marriage (by your exclusive white-anglo only church). No matter how debased marriage becomes (again it’s under more threat from hetero’s than homo’s) people will still ‘bother’

    If you can’t tolerate gay marriage, how do you feel about Hindu marriage? Should we proclaim that all Indian couples are not married (and all their children bastards)? Hindus are no more bible friendly than homos after-all.

    The government isn’t qualified to judge the depth and quality of the love people have for one another, and neither are you.

  20. From a legal standpoint, and from my understanding of the Constitution, I can see both sides of the issue.

    The libertarian in me says, “Whatever.”

    But the logician in me says that gender (technically, ti’s “sex” – the two are not completely interchangable, but are commonly used that way) is inherently different from other forms of “discrimination” – for example, we still have “discriminating” bathrooms. Gender is the one “discriminating” area which is entirely non-artifical – define it as genital or genetic, and either way, we can perform a physical check and determine gender.

    In short, everyone currently has the right to marry someone of the opposite gender (the definition of marriage – look it up), so I don’t see the problem.

    Now, you could make the argument that this is special treatment for heterosexual people that wish to marry; as such, extending the same legal rights to any couple that wishing to have them (regardless of sexual involvement, actually) would be fine with me (call it “civil union” or whatever).

    Of course, that argument inherently begs the question – “why only 2 people?” Oh boy…

    From a legal perspective, again, I see no reason why not!

    Now, the Christian in me (and most people would probably call me “devout”) finds the redeinition of “marriage” offensive. Extend the legal rights, sure, ok, fine (logically, as a Christian, I should EXPECT non-Christians to live in sin – as a non-Christian, they would have no recognition of “sin”), but “marriage” means something specific, and legal recognition of certain rights is extraneous to that meaning. How would you like me to redefine the word “free” to include “slavery”? Wouldn’t you be offended? (Yes, I know that’s not a proper analogy – the point is redefining a word you consider to be independent of the law.)

    Also, from a Christian perspective, legal gay (and other…) marriage potentially makes the conversion of a person even more complicated.

  21. Deoxy,

    It is the nature of both language and institutions to evolve. Now, in the case of language, that doesn’t mean a word can mean anything you say it does, but only because if I refer to a barking animal as a cat no one will know what I’m talking about. But when definitions change throughout a society and everyone understands the change (and if you don’t think such change is valid, I would accuse of speaking very poor Anglo-Saxon!), it does no good to say everyone is “wrong” because the word didn’t used to mean that. Well, it does now! Of course, what this analysis leaves out is the fact that there can be a period of transition and confusion in which some people recognize a change and others don’t (in both language and institutions). I can accept that that’s what we’re currently experiencing, but alluding to the dictionary does nothing ultimately to support your position.

  22. Warren has done an admirable job of explaining why religious argument has no real bearing on the matter. But I thought I’d jump back in to clarify my assertion which apparently confused you. You’re right that I was timing these developments a smidgen late. Mea culpa.

    From http://www.madelinehunter.com/history2.html#marriage

    “Until the late 16th century, no priest was required. In fact, even witnesses were not necessary, although the sensible person would have them lest words spoken in the heat of passion be conveniently forgotten the next day. In the 16th century the Church finally succeeded in establishing its control over what had been up until then an essentially private undertaking.The lack of control could be attributed to the simple fact that the priest did not perform the sacrament of marriage, but only witnessed it. The couple made the sacrament happen, not a priest. (This is still how it is viewed in the Catholic Church today). The Church tried to discourage such independence, but made little headway during the centuries under question.”

    According to other sources, the earliest mention of marraige as a sacrament by the Church occurred at the Council of Florence (in 1413), though Martin Luther claims the views originated with Gregory I. Apparently, there was no Christian marriage ceremony until about the 9th century.

    Now, these historical issues aside, there’s an important issue here. According to Church doctrine, a marriage occurs because of volitional acts of consent to marry by the participants. In other words, it’s between them and God. Under this doctrine, all those homosexuals may well already be married! We have only your word for it that no such spiritual marriage (as opposed to legally recognized civil unions) occurs between homosexuals. On the other hand, I (and I’m not alone on this one) think that a spiritual marriage does occur when homosexuals decide to enter into a spiritual union. And there’s no empirical way to determine which of us is right. This is why we keep the state out of these particular sort of disagreements and agree to disagree.

    This is actually closely related to the points people are making about language. This isn’t an example of people changing the language, except in the most subtle way. For many people, marriage means a public declared romantic relationship of lifelong commitment. The number and gender of people involved are superfluous. Even for people who had always thought of it as between a man and a woman, when confronted with something otherwise identical between two women, will naturally extend the definition. This is more like people calling the machine that I’m using a “computer” (which a mere 50 years ago was an occupation rather than a machine) and what Eddie Van Halen plays a “guitar”, than it is like the doublespeak of 1984.

    People are psychological essentialists. We act (and think) as if things have essences that make them what they are. Is this essence of marriage the genders of the people involved, or the nature of their relationship? That’s a no-brainer.

  23. I believe that if the government stopped handing out “goodies” based on marital status, the issue would go away. (Anyone care to name any of these ?goodies??) Until then, let gays marry. Let them suffer with the rest of us when paying the “marriage tax”, get robbed by Social Security when a spouse dies and suffer legal robbery when a relationship fails.

    And yes, I consider myself a libertarian.

  24. Warren;

    “You seem to be insisting that homosexual couples are inherently inferior to heterosexual couples. In which case, more than an idiot, you show yourself to be a bigot.”

    Seem? I’m not clear enough.

    Homosexual couples are inherently inferior to Biblical marriages.

    So are unmarried, sexually active heterosexual couples. The only Scripturally sanctioned forms of sexuality are marriage and celebacy. Don’t like it? Hey, I’m not holding a gun to your head. Debauch away.

    Your assumption here is that anyone who follows Scripture (and not you) must be “an idiot”. IOW, you assume intelligence consists in holding the same opinions you do, no thought required. And then, you have the nerve (or the dishonesty) to call me a bigot. I’m not the one who called you an idiot simply for having different views. I called you an idiot for saying something palpably moronic. Seriously, EXPAND a government program (the issuing of marriage licenses) as a halfway point to eliminating it? Hey, forget vouchers, let’s move away from public schools by… building more public schools!

    “But perhaps you misunderstand me. We seem to be in agreement that the state should not issue marriage licenses.”

    Tell me, if we agree the state should not issue marriage licenses, why are you arguing that the state should issue marriage licenses to homosexuals?

    “You don’t need to be married in the eyes of the law to be married in the eyes of God. You can still be married by your priest, reverend, shaman, what-have-you.”

    I’m the only one here seriously talking about actually doing away with state marriage licenses. The rest of you are dilettantes. I certainly have no need to be persuaded by you.

    “But allowing homosexuals to marry (by whatever church they are accepted in) in no way debases your marriage (by your exclusive white-anglo only church).”

    1) I would accuse you of being dishonest (you don’t know what kind of church I go to — and you’re wrong, in any event), but I think you really believe that. It was an emotional bubbling-up more than a thought, but, I think, a sincere one. You seem to have thought, “Following Scripture is bigotry [false, but this is what you think], racism is bigotry, therefore people who believe in the Bible are racists.”

    IOW, you have a primitive mind.

    2) We’re not talking about letting gays get a travesty of the marriage ceremony done, we’re talking about issuing state marriage licenses. As I’ve made very clear. Every time I talk to secular libertarians about this I’ve had the same difficulty in making you understand even rudimentary concepts; you keep substituting what you think John Ashcroft would say for what I just did say (even when the two are opposites). Which is another example of primative thinking: you see a few attributes in common and assume all others are also in common. But you’re the “brights”.

    “No matter how debased marriage becomes (again it?s under more threat from hetero?s than homo?s) people will still ?bother?”

    You need that to be false for governmentally recognized gay “marriage” to be a halfway point to getting government out of the marriage business. Not only would you add a few new constituents to the marriage license service, you’d also add a politically correct reason for every homosexual and cultural leftist to oppose even a small move toward ending state marriage licenses: doing so would eliminate the means by which the government officially sanctions their sinful activities as being of equal value with godly marriage.

    Now, I had suspected that possibly you hoped that gay “marriage” would so debase the cultural coin of marriage that people would, indeed, stop bothering. Marriage is already an extremely bad cost-benefit deal: you don’t get lifelong commitment (just the outward ceremonials of it), but you do get the risk of getting soaked (if you’re a man), getting an abusive husband (for women or, I guess, sodomites), getting cheated on, or in general getting your heart broken. But I don’t think you’re bright enough to think that far ahead.

    There’s a final option, which you haven’t mentioned and which, I’d bet, you would oppose in the actual event. This option is why using that state’s power to issue marriage licenses to debase marriage won’t work. Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims can secede from the whole system. Have our marriages privately, by contract.

    “If you can’t tolerate gay marriage, how do you feel about Hindu marriage?”

    The New Testament makes it clear that other religion’s marriages are as valid as if they’d been made by Christians, and remain so even if one member converts (unless the unbelieving partner then abandons the believing partner).

    “Should we proclaim that all Indian couples are not married (and all their children bastards)?”

    India has more Muslims than Pakistan does. It has Zoroastrian communities. It has a Christian community founded by the Apostle Thomas.

    Try learning a little before you call other people bigots.

    And now I’ve spent much too much time replying to this ignorant foul-mouth.

    Now I just saw this when I was previewing:

    avicenna;

    1) No, I wasn’t confused. You wrote what you wrote — no confusion on my end. But I already refuted in advance the notion it was the 16th century.

    2) You’ve already abandoned your first claim, that the church “suddenly got interested” at a certain point in history. Which I could have refuted more simply than I did by cutting right to the New Testament writtings on the subject. But in any event, you now quote a source saying that “the Church finally succeeded in establishing its control”, meaning that it had been interested for some time before. Really, you’ve retreated to the claim that it became more formal at a certain point, which I’ll gladly grant. It was not previously a civil matter in the manner it is now.

    3) Your meanderings on the marital doctrines of the Catholic Church bear little relation to Catholic doctrine. In the first place, you may or may not have noticed that I’m not Catholic, so it really doesn’t matter to me. But I still evidently know more than you about it — no, two homosexuals cannot be married by that doctrine. It’s not just consent. It’s consent between two people eligible to become married to each other. They can’t already be married, they can’t be related within a certain degree (which has varied a little, for example, whether it includes cousins), they can’t be of the same sex. And no, that’s not just “my word for it”. The fact that you guys always feel the need to write as if the other guy had personally invented moral consensus of all Christian over the last 2000 years the day before yesterday shows how dishonest you are (not that it’s surprising, given who your master is). You could look it up in the Catechism, I suppose. And Scripture is perfectly clear what the moral status of homosexuality is.

    4) The nature of something endorsed by Scripture is very different from the nature of something condemned by it — even if they look the same to an unbeliever. Worshipping false gods with rituals that resemble Christian practices, for example. They’re certainly different enough to merit different names. If you don’t agree, I’m not going to hold a gun to your head.

    I don’t trust you not to hold a gun to mine, nor do I take you seriously when you claim to want the state out of it.

  25. Gosh, Aaron, it must be such a strain on even an intellect as titanic as yours having to explain things to all these liars and idiots. Your Christian charity just blows me away. BTW, isn’t “calvinist libertarian” a contadiction in terms?

  26. dhex;

    “i must confess to still being confused as to how the activities of anyone else can debase the marriages of others.”

    Yes, you are confused.

    Take no-fault divorce. The legislators who enacted it changed the terms of other people’s marriages. Maybe you think it was an improvement. I don’t.

    Issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals is an official declaration that their relationship is as good as Biblical marriage. Yes, that is an official, government-issued debasement of every marriage in the country. Now, real marriages will stay real marriages in spite of all this, but they’d be more and more counter-cultural.

    It’s less of a debasement than no-fault divorce was, but that’s hardly a good reason to press on. That coins already had copper added is no reason to add more — though if we conclude that the state cannot be trusted to issue good coin, it would be worthwhile to start using privately issued pure coins, if we can. (An imperfect analogy, since marriage was never their business.)

    “it does seem as though we’re slightly closer to getting some extra gender classifications, though, or maybe experiencing gender and sex roles on a system of degrees rather than an either/or proposition. which is also a good thing, obviously.”

    Isaiah 5:20

    fredH;

    “Gosh, Aaron, it must be such a strain on even an intellect as titanic as yours having to explain things to all these liars and idiots.”

    No, it strains my patience. And yes, liars and idiots is precisely what you are.

    “BTW, isn’t “calvinist libertarian” a contadiction in terms?”

    No.

    I’m increasingly convinced, however, that atheist libertarian is.

  27. “brights” is such a horrible and stupid-sounding term. dawkins was having a *really* off day when he thought of that one.

    i must confess to still being confused as to how the activities of anyone else can debase the marriages of others. always sounds like the santorum magicio-religious theory of sodomy as a non-local, mass curse against heterosexuals and their marriages.

    thankfully, in matters of human sexuality, it usually takes some seriously brutal mass murdering to put the freaks back in the closets, as it were. and even then, even in places like afghanistan and other enlighted slave god countries run by His bootlicking servants, death and torture are not enough to keep people from trying to fulfil their desires.

    it does seem as though we’re slightly closer to getting some extra gender classifications, though, or maybe experiencing gender and sex roles on a system of degrees rather than an either/or proposition. which is also a good thing, obviously.

  28. AA,

    “This isn’t about allowing, or not preventing, it’s about government issued marriage licenses.”

    So if the government issues fishing licenses it’s endorsing fishing. No, it’s allowing it. That’s all that’s different about having a fishing license (or any license) versus not having it, you can do it. It does not mean the government is taking a moral stand, as if that’s even possible. Accusing me of lying and claiming everyone sees it your own twisted way won’t change the common sense interpretation of what is really happening.

  29. fyodor;

    Y’know, if you tried thinking a little about what you say, you wouldn’t sound so silly. If the state disapproved of fishing, would it issue fishing licences? Of course not.

    And it doesn’t even occur to you to ask why we should need government permission to be able to marry. You have the statist presupposition that it’s right and proper for the government to decide whether we get to do things (as long as it doesn’t consider morality).

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