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Tag Archive: Gay Marriage

The weakness of it is not due to the argument itself but to the condition of the hearer

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 (8:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Published on cnsnews.com last Friday, the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo provides a lengthy response to Bill O’Reilly’s recent dismissal of “Bible thumping” in the public square over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, including the following comments on the incompatibility of the type of law involved in establishing such a legal fiction with a constitutional order per se:

O’Reilly fails to make clear distinctions. For example, on the issue of religion in the public square, his claim that theological arguments are unacceptable in the public square is meant to indicate that if someone does not have faith in the authority of Divine Revelation, such argumentation holds no sway. This is true.

It is incorrect, however, to grant the further implication that religious argumentation should not be used in the public square. … To presume that the public square is owned [by] or exists because of the atheists of our modern day is historically false and an easy way out of a more complicated debate.

… The clamor for same-sex marriage is symptomatic of but not the root cause of our demise. The eroding of the philosophical and cultural foundations of the West is at the root of the problem. To ignore this is to miss the forest for the trees.

… The argument from faith, being revealed by God is essentially the strongest argument per se. It may not be understood to be so, by those who do not believe in Divine Revelation, but, if God exists and Christian revelation is true, it is undoubtedly the strongest. God does not have opinions, or positions on issues. God is simply Truth. The fact that the argument from eternal law cannot be used with the homosexual lobby, which is markedly atheistic, does not grant the further claim that Divine Revelation is a weak argument. The weakness of it is not due to the argument itself but to the condition of the hearer, who does not recognize Divine Law.

… If Bill O’Reilly believes in Divine Revelation and the divinity of Christ, he surely should realize that theology and reason (philosophy) are simply two different ways of arriving at the same conclusion. Theology and revelation are necessary, even in cases where one can arrive at the same conclusion [by] reason alone, because not every individual has the time or ability to arrive at correct conclusions from reason. Revelation in this sense is a service to the human conscience, for it affords another way for many people to arrive to necessary conclusions, quickly, and without the admixture of error. Revealed doctrine is a service to reason, not an obstacle.

But since Mr. O’Reilly demands "more than Bible thumping," I argue from reason, that homosexuality is simply not a normative inclination in the individual and therefore its existence constitutes shaky ground to make a norm for society as a whole. One has to take a deep breath and depersonalize the issue. We speak at this level when evaluating policy. The question before us is whether the tendency of some men and some women toward a same sex attraction is reasonable grounds to legislate for an entire nation or state.

… Now, when we discover non-normative tendencies, we seek causes. We ask: Why is this non-normative behavior taking place? We don’t start making laws for an entire population based on the non-normative tendencies of a tiny segment of the population. More clinical, sociological, and medical science is needed here, not lawyers and judges acting by fiat to institutionalize in the nation’s law non-normative tendencies of any type. This is, I submit, an unreasonable and insufficient ground for law.

… The problem here is that if non-normative tendencies become the criteria for constitutional or state law, law itself will become biographical. This atomization of law, culminates in the inability for us to have fundamental rights, as human beings. Things are institutionalized after centuries in law and custom, because they are recognized as normative, and, in the case of marriage, as a good for society. The legal institution of marriage is the normalization of that which is de facto normative in man. Marriage institutionalized in law and by religion is the proper effect the fruit of a normative tendency in man. Heterosexual, monogamous unions were not simply admitted into the marriage franchise (to which others now seek entry), it is rather the author that produced marriage as we know it. They have as it were, authorship rights over marriage since they produced the institution.

Creating institutions in law and possibly at a constitutional level, using non-normative tendencies (which are many and vary greatly in our society), as the justification is unreasonable and theoretically unsound.

Equality under the law in this sense is already being assaulted by post-modern philosophy, as unfair. Precisely for this reason, "the notion of "equality under the law," is now seen by many as failing to address the biographical preferences and tendencies of all kinds of biographical groups in society.

If we continue down that path, there will be no end, except the end of what we now know as the rule of law. It is unreasonable to legislate on constitutional order in this fashion.

Although I’m not sure how much of Guarnizo’s far-flung argument addresses the problem with O’Reilly’s libertarian indifference to non-utilitarian aspects of public life, the article nonetheless articulates a number of ideas that rarely make their way into the public discourse on this contrived controversy.

Given the hysterical nature of the thought-policing imposed on the matter (e.g. anyone who disagrees with the idiotic pretenses of the radicals is a “bigot’), it’s good to see some of the underlying intellectual errors exposed, as this piece does in pointing out how the special-interest nature of “biographical preference” law undermines the very basis of lawful order by replacing genuine equality under the law with targeted “rights” meant to benefit the politically well-positioned. Ostensibly advanced to serve the cause of “equality”, these kinds of laws are ultimately tyrannical, precisely because they are irrational, and that which is not rooted in the truth of the nature of things has no capacity to (continue to) exist on its own, and must be propped up by raw power. They are politically dangerous, socially poisonous, and morally unjust.

HT to Ed Morrissey at HotAir.

Not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 (8:45 pm), by John W Gillis


Thanks to a link provided by Operation Rescue Boston’s Bill Cotter in a recent newsletter email, I recently came across an article by John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com, which I consider the most insightful piece of short literature I have read on the cultural phenomenon of gay marriage, recognizing not only the problem the concept presents, but also acknowledging the very thin grounds modern (i.e. liberalized) “conservatives” have to stand on in resisting the expansion of the modern notion of marriage to include gays:

But an honest look at the cultural landscape raises the question of just how much is left to defend. The statistics suggest that social conservatives may be brandishing their scimitars not in defense of a robust institution suddenly threatened by a new and hostile cultural force, but rather the smoking ruins of an institution long ago surrendered and abandoned as lost. The Sexual Revolution of the 60s, and what a friend of mine calls the subsequent “hell of the Divorce Tsunami” of the 70s, have already swept this Thing That We Used to Call Marriage out to sea, leaving us clinging to the bobbing flotsam and jetsam.

By this point the statistics are so familiar that they have ceased to be shocking. And yet the numbers ought to shock us. Right now, some sixty percent of couples cohabit before marriage; nearly half of all marriages end in divorce; a record number of Americans aren’t bothering to get married in the first place, and those that do get married are getting married ever later; 41 percent of all children are born out of wedlock; 35 percent of children live in single-parent homes; only 61 percent of children under 18 live with their biological parents; and the birth rate has now dipped below the replacement level, as couples are having fewer and fewer, or sometimes no children at all.

So much for marriage being “life-long,” “exclusive” and child-oriented! Well then, what do we have left? Only the final third of our definition of traditional marriage: that marriage should be between one man and one woman. From the perspective of the gay rights movement, getting rid of this final scrap of our definition is not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job. The revolution already happened. Now it’s simply a question of tying up the loose ends.

And they are not wrong.

Jalsevac insists that what is being defended against the encroachment of homosexuality is not marriage in any historically meaningful sense, but a liberal institution he calls New Marriage, which is little more than the corpse of that institution upon which civilization has been built. He is absolutely correct.

Liberalism – understood in its older sense, and not something that began in the 1960s or late 19th century – has had as its aim the destruction/replacement of two fundamental institutions: the Church, and the family. In fact, I think one could reduce its aim to the singular goal of the destruction/replacement of fatherhood (i.e. patriarchy). On the family/marriage front, the main battle was lost about fifty years ago. I barely know anyone who understands marriage as anything that even closely resembles the reality that formed human culture.

Were it not for the working of grace in my life, I don’t think I would be able to understand what the difference is. But there is a difference – a momentous difference – and the truth, however elusive, must be pursued, embraced, and proclaimed. I recommend following the link to the entire article.

Alan Keyes Schools a Journalist on the Distinction Between Principles and Particulars

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 (1:12 pm), by John W Gillis


Alas, how different the world might be today if that 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate race had turned out differently:

 

The video provider labels this “A strong argument against gay marriage”, though I would be inclined to call it something like “A simple elucidation of the fundamental error of gay marriage”.

For what it’s worth, Alan Keyes is the only presidential candidate I’ve ever donated money to (in the 2000 election), though I very well may have donated to Rick Santorum this year if he had been the GOP nominee.

I love the look on Obama’s face when they cut to him near the end. It looks like he’s hoping he won’t get called on. He’s clearly out of his league with Keyes intellectually, but intelligence, unfortunately, does not win elections: politics does. And don’t we know how much craftier a politician Obama is than Keyes. Keyes never really had a chance as a politician, but he sure elevated the conversation.

Update: Video fixed, I hope.

Same-sex marriage violates the right of the family to protection by society and the state

Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 (4:23 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, January 5th, 2012.

Douglas Farrow, from an outstanding piece in the new (and terrific-looking) issue of Touchstone, entitled Why Fight Same-Sex Marriage? Nail-head, meet hammer:

[W]e should observe also that when a family of some description is founded by a same-sex couple, it is always founded by violating the natural parent-child bond that marriage is intended to nurture and protect. It deprives the child, whether in the same way that divorce does or in some more innovative technological way, of its prima facie right to its own father and mother. But we should notice something else as well, and not merely parenthetically—something too little noticed either by the detractors or by the champions of marriage. Same-sex marriage violates the natural parent-child bond in every family, and the right of the family to protection by society and the state.

How so?

In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII rightly described the family as “a society very small . . . but none the less a true society, and one older than any State,” with “rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.” This society, “founded more immediately in nature,” is what the Universal Declaration has in mind when it speaks in article 16 of the family. The family’s status as “natural”—that controversial adjective is deployed only in this one specific article—allows it a certain priority over civil society and the state. The latter share an obligation to protect the family, but the family is not at their disposal.

Same-sex marriage dispenses with all of that, however. By excising sexual difference, with its generative power, it deprives itself of any direct connection to nature. The unit it creates rests on human choice, as does that created by marriage. But whether monogamous, polygamous, or polyamorous, it is a closed unit that reduces to human choice, rather than engaging choice with nature; and its lack of a generative dimension means that it cannot be construed as a fundamental building block.

Institutionally, then, it is nothing more than a legal construct. Its roots run no deeper than positive law. It therefore cannot present itself to the state as the bearer of independent rights and responsibilities, as older or more basic than the state itself. Indeed, it is a creature of the state, generated by the state’s assumption of the power of invention or re-definition. Which changes everything.

I have little to add except that I can happily cross “write a short but cogent defense of marriage from an anthropological perspective” off my to-do list – I can simply point people to Farrow’s article, which is far better than anything I would have come up with. Next time some sneering cynic asks you “How is your marriage ‘damaged’ by same-sex marriage?”, share this link. Marriage matters like nothing else matters in human society, and Farrow knows why. And he knows why contraception lies at the root of the breath-taking collapse of the institution over the past century – and especially the past half-century. Required reading for any morally serious person.

Gay Marriage and the Handicapped Parking Spot Problem: A Parable

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 (9:25 pm), by John W Gillis


Once upon a time, a certain society made a conscious decision to confer a particular benefit upon a specific segment of the population: the rationale being that people with various physical ailments encountered particular hardships when attempting to access various public places, because of the long distances they often needed to locomote themselves after parking their cars in parking lots and garages – their physical ailments and disorders making such treks tedious, and sometimes even dangerous. As a remedy to this perceived problem, the society – let’s call it Liberstan – decided to require the designation of a certain amount of choice parking spots for these citizens in all public parking areas, creating a phenomena known as handicapped parking spots.

Despite the occasional cheat, the program worked pretty well for a number of years. People who experienced difficulty walking could obtain placards or special license plates identifying them as legitimate beneficiaries of this perk, which in turn better enabled them to participate in public activities with their neighbors. Most able-bodied citizens respected the handicapped parking privilege, but human nature being what it is, not everyone did. Usurpers of the privileged parking, when caught, would have their cars towed, and would be subjected to fines. This punishment deterred most people, but it unfortunately eventually inflamed the passions of a small group of fully able-bodied citizens who felt wronged by the situation.

These citizens – let’s call them Samers – insisted that conferring this privilege on the other group of citizens amounted to iniquity toward themselves, reasoning that all drivers desiring public parking places should have equal rights to the choice spots. The Samers were offended that some people were being privileged while they were not, because the Samers were egalitarians; their definition of egalitarian being “everyone’s the same.” And, boy, they prized those choice parking spots.

Critics argued that having a physical handicap legitimately qualified the so-called handicapped for such a privilege, since it merely made it easier for them to engage in activities common to the rest of the citizenry; it leveled the playing field somewhat.

This sounded like a difficult argument for the Samers to overcome, but, boy, they prized those choice parking spots. So they were faced with a tactical problem: would their aim using the choice parking spots be better served by arguing honestly against the legitimacy of the policy of privileged parking spots for particular people (a legitimate policy question, even if transparently mean-spirited), or by undermining the intent of the policy through subterfuge, dissembling, and sophistry? Well, wasn’t that a no-brainer…

“Nobody’s perfect,” the ensuing counter-argument proclaimed: “hence we all have some sort of handicap, and it is therefore discriminatory to withhold choice-spot parking rights from citizens who are merely differently handicapped than those who have been historically privileged by this policy. Citizens Unite! Equal Parking Rights!”

The ensuing controversy was soon heard by a judge who, being far more clever than wise, and easily enthralled by reason that seems to emanate from penumbra, was delighted to find himself flummoxed by the Samers’ argumentation, and who decided that parking equality was an idea long overdue. Soon, people with any kind of handicap – that is, anyone who was not a physically perfect specimen, which meant… well, everybody – converged upon the RMV to pick up their special Handicapped Person placards, and the choice parking spots were finally available to everyone equally, regardless of handicap type. Furthermore, it quickly became a “hate crime” to question anybody’s claim to handicap status: “we’re all handicapped, and that simple truth unites us in a global brotherhood that just might somehow sow the seed of permanent peace and understanding among peoples.”

Now, some quicker thinking readers might at this point be predicting a logistical complication to the story. After all, if, say, 5 percent of the population previously had handicapped parking privileges, and 5 percent or so of the available parking spaces were accordingly designated as handicapped parking spots, how could these spots possibly accommodate the ninety-five percent of the population that was now legally handicapped? [In any population, it is fair to assume at least 5 percent of the people will not debase themselves by participating in such a self-serving scheme, but once the perks start to flow, most everybody else will.]

Well, not to worry: there’s no problem here a little paint can’t fix. The solution, of course, is to designate a full ninety-five percent of the available parking spaces for privileged handicapped parking. This not only allows everyone who desires it to enjoy the privileges of handicapped parking spots, but has the added social benefit of exiling those obnoxious, self-righteous troublemakers – who make up the recalcitrant 5 percent of non-conformists – to the far reaches of all parking areas. Equality wins out over bigotry again.

The moral of the story is that the kind of moralistic bullying engaged in by the “Samers” produces losers, but no real winners. You begin with a legitimate benefit, but end up with an anti-benefit for a minority of well-behaved people, and a loss of benefit for those whom good reason had once privileged. If the argument over “equality” could have been made in honest terms, the once-good-reasoned privilege could have been examined rationally and reasonably, and a good-reasoned decision could have been made to continue or terminate the privilege of the genuinely handicapped. But by using subterfuge to eliminate the once-privileged distinction (the state of being handicapped) by changing the definition of the criteria upon which the benefit distinction was made, reason was undermined by demagoguery.

With 95% of parking spaces marked as privileged, and 95% of the population eligible for the privilege, the idea of privilege becomes absurd. More to the point, so does the idea of handicap. By equivocating on the meaning of handicap, the antagonists are able to do sufficient violence to the meaning of the term as to render it impossible to use as a differentiator between those who face serious difficulties in accessing public places and those who don’t, despite the fact that the term was initially intended to mean precisely that. This not only all but eliminates the opportunities for the truly needy to park in the truly choice spaces, but makes it impossible to even have an intelligent discussion about the problem – at least using the term “handicapped,” which no longer has any distinction (i.e. meaning).

How does this analogy hold up to the case of the “gay marriage” movement?

In an important sense, this parable is more analogous to the question of the legitimacy of civil unions for gays than it is to “gay marriage” – because it turns on legal definitions for political concepts such as social privilege and benefits, whereas marriage is a pre-political institution that cannot in reality be defined by a polity. Nonetheless, it does demonstrate how the question of the political privileging of marriage in society (an early emphasis, one will recall, of the anti-marriage lobby – our own “Samers”) was used as a rhetorical tool to subvert the original intention of the political structure around marriage by a moralistic misrepresentation of the concept of equality, or egalitarianism. Still, the battle over marriage is not about benefits, or any other realm of politics, but about the survival in this present society of the fundamental institution of human decency.

More to the point of the “gay marriage” problem is the example of how the usurpation of the term “handicapped” to mean most anything at all only renders the term meaningless. This is precisely what the “gay marriage” advocates have largely accomplished with the term “marriage” – and note that I put that in the present tense, for this is a political accomplishment that is social in character, not legal, and is largely a fait accompli. The Left has successfully manipulated the terms of the controversy so as to make the arguments of the traditionalists incomprehensible in the ears of many. The looming legal victories, if they come, will simply make it illegal to engage truths that are becoming increasingly difficult for many people to understand, anyway.

It’s true that people are being bullied into abandoning the idea that marriage is different from other sexual unions out of fear of being called bigots, but they never could have found themselves in such a vulnerable position unless they had already lost the ability to see the differentiation for themselves; unless they were already prepared to believe that marriage is no more than an honorific bestowed upon a sexual relationship by some social authority – be it religious or the state.

Shaping the Legal Meanings of Elemental Concepts

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 (9:37 pm), by John W Gillis


margaret_marshall

"Where do the legal meanings of such elemental concepts as ‘birth,’ ‘death,’ and ‘family’ take shape?" she asked. "Largely in state courts.”

SJC chief justice says state courts are in crisis – The Boston Globe

Margaret Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, opining on the criticality of the state courts to the orderly functioning of society.

This is the woman primarily responsible for fabricating the legal right for homosexual couples in Massachusetts to call their partnerships marriages. I find it disturbing enough that she believes the courts competent to define (or, more correctly, to redefine) such “elemental concepts” when they present themselves for consideration, but to realize that she apparently thinks the proper role of the courts is precisely to meddle in such transcendent areas is mind boggling. What hubris. What arrogance. What inanity.

It’s been said that fools will rush in where angels dare not tread. Here, Justice Marshall is anxious for more money to be allocated to the courts, so that she can rush in to more redefinition of such elemental concepts. I’m afraid I’d rather see criminals roaming the streets than see Justice Marshall given any more opportunity to pervert and subvert the legal (and hence cultural) meanings of such elemental concepts as ‘birth,’ ‘death,’ and ‘family.’ If an economic crisis can manage to shut down this dysfunctional SJC, then I’m all in favor of economic crisis. The very last thing we need is a judicial system bent on corrupting the foundations of our civilization in the name of some moralistic (!) vision of nonsensical, self-indulgent hedonism. What a pox on society….

O, Light of Dawn

Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2008 (10:00 pm), by John W Gillis


“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (O Antiphon for Dec 21st)

Natick, Massachusetts has been buried under a stubborn snowstorm over the past 48 hours or so, and it seems to have been a while since the light of dawn has made its presence felt. The feeling intensifies when I open my window to the world, and peer out at what is happening in my society today.

Christ, as the Sun of Justice, not only judges in righteousness, but also illuminates. For the second day in a row, the antiphon references the plight of those “who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Lk 1:79). This seems strangely appropriate as I look on the spectacle unfolding around Barack Obama’s invitation to Rick Warren to pray the invocation at Obama’s inauguration ceremony in January.

When I first saw the swirling blurbs of a scandal brewing, I immediately assumed that conservative Evangelicals (often wary of Rick Warren anyway) were inveighing against Warren for accepting the invitation, and therein supplying Obama’s image machine with a pretense of mainstream Evangelicalism’s accommodation of Obama’s notoriously radical and unholy social agenda. I will confess to having had some initial pangs of sympathy with that perspective (no doubt partly fueled by my own ambivalence toward Warren, whom I rightly or wrongly see as more of a best-selling promoter of self-help religion than a prophetic Christian witness), but I soon concluded that such reactionaryism was unwarranted – recognizing that the requirement to pray for and honor public leaders is not conditioned upon their policy aims – nor even their character.

How profoundly shocked I was, once I bit on some of the story teases, to learn that the outrage was coming from the left! Warren’s rejection of the “gay marriage” ploy is apparently enough to constitute him as a “bigot” unfit to give such a solemn invocation. But I have to ask, what does that make every other minister who has ever given the invocation for the Presidential office? For that matter, what does it make virtually every single human being who has ever populated this sorry planet?

Shine upon those in darkness and the shadow of death, indeed, O Light of Dawn.