The media’s all in a hubbub today about Rep. Louis Gohmert of (of course) Texas. And it’s all about the following comment (all quotes sourced from CBS News, just so nobody accuses me of piracy!):
“Well, once you make it 10, then why would you draw the line at 10? What’s wrong with nine? Or 11?” he asked, referring to the possibility of banning high-capacity ammunition clips for non-military citizens. “And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal?”
“There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you, you draw, you remove, the – or you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal,” he added.
I mean, really, I don’t see what everybody’s so confused about. It’s very simple and straightforward. I refer, of course, to Rep. Gohmert, rather than his tortured logic. But, lest you assume that he was trying to bash homosexuals while making a poorly thought out argument against gun control, his spokesperson Kimberly Willingham reassures us:
“He was clearly making the slippery-slope argument that if the factual definition of marriage, that pre-exists governments instituted by men, is changed to suit the desires of the few, then there is no limit to where the lines are drawn,” she said.
Because, you know, there’s one universal definition of marriage out there, all across the vast history and cultures of mankind, and even beyond! Marriage is factually defined, and predates governments, which were instituted by men.
And you know, she’s right! Marriage does pre-exist governments, and other things instituted by men! Just look at how common monogamous, heterosexual relationships are among God’s other creations! Why, just the other day, I had to turn down an invitation to the wedding of two charming squirrels down the road. You see, one of them was a grey squirrel, and the other one was a black squirrel. Now, I’m not against the mixing of the blood, but it’s very clear in the Bible that marriage is supposed to be within your own tribe, not with outsiders.
That, and I was a little worried that I might run into Rep. Gohmert on the buffet table.
Now, after reading all of that, you might be joining some of my friends in being ashamed that you share the same species as good ol’ Louis. Well, I’ve got a theory about that.
You see, I’ve got this idea that’s forming in my head. Gohmert and his ilk are actually trying to become a separate species, homo phobiens! Note, if you will, the common shared species traits that aren’t held in common with the more common, and typically more evolutionarily successful, homo sapiens!
- Tend to gather in insular communities of their own kind
- Interbreed almost exclusively within their own kind
- This is a clear precursor to speciation, when they will lose the ability to interbreed with homo sapiens altogether.
- Note, if you will, the photograph of Rep. Gohmert in the linked article; I’d say he’s pretty good evidence that this point may not be that far off now.
- Successfully occupy a very specific, very narrow ecological niche in which homo sapiens cannot or will not compete (every ecology needs its bottom feeders)
- Random mutations become more pronounced in the biological community
- Consider, if you will, the impressive ability to truly believe in an omnipotent creator who can be stopped cold by an 1/8th of an inch of latex, clear evidence that the portion of the cranium devoted to the brain has begun to shrink to accommodate the larger mouth typical of the ecological niche they are attempting to fill!
- Another branch of this species is clearly developing a very peculiar evolutionary trait, born with a natural body configuration that puts their head in closer proximity to the source of that which they consume. I dub this sub-species homo phobiens ouroborous.
I could go further, but really, the evidence speaks for itself. Unfortunately, I doubt that this new species is long for this world. Their natural environment is constantly being eroded away in the name of progress and, eventually, there simply won’t be enough left for them to eat without being forced beneath a sustainable population. Like the dodo bird, homo phobiens will be wiped out by another species that fills their ecological niche, perhaps a resurgence in the population of hobo sapiens. I like to think that, when it happens, they will have no more understanding of their fate than that last dodo, standing there vapidly staring at the onrushing destruction of its species, wondering if this new creature with the long stick that made booming noises was friendly.
But honestly, I think they know it. Consider, if you will, the sheer amount of effort expended to avoid being taught about evolution. Clearly, they simply cannot accept the inevitability of their own extinction.
The Catholic church has declared that, unless changes are made in Washington D.C., it will have no choice but to suspend social services in that district.
Now, what changes does it want? Does it want the city to evict any abortion providers there? Does it feel that the city’s crime rates are evidence that their services aren’t doing anything, and they would be better applied elsewhere? Does it feel that the politicians who work there are too sinful to service the district?
Nope! What it wants changed is a proposed ordinance that would make it necessary for the Church to extend the same benefits to married gay employees that it does to married straight employees.
This ordinance would not make it necessary for the Church to perform or provide space for gay marriages. It would only make it necessary for them to not discriminate against gay employees. Employees. They can feel free to sermonize against the evils of homosexuality all they want. They can feel free to tell those employees, day in and day out, that they don’t deserve to have their relationships recognized, or to receive the blessings of the Lord. They can feel free to bar their doors to gay couples who want to get married.
All they have to do is recognize gay married couples as having the same legal rights as straight ones. Because it’s the law, and… well, they’re not that exempt from the law.
What was it that Christ said again? Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s? At any rate.
If they’re required to do this horrible, despicable thing, they’re going to cut off all services to D.C. charities, leaving thousands without support just as winter’s rolling in, because they simply can’t stomach the idea that the gay employees providing those services have the same legal, secular rights as the straight ones.
And they expect to win this fight. Why? Because they hope desperately that they can throw the blame on the politicians, instead of themselves. The politicians, by taking the rights of the gays over the well-being of the homeless, those heartless bastards. The gay community itself, for not backing down and asking the politicians to stop when the threat was made. Everybody except the Church, at least in the eyes of the faithful.
They’re turning the homeless and needy of Washington D.C. into hostages, ladies and gentlemen. Think about that for a minute. “Do what I want, or I will do something you don’t want me to do that harms an innocent third party.” What is that? Hostage taking. Extortion.
And if they do get away with it – which they just might – it will send a very, very dangerous message. They will see that they can get away with all manner of similar stunts.
“This neighborhood is home to an abortion provider. We’re outta here – we’re pulling a Lot, and not even looking back to make sure the Lord will smite you, ’cause we know he will.”
“This state recognizes gay marriages. We simply cannot, in good faith, provide services in Iowa anymore. The faithful may still enter, for to do otherwise would be contrary to God’s will, but the doors of the church are otherwise barred. So sorry – blame your politicians. Connecticut too, by the way. We’re just packing up and moving to Maine. Anybody who voted in support of it? Welcome to excommunication, and GTFO.”
They can’t get away with this. Yeah, everybody on the outside who hears about this think it’s ridiculous, but the people inside who are true believers… many of them will probably accept that this is a Sodom and Gomorrah situation, and the Church’s judgment. I really hope they don’t, and believe that eventually this sort of jackassery will result in a schism of substantial proportions. Already, the attitude of organized Christian churches in general is driving many otherwise faithful individuals away from the churches, Catholic or otherwise. Eventually, they’re going to have to split up… or they’re going to cause a new Reformation.
Can’t wait for that to happen, as long as there’s not as much burning of villages in the process.
Sorry folks, been incommunicado for a while. I’ve been busy discovering the ins and outs of the latest bout of plague going around here (otherwise known as… a chest cold. Gyah.)
However, tripped over this today, and thought I’d point out that… well… Time didn’t think of it first.
Neither did I, I realize that. It does, however, raise the interesting possibility that this will begin to become part of the mainstream debate, rather than merely something bounced around by folks like me.
As a little Christmas present for you, I’ll wrap this up!
So. We’ve seen a few of the religious arguments against gay marriage, and the counterpoints. Ultimately though, what should we do? Like I said when I started this, legally there’s no reason to bar gay marriage. That right there makes it necessary to… legalize it? No, not really. What it does make necessary is equalizing the unions between heterosexuals and homosexuals.
The government should no longer recongize or regulate marriage.
Marriage is a religious construct. It should remain such; let the churches marry whoever they want to whoever they want, as often as they want. Let the government – the civil authority – establish civil unions for everybody. If a civil union is really equal to marriage, this shouldn’t be a problem, right?
You qualify for whatever economic benefits you might get today for being married by showing proof that you’ve got a licensure of civil union from the government. You don’t get any benefit for just being married beyond that offered by your church and the people around you. Anybody who’s already married gets grandfathered in, of course – their marriage license qualifies as a civil union license, no problems there. A civil union can be broken through the divorce courts, or based on whatever you came up with in your contract when you signed up (a basic pre-nup), and a marriage can be broken through whatever methods your religion allows/endorses.
What does this fix? Pretty much everything. Gay marriage becomes a purely reglious question, as it should be. Het marriage becomes a purely religious question… as it should be. Civil unions, as recognized by the government, become truly equal, inasmuch as the law can make anything equal. The separation between church and state becomes stronger, sealing up one of the cracks that’s always existed in it.
There are other benefits too, perhaps the most obvious one being that it allows polyamorous people to have unions with their secondaries, and has the potential to make divorces less excruciating, assuming that contracts begin to become the norm. Variant religions are free to engage in whatever marriage ceremonies they might want, since they’ve got no legal consequence.
Are there some potential problems with this? Of course, though some of them are easy to overcome (for example, a lot of places already have you sign your marriage license as part of the cceremony – something similar could be done going forward, meaning you just need to take your paperwork in – or that you could have the priest mail it in for you – to get the civil license.) The biggest problem is harder to overcome. I, for one, don’t think that this idea is about to take off with most people, and whoever proposed it would see his political career shrivel and die before his eyes, so it’s just not going to happen any time soon.
But it’s still good to start considering the option. If you’re going to insist on one group of people sticking for civil unions, everybody should have to. If you’re not going to force everybody to go with civil unions… then let everybody get hitched.
Either way, you’ve got to go for the fullest equality you can.
Okay, after a bit of a break….
Gay Marriage. Nobody’s come out with any reasons – let alone good ones – why gay marriage should be illegal from a non-religious point of view, so let’s move on, shall we?
Religious reasons! I’ve seen three major ones, all Judeo-Christian in origin.
1: The Legacy of Sodom
When God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, according to this argument, he did it because the men of Sodom engaged in homosexual activity, particularly attempting to rape the two angels God had sent down to check on Lot and tell him to get out of Dodge.
2: The Leviticus Charge
Leviticus 18:22, according to King James’ version of the Bible. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” Based on this, the argument goes, all homosexuality is sinful, and homosexual marriage is a greater sin yet, as it places the Church in the position of supporting it.
3: Paul at Work
Romans 1 – Paul’s Letter to the Romans includes several references to homosexuality, such as this one. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.” Clearly, Paul is railing against homosexuality as sinful and abominable, and it can’t be allowed. As with the Leviticus argument, clearly gay marriage is similarly horrifying.
Now, taking each of the three arguments in order.
Sodom and Gomorrah.
Was the sin which the city was destroyed for really homosexuality? Remember – the angels were sent there for a reason. God was already going to trash the place if they couldn’t find sufficient ‘good men.’ Further, what is Lot’s reaction to this? To offer his daughters to the men of Sodom, after which Lot is still considered a good man.
So, the only interpretation of that is that God felt it was proper to offer his daughters to these men rather than to let them at the angels in his house. Does this mean that the Bible feels that it’s less of a sin for a father to throw his daughters to the proverbial wolves than to allow homosexual activity? Not necessarily.
Let’s break down what exactly happens in Genesis. Two angels come on down to a sinful city which God is already pretty much ready to smite. Lot invites them into his home and, knowing what the others in the city are like, presses upon them how important it is that they stay with him. When they’re getting ready for the night, things go thoroughly pear-shaped, the Angels get Lot and everybody in his family who believes him out, and the place is struck down with fire and brimstone. Points to raise:
1: The men of Sodom intended to force themselves upon the angels. Homosexuality, perhaps. Bestiality, by the definition often used by biblical scholars, definitely. Rape? Most definitely. Does it not occur to anybody that arguing that the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is strictly about homosexuality is like arguing that it’s fine to commit rape – just don’t commit it against an animal, or against a member of the same sex, because *that* would be wrong? Of all the sins evident in Genesis 19, perhaps the most egregious one is the one that people consider last.
2: It should also be remembered that there’s another sin here that most people don’t recognize – inhospitality. These days, being inhospitable is bad manners. However, in the ancient world hospitality was one of the most critical ‘manners’ to develop – you would die yourself before letting your guests be injured, and your guests would not harm you. It was the critical factor that let people be hospitable, or visit people. The powerful taboo can be seen in several folktales of the region, where thieves would break into a house, taste a white powder they found (thinking it sugar), and after realizing they’d tasted the salt in their victim’s house – creating a bond of hospitality, even by accident – leave without taking a thing. Similarly, in the tale of Ali Baba, the bandit leader would take no salt because it would have created a hospitality bond. Killing everybody in the house? That wasn’t a problem. Killing your *host* and his family? Not even a rampaging bandit out for revenge would do that.
Considering that Lot wasn’t struck down for offering his daughters up, it becomes clear that the sin of Sodom may well have been inhospitality, not homosexuality. This argument becomes stronger when you add in Leviticus 19:34, which says that any stranger who dwells with you shall be treated as having been born among you.
The Leviticus Argument
Ah, Leviticus 18:22 – is there any more loved passage for those who are against homosexuals? (Actually, yes, as we’ll soon see). Leaving aside that Leviticus only speaks about male homosexuality, not female – and any arguments about whether or not the translation was valid – let’s look at the other things Leviticus allows and disallows, shall we?
Butchering animals as religious sacrifice: ALLOWED (Leviticus 1, 2, several others – it goes on for some time detailing how.)
Eating bread with yeast: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 6:16-17)
Eating rabbit, pork, or shrimp: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 11)
Spreading rumors: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 19:16 – sorry, Enquirer!)
Slavery: ALLOWED (Leviticus 25:44-46)
Now… we’ve decided that, apparently, Leviticus was wrong about all of these things. So why is 18:22 so special, that *it* isn’t wrong, but all these others are?
Paul and the Romans
Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it pretty darned clear what he thinks of homosexuality – it’s worthy of death. But, while he goes and says this in Romans 1… let’s take a look at Romans 2, shall we?
All of Romans 2 is about man not judging man – elaborating on Christ’s “let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” God may judge, but man should not – MAY not – do so, for he himself is sinful.
Personally, I think there’s a line to be drawn there, and I’m really not so sure about Paul as moral compass, but that’s for reasons of my own – the fact is that even Paul is saying ‘yes, that’s bad, but let God handle it.’
Further, by making gay marriage illegal – or keeping it that way, either way – it ignores the simple fact that not everybody is a member of a faith that believes in these arguments. If you’re an atheist – or if you’re pagan – then these arguments don’t even come up, leaving the argument against gay marriage with even less of a leg to stand on.
So, what other arguments do you have, and how do you justify applying it to other people outside your faith?
Part 3, assuming nothing else comes up, will be on my ideas for what ought to be done about all this.
And thanks for your patience, people who really disagree with me – this stint pissing off social conservatives, I’ll be sure to nail the social liberals for a while next.
With thanks to the folks at the Sex is Fun podcast for coining the word.
I’m going to handle this one as a multi-parter, mostly in the interest of trying to get some comments/interaction on the subject.
Gay Marriage. It’s the highlight of political campaigns, for and against. It’s the subject of protests and rallies – for, and against. Personally, I support it wholeheartedly. A lot of people I know in my state don’t – it’s one of those that approved the whole ‘one man, one woman’ line.
Let me be the first to say that anybody vandalizing the property of or threatening those who supported Prop 8 should go turn themselves in now. So lemme wait while you do that, okay?
*twiddles thumbs, plays a couple rounds of Gemcraft*
Hmm… oh, ready? Good. Now, here we go.
Gay marriage… what’s the big deal? There are religious arguments against it, I’ll grant you (and more on those later), but I live in the USA. In this country, we’ve got this little document called the Constitution, and it demands a separation between church and state. So your religious arguments fall apart right there.
What good reason is there – governmentally – to deny gay couples equal access to health care that straight couples can have? What reason is there to make it harder for them to inherit? Why can’t two guys or girls sign the same piece of paper that a guy and a girl can? I have yet to hear one compelling argument against gay marriage from a non-religious standpoint. So if you’ve got one, please post it – I’d love to hear it, and to open up the discussion. The comments section is there for a reason.
Next week, the religious end of things….