So, about the time the previous conversation ended I posted this, saying “Jordan and Jon, this might get my point across better.” The balance of the conversation that then followed is copied below. A good, respectful, encouraging dialogue all said, I think.
Gay marriage, creates moral anarchy?
I see the point, I just disagree with the premise. It’s fine for the Bible to be used as the definition of marriage for a religious organization. If Christians don’t want to marry gay couples, I’ve got no problem. But the state should not define marriage based solely on the Bible/a religious interpretation of marriage, since this is essentially taking one world view and making it law for people of various cultures and beliefs.
Gay so-called “marriage” is a product of moral anarchy.
So morals that are not your own are moral anarchy?
Jordan… Would you say it’s ok for a Church that took the position that miscegenation is wrong to not marry mixed race couples? I’m not equating them, as to our previous conversation on that, but since you do, I’m wondering if you’re consistent in your application of the “civil rights” schema.
That said, at the end of the say, one worldview has to win out. Someone’s interpretation of marriage has to win out (and I notice you never answered my question on the other thread of what yours is). You’re saying a Christian one is ruled out from the outset, but you really can’t believe that gay marriage advocates are NOT trying to take their worldview and make it law for various cultures and beliefs.
In fact, just in making that assertion (“the state should not define marriage based solely on the Bible/a religious interpretation of marriage”) you, my friend, are seeking to impose your worldview on the state, and all its citizens. You see, it is inescapable at some level when it comes to policy. That doesn’t mean we need to make laws that all men need to believe this or that, but we can make laws to restrict their actions, and we have done so.
Charles, let’s try the experiment from the article: do you believe in objective morality?
I don’t presume to know if or what morals are absolutes. I have moral standards that I hold myself accountable for and hope to see met in the world around me. That being said, my morals are not someone else’s morals. So until a third party’s ability to exercise their morals is harmed, what they’re doing could be way more moral than what I do.
How is allowing gay marriage forcing their world view on to you? No one is making you get gay married to anyone.
Yes, if a church wants to be prejudice against interracial marriage, that is their call. The state is not to discriminate against race, so an interracial couple can and should be given marriage privileges in accordance with law.
I’ve been really busy this week so sorry for not responding yet to the other issues raised.
The moral argument in a very simple form:
1. If God does not exist, morality does not exist.
2. Morality exists.
3. Therefore, God exists.
While the deductive reasoning here is valid, the argument is entirely based on its premise, namely point #1. Point 1 is not necessarily proven to be true and is disputable.
What definition do you use for morality? That is the clear starting point.
Charles… Several things.
1) I should first point out that you have expressed the very essence of moral anarchy. “I don’t know, and neither do you, so let’s just all do what we think is right for ourselves.” It’s making your own rules.
2) Society cannot exist in a coherent fashion with moral anarchy. There needs to be a common set of objective standards to adhere to, or else the door is open to anything. Your “stealing” becomes someone else’s “charity,” etc.
3) When you say “more” moral, you are implicitly accepting that there is such a thing as absolute morality. You can not make comparative statements (more, less, equal to) without an absolute standard to judge by.
4) In the end, given what you have expressed, you have no “morality” to judge by, you only have preferences. That is, you may not like it when someone tortures children for fun, but based on a lack of absolute morality, you can’t tell me that it’s “wrong”, all you can say is “well I don’t prefer it.”
Bottom line, you know in your heart of hearts that without question moral absolutes exist. How far you will go to deny that truth is the question.
Jordan… If my worldview says that it is a good and proper thing for the government to have civil laws concerning who can and cannot be a romantic/sexual coupling – such as, mothers/sons, fathers/daughters, brothers/sisters, fathers/sons, men/horses, women/Statue of Liberty, or men/men women/women – for the preservation of decency and standards in society, yes, it is forcing someone else’s worldview on me to make those things not just legal, but even praiseworthy. And if you disagree with that, then my insistence that they not be considered “marriage” is not forcing my worldview on anyone, nor would making it policy do that. It’s one or the other.
Ok, just checking, thank’s for humoring me.
No sweat, man, I know the feeling.
Cool, I’m a moral anarchist. On your 2). If I understand correctly, those are laws. The “stealing” to “charity” case violates that of practicing your own morals until they infringe upon someone else’s morals or rights. Thus, laws should be least restrictive in order to enable everyone to practice their own morality, until the point it harms someone else or thee ability to exercise morals. On your point 3). There could be moral absolutes. I however have no way of knowing them to be absolute. Thus, to disrespect someone else’s morals would be disrespecting their ability to achieve those moral absolutes. It also could be disrespecting those absolutes if they are practicing them. Point 4), prefer is what I like and dislike. Morality, while open to interpretation, can’t be compromised on a personal level. E.g. if someone’s torturing children, it first violates my moral code which if I remain inactive I can no longer consider myself a “good” person. More importantly, torture would be violating those least restrictive laws that draws the line at harming others and their ability to exercise their morals. Moral anarchy doesn’t create legal anarchy. I don’t doubt they exist. I doubt my, or anyone else’s ability to know them beyond reasonable doubt, thus, I’ll respect anyone else’s moral quest until it harms someone else(‘s).
As to the moral argument, in my way of approaching it, God is a precondition for the intelligibility of moral claims. That is, unless you start with “God exists and has spoken” and derive your morals from there, all moral claims are inherently meaningless. You might find this to be a good representation of where I’m coming from, should you want a more full elaboration than I can give here: http://graceinthetriad.blogspot.com/2011/09/if-morality-then-god.html
You’re right, the definition of morality is important. Off the top of my head I would say it’s an absolute standard of what is right and wrong that transcends culture or race (or any other consideration).
Gotta run to get lunch – I’ll try to get back with you this afternoon if possible, Charles.
//”laws should be least restrictive in order to enable everyone to practice their own morality, until the point it harms someone else or [their] ability to exercise morals”//
Ok, so you don’t know what morals are absolute, if any, but you are claiming that violating another person in a way that prohibits them from practicing THEIR morals is immoral. Which raises the question: is it absolutely immoral, or is that just your preference?
//”if someone’s torturing children, it first violates my moral code which if I remain inactive I can no longer consider myself a “good” person.”//
If someone’s torturing children, what gives you the right to interfere with their right to practice their own morality? Since when did your personal morality trump theirs?
//”There could be moral absolutes. I however have no way of knowing them to be absolute Thus, to disrespect someone else’s morals would be disrespecting their ability to achieve those moral absolutes.”//
//”I doubt my, or anyone else’s ability to know [absolute morality] beyond reasonable doubt, thus, I’ll respect anyone else’s moral quest until it harms someone else(‘s).)”//
So let me get this straight: you don’t know any absolute morality beyond reasonable doubt, but you claim it is absolutely immoral to interfere with someone else’s “moral quest”. Am I missing something?
//”If my world view says that it is a good and proper thing for the government to have civil laws concerning who can and cannot be a romantic/sexual coupling – such as, mothers/sons, fathers/daughters…”
This appears to be more of a statement that one of two world views will be offended, not forced upon the other. For instance, it may offend your world view for homosexual couples to be allowed to marry, and it may offend theirs for you to not want them to be allowed to marry.
However, the difference for ‘imposing’ a world view in this scenario is this: if gay marriage is legal, while it may be abominable to some, they are not required to have any association with same-sex marriage. However, if it is banned, then one world view is saying ‘you cannot do this because I believe you should not’. The difference is the latter is one group explicitly denying privileges they currently enjoy to a group of people simply because they don’t think they should.
It’s important to note that no one is advocating legalizing incestuous or interspecies marriage, or marriage between humans and objects made of inorganic materials. This argument, while a popular one, is a slippery slope fallacy.
With regard to absolute morality: You are asserting that there is absolute morality (and there very well may be). Further, you’re saying that this absolute morality comes from God.
One issue this raises is, under divine command theory, we are not acting ‘morally’ in the sense that we make moral determinations or moral judgments. We are simply following commands. For instance, if God decides that torturing children is something that we should do, how would you know if this is ‘good’ or not? By definition (God’s commands are intrinsically moral), this would make this action automatically moral. This basically takes the entire idea of morality away from us (God is not a precursor to morality, he IS morality, and following his commands is what makes you moral). The only difference between moral people and immoral people, then, is whether or not they obey certain commands.
Another issue this raises: Whose interpretation of God’s command is correct and moral? Surely someone claiming ‘God told me’ will not suffice. Do we take the commandments from the Bible, or the Qu’ran? Which is correct, how do we know for sure, and even if we do, whose interpretation of which commands are correct? If it is determined that the Bible serves as the best source of morality, then should we not return to a theocratic system of government and laws laid out as described therein?
Sorry for the delay, I’ve not had time to respond till now.
This is where I think you’re going wrong with your reasoning: in talking about a “gay marriage ban.” There is no such thing, that’s like saying there’s a ban on married bachelors – or any other oxymoronic/nonexistent thing. It doesn’t even hold together as a concept unless you totally hollow out the word “marriage” to make room for a new meaning. And yes, it is imposing a worldview on a culture to legislate that a certain union be recognized as “marriage” in defiance of that culture’s views on marriage. Not that I’m making an argument that culture determines morality, just demonstrating my point about worldview imposition.
If I could point you towards sources for those, would you retract that statement? Regardless, I’m not applying it in the sense of the slippery slope fallacy. Instead, I’m wanting to look for consistency, as is my custom. See, the arguments for incestuous relationships (to single that out as the example) are the same as the arguments for homosexual relationships. “We’re two consenting adults.” “We’re not hurting anybody.” “We just want our love to be recognized as being as legitimate as that of any non-related couple.” “You’re denying me my right to marry/have a family with the one I love.” On and on. Are you prepared to grant those arguments the same standing for incest as you do for homosexuality? If not, that’s inconsistency, and it’s not the slippery slope fallacy to point that out.
//”With regard to absolute morality: You are asserting that there is absolute morality (and there very well may be). Further, you’re saying that this absolute morality comes from God.”//
That is exactly what I’m asserting, yes. In fact, let me flesh it out a bit more. You are right to say that God is, in a sense, morality. The way I would say it is that as humans, we are created in the Image of God. Given that reality, we are to reflect His nature to the world, and when we act in a way contrary to the nature of God, that amounts to lying about Him and defaming His character. We are to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect, and anything short of that or contrary to that perfection we call sin (which is, at it’s root, enmity with God). So what God calls sin is not arbitrary – commanding this or that for the heck of it as you seem to indicate in your torturing children example – but completely grounded in who He is, and He is Good. That’s why, for example, it is a sin to lie – because in Him there is no variation or shifting shadow, and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
//”One issue this raises is, under divine command theory, we are not acting ‘morally’ in the sense that we make moral determinations or moral judgments. We are simply following commands. //”
The same complaint could be registered against any social theory of morality, insofar as, if the consensus of society sets the standard for “morality”, then we do not make moral determinations of moral judgements, the cultural zeitgeist does, and we are simply following its dictums. (For instance, if society decides that torturing children is something that we should do, how would you know if this is ‘good’ or not? By definition [society's standards are intrinsically moral], this would make this action automatically moral.) Or if some blind evolutionary process sets the standard for morality (as Jon tried to argue), then there again we don’t make moral determinations/judgements, those have already been made, and we are moral if we follow them, and immoral if not.
And this is where we get even more theological, because you say that “The only difference between moral people and immoral people, then, is whether or not they obey certain commands.” My response would be that there is no such thing as a moral person, because we have all fallen short of the glory of God. No such thing, save Jesus that is, because He always does what pleases the Father, and is the perfect Image of God. Therefore, it is only those who have been justified by grace through faith – not because we walked the walk, but because His righteousness was applied to our account – who can be called the righteousness of God
Anyway, I’m sure you knew that, not trying to preach a sermon, just wanted the record to be clear on it. Point being, I would rather talk about moral actions and immoral actions than moral and immoral people in this context.
Now, in your final paragraph you ask some interesting questions, and they deserve to be responded to in turn. Unfortunately, my brain is absolutely fried for the moment. I’ll try to put some things down this evening so I can respond the next time I have internet access (tomorrow or Sat).
No worries on not responding, I’m in the same boat of time constraints for random facebook discussions. I do find your responses very interesting and you’re one of the few people I can disagree with and at the same time learn a lot from what you have to say.
I simply fail to see how allowing same-sex couples that are already together in a relationship to have their union recognized by the state as marriage is going to affect my life, the meaning or importance of my marriage, or how seriously I take it. It literally has no bearing on my life. In no ways will it alter how I view the world, or how I think my family ought to exist as a unit. I’m not suddenly forced with a ‘gay world view’ or my values are somehow crushed under the weight of the ‘gay agenda’. If it makes same-sex couples happier to have the same access to the ‘institution of marriage’ I do, I simply have no problem with it—it doesn’t devalue my marriage in any way. So I suppose we just simply see this issue through a different lens, and that’s okay.
//”If I could point you towards sources for those, would you retract that statement? Regardless, I’m not applying it in the sense of the slippery slope fallacy…”
Incestuous relationships in fact are hurting somebody, because of the negative effects of inbreeding, along with the likelihood of psychological damage to at least one party (as many incestuous relationships may be the result of abuse), and including the physiological damage of the offspring of continual incestuous unions. The biggest issue here, is no one is calling for incest marriage. I found it humorous that the example given of the slippery slope fallacy on this site is the same argument we’re discussing here (not that this site is some perfect authority on fallacies):
I think the root of our disagreement on this issue is how we perceive homosexuality. A lot of people consider sexual orientation a choice, such as choosing to love a monkey or your sister or something. I’m not convinced that there aren’t more things at play than just a preference—there may be more going on with these individuals’ biology that led to their sexual orientation. The fact is I don’t know—as a heterosexual it makes no sense to me why someone would choose to be gay, and I have no idea what their individual life experiences were that led to who they are. However, in either case, as long as their actions don’t affect me directly, it’s really not an issue for me that they be happy in their relationships.
//”The same complaint could be registered against any social theory of morality…”
You are correct here and I’m actually with you on this one. I’m in fact not an advocate of a social theory of morality. I do believe that various large groups and cultures assert their own ideas of morality and what is acceptable based on their cultural norms. I think this is just the same issue—doing something just because the majority of people find it acceptable doesn’t make it moral or good. I tend to agree there are things that are objectively moral or immoral. I personally think that, wherever you may believe morality comes from, it ultimately finds its way to how it affects conscious creatures (humans, animals).
For instance (and this is a bit of a shallow example), I find bull fights immoral, because you are torturing a living conscious creature for the purpose of entertainment. However, cultural norms of societies that enjoy bull-fighting find it perfectly acceptable (here comes social morality)–BUT I think there’s a fair point to say, whether or not it is okay to do, does not depend on what society finds acceptable.
Where objective morality gets a bit fuzzy to me is when people assert that they know for fact about objective morality, but then use subjective interpretations of, say, the Bible or personal revelation to support their claim. It seems to me we should determine a more objective means to find objective answers, especially with respect to such an important issue like morality. Because, for instance, you can have different faith-based claims about objective morality—let’s say a mormon claim, a muslim claim, and a protestant christian claim. They may all agree that objective morality exists and comes from God, but their respective theologies on the matters may lead to different answers to the same moral questions. How do you know which is right and which is wrong?
Your logical fallacy is slippery slope
Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen.
Thanks man, that’s much appreciated! And I appreciate that you approach the discussion without vitriol or any such thing and actually try to engage instead of resorting to scoffing.
So I got my response to your other points done, but it looks like I’m still behind, lol. I’m sitting at the grocery store using the wifi to post my response, but I need to get off and do some shopping, so I’ll continue to respond as opportunity grants me the ability.
Looks like I’m gonna have to split this up to post it all, so here goes:
I hope you don’t mind me paraphrasing to some extent and rearranging them in an order that I think flows better progression-wise.
1) Which source of Divine revelation do we follow?
First, I’d like to suggest that every human being already knows the answer to this question. Some may have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, but they do know who is God (as per Romans chapter 1, vv. 18 on).
But I realize that you do not accept the “God told me” line of reasoning (although, if you think about it, would that not be the highest possible testimony on the matter? But I understand the need for discernment), so for the sake of discussion, I’ll go on a bit in the answer to the next question.
2) Do we take the commandments from the Bible, or the Koran?
The Koran appeals to the Bible and tells Christians to judge by what is contained therein (ch.5 vv. 46-47, and others), so right off the bat we have the Koran pointing to the Bible as reliable material. That’s first. What’s more, you have it claiming that the Injil (Gospels) and Torah are the word of God (3:3-4). It also says that the word of God cannot be lost or changed (ch. 6 v. 115; also 18:27). It also says that Jesus was not crucified (4:157).
The Gospels claim that Jesus was crucified for the sins of man. If we believe the Koran when it says that Jesus was not crucified, we have to reject the Gospels as an inaccurate record of Jesus, but to do this is to reject the Koran’s testimony about the Gospels being the word of God that does not change. And if we accept from the Koran that the Gospels are the word of God and cannot change, we have to reject its testimony concerning the cross.
That’s just one example of how the Koran tries to point to the Bible but then ends up cornered in a dilemma. It also says that the followers of Jesus (i.e. Christians) would be superior to those who disbelieve from the time Jesus was taken into heaven until the day of resurrection (ch. 3 v. 55). Then of course you have the Koran abandoning that standpoint in later Surahs and saying that Jews and Christians are the “worst of creatures” (98:6) and other fun things (see link 1 below).
Given the choice between these two, I’d suggest that the Koran disqualifies itself from consideration. For more on this if you’re interested I’ll link to this podcast I’ve had for forever which deals with the “Islamic Dilemma”, which may be of additional interest to you as it also deals with the question of harmony between Old and New Testaments on the question of a Divine Messiah: (see link 2 below)
Link 1: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Fisher/Topical/ch20.htm
Link 2: http://thechifiles.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/the-prophets-have-spoken_-the-messiah-is-divine-and-died-to-save-humanity.m4a
3) “Whose interpretation of God’s command is correct and moral?”
First, for the purposes of this question, I’m assuming at this point that we understand that the Bible is our source, and not the Koran, at least for the sake of argument.
Second, I will note that the issue of interpretation is far from unique to Biblical law; rather it’s something that comes up with any written document, indeed any form of communication. In the case of the Constitution, for instance, when we as moderners attempt to discern whether or not something is Constitutional, we first consult the actual text. Sometimes there is enough clarity there to banish all questions, but sometimes additional understanding is helpful in determining application. At that point, it’s the job of Constitutional lawyers to consult sources contemporaneous with the Constitution (the Federalist Papers and other correspondences, state constitutions of the original 13, etc.) to determine what the original intent of the law/statute/rule or whatever was, and then seek to apply it in that manner, even if it means that it takes on a slightly different form in practice today than it did in its original setting due to a change in conditions at large (such as freedom of speech extending to an internet that didn’t exist back then). In some cases it’s even helpful to consult precedent, to see how the law was understood and applied in times past, which hopefully match more closely with the intent of the original law.
So when it comes to Biblical law we have, for instance, a command to put a guardrail around the perimeter of the roof so as not to have blood on our hands. Well, we today might wonder what the heck is up with that, but we can look at contemporaneous documents (some even in the Bible) and learn that people in that time and place generally entertained and slept and sometimes even bathed on the roof, so we understand that the point of the law was not to have a terrace around roofs, in and of itself, but to protect against loss of life. In our day this would more take the form of having fences around swimming pools, or on balconies, etc., while our roofs bear no such need since we’re really not up there. And of course there are multiple laws that we can look at the New Testament’s treatment of, and Old Testament sections as well, for precedent. Not to mention Christian and Hebrew precedent from our history.
Third, there is an element of wisdom involved as well when it comes to interpretation and application. Obviously we seek to nominate only the wisest individuals to the Supreme Court and respective lower courts, so that their application of the law and its due penalties is one that can account for different circumstances and situations, and simultaneously have a grasp on the core principles of the law instead of getting confused with all the different details that pop up on a case-by-case basis so as to avoid being arbitrary in their judgements, while at the same time showing mercy as appropriate.
In the same way, understanding of and application of Biblical law requires a God-given wisdom, which you will recognize as a concept highly valued and praised in the Biblical text. In fact, many scholars believe that the book of Proverbs was originally used within the royal family as a didactic tool for the new king, hence in the first chapter we have the son being addressed with entreaties to not forsake Wisdom, and specifically that of his father(s) (who ostensibly ruled before him).
4) If it is determined that the Bible serves as the best source of morality, then should we not return to a theocratic system of government and laws laid out as described therein?
Well, only objective source, anyway. The law is written on our hearts, too, but consciences can be suppressed; and besides, they only have the force of opinion when expressed. Therefore it’s the written law of the Bible that must have the final say. As the bearer of the authoritative written code, God’s Word has the power to excuse/loose our consciences (if what we believe is wrong is actually not: e.g. drinking, dancing, card playing) or convict/bind them (if they have repressed the fact that we are doing what is evil: e.g. fornication, abortion).
That said, I’ll admit that I’m still working through this question and have been for some time, so I can’t give you anything as simple as a yes or no answer at this point. However, I’ll give you my present thoughts for consideration. I’m going to be a little wordy to get across what I want to get across, so forgive me for that, but I do think it will make sense better this way.
In the first place, I’ll note that even a theocratic system can become corrupt and fall into decay and be overcome by enemies. The Hebrew nation of Israel (classically speaking; that is, not contemporary Israel) always ended up turning away from the law, and they always suffered the consequences, eventually resulting in the dispersion, which we are only now after ~2500 years of history seeing the ostensible reversal of. Which is to say, merely having a theocratic system based on the Bible in-and-of-itself is no guarantee of perpetual flourishing and whatnot.
And this is because merely possessing the law – having it on the books, shall we say – is not enough. Indeed, as Paul says, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers who will be justified.” see Rom 2:25-29 (and lest one conclude that the doing of the law saves, Paul goes on to say that no one is a doer of the law save Christ, and those who are in Him do seek to walk as He walked, though we stumble and require forgiveness) Sin, ultimately, corrodes the culture, turning the hearts of the people away one by one until the nation has joined in the practices of the nations around it and forgot how to do what is right by its own law. (we see a parallel of this in our own situation as the constitution lies somewhat abandoned in favor of pursuing a globalist agenda)
So, what I’m getting at is that outward circumcision (that is, belonging to the nation that is a theocracy) is of no value if one’s heart is far from doing what is right. Rather, inward circumcision (that is, the desire to do what is right by God) by the Spirit of God is what enables and, yes, compels a man to walk uprightly. When you have a non-theocratic society/culture filled with people who have inward circumcision, it will be much more lawful than the society/culture that is a theocracy, but which is only circumcised outwardly and not inwardly.
I’ll give you an example: consider how the Muslim countries have seen riot after riot when someone with any amount of press dares to insult their faith. Draw Muhammed? Incite a riot. Name a teddy bear Muhammed? Incite a riot. Burn a Koran? Incite a riot. And during these riots, it is a documented fact that Muslims were falling victim to other Muslims and dying. (not saying we should be going by the Koran, as discussed in points 1 and 2 above, just making the point that their own law has penalties against murder, and yet there you go) Compare that with the Christian reaction to the “Piss Christ”, the so-called “art” of a crucifix in a bottle of urine from a couple years back. Peaceful expression of disagreement – that is, no riots – and no one died.
Ok, so the balance of what I’m aiming at is that theonomy is not going to fix our problems. Or, better said, it would, but that would require a people of circumcised hearts to walk in it. To get circumcised hearts we need God’s mercy on the land, to pour out His Spirit and show people to Christ. His chosen instrument to lead the nations to Christ is the Church, preaching His word, which is the Law (which convicts the heart of sin and our need for a savior) and the Gospel (which is the news of the power of God to save to the uttermost those who draw near to Him in Christ). Paul is right on the money here when he says,
“…for if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Rom 3:21b-22
My desire (and I think the desire of all understanding Christians) is to see the entire world have such circumcised hearts from saving faith in Jesus; but the accomplishment of this is not by might, nor by power (as in the Islamic paradigm), but by God’s Spirit. The very Spirit, incidentally, who appears as a dove – the symbol of peace – at Jesus’ baptism; and indeed He works neither by coercion nor by any kind of force, but simply by the proclamation of the word of God, which is why the freedom of speech is so precious to Christians, because as long as we have that, we have all that is needed.
So, the bottom line for me at this point is that God’s laws do show us what makes good policy (all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work – 2 Tim 16-17), but all the good policy in the world will not avail us when the people it is supposed to govern only desire what is evil. Kinda like the gun laws debates of our time, where it is rightly pointed out that making laws prohibitive against owning weapons will not stop the criminals, who will break the law anyway. Laws only work for law-abiding citizens. When you have an entire nation of criminals who only want to do what is right in their own eyes, laws are to no avail, however good and right they might be.
And for the record, I actually think the Constitution is a fantastic example of taking the truths of God’s word to craft a system of government to oversee policy and codifying it for modern use. But it has to be understood that way, or the anarchy of men’s hearts WILL be the ruin of our nation. To again quote John Adams, who is right in line with my perspective here: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”
By the way, I’ve been thinking about this through the day, and I just wanted to point out that we’ve made somewhat of a shift from talking about the moral law to the civil law (and I’ve probably been guilty of mixing these categories in my own talking on it so far).
The distinction needs to be kept in mind, because not all civil laws are in-and-of-themselves “moral” per se (the law to put a fence on the roof is not because fence roofs are a moral absolute, though it is and must be based on a moral precept – protecting life), and not all moral laws should be incorporated into the civil law (looking at another with lust is immoral, but from a legislative perspective good luck enforcing that in any way).
This adds a whole different dimension to things, but I’ll leave that for later.
Thanks Thomas. I just finished reading through your posts and I appreciate your being so thorough. There is a lot to chew here so I will process it and respond as soon as I can. I will say that off the bat I find your response very reasonable and your conclusions with regard to theocratic governance seem to be in line with how I feel about the topic. I’ll be more in-depth as soon as I can take the time to write a worthwhile response to each point made.
Sounds good man. And I’ll get to the other stuff you said above once this very busy week is behind me!
Caught up, finally! This one will be in several installments too.
I’m not arguing whether or not it will have an impact upon your individual life. The life of the culture? That’s a different story. The lives of your children who grow up in that culture? That too. And what of Christian churches who continue to refuse to recognize it on religious grounds? Will there be lawsuits? You bet. Will there be hell to pay? You bet. This has much more far-reaching ramifications than you seem to want to grant. The fact is that once it is recognized as “marriage” there will be no dissent allowed, and no quarter given to those who dare to read aloud Biblical passages addressing it (as in Canada: http://christiannews.net/2013/02/28/canadian-supreme-court-rules-biblical-speech-opposing-homosexual-behavior-is-a-hate-crime/ ). Yes, we do see through a different lens here, and that is ok, but I’m begging you not to simply shrug it off as a trivial matter.
Besides, “I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me,” is not a meaningful argument in any sphere of morality. It might have some limited application in administration of civil law, but if such a thing as objective morality exists, then whether you care or not of whether it does or does not directly affect you is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether it is in fact moral or immoral.
//” Incestuous relationships in fact are hurting somebody, because of the negative effects of inbreeding, along with the likelihood of psychological damage to at least one party (as many incestuous relationships may be the result of abuse), and including the physiological damage of the offspring of continual incestuous unions.”//
1) I note your objections to incestuous relationships to be based upon the premise that they are hurting somebody (see the next section for my comments on that), and you break down the specific types of harm as follows: A. negative effects of inbreeding. B. psychological damage (unclear whether you mean from prior abuse that led to incestuous behavior, or that the incestuous relationship itself may be abusive [such as a father/daughter scenario]). I consider your last clause to fall under “A”.
2) Re: “A” (the negative effects of inbreeding) it’s simple. Mandatory sterilization for the couple as a requirement to wed. Two close relatives show up to get their marriage certificate, and must provide proof of such sterilization. Not an issue in the slightest. Or, failing that, it seems like you are at least leaving the door open to same-sex incest, by your reasoning here, right? No inbreeding to worry about there!
3) Re: “B” (the psychological damage to at least one party) I would like to try once again to call you to consistency here. There are many reasons to believe that many (most?) homosexual urges are the result of abuse ( http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/17/childhood-sexual-abuse-and-male-homosexuality/ ), not to mention that many homosexual relationships themselves are abusive (Jerry Sandusky, need I say more?). If homosexuality is not thus ruled out on those grounds, as you are trying to rule out incest because of them, what accounts for the difference?
4) Let’s up the ante and also point out all of the physical damage homosexuality doles out on those who practice it. ( http://www.home60515.com/4.html ) Surely that is hurting somebody? Or consider the negative consequences adoption by homosexual couples has on children. ( http://www.scribd.com/doc/96719068/Regnerus-Study ) Surely that is hurting somebody? Again, what I’m seeing here is a double standard. Why are you not applying the same set of standards to homosexuality that you use to rule out incest?
//”The biggest issue here, is no one is calling for incest marriage.”//
(Sorry to throw all those links at you man. I don’t expect you to follow all of them, I just like to make citations to back myself up on some of this stuff so it’s on the record that I’m not making stuff up)
As for the logical fallacy assertion, here is what the website says:
“You said that if we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too, therefore A should not happen.”
The example offered? “Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we’ll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.”
That’s not my argument. If you’ll look back, you’ll see that my argument is:
“X is considered a meaningful argument in favor of homosexuality.
X is equally applicable to incest as to homosexuality.
Therefore, X should be considered a meaningful argument in favor of incest.”
BUT, it’s not, for some reason. What I’m identifying is a double-standard, NOT a slippery slope.
//////”I think the root of our disagreement on this issue is how we perceive homosexuality. A lot of people consider sexual orientation a choice, such as choosing to love a monkey or your sister or something. I’m not convinced that there aren’t more things at play than just a preference—there may be more going on with these individuals’ biology that led to their sexual orientation. The fact is I don’t know—as a heterosexual it makes no sense to me why someone would choose to be gay, and I have no idea what their individual life experiences were that led to who they are. However, in either case, as long as their actions don’t affect me directly, it’s really not an issue for me that they be happy in their relationships.”//////
Forgive me a cavalier response, but it’s probably something more going on in a murderer’s biology that led to their desire to kill (Adam Lanza would be a candidate for that, lemme tell ya). Does that therefore excuse the action, or mean that it wasn’t a “choice”? I mean, you are using an argument here that, if applied to any other moral question (stealing, rape, you name it), would be instantly recognized as utterly irrelevant. Or, short of that, only relevant to the point where we ask whether we should have a little more mercy on that person since they had a defect that led down that path. But the one thing it would never do is legitimize the action itself, or even, God-forbid, normalize it.
And also I will note again what seems to be the theme you are running on, your core ideology as far as I can tell, “as long as their actions don’t affect me directly.” I wonder, are you a fan of John Stuart Mill? It’s interesting to me that in the first place above you argue that since homosexual “marriage” won’t hurt /you/ it should be allowed to carry on. Then you argued that if incestuous relationships are hurting somebody else (one would assume not you based on the phrasing) it is bad (wrong?). You seem to be working off of some form of the harm principle; help me understand your paradigm here, because I can’t tell if you’re being consistent.
The problem is that you’re still positing that morality has a source outside of you as an individual; i.e. one that is objective. You reject God as the source, and you tell me you reject society as the source as well, but unless you yourself are the source (and even if so, but that is to complicate things unnecessarily at this point) then it still fits neatly as “X” in your paradigm. That is, “if ‘X’ sets the standard for morality, then we do not make moral determinations or moral judgements, X does, and we are simply following its decree. So, if X decides that torturing children is something that we should do, how would you know if this is ‘good’ or not? By definition (X’s standards are intrinsically moral), this would make this action automatically moral.”
Point being, the only thing that resolves this tension is a God who is in His very nature GOOD. And that means a source of morality that is neither arbitrary, nor subordinate to an external source of goodness, but rather is by nature entirely good, and issues decrees that are perfectly consistent with that nature of goodness (for God cannot deny Himself, 2 Tim 2:13).
So what objective standard are you setting forth, anyway?
And as to your “how do you know which is right and wrong?” question at the end, I think I’ve addressed that since you posted it. If you need elaboration please let me know.
Doh! I’ve been drowning in work this week. I should have some time this weekend to sit down and address the points you’ve raised.
Right on man. Take your time.
And that’s where it sits for now. Hope someone finds it worthwhile enough to have even read to this point!