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Saturday, June 02, 2012

A Parallel

I've noticed a parallel problem in two topics often discussed in my circles, those of "gay marriage" and "abortion". The problem, of course, is terminology. But the root problem here is, well, at the root of both.

I have often and repeatedly been accused of being opposed to "gay marriage" because I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin. Thus, "gay marriage" would be wrong because it is immoral. While this may indeed be the argument of some -- perhaps even many -- it is not my argument. My argument is not that "gay marriage" is sinful, but that it is nonexistent. The term "marriage" has a meaning and "same-sex" doesn't fit into that meaning, so "gay marriage" is an oxymoron where "homosexual" ("same-sex") and "marriage" cannot be stuck together in any meaningful fashion. The only way to make them stick together is to redefine "marriage" to mean something different than the longstanding, traditional definition recognized by the dictionary, the California Supreme Court, and any other rational, honest person looking at the term. Does this mean that I do not think that homosexual behavior is a sin? No, not at all. I am convinced by Scripture and evident reason that it is. However, coopting "marriage" to include "same-sex" is one issue, and the immorality of the act of sex between two people of the same gender is a different issue. Mixing them together gets to be problematic and communication ceases.

I have often and repeatedly been accused of being "anti-abortion" because I am opposed to aborting a child in the womb. This is another problematic idea. For instance, Mitt Romney has said that he is opposed to Roe v Wade and would like to remove it. "Yeah!" the anti-abortionists shout, "Mitt Romney is anti-abortion!" No, actually, he's not. "But, surely he's pro-life!" No, not at all. Romney would like to throw out Roe v Wade ... and then leave it up to the States as to whether or not to allow abortion. If he was pro-life, a State law allowing the murder of babies would be no more moral than a federal law allowing that same murder. You see, I'm not opposed to terminating pregnancies. I'm opposed to killing babies. Terminating pregnancies and killing babies are two separate issues. I'm pro-life. I consider human life valuable in its various stages and am opposed to arbitrarily killing humans. Since the baby in the womb is a human (as recognized by science and even the federal government), I'm opposed to aborting that baby for personal convenience (or inconvenience as the case may be). If you had a way to terminate that pregnancy without killing the baby, I'd have nothing to say. I might think that getting pregnant and not being responsible for your child is, well, irresponsible and, therefore, immoral, but not in the same sense that killing a baby is immoral.

In both cases, then, my position is lumped with others. I'm "anti-gay marriage" because I hate gays. I'm "anti-abortion" because I hate women's choice. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I'm pro-marriage and pro-life. But it seems as if neither of these positions are allowed into the discussion. I can either be "anti" (and, by extension, anti-gay and anti-woman -- a bigoted hater) or I can agree with the positions I stand against. Fouled, then, by the terminology, I can't get across "pro-marriage" without being heard as "anti-gay" or "pro-life" without being considered "anti-choice". The responses twist terminology using my words to mean something different and the dialog is ended. What we have here, then, is not only a failure to communicate, but a simple and continued echo of the Tower of Babel. You remember the Tower of Bable, right? You know, the confusion of languages? Yeah, that's what we're doing on an ongoing basis. We call it "speaking English". I call it more like "the suppression of truth".

10 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

My argument is not that "gay marriage" is sinful, but that it is nonexistent.

I, for one, have acknowledged that this is your position and you're welcome to it. My response to that "argument" is that you don't own the word and you can't speak for the rest of the world what is and isn't moral, simply because you don't agree with a concept.

However, I would suggest that it is a matter of more than simply you thinking that's a poor/non-standard usage of the word, "marriage." If you truly didn't think it ("IT" being what happens with a gay married couple) was also immoral, would you tilt at so many windmills and write so much complaining about it?

The meanings of many words have been altered over the years, that's just how human language works. If your sole argument is "I'm opposed to gay folk being married because it doesn't fit with the standard English definition I'm comfortable with...," then, so what?

Are you going to protest that "peacemaker" now can also mean a missile? Are you going to protest that the 100 other words whose meanings have changed a bit this year (and the year before, and the year before that) are wrong?

Words evolve. If that's truly your sole argument, then you truly will just have to get over it. That, or move to some place where they speak only Latin. Dead languages don't typically evolve.

Stan said...

Dan, you've absolutely and completely missed the point. Not a nuance -- the point.

I'm opposed to abortion because life is important, not because pregnancy is important or because women shouldn't be allowed to choose.

I'm opposed to "gay marriage" because marriage is important, not because "the word is changing" or because "homosexual behavior is a sin".

So, you "accept" the claim that I'm opposed to "gay marriage" because you're redefining it but miss the point entirely that you're not merely redefining a word, but that you're redefining a concept. That was the point of the post. It has also been the point of my position all along.

Look, marriage means "the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and cooperation." We've moved the concept from that to "the union of a man and a woman because they're 'in love'." Procreation and cooperation aren't much of an issue anymore. And now you'd like to move it again to "a man and a man or a woman and a woman because they're 'in love'" without union, procreation, cooperation ... any substance whatsoever. The only reason for such a change to the concept (forget about "word definition") is "they want it". And that's enough.

So, now that you're taking the word "marriage" from me and erasing the original concept of marriage -- "the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and cooperation" -- what word do I have to express "marriage"? Words are symbols of ideas. Having eliminated the idea that the word "marriage" once held, what word can I now use in order to communicate that idea?

You know the answer. "None ... and I don't care. That's your problem." "Marriage equity" is not accomplished by stealing a concept, twisting it into a new concept, and leaving nothing for those from whom the concept was taken. But that's my problem, not yours, right?

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

"Marriage equity" is not accomplished by stealing a concept, twisting it into a new concept, and leaving nothing for those from whom the concept was taken.

This is my point, Stan: You don't OWN the concept of marriage. It is not yours to keep for your own purposes. It is not your tradition's to keep for their own purposes. The concept of marriage is one that is in the common vernacular and, like any concept, is prone to change.

You can't reasonably claim that we're stealing it because you don't own it. If you claim 1 million more times that God defined marriage the way you suspect God did, it still would not make the concept or the definition belong to you.

Where am I mistaken?

I think you're just going to have to get over this one, Stan.

Stan...

The only reason for such a change to the concept (forget about "word definition") is "they want it".

No, the reasons are multiple:

1. To encourage including gay folk in marriage is a matter of justice. It is wrong to grant privileges and responsibilities to one group that you don't to another.

2. To encourage including gay folk in marriage is wise because MARRIAGE IS A GOOD and responsible place for the expression of our natural sexuality. Paul even notes this (albeit in a rather negative way), "It is better to marry than to burn with lust..."

3. To encourage including gay folk in marriage is wise because communities with strong marriage and family relationships will most likely be a stronger and healthier community.

It's a matter or justice, morality and wisdom to support marriage equity, that is the actual reason we support, not "cuz I want it."

Again, I think you'll just have to get used to this, Stan, or live the rest of your life in misery and frustration because you think something has been "stolen" from you that never belonged to you.

Stan said...

You see, you're still operating in that realm of the fallacy of equivocation. If "marriage" is a concept with meaning, then "gay folk in marriage is a matter of ..." makes no sense. In order to make sense of it, you must first change the meaning of the concept. And your suggestion that I don't own the concept is ... well ... stupid. First, I'm not alone in this. Second, I didn't originate it. Third, it isn't a violation of my ideas. Frankly, it isn't me any of you will be answering to. But, given this logical fallacy and this response ...

"I think you'll just have to get used to this, Stan."

... as I said, your answer is "None ... and I don't care."

(And, by the way, if my only option, when surrounded by the suppression of truth in ungodliness and unrighteousness, was to live my life in misery, this would have just been another brick in the wall, so to speak. You and yours have already piled up enough of this suppression of truth in ungodliness and unrighteousness to make this one just another point. I only raise my voice to point out that "You're adding another error to your list", not to make my life more pleasant.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I just had to chuckle at this one from Dan:
To encourage including gay folk in marriage is wise because MARRIAGE IS A GOOD and responsible place for the expression of our natural sexuality. Paul even notes this (albeit in a rather negative way), "It is better to marry than to burn with lust...>

There is nothing "natural" about homosexual sexuality. Nor is homosexual behavior it anything BUT lust!

Stan, you are such a trooper!

Stan said...

Yes, I found that very odd.

1. The context (1 Cor 7:1-9) is about "man" and "woman" without possible misunderstanding. Working that into "man and man" is a wild deviation from both text and context.

2. The text actually says "It is better to marry than to burn", and "with lust" is added as a possible meaning for "burn", but not in the text. (I just find this amusing because Dan is so concerned about reading stuff into the Bible that isn't here, and now he uses that very technique to support his position.)

3. The text is another example of one of those places where Scripture speaks to marriage. It is always in reference to "husband" and "wife", never in reference to anything else, and unintelligible if read in terms of "man and man" or "woman and woman".

But since he is playing fast and loose with terminology (like "marriage" or even "natural") and is not necessarily subject to his own rules of either discussion or interpretation, I don't see any point in pursuing it.

Marshall Art said...

It's no trouble to concede the idea that we don't "own" marriage to the extent that we can insist upon its true definition (under which homosexual unions do not and cannot exist). But at the same time, one would be hard pressed to argue for a right to redefine the term to suit their nefarious and immoral ends. If those of us on the side of truth, logic and the clearly revealed will of God on the subject cannot insist on the actual definition of the word, by what "right" do the enablers of immorality have in changing that definition?

It cannot be for justice, as no one is deprived of justice by the maintaining of the real meaning of "marriage". No real movement is afoot to prevent two men from committing their lives to each other in an effort to pretend to be married. No one is denying homosexuals the right to vote or to use specific drinking fountains or to sit only in the balcony or the back of the bus. No one is allowed to murder them or steal from them or beat the snot out of them. Even Dan Savage is protected against such things from a legal standpoint, and if anyone could use a beating, it would be him. But still, no one has the right to do so. Thus, there is no justice of which homosexuals are deprived. The current marriage laws (where they still exist as they had in all of history) applies to everyone equally.

The granting of what some regard as "privileges" or benefits to heterosexual couples is based on the very definition Stan is using here, and that is because of the benefits such unions bring to society that are not brought by homosexual unions. It is only the biological ties of family, brought about by the union of one man and one woman, that is seen as beneficial to the extent that the state feels justified in providing those benefits to promote marriage. The biological family, what once was known as the definition of THAT word, is the basis of all community and nations and thus is worthy of the benefits allowed to it. There is no benefit to society by recognizing the union of two maladjusted people of the same gender pretending they are the same as normal married couples. None whatsoever. Certainly none that requires the state to alter its long standing views on marriage.

Indeed, as we have evidence from other nations that suggests a diminished regard for marriage, combined with an incredible surge in the amount of out-of-wedlock births, there is little to suggest that "wisdom" dictates acquiescing to the whines of 2-3% of the population (assuming 100% of that population even cares about tying the knot). What's more, as there has been no credible argument for denying other groups the right to marry and be recognized by the state, there's a great lack of wisdom in assuming all will work out just fine for our culture by so acquiescing.

Marshall Art said...

And of course, and this is the really laughable part, there is nothing about this agenda that suggests "morality" in any way. As I've mentioned many times, a search of several versions of the Bible finds the word is rarely, if ever used outside the realm of human sexuality. When it is, it is usually used in this manner: "sexual immorality". Such unions for which Dan campaigns are based on that which is clearly sexually immoral. Dan strains himself to pretend the Bible allows for such unions because an equally twisted notion of what "love" is. He uses verses that cannot mean what he desperately wishes they can mean if one holds it up in bad light and squints. I believe Phillipians 4:8 is one into which he forces his unChristian enabling biases. "Whatever is lovely..." and words to that effect, Dan suggests justifies the plea, because the homosexuals and lesbians he knows are loving and kind and otherwise living a good Christian example. But what God has called an abomination to Him, detestable to Him, cannot ever be regarded as lovely simply because the two involved are kind to each other. Committing sinful acts with a positive attitude do not lessen the sin whatsoever. And considering God did not throw around the word "abominable" with abandon, might mean the act disgusts Him more than it ever could any human being. But it certainly is forbidden by Him no matter the context in which it takes place, a point Dan to this day has woefully failed to counter.

David said...

Unfortunately, marriage has moved from a concept to a legal term. While I agree with your arguments, it is merely an intellectual argument. In our society, marriage is merely that legal institution that binds people legally. The concept went out the door when free sex and divorce came to power. You're right, the concept of "gay marriage" is nonexistent, but when most people think of marriage, sadly even most Christians, they think of the legal type of marriage. Unfortunately, the concept of marriage wasn't vehemently defended in the 60s-70s, so now it is no longer a concept when spoken of. Too bad this is a lonely hill to stand on, even in the Church. I'm sure God will defend His definition of marriage in good time, He always has. Sodom, Gomorrah, and Rome are all good examples of what happens when the iniquity of a group of people reaches that boiling point. Unfortunately, I doubt the US will be Nineveh.

Stan said...

I agree, David, that the term has slipped from its mooring and no longer means what Scripture intended, what the Creator intended. To even suggest such a definition will likely get me flak from Christians, let alone skeptics or liberals. Everyone knows "marriage" is a legal condition that makes a family and provides for shared benefits and is, at its core, a thing that people "in love" do ... you know ... to show that they are "in love". "As long as we both shall love." That's a new and popular ending in the marriage vows today.

In fact, way back in December, 2008 I wrote a post on who is to blame for this problem. I don't start with the gays. I start with sin (of course), but there is a hefty amount of blame to lay in the laps of Christians who didn't bat an eye as society edged the whole thing away from the dock and toward the rocky shore. Sadly, there are some who see that now and actually hope to run the "marriage ship" aground once and for all. At that point it will be the in the milieu of a select group who see the biblical and spiritual importance and then it can be returned to its rightful place. But maybe we shouldn't share that with others. You know ... like pearls before ... well, you know.