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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Failure to Communicate - Reprise

I was talking to someone recently who commented that they liked my entry titled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on August 27th. We spoke briefly about being held hostage by the use of language and how we have to conform to a moving target. I thought then of this entry. I posted it originally way back in June of 2008 when the question of the redefinition of marriage was raising its ugly head in California. I tried here to illustrate the difficulty of changing what words mean. In this case, the word is "marriage". (Note: I changed the date from the original from "June, 2008" to "June, 2015". I think you can guess why.)
One commenter asked me if words can change their meaning over time. Of course they can. The problem is that communication becomes imperiled when they do if we're not careful. Let me give you a fictional exchange and see if you can understand my dilemma.

I'm at a gathering of some sort ... you know, an ice breaker. A guy comes up to me and we strike up a conversation. He tells me he's married. Okay, here's what I know about this guy. He is connected to a woman who lives in the same house as he does and sleeps in the same bed with him. He is actively involved in advancing the needs of our society by making a permanent home, a stable environment suitable for the rearing of children. He either already has children or will have children barring any unforeseen, unfortunate event that might prevent it because children are the natural and right result of marriage. He will be married to this same woman for the rest of his or her life because marriage is "'til death do us part."

"Oh, no," he tells me, " I meant the more modern term."

Oh, I'm sorry. My mistake. Now what do I know? Well, he is connected to a woman who likely lives in the same house he does and shares his bed. They may or may not have children in mind. Lots of people these days have decided that children can be an unpleasant by-product of marriage. And I can't really say for how long he'll be with this woman because the divorce rate is something over 50% by now.

"No," he corrects me again, "I meant in the June, 2015 sense."

Ooohhh, I'm so sorry. I completely misunderstood. I've got it now. He is a guy who is connected in some sense or another to another person. Children aren't really a consideration in the question. And who knows how long this relationship will last? Essentially, then, I only know that he's a guy. Wait! Maybe I'd better ask about that ...

You see, as the longstanding, traditional definition of marriage has deteriorated, so has its usefulness. As we expand the meaning of a word, we tend to end up making it mean less and less because it has too many meanings to be of any value. When marriage meant a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman that would in all probability include children, there was meaning ... and value. Now? Not so much. And as the word has deflated in meaning, we've lost the ability to properly communicate the original intent. So how is this progress?
I want to point out that there is more than one reason I wrote this then and is one of the reasons I reissued it now. I give, here, three definitions of "marriage". The first is the original. The last is the current. The middle is the one that most people my age grew up with. I want to point out that the middle is wrong -- just as wrong as the last. The secondary difficulty of the change in definition of "marriage" to today's "whatever" is that people -- even Christians who have a Book that gives them God's version of the concept -- don't recognize that the second definition is just as mistaken as the third. Very few -- woefully few -- people today recognize that the first was God's version and has been the version of "marriage" recognized throughout history up until the last half of the 20th century. Is yours the first or somewhere in between?

24 comments:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

My version is the first and original definition of marriage, which is why we are still together for 40 years with children and grandchildren.

Stan said...

There, now, see? I understand that. You're using a term I understand.

Marshall Art said...

I'm currently engaged in a "discussion" (not sure even that the definition of THAT word is accurate at this point) about the definition of marriage. I have no hope for resolution, but am curious to see how long this person will persist in denying historical fact (with regard to the true definition of marriage and who imposed a false definition on the nation) before disappearing (because this person is not likely to change positions).

So while I still run with the first definition, this person favors the third. This person (I'm thinking it's a "gay" guy, but could be a chick...the nom de plume can suggest either) pretends, like with truth and morality, that we can each have our own versions of what the word means. I continue to insist that I don't have a "personal" definition, but simply abide the definition for which the word was created to convey. That is, "marriage" was "invented" to describe a particular relationship, the conjugal union of one man and one woman, and that definition has been universally understood and accepted since forever.

This person pretends there now is no more confusion when the word is used than there ever was. Of course that can't be true given that the underlying sexual behavior of SSM was outlawed in every state of the union until the 1960s.

And so it goes...

Stan said...

What they never seem to notice is that if "we can each have our own versions of what the word means", then "marriage equality" can mean whatever each of us wants it to mean. They, however, are not allowing that. "Marriage equality" will mean "whatever we dictate it means and you are not allowed to have your own, let alone any traditional, historic definition."

Stan said...

Okay, I'm doing this carefully. First, I'm not allowing him to comment directly, per policy. On the other hand, I don't want to misrepresent what he says. So, this is what Dan T. assured me:

"You ARE allowed to have your own. For you. You're not allowed to dictate to others.

See the difference? See how that works? Liberty for all, not just you.

Come on, fellas, it's not that difficult."

I only include Dan's comment because it's the kind of nonsense that we'll get. "Yeah, yeah, you're free to have your definition and we're free to have ours." Except, that's not true! Ours was removed by judicial fiat. "Liberty for all," he says, except that we are not allowed to define marriage our way (the longstanding, traditional way) in the public square. The courts recognized that and did so self-consciously. People like Mr. T don't seem to get it. "You're not allowed to dictate it to others," they say without seeming to recognize, "like we just did to you." In fact, we have begged to allow that. "Feel free to define it as you will, but don't require it of us." "Oh, no," they're telling us, "you will define it our way or be fined for failing to do so." And that's not "liberty for all."

David said...

The reason people can hold that position is that they don't seem to believe that beliefs should inform our actions. "Believe what you want", just don't act in it.

David said...

I wonder who determines the "line". As Marshall pointed out, they believe that truth and morality are personally defined. If that is true, then NAMBLA is right, bestiality is right, Hitler was right. Since they don't actually believe these things, there must be a line drawn, but who draws it?

Stan said...

I suppose that will work, David, as long as I don't believe "I must ask on what I believe." Which, by the way, I believe is true FOR EVERYONE.

Stan said...

Sorry if it was unclear. My comment above was aimed at David's first comment above (11:42 AM), not his second comment (11:46 AM).

On the second comment, I agree that it is problematic, but this particular topic is not specifically in regards to relative morality, but relative definitions. I've never seen the "gay mirage" question as a question of morality, but a simple question of definition. As such, I know of no gay marriages. (Thus my use of "gay mirage".) And, as such, I have no problem with "marriage equity" because everyone who wants to marry someone already could before the Supreme Court ruling.

Stan said...

Dan, the question is of definitions. I didn't suggest I'm required to marry a gay guy. I said that I'm required to accept your definition of marriage. If I run a flower shop or a bakery or, in the very near future, am a pastor, I will also be required to participate in your definition. I'm already classified as a "hater" and a "bigot" simply because I disagree with your definition. There have been and will be penalties for saying, "I do not recognize that as 'marriage'." That is coercion. That is not "liberty for all."

Stan said...

Some examples:
Idaho ministers
New York farm
Illinois bed and breakfast
New Mexico photographer
Wyoming judge
Oregon baker
Colorado baker
Indiana pizza parlor

Stan said...

Oh, and the answer you'll get is "harm". "You can believe what you want, but you can't act on it if it harms others." Because referring someone to another provider is "harmful". Because the florist who said, "I'm sorry, I can't help you on this, but here is a list of other florists who can" did damage. Because "They hurt my feelings" is grievous harm but "The government is forcing me to violate my beliefs" is perfectly suitable -- no harm, no foul. "It's all good." Only ... it's not. This is precisely the problem I speak of -- defining terms. "Harm", now, is defined by one side and disallowed to the other, and that's "equality". And the hits just keep on coming. Failed definitions abound.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I can provide links to a lot more than those. My reference blog post in regards to the harm caused by the homosexual agenda keeps collecting the links:
http://agotoblog.blogspot.com/2015/03/harmful-results-of-homosexual-agenda.html

Stan said...

Thanks, Glenn. Mine was just a brief answer to a request for examples of proof. I'm pretty sure that 1) Christians don't know the depth of this problem and 2) the rest won't care. "Harm? Oh, no, it's just harm if it makes a gay person feel bad."

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I understood the purpose of your post -- apparently responding to you-know-who. I just thought I'd add fuel to the fire. The Gaystapo and Rainbow Mafia are relentless in destroying those who dare to not want to sanction them. The only harm ever is what happens to THESE people, while the "tolerant" side has hurt feelings. Poor babies.

Stan said...

Which is why I thanked you, Glenn. That was a sincere thank you.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Oh, I knew you were serious. I just wanted to clarify :o)

Stan said...

Wow, I gotta admit, I didn't see that coming. Apparently I am a hater and a bigot not because I align with history, logic, and Scripture in defining marriage as it has always been defined, but because I am "so inculcated with your white majority privilege" that I'm blinded to the truth. Thanks for that, Dan. I'll go back to ignoring any further comments from you now. I think I answered your objection and I think you demonstrated any lack of reasonable response. Please, feel free to go back to ignoring my blog.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

WOW!! that is one really deluded man!!!

David said...

What does race have to do with redefining marriage?

Anonymous said...

Now I'm wondering what Dan T would think about this article, which I just came across.

http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2016/09/09/iowa-state-students-want-byu-big-12

"The school [BYU] and its honor code has been criticized by a number of LGBT groups for is its language on same-sex conduct."

One of the comments at the page reads, "We want people to include everyone and not discriminate!!! Unless of course you believe differently than us, then we will pass resolutions and measures to discriminate against and exclude you...."

Stan said...

Nothing, David ... absolutely nothing. But the thinking goes something like this. "Christianity is a white man's religion." (No, seriously, I actually had a black guy tell me that.) "As a white male Christian, living 'in power' in this country" (as if Christianity is "in power in this country") "you are unaware of how your beliefs oppress minorities." Regardless of the truth of the statement or whether or not I am a Christian with the beliefs I have because the Bible tells me so, not because I'm white or male or American (which, in the liberal eye, is the worst of all possible worlds -- a white, male, American Christian), I have yet to argue that "gay marriage is evil". I have always argued that it is irrational, but not immoral. I have always argued that "marriage" means something, something that it has always meant, and "same sex" cannot precede the term with any meaning. Therefore, I don't oppose "same sex marriage" because I think it's evil; I oppose it because I think it is just as irrational as a unicorn. "You're opposing unicorns because of your white, religious privilege!" Yeah, not making any sense at all.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David,

What I've discovered over the past decade is that the charge of "racism" by liberals is the charge which will silence the opposition. Once you've been accused of racism, the debate is over. Doesn't matter what the subject, when the "race card" is pulled out, you have been proven wrong no matter what facts are brought forward in defense. You've been kafkatrapped.

Stan said...

Apropos to the entire topic (definition of terms), whoever controls the language controls the debate. The "bigot" label is a good one for winning an argument whether or not it is true.