Definition of “marriage” has always been in flux.

C.W. Nevius of SFGate.com has a really good article on the uproar over gay marriages and how they supposedly threaten to undermine the “traditional definition of marriage” in this country. President Bush is quoted as saying “Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society,” and yet if you take a good look at the history of marriage it’s clear that such serverances have been many and varied throughout history.

Nevius points out that back during the early history of America (1700-1800s) a married woman gave up many of the “rights” she enjoyed as a single person upon taking her vows.  She could no longer own property or sign contracts and any money earned outside of the home had to be turned over to her husband. On the plus side, she didn’t have to pay taxes.  In many ways a married woman was the property of her husband and this didn’t change until the the latter-half of the 19th Century, but change it did.  Mixed race marriages weren’t legal in any state until California changed their laws in 1948 and it was 19 years more before the Supreme Court made it nation-wide. In many states it was still illegal for mixed race couples to marry until the year I was born (1967), but change it did. More interesting still is what you get when you look closely at just what the Bible suggests about marriage:

Marriage’s lineage a bit convoluted

“It is really much more complex in religious perspective than you might think,’’ says Tolbert, the George Atkinson Professor for Biblical Studies at the Pacific School of Religion. “What the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) suggests as a general model for marriage is polygamy. You look at someone like Solomon who had 200 wives and 600-and-some concubines. Or Abraham, who had his first child by his wife’s slave. It sounds as if it was quite normal.’‘

Tolbert, who is also the executive director for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, points out that marriage didn’t even become a sacrament of the church “until the 12th century. For the first 1,200 years (A.D.) in Europe there were civil unions by town or village government.’‘

Nor does the New Testament offer much help. In fact, by some selective readings it sounds as if the Bible has mixed views of marriage. As Tolbert says, Jesus says very little about marriage, and both he and Paul were single men. And Paul, at least, recommended chastity.

“Marriage is not a sin,’’ says Paul in First Corinthians, “but it is better to be unmarried.’‘

“The Bible is an incredibly important sacred icon in our culture,’’ says Tolbert. “But I just think a lot of people don’t read it.’‘

That not many people read the Bible they supposedly follow is obvious. I issued a challenge awhile back for anyone to list a single valid reason that wasn’t religious in nature as to why gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry and never got anyone to take me up on that challenge. That challenge still stands.

316 thoughts on “Definition of “marriage” has always been in flux.

  1. To me, marriage is a symbol.

    Early in our history, marriage simply didn’t exist, in fact it is a relatively recent development (by “recent” I mean after the dinosaurs died and before the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show). Marriage was originally conceived (no pun intended) as a way to signal the presence of a special bond between two people. At that time, marriage had no special significance itself, it was merely a social signaling device, and to some extent it also represented a contract with mutual obligations . In those times marriage stood as a mere symbol for something of actual substance—a relationship between people that would have existed whether or not the symbol of marriage was also present .

    Today marriage (the symbol) has become a thing in its own right, in some cases (and in some minds) replacing the thing it once only represented. It has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and only the most perceptive individuals remember that it was supposed to have symbolized something more important, more fundamental than itself—a particular kind of human relationship. This reversal of symbol and thing has become so profound that one commonly hears a remark like “Marriage is what I really want!” as though marriage were anything more than a weather forecast or a road sign.

    Naturally enough, this confusion of empty symbols and actual things has led to a rather well-documented disenchantment with that institution, even though the disenchantment is based on an error in perception. The reality of a human relationship between people (usually) of opposite sexes is quite different from the packaged perception called up by the word “marriage,” to the degree that people often forget that they will have to build the thing (a human relationship) after achieving the symbol for the thing (marriage).

    Then, after people waste precious time seeking “marriage” and discovering that marriage is nothing by itself, they complain they have been failed by “marriage.” This is advanced puppetry, and no one seems willing to follow the strings.

    But marriage itself (as it is practiced in modern times), by virtue of having taken on a life of its own, is in its turn a symbol for something more basic: We live in a time where symbols for things have largely replaced the things themselves , and this tendency exists in direct proportion to people’s inability to distinguish between symbols and things.

  2. Right, not many Christians read the Bible, and even less understand it.  Many people point to Pauls letters to judge people (even though Judging is one of the main things Christianity teaches against) and they dont’ realize that he’s writing these letters to clergy, since most couldn’t read at the time, he was writing to clergy to spread the word.  His saying that it’s better to not be married was aimed at people who’s Job it was to pass on the word of God, not to Everyman/woman.  Same thing with the passages people point to that say we should do Missions, again….it was the Clergymen’s job…not Everyman/woman’s job.

    And the hole Homosexuality being a sin is completely mistranslated.  I’m sorry if you read my rant on this somewhere else cuz i’ve said it a lot, but I’ll say it again:

    NOWHERE in the Bible does it ACTUALLY, if translated correctly, condemn homosexuality, nowhere.

    Soddom and Gomorra wasn’t because of homosexual sex. It was rape and pride and brutality. The citizens had no idea that the visitors were male…..they used a word that translates not as “Men” but as an ambiguous pronoun. Since it was translated as man people assumed it was gay.

    Also when it was condemned to lay w/ a man like a woman….the verbage and word for man used implied doing it with a clergimen of a false god and in a temple as a practice of worship for idols. It wasn’t condemning homoxexuality, but a common form of idol worship. We don’t have words for these specifically in English so man was translated as man and holy man was translated as man and the word they used for sex was translated as lie with instead of what it actually was.

    Even Paul, when speaking of fornicators, his words are mistranslated and made more vague than they were originally intended. The language again was used only in contexts of false idol worship.

    So SEB, your challenge should include Religious reasons, because there are none that can stand up if you know the context.

  3. I agree with both of you on the points you raise. And with your blessing, Roan, I’m going to steal your statement of about the times we live in and people’s confusion over symbols and the things they’re supposed to represent. I think that applies to a great number of things from the symbol of marriage to the symbol of the American flag (which has also had amendments proposed for its protection).

    Speaker, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the issue of mistranslation and context regarding the passages you cited. The reason I excluded religious grounds is simply because the tendency to take the Bible out of context in the manner you describe is so commonplace and as an atheist it will be insisted that I can’t possibly understand the Bible’s “true message” or the context of the messages therein because I don’t have a personal relationship with God that is supposedly necessary for true understanding and insight, a very convenient method of dismissing anything I have to say about the Bible to be sure. Rather than argue that it’s possible for an atheist to have a better understanding of the Bible than a believer combined with the fact that most believers can’t agree on what the Bible says I felt it was a little more to the point to focus on marriage as a civil contract with the point being that if the only objections are religious then the religious people don’t have to participate in gay marriages if they don’t want to, but the rest of us should have the option.

    Wow, that was a rather convoluted explanation. I hope it makes sense.

  4. Speaker,

    Define “Translated Correctly”. I think it’s going to have to resemble something like “Doesn’t offend me” or “The way I’d like it to read”.

    The NIV, in 1 Corinthians reads:
    (6:9) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders (6:10) nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (6:11) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    The DNT translates male prostitutes as “those who make women of themselves” and homosexual offenders as “those who abuse themselves with men”. The YLT (which I trust more in general) translates those words as “effeminate” and “sodomites”.

    These same words are used repeatedly throughout scripture in even more derogatory terms. Just where did you think the term sodomy comes from if the people in Sodom weren

  5. David you are such a proud prick!

    Every new translation/correction of the Bible contains additional edits and perversions of terms and language. Forget the meaning that can be derived unerringly from any of the editions.

    You’re not a biblical scholar, you’re an apologist for a power hungry religion.

    You say you’re a Christian, I say you’re a cult member, but it’s all a matter of semantics.

  6. > Of course, I’d define religious to include any
    > system of morals that is consistently adhered to

    That’s, to put it politely, hogwash. A moral system can exist and be maintained through your own will. You do not need an outside source to ‘hand down the law’, you can set and keep your own limits and guidelines and be very consistent in keeping within them.

    Me for example, I try not to hurt people on purpose, because I believe that, on average, it has more negative than positive consequences both for me and society as well AND because it is morally wrong (don’t do unto others what you don’t want to be on the receiving end of yourself) AND because hurting others (usually) sickens me on a primitive mental level.

    Why do I need a religion for that?

  7. Does Plato count? According to both his definition of right and wrong, and his discussion of the actual topic homosexuality, gay activity is wrong.

    I took David’s statement as a challange and quickly found a couple of sources.

    The first is an adress by Professor Boswell, an historian, titled The Church and the Homosexual: An Historical Perspective, 1979, which is posted on the Fordham Website. Here is the oppening of his address.

    “Homosexuality,” Plato wrote, “is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is apparently not in the interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendships or passionate love-all of which homosexuality is particularly apt to produce.” This attitude of Plato’s was characteristic of the ancient world, and I want to begin my discussion of the attitudes of the Church and of Western Christianity toward homosexuality by commenting on comparable attitudes among the ancients.

    The rest of the post is well worth reading. It includes the views of the early Christians toward homosexuality. It also indicates that Christian intolerance of gays began in the middle of the 12th century, along with anti-semitism, the loss of some civil rights for women and more.

    The second is the article on homosexuality in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Here is what that souce has to say about Plato in its history section.

    Plato, in the Symposium, argues for an army to be comprised of same-sex lovers. Thebes did form such a regiment, the Sacred Band of Thebes, formed of 500 soldiers. They were renowned in the ancient world for their valor in battle.

  8. It includes the views of the early Christians toward homosexuality.

    Whoops! Boswell’s take on early Christian attitudes is disputed—see the second citation.

  9. Brian, that sounds like the “slippery slope” argument that I’ve heard again and again. You’ve put more thought into it than most, and present it well.

    Personally, I think it doesn’t hold up though. I don’t think the potential future ramifications of a change should be used to avoid that change.

    Certainly, once gay marriage is legal someone may pull the “then why not polygamy” card. Fine. Then there is another issue to debate. One has no real relation to the other, and that’s what I feel people miss. Each issue must be presented in democratic fashion, in turn, and separate from the others.

    To take it to the extreme, if “marriage to your dog” is *debated properly*, and the *majority* of people in this democracy decide that it should be allowed, then the process is doing what it should. Laws should change with the times with the will of the people. That’s what a free society is.

    My two cents.

  10. VernR,

      I think David is referring to Plato’s “Laws.”  But his understanding of Laws is in line with the argument that Finnis makes (contested by Nussbaum). 

    and [Plato’s] discussion of the actual topic homosexuality, gay activity is wrong

    I don’t have a copy of “Laws” handy, but that’s certainly not the treatment Plato gives homosexuality in Phaedrus and the Symposium.  Nor did Socrates condemn it—he didn’t appear to be much inclined that way himself (in truth, despite a cultural promotion of homosexuality, quite a few Greeks did not practice it), but his objections to it, at least in the Symposium, were that carnal love was a distraction from ideal love—that it limited one’s progress toward the spiritual ideal(I can’t remember exactly, but I think this is the point where we get that great metaphor of the chariot drawn by the black and white Pegasi, one unruly and chaotic, and the other fighting to ascend).

    Of course, Plato’s Stranger does refer to homosexuality as “not pleasing to nature” in “LAWS”.  But he then goes on for about fifteen pages talking about young men’s “natural” desire to pursue men who are “like them,” and the essentially narcissistic element of male desire. Ultimately, the Stranger’s argument makes it pretty clear that he considers homosexual desire to be as “natural” as the desire to drink wine—ie: it is a vice, because it does not serve the city, but it is a vice that is “natural.”  In fact, it’s so “natural” that young men have to be persuaded to abandon it and “settle down” into socially useful marriages.

    Excellent article on this:    http://www.randallclark.org/publicat/2000a.pdf
    Lengthy, but once you get past the first four pages, entirely worth reading.

    I

  11. David, if we’re just going to use our own personal definitions for words rather than the established ones then we can have a field day with redefining things to our advantage in order to slap each other with witty barbs. As satisfying as that game may be, it’s still a game and not a productive one. It also seems there’s some debate on just how Plato veiwed homosexuality. At least VernR quoted his source for his take on Plato’s views, where do you get yours from?

    Brian, you’re engaging in the “slippery slope” argument. Sure, it’s possible that if we expand marriage to include gays that any of the things you’re suggesting could be the next step. It could also be that those things never come to pass. It’s also possible that someone may challenge the law in hopes of marrying their dog or to allow for polygamy regardless of whether or not marriage is expanded to include gays. Denying gays the right to marriage doesn’t prevent these other possibilities from occurring nor does allowing gay marriage guarantee these other things will come to pass.

    That said, I’ve never been certain what the objections to Polygamy actually are in the first place. As pointed out already it’s in the Bible. Personally, my work is cut out for me being married to one woman, let alone several, so I’m not sure what the draw would be to engage in such a thing, but as long as the adults involved are in of their own free will then I’m not sure I see the problem.

    As for marrying your dog, I seem to recall reading in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not over the years that people have married their dogs, cats, cars and several other silly things. Alas, the folks at Ripley’s don’t provide any kind of a searchable database online at their website to verify this with. If I can locate my copies that I read this in I’ll list them for you if you wish.

  12. (ooops…hit send on this and left and it didn’t go through, so sorry if some of this is already covered)

    Thanks SEB….

    And David, by translated correctly I don’t mean what doesn’t offend me. . . I mean translated CORRECTLY.  You yourself are translating from english to english, the original was not english, the words used by Paul was Malakoi. “The word malakos means literally “soft.” There is no indication that it was used in the time of Paul as a derogatory remark leveled exclusively against gays. On the contrary, Hellenistic literature is replete with examples of heterosexuals being characterized as malakos. The label seemed to indicate some sort of general moral weakness or excess. The early church fathers invoked the word malakos against masturbation. Moreover they never used the word to imply being “effeminate” but rather list other terms for this purpose including thelubrios and androgunos whence the term “androgyny.”” (sorry for the copy, about to go and am hurrying) The term “Sodomy” comes from teh mistranslation of the Sodom story.
    Pauls letters to the clergy…and the churches…same thing…people couldn’t read it was their duty to spread the word and THEY couldn’t afford the distraction…………

    David, as a Christian, I don’t ask for proof of God, I have faith in that, but I don’t follow people or ideas blindly.  I believe it’s my duty as a Christian to know where the Bible and Christianity today comes from, do you know? Do you know why the Bible is as it is today?  Did you know it was put together by a Sun Goddess Worshipper?  Constantine is popularly believed to be a Christian Ruler, but that’s not completely true.  He was Christian . . . he converted on his death bed.  He was into Goddess Worship and ruled at a time where religious differences were causing problems, he needed to have a unifying religion, he decided to back Christianity because it was the largest at the time and would be the easiest to sell.  But to make the conversion for the Sun Worshippers easier, he tweaked some practices.  For example, the Jewish and then Christian Sabbath was on Sabado, Saturday . . . he moved it to SUNday the Sun Goddess holy day.  So we actually go against the Bible and have church on a pagan day due to tradition.  There was a problem though, there were numerous versions of Christianity based on different texts and gospels.  He got word of some Priests meeting to discuss a growing sect of Christianity started by Arius.  He invited them to meet in Nicaea instead and took over the meeting.  The Arius problem was then quickly dismissed as being “too new” and shut down, he then got them to sift through all of the many gospels and books and letters to bind together in a single volume to unify the religion under.  But there were a TON. But he narrowed the many gospels down to only four.  How did he pick? He knew that people would be more likely to follow something that seemed super-human instead of normal so he through out the ones that made Jesus seem more human (which is sort of the point, God in human form to experience all the same sins as we did) and picked the ones that made him seem more powerful, the ones that emphasized the God part, completely ignoring any sort of relationship with Mary Magdaline, even though jewish men were NOT allowed to teach at temple if they were unmarried, it was pretty much illegal to be older than twenty something and be single.  Not only that but for Jesus to experience everything humans do, coupling is a big part of that.
    Because of this many Christians ignore the important messages of not judging and loving others and being compassionate like Jesus (Who ate with tax collectors and prostitutes and other societal outcasts….unlike how we do today, demonizing everyone we don’t agree with) and link onto teachings of Paul and old testament documents that Jesus himself said we were freed from once he died on the cross.

    Many christians listen to their preachers and Paul and Speakers and put what they say above their relationship with God, and then completely skew the message.

    If you know the context, then you start to realize what is important.  In the grand scheme of things, if Homosexuality is wrong, it doesn’t matter . . .think about this. . . assuming what paul says is meant literally how it is in English….Paul wrote it as a suggestion . . .but it’s not on the 10 Commandments . . .yet . . .lying is which everyone does.  So who’s the bigger sinner, a straight person who lies, or a homosexual who always tells the truth?

    Sorry for the longness..really leaving this time…
    -me

  13. one last thing…just read a couple of things about how the christian negativity towards homosexuals came from the 12th century….i don’t know for sure but I have a theory . . . the Catholic Church (the old one…not the new one…i know same church but different time and different leaders) was BIG on control and made anything that wasn’t catholic EVIL…hence Pentagrams being a goddess symbol becoming satanic, posieden’s staff becoming the devil’s pitchfork……….anyway a common practice in Goddess worship was to reach clarity and touch God through sex, because Orgasm was the one time one’s mind was truly clear….The church a the time wanted to be teh ONLY means of reaching God so they could have more control, so sex was demonized and it quickly became religious taboo and wrong…..because they didn’t want just ANYONE to be able to do this, even if it wasn’t for worship . . .thus the wrong translations of the word “pornea” which is a term specifically for sex in an altar for worship, was translated as fornication…or jsut sex in general (interestingly enough it’s now translated vagueley as “sexual immorality”)  So it seems to me, since homosexual sex was also used in pagan worship, perhaps the same fate happened with it, instead of just not allowing it’s use in that situation, it was quickly completely demonized and turned to religious taboo . . .would explain how the early catholic chuch made the leap from translating “malakoi” from masturbator to homosexual. . .
    hmmm….

  14. Brian, if you’re so worried about moral floodgates bursting open, maybe you should consider what kind of precedent a restrictive ammendmend to the constitution poses.  Under this administration (which I can only pray to Ba’al is soon to be dissolved) a chance to deny one group its rights may open a whole new set o’ floodgates.
    Not that I believe the ammendment will ever pass- it just seems to be another “us against them” reelection tactic.  Which makes it all the uglier. 

    Not really on the topic, but my husband saw a HumVee taking up two spaces in front of the grocery this morning with a bumper sticker on the back fender reading, “Don’t Let the Car Fool You- My Real Treasure is in Heaven.”
    I’ll bet Jesus is real proud of THAT guy….

  15. frak, les, and maryh - you are correct - i am engaging in the slippery slope argument; that being said, i think we all engage in the slippery slope argument for many of the everyday decisions we make.  If we allow our children to disobey us early in life, chances are they will do so to a greater extreme later in life.  That kind of argument, while not 100% accurate, as it supposes things that cannot be determined at that particular point in time, is no less valid in this situation than in others.

    I am not really addressing this issue from a moral perspective - I do not presuppose my opinions on others any more than I allow others to tell me how to think.  I am merely approaching it from the perspective of precedence.  Many of todays court rulings, both good and bad, are based on precedence.  As such, it behooves us to examine and think through clearly, the precedence we set for the future.  My statement regarding marriage to dogs, multiple people, inanimate objects, etc, was done in order to demonstrate a point.  IF it were advantageous in some fashion, say monetarily, to be ‘married’, and it was legal to name anything as the partner, then it seems to me, the smart thing to do would be to engage in such a charade.  If such behavior were promoted, this thing that we call ‘marriage’ - whatever significance it holds to us now, would become a mockery.

  16. can i delete my post?  i don’t care enough about this subject to get flamed arguing about it.

  17. You mean marriage would become even more of a mockery than it is now, brian?

    And I’m one of those who thinks you should never post something you’ll regret saying later, even though most of us probably have done it a time or few. I doubt you’ll get chewed up and spit out for anything you’ve said, nor do I see that type of behavior as true to the spirit of Les’ site.

  18. frak, les, and maryh - you are correct - i am engaging in the slippery slope argument; that being said, i think we all engage in the slippery slope argument for many of the everyday decisions we make. If we allow our children to disobey us early in life, chances are they will do so to a greater extreme later in life. That kind of argument, while not 100% accurate, as it supposes things that cannot be determined at that particular point in time, is no less valid in this situation than in others.

    Considering that I don’t consider the slippery slope argument to be valid at all I can honestly say that I agree with your assessment that it’s no less valid in this situation over any other. That is to say it’s just as invalid in this debate as it is in any other debate.

    I am not really addressing this issue from a moral perspective - I do not presuppose my opinions on others any more than I allow others to tell me how to think. I am merely approaching it from the perspective of precedence. Many of todays court rulings, both good and bad, are based on precedence. As such, it behooves us to examine and think through clearly, the precedence we set for the future. My statement regarding marriage to dogs, multiple people, inanimate objects, etc, was done in order to demonstrate a point. IF it were advantageous in some fashion, say monetarily, to be

  19. Les - this is your board, so i’ll not berate you for purposefully missing the point; if you honestly think that i am against two people (whether of the same sex or not) receiving due priviledge or rights, then you are either not reading the intent behind my posts, or you are simply hostile to any type of conversation that might generate a response that is contrary to your opinion.

    Your reply, which you think is ‘good’, is in fact, rather weak.  You implied that I was under the impression that two people of the same sex getting married is a mockery of marriage.  Perhaps if you actually read the post before replying, the answers you give would respond to the statement in an appropriate manner.  I will repeat what I said in an earlier post.  “I, quite frankly, could care less what homosexuals do, nor do I fear their influence.” 

    So, Les.  How do you define marriage?  In fact, Les, why should we even define marriage?  Isn’t the very act of the GOVERNMENT identifying a difference between two people and providing for any kind of benefit to said person(s), an act of discrimination?  Your opinions are not based on principles - they are based on situations.  Situational ethics doesn’t work, because you don’t always know the situation.  The idea that we should ‘just focus on the issue of today and worry about what happens tomorrow as a result’ is both irresponsible and unrealistic.  In addition, your open hostility and mocking of religion exposes arrogance and ignorance on par with the fanatics and extremists you so detest.  I have read a significant portion of your posts and opinions; by and large they are lucid and well articulated, albeit with a touch of bias (heh).  If you only wish to preach to the choir, by all means, continue interpreting and espousing uninformed positions, flogging those who disagree with you.  I for one, had looked forward to a realistic discussion - wholesale rejection of a position that half of the country holds shows significant lack of thought or insite into said discussion.

    regards,
    brian

  20. marriage was the very first institution ordained by God himself.  He made adam and eve, and brought them together.  the bible gives specific instruction to the husband and wife.  everything else is a counterfit.  it is using God’s plan, but without God to have a homosexual or even heterosexual union without marriage.  “oneness” is something achieved not by getting a certificate from a courthouse. the bible teaches you are “one” with anyone you have sexual relationship with.  No marriage is a real marriage without the blessing of God anyway.  the gov. of massachusetts may approve it, the san fran. mayor may approve it.  but it is counterfit without the blessing and approval of God anyway.

  21. No marriage is a real marriage without the blessing of God anyway.
    So why the fuss over gay marriage?  Let them be “married” all they want, since the marriage isn’t real in God’s eyes.

    And, on that note, why are common law marriages allowed, then? 

    He made adam and eve, and brought them together.
    I wouldn’t pull the Creationism bit here if I were you.  There’s a nice loooooooooooong thread covering that already.  Spend a few days reading it before you post on that topic.

  22. randall, I believe I misjudged you. If you remember, I said something to the effect of you didn’t seem to be one who throws judgment from some perceived moral high ground. . . not only do I think I was wrong about that, but I have also noticed the tone and flow of your posts has changed from earlier posts. Something about it just doesn’t feel right. It struck me as if your earlier posts were something of fish hooks. It could just be me, but I am sure if there is this something I can’t quite put my finger on, the bigger dawgs will smell it and hunt it down.

  23. covie…well brock thinks that i am on here fishin in hopes of catching this big atheist so i can run and tell my church buddies about it.  i can understand how he or anyone else would feel that way.  and i can see how i or anyother Christian could appear or actually be judgemental. I am only trying to learn some things on this site just to help me (a believer) be able to relate with a non-believer…(not necessarily on this site, but those i come in contact with in everyday life)  i feel that christians have a lot of mis-conceptions about atheist, and honestly i think atheist lump all christians in the same boat too….anyway if we happen to converse via posting i hope that i do not come across to you as condeming, judgemental etc.,,, but i have already told brock, that if the big dawgs as you say think i have ill motives then i will take my posts somewhere else….it is hard though because of my beliefs not to come across as confrontational….i actually get into trouble about that at lot at my church…  when i say something against a politician or political party there are those in my church that feel that have to let me know that i am “getting out of hand”,  or believe it or not i even face the persecution from my own “christian” friends that i take things a little too seriously…

    but i have learned some things from this site, that is my intent from being here, but sometimes can not help but speak what I believe the truth.  if i dont believe what i believe to actually be the truth, then i am a wuss anyway…

    but i will let you know that i have no aim in converting you, or anyone else.  i am actually not qualified in the area of apologetics, debate, science or history enough to compete with most of you anyway….but i do have beliefs that believe it or not that i actually live by….

  24. I’ve got some simple ideas, David. Let’s throw out your Bibles altogether. Let’s say they are very possibly works of fiction or defiled fact and only mythically relevant. Let’s admit that you won’t find enough agreement between them and by contrasting any of them to other ancient writings and modern multiple interpretations to justify calling homosexuality a perversion.

    Let’s say that homosexuality is a normal expression both in the human and animal sense. If homosexuals have always been around, and it seems they have, lets just assume it’s a natural part of life on earth. Let’s further assume there will always be more than enough breeders to continue the human race.

    Or let’s not…

    Either way, I’ll probably still say “We’re here, we’re queer, get ab-used to it”!

  25. Plato believed that right (or justice, the translation is not perfect) was that which everyone could do, and the state would be maintained. To give ground, he also could reasonably be interpreted to have written that right is a fulfillment of what one was meant to be.

    If everyone had a same sex

  26. (url=http://site.com/folder/) … (/url)

    *replace the () with []

    Or you can use the link button right above the comments box.

  27. Alas, the Link button only works in IE. Someday I’ll get around to making it work with Mozilla as well.

  28. All points well taken, nowiser. But I wasn’t arguing whether the Bible was relevant (I think we know where we all stand on that one) but I’d be glad to. I was refuting speaker’s comment NOWHERE in the Bible does it ACTUALLY, if translated correctly, condemn homosexuality, nowhere. I picked one of multiple such references. If he ever manages to defeat this one, I’ve got more, but it doesn’t look like I’ll need them.

    Nor whether homosexual relations were a benefit to society (another point I think we all know where everyone stands, and is being debated on another thread). I was answering Les’s challenge. Which I think I have successfully done. I.E. if I take the secular stance that good is that which we can all participate in and mankind will survive, wrong is that which if we all participated in it mankind would not survive, then homosexual

  29. Brock, If the Bible is a myth, how come all the cities and all the people and all their actions described in the Bible are all corroborated by every other ancient text we have? And in point of fact has more evidence to it

  30. I.E. if I take the secular stance that good is that which we can all participate in and mankind will survive, wrong is that which if we all participated in it mankind would not survive, then homosexual “marriage” is wrong.

    How did you jump from “Plato” to “secular” in one fell-swoop? Based on Plato’s definitions of right and wrong you may be correct in your reasoning, but I don’t recall where it’s said that Plato’s reasoning is the basis for all secular definitions of right and wrong.

    Brock, If the Bible is a myth, how come all the cities and all the people and all their actions described in the Bible are all corroborated by every other ancient text we have? And in point of fact has more evidence to it

  31. David,

    Thanks for the link.  I’m essentially a lazy man, and this area is certainly not my forte, but Xiridou’s abstract of her data collection techniques is available on-line, and her abstract alone raises questions—particularly since she used an outside source for data, and that source “preselected” participants on the basis that they must have had at least two partner within the prior six months.

    In other words, the reason there was a high average of non-monagamous relationships in this study is because *any monogamous relationship would have been selected OUT of the study*

    You don’t have to be a Calculus whiz to see how that will immediately skew the “promiscuity mean” upward.

    Xiridou’s work is entirely legit, but its focus is on tracking AIDS transmission vectors, not establishing social policy.  So its use in this particular debate is questionable.

  32. Damnit, I didn’t get the link button to work.

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/000763.html

    or let’s try it one more time.

    href=“http://www.amptoons.com/blog/000763.html”>

    Les, I don’t know if it makes a difference or not, but opening tag created by the link button is leaving out the last little “>” squiggle.  You have to insert it manually to make it work.

    Or my computer could just be fucking with me as a prelude to its attempt to conquer the world

  33. On a completely separate note, I don’t think you responded to my point about “rightness” in Platonic terms.  Even if you forget, for the moment, that Plato is essentially appealing to a transcendental ideal in his establishment of what is “good” (an idea that I dispute whether it comes from Plato or CS Lewis), your definition of homosexuality as being “wrong” because it doesn’t fall into the category of “that which we can all participate in, etc.” is flawed.

    Homosexuality is a personal sexual preference that does not involve non-consenting adults.

    If we all pursue “that” (our personal sexual preferences that do not involve non-consenting adults), then it does not lead to the extinction of humankind, and is, according to your definition, in line with what would be considered Platonically “good.”

  34. Firstly, I think David is fond of clouding issues with emotional and theological red herrings.

    David, I’m not ashamed of my lifestyle, nor is my lifestyle any more dangerous to society than a typical heterosexual’s. Actually I’m less promiscuous than many of my straight friends. I have no diseases or mental delusions, but your other arguments are so ragged that maybe it will help your cause to attack my personal sexuality or my safety due to it. If everybody who could procreate did, it would soon enough lead to the destruction of humankind, too. Homosexuality is simply one of several ways to avoid overpopulation of the species. Try telling a 14-year-old girl who isn

  35. Seems like every time you guys look like you might lose an argument, you employ one of the only two tricks you

  36. David, from where I’m standing you’re far from winning any argument as of yet.

    At this point in the evening, after spending too much time already responding to the foolishness that is Randall’s postings, I’m going to risk the appearance of not having a decent counter-argument by just not bothering to try and respond to yours right now. It’s just not worth it to have to repeat the same things I’ve already said in other threads.

  37. I mean, if there is no God, why waste breath on it?
    B/c you’re a troll and we just can’t help feeding you out of our generous natures.

  38. *belch* hmm… that was delicious, could you please pass the rabid secular humanism? :drunk:

    I was wrong you have a 3rd mode of defense, name calling.

  39. I was wrong you have a 3rd mode of defense, name calling.
    I said you were trolling for comments, ie, you’re a troll.  An ad-hominem attack would have been calling you a slimy, green, dull-witted galoot living under a bridge.

    And I still say the reason we “waste breath on it” is because you trolled for a response, and we took the bait.

  40. Ragman, I don’t know you at all, but I was probably using arcnet and uunet before you were born. I know what you meant when you called me a troll.

    A person that actively goes about trolling for flames is admirable? Wow, I guess my values really are passe.

  41. Yikes!

    Well, there’s so many cooks in the kitchen now that if I want to actually respond to certain quoted materials, I’d have to quote the quotes that someone else quoted.

    And that’s going to get really messy.

    But I am still interested in the semantics of an assertion that David made—that from a secular position, “that which we could all engage in, without destroying mankind” would necessarily be good.  While I thought he was grounding this in Platonic idealism, he asserts that this is not so. . .

    But my point about semantics remains valid—

    If the subject that the relative pronoun “that” is referring to is not “homosexual relations” but “gay marriage” then, yes, D could defend his argument as being logically correct.  If everyone practiced gay marriage and did not cheat on their spouse, to the exclusion of heterosexual union, yes, humanity would become extinct due to a complete failure to produce progeny.

    But this only functions by creating a rigid logical architecture—

    Using the same logical structure, we could conclude that “eradicating the [insert ethnic or religious minority here] does not threaten the existence of humanity—therefore it is good. “
    In fact, you could “plug in” all sorts of evils that would not entirely annihilate humankind, and arrive at similar results.

    It’s also possible to alter the subject that the indefinite pronoun “that” is pointing to, so that it proves that gay marriage is “good.”

    If “that” is defined as “for each individual to pursue his/her/its individual sexual proclivities—within the constraints of civil marriage—) then that does not inevitably lead to destruction of humanity (ie: heterosexual marriage is still ‘authorized’ although the logical presupposition has not been altered in any way)

    Root problem—the presupposition can be used to produce almost any “good” or “bad” result that someone wants, on the basis of how they define the relative pronoun.

    *gasp, wheeze,—can I get a glass of water, please?—*

    On a final note—I will never become involved in disputes about Biblical interpretation.  The Bible is a *text*, and if all the poststructuralist and Derridean gobbledygook I’ve had to read has taught me anything, it’s that texts (and language itself) has—sliding—meaning.  It’s never fixed.  On top of that, I don’t know a lick of Greek or Hebrew, my OE is rusty, and my Latin is basic.

    Nor am I anywhere near as qualified to discuss any of these issues as anyone who has ever been a practicing (ie: Bible reading) Christian—I’ve read the Bible, but I read it the same way as I read the Tain: as primarily a mythical work that *might* be loosely based on real events, but could just as plausibly be invented out of whole cloth.

    And now I really am done—ten papers to grade, spreadsheets to construct, and midterm grades to submit before 5 oclock.

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