Repelling an Alien Idea: Marriage, Life and ‘Gender’ Aren’t Really Real

By Tom Gilson Published on May 17, 2017

There’s an old science fiction short story that begins when a human lands on an alien planet and meets an obviously intelligent life form. He points at a rock and says “Rock.” The alien looks at the man, then at the rock; the man points and repeats, “Rock.”

At this point the author tells us what the alien is thinking:

This creature must not be intelligent. He gave it the same name twice. He thinks it’s still the same thing! If he knew anything, he would have recognized how many changes it’s gone through: all its constant subatomic internal changes, and that’s been altered through the heat and chemicals and radiation around it. This stupid creature thinks what was ‘rock’ before is still ‘rock’ now. He’s too dull to notice the differences.

This is an unintelligent life form. Therefore I shall eat it.

Now, I probably got some things wrong in that story. I don’t remember who wrote it, since it’s been at least forty years since I read it. (Maybe someone will recognize it and tell me where to find it again.) It contains a whopper of a logical fallacy,* which might bother you if you caught it, but doesn’t matter. I’m only using it to illustrate a lesson — one that helps explain how a once-familiar world has turned so dramatically alien in the last few decades.

An Alien Idea Taking Root

The fact is we’ve allowed an alien idea to take root among us: that things aren’t what they are; they’re always too busy becoming something else.

For example: marriage isn’t what marriage is. Marriage is one thing today, something different tomorrow and even something else across the state line. Sex isn’t what sex is; it’s “gender,” and gender can be “fluid.” Morality isn’t what it is, it’s whatever people think it should be — which evolves from day to day and is never the same from country to country. Humanness isn’t real, at least as far as the unborn humans are; what matters instead is some abstract idea of “personhood” that magically changes from week to week.

This way of thinking is called “progressive.” Just as the alien thought it was more intelligent than the human, progressives think they’re smarter than conservatives. Here’s the huge problem with that, though: the alien doesn’t know what a rock is. It doesn’t even have a word for it.

We’ve allowed an alien idea to take root among us: that things aren’t what they are; they’re always too busy becoming something else.

Rocks Are Real

That’s a real problem for the alien. Rocks are real. Their reality consists in more than the sum of their protons, neutrons and electrons. Rocks have an enduring, continuing reality of rock-ness to them, despite all the changes going on inside every second. That reality lasts a very long time for rocks, until erosion finally grinds them down to sand.

Granted, there are some philosophers who wonder esoterically if rocks are technically “real.” Even those thinkers’ problems with the reality of rock-ness, though, don’t go so far as denying use the same word for rocks from one moment to the next. And they will agree that rocks are rocks, and that they stay that way (as I’ve already said) for a very long time.

Marriage is Real

Marriage stayed what it was for a very long time, too, until there came a moment in the dark, distant past — almost ten or twenty years ago, if you can imagine that! — when some thought it was time for it to change. Marriage was, well, marriage. Its meaning had been dinged in the late 20th century by the sexual revolution and damaged even more by no-fault divorce, but it still was what it was: the committed union of a man and woman.

Marriage was real. Just as a rock has real rock-ness to it, marriage had a real marriage-ness to it; and any union that didn’t have that marriage-ness couldn’t be called marriage. Now we can call anything marriage. We’re as confused on marriage as the alien was on “rock.”

Human Life Is Real

Human life used to be what human life was, too. To be human is a real thing, or so we once thought. It was easily definable — even for the youngest unborn child — in terms of parental lineage, genetic structure and so on.

But progressives prefer to kick humanness off the table. They want the abortion debate to be about “personhood.” Personhood for them isn’t a matter of being but of somehow becoming. It’s an abstract quality that a fetus gradually acquires along the way — and who knows when it’s really real? Maybe (per Peter Singer) it isn’t even real until sometime after the child is born. So whatever that thing is inside the womb, until some magic event happens to finally make it a “person,” it’s an it, and it’s okay to kill it.

Progressives Have Lost Track of What’s Real

Abortion wouldn’t even be a debate if we could focus on what’s solid and real: the unborn child’s humanness. Obviously, though, progressives have a stake in keeping our eyes on this wispy, changing, indefinable concept of personhood. Just as the alien doesn’t know what a rock is, they’ve lost all knowledge of what a human is. They’ve lost track of what’s real.

I could say similar things about “gender fluidity,” but what I’d have to say about that would be too obvious to spend time on. You can see for yourself how it would go: we know sex well enough when we see it in bonobos and bumblebees, but we don’t even think it’s real in humans. At least that’s the progressive viewpoint; and like the alien, they think they’re more intelligent for thinking that way.

But also like the alien, progressives are confused and stunted in their knowledge. The alien may not know what a rock is, but rocks are still real.

*The fallacy, in case you really want to know: the alien sees the human as one thing all the way through, even though it denies the rock is one thing from moment to moment. As I said, though, it doesn’t really matter to my purpose for using the story.

 

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

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  • Gary

    There is one thing liberals/progressives think is absolute and never changing: the rightness of whatever opinions they hold at the moment.

  • Autrey Windle

    Marriage is so real that the unmarriagables want desperately to have it for themselves. One sex is so jealous of another sex that they wish to take the other sex away by simply denying it’s fact. This is the case with all these nut-cases (yes, I called them all nut-cases because a truly descriptive name should not be considered an insult, yet another example of the reality benders M.O.) who assume that because they say it is not a rock it will make it true. I blame Wasserman-Schultz since she is my earliest recollection of seeing a considered sane person constantly lying in interviews when she was confronted with undeniable facts. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears the first time I heard her interviewed under these circumstances. Now she has nearly an entire generation of the same sort of bold-faced-lie deniers. I knew the world would go crazy before the second coming, but I wasn’t expecting this!

  • GPS Daddy

    Who are we as humans? Do we create our own identity? What does it mean to be alive? What does death mean? Why is there pain and suffering? Can any answer to these questions be right? What is someone believes that the physical world is all that exists and then another person believes that their is not a physical world, everything is an illusion? Maybe there is a non-physical reality and a physical reality? How do these idea play into how people approach life?

    Another question is, is there objective truth? An objective truth is a truth regardless if anyone believes in it or not.
    Can this statement be true? “there is no objective truth”
    The only way for this statement to be true is it to be objectively true. It cannot be true for some and false for others. Therefore, there must be objective truth.

  • Timothy Horton

    Marriage stayed what it was for a very long time, too, until there came a moment in the dark, distant past — almost ten or twenty years ago, if you can imagine that! — when some thought it was time for it to change

    It’s rather amusing, the childlike naiveté of the OP author in describing how he wished things were instead of how they actually were. That or as usual he was too lazy to research before speaking. The simple truth is marriage as an institution has changed drastically and often in the last 2500 years.

    1. Arranged alliances

    Marriage is a truly ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter. In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds.

    2. Family ties

    Keeping alliances within the family was also quite common. In the Bible, the forefathers Isaac and Jacob married cousins and Abraham married his half-sister. Cousin marriages remain common throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. In fact, Rutgers anthropologist Robin Fox has estimated that the majority of all marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins.

    3. Polygamy preferred

    Monogamy may seem central to marriage now, but in fact, polygamy was common throughout history. From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, Biblical men often had anywhere from two to thousands of wives. (Of course, though polygamy may have been an ideal that high-status men aspired to, for purely mathematical reasons most men likely had at most one wife). In a few cultures, one woman married multiple men, and there have even been some rare instances of group marriages.

    4. Babies optional

    In many early cultures, men could dissolve a marriage or take another wife if a woman was infertile. However, the early Christian church was a trailblazer in arguing that marriage was not contingent on producing offspring. The early Christian church held the position that if you can procreate you must not refuse to procreate. But they always took the position that they would annul a marriage if a man could not have sex with his wife, but not if they could not conceive.

    5. Monogamy established

    Monogamy became the guiding principle for Western marriages sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries. There was a protracted battle between the Catholic Church and the old nobility and kings who wanted to say ‘I can take a second wife,’. The Church eventually prevailed, with monogamy becoming central to the notion of marriage by the ninth century.

    6. Monogamy lite

    Still, monogamous marriage was very different from the modern conception of mutual fidelity. Though marriage was legally or sacramentally recognized between just one man and one woman, until the 19th century, men had wide latitude to engage in extramarital affairs. Any children resulting from those trysts, however, would be illegitimate, with no claim to the man’s inheritance. Men’s promiscuity was quite protected by the dual laws of legal monogamy but tolerance basically enabling of informal promiscuity. Women caught stepping out, by contrast, faced serious risk and censure.

    7. State or church?

    Marriages in the West were originally contracts between the families of two partners, with the Catholic Church and the state staying out of it. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post banns, or notices of an impending marriage in a local parish, to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages (the Church eliminated that requirement in the 1980s). Still, until the 1500s, the Church accepted a couple’s word that they had exchanged marriage vows, with no witnesses or corroborating evidence needed.

    8. Civil marriage

    In the last several hundred years, the state has played a greater role in marriage. For instance, Massachusetts began requiring marriage licenses in 1639, and by the 19th-century marriage licenses were common in the United States.

    9. Love matches

    By about 250 years ago, the notion of love matches gained traction meaning marriage was based on love and possibly sexual desire. But mutual attraction in marriage wasn’t important until about a century ago. In fact, in Victorian England, many held that women didn’t have strong sexual urges at all.

    10. Market economics

    Around the world, family-arranged alliances have gradually given way to love matches, and a transition from an agricultural to a market economy plays a big role in that transition. Parents historically controlled access to inheritance of agricultural land. But with the spread of a market economy it was less important for people to have permission of their parents to wait to give them an inheritance or to work on their parents’ land. It was then more possible for young people to say, ‘heck, I’m going to marry who I want.'” Modern markets also allow women to play a greater economic role, which lead to their greater independence. And the expansion of democracy, with its emphasis on liberty and individual choice, may also have stacked the deck for love matches.

    11. Different spheres

    Still, marriage wasn’t about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage. For instance, in the United States, marital rape was legal in many states until the 1970s, and women often could not open credit cards in their own names. Women were entitled to support from their husbands, but didn’t have the right to decide on the distribution of community property. And if a wife was injured or killed, a man could sue the responsible party for depriving him of “services around the home,” whereas women didn’t have the same option.

    12. Partnership of equals

    By about 50 years ago, the notion that men and women had identical obligations within marriage began to take root. Instead of being about unique, gender-based roles, most partners conceived of their unions in terms of flexible divisions of labor, companionship, and mutual sexual attraction.

    Excerpts from “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage” by author Stephanie Coontz.

    • Patmos

      And even with all that, homosexuality is still an abomination.

    • Gary

      There is no marriage without both a husband and a wife. A husband is a man and a wife is a woman. Those things are still true, even if the government disagrees.

      • Timothy Horton

        What about the arranged child marriages with kids as young as 5YO the church allowed in the past? Let me guess, those weren’t “real” marriages, right?

        • Gary

          What church do you mean? The churches I have attended didn’t endorse the marriage of children. They believed marriage is for adults.

    • I’ve addressed all that elsewhere, in a book, Critical Conversations, and on my Thinking Christian blog. With considerable research, I might add. I only had so much space available here.

      The things Timothy mentions here are well known among marriage advocates. Take polygamy as one example (one that has often been thought to be a difficult one). Yes, it looks different from marriage as most Westerners have practiced it of late, but still with only very rare exceptions it has always been man-woman marriage. The man has plural wives; the women have none: they are married only to the man, not to each other.

      I could say more, but again space here is limited.

      • Timothy Horton

        So you knew marriage has changed many times, often drastically, over the last 2000 years but chose to make the false claim it’s only changed in the last 20 years anyway. Isn’t there a Commandment against that sort of bearing false witness?

        • There was no lie involved. I agreed that certain aspects of it have changed, but not its most fundamental reality.

          And really, Timothy, these gratuitous character attacks aren’t doing your position here the least good. They reveal more about your own character than me or anyone else’s. For the sake of advancing debate and discussion more productively, I’m asking you to stop it.

          • Timothy Horton

            Who appointed you the judge to decide which aspects of marriage are fundamental, which aren’t, and which should or should not be subject to change?

          • I make no claim of special appointment. I have taken a position (and I have made supporting arguments elsewhere) on what has been considered fundamental throughout history until very, very recently, and based on what we all can observe about that history.

          • Timothy Horton

            But it wasn’t considered fundamental in many times and in many societies. That’s the fact you keep avoiding. You cherry pick to support your argument which is not intellectually honest.

          • Actually, Timothy, there is no major culture in all of world history in which man-to-woman wasn’t considered fundamental to marriage. That’s not cherry-picking at all.

          • Bryan

            Tim, you’ve missed the forest for the trees. The mechanics of how people get married (for love or for alliances) or how many people they marry (one or many) have changed, as you’ve noted in your post with support from the book you mentioned. However, as others have said and as stated in the article, the character of marriage has not changed, until recently. That is, that it’s a union of a male and a female. You can say the the Church, Christians, humanity even have gotten many things wrong or right over the centuries in regards to marriage, it’s purpose, mechanics, etc. but in spite of these changes, it’s character had not changed.

          • Timothy Horton

            Yes it has. There have been many societies who accepted polygamy and even same sex marriages in the past. As noted in the history of marriage I provided it’s only recently the concept of marrying one person for love has become the norm. There’s no valid reason that has to be limited to hetero couples only.

          • Bryan

            I think you’re too busy responding to others to read my comment thoroughly. I agree that societies have accepted polygamy, marrying cousins, marriage for political reasons, etc. and I stated that that fact did not alter the character of marriage being between male and female. As Mr. Gilson said in a separate comment, in most of those cases a man married multiple wives but the wives were not wedded to each other (paraphrase).
            Concerning same-sex marriage, I don’t know of a society that accepted a same-sex marriage as a norm. Homosexual practice? Absolutely (Rome comes to mind off the top of my head), but that was not called a marriage. If you know of a society that accepted same-sex marriage in the way we are being asked to accept same-sex marriage today, please let me know.
            You contend that “there’s no valid reason that [marriage] has to be limited to hetero couples only”. While I don’t believe or agree with that statement, let’s leave it alone momentarily. If there is no valid reason, why is it that same-sex marriage has only recently become an issue? Over the centuries, there have been many cultures and societies that have held varying opinions on a variety of issues. How is it that this hasn’t come up before (at least not to my limited knowledge)? Are we so enlightened beyond those more primitive men? If so, then enlightened man is also more arrogant than his more primitive counterpart as well. If not, then there must be some valid reason to not find same-sex marriage normal that is not being considered now or is being overruled now.

          • Timothy Horton

            If there is no valid reason, why is it that same-sex marriage has only recently become an issue?

            Because it’s only recently the concept of love being the primary reason for marriage (as opposed to procreation or political power) has become the norm for our society.

            Are we so enlightened beyond those more primitive men?

            Scientifically yes we are. We now know that non-hetero sexual orientation is a normally occurring and harmless variation in human sexuality and that no one consciously chooses their sexual orientation. Those two scientific facts were not know to previous societies.

            Given what we know now and our society’s acceptance of marriage for love first there’s no valid reason marriage has to be limited to hetero couples only.

          • The idea that love is the primary reason for marriage is indeed relatively new. Until contraception was made readily available, it couldn’t be just “you and me, babe.” Married couples knew there was very likely to be a family in their future, and they had to plan for it right from the very beginning.

            Much heterosexual marrriage lately has been “just you and me, babe.” Gay marriage generally is, too. I’ll admit: if that’s what marriage is, then gays should be allowed to marry (from a strictly secular point of view, that is.)

            The funny thing is, none of the gay marriage proponents I’ve interacted with over the years, including here, will commit to marriage having any enduring reality. They can’t say “that’s what marriage is,” because for them, marriage has no “is-ness” to it. Marriage for them is only what people think it is for now. That’s part of the point of my article here. Without a conception of what marriage is, there’s no way to say we’ve got it wrong.

            Even the view that marriage is what the law says it is has serious weaknesses. When the law didn’t say what it says now, there was nothing there for gay marriage advocates to rely on. They could only opine on what marriage should be — but they had no foundation in reality for that, only in preference.

            I think there are good arguments to be made that it’s far better, both for couples and for communities, and especially for children, that marriage be more than “you and me, babe.” It turns a couple’s eyes outward from themselves. It builds individuals, couples, children, and communities. It builds a future.

            “Just you and me, babe” marriage, whether straight or gay, undermines all that by failing to build a culture to support the difficult but rewarding challenge of living in a true family connected marriage.

          • Timothy Horton

            “Just you and me, babe” marriage, whether straight or gay, undermines all that by failing to build a culture to support the difficult but rewarding challenge of living in a true family connected marriage.

            That’s your personal opinion completely unsupported by any factual data.

          • The data exist. But I told you above I’m not interested in posting information when your prior declared intent is to laugh at it.

            You will undoubtedly tell me the reason is because I don’t have the data. I’ll save you the time; there’s your answer written out for you already. Other readers, meanwhile, are invited to look at what I’ve said rather than at anyone’s psychologizing. They’re welcome to draw their own conclusions.

          • Timothy Horton

            The data exist. But I told you above I’m not interested in posting information when your prior declared intent is to laugh at it.

            Shorter Tom: “The dog ate my homework!” 😀

            Other readers, meanwhile, are invited to look at what I’ve said

            They sure can’t look at any actual data or evidence you’ve presented. 🙂

          • They’re welcome to ask for it if they’re interested.

          • Timothy Horton

            If anyone is interested, here are some of the dumber “secular” arguments against SSM as well as the refutations.

            1. Legalizing SSM will will somehow destroy the “six tenatnts” of hetero marriage. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. Frankly a ridiculous claim as someone’s SSM will have exactly zero effect on someone else’s hetero marriage.

            2. It would “enshrine in law” the idea of a sexual revolution. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. All it would enshrine in law is equal civil rights for all citizens, something which studies show is good for society.

            3. It would “enshrine in law” the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. Very few people including LGBT folks marry just for sex and allowing SSM wouldn’t affect hetero sexual relations one iota.

            4. It will curtail deep friendships between members of the same sex. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. Another one that is frankly ridiculous. People will stop having same sex friends because they’re afraid of being hit on? That deserves an eyeroll.

            5. It leaves us with no grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. The “slippery slope” argument has been beaten into a fine pink mist too many times to count.

            6. The legalization of homosexual pseudogamy seals us in a culture of divorce. Empty assertion completely unsupported by any research or studies. There is no evidence anywhere legalizing SSM will have any effect on the hetero divorce rate.

            7. It spells disaster for children. Empty assertion directly refuted by research and studies. By far the most important thing in a child’s development is to be raised in a loving, supportive environment. There are no legitimate scientific studies indicating children of same sex foster partents do any worse than those of foster hetero parents and some evidence the SSM adopted children do better.

          • Thanks for sharing your arguments. (Some of which you’ve listed under titles reminiscent of some of mine,)

            If anyone cares to know my arguments, they’re still welcome to ask.

          • Timothy Horton

            They’re not my arguments against SSM, they’re some really stupid ones some clueless religious fanatic posted on his blog.

  • James

    Sex is a biological reality; Gender is a social construct. While all cultures have gender norms, very few behaviors in modern society that universally sex-linked across cultures. Those that are sex-linked across cultures are directly related to biological differences between men and women, specifically, occupations where higher testosterone levels are helpful vs. occupations where higher testosterone levels are a burden.

    The current “progressive” thought is that sex doesn’t matter, only gender, and that there must be enough genders for each individual to have his/her/xer/zis own individual social norms and that everyone has the right to craft their own body to match their own social norms. The Jacobins who believed in sex equality and gender neutrality are now Enemies of the Revolution and are being led to the guillotine by the more “progressive”.

  • James

    If “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, why is the word “marriage” any different?

    The idea that the word “marriage” has an inherent meaning is not a strong argument, especially if you also believe there are significant differences between a civil marriage and Holy Matrimony. Either a civil marriage is a matter of the state or it is a instituted by God. You can’t have it both ways.

    The issue is simple and straightforward: Should same-sex couples be able to get a legal recognition of their partnership? Why or why not?

    Arguing over definitions is a distraction seems like an attempt to change the subject from a “why not” argument that doesn’t go beyond Leviticus and Romans.

    • Gary

      Marriage has a specific meaning given to it by God.. The US courts have tried to change that meaning. They lack the authority to do that. I refuse to recognize the change they have tried to implement. But I don’t expect the government to change its mind.

      • A rose by any other name smells as sweet because it’s still what it is. Roses are real, too.

        • James

          The union of one man and one woman for life for the purpose of children and the family is what it is no matter what it is called. (Note that the law does not say that this is not marriage.)

          The union of two people of any sex for as long as they both want for whatever purposes they want is what it is no matter what it is called.

          The real question, as I see it, is that some people believe that same-sex unions are inherently harmful and should not be accepted by society, while other people believe that same-sex unions are a positive good and should be accepted by society, like opposite sex unions already are.

          Unfortunately, this important social debate has been projected onto the far less relevant question of whether the legal institution known as “civil marriage” should be open to same-sex couples. To say that same-sex couples should not have legal rights, such as inheritance rights and next of kin rights is, in my opinion, both paternalistic and authoritarian. There is no permissible government interest that is protected by denying these couples these rights.

          Conversely, churches have their own theology of marriage and that should be respected as well.

          • Gary

            I think one can make a legal document that would give their possessions to whoever they want, and they could also grant power of attorney to whoever they want. It isn’t necessary to be “married” to accomplish those things. Homosexuals want to “marry” because they are trying to legitimize their behavior and their relationship.

          • James

            I think they also want to save on the cost of a lawyer drafting a series of ad hoc documents when an existing legal framework will suit their needs for a fraction of the cost.

          • Gary

            They can do the documents themselves. Just have them notarized. Its cheaper than a marriage license.

          • James

            A marriage license in my county is $35. That’s pretty cheap.

          • Gary

            Notary fees run about $5 where I live.

          • James

            So you want same-sex couples to navigate the legal system to find the right documents, fill them out, notarize them, file them properly, even though a marriage license would give them exactly what they want, just so that you can say that the law agrees with your definition of the word “marriage”???

          • Gary

            Yes. But they aren’t getting “married” for the reasons you say. They are getting “married” to try to make people think their relationship is legitimate, when it isn’t.

          • James

            How do you know? Have you met every married same-sex couple?

          • Gary

            I read what they say on the net. Unless I am protesting somewhere, I try to stay away from sodomites.

          • Bryan

            James, in terms of inheritance rights, etc. just because someone is married doesn’t mean they automatically get inheritance, etc. Estate law depends on the jurisdiction and may or may not coincide with marriage laws in the same jurisdiction.
            Beyond that, however, there was in place before the Obergefell decision, a series of ways for same-sex couple to get most of the benefits you described that are conferred upon couples whose marriage is recognized by the state. Common law marriage and civil unions existed before Obergefell and conveyed most of the benefits. It would have been simpler to amend those laws to include same-sex couples. Yet that did not stop the organization from pushing for “marriage” specifically. While I understand your position and agree with it to an extent, those inside do not, despite what they may say, have the same goals.
            Lastly, to your comments about language. I tend toward the beliefs of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien that there is something about language that gives credit to the inherent meaning of words. I do not believe you can say of certain words, that it’s just a word with no meaning or it’s meaning can be whatever you want it to be. Marriage is probably one of those words. Lewis does a better job of describing it in his Space Trilogy than I can do justice. He uses the terms masculinity and femininity and discusses why certain words in other Romance Languages have masculine or feminine modifiers (?) attached to them because they are inherently masculine or feminine. It’s an innate quality of the thing being described and, therefore, of the word itself. We seem to have lost some of that in our increasingly informal Americanized English.

          • James

            Both civil unions and common law marriage existed in only a few states.

            I am aware of what the goal of some gay activists is, however, gay marriage opponents could not have played the role of the unreasonable cartoon villain any better than they did.

            Had people been OK with civil unions 20 years ago, the issue would have been forgotten. But it’s too late for that now.

          • Gary

            I disagree. The main thing the homosexuals are after is validation. They want society to think of them as no different than heterosexuals. They want moral equality. They would never be satisfied with civil unions unless that was what heterosexuals had. As long as marriage was available to heterosexuals, the homosexuals were never going to agree to civil unions.

          • James

            And gay marriage opponents unwittingly did as much as they could to help this cause by playing the perfect villain.

          • Bryan

            James, you’re correct that it was only available in some states. This raises another issue and it’s the same issue that abortion raises because of how it was decided: The issue of state’s rights and should the federal courts have decided both the abortion issue and the gay marriage issue or should it have been left to the states.
            In an earlier comment you said that in our system of government, the courts have authority to decide this issue. I respectfully disagree. The courts have obviously assumed that responsibility but it was originally intended for the legislature to be the body that created laws. The purpose of the courts is to determine if the laws are in accordance with the Constitution. They are to interpret the laws created by the legislature not create laws themselves.That We the People continue to allow them to do so, speaks as much against us as the courts.
            To the rest of your comment, I agree that people on both sides have continued to escalate this to the level it is now. I also think it was inevitable that it would reach this stage in a world where we value, and are entertained by, extremes rather than common sense.
            On the opposition side, you have the extreme view that any debauchery should be opposed to the fullest extent possible (until you’re own debauchery is exposed). In general this seems to apply especially to sexual sins more than anything else.
            On the activist side, I think Gary (below) is right, to an extent. In general, activists are looking for validation that their lifestyle is ok. That suggests that there is something intrinsic that says it’s not ok in addition to the extrinsic messages they hear on both sides. Saying that they are in need of validation sounds like we are saying they are weak or their cause is not deeply felt and so there is opposition to that position. However I don’t believe that to be the case either. It is a deeply held belief. But it’s also a deep seeded need for approval from one’s peers that has allow society to continue. It’s no different from the deep seeded need for approval others feel that may be expressed in other ways (needing to have certain clothes or look a certain way or make a certain amount of money or have a certain type of lifestyle).
            Lastly, and I come full circle back to you opening comment: It’s stated that certain privileges are only available in certain places as if that in itself is a crime. That is simply not true. We have the freedom to live and work and play when and where we choose (within certain loose boundaries). To say that if something is available in one place but not another is unfair (or to imply it in this case), says by implication that we are not free to move as we please. Again, this is not true. I am not suggesting that just because it is possible, that it is necessarily easy. Many times making a personal change to one’s life is fraught with difficulty and setbacks. But it is possible.
            So to tie it to this instance, 20 years ago when civil unions were only available in certain places, people had the option to move to those locations. Yes, many would have to find new jobs, new housing, new friends perhaps, etc. but they were free to do that. Or they were free to petition their local government to make those same privileges available in their locale. Not as dramatic perhaps but within the existing framework where both sides could peacefully coexist with less open hostility on both sides.

      • Sorry — I put my roses reply under the wrong comment.

      • James

        Under our Constitution, the US courts had the authority to do what they did. If you don’t agree with it, convince your fellow citizens and change the law. The Constitution allows for this too. Your only problem is that your fellow citizens are not convinced.

        You seem to be endorsing a theocracy, which is a far more radical change than allowing same-sex couples to get a marriage license.

        • Gary

          I’m endorsing morality. Homosexuality and “same-sex marriage” are immoral. The Constitution does not give the courts the authority to do whatever they please. The courts act as a dictator, but that is not the role given to them by the Constitution.

          • James

            If two gay people love each other and want to be a couple, what harm does it do to you?

          • Gary

            Just don’t call it marriage, because it isn’t that.

          • Timothy Horton

            You own the copyright on the term “marriage” now? When did that happen?

          • Gary

            God owns it.

          • Timothy Horton

            Show me the deed of ownership.

          • Gary

            You’ve already rejected it, so why show it to you.

          • Timothy Horton

            No one appointed you the one to determine morality. No, “the Bible says so” isn’t sufficient justification for discrimination and denial of equal civil rights under secular law.

          • Gary

            You have read enough of my comments to know that I believe God alone determines morality. And yes, “the Bible says so” is very sufficient justification for anything the Bible says. God discriminates against homosexuals, and their supporters, and I am happy to do the same.

          • Timothy Horton

            You have read enough to know your personal Bible based opinion isn’t sufficient reason to deny equal civil rights under secular law.

          • Gary

            Of course it is.

          • Timothy Horton

            Not in the U.S., only in your little fantasy world.

          • Gary

            People do what they want. But they can’t avoid the consequences of what they do.

        • James, answers like Gary’s and mine are exactly what you’ve asked for: seeking to persuade and convince. It’s part of the process of overturning a law that the Court had authority to make (I won’t go into constitutional questions about that here), but which we consider bad law, and to which we are raising objections that we hope will be persuasive.

          There’s no theocracy here; we’re proceeding in a completely democratic manner, seeking to persuade enough people to overturn this bad law.

          • Timothy Horton

            Then you need to come with some rational, supported with evidence reasons for denying equal civil rights to same sex couples in civil marriage. Not the raging hair-on-fire emotional appeals that the anti-gay faction depends on.

            “My Bible says gays are immoral” isn’t a sufficient secular reason.
            “We did it this way in the past” isn’t a sufficient secular reason.
            “I personally think it’s icky” isn’t a sufficient secular reason.

            Those nonsense reasons you came up with before, based on your misunderstandings and misrepresentations of reality couldn’t withstand the slightest bit of critical analysis.

          • Gary

            You want people to live by YOUR version of morality. I won’t do it.

          • Timothy Horton

            Fine by me. If you don’t approve of SSM, don’t have one. But your narrow-minded prejudices don’t get to stop others who do believe in marriage equality for all.

          • Gary

            People do things I don’t agree with. That does not mean I have to accept what they do, or consider what they do to be valid.

          • Timothy Horton

            No one cares whether you personally accept SSM or not.

          • Gary

            Not true. It really bugs you that I won’t accept ssm.

          • Jennifer Hartline

            You believe marriage is a civil right that any pair or group of persons have the right to enjoy. But I believe that premise is faulty from the get-go. Marriage can only be entered into by a man and a woman, because marriage IS the conjugal union of husband and wife. Romantic partnerships of other varieties do not constitute marriage. It’s not about denying anyone a civil right. It’s about recognizing the unchangeable nature of marriage. It simply it what it is, and therefore only a man and woman can live it.
            You can try all day long to make green with two shades of yellow, but it won’t work. The nature of green demands blue and yellow. The nature of marriage, it’s ontology, demands man and woman together.

          • Those aren’t our secular reasons, Timothy.

          • Timothy Horton

            Then post that list of laughably inept “secular” reasons you offered up before and I’ll show again why they’re both wrong and insufficient for denial of equal civil rights for the non-hetero minority.

          • Timothy, this business of “laughably inept” — when you haven’t seen them — is clear evidence of confirmation bias on your part. And it’s rude. You want to laugh, and that’s the reason you want to see my reasons. I’m not passing them along to you on that basis.

          • Timothy Horton

            I have seen them. A few months ago you posted a link to your blog where I read through the whole list. I posted a long rebuttal which stayed on Stream for half a day before it was mysteriously deleted with zero attribution.

            I don’t blame you for being too embarrassed to post them here or post the link again.

          • Not embarrassed. I gave you my reason for not sharing further at this point. You can draw your conclusions, as I know you will, and other readers can draw theirs.

    • Jennifer Hartline

      James, marriage indeed has an unchangeable nature. It is the conjugal union of husband and wife. Two people of the same sex cannot make a marriage because they are physically incapable of conjugal union. God created male and female FOR each other; for the purpose of children and the human family.
      If you’re truly interested, I would recommend Ryan Anderson’s book on the subject, What Is Marriage?, where he addresses in depth why the government has no obligation to “recognize” the “partnerships” of any group of adults; yet why the government has a vested interested in marriage. In short, it’s about the children. It’s about the common good.

      • James

        I am familiar with the Anderson argument, but I find it unconvincing, as have the courts.

        The great flaw in Anderson’s argument is the equivocation between civil marriage and Anderson’s idealized view of what marriage should be. Civil marriage should not be confused with Holy Matrimony, yet same sex marriage opponents muddy these waters all the time. Civil marriage starts in a courthouse and can end in a courthouse. The link between civil marriage as it is to children is highly tenuous at best. Civil marriage has little to do with children. Maybe you think it should, but it doesn’t.

        Even if the government has no obligation to recognize domestic partnerships, there is no harm in doing so. In the long run, I believe the issue is much ado about nothing because relatively few people are in same sex relationships and relatively few of those are interested in marriage. But those who are benefit significantly.

        Finally, same sex marriage opponents fail to acknowledge the harm caused when gay people do enter a heterosexual marriage to fit in, have children, then either leave the marriage or have gay affairs. From a Catholic perspective, these marriages almost certainly would be invalid. Why encourage more of this?

        • Gary

          The government should not call something a marriage unless it really is. If the government wants to legalize an arrangement between people, let them call it by another name. Of course the homosexuals and their supporters would never agree to that because they want to legitimize homosexual arrangements by equating them to marriage.

          • Timothy Horton

            SSM is a legal marriage. If you don’t like the technical term, too bad.

          • Gary

            The government might consider it to be marriage, but I don’t. And God doesn’t. The government will have to answer to God for its sins.

          • Timothy Horton

            What you personally think doesn’t matter to the law.

          • Gary

            That may be true.

          • James

            Do you believe that words have inherent meanings or that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”?

          • Gary

            Words have inherent meanings. Especially if those words were defined by God.

          • James

            I disagree on both. It is not the name of the rose that is special, but its characteristics.

          • Gary

            When the word “marriage” is used, I, and many others, automatically think of the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. I never include the idea of two men being married because that would not be a marriage.

          • James

            In the context of civil marriage, I think of a legal partnership. That’s it.

            Going down to the courthouse doesn’t make you married in the eyes of God.

          • Gary

            I no longer recognize the authority of the government to grant marriage licenses. By legalizing ssm, the gov. has proven it is incapable of having such authority. I understand that the gov. is going to keep doing it, but I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of their decisions.

        • Jennifer Hartline

          Define for me, in your own words, what is marriage?

          • James

            In the context of the legal argument, marriage is the legal recognition of the domestic partnership of individuals.

          • Jennifer Hartline

            That’s not a definition. What IS marriage?
            And let’s take what you said further: how many individuals? Who decides how many? What kind of individuals, and who decides? On what basis do they decide? What’s the criteria?
            What constitutes a domestic partnership?

          • James

            Marriage, in the context of the law, is whatever the law defines it to be. In the church, it may be defined differently. The word “marriage” by itself without context has no inherent meaning, certainly not one given by God.

            A man can divorce is spouse and marry his mistress before the ink dries on the divorce decree under the law, but not in many churches. No minister should be forced to perform such a marriage or recognize it in their church.

            All the subsequent questions are answered by the institution defining marriage. In the case of civil marriage, this is the state, under the appropriate laws of the country. In the case of a religious marriage, it is the church. I strongly oppose the state defining marriage in the church.

            For historical reasons, marriage has been the union of two people under the law. The legal needs of a same sex couple and an infertile heterosexual couple are negligible, so civil marriage is a good legal instrument for same sex couples who want those same rights. Changing the number of people in a marriage would require a new body of law.

        • eddiestardust

          Same sex marriage did not create human civilization.

          • James

            Nor will it end it.

  • GPS Daddy

    Marriage is founded in the created order. Man has done many thigs to marriage over the years but this truth remains:

    The male and female are designed for each other sexually. Their parts fit together AND they have a purpose beyond pleasure that is critical to the health of humanity.

    Child bearing and rearing takes massive amounts of energy and commitment. Yet, a living must be provided. The male is designed in his body to do heavier work than the female. While the female is rearing the children the male provides. He supports her in this.

    Children have a right to be raised by their birth mother and father.

    The basis of marriage.

  • eddiestardust

    The True Progressives are Roman Catholic…OUR church gave birth to Western Civilization!

  • eddiestardust

    Why then do we have male and female plugs? Sure there might be good reason to have an electrical cord that might have 2 male or 2 female plugs BUT usually you need one of each!

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