Tough Questions Answered

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What Are the Two Competing Views of Marriage?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Marriage traditionalists hold what might be called the conjugal view of marriage. As explained by Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis in their seminal paper on marriage, the conjugal view defines marriage as the

union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts—acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.

Proponents of same-sex marriage reject the traditional, or conjugal, view of marriage. George, Anderson, and Girgis refer to the non-traditional view of marriage as the revisionist view. How does the revisionist view define marriage?

Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.

Is the conjugal view simply based on religious traditions? I am often told this is the case by commenters on this blog. George, Anderson, and Girgis rightly reject this assertion.

It has sometimes been suggested that the conjugal understanding of marriage is based only on religious beliefs. This is false. Although the world’s major religious traditions have historically understood marriage as a union of man and woman that is by nature apt for procreation and child-rearing, this suggests merely that no one religion invented marriage. Instead, the demands of our common human nature have shaped (however imperfectly) all of our religious traditions to recognize this natural institution. As such, marriage is the type of social practice whose basic contours can be discerned by our common human reason, whatever our religious background.

Whenever I read someone who defines marriage in terms of the revisionist view, I immediately know that they have little to no understanding of why the institution of marriage ever became an institution in the first place.

Using G. K. Chesterton’s idea, they can’t tell me why the “fence” of marriage was built in the first place. They simply look at the fence and decide that it should be taken down to advance their particular agenda. The original purpose for why the fence was put there simply doesn’t matter to them. In fact, they are shocked that anyone is even bothering to guard the fence any more.


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Comments

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure”

    Then why is there no fertility test from marriage? Why do we let post-monopausal women marry? Are you sure it’s just about child-rearing?

    That aside, your argument rests on the idea that the conjugal view is the traditional one. Where’s your evidence for that? For millennia marriage was also seen as a financial contract or a political tool.

    “In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs. Even in the lower classes, women had little say over whom they married.”

    The mention there of legitimate heirs ties in with your argument, but also included in that tradition is a lack of choice among women over who they marry. Is THAT something you want to return to?

    “Whenever people talk about traditional marriage or traditional families, historians throw up their hands,” said Steven Mintz, a history professor at Columbia University. “We say, ‘When and where?’” The ancient Hebrews, for instance, engaged in polygamy — according to the Bible, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines — and men have taken multiple wives in cultures throughout the world, including China, Africa, and among American Mormons in the 19th century. Polygamy is still common across much of the Muslim world. The idea of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a relatively recent development. Until two centuries ago, said Harvard historian Nancy Cott, “monogamous households were a tiny, tiny portion” of the world population, found in “just Western Europe and little settlements in North America.”

    And yes, the romantic view of marriage is relatively recent – perhaps starting in the 17th century – but equally, laws defending women from marital rape really only came about in the past 30 years. Perhaps before that the notion was that if marriage is purely about producing kids, why protect wives from rape? I’m sure this is a marital ‘fence’ you are glad has since been erected, no? Likewise, I’m pretty sure it’s only from the 19th century onwards that American laws prevented girls aged 12 or younger from marrying.

  • sean

    Why isn’t divorce illegal? The claim that it is about children and is “including norms of monogamy and fidelity” would suggest that to be the case. But, as it is not the case that divorce is illegal in the United states, these values are clearly not the ones our state is trying to uphold.

    Here’s how the scientific method works. You observe a phenomena, (marriage) and come up with a hypothesis. You extrapolate from the hypothesis (that it’s for the children) about what it would imply if that hypothesis were true. In this case, your hypothesis would imply that we only sanctify marriages that are going to rear children, and are going to bring them up in a stable environment. So, criminals, substance abusers, old people, and people who openly have no intent to have children should not be allowed to marry. In addition, if one of the parents dies, or they get divorced, the children now no longer have a mother and a father, so we should take the kids away from the parents, and give them to a straight married couple. Or, if none are available, and there are two affluent gay members of society, we should agree that letting the gays have the kid is better than just a single parent having the child. Now that you have your extrapolations, you need to go out and test your hypothesis. Lets test your hypothesis. None of these things it would imply were it true are true. Therefore we reject the hypothesis that marriage is about children. Can you explain why your argument is valid in spite of all this evidence?

  • Andrew Ryan

    At the very least, “We don’t love each other any more” shouldn’t be a valid reason for divorce, according to the above argument. In fact the only acceptable reasons should be either “We’re not a fertile couple” or “I fear they would be a bad parent”.

    I thought that the Christian joke about atheists is that we all see potential mates only in terms of biological fitness, in some Darwinian fashion – “Ah, look at her hips; I bet she’d be great at producing children!” etc. but the argument above seems to see the idea of marrying for love as some kind of heretical notion, when really it should purely be about producing and raising children.

    Tell that to popular culture – novels, films, opera, plays: all take it as read that marriage is the culmination of a great romance. If you’re worried about people moving on from the ‘true’ meaning of marriage, then I’m sorry but that ship sailed a long time ago. All the weddings I go to nowadays, religious or secular, focus on the love of the happy couple, not their fertility.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    I’m a progressive and don’t care that much about traditions.

    I believe that one of the purpose of human existence is to grow in one’s ability to give and receive love.

    Marriage is a life-long relationship where two persons make the commitment to pursue this goal within a bond where they also experience the wonder of human sexuality.

    https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/homosexualitat-polygamie-und-one-night-stands-homosexuality-polygamy-and-one-night-stands-below/

    Friendly greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • sean

    I’m mostly okay with that, but I’d change one thing. Instead of “where they also experience” I’d say where they also can experience. For sexual people, sexual love is a part of love. But there are people for whom this isn’t the case. Asexuals have every right to get married as well.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Why two people? Isn’t that arbitrary? You’ve already rejected the conjugal view for a revisionist view, so why not go further and say something like marriage is just about love and commitment between people?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Let’s address this infertility argument. I would suggest you read the paper I linked to, but if you don’t want to read it, here is their response:

    To form a real marriage, a couple needs to establish and live out the kind of union that would be completed by, and be apt for, procreation and child‐rearing. Since any true and honorable harmony between two people has value in itself (not merely as a means), each such comprehensive union of two people—each permanent, exclusive commitment sealed by organic bodily union—certainly does as well.

    Any act of organic bodily union can seal a marriage, whether or not it causes conception. The nature of the spouses’ action now cannot depend on what happens hours later independently of their control—whether a sperm cell in fact penetrates an ovum. And because the union in question is an organic bodily
    union, it cannot depend for its reality on psychological factors. It does not matter, then, if spouses do not intend to have children or believe that they cannot. Whatever their thoughts or goals, whether a couple achieves bodily union depends on facts about what is happening between their bodies.

    It is clear that the bodies of an infertile couple can unite organically through coitus. Consider digestion, the individual body’s process of nourishment. Different parts of that process—salivation, chewing, swallowing, stomach action, intestinal absorption of nutrients—are each in their own way oriented to the broader goal of nourishing the organism. But our salivation, chewing, swallowing, and stomach action remain oriented to that goal (and remain digestive acts) even if on some occasion our intestines do not or cannot finally absorb nutrients, and even if we know so before we eat.

    Similarly, the behavioral parts of the process of reproduction do not lose their dynamism toward reproduction if non‐behavioral factors in the process—for example, low sperm count or ovarian problems—prevent conception from occurring, even if the spouses expect this beforehand. As we have argued, bodies coordinating toward a single biological function for which each alone is not sufficient are rightly said to form an organic union.

    Thus, infertility is no impediment to bodily union and therefore (as our law has always recognized) no impediment to marriage. This is because in truth marriage is not a mere means, even to the great good of procreation. It is an end in itself, worthwhile for its own sake. So it can exist apart from children, and the state can recognize it in such cases without distorting the moral truth about marriage.

  • sean

    Are you agreeing with this claim Bill? It seems to me that these people are arguing that for a marriage to be a really real marriage it has to be a “permanent, exclusive commitment sealed by organic bodily union.” Here’s my breakdown of what I think they mean by this claim, which seems to me to be their central claim. Marriage can only be a real marriage if the couple has had sexual intercourse by means of the man inserting his penis in the vagina. in addition, it has to be lifelong, which means that any person who divorces their spouse was never really married to his or her spouse. Since we can’t possibly be sure about future divorces, we can only evaluate the validity of a marriage after death. Therefore, we cannot conclude that you are married Bill. We are forced into the position of agnosticism until you and your wife die. I know you don’t agree with that, as your bio on this site claims you are married. About the work organically as defined and used here. The definition given is: “As we have argued, bodies coordinating toward a single biological function for which each alone is not sufficient are rightly said to form an organic union.” That includes a lot more than what you would call sex. It includes, for example, anal sex. So the definition given is wrong. What’s the real one?

    I think I know what it means, I just think it has been phrased ignorantly, and that is something you should address. Also the idea that it must be sealed by sex is silly. It means people are not married until they have sex, which is after the marriage ceremony where the dude says “I now pronounce you man and wife.” So he is wrong. (assuming they don’t have premarital sex of course) It also fails to address asexuals. There are people who get married and never have sex. Should they be banned from getting married?

    Also, this idea of marriage isn’t what most people think of when they hear that term. It means a lot of other stuff too, stuff we already talked about. If this is what constitutes marriage then am I to understand that you have no problem with the idea of civil unions?

  • Justin de Vere

    You asked why there is no fertility test for marriage. Well, who’d want the State interfering in something like that? That’s biology, it’s pre-civilisation, pre-State. A marriage, if anything, is a bulwark against State control over reproduction. This is also why I don’t think any State has the true authority to change the meaning of marriage. I can see that a man would be disappointed if he married a woman who had kept her infertility a secret, though.

    A lot of advocates of same-sex ‘marriage’ say that if it were about babies, then the infertile or ‘conscientious objectors’ ought not be ‘allowed’ (by the State, the beneficent, the all-merciful) to marry. But the tradition of marriage is based on the norm of human biology, not on the exceptions. Getting lawyers involved in something so simple and primal is not necessary.

    There were, and are, I believe, ‘virginity’ tests, in many cultures, though. That is similar to a fertility test, I suppose. But, such a test would be useless to a same-sex couple, anyway. In countries with same-sex ‘marriage’, I wonder if strict Dads will guard their gay sons’ and daughters’ virginity, if one can even call it that. But why would they bother?

    If people who describe themselves as homosexual really want kids, they should just find a partner of the opposite sex, and get married! So what if it sounds hard or loathsome? Just get over it and do it like they do on the Discovery channel, voila. Give the kid a mother and father.

    But to ask me to accept that sodomy is the same as complementary sex between a man and a woman, and thus ought to be treated the same? That I should call a man’s buggeree or catamite his ‘husband’ else be labelled a hateful bigot? No and no. Those two kinds of intimacy are demonstrably not the same. Why should couples who do them be treated the same? And a gay sex partner is a gay sex partner, not a husband. The thing husbands all have in common is that they are married to wives! They have to deal with having a woman around all the time!

  • Andrew Ryan

    Why does the conjugal view favour two people more than the so-called ‘revisionist’ view? If it’s just about producing babies then you only need one man and as many women as he can financially support. I’d say the revisionist view favours a couple more than the conjugal view does.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Who’d want state interference in that? Well quite! But if it’s just about producing kids then that’s where your logic takes you. You are welcome to see straight sex as being superior to gay sex, but it’s not the state’s role to make such a judgment. The rest of your post is basically non sequiturs.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, either it’s just about having kids, or it isn’t.

    And the quote there admits marriage is not a mere end for procreation, undermining their whole argument.

    We don’t exist to serve the state, it’s the other way round. The state doesn’t allow us to marry for its own benefit. Our marriage isn’t allowed just because the state benefits.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    “Revisionist view”? I’ve been to a few weddings, and I’ve never heard the baby thing. Nothing about the importance of sex, about having babies, about sex positions or whatever.

    This seems to be quite a turnabout. The traditionally staid Christian is talking about marriage being all about makin’ babies. What happened to “to have and to hold, till death do us part”?

    Imagine a couple saying that they wanted to live together. Would your advice be the same? “Make lots of babies!” I can imagine you saying.

    I’m guessing not. I’m guessing it would be about commitment and love and relationship. Y’know, what the wedding vows are all about. Y’know, what the gay marriage proponents are asking for.

    Seems reasonable to me.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Right!

    Friendly greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • sean

    If your argument is that heterosexuality is “biology, it’s pre-civilisation, pre-State.” (sic) That is okay I guess… but guess what else is “simple and primal,” if you guessed homosexual behavior you are correct. Homosexuality even predates humanity. It’s older than the state as well. I don’t understand why that’s relevant though, for either side. If you think norms should be respected in marriage, I’ll let you know there are fewer asexuals than gays. If you think gays are the social fringe, I presume you are also opposed to asexuals marrying, even if they marry someone of the opposite gender, since they are really the social fringe, with their not wanting sex and all?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    We talked about this article last year when it came out Looking back, I see you never did answer my question, Bill Pratt.

    The authors refer to “Anglo-American” tradition because their definition fails to conform to “American” and the only way they can remotely substantiate their particular requirement is to rely upon English tradition. Hence “ANGLO-american.”

    Secondly, they refer to “centuries” of tradition, but fail to inform the reader those particular “centuries” were from the 12th – 16th century, and have not been applicable…even in Merry Ol’ England…since around the 17th Century.

    So if this paper was written in 1700…in England…it might have a point to define marriage as “conjugal.”

    To reiterate my question, “Bill Pratt, I am slightly curious….does it bother you at all the authors do not reveal the state of the law in America for the past few centuries, but must dig back 100’s of years and another country to support this contention?”

  • Andrew Ryan

    Great link. I had completely forgotten that Tildeb, you and I all gave comprehensive rebuttals to the paper then. If I’d remembered I’d have simply cut and pasted my responses then to here.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    The spiritual side of GOD-ordained marriage: it’s one of GOD’S stepping stones in His teaching to put others before “self”, to love others as GOD loves us, to teach commitment to those we love, to get a spiritual picture of becoming “one” (the blood covenant of man/woman spiritually symbolic of GOD making, providing, man with helpmate, that is a part of himself), to get a small taste of what GOD felt when HE created mankind, when we get to experience creation of children. GOD-ordained marriage starts a ripple, as in a pond, of loving others, expanding to more and more of mankind (others). Ask The LORD to show you more spiritual pictures if you desire.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    One other spiritual look: one side of this argument sees no problem with rebellion against GOD, which satan set up. One is doing what is right in GOD’S sight, out of respect for HIM and His laws; the other is direct spiritual rebellion against GOD, even if a person is sincerely deceived.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Can you let us know which one is which?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    The side that is rebelling against what GOD set up is the one that ignores what GOD says: that marriage is between a man and a woman.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    If any want to know how to simplify The Bible, the whole Bible is centered around those who rebel against GOD, to do what is right in their own sight (as satan/Lucifer does-did), and those who freely choose to please GOD, to do what is right in His sight.

  • Andrew Ryan

    OK. If you believe that, then you’d best avoid marrying another woman – that’s your right as a free citizen. But equally, others are free to disagree with your beliefs. And in a secular state, your opinions about God play no part in what laws are passed with regards to marriage rights.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    To please GOD is the wisest decision because of the Love that GOD demonstrated to mankind—not destroying it after the fall, but setting in place a rescue from eternal separation, from GOD, that could only be pulled off by GOD Himself, thru GOD becoming flesh, and dwelling among us; ie: Christ. It is GOD who owns all souls (Ezek 18:4), even satan’s, and the earth is The Lord’s—all the fullness thereof. (Psalm 24:1, Ex. 9:29)

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    You are right. I have made my GOD-given “free-will” decision, and others are allowed, by GOD, to do what they want, just as HE allowed Lucifer “free-will”, but the sobering thing all should know is that GOD will be in charge of the consequences, (judgment) giving each of us what we choose: to be with Him eternally, or separated from Him, as satan hopes, eternally. If someone ends up in hell, it will be even more hellish because it is what they chose. GOD will not be brought under the power of any; HE has final authority.

  • sean

    You and I have different thresholds for what constitutes love. Not smiting doesn’t equal love in my book.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Not sure If you mean you would rather GOD smite us to show love. (King David, as an example, brought upon himself unwanted consequences from GOD, for rebelling against GOD) GOD showed His wrath all thru the OT, but because of Christ taking on the wrath of GOD, against sin, upon Himself, we are in a period of GOD’S undeserved favor; GOD’S Grace, and His unconditional love, His last plea for mankind to return to Him and escape His wrath when this period of Agape Love is ended. HE, also, disciplines those who are His, (by choosing Christ), as a father disciplines his children.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Andrew, I pray that you will seek The Lord while He may be found,and the eyes of your spiritual understanding will be opened, in Jesus’ Name. (I was leaning toward atheism when in college, left GOD, and when I reached bottom, I cried out to GOD and HE was still there for me, to bring me out of my situations). HE demonstrated His unconditional love to me, so I will never leave Him again.

  • sean

    “he Love that GOD demonstrated to mankind—not destroying it after the fall”

    restraining from destroying is not the same as love.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    It spiritually is when you recall that GOD held back from destroying all that he created, and then that led into his loving plan to bring Christ to mankind’s rescue. First spiritual prophecy about Christ’s coming was given to satan, in Genesis 3:15, where GOD said that HE would bring enmity between the seed of satan and “her Seed”–spiritually pointing to virgin birth (natural “seed” only comes from man.

  • sean

    There is so much wrong with that… more than I can deal with. But here’s what I can deal with:

    For starters, as an atheist I have no reason to accept anything the Bible says.

    But even setting that aside, and just reading the Bible, sending Jesus isn’t loving. Loving is to forgive us, not to make some convoluted system by which we need to have faith in something that isn’t provable to get saved, and if we don’t he will send us to Hell. That isn’t what I call love.

    Plus, your interpretation of the Bible is… interesting. Have you tried claiming that Genesis 3:16 is loving? That doesn’t seem loving at all. She was tricked because God made her without the notion of good and evil for her to know that being tricked was a thing. Eve couldn’t stop it because God made her that way. Then, when she gets tricked she gets punished.

    Moreover your standards for prophecy are too low. Prophecy needs to be way more specific than I’ll make this woman’s kid hate and kill snakes and make snakes hate and kill this woman’s kids. And what does that even have to do with Jesus anyways?

  • sean

    So, with respect to this argument, we all have the free will to ignore God and we can do whatever we want if we are willing to pay the price of Hell? Then why is banning gays from marrying what God sees as right. You’re saying he sees gay sex as wrong therefore they cannot get married. You are denying them the free will God gave them to disobey him.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    No.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    …”just reading Bible, sending Jesus isn’t loving.” GOD creates mankind to be eternal, perfect, and in right relationship with GOD. Satan comes in to deceive and tempt Adam/Eve into agreeing with his philosophy and they yield to his deception. Adam/Eve get “unplugged” from the eternal life source (GOD) because GOD cannot be in presence of sin/rebellion. Satan thinks he has a victory, mankind locked into inherited agreement with him. To tie up ends, to make things right again (eternal, in right relationship with GOD)GOD supernaturally brings the only Man who can/will not be deceived, not be tempted, and will reverse the curse that Adam’s sin brought to mankind. “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving Spirit. First man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is The Lord Jesus from heaven. Test your “spiritual understanding”. Does this make any sense to you?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    You keep repeating over and over and over and over and over that the conjugal (traditional) view is only about babies and nothing else, but that is not what the conjugal view is. It is more nuanced than that and you know it.

    Please deal with the more nuanced position that the authors of the article are promoting.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Please defend your revisionist view against the polygamist who says that your view is arbitrary because it limits marriage to two people. After all, polygamy has existed for millennia. Why are you unfairly discriminating against polygamists?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    If GOD had not put Adam/Eve out of the garden, and allowed them to partake of the tree of Life, they would have been locked into eternal damnation the same as satan will have—with no way out. That showed great Love. Genesis 3:15 is GOD judging satan and forewarning him that it is not over for Adam/Eve, and mankind. Without a desire for spiritual understanding, or a heart’s desire to know GOD, it’s almost impossible for you to understand any of The Bible, but when anyone seeks GOD with their whole heart, sincerely, HE will (that’s a promise) be found by them.
    Respectfully, confusion abounds here. Where is the ?snakes? “woman’s kid hate”, directing, or coming from? …?satan confronting Eve as a serpent?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Your best bet if you are interested in getting at spiritual truth is to get in touch with GOD, and thru The Power of The HOLY SPIRIT (only available to mortal man, thru Christ), asking HIM to teach you, for HE is the best Teacher, and cannot/will not lie. An authentic follower of Christ, has the supernatural witness of The HOLY SPIRIT available to them at any time. I have to say, it is hard to understand that some are so against have eternal hope and a future, and knowing for sure that GOD is real.

  • Andrew Ryan

    If polygamy has lasted that long, YOURS is a revisionist view too, if you’re arguing against it. And on what basis are judging the discrimination to be “unfair”?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    “I” am not, and do not have authority to denying them anything; again—just as Lucifer/satan had GOD-given “free-will”, everyone is given this, by GOD, but HE will not give up His authority over His creation; HE will be in charge of consequences, as HE demonstrated to satan.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Sean, if anyone chooses to keep on the road to hell, after they have heard that GOD can rescue them out of that (by changing agreement with satan, and agreeing with Christ), they are responsible for their destination. And, GOD has the Sovereign right to set up how HE will allow us to come into His Kingdom, just as we think we have the right to have a door, etc, and set up who, when, how, someone comes into our house. Surely you understand that, spiritually.

  • sean

    Sure, I’m not saying he can’t chose, but that does not mean he’s loving. I suppose I have not asked, are you against other people getting married to people of the same gender? if you are, you are defying the free will God gave man. If you are not against gays turning their back on god and choosing marriage and Hell, if you think they should be allowed to do that, you should be arguing for gay marriage. Are you? You may be, I don’t know. Enlighten me on this issue.

  • sean

    I don’t want to speak for Andrew, but I’d say that if it isn’t just about procreation then I really don’t understand what your basis is for saying that gays should not be allowed as well.

    As I see it, there are two differences between gay marriage and straight marriage. One is that some straight couples can have kids and no gay couples can. The other is that gays cannot have sex in the way straight people do.

    Perhaps you see more to the puzzle here. If so, please give me and Andrew an example or two. If you don’t then explain why the state should discriminate against this type of couple that cannot have children of their own, but not other kinds, like marriages without any sex. Or maybe you think the state should discriminate in that case. Whatever the case may be, I’d like to know, and I think Andrew probably does as well.

  • sean

    I understand the power of a one word answer, but as I am someone who wasn’t privy to that prior conversation, could you perhaps explain to me why you think the American definition of marriage is not relevant? After all, you thought it was good enough for you and your wife, no? If you really think that all of these secular benefits we are only granting strait married people are of no significance, then why not have the state consider you and your wife divorced, and just care about what the church acknowledges?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    So are you saying I should embrace pleasing mortal man, more than pleasing supernatural, All-knowing, Almighty, GOD? That would be breaking the 1st and greatest commandment: “Love GOD first, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” That would be to choose rebellion against GOD, out of pride, just as satan did. (satan initiated the 1st and 2nd sins: Pride–thinking that he should be equal, even above GOD and what HE set up, and Rebellion–high treason against GOD to do what was right in his own sight, in stead of what is right in GOD’S sight.

    I think that most unbelieving souls do not understand the supernatural, spiritual agreement with GOD (“born again”) which is to return mankind to be as GOD first intended, thru Christ: immortal, and back in right relationship with GOD, who defines what real love is. You have been enlightened. I love GOD first, (a spiritual parallel to loving an earthly dad, and wanting to please him, etc.) You do realize that being a follower of Christ Jesus is an invitation from GOD, don’t you? GOD does not want to force anyone to love, or believe in Him, but to love Him for who He is and what He did for us.

  • sean

    So you think free will means God is giving us the choice to do whatever we want, even if it is evil. Right? So other people are wanting to get married and you want to stop them because you think it is against God. But God disagrees with your assessment that we should stop that from happening. That’s why he gave us free will. Why do you want to stop gay marriage in light of the fact that God wants to allow it?

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Excuse me?! I never said I should stop anyone from doing what they choose—even satan got that right to choose, but I forewarn that GOD will be in charge of the consequences. Are you even acknowledging what happened to satan, or do you not believe he exists? You spiritually do not realize that there is a battle for souls in the supernatural spiritual realm. Do you even think that GOD’S ways, and thoughts are above yours? All I can do is pray that you will seek GOD, and find Him. Spiritually GOD can be understood as the head of the company, and His rules/laws/ways are to be followed, out of respect for who HE is.

    Over and out, Sean. Best of luck in life.

  • sean

    Yes. That’s why I asked just now. You are correct that I was assuming that you disagreed with it. But I then realized that I was wrong to think you did since you never said that. So I asked. I am sorry for being presumptive, that was an err on my part. I hope you’ll accept my apology.

    That said, don’t be upset, I am sorry I wasn’t listening initially and made assumptions, but I’ve got it now. I understand your position, and yes, I disagree with it. I do not acknowledge the existence of Satin. I am an atheist. I do understand what you think regarding what happens after we die. And I know you think God will punish those who chose not to believe in Jesus, but I’ll do you one better. Not only do I not think God is real. even if I thought the Bible were true I wouldn’t be a Christian. I think there a re a fair number of atheists that would convert ti Christianity if any actual evidence were to appear that proves the god of the Bible exists. I am not one of those people though.

    Let me tell you how I see it. The God of the Bible has condemned me to burn forever for existing. That’s in the bible, we are all sinners at birth because we inherit original sin. God then sends me Jesus and says, if you chuck aside all rational evidence, and believe this on faith then I will forgive you of your sin and you can come live in paradise for all eternity. However if you do not, you’ll burn in hell forever. I think that if God wants to condemn me to being tortured forever because of my existence, which wasn’t even something I chose, but what my parents chose, then I think that is wrong. That is the message of the Bible, and I think it is wicked, so wicked that I’d rather burn forever than live forever in anything someone that twisted calls paradise.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Yup, pretty much Sean. It’s like they’re post hoc tried to come up with a sieve that will exclude gays but let straight couples through. So they figure “Doesn’t have kids” will do the job, but they miss that this would also stop plenty of straight couples. So then they say: “Well it’s not really about having kids”. Well, is it or isn’t it?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    First, let’s ignore for a moment whether “traditional” marriage has any relevance to the current trending issue of same gender marriage. In fact, let’s set aside same-gender marriage entirely. Or polygamy. Or incest. Or Divorce.

    How about a simple task—derive a methodology to determine what is a “traditional” marriage? What do we use, and why do we use that particular criterion? Do we go back 100 years? If so, why not 150? Why not 50? Do we go back 500 years? 1000 years? Why not 2000? Why not 3000? Why not 4,312 years, 2 months and 14 days?

    How do you determine “how far” back we go to look at “traditional” marriage?

    And where? North America? South America? Europe? Asia? Africa? Why do we use England, and not Germany? Why use Roman but not Grecian? Or Asian, but not African? Why Canada, but not United States?

    How do you determine “what country” to look at for “traditional” marriage?

    Do we use law? Custom? Religious institution?

    Unsurprisingly, you are not bothered by individuals (who agree with your view on same-gender marriage) who chose to use England—ONLY England—of the 12th to 16th Century—ONLY the 12th to 16th Century. You don’t even question why they limited it to these very narrow parameters.

    Would it bother you if I chose to define “traditional” marriage as what is practiced in Canada for the majority of the past 10 years? Of course it would—NOT because of any particular methodological problem (as it incorporates the same method as Robert George, et. al.—i.e. none), but because this conclusion disagrees with your particular view by allowing same-gender marriage. What is the methodological difference between using 2005-2013 or 1200 – 1700? What is the methodological difference between English law and Canadian law?

    The pervasive methodological malady seen throughout Christian apologetics is the approach of first determining a conclusion and then looking for evidence to support said conclusion. A “top-down” approach, if you will. Rather than gathering the evidence, and then deriving a conclusion—a “bottom-up” approach. “The Apostles were martyred. Now let’s look for every evidential scrap to support this claim.” Instead of “what does the evidence say about the apostle’s death, and now determine how they likely died.”

    This is why your not being bothered is unsurprising. When this same terrible method (First conclusion, then look for evidence) is applied in other fields, as a Christian apologist, you see familiarity, not poor methodology. This is why Christians continue to be unpersuasive. Upon hearing this approach, most people sense unease as if something is not…quite…..right. When the method is pointed out, people understand why it is the argument fails to convince.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Here’s a method for you. Let’s look at how many empires, nations, states, etc. have legally endorsed and regulated same-sex marriage over the last, say, 10,000 years. Let’s count them up and assign a weight based on how many years they did so.

    Then, let’s look at how many empires, nations, states, etc. have legally endorsed and regulated opposite-sex marriage over the last, say, 10,000 years. Let’s count them up and assign
    a weight based on how many years they did so.

    Let’s compare the two outcomes and see which has been the dominant (dare I say “traditional”?) view of marriage for the last 10,000 years of human history.

    Of course we both know the answer to this analysis, don’t we? Is there any need to pretend we don’t know what the answer will be? Really?

  • sean

    The answer to this depends heavily on the specifics of the mathematics. What weight are you assigning each nation, and why. You cannot just appeal to what I think the answer probably is. Maybe some people think they know, but I don’t know that anyone has done the math. I want to know what weight you give based on years, and size, and I want to know how you calculate this size. Also, why 10,000 years? And what about where we don’t have data? We don’t have much information or statistical information from the dark ages, hence their name. You need a lot more information to claim that.

    Another question; setting aside the fact that you have done psudo-math (which doesn’t cut it in my book) does this methodology apply to slavery and human sacrifice? Outside of maybe Ancient Athens, the idea of equality amongst men is pretty recent. Appealing to the wisdom of those civilizations seems silly to me. These civilizations endorsed a lot of things we don’t practice today. Why should we listen to them on marriage specifically? (assuming that’s even the real consensus amongst them)

    It seems to me like you are trying to appeal to common sense, and that is not actually a valid argument. Or, you’re going for the argument ad popularum approach. This is demonstrably a bad argument. Most people, if you ask them about gravity, will tell you it is a force masses exert upon one another. This is not a correct definition of gravity. Gravity affects things with energy, not mass. Things with mass are just a subset of things with energy.

    In short, not there is no need to pretend we don’t know the answer. That’s what legitimate criticisms are for. I don’t need to pretend not to know when I don’t.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    Marriage is centered around 1) two people, 2) making a permanent commitment to each other, 3) who sexually consummate their relationship, 4) which inherently (naturally) results in children.

    It is based on human biology. That is why this institution is so widespread throughout history and across the globe.

    What you are proposing is that we drop requirements 3 and 4 above. Marriage, for you, is just about 2 people who make a commitment to each other, right?

    The conjugal view is based on the universality of human anatomy, and this explains why it is so pervasive. What, in principle, is your argument for dropping the common denominator of human anatomy and redefining marriage to be just about two people who are committed to each other?

    To be consistent and not allow your definition of marriage to be ad hoc, are you willing to call any two people who commit to each other married?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Are you for the legalization of polygamy or not? If you are going to revise the definition of marriage, then surely you have thought out the ramifications it will have on other kinds of long-term relationships. Don’t you think you should work out what is going to happen after you tear the fence down?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    It is blazingly obvious that marriage ceremonies around the world, since human history began, have been exclusively characterized by one man and one woman coming together. And, more times than not, the married couple has sex, and more times than not, they have babies. Is this really news to anyone? Are we going to demand video footage of ancient Mesopotamians getting married before we will accept this fact?

    It has everything to do with biology and human biology is the same in Canada, the US, England, and even ancient Mesopotamia!

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    If you are seriously saying you don’t know the answer to this question, I’m afraid I have wasted my time with you. I thought you were someone honestly seeking the truth. It turns out this is just a game for you. I have better things to do.

  • sean

    I am honestly seeking the truth Bill, but I don’t make claims where I don’t have enough information. If you have better information than asking me to use my knowledge of past civilizations then you might have an argument. But my knowledge is somewhat limited. If you feel that you have substantiation to this claim, I really will listen and examine your evidence. If you are seriously saying you do know the answer, actually demonstrate it, instead of appealing to this psudo-math.

  • sean

    The way I see it, gays are capable of 1, 2 and 3. But that’s what I see when I look at heterosexual couples where one partner is infertile is the same. Thus it should logically follow that if we ban gays on the basis that they only fit 1, 2 and three, we should ban infertile people as well. You may argue that gays don’t fit into number 3. Setting aside for a moment how you claim that basis of the premise, and for the moment accepting it, this would preclude other groups from marrying as well. For example, asexual people. Or a person who is too sickly to have sex. Your logic dictates they should not marry. Be straight with me, do you think they should be allowed to marry?

  • Andrew Ryan

    I thought we were comparing the ‘conjugal’ view to the ‘romantic’ view, so why are you asking us to weigh empires that had gay marriage against those that didn’t? Surely the relevant question is which had the conjugal view and which the romantic. How you’d weigh that up I don’t know. But regardless, Dagoods’ question stands – why go back 10,000 years? Who cares what view empires had in 3000 or so BC, when the success of an empire was probably much fuelled by their success in taking slaves?

    If you consider a wide enough spectrum of human history then lots of things are ‘untraditional’, from wearing proper clothes to intensive farming.

    Would you consider an American who today believed in democracy to be a revisionist, on the basis that if we ignore the past two hundred years, most empires/states have been based on monarchiesor dictatorships?

  • Andrew Ryan

    I think Sean didn’t read the question properly and didn’t notice you’d slipped from ‘the tradition of romantic marriage’ to ‘the (non)tradition of gay marriage’. So no, not many empires had gay marriage, if any. But I’m not surprised Sean didn’t notice the shift, because it’s not a shift that makes any sense given the discussion. As I say above – you were talking conjugal vs romantic, ‘accepting gay marriage, vs ‘not accepting it’.

    If you’d started this article asking us which was more tradition we’d obviously agree that gay marriage is a new thing. But what you argued was that it was different in kind because it did away with the conjugal tradition, and that was the argument we were addressing.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Go do some research for yourself on state sanctioned gay marriage. You will find that this is an entirely recent phenomenon that is virtually unknown before the last 20-30 years. In addition, you will find that of all the nations in the world, only a small number currently legally recognize gay marriage. I am shocked that you are not aware of this, especially since you’ve been arguing so vociferously with me about this issue.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I don’t know what Sean is thinking any more. He does not seem to be aware of the history of gay marriage.

  • sean

    Well when you say lets compare the two, and only reference one type of marriage in your argument, I look to the bigger picture to try and infer from context. The conjugal view and the revisionist views are a different subject from same-sex marriage vs. non-same-sex marriage. You are correct that gay-marriage is fairly recent, and generally we know about it, but with respect to the comment you were responding to, I think it was supposed to be about the two views of marriage outlined in this post. I made a mistake in the specific way I attacked your assertion.

    That misunderstanding now aside, it still seems to me that your assertion for defining tradition, and traditional marriage, (the conjugal view) is that a valid methodology is to determine tradition based on what these civilizations thought. Equality in general is pretty new too, not just equality in gay marriage. The idea that slavery isn’t good does not follow from the logic of the conjugal view. I don’t know why then that this is your methodology for determining good tradition. It disagrees with a lot of other views you hold on equality, and what those states thought of equality. Should women have the right to vote? What about slaves? Can people be property? If you say we should generally follow tradition, and that is your methodology, you’ve chucked some important stuff from tradition.

    To address Andrew:
    I don’t know how old the oldest human civilizations are generally accepted to be, but I was under the impression that the 10,00 number was meant as a very inclusive number, and is another way of saying the whole of history. That’s not as arbitrary, but it does put Bill in a position of saying slavery is traditional. That statement is one that I think demonstrates why what is traditional does not matter.

  • sean

    I think that in general, if two people are committed to each-other they should be allowed to marry. My view allows asexuals to marry, and yours, based on the four premises you have, does not. My view allows sexual couples that for whatever reason, are incapable of sex (perhaps due to frailty or sickness) to marry. The contentions you have laid down in 1, 2, 3 and 4 do not allow for this. You’re telling me that if people want to marry they HAVE to have sex? I don’t see why that matters. Plus, you cannot make claims about 2 until after, to see if the commitment was really permanent. So your marriage does not even fall under 2 yet. It’ll only happen after you and your wife have been shown to be faithful until death. Therefore, you are not married. It also contends that should someone marry one person, they are not allowed to remarry, or divorce, since that would violate the permanent clause, and mean the state is sanctioning something that is not marriage. It’s the reason King David had to abdicate the throne when he wanted to marry that American woman. The Church pointed out that he couldn’t marry a woman who’d divorced, since their definition of marriage was that it is permanent. Finally, in what way to infertile people satisfy clause 4? They are in no way disposed to have kids. Do you agree that you believe all these things. I think they follow logically from what you have defined as marriage.

  • Norma Jean Buhle

    Apology accepted, of course, and thank you. Debating points of disagreement, and views should always be allowed in our American “free speech” society, but that is being attacked, especially in liberal universities. Even in a court of law, there is a presentation of 2 sides; that’s only fair and just.

    I enjoyed the debate. Have you ever checked out Christian “apologetics”? (example) Crossexamined.com, or John Ankerberg’s apologetics? Ever heard of 23 minutes in hell? (a book) This is where the real debating comes in.
    As I see it: Mankind has an inherited destination, thru Adam’s agreement with satan, and GOD did the Perfect thing to give us a choice to escape agreement with the evil one. GOD is never wicked; evil is from satan; his realm. Just for the record (so to speak) when mortals say they don’t believe in GOD, or satan, that has no power to keep them from existing, because they are “supernatural”. For what it’s worth,

    I pray that you will know The Truth, and GOD will reveal Himself to you in some way. Best wishes…..

  • sean

    I agree that just because I say God does not exist does not stop him from existing. I’d even add that that’s true for the natural in addition to the supernatural. Right? Just because I don’t believe peanut butter exists does not mean it does not exist. What anyone thinks exists in any physical sense has no bearing on whether or not it exists, because existence is not dependent on people to recognize it as true.

    I have not heard of crossexamined before, but I’ve heard of “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” which from a brief look at their site seems to be something they are tied to, and I have heard of this website. I think there are legitimate discussions here. Part of the problem with I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist is that what they call atheist I call anti-theist. It’s a very important distinction. Under their terms, I’d be agnostic. But I don’t think that is a helpful way to break down the words. Generally, people who consider themselves atheists break it down this way:

    There is an assertion that some god exists. If I don’t accept the assertion, then I am an atheist. Agnosticism is a term that describes how sure you are of your claim. So if someone is gnostic they are 100% sure that either god does or does not exist. if someone is not 100% sure they are agnostic. So I am an agnostic atheist, meaning I don’t have any reason to believe god exists, but he might. It is the same with faeries. I have no reason to think they exist because there is no evidence I consider sufficient to prove that they exist. So I conclude that they probably don’t.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I don’t know what an asexual person is, and a sickly person could get better, right? Even if they don’t get better, they still meet the criteria for marriage as long as they are man and woman. Nobody has ever argued that two people must prove that they are going to have sex when they get married. In addition, you naming these extremely rare types of marriage does nothing to undermine the fact that marriage is totally dominated (99.9% I’ll wager) by couples who can and do have sex.

    Again, getting back to anatomy, if the two people who want to get married have the complementary body parts for sex that would, under normal circumstances, produce children, then there is no problem with them getting married.

    In practice, it is impossible to ascertain whether a man and woman wanting to get married intend to have sex or not. But when a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, want to get married, we know for sure that they do not have complementary sexual organs that will produce children under normal circumstances. There is something fundamentally different between same-sex couple wanting to get married and the examples you give.

    You want to sweep this fundamental difference, rooted deeply in human biology, aside, as if it doesn’t matter. But it has mattered throughout human history and continues to matter today. The human body is the way it is. Whether you believe that evolution has given us our bodies or that God designed our bodies, the facts remain.

  • sean

    Well Bill, when I affix an ‘a’ to things I mean to logically negate them. So just as an a-theist is not a theist, an a-sexual person is a person without sexuality. These people do exist. If you’re curious about them, asexuality.org, a site run by AVEN, will give you plenty of information.

    When you say marriage is dominated by a particular type, allowing gays into this circle will not change that. they are not a big enough group for that. If it does not bother you that some marriages do not produce children, then I don’t know why the marriage of a person who was not going to have kids anyways matters.

    And when I was saying sickly person, I was thinking of a terminal illness, though I know I didn’t specify that in writing.

    I think there may be a problem with the word ‘inherently’. Generally inherent means that it is part of the definition, so to change it is to change what you would call it. So when you say that the relationship inherently results in children, I don’t see how it would logically follow that infertile people fit in this group. What defines their infertility is that they cannot naturally conceive children. It is inherent to this group that they are not predisposed for kids. That’s just basic definitions. It is as inherent to that group as it is to gays.

    When you say normal circumstances, I don’t know what you mean. It seems to me that the normal circumstance are that infertile people fall into the group of not having kids.

    If marriage is something that has to be consummated sexually, then I don’t know how you could say two people are married unless you know they have had sex. And again this implies that you are not married until you have had sex, so I don’t really understand what you think a wedding is.

    I agree with your tautology that the human body is the way it is. But I’ve no idea why going against human biology is wrong. I don’t think it is. Human biology dictates that we should have kids, yet people use contraceptives and say no to sex. That is going against this ‘biological nature’ concept you have, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    I guess in short you claim that a homosexual marriage isn’t disposed to having kids. But neither are some straight marriages. Yes, those cases are a minority of cases, but gays are a minority population, and if they are allowed to marry a majority of marriages will still produce children. Besides, it wasn’t like those gay people who are getting married were going to have kids if they didn’t get married. You’re taking a population that wasn’t going to have kids, and saying that they are not allowed to marry because marriages are about kids. No couple that was going to have kids will decide that since the gays aren’t doing it they shouldn’t. That’s not, to my knowledge, why anyone has kids.

    What Andrew said before was correct. there is a binary proposition, either marriages need to be about children, or they do not need to be about children. If marriages are so about children that gays cannot marry, then children are sufficiently important to the relationship that people we know will never have kids because they are infertile should also be banned. But if that piece of the puzzle is not big enough to stop infertile people, then it shouldn’t be able to stop gays.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean, if you can’ t see the profound differences between an infertile couple and a gay couple, then you just aren’t thinking. I will repeat again the text from the article (have you read the article yet?) to help you think through this issue more clearly. I have italicized some key sentences to draw your attention to them.

    “To form a real marriage, a couple needs to establish and live out the kind of union that would be completed by, and be apt for, procreation and child‐rearing. Since any true and honorable harmony between two people has value in itself (not merely as a means), each such comprehensive union of two people—each permanent, exclusive commitment sealed by organic bodily union—certainly does as well.

    Any act of organic bodily union can seal a marriage, whether or not it causes conception. The nature of the spouses’ action now cannot depend on what happens hours later independently of their control—whether a sperm cell in fact penetrates an ovum. And because the union in question is an organic bodily
    union, it cannot depend for its reality on psychological factors. It does not matter, then, if spouses do not intend to have children or believe that they cannot. Whatever their thoughts or goals, whether a couple achieves bodily union depends on facts about what is happening between their bodies.

    It is clear that the bodies of an infertile couple can unite organically through coitus. Consider digestion, the individual body’s process of nourishment. Different parts of that process—salivation, chewing, swallowing, stomach action, intestinal absorption of nutrients—are each in their own way oriented to the broader goal of nourishing the organism. But our salivation, chewing, swallowing, and stomach action remain oriented to that goal (and remain digestive acts) even if on some occasion our intestines do not or cannot finally absorb nutrients, and even if we know so before we eat.

    Similarly, the behavioral parts of the process of reproduction do not lose their dynamism toward reproduction if non‐behavioral factors in the process—for example, low sperm count or ovarian problems—prevent conception from occurring, even if the spouses expect this beforehand. As we have argued, bodies coordinating toward a single biological function for which each alone is not sufficient are rightly said to form an organic union.

    Thus, infertility is no impediment to bodily union and therefore (as our law has always recognized) no impediment to marriage. This is because in truth marriage is not a mere means, even to the great good of procreation. It is an end in itself, worthwhile for its own sake. So it can exist apart from children, and the state can recognize it in such cases without distorting the moral truth about marriage.”

    Infertile couples can still unite sexually and form an organic union that is biologically complementary. Gay couples cannot. I know you don’t care about biology, complementary sexual union, and reproduction with regard to marriage, but I am arguing that you should.

    There will be two more posts coming out next week that throw the ball back at you. You will be asked to defend your view of marriage. It is not enough for marriage revisionists to simply tear down traditional marriage.

    If you truly believe your view is better than the conjugal view, that it advances the common good, that it will benefit society, then you had better be able to explain how your view is able to discriminate legitimately against all of the other groups of people who will want to re-define marriage to suit their needs. I pray you are up to the challenge.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, you’ve suggested now that rejecting the ‘conjugal’ or traditional view of marriage opens the door to polygamy.

    Given that you’ve also said that when discussing what is traditional, you’re less concerned with America in the past few hundred years, and more talking about the past 10,000 years worldwide, doesn’t that mean you should also consider polygamy to be traditional too?

    Secondly, how is the conjugal view more of a barrier than the romantic one? Polygamy isn’t about romance – in fact it seems to fit in much more strongly with the conjugal view.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I never said that everything that is traditional is necessarily good. I said that we had better understand why a tradition has stood before we knock it down.

    You are right that polygamy has existed for quite a long time across many cultures. I would argue, however, that polygamy is a clear distortion of the one man, one woman marriage institution that goes contrary to natural law.

    It’s a simple numbers game. There are roughly equal numbers of males and females, so it cannot be naturally proper for some men to have multiple wives, because that leaves numerous men without wives, which leads to societal upheaval.

    What is your argument against polygamy, since there clearly are polygamous families where romance is involved?

  • sean

    When they make an analogy to the digestive process the argument is that these acts are geared towards digestion and absorption of nutrients. I had to think about it for a bit, because I knew something was wrong, but I agreed with that statement. “But our salivation, chewing, swallowing, and stomach action remain
    oriented to that goal (and remain digestive acts) even if on some
    occasion our intestines do not or cannot finally absorb nutrients, and
    even if we know so before we eat.” Sure I agree 100% actually. And it applies to genital stimulation. Our genital stimulation (which remains a sexual act) even if on some
    occasion our genitals do not or cannot finally conceive a child, and
    even if we know so before we stimulate them.

    But I don’t think there is any ground to specify the means by which that stimulation is achieved. Chewing food may be more helpful to digestion just as what you consider normal sex is more helpful to reproduction. But if I am chewing gum, the paper argues that is still a digestive act. Homosexual acts, then, would be geared towards reproduction in the same right that regular sex is. It is just like the saliva my mouth produces when I chew gum is still geared towards getting nutrients into my body. The genital stimulation may not be a part of your narrow definition of sex, but homosexual acts, and masturbation for that matter, are still behaviors geared towards reproduction.

    I have yet to have my views sufficiently challanged, so I may fail to meet your goal initially, and I may change my mind throughout the debate on that issue, but I certainly hope that the discussions will facilitate the linking process. I have never thought I should develop my ideas without someone to listen to them and comment, and no-one has yet been there on the more broad issues regarding marriage for me. I look forward to the conversation.

  • Andrew Ryan

    How do you figure that polygamy is not the enemy of romance?

    Sure, polygamy is not one woman one man, but you were talking about the ‘conjugal tradition’ – how does polygamy go against that? Seems to fit it rather well.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “that leaves numerous men without wives, which leads to societal upheaval”

    Isn’t that socialist thinking, Bill? The idea is that if you can support three wives financially you should be allowed to. Then you’ve got incentive to get wealthy. If you’re not wealthy enough to win the race for a wife, that’s your problem. You might as well complain that capitalism creates social inequality. Sounds, again, like polygamy fits in fine with your own philosophies.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I’m not revising any definitions of marriage or tearing any fences down. I support gay people being able to marry. I don’t see this as changing any definitions – it’s just allowing gay people to enjoy the same right as straight people. Straight people will still have that same right. No fences need be torn down either.

    If you’re saying it makes marriage about romance and life-long commitment rather than having babies (plus whatever it is you think adds the nuance), then that ship sailed long ago – it’s not me who revised it to mean that, it’s been that way for generations if not centuries already, as reflected in US law.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    You said, “homosexual acts, and masturbation for that matter, are still behaviors geared towards reproduction.”

    I could not disagree more strongly. Biologically, gay sex and masturbation are not geared toward reproduction. They are geared purely toward genital stimulation and have absolutely nothing to do with reproduction.

    Psychologically, they are not geared toward reproduction. I cannot imagine that anyone having gay sex or anyone masturbating has any illusion whatsoever that they are trying to reproduce. That is as crazy as Stan (Loretta) saying he wants to have babies.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    You are tearing down a fence because you are saying that there is nothing special any more about one man and one woman committing to each other in a sexual union, and typically having children from that union. For you, this relationship is just one among many options, and deserves no special status within society. If that’s not tearing down an ancient fence, I don’t know what is.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “You are saying that there is nothing special any more about one man and one woman committing to each other in a sexual union and typically having children from that union”

    Simply not true. I see it as very special. But I don’t denigrate a couple if they DON’T have a child – whether they’re man/woman, man/man, woman/woman.

    The rub here is when you add ‘TYPICALLY having children’. Is the children part essential or not? Either a) you see the marriage as less important when there’s no kids – in which case that applies to straight married couples too, not just gay ones; or b) you don’t see it as any less important when there’s no kids, in which case it shouldn’t matter whether they’re childless straight couples or childless gay couples.

    So, how do you view married man/woman couples who don’t have children? I’d take a guess you probably see them the same way I see childless gay couples.

    You say it’s more nuanced that ‘are there kids?’, but pretty much it’s either “It’s all about kids” or it isn’t . Either this ‘fence’ should also exclude childless straight couples, or it shouldn’t exclude gays. You need to decide which.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Thank you, Bill Pratt.

    Your combined refusal to provide specific parameters and fuming regarding same-gender marriage never being allowed aptly demonstrates the methodology’s bankruptcy.

    While correct, same-gender marriage has never been provided for (to my knowledge), depending on the time-period chosen, there are plenty of elements in marriage prior to being introduced had never happened before. Indeed, marriage has constantly morphed throughout the ages. At one time no one had married without their parent’s permission. At one time no one married outside their culture or race. At one time no one limited it to a certain age. At one time, no one limited it to certain relation.

    Marriage has changed in the past. And will change in the future. To introduce a methodology, “We’ve never done this before” is NOT consistent with “traditional marriage” because—JUST like I was pointing out—there are other events, times and instances whereby marriage was modified. Again (and again and again) depending on what era and culture one picks, “Traditional marriage” is vastly different.

    I would also note you refer to conjugal as referring to “biology,” but as I pointed out; the article specifically does NOT limit it to “biology” but to legal conjugation, which is different than biological.

    Is oral sex “conjugal”? Is anal sex “conjugal”? You will find this becomes a quagmire fairly quickly.

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  • Andrew Ryan

    Quite. I’d take issue with the very title of the article: “What are the two competing views…”

    Who says there are only two views?

  • sean

    But chewing gum has nothing to do with nutrition. But you still argue that chewing is geared towards digestion no?

    So people who are chewing gum know it isn’t about food, and people who masturbate know it won’t get anyone pregnant. I agree. But I was under the impression that you thought chewing was geared towards nutrition. Perhaps I misunderstood your stance? Explain where you think chewing and chewing gum are, in relation to nutrition. Here’s how I’m breaking it down. You have chewing, which is analogous to genital stimulation. Chewing food, would be analogous to heterosexual sex, and chewing gum is analogous to masturbation. That does not make chewing gum wrong though. Does it? And it doesn’t diminish the chewing of food in any way.

  • Pingback: What Questions Must Marriage Revisionists Answer? Part 2 | Tough Questions Answered

  • http://wakingupnow.com/ Rob Tisinai

    You make the common mistake of the George camp by presenting these as competing views. They are not. Actually, the “revisionist” view (which is actually the traditionally and commonly-held view) can contain the “conjugal” view (a misnomer if ever there was one). They do not conflict, unless you insist that marriage can *only* be about procreation and child rearing, and I know no one who holds that view.

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