William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

After Gay Marriage…Then What? Guest Post by the Blonde Bombshell

Equality for all!

Equality for all!

It is easy to draw parallels from the constitutional right to an abortion, and the nearly constitutional right to marry someone of one’s sex. These “rights” are not explicitly stated in the Constitution, but clever judges have been able to find that the rights were hiding behind the existing language, just waiting to be discovered after more than two centuries of hide-and-seek.

In the years following the Roe vs. Wade decision, the pro-life crowd did not surrender. They prayed at clinics; they lobbied for legislation; they gathered and marched; they shared their stories. Because of the indefatigable efforts of the pro-life ground troops, abortion is still a lively political issue, and nowhere near being universally accepted and acclaimed.

Gay marriage’s success so far stems from being framed as a civil rights issue. It is difficult for most Americans to disagree with anything that could be considered a “civil right.” And, the Supreme Court will probably come up with some gobbley-gook that sounds civil-righty, looks pretty good on paper, and gay marriage will be the law of the land.

For gay marriage opponents (or rather, natural law supporters), then what? What are the options?

Will people pray outside of gay weddings? Unlikely, and too Westboro Baptist Church. Will people agitate to change state law? For abortion, the allowable age where a fetus could meet its maker is fluid, and where laws can be reasonably made. Where is something similar for gay marriage? One can’t promote a state law stating that parties need to be a couple for nine months before marriage? Ridiculous. The tools used by the pro-life flank seem blunt and useless against the man-created edifice of gay marriage.

The only avenue where there could be some influence is with the church. The First Amendment says right out in the open—and first—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” However, given the primacy of the religion in the Constitution, this is no guarantee that religion will be protected. Hey, amendments are there to be changed, and at least one presidential candidate has said as much.

There are four potential choices that a church has: go along with gay marriage; go along with it with limits; don’t go along with it and be fined; don’t go along it and go underground.

Some church bodies, the like Episcopalians and the Presbyterians have already thrown in the towel, and are on board with gay marriage. Their congregations are already shrinking, and so what does it matter if they lose a few bigots—especially if they can attract faithful gay couples. For them, it’s a net win.

Or, a church can consider gay marriage the way the Catholic Church considers a mixed-faith marriage. Yes, the couple can be married, but on a side altar or maybe in the rectory in a modest ceremony—no over-the-top displays, no huge guest lists. Some may complain that this discriminatory, but churches usually reserve the right to be discriminatory. And so far, it’s worked out.

Maybe the law will be written so a church is allowed to say “no” to a same-sex ceremony, but for every refusal, they have to pay a fine or lose their tax-exempt status. Similar fines are forcing florists and cake-bakers into the poor house. It is too early to tell if this will be an option extended to churches, but putting a price on the free exercise of religion may be a solution that many would be comfortable with, even if the meaning of “free” is corrupted in the process.

The last choice churches have is to show the world that they are beat: sell off the property and close their doors. They can go underground and fan the flame of faith. Certainly they will have no standing with the government, and they will have to practice in the shadows.

Robert Reno and others have suggested that perhaps churches should just get out of the marriage business and leave it to the state. Capitulation is sorely tempting, but those who give in rarely win.

After gay marriage, then what?

Editor’s note That last question was a challenge. What do you think the consequences will be?

40 Comments

  1. After gay marriage? That’s easy. Polygamy in all its forms. Hey, it’s a lifestyle choice, it’s private matter, it’s consenting adults after all.

    The slippery slope of gay marriage leads first to polygamy. I’m against gay marriage on these grounds alone. But I’m willing to compromise for the benefit of society. I’m in favor of state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to two humans. This would solve the problems associated with gay marriage leading to polygamy which would, of course, lead to worse things.

  2. RE: After gay marriage, then what? (Editor’s note That last question was a challenge. What do you think the consequences will be?)

    Basically nothing more than increasing awareness of things & happenings going on around you already & anyway. Out of the shadows & into the open. Gays have been doing that all along & will continue to do so — making rules that puts this in the open has the sole practical effect of forcing people who’d like to pretend things aren’t what they are in this regard have to deal with the fact that the world is even less squeaky clean than they’d like to pretend (and thru this many of those who find this so troubling work hard, very hard, to pretend that that State-sanctioned “marriage” is a civil contract that is very different than a church-facilitated sacrament that also has the corresponding civil contract are both the same — same word, “marriage,” but the absence of the sacrament in the one case renders direct comparisons invalid).

    Gays have been shacking up for years & many have made unbinding (except to themselves) marital vows.

    As for abortion, more access induces more [no doubt about that]…but there too, many kids self-aborted (unbend coat hangers, etc.) often with dire results.

    Someone else’s corrupt behavior when the corruption is a private matter that does not involve others doesn’t involve others. No point in being a busybody nosing into other’s private activities.

    BOTTOM LINE is: Straight people will stay straight, people disinclined to abort their fetus’s won’t, etc.

    Where the will to engage in what is a sinful behavior is physically thwarted, but the person’s will isn’t, the denied access doesn’t make them any more wholesome (e.g. Matt 5:28 & related Matt 5:21).

  3. I think the most likely thing is that churches that don’t acknowledge and won’t perform such “weddings” will lose their tax-exempt status. Most Americans already seem to view tax status wrongly — as if all organizations are taxable and the government graciously refrains from taxing some, rather than that the tax code was set up not to tax churches and church-based organizations because they are inherently untaxible. Most churches in America are very small; they’ll go along with this because they have little or nothing to lose, having few or no gay members anyway. What will the Catholic Church do? I don’t know. Many “Catholic” univerisities, charities, and other organizations have already caved on things they should not be doing and/or paying for. I imagine they will do the same here. If all Catholic churches and organizations refused this or other things like the HHS mandate, the government would have to back down. But they haven’t, don’t, and won’t, which shows that we are weak and fractured.

  4. Ken: I guess you’re right. Why bother to tell people not to sin? Those inclined to sin will just compound their sins with other sins such as lying about their sins, making them even worse! While we’re at it, why don’t we get rid of laws as well? After all, those inclined to break the law are generally clandestine about it, hiding their lawbreaking and making their lawbreaking even worse. What could go wrong???

    And by all means, throw in some red herrings like unbent coat hangers when it’s common knowledge that before Roe v. Wade, nearly all illegal abortions were done by doctors who broke the law to do them. False information makes arguments stronger, especially when it’s scary and false.

  5. I predict the Catholic Church will continue to not recognize or perform SS marriages. She will suffer whatever injustices the government inflicts on her.

  6. As I’ve always said (and what is true), a marriage is not just an ‘agreement’ between two (why two?) people, but between that couple and society. All parties, as it were, must agree to make the marriage valid.

    But some won’t agree with what isn’t a real as-defined-by-natural-law marriage. Conflict. So look for a string of regulations at semi-private institutions like colleges and stock-issuing companies and laws that forbid one to withhold acknowledging the union. “Free speech” will be defined as “that which one does outside of society.”

    The effect of this will be push (faithful) Christians further out of public life.

    And then comes the State Department muscle to coerce other countries, like Japan, into accepting what is anathema to them. Some smaller countries will go along—at least, their leadership will—but bigger ones like Japan will not. This will add considerably to the world’s storehouse of animosity.

  7. I read the post in First Things that suggested that churches get out of Marriages, at least the power of being civil officials that can ratify the license. In that way, by abdicating that civil power over what they called “government marriage” they remove the “civil rights” issue. But the article didn’t even mention gay marriage per se. It was more of an observation about the state of marriage as something other than biblical. A Christian Wedding could then be performed in the church after the civil thing had been done in some office somewhere. And in that wedding the couple takes vows before God, attends some training if required, and agrees to uphold the precept of marriage as sworn before God. Protestants in Latin America often have to do this: Civil service in the office of a Notario, kind of a government notary public, then if desired a wedding in their church. No big deal really, another step of excitement for the couple.

    In no way would they lose their tax exempt status. They are not a for profit entity and are currently unique as an organization with government authority to perform a function that has migrated into the state and not a function really of the church.

    But the key was that it was a strong statement to both society, to women, and to the couple. The church gives no “legitimacy” nor recognizes your government marriage as marriage. It is flat out declaration by the bride to her future husband that her vows are a joke, “till something better comes along or until I wish to divorce rape you. And you can stuff that ‘obey’ part.” This is not marriage, it is legal contract that completely favors her and the church is boycotting it as such.

    So to me it is the church saying, “Up yours to modern women and society. If you want to “”married married then you have to get “real married” and you do it on our terms and by our rules. And they are free to set those rules as they choose, however they choose. ” One thing history has shown is that will always be people that choose to join a religion that had rigor in its doctrine. And for men, it clarifies the intentions and core beliefs of the woman. If won’t say “I do” to a real church wedding and promise the promises the church demands she promise, then “I don’t do”. Marriage is not something that romantic love legitimizes and is some higher form of “going steady”. It is social solution to the problems created by heterosexual sex in manner that it best, first for the child, and second for society. It understands the natural inclinations of men towards promiscuity and of women towards serial polyandry. It provides for what First Things called “The Civilization of Love” in that it provides the proper social solution with checks and balances that each partner has that insure the best welfare of first the children, then EACH partner, across the transitions that each will go through during a life.

    There is a reason that homosexuality was scorned across history and society will come to recognize why, just as the early church formed in the latter days of Rome recognized the detriment that homosexuality posed to heterosexual social and familial stability. It was hedonistic promiscuity that more than any other fact led to instability, and mostly to the falling birth rates among the most capable of Roman CItizens, ultimately filling the city with idiots of low moral fiber. Finally Constantine was forced to abandon it and move away to Constantinople as the only possible solution to maintain the empire.

    Our church needs to draw in on itself as it can, and listen to the lesson of Isiah. The message of the church is no longer to the masses. It is to the remnants.

  8. Briggs,

    The perspective that marriage is an agreement between the couple and society is one that is sorely needed. It’s one of the best reasons (aside from child raising) for the state’s involvement.

    I’m worried about the penalties to churches that do not participate. If it’s a loss of tax exempt status, then that’s manageable from a simple “what is the church’s yearly budget?” standpoint. If it’s based on fines for rejecting to do a same sex ‘service’, then the various LGBT.* activist groups will have been handed a powerful tool for bankrupting churches.

    The social consequences are already well known. Humanae Vitae already laid them out, and same sex marriage is not so different in its destruction of proper human sexuality than divorce and contraception are.

  9. The day after the Supreme Court rulings in June 2013, I took my Japanese friend to church. She was was visiting from Chiba. We didn’t intend to go to mass, but we were passing by the church, and I thought she would like to see it. Coincidentally, the afternoon mass was in progress, and the priest who was giving the mass had a short homily against the decision of the Court. As a result, we had a discussion about the homily, and what the Court decided. My friend was horrified and shocked that this was even a discussion in the public sphere, and she said that she could “never agree” to such arrangements. My friend is educated and worldly, and has traveled around the world, but even with her cosmopolitan background, SSM never once appeared on her radar.

  10. Perhaps it is time for the state to divorce their so called right to marriage.
    Then the religious rite of marriage can be maintained unique to each religion, open those who wish to comply with their respective religious institutional guidelines independent of the State.

    Above James wrote “The perspective that marriage is an agreement between the couple and society is one that is sorely needed” However nothing could be further from what is true and right.
    Marriage is a vow to God, in front of the congregation, made by a man and a women to love and care for each other and any children they may have. Vows to God carry far more responsibility and weight than any “agreement” with the State or “society,” and cannot to be dissolved by the State.

    Consider the current benefits of “Marriage” or civil union to the State: Two people can act as an individual entity for contractual purposes, to purchase and own property, receive certain tax incentives, and share responsibility of raising children. Furthermore the union can be legally dissolved with (?) equitable sharing of responsibility. all of these responsibilities are granted by “civil union”. The two need not be opposite sex nor be able to bear children. They need not be of any specific religion or even be deists. Consequently of all of these functions can be granted under the auspices of a “civil union” granted and recorded by the State.
    There need not be any pretense of religion involved or persecution of the religious.

    Marriage is the sole function of the religious institution. Marriage can be granted and performed by the religious institution, and would receive specific rights and responsibilities in accordance with the religious law. If religiously married couples wish to obtain the benefits the State offers, then they can be registered for civil union by the State. No religious institution can be forced by the state to perform a ceremony that violates the religious law.

    Historically marriage has always been a function of religious institutions and is a vow to God by a man and a women. The State should be interested only in the legal contractual benefits and obligations of civil union.

    It is time for the State to separate itself from the church.

  11. My parents were married in the priest’s house/rectory

    I have said it before

    Allow any church body to rescind their state vested powers of union back to the state. The church is free to define their conditions for marriage.

    Allow the state to set up whatever “personal corporations” they are comfortable in establishing providing the rights and duties of each participant in said corporation. This could even include a “common law” proviso for persons married by the church but who do not wish to enjoin under a state administered “personal corporation”.

    Thus, everyone can have their cake and eat it too (provided they can find a baker that recognizes their church or corporate charter).

  12. Mine was a shorter version of Bert Walker’s – I think we’re in agreement

  13. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 16, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Intriguingly, governments in the West did not intrude on marriage until the mid-19th century. (The First French Republic being the exception, and harbinger.) This was about the same time that they were intruding on education, and it has taken about the same length of time to break both.

    OTOH, there were always laws affecting marriage. We find several for example in the Code of Khamurapi. All of them dealt with provisions for children and inheritance or with individual/collective responsibility for crimes or debts. The only instance of separation mentioned was for barrenness. All this indicates that the State’s interest lay solely in the provision for children.

    Ditto, Plato in The Laws states that the first law of the State would be for the propagation of children and thus governing marriage.

    The only reason for the State’s intrusion into private acts between adults is to ensure than any offspring resulting from their coupling is not thrown onto the King’s Purse but is paid for by the procreative couple. Those couples incapable of procreation, such as a man and his Labrador Retriever or a woman and her roller coaster, are of no concern to the State and they may play pretend-dress up to their hearts’ content.

    The confusion of the Late Modern is that technology enables us to make one another artificially sterile, after which it’s Nellie-bar-the-door. (There is also a confusion between possession of a faculty and its successful exercise.) But the primary secular purpose remains: “Hokay, kids. Before Society lets you Do the Deed, do you accept responsibility to take care of any offspring may result?”

    The Late Modern focus is all on slurping supposed government bennies at the trough, but you will notice that it was not until easy divorce and serial marriage became common and the ancient institution had been “emptied out” by people “walking through” it that anyone thought it was a good idea to marry a goat or the Eiffel Tower.

  14. John B(),

    I am very partial to getting the state out of it (but not entirely). So many things, like health insurance or inheritance/wills could be shifted to a +1 system that doesn’t need an explicit “spouse” written. Want more people on your insurance plan? Just add a +1 and pay for it.

    The only benefit to marriage seems to be tax breaks when you have dependents or are single income. Again, that could be addressed without bothering churches by allowing +1s for dependents (with good proof of the dependency).

    The caring of children, though, is something where I think the state should have oversight, because children aren’t properly able to argue for/defend/understand what is due to them.

    YOS,

    Adoption and surrogacy (among other things) have also complicated the matter. When children were only able to be created naturally, no one had any reason to think that marriage could be anything other than a man and a woman. Now that surrogacy and other scary things are becoming more mainstream, society is trying very hard to disconnect children from the natural way that children come about.

    If the marriage discussion doesn’t stress the rights of children, then it will have a harder time arguing against same sex marriage. This is especially true when people now see marriage as a willful contract, and somehow also see adopting or surrogacy as just plain contracts.

  15. James

    I agree that concern for the children is important to the state.
    Today there is a preponderance of single parent families, etc., etc. No GLBT marriage consideration will address those issues.

    When I was living in a blue collar/union world, many of the guys I knew were involved with women who had children and had to hide these relationships from the state or face loss of child benefits from the state or former husbands.

    which brings me to
    YOS
    where he says … you will notice that it was not until easy divorce and serial marriage became common …

    Yep! The “personal corporate charter” that the state is comfortable with could include “Penalties for Early Withdrawal” clauses (assuming the charter was solely for tax and other financial advantages). Theses charters could even include time terms and benefits based on terms entered into with potentially increase in penalties.

    (I’ll let you decide if the pun was intentional – and if you decide in the affirmative I apologize)

  16. James,

    “The perspective that marriage is an agreement between the couple and society is one that is sorely needed. It’s one of the best reasons (aside from child raising) for the state’s involvement.”

    That’s true, but in my opinion it’s the wrong approach. It is the state, not the church (as another commenter suggested) that needs to be removed from the marriage business.

  17. MattS,

    If you made me choose between removing the state or the church, I would also choose to remove the state. However, the state is in the rights-protecting business. If children have rights, vis-a-vis their parents, then good arguments for state involvement can be made.

    That’s why I think the re-frame from “the state shouldn’t be in the marriage business” to “the state should be in the protecting children’s rights business” is essential. We are dealing with more than the state giving legal shortcuts to various 2 person (why 2?, as Briggs points out) dissolvable relationships!

  18. Sander van der Wal

    April 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    During the 14 years that gay marriage is allowed in the Netherlands, nothing much happened, apart from nobody finding Weapons of Mass Destruction in Irak.

  19. Sander, All,

    Baseline: The Netherlands has about 17 million folks, about the same size as the New York metropolitan areas.

    Since SSM was passed, several things have happened. For instance, this: “Netherlands: Same-sex wedding ‘opt out’ for officials removed“. The opt-out (get this language) “allowed civil servants to legally discriminate against same-sex couples getting married on the grounds of religion.” So religious “exceptions” are disallowed. This will force faithful Christians from positions which administer SSMs. Same thing in England.

    Another: “Dutch Catholics ‘De-Baptize’ Themselves Over Gay Marriage.” Article: “Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information.” The Netherlands is like Germany in that people must legally register with a church (and, I’m assuming, pay taxes to it; Sander, help me here). Subsequently, church attendance is way down.

    Bizarrely, a developer in the Netherlands wants to build a walled-offed “neighbourhood in Tilburg specifically for gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

    I don’t know enough to search local sites to see what conflicts must have arisen. Lawsuits?

  20. Then what? Free suicide pills of course.

  21. I agree with what a lot have said of getting the State out of marriage. I have read this a bill to do this has been submitted in Oklahoma. Let the states set up whatever unions they want.

  22. Briggs,

    “The opt-out (get this language) “allowed civil servants to legally discriminate against same-sex couples getting married on the grounds of religion.””

    When someone works has a civil servant he represent the states which cannot favor a religion or individuals over another religion.

    The civil servant can choose to work or not in a position that makes him do act that goes against its belief.

    That there is no exception while working for the state is one thing, forcing or interdicting a church to perform is another altogether. In the USA and Canada the constitution prevent the State to intervene in Churches affairs and vice versa. No churches in the US or Canada are forced to celebrate gay marriage although some Churches do accept to perform them.

    That for you a marriage is more than a contract between two people doesn’t change the fact that for the State it is exactly jus that.

  23. After gay marriage: more crime and poverty. The increase will not be as great as that which attended loss of the taboo against out-of-wedlock childbearing, but it will similarly erode our society’s ability to raise its youth properly and teach them to do so in their turn.

    Throughout history many societies seem to have embraced homosexuality with more enthusiasm than the West did until recently, yet no such society successful enough to leave its mark on history accorded homosexual unions the panoply of support mechanisms they accorded marriage. That historical absence should have been a caution against so radical an experiment.

    Instead of making that argument, though, opponents almost always framed the issue in terms of sin and religion. I almost screamed in frustration. Why did they insist on thus playing into proponents’ hands?

  24. Joe,

    The historical arguments, I’ve found, are difficult to make without proponents finding lots of wiggle room, or just playing the “times have changed, right side of history” cards. Either that, or they accept that history is a guide and then throw all kinds of things like “well, history had harems, and you aren’t for those”.

    Also, they love the theory of same sex marriage. It’s not like any evidence will convince them otherwise. It’s hard enough to point to present day evidence to convince people that redefining marriage is a very bad idea.

    Although I think your idea is on point. Chesterton’s fence is very sound reasoning.

  25. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 16, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    When someone works has a civil servant he represent the states which cannot favor a religion or individuals over another religion.

    a) Opposition to gay “marriage” is not religious. There never was such a thing anywhere, whether in Africa, China, or anywhere else. While in many places there were few social bars placed on a man pleasuring himself however he wished, there was always disapproval of adult men acting the “bottom” role.

    b) Marriage is performed by the couple. The Church gets involved as a witness and attempts to prevent consanguinity, bigamy, and other abuses. The State never did get involved in the West until pretty much the mid-19th century. Mussolini’s dictum “Nothing outside the State” became popular long before Mussolini came along. Today we cannot even imagine that grown-ups used to regulate their own behaviors.

  26. “There are four potential choices that a church has: go along with gay marriage; go along with it with limits; don’t go along with it and be fined; don’t go along it and go underground.”

    Briggs, maybe there’s some little riddle here I’m not getting, but how the heck does the church have any of those choices?

    The church, it would seem, has no choice but to adhere to the political motives of the apostle Paul (from 2000 years ago) when he decided to make a big deal out of sex. Paul was apparently a walking sphincter.

    The church has only one choice on this one and that’s continue to oppose homosexuality. It will have no effect on the church whatsoever. How it effects people outside the church, in the public realm, is another matter.

    Stick with stats. You don’t understand constitutional law.

    JMJ

  27. Marriage in a Church, Synagogue or Mosque has legal implications only because priests etc are certificated as government ordained marriage celebrants. They could resign from their legal marriage celebrant position and conduct marriages recognised only by their religion. A couple could also undergo marriage in a civil ceremony with a certified celebrant maybe at the same time.

  28. What you’re talking about, Gary, is the state recognizing your marriage for legal purposes. You are not required to get permission (no matter what the state says) to marry. If you fail to get licensed though, your marriage does not warrant the legal recognition and protection granted by the state. Which would mean a latter separation would remit no use of the state’s legal system for divorce proceedings etc.

    This does not, in any way, confer onto the state the authority to dictate what marriage is or force persons to perform the ceremony against their will.

  29. For the past generation, the Left has been trying to “normalize” abortion. It remains unmentionable in public. They’re trying to maintain the illusion of inevitability by picking a fight they think they can win.

  30. James:

    You’re absolutely right about how many proponents would respond to a view based more on the reason why societies institute various supports for marriage.

    But there are also those who are not very analytical and, thinking that their gut reservations about treating homosexual unions as marriage are based only on their religious beliefs, do not–as I do not–want to impose their religious views on others. Showing them that their reservations may not be only religious would be helpful.

    (Also helpful would be a thorough discussion about whether discrimination is necessarily a bad thing on balance, but that’s a much more-complicated topic.)

    Would that have changed the outcome? I don’t know. But it would have provided less ammunition to those who would divert attention from the real issue.

  31. Sander van der Wal

    April 17, 2015 at 9:54 am

    @Briggs

    Marrying people is a State function performed by civil servants. If a civil servant is against inoculation because of religious reasons and he has to perform then, he’s out of a job too if he does not perform them.

    And this is in a country where people are free not to vaccinate their children for whatever reason they can think of. So it has nothing to do with preventing people to perform their religious duties as they see fit, and everything with the state being impartial to all the daftnesses people can think of. Including getting married.

  32. Sander van der Wal: No, the equivalent would be people not vaccinating their children but changing the word “vaccinated” to also mean “unvaccinated” (ie: a vaccinated person either had or did not have vaccinations).

    Suppose I own a very small apartment and I love to do crafts but hate to cook. I unplug my stove and refrigerator and use them to store all my craft supplies. I use these appliances for a different purpose than they were meant for because I don’t care about the things they were meant for. To me, they are just more shelves. However, I know what they are really for and can empty them, plug them back in, and use them for their real purposes at any time. If you asked me how much shelf space I had, I would tell you how many shelves I had and that I use my fridge and stove for shelves as well.

    Now instead, say that I like to cook and bring home a huge amount of hamburger. I put what I can in the fridge, but there is some left over so I bake it in the oven. However, I tell you that it is all in the fridge. When you ask me how that could be, I tell you that as far as I’m concerned, a fridge is anything that cools OR heats food. The only way I can have my food heated in my fridge is to change the definition of “fridge.”

    The first example is what any alternative to marriage is. Gay or straight, living together or having an affair, having any other sexual relationship outside of a man and woman marriage is choosing to use things for something else than their purposes. The second is what “gay marriage” is — changing the definition of something to mean something else you prefer.

    Asking government to legalize gay marriage is different in kind from asking government to legalize “civil unions.” A civil union is made up and can encompass any type of relationship you want it to. Marriage has a definition, and asking government to accept anything else as marriage is asking for a lie to be declared a truth.

  33. Briggs,

    what exactly is the natural law that you’re referring to? I’m not too familiar with it, but aren’t there different interpretations of what natural law is, a particular one of which is given by the catholic church? Also, aren’t parts of natural law shared by animals and humans? As I understand homosexuality isn’t exclusive to the human condition.

    However, what I really don’t understand is why same-sex marriage is a thing at all. If we’re talking about getting married for tax purposes or other bureaucratic reasons, it should be a union exclusively before the law, and I’m talking about the non-natural kind here. As to the religious aspect of marriage, why would you try to be officiated by a member of a religious institution that doesn’t support this union, it just doesn’t make sense. If you are a religious homosexual why don’t you pick one that acknowledges you.

    That being said, I see marriage in church as a union between two people and god/s, marriage in the eyes of the law a union between 2 people and society. If we are excluding homosexuals from the latter we should also retroactively exclude heterosexuals that don’t procreate…

  34. Here is a definition of natural law: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm

  35. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Marrying people is a State function performed by civil servants.

    No. Marrying is a personal act over which the State has arrogated its authority. This principle was recognized in Roman law as “consent makes the marriage.” (In Germanic tribal law, the principle was “the act makes the marriage.” But this would make one’s rapist a husband, and the Church found that intolerable and insisted on consent.)

    By the same token, the Church required the marriage vows to be exchanged in public. The scandal of the time was so-called “woods marriage” in which the man and woman exchanged vows “in the woods” or perhaps even in a marriage bed itself — then in the morning the man would say he never made any such promises and the woman would be left holding the bag, so to speak. Hence, the requirement that the man make the offer and the woman accept the offer in public.

    Stipulated: it was often the family or clan that oversaw matters, and even arranged the marriage in the first place.

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 17, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    what exactly is the natural law

    Every thing (ousia) has its nature, the substantial form that makes it what it is. These natures are generically easy to discern, but often specifically difficult. The good is what all things pursue. We call a doctor a “good” doctor insofar as his patients are restored to health (when physically possible, of course). We call an archer a “good” archer insofar as he hits the mark or comes close to it. A cat is good insofar is it is a cat.

    The “law” is not in the fashion of a legal code, but rather what was once called “the common course of nature.” An apple ripening in sunlight will turn red “in the common course of nature.” That is, it is pursuing its natural end. However, a particular apple may be deficient in some way, or deprived of sunlight, and so may become yellow or rotten or fail to ripen at all. These acts, although they have physical causes, are contrary to the natural law.

    As often used, however, the term “natural law” includes a moral dimension that an apple or cat does not possess. The moral dimension depends on the free exercise of will, so for those who deny the will there can be no morality except as arbitrarily imposed by the Besserwissers.

    Also, aren’t parts of natural law shared by animals and humans?

    Certainly. Except insofar as it refers to moral acts. A cat can act badly, but it cannot act immorally.

    As I understand homosexuality isn’t exclusive to the human condition.

    So what? You are confusing Stuff That Happens with the natural law.

    However, what I really don’t understand is why same-sex marriage is a thing at all.

    First: We are told that the proper term is “gender,” not “sex.” You don’t want to leave “trans”people out. (Or perhaps objectum sexuals.)

    Second: Technically, it does not exist. “Marriage” means to provide a man with a young woman. Institutionally, it is intended to provide a stable environment for the raising of the children that often result from the procreative act so that they do not become a burden on the King’s Purse. Two individuals of the same sex are thus as incapable of entering marriage to each other as a married man is of being a bachelor. To apply the word idiosyncratically to some other contractual arrangement is like calling a stove a refrigerator.

    Or as Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have replied when someone asked him how many legs a dog would have if we called a tail a leg, “Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”

    If we’re talking about getting married for tax purposes or other bureaucratic reasons, it should be a union exclusively before the law

    Certainly. The State has the power to grant privileges to any sort of corporation it wishes, whether a procreative couple, a non-procreative couple, a business partnership, a multinational corporation, etc.

    The law recognizes all sorts of partnerships for corporate purposes. However, when two elderly British sisters filed to “marry” in order that the survivor would not be deprived of their common house by UK death taxes should one of them die before the other, they were refused on the grounds that civil union laws had been enacted specifically for homosexual pairings. This was manifestly unfair, and contrary to the reasons often given to justify such things in the first place.

  37. RE this bold, and incorrect, statement: “As I’ve always said (and what is true), a marriage is not just an ‘agreement’ between two (why two?) people, but between that couple and society. All parties, as it were, must agree to make the marriage valid.” – Briggs

    REALITY: Marriage is important for the upbringing of the next generation, and therefore it is important for society. the foundation for the family, where children learn the values and virtues that will make good Christians as well as good citizens. The importance of marriage for children and for the upbringing of the next generation highlights the importance of marriage for all society. marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance.

    GOT IT?

    Marriage has public significance.

    But it is NOT a contract/agreement between the couple married and the rest of society.

    VERY BIG DIFFERENCE that.

  38. JMJ, your very personal description of Paul makes it seem like you know him as an ancestor.

  39. After the same-sex marriage, some Catholic priests would argue that the celibacy rule for priests should be abandoned because it is unnatural, and the church would respond quietly to those priests that appeal to nature is a logical fallacy.

    Or, a church can consider gay marriage the way the Catholic Church considers a mixed-faith marriage. Yes, the couple can be married, but on a side altar or maybe in the rectory in a modest ceremony—no over-the-top displays, no huge guest lists. Some may complain that this discriminatory, but churches usually reserve the right to be discriminatory. And so far, it’s worked out.

    The Catholic Church allows an interfaith wedding ceremony to be held at the chief altar or a side altar or in the rectory. It is the couple’s choice, so is the guest list. This has been true for at least 3 decades. Perhaps because the old way was deemed wrong.

    The Catholic Church has progressed!

    If a church allows gay marriages, I believe it will treat same-sex couples as heterosexual couples. With dignity, respect and sincere blessings.

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