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Old 10-31-2006, 06:14 AM   #451
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Sometimes I think it's the emergence of that historically improbable institution, romantic love as the basis for marriage, that more than anything else makes the topic of who gets to marry who so loaded. For most cultures and most of human history, marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous, was a purely pragmatic contractual relationship meant to provide a stable environment for childrearing, and through that, the perpetuation of one's caste, clan, tribe or nation and their practices. It might also be seen as divinely ordained (basic social institutions generally are) or particularly demanding of self-sacrificing and compassionate behavior (as you'd expect when the mission at hand is so central to longterm group survival) but the main point was always to ensure a thriving next generation. Not individual "fulfillment" through the sanctioning of one's own particular desires--who you personally might prefer to make a life with, how many children you might personally prefer to have, etc. The idea that such choices are "rights" due to individuals--ANY individuals--would've seemed dangerously self-indulgent to pretty much anyone anywhere 2000 years ago, just as it still seems to most in societies today where arranged marriages remain the norm. To them, what we call romance is ultimately indistinguishable from lust, and has nothing to do with the enduring sort of love that--if you're lucky--develops over years of shared, patient and selfless endurance of the trials and tribulations building a home and a family together inevitably entail. An understanding of marriage as submission to the expectations of the community as embodied by tradition--not just to God.

I know I keep harping on this point, but I really do think this particular transformation of marriage was far more portentous and radical than anything like the legalization of interracial marriage--or, for that matter, gay marriage--could ever be, and in some sense is what makes those transformations conceivable. I love all those Bible passages about the ideal marriage and family as much as anyone else, and very much enjoy the thought that my own reflects them. But in the end I didn't get married because I wanted to honor God, give back to the world by raising just and righteous children, fulfill all the commandments, blah blah blah. I got married because I was in love--and my entire sense that all those other wonderful-sounding things were now within my power (or should I say, worth my time to try?) to achieve followed from that. If those are the fruits, then romantic love was the ground they sprang from; in love was where I found the potential to realize all those other things in my life to begin with.

It would be hard to overemphasize what a radically distinct idea this is. I know from trying to discuss it with traditional Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians in India (all of whom practice arranged marriage) that it really makes no sense at all to them. And I do understand and respect the wisdom behind the take-your-due-burden-and-prayerfully-accept-your-fate approach to marriage and family they have. They correctly point out that the volatile and unpredictable nature of romantic love leads to a divorce rate that far outstrips theirs; that the passions which are indulged through dating and courtship lead to a lot of disastrous mistakes and heartache; that women and, worse, children are often left hung out to dry in the worst way because of these kinds of mistakes. I can't deny any of this. But I am enough of a believer in the power, beauty and wonder of finding--not making--the potential within another to fulfill together some of the most amazing acts of compassion and sacrifice human beings are capable of, that I am willing to say it is worth these risks.

But it is a comparatively self-indulgent way to think--there are simply no two ways about that. Why are we really okay with the idea of a man and a woman who have no intention to have children, claiming the "sacredness" of marriage for themselves? Why are we really okay with the idea of a healthy, fertile man with a promisingly prosperous future ahead of him declining to marry and raise a family because "I've just never found the right girl" or "Marriage just isn't for me"? I think these things can only be explained by our belief that love--the romantic attraction kind, not the affection-born-from-patience kind--is the necessary precondition and grounding from which all the other things that we exalt marriage for follows. A man and a woman can derive a kind of stength and support from each other in marriage that enables them individually to become more powerful forces for good in their community than either of them alone could have achieved--even if they choose never to have children. A man and a woman who want children, but are physically unable to have them, can adopt a child and fulfill their desires to give the world the blessings of new life that way--there is no need to divorce or add on a second spouse because of it, as would have been done in the old days. A black man and a white woman, even if they grew up in the most stereotypically insular of worlds associated with those communities, can through love transcend all the inevitable moments of mistranslation, rejection from unsympathetic friends or family, etc. to build the kind of household and family that exemplifies above all else the promise of a society like ours that defines belonging and solidarity as commitment to a shared belief in the compatibility of personal liberty and public good--not ancestry or shared historical legacy.

I don't understand why two men who love each other can't do the same, and how the natural design of their bodies leads them to express that sexually seems as irrelevant to me as the color of their skin. I don't know why the ancient Hebrews apparently believed God hated sex between men so categorically as to call for the death of anyone who tried it, any more than I know why they apparently believed God hated disobedient, "gluttonous" and drunken sons (Deut 21) so categorically as to call for their own parents having them stoned to death. But God is not a person, people are inherently imperfect interpreters of God's will, and everything else I know about the core Jewish values of healing, sanctifying and transforming the world through loving your neighbor as yourself that I was taught leads me to believe that someone misread the message big-time in these cases, and that the rabbis got it right when they overruled Deut 21, just as the oral law got it right when it explained that "an eye for an eye" means monetary compensation and not physical revenge, just as the Talmud got it right when it declared that "a Sanhedrin who put a man to death even once in 70 years are butchers." Core values don't change, but understandings of the potential of whole categories of people to share in the realization of them do, and so do understandings of the range and form of social roles through which they might (or might not--e.g., slavery) broaden and deepen their achievement of that. I think the ideal of the marriage freely entered into based on love (or not, in the absence of it) is one of the best of these changes, and I don't see how we can justify denying the pursuit of all the things we exalt marriage for to two people who love each other simply because they are of the same sex.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:24 AM   #452
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Wow. . .30 pages.

I found aussie's leap into the fray to be fascinating and actually very insightful.

For one thing, seeing a staunch atheist take a stance against gay marriage gives lie to the idea that only religion could cause a person to oppose gay marriage.

I think it also illuminates the root reason that I believe so many religious people have such a hard time with gay marriage. When "Biblical command" dovetails nicely with something that you find personally revolting--the "ick factor" as Irvine calls it, it's very hard to shake a person from that stance. And yes, without that bastion of Biblical authority, all you're really left with is the "ick factor" which is a very shaky leg upon which to make an argument. I think those who oppose gay marriage based on religious grounds really have to stop and ask themselves "how much of my fealty to those couple texts in the Bible is based on a gut feeling that 'there is no WAY God would ever sanction something so gross. My interpretations of this Scripture MUST be right.'"

I actually think that AEON'S question way, way back at the beginning of the thread on the subjects of polygamy and incest really provides an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter, but I think most of us haven't been brave enough to go there (with the exception of Melon, and actually Yolland too, if I remember correctly) because in our case the "ick factor" is affecting ALL of us.

Not many wanted to call AEON's bluff and say, yes, let consenting adults, who are related to each other marry if that is their desire. It's happened through MUCH of human history anyway. Let consenting adults take more than one spouse (provided that women are allowed the same privelage). Again this not only happened historically throughout the world, but is STILL happening in some parts of the world. (My Iranian friends from high school had different mothers, but the same dad. He had two wives.) To be honest, I don't think you'll find too many people leaping to do either of these things in our culture, but if someone really wants to challenge gay marriage on those issues then let them, and call the bluff. Yes it's gross to us--it sure is gross to me, and understand, I'm not advocating the morality of either type of marriage personally or in the eyes of God. I'm simply saying that supporters of gay marriage have to be consistent and not be thrown by the "ick" factor ourselves. My view is that civil marriage should be allowed between any consenting adults. Period.

And it also puts the opposition--at least the Biblically based opposition--in the awkward position of having to explain how even though it would "appear" that God allowed polygamy and marriage between relatives during Biblical times, in fact he really didn't allow it at all. You can then quickly follow up by arguing, "Hey if you can rationalize or explain the historical, cultural context, or explain how God really wasn't allowing what he appeard to be allowing why can't I do the same in reverse in regards to gay marriage?" The only consistent answer to that would really be: "Well, because all three types of marriage are just weird. And God--the book of Ezekiel not withstanding--isn't a supporter of weirdness."

Which brings me back to a question I'd like to toss out to AEON. It's a Biblically oriented question so those of you who don't see that as valid source for argument, pls disregard. AEON and I both do, so at least for us (and other Christians) it may have some relevance, so bear with us. Jesus talking to the Sadducees in Mark and saying "in heaven there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage, but people will be like the angels." What's your take on this? I know it might seem off-topic but I believe it might be very relevant.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:26 AM   #453
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Wow. Yolland, can we make you ruler of the world?

Hmm...just read maycocksean's post. You two might have to duke it out for that ruler of the world title....


What's very funny to me is that early on in this thread I actually had a post all written out saying I had no problem with relatives marrying or with polygamy as long as all parties are at least the age of consent, but decided not to post it because I didn't want to get drawn into the thread. I should have known I'd get sucked into it anyway.

And no, you can't marry your dog even if you love it very much because the dog cannot consent, so don't even go there.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:32 AM   #454
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Well I apologize, but I've repeated my questions more than once, and I've pointed out the fact that I was waiting as well. There really wasn't more I could have done short of PMing the person, and honestly I don't feel like I should have to do that. The questions were pertinent and no where close to the off topic stearings this poster took on other areas of this discussion. So honestly I'm not sure what else I could have done. I realize no one is required to answer the questions I pose to them, although I think it's hard to keep debate honest if you continually ignore certain questions.
I understand, and I wasn't addressing you in particular with that remark--a whole lot of people have been doing this lately. But threads like this move so fast and furious, it's like sitting around a table with twenty people all of them pounding the wood and shouting their objections all at once. There's a much bigger gap than usual between your own perceptions of which points you got across and everyone else's perceptions in situations like that--especially if you were trying to make multiple points in succession. Frankly, I don't know myself which questions you're referring to; maybe I did at one point, but if so, I've forgotten in the course of trying to keep up with everything. In any case, it doesn't help anyone's focus on catching up to what hasn't been addressed yet when the screen you're currently looking at is a succession of jabs at people's personal foibles.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:34 AM   #455
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Make that 31.

Wow. (But that slow kind where you start out with a single clap of amazement, and build in momentum from there).

Absolutely masterful, Yolland.

Just when I think I've come up with some particularly cogent point or compelling argument, you step in and raise the bar to a whole new level.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:47 AM   #456
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Originally posted by indra
Yolland, can we make you ruler of the world?
What are the benefits I'll gain access to from that, and will they be recognized outside the state of Indiana? (or FYM, for that matter)

Thanks guys.
Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
Oscar Wilde?
Right archetype, wrong country. A gay first-generation Irish-American stage actor and comedy writer named Frank Fay (died 1961). He said it in the context of a public argument with Milton Berle.

It is funny--though like many things comedians say, not very nice.
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Old 10-31-2006, 07:09 AM   #457
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
"...And God--the book of Ezekiel not withstanding--isn't a supporter of weirdness."
You should see some of the stuff the Kabbalists derive from Ezekiel...

Yeah, melon, myself and Irvine all addressed AEON's polygamy/incest comparisons to some extent. As I recall, melon took basically the same stance you did (but expressed strong doubt that polygamy could ever be equal or consensual), Irvine pointed out the high risk of birth defects associated with incest and asserted that polygamy is archetypally nonconsensual, and I made the same point Irvine did about incest while basically taking the same stance you did on polygamy. I think it would be tough to reconcile consensuality as our culture understands it with either of these practices in reality, though, depending somewhat on how you define the scope of incest and the means of arranging polygamous marriages. I can't think of a culture in which romantic love and marital choice overlap with the practice of polygamy as a norm, actually. Also, I don't really think Aussie's point about the hypothetical of a brother and infertile sister wanting to marry clarifies much; a form of marriage that intrinsically requires one partner to be infertile would seem highly dubious at best.
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Old 10-31-2006, 07:29 AM   #458
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

You should see some of the stuff the Kabbalists derive from Ezekiel...

I love that book. I don't get it. But I love it because it's always a good reminder that God is a whole lot bigger than I think.

Yeah, melon, myself and Irvine all addressed AEON's polygamy/incest comparisons to some extent. As I recall, melon took basically the same stance you did (but expressed strong doubt that polygamy could ever be equal or consensual), Irvine pointed out the high risk of birth defects associated with incest and asserted that polygamy is archetypally nonconsensual, and I made the same point Irvine did about incest while basically taking the same stance you did on polygamy. I think it would be tough to reconcile consensuality as our culture understands it with either of these practices in reality, though, depending somewhat on how you define the scope of incest and the means of arranging polygamous marriages.

I agree. My point wasn't to argue that these are great things, just to point out, (as you did far more eloquently) that marriage has had many and varied forms, including some that were practiced by holy men of God in the Bible. . Forms that are no longer ethically, morally, or legally tenable in our society. To be fair though, polygamy was never actively endorsed or promoted by God in Scripture as far as I can tell--it was merely tolerated, and not all forms of marriage to relatives were considered acceptable even during that time. Still, even what WAS allowed then would never fly in our society today. And I was saying that those types of marriage must be opposed based on rational arguments (such as the ones Irvine provided), not just the reflex "we all find it gross" response. Likewise, gay marriage would have to be opposed on rational grounds (which so far has not happened, IMO). So if you call the bluff, and say "Okay, as long as there are no rational reasons, i.e. things that demonstratably cause harm to others, then no we can't oppose those types of marriage either" that automatically puts all arguments to the standard of having to be defended rationally, rather than saying "Ewww gross, how can you even compare THOSE disgusting things to gay marriage."

I can't think of a culture in which romantic love and marital choice overlap with the practice of polygamy as a norm, actually.

Yeah, I thought the same as I read your post.

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Old 10-31-2006, 08:12 AM   #459
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1. Thanks for the attention, INDY. You have been reading my posts.
2. Someone wants answers instead of questions? Here's one: Denying people the right to marry because your Bible says so is immoral and bigoted. I think I've said that before, but I can say it again.
3. Now I eagerly await a decent refutation of yolland's literate and thougtful post; one which no one can complain was a one-liner or full of questions.
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Old 10-31-2006, 08:20 AM   #460
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON
You know - I find it odd that almost all of the name calling and hostility seems to be coming from those that support gay marriage.

Seriously, read through this thread from beginning to end. Amazing.

Anyone have a theory as to why?
Because, apparently, conservatives can start talking about incest, polygamy, and bestiality in the same breath as "gay marriage," and *not* think it to be as insulting as it would be to equate interracial marriage with incest, polygamy, and bestiality.

I'm sorry, but it is. And it's frustrating to argue on that kind of foundation, when it's built on nothing but mindnumbing irrationality that no amount of evidence in the world seems to make you budge from.

While we're at it, why don't we argue that...

"When the races mix, where does the slippery slope end?"

Because that's precisely the kind of argument that racists had in the 20th century. And I'm less romantic about the idea of integration than history might be. I think that most genuine supporters of segregation never changed their minds, and spent their very last irrational breath cursing the very existence of black people. I hear this is still the case in some parts of the Deep South too.

Frankly, when I read all the homophobic nonsense in this thread (which can be debunked by merely having a gay person as a close friend), that's what I'm reminded of here. And I'm sure this will happen again. As the bigots grow old and die, the world will finally be more and more free of prejudice. But, you see, I don't want to wait until I'm 80 years old to wait for all the breeders to reinvent the wheel and for them to "grant me permission" to use that wheel. Who the fuck do you all think you are?

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Old 10-31-2006, 08:24 AM   #461
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
For one thing, seeing a staunch atheist take a stance against gay marriage gives lie to the idea that only religion could cause a person to oppose gay marriage.
I don't care what kind of atheist someone is. They're still highly influenced by "Christianized culture" in the West.

But I do get an earnest chuckle when an atheist talks about "sacred institutions." There's no such thing as "sacredness" in the oblivion.

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Old 10-31-2006, 08:51 AM   #462
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


While we're at it, why don't we argue that...

"When the races mix, where does the slippery slope end?"

Because that's precisely the kind of argument that racists had in the 20th century. And I'm less romantic about the idea of integration than history might be. I think that most genuine supporters of segregation never changed their minds, and spent their very last irrational breath cursing the very existence of black people. I hear this is still the case in some parts of the Deep South too.
Hate to break it to you, but this attitude doesn't exist only in the Deep South. I will bet there are people with these feelings in every single state (and city and town) in this country. There are fewer of them than there have been in the past, but they most certainly still exist.

Quote:

Frankly, when I read all the homophobic nonsense in this thread (which can be debunked by merely having a gay person as a close friend), that's what I'm reminded of here. And I'm sure this will happen again. As the bigots grow old and die, the world will finally be more and more free of prejudice. But, you see, I don't want to wait until I'm 80 years old to wait for all the breeders to reinvent the wheel and for them to "grant me permission" to use that wheel. Who the fuck do you all think you are?

Melon
A few months ago I read where most women said the most offensive word to them was cunt (when used as a slur). I must be weird because that word doesn't really bother me that much. However, your extremely contemptuous use of the word breeder I do find offensive (and I don't offend easily). You use it and I have an overwhelming desire to slap you silly (or kick you hard in the nuts). I know why you are using it, but that doesn't matter. If you want respect, don't deride whole other groups, especially ones I technically belong to (even though I have no children and don't plan to). I DO NOT CARE if others deride you, if YOU want respect do not stoop to the same level.
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:07 AM   #463
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Whatever I say further in this thread will come across as an unintended insult. As such, I'm putting a halt to it. I'm so angry right now that I'm tempted to go curse God in Dreadsox's thread.

Except I'm not about to slur God because of His contemptuously stupid followers, whose Pharisee-like devotion is nothing but a 2,000 year old slur upon His name. How much I cannot stand the mere sight of Christians anymore!

Quote:
How about this one....

God only gives people the things they can handle.....

What a crock of shite.
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:59 AM   #464
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon

Who the fuck do you all think you are?

Melon
Thanks for proving the point.
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Old 10-31-2006, 10:13 AM   #465
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Originally posted by melon


Except I'm not about to slur God because of His contemptuously stupid followers, whose Pharisee-like devotion is nothing but a 2,000 year old slur upon His name. How much I cannot stand the mere sight of Christians anymore!



Melon
Yolland offered some fresh insights into the Pharisees a few months back. I now see statements like this as insulting to Jews.

I only wish I had their sense of devotion - although I obviously disagree with their conclusions about the Messiah Christ had a problem with many of them who were more concerned with appearing righteous instead of actually being righteous. To Him, many lacked a genuine love for God and His children…especially His children (hint hint).

Nicodemus is a great example how even a scholarly, well-intentioned believer can miss some of God’s most simple teachings. But Nicodemus apparently left his mind open enough to eventually change it.
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