Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Facebook Falsehoods and Fallacies Part 5 - Marriage Equality Round-Up!

1. Polygamy and incest are arguably more "biblical" than "traditional" marriage, so I'm surprised you don't support them.
2. You've never asked me (and probably not many of your other friends) whether or not I support these things, so how would you know? Oh right...this is just a "gotcha."
3. There is not currently a big push for marriage equality for polygamous and incestuous relationships. When there is, then I'll discuss whether or not I support it. Unless you want me to bring nuclear weapons, chemical warfare and lightsabers into the gun control debate? It's just as easy to say "If we allow assault weapons, we'll have to allow phasers!" or "If we allow religious groups to meet freely, we'll have to allow human sacrifice!" as it is to say "If we allow gay marriage, we'll have to allow polygamy!" If same-sex marriage will inexorably lead to person-dog marriage, then letting people drive 65 mph will inevitably lead to people driving 300 mph! Speed limits are logically impossible!
4. Again, not going to get into whether I support it, but polygamy is much more complicated legally than same-sex marriage is. If a big push to legalize it comes--and it may--it will not be nearly as easy to implement  as same-sex marriage, which is as simple as changing the "husband" and "wife" fields to "spouse1" and "spouse2". We'll have to discuss inheritance, divorce, power-of-attorney, and child custody, just to name a few. This is not to say that because it is complicated, it's wrong, but it's hard to use the slippery slope argument when there's a giant roadblock in the way.
5. If we do allow polygamous and incestuous marriages, precisely how will that hurt you?

1. Great! We're not trying to. Seriously, those who believe in the same God you do know that it's impossible to change God's laws, and those who don't don't care.
2. When discussing morality or hermeneutics, "biblical" is an almost useless principle. Let's talk about what the "biblical definition of marriage" includes:
a. Polygamy--as early as Genesis 4:19, in the seventh generation of human history!
b. Men can be legally married to their wives' slaves, and the slaves' children count as the wives' children (Genesis 16:2). The consent of the slave is unnecessary. Abraham also had other wives and concubines (Genesis 25:1-6).
c. Half siblings (Genesis 20:12).
d. Cousins (Genesis 24:15).
e. Woman's consent unnecessary (Genesis 24:51).
f. Two sisters and their slaves married to the same man (Genesis 29-30).
g. Wives "belong to" their husbands, in the same way as houses, slaves, oxen, and donkeys (Exodus 20:17). However, if two slaves are married, the wife belongs to the master and not to her husband (Exodus 21:4).
h. No sex during your period (Exodus 18:19).
i. Adulterers should be put to death (Exodus 20:10-16).
j. Non-virgins are unclean (Exodus 21:7).
k. A man can accuse his wife of adultery with no proof, and experience no consequences if she is innocent. A woman cannot accuse her husband of adultery with no proof (Numbers 5).
l. Even Moses had more than one wife (Numbers 12:1).
m. A woman can't make a vow if her husband doesn't like it (Numbers 30:8).
n. Women captured in battle can be married, without their consent (Numbers 31:18, Deuteronomy 21:10-14).
o. Victims of rape are forced to marry their rapists (Deuteronomy 22:28).

Basically, a man can have whoever he wants, as long as he can pay for her, she's female and not already taken by another man, her father/master agrees, and she's not bleeding. Note that not only are polygamy and incest "biblical", but there are no rules against pedophilia or spousal rape.

Let's see if the New Testament's any better.
a. Jesus' disciples say it's better not to marry, because you'll be stuck with the same woman forever. Jesus doesn't directly disagree, but says that "teaching" isn't for everyone (Matthew 19:10-11).
b. Leaving your wife for the kingdom of God will be rewarded (Luke 18:29).
c. Get married only if you can't stand not having sex, and don't deprive each other except to devote yourselves to prayer (1 Corinthians 7:1-9). This is the only reason given to Christians to get married--It's not about children. The NT hardly even discusses parenting (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21 are the only places I could find).
d. Wives should be subject to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24). Women should not have authority over their husbands (1 Timothy 2:12) and should accept their husbands' authority (1 Peter 3:1).

All of that is "biblical." I'm not making a judgment or qualification about which stories or commands are more important than others; that's a question of interpretation. But you didn't qualify either. You said you support "the biblical definition of marriage." Do you support everything in the above list?

Please explain how man-woman marriage needs protecting. Do you think that if same-sex marriage is legalized, men and women will stop marrying each other? Those of us who are married, straight and support marriage equality beg to differ. Does the mere existence of other religions mean that Christianity is going to go away? Does the existence of other careers mean you're incapable of choosing a job for yourself?
I accidentally posted a link this morning that I support marriage equality. I was in bed and apparently not in the right mind because that is definitely not what I believe. I believe homosexuality is a sin and that we should not desecrate Gods gift of marriage with sin. That is all. I just felt compelled to make that correction. :)
This post almost made me cry, because I had been so happy to see her post that she supported equality. And how can other people's actions desecrate your beliefs? People probably "sin" in marriage all the time, because they don't believe in your definition of sin. Are you going to outlaw marriage for non-Christians to make sure they're not sinning and desecrating something that's "yours"? Are you going to police the marriages of Christians to make sure they're not doing something you don't like? By your standards, I've probably "desecrated" marriage. That's none of your business!

Just because you think something is God's gift doesn't mean you own it or can control it. Do you have a right to decide who gets communion or who gets baptized? Do you get to decide who can wear a cross or call themselves a Christian? I believe that calling people "desecrators" is a sin (Acts 10:28) and that we should not desecrate God's gift of Christianity--so by your argument I should be able to kick you out of my religion. 
This square supports SHAPE EQUALITY! I demand equal rights that squares have to be round! Ever tried to roll a square uphill. Unfair!!!! Squares are round if enough people say so!!!
"Square" is a totally different type of term than "marriage." "Square" is a mathematical term that describes an abstract form. You can't change what an abstract form looks like by changing the definition of a mathematical term, but why would you want to? Mathematical terms help us to understand and interact with the world as it is. Mathematical terms are morally neutral--circles are not better than squares, they are just useful in different situations.

"Marriage" is:

a) a legal term, like "citizen," "appeal," or "guardian." The definitions of these words are set by the government, and instead of describing an abstract form, they describe something that the government creates or regulates. The government can change their definitions whenever it feels like it. Legal terms help ensure that the government applies laws consistently and treats people and situations equally. Legal terms that describe rights, freedoms, responsibilities, benefits, or criminal punishments ought to be defined so that they are fair to everyone.

b) a religious term, like "baptism," "communion," or "trinity." The definitions of these words are roughly set by the consensus of translators and theologians, but they are never set in stone, because new interpretations come around all the time. In addition, they have different definitions among various groups. Baptism means something different to Catholics, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Baptists, and the church of Christ.

With either understanding of the word "marriage," the definition can indeed be changed if the right people say so. And we have already changed the definition of marriage. Under English common law, a married woman effectively had no legal rights, because her husband could be assumed to take responsibility for her. We changed that definition because it was stupid.

This is true, but irrelevant. You can disagree with someone's lifestyle without limiting their rights. This falls into the typical trap of assuming that by giving same-sex marriage relationships the same legal status as opposite-sex marriage relationships, you are somehow "approving" or "accepting" of those relationships. Not true. Islam has the same legal status as Christianity, but not everyone approves of Islam (or Christianity). The Democratic party has the same legal status as the Republican party, but not everyone accepts either. It's legal to eat meat, but that doesn't mean vegans agree with it.

Get this through your heads: It's not about you. It's not about your approval. No one cares whether you think same-sex relationships are okay. All we want is equality under the law. This isn't about condescending, paternalistic compassion; it's about what's right. It's about realizing that people are people, and they're going to do what they want, and in this case they don't need your agreement to do it because they should have the legal right to do it. The fact that someone, somewhere is sinning and not getting punished for it should not bother you. Just let it go.

1. I'm not entirely sure what this one is saying--it's just countering a symbol with another symbol--but the text makes me think it's something along the lines of "Relationships between two people who are the same are bad because they can't 'perfectly fuse' together in the way that two people who are different can." Which is irrelevant to the question of marriage equality, because one's ability to perform the legal contract of marriage has nothing to do with their ability to "perfectly fuse into one single shape" with another person. However, as an argument against same-sex relationships, I have two objections.
a. If it's good to be in a relationship with people who are different from you, why is sex the important difference and not religion, race, height, class, personality, education, or musical preference?
b. Women aren't "exactly indistinguishable" from other women. Are you really saying that men are interchangeable with other men and women are interchangeable with other women, so the important thing about your spouse isn't whether you like each other or are compatible but the simple fact that they are of the opposite sex? That's...stupid. If it's better to be in a relationship with people who are different from me because spiritual growth or better representing the harmony of the church/Trinity or whatever, I can think of dozens of women from whom I'm more different than my husband. It's actually fairly easy for me to get along with my husband.
2. The fact that they used the word "orientation" just makes things so much more confusing.
3. The fact that people who are not currently married want to get married means that marriage is doing quite well and doesn't need defending.
4. Oh, you meant "traditional" marriage? Yeah, see above.

1 comment:

  1. Yep. That pretty much covers it. Great post.