Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ships passing in the night?

Arguments and counter-arguments are emerging in the local mediascape as gay 'marriage' has come out of the closet of possible legislation into the open lounge of actual legislation being considered by our Parliament. Already I see signs that these arguments are likely to be like ships passing in the night. Pro the bill, for example, are arguments about rights to equal treatment. Against the bill are concerns about the general health and strength of marriage in our society. There is a case, is there not, for both perspectives to be accorded fair consideration by our politicians?

For myself I am not quite sure why we should ask parliament to maintain the status quo. In the current climate engendered by Western culture, that would be to beat the pro gay 'marriage' movement back for a while, but not to derail it for long. The issue will not go away if defeated on this occasion. What we should do as churches is argue for the distinctiveness of Christian teaching on marriage to be protected appropriately in the new society which will follow change to legislation. Such protection can be argued on the grounds of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

For a new society will follow change to legislation. Despite the general emotional climate of support for Louisa Wall's bill being one of sympathy to the plight of the marginalised underdog (which always works well in Kiwi culture), the legislation will have consequences unseen while the focus lies on improving the equality of gay couples. Post the bill being passed the way society engages with marriage, through language, other legislation, and education will be affected. Political correctness will require equal treatment of gay and straight couples in ways which move the climate from gracious support of the underdog to unflinching tyranny over those who to their dying day believe a marriage is constituted through gender differentiation.

To an extent the UK is providing the clues as to how that tyranny will arise. A few days ago Prime Minister Dave I Know All About Church Cameron told the churches to fall into line with his policies on gay 'marriage.' Quite rightly Anglican Mainstream have taken him to task for misrepresentation of the churches of Britain. It would be naive to think their protestations will make any difference.

At least in NZ I don't think we will have John Key pretending he understands the churches in these islands.


In order for the arguments not to be like ships passing in the night, I hope our church leaders come at the issue differently to what I have so far seen on TV and in the written news. I think there should be less arguing against the legislation on grounds that do not relate to the grounds on which the legislation is founded. Instead there should be more arguing for the churches (and other faiths) to be free to propound teaching on marriage which is differentiated from the secular 'theology' of parliament and society in general.

46 comments:

Andrei said...

The Anglican Bishops will avoid this like the plague - there will be no real debate from them.

Despite being "marginalized" the gays own the media.

And there are more "openly gay" MPs in Parliament than there are MPs who wear their Christian faith upon their sleeves.

Anyone who comes out against this will be demonized in the press - it is happening to Colin Craig already. Who has faced at least two interviews where the hostility of the interviewer toward him has not even been attempted to be contained.

Expect to see a lot of Glynn Cardy though - presented as the face of Christianity as he undermines it.

Actually it wont be a debate at all, those who disagree will be shouted down and not allowed to speak - they will be the "marginalized" ones.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

What we should do as churches is argue for the distinctiveness of Christian teaching on marriage to be protected appropriately in the new society which will follow change to legislation.

This is a futile position. You cannot isolate yourselves from the impact of a redefinition of the central organizing principle of civilization. It doesn't really matter what you teach. What matters is how marriage functions to regulate sexual behavior for the benefit of stable family formation and child rearing. Sexual behavior is being privatized. The idea of public restraint on sexual behavior has been reduced to an enforcement of consent. The idea that marriage should act to regulate sexual behavior has largely been rejected, and so the institution is being redefined to remove those restraints.

This is the legal model that is being imposed upon marriage by including homosexuals within its bounds. Marriage will no longer contain any necessary connection to children. It will no longer have any intrinsic necessity for sexual fidelity. It will become a privately negotiated relationship between two private individuals. That instantiates the new sexual morality of consent. That's all well and good for the desires of the libertine, but you can't maintain a civilization on those terms. You must form stable families to produce and civilize the next generation. Western nations are failing at that responsibility across the board.

A limited gov't requires a virtuous population to function. Men are not by nature fit for limited gov't. It takes stable families to produce a virtuous population. It takes sexual fidelity and sexual restraint to form stable families. Unfortunately, people would rather indulge the orgasm today and leave the consequences until tomorrow. I fear the West will only learn the folly of this logic by experiencing the harsh consequences that must inevitably attend.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I do not disagree with your analysis of the state of the play in Western society.

I am disagreeing about whether here in NZ this is a battle the churches can win if we set out to keep our law the way it is. I would be more than happy to be proved wrong.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

This fight is much larger than gay marriage. It is about the place of sex in life. If this fight cannot be won - if the West truly succumbs to this idea of consent as the only proper basis for sexual morality - then there will soon be no such thing as Western Civilization to fight for. You will have much bigger problems than simply maintaining the right to teach a traditional theology of marriage. You will be wondering how to live under the yoke of a malignant and hostile Gov't that is seeking to pick up the pieces of a failed libertine society. And that Gov't won't feel any restraint from residual Christian memory.

carl

Andrei said...

AS Carl Jacobs says - the issue is far greater than Gay Marriage, which I believe is a direct confrontation to God's creation and his Church.

But the problem has been developing for forty years and it is that we no longer value children and those who raise them - they are at best an afterthought after you have established your position in this world and accumulated enough treasures.

And we are in the midst of a Holocaust where the inconveniently conceived are slaughtered in their 10s of thousands in this country alone.

It is, to coin a phrase, unsustainable and I think the chickens are about to come home to roost as the population ages and Nations go bankrupt, as is happening.

Anonymous said...

Peter, thou doth protest too much, methinks.

In New Zealand the Catholic Church hasn’t changed its teachings. Where has been the “unflinching tyranny over those who to their dying day believe a marriage is constituted” for life?

The Catholic Church has long, consistently, and without the problems you are creating been “free to propound teaching on marriage which is differentiated from the secular 'theology' of parliament and society in general.” It is the Anglican Church that has again and again changed its tune on marriage.

Watch it do it again.

Alison

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
I may be protesting too much; the Roman church may not have changed its teaching on marriage (but always worth asking what part of its annulment policy is not actually a fig-leaf in respect of the reality of divorce of actual marriages); and the Anglican church here may change its teaching, but I suggest the extension of marriage to incorporate gay 'marriage' will have effects on the freedom of speech in ways hitherto unknown.

If you can prove me wrong, please do so!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Sexual behavior is being privatized." - Carl Jacobs -

Sexual behaviour - at least in civilised society - has always been privatised. Where this is most brutally disregarded is in gang-rape (usually heterosexual) and wife-swapping (definitely heterosexual).

In monogamous relationships - whether straight or gay - one hopes for the encouragement of absolute privacy. This is the only proper context for sexual congress.

The problem with the anti-gay crowd is that they seem so pruriently consumed with what they suspect goes on in the bedrooms of gays - to a degree that they would surely consider grossly intrusive in their own situation.

These arguments are all about sex - and little to do with monogamous loving relationships between two people who actually love each other

Father Ron Smith said...

" It (Marriage) will no longer have any intrinsic necessity for sexual fidelity." - Carl -

As far as many heterosexual marriages go, that may already be true.

However, gay couples seeking the benefits of publicly-recognised relationship in marriage do so because they (as different from the heterosexual record so far) want to make a pbulic declaration of their faithfulness to one another. Now that would meet with your criterion curely?

Only don't point to the present divorce rate from heterosexual marriage as a worthy example of the validity of faithful relationships in marriage. Given the chance, gays might just do better, turning the rate of success around. If they didn't meet to make a go of it, they wouldn't need the agro from the likes of you and other critics

Father Ron Smith said...

re Peter's and Alison's last exchange, it is true that the Roman Catholic position of marriage has been seriously muddied by their attitude towards marriage annulment. Not only can a marriage be annulled for non-consummation; other reasons - together with the right sum of money for the lawyers required - can, and do, serve to allow annulment.

What does that contribute towards a stable and unchanging theology of marriage? - especially in view of Rome's denial of divorce.

Shawn said...

Alison, there have in fact been numerous examples in Europe of the state, at the behest of the wealthy and powerful homosexual lobby persecuting Christian organizations and individuals.

Sooner or later it will happen here. Even some so-called "Christians" in ACANZP have called for the state to force churches to conform.

Persecution is coming. The question is, how do we deal with it?

Janice said...

For myself I am not quite sure why we should ask parliament to maintain the status quo. In the current climate engendered by Western culture, that would be to beat the pro gay 'marriage' movement back for a while, but not to derail it for long.

Because we are called to be faithful witnesses to the truth? Because whether the movement is derailed completely, or not at all, is not up to us?

There's equality, and then there's equity. To be treated equally is not necessarily the same thing as being treated equitably. To be treated equitably is to be treated fairly. For instance, a few years ago our government passed a bill altering the age of consent to sexual intercourse. They set the age at 16 for both boys and girls despite the fact that, in general, boys of 16 are less emotionally mature than girls of that age. That is, the government went for equality over equity and thereby failed to protect boys appropriately from older sexual predators.

The union of a man with a man, or of a woman with a woman, is not equal to the union of a man with a woman. Therefore the state should not treat them equally, but equitably.

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I had a quick read of the proposed Bill - and was surprised to find how brief and thin it was in both length and scope. It left me with two curious questions.

Firstly, what is the rationale for limiting marriage to two persons? I understand why it is this way as a political necessity. But in the general policy statement of the Bill it describes Marriage as "a social institution" and "a fundamental human right", therefore "limiting that human right to 1 group in society only does not allow for equality"

However, it seems to me that the Bill, on the basis of its own reasoning, becomes rather arbitrary in sticking with the number 2, particularly when marriage takes on a variety of form and number in today's world.

For instance, if human rights is made the only basis for understanding marriage, why deny the right of a woman to be named as the second spouse?

My second curious question is why does the Bill retain the same set of prohibited degrees (albeit inclusivised)? I can fully understand the reasons for applying them to a marriage between a man and a woman - a combination of avoiding close genetic relatives and viewing incest as abnormal and deviant behaviour (based on the understanding of the two becoming one flesh). But why should homosexual partnerships have the exact same restrictions and not their own equivalent set? Or are we saying that they too are to be viewed as "one flesh" - but on what basis are we to say that? Human rights?

Malcolm

Anonymous said...

"I suggest the extension of marriage to incorporate gay 'marriage' will have effects on the freedom of speech in ways hitherto unknown."

Of course it will. Look at the left-liberal frenzy against Chick-Fil-A in the US for supporting Obama's pre-May 2012 views.
I repeat: those who support changing sexual morality are at war with Christ, whether they realise it or not, and they will join in the state persecution of traditional Chrisitan faith as 'haters' and 'bigots'.
Martin

Shawn said...

"The problem with the anti-gay crowd is that they seem so pruriently consumed with what they suspect goes on in the bedrooms of gays - to a degree that they would surely consider grossly intrusive in their own situation.". - Ron.

Nonsense. It is the defense of true Christian Marriage that conservatives are concerned with. Obsessions with sex are a liberal concern.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Persecution is coming. The question is, how do we deal with it?" - Shawn

Personally, I'd be much more afraid of the intentions and predations of militant heterosexual rapists - and those who think so little of their wives that they can swap them for others - than I ever would of the intention of Gay people to live together in monogamous committed relationship. At least, they WANT to be faithful to their beloved.

Shawn said...

 "Given the chance, gays might just do better, turning the rate of success around."

Homosexual attempts at monogamy have a much lower success rate than heterosexual. This is because homosexuality is a psycho-sexual disorder driven to compulsive addictive behavior. Homosexuals have far higher rates of sexual activity with multiple partners for that reason.

Also, in order to "have a go at it" homosexuals would have to marry a person of the opposite sex, because marriage is defined by God as one man and one women for life.

Two men or two women thus cannot marry by definition, and no amount of dishonest and Orwellian Newspeak by liberals or legislation from the state can change that.

Father Ron Smith said...

"This is because homosexuality is a psycho-sexual disorder driven to compulsive addictive behavior. Homosexuals have far higher rates of sexual activity with multiple partners for that reason." - Shawn -

Shawn, you are so out of date with modern psycho-sexual research on such matters, you really need to look further than the end of your nose.

Indeed, do you have definitive proof that 'homosexuals have far higher rates of sexual activity with multiple partners" ? Where is your evidence for this silly and outrageous statement? Remember, we are speaking of both pre-marital and marital sexual activity here.

Father Ron Smith said...

"marriage is defined by God as one man and one women for life." - Shawn

Wrong! The aetiology of Marriage is far wider than you imagine. Even Scripture speaks of the 'Marriage Feast of the Lamb'. What does that have to say about the exclusive relationship between a woman and a man? You do need to be a little more precise, Shawn, when engaging in this sort of definition of what a word actually means.

Shawn said...

Ron,

Have heterosexual rapists started a political movement to force society to accept their behavior?

No. So not really relevant is it.

Just because some (a minority) want to be "faithful" does not change the fact that they are committing sin. That rape or unfaithfulness in marriage are also sins does not change that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Trying to play one sin off the other is just a silly word game.

Shawn said...

Ron,

The marriage feast of the lamb is a definition of the eschatological relationship between Christ and the Church, and not at all a reference to earthly human marriage.

The only precise definition of human marriage given by God is is in the creation narrative in Genesis, and that precise definition of earthy marriage is reaffirmed in clear and unambiguous terms by Christ; one man and one woman become one flesh for life.

There is no other definition given by God for human marriage.

Thus, combined with the also clear Biblical denunciation of homosexuality as an "abomination", the Church has no warrant from God to affirm same-sex marriage, and no amount of Liberal claims to special gnostic revelations, or to the supposed extra-Biblical authority of the modern world, or to facile and self-serving attempts to hide the plain meaning of Scripture, is going to change that.

Liberals have utterly failed to make a case based on Scripture, thus they have no case at all, and everything else they say on the subject is just so much meaningless hot air.

Shawn said...

Ron, try this:


http://carm.org/statistics-homosexual-promiscuity


That is my last word on the debate as far as this thread is concerned as we are getting off topic. The question posed by Peter is how the Church responds to the state and the law when and if the bill is passed.

Janice said...

Shawn's link is to a site that references the 1984 McWhirter and Mattison study of 156 male couples in relationships lasting from 1 to 37 years. McWhirter and Mattison (a homosexual couple) found that two-thirds entered the relationship expecting sexual fidelity, i.e., one-third entered the relationship not expecting sexual fidelity. They also found that not one male couple was able to maintain sexual fidelity for more than five years.

And Ron, I do wish you would stop referring to "wife-swapping". The term is not just old hat but in these PC days it's regarded as scandalously androcentric. The currently correct terms are "partner-swapping" or "swinging".

In any case, I doubt the practice is very common. A 1999 Australian Institute of Family Studies report showed that infidelity was cited as the main cause of divorce in about 20% of cases. This was infidelity of the spouse, so partner-swapping was unlikely to be involved. A 2010 UK study found that adultery of the spouse was cited in about 16% of divorces with women citing adultery at roughly twice the rate men did. So, again, partner-swapping is unlikely to be involved.

Janice said...

What we should do as churches is argue for the distinctiveness of Christian teaching on marriage to be protected appropriately .... Such protection can be argued on the grounds of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

That's likely to have unintended consequences, at least as far as freedom of religion goes.

In a post-Christian secular state any argument for Christian distinctiveness on the basis of freedom of religion is bound to lead to arguments for the distinction of other faiths to be protected on the same basis. Next thing you know there will be people with deep pockets campaigning for, say, Muslims to be allowed the same privileges. I believe they've already started in Oz.

Freedom of speech is always worth fighting for. In the UK the battle for that appears to be already lost.

Anonymous said...

Shawn, you waste your sweetness on the desert air - or as I prefer to say, 'Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens'.
Keep making a positive case for what you believe, and don't be distracted by the peanut gallery. In the end, romantic liberals are driven more by emotions than reason and facts, and you can't really argue with emotions.
Martin

Shawn said...

Peter,

How did Ron's last comment make it through moderation?

Janice said...

Here's an article worth reading. Why I Don't Call Myself a Gay Christian

The links on the page are worth following too.

John Palmer said...

I can't help wondering if people have missed the point, marriage as defined by Genesis and for many centuries has consisted of male (husband)and female (wife). To suggest that this is somehow unfair to female/female and male/male relationships is to miss the point, such relationships don't qualify to be called marriage. The only way they can qualify is to redefine marriage. This to me is the essence of what is going on. Something that has been cherished over the centuries is now being redefined in the name of equality. I don't qualify as a medical doctor, or as Maori, I may argue that is unfair but it is an issue of qualification, nothing to do with equality.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn // Ron,

Shawn: It is an art not a science but on further reflection I agree. Ron's last comment had way too much ad hominem in it; not least making a presumption about something I know you deny.

Ron: This is your comment moderated:

"Well, Shawn, I'm glad you've run out of steam. One must hope that you are at last getting tired of the whole business. God is Love!"

Peter Carrell said...

Precisely, John!

Bryden Black said...

Whatever one may think/speculate about the nature or otherwise of post gay marriage society in NZ, this piece by Doug Farrow has a massively important point to throw into the mix:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=25-01-024-f

For among other points, he correctly observes that with ‘marriage’ now being defined by positive state law, in all cases, it ceases to be a social institution, one which for centuries stood apart from such legalities - indeed, THE institution. His quoting from Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII is reinforced by no less than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that traditional marriage founds “the natural and fundamental group unit of society.”

When society becomes subject to the whims and any contemporary currents of political power and control, then every citizen should be very afraid. Or have readers of this blog been asleep during the lessons of the 20th C?! Sadly; “those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it” - Butterfield.

Shawn said...

Thanks Peter. I did not mean to sound as though I was criticizing you or what you do. Frankly it must he a pain at times having to deal with us!

Peter Carrell said...

No problems, Shawn. In the light of Bryden's commet above, it is the secret police I need to watch out for.

Shawn said...

Bryden brings up a point I was going to make myself, partly in response to Carl.

I disagree with Carl's view that marriage is being privatized. That would in fact be a good thing. Unfortunately it is in reaity being nationalized and regulated by the State. And the nature of the modern state is that once it defines something, it then forces that definition on the rest of civil society.

This is why the family values Christian Right has got it's strategy wrong. Fighting over control of the state misses the point that it is the state itself which is the problem.

Cultural Marxists thrive because of the power and scope of the state and it's control over so much of civil society, such as education.

Social Liberalism thrives because the welfare state largely covers the costs, especially with the DPB and taxpayer funded abortion.

Thus the strategy of social conservatives and Christians should not be to engage in and endless and pointless war for control of the state. Apart from the fact that this kind of power seeking strikes me as contrary to the Gospel, it is ultimately self-defeating.

Our strategy should be to join with those seriously seeking to radically shrink the state, and advocate for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association.

We should be advocating the non-aggression principle as the basis for all law, and instead of advocating a statist form of socialism as justice, instead advocate for a minarchist state and a true free market.

Radically shrink the state and cultural Marxists lose their power base.

End the Welfare State and within a generation or two social conservatism, the natural order, will again become dominant as Church and Family once again become the principle source of welfare, and traditional virtues one again become necessary (necessity being the mother of virtue) for economic and personal survival.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

When I say that sex has been privatized, I mean that the morality of any sexual congress is now determined solely by the individuals involved without reference to any fixed external boundaries. Individuals may set boundaries as they see fit, but those boundaries become a matter of personal preference. For example, an act of adultery is no longer judged an objective violation of a fixed covenant. Instead, it depends upon the prior agreement of individuals to restrict themselves to sexual exclusivity. By this logic an 'open marriage' is not adulterous.

Marriage traditionally functioned as public permission to go forth, have sex, and produce children. Sex outside of marriage was judged wrong. To violate that standard was to violate a publicly imposed boundary on the desires of men. Virtually all these publicly imposed boundaries have been swept away in order to establish the primacy of consent. Only incest remains as an established boundary, and that tenuously. Liberals it seems have their own 'ick factor' to deal with - ironically enough.

It's nice that you want to talk about monogamous homosexual relationships, but that again would be a publicly imposed boundary, and those have already been cast aside. In fact, however, homosexuals are not interested in marriage - especially in their youth. The right of homosexual marriage has never translated into large numbers of homosexual marriages. Nor are they much interested in monogamous relationships - which is why 'monogamist' is a pejorative in the gay community. It's also why homosexuals have developed a concept of 'fidelity' that does not include monogamy. You can fulminate all you want about 'monogamous gay relationships.' Your fulminations don't reflect reality. Nor is anyone listening to your proposed model of moral gay relationships. 'Play buddies' still come first.

The homosexual community will bring all these concepts into marriage with them. Marriage will no longer be an externally-imposed covenant. It will become an infinitely malleable relationship between two individuals for companionship and comfort and mutual support. All else is preference. Monogamy becomes optional. Permanence becomes optional. Children become incidental. The unity of sex and marriage and children is shattered into three parts.

This is the future that is to be instantiated in law. You aren't going to get a monogamous homosexual analog to heterosexual marriage. You are going to get the legal establishment of any kind of relationship that any collection of people could possibly imagine.

carl

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Santayana, Bryden.
Farrow's point is absolutely right. Marriage predates the State - but now the State is claiming absolutist rights, in the name of personal sexual freedom - the one freedom liberals believe in. There in reason at all for the State to outlaw consensual polygamy or adult incest.
Martin

Anonymous said...

"There IS NO reason at all for the State to outlaw consensual polygamy or adult incest."

Martin, patron saint of dyselxics.

Father Ron Smith said...

"The right of homosexual marriage has never translated into large numbers of homosexual marriages." - Carl -

Isn't this judgement of yours a little premature? Same-Sex Marriage has hardly begun to be legal!

I submit that those Same-Sex Couples who are wanting to contract in on a marriage relationship - despite contrary evidence (such as yours, though not so far tested in reality) - would hardly bother to commit themselves to life-ling monogamy if they were not serious. There are too many problems in the way of being accepted - by people such as yourself. Why would they bother with all the agro coming from their detractors?

Father Ron Smith said...

" There in reason at all for the State to outlaw consensual polygamy or adult incest." - Martin -

And what on earth does this little gem mean?

Shawn said...

"And what on earth does this little gem mean?"

It means that legalising polygamy, incest and pedophilia is next of the list of goals for Liberal/Cultural Marxists. And yes, those campaigns have already begun.

Once we move away from Biblical moral boundaries, all boundaries eventually fall.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

Legalized gay relationships have been around in various forms since 1989 when Denmark started the train. Homosexual couples have never taken advantage of these legal arrangements in any significant numbers. These relationships also tend to be sexually open - meaning both partners expect the other to have sex outside the relationship. 'Gay marriage' has never been about changing the behavior of homosexuals. It has always been about legitimizing homosexual desire in the public sphere.

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

Carl, I may have to bow to your more intimate knowledge of homosexual relationships, what goes on in them, and what they mean to the people concerned. I am relying on my own understanding of such situations - which, I admit, is not necessarily that of personal experience.

By the way, Carl, I see you have a new interpreter at work on this thread. I hope you find him useful.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
I have moderated your latest comment out of existence as I think you are reading too much into another comment here. As far as I am concerned that comment is not implying what you think it is implying. (If it were, your remonstrance would be justified).

Bryden Black said...

Martin @ July 30, 2012 1:47 AM. Sure thing Martin: Santayana might have said a similar thing. But Herbert Butterfield certainly did!

Anonymous said...

" "There in reason at all for the State to outlaw consensual polygamy or adult incest." - Martin -

And what on earth does this little gem mean?"

It means that Martin mistyped. I am resolved not to interact with Mr Smith, but I will correct my mistakes, as I did above. To clarify: throughout human history the state has not defined marriage but regulated it. The new atheist redefinition of marriage (abetted by the useful idiots of liberalism) to mean ANY consensual personal contract conferring next of kin status on another cannot reasonably exclude consensual polygamy or consensual adult incest. Those who don't understand this can't follow through on logic.
Martin

Anonymous said...

"Martin @ July 30, 2012 1:47 AM. Sure thing Martin: Santayana might have said a similar thing. But Herbert Butterfield certainly did!"

Those who do not learn (the quotes from) the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Butterfild was an interesting man: a Methodist who couldn't quite manage fidelity.

Martin