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Source: (consider it) Thread: ...an attempt to redefine marriage [civil partnerships]
Spawn
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# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Your response seems off point. Remember, your objection was to separating the religious and civil aspects of marriage. If that's the case it's a double standard to claim that the Quaker or Roman Catholic (or other) standards on what constitutes a valid marriage shouldn't be considered a valid basis for civil marriages.

Not a double standard at all, unless it's a double standard to disagree with the view taken by other Christians. Don't forget that I favour the status quo, it is the government which is seeking to separate religious and civil aspects of marriage.

quote:
I'm not suggesting they agree, I'm just making the rather obvious point that if, as you contend, civil and religious marriage are one and the same in the UK, then there are religions which consider same-sex marriage valid. As such, same-sex marriage should also be valid under civil law. Since this does not seem to be the case, we are forced to conclude that civil and religious marriage are actually separate things in the UK.
I'm trying to spot a train of logic in this paragraph. It isn't there. UK law recognises one marriage solemnised in different places. The government will pursue a consultation to work out how to legislate for gay marriage. They are saying that this won't affect religious marriage, only civil marriage. This creates a distinction which isn't curently there. Among other things I am arguing against the creation of that distinction. Quakers and Roman Catholics and anyone else are quite free to agree or disagree with me. That is the point of discussion. It shouldn't lead you to conclude that apples are oranges.
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orfeo

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^ You're doing it again Spawn. Every time you say 'the distinction isn't currently there' I inevitably read 'the distinction with MY VERSION isn't currently there'. Whereas a Catholic would be well aware that a distinction between 'their version' and the law already exists.

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
No, you're not in a position of privilege by arguing your view point. But what you are arguing for is that the secular law ought to align with your religious understanding of marriage, and not with someone else's religious understanding of marriage. It's not possible for the secular law to simply be the same as THE religious understanding of marriage, simply because there is not a single 'religious understanding'.

Well, yeah that's the nature of introducing an innovation like same sex marriage. It is that one view or another will lose out. And it will probably be mine, and therefore the Quaker understanding of marriage will tend to coincide with the State's understanding of marriage rather than mine.
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orfeo

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The best way I can illustrate this to you is to show what happens to your words with very slight modifications. Rewind back a few decades and you get:

quote:
The government will pursue a consultation to work out how to legislate for remarriage after divorce. They are saying that this won't affect Roman Catholic marriage, only civil marriage. This creates a distinction between Roman Catholic marriage and civil marriage which isn't curently there. Among other things I am arguing against the creation of that distinction.
See? Pick a different definition of 'religious marriage' and the split already exists. The state already recognises marriages that 'the church' (Roman Catholic) doesn't recognise.

If the state now starts recognising marriages that 'the church' (insert denomination of choice) doesn't recognise by having same-sex marriage, this isn't the brave new world that you seem to think it is.

All that a statement by the government that 'this won't affect religious marriage' means is 'we don't write your rules, we can only write our own'. It's not a sign that they're breaking revolutionary new ground, it's a quite unremarkable statement of what should be an obvious fact. The state won't write the laws on religious marriage, just as the state hasn't been writing them for generations. As evidenced by the continuing ability of the Catholic Church to have rules that differ from the state's rules.

The 'creation of a split' you're so worried about is merely a reassurance that the STUCTURAL status quo of the last several centuries will be maintained.

[ 07. March 2012, 21:56: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
^ You're doing it again Spawn. Every time you say 'the distinction isn't currently there' I inevitably read 'the distinction with MY VERSION isn't currently there'. Whereas a Catholic would be well aware that a distinction between 'their version' and the law already exists.

No because the distinction is only introduced with gay marriage. I think even the Quakers accept that marriage is between a man and a woman, they would also like it to be same-sex. Similarly the Roman Catholic Church makes no substantive complaints as far as I'm aware about English and Welsh marriage law.

On the other hand, if you're trying to get me to say that Christians have some precise disagreements about marriage I have no problem conceding that point.

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
The 'creation of a split' you're so worried about is merely a reassurance that the STUCTURAL status quo of the last several centuries will be maintained.

Hell yeah, I'm arguing for the maintenance of the status quo of the last several centuries (and more). Have you only just now realised it?

BTW, I think you misunderstand the Roman Catholic view where there are subtle distinctions such as 'valid' and 'sacramental'.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
The 'creation of a split' you're so worried about is merely a reassurance that the STUCTURAL status quo of the last several centuries will be maintained.

Hell yeah, I'm arguing for the maintenance of the status quo of the last several centuries (and more). Have you only just now realised it?

[brick wall] The status quo where a church makes its own rules and the state makes its own rules is what I'm referring to. And it isn't under threat.

You're just shocked that the state, exercising its power to make its own rules, might decide that it wants to make different rules to the ones made by your church. The fact that the state, exercising its power to make its own rules, has already made different rules to the Roman Catholics doesn't seem to have shocked you in the slightest.

[ 07. March 2012, 22:33: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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orfeo

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Addendum: Not only is the structural arrangement not under threat, my original point was that it's a structural split. That's what we've been saying to you: you're worried about a split in a particular definition, when we're pointing out to you that the remark that 'religious marriage won't be affected' is actually a reassurance that the structural split PROTECTING religious marriage isn't under threat.

That's the status quo. A change to that would be if either the church determined the state law or the state determined church doctrine.

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
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What would it look like, the weekend after the Marriage Act 2013 is passed into law?

Would any denomination that didn't want to register a marriage that was against their beliefs be forced to do so? No.

Would any clergy who act as registrars be required to conduct a marriage service against their beliefs? No.

Would any denomination be forced to recognise a marriage against their beliefs? No.

(since all three of the above situations already exist, it's safe to say that won't change)

Would any denomination that wanted to be able to conduct a marriage between two people of the same sex? Yes.

Would any clergy who were currently registrars be able to register that marriage without an additional civic ceremony? Yes.

Would a denomination be free to recognise a marriage between two people of the same sex? Yes.

Would two people of the same sex who had no religious beliefs or affiliation be able to get married in front of a civic registrar? Yes.

---
So where's the problem? The sky will not fall on that first Saturday. No one will be made to do anything they don't want to, but those who are currently prevented from doing what they so desire are now permitted.

I get that it's change. I get that it can be difficult and disturbing. But it's much less of a deal than the 1969 Divorce act - if you want something that 'redefines marriage', you've got it right there.

Nothing bad will happen. Straights won't look at each other over the breakfast table and feel any less married. The kids will still hope their parents stay together, despite last night's row. The law will still function in regards to inheritance and next-of-kin.

I'm clearly defective (and probably a bad Christian to boot) because I can't see a problem here.

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Louise
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Hosting

And now I'm home and have read things over. Justinian, on top of telling Spawn that you'd prefer him to shut up and playing linguistic games with the name-calling line using "I'd call you a Cassandra but at least she was right" I see you also said

quote:
I'm proclaiming you a liar because some of your arguments are lies.
which is a flat out C3 violation. This is a warning to comply with C4.

quote:

4. If you must get personal, take it to Hell

If you get into a personality conflict with other shipmates, you have two simple choices: end the argument or take it to Hell.

Thanks,
Louise
Dead Horses Host

Hosting off

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
I'm not a Roman Catholic so I won't speak for them, . . .

For someone who's not speaking for the Roman Catholic Church, you seem to be spending a lot of time speaking for them.

quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
No because the distinction is only introduced with gay marriage. I think even the Quakers accept that marriage is between a man and a woman, they would also like it to be same-sex. Similarly the Roman Catholic Church makes no substantive complaints as far as I'm aware about English and Welsh marriage law.

quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
BTW, I think you misunderstand the Roman Catholic view where there are subtle distinctions such as 'valid' and 'sacramental'.

I'm pretty sure you're the one with the misunderstanding. According to the Catholic Church, a valid but non-sacramental marriage describes a marriage between two persons where neither is baptized in the Catholic Church, but to who no other impediment to marriage exists. The remarriage of someone following a divorce is not regarded as valid by the Catholic Church because the impediment of the original marriage is still in effect (except when the previous spouse is dead), making the new union bigamous and (if consummated) adulterous. This also counts as a substantial difference with the laws of England and Wales, which permit remarriage following a divorce.

quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
On the other hand, if you're trying to get me to say that Christians have some precise disagreements about marriage I have no problem conceding that point.

We're just trying to get you to recognize the logical conclusion following that. If, as you've acknowledged, there's no single "Christian" understanding of marriage, much less a single "religious" understanding (because there are other religions besides Christianity, you know!) then your claim that there is no difference between civil and religious marriage can't be true because there's no coherent single meaning of "religious marriage". This position also seems to make you try to rewrite reality to fit your agenda by spreading falsehoods like "Catholics consider remarriage after divorce valid".

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Spawn
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# 4867

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Orfeo, I can assure you that I feel as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall as well. I think the essential difference between us is that you see the change in the definition of marriage as a relatively minor thing, I see it as a major thing which fundamentally alters the relationship between church and state (you might welcome that, I don't). You see it as a thing the churches will come round to in the end and come to accept on the level of different understandings of divorce (for which all the mainstream churches allow some pastoral flexibility). I don't think it pans out like that. In England, in particular it has consequences for the relationship of church and state which the government doesn't seem to intend.

No, the sky won't fall in as Doc Tor rightly tells us, but nevertheless this step has consequences which will play out for many years.

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orfeo

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# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
Orfeo, I can assure you that I feel as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall as well. I think the essential difference between us is that you see the change in the definition of marriage as a relatively minor thing, I see it as a major thing which fundamentally alters the relationship between church and state (you might welcome that, I don't). You see it as a thing the churches will come round to in the end and come to accept on the level of different understandings of divorce (for which all the mainstream churches allow some pastoral flexibility). I don't think it pans out like that. In England, in particular it has consequences for the relationship of church and state which the government doesn't seem to intend.

No, the sky won't fall in as Doc Tor rightly tells us, but nevertheless this step has consequences which will play out for many years.

The only consequence it has for the relationship of church and state is that the state will disagree with you on something that some churches think they 'own'.

However, as I recently pointed out on a Hell thread that's developed on this topic, you DON'T own it. I'd be quite interested to know the figures in the UK, but here in Australia it's now the case that over half of marriages - and I'm talking heterosexual marriages here - have nothing to do with the church or with any other religion. They are performed by civil celebrants. Who have been registered by the government as qualified to perform this service, in the same way that the government licenses many other services (and, I might add, I know for a fact that the government keeps an eye on marriage celebrants and weeds out the ones it doesn't think are doing the job properly).

It's not that I think the churches will necessarily come around to anything. It's that the churches actually lost the really key battles a very long time ago and either didn't notice or didn't care so long as homosexuality wasn't involved. Or have just forgotten that they lost. The reason that gay marriage will happen is, as Eliab is particularly good at pointing out, simply because the denial of gay marriage is so utterly inconsistent with every other principle that the secular state now operates on.

[ 08. March 2012, 09:24: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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orfeo

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PS I realise that there is provision in your system for bishops to sit in the House of Lords. But I would suspect it's a very, very long time since they had the kind of influence that would mean they get their way. Wikipedia tells me they've been outnumbered since the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. And these days the outnumbering is truly massive.

I would imagine there have been many, many occasions where a law has passed despite the objections of the Lords Spiritual. So why should this particular law so radically affect the relationship between church and state as you suggest? Why is it any more important than any other case where the state and the church disagree?

It can only be because of a notion that marriage is somehow 'church territory'.

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The musical diary delves into The Flipside...

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la vie en rouge
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
This involves you insisting that religious marriage and civil marriage are one and the same thing.

Well they are at the moment. There is no difference in the way the law understands them.
Because your church is the one whose position the law has hitherto protected. What you have singularly failed to do is give any compelling reason why this should be the case apart from being upset about the loss of privilege.

As I said earlier, I am conservative on homosexuality and have no intention of contracting a homosexual marriage any time soon but think the French system of regulating marriage is a very good thing indeed - because it provides equality before the law for everyone, and as a member of a distinct religious minority, I am extremely glad about that.

You keep arguing that religious and civil marriage are the same, but I really don't think they are. One is a covenant, the other is in the strictest sense a legal contract (which can be terminated for breach etc.).

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Spawn
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# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Would any denomination that didn't want to register a marriage that was against their beliefs be forced to do so? No.

We'll wait to see what activist judges will do with the first cases of discrimination. Furthermore, we'll see whether there will be limitations on the ability of churches to teach in the public sphere, especially in its schools the belief that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Given that plenty of people will take offence, will it be a hate crime to say that a gay marriage is a fiction? There's still plenty of stuff to be worked out like that to make legislation watertight and satisfactory.

quote:
Would any denomination that wanted to be able to conduct a marriage between two people of the same sex? Yes.
We don't know this yet. It may be that the government will propose something akin to the original arrangements for civil partnerships which only permitted the civil registration of these relationships.

quote:
Would any clergy who were currently registrars be able to register that marriage without an additional civic ceremony? Yes.
Again we won't know this until after the consultation.

quote:
Would a denomination be free to recognise a marriage between two people of the same sex? Yes.
The number that do so would be vanishingly small. But yes, they'll be free to recognise same-sex marriages, but they may not have the liberty to conduct such marriages.
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Josephine

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# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Would any denomination that didn't want to register a marriage that was against their beliefs be forced to do so? No.

We'll wait to see what activist judges will do with the first cases of discrimination. Furthermore, we'll see whether there will be limitations on the ability of churches to teach in the public sphere, especially in its schools the belief that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Given that plenty of people will take offence, will it be a hate crime to say that a gay marriage is a fiction?
I know "free speech" isn't the same there as it is here, but I can't see how, "In our faith, only a man and a woman can marry. No other arrangement is regarded as a valid marriage in our faith" could be construed a a hate crime.

Maybe, "None of the same-sex couples who think they are married really are married; their relationship is purely fiction" would be a hate crime in the UK system -- and it would be false, because at law, they would be married (assuming that the change happened), and certainly neither they nor their faith regard their relationship as a fiction.

But that's said as an outsider, who doesn't really understand your system.

Is it a hate crime in the UK for the RCC to say that someone who remarries after a divorce isn't really married? Or that,if they are, it's a bigamous relationship?

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Would any clergy who were currently registrars be able to register that marriage without an additional civic ceremony? Yes.

I'm not sure about this. Under the current arrangements, "Authorised Persons" (who may or may not be clergy) act at weddings in Nonconformist churches. However they will not automatically or even normally be permitted to preside at Civil Partnerships (assuming, of course, that their church allows them).

Of course this may change as it seems an anomaly, although I think that current APs would be expected to do further training.

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Spawn
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# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
I know "free speech" isn't the same there as it is here, but I can't see how, "In our faith, only a man and a woman can marry. No other arrangement is regarded as a valid marriage in our faith" could be construed a a hate crime.

No, I don't think it would.

quote:
Maybe, "None of the same-sex couples who think they are married really are married; their relationship is purely fiction" would be a hate crime in the UK system -- and it would be false, because at law, they would be married (assuming that the change happened), and certainly neither they nor their faith regard their relationship as a fiction.
Certainly one fairly widespread view is that because of what marriage is, same sex couples who 'marry' aren't really doing so - it is a fiction (albeit one backed up by the law). It might be termed a union or partnership, but it isn't a marriage.

quote:
Is it a hate crime in the UK for the RCC to say that someone who remarries after a divorce isn't really married? Or that,if they are, it's a bigamous relationship?
Divorce isn't a protected characteristic whereas sexual orientation is.

[ 08. March 2012, 14:21: Message edited by: Spawn ]

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
Given that plenty of people will take offence, will it be a hate crime to say that a gay marriage is a fiction?

Doesn't the UK hate crimes law serve as an aggravating factor in sentencing for things that are already crimes? As such, wouldn't it be a hate crime to say gay marriage is a fiction only if calling some other form of marriage invalid is already a criminal offense?

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
As such, wouldn't it be a hate crime to say gay marriage is a fiction only if calling some other form of marriage invalid is already a criminal offense?

...or if it was being said while beating the shit out of a married gay couple.

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and you just can't tell just what tomorrow brings.

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Spawn
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# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Doesn't the UK hate crimes law serve as an aggravating factor in sentencing for things that are already crimes? As such, wouldn't it be a hate crime to say gay marriage is a fiction only if calling some other form of marriage invalid is already a criminal offense?

It is specifically the criminalisation of speech to which I'm referring under the catch-all of hate crimes. In recent times, the Public Order Act 1986 has enabled at least one successful prosecution of a street 'evangelist' for stating that homosexuality was immoral and in another case an atheist was convicted for leaving anti-religious cartoons in the prayer room of an airport. Freedom of speech is more restricted in the UK than in the US.
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Josephine

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Maybe, "None of the same-sex couples who think they are married really are married; their relationship is purely fiction" would be a hate crime in the UK system -- and it would be false, because at law, they would be married (assuming that the change happened), and certainly neither they nor their faith regard their relationship as a fiction.
Certainly one fairly widespread view is that because of what marriage is, same sex couples who 'marry' aren't really doing so - it is a fiction (albeit one backed up by the law). It might be termed a union or partnership, but it isn't a marriage.
I'm sure you've looked in a dictionary recently enough to realize that many words admit of more than one definition. I've got an OED at home -- some words in that have many dozens of definitions, going on page after page after page.

The fact that there is a definition of the word that you prefer or that seems better to you (or to your church) doesn't mean that those who use a different definition are describing a fiction. We all deal with linguistic ambiguity all the time, and when we are looking at a word like "marriage," we all understand (unless we are being deliberately obtuse) that the word means different things in different faiths and different societies.

If I said, "My co-worker's uncle will marry his third wife next year," you might inquire whether the gentleman practices serial monogamy or whether he's from a country where polygamy is legal. If I told you that he's from a country where polygamy is legal, you wouldn't say that his second and third marriages were fiction. (At least, I don't think you would.) Even though, in your faith, a marriage is a union of one man and one woman, it is not so in his faith, and his marriages are valid in his home country both at law and in his religion.

Likewise, if an anthropologist tells you about a Tibetan family in which a woman is married to three brothers at the same time, you would not say that her marriages were fiction. They're not relationships that would be accepted as marriages in your faith, but that doesn't make them "not marriage."

There is not a single definition of marriage that applies universally in all cultures, all faiths, all societies. There just isn't. Your insistence that your preferred definition is the only definition is in fact a demand that your faith be privileged over all other faiths.

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ToujoursDan

Ship's prole
# 10578

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"Marriage" comes directly from a 14th Century French word "marier" which I believe also serves as the root for the word "merge".

Marriage signifies any union of equals. There are "marriages of ideas". Government policy is a "marriage of politics and economics". The British flag (Union Jack) is a marriage of the cross of Saint George, Cross of St Patrick and Saltire of Saint Andrew.

I can marry jazz, country, folk and dance music and get rock and roll, so why I can't merge the households of two people of the same gender and call it a marriage too? "Marriage" isn't a sacred word that dropped from the heavens. It's used in all kinds of contexts.

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
If I told you that he's from a country where polygamy is legal, you wouldn't say that his second and third marriages were fiction. (At least, I don't think you would.)

Polygamy is wrong in spite of its legal recognition in some countries. I wouldn't have any problem with the language of fiction being used about subsequent marriages.

quote:
There is not a single definition of marriage that applies universally in all cultures, all faiths, all societies. There just isn't. Your insistence that your preferred definition is the only definition is in fact a demand that your faith be privileged over all other faiths.
I accept that there are variations in understandings of marriage, and some of them I disagree with, others might be minor things. But you are absolutely wrong to use the word 'privilege' in this context. It's a perjorative term when used by extreme secularists because it applies a test to views which come from a religious believer that simply aren't applied to views coming from other sources. It's an attempt to uniquely disqualify religious viewpoints because you claim they demand 'privilege'.

If the word 'privilege' is used in this context, it has to be pointed out that 'privilege' can be applied to any argument.

In my rush I may have misunderstood but it seems to me that Toujour Dan's point is essentially a semantic point. I'll take another non-perjorative example to show what I think this argument is about. Let's say a future government decided that because of research proving that divorce occurred in seven year cycles throughout a marriage, they would change marriage into seven-year contracts between couples which can be renewed or not. Now I think I'd be joined by many others, including 'married' gay couples in saying that is not what we understand by marriage. Though the government may have the powers to do so, we would argue that they shouldn't. Proponents of the move could point to the prevalence of divorce as an indication that the 'life-long' aspect of marriage was a nonsense. And we would argue that just because marriages fail doesn't mean that they shouldn't be attempted etc.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Note re. polygamy: are there any countries whee it is "fully" legal or does it have a different status to monogamy?

I lived in a West African country where many marriages were polygamous. Following the withdrawal of the former colonial power, the new Government beefed up the law giving second and later wives certain rights which they had not possessed before, this was a much-needed improvement.

However, this was under provision for "traditional practices" - a man could only marry one wife at the Registry Office and "full legal marriage" was explicitly monogamous. If he took a second wife this could not be registered, however much it might be recognised by the community and families concerned.

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Callan
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Originally posted by Spawn:

quote:
Similarly the Roman Catholic Church makes no substantive complaints as far as I'm aware about English and Welsh marriage law.
But it doesn't hold that everyone married under English and Welsh law is married in the eyes of God.

Most Christian churches have an issue with divorce and all of them, at least in theory, strongly deplore adultery. Nowadays a number of churches will remarry divorcees under certain circumstances but a divorcee would be unwise to assume that they had carte blanche to get married in a church. So in the Catholic Church you can't remarry under any circumstances whatsoever without an annulment, if you are Orthodox you can remarry on two subsequent occasions as a matter of economia, in the C of E you can remarry on a second occasion if certain conditions are fulfilled (i.e. this marriage wasn't the cause of a previous marriage falling to bits and the children from the previous marriage have been provided for). So, essentially, the remarriage of divorced persons is not a given in most churches and the reason for this is that there is an agreement that it is not morally licit for the church to solemnise certain unions and, generally, it is the case that when such unions are perceived to be adulterous they will not be solemnised.

Now Catholics take the view that re-marriage without annulment is almost invariably adulterous and protestant churches tend to take the view that actual adultery has to be involved for a union to be adulterous. But, nonetheless, the church does not acknowledge adulterous unions to be true marriages and will not solemnise them.

The state, on the other hand, takes no such view. If a Vicar deserts his wife and runs off with the wife of the organist they will be able to get a divorce and get married in a registry office. As far as the law is concerned Rev'd X. and Mrs Y. are every bit as married as Rev'd X. and Mrs X. and Mr Y. and Mrs Y. were before they ran off together.

Now, personally, I would have thought that the non-adulterous characteristic of Holy Matrimony was a key part of it. Broadly speaking I would regard a solemn promise to love and honour, forsaking all others until death us do part rather precluded deserting one's spouse and remarrying someone else. Nonetheless we accept that the rules of the state are not those of the church and when we are introduced to a couple whose marriage occurred in such circumstances with the words "this is Peter and his wife Jane" we tend not to respond "actually, I think you'll find that Jane is not his wife but his partner in adultery". There is a fairly important sense in which Jane is Peter's wife even if we suspect the Almighty might not fully endorse the state of affairs.

I think it is perfectly coherent to argue, as Chesterbelloc did, that the rules of the state and the rules of the Catholic Church ought to be identical or, at least, as close as is possible given the political reality. But to claim that the government is redefining marriage by recognising homosexual unions but not by reccognising adulterous unions is straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
But you are absolutely wrong to use the word 'privilege' in this context. It's a perjorative term when used by extreme secularists because it applies a test to views which come from a religious believer that simply aren't applied to views coming from other sources. It's an attempt to uniquely disqualify religious viewpoints because you claim they demand 'privilege'.

It isn't religious viewpoints that ought to be disqualified from consultation about changes to the law. It is religious arguments.

You believe, at least in part because of your religion, that ‘true' marriage is a union of one man and one woman. I don't think that anyone in this debate is denying your right to think and say that. What I (and others) say that you ought not to do, is contend for a legal position affecting the whole of society, including people of your religion, other religions, and no religion, on the basis that what you believe about marriage is what God says. That is asking for your religion to be privileged. It is wrong. It is wrong because it requires everyone in society to abide by restrictions which depend for their validity on religious propositions which many reject and are allowed to reject.

You could, of course, quite legitimately argue for exactly the same law on other grounds. That means putting forward reasons for the one-man/one-woman definition which would make sense independent of the truth of your religion. That way, you are not asking for your religious view to be given special status, you are arguing for laws which make sense and could command principled support amongst those who disagree with you about God. Your personal reasons for supporting the law may be motivated by religion - and there's nothing wrong with that because even so you aren't asking other people to live their lives in a way that only makes sense on one disputable world-view, if there would be reasons for thinking the law to be a good one in any case.

Essentially, the point is that your personal faith provides you with a fully sufficient reason for saying "I should live like this", but if you want to say (in a society with freedom of religion) "other people should live like this" then you need secular arguments as well.

I don't know why the conservative side finds this so hard to grasp. It seems to me obviously true that not all reasons for wanting the law to reflect your views are equally valid, and that it is more justifiable to make rules for other people based on broad moral principles that they generally accept than it is to do the same thing based on a religion in which they disbelieve.

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Matt Black

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So should Christians who espouse a 'social gospel' take on things be estopped from seeking to enforce or at least promote their views on social justice on the laws of the land?

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
So should Christians who espouse a 'social gospel' take on things be estopped from seeking to enforce or at least promote their views on social justice on the laws of the land?

No of course not. They just should be ignored whenever they say "Because God says so" or "Because my holy book says so" as an argument.

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Matt Black

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Then that's taking religion out of the public square totally. Sure you're happy with that?

[ETA - would Desmond Tutu, say, have been happy with your statement during the apartheid era?]

[ 09. March 2012, 11:15: Message edited by: Matt Black ]

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Then that's taking religion out of the public square totally. Sure you're happy with that?

If you can't come up with a good reason for any given policy other than "God wants it", that's probably a sign that it shouldn't be made law.

If it should be made law and will genuinely be the greatest good for the greatest number, then surely you'll be able to come up with some good arguments that don't require the invocation of God.

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
It isn't religious viewpoints that ought to be disqualified from consultation about changes to the law. It is religious arguments.

How on earth in practice, do you distinguish between religious viewpoints and religious arguments? And how in practice do you disqualify religious arguments? In any case, you would sooner or later have to confront the problem that all arguments are essentially faith positions.

quote:
You believe, at least in part because of your religion, that ‘true' marriage is a union of one man and one woman. I don't think that anyone in this debate is denying your right to think and say that. What I (and others) say that you ought not to do, is contend for a legal position affecting the whole of society, including people of your religion, other religions, and no religion, on the basis that what you believe about marriage is what God says. That is asking for your religion to be privileged. It is wrong. It is wrong because it requires everyone in society to abide by restrictions which depend for their validity on religious propositions which many reject and are allowed to reject.
In democracatic terms, if a sufficient number of people are persuaded by a religious argument, indeed any argument, then they might be able to form a majority.

However, you're right that a religious argument is often only preaching to the choir, and therefore doesn't commend itself beyond that. That doesn't mean it should be disqualified. But the vast majority of Christians argue that the things they believe are good for society. Let me take the example of Christian opposition to assisted dying. It is rooted in fundamental theological principles but in public debate Christian leaders will argue against certain views of autonomy, talk about the purpose of the medical profession and palliative care and so on.

In that sense, I think we agree. But I think this idea of 'disqualification' or 'privilege' is wholly ridiculous.

quote:
It seems to me obviously true that not all reasons for wanting the law to reflect your views are equally valid, and that it is more justifiable to make rules for other people based on broad moral principles that they generally accept than it is to do the same thing based on a religion in which they disbelieve.
I accept that not all arguments are equally good. I can't see that a bad argument is invalid or somehow disqualified by a 'test' that you wouldn't apply to any other philosophical position.
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Matt Black

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Are you therefore saying that Christians shouldn't seek guidance from eg: Scripture or Tradition in seeking to form their approaches to issues of public policy...? Or just that they should keep their mouths shut as to that guidance when publicly stating such approaches?

[cp with Spawn]

[ 09. March 2012, 11:29: Message edited by: Matt Black ]

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"Protestant and Reformed, according to the Tradition of the ancient Catholic Church" - + John Cosin (1594-1672)

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
So should Christians who espouse a 'social gospel' take on things be estopped from seeking to enforce or at least promote their views on social justice on the laws of the land?

Do you think that there are no good secular reasons to favour whatever model of "social justice" you have in mind here?

If there are no such reasons, and the proposed change in the laws would act to the general detriment a significant number of non-consenting people who do not subscribe to the religion concerned, then plainly such a 'social gospel' would be an attempt to privilege a religion. The proposed law would aim at realising a specifically religious vision of society, and would rely on the validity of that religion as the dominant reason for doing this.


In fact, I don't know of a current version of "the social gospel" for which that is remotely true, and I suspect that you don't either, so the whole thing as a red herring. Christians who espouse generally leftist politics believe that the benefits that this is intended to bring will be welcomed by society at large, and, while the religious motive may be central to their involvement in politics, the arguments in favour this conception of economic justice do not depend on a revealed religion for their validity.

It is a good example of the legitimate advancement of a religious viewpoint in politics: it is endorsed by (an important strand of) Christianity as being good, but it is essentially a secular good which is being sought.

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Christians who espouse generally leftist politics believe that the benefits that this is intended to bring will be welcomed by society at large, and, while the religious motive may be central to their involvement in politics, the arguments in favour this conception of economic justice do not depend on a revealed religion for their validity.

Ah ha. Christians on the 'left' are not seeking privilege. Christians on the 'right' are. I think I see where you're coming from.
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Niteowl

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Christians who espouse generally leftist politics believe that the benefits that this is intended to bring will be welcomed by society at large, and, while the religious motive may be central to their involvement in politics, the arguments in favour this conception of economic justice do not depend on a revealed religion for their validity.

Ah ha. Christians on the 'left' are not seeking privilege. Christians on the 'right' are. I think I see where you're coming from.
You didn't read what he posted. Those on the left aren't using their religion as justification. Those on the right that don't use their religion as their sole argument don't have sound arguments for laws that govern everyone aren't received well, those that can give facts and reasoning that don't include religion tend to fare better.. Try something other that "because that's the way it's always been (especially since it isn't) or "because God ordained it". Thus far in the legal battles over gay marriage, those who oppose it haven't done that. The legal battle over Prop 8 here in California may see the law tossed as those were the only 2 arguments put forward. They tried a "it'll destroy traditional marriage" but could answer why or how that would happen. Put up a good argument with facts that don't relate to religion and that can be verified.

[ 09. March 2012, 12:01: Message edited by: Niteowl2 ]

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
You didn't read what he posted. Those on the left aren't using their religion as justification. Those on the right that don't use their religion as their sole argument don't have sound arguments for laws that govern everyone.

Well arguments from the right seem to have convinced several legislatures, even if they haven't convinced the courts.

In any case, I did read what he said. I was wondering why my posts on this thread (alone of all the posts from Christians) led to this false accusation of 'privilege' when I haven't said once, "God says...". It would be much more honest to say, as you indeed have done, that the arguments of your opponents are 'bad' or 'wrong' rather than falsely stating that they are somehow disqualified.

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Spawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
Put up a good argument with facts that don't relate to religion and that can be verified.

Sorry to double-post but this sentence jars. Why should a good argument from a religious believer not relate to their religion? Arguments, that have been used from the 'left' recently are based squarely on variations of the 'golden rule' and Jesus' injunction to 'Love your neighbour' on precisely this subject. I've just read an article from former Labour minister Jack Straw with such quotations.
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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
How on earth in practice, do you distinguish between religious viewpoints and religious arguments? And how in practice do you disqualify religious arguments?

A religious viewpoint, in this sense, is a view held by a religious person, especially one that they hold because of their religion or consider important because of their religion.

A religious argument is an argument based on principles that presume a certain religion to be true.

A secular argument is one that makes no such assumption.

Thus: "Pornography is wrong" can be a religious viewpoint. "Pornography should be illegal because it encourages violence against women" is a secular argument. "Pornography should be illegal because Jesus commands us not to lust" is a religious argument.

Isn't it obvious that a Christian who sincerely believes that pornography encourages violence is not thereby asking for his religion to be privileged, whereas one who simply wants the law to reflect the commands of Jesus is doing exactly that?

Do you really not see the difference there? The two are not the same. If I were not Christian, my objection to having my viewing choices curtailed would be very different if the reason given was protecting the vulnerable than it would be if the reason were religious. That would be true even if I thought the ‘violence' argument were nonsense, because I still agree in principle that the law can and should restrain violence, whereas I would utterly disagree that the law should compel me to do what Jesus says.

Here's one test: If someone ceased to be a Christians, what would that do to their arguments? What would be left?

What would be left of the anti-gay-marriage case without religion? Some prejudice and disgust. Some sentimental/nostalgic resistence to change. A lot of apathy. Almost no coherent moral principle.

quote:
In any case, you would sooner or later have to confront the problem that all arguments are essentially faith positions.
I've already dealt with that implicitly on this thread. The answer is legal integrity. The philosophical task of proving the validity of moral values per se is beyond the law (quite possible, beyond human reason altogether) but we can try to ensure that the principles on which the law is based are as coherent and consistent as we can make them. If we cannot overcome a philosphical scepticism about values, we can at least subject them to a practical test: do they hold good generally, when universally applied, or are we making a special pleading? Do we really trust the principles that we use to support our views?

And applying that we can see that, yes, we do generally trust the principles of equality, and informed consent, and freedom, and non-discrimination, because those principles are everywhere in law, and almost never challenged directly, even when an exception is argued for. And we can see that we don't apply the principles of divinely-mandated sexual behaviour in our laws at all, that it is frequently objected to when it is raised, and that hardly anyone wants it universally applied. The political impetus for banning fornication is zero, even amongst most Christians.

Our laws are going to reflect some moral principles whatever we do. They should reflect those principles that we can see generally hold good. No principle that depends for its validity on the truth a a minority religion can pass that test. Plenty of things that Christians value do pass that test, because those are the things that non-Christians can sensibly value as well.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
Ah ha. Christians on the 'left' are not seeking privilege. Christians on the 'right' are. I think I see where you're coming from.

You see wrong. If Matt Black had asked about Tory Christians I'd have said the same mutatis mutandis.


There are sound secular arguments for mainstream political views of the right and the left, and sincere Christians on both sides. A sincere right-winger thinks that right wing policies benefit society and make most or all people better off. If he is a Christian, he draws his right-wing values (freedom, responsibility, respect for others' rights, lack of envy for others' prosperity...) From the gospel, and promotes them because he thinks that by doing so he does good. But, just like his left-wing brother, he is aiming at a secular good: a free, prosperous and just society. He may care about his values more because he is religious, but they do not depend for their validity on Christianity being true.

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Niteowl

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Eliab put it much better than I would have. [Overused]

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Josephine

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
Put up a good argument with facts that don't relate to religion and that can be verified.

Sorry to double-post but this sentence jars. Why should a good argument from a religious believer not relate to their religion? Arguments, that have been used from the 'left' recently are based squarely on variations of the 'golden rule' and Jesus' injunction to 'Love your neighbour' on precisely this subject. I've just read an article from former Labour minister Jack Straw with such quotations.
Again, you live in a country with an established church, so maybe things are different there.

Here, we specifically and explicitly do NOT have an established church. Here, if you want to make something into a law, "because God said so" is an explicitly invalid reason. There can be no laws which have a religious aim, and there can be no laws which give a privileged status to a religion or to a religious view. Here, if you want it to be a law, and you want it to apply to people of all faiths, or of no faith, you have to put forth reasons that people of all faiths or no faith can accept. Laws have to have a secular purpose here, they have to be neutral with respect to religion, and they can't unduly burden or interfere with religious practice unless there is a compelling and religiously neutral reason for doing so.

That doesn't mean that religious people can't use religious reasoning to appeal to other religious people for things they support. But it does mean that, if someone says, "I don't believe in your religion; do you have any other reasons?" then you'd better have some other reasons and be able to articulate them. Because here, "That's what Christians have always done" doesn't cut it here.

You may notice that this system seems to work out well for religion -- we have a higher portion of believers than countries that have an established church, and they're more active in their faith communities, and they hold to their religious beliefs more firmly.

Under our system, religious communities are allowed to prevent people from bringing service dogs into their place of worship -- they can impose their own rules on their own turf, as it were, but they can't impose that rule anywhere else. A business run by someone who considers dogs religiously unclean can't keep service dogs out of their place of business. They can't impose their rules on anyone else.

Likewise, Amish are not required to pay Social Security tax and won't be required to buy health insurance, but an Amish employer is required to collect and pay Social Security on behalf of their employees.

If you lived in a community where the majority of the people were fundamentalists who believed that the Roman Catholic Church was the whore of Babylon, they would NOT be able to pass a law prohibiting infant baptism. Doesn't matter how strongly they believe that infant baptism isn't real baptism, that baptism is what believers do as an act of obedience after they've gotten saved, and that sprinkling babies is not baptism but some sort of demonic fiction -- there is no secular purpose in denying infant baptism, the law would not be religiously neutral in effect, and it would impose an undue burden on people of particular faiths. It would be unconstitutional, and it would be thrown out by the courts.

I'm not sure if you can understand it or not, but people in minority faiths -- Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, and Orthodox Christians among them -- are usually big fans of this system.

And, as I noted above, the system has been good for religion. And many, many of us are deeply disturbed when politicians attack the principal -- not because we aren't religious, but because we are, and we value the protections provided by the wall of separation between the church and the state.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
Eliab put it much better than I would have. [Overused]

Thank you.

Also, (to Spawn) what the fuck right have the anti-gay-marriage lot got to claim ‘right-wing' for their views anyway?

It's the other side that is arguing right-wing values. We want to leave it up to other people how they live their lives without interference. We want everyone to have the freedom to decide for themselves how to organise their households and describe their relationships. We are arguing for individual rights to be maximised. We're the libertarians, they're the statists.

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Justinian
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# 5357

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Sorry. Just took a few days off this thread to cool off.

quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
This is simply wrong. There are two categories of marriage; marriages and Civil Unions. You are arguing against the making of the two categories of marriage into one category of marriage.

I'm assuming that you're not British. Let me explain, there aren't civil unions there are civil partnerships. These are not understood in legal terms to be marriage. A consultation will shortly be launched by the British government on how to legislate for same-sex marriage. I'm not sure that I can make it any clearer than that.
I am British. I forgot that we call our "not-quite-a-marriage" compromise Civil Partnership rather than Civil Union. Because I and most of the people I know all have the same word for the results most of the time. Married. (And when arguing about this I'm normally talking to Americans).

And this shows that marriage is already divided. Not the way you want to - but legally between gay and straight marriage. Your objection to the law being changed is that it would create a different division with some of you being on the outside. But this is a fundamentally different situation from the one that now exists - if you are on the outside, it is strictly by choice rather than through legal discrimination.

Most people don't care enough to want to deny that others are married. And having seen the catastrophic moral decline since gay marriage was legalised in all but name - or rather no evidence of a decline stemming from that - most people don't care. What they care about is nothing will directly change for them.

Honestly, that civil partnerships are marriage in all but name to me says that finishing the job is not a high priority battle. There are two issues outstanding - the religious liberty one and the name. The religious liberty one needs winning. Quakers should be allowed to celebrate Civil Partnerships without needing a separate registry office.

The name? Should be won eventually. But it's a mopping up excercise. The sky won't fall. No one's marriage will change. This has already been demonstrated. And the sky won't IMO fall on Conservatives either. I'll be surprised if more than a few state that they are specifically religiously married so as to differentiate themselves from gay people.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Are you therefore saying that Christians shouldn't seek guidance from eg: Scripture or Tradition in seeking to form their approaches to issues of public policy...? Or just that they should keep their mouths shut as to that guidance when publicly stating such approaches?

Just the latter.

If your religion causes you to believe that a given policy is best, then that's dandy. But if you're going to try to persuade those who don't share your religion that it's best, you're going to need a more persuasive argument. And if you can't find one, then maybe what your religion says is best actually isn't.

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That one last shot's a permanent vacation
and how high can you fly with broken wings?
Life's a journey, not a destination
and you just can't tell just what tomorrow brings.

Posts: 27709 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Spawn
Shipmate
# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
[qb]Also, (to Spawn) what the fuck right have the anti-gay-marriage lot got to claim ‘right-wing' for their views anyway?

The only point I have time to respond to at the moment because I'm just about to go out (and I probably can't get back to any responses today). You'll notice that I wrote 'right' and 'left' because I'm uncomfortable about such usage.
Posts: 3385 | From: North Devon | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
It would be much more honest to say, as you indeed have done, that the arguments of your opponents are 'bad' or 'wrong' rather than falsely stating that they are somehow disqualified.

If it makes you feel any better, I do think that the non-religious arguments you're made against same-sex marriage are bad and wrong rather than completely invalid. [Smile]

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That one last shot's a permanent vacation
and how high can you fly with broken wings?
Life's a journey, not a destination
and you just can't tell just what tomorrow brings.

Posts: 27709 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Crœsos
Shipmate
# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
In any case, I did read what he said. I was wondering why my posts on this thread (alone of all the posts from Christians) led to this false accusation of 'privilege' when I haven't said once, "God says...". It would be much more honest to say, as you indeed have done, that the arguments of your opponents are 'bad' or 'wrong' rather than falsely stating that they are somehow disqualified.

Hold on a sec. This is deeply misleading, if not outright dishonest. You advanced the claim that not only are the laws of the state regarding marriage identical to the teachings of (your) religion, but that congruence was itself a justifiable reason not to change the law to be congruent with some other religion (or with no particular religion). You may not like when it's pointed out that getting preferential treatment from the state by having your religious views given the force of law when other religious views are not is a form of privilege, but that's the argument you've decided to advance.

[ 09. March 2012, 14:43: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Niteowl

Hopeless Insomniac
# 15841

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
[qb]Also, (to Spawn) what the fuck right have the anti-gay-marriage lot got to claim ‘right-wing' for their views anyway?

The only point I have time to respond to at the moment because I'm just about to go out (and I probably can't get back to any responses today). You'll notice that I wrote 'right' and 'left' because I'm uncomfortable about such usage.
Just clarifying the Eliab, not I made that statement. I just stated thatarguements based on relgi are not good enough to change or not change laws. Everyone is entitled to voice a rational argument that is not based solely on ones religion.

[ 09. March 2012, 15:07: Message edited by: Niteowl2 ]

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"The Puritan's idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business." ~ Wendell Phillips, attributed

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