Friday, July 26, 2013

On Jesus vs. Caesar

"The Christians, like the Caesars, applied the language of euangelion (“gospel” or “glad tidings”) to their movement. The Christians, like Rome, taught that they held the answer for bringing justice, order ,and peace to the world (Lk. 2:13–14; Jn. 14:27). The Christians, like the Romans, claimed that a single man had rightful dominion over the whole earth (Mt. 28:18). The Christians, like the imperial religion, offered a sense of community to previously warring pluralities (Gal. 3:28). The Christians, like the religion of Rome, were intent on evangelizing the world (Mt. 28:19). But whereas the Caesars sought to Romanize the world through brutality, force, and bloodshed, the Christians sought to evangelize the world through love, self-giving, and sacrifice. The glad tidings of Jesus was therefore bad news for Caesar, since it proclaimed there was another way to transform the world that was superior to Caesar’s way. It announced that God had called out a people whose vocation was to work for peace and justice on Jesus’ terms, not Caesar’s.
Even when the early Christians submitted to the ruling authorities, there was an implicit challenge. In writing to the Romans, Paul made clear that the reason Christians were to submit to the civil magistrates is because the rulers have been placed there by the higher authority of God (Rom. 13:1). Though the Caesars liked to think of themselves as subject to no one, Christians proclaimed that earthly rulers are God’s ministers, responsible for carrying out His business here on earth (Rom. 13:2–7). The idea that Caesar’s authority was derivative rather than ultimate was nothing less than fighting talk in the politically tumultuous days of the first and second centuries.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 43-44


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Monday, July 22, 2013

"They Are Us"

In a post a couple day's ago, I cited an animal rights activist who said, referring to apes, "they are just like us."

I thought that was about as extreme as you could get. But then I watched Richard Dawkins in the video below. He takes the argument one step further. "Human beings are not just like great apes" he says. "They are great apes."


C.S. Lewis made a good argument in one of his essays (I forget which) for the fact that a theistic worldview is necessary in order to make a consistent and logical case against animal cruelty. Within an atheistic worldview, it is hard to say how the cruel action of a human is ultimately wrong any more than the cruel action of a guerrilla or tiger is objectively evil. (I develop this further in my review of The God Delusion and in my review of The Moral Landscape.) Thus, while an atheist can advocate kindness to animals, he does not have consistent grounds for doing so.

To say that animals and people are not equal
is like being a racist, many people now argue.
This point comes out clearly in the video above, when Dawkins admits that he can only justify being nice to animals by an appeal to emotion. Dawkins explains that when he is wearing his scientist hat, there is no reason why cruelty cannot be justified, and to do that he has to put on his human hat and appeal to what he feels.

This is significant since it illustrates a point made again and again by Francis Schaeffer, namely that all non-theistic worldviews have to introduce some kind of dualism in order to account for meaning and significance. Richard Dawkins is no exception.

It is probable that if the video was taken today Dawkins might adopt a different position, since his views about ethics have modulated after reading Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape, which I explain about in my review of Harris' book.

Getting back to the video. In addition to arguing that human beings ARE apes, Dawkins suggests that a key issue of our age is speciesism. In the past, he points out, people had to realize that racism was wrong, leading to equality between the races; people also had to learn that sexism was wrong, leading to equality between the sexes. Now, the great issue we are facing is to realize that speciesism is wrong. Once our society has overcome the speciesist impulse, there will be equality between humans and their animal relatives.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"They Are Just Like Us"

A few days ago I posted about the Human Zoo Project. Today I want to tell you about another project that is related to the same philosophy: the Great Ape Project.

Pioneered by animal rights activist Peter Singer, the project consists in “an international organization of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists, and other experts who advocate a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.” (From the Wikipedia article about it)

Legal rights for apes? Actually, that’s only the beginning. In the book The Great Ape Project that Peter Singer edited with philosopher Paola Cavalieri, the authors address the division placed between humans and great apes, and discuss the ramifications of conferring personhood onto great apes.

That’s right: personhood.

The concern that apes are persons has found quite a resonance throughout the worldwide community, as evidence by The Great Ape Personhood Movement which exists, according to Wikipedia, in order “to create legal recognition of bonobos, common chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans (the non-human great apes) as bona fide persons.”

The project describes itself as wanting to create a “moral community of equals” among human beings, gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonoboos, and in their mission statement they condemn the use of these animals in circuses as “a kind of slavery.”

Now don't get me wrong. I am passionately against cruelty to animals apart from in cases where such cruelty has the potential to save human lives (as is the case with some industrial experimentation concerning the effects of certain products). In fact, I would argue that my theistic worldview gives me more grounds for asserting the necessity of being kind to animals than the materialist worldview of someone like Singer. But that is a different subject. What interests me right now is the idea that anything less than conferring personhood on apes is a form of 'speciesism' and animal abuse.

This isn’t just a bunch of wacky nut cases from Yale and eco-nuts from California who are calling for this 'moral community of equals' between humans and gorillas. In 2007 the Parliament of a Spanish province passed legislation granting personhood to great apes. Thomas Rose’s CBS News report about the legislation defended the practice with a curious bit of logic that, quite frankly, is difficult to answer:
Consider that under most international law corporations are recognized as legal persons and are granted many of the same rights humans enjoy, the right to sue, to vote and to freedom of speech.

What enables an inanimate object like a corporation to enjoy personhood is a nicety called a legal fiction.

A legal fiction is something assumed in law to be fact, irrespective of the truth or accuracy of that assumption. Corporate personhood is recognized the world over, so why not ape personhood?
More than 2,000 years after Aristotle declared that Mother Nature had made all animals for the sake of humankind, that assumption might soon be stood on its head.
I'm not sure of the tenuous link from corporate personhood to ape personhood, but it's hard to deny that this logic is intriguing. But what interests me (and what II may one sometime write about in an article for Salvo magazine) is what this reveals to us about ourselves and how it relates to human exceptionalism. If I ever do write an article for the magazine about this, I will dwell on the utter inconsistency of a someone like Professor Singer who can think that infanticide is sometimes justified yet whose Project condemns using apes in circuses. For the time being, however, the basic problem has been summed up very succinctly on the mission statement for the Great Ape Project. I quote word for word: “To sum it up, they are just like us.”


Further Reading

Friday, July 19, 2013

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Earlier this month the town of Coeur D’Alene became the fifth city in Idaho to pass laws forbidding discrimination against LGBT people in the areas of employment and accommodation. How should we think about this as Christians? This is a question I have attempted to answer in a two-part series at the Colson Center, which can be read at the following links:


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Human Zoo

I’m all for technology, but when I read that scientists think robots may one day have rights, or that a new humanoid machine will be able to express emotions, that’s when I get a little squeamish.

Mind you, it’s not so much that I have a big problem with people wanting to anthropomorphize their machines. It’s more the double standard in a culture that is willing to dignify machines by treating them like people while simultaneously devaluing human beings by treating them like animals.

The latter impulse reached its peak of insanity in the fall of 2005 with the London Zoo put on a “Homo sapiens” display. The display, noted Denyse O’Leary, involved “a group of eight nearly buff humans cavorting in a cage for the express purpose of assuring the public that ‘the human is just another primate.’"

The London experiment was not a new phenomenon. The Adelaide Zoo in Australia also put on a similar experiment. Ashley Hay reported that
the Human Zoo project had locked groups of six humans into an empty orangutan enclosure, each for a week at a time. It aimed to "create awareness of the closeness of humans to their primate cousins", "provide a platform for research on animal behaviour and enrichment", and "raise awareness of the conservation needs of primates in the wild". By this Wednesday, the fourth and final group was halfway through its stint.
I am reminded of G.K. Chesterton's character Mr. Edward Carpenter, in the first chapter of The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Carpenter was part of a school of thought which maintained that "we should in a very short time return to Nature, and live simply and slowly as the animals do. And Edward Carpenter was followed by James Pickie, D.D. (of Pocohontas College), who said that men were immensely improved by grazing, or taking their food slowly and continuously, after the manner of cows. And he said that he had, with the most encouraging results, turned city men out on all fours in a field covered with veal cutlets."

While Chesterton was writing this in fun, we must not forget that he was always something of a prophet. He seemed to have realized that the itinerary of the reductionist views he so often attacked in his writings was quite simply, that it blurred the line between man and the beasts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Privacy and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom

In Hadley Arkes' book Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, he makes some penetrating observations about American society which apply with equal force to some of the issues Britain is now facing. He writes,
Natural Rights and the Right to choose In the name of 'privacy' and 'autonomy', [Americans] have unfolded, since 1965, vast new claims of liberty, all of them bound up in some way with the notion of sexual freedom. In the first steps, there was a liberty, for married couples, but then soon for unmarried persons, to have unregulated access to contraceptives. Next, the claim of privacy was extended into a private right to end a pregnancy, or destroy a child in the womb, at any time in a pregnancy, for virtually any reason. That same claim of privacy was soon extended to the freedom to end the lives of newborns afflicted with Down's syndrome or spina bifda. After the briefest interval, that same doctrine of personal autonomy was applied to the other end of the scale of age and converted into a claim to assisted suicide.
Ironically, this unfolding scheme of liberation has advanced even while privacy, in other domains, has been progressively crimped and disrespected by the law. Private corporations, private clubs, private households, have found themselves under thicker regulation, and the overhanging threat of lawsuits. The combined effect has been to remove the attribute most prized about privacy: the freedom to arrange one's own association, or private enclave, according to one's own, private criteria. But this recession of privacy and freedom seems to count for very little when set against the expansion of rights associated with sexual freedom. The dismantling of restraints on sexuality has evidently been taken as far more liberating, even exhilarating, perhaps because it has been taken as a matter of the most irreducible 'personal' freedom. And yet these freedoms, celebrated as per-eminently 'personal,' have required the assistance or intervention of surgeons and counselors, and they have quickly annexed to their cause the demand to have the support of public monies, drawn from tax-payers with the coercions of the law. It must surely count, too, as one of the paradoxes of this new phase in our law that people seem to identify their well-being, not with an obligation to preserve life or go to its rescue, but with the creation of vast new franchises to destroy human life, for wholly private reasons, without the need to offer a justification.
Each step in liberation has been marked, then, by a further detachment of people from the traditional restraints of the law. The corollary, of course, is that, as restraints have been removed, persons once protected by those restraints have been removed from that protection. Vast new liberties come along with vast new injuries - unless, of course, the victims no longer count. In any event, there is little doubt that these alterations in our law over the past thirty years have been taken as the hallmarks of a new regime of personal freedom; a freedom so vital to those who savor it, that any threat of having it qualified or diminished in any degree is taken as nothing less than an assault on the constitutional order itself.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hollowing Out the Habits of Attention (part 2)

In my earlier post on attentiveness, I lamented the decline in book reading that has become a regular feature of contemporary life.

Most people realize that reading is in decline, as distractions like the i-phone, Facebook and text messaging assert their hegemony over our mental spaces. Professor Katherine Hayles, who teaches English at Duke University, expressed the concerns of many when she confessed, “I can’t get my students to read whole books anymore.” When English graduates don’t even like to read anymore, you know things are getting serious.

What has bypassed most people, however, is that the main reading problem we face as a society is not simply that people aren’t reading enough; rather, the real problem is how we read. Increasingly, we find that when people pick up a book, they often come to it with the same set of expectations they bring to the internet. Activities like Facebook and Twitter exert their dominion over our minds precisely because they condition us with a certain set of expectations that become ubiquitous and which remain with us even when our computer or i-phone is turned off.

More specifically, our constant saturation in digital distractions is training us to be satisfied with triviality, to be content with dialogue that is shallow, brief and disconnected. In short, we begin to expect books to give us the same buzz that an i-phone provides, and when it doesn’t, we quickly get bored.

Keep reading...

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Feminism to Gay Marriage

For millennia of human history, the institution of marriage has always been understood as being between a man and a woman. Even in cultures where the practice of homosexuality was widespread, if someone had suggested widening the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships, no one would have taken you seriously. So why now, all of a sudden, are so many states and nations jumping on the bandwagon to make marriage mean something else?
Clearly, there is no single explanation, but I suspect that one key factor has been the persistent erosion of the gender polarity that occurred throughout the 20th century. At least, that is what I argued in an article for the Colson Center titled "How Gay 'Marriage' Became Plausible."

Throughout the last century feminist writers kept telling us that gender is irrelevant in man-woman relationships, including the relationship of marriage. What happens if you consider gender to be a functional irrelevancy long enough is that suddenly same-sex marriage, in which gender is a formal irrelevancy, starts to seem a lot more plausible.

As feminists continually downplayed the significance that gender had within society, reducing it to an irrelevancy like the color of a person’s eyes, it was inevitable that we would reach a point where gender is seen to be irrelevant in marriage too.

As the significance of gender was gradually evaporated from the outworking of marriage, it was inevitable that we would reach a point where it no longer seemed so strange for it to also be evaporated from the definition of marriage itself.

What started with feminism attempting to empty marriage of all gender roles, ends up with the homosexual community attempting to empty marriage of any necessary relation to gender whatsoever.

These prior ideas about gender created plausibility structures in which the notion of gay “marriage” no longer seems so strange.

To read more about this, and to see some quotations from feminists that support the above contentions, click on the link below:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gay Marriage Debate

Sherif Girgis defends real marriage In my Christian Voice articles 'Can Ecclesiastical Marriage be Separated from Civil Marriage?' and 'Why Gay Marriage is a Public Threat Part 2' I had occasion to quote from the book What is Marriage? by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George. This book is probably the most compelling defense of real marriage that is currently available. The website gives summaries of the book's arguments in addition to further resources by the authors.

Last January there was a fascinating debate on C-span in which one of the book's authors, Sherif Girgis, debated Andrew Koppelman on 'gay marriage' before an audience at the Harvard Law School. The entire debate can be watched here. Both thinkers have a background in law and have clearly spend considerable time considering the question from their differing perspectives of legal theory. The debate isn't easy-going and can get pretty technical, but it is still definitely worth watching if you have a free hour. This was the most civil and rational debate I have ever seen on this topic which is usually charged with emotion.

If have given some feedback on Koppelman's arguments in the debate here, interacting with his view that marriage is a social construct.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Jessica Rey on the Evolution of the Swimsuit

As summer comes upon us, it is helpful to appreciate that the type of swimwear that is now routine was once scandalously shocking, and appropriately so. In this fascinating video, fashion designer Jessica Rey talks about the evolution of the bikini and how woman all over the world are turning to modest alternatives.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Resurrection and the Sanctification of Matter

In 2003, Dan Brown’s publishing phenomenon, The Da Vinci Code, hit the world with a splash. The book popularized the ideas of Gnosticism, in addition to quite a few of Brown’s own ideas packaged in a pseudo-historical gloss.

I never read the book, but my wife and I did watch the film so I could write a review of it. Around the same time that we watched the film, I read in the papers that the National Geographic Society was announcing the publication of a new Gnostic document, the so called, Gospel of Judas.

Suddenly it was no longer merely historians and academics who were interested in Gnosticism. Everyone from the dentist to my neighbour seemed to be talking about issues of Christian origins and the historical Jesus.

Were the four gospels written to supress the truth of the real Jesus, who may never have even claimed to be divine? Might the historical Jesus have actually been an esoteric Gnostic sage whose true career was subsequently covered up by the church? Were the ancient Gnostics the true followers of Christ? These were the types of questions that I kept hearing people ask, prompting me to take an interest in this ancient heresy.

Keep reading...

Friday, July 05, 2013

If Marriage Were Infinitely Malleable

Let’s assume that the meaning of marriage is infinitely malleable, that it is a social construct and can mean whatever we choose for it to mean in the way that twentieth-century art came to basically include anything anyone wanted it to include.

If that were the case, then it would make any remaining restrictions on what can count as marriage merely arbitrary. Faced with the logic of this nominalist turn, this is exactly what some people are now arguing. In an article last month for Slate, Jillian Keenan suggested that the meaning of marriage is endlessly elastic. The topic of her article was polygamy, but the principle of marital plasticity might be taken in any number of other directions:

“The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet”

My point in quoting this is not to invoke a slippery slope argument that legalizing “gay marriage” will lead to legalizing polygamy. Alastair Roberts is right that since same-sex “marriage” is by far the more radical aberration, “expressing a concern that same-sex marriage might lead to polygamy would be akin to worry on our part that mainlining heroin might lead to experimentation with marijuana.” Moreover, for all its problems and gender inequality, polygamy is still marriage since it involves sexual dimorphism (at least, if the conclusion of this article be accepted). Rather, the problem in Keenan’s perspective is more basic: once we accept the narrative that marriage is plastic, then there is no theoretical limit that can determine when the marriage modernizers are actually finished. If marriage is so plastic that it can mean absolutely anything, then in another sense it means nothing at all.

It is significant in this regard that dozens of public figures (including leading activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers) have now signed a joint statement titled, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships.” This statement argues that those who are advancing same-sex “marriage” have not gone far enough. Invoking a fallacious is-ought line of reasoning, the statement argues that since traditional nuclear families are no longer the norm, government needs to be more elastic in what it considers to be “legitimate families.” They write, “The struggle for same-sex marriage rights is only one part of a larger effort to strengthen the security and stability of diverse households and families.” How diverse? The Statement suggests that anyone living together should be considered a family, including “Close friends and siblings who live together in long-term, committed, non-conjugal relationships...” It also suggests that “legitimate families” can involve people who don’t live together, including “Queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households.”

If these examples illustrate anything, it is that once we concede that marriage (and therefore family) are social constructs, these categories become so wide that they tend to be evacuated of coherent meaning.

Once we concede that marriage has no essential meaning but is entirely culturally relative, then the only thing left to give fixity to marriage is whatever the majority happens to say. We see this happening in much of the public debate about same-sex marriage, where journalists, media commentators and even lawyers are increasingly appealing to the herd for validation of their positions.

Andrew Koppelman, the John Paul Stevens
Professor of Law at Northwestern University
This was the approach taken by Andrew Koppelman, the John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University. When defending “gay marriage” against Sherif Girgis in a fascinating debate at the Harvard Law School, Koppelman began his argument by citing statistics showing how many people now accept same-sex “marriage”, as if his opinion was proved right through majority consensus. As Koppelman continued his presentation, one of the key points in his response to Girgis was not that Girgis’ arguments for the conjugal view were illogical (although he did allege that in a different part of the debate), but that most ordinary people wouldn’t be able to understand them. Koppelman’s implied premise was that same-sex “marriage” was above critique because it had the understanding of the majority.

It sounds strange that any intelligent person could imagine that having the support of 51% of the country makes a policy position correct. However, if marriage is entirely relative to the cultural moment, then what else could determine the boundaries of marriage other than majority opinion? A parallel would be the moves in the game of chess, which achieve their legitimacy purely through majority consensus.

Koppelman actually invoked this example in the aforementioned debate, pointing out that the move that the knight is allowed to make wasn’t always how we know it today, but evolved over hundreds of years. Just as there is no objective essence to chess which determines that the knight has to move in the way it does, so there is no objective essence to marriage which determines that it has to mean one thing and not another thing. It is entirely a cultural construct.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Feminism and Gay Marriage: The Overlooked Connection

In my recent Christian Voice article 'Supreme Court Decision Winners and Losers', I included feminists among the winners in the Supreme Court's ruling of last Wednesday. The connection between gay marriage and feminism is often overlooked, yet understanding this relation is crucial to appreciating some of the background dynamics to the recent debates.

Ever since the mid-twentieth century, there has been a very vocal strain of feminists who have been calling for the destruction of marriage. The strange thing is that now scores of public thinkers who were previously opposed to marriage are now singing the praises of ‘gay marriage’ precisely because this is seen as a way to deconstruct the family and redefine marriage into oblivion and meaninglessness.

Throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties it was commonplace for feminists to condemn the matrimonial state. This can be seen in the way Catharine MacKinnon, like other second-wave feminists, have compared sexual intercourse within marriage to rape, saying, “What in the liberal view looks like love and romance looks a lot like hatred and torture to the feminist. Pleasure and eroticism become violation. (Catherine A. MacKinnon, Applications of Feminist Legal Theory to Women’s Lives, Temple University Press, 1996), p. 39.) Elsewhere the Harvard Press author said, “The major distinction between intercourse (normal) and rape (abnormal) is that normal happens so often that one cannot get anyone to see anything wrong with it.” (Catherine A. MacKinnon, quoted by Christina Hoff Sommers, “Hard-Line Feminists Guilty of Ms.-Representation,” Wall Street Journal, November 7, 1991.)

Feminist author and journalist Jill Johnson was equally unbending in her antipathy to marriage. Writing in 1973, she commented that “Until all women are lesbians, there will be no true political revolution.” (Jill Johnson, Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.) This echoed a whole body of feminist and lesbian literature aimed at discrediting marriage. Here is just a sampling of some of the statements from this corpus:

  • “Like prostitution, marriage is an institution that is extremely oppressive and dangerous for women.” Andrea Dworkin, ‘Feminism: An Agenda’ (Letters from a War Zone, Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill Books, 1993), p. 146.
  • “Feminism stresses the indistinguishability of prostitution, marriage, and sexual harassment.” Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law (Harvard University Press, 1987), p. 59.
  • “We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” Robin Morgan Sisterhood is Powerful (New York: Random House, 1970), p. 537
  • “We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage.” Gloria Steinem, cited in the Saturday Review of Education, March 1973.
  • “Legal marriage thus enlists state support for conditions conducive to murder and mayhem.” Claudia Card ‘Against Marriage and Motherhood’(Hypatia, vol. 11, no. 3, Summer 1996).
  • “Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession…the choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn’t be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.” Vivian Gornick, The Daily Illini, April 25, 1981.
  • “If women are to effect a significant amelioration in their condition it seems obvious that they must refuse to marry…The plight of mothers is more desperate than that of other women, and the more numerous the children the more hopeless the situation seems to be…Most women…would shrink at the notion of leaving husband and children, but this is precisely the case in which brutally clear rethinking must be undertaken.” Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971), pp. 317 & 320.

 By now you should get the picture. It isn’t complicated. The narrative is essentially marriage is bad and must be destroyed.

Now fast-forward to the present and what do you find? You find many of these same writers are now agitating for gay marriage. Why is this? Have they suddenly had a major ideological shift to go from anti-marriage to pro-marriage? No. Their agenda is consistent but their tactics have changed. They now realize that little can be achieved on the large scale through explicit calls for the abolition of marriage and therefore they have settled on a new strategy that seeks the same ends while ostensibly placing a high valuation on the institution of marriage. Only in this way can they successfully shift the unconscious normalcy fields in ways consonant with their long-term goals.

This isn’t just speculation on my part. Dozens of public feminist figures (including Gloria Steinem, quoted above, in addition to leading activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers) signed a joint statement in the summer of 2006 entitled, ‘Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships.’ This statement argues that those who are advancing same-sex ‘marriage’ have not gone far enough. The statement argues that traditional nuclear families are no longer the norm and that government needs to be more elastic in what it considers to be “legitimate families.” They write, “The struggle for same-sex marriage rights is only one part of a larger effort to strengthen the security and stability of diverse households and families.” How diverse? The Statement suggests that anyone living together should be considered a family, including “Close friends and siblings who live together in long-term, committed, non-conjugal relationships…” It also suggests that “legitimate families” can involve people who don’t live together, including “Queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households.”

What is going on here shouldn’t be difficult to grasp. When marriage and family can mean anything, then marriage and family will mean nothing, which is what the radical feminists have wanted all along. Supporting 'gay marriage' is simply one stop along the itinerary towards the destruction of the family. Some feminists, such as Masha Gessen, have been candid enough to acknowledge this. (See the video 'Gay Marriage Activist Reveals Movement’s True Agenda: Destroy Marriage.') Ryan Anderson reminds us that
Leading LGBT advocates admit that redefining marriage changes its meaning. E. J. Graff celebrates the fact that redefining marriage would change the “institution’s message” so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.” Enacting same-sex marriage, she argues, “does more than just fit; it announces that marriage has changed shape.” Andrew Sullivan says that marriage has become “primarily a way in which two adults affirm their emotional commitment to one another….
New York University Professor Judith Stacey has expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek…small group marriages.” In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners….

Some advocates of redefining marriage embrace the goal of weakening the institution of marriage in these very terms. “[Former President George W.] Bush is correct,” says Victoria Brownworth, “when he states that allowing same-sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage…. It most certainly will do so, and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.” Professor Ellen Willis celebrates the fact that “conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart.”

Michelangelo Signorile urges same-sex couples to “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.” Same-sex couples should “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake…is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”
To read more, visit my article 'Supreme Court Decision Winners and Losers

Monday, July 01, 2013

Sex in Movies

Children who watch adult television are a third more likely to become sexually active in their early teens, according to a recent study reported on in the Telegraph. This confirms what I was reading last week in Doug Wilson's book Future Men. Wilson writes that
There is no way, that young men can watch, and be entertained by, movies which include displays of nudity, steamy sex scenes, and so forth, without being aroused by them. A boy who tells his mother that he can "handle it" is using what astute theologians in former ages used to call "a lie." Scripture tells us that bad companions corrupt good morals, and the movies a young man watches have to be reckoned among his companions. If he watches vile movies, he is being discipled by raunchiness. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Though she may be on the screen, and not in "real life," the harlot of Proverbs is still leading him to death. Exposure to all this makes a young man think he is sophisticated simply because he has grown accustomed to his environment, but this does not mean that he is able to discern the true nature of his environment. Just because a man recognizes the wallpaper in the brothel does not make him discerning."
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