Monday, November 03, 2008

Framing the Conversation: Dr. Baird & Big Love

There are a number of reasons that I became an English major:
  1. I love to read.
  2. I love to write.
  3. I'm one of those wacky folks who think Shakespeare & Chaucer (in Middle English) are fun.
  4. I hated math SO much that I had to find a major that wouldn't require me to take any more math classes.

And that's how I ended up taking Logic as a substitute for my one mathematics requirement - though it doesn't explain why I thought it was a good idea to take Logic as a MWF 8 am class... or why the Powers That Be (at Baylor) had decided to put this class in a windowless room in the basement of Tidwell.

I fought to stay awake three days a week while Dr. Baird lectured us on syllogisms & other logical things... one of the few things I remember is when we talked about logical fallacies in arguments.

Which is where my thinking went last night as I tried to sort out the torrent of thoughts pouring through my brain. (I apologize for the trip through my brain... but it's the best way for us to get where I think we need to be going.)

  • "So, if marriage is redefined as 'whoever wants to be married', what's next?"
  • "Oh, wait a minute, I'm not supposed to ask 'what's next', cuz that's a slippery slope towards the logical fallacy of the slippery slope."
  • "Ah, but the slippery slope is NOT wondering what may come next - it's assuming (making a donkey out of you & me, btw) that whatever you fear WILL come next."
  • "OK, that means I can suggest that polygamy could be next when it comes to the redefiniton of marriage."

Which is the point where some of you start calling me a hate-mongering so-and-so... that I'm painting some kind of horror show picture in an attempt to sway impressionable voters. Look, I don't hate people who've chosen (or believe they have no choice) to express their sexuality as a homosexual. This isn't about frightening people - it's about thinking through the consequences of our actions as a society.

I'll go so far as to tell you that voting for Prop. 8 simply because you're scared of the cast of HBO's Big Love moving in next door to you is a bad idea. That's on par with voting for McCain because you've heard Obama is a Muslim. (He isn't, btw.) We should never be defined by what we're against - instead, we should be defined by what we're for.

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.


Jeff Boes said...

I'm a life-long Christian, currently a member of a UCC church, and I was a leader in that congregation's discussion and adoption of an Open & Affirming statement. So I'm squarely on the side of gay rights; for me it's a fairness issue.

What I want to see from the "other side" is a discussion of why it matters to them that marriage be defined as "one man plus one woman"? How does it impact my marriage in any way, if someone else's marriage to a member of the same sex is recognized by the state? Or to multiple people? (We'll hold the line at marriage to non-sentients, thanks.)

There are billions of people in the world who are married outside the Christian church, and those marriages in no way threaten my marriage. There are billions more who are living together outside of marriage, again, no threat to me. There are cultures where a 30-year-old man can legally marry a 14-year-old girl, and while I may question this from the standpoint of whether the girl's rights are respected, I have no doubt that it's a marriage, just not one I would enter into.

My opinion is: what the state recognizes as a legal union, and what my church recognizes, and what I recognize, can be different things. I'm not diminished by it, nor do I feel that society suffers for it.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Jeff, I'd ask you to read all of my posts entitled "Framing the Conversation" and see if that doesn't help explain my personal position.

As well, you could take a look at the NY Catholic bishop's statement at

A few random comments on your comments:
- If the definition of marriage doesn't matter, why hold the line at non-sentients?
- While I understand your arguments & your desire to live & let live, the standard for whether something is good or bad is not whether it threatens you personally. Child prostitution in the Far East does not threaten me, but it is wrong for me to turn a blind eye to it.
- Again, while I understand your point, the fact that you "feel" that society does not suffer does not make it true.

Jeff Boes said...

Comments on your comments on my ... oh, you get me. :-)

I feel marriage is a human right, that's why sentients-only. On the other hand, if dolphins are judged to have souls someday, I guess we'd have to extend marriage rights. For now, I think I'm safe in ignoring the possibility.

Child prostitution in the Far East does diminish me. It's a violation of the value of an individual and their right to self-determination. And to me, so is denying two people the right to have their relationship formalized by the state so they can gain all the benefits accrued to other formalized relationships.

I have yet to see evidence that society is harmed by a gay relationship formalized and recognized as a legal entity.