The Manhattan Declaration

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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68 Responses

  1. Bob Cheeks says:

    Politics and religion will always be entwined. The MD is encouraging. To see sissy Christians actually making the first effort at fighting the secular behemoth is amazing.
    I am curious, in what doctrine or dogma do you find Christian approval for homosexual “marriage?”Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

      That’s entirely beside the point, actually. Our laws are secular. No religion or church should have to marry anyone they don’t want to.Report

      • Bob Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        “…beside the point,” well, I’ve been behind the point on any number of occasions.
        “Our laws are secular.” I thought law might be grounded in the spiritual realm?
        “No religion or church should have to marry anyone they don’t want to.” Well, I agree, but that might be beside the point. I was just wondering if your support for “gay marriage” was determined by your understanding of scripture or doctrine and if so what scripture/doctrine? There’s no snark involved here.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

          It’s both practical and based on my understanding of love and mercy and compassion, all of which are things I understand better because of the gospels. But no, there is no spot in the Bible that proclaims that gay marriage is right or true or good.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

      I am curious, in what doctrine or dogma do you find Christian approval for homosexual “marriage?”

      I actually have an answer for this.

      There are a number of fundamental (no pun intended) assumptions about God, Jesus, and our relationship to Him at the bottom. I understand that you don’t share them. I’d ask only for you to understand that someone might have them in good faith (again, no pun intended).

      The fundamental assumption of the taboo against homosexuality in Christianity seems to be founded in Levitical Law. (20:13!!!) Now, as you and I know, Leviticus says a lot of stuff. A lot a lot. It’s a really fascinating read, to tell the truth. There are rules for eczema, there are rules for hair loss, there are rules for urination, there are rules for food prep, there are rules for sex. Rules, rules, rules.

      When you see how many Christians treat the word “abomination” with regards to shellfish, are you surprised? (Three times it’s used against shellfish, compared to the homosexuals’ one.) There are dozens of arguments for why shellfish is okay today, of course. “Well, these were a desert people. They didn’t know about de-veining shrimp before boiling them” is one that I have seen. “We live under a new covenant now” is a personal favorite. “If you read Acts 10:9-16, you see God explicitly say that he’s made all sorts of animals clean” is a fun argument… and I’ve seen 1st Corinthians 8 (the chapter where they talk about meat offered to idols) used as justification for why it’s okay to eat shrimp (SERIOUSLY!!!).

      We all know that the Levitical injunction against shellfish is gone, baby, gone. Indeed, an argument that you shouldn’t go to Red Lobster would be snorted at, I’m sure. Well, Red Lobster sucks. If, however, someone argued that you shouldn’t have the surf and turf when you go to the local chop house because God said it was a sin, that would be an opportunity to snort as well… or, I suppose, say something like “if you’re admitting to being the weaker brother, I will avoid eating something that will make you stumble… are you admitting to being the weaker brother?” (That one *ALWAYS* gets a big laugh from everybody else.)

      Back to homosexuality. It seems to have been fairly demonstrated that the attitude towards Levitical law is, to put it lightly, fluid.

      I hope you can understand how someone might say “we live under a new covenant now” in response to why homosexuality is no longer a big deal, even though it might have been a big deal for desert people 3000 years ago.

      But what about Romans, I hear you ask. What about the “GO AND SIN NO MORE!!!” moral to the story where Jesus rebuked that lady caught in the act of adultery (among other things, of course)?

      Well, this brings us to that famous bugbear “interpretation”.

      Romans 1 has a lot of things… but there is an interpretation of Romans 1 that says it should be read in the form of an argument… “While it may be true that those people engage in X, Y, and Z…” says Romans 1, and, indeed, many people read Romans 1 as evidence that we ought to be violently opposed to X, Y, and Z, let’s look at the first verse of Romans 2.

      Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

      Romans 2 goes on for a while in that vein, for the record. Romans 3 gets really interesting. I’ll let you look it up yourself, of course. I’ll ask you to read Romans 3:9-19 and pay close attention to 19.

      Romans goes on for a while. (My goodness, Paul does like to ramble!)
      Romans 7 is interesting, Romans 8 is interesting too. (Goodness, he just goes on and on!), eventually, we get to Romans 14. I’d ask you to read the entire chapter.

      That ties into the Jesus story we alluded to moments ago. There was a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was dragged before Jesus and a bunch of guys, stones in their hands, asked Jesus what should be done.

      Jesus knelt for a moment and drew in the dirt.

      He said “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

      The older guys, stones in their hand, were the first to drop their stones. The younger fellows followed suit shortly thereafter. It was just Jesus and the woman.

      “Go. Sin no more.”, he told her.

      What was her sin? Adultery. Sex with someone who was not her husband.

      Which brings us full circle to your question: “I am curious, in what doctrine or dogma do you find Christian approval for homosexual “marriage?””

      It would be this: We live under a new covenant. Levitical law does not apply as it used to… indeed, God has changed the rules. We support homosexual marriage because it provides an outlet for two guys to be chaste with each other within the bounds of holy matrimony… and the opposition reminds us of nothing more than the people whom Jesus spoke to when he spoke of casting stones and nothing more than the people Paul spoke to when he spoke of judgment belonging to the Lord.

      Now go.

      Sin no more.Report

      • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

        JB, thanks for the above and I really enjoyed your comments. I discussed the matter with my autodidact-theologian wife over two fingers of Maker’s Mark and she kindly provided some references to look up while commenting on your kind disposition in the matter.

        Re: our “judgment” of the sins of others, I couldn’t agree more. Judgment is God’s business….love the sinner and hate the sin and all that. However, we are responsible to recognize sin, or how are we to avoid it? Also, reading Romans 2 (and thanks for that), we might want to read 1 and 3 as well.

        I would provide one more scripture re: homosexuality: Romans 1:26-27.

        With that I’d like to agree with you re: the matter of Christ’s command to the woman to “go and sin no more,” which, I think, is the crux of the question. Sin has the deleterious effect of separating being from Infinite Being.
        So the question is one of sin and sexuality which invites, indeed demands, a comparison between heterosexual and homosexual sex.
        Hetero sex is considered a sin outside marriage, while perfectly ok, in a traditional Christian context, within marriage.
        Homosexual sex is considered a sin. Orthodox Christians would do not accept the possibility, scripturally speaking, of a “homosexual marriage” and as you know I agree with that position. For me, and I don’t intend this as snark, there’s something decidedly blasphemous (in a sense, a mocking of God’s divine order) about the idea of homosexual ‘marriage.’ On the other hand, and speakng as as citizen, I have no problem with a homosexual civic union that would permit all the legal and tax benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

        Some very good Christians like to concentrate on Jesus’s oft quoted comments re: love, compassion, kindness, etc while ignoring his exhortations re: sin. The love between being and Infinite Being is a two way street. He pulls us, experientially, and we choose to love Him or not. He has provided the gospel, an “event in the drama of revelation,” that occurs in time and timelessness, as a means of knowing how to be(live) in the mystery of divine presence in existence and how to attain salvation.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

          Bob, please understand: I am a nihilist. I do not believe that there is a god and I fear that there is not even an underlying moral fabric to the universe. We are all engaged in little more than a random walk, bubbling up from nothing, to return to nothing, doing nothing, saying nothing, signifying nothing.

          I have done my best to come up with a moral code despite myself (hope, if you will) but… well. We know where that leads.

          The above essay was not written to get you to change your belief, per se. It was to answer the question of “how in the hell could someone believe something like that?”

          Well, you need these assumptions.

          I understand that you don’t share those assumptions. Neither do I.

          I just ask you to ruminate on whether someone *COULD*.

          Once you see how someone could, well… that answers the original question, doesn’t it?Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            JB, I do apologize for my assumptions and trust I haven’t embarrassed you. Voegelin speaks to nihilism, the modern complaint. You might be interested in Vol 12, CW of E.Voegelin, Published Essays, you won’t be able to put it down.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              Bob, I am not asking you to apologize for your assumptions.

              I am, however, asking you to imagine someone having assumptions that are not yours and them having these assumptions in good faith.

              I have a co-worker who does not eat pork. Why? Well, he’ll explain Levitical law to you if you ask him.

              This is not an assumption that I share… but I see how someone else could have it in good faith.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              Let me ask you an earnest question:

              Do you eat shellfish or bacon?
              Why do you feel that this is okay despite Levitical law?

              Do you wear mixed fabrics?
              Why do you feel that this is okay despite Levitical law?

              Even if you do not do these things, surely you see how someone else could do them without it being particularly interesting, no? Surely you see the reasons they’d give as why such would be okay as reasonable, no? (Up to and including “We live under a new covenant” now, right?)

              Well, there are people out there who see “marriage” as a union of two people becoming One within God. It’s not about creation of children, it’s not about tax purposes, it’s not about attempting to redefine a fundamental bulwark of society, it’s not about much of anything except those two people becoming One within God.

              And when these two people happen to be two guys, they do stuff like say “why would God make me like this if he didn’t intend me to find this other guy and live with him and become One within God with him and make this other guy find me?”

              And they pray about it and they love each other and they experience beauty in the world, and beauty in each other, and feel things like we used to feel when we first met our own personal Maribous and they say that they want to get married.

              Now some Pharisee comes up and says that what they feel isn’t real, homosexuality is a sin, why just read Romans 1 (don’t bother reading the rest of Romans, of course), and come to Red Lobster tonight and we can discuss why Leviticus 20:13 is still relevant today…

              And we go back to the perspective of these two guys.

              Are these two guys going to see the Pharisee as analogous to Jesus or to the Pharisees? When the Pharisee hits the podium with The Bible and says “which are you going to believe? Me or your own lyin’ eyes?”, which do you think that these two guys are going to believe?

              Which would you believe?Report

        • zic in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

          From reading your post, I’d assume the ‘sin’ of sex is only on the part of a woman.

          Which makes me wonder about that rape I experienced when I was 16. Who was it that was sinning? Me, the female, or my rapist, the male? And how does that jibe with all this jive about sex and sin and orientation? Would you ask your wife? (I’ll mail the Maker’s Mark if I need to, just to get an answer.)Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to zic says:

            zic, I’m not sure how it is that I’ve insulted your sensibilities, which I assure you was not my intent. Would you clarify…I’m a bit thick-skulled about these things as JB will testify.Report

            • zic in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              Perhaps my question would be better addressed to Jaybird, but we know he’s a confirmed non-believer, and the point blunts.

              But the blunt point is the silliness of telling only women not to commit sexual sin, as you said in response, and I apologize for taking your quote out of context. The Good Book is, from my reading, full of BS when it comes to sex and sin, let alone fidelity in marriage. It condones what I’d consider some pretty nasty crimes against women. Slave women, in particular. So I’m more than willing to give its view of gay sex short shift. The source ain’t trustworthy by my modern standards.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Well, I’ll try to address this “wearing” (if you will) the mindset you hoped I’d have.

                When the woman who was caught in adultery was caught in adultery, how do you think that happened? “Caught in the act!” is a particularly salacious detail, no? “They were totally doing it” is how it might be phrased in grade school.

                Well, the Pharisees caught this chick who was totally doing it. How did they know? As someone who has totally done it, this strikes me as a set-up from the get-go.

                She was probably a local prostitute and one of the guys holding a rock was probably the guy who was also engaged in the doing of it… and there he was, standing in front of Jesus saying “I HAVE EYEWITNESS PROOF THAT SHE WAS HAVING SEX WITH ME!!!”

                Jesus, being Jesus, knew this.

                He sat and drew in the dirt for a moment. I don’t know if there was a legal concept of “entrapment” back then but… well, Jesus knew that the woman was entrapped. He knew that he was dealing with a group of guys who had entrapped her. He knew that he was dealing with a group of guys who was perfectly willing to kill this woman by stoning her to death right then and there.

                I have no idea how in the hell someone can read this story and say that the fundamental point of this story is that Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more.

                It’s useful, of course, for those who really really dislike the idea of sexual sin to a degree that strikes me as unhealthy to interpret it that way, of course. I can see how someone who is hoping to discredit Jesus as moral teacher might see it that way too.

                Interpreting the story that way strikes me as exceptionally dishonest given all of the other things that Jesus did, however. Jesus was massively kind to women. Jesus was massively kind to children. The people that Jesus saved his venom for were those who used religion as a cudgel rather than as a bandage.

                The good book evolves as you read it. God evolves (the God of Job is not the God of Exodus is not the God of John is not the God of Galatians). We see God grow in his relationship with us. We had an Ademic covenant (which lasted about a week), a Noahic covenant (which didn’t last much longer than that), an Abrahamic covenant (which got pretty far, all things considered), and now we have a New Covenant in Christ which is founded on, among other things, God’s Love (which we see in Christ’s example) and in the teachings of Paul.

                The Spirit of God will manifest itself and you will be able to tell a tree by its fruit.

                Look for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Where you find these things, you will find the Spirit. If you find someone who does not manifest these things, you have found someone who is not of the Spirit… despite any assurances to the contrary.

                When you see any given person talking about religion, God, or whathaveyou, ask yourself this question:

                Am I reminded of the Christ or am I reminded of the Pharisees?

                If it is the latter, this person does not know Christ and you can take comfort in the fact that Christ Himself will tell the Pharisee, on the day of reckoning, “I never knew you.”

                But knowing this, you have a heavy burden. Are you of the Spirit?

                If I were to look at your fruits, what kind of tree would I think you might be?

                It’s okay, though. Your sins are forgiven! Go! Sin no more!Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ahh, I’d forgotten there’s a difference between old-testament Christians and new.

                But doesn’t that very evolving interpretation of God mean that when it comes to gay sexuality, God can change her mind? She’s certainly done that about other things, as you so wonderfully point out.

                Me, I’m of the spirit that God is man’s creation, and wonderful to behold in all her many ages; fearful in his might, and sweet as a baby wrapped in swaddling and laid in a manger, ready to take on new layers of meaning to help man understand and live with man.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Dude, don’t ask me. I think we’re floating meaningless and alone through the void. The food’s good, at least. Maribou is pretty cool too.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

      Be sure to ask the gay Ugandans what they think of mixing church and state.Report

  2. historystudent says:

    I approve of the Manhattan Declaration. The idea that “the right” is mixing religion and politics is one-sided. One can argue just as well that those who oppose the three major propositions in this declaration are doing the exact same thing. Why should government aid and abet abortion? Why should gays and lesbians be permitted to enlist government to change the traditional definition of marriage? Why should the government have the power to restrict religious expression? Our country was not based on such radical ideas, and there is no solid reason why they should have free rein now. The Manhattan Declaration is simply defending values that Americans have held dear for centuries. Just because we have entered the twenty-first century doesn’t mean we have to chuck the principles that have formed our society. Life, family, and religious freedom are things for which it is worth taking a stand. Good for the signatories.Report

    • What I don’t understand is why they need to sign a declaration. Why can’t it just be that they are Christians and so people know what they stand for – why is this step necessary?Report

      • historystudent in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Well for one thing, it is a call to arms to those Christians who seem confused. Modern Christians are a diverse group, and many have been influenced by questionable teachings. Just look at Rep. Kennedy and his beliefs about abortion which conflict with those of the Church with which he claims to want to be in communion. This declaration, among other things, is a clear clarion call to basic Christian values. Those who sign it are sending a message to the Christian community: We hold these truths as the heritage of our faith; come, be not afraid, join us.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    It’s always amusing when Protestants get together and say, effectively, “we need a pope!”

    Those who forget history, etc…Report

  4. Zach says:

    “Handled properly, religious liberty isn’t at stake, but if this war goes on too long it could become an issue.”

    I can’t speak for others, but the only battles I’m interested in fighting against religion are the ones they bring to me; you know, the ones that insist I be harassed and marginalized and be forced to abide by religious tenets that I don’t subscribe to.Report

  5. mike farmer says:

    In a free society the state would have nothing to say about marriage. Churches would marry and bless whoever they choose to marry and bless. People would marry whoever they want to marry in any type of ceremony they choose. Women could have as many husbands as they want and men could have as many wives as they want — age limits would be based on the best knowledge regarding mental and emotional capacity to make a free decision. The only laws would be laws preventing coercion in any form. Contracts would likely develop to handle disputes when the union is broken. You wouldn’t have to worry about men marrying goats because it can’t be determined if the goat consents. Government could not force people to monetarily support abortions or make laws preventing any type of marriage.

    This would be in a free society.Report

    • North in reply to mike farmer says:

      Indeed Mike. Sign me upfor a unicorn while we’re making wish lists. I could hang my laundry from that horn very handily.

      Unless I see any sign of a serious movement to remove the government involvement in heterosexual marriages I will continue to view the libertarian position as one that, while sound, is also a cop out.

      If we could all live on air then no one would go hungry.Report

      • greginak in reply to North says:

        huh…churches can and always been able to marry whoever they want to. Civil marriage is essentially a standardized type of contract that has developed in accordance with contract and family law.

        I don’t understand the idea behind getting the gov out of marriage, when all it is a contract. well who adjudicates contract disputes over property and children….the gov. so who will deal with legal conflicts then? i’m guessing the answer is still the courts. So the idea of getting the gov out of marriage doesn’t seem to make sense nor does it account for the actual nature of what the gov does in regards to marriage ie: offer a standardized contract and set laws regarding contracts and child custody.

        full disclosure: i work for a state superior court as a child custody evaluator.Report

        • mike farmer in reply to greginak says:

          gregniak, you aren’t so dense that you can’t understand what I wrote, so I can only guess you want to dishonestly denigrate what I wrote.

          It’s obvious that I meant the State should not regulate marriage, and that a court system can decide disputes, and that i was simply describing what true freedom would look like, and that I never said there should be no court system, and I didn’t say the churches couldn’t marry who they want to marry, and that it’s beside the point whether there is a government or not, my point was that freedom is freedom from coercion — even without a government, society could create an organization which decides disputes and punishes coercion.Report

      • mike farmer in reply to North says:

        North, I’m simply describing what a free society would look like regarding these issues — When I see people talk about the unfairness of one aspect while supporting unfairness regarding other aspects, I think it needs to be pointed out so that righteouness is not too haughty. Everything I write is not a policy position of the libertarian party.Report

  6. Winston says:

    I am not a member of the Christian faith, nor am I gay. But I feel quite strongly that the emphasis not only among the Christian Right but among mainstream Catholic institutions on abortion and gay marriage is as complete a distortion of Christ’s message as there could possibly be. Aside from the issue of salvation itself, Christ spoke mainly of the least among us. Where can we find such an emphasis today? I would be far more impressed with the contemporary state of Christianity if the number of declarations on poverty was even a tangible fraction of the number of declarations on gay marriage or other issues that don’t really threaten the temporal powers that be.Report

    • historystudent in reply to Winston says:

      I will suggest to you that one of the most valid definitions of “the least among us” can be attributed to the unborn. Yet so many who complain about the hypocrisy of Christian values fail to stand up to protect these lives that have already been created and are in need of protection. I do think there can be times when the health of a pregnant woman might require the sacrifice of an unborn. But, generally, abortion on demand is something I think it is safe to say that Christ would abhor.

      As for marriage, let us not forget that Christians are not the ones who made marriage an issue of contention. That was done by those who wanted to change the definition of marriage to suit themselves. Marriage should not be a political football, but it has been made one by those who want to change it into something it is not.Report

      • Antiquated Tory in reply to historystudent says:

        Has it occurred to you that there are certain rights that in the United States only married persons have, due to the federal nature of the country making “civil unions” problematic?
        Has it occurred to you that telling gay couples that however long-term, good, and stable their relationship may be, it is not as “special” as the relationship between, say, Brittney Spears and Jason Alexander, might be, ooh, ever so slightly insulting? Is it really that incomprehensible to you that gays who campaign for marriage do so under the motto that they are just as human as you or I?
        What actual, practical impact would civil marriage between gays have on your marriage? In what way would your legal rights be lessened? Or is is simply that your marriage would be spiritually lessened? And why then should society honor your spiritual discomfort over other persons’ civil rights?
        I could imagine in a different time and place, you making almost identical, deeply spiritual arguments about why your Philosophy department should not admit any women or Jews.Report

        • historystudent in reply to Antiquated Tory says:

          Equal rights is one subject, marriage another. Civil unions are the way for those of the same sex who want to cohabit to obtain legal rights.

          As far as being insulted, people can get insulted by all sorts of things. The dignity of a given person or a relationship isn’t based on what others think or what others “give” it. It is based on the inner self of the person or relationship.

          Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us. Marriage isn’t just about love –its about a very specific kind of love: the love between a man and a woman. It is the only kind of love that allows for the possibility of natural procreation. That makes it unique. As I said elsewhere, that doesn’t mean other types of love are less real or less valued, just different.Report

          • North in reply to historystudent says:

            How, then, History do you explain the full out assault and furious resistance by the christian right to any civil union program that has been suggested? How about the fire and damnation they called down on Vermont when it first popped up? How about their assault on the Washington civil union program just a few weeks ago? Where are the civil unions in the socially conservative states where there’s no danger of same sex marriage being enacted in the near future? Why is it that the social right squeels about civil unions only when they see the logs falling off the barricades against SSM? Frankly it sounds like bullshit.Report

            • historystudent in reply to North says:

              Well what sound like bull to many of us is the idea that marriage should be changed.

              I personally know quite a few gay people, and I love and respect them. But I don’t think that everyone should have to endorse or accept the gay lifestyle as ‘okay’. People have a right to their convictions and some people are certain that homosexuality is wrong. You may have the opposite belief, but they are just as much entitled to hold their viewpoints as you are yours. As long as there is disagreement over the morality of homosexuality there will be controversy over civil unions too. Such is life.Report

              • North in reply to historystudent says:

                Well at least you came out and admitted that civil unions are just a red herring. I appreciate your being forthright about it. But as long as homosexuals are going to have to fight it they may as well go for the entire enchilada.Report

              • historystudent in reply to North says:

                Not quite, North. They are not red herrings. They are a legitimate point of debate.

                Your “whole enchilada” comment again brings to the fore the agenda which seems more about trying to force acceptance of gays from everyone than about gaining legal rights. Again, gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.Report

              • North in reply to historystudent says:

                They’re not points of debate historystudent, they are a strategic fallback point. As you pointed out, gay relationships will be attacked by the social right no matter what they’re called, be that civil unions, marriage or butt-buddies. Since if gays and their allies accepted the more limited compromise option of civil unions they would suffer the same attempts to prevent/remove them as if they were civil marriage then there’s no reason to settle for said compromise.

                More to the point, marriage has been redefined by society roughly every generation or two. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be redefined again.Report

              • Zach in reply to historystudent says:

                “But I don’t think that everyone should have to endorse or accept the gay lifestyle as ‘okay’. People have a right to their convictions and some people are certain that homosexuality is wrong.”

                How is granting gays equal rights in any way challenging personal convictions? I’m not demanding anyone change their personal beliefs. I personally disagree with the idea of parents teaching children that we’re actually exiled descendants of a couple who took advice from talking snake, but I’m not trying to enshrine laws to prevent them from doing so.Report

              • historystudent in reply to Zach says:

                Glad you don’t mind if schools teach Creation. I don’t mind either, but I prefer schools that teach the theory of evolution too.

                As to your question, think of it this way: what if pedophiles demanded the right to marry or be in a legal civil union with those they desired? You probably wouldn’t agree to that would you, since you probably think pedophilia is wrong? Okay. So make the connection to people who think homosexuality is wrong too.

                But my viewpoint is different. Marriage is not about civil rights. Marriage is about one kind of love, and one kind of love only. Therefore, redefinition of marriage is not possible or acceptable to me.Report

              • greginak in reply to historystudent says:

                well obviously pedophiles can get married to whoever they want as long as that person is old enough to give legal consent.Report

              • North in reply to historystudent says:

                There is the point, History, that disapproval of pedophiles is a rational position that does not require dependance on religious doctrine to hold up it’s position. Pedophiles prey on people who are objectively incapable of giving consent. You don’t need to be religious do disapprove of pedophiles. Homosexuality on the other hand does typically require some appeal to blind dogma in order to justify the animus against it.Report

      • 62across in reply to historystudent says:

        The unborn as some of “the least among us” is an interesting argument that I’ll not try to refute. Nonetheless, your meaning must be implied, because it is clear from the surrounding verses in Matthew 25 that Christ was not speaking of the unborn, but of the poor, hungry and the infirm.

        Winston has made an excellent point about emphasis and twice given you the opportunity to answer it, yet each time you’ve avoided his point and re-emphasized your laser focus on abortion and gay marriage, even though to do so you have to infer how Christ would feel about these things. On the other hand, Christ was pointedly explicit about the contempt he had for the moneychangers, the wealthy and the excessively pious Pharisees.

        Until these conscientious Christians add at least a short paragraph to their declaration that condemns greed, usury and self-righteousness, it is inappropriate to claim they are defending “basic Christian values.”Report

      • zic in reply to historystudent says:

        I will suggest to you that one of the most valid definitions of “the least among us” can be attributed to the unborn.

        And in the time that Christ lived, ‘the unborn’ were important at about four and a half months, at the time of quickening.

        Before that, women had quite an arsenal of herbs/concoctions to ‘bring on their menses,’ particularly when a child wasn’t in their best interest. Often, it didn’t work. But I’m just betting that it worked way more than we would like to admit, else herbals of the day wouldn’t have given such credence to plants like pennyroyal.Report

  7. Winston says:

    history student, your argument may be valid on the issue of abortion (though even there I would argue about the emphasis on that issue at the expense of all the others Christ spoke about). But on the issue of gay marriage? Please.Report

    • historystudent in reply to Winston says:

      Winston, the definition of marriage isn’t something to be played with and stretched like a rubber band. I would hope we can agree on that. Marriage isn’t just a legal formality, and it should not be treated as though it were. For obvious reasons marriage has both legal and religious aspects which have been put in place to encourage conjugal union between the sexes and resulting families. There is everything right about that.Report

      • Zach in reply to historystudent says:

        “which have been put in place to encourage conjugal union between the sexes and resulting families.”

        Shockingly, the human species has spent most of its existence creating families without marriage. Religious marriage ceremonies are a comparative blip.Report

        • historystudent in reply to Zach says:

          Marriage has been around a long time. I suppose if you want to count the cave men and before…but maybe even the cave men had some kind of marriage ceremony — who knows.Report

      • Zach in reply to historystudent says:

        I am also puzzled about this “obvious reasons” bit, since historically, the process and particular reasons for marriage has had significant variations, many of which do not and never encompassed religious notions.Report

      • Dave in reply to historystudent says:

        I would hope we can agree on that. Marriage isn’t just a legal formality, and it should not be treated as though it were. For obvious reasons marriage has both legal and religious aspects which have been put in place to encourage conjugal union between the sexes and resulting families. There is everything right about that.

        Actually, when we are dealing with the legal issues of a marriage statute, we set aside the religious aspects and have to focus on whether a statute that discriminates against a group of individuals seeking an equal legal status has any justification for maintaining that level of discrimination.

        You can hem and haw all you want about procreation, stable families and the like but when those defenses are scrutinized in a way that determines whether those reasons bear a substantial relation to a legitimate state interest. They tend to fail miserably. You can see for yourself if you’ve read the Iowa Supreme Court decision Varnum v Brien.

        Personally, that you disapprove of gay marriage is meaningless to me because I’m not asking you to accept gay marriage. I’m telling you that in a free country like ours, laws that are aimed at some class of individuals for no other reason than animosity towards that class (sorry, gay marriage bans aren’t about “protecting” any insitution and anyone who says otherwise is full of shit whether they know it or not), they tend to fall by the wayside. Sometimes, the people gain their wits and repeal the laws through democratic process. Sometimes, the courts step in.

        In this case, it’s only a matter of time…Report

  8. Michael Drew says:

    “the most extreme secularists on the left”

    Presuming that those people pursue goals to which you object, would you be interested in offering examples of same, and lay out your objections? It is worth lifting this statement

    Our laws are secular.

    out of your above comment to place side-by-side with your response if you choose to make it.Report

  9. North says:

    I think the declaration is kind of cute myself. There should be a Jewish one too; and a Buddhist one and a Taoist one and maybe even (horror of horrors) an Islamic one. Maybe even a Wikkan one though I suspect the cops would probably get exercised about the skyclad part. Or even Episcopalian or Lutheran or Unitarian if we’re only letting Christians in the door? Or Krishna! Let a thousand topknots fly free!
    I mean if we’re shoehorning religion into secular governance why stop at just one?Report

  10. PresbyterArius says:

    I am surprised, Mr Kain, that you would approve of the Nicene Creed, which was essentially imposed by imperial fiat, and surely represents the worst of big government interventions in religious life. Check the history of how the Creed came into being, if you don’t believe me. Also, if you are going to judge moral issues by whether they are explicitly referenced in the bible, there is precisely no mention of abortion. There are, however, some rewarding passages where God commands the slaughter of children and the annihilation of other ethnic groups. Shall we see you red to the elbows in the blood of the firstborn? On a point of logic:

    “The left isn’t nearly as organized in these matters, and will likely suffer defeat simply by having one fewer cause to take up arms against.”

    It’s fairly unusual for a group to suffer because it has one less front to fight on. History suggests that concentrating on fewer fronts is a more effective strategy. Also, it may surprise you to know that many on the left don’t support the death penalty. Generally, the groups that show the most rabid enthusiasm for it are in fact the religious right and their political minions. If you could get the religious right to be pro-life in this area, the left would consider that they had won.Report

    • zic in reply to PresbyterArius says:

      You could include war in this assessment. Surely, it isn’t the left begging us wage holy war against the Muslims in perpetuity.Report

    • William Brafford in reply to PresbyterArius says:

      I am surprised, Mr Kain, that you would approve of the Nicene Creed, which was essentially imposed by imperial fiat, and surely represents the worst of big government interventions in religious life.

      Comment of the day, as far as I’m concerned.Report

  11. Travis says:

    People like myself, who are fairly young and gay, are sitting back and laughing. Declare things all you want, just like George Wallace proclaimed “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Fat lot of good it did him.

    The fact of the matter is, my generation — Net Gen, Gen Y, whatever — overwhelmingly supports marriage equality and rejects the homophobic scare tactics and slanders used to oppress gays and lesbians.

    So fulminate all you want. You’re dying off, one by one, and being replaced by a more enlightened group of people. Enjoy your descent into irrelevance.Report

  12. Winston says:

    history student, what does that have to do with my point? To the best of our knowledge Christ was never married and never uttered a single word about marriage. But he said a lot about caring for the poor and the meek. The current emphasis on opposing gay marriage has nothing to do with Christianity as it was originally conceived. To repeat, I would be a lot more impressed by the argument of those who think as you do if the opposition to gay marriage was just a part of a larger argument for peace, for justice, for caring for others. Instead, it is a dominant element in the Church’s political involvement. And to suggest that today’s Christian Right is peace-loving, cares about the poor, and exemplifies other aspects of Christ’s message is laughable. I don’t see how you can argue with that.Report

  13. Dan Summers says:

    I’m way, way late to this discussion, but for the record there is much about conservatism that I find appealing. If the strident opposition to gay marriage were dropped from the right’s agenda, it would go a long way toward a meaningful rapprochement for those of us who long for a more productive dialogue with conservatism in general.Report

  14. Jeff says:

    A good write-up of the “Manhatten Doctine” by an evengelical (but not fundimentalist) (and one of the best propenents for Christianity today) can be found at Slacktivist:

    I find it ironic that someone who goes by the nick “historystudent” seems to be unaware of the historical nature of marriage (in short, largely a property contract).Report