Answer to Heidegger

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    allowing churches to decide on their own whether or not to accept this

    I’d say “yes”, if I knew more about what the above clause meant. Churches can certainly decide for themselves which marriages they’ll perform. They cannot, say I, determine which of their employees they consider married for the purpose of paying benefits. But if church-run schools want to teach that same-sex marriage is an abomination that will soon turn the US into Sodom and Gomorrah writ large, hey, knock yourselves out.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/11/gay-marriage-and-the-catholic-church-in-maine/

    I’ll copy my essay from that thread here because, hey, sidebar.

    When people discuss “marriage”, they tend to mean one of two things and can sometimes jump between the two things in the same conversation.

    There is Marriage In The Eyes Of God (henceforth MEG) and Marriage In The Eyes Of The State (henceforth MES).

    I have met religious folks who argued that MEG was not possible for homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13, don’tchaknow) and so MES was obviously out of reach. Why, it would be silly to discuss MES because we *KNOW* that they can’t have a MEG. (Interestingly, some of them are in my wife’s family and they don’t believe that we have a MEG because we were not married in The Church… they acknowledge that we have a MES, though.)

    For a long, long, long time, I thought that gay marriage was going to be inevitable because, sure, let’s say that homosexuals cannot get a MEG. What does a MES, in practice, actually consist of?

    Tax stuff. Lawyer stuff. Hospital visitation rights kinda stuff. Manila folder stuff. Boring legal stuff.

    The MEG consists of little things like shopping for groceries together and discussing what kind of hamburger helper to buy. Asking how the day was. Hearing about how the kitten pulled down the handtowels in the bathroom so he could stand on the bar. Discussion of the birthday party we’re going to come Saturday and if we ought to pick up a stuffed animal in addition to the floor puzzle and, if so, if a sock monkey would be better than a floppy teddy bear. Tiny, perfect moments that sound really dull when you put them into plain text.

    I cannot claim anything close to knowledge of the Mind of God. I have no idea what, if anything, He is thinking. I do not know whether He would agree with me that it seems that gay folks are perfectly capable of having a MEG. At the very least, I am certain that I do not have the competence to say that they do *NOT*.

    So we’re left with the MES issue. We may have the power to prevent gay folks from having a MES… but it always struck me that given the nature of a MES… you know, the manilla folder stuff…, it would eventually get really depressing to deny inheritance rights to gay folks. To deny hospital visitations. That sort of thing. These guys who do stuff like discuss which kind of hamburger helper they ought to get, who discuss their days, who discuss the kitten, who discuss the sock monkey vs. floppy teddy bear issue…

    To deny them a manila folder struck me as something that would eventually become really, really depressing and something that people who claim knowledge of the Mind of God would eventually sicken of.

    I don’t understand it.Report

    • Avatar mark boggs says:

      Pardon the grenade here, but no matter the reasonable tones many MES opponents take, it has become more apparent to me over the years of having this debate that many of them not only do not sicken of the denial of the manila folder, they get off on that shit.

      But I’m with you…I don’t understand it.Report

    • Avatar Matty says:

      I tend to think marriage can refer to three things.

      1. The relationship of the couple to each other, what Jason once refered to as mutual nurturing (btw Jason if you still have a copy of that essay it would be well worth reposting). Same sex couples undoubtably have this if they believe they do since it doesn’t depend on anyone else.

      2. The celebration of a relationship by your community, this is where people can involve a church if they want.

      3. The legal status, your MES and the attendent rights.

      The thing is I don’t see these things necessarily have to go together, people should be able to have any combination of them according to their own tastes.Report

  3. Avatar Boonton says:

    Actually the Catholic Church can decide to only hire Catholics in good standing for its schools. That would mean not only could it say no to SSM people but even say no to hiring non-Catholic teachers or Catholics in bad standing. For example, here is a link about Canadian law:

    http://www.yorku.ca/ddoorey/lawblog/?p=1909

    Likewise the same principle applis in US law:
    http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/discrimination-in-school-lawyers.html

    If you find a Jewish Math teacher Catholic school, its not because the school is required to hire non-Catholics, its because the Catholic school decided as a matter of policy its just easier to not require everyone in it to be Catholic.

    Likewise Catholic schools have legally done things like fire teachers for doing non-Catholic things like pubically stating they had an abortion, getting pregnant out of wedlock and so on. There’s nothing in the law which says, then, that they can’t fire the Baptist janitor who gets remarried after being divorced.Report

  4. Avatar Boonton says:

    Likewise I think Heidegger’s stance may be an example of bad faith. Just say the law happens to be such that Churches CAN be forced to perform marriages that they think violate their faith. The honest solution then is to fix the law so that Churches are free to do their thing while those who don’t want to be part of a particular Church can do their thing. The solution isn’t to try to keep civil law theolgoically consistent with politically popular Churches.Report

    • Avatar Trumwill says:

      I am inclined to agree, but with a pretty big caveat.

      Someone who says “If I give you want you on Step 1, will you then fight for Step 2?” is not arguing in bad faith. Not necessarily so, anyway. Because if they will, that’s not a bad reason to fight Step 1 even if you don’t care all that much about Step 1 if you’re really strongly against Step 2.

      For instance, I have no problem with a National Gun Registry. I do have a problem if it’s going to be used for some nefarious purpose later on. Now, you can assure me all day long “Well if you oppose confiscation, then the solution is to oppose that if it comes up and not to oppose the registry.” However, if I feel thrice as strongly about confiscation as I do about the registry, I’m going to oppose the registry.Report

      • Avatar Boonton says:

        Fair point, but another issue is that I think evidence of bad faith is indicated by a person who constantly shifts arguments rather than address the counter arguments laid out before him. Hence after you cite twenty case laws, research the hiring law as regards to Catholic hospitals etc., you don’t get a response but some other issue tossed up (like public schools, social security benefits, or whatnot).

        Your Gun Registry example is good, although I think its an example where the thing you’re worried about is made much more easy by the thing you’re opposing. Granted there are other valid reasons to have a registry, it does make it much easier to implement a confiscation policy. More importantly, if you want to do a confiscation policy, it will be much harder if you don’t have a registry that was created some time ago.

        In the case of SSM, if you wanted to make a law saying that churches *must* make their marriage rules sync exactly with state civil law I’m not seeing how having SSM provides a ‘stepping stone’ to that end. You can create a ‘sync law’ without SSM (in fact some on the right would like to use the law to pressure churches that DO do SSM’s).Report