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Prepping my flechette jacket... Hiding under a pew in the Church of Reason

Update 18.12.2005:
What folows is a series of questions and examples designed to illustrate how a person can say the following:
"Homosexual marriages ruin the sanctity of marriage."
The following details some conceptual reference points that I used to comprehend this thinking. Hopefully, the reasoning makes sense outside my own head. While the following is lengthy for the simplicity of the idea presented, I want the idea that this is a big deal to some, and that they feel justified about it, and here's why. It's not my usual, simple to slice and dice logic, so please bear with me on it:

Update 15.12.2005:

Ok, I'm still too tired to give this argument the attention it needs, so I'm not gonna spell it out. Just take a moment and give these point some serious thought - I am certain that if the initial gut wrenching response is ignored, an interesting argument forms.
  • Sanctity, derivative of sacred. Sacred things are holy. Now, ignoring religious overtone, note that holiness is a state of purity. So the contention that homosexuality ruins the sanctity of marriage goes.
    This raises two questions:

    • 1) Is homosexuality a pure form of marriage?
    • 2) Assuming so - does it matter? Is it a threat?

    • 1) To answer, we need to understand what the purpose of marriage is.
        Child rearing: does raising a child with parents of opposing sex provide a wider, more balanced viewpoint - a more wholesome perspective (hehe, sounds loaded, but I mean as of and or pertaining to 'whole' - to root of the word's connotation anyhow).
          I do not mean liberal or open-minded - I mean practical functionality in the world and the social circumstances that would ensue.
          This, I think, is no where near as easy a qualification to answer as many would like to say - take a moment to factor in as many variables as you can think of for a few moments.

        Stability: A marriage is meant to be permanent.
          How much of 'gay' is fad, and how much is sincere natural impulse? (Seriously, I've never been able to qualify this adequately, and I've met enough people who claim to be gay that this sort of thing should be obvious.)
          Do massive increases in divorces among the heterosexual denote that marriage is no longer sacred? Does the lessening of the marriage bond increase the acceptance of homosexual marriages?

        Legality: Many heterosexuals decide to not get married, but instead live together. Does this denote that the marriage bond is an exceptional benefit?
          Leaving the connection to be drawn by the reader, this leads to another chain of questions:
            Is a legal form of marriage unfair?
            Does it discriminate against couples who live together but do not wish for marriage?
            Would it be better to out with it - is pure marriage simply a religious state of living?
            Or, conversely, should marriage be made much more difficult to divorce over?
            I think taxing is the first thing that needs analysis in this respect.

        2) Here's the crux of this issue: who cares, and are they whiney little bigots for their concern over this 'threat'?
          Ok, if you say noone and they are, you fit into the especially silly case of the close-minded liberal and are hopeless. Nice job sounding like every other bigot. If not, then you'll be concerned about:
        • Why so many view homosexuality as a sin: sex is for reproduction, and homosexuality can't (save for some modern-day magic). Too, the Bible discourages things that defeat what is natural, and thus see the previous sentence.
            (Note my lack of a rant over how homosexuality is a deadly sin and such - the Bible denotes that it is an unnatural inflammation - meant to be curbed and controlled like any powerful driving force. To have sex with the same sex is to undermine the biblical purpose of sex, and thus undermine God's effort to fill the earth. Simple, no fuss.)
        • Is this a state decision?
            Running with that theme, at what level of community can this be decided at? Can a decision be fairly reached for the entire nation (ie. would this offend the majority? Is it okay to offend the majority for a higher moral ethic? Does the majority override minority ethics on uncompromisable issues?)
            Is it safe to let individual communities decide? - I'm calling slippery slope here. Cuz if you can stop gays from marrying, what to stop enpowering all white communities? Or senior citizen trailer parks? Or nutty little cultist compounds? Is there an inherent right to chose one's community? I hope you see the issue there. And no, that last bit is not at all stupid. It's an ethical problem is what it is.

And I'm outta juice. I had some more to go, but my memory buffer feels flushed, so this is all the recall that gets credit. There's more. And I hope dearly that these questions aren't obvious to you. Or if they are, you've got a solid basis for it, clear to your foundational ethics. This is the goal of this post. It's a simple, reflective examination of your own stance through a case study. I make no claims for completion, only that it is a jumping off point to an ever widely branching mode of reason, ending at either nowhere, the beginning, or a conclusion. I summarily reject the first two, so you may see why I insist many things are not as they seem. Maybe some of you will get a glimpse of what I mean now.

Thanks for thinking.

Unedited post from December 12, 2005:

In ECE200, it occurred to me that a lot of fuss has come over people's outrage over the 'sanctity of marriage'. Later, when I have more time, I will elaborate on a response to those who are upset at the audacity of such a phrase. For the most part, I think the incredulous reactions I have seen are the result of a nonunderstanding (not misunderstanding) on good methods of how to raise children, freedom of environment, and the mutual impinging on other's rights. It should become apparent that many freedoms overlap and as a result cause strife between groups, and the neither side may be able to compromise on the topic. For example, do people have a right to choose their surroundings? If so, doesn't that make them bigots?

When I detail this later, it may sound as though I'm playing devil's advocate.

I am not. There is no wrong here, just conflicting ideals, and if the idea that those ridiculous right-wing christian extremists have a valid point is unpalatable - then a revisitation to what it means to be open minded is needed. I'm sick of all the incredulous slamming going on, since it clearly lacks empathy. Without some empathy, conclusions reached are just superficial knee-jerk reactions based on presuppositions.

If you need it in black and white - I tend to sympathize with liberals (I am young and in college after all). But they've been jerks lately, and the conservatives are acting loony, and I'm rather upset at the whole debate circle. I'm too independent to be stuck to one side.

Note too that my personal feelings are not reflected in this. My understanding of perspectives and the subsequent ethical consequences is.

Just before I thought of the above, I realized why my opinion may boggle some. I seem to say outlandish things that are paradoxical to my own ethical standards. Here's why I don't and they are not:

The key lies in understanding that I believe in perfect solutions and ideal ethics, even extending to morals. The apparent conflicts result from not approaching my solutions the way I do: solutions are combinations of compromises between principles. One could extend this to differentiation and integration of principles, and it would get complicated fast, but the analogy holds up rather well. Suffice it to say, I believe that idealisms are simple, linear sets of principles, but they are only approximations of more exact, correct, and complicated solutions. Of prime importance is that principles bow to each other, not circumstance; merely, circumstance determines how the principles are interpreted and interrelate. Thus is why my viewpoint tends towards verbosity - may factors are taken into account for a particular conclusion; the extra factors are what separate the simple ideal from the more precise idealization - they are what bring out the interesting subtleties of thought.

I will be updating this post to prevent multiple updates in a row. As always, input will be greatly appreciated, especially corrections in logic flow.


After reading this, I have absolutely no idea what your point is.
Like I said, I will actually discuss the point later. Right now, I wanted to post so I wouldn't forget to write about it. My elaboration will clear it all up. For now, there is only the contention: that homosexuality infringes on the 'sanctity of marriage', and that it actually is an important argument against the legalization of homosexual marriages.

Now that I look back, I forgot that part. Huh, must've been so worried about prejudice I forgot the contention. Sorry.
I think it is understandable even with out that bit
but then we seem to think the same about a lot of these things
I see marriage as a cultural institution meant to codify a natural instinct (pair bonding).
Right, which brings the center to: is the institution gender specific, or has it a) been redefined suddenly for to discovery of homosexuality or b) only recently has homosexuals wanted to get married. It's how this issue has only been pressed recently that makes it interesting. I doubt there are more homosexuals now per capita than in the past (save for some faddists).

Too, in a melting pot like America, where segregation/class/distinction is generally bad, who decides the definition anyhow? This is a big part of the question, because we must decide if how we live is at least in part defined by our environment, and we want to live a certain way, where does our sphere of influence end and how?

At some level, it comes down two difficult to compromise positions:
  • A group that sees a need for furthering the tolerance, diversification of lifestyle, and the breakdown of barriers for greater equality.
  • A group who holds that marriage is a cultural, even religious, institution; a tradition that has no grounding as a human right, but as a ritual set up for one purpose only - a permanent sexual bond between a mating couple.
I hope it's obvious that each has perfectly benign ideals in this regard. The hubbub comes from homosexuals feeling discriminated against, and the other group feeling invaded upon.

I still think it's a tricky wicket to fix.
I think it's important to realize that while homosexuality is a bit of a "fad," by which I (and I think you) mean that because it is in-the-open other people feel more comfortable declaring themselves as such (with all the implications of trendiness and so on), that doesn't mean that those joining are any less sincere or that their identification is invalid. All sorts of fads, from democracy to the furry subculture, are valid choices (or impulses, for the it's-not-a-choice groups) and the fact that they're fads makes them perhaps limited in temporal scope, but not in how "real" or sincere they are.

See my respose one level up, sentence three.

Actually, I meant it as I said it. I am sure there are a sizable number of people who claim to be homosexual, not because of any inborn tendency, but because they grew into the fad - a form of the nurture over nature argument. These individuals would be insincere in the sense that they are choosing it, not naturally driven by it. (Note sizable may be a large number in comparison to an even larger number of naturally homosexual persons.)

Note I also said that I think the number of homosexuals per capita is likely to be stable over time, and so I am not saying there are more now because of it being in style. We see more because more feel open to state as such - in the past they stayed silent.

You did miss the important point, though: "All sorts of fads. . . are valid choices" - to what extent? See, the problem arises when two populations each feel their rights are mutually infringed upon. In this case, the two arguments against the opposite are not even comparable for compromise. Thus the existence of the problem.

Whether or not a choice is valid, imaginary, or virtual, the conflict remains and is not simply an issue of tolerance. In the example given, homosexuals who want to get married do not tolerate the reservation of marriage as a traditional ritual between a man and a woman. This intolerance is not silly nor hair splitting, as it is a significant factor in conflict. Whether or not it is a valid complaint is a personal ethical choice, but sympathy does not remove the factor.
"In the example given, homosexuals who want to get married do not tolerate the reservation of marriage as a traditional ritual between a man and a woman. This intolerance is not silly nor hair splitting, as it is a significant factor in conflict."

I'm pretty sure that's not what "intolerance" means. I may be flaky on the definitions of words like "selfless", but in this sort of social-justice/freedom context, I'm rather sure your use of the word "intolerance" here doesn't sync.


I think I'm failing at my purpose here

I was actually deriving from the word tolerate here. It was a play on the "I don't tolerate intolerant people" joke. That's why I said it wasn't silly - while the logical argument may sound like I joke, I wasn't joking.

It syncs because in the example given, homosexuals who want to get legally married by a state official ordained with the power to do so will not (inherently through their efforts to get married) tolerate/stand for/accept/allow/make allowance for the reservation of a marriage in the sense of it as a traditional ritual reserved solely for a permanent bond between a male and a female because it excludes them by it's very definition. And this is the definition in use by quite a few people.

I said I wouldn't spell it out, but I'm hitting the roadblock I feared would come up. I'm trying to make the reason for some people's concern over homosexual marriages apparent to those who have never had an issue with stuff like this. It took me a couple days to wrap my head around this, and I expected confusion on my word usage - something towards which this sorta thing inevitably boils down.

In other words, I meant precisely what was stated - intolerance need not be as extreme as slavery or war, darnit. Intolerance is an emotional response to a conceptual problem - words should be flexible, and it's these deeply entrenched connotations that override the meaning of a word that make it so freaking hard for me to say what I mean precisely. I used the word as a way of saying "not tolerate". See here if you need the dictionary's opinion (ignore the one about trees...).

And I apologize for my curt response, but I really didn't expect to get called on this - the meaning should be apparent. My frustration's not directed at you, I just shouldn't have taken on something that would exacerbate my inelegant use of diction.

Re: I think I'm failing at my purpose here

I understood exactly what you meant, although I wonder at your curtness, particularly since 1) you didn't start to say anything terribly coherent until your comments on the post (and yet you want to be upset when people go, "WTF?"), and 2) that this is a crucial point for your argument to be valid.

Your use of the word is still not what intolerance means, however. In the case you give, homosexuals are not being intolerant of the reservation of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Tolerance: "Inclined to tolerate the beliefs, practices, or traits of others; forbearing" (And since we are in the mood to trade dictionary links, here you go...)

Intolerance would therefore be a refusal to permit those beliefs/practices/etc. to persist. If you disagree with my negation of "tolerance", then you may also want to clarify that (whenever you decide to write the full, "spelled out" version) for others who are confused.

Homosexuals' desire to marry does not prohibit others from marrying. The practices of marrying heterosexuals are not tromped upon by widening the definition of marriage. Hell, even the beliefs of anti-gay marriagers aren't infringed upon--nothing says you need to believe that it is right for homosexuals to be hooking up just because the government says they can.

As an example, let's say I'm a complete pacifist and wouldn't kill anyone even in self-defense. I hate guns and think people that shoot them are wrong. Is the second amendment of the Constitution intolerant of my feelings about guns and violence? No, because I am free to not own or shoot a gun, and to dislike those who do.

Wanting to marry someone that the Bible states is not a valid choice is not being intolerant of that belief.

The reason I even bring it up is for two reasons:

1) Casting around the word "intolerance" puts a very different spin on the situation than not doing so. While you may want to do that for the sake of argument in an attempt to show a differnt POV, if you're opening things for discussion and are going to get upset when people question your meanings, you may want to clarify your reasoning.

2) If there is no intolerance occuring in the case you mention as being so important, a good deal of the argument you try to present is flawed.


As usual, the second to last paragraph below explains it all

There will be no spelled out version of this. These post are notes that I want to remember/reminds myself later.

There is no argument here. Really. If you noted that every question could be answered saying that homosexuality is not a threat against marriage, then you get it. You should also note that there are lines of reason can also say it is.

You are right about intolerance and all that, but you are avoiding my point.

See, the constitutional right to guns does not allow for a bunch of people to get together and prevent their neighbors from having guns. One could prevent a gun owner from living in that community, keeping the their place purely gun-free (though I'm not sure if equal housing prevents such things as well), but you likely get the fundamental idea.

Regardless, intolerance is just a vehicle for the mode if thought I'm trying to convey. I'm just setting up a way that may lead one to understand why a person may feel that homosexual marriages do ruin the sanctity of marriage. To this person, marriage no longer is purely for a man and woman, and thus they are offended. Feelings follow rules, but not the same as formal logic and reason.

You clearly feel differently, perhaps that they are ignorant of their flawed reasoning. But you know what? They say the same. I am trying to show why and how they can do so. All I said was that it was a valid viewpoint (as in I did not make up this perspective) - not that it was correct or consistent. I think it has weight, but with that coming from me, you'd need that qualified, since that means something very different to me.

That's it. This requires the acceptance that not all modes of life are acceptable. Frankly, any individual's personal opinion or ethics are irrelevant to the existence of people like that. If you feel it's pointless to understand why ignorance exists, that it is dangerous to attempt to understand the way they view something, then fine. I feel that way most of the time, but every once in a while I wonder where people get their stances, their attitudes and opinions.

It may be called ignorant, bigoted, intolerant, or any number of other shades of the same meaning - the fact is, someone out there thinks they're right, and I believe it's good to know why. I assure you, you don't know where I stand on this issue from this post because I didn't tell you. Any lack of coherence you see is the result of misunderstanding the mode of thought it took to get there. As I said, it took me a while to refine the idea even this far, and it would take too much effort to ever explain it in detail - making the leap to get it is left to the reader. I'm not trying to preach, I am leaving footnotes to look back on for me to decipher and understand when I am older and a different person. I'll learn more about myself then. That is always my purpose unless stated otherwise.

On a personal note, here's why I was frustrated: I hold that if you understand what I mean well enough to correct what I said, then I did not fail at conveying my purpose, and thus nothing needs to be corrected. My audience is foremost me, since I'm backing up my thoughts for review at a later date. The rest of the people who read my posts are inarguably intellectual, and thus I feel I have a rare opportunity for input from a large supply of brilliance. Thus, I leave out a lot of things I take for granted, and I while I try to fill in any blanks in background thought process any else may be missing, I end up skipping much. Sometimes I trace a path that may be bypassed by a simple argument, like yours on pacifists, but it would also bypass another journey to the same conclusion - often more important than the conclusion itself. All I can promise is to work on bridging my thoughts to yours with better harmony, not to make sense to you. Some things may only make sense to me, and, well, my normalcy has never been very much the norm.

Yes, but it does so by changing your prevous stance.

"You clearly feel differently, perhaps that they are ignorant of their flawed reasoning. But you know what? They say the same. I am trying to show why and how they can do so."

But I question that they would actually argue that pushing gay marriage is intolerance. I believe a different word would be used (and that's important for the reason I specified previously--tone of the argument) and that (although not explicitly stated) different points would be highlighted in such an argument.

I understand what you're trying to do in the post, A, and I understand the point of constructing the argument--I understood it from the moment I read the post (eh, sort of... post and comments). I've done the same before. I'm not questioning the validity or existence of their viewpoint. I'm questioning that you're constructing it correctly, regardless of whether I enjoy their viewpoint (which I obviously don't).

"I hold that if you understand what I mean well enough to correct what I said, then I did not fail at conveying my purpose, and thus nothing needs to be corrected."

You're correct--you conveyed your purpose (to construct an alternate POV argument), but did you convey your point (in both the point of the POVer and the reason for constructing the argument)?

You missed actually placing your "thesis statement" in the piece (per one of the above comments), and opening statements like, "So the contention that homosexuality ruins the sanctity of marriage goes," are so ambiguous ("goes" as in "goes away" and is invalid, or "goes" as in "stays"?) that I had no clear idea what you were actually trying to construct (other than merely "a look at some issues people have with gay marriage, although some could possibly potentially be dismissed as invalid by the writer [i.e., the 'goes' statement above].") until I read the comments.

You didn't have to go into an exposition on why your primary audience is yourself--I've written many a rant on my own blog on the same topic. However, when you say in the original post, however, "As always, input will be greatly appreciated, especially corrections in logic flow," and in the comments, "Like I said, I will actually discuss the point later. Right now, I wanted to post so I wouldn't forget to write about it. My elaboration will clear it all up," that contradicts the statement you just made to me that "There will be no spelled out version of this," and the implication that my input is an attempt to butcher your personal thought-recording (or that I am misunderstanding your purpose).

And hence my questioing of the statement "then I did not fail at conveying my purpose".

If there isn't going to be an elaborated version, then you could just disregard comments like mine that are questioning your "logic flow" and are concerned with the eventual elaboration that hopes to present a particular POV. No harm, no foul. *shrug* And since we've moved into meta-argument, it seems discussion on the matter of intolerance or the argument itself is done.

Sadly, the edited post was the elaboration post. I can't explain it without gory detail, and it most certainly wouldn't fit on an LJ post - heck I'm not even sure I know how to verbalize it. If the comments cleared up what it was about, then so much the better. I had a bloody hard enough time putting into words this mode of thought; I'm thrilled it elicited any response. The way I think makes posts like these very hard for me to write. Honestly, I care very much about what people think of me and of my ethics, and so I always worry nervously about how it sounds. Leaving out a thesis statement shows I panicked. Too, I never disregard comments, they are what make any of these posts useful; otherwise it's just a public diary. After the initial panic of offending someone's sensibilities wears off, I'm compelled to try to clear up any confusion, so to me the responses are just an extension of the post.

And again, intolerance was only supposed to be a vehicle to the point. This all came from the first statement: homosexuals are ruining the sanctity of marriage. Turns out I forgot to move the intro paragraph (before I added the main section) to the top. It would've been the first thing I mentioned. Unfortunately, I've never had such a large post, and it changed dynamically and is still unedited (at least in the finalized sense - I try hard to ensure some level of quality), so stuff's not rhetorically right about it. I'll move the main point to the top to clear this up.

Funneling's bad, but since the argument doesn't become concrete until the end, when all the gory details are hashed out, I write the body first (and this post didn't even get that far). After spell checking, tweaking the phrasing, and forcing PC (despite my outward attitude, I greatly fear offending people), I forget to fill in the obviously missing. If you look closely, you'll see I do that all the time - and the worst part is I've gotten much better about it. Bear with me, and I'll try even harder next time.