Archive for January, 2012

The Same-Sex “Marriage” Proposal is Unjust Discrimination

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

by Patrick Lee

The conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents’ conception of marriage is unjust and incoherent.

The “marriage equality movement”: that’s the name chosen for themselves by same-sex “marriage” supporters. The implicit argument is that the state’s granting marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples is undue discrimination. The claim has an initial plausibility: the state grants a marriage license to John and Mary but not to Jim and Steve. Isn’t that unequal treatment? But this charge, I will show, rests on a profound confusion about both marriage and equality. A state’s recognition that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not unjust. What’s more, a state’s endorsement of same-sex “marriage” does create an arbitrary and invidious discrimination.

A law is unjust only if the distinction it creates is not essentially related to a legitimate purpose of law. But whatever one holds about the morality of homosexual acts, it is clear that the state does have an interest in promoting and regulating marriage as traditionally defined, and that the sexual relationships of same-sex couples are distinct in kind from that. So, even if—contrary to fact—the state did have an interest in promoting same-sex sexual relationships, that interest would be different from the one served by promoting marriage. And so the two types of relationships or arrangements should not be lumped together. Moreover, falsely to equate the two is to obscure the nature of marriage.

What is marriage? The traditional view of marriage is: the union of a man and a woman, who have consented to share their lives, on the bodily (sexual), emotional, and spiritual levels, in the kind of community that would be fulfilled by having and raising children together.

Two points need emphasis here. First, marriage is a bodily union, as well as emotional and spiritual. For in sexual intercourse—which consummates the marital union—the spouses become biologically one: they complete each other to form a single subject of a single biological action, the kind of action that could procreate, provided conditions outside their conduct are present. This biological union (a procreative-type act) embodies their procreative-type union (provided they have consented to share their lives in that kind of union).

Second, marriage is the kind of union whose fruition is procreation. It is the kind of union that would be fulfilled by having and raising children together; the union of the spouses is embodied, prolonged, and enriched by enlarging into family. Still, marriage is not a mere means in relation to procreation, but a sharing of lives (bodily, emotionally, and spiritually) that is good in itself—and so a man and a woman who have consented to such a multi-leveled union are genuinely married, and have an intrinsically fulfilling marital union, even if it turns out they cannot procreate together.

Now of course not all agree with the traditional definition of marriage. But the point I want to make is simply this: marriage, as traditionally defined, is a distinct type of community and not an arbitrary set. Unmarried cohabitators have a different type of relationship. Alliances to raise children also are not necessarily marriages: a group of celibate religious women running an orphanage, for example, are not married. And, plainly, same-sex sexual relationships are a different kind of relationship: they cannot become biologically one, nor is their relationship of the kind that would find its fruition in conceiving, bearing, and raising children together. (True, same-sex partners can form an alliance to raise children—for example, those from a previous marriage or produced by artificial reproduction; but that alliance is not an extension or prolongation of a bodily-emotional-spiritual union already begun, as is the case in marriage.)

Now it is precisely the distinctive features of marriage that ground the state’s interest in promoting and regulating it, and that make the general strength or health of marriage a public good. First, marriage is a distinctive way in which men and women are fulfilled, an irreducible aspect of their flourishing, and one that can be easily misunderstood. And so marriage needs cultural support—and can be harmed by cultural confusion about it. Clarity within the general culture about the value and nature of marriage enables young men and women, as well as those already married, to participate more fully than they otherwise would in this distinctive good—just as a clear public understanding of health or learning assists individuals and families to participate more fully in those goods.

Second, while good in itself, and not a mere means to an extrinsic end, marriage also provides the crucial social function of encouraging parents (and potential parents) to commit to each other and to whatever children they may have. A healthy and strong marriage culture will provide the safest and healthiest environment for children. For these reasons it is in everyone’s interest for the state to promote a sound understanding of marriage, and certainly to avoid obscuring its nature.

Since a same-sex couple is unable to form the kind of union marriage is, not granting same-sex couples marriage licenses is simply a decision by the state not to engage in a confusing and harmful fiction. Marriage is a certain kind of union. Denying a marriage license—or the privileges, protections, and obligations of marriage—to those who are unable to marry is not unjust discrimination. The state denies marriage licenses to threesomes or foursomes (refraining from declaring polyamorous groups marriages) and denies marriage licenses to twelve-year-olds (requiring valid consent for a marriage). These denials are not unjust because threesomes, foursomes, and twelve-year-olds are unable to form the kind of union that marriage is. But the same is true of same-sex couples. So, just as the distinction between eighteen-year-olds and twelve-year-olds is relevant to the purpose of marriage—because the former but not the latter are actually able to form the union that is marriage—in the same way, the distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples is relevant to the purpose of the marriage laws, because the former but not the latter can actually form the kind of union that marriage is.

According to same-sex “marriage” proponents, the public interest served by marriage laws is the stability of households. For example, in striking down California’s pro-marriage constitutional amendment called Proposition 8, Judge Vaughn Walker claimed: “The state regulates marriage because marriage creates stable households, which in turn form the basis of a stable, governable populace.” Stability of households might of course be a legitimate public aim, but laws to promote that (and to provide benefits and privileges for stable households as such) are not marriage laws. Such laws, benefits, and so on, would—if applied justly—have to be given also to groups who do not have sexual relationships and groups not pledging permanence and exclusivity.

Clearly, though, same-sex “marriage” supporters want much more than certain benefits and privileges. Discussion of concrete benefits such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and so on, is really a side issue—such benefits could be secured by other means for individuals who need them (for example, a durable power of attorney for health care, a will, etc.). Nor—contrary to how it is usually portrayed—is the same-sex marriage proposal aimed at tolerance, since persons with same-sex attractions are already free to engage in private sexual behavior and to establish for themselves long-term romantic and sexual relationships. Rather, what proponents of same-sex “marriage” principally desire is the social affirmation and endorsement of homosexual relationships as such. Judge Walker indicated this point clearly in his Proposition 8 decision: “Plaintiffs [some same-sex couples] seek to have the state recognize their committed relationships . . . . Perry and Stier seek to be spouses; they seek the mutual obligation and honor that attend marriage.”

So, the proposal is for the state to promote something called marriage, and that marriage is to be understood in a way that will include same-sex partners. This sounds like old news. But what, on their view, is the thing called “marriage,” and why should the state promote it? What distinguishes marital unions from others, such that the state should promote them? One cannot just pronounce that these couples will now count as married; there must be something one means by “being married,” something held in common by all married couples. But the same-sex “marriage” position cannot provide a coherent account of what that something is.

If marriage is not a bodily, emotional, and spiritual union of a man and a woman, of the kind that would be fulfilled by procreation, then what makes a union marriage and why should the state support it? It is not simply a union that is formed by a wedding ceremony: that would be a circular definition. Nor is every romantic and sexual relationship a marriage, and certainly there is no point in the state promoting all such relationships. Perhaps one will say that it is a stable, committed, and exclusive romantic-sexual relationship. But how stable would a romantic-sexual relationship need to be in order to be a marriage? Suppose John and Mary have a romantic-sexual relationship while college students but plan to go their separate ways after graduation: is that stable enough to be a marriage? If not, why not?

Or suppose Joe, Jim, and Steve have a committed, stable, romantic-sexual relationship among themselves—a polyamorous relationship. On what ground can the state promote the relationship between couples, but not the relationship among Joe, Jim, and Steve? The argument here is not a slippery slope one. Rather, the point is: There must be some non-arbitrary features shared by relationships that the state promotes which make them apt for public promotion, and make it fair for the state not to promote in the same way other relationships lacking those features. Without this the distinction is invidious discrimination. The conjugal understanding of marriage has a clear answer: (a) marriage is a distinct basic human good, that needs social support and that uniquely provides important social functions; (b) marriage’s organic bodily union and inherent orientation to procreation distinguish it from other relationships similar in superficial respects to it. But the same-sex marriage proposal’s conception of marriage has no answer. In fact, its conception of marriage is actually an arbitrarily selected class, and so the enactment of this proposal would be unjust.

The problem is not solved if one adds to one’s description or definition of marriage, that it must be a permanent commitment (as Judge Margaret Marshall did in her decision striking down Massachusetts’ marriage law: “It is the exclusive and permanent commitment of the marriage partners to one another, not the begetting of children, that is the sine qua non of civil marriage”). For it is fair to ask: why should the commitment be exclusive and permanent? The college students’ relationship (lacking permanence) and the celibate monks’ relationship (lacking exclusivity—others can join the religious order), both form households and contribute to social stability. In contrast, the conjugal understanding of marriage allows a clear answer to these questions: since marriage is a bodily and procreative-type union, and an irreducible basic good, it is non-arbitrarily distinct from other types of relationships. The promotion of this kind of relationship, for its own sake (because it is a basic good), and for the sake of children generally (since a strong marriage culture provides a safe haven for children), makes it in accord with justice to recognize, as marriage, only a relationship between a man and a woman, pledged to be permanent and exclusive. The conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents’ conception of marriage is unjust and incoherent.

Patrick Lee is John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

CEN clarifies stance on ‘Gaystapo’ blog post

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Recent statement by the newspaper’s Chair of Trustees:

“In October 2011, the Church of England Newspaper published an article by Alan Craig entitled “Confronting the Gaystapo”. The article was clearly identified as a personal opinion by a named individual. Its theme was that the gay rights lobby uses aggressive methods to advance its cause and should be confronted.

“The newspaper is a forum for informed debate on matters of Christian interest, of which gay rights is one. There is no topic that we regard as “too hot” for us to debate. In the following edition, the newspaper published responses taking a different view. The overall editorial policy of the newspaper is determined by a board of trustees of which I am the chairman.

“With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better had Alan Craig’s article been written more gently and if he had avoided references to Nazism. However, even with that caveat, both his article and the subsequent responses are within the scope of the editorial policy of this newspaper.

“Certain members and supporters of the gay lobby responded vigorously, and even reported the newspaper to the police who have taken no action. By doing so, they have added credence to the main thesis of Alan Craig’s article.

“In the course of dealing with this organised agitation, a statement was made by the newspaper to one reader that appears to have gained some currency.

“Again with hindsight, we can see that this statement could be read as questioning Alan Craig’s status as a Christian, and suggesting that the newspaper supports gay marriage. It was not the intention of the editor to convey any such impression. For the avoidance of doubt, the trustees affirm that the newspaper does not support gay marriage. We regard Alan Craig, and those in the church who agree or disagree with his views, as brother Christians.

“We further acknowledge that Christians do disagree on many issues. These are best addressed by temperate debate.”

Read here

‘There could be a God,’ admits David Attenborough

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Sir David AttenboroughBy Ben Todd, Mailonline

Veteran broadcaster says belief in evolution is not incompatible with religion

His award-winning programmes on the natural world follow evolutionary history and the teachings of Darwin.

Now, however, Sir David Attenborough has speculated that there may be a God – and insisted it would not be ‘inconsistent’ with the theory of evolution.

Speaking on Desert Island Discs, the 85-year-old naturalist told how recognising the possibility that God could exist meant he was an agnostic rather than an atheist.

Sir David was a guest on yesterday’s edition of the Radio 4 programme to mark its 70th anniversary. It was his fourth appearance on the show, having previously been a guest in 1957, 1979 and 1998.

He told presenter Kirsty Young: ‘I don’t think that an understanding and an acceptance of the 4billion-year-long history of life is in any way inconsistent with a belief of a supreme being. I am not so confident as to say that I am an atheist. I would prefer to say I am an agnostic.’

Read here

Religion takes a back seat to rights in court, says theologian

Friday, January 27th, 2012

By Andrew Hough, Telegraph

The courts are endangering religious freedom because the judiciary are giving it a lower priority than equality, a leading philosopher has claimed.

Prof Roger Trigg of Kellogg College, Oxford, said that judges increasingly “curtail” the religious views of people in favour of other “social priorities”.

After studying a series of judgments throughout Britain, Europe and North America, he concluded there was a “clear trend” of judges favouring equality and non-discrimination over religious freedom.

Prof Trigg, a member of the university’s faculties of theology and philosophy, argued this was proof of how religion was coming under threat from the judiciary as part of a “hierarchy of rights”.

Prof Trigg, the founding President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, said that as a result the courts were “limiting human freedom itself”.

“Religious freedom and the right to manifest religious belief is a central part of every charter of human rights,” he said on the eve of the launch of his book on Wednesday.

“But in recent years there has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger.

“There should not be a hierarchy of rights, but it should be possible to take account of all of them in some way.”

He added: “No State can be a functioning democracy unless it allows its citizens to manifest their beliefs about what is most important in life.”

Read here

An African conflict of an ambiguous kind

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
David Mansfield
January 26th, 2012

I have just spent four frenetic days in Kenya visiting Anglican Aid partners.

These wonderful partners are delivering the emergency aid programmes made possible by the generosity of Sydney Anglicans and their friends.

But I spent those days deeply conflicted, and the inner turmoil hasn’t subsided. For, only hours before boarding for Nairobi, I received two critical pieces of information.

Firstly, the Australian Government issued a travel alert for Kenya, warning people not to leave Nairobi for any areas where Al Shabaab have been creating havoc in the famine affected regions of the east and north east of the country. Even in Nairobi, extreme caution was advised.

Secondly, one of our partners, Canon Francis Omondi, the director of The Sheepfold Ministries (TSM) sent me an email urging me to come with him to Garissa, where his home is, where his wife and family are, and where he longed to extend family hospitality to me. His longing would be my longing if he were my guest in Australia.

But Garissa is five hours drive, north by north east from Nairobi, and only 100km from the Dadaab Refugee Camp, the largest in the world.

North, By North East

My heart wanted desperately to go with him. My head said not to contemplate it. I felt, and still feel the internal conflict. How can I (and we) empower him with the resources to lead convoys of lorries with life saving aid to make dangerous forays deep into the Horn and be unwilling to personally partner him in those dangers? I feel so western, so weak, so soft, so precious.

But I knew I mustn’t go. The colour of my skin would draw the attention of the wrong people who might then inform the wrong people. I would place my partners in greater danger, quite apart from the danger I would face. I would come home to such a deserved tongue-lashing from my archbishop, board chairman and wife that I feared every layer of skin being stripped from my muscular skeletal system. I wondered what would be the most life threatening!

Then, only hours after arriving in Nairobi, I received another piece of news. My mum had been admitted to hospital in a critical condition. Now I was dealing with another layer of personal conflict. Would she die? Would she pull through? Should I immediately head for home?

We spoke on the phone daily. Though pumped full of morphine, Mum spoke clearly and realistically. We reiterated the mutual love and final words we had been saying to each other for the last couple of years. Signs of improvement eased my inner turmoil and we resolved that I should press on, taking it day by day.

Our Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ prayed constantly for my mum, and asked, it seemed, on the hour if I had further news of her condition. I knew I was in the hands of very caring extended family.

South, By South East

The Archbishop of Kenya, Eliud Wabukala, confirmed my decision not to travel into the north east of the famine and terrorist traumatised areas. But he encouraged me instead to travel three hours to the south and south east of the country where our second partner, the Directorate of Social Services (DOSS) of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), under the leadership of Eliud Njeru, is involved in emergency famine relief and rehabilitation amongst very remote Maasai tribes.

This region, near the Tanzanian border is very isolated and beyond the reach of Al Shabaab insurgents, and, as it seemed to me, beyond the reach of the most minuscule drops of moisture.

The lives and land of these semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists were in deep trauma. We followed cattle tracks, dry riverbeds and through vast areas of dusty, dry wasteland. We passed occasional Maasai herdsmen who were droving weakened livestock in search of shallow water holes. We waved at young Maasai children leading water laden donkeys over large distances from shallow muddy water holes back to their villages.

We met and exchanged greetings with Maasai tribal chiefs and elders who showed us some of their diminishing water holes. They thanked us, through translation, for the help they have, are and will receive in the coming months through Anglican Aid’s partnership with the ACK’s DOSS in water security, food provision, herd restocking and school feeding programmes.

These Maasai people fascinated me. Traditionally, their food, clothing and shelter are sourced almost exclusively from the meat, blood, milk and hides of the animals they herded – that were fast diminishing as the animals were slowly dying.

Their clothing was a curious mixture of traditional dress; animal hides and local fabrics, but with polo shirts, caps and beanies emblazoned with Man. U, Chelsea and Liverpool logos. On their animal hide belts were hitched machetes and mobile phones. Their ears were adorned with jewellery, carved from bones, dangling from ear lobes with holes in the lobes as big as marbles.

One man caressed what seemed to be a cross between a machete and grandma’s prized carving knife for Sunday’s roast. I imagined the litres of animal blood that had been wiped from its blade. And I tried not to imagine the amount of human blood, through adult circumcisions and tribal conflicts, which had dripped over the decades from its proudly and carefully sharpened edge.

But these were no air-brushed, photo-shopped, popular culture images of the Maasai people, ecstatically bouncing on the balls of their feet around roaring fires, like those depicted in movies such as The White Maasai.

These people were in trauma, hungry and anxious about the future.

Yet, here I was with a team of aid workers from the ACK, with local clergy and lay people, bringing gospel hope and material help to people living with overwhelming need for eternal hope and daily bread.

This day, my last in Kenya, started at 5am and finished at 10pm as I sank into a steaming hot bath. The dust, sweat and tearstains dislodged from my grubby body to form a dirty thin film on the water and the side of the bathtub.

As I did so, I reflected on the words of one of my indigenous hosts. He told me of a saying his people had,

What I hear, I forget.

What I see, I remember.

What I do, I understand.

It was hardly radical educational theory. But shared with such gentle sincerity I was struck to the depths.

Submerging myself fully into the gritty, grey water I thought, perhaps, I was somewhere between hearing and seeing – and, by God’s grace, moving forward to the beginnings of some understanding.

LIBERAL ANGLICANS DO NOT WANT AFRICAN ORTHODOXY ON THEIR LAWN

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
African Anglicans should not be deceived by the supportive noises from Western liberals.

The true opinion of Western Anglican liberals towards two thirds’ world biblical orthodoxy came out at the Lambeth 1998 Conference. African Anglicans’ commitment to biblical orthodoxy on Christian faith and morals is ‘pre-scientific’ and ‘primitive’.

The former Anglican Bishop of Newark in the United States, Dr John Spong, spoke for them all when he denounced you for bigotry over Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

The reality is that the theological liberals dominating the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Western Anglican Provinces do not want your passionate biblical orthodoxy on their cultivated elitist lawns.

If they were genuinely affronted by Islam, then they would proclaim the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ in their own Provinces and wholeheartedly oppose Sharia Law.

If they were genuinely impressed by your biblical orthodoxy, then they would not promote the 1960s’ feminist agenda in their own Provinces.

If they were genuinely impressed by your church growth, then they would not promote the critical attitudes towards the Bible that undermine the gospel and displease God.

Western political correctness is in a dilemma over Africa and that is reflected in liberal Anglican attitudes towards you. You are perceived to be the victims of white Western imperialism and financial exploitation. But they do not like many of your attitudes.

When you are victimised, then the supportive noises became louder but such noises do not negate the fact that, fundamentally, they dislike your biblical orthodoxy.

Also, because many of your countries are in the Commonwealth, institutional church liberals in the English hierarchy do not want to risk upsetting the Queen by being too rude about you.

So please keep on contending for the biblical gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ against theological liberalism in the Anglican Communion. If you allow revisionism any house room whatsoever, then it will became a parasitic tapeworm within you and sap the biblical vigour of your churches.

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Resist Militancy – Nigerian Anglicans are told

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Please pray for the peace of Nigeria and the safety of the Christians

By Foluso Taiwo
http://www.anglican-nig.org/main.php?k_j=12&d=553&p_t=main.php?k_j=34

The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Rowan Williams has been in continuation of dialogue and mutual support, and sent his sympathy to his colleague the Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion) the Most Rev Nicholas D Okoh on the national strike and the continuing dastardly acts and campaign by Boko Haram.

Speaking through the Rt Rev Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, Dr Williams advocated the support of the government for those who have been displaced in Damaturu and all the troubled spots in the country including those who are living in fear of the ongoing violence. He prayed for normalcy to return quickly to the affected areas.

Most Rev Williams assured the Primate of his friendship, support and commitment to increase the faith in Jesus Christ by reaching the hitherto unreached, bringing the undiluted gospel of Christ to their doorstep.

He passed complimentary remarks on the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion which he described as forthright and prayed that the social discomfort of the movement caused by Boko Haram will be a thing of the past.

The Rt Rev Justin Welby then presented Primate Okoh with a memorial Cross from the North East of England of the third Bishop of England in the late 7th century.

Responding, Primate Okoh thanked Bishop Justin Welby for travelling from a far distance in Diocese of Durham, this according to him, has shown solidarity amongst the Anglican community……He therefore made a passionate appeal to leaders in the country who can reach out to Boko Haram to dissuade them from dastardly acts of killing innocent Christian’s souls, asking them to dialogue with government if they have any axe to grind with her and leave the Church alone.

He said the attempt to drag Nigerians into militancy is something Nigerians must resist.

Read here http://www.anglican-nig.org/main.php?k_j=12&d=578&p_t=main.php?k_j=34