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Tilting at Windmills

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December 30, 2007

NO SEX FOR YOU....I had the same read on Mike Huckabee's "Meet the Press" appearance this morning as ThinkProgress:

On NBC's Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee if he believed "people are born gay or choose to be gay?" "I don't know whether people are born that way," responded Huckabee, "but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice."

Huckabee conceded that "people who are gay say that they're born that way," but added that he believed that "how we behave and how we carry out that behavior" is more important.

I see. So, Huckabee doesn't actually care if someone is gay, he cares whether or not gays are celibate.

And here I thought his years of bizarre criticism of the gay community were a sign of intolerance. I've clearly misjudged him.

Steve Benen 2:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (129)

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That 'bizarre' belief is at least theoretically shared by billions of people in the world as it is an explicitly stated rule in both Islam and the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, it allows the Catholic Church to even have gay priests (at least until recently)...

Posted by: v on December 30, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

It strikes me that sitting down in Canada's national igloo might numb ones nether regions and prevent this kind of moral decay.

Posted by: Huckleberry on December 30, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Hucka huck a burning love" is speaking code for the evangelicals: Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Of course, the sin is always as defined by the observer, so it can be anything they decide on.

And has been pointed out many times, while the moneycons have used the theocons shamelessly for years, the theocons will still, IMHO, vote for anyone with an (R) after their name instead of even a moderate centrist (D). Even Romney. Although a Romney nomination might keep some home, whereas Huckabee will draw out theocon evangelical voters, even knowing about his tax increases. After all, it's all about abortion and "teh gay" for them.

Posted by: SteveAudio on December 30, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should ask Huckabee: "Why would a compassionate God ever create gays, only to tell them they couldn't have sex? If God really did something like that, wouldn't it prove that God was evil, not good, and shouldn't be obeyed anyway?"

And they should challenge Huckabee's creationism too. Astronomers can see galaxies millions and billions of light years away (meaning that light has taken that long to reach Earth from those galaxies). Yet Huckabee believes the universe is 6,000 years old. If he's right, how can we even see those galaxies that are so far away? The light wouldn't have had nearly enough time to reach Earth. Our own Milky Way is 100,000 light years across--so we shouldn't even be able to see most of our own galaxy yet!

If Tim Russert really wanted to make his mark, he could ask Huckabee the above questions. I'd love to see his answers--he'd probably be stunned!

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

To piggyback on v, the Catholic doctrine on homosexuality was enumerated in 1986 in a letter to bishops by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict)http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_df86ho.htm

The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.
To chose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

My point is that though your post portrays Huckabee's stance as nutty, it's really quite within the mainstream of Christian doctrine.

Posted by: sluggo on December 30, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK


Even if it's in the "mainstream of Christian doctrine," that doesn't make it any less nutty.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

What was the New Yorker lead piece in 2004 during the gay marriage fiasco? Something like, research says that long-term same-sex relationships, sexual activity drops off just as reliably as in hetero relationships. The conclusion: if Huckabee's trembling under his bed at the prospect of gay people having sex, allowing gay marriage would cure it.

Posted by: djangone on December 30, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

My point is that though your post portrays Huckabee's stance as nutty, it's really quite within the mainstream of Christian doctrine.

You forgot to add the final sentence...Of course, it's still as nutty as squirrel poop.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 30, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm constantly amazed at the corners fools like Huckabee will paint themselves into. Huck really could be great candidate with broad appeal but he can't stop being a small-minded clown.

Posted by: jimbo on December 30, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

So, the Catholic doctrine says...

"To chose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living."

Wow. Sounds like two straight people who know they are sterile should not be marrying (or having sex) under this doctrine either. Since the "goals" of marriage imply the "transmition of life."

Sorry, but this is backwards.

To turn a phrase of a previous presidential candidate from Arkansas, it sounds like Huckabee wants to "Build a Bridge to the 15th Century."

Posted by: Mike on December 30, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's been my general observation that most people who exhibit latent or overt tendencies toward homophobia and / or misogyny -- regardless of whether they identify as straight, gay or bisexual -- are emotionally-stunted individuals who still harbor siginificant residual insecurities from their adolescence about their own sexuality.

Mike Huckabee, as characterized by his rather curious preoccupation with homosexual behavior, certainly appears to fall under that generalization.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, in New Orleans with the Warriors on December 30, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

So you think it would be better if he thought gay people were bad, regardless of their actions? I don't agree with Huckabee, of course, but this is the most reasonable view someone who believes in a literally correct can have.

Posted by: Mark on December 30, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

OT: Bowing to Benazir's wishes (expressed in her will) *her* party chose her son and her husband to lead the party. Democracy from a dynasty? Fat chance. The same old chaos continues.

Posted by: rational on December 30, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to add the final sentence...Of course, it's still as nutty as squirrel poop.

It may be nutty, but the responses were addressing Steve's surprise when trying to rationalize Huckabee's position. Many churches and evengelicals in particular acknowledge homosexuality exists, but will "love" the sinner only if he/she avoids the sin.

Posted by: AJ on December 30, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK


Isn't it questionable whether the very belief that the Bible is literally true can really be considered "reasonable"?

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Lee, here's exactly what Huckabee would say to your questions:

Re: Why would God create gay people? Well, we all live as sinners in a fallen world and all have "natural" temptations of one kind or another we need to overcome. I used to weigh 300 lbs and loved to eat, but I realized that was wrong, so I changed my behavior.

Re: The speed of light and distant galaxies. Any good creationist knows that the speed of light has not been constant throughout time. It might have slowed down in recent human history, leading cosmologists to misinterpret how far away celestial bodies really are. Or God could have simply created the world with starlight already visible as is.

These clearly aren't satisfactory answers for anyone who knows the first thing about either human sexuality or the laws of physics, but trust me, they're pretty ironclad responses for the kind of people Huckabee appeals to.

Posted by: jonas on December 30, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK


I agree that nothing will convince the people Huckabee appeals to. But if someone gave those answers, a good reply would be: "Well then, you're saying that things often aren't what they seem to be, that even our most basic instincts aren't right all the time. But if that's the case, how can you be sure that your faith in God and the Bible isn't misplaced as well?"

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK


I didn't say it wasn't nutty...just that it's mainstream Christian doctrine. This instutionalized prejudice is part of the brick wall facing gay people as they try to live thier lives and exercise their rights as humans.

The Catholic doctrine is a logical extension on the Catholic view on sex. To paraphrase, sexual relations are allowed only within the sacrament of marriage for purposes of procreation. Therefore, a doctrine that deplores homosexual acts while homosexual orientation fits perfectly within this view of sexual relations.

This answers the question the question that Lee asks: How God could make homosexuals yet prevent them from having sex. The antecedent to this question is the belief that people ought to be able to fill their sexual needs as humans. The Church rejects this notion as a vestige of original sin. Sex is only for procreation within the sacrament of marriage; God requires that men and women suppress their desires whether or not they are hetrosexual in nature.

I guess my reason for expounding is this way is to demonstrate that it is fair to say that Liberalism (or Progressivism) isn't compatible with religious doctrine on some major questions. The mainstream religious doctrine on sexuality is antithetical to Liberal notions of individual freedom and justice. As long as churches insist that homosexual conduct is immoral there is no room in the tent on this question. That mainstream religious thought regards homosexuality as one of the top moral ills of modern society (along with abortion) suggests there is little room for rapproachment in the future between religious conservatives and the Progressive movement.

Posted by: sluggo on December 30, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK


If sex is only allowed for procreation, then even a married couple shouldn't be able to have sex if the woman is too old to have children. What would the Catholic church say about that?

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I would take Huckabee's frame, and turn it around: What is American freedom, if not the freedom to choose our most intimate associates?

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on December 30, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK


Definitely. I don't understand why freedom of speech and religion are considered to be inalienable rights so sacred that they're worth going to war to defend, but people shouldn't have sex if doing so will cause any sort of problem. Why is it OK for someone, in the name of self-expression, to say "I think the Holocaust was wonderful, I'm just sorry they didn't finish the job" yet immoral for Bill Clinton to have sex with Monica Lewinsky simply because he supposedly "promised" Hillary he wouldn't have sex with anyone else. That just doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK


You hit the nail on the head. I was wondering the same about mandatory English requirement everyone wants to impose on new immigrants. How free are we as a country if people have to be forced to learn another language?

Republicans love to talk about "freedom" but when you look at their policies you will quickly find out that they want to impose control on individual freedoms while liberating corporations from the burden of accountability. It boils down to freedom for the wealthy to do as they please.

Posted by: rational on December 30, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, now, "Happy Holidays" from the 16th century.

'Tis the season to be jolly, only so long as Mr. Huckabee doesn't catch any of us donning now our gay apparel ...

And in the spirit of the season for expressing rather warped personal perspectives, here's a delicious tidbit from Steve Sailer's Christmas Day op-ed in the Washington Times, in which he esentially tells white Americans who support Barack Obama's candidacy that they are self-loathing and insecure in their own inherent racism:

"Whether pro or con, white Americans are simply more interested in blacks than in Latinos. And, over the decades, white sentiment has grown increasingly favorable. Indeed, Mr. Obama has a plausible shot at riding strong early showings in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination.


"Many whites assume that the mixed-race and Hawaiian-born Mr. Obama is, in Mr. Steele's words, "indifferent to the whole business of race and identity." According to Mr. Steele, the author of 1990s acclaimed The Content of Our Character, they see voting for Mr. Obama as proving that they personally aren't guilty of racism.

"Mr. Steele suggests that many whites hope electing Mr. Obama president will show blacks that white racism isn't what's holding them back anymore. Numerous white Democrats, I would add, view backing Mr. Obama as confirming their moral and cultural superiority over other whites (those redneck racists). Whites strive for status mostly against other whites, and conceive of minorities primarily as handy props in these intra-racial struggles."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, with the Warriors at the Sugar Bowl on December 30, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK


Let me preface by saying I don't subscribe to the Catholic view. I am only quoting it as an example of the incompatabilities between religious conservatism and the Progressive movement. Originally I meant to answer Steve's original post to demonstrate that Huckabee's position is "nutty" to only a minority of voting Republicans if not Americans.

To answer your question, Catholic couples are implored to have sex according to God's plan; sex is a natural consequence of marriage and the highest form of intimacy between man and woman. In fact, sex is necessary in a healthy Catholic marriage. In your hypothetical, it is up to God to determine whether the woman is too old to have children. Therefore, no contraception is allowed, since contraception is man's hubris in endeavoring to thwart God's plan.

Posted by: sluggo on December 30, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

If sex is only allowed for procreation, then even a married couple shouldn't be able to have sex if the woman is too old to have children. What would the Catholic church say about that?

The church doesn't teach that sex is allowed solely for procreation. Another purpose for sex is is love (ie., strengthening the emotional bonds of the couple). This is called the "unitive" aspect of sex. (the other being the "procreative" aspect of sex). Long story short, as long as the couple are open to having children (ie., they're not taking extraordinary means to "fight God's will" and prevent conception), lack of biological fitness to procreate is not a bar to marriage, or to sex within marriage. Apparently according to the RCC, homosexual sex or marriage falls outside of the creator's plan in a way that old geezer heterosexual sex/marriage does not.

Posted by: Benedict on December 30, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK


I cannot condemn someone for having a desire to do something I consider wrong, homosexuality. But I do condemn that person when he acts on that desire.

This seems entirely reasonable to me, and it is actually reasonable to Steve Benen and every commenter here who agrees with him. For "homosexuality", substitute "wife beating", "child molesting", or any other behavior you consider wrong. One cannot condemn one's gut desires; one CAN condemn how one acts on those desires.

And if you say, "But in this instance, to me as a liberal I know what agenda Huckabee is REALLY trying to push -- " -- well -- Huckabee is not talking to you. He's talking to people who don't filter everything they hear through a "I have to find a reason not to agree with this guy" prism.

Posted by: dan on December 30, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Lee: are you REALLY that ignorant?

Why on earth would you say that a husband "supposedly" promised his wife to be faithful to her?

I dunno which marriage vows the Clintons exchanged, but the more or less standard Christian version is along the lines of "for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, until death do us part..."

It's a PROMISE, made in public, with formal witnesses and (for church weddings) intentionally invoking the presence of God. In the Catholic faith, it's the only sacrament that two lay people give each other -- the priest is a witness, not an instrument.

(shaking head) This is one of those posts followed by a thread that simply amazes me with the depth of ignorance that progressives blithely exhibit about faith, and people of faith.

There are, what, 65 million American Catholics? Imagine not knowing that their faith explicitly instructs them that any and all homosexual activity is a mortal sin.

There is a major schism looming between the Episcopal Church of the US, and the Anglican Communion worldwide, largely over the American church's decision to not only ordain gay priests, but to consecrate one as a bishop. (Literal-minded Episcopalians ask the pointed question fairly often: since Bishop Robinson isn't married yet has a lover, isn't that in ITSELF evidence of an unrepented, even cherished mortal sin?)

Before the knuckleheads pipe up: I'm not saying bupkas one way or another on the substance of any of this, but it IS impressive ignorance not to know even literally the first thing about either of 'em.

But Lee takes the wedding cake: married couples "supposedly" promise fidelity?

Where were you raised, in a barn?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK


I see what you're saying, but it's still extremely inconsistent. If a man is having sex with a woman in her 70s, there's no more chance that a child will result than there is if two gay people have sex. There isn't any reason, therefore, why the "unitive" justification can't be extended to gays as well.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK


I'm sorry, but to me a "promise" concerning sexual behavior is not morally binding. A promise that restricts a fundamental freedom is not binding, IMHO.

And it's extremely hypocritical of our society today to condemn infidelity as the breaking of a promise. Most couples promise to be together forever, so if they divorce they're actually breaking their vows as well. Yet you don't hear divorce condemned for this reason today (or rarely hear it). It's the same selectivity which people like Huckabee use in condemning gays on Biblical grounds, while never suggesting that children be stoned to death for cursing their parents, even though that's in the Bible too.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Dan,

Why is homosexuality wrong?

Posted by: POed Lib on December 30, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Being true to oneself is not what you do if you embrace the conservative moral system that emphasizes Moral Strength. According to this system homosexuals must have sufficient self-discipline to resist internal temptations. Homosexuals, alcoholics, gamblers, those prone to anger and pride etc must all practice self-denial. Homosexuality may be inborn but the practice of homosexuality is a choice. To be true to oneself, to indulge in transgression and sin, is to side with evil.

This moral system is a boon for politicians because it allows them an out when they transgress. All they have to say it that they sinned, gave into temptation, and affirm the established moral order. Then they can go on their way.

Cultural liberals are as good as demons because they encourage transgression. This is why liberalism is responsible for social decay.

Posted by: bellumregio on December 30, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dan Quayle is back!

Remember his argument that society MUST oppress homosexuality because what man would mess with a stinky woman's stuff if he could get a nice hard male member in his mouth?

[Hasn't one of the quayle spawn followed daddy's recommendation? Thought I read that somewhere ...]

Posted by: Clem Yeobright on December 30, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, Donald from Hawaii, in New Orleans with the Warriors on December 30, 2007, I'm jealous. Hope the Warriors win.

Posted by: Mazurka on December 30, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind the subject, Lee: in what way is a promise genuine if it is NOT morally binding? How is it a promise? It doesn't have to be about fidelity in marriage.

If I promise that I will shovel the snow from your walk, and then I don't do it: isn't that a moral failing on my part? You may not consider it to be a big one, you may assume that there were reasons (hey, it was COLD) but what else IS it, if not a failure to keep a promise?

And what is a broken promise, if not a moral failing?

You misunderstand the nature of civil marriage, as well: it's not a PROMISE, exactly (that's a moral issue), it's a CONTRACT. There is a lively argument that the nature of marriage as a CIVIL contract is no longer necessary (but it was once); that there are better ways to protect the property rights of two individuals who build lives together: but that is evidently lost on you, cuz it depends first on the standard mutuality of obligations that are the essence of a contract.

And hell, get a grip: CONTRACTS couldn't care less about hypocrisy. Arguably, they presume folks will say stuff they don't mean, or you wouldn't have to have the damn agreements in writing and witnessed.

Marriage is a CONTRACT, Lee. Learn to parse civic obligations from morality. (An example is the way infidelity is still a standard grounds for divorce: it is a breach of contract.)

If you can't make distinctions like that, you won't make sense: about politics, religion, or anything else.

As some folks who read these threads (and used to read others) can tell you, I've taken cruel pleasure in smacking orthodox Catholics around on the continuum between Benedict's strict position on same sex marriage, the Catholic view of abortion, AND the Vatican's historic position on legal contraception and divorce which have managed to, er, evolve yet somehow have never, um, changed. (It's a neat trick, and takes hundreds of years of practice.)

The thing is, it is important NOT to project your often unexamined moral prejudices (yes, I mean YOURS, Lee) into the doctrines of other faiths. This is especially important when you're trying to understand 'em. Just cuz you take it for granted that no reasonable person could believe X, doesn't mean that there aren't quite reasonable people who DO believe X: "Faith is believing what you know ain't so", as Twain's schoolboy observed.

Somebody posted in another thread that he objected to religions when their fanatics subverted 'ideologies that are supposed to be for the benefit of human beings.'

In fact, very few religions are supposed to be 'for the benefit of human beings'. On their own terms, many religions insist that the purpose of human beings is to glorify God.

You may reject that, you may just dislike it, but it IS what many faiths teach. So there is a certain moral obligation to understand it on its own terms, whether you are yourself faithful on those terms, or not.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK


Sorry, I've heard it all before, and I've long since rejected it. Whether a promise or a contract is morally binding depends on the nature of the promise or the contract. What if someone promised or made a contract to sell someone else slaves? Do you believe they'd be morally bound to do so? What if someone promised Hitler that they'd take part in the Holocaust? If we really consider "contracts" involving people's bodies to be binding, as you apparently do, we're little better than the Taliban.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK


And why would an all-powerful God, ruler of the entire universe, give a shit who people are fucking anyway?

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK


One more thing. Religions can't preach intolerance of whole groups of people, or say things like "Gays can't have sex," and then be indignant when nonbelievers are intolerant of them and their ideas. That would be like the Nazis condemning Soviet atrocities in Berlin. Turn about is fair play.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Lee: I think you're really reaching for absurdities when you suggest that remaining faithful to one's spouse is the moral equivalent to selling slaves, participating in genocide, and/or supporting terrorists.

Posted by: Wapiti on December 30, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK


Of course it's not the same. I was just saying that I reject the Americanist's argument that this type of promise is binding. I used those examples to show promises that virtually everyone would agree would not be.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Paul said "better to marry than burn in Hell". You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to read about Adam, Eve, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden (or about the virgin birth of Jesus) and realize Christianity has had a major hang up about sex from the very beginning.

Posted by: fafner1 on December 30, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

If we really consider "contracts" involving people's bodies to be binding

That's just nuts. Everything humans do "involves" their bodies. Can a contract obligate me to do a certain kind of work (assuming that it's legal/ethical work) for a certain amount of pay? Such a contract obligates me to do certain things with my body.

Can a contract obligate me to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for goods (assuming again that everything is legal and ethical)? If I don't want to do anything with my body, not even legal and ethical things, to earn that money to pay for those goods, and so I consume the goods without paying for them, can I be punished? All I've done is assert the freedom to determine what I do with my body.

Posted by: asdfasdf on December 30, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK


I meant, specifically, having a consensual intimate relationship with another adult. That's completely different from all the other examples you give.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

He also seems not to use UTF-8. What font was he using? “

Posted by: Crissa on December 30, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

You've made some excellent points, Lee, about sexual morality being subjective rather than objective.

That being said, you really shouldn't so freely reference human slavery, the Taliban, and Nazi atrocities in your otherwise-valid discussion. The gratuitous use of such emotionally-charged hyperbole holds great potential to undermine your own argument in the eyes of the very people you seek to convince.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, with the Warriors at the Sugar Bowl on December 30, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Lee, I think that Sluggo was responding the implication of "nutty" that it is a fringe belief not shared by most people.

And Sluggo is correct in pointing out that the a hugh percentage of the world's population agrees with Mike Huckabee.

That doesn't make it right, moral, or good in any way. But it is a sad fact.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 30, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

That line about objecting to behaviour and not orientation is just a lie to get them out of a difficult question. They would tease, demean, torment, assault and/or murder just as many celibate gays and promiscuous gays. And those that don't tease, demean... murder the gays themselves would be just forgiving to the murderers of celibate gays as to sexually active ones After all, Jesus said that imagining committing a sin is just as sinful as committing it by action, and that is how all Xtians feel about it.

Posted by: jussumbody on December 30, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK


You're right about not using those words lightly. I only did it because the idea, suggested by the Americanist, that virtually any promise is binding seemed so absurd to me, that I wanted to give examples that even he couldn't argue with.

I guess a less extreme example would be, again, divorce--what if two spouses promised each other they would never divorce when they got married, and they expected each other to keep the promise. Would it then be wrong for one spouse to divorce later if they wanted to? Here you have the same situation that exists with infidelity today--a promise made, and an expectation that it be kept.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

For me the defining moment for Huckabee was his action following his son's involvment in killing a dog -- which was to do nothing directly with his son and to attack those who wanted to investigate just who instigated the killing, why and how it was done (ie, was the dog tortured) That Huckabee doesn't want these questions asked let alone answered says he is a man who believes he is above the law. Sorry, we already a president who believe that. We don't need another.

Posted by: beb on December 30, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Let's hope Larry Flint has something on this clown, Huckabee. I'm thinking farm animal.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 30, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

The scary thing about Huckabee is how he's able to dress up extreme positions and make them sound moderate. Today on Meet the Press, Russert pointed out that many people would feel that Huckabee was trying to impose his religious views on them by working to outlaw abortion. Huckabee's response was that his beliefs on the subject are not religious beliefs but "human beliefs." Quite a slick move.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm thinking farm animal."


Posted by: nepeta on December 30, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think people should be able to have sex with whoever they want to have sex with too, but we might want to remember that this is an awfully new idea in human history. (Only a little newer than the idea that women are fully human.) If you think about it in a historical perspective it's actually kind of stunning what a firm hold on post-1960s America this idea has. Those of us on the left seem willing to give up participatory democracy, little by little. But not our innate right to choose our sexual partners.

Posted by: rabbit on December 30, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, Huckabee's view of homosexuality isn't extremist and is, in fact, fairly moderate. That is just reality. The good news is we are winning this fight and will continue to win this fight. Huckabee's view WILL be extreme in another decade or two.

And yes, a promise to one's spouse is binding and a moral obligation. Shame on those who think otherwise.

Posted by: Mark on December 30, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but to me a "promise" concerning sexual behavior is not morally binding. A promise that restricts a fundamental freedom is not binding, IMHO.

It is, however, very definitely legally binding in this case, and if Hillary wanted, she could have easily divorced the lying scumbag and bled him dry in court. And I'll bet that an overwhelming majority of Americans would have backed her 100%. Should we change the laws so that having an affair is no longer grounds for divorce?

A no-fault divorce does indeed nullify a contract, but it requires negotiation and legal settlement and is thus equivalent to, say, a baseball player and his team ending his contract. What you're saying, if I'm understanding you correctly, is that it's okay for the player to unilaterally walk away and start playing for another team. Hey, it's his body, right?

If I go to work for a technology company after I graduate - which appears likely - I assume that I will be expected to sign some sort of non-disclosure agreement as part of the contract. This restricts my freedom of speech, so does that mean it's not binding? If I break it, I'd lose my job and the company would probably sue me into the poorhouse. Again, this is established law, and if I don't like it, I won't sign the fucking contract.

Is this clear, or do you need me to explain it with shorter words?

(Standard disclaimer: I'm a libertarian-leaning atheist, and I don't really give a shit who people in general choose to sleep with, but I'm not interested in anything other than monogamy, and if a woman I'm in a relationship decides to cheat, I'll dump the bitch without hesitation and never speak to her again. Got a problem with that? Fuck off, and stop telling everyone else what their moral obligations should or shouldn't be.)

Posted by: Nat on December 30, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

A tip of the hat to Lee for his effective defense of a controversial position.

And yes, a promise to one's spouse is binding and a moral obligation

Well, how do you answer Lee's example of divorce? Divorce is immoral so no one should do it but many, many do and therefore...


How indeed is it possible, or even right, to make a promise never to have sex with someone other than one specific person for the duration of one's life? The mere fact of infidelity on the mass scale which it appears to occur says quite a bit about the practicality of such promises. And, frankly, the Christian obsession with private sexual behavior is perverse.

Posted by: mattski on December 30, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Infidelity on the mass scale? Uh, you might want to try backing up that statement with some facts and not your general impressions.

The facts are that the vast majority of American men and women are faithful to their spouses.

For instance, this paper says that over the whole length of a marriage only 25% of men and 10% - 15% of women report having had sex with someone other than their spouse.

And this study shows that:

"Nationally representative survey data show higher likelihood of sexual infidelity among those with stronger sexual interests, more permissive sexual values, lower subjective satisfaction with their union, weaker network ties to partner, and greater sexual opportunities. With these factors controlled, gender differences are substantially reduced or eliminated, although racial effects persist."

And the argument that divorce is infidelity is pure bullshit. Divorce may occur because one or the other (or both) are unfaithful, but not every divorce occurs because of that. I would think anyone with half a brain would know that.

Sorry, if a couple divorces it isn't an example of infidelity. Serial polygamy, maybe, but infidelity absolutely not.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 30, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

That's a pretty wide stance Huckabee has there. You know damn well that he is gayer than the month of May - count on it!

What is it with all of these conservatives chirping about "the homosexual agenda" and "gay rights" and they are all queerer than a $3 dollar bill?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 30, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK


Lee didn't say a single word to suggest that he cares one way or another whether you choose to speak another word to the girl who cheats on you. So your "Fuck off" tells us a lot about the sort of person you are.

Posted by: mattski on December 30, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

What I find amusing about this discussion is the notion that Huckabee's position reflects a special prejudice against homosexuals. His and the position of most Christians is that all sex outside of marriage, including heterosexual sex, is a "sinful" manifestation of the body that gets in the way of focusing upon attaining the "purity" of the soul.

Early Christian teachings mirrored first century Jewish teachings were that all sex including sex within marriage was sinful. For example Essenes had similar views. That early view didn't last long. It became pretty apparent pretty fast to early church leaders (including most notably Paul) that some role for married sex had to be found. Hence the quote up thread.

Of course, there is no way we are ever going to stop unmarried sexual contact. The core of the actual teachings of Christ is practical notion that there is no way we humans are ever going to live a perfect life free from all "sin." That is why all of us sinners are called on to ask "forgiveness." To Christians a recognition that humans are, well human, and are always going to break some rule or other is why Christ died on the Cross.

Of course, the state doesn't trade in forgiveness. At least since the reformation and especially since the enlightenment increasingly popular notions of individual freedom (at least until Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts were appointed to the Supreme Court) as well as the rise of plan old common sense has resulted in a movement removing the traditional religious beliefs concerning sex from the public square. Today anything goes as long as it is done between consenting adults and nobody is physically injured.

Huckabee's heresy and the heresy of all those fundamentalists and Catholics who want to impose temporal punishment on "sins" committed by others is their willingness to usurp the role of God. The central Christian teaching is that God judges, people don't. God's judgment is pretty lenient if someone merely asks forgiveness.

You theologians might want to jump in and tell me where I am wrong.

Oh,another way of looking at the whole thing has to do with notions of property rights and inheritance that developed in a world based on agriculture where children are put to work as soon as possible to insure the survival of the family unit. Once upon a time family ties were critical to physical survival. That is the world reflected in the Koran and Old Testament Judaism.

Anyway this topic is way too deep for Political Animal.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 30, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus,

Your stats show mass scale.

We are a nation of what, 300 million? How many married couples at any given time, perhaps 50-60 million? By your lights that is roughly 13 million unfaithful husbands, and 7 million or so unfaithful wives.

And the argument that divorce is infidelity is pure bullshit.

Who made this argument? Would you kindly pay attention?

Posted by: mattski on December 30, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

For instance, this paper says that over the whole length of a marriage only 25% of men and 10% - 15% of women report having had sex with someone other than their spouse.

In a U.S. population of 300 million that comes to over 50 million cheaters. Sounds pretty massive to me.

Don't forget that the Catholic position is that any sexual act outside of marriage (think masturbation) is mortally sinful, not just marital infidelity. In fact, even sexual acts within marriage which thwart the possibility of procreation (i.e. any sort of oral or anal sex, or handjobs) are also mortally sinful.

The number of non-hellbound under this regime has got to be vanishingly small.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 30, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

mattski's right, I should have held out the unmarrieds. Still a great big number.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 30, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

'Paul said "better to marry than burn in Hell".'

I feel fairly certain that you are not talking about Paul McCartney.

Re Huckleberry, doesn't his type think that ALL sex (even the married-hetero kind) is icky if it don't produce no babies?

Posted by: Kenji on December 30, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

On the subject of infidelity as brought up earlier in this thread (Note, I understand divorce isn't death, but it is the exact same type of absolutist oath-type):
'In my experience...the trouble with oaths in the form of death before dishonor, is that, eventually, given enough time and abrasion, they separate the world into just two sorts of people: the dead, and the forsworn.'
-Lois Bujold, A Civil Campaign

The very problem with this debate is that it relates to the political views of a presidential hopeful. That Huckabee publicly expresses views that run contrary to the social contract that America was built on. We are a free people. The choices are our own, always, except in cases of which we infringe upon other peoples rights, safety, or the supreme law of the land.
Huckabee presumes to be some sort of moral superior in which he will somehow stop the 'moral decay' of the American people. His actions, views and representations remind me tragically of the same forces that put the prohibition into effect.
On the subject of gays, being as we are citizens of the united states, we must ask ourselves a few qualifiers. Whose rights do gays (and their homosexual relations) infringe upon? and what laws of the land do they break? Secondly, are any such laws just? Lastly, I would like to add, that, in my considered opinion, the reason our forefathers specifically added the separation of church and state clause was that they understood that churches are by their very nature, non-selflimiting. They will always go the full length they are allowed to. And if there are no limits, then, that is what gives rise to theocracies, inquisitions and dogmatic intolerance.
On the question of gays, in what argument do we have that justifies using Federal judicial force to enforce what is essentially a religious law on private non-religious citizens in direct disobedience of the very first Amendment of the BoR. 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,' to be exact. There is no other source to my knowledge other then some religeous texts that state that homosexual relations or unions are immoral.
We, as a people, have traded off vast amounts of personal freedoms and privacies for ever increasing amounts of security from our government. And increasingly, we have seen the true nature of democracy stretched by both church and corporations.
I ,personally, will always stand up for gay rights. These people hurt no one by their peaceful actions, from holding hands in public to their relations in private. Let us remember that freedom means free, and often we need to be free from each other as much as any foreign power.

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, in no particular order:

1) Corpus is full of shit. Judaism is a remarkably sensual religion (the Tanakh brags about Moses doing his concubines when he was 80), so his notion that "first century Jewish teachings" dissed sex is a sign of unadulterated ignorance.

2) It IS true that for many folks, sex in the olden days wasn't exactly an unmitigated joy, viz, women and slaves. Oddly enough, those are the two populations for whom early Christianity was most attractive. There are many folks who figure the early Christian theologians (starting with Paul) essentially competed with the Essenes, but that is secondary: the PRIMARY fact is that folks who could be raped (most women and all slaves) knew this was wrong and wanted something that was right.

3) Marriage, as a legal institution with a long history, is essentially about two things: children and property. Fidelity is essential to the contract, because the PURPOSE of any contract (as a matter of children and property) is to enforce mutual obligations, no less for marriage than for other contracts.

I mean, kindly pull your collective head from your collective ass and THINK about this stuff for a moment: Joe Farmer in the 2nd century BCE marries Jane Wellkeeper. She agrees to be his wife, keep his house, and raise HIS kids. If she's doing every caravan that stops at the well, he can't be sure his farm is feeding HIS kids.

She has less leverage, of course, to ensure that he acts like her husband as a matter of love and fidelity, as opposed to kids and peroperty. If he's doing the village girls (or his slaves), she has little effective say. of course: BUT she has the critical fulcrum that his property -- the farm -- goes only to his "legitimate" heirs: HER kids.

Thus, marriage. It's a CONTRACT. Good Lord, Lee: DID you grow up in a barn? How come you don't know this?

4) Bob Wright did a whole book on the theme (The Moral Animal) of the natural selection aspects of the fact that virtually all human societies (including ALL the most successful) have essentially the same morality: don't lie, don't steal, don't murder -- and a monogamous ideal.

Natch, there are all kinds of breaches, but that's the point: societies were deception, theft, murder and polyamory are the Rule don't last very long and do not fare well in competition with more ordinarily moral ones. (For one thing, in polygamous societies rich men get all the good looking women, which leaves poor guys with, er, time on their hands: disaster.)

5) A promise is BINDING. That's its nature. If I promise to shovel your snow, I've made a commitment to you, to do that. If I don't, I have broken my word. There may be a good reason, which means there are also bad reasons ("I got hit by a bus" is better than "Fuck you, it's cold"), but the point is: I PROMISED. That means something.

If you don't WANT a promise to mean something, face it: you're essentially worthless. Your word cannot be counted on. You're basically just rationalizing so that NOBODY'S word can be meaningful, because you know that YOUR'S is worthless.

6) There are folks who are faithful to their husbands and wives, to their lovers. Deal with it.

7) The Catholic explanation of sexuality goes like this, as sorta the standard from which all Christian teachings deviate to a greater or less degree: Christ himself said next to nothing about sexual morality. He says at one point that folks should become eunuchs for God, which is ambiguous at best (not to mention a mite creepy), and he famously writes something never explained in the sand when he says that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone at the adulterous woman. He also says that what God has joined, let no man put asunder (Matthew 19:6), and is far more passionate against divorce, long tolerated if not embraced by virtually all mainstream faiths, than any of the other crap, e.g., it is Leviticus, not Christ, that condemns gays. (There is a reference in Paul -- Corinthians, IIRC, a port town: but the passage is better translated don't be a streetwalking transvestite, which seems like good advice.)

The classic critique of Christian theology on sexuality is the notion that motherhood is sacred but sex is a sin, summed up in "the Virgin Mary". Again, there's a translation issue: the word translated to "virgin" actually meant something more like "babelicious".

8) The fact is, recognizing that women are also humans born with the same rights as anybody else, is the key. This involves RESPONSIBILITY -- it's why marriage developed to enforce MUTUAL obligations about kids and property.

WAAYYY too much progressive "thinking" about this stuff disses people of faith and skips over responsibility: , e.g., Lee's idea that promises are meaningless. So, finally:

9) I couldn't care less what Huckabee believes about the morality of homosexual acts. But if I was to ask him about it, I'd point out that Apple refused to open a plant in Texas if its legislature banned civil union health benefits, including living will and power of attorney arrangements, and I'd want to know if he'd have told Apple to take all those jobs and go to hell. (Texas didn't: they backed down.)

And I'd have a map of every company in every town that has civil union benefits, with the # of jobs at risk, nationwide.

RESPECT, folks. That's how it works. Learn where to make leverage count.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK


You're such a pompous ass.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK


He's all that and more, none of it pretty.

Posted by: mattski on December 30, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

That's an insult to pompous asses everywhere. It's been awhile since I've heard/seen something that high-handed. I like how he adds the line about 'respect' at the end. Is that how we are supposed to act, but not him?

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK


Remember, turn about is fair play. Don't complain the next time anyone is condescending to you!

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Oops. After I said "The Catholic explanation of sexuality goes like this..." I forgot to actually SAY what it is.

Christ said little on the subject, Paul a bit more (and almost wholly negative: 'better to marry than to burn" is not exactly Barry White quality in the mood stuff.) It wasn't until Augustine in the last century of Roman rule that there was a full-blown theology of sexuality: Augustine's idea is that Original Sin (the idea that we're all born damned, and only baptism, etc., can save us from eternal suffering) is passed from parents to child through sex.

From that evolved the elaborate Theology of the Body stuff that JPII will be remembered for. The basic idea was explained upthread: sex has two functions, the unitive and procreative. Both MUST be present, or any sexual act is sinful, to a greater or lesser degree depending on its nature. That gets shorthanded down to the idea that a married couple having sex must be open to the possibility (however remote) of a child resulting, or the sex -- even between married people -- is sinful indulgence.

There is an elaborate rationalization for how to regulate your erotic lives as a married couple so that each month recapitulates courtship and the honeymoon and so on, to accentuate the unitive and shade the odds on the procreative without resorting to barrier or chemical methods of contraception, but: who cares.

What COUNTS is that the identical arguments that are made about these matters, were also made as a CIVIC argument against divorce: Casti Connubi was the encyclical back in... 1910? I think. Italy was considering legalizing divorce. The Vatican was against it, because divorce was bad for women, bad for families, bad for kids, and contrary to God's law.

They lost. But for several generations, Catholics were explicitly told to vote against any politician who favored legalized divorce, in PRECISELY the same way that many people of faith are being urged to vote against anybody who favors civil unions.

And it wasn't just divorce: a similar fight was fought -- and lost -- in the late 60s and 70s against legalized contraception.

Father Neuhaus, a pillar of the broader forms of the neocon movement, argues like this: Sexuality is NOT bricolage, it cannot be taken apart and put back together. It is a continuum -- and just so, with the Supreme Court's decisions: first contraception was legalized for married couples, then for unmarried couples, then abortion was legalized, then homosexual acts between consenting adults, and now we're at the precipice...

Like I say, it helps to know what the actual arguments are, what people really think, and why: Bricolage is a great word.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

RESPECT, folks. That's how it works.

Think of all the lessons in RESPECT the Americanist has taught us, and mercifully at that!

Posted by: mattski on December 30, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

The number of non-hellbound under this regime has got to be vanishingly small.

According to orthodox Christian doctrine, the number of non-hellbound on the basis of behavior is 0. Which is the reason Jesus had to come to earth and die for our sins - we were never going to get it right on our own, not a single one of us.

Which is a basic but common misunderstanding of the position of Huckabee and other Christians. It doesn't divide the world between those icky (in this case gay) sinners and the pure Christians. Everyone is a sinner in this worldview - the task is to understand that and to try to do better to the greatest extent possible. And in general, you should be worrying more about your own sins than other peoples - that's what the whole log in your own eye/speck in your neighbor's eye thing Jesus said was about.

Of course, many Christians, and certainly most of the "go to" media Christians, are a lot more interested in other people's sins than their own. For them, that sin a lot more tempting than gay sex or at least how they sublimate it.

Posted by: stuck in 200 on December 30, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

As long as we're here, a few questions and refutations. First of, I'm not entirely sure what stance TA is taking, he seems to have no endpoint. Do you supporting the religeous concept? Traditional? Is all this rigamarole about the concept of a 'binding promise'? 'Binding' and 'Contract' are not synonyms, so please be more specific about what you are endorsing. Consequences? if so, legal or physical? etc.

Second, no issue exists in a vacuum, and all current ones have sides which have precedents. For instance, democracy was long regarded a failure after the greeks tried it.

Third, marriage is an answer to the concept that child production only happens within a woman's womb. since arriving children must be cared for, it behooves a society to place limitations on a womans sexual behavior because the consequences are expensive. In todays society, progressives are beginning to overturn some of these rules because the certainty of pregnancy is being replaced by birth control. So far, to my knowledge, the morality of monogamy vs other options is simply religion placing a value on it. There are a lot of women who certainly enjoy being able to live a little and get out from under the thumbs of controlling husband/fathers. In a post civil rights society that recognizes women as being more then just property, we must now respect that they have control over their own bodies and how those bodies are used. Hell, going back to the gay issue, the same applies there.

Please forgive me for meandering, my response tend to be long-winded.

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

stuck in 200:

That's one thing I've never understood about Christianity. What exactly were most people doing that was so bad that Jesus had to "die for their sins"? It doesn't make sense. Most people don't do anything all that bad.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to look at it like this, Lee.

Have you ever done anything in your life, that hurt yourself or someone else, emotionally or physically that was an accident, or at least, not quite on purpose? In my own opinion, sin is nearly self defined, except that, spiritually speaking, it is defined personally in your own relationship with god. If you feel a little guilty about past events that you've done, even on accident for the pain/confusion you know/suspect that you have ever caused, that's how you know you haven't totally lost the path. Symbolically, Jesus died so that we, the imperfect, may ascend into heaven, even stained with past imperfections, as we all are.
My beef has always been that so many religions and texts belive they can define it for you.
Likewise, always be suspect of anyone who does not display any guilt. All too often, they have not acknowledged their own problems.

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK


Of course everyone has done things they're ashamed of. But is seems like the goal of Christianity and other religions is to promote guilt, rather than alleviate it--especially concerning sexual behavior.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK


You don't know jack shit about 1st Century Judaism do you?

Judaism is a very old religion and has gone through lots and lots of "phases." Your example has nothing to do with first century aestheticism. The early Christians were Jews. So were the Essenes. John the Baptist might have been an Essene. The similarities between the early Christians and the Essenes are striking. Ultimately they part ways. The Essenes were isolationists and followed very strict rules. Early Christianity was influenced (hijacked) by Paul who laid the foundations for turning the sect into a religion that that extended to the broader Roman empire. Both had giant aesthetic streaks running through them.

Maybe you ought to read the dead sea scrolls some time. Then you can call me ignorant.

By the way, I thought that largely I was giving support to your position. I guess you don't need any help. You are an ass all by yourself.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 30, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK


I never said that reflected traditional religion. There is a wide gulf between spirituality and todays religious mega-churches. That was merely my own way of looking at it, my own spirituality if you will. Poor Jesus, he was actually a pretty nice guy, before everyone else got involved. You never saw Jesus on big long diatribes against gays, welfare queens, or a fellow blog commentators. He just wanted us to go to heaven and stop feeling so guilty. There are so many ways to spread kindness, goodness and brotherhood. I'll never understand why we screw with each other SO damn much.

Also, Corpus, kudos to you for your posts on this thread, I enjoyed reading them very much.

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Aaron: I keep pointing out that there is a reflex among progressives to dis religion. In Lee's case, his reflex is to be gobsmacking ignorant -- and proud of it, as if ignorance is persuasion.

As a f'r instance, I had already noted the actual Christian answer to "what most people were doing" that required Christ's crucifixion: Original Sin. If this knucklehead weren't so convinced that folks who know what they're talking about were condescending to him, he'd have LEARNED something when the opportunity was presented to him. (Lee -- you don't believe in Original Sin, but that's not an excuse for being ignorant of it, ESPECIALLY when you were just told what it is.)

What you're groping for, Aaron, is actually my monicker: "the Americanist heresy" denotes the only officially-condemned Catholic heresy that ever developed here. It gets a bit complex (not least cuz it is 'the phantom heresy', more or less dropped down the memory hole cuz, psst: it WON), but the gist of it goes like this: as recently as the 1850s, the Vatican stated categorically that core American concepts like free speech, religious liberty, and the separation of church and state were NOT compatible with being a good Catholic.

In other words, exactly as many now say about Muslims, it was said then that it was NOT possible to be an American AND a Catholic -- and the authority was no less than Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors. (That is, if you take free speech, etc., as the essence of American civics.)

The Americanist heresy was essentially the idea that civics has a moral value in ITSELF -- that is, unrelated to accepting the authority of the Pope, or any other orthodoxy. Civics is at the intersection of morality and the law, and it is a good thing.

You've reached, Aaron, but not grasped that a "promise" is essentially a moral commitment. A contract has moral elements, if you want to get philosophical about it, but it's not really about right and wrong, exactly, it's about mutual obligations.

If I promise to shovel Lee's snow, and then don't do it: that's a MORAL failing. Unless we had a contract, he can't hold me to my promise. Apply that to sexuality, and you begin to see that Lee is arguing for an astonishingly sexist and self-serving approach to liberty.

That's why a marriage is a CONTRACT, as well as a promise. Oversimplified, if a man and a woman vow the whole 'sickness/health/richer, poorer/forsaking all others' thing, and then he takes up with ANOTHER woman who proceeds to bear his kids and he pays to raise 'em, she has pretty solid grounds for divorce in precisely the way any party to a commercial transaction would have grounds for breach of contract if instead of paying, one guy took off to Vegas and played the slots with the other guy's money.

But there is a MORAL element to a contract, as a form of promise, which is particularly important to marriages and to fundamental questions of civic organization: "To live outside the law you must be honest" was Dylan's line about it.

If you or Lee don't want to be obligated to a sexual partner, then don't be. Make no promises -- but don't hallucinate this gets you out of responsibility: If you happen to father a child by a sexual partner: she owns a piece of your ass for 18 years. You don't like that? Too fucking bad. Should've thought twice before you ACTED. Every time you get a job, your child support will come up like a red flag -- and she WILL go after your wages, and get 'em.

Embedded in that fact (only recently enacted, too, in 1997) is a whole theory of government and its role, that is utterly lost on Lee: yet which he wants to hand over to the likes of Huckabee.

That's not morality, strictly speaking: it's CIVICS. But Lee approaches questions like this from the view that promises about sexuality are made to be broken, or only "supposedly" made at all.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK


Why anyone would ever want to marry or have a relationship with you is beyond me!

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK


And another thing. I'm not "ignorant" of religion. I just think it's a bunch of bullshit. If that offends anyone, tough. I don't believe God exists, at least in the sense that religions speak of. So don't give me all this crap about how I don't "understand" things. That's the same shit peddled by Bush and Co. to the rest of the world, and I'm tired of it. Get it?

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Why anyone would ever want to marry or have a relationship with you is beyond me!

As opposed to someone who declares that he's not obligated to keep a promise of fidelity?

Posted by: adsadfasdf on December 30, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK


Well, Hillary has Bill! I don't know what he thinks about promises, but he's certainly not faithful, and they seem to be doing fine.

Posted by: Lee on December 30, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Unless I missed it up thread, I'm surprised no one simply proposes a rather simple solution to this whole gay marriage/sex/religion business: do what most other Western countries have done and separate the religious and civil contract aspects of marriage. If you simply want to arrange your property rights and children's legitimacy with a life partner, head down to the local magistrate and get a marriage certificate/contract. If you feel that this relationship deserves additional approval in a religious context, by all means have it confirmed in a house of worship by a member of the clergy. The state should recognize the former, and God the latter.

The Church really didn't even involve itself that much in marriage before about the twelfth century anyway (other than to advise couples on their proper roles), so the idea that marriage has "always" been this "sacred" instituion is patently false. It was, and is, fundamentally about creating a framework for the peaceable transfer of property from one generation to the next by stipulating that only the children of a man's legitimate spouse may inherit him. In this day and age, there's no good moral or legal reason why that legitimate spouse cannot be of the same sex.

Posted by: jonas on December 30, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK


I can't say that I specifically disagree with any one point, but you do seem to be strawmaning Lee. I keep looking up the thread looking for anything he said that really could have prompted that much rebuttal. Lee didn't say anything about handing anything over to huckabee. I don't think he ever really argued initially all that much about marriage either, certainly not enough to merit the endurance trial of fire and brimstone which you brought to the debate. Lee, as far as I can tell, is like most of us progressives; we see some inherent flaws in the way that religion interacts with the lives of adherents and non-adherents. Especially in the concept of the religious marriage vs the legal one as practiced by the united states. Maybe the oath should be, 'Till death, infidelity, impotence or empty nest do us part'.

I'm getting tired and I got to work early tomorrow, good night fellow commentators.

Posted by: Aaron on December 30, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK


The Americanist might be an ass. He certainly doesn't know how to present a winning argument, but he has some very good points. Mostly your notion that a marriage vow is meaningless is simply wrong from every historic, moral, legal, ethical, and practical point of view I have ever read.

Marriage/family is absolutely necessary for the survival of any society. For most of history it marriage has been absolutely necessary for the survival of the human race. The reason is simple. People aren't cats. We are not even chimps. Because of the way our ancestors made a living out on the grasslands and because of the relative weakness of the human being to other creatures, mothers have needed fathers to raise and protect children, otherwise our species would never have survived. The way our ancestor mothers were able to make sure their children survived was to bond with our ancestor fathers. People have written books on this topic. I can't begin to summarize this idea in a short comment. You might want to read "The Sex Contract" by Helen Fisher.

Even today single mothers struggle. Their children are often among the poorest of American children in every developmental category. If a mother can't depend on the father to remain in the home faithful to her and her children, then her children are in deep shit. We, the rest of society, are left to clean up the mess.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 30, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK


Your children would be lucky because unlike you, most of us think we have a civic duty to clean up your messes. It is in the best interests of society in general to raise as many healthy, well adjusted, well educated and productive children as we can, including yours.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 30, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- as noted, Corpus, you're full of shit: I noted that many think Paul was competing with the Essenes. But you're REALLY shallow, yanno.

Here's the real story, compressed.

The big phases of Judaism go more or less like this -- God creates humans in his image. Then he gets pissed off at us, relents, and promises Noah that he would never again destroy the world in a flood, because all the righteous pleased him. What made people righteous, God told Noah, was NOT the forms of their worship, but if they kept seven commandments. (My favorite being not to eat anything which is still alive.) This is a huge influence on the development of Judaism, cuz it poses a classic moral hazard -- if ALL the righteous please God and the rules are so simple, what's with the 613 rules elaborated later on?

Then God talks to Abraham, and says: I am One. Believe in me, and your kids will be like the stars. Scholars think this is a huge leap forward, connecting the scary Sky God that does big uncontrollable stuff, with the intimate Personal God that you ask to help with stuff. It sets the table for moral development.

The next big phase is Moses and Joshua: Moses brings the slaves out of Egypt, and organizes 'em around the Ten Commandments. The Covenant is given definitive form: Who are "we"? We are the people who follow these rules. God promises us that if we keep these rules, we will be his Chosen, and get the Promised Land. (That there are people who are NOT chosen, some of whom live in the Promised Land, well...)

Then you have the tricky part: what's the point of the Covenant, what's it mean to be Chosen, AFTER you get the Promised Land? Much less when you've lost it -- twice, then three times.

Enter the Temple. First, a building and the rituals in it become the focus of the faith so long as the Chosen rule the Promised Land. (skipping ahead, and using anarchronistic terms) Then, it becomes the collaborator Herod's way of being a Jewish king AND a Roman puppet -- the classic edifice complex, as somebody put it.

THAT's the context of your Essene/Jewish Christian rivalry, Corpus.

Oversimplified: the Sandhedrin and Sadducees were essentially collaborators. The Romans (through Herod) bought 'em, by authorizing the Temple as a focus for their role as puppets. They hung around the Temple, and sorta kinda ran the place, which Herod persuaded the Romans to allow as a way for Rome to collect taxes in Judea without having to crucify, say, 4,000 people in Galilee as they did around the time of Christ's birth -- as Herod (the dad) was finishing the Temple before he died.

The Pharisees were argumentative folks, so they were grappling with The Question: various folks had destroyed the Temple before, and like faith-based nations everywhere, the Israelites understood that the Babylonians, f'r instance, had happened to 'em cuz they had lost the faith. Thus, The Question: if the Covenant meant what it had always meant, recovering their faith would mean that God would show up on the side of his Chosen, and drive the Romans out, right?

Even all their activities IN and around the Temple -- arguing, splitting hairs, etc. -- kept coming back to The Question. Are we faithful? Are we righteous? Aren't we the chosen people? So what the hell are the Romans doing here.

It's worth noting here that the name Mary called Jesus was -- Joshua, not to put to fine a point on it. He might as well have been an American kid named George Washington Josephson in a land under foreign occupation: the name MEANT something, and you can be sure that every first century Jew knew it.

The Zealots were the folks who took this to the level of political agitation and (doomed) military organization.

So some early first century scholar would have put the Christians somewhere in the Pharisee camp, which explains the hairsplitting of "Render unto Caesar" and such in the Synoptic Gospels. It also explains why the earliest texts -- the fabled Q, Matthew and Mark, are the ones that don't refer to "the Jews" since as you point out, THEY were Jews. It isn't until John, written long after the others and AFTER the Temple was destroyed, that you have references to "the Jews".

But if you substitute the much more accurate "the collaborators" (the Sanhedrin and Sadducees), it is a bit more clear. This is particularly true when you recognize the astonishing absence of ANYTHING in the New Testament that could be remotely interpreted as a slam against Rome -- somebody pointed out the Text reads like Anne Frank's diary without mentioning the Nazis.

When Herod's Temple was destroyed, two very deep springs in Judaism ran dry, and a third changed course: first, the Sanhedrin was sorta SOL. Second, the Zealots -- who saw themselves as the true keepers of the original Covenant, all about keeping the faith to be the Chosen ones for whom God would deliver the Promised Land -- were dead.

But the third was the tradition represented by the Pharisees -- including the highly scholarly parts, that eventually evolve into the Talmud (hundreds of years later), and the mystical, ascetic stuff, which included the Essenes.

And Christianity. It isn't until the conversion of Gentiles pretty much took over Christianity, and the Arian heresy at the time of Constantine and the first Nicene creed, that the distinction between Christian and Jew is permanent, but it's manifest very early when you recognize what the EVENTS of the Text show, that it was all about a struggle with collaborators and collaboration: why else does the Passion happen so fast AFTER the Scourging of the Temple?

And why isn't there a single bloody mention of Roman oppression anywhere in the New Testament?

LOL -- hell, why do Origen, et al, lead to the conversion of Helen and the transformation of the Christian symbol from the fish to the cross?

(grin) I know a little about first century Judaism, Corpus: that's WHY I noted you were full of shit.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 30, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Corpus makes an interesting point, and one that comes into sharper view when you consider the Scandinavian welfare states: Marriage has become obsolete in places like Denmark and Norway because the community and the state pretty much guarantee that women and children will be taken care of regardless if there's a male breadwinner in the home (generous maternity leave, free daycare, labor laws that grant parents considerable work flexibility, universal health care, etc.). Interestingly, the two-parent nuclear family still predominates, but more as a domestic arrangement than a formal marriage. As soon as women no longer need male "protection" to raise a family, marriage loses its logic.

Posted by: jonas on December 31, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Having adopted something of a speciality in offending people on purpose around here, Lee, let me show you how you do it by accident: "I'm not "ignorant" of religion. I just think it's a bunch of bullshit...."

Those are two different propositions, and your commitment to the latter proves the former: you ARE ignorant -- on purpose.

You had written: "That's one thing I've never understood about Christianity. What exactly were most people doing that was so bad that Jesus had to "die for their sins"? It doesn't make sense. "

This is Christianity 101, yanno: the Redemption is NOT something we deserve. Christians believe that without the Redemption, Salvation is not possible. But it's not cuz we've EARNED it. It's not what we do, it's what we ARE.

IF you had asked the question with genuine respect (as opposed to your bigoted "I'm not ignorant cuz it's all bullshit"), you could learn from the answer. You'd probably have had to rephrase the question, of course, to wash your bigotry out of it.

The classic was between Augustine and -- Justin?, I think -- in the 5th century. Augustine was developing the idea that only baptized babies could be saved, and unbaptized ones were doomed to eternal hellfire. Justin (if that was his name) argued that this was nuts -- God was just and loving, he wouldn't burn innocent babies forever just because they happened to die before baptism. They sure as hell hadn't committed any SIN, fercrysakes.

Augustine's reply was the Doctrine of Original Sin: we are all BORN damned (passed on through sex), and it is only through baptism that we can be saved (and after that, there's more!)

So -- what about all those folks born BEFORE the Redemption?

There is an elaborate theology for this, about Christ going down to hell after his crucifixion and before resurrection, to explain it all: this is how Abraham and Moses wind up in Heaven.

The point is -- these aren't questions that Christians can't answer or never thought of. They HAVE answers, some of 'em 15 or 20 centuries old.

So the way you ask the question "What exactly were most people doing that was so bad that Jesus had to "die for their sins"? shows ignorance -- and now, if you persist in it, it's WILLFUL ignorance.

You've had the chance to know better. Gonna use it?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, did anybody mention Apple and the Texas legislature?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK


I disagree that marriage is necessary for society. This argument is made over and over again in this country, particularly by politicians, with little evidence to support it.

If no one ever got married in this country again, I honestly don't see how society would be very different from what it is now. People would live together and have children, and if/when they wanted to break up, they would. Now that divorce is easy, this is what married people do anyway.

I think the meaning of marriage vows lies in the minds of those taking the vows. My main point was that it's highly hypocritical for society to condemn infidelity as violating the vows when there is a 50% divorce rate, even though most vows include the bit about "til death do us part." You can't only view that part of the vow as binding that you choose to consider important.
That's what religious people do all the time when they cherrypick the Bible.

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

If I commit acts of onanism while contemplating obscene stick drawings of adult males, does that still count as being celibate, or must I still pay obeisance to Mother Church and ask for the washing away of my terrible sins against the order of the universe as it was ordained two or three thousand years ago by Mr. Too Busy To Pay a Visit To Earth Until Then??

Posted by: Anon on December 31, 2007 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK


You're better suited to a theology blog than to this one.

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have made homosexuality the centerpiece of their campaign for about 20 years now. Funny thing, I see no mention of the issue in our Constitution....

Posted by: cajun on December 31, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

I find it impossible to take any tributes to Augustine seriously at all. He reveled in promiscuity. Sex had become an obsession for him. After his conversion to Catholicism, he shifted to the exact opposite, extreme sexual repression. In his "reborn" zeal - much like a reformed alcoholic - Augustine fused a hatred of human sexuality with Catholic orthodoxy. It would be akin to Hugh Heffner suddenly finding Jesus and going on a chastity campaign.

The only thing I hold in lower esteem is someone who quotes and defends him.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on December 31, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Which is the reason Jesus had to come to earth and die for our sins - we were never going to get it right on our own, not a single one of us.

Not according to my Catholic catechism. It said Jesus died to redeem Original Sin. Anything you commit yourself you have to deal with on your own.

I recently tried to explain the notion of Original Sin to my 8-year-old daughter, and failed. I wasn't trying to be cute, I was just trying to get across the idea of what it is. But it's so ridiculous an idea (we are all responsible for a bad act committed by an ancestor many years before we were born) that I just couldn't. She thought it was crazy talk. Smart girl.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 31, 2007 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Smart girl indeed, JimBob.

As one who was raised Catholic myself, I can only chuckle at how crazy the idea of penal substitution really is when you stop to consider it.

Posted by: melior on December 31, 2007 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

Cheating isn't even isolated to monoamoury. It's all about having sex/activities without permission.

Anyhow, what I don't get is so... So you don't approve of homosexual sex. The bible put disapproving eating of shellfish on the same level, and we don't prohibit Bubba Gump's. And even if you disapprove of sex, what does that have to do with domestic partnerships or spousal benefits?

It just all hurts my head. Seems to me you'd want to support methods for making people happier and less likely to involve 'good het christians' like gay marriage. Also, at least marriage would eliminate the other supposed bad reason: No marriage vow.

It's not like monogamy is a new thing... Oh, wait, it is. About as new as this hating gays thing. You know, younger than the age of Christianity, so much so that neither is in the bible.

Posted by: Crissa on December 31, 2007 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK


Having given up domestic relations practice because I was sick to death of helping grown ups emotionally and financially destroy children in the name of personal liberty, my own view is that you can fuck whomever you want and be as selfish as you and the people who are dumb enough to play with you will tolerate, but the second a child is brought into the equation, play time is over. Free love in the presence of a child is fundamentally destructive of the child and ultimately society.

If that makes me seem too intolerant for you that is your problem.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 31, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Corpus, but that Lee and folks like him feel progressive politics are their natural home are OUR problem: see?

Take Lee's bigotry toward religion, contrasted with JimBob's approach. JB actually understands the stuff, takes the trouble to communicate it accurately -- and, I suspect, his daughter is better off in ways that nobody can even predict yet. I figure a kid who is NOT told "it's all bullshit" but who gets to hear it plain and true and make up her own mind (even at 8!) is on much more solid ground than Lee.

Lee is more into denial.

Lee is in fact, WAY into theology -- when it reinforces his prejudices: "I'm not ignorant, cuz it's all bullshit." When he says why Christians believe in the Redemption is 'something he never got about Christianity', he is just gobsmacking ignorant -- and proud of it.

Try to imagine someone like Lee saying in a similarly progressive forum 'you know what I never got about the Civil War? It's why farm kids from Iowa and Minnesota were willing to die to abolish slavery...', or 'that's something I've never understood about women, why they think men should be responsible for their own kids...'

But he is happy to show off how little he knows about the most common religious faith in his own country -- and OBJECTS when folks show him the truth of it.

I noted the deadbeat dad registry upthread: since 1997, every new hire in America has his (or her) social security # checked against a national database of state child support cases. (I suspect you know this, Corpus.) Like I said, there is a whole philosophy of government and civic organization embedded in that fact, but it's lost on Lee.

It's RESPONSIBILITY, like you said. In the end, however you or I or anybody else may disagree with Huckabee's example, he's talking about responsibility. That's what this clown is giving away to the Huckabees.

Lee rejects responsibility. He wants to know why we shouldn't simply do away with marriage. Somebody else wonders (as I noted folks DO wonder) why we don't just get the government out of marriage entirely, and leave it to religions to sanctify. Somebody even noted that if it isn't FATHERS, but the taxpayer that ensures kids abandoned by people like Lee don't starve, well: what would be the harm?

That is a different philosophy of government and civics than most Americans can accept -- and most definitely, a view of 'morality' that most Americans find literally obscene.

Try that theory on an experienced feminist sometime, Lee.

The angriest I ever got in an online debate was years ago, over a concept the guy called a 'financial abortion'. His idea was that since a woman can choose an abortion without the father's consent, then the father ought to be able to tell the mother: abort the child, or accept full financial responsibility for it -- cuz (he argued) you shouldn't be able to make the father pay if the father wanted the kid aborted but the mom chose to have it.

Lee would be a CARICATURE of the irresponsible, anti-religion, bigoted progressive -- except he's for real.

And that's OUR problem.

This isn't 'theology', Lee: it's history, and basic politics.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK


I never said that "marriage should be abolished." If people want to get married, that's their right. What is wrong with you?

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Lee on December 31, 2007 at 10:28 AM:

What is wrong with [tA] you?

tA loves him a strawman to beat up on between pompous bouts of all-caps asshattery. I pretty much just scroll past whatever he posts now, regardless as to whether or not other commenters say he's making sense.

He needs to talk to a psychiatrist...And no, I'm not kidding about that.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 31, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Clearly, not only planes get hijacked.

Posted by: Kenji on December 31, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm... Lee, perhaps you need to read your own posts:

"I never said that "marriage should be abolished."

"I disagree that marriage is necessary for society.... If no one ever got married in this country again, I honestly don't see how society would be very different from what it is now. People would live together and have children..."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK


Saying something isn't "necessary" doesn't mean it should be abolished. Heavy metal music isn't "necessary" but I don't think it should be abolished.

Where were you raised, in a barn?

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, missed part of it:

Lee: "I never said that "marriage should be abolished."

As it happens, Lee, I didn't say you said that. I noted "He wants to know why we shouldn't simply do away with marriage."

And here is what you DID say:

"I disagree that marriage is necessary for society.... If no one ever got married in this country again, I honestly don't see how society would be very different from what it is now. People would live together and have children..."

See how it works? You say what you mean. I point to what you say, and demonstrate that it's wrong. You can deny you said it, or change what I said about it so you can defend yourself against a charge I did not make, but fercrysakes, have the courage of your convictions. Chickenshit ain't chicken salad.

Do tell us, Grape, why basic literacy and candor in argument indicates a need for psychotherapy?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK


As it happened, I never suggested that we should "do away with marriage." And when you suggested I did, you implied that I believe marriage should be abolished. That's false.

You just proved Grape's point.

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

LOL -- you DO have a problem with literacy, don't you?

"He wants to know why we shouldn't simply do away with marriage..." accurately expresses your thinking, viz "I disagree that marriage is necessary for society.... If no one ever got married in this country again, I honestly don't see how society would be very different..."

This is cuz of the conditional "why we shouldn't...", which matches the 'not necessary, if' of your phrasing.

You falsely re-stated what I'd said, to change the meaning: I didn't "suggest" you proposed to abolish marriage. (If ya wanna get technical, I'm the one who raised that issue, noting way upthread that some suggest that marriage should be wholly privatized, and that some go so far as to urge that raising kids should more a responsibility of the people as a whole than individual fathers.)

LOL -- when I make "suggestions", folks know what they are, like: This gambit suggests you're stooopid or dishonest, Lee: perhaps both?

I'm not often aiming at subtlety here.

You changed "wants to know why we shouldn't" (my accurate characterization of what you said) to your true but misleading "never said 'marriage should be abolished'.

This is a pretty basic rhetorical trick, yanno, akin to the infamous 'bait and switch' that contracts are generally written to avoid.

Do you have see that you're doing it? You have a pretty broad problem with responsibility -- in this case, for your OWN words.

Me, I figure you're just stoooopid: like many progressives, as a hothouse flower in a cold and windy world, you're not used to folks who actually pay attention to what you say and call you on it. You're used to conversations where you can claim that you're not ignorant of religion, even as you demonstrate how little you know, "cuz it's all bullshit".

But, if you like, you can demonstrate your dishonesty and insist that you didn't actually say "I disagree that marriage is necessary for society.... If no one ever got married in this country again, I honestly don't see how society would be very different..."

OR even (extra bonus points for degree of mendacious difficulty) that this isn't accurately characterized as "wants to know why we shouldn't simply do away with marriage..."

So, which is it, Lee? Are you stoooopid or dishonest -- or both?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK


Get a life, shitface.

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

this is about religious beliefs: whether or not a person is gay, the only correct choice is abstention from sex (making the right choices) because sex outside marriage and sex with a person of the same gender are both sinful sex. this is simple: either you believe the characterization of extra-marital sex and gay sex as sinful, or you don't. the huckabees are free (in this great country of ours) to publicize their beliefs about this (and other things, certainly), just as gay people who disagree with the characterization. it is in the effort to "impose" one's view on the other where the potential problem lies: if the effort to "impose" seeks to involve the force of law, that is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution (which says that Congress and the States [14th amendment] shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, i.e., legislating any particular religious view); if the effort to "impose" limits itself to "moral suasion", there is no problem, other than that the targets of the effort are free to disagree, and we end up back where we started: free speech in the public square with the two sides "preaching" at each other.

Posted by: Mark In Irvine on December 31, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"The church doesn't teach that sex is allowed solely for procreation. Another purpose for sex is is love (ie., strengthening the emotional bonds of the couple). This is called the "unitive" aspect of sex. (the other being the "procreative" aspect of sex). Long story short, as long as the couple are open to having children (ie., they're not taking extraordinary means to "fight God's will" and prevent conception), lack of biological fitness to procreate is not a bar to marriage, or to sex within marriage. Apparently according to the RCC, homosexual sex or marriage falls outside of the creator's plan in a way that old geezer heterosexual sex/marriage does not."

Where the RCC fails (IMHO) is in elevating the procreative interest over the unitive interest: without the procreative possibility, there may be no unitive benefit. Ah, if only the real world operated the way the RCC wishes it would. As many commentators have noted, there are many people on earth for whom procreation is an impossibility. The RCC (and the religious moralizers) step across the line when they try to dictate to others how those others should live their personal lives. Fortunately, in this country (USA) the force of law may not be used to impose personal "morality"; otherwise we'd have a totalitarian theocracy. I appreciate the concept of striving to better oneself and the world, and that the RCC is in a sense reminding us of striving to achieve a greater good. But just as God gave each of us freedom of choice, shouldn't we respect that freedom in everyone, on the off chance that God's plan is "big" enough that some good just might come from the love that people (even non-procreative people) can give to each other? I don't personally accept the idea that God created us intending that reproduction was the only way we could serve him or our fellow man and woman.

Posted by: Mark In Irvine on December 31, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mark is mostly right -- the key is that this isn't about sin.

Like a lot of issues, framing is key: in the 70s, Republicans learned to condemn "racial preferences" because that made "Reagan Democrats" vote for Republicans. Progressives responded for nearly 20 years that they weren't racial preferences, it was 'affirmative action', not quotas, and we still need 'em cuz racism is alive and well, gee, look at the reaction to affirmative action -- and we lost damned near every time. The mere fact of the debate cost of us votes, all the way up to the Clinton slogan "mend it, don't end it" reframed it so that our message was NOT that Reagan Democrats were racists for objecting to "racial preferences".

Likewise with the "estate tax", which isn't something most people care about, but "death tax" moves votes. You can see another excellent example of framing with the current Republican counter on union organizing, that it's about "abolishing the secret ballot".

Framing counts -- it's not just political, it's a matter of integrity. That's why Lee has nothing to say beyond a puerile insult when he's called out what for what he DID say (and for attacking me, for what I did NOT say).

Huckabee is ultimately talking about responsibility. Who's against that? (Besides Lee, that is.)

So that's the place to put the sharp edge of the wedge, maybe along these lines: 'It is certainly true that we are all responsible for what we do with the gifts God gave us. He made some of us gay, the way he made some of us tall and others short. "Marriage" is a sacrament, really -- one of the few genuine exceptions to the separation of church and state because priests and ministers and rabbis and imams perform marriages that are recognized by the civil authorities as binding contracts. But couples also get married by justices of the peace in civil ceremonies, and sometimes there is no 'marriage', at all -- just a civil union between loving couples. It's not the religious ceremony, but the mutual RESPONSIBILITY that is properly the concern of government, the contract, the way stable, faithful relationships are the foundation of society, the structure in which children are nurtured and protected. Of course a same sex couple that makes that commitment as a contract, a civil union, will have the kind of health care, living will, power of attorney obligations as anyone else: that's just basic civics. Adoption and divorce laws are up to the states -- and no one should expect that Massaschusetts will have the same laws as Arkansas. But a contract regarding health care benefits is enforceable anywhere in America. We're ALL Americans -- so no religious denomination will ever be forced to accept as sacred that which they regard as sinful: cuz THAT's what freedom of religion means.'

How hard is that? (Unless, of course, you're Lee.)

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"The RCC (and the religious moralizers) step across the line when they try to dictate to others how those others should live their personal lives."

In other words, they step across the line when they try to dictate to others how and where to find and embrace their "unitive" possibilities and potential.

Posted by: Mark In Irvine on December 31, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Lee and Mattski, fuck off you trolls. Why don't you try graduating from junior high before you try to engage in a debate with adults.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 31, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus:

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know I needed the permission of the great Dr. Morpheus to participate in a public discussion. Thanks for making me aware of that.

Posted by: Lee on December 31, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

In Catholic theology, the great 20th century exemplar of all this stuff was the Jesuit JC Murray. He got into much trouble in the 50s because his thinking prefigured Vatican II, but then the council largely vindicated him regarding the separation of church and state, etc. But...

There IS arguably a slippery slope here, for want of a better metaphor to describe how one thing leads to another. Personally, I think it is a good thing that the emancipation (and education!) of women led to legalized divorce and the widespread use of contraception.

I'm not so sure that I'd find American abortion rates comparable to Japan's to be a good thing, though. (I don't like Japan's much, either, not that they ask me.) And I hope like hell Philip Dick wasn't a prophet.

But (having participated in a few) same sex unions, "sacred commitments" or whatever euphemism ya wanna call 'em, strike me as a good thing.


The classic Vatican view is that sexuality is not "bricolage", in Neuhaus's marvelous term: it's all one. So Mark is hitting the right nail in the right place -- in the dynamic between many unitive acts and (for even the most fertile of us) a very few procreative ones, the small # can't define the larger one. But there is NO human force to rival fertility. Ain't nothing got as much potential as a baby.

One curious, embedded bit of prejudice in the theology is how silent it is on lesbianism: MEN are condemned for 'lying with a man as with a woman' (Leviticus), but what goes on between women is at best an afterthought. Anthropologists think that's cuz 'every sperm is sacred' (which is TRULY odd, cuz nature certainly wastes 'em), while the truly precious (cuz rare) stuff from a biological perspective (women, eggs, and time) is all but ignored.

It's the nature of enforceable erotic responsibility that it tends to have a great impact on MEN, then on women. We simply have distinct biological strategies for passing our DNA unto the generations -- but only one (Bob Wright's book The Moral Animal) is good for civilization: responsibility.

I'm a big believer in the dual nature of liberty: it's the Spiderman theory, "with great power comes great responsibility". Of all people, it was a basketball coach who said the single most intelligent thing ever said about sexuality. When Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson was asked if he told his kids (after Magic Johnson announced he had HIV)to practice safe sex, he snapped: "Just TELL me how anything as powerful as sex could ever POSSIBLY be safe?"

That's why freedom requires responsibility.

The trouble is, religious institutions (as opposed to faith itself) are rarely leading indicators for human freedom OR responsibility. Again, Murray (who fought against legalized contraception) nailed it: 'All too often,' he wrote about the emancipation of women, of organized labor, even of the abolition of slavery, "the Church arrives at the battlefield with her great guns of moral force when the battle is already over.'

The struggle for gay rights isn't over. But the way to WIN it is clear -- it's Apple in Texas, not Lee.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

"One curious, embedded bit of prejudice in the theology is how silent it is on lesbianism: MEN are condemned for 'lying with a man as with a woman' (Leviticus), but what goes on between women is at best an afterthought."

That's because two women together is just too freaking HOT hot to condemn, even for the RCC!!


Posted by: Mark In Irvine on December 31, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I know somebody who collects refrigerator magnets, and has one with a Donna Reed/Betty Crocker couple in the kitchen: "Yes, we're lesbians. No, you can't watch."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 11:30 AM:

Do tell us, Grape, why basic literacy and candor in argument indicates a need for psychotherapy?

If practicing 'literacy and candor' were the only debating tactics you used while commenting here, I'd be less harsh in my assessment of you, tA.

Get some help, please. You'll feel happier once you deal with your issues.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 31, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- it never ceases to amaze me that when progressives are smacked for being stoooopid, they insist that ... well, it's Ah Q'ism, is what it is: "the method of spiritual victory."

Grape: Exhibit 127.

(I suppose it is irresistable to note that when you DO crush a grape... you get whine.)

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Lee would be a CARICATURE of the irresponsible, anti-religion, bigoted progressive -- except he's for real. And that's OUR problem.

theAmericanist: you're making the common mistake of thinking about political beliefs in terms of monolithic groups rather than a range of viewpoints that sometimes coincide. People like Lee shouldn't be your problem, or mine. Republicans use that type of "progressive" to smear everyone else who might happen to agree on issues such as universal health insurance, civil liberties, environmental regulations, and so on. And it works - that's why "liberal" became a dirty word suitable for negative ads, instead of standing for pluralism, individual liberty, and progress - things every real liberal should (and do) support.

It's possible to support individual progressive issues without committing yourself to other causes or ideas that you find distasteful. That's what allows ideological opposites like Barack Obama and Tom Coburn to work together on earmark reform, and we should be able to swallow our vomit and join Lee in supporting gay marriage while condemning his odd attitudes towards fidelity and his bigoted view of religion. But don't brand yourself as a "progressive" unless you actually want to be on the receiving end of right-wing smears. You'll also be on the receiving end of left-wing smears for not fully committing yourself to "the movement", as this thread amply demonstrates - which is also why I avoid calling myself a libertarian outright, because people always assume I'm some Ayn Rand fanatic who wants to end all welfare programs and leave poor folks to starve.

You're right on target about Apple in Texas. This is why some moderate Republicans - i.e. the ones in bed with big business but not the Christian Right - have fought against the horrendous gay marriage bans in some states. It'll take a few years, but I'm betting that residents of these states will eventually realize that persecuting homosexuals has economic costs that outweigh any satisfaction they derive from keeping the local queers down. It's going to be interesting watching the conflict between religious conservatism and free market principles, and it's a foregone conclusion that the latter will win.

Posted by: Nat on December 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well -- at some point it's just semantics, but I've always sorta liked "progressive" more than "liberal" (probably cuz it's derived from a verb), and so far, invoking Theodore Roosevelt's memory is still pretty solid even with folks for whom FDR is problematic.

I get pretty weirded out by folks who care more about the label, anyway. I had a prominent Republican shout to me down a hallway that he was a "classic liberal!", literally the day before he did a 180 on a major issue in a national election. So I have some reason to think "liberal" is hollowed out.

What I find intriguing about a guy like Lee around here is that unlike other, often more foolish folks, others DID call him on his nonsense. LOL -- I guess saying "America is evil" doesn't move folks as much as "why, of course you can cheat on your spouse, d'uh!"

(Note to Paul Glastris: Remember when we talked about this when you had that ghostwriting job? There was a moment in the Lewinsky mess when Clinton very nearly had to resign, if only because every single married Senator was confronted by his wife: so, SHE had sex but HE didn't? You telling me YOU buy that?)

I don't read too much into how folks react to ME here; tA is an asshole on purpose. But I do find it interesting what folks let slide --it's the old line "always concede on principle". We don't do that enough.

Maybe Republicans (if not conservatives) are just temperamentally more disciplined than Democrats (including liberals and progressives) -- but I don't see the knuckleheads forcing issues framed in a loser way from the right, like gays in the military or the Massachusetts same sex marriage case did from the left. We tend to insist that losing is a matter of principle -- the Ah Q thing -- instead of, yanno, WINNING.

I think Lee is part of that (Corpus is not). You're right -- progressives ought to be much more Apple in Texas and less Lee about it. But I wouldn't worry about dissing the guy -- that, too, is a political technique: where's he gonna go?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist on December 31, 2007 at 4:38 PM:

Grape: Exhibit 127.

Exhibit of what? You've gone from bonkers to downright insane, tA.

I suppose it is irresistable to note that when you DO crush a grape... you get whine.

That's quite the demonstration of what you consider wit, tA...Your combination of imagination and originality should be celebrated...it's like I've never had anything remotely like that written ever before!

...and the above is sarcasm. I feel that I need to tell you that explicitly in case you choose to misread it, tA, as is your habit.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 31, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

I have enjoyed this round of Internet discourse. After 125 posts, I find myself in general agreement with tA on many points, and in disagreement on others. Why tA feels the need to be an "insult" philosopher is beyond me. His ideas in this thread have been unusually sound even if his knowledge of 1st century Jewish/Christian history is Google deep.

In any event insulting your opponent is never a smart. I know I insult people around here, but nobody ever said I was smart. I expect more of tA.

It is nice to know that this group can go a little deeper than mere snark. Sadly it hasn't gone deeply enough. Maybe I should start reading Washington Monthly in addition to Political Animal.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 31, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

I believe being gay or straight all depends on astrology.

If one is born under the sign of Virgo, or Libra, or Leo, or Aries, or Capricorn, or Pisces, or Aquarius, or Cancer, or Taurus, or Gemini, or Scorpio, or Sagittarius, might be gay.

On the other hand, those born under the sign of Virgo, or Libra, or Leo, or Aries, or Capricorn, or Pisces, or Aquarius, or Cancer, or Taurus, or Gemini, or Scorpio, or Sagittarius, might be straight.

It's all in the stars, baby, all in the stars.

Posted by: The Oracle on December 31, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't read too much into how folks react to ME here

Your posts continually demonstrate that you can't approach a single conversation, issue or perspective without making it all about you. Only when someone calls you on it do you nervously start the risible "it's not about me" crap. Grape and everyone else (hundreds now, isn't it, here, elsewhere online and in what passes for your real life?) noting your extreme emotional instability is right. You've got big problems--tangibly worsening problems--and blaming the messenger doesn't quite cut it when everyone in your life is bringing the same message.

tA is an asshole on purpose.

Yes, that's the story you came up with only a couple of months ago and are now sticking to like glue when your particular brand of crazy is remarked upon. As I have pointed out before, tA is exactly the same way on this blog, all over the internet and most everywhere he goes out in the world. He is this way because he simply doesn't know any other way to be. And thus the widening trail of professional and personal wreckage in his wake.

They're giving away fresh starts today. You really don't have to be this fucked up and patently miserable, tA.

Posted by: shortstop on January 1, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

The moral test, the one that matters, is 'have you effectively balanced your selfish impulses against the interests of your family (spouse & children)?'

I think there is virtual unanimity here that having children creates a moral obligation to raise those children as much as possible in a loving and healthy environment. I didn't read Lee's remarks as inconsistent with that idea. I read Lee as saying, essentially, it's nice to promise someone that you'll never have sex with anyone else but it isn't, on the whole, realistic. Therefore the onus of breaching that agreement is necessarily weaker than for other, more realistic agreements (such as most commercial agreements, for example.)

I think the reason infidelity is widely considered more of a moral failing than divorce is related both to the perception, perhaps valid, that infidelity is--more often than divorce--not a mutual decision, but rather unilateral and secretive. But also, there is the cultural tendency, with Christianity a huge influence, of regarding sexual behaviors as uniquely shameful.

But clearly all cases of infidelity are not alike in their consequences or their origins. When infidelity clearly leads to adverse child-rearing then it may indeed merit the opprobrium of society. But in most cases, I imagine, it is a private matter where the moral questions involve 2 or 3 individuals and no one else.

tA is an asshole on purpose.

Because you thought that would be a good way to teach us what RESPECT was all about.

Posted by: mattski on January 1, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK


Why exactly am I bigoted against religion? I stated that I think religion is bullshit. I can understand how that would offend many people, but how does it make me a bigot any more than if I said I believe the arguments against abortion are bullshit? I have nothing against people who are religious, I just happen to think religion is nonsense. If someone thinks something I believe is nonsense or bullshit, I don't think they're bigoted against me.

And even if what I said about fidelity is "odd," that doesn't mean it isn't true--it just means that it isn't what most people believe (or say they believe) in our place and time. 150 years ago, someone who said that blacks are the equals of whites would have had "odd" views on race--odd, but also correct! And I'm not sure that what I said is as odd as you believe. Perhaps many other people feel the same way--given the high rate of infidelity--but just don't openly say it for fear of disapproval. In most polls, about 10 percent of Americans questioned say that infidelity is wrong "only sometimes" or not wrong at all. That percentage is about the same as the percentage of African-Americans in the U.S. population.


Yes, I never said that children shouldn't be cared for. People do have a responsibility to take care of children when they have them. My point about promises was that I don't think they can be considered binding if they involve doing something immoral or if they proscribe what I consider fundamental personal freedoms. Consensual sex falls under the second category, in my opinion. Another example would be if a child promised to go into their parents' business after graduating from college. People have a right to choose the career they want, so this is not a promise that would have to be kept.

Posted by: Lee on January 1, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK



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