Showing posts with label gay marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay marriage. Show all posts

Monday, July 29, 2013

Keepin' It Secular (A Debate On Gay Marriage)

The other week I had a debate with a Christian over that onerous issue of gay marriage. He's a guy I've come to know through several philosophy and debate group meetups. Although he's a pretty conservative Christian of the Calvinist strip, he's actually a decent guy and I enjoy conversing and debating with him. We are always able to set aside our differences and engage each other with mutual respect even after long heated discussions. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Last month he had challenged me on gay marriage at a debate meetup. He's against it, I'm for it. Then last week, at a philosophy discussion meetup I challenged him again on it. I wanted to get to the root at what his justifications are for beings against it are. Here's what argument ultimately boils down to:

  1. Gay sex doesn't lead to the procreation of the species, therefore
  2. it is unnatural.
  3. Because gay sex is unnatural, gay marriage should not be recognized by law.

This is a common argument that many opponents are giving against gay marriage because they can try to appeal here to nature and not to their Bible. So let's break down this argument as I did during our debate on it. 

First, I made an objection to his definition of unnatural as relating to procreation with the fact that oral sex and anal sex doesn't lead to procreation, and yet it is recognized by law. He supports the right for sinful sex acts to be performed among consenting adults, but says that gay marriage is different because marriage by definition is between a man and a woman. He get's this definition from somewhere in the Bible.

So I objected with the fact that the Bible allows incest, polygamy and child brides. He said, as pretty much all Christians do, that god tolerated those things but didn't approve of them. But after debating him on the fact that the Bible does endorse those things, not just tolerate them, I said to him that we live in a secular democracy, and that there is no reason why in a secular country, we should use a Biblical definition of marriage (even though it is disputed that the Bible only endorses a one man + one woman combination). He insisted that it's part of nature that homosexuality is a mutation and is therefore unnatural. So I probed this further.

I argued that if homosexuality is a mutation, a deviation from the natural order, it is still natural. Natural means "of nature" and since gay people are born the way they are, homosexuality is natural and even found in animal species. He said this was controversial, but even if true, still wouldn't warrant the rights of gay people to marry. He also has concocted this theory that as gay people gain more power, they will teach people to be homosexual in the hopes of one day turning everyone gay. Now this absurd theory - if we can even call it a theory - diminishes his credibility enormously on his stance against gay marriage because it exposes what may be behind his real motivations.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Homosexuality: The End Of Christianity?

I was reading an interesting article a while back that argued that the recent precipitous decline in religiosity in the US and of people affirming faith in Christianity is not due to the arguments of New Atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, but rather is due to the rapid increase in public acceptance of homosexuality and same sex marriage.

The argument goes like this: as more and more Americans embrace a tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, they find themselves increasingly at odds with the church, and as churches across the country refuse to progress and accept a more tolerant approach on homosexuality, this is causing a rapid falling out with the church, especially amongst younger people. It seems plausible. Since 81 percent of Americans under 30 support same sex marriage, why would a young person want to sit in a church and spend time listening to a pastor or a priest lecture them on the evils of homosexuality, abortion and other hot button issues that even the majority of Americans as a whole support?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Reason Matters In The Gay Marriage Debate

Why do secularists feel so passionately about the use of reason when it comes to making informed moral decisions? Because our moral values and laws should be based on the most informed, most pragmatic, most practical and rational, and the most scientific and evidence based reasons that are humanly available. They should never be solely based on what has traditionally been done or believed, or what a certain book believed to be divinely inspired says, or be based on some strict ideology exempt from criticism and reform.

The Supreme Court of the United States is taking up the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the role of states and the federal government on gay marriage. It is amazing how fast public opinion has changed on the gay marriage issue. The issue first confronted me back in the summer of 2004 when president George W. Bush was running for reelection and it was the hot button social issue. At first I wasn't sure about it. It seemed kind of weird to me. But this was only because I had not really thought about it at all prior to that time and I was making a judgement purely on my emotional reaction to it. Over the years I warmed up to the issue of gay marriage as I became more educated on the matter and of sexuality in general.

I just recently saw a debate between Pastor Doug Wilson and columnist Andrew Sullivan entitled "Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?" Andrew makes a very emotional opening speech and Pastor Wilson essentially makes the slippery slope argument basically saying that if we allow gays to marry today, Muslim polygamists are going to demand to be able to marry 4 wives tomorrow.

Although there is no evidence that this is the case at all, the main rebuttal Andrew presents is that polygamy is not a state, it's not an orientation, same sex attraction is. Polygamy is therefore a preference, it's not a sexual orientation; no one is born needing 2 or 3 wives. A man may wish to have more than 1 wife, many men do, but a polygamist gets to have at least 1 spouse where as a homosexual would not be allowed to have one if current discrimination continues. That's the meaning of equality: gay people just want to be equal to their heterosexual counterparts. And finally, if a man can have 4,5,10,20,or 50 wives, it upsets the male to female balance ratio making it harder for other men to find wives.

There are still a great many number of religious conservatives who believe that homosexuality is a choice, like the way going to Baskin-Robbins and picking out an ice cream flavor is a choice. They think all gay people are really just straight people who are just tempted by sin. Their ill-informed religious worldview just won't allow them to accept that gay people are born the way they are, and so they'll say things like, "There is no gay gene!", and "There are ex-gay people who have been made straight by the power of the lord!" And of course I naturally have to laugh in response to such confident nonsense. Even if there isn't a gay gene, to anyone educated, sexuality is obviously a complex arrangement of hormonal influences in the womb and neuro-physiological development of the brain.

But while on the slippery slope argument anti-gay marriage proponents seem to love making, let me address a few of them briefly.

Pedophilia - underage children are not old and mature enough to make the kind of important decisions like consenting to a marriage requires. In cultures where children are allowed to marry, it is often their parents that arrange it for them whereby the child has no say in the matter. Consent requires a person of legal age and most scientific research deems that age somewhere around 16-18 for most people. The same goes for sex with children. Pedophilia harms children and takes advantage of them, that's why young children are not able to consent to sex.

Bestiality - animals also cannot consent to marriages and are also in the same class of vulnerability as children are when it comes to sex. Marriage allows such things as the power of attorney amongst spouses and that role cannot be fulfilled by an animal. Can you imagine a lawyer having to deal with a horse or a dog when dealing with a divorce or its spouse's death? There needs to be a human recipient who can give a civil consent in such legal matters. A human being can own an animal, but there is simply no need for them to be married to the animal since all the legal benefits of marriage have no practical application between species.

Think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic. That's the definition of reason. It is very hard to make the case against gay marriage if you cannot appeal to religion. But in a secular democracy like ours we champion individual liberty, equality and freedom of the will so long as it doesn't hurt anybody. Gay marriage harms no one, and the slippery slope arguments made by dissenters are unfounded and fallacious.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catholic Sex Scandal

I haven't written at all about the Pope's decision to resign because I really don't care about it. But when the news came out of his resignation, it was accompanied by yet another sex scandal perpetrated by priests. I'd like to add a few thoughts on the subject of why so many priests seem to be entangled in sex scandals involving young boys. To me, the obvious reason why is because priests are forced to take a vow of celibacy. It is not natural for a human being to be able to suppress their sexual desire because we are all to one degree or another, sexual beings. Sexual desire in Christianity has been likened to an addictive craving for gambling or sweet foods, but science tells us that that is not exactly the case. Sexual desire is not some addiction, it is natures way of ensuring the survival of the species by making it want to reproduce. When suppressed it can deviate in peculiar ways.

Now I don't think that taking a vow of celibacy makes one a homosexual pedophile, rather, the desire for male children in most cases already exists in people who become priests. What better place is there to hide such desires than in the priesthood? Priests are not expected to marry and engage in sexual relations with adult women, so a man who's attracted to boys can hide under the cloth and be free from societal pressure to marry and be attracted to women. The same is also true for regular homosexuality and that's why the priesthood is a haven for repressed homosexuals in desperate need to hide their sexuality. 

The best thing the Catholic Church can do to alleviate the problem of homosexuality and pederasty in the priesthood is to change back the rules for priests and allow them to marry and have sex as Protestant denominations do. Or better yet, allow priests to be openly gay while serving their church and god so that the "issue" of homosexuality is no longer an issue. The pederasty however can not be allowed for obvious moral reasons, but allowing consenting adult homosexuality and priests to marry would be an obvious starting point. Now I feel that most Christian denominations will eventually come around to accepting homosexuality, it's only a matter of time. And when they eventually do, since Christianity frowns upon all sexual relations outside of marriage, many will actually take the position that gay sex is only right within marriage and do 180 degree about-face on their current stance on gay marriage!

The Differing Moral Concerns Of Liberals & Conservatives

Now I'm not a professional demographer, but I sometimes like to reflect upon the differences between what liberals and conservatives think are the most important issues facing us today. Liberals generally care about equal civil rights, the environment, economic inequality, healthcare, corporate special interest in government, reproductive rights, and gun control. For conservatives, it's issues like immigration, the deficit, secularization, religious liberty, abortion, traditional marriage, big government and the overreaching of government power, terrorism, gun rights, and taxes.

I'm a pretty liberal guy on most social issues and I happen to fall in line with most of my fellow non-believers when it comes to politics. But some of the social issues that I am most concerned about, like corporate special interest in government and economic inequality, are not shared by most conservatives - who also tend to be the most religious Americans. And I've wondered, "Why is that?" Why aren't conservative Christians more motivated by the fact that most of our politicians are in the pockets of the richest banks and corporations, who are using their power and influence to make it so that they can continue to profit at the expense of the American worker and the environment? Why are conservative Christians up in arms over the idea of two men or two women marrying each other, while the ever increasing big money influence in politics barely passes their radar? If Jesus were alive today, I believe he'd be just as angry as I am about the role of big money in government.

I strongly believe that the preoccupation of conservatives on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, is helping to allow big business to take over government. Why? Because it allows a political party like the republicans to pounce on these social issues by offering candidates that capitalize on them, all while they give into big business' agenda, and economically screw over the very people who voted them into office. So while conservatives are protesting over Tom and John getting married, their senators and representatives are busy crafting economic policies that allows big business to get even more rich in such ways that very little of that wealth trickles down into the middle class. This to me is one of the greatest moral abomination of our day that very few conservatives notice, and it's tragic.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Multiculturalism And The Failures Of Moral Relativism

"Should we tolerate the intolerant?" someone asks.

"No," I reply.

"Our toleration of others should only go so far as it is being reciprocated. This would mean for example that the Islamic extremest who wants to destroy our values and restrict our freedoms should not at all be tolerated. He should be opposed and if necessary, destroyed."

Multiculturalism forces us to address these kind of issues. There are an increasing number of critics of multiculturalism that say it's a failure, especially in many European countries like France, England and Germany. I agree with at least some of this criticism because although I'm a "liberal" on most issues, the bleeding heart tolerance and political correctness of those on the far left asks us to sacrifice our principles because it might offend Muslims when they immigrate to the West. This is because people on the far left are total moral relativists. They've been brainwashed by political correction into thinking all moral values and cultures are equally valid and no better or worse than any other. So the Muslim countries that are now executing homosexuals are no better or worse than ours, they're just different. "Who are we to judge their morals?" says the relativist. "Who are we to impose our morals on theirs? Their morals are just different."

The problems of multiculturalism are exacerbated by the problems of total moral relativism and nihilism, and this is why multiculturalism has failed in the West. I've spoken to a lot of liberals who support such things as gender equality and gay rights, while also supporting intolerant Muslims who stand against nearly everything the liberals hold dear. Even moderate Muslims tend to be against homosexuality and gay rights in larger numbers. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 0% of UK Muslims found homosexuality morally acceptable, compared to 58% of the general UK population. The same poll found that the numbers from other European countries were not as extreme but mirrored similar trends that showed support amongst Muslims for homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and pornography to be much lower than the general populace.

Given these facts, what is the future of multiculturalism if attitudes don't change? We can expect to see a growing minority of people whose values are at odds with the culture they are surrounded by. This can only spell long term trouble. Countries should therefore be in the business of assimilating immigrants to embrace tolerance, or they should be stopping or limiting immigration based on how tolerant potential immigrants are. It is my view, that immigration should be based in part on how well one can assimilate to the culture. The growing problem of the Islamification of Europe only highlights this problem. The solution to this problem, as I prescribe, is to embrace the kind of ethical realism and naturalism that I subscribe to and reject the relativism and nihilism that leads to these kind of problems produced by multiculturalism. Theists know how to do this but their divine command theory of ethics is wrong on epistemology and ontology. They base their ethics on ancient scribes, not in the unconstrained use of science and reason.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Slow Death Of The Republican Party

Society's moral progress is going to diminish the republican party to obsolescence. I am a political junkie and have been for years and it is often humorous when the republicans are parodied in their ridiculous attempts to modernize their brand. They are losing the debate over abortion, gay marriage, healthcare, taxes, guns, how to fix the deficit, and immigration to name a few. The conservative ethics they fancy just don't appeal to enough young people anymore and their base is made up of aging old white people living in rural and suburban communities.

They know they have to compromise on these issues if they want to remain relevant in the next few decades. It will be interesting to see how exactly they do that, especially with their core conservative principles on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. I really wish that moderate republicans would break free from the party and become independents or libertarians or some other party and leave the extreme right conservative republicans alone to wither away. It'd be interesting to have a 3 party system in the US if this happened.

I think eventually most conservatives will evolve towards the left on social issues but remain conservative on government spending and taxes like libertarians are. The irony is that republicans have a dismal record on fiscal conservatism during their last few administrations in the White House.

I'm happy the country is moving to the left and I look forward to the day when the South and Midwest are as liberal as New England is. I'd still like people to keep their traditional ways however in that I don't want everyone talking and acting like a North East intellectual, just more to the left on social issues.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election Results 2012

Yesterday I made my way over to my local voting center and I voted for Barack Obama as I did in 2008. I spent the night watching the news results closely to see who won, just as I did in 2008 as well. Of course I am thrilled that Barack Obama was reelected president but there were also several other notable state ballot measures concerning marijuana legalization and gay marriage.

  • Maine and Maryland approved gay marriage initiatives, the first time gay marriage has been approved at the state level with a popular vote. Washington state appears to be doing the same with its referendum.
  • Marijuana legalization passed in Colorado and Washington state with ballot initiatives.
Since I both agree with the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage I am quite happy with the results. The fact that gay marriage and marijuana legalization are winning popular votes in states, (something we never saw before), is further indication of the liberal trend towards more reasonable morality. 

If you look at the younger generation today, which would be those under 35, there is a clear consensus of support for both of these issues. Some might argue that it is due to an indoctrination of the public school systems with liberal professors, but others like me believe that as we learn more about human nature from science and the consequences of our actions, it logically concludes that those who are born gay are given equal rights to marry who they choose, and that our war on drugs has been an abysmal failure in need of policy change.

I look forward to the day where I see a United States more consistent with the values I hold. It is only a matter of time before this happens. The older, conservative beliefs of the past are going to die out as quickly as the aging people who hold them. I must say that this moral evolution does not mean to indicate that morality changes with each generation, but rather that we are evolving towards a better moral code, more compatible with the latest scientific understanding of our world. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Secularism?

Debating with theists recently regarding opposing conceptions of government has lead me to ask the question: Why secularism? In other words, why do I believe in a secular government? Is secularism a religion unto itself? And is a secular government unfair to those who oppose it?

Secularism is defined as "the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element." Phrases like "the separation of church and state" are often evoked. Secularism is necessary in order to prevent laws from being passed that are based not on reason and science, but from a religious customs, traditions, rules and scripture. It it the absolutism of morality guided by revelation that I have such abhorrence for.

The idea is very simple: in a pluralistic society like the U.S., where many faiths are practiced, secularism becomes necessary to prevent laws from being passed and enforced onto people that are based on another person's religion. Most of us would not want to be forced to live under the rules of a religion that we do not hold, such as Islamic Sharia. Many people who are of a particular faith also do not want their religion's rules legislated onto them because they feel that many of their religion's obligations are a matter of personal observation. This is why secularism has been so successful in the West and continues to spread around the world.

As an atheist, I want to live in a society whose laws are rational and just, and based on reason and science. Religious laws sometimes enforce conduct that when examined through the light of reason and science, make little to no sense. For example, Jews and Muslims are forbidden to eat pork. Why? Because god says so. Now imagine a law forbidding pork from being served, regardless of whether you are a Jew, Muslim or not. "Because god says so" is not a justifiable way for a law to be passed, for reasons rather obvious to the atheist and theist alike. This also gets you into the problem of just whose god will it be whose commandments get inscribed into law. You will either have to have a national religion or some sort of religious partitioning that will usually lead to prolonged conflict. To prevent all of this, separating religion from government seems to be the obvious solution.

But the argument is far from over. Let's look at some issues made by some of those critical of secularism. Some claim that secularism is itself a religion, and that a secular government is merely one that has secularism as its state religion. It is certainly possible to define religion many ways. If religion is defined as to not include a deity, but to simply represent a system of beliefs, such as a political ideology, then one could twist out an argument that makes secularism look like an imposing force like so many theocracies today and of years past. The problem here, is that if you dilute the definition of religion to include any set of beliefs, then every belief could be come a religion. In other words, being a democrat or a republican can be your religion. Being a socialist or a capitalist can be your religion. So then under this diluted definition of religion, wouldn't our capitalist economy actually be a religion being imposed on every American, regardless of whether they agreed with it or not? All governments have to impose some system of rules and beliefs onto their citizens. It is just simply impossible to have a system so free that no one has anything ever imposed on them. That would lead to anarchy.

Now what about the person who opposes secularism? Are they being treated in a similar manner to how an atheist would be treated in a theocracy? In a theocracy, the atheist will have to be subjected to religious laws, at home and within the workplace. What they eat, who they can have sex with, how they can dress, whether they can drive or not, might be affected. They might have part of their income taken and given to the state religion, they might face penalties for not observing religious duties that could include jail time. They might not be able to speak out and criticize the state religion or the religion's leaders, with penalties ranging from fines to death. It might also be illegal to influence others with another religion or political ideology with similar penalties. A theocracy can force the believer and non believer alike to live as close as possible to the religion's rules, and this may include violations of some of the most basic of human rights.

Under modern secularism, those who wish to observe their religions can do so freely, so long as it does not violate common sense laws based on reason and science. So for example, if your religion allows the forced marriage of underage girls to older men, if it allows honor killing, or if it prevents various justified civil liberties, then the secular government will have to step in to prevent this. This is no more of a violation of one's religious freedom as it is a protection of other's rights. If your religion does not recognize these civil rights, let me remind you that all Abrahamic religions condone various forms of human slavery. So the emancipation of slaves in the American south under this argument would technically qualify as a secular government limiting the "rights" of slave holders to continue their practice of slavery. The moral problem we see when faced with religion is that as the forces of modernity, precipitated by morality guided by a deeper scientific understanding of reality, clashes with Iron Age ideas, we are increasingly seeing hostility in a culture war where the battle lines are drawn in our classrooms and bedrooms.

Freedom gives you choice; it gives you options. If you don't like gay marriage, don't have one; if you don't like abortion, don't have one; if you don't like eating broccoli, don't eat it; but do not prevent others from doing so. And if you are against any morality based on reason and science because it violates your religion, then mount an argument based on science and reason against it without appeal to scripture. Revelation just doesn't cut it as a valid argument.

Finally, I want to add that it is certainly possible that a secularist can become so fundamental that they begin acting like the theocrats in various oppressive regimes. When secularists start acting like adamant communists in their treatment of religious freedom, I oppose them as I would the theocratist. Freedom of conscious is fundamental and must remain so. So I guess therefore what I am really against is any system that stifles freedom, whether it be theocratic or secular. Modern liberal secular democracies offer us the best hope for a free society, with the most justified laws, based not on Iron Age "revelations" when human knowledge of the world was in its infancy, but by using the powers of science and reason. It is because of this that I regard secularism as the best political system.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

President Obama Endorses Gay Marriage

I just realized how little I have blogged about the current presidential election. I am one who follows politics: Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report is standard viewing for me. President Barak Obama yesterday has "came out" and endorsed gay marriage. This is truly a historic and unprecedented event. Never has a sitting president endorsed gay marriage before and I support his boldness during an election all the way. Now I have already written about my support for gay marriage without hesitation before, and for me it is a non-issue. But the issue of marriage itself is something in the back of my brain right now, and just briefly, I'd like to make it front and center.

I do not want to dwell on the gay marriage debate right now, but as I near my 30th birthday, like all  people who have not yet tied the knot, I feel the mounting societal pressure to marry and marry fast. I am very open and honest with my family and friends about my disdain for marriage. I do not, ever, want to get married. I dislike being legally bound to another human being. I do not want to see, or be near, the same person everyday, for the rest of my life. The mere idea of it, nauseates me. That being said, I fully recognize the rights of others to do so. The legal benefits of marriage, as well as the bond that is shared by two people, truly in love and committed to one another, is a wonderful concept--that I will most likely never experience.

I like to joke when asked on my views on gay marriage, that I am against straight marriage. It's true, because technically I am against all marriage in general. I never enter into a relationship believing it is going to last a lifetime. I usually imagine that I will be lucky to make it passed the 6 month mark. And dating today is perhaps as complicated as ever. We use other other people as means to our ends, and we don't even care anymore. I'm not particularly romantic, and I am a bit ashamed about the lack of real serious and deep committed relationships in my life. Perhaps I was never given the right opportunity, and if I had I would be happily married right now for several years. But, I've never even come close to getting married with anyone I've ever dated. I perhaps could have gone down that road with a few girls I dated, if I didn't loose interest in them.

And that's my problem. I get bored way too easy. Like tiring from an album that is overplayed, I crave newness, I crave the novelty. There is nothing like the feeling of starting a new relationship before getting to know someone's disgusting personal habits and traits. Usually, the more I get to know someone, the less and less I like them. Occasionally I stay intrigued, but all that does is simply prolong the inevitable incuriosity.

I would never deny the right of someone else to marry another consenting adult, but similar to president Obama's public struggle with gay marriage, I have struggled privately with marriage in general. Recently I have heard of a new marriage idea, where you enter into a temporary marriage that must be renewed every few years, much like a cell phone contract. If I ever did get married, I could see myself getting married in this way. So, maybe there is hope for me yet. Although, the idea that marriage should be the inevitable goal for all human beings, repulses me due to my natural inclination against it. Connecting with someone intellectually, and sexually, even if it does not last til death does us apart, is my preferred goal.

I love Bill Maher for having the same basic feelings that I do on marriage. He's in his 50s and still dating, and that's how I would love to be. So, to rap things up, I'm pro gay/straight marriage for others, but for me personally, it's not my thing. If only other people were able to sometimes divorce themselves from their extreme or bigoted personal views on moral issues with their attitudes towards it publicly, like I do, the world would be a slightly better place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Gay Marriage

Well, for those of you who read my blog about regular marriage, I just thought about gay marriage. I have nothing against it if they want to be married. I know that the argument against it is largely coming from religion in the old testament where God mentions his disdain for fags. Well like I've said before, if your going to take it literal then why aren't the christians taking the burning or adulterers literal or the stoning of girls who had sex before marriage? Why? Because christians are some of the biggest hippocrates in the word that's why.

Now if your against gay marriage for other reasons like the Qu'ran or Torrah you fall into the same category as the chrstians. If you're against gay marriage for other personal reasons like you think that it is scientifically unnatural, then we can talk because animals do engage in gay sex, and gay people are born gay, that is the definition of natural. They aren't created in a laboratory. That would be unnatural. If being gay was indeed a choice I'd be totally against gay marriage, but it is not and it is natural. Here is my definition of what marriage should be in terms of the parties involved: Marriage should be between two consenting adults, period. No animals, no groups of 3, 4, or 5 or more, just two consenting adults.


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