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  • The Marriage Equality Thread

    Prompted by a discussion on JMS' Facebook page and other discussions I've had recently. Reminder before we begin to be passionate but polite. If you wouldn't say it to your boss at work, don't post it here.

    First off, JMS' post:
    Originally posted by Fans of J. Michael Straczynski
    The interesting thing about watching the debate about same-sex marriage, especially the declaration by many that marriage has always been a Christian family tradition, is that so many of these folks seem not to have an actual grasp of church history.

    Leaving aside for a moment the fact that same-sex marriages were routinely conducted by the Catholic Church for nearly three hundred years, from the 10th to the 12th centuries under what was variously termed “the Office of Same-Sex Union” or the “Order for Uniting Two Men,” what’s more compelling is what the Church felt about marriage between a man and woman for the first nine hundred years of its existence.

    Basically, they were against it. Marriage created issues of property that could potentially be inherited by offspring rather than granted to the church or seized by lords in the absence of an heir. Marriage was considered by many of Christendom’s brightest lights to be something vile and repugnant. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (160-225 AD), one of the most regarded Christian writers of his age, often derided marriage, saying that it “consists essentially in fornication.” Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, the Bishop of Carthage, believed that marriage and childbirth was no longer necessary since the world was now full and ready for Christ’s return.

    Consequently, for over eight hundred years the Church refused to have anything to do with marriage. It refused to allow marriages to take place on church grounds and prohibited members of the clergy from taking part in marriage ceremonies outside church grounds. They were to be performed strictly according to local customs without Church recognition, sanction or involvement.

    It was only during the late 9th century that the Catholic Church, under pressure from followers, finally began to recognize marriage as a sacrament to be included in the list of other church rituals. But even then, it was considered a second-rate “lesser sacrament,” a poor cousin to the other, more important sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Orders. It wasn’t until the Council of Trent in 1547 that marriage was finally accorded equal status with the other sacraments. (Ironically, many of the arguments raised at Trent against including marriage with the other sacraments were similar to the arguments being made against same-sex marriage today.)

    So the next time you hear someone talking about marriage between a man and woman being a Christian tradition, after you mention the same-sex marriages of the 10th-12 centuries, remind them that conventional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, was derided, ignored, prohibited, diminished or dismissed by the church for ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN YEARS.

    Then sit back and enjoy the ruffled-feather symphony, knowing that history and the facts are on your side.
    One item that does seem to back up what JMS said can be found here: http://www.ashe-prem.org/five/duffy.shtml I haven't done any checking as to how accurate or not it might be.

    For my part, I'm 100% in favor of any people of legal age getting married if they choose. As long as the government conveys rights, privileges and obligations based on marital status, it should be available to all.

    Some part of the debate stems from the fact that various churches have a rite or sacrament called marriage, too. The thing is, though, that the state gets first dibs because you can get legally married without any of those religious ceremonies but you're not legally married without the license from the state. Right or wrong, like it or not, that's how things are.

    As for the whole 'sin' thing, my life is very, very simple with only *one* sin: hurting another (usually a person) unnecessarily. So for me, the sin is in preventing consenting parties to marry. Most of the rest of the discussion is window dressing and jumping up and down.

    Jan
    Last edited by Jan; 05-12-2012, 06:28 AM.
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

  • #2
    Agh, I tried to shate Joe's status and my browser won't let me! It's so long in the pop-up screen that it goes off-monitor and I can't scroll down to the "share" button. Gotta get my iPad. Or get the university to upgrade past IE7.
    "It's hard being an evil genius when everybody else is so stupid." -- Quantum Crook, Casey and Andy Webcomic

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    • #3
      Jan, you are the Anlashok of Moderators, for starting such a topic. I hope your Denn'Bok is at the ready.


      Ok, let's forget all the cultural baggage for a bit.
      Marriage serves two ecologically critical purposes:
      Everything else is fluffery.

      From a "morality" point of view, there is no functional difference between a childless "married" heterosexual couple and a childless gay couple. I have yet to hear any politician point this out, and demand a ban on such heterosexual "unions". Idealized "morality" based marriage conventions forbid divorce, and extramarital fornication/sex.

      My personal solution to this faux dilemna is to formalize "civil unions" not as an inferior legal construct restricted to one minority group, but as something for both straights and gays:
      • If it's your first union, and it's intended to be for life, and is exclusive, then it can be designated a "marriage".
      • If it's a second/third/etc, or it's a "we don't know how long", or it's "open", then it's a "civil union".

      Young people make mistakes, so I'd be cool with a once only annulment (with tight restrictions).

      Ideally, bring that in, and do not grandfather divorcees.
      Even more ideally, make marital infidelity a misdeameanor. As a bonus, make it one that excludes one from running for any federal political office. By-bye Newt.

      Personally, of the gay couples I've met, the overwhelming majority have been better than average parents and people. I'm sure they'll gradually "catch down" with straights, in a few generations.
      Last edited by Chipmunk; 05-12-2012, 09:45 AM.
      It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated...
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Chipmunk View Post
        Jan, you are the Anlashok of Moderators, for starting such a topic. I hope your Denn'Bok is at the ready.
        Oh, I have faith in folks here. We've had some really cool conversations about hot-button topics before.

        My personal solution to this faux dilemna is to formalize "civil unions" not as an inferior legal construct restricted to one minority group, but as something for both straights and gays:
        • If it's your first union, and it's intended to be for life, and is exclusive, then it can be designated a "marriage".
        • If it's a second/third/etc, or it's a "we don't know how long", or it's "open", then it's a "civil union".

        Young people make mistakes, so I'd be cool with a once only annulment (with tight restrictions).

        Ideally, bring that in, and do not grandfather divorcees.
        Even more ideally, make marital infidelity a misdeameanor. As a bonus, make it one that excludes one from running for any federal political office. By-bye Newt.
        Why the two designations? If the two forms bestow the same rights and responsibilities, why make any differentiation at all? Sounds like your system adds to the complexity rather than simplifies it.

        Jan
        "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Chipmunk View Post
          Even more ideally, make marital infidelity a misdeameanor. As a bonus, make it one that excludes one from running for any federal political office. By-bye Newt.
          Bye-bye something like 80% of politicians, except the unmarried ones. Suddenly, the tabloid media becomes a lot more powerful. The Kennedys vanish into obscurity.

          Win-win!
          "It's hard being an evil genius when everybody else is so stupid." -- Quantum Crook, Casey and Andy Webcomic

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          • #6
            The very nature of the thread title has a bias toward one side and against another. So I'm not going to get into that argument. My friends already know where I stand. And voicing it here isn't going to make a hoot of difference.

            In regards to JMS' post, I've made my point on his facebook. In my opinion, it's a snarky post by an Atheist telling Christians "you aren't really supposed to believe this, just sayin'." I respect that he has a right to his belief on whatever or whomever he wants to have a recognized relationship under the federal government, but to take a couple misused examples out of 2,000 years and ignore the actual doctrine of Christianity to make that point is intellectually dishonest, and I'm frankly disappointed in him for posting that.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
              The very nature of the thread title has a bias toward one side and against another.
              So equality is biased...interesting...

              Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
              In my opinion, it's a snarky post by an Atheist telling Christians
              It sounds like you're already discounting any point he might have to make by the fact that he's an atheist.

              Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
              but to take a couple misused examples out of 2,000 years and ignore the actual doctrine of Christianity to make that point is intellectually dishonest
              Misused how? Because they support his point that the doctrine changes over time? Looking at history is intellectually dishonest now?
              Last edited by JoeD80; 05-15-2012, 12:51 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
                In regards to JMS' post, I've made my point on his facebook. In my opinion, it's a snarky post by an Atheist telling Christians "you aren't really supposed to believe this, just sayin'."
                Sure, it's snarky... it's JMS!

                I think you're reading the message wrong, though. I think the point is more that church doctrine evolves in general, and in specific, the doctrine regarding marriage has evolved significantly. The current standard has been around for a shorter time than some of the older versions were. In that respect, JMS is not the first to make the observation.

                For me it merely illustrates why there are some church elements that shouldn't be viewed as "set in stone" as it were. It doesn't seem to me like re-evaluating the doctrine based on current knowledge should be abhorant to the faithful.

                Religion aside, the fundemental problem I have with prohibiting gay marriage is that in our country, marriage is a legal construct that conveys status/benefits. To convey those to one group while denying them to another is discrimination, and basing that discrimination on religious doctrine, regardless of how you view that doctrine, is in violation of the separation of church and state.
                "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
                  In my opinion, it's a snarky post by an Atheist telling Christians "you aren't really supposed to believe this, just sayin'."
                  Really? So you think that JMS has been using the exact same example for 7.5 years for the sake of snarkiness http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-17274? Or perhaps he actually was under the impression that the article was correct. Occam's Razor (hope I spelled that right) and 15+ years of posting would indicate that you're looking for offense where none was meant.

                  For those looking on who haven't read the entire 100+ long thread on JMS' FB page, several people have posted that the conclusion that there used to be a same-sex marriage ceremony is incorrect and that it was actually a ceremony to create a formal bond of brotherhood.

                  As for the thread title, it's exact. If there's a group of people who want something and can have it but another group of people who want that same thing and can't have it, there's inequality.

                  Jan
                  (yeah, it's handy having gone through the entire archives 3 times)
                  "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
                    I'm frankly disappointed in him for posting that.
                    And I'm frankly disappointed that "Christians" have, by and large, forgotten what Jesus was all about - love one another, be kind to one another, and help each other. Oh sure, there is a minority which seems to remember that, but the overwhelming majority is over the top with their spewing of hatred. Sorry, you'll have to remind me again - who/what did Jesus hate?

                    And did Jesus ever say a single word about homosexuality? Ever?
                    "Jan Schroeder is insane" - J. Michael Straczynski, March 2008

                    The Station: A Babylon 5 Podcast

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OmahaStar View Post
                      And did Jesus ever say a single word about homosexuality? Ever?
                      Jon's actually the *only* person I've ever discussed the issue with who was able to pull up some quotes from Jesus. I haven't checked them myself but I do invite Jon to copy what he posted over here.

                      I still don't agree, mind, but it's refreshing that somebody knows enough to argue from actual knowledge rather than what they've been told.

                      Jan
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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                      • #12
                        Ohamastar, No. It's just another example of some christians*picking and choosing which sections of the old testament to abide by.

                        * not applicable to any here, just those that I knew growing up in the bible belt, and in some cases still know.
                        Last edited by David Panzer; 05-15-2012, 03:16 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OmahaStar View Post
                          And did Jesus ever say a single word about homosexuality? Ever?
                          And can you find me ANY passage in the Quaran that states that women have to wear a headscarf, or better: a burka?

                          See, this is the basic problem about religon. People tend to interpret it's teachings as they fit their own agenda.

                          in favor of any people of legal age getting married if they choose
                          As long as I have some woman cleaning up after me and get laid every now and then I don't feel the urge of giving half of my belongings to another woman.
                          Charlie Sheen
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chipmunk View Post
                            [*] creates natural barriers to sexually transmitted diseases (i.e. monogamy)
                            Monogamy and marriage aren't the same thing, and history shows us that marriage hasn't really made the people who don't want to be monogamous be monogamous.

                            Everything else is fluffery.
                            I disagree. Marriage is a ritual; that's why people want the right to be married, not to have a civil union. Rituals are a way of expressing things that is as ancient as humanity, and their power should not be underestimated. In fact, it is the very pointlessness of marriage that makes it meaningful, like art. If people could get every advantage of marriage without being married, they would still get married, because of the symbolic power of the gesture. And that power is only increased when it becomes more purely idealistic.

                            Even more ideally, make marital infidelity a misdeameanor. As a bonus, make it one that excludes one from running for any federal political office. By-bye Newt.
                            I think that would be horrible and theocratic. Infidelity happens for all kinds of reasons. People fall in love, people fall out of love. And I prefer electing people on the basis of their ideas rather than of what they do with their genitals.

                            I respect that he has a right to his belief on whatever or whomever he wants to have a recognized relationship under the federal government, but to take a couple misused examples out of 2,000 years and ignore the actual doctrine of Christianity to make that point is intellectually dishonest, and I'm frankly disappointed in him for posting that.
                            While Joe's example of Church-approved gay marriage is historically problematic and very possibly untrue, the main point of his post is correct: Church doctrine has changed a great deal over the centuries. A lot of Christians seem to assume that what is sanctioned by the Church has always been the same, but the truth is that even the most fundamental issues (like the nature of Christ) were often seen in entirely different ways. And a simple look at the history of the Bible as a book shows the problem with claiming that any version of the Bible is authoritative or complete. And that's without going into the issues of authorship.

                            Beyond that, if Christians feel that the Old Testament forces them to reject gay marriage, that raises the question of why they feel so comfortable ignoring the other lifestyle-related commandments. Or why they disapprove of slavery and polygamy and incest.

                            More to the point, marriage isn't a Christian concept, it's a human concept. No-one is attempting to force Christians to marry gay people or to perform gay marriages in their churches; this is a purely secular question. And from a purely secular perspective there is no logical reason to deny homosexual people the right to be married.

                            Christian groups that feel that gay marriage is wrong could continue only performing heterosexual weddings. After all, most Christians of this persuasion also feel that only a Church wedding is a real wedding, but do not think that the existence of a secular marriage certificate makes their marriages spiritually irrelevant.
                            Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OmahaStar View Post
                              And I'm frankly disappointed that "Christians" have, by and large, forgotten what Jesus was all about - love one another, be kind to one another, and help each other. Oh sure, there is a minority which seems to remember that, but the overwhelming majority is over the top with their spewing of hatred. Sorry, you'll have to remind me again - who/what did Jesus hate?

                              And did Jesus ever say a single word about homosexuality? Ever?
                              I don't know. He may have. We have an account of four authors' interpretations of important points of three years in his life, the purpose of which was to convey his death and resurrection, and spread that news. What we do have is his apostles writing about morality in their letters to fledgling churches. Those directly taught by Christ certainly did write about homosexuality, affirming the law from the old testament from which which all Christian morals derive. Either they knew that Christ was opposed to homosexuality, or they were lying. The burden of proof would then be on you to prove they were lying. As direct followers of Christ (whom he taught personally), it would be difficult to establish a motive for them to want to distort Christ's words - especially since they faced imprisonment and harsh deaths because of their convictions to speak it.

                              The "love one another" is an argument I hear all the time, but love is not "let someone do whatever they want". I love my child plenty but I still point out when he does something wrong. Likewise in interventions, the friends and family don't do so out of hate, quite the opposite. That's part of love, and a hard part because it's not comfortable to do. Now I'm certain there's people out there who aren't acting out of love, and as a Christian I am equally opposed to that behavior, as that was not Christ's message at all as you rightly pointed out.
                              Last edited by SmileOfTheShadow; 05-16-2012, 11:27 AM.
                              Flying Sparks Web Comic - A Hero and Villain In Love. Updates on Wednesdays
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