July 21, 2009

commenting on commentings...

Hale Adams wrote, in a comment on the previous post,

I've said it before, John, and I'll say it again: You're mixing religion with politics.

If the Church wants to insist, for its own purposes, that homosexual or multiple unions are not marriages, that's fine. Far be it from me (and it should be far from anyone else) to dictate to the Church how it deals with parishoners who break its rules.

As far as the State is concerned, however, marriages are simply contractual arrangements voluntarily entered into by the parties concerned. Yes, traditionally, such arrangements have been between one man and one woman, but if two men or two women (or any permutation of one or multiple men and/or women) want to enter into such a contract-- I say, "Let them." Maybe their arrangements will work, maybe they won't. And if (when?) the arrangements don't work, then they should suffer the messiness inherent in the dissolution of the contract. (It just might discourage others from following their example, and your position carries the day, John.)

Actually, even if marriage is just a contractual arrangement, what I wrote is still valid—that the argument made by Boies is fallacious, since it sneaks past the point that people are really divided about. (And any state regulation of contracts involves defining things, and people will always have a valid gripe if someone moves goalposts by slipping in a re-definition of terms. I myself have a valid gripe on a purely contractual level, since I'm a party in a marriage contract, and now people are trying to change what my contract says!)

But I don't think that people will ever consider marriage just part of the realm of contract, nor will they want the state, which reflects our wishes, to do so. (Nor do I think you really believe that, Hale.)

In California we already have a domestic partners law which is close to a marriage contract, and hardly anyone notices it. WHY?

People sometimes understand things without being able to think clearly about them. They drift along with what they are told by "experts," (like, say, materialists who think life can be just regulated by contract and majority vote) not realizing where the small steps are leading. Until they crash against something like the marriage issue. Then suddenly they are howling in pain, and the experts say, "Tsk tsk, how irrational the little people are. Democracy is a poor system of government. Decisions should be left to the experts."

In fact the experts usually know where they are heading all along, and carefully conceal the truth, just because democracy works pretty damn well when people have enough information. And boy do they heap contumely upon anyone who says that such-and-such a small step is leading to some big step that people will hate. The people who said that overturning state sodomy laws would lead to gay marriage were called crazy, and bigots!

Politics and religion are always going to intersect, because they are both about what human beings really are. They both define us, although politics is much less explicit about this. In America we hope to use politics to merely create a neutral space for personal decisions to be made. But that is pretty much impossible, because even the smallest political decision tends to define us. If the small town of Mudville puts up the first traffic light on Main Street, that says something about the people who go along with it. A little bit of customary law has been replaced by explicit law, and that changes the definition of citizens of that town.

It seems silly to say it about such a small matter, but it is a religious decision. A tiny bit of life has been removed from the realm of conscience and morality and personal responsibility. After that when the preacher gets up in the pulpit and says that our moral choices have big consequences, and that even tiny sins can lead to bigger ones and get us into trouble, the government has also preached a tiny but different sermon.

Everyone has a religion. That is, everyone has beliefs about the universe and existence that are not based on logic or science. Hale Adams has a religion. He is making a political proposal based on his personal faith; he has no formal or scientific proof that his view of what people are is true.

* Update: Actually, Hale's sentence: "If the Church wants to insist, for its own purposes, that homosexual or multiple unions are not marriages, that's fine..." is, itself, a religious position. One which the Catholic Church rejects. We think that our view of marriage is part of Natural Law, and is just as valid—and real—in the Cannibal Isles as it is among Christians.

Posted by John Weidner at July 21, 2009 8:11 AM
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