Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What’s Wrong with Gay Marriage?


Well, from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism, there is plenty wrong with sodomy, as I have already written at length.

But, from a secular point of view, is the fact that the government does not recognize same sex marriage a problem? Is it a civil rights issue, comparable to interracial marriage, which was illegal in most of the United States in the first half of the 20th century?

In my humble opinion, even a total secularist should not support gay marriage.

A heterosexual, monogamous, committed relationship is a lifestyle which society should clearly encourage. Children raised in intact families generally are far more successful in life than children who have been raised in single parent homes. If we could wave a magic wand and somehow eliminate sex outside traditional marriage, we would probably in one stroke eliminate most crime, poverty, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions in the United States. Therefore it is in society’s interest to encourage traditional marriage by giving married couples special privileges and to make it difficult for them to separate. Traditional marriage could make the difference, in the long run, between the survival and extinction of American society. There may be no other single more vital priority.

By contrast, what benefit does society have from gay marriages? Of course, it could be argued, that from a secular point of view whatever people do in privacy is their own business and should not be disrupted so long as no innocent person is harmed. However why should society encourage it? Should we encourage sex with animals, polygamy, child marriage and incest? Can I marry my cat and then have to go to court when I want to “divorce” her? There is no Constitutional “freedom of sex” or “freedom of marriage”. Witness the laws against prostitution and statutory rape.

This is even more odd when one considers that heterosexual marriage is almost dead outside of conservative religious circles. For most Americans, “marriage” just means a nice party. People divorce almost casually. First marriages routinely end within the first decade. Half of American adults are single. Forty percent of American babies are born to single women. Sex is not much more serious than a handshake. This makes the gay rush to the altar seem even more bizarre. Marriage is legally convenient in some ways, however it makes breaking up much more complicated. Religious people consider the sanctity of marriage to be a priority, however why do homosexuals want it or need it? Is it merely a desperate effort to prove their equality to heterosexuals? If they feel so inferior, then perhaps that’s a sign that something is wrong with their lifestyle.

Historically, homosexuality has apparently had a status similar to prostitution. It was always practiced everywhere to some greater or lesser extent, however it was never celebrated as a positive thing comparable to marriage. A Roman or Chinese emperor may have had a homosexual boy lover, just as he may have employed prostitutes, however neither the boy nor the prostitute were proudly displayed on official occasions. Today apparently homosexuals are seeking exactly that, a government certification that what they are doing is just as respectable as what everyone else is doing. I think few societies will agree.

49 comments:

Cameron said...

JP: Well, from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism, there is plenty wrong with sodomy, as I have already written at length.

CH: From the point of view of many others, sodomy is a pleasant experience to share with your partner (and I speak as a married hetero), provided of course that proper caution, lubricant and patience are used.

JP: But, from a secular point of view, is the fact that the government does not recognize same sex marriage a problem?

CH: It may not be a problem for me, but it certainly seems like a double standard without merit.

JP: Is it a civil rights issue, comparable to interracial marriage, which was illegal in most of the United States in the first half of the 20th century?

CH: Yes. Just like interracial marriage wasn't anything I ever worried about, it's absurd to deny love just because it shows up in a shade of colour you don't approve of.

JP: In my humble opinion, even a total secularist should not support gay marriage.

CH: Given the frequency with which they are offered and defended, your opinions Jacob are rarely best described as 'humble'.

JP: A heterosexual, monogamous, committed relationship is a lifestyle which society should clearly encourage.

CH: Replace 'heterosexual' with 'homosexual' and I think most people would still agree. Society has a vested interest in seeing its members engage in committed long term partnerships that are stable and loving. Gay or straight.

JP: Children raised in intact families generally are far more...

CH: Agreed. Though I see no reason why we couldn't make the same suggestion for gay parents - i.e. that society has a vested interest in them being committed to each other in exactly the same way as other parents.

JP: If we could wave a magic wand ....(list of societal ills cured by Jacob's wand waving snipped for brevity and to avoid too much gay irony)...therefore it is in society’s interest to encourage traditional marriage by giving married couples special privileges and to make it difficult for them to separate.

CH: For the most part we totally agree. That said, I also firmly believe in the right to divorce as a way of getting out of a bad marriage, so there is a fine line that society has to walk. On the one hand we want to encourage lasting and loving partnerships, and on the other we need to recognize that not all partnerships (roughly 50%) will be permanent life-time commitments.

JP: Traditional marriage could make the difference, in the long run, between the survival and extinction of American society. There may be no other single more vital priority.

CH: Give me a break. American society (if it is worth anything at all) can only be preserved if its values are worth adopting for their own sake - not because they are forced down everyone's throats.

JP: By contrast, what benefit does society have from gay marriages?

CH: Stable, loving partnerships recognized by law for one. Dignity and freedom for two more.

JP: Of course, it could be argued, that from a secular point of view whatever people do in privacy is their own business and should not be disrupted so long as no innocent person is harmed.

CH: In Canada we had one of our Prime Ministers say the following:

"Government does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation".

Coincidentally, we've had gay marriage rights for many years and yet, mysteriously, our society hasn't collapsed into anarchy. Go figure.

JP: However why should society encourage it?

CH: Society should encourage gay marriage for all the usual reasons marriage is considered a good at all. It decreases promiscuity, promotes stability, and creates communities where before there were individuals. I'm for gay marriage not because I'm a flaming libertine (though given enough encouragement, I can flame my libertine with the best of them), but for the same conservative reasons marriage is a good for heterosexuals.

JP: Should we encourage sex with animals, polygamy, child marriage and incest?

CH: Now you are just being a silly old man. Bestiality and pedophilia (or child marriage) both involve sex without legal consent - and as such they are clearly moral wrongs we should discourage and avoid. I'm less clear why society should punish adults who engage in incest - aside from the large 'ick' factor there doesn't seem to me to be any moral grounds to oppose a brother and sister from having consensual sex as adults - though there may be good reasons to encourage them not to propigate children - I'm not up to speed on the genetics. I'm still on the fence about polygamy, but tend to see any contract entered into between adults as being best left outside of governmental interference.

JP: Can I marry my cat and then have to go to court when I want to “divorce” her?

CH: You are clearly running with this bestiality thing. Me things though dost protest too much. I also won't be giving you a pet for X-mas this year.

JP: There is no Constitutional “freedom of sex” or “freedom of marriage”. Witness the laws against prostitution and statutory rape.

CH: I recall there being something about 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'...but maybe it's just me.

JP: This is even more odd when one considers that heterosexual marriage is almost dead outside of conservative religious circles.

CH: Once again I am living proof that you are wrong. I am not; religious, conservative, and I don't go for anything as radical as circles (I'm more of a polygon guy myself), yet I recently got married. Ok, you got me, it was a Star Trek wedding in Vegas (for real, check my blog for the pictures), but the fact is, we got hitched. Permanently. Not for God, or country, but for us and for love. Like most people.

JP: For most Americans, “marriage” just means a nice party.

CH: We skipped the party by eloping.

JP: Religious people consider the sanctity of marriage to be a priority, however why do homosexuals want it or need it?

CH: As I said, they want it for the same reasons my wife and I did, and for the same reasons that people have wanted to marry throughout history - be they of child bearing age or not. They want to get married because the institution reflects the desires they have to be together, and because they want the recongition that their commitment to each other entails (like being the recipient of their lovers death benefits, or custody, or legal standing in court for end of life issues, etc.).

They aren't getting married to spite the institution of marriage - they are getting married because they want to participate in the institution of marriage!

But the question isn't 'why do gay people want to get married'? It's "why shouldn't they be allowed and even encouraged to"?

One other thing to consider when discussing the religious communities objection to gay marriage is the 'covenant marriage'. If you want a ceremony that is more religiously inclined than the Star Trek wedding I had, be my guest! Nobody is forcing you to have the same vows, follow the same protocol and traditions or in any way shape or form have a marriage remotely lavender in colour, or secular in vow.

Make it whatever it is you want it to be, we did.

'Live long and prosper' -
Cameron

zdub said...

In my humble opinion, even a total secularist should not support gay marriage.

A heterosexual, monogamous, committed relationship is a lifestyle which society should clearly encourage. Children raised in intact families generally are far more successful in life than children who have been raised in single parent homes. If we could wave a magic wand and somehow eliminate sex outside traditional marriage, we would probably in one stroke eliminate most crime, poverty, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions in the United States. Therefore it is in society’s interest to encourage traditional marriage by giving married couples special privileges and to make it difficult for them to separate.


So are you suggesting "from a total secularist" view, that marriage should be prohibited where there is no chance for children (too old, sterile, etc.)?? If not, then what is your real objection to a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship?

IMO, a religious imperative is the only legitimate argument against gay marriage.

avrum68 said...

Jeez Jacob, why should gay marriage be any different from eating shrimp i.e. I don't hear you rallying against sea food restaurants.

The Torah's quite clear on the issue, and last I checked, traditional Jews and shuls hold by that standard. That's enough for me. Govt's will do all sorts of things to appease voters, which is why I find solace in my shuls, rabbis, etc.

"From the point of view of many others, sodomy is a pleasant experience to share with your partner"

Cam...it may be, ok hell, I know. But when I threw this line at my wife/dr, she was less than impressed, and provided a plethora of info which runs counter to the whole "hey man, it's cool if your safe". If you don't tear the anal walls, you've got all that bacteria to consider. In other words, it ain't the safest place to be.

Cameron said...

Proof we ultimately get the wives we deserve I guess.

;-)

Jewish Atheist said...

You point out that kids do better, statistically, with two parents. This is true regardless of the genders of those parents, so it's clear that gay marriage is good for the kids. What's the kashye?

badrabbi said...

As usual Cameron delivers a masterful reply to JP. He said everything I wanted to say, only better!
Cameron's comments on polygamy and incest are brilliant. If you look at these issues from a secular point of view, it is not at all clear that they necessarily 'aught' to be banned. I suppose when the time comes when a hord of people demand recognition for their poligamous marriages, we would have to take up the issue seriously. But I commend Cameron for dealing with these issues head on.

In the comments section it becomes painfully clear who is a powerhouse of intellect and who is a Jewish philosopher.

david said...

I do not understand why homosexuals have such a desire to enter an institution set up for religious reasons. Almost all of these relgions oppose homosexuality. So given that these people obviously dont believe in the God that marriage was set up to satisfy, or dont care enough to follow the teachings, why do they want marriage. I do not believe that you can expect people to live a life following a moral code that they dont believe in. This means that while I dont agree with homosexuality if people choose this way of life thats for them to decide. At the same time however if we recognise this right we should also recognise that religious people have a right to protect the morals they hold. This includes that marriage is to be, among other thing, the exclusive union of a man and woman.

pariahdog said...

JP,

I'm a Jewish man who has been married to my husband for 24 years. When we married, my mother was opposed to the fact that my husband was non-jewish. That was a bigger problem than his sex or my sexual orientation. Now we have pretty much fully assimilated into our community (see Conservative Assimilationists) and I spend quite a bit of time educating people to the fact that we are normal and no different than any other married couple who has been together that long. I believe that Jewish law would oppose folks like David and yourself who claim to know more about our motivations and moral behavior than we ourselves do.

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david said...

Mate I am not by any means claiming to know more of your motivations that you do. I am not saying you are abnormal, you like every one of us fall short of Gods laws and are therefore a sinner. I will however say that the bible in Gen 2:24 says of marriage, that a man shall be joined to his wife. The bible is the source of moral law that we have so I think I can comment on your moral behaviour as it relates to the Bible as an objective measuring stick. I did not post my previous comment to pass judgement on homosexuals, this is not for me to do. I am only doing this to put an opinion out for others to consider. As for justifying yourself you shouldn't need to. God is the only one that can judge, and if you honestly think you are doing nothing wrong then why worry. The opinions of JP myself or any other person cannot either save or condemn you.

avrum68 said...

"Bestiality and pedophilia (or child marriage) both involve sex without legal consent - and as such they are clearly moral wrongs we should discourage and avoid"

Let me the 1st to state that:

a) the question of legal consent with minors is being challenged in Europe, and given our faith in secular thought and cognitive psychology, will eventually be allowed. Perhaps not with children, but with folks younger than 16. And that day is fast approaching.

b) Why is it morally wrong to have sex with a 13 year old? Say you 45, and she's 13, why is wrong? What makes it "wrong"? What if she understands his age, enjoys the sex, and is well adjusted. What if her parent's are find with the relationship as well?

c) And sex with an animal...why is that morally wrong? We're talking from a secularist perspective. The animal enjoys it, often has an orgasm, and goes back to chewing on grass or whatever the hell he/she does post-sex. I say, without the Bible, ALL SEX should be allowed so long as no one is hurt. How do we measure "hurt", I'll leave that to the cognitive neuroscientists to measure dopamine et al and provide and answer (that will change every 2 months).

jewish philosopher said...

These comments have raised some very interesting questions, which I would like to at least partially respond to:

If the primary reason for civil marriage and divorce laws is to provide secure homes for children, then why are elderly or infertile couples allowed to marry?
The answer is, you’re right; there really is no reason for such people to be legally married. I believe that many elderly partners do choose to live together without bothering with the paper work. And childless couples who wish to divorce can generally just fill out a few forms and never even appear in court, as my first wife and I did.

On the other hand, the idea that “marriage forces them stay together for the children” does not apply to homosexual couples, since they cannot have children. The last time I checked, a male and a female may produce babies. Other combinations don’t work.

And if civil marriage is merely society bestowing approval, respect and dignity on a union, then how about unions between brothers and sisters, people and dogs, adults and children, various numbers of and combinations of men and women, etc. also being allowed to marry?

jewish philosopher said...

Also, just a minor point, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." is a quote from the United States Declaration of Independence, not Constitution.

badrabbi said...

Also, yet another minor point, the following takes on a whole new meaning following this blog: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed"!

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, I think you're really getting bad.

Jewish Atheist said...

On the other hand, the idea that “marriage forces them stay together for the children” does not apply to homosexual couples, since they cannot have children.

But many, many homosexual couples do have children, via various means. By your own logic, since the kids would be better off with two parents, we should encourage the stability of the union by allowing gay marriage.

jewish philosopher said...

How do homosexual couples "have children"?

avrum68 said...

"How do homosexual couples "have children"?"

Stork.

Cameron said...

Avrum68: Jeez Jacob, why should gay marriage be any different from eating shrimp? i.e. I don't hear you rallying against sea food restaurants.

CH: Totally agree. The presence of sea-food restaurants for others does nothing to diminish the Kosher dining experience, and by the same token, gay marriage for others does nothing to diminish my, or anyone elses, marriage.

David said: Almost all of these relgions oppose homosexuality. So given that these people obviously dont believe in the God that marriage was set up to satisfy, or dont care enough to follow the teachings, why do they want marriage?

CH: I can tell you that I wanted to enter my marriage despite the fact I am not religious at all, and as Jacob concedes above marriage for the elderly is also permitted. Which says a couple of things; 1. marriage isn't merely a religious institution, and 2. the benefits of marriage are not simply with regards to the need to ensure parentage in the case of procreation. Take that all together, and there is no good reason to object to gay marriage.

David: I do not believe that you can expect people to live a life following a moral code that they dont believe in.

CH: Nor do I. However if a pair of Catholic gay men wish to get married, and their church says no, I'm ok with that so long as the secular state says 'no problem'. They have a right to get married, if their particular religion has an issue with that, then it's up to them to perhaps think about ditching their religion. I'm not interested in forcing my morality on to the Catholic church anymore than I am interested in having the Catholic church force it's morality upon me.

David said: This means that while I dont agree with homosexuality if people choose this way of life thats for them to decide.

CH: Well said. For me the same thinking applies to religion. I'm ok if you want to believe in invisible beings just don't pretend it's science.

David said: At the same time however if we recognise this right we should also recognise that religious people have a right to protect the morals they hold. This includes that marriage is to be, among other thing, the exclusive union of a man and woman.

CH: And if your particular church prohibits gay marriage (for whatever reason) I'm ok with that. What I object to is using the State as a mechanism to deny others the same rights you would demand for yourself as a person (i.e. marriage). If a law were written that allowed marriage unless you were Jewish, I'd be just as upset. But if the Catholic church wants to prohibit Jews from getting married in Catholic churches (which I presume they do), I don't see any reason to object when the Synagogue is still an option.

Avrum comes back with:

a) the question of legal consent with minors is being challenged in Europe...

CH: I'm not sure when the last time the US took it's marching orders from Europe on age of consent laws, but I'm certain it isn't recent. I'd also note that Biblically there are several examples of very young girls being offered as brides. Much the same as Shakespeare's Juliet (13 I believe) is considered too young by modern standards. Times change, and so do age of consent laws - I'm not sure how bothered by this we should be.

Avrum68: b) Why is it morally wrong to have sex with a 13 year old? Say you 45, and she's 13, why is wrong? What makes it "wrong"? What if she understands his age, enjoys the sex, and is well adjusted. What if her parent's are find with the relationship as well?

CH: Ok, let's take your case (though I hadn't expected this thread to devolve into a dissection of age of consent logic, I'm always game) as stated. I take it we both agree that despite the lack of parental objection it is wrong for a 13 year old to marry a 45 year old. We can both further agree that it is wrong even if all the people in question; the 13 year old, the 45 year old and the parents agree, even if she is precociously intelligent and mature for her age. Why? Because we have a standard (a fluid one, but a standard nevertheless) for determining adulthood - and in our current day and age that communal standard is composed of two parts; a basement age by which we assume no person could be considered an adult (say 15 for the sake of this argument) and a second component which weighs the difference in ages between the participants; ie. we get deservedly much more upset about a 32 year age difference than if she were seeking to marry a 15 year old and there is merely a two year age difference.

Avrum68: c) And sex with an animal...why is that morally wrong? We're talking from a secularist perspective. The animal enjoys it, often has an orgasm, and goes back to chewing on grass or whatever the hell he/she does post-sex.

CH: I've read of some libertarians who take the position that what you describe above is indeed a victim-less crime (consider a woman using peanut butter to entice her dog into cunnilingus - who is getting hurt by that?). I do question the assumption that animal 'enjoys it' (you are also not getting a pet for X-mas) and 'frequently has an orgasm', as it strikes me that there are a variety of sexual acts with animals that would likely be both painful to the animals, or worse.

However, it seems very clear to me that; animals, the profoundly retarded, the brain dead, the dead, children, etc. cannot be considered as consenting adults, and thus cannot be considered as legitimately consenting sexual partners.

JP said: Also, just a minor point, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." is a quote from the United States Declaration of Independence, not Constitution.

CH: Mea Culpa - I am Canadian.

Jewish Atheist said...

How do homosexual couples "have children"?

Adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, previous relationships, etc.

jewish philosopher said...

Being adopted myself, I'm not a big fan of the practice. I believe that closed adoption should be banned. I am also not certain that homosexual relationships are stable enough or provide the proper role models for children.

Jewish Atheist said...

I am also not certain that homosexual relationships are stable enough or provide the proper role models for children.

So you really on studies to tell you that kids do better with two parents, but ignore them when they say that it doesn't matter what genders those parents are. Gotcha.

avrum68 said...

"I take it we both agree that despite the lack of parental objection it is wrong for a 13 year old to marry a 45 year old"

We agree. But I have no doubt that if cognitive psychologists produced enough longitudinal tests proving the merit of such marriages, in time, y'all would jump on board. Not unlike how curse words slowly make their way into mainstream media w/o any secular objection. Why? Because no one gets killed or maimed. Or how hard core porn is currently masking itself as "art film". Secular society has nothing to say about that either. The slippery slope of such things will continue to slide into scary territory so long as it generates money, and limbs aren't lost. Ah, the joys of secularism.

I'm glad there's religious folks providing "safe zones" by defending and upholding 1000's of years of tradition, promoting modesty, balance and humility.

"Because we have a standard (a fluid one, but a standard nevertheless)"

We have no such standard. As we speak, professionals in my field now believe that adolescence begins at 11'ish and ends in your mid-20's.

"a basement age by which we assume no person could be considered an adult (say 15 for the sake of this argument) and a second component which weighs the difference in ages between the participants"

Whooo, slippery slope ahead. Ouch.

Cameron said...

Avrum68: We agree. But I have no doubt that if cognitive psychologists produced enough longitudinal tests proving the merit of such marriages, in time, y'all would jump on board.

CH: 'Y'all'? Do you mean atheists? Secularists? Cognitive psychologists? (and you should further note, these are not the same things).

Whatever your target, as I see it there is a resistance in human nature to pimping our children out to be married below a certain age. In modern times with modern economies and western standards of living, the age at which we allow our children to marry has trended upwards - not down. Lower marriage ages seem to be most common the poorer the country/economy, and of course, the more religious.

Avrum68: Not unlike how curse words slowly make their way into mainstream media w/o any secular objection.

CH: Damn those f*cking hippies anyway.

Avrum68: Why? Because no one gets killed or maimed.

CH: I'm a big fan of freedom of speech. If the side effect of having the ability to say anything is that we have a coarser culture vs. the alternative, I'll take the coarse (and vibrant) culture every time.

Avrum: Or how hard core porn is currently masking itself as "art film".

CH: Actually I think what is even more interesting is that hardcore porn no longer has to masquerade as
'art film' at all, and can be accepted for what it is. Thank goodness too. Have you ever seen 'Deep Throat?' it's interminable. I far prefer modern porn with it's lack of plots, no holes barred, gonzo action style.

Avrum68: Secular society has nothing to say about that either.

CH: As this blogs official whipping boy for secular society, I'll that we actually have two things to say about the rise of hardcore porn;

1. If you don't like it, don't watch it.

2. More please.

Avrum68: The slippery slope of such things will continue to slide into scary territory so long as it generates money, and limbs aren't lost. Ah, the joys of secularism.

CH: You say that like you think porn is a bad thing!

Avrum68: I'm glad there's religious folks providing "safe zones" by defending and upholding 1000's of years of tradition, promoting modesty, balance and humility.

CH: Me too! Think for a moment how bad Amish porn would be! Or worse, Orthodox Jewish porn. I feel nauseous just contemplating it.

Avrum68: We have no such standard (referring to my argument about a standard for age of consent that is fluid over time). As we speak, professionals in my field now believe that adolescence begins at 11'ish and ends in your mid-20's.

CH: If that is what is happening in your field Avi, then develop an argument for what you think the age of consent should be. One that rests on something other than biblical literalism (cuz frankly nobody takes that seriously, and as I mentioned, the bible isn't going to be much help to you anyway). I see no reason the voting age, age of the draft, age of driving, drinking age and the age we allow marriage can't all be the same thing.

CH said previously: "a basement age by which we assume no person could be considered an adult (say 15 for the sake of this argument) and a second component which weighs the difference in ages between the participants"

Avrum68: Whooo, slippery slope ahead. Ouch.

CH: If you are afraid of slippery slopes you will never get anywhere. The age of consent is a cultural construct, and as a culture changes (be it because of economics, or what have you) so will some of the constructs. Once upon a time Canada allowed hanging for certain crimes, but as the culture changed, it no longer became a necessary part of our criminal code. This isn't a slide into post-modern relativism. Just because a standard can change, doesn't mean there are no standards.

badrabbi said...

It is true, as Cameron says, that the topic has ‘devolved’. We started talking about homosexual marriages, and somehow we are arguing the proper time for a minor to have sex or to marry an older man.

This gives me an opportunity to point out to those who say that we derive morality from the Torah, that Rebecca became Isaac’s wife at the age of 3! While this is not in the Torah, there is well established Jewish tradition that states so. I have on many occasions asked Rabbis to reconcile this oddity of allowing an infant to marry a fully grown adult. They have given me several answers, ranging from Rebecca being unusually precocious, to her not consummating her marriage until she was 9 year old, etc. The point is that an act which we now consider highly immoral took place in the Torah, with God’s full blessing. It is painfully clear that we did not get this idea of morality from the Torah.

As you can see, we do pick and choose what we consider to be moral and immoral. We first prejudge the morality of the act. Then, we go to the bible to justify our preconceived notion. This is how it works, and Rebecca’s marriage to Isaac at age 3 is a prime example.

avrum68 said...

"As you can see, we do pick and choose what we consider to be moral and immoral"

In your world perhaps. In mine, we follow the rabbinic tradition - a process that continues to evolve - which places primary importance on humility, modesty, charity, etc., etc. We rarely reach those heights, but it's something to srive for.

In Cameron's world, the acceptance of porn and cursing is a small price to pay for "freedom of speech". It's a huge price (ask any family/marital therapist), but most folks are either too numb (i.e. enjoying the fruits of porn, etc.) or unware to witness the fall-out of said nihilism.

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

Let us consider what you have written:

You write: "In mine, we follow the rabbinic tradition - a process that continues to evolve - which places primary importance on humility, modesty, charity..."

The above statement has the following problems:
1. It ignores what I wrote completely. I wrote about the Torah sir, and about accepting the marriage of a 3 year old with an adult. What is your answer to this specific issue?

2. I did not write about rabbinic tradition per se here, but rabbinic tradition has immoral blood in its hands as well. Yet rabbinic tradition itself is a view of how rabbis view morality as it aught to be. These rabbis did not start from a blank slate of morality and learned ethics by reading the Torah. Yet, they knew what aught to be moral or immoral and they justified rather than derive this morality.

3. What 'heights' exactly are you talking about? Can you please give me 3 moral 'heights' that you strive for that in prescribed by the rabbis? I challange you the following: For every "moral height" that you enumerate from the rabbis, I will provide 2 morally shamful assertions by the rrabis.

Second, I am not so sure that Cameron is proposing of or accepting cursing. Could you tell me where he has endorsed cursing?

As far as pornography is concerned, this is a very large subject. I am a consumer of pornography and I have religious friends who are also consumers. In some cases, porn can corrupt and in some cases it does not. Can you please explain to me, either halachically, or even from secular moral stance, what exacatly is wrong with production or use of pornographic material?

Cameron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jewish philosopher said...

I've added an additional paragraph to the post to clarify the topic a little further. I apologize for any confusion.

avrum68 said...

"I wrote about the Torah sir, and about accepting the marriage of a 3 year old with an adult"

I live in this world badrabbi. And in this world, from Satmar to Reconstructionist, men aren't marrying 3 year olds. Nor are men living to 120. I accpet the fact that the Bible is sum of the following parts - metaphor, spiritual guide, ethics, history...

Could you please provide a link demonstrating where rabbis are encouraging adult Jews to marry children.

In general, our tradition encourages Jews to marry as young adults (not much younger or older), to other young adults.

"but rabbinic tradition has immoral blood in its hands as well"

Ouch. Personal issues badrabbi?

"I will provide 2 morally shamful assertions by the rrabis."

I do therapy for a living, so I'm not going to engage in this game with you i.e. your personal "axe to grind" against Judaism should be dealt with on the "couch". Suffice to say, my rabbis encourage healthy behaviors which promote healthy individuals, families, and communities. Of course, one has to believe in these values to respect the efforts being made - in religious communities - to uphold them.

"I am not so sure that Cameron is proposing of or accepting cursing. Could you tell me where he has endorsed cursing?"

Said Cameron:
If the side effect of having the ability to say anything is that we have a coarser culture vs. the alternative, I'll take the coarse (and vibrant) culture every time.

By not disengaging from a behavior, action, speech, one supports it from an implied position.

In Cam's own words:
"actually have...things to say about the rise of hardcore porn;

More please."

One would have to have his head up, way up, his arse to argue that cursing and such is bad, but hard core porn is wonderful.

"Can you please explain to me, either halachically, or even from secular moral stance, what exacatly is wrong with production or use of pornographic material?"

My friend, there isn't enough time to discuss the harmful effects of porn on marriage, family and general sexual functioning. A quick google search will provide you with more than enough material demonstrating the insidious effects of porn on sexual functioning.

My experience working with couples would suggest that porn drives wedges between couples, as well as provides symptom that something is amiss within the couple. More often than not, the couple approaches my office - due to lack of sexual interest - and, in general, the wife is very concerned about her husbands porn viewing. And this scenario repeats itself - with different clients, time and time again.

Cameron said...

Said Cameron: If the side effect of having the ability to say anything is that we have a coarser culture vs. the alternative, I'll take the coarse (and vibrant) culture every time.

Avrum68: By not disengaging from a behavior, action, speech, one supports it from an implied position.

CH: Given that actions speak louder than implications I'd have thought you'd simply note my lack of profanity and conclude from that I'm not personally in favour of it. Further, I support the right of Neo-Nazi's to engage in free-speech, but that in no way should be seen as an endorsement of what they say. To be in favour of freedom of speech is easy if you only hear stuff you agree with. Its only worthwhile though if you defend those you don't.

In Cam's own words:
"actually have...things to say about the rise of hardcore porn;

More please."

One would have to have his head up, way up, his arse to argue that cursing and such is bad, but hard core porn is wonderful.

CH: Just like sodomy isn't for everyone, neither is cursing, nor hardcore porn. If you don't like it, don't open the back-door, don't swear, and don't watch porn.

badrabbi said: "Can you please explain to me, either halachically, or even from secular moral stance, what exacatly is wrong with production or use of pornographic material?"

Avrum68 said: My friend, there isn't enough time to discuss the harmful effects of porn on marriage, family and general sexual functioning. A quick google search will provide you with more than enough material demonstrating the insidious effects of porn on sexual functioning.

CH: If a quick google search were all that was required to settle an argument in this forum we would never have to debate the legitimacy of evolution. Alcohol is legal, but potentially harmful. So is sugar. So is porn. Just because people occasionally abuse something doesn't mean that we should ban, regulate, or otherwise seek to impose societal controls over it.

Avrum68: My experience working with couples would suggest that porn drives wedges between couples, as well as provides symptom that something is amiss within the couple. More often than not, the couple approaches my office - due to lack of sexual interest - and, in general, the wife is very concerned about her husbands porn viewing. And this scenario repeats itself - with different clients, time and time again.

CH: So you think porn is bad because frigid wives object to their frustrated husbands watching it? Could it just be that the real problem is that the wife is frigid, and that the porn the husband watches is in fact his only relief from a sex-less spouse? Or does watching porn in some way make her frigid? (as if).

I acknowledge that porn can be a distraction or even an addiction for some men. But, then, so can sugar, and porn never gave me a cavity.

Cameron said...

JP said: A Roman or Chinese emperor may have had a homosexual boy lover, just as he may have employed prostitutes, however neither the boy nor the prostitute were proudly displayed on official occasions.

CH: Am I the only one who finds the notion that you are looking to the Romans for examples of moral behaviour to be...uh...ironic?

JP: Today apparently homosexuals are seeking exactly that, a government certification that what they are doing is just as respectable as what everyone else is doing. I think few societies will tolerate this.

CH: Over the last 4-5 decades the number of societies that 'tolerate' this have increased substantially. Virtually all of Europe now has legal gay marriage. Canada and South Africa (I mean SOUTH AFRICA!) now recognize Gay marriage. A growing number of US states (New York most recently) are overturning the previous injunctions against Gay Marriage and making it a legal reality.

Not only are Western societies getting onto the Gay Marriage bandwagon, but the next generation of adults in the West is too. High Schoolers in the US see Gay Marriage as being 'no big deal' in numbers that are shockingly disparate from their elders.

In other words Jacob, you are once again simply wrong. Not only are socieites growing more tolerant of gay marriage, it is likely to be the next generations 'interracial marriage' issue - one where they wonder how it is anybody even bothered to debate against it.

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

You always tend to turn every issue that we talk about into a personal one, requiring 'the couch'. I submit to you that people who disagree with you are not necessarily neurotic!

There is much you have said in the previous comments that need to be rebutted. I am a little tired of the subject, though, I must admit. Suffice to say that if I had to reply to your comments in one sentence, I would say that it is tiresome for people like me to analyze things abstractly without constantly having to be placed on the couch for having a differing perspective on things. It is perhaps a good thing that you are an analyst and not, say, a proctologist. Else, you would be offering a colonoscopy everytime you heard something you did not agree with.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, when I said "few societies will tolerate this", I'm talking about world over. Have you ever checked out the African attitude to homosexuality north of South Africa, the Chinese attitude, the Muslim attitude, the Russian attitude? In India men were recently arrested simply because they were gay.

Homosexuality is applauded in only a few small decedent and shrinking cultures.

And, just by the way, I think teen marriages are not necessarily a bad idea. The Talmud encourages it. The age of consent has only in the past 150 years been raised from 12 to 16 in an effort (probably fruitless) to discourage the sale of very young girls into prostitution.

jewish philosopher said...

Also, JA, how long on the average do homosexual relationships last? If it's less than 20 years, it's not long enough to raise a kid. And personally I am very skeptical about whether two moms or two dads is the same thing as a mom and a dad. I know that in my own family my wife and I both contribute different, important things to the children. Plus, we are both their biological parents, which cannot be true with a gay couple. There is a bonding there which cannot fully exist between unrelated people, in my humble opinion.

From an atheistic point of view, maybe there is a very good reason why the human family evolved. From my point of view, there is a good reason why God created it.

Kylopod said...

I wrote about the gay marriage issue a few weeks ago:

http://kylopod.blogspot.com/2007/06/next-thing-you-know.html

For now, my question to those who oppose gay marriage is: Can you provide a valid objection that does not appeal to either tradition or slippery-slope reasoning?

Kylopod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kylopod said...

Sorry, clicking on the link doesn't work. Just copy-paste the following URL:

http://kylopod.blogspot.com/2007/06/next-thing-you-know.html

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, when I said "few societies will tolerate this", I'm talking about world over. Have you ever checked out the African attitude to homosexuality north of South Africa, the Chinese attitude, the Muslim attitude, the Russian attitude? In India men were recently arrested simply because they were gay.

CH: Jacob, I'm someone who is pro-democracy, pro-West, anti-communist, and pro-freedom. As such I prefer to take set my moral compass by those countries you refer to as 'decadent and shrinking'.

So Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or China don't approve of gay marriage...so what? Do you really want to argue their culture and morality vs ours in the West?

JP: Homosexuality is applauded in only a few small decedent and shrinking cultures.

CH: Don't mistake tolerance for applause. Giving legal recognition to people is not the same as advocating their life-style. I believe in freedom of religion, but still think its absurd that anyone would actually believe in any religious thinking - the difference is that while I personally think religious belief is somewhere between mistaken and insane, I also believe that building in a tolerance for religious belief is absolutely necessary in order to have a functioning civil society.

Similarly I can endorse the freedom for people to engage in homosexuality, and for the right to have legal gay marriages, without being gay myself.

JP: And, just by the way, I think teen marriages are not necessarily a bad idea.

CH: Why am I not surprised.

JP: The Talmud encourages it. The age of consent has only in the past 150 years been raised from 12 to 16 in an effort (probably fruitless) to discourage the sale of very young girls into prostitution.

CH: I would see the trend differently - as societies grow more advanced (or 'decadent' in your words) the requirement that children be treated as economic pawns of the family recedes in importance, and recognizing the individual happiness of our children by allowing them to make their own decisions rises.

In pre-modern times a family needed to marry off their daughters to ensure political connections, for the dowry, etc. Now, because we de-linked that economic imperative from the family situation we are free to allow our children to pursue love-matches rather than forced child marriages, etc. Given that we encourage in these cases wise decisions be made, they tend to make their decisions on when to get married later in life than in pre-modern times.

And thank goodness for that.

JP: Also, JA, how long on the average do homosexual relationships last? If it's less than 20 years, it's not long enough to raise a kid.

CH: I'd be surprised if the data showed any significant difference between hetero and homosexual relationships when it comes to how long they last. Why? Because we are all people, and marriages gay or straight are still about the relationships of two human beings.

JP: And personally I am very skeptical about whether two moms or two dads is the same thing as a mom and a dad.

CH: I'm going to agree with you - I don't think it's the same. But I also don't think it is substantively different to a degree that merits their being any difference in how we treat them.

JP: I know that in my own family my wife and I both contribute different, important things to the children. Plus, we are both their biological parents, which cannot be true with a gay couple. There is a bonding there which cannot fully exist between unrelated people, in my humble opinion.

CH: I know you will find some disagreement from other adoptive parents about how they feel about their kids. In the end, isn't what really matters is that the parents want and love the child? Does their plumbing really make all that much difference? In every study of children raised in gay relationships I've read the answer is 'nope'. The kids feel just as loved and just as wanted when their parents are two men or two women, or one of each.

jewish philosopher said...

"For now, my question to those who oppose gay marriage is: Can you provide a valid objection that does not appeal to either tradition or slippery-slope reasoning?"

I can't, although I have provided serious public health reasons for prohibiting male on male anal intercourse.

I would assume that gay parenting will be one of those things like socialism and divorce on demand which modern people like to experiment with in spite of how ever millions of lives are ruined. Thirty years from now you'll read about the fallout.

Also, does anyone have any evidence that teens who marry under parental supervision are any more unhappy than anyone else? I have a friend who married recently. She was 18 at her wedding and the groom was the same age. They met I believe only once before the wedding. She has a baby now and looks happier than I've ever seen her.

Kylopod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kylopod said...

"does anyone have any evidence..."

You seem to demand a lot more evidence from your opponents than you ever provide for your own assertions.

I'm not going to get into disputing your specific claims. That's already well-covered in the comments section to your post. Let's assume, for argument's sake, that all of your factual claims are correct. It still doesn't support your argument. Not by a long shot.

Let me put it this way. You know perfectly well that some male homosexuals are monogamous and not pedophiles. Why should they be condemned for the actions of other homosexuals?

You provide no good reasons. You attack all gay relationships for problems that are not inherent to them and can be avoided.

The most honest part of your post is the beginning, where you quote the Bible's prohibition on male sodomy. That's your only real basis for opposing the practice. All your other arguments are rationalizations.

Henry said...

You have a point but why do you keep going on about it with what looks like an obsessive anti-gay campaign?

What about the obscene rate of murder by gun crime in the USA? Or the extremes of wealth and poverty in the USA? Or the mess the USA has created in Iraq and just about every other country your government meddles in? Now those really are something to campaign about and most sane decent people would agree but you keep quiet.

jewish philosopher said...

"You attack all gay relationships for problems that are not inherent to them and can be avoided."

So why aren't narcotics legalized? I'm sure there are some people who have no trouble handling cocaine or heroin.

Henry, I do have plenty to say about politics, however in this blog I am focusing mainly on religion. I see sexual morality as being a religious issue, while gun control and foreign policy are political.

avrum68 said...

"however in this blog I am focusing mainly on religion. I see sexual morality as being a religious issue,"

But still, no fire and brimstone posts about Yids eating shrimp.

"All your other arguments are rationalizations."

Bingo. Jacob...I hang with Orthodox folks, and none of 'em dedicate the time you do to condemning gay sex/marriage/relationships. As the resident therapist on this board, I'd say - to quote Rav Adin Steinsaltz - this is a personal, not a theological, issue for you.

jewish philosopher said...

Just two weeks ago, I did post a very interesting painting depicting someone burning in hell for eating pork.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller, in his taped lectures, often denigrated homosexuals. He in fact basically inspires my blog.

avrum68 said...

Rabbi Miller sound like a very accomplished rav.

During a quick google search about Rav Miller, I came across this blog comment:

"Take the advice of the gemara; when something bad happens, examine your deeds. YOUR deeds, not someone else's."

Very apropos. Agutten Shabbos.

The wife will be happy. I just purchased a beautiful Havdallah set by an Israeli artist.

Kylopod said...

"You attack all gay relationships for problems that are not inherent to them and can be avoided."

So why aren't narcotics legalized? I'm sure there are some people who have no trouble handling cocaine or heroin.


Cocaine and heroin are inherently dangerous. Substances that are only potentially dangerous, like alcohol, are legal.

(This is true in theory; in practice, the distinction between legal and illegal drugs is often a matter of politics. But that's a debate for another time.)

Henry said...

You would well to take your religion out of the bedroom. If it is properly understood, it must impact on all areas of life.