Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Divine Comedy

An acquaintance of mine was recently reading my posts and was found to have differing opinions. He wrote a rebuttal and I, being a firm believer that the truth has nothing to hide from criticism, will link you to his blog where you can read it in full detail. He and I may go back and forth from time to time and it will be visible to everyone, whether our discussion is made public via blog post or comment. I may not always make full-on entries for every post he makes, but I suppose I'll start here. I'll begin by assuming you've read his entire post but I'll quote the relevant sections I'd like to address.

Gay marriage. What a topic. Let's cut right into the meat of it, shall we? I'll tell you where I stand; the Bible has been a guiding source of morality for western civilizations for a very long time. ... When our animal instincts tell us otherwise, our morals keep us from descending into hedonism. These morals have evolved with a heavy Christian influence. ... Our morals are what divide man and animal, in a meta-physical sense. ... Thus, when it comes gay marriage, I stick with the Bible - I say no.
There have been many different books over the ages that guided various civilizations in morality when people needed some fast and easy cure for the problems of their day. Some have done well - others not so well. While it is true that we can partially associate our western values with biblical teachings, this is a double-edged sword. Where you have commandments that say "you shall not murder," (*) you also have verses that say, "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." (*) Where you have commandments that say "Love your neighbor as yourself," (*) you have verses that say, "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (*)

The bible is a mixed bag of good and bad teachings. Most people, like yourself, only focus on the morals we as a developed society agree with and forget about all of the primitive values associated with all things written at the time. And along with our western values came those things which we have abolished and are still trying to abolish today (slavery and sexism, respectively). Perhaps you can agree that because the bible is not totally inerrant that it must therefore contain flaws at some level. Does that not include morality? Can you think of a good excuse for allowing slavery and sexism if you're an all-powerful god that can command otherwise?

Appealing to a morally imperfect book like this does you no good, especially in the political arena. In the case of homosexuality, it lends itself no credibility in the area of determining whether or not gay marriage should be allowed. Of course, you're allowed to think all gay people are immoral and disgusting if you wish, but should you make it your business if two people want to be "immoral" together, legally? Perhaps, as you put it, live and let live?
I disagree with you and I do a better Dr. House impression. This is the way Niccolò Machiavelli determines what's right and wrong. There are some unwritten societal laws that do not follow a logical order. More importantly, there are questions that are impossible to answer using only logic, e.g. do the ends justify the means?
You highlight something I pointed out in my last post, namely that there are tough moral questions. And with tough questions come tough answers, if any at all. However, I won't stray too far on that subject because it's irrelevant. In the question of homosexuality, is allowing gay marriage an impossible question to answer? Or do some people just not like the answer I give, instead preferring to dwell in their moral caves sequestered from everything but the simple answers their holy book gives? Is it possible to give a logical "no" answer to this question that doesn't involve the bible? I eagerly await the response to this question moreso than to any others I have asked.
This is not how our country works. There are very specific institutions in place to protect the views and wishes of minority parties. The Judicial branch of our government is an almost exclusive arbiter of minority party rights.
I refer to, in general, the democracy that allows for majority positions to become law. After all, if the minority controlled the country, how could we ever expect to run it sensibly?
... 'some [people] are objects of His mercy and some are objects of His wrath.' (I paraphrase - this notion is called God's elect.) In a nutshell, not everyone can be saved.
How very unfortunate for these people. Perhaps the all-loving god is subjecting these unsavable people to eternal torture for...
  • the good of other humans?
  • a lesson for the angels?
  • his own amusement?
Or maybe the things stated in the bible don't come from a loving god but from the bigoted men that lived thousands of years ago who thought it was OK to own slaves, beat children, stone men for carrying sticks, oppress women, and commit genocide at every turn of their promised-land-journey? Do you have any doubt that homophobia could be just another point on that list?


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