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Friday, September 12, 2008

On Tollerance, Continued

As I was taking a gander around, I noticed an article pop up this morning on the subject of my post yesterday and I thought that I would add some of the ideas from that to my ideas yesterday. Now, yesterday, I was focused specifically on homosexuality. I was thinking that it might be unfair for Christians to be more focused on the ways of the gay when in fact the Bible is totally against any non-marital sexual interaction, and even to focus on that, when there is so much more immorality out there, but I digress. I was asked about homosexuality, which is why I focused on it. Additionally, I don't remember the Bible using the word, "abomination," about any other sexual activity (though it's pretty harsh on bestiality, but I don't believe bestiality is quite as common as homosexuality).

What might have been unclear (but might have been if you read to the end and inferred appropriately), is that I believe Christians should not be judgmental. You might say that my continuing on talking about the immoralities in western culture is a sign of my judgment on western culture or those participating in these immoralities, but consider this (and this):
A close friend of yours is driving and you are a passenger. Your friend has a habit of not stopping at stop signs and he is about to pull up to one when you notice a police officer coming around the corner where your friend probably can't see. What do you do?

I know what I do, and I hope you would do something similar. I would tell my friend, "You better stop, the authorities are watching." Does that make me judgmental? I think not. I think that is specifically a sign of me being a caring individual. Even if I have my own problem stopping at stop signs, I think no one can disagree that it is caring for me to warn my friend.
If I tell an immoral person, "You better stop, the Authority is watching?" How is that any different? Just because I'm not perfect doesn't mean that I should not care that that person will get in trouble and if I see a way to help, I will.

Unfortunately, it often seems difficult for the onlooker to distinguish someone who actually cares from someone who is prideful in his own position and looks down on those who he views as lesser because of their problems (in this case with morality). Acknowledging this, I encourage anyone wanting to enlighten another of their iniquities, to first consider their own and then consider the person's willingness to hear constructive criticism (and your ability to provide it constructively and not pridefully).

Many view those who are trying to get governmental support for Christian morality (i.e. ban homosexual "marriage", ban the slaughter of the unborn, ban prostitution, etc.) as trying to, "impose," their morality, but I disagree. I view it as trying to get the government to stop condoning the morality of humanism and materialism, which are directly opposed to the laws of the true Authority.

12 comments:

Mike L. said...

Josh,

Here's the problem I see with your logic. First, you've used your own interpretation of the world (and of the bible) as a synonym with absolute Truth. You tend to say this is the "natural reading". Actually, everyone would suggest their reading is the "natural reading". I'd suggest the best reading is one that reads the text in context of its original authors and readers not our own 21st century ears. In either case, I would never try and suggest my interpretation is the only right reading. To do otherwise would be extremely arrogant. I hope you are not implying that kind of arrogance.

If we followed your logic through to completion, then we would have to allow Muslim Americans to impose moral laws like banning women from teaching, holding public office, or uncovering their heads in public. We would have to bend our rights as Americans to the whims of any group that gains power and claims "God told me to..." or "my sacred text declares...". The constitution is clear about yielding such power to any group including ourselves.

If we follow your logic to completion, then we would have to accept the notion that whenever we determine it is beneficial to the eternal salvation of a person, we can pass a law to force their adherence to a particular religious moral code. Therefore, we could pass a law saying any person that doesn't become a Christian is heading for eternal damnation so we should make being non-Christian a federal crime. We'd say it is for their own good, right?

The "harm" you are protecting people from with moral codes is not a literal physical harm that you can prove. The likelihood of a traffic action when running stop signs is a provable testable theory. Eternal damnation is not. Based on measurable probabilities and historical evidence, we can enforce the former but not the later.

Do you really want a governing body that is setup so whoever has power can instigate its own moral code as law? It may sound good to you when your group is in power, but can you be sure it will stay that way?

I appreciate your link to Leviticus 19:15 "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly." However, I wonder if you applied it to your logic. For example, how does this command relate to discrimination against homosexuals? Our current laws give preferential tax benefits, access to insurance benefits, inheritance rights, and other partiality to heterosexual couples without regards to "fairness". Banning gay marriages creates injustice and violates this scripture verse.

How can you read that verse and respond to a woman who is struggling to survive without health care or social security after her partner died, while your wife will be taken care of at tax payer expense when you die? How can you sleep at night with that injustice on your conscious?

I don't support gay marriage because I think it is moral or immoral. I do it because of this bible verse that resonates in my heart. I cannot rest well knowing my wife will be cared for while so many others will not. That is a perversion of justice.

flobi said...

My interpretation is based on reading the text and basing the meaning of each word on my understanding of the common usage of these words as I have heard them through my life. When in doubt, I consult a dictionary, today's standard for interpreting the meaning of commonly used words. You have insinuated that there is doubt, so: Thou(1) shalt(2) not(1) lie with (2-22-b) mankind,(2) as(1) with(2) womankind: it(5) is(6) abomination(3). The numbers represent which definition I felt most accurately conveyed the context of the word within the sentence. I like to think that this is a natural(11) interpretation. This is the only widely accepted method of interpreting written text in any commonly understood language worldwide. There is no known convention that is opposed to this method that has been used widely at any time in the past. I imagine you are using this method while reading the text here.

Concerning your remark about the logical conclusion, I totally agree. And that (the proposed women laws) would be appropriate for a country that was primarily Muslim. Considering our country is (or claims to be) primarily Christian, I think that our laws should reflect that. It would be irresponsible to go to a primarily Muslim state and try to rewrite their laws to disregard the common moral understanding of the governed without first changing the common moral understanding.

And we already do that and it would be hypocritical to try to claim otherwise. For instance, at least some Muslim traditions and/or sacred texts require Muslims to kill members of other religions who refuse to convert. However, because of our Christian influence, we have a number of laws banning killing humans (at least after they're born) and against religious profiling (in the workplace and other places).

And the "harm" is observable, at least in the case of homosexuality. You can choose to close your eyes if you desire, but I have only recently opened mine back up and I forgot how good it is to see.

Since the beginning of this country, the governing body has primarily comprised of individual people claiming to be Christian. There are laws providing that as the country converts to Muslim, our leaders will be replaced with Muslim leaders and implement Muslim compatible laws. (You can replace Muslim with humanism or any other religions viewpoint if you like.) I believe this is a good design. The government should reflect the purpose of the people.

With Leviticus 19:15, you seem to be ignoring the first part about perverting justice. You seem to be claiming that the righteous union between a man and a woman should be equated with the unrighteous union of two men or two women. I suppose if the two are equated as equally righteous, your logic works, but it would be a perversion of justice to equate the two.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the poor. However, I refuse to equate a righteous lifestyle with an unrighteous lifestyle. Such an equation would be injurious only to the righteous.

I don't support gay "marriage" because I believe even the general concept is demeaning to the beautiful institution of marriage. A true perversion of justice is equating righteousness with unrighteousness. The institution of marriage is under enough strain from the pressures of humanism and materialism. What's the divorce rate now? I heard it passed 50%, but I haven't actually looked any stats up.

(For convenience, this has been organized in a paragraph by paragraph response to your comment; each paragraph of mine directly corresponds to one of yours in the same order.)

Mike L. said...

Here's the problem. You've gone through and selected which version of each word's definition you'll use. Some of those words had many different possible definitions. You've proven my point by doing this. You've proven that there is more than one possible interpretation. You used one of many possible combinations of definitions for each word. For example, why didn't you pick option 22a for "lie with"

"to be the duty or function of: The decision in this matter lies with him."

I suspect you chose 22b because you have a predetermined motive and you've selected the choice that makes your point.

As for our nation's religious roots...

I think the founders of this country and our constitution would be appalled by your notion that the majority religion should set laws. Franklin, Jefferson, Ethan Allen, and many of the framers were deists not Christians per se. The humanist movement wasn't particularly popular until the 20th century, but deism was a likely precursor to humanism. The constitution does not in any way allow a majority religion to implement its religious rules into law. In fact, it works to prevent that scenario.

Lastly, you dodged my point. How can it be called justice for tax payers to care for your wife after you die, but not care for the partner of a lesbian who paid just as much social security tax during her live as you did? Gay marriage has nothing to do with declaring it right or wrong in God's eyes. It has to do with granting equal access to rights under the law for all people regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Is drinking a sin? How about eating pork? How about smoking? If so, should we strip away social security and access to health insurance from anyone who drinks or eats pork? Maybe it would be smarter to stop giving health care benefits to people who smoke or over eat and give health care to skinny gay people? I'm sure it would be a wise financial choice.

The constitution separates those moral questions from laws and demands equal rights regardless of religious decisions.

I'm pro-marriage. I think it helps society. That's why I think it would help gay people also. I'd like them to enjoy the benefits of that institution. I think it would make them better citizens in our society. The mental health concerns you pointed out in a link are not related to a person's sexual identity. The mental health problems are a result of living in a society that degrades you. There is also tremendous mental health problems related to being fat, short, ugly, slow, or any other characteristic that society rejects and outcasts. Dentists have a track record for high suicide rates. Should we outlaw dentistry?

The best cure for mental health problems among the gay community would be for society to stop telling them they are bad people and accept them for the way God made them. Mental health problems are often related to injustice, so again I'll point back to the verse you introduced (Leviticus 19:15).

flobi said...

I chose 22b for a number of reasons. Primarily, common usage indicates to me that when one person "lies with" another person, it doesn't normally mean that the person "[is] the duty or function of" the other person (and this would be understandable since both duty and functons refer to actions, not objects). But, if it meant that the first "[has] sexual intercourse with" the other, it would make sense (this relates to people). Then, I noticed the label "Archaic" and I realized that the KJV is an archaic version of the Bible and is very likely using archaic language. And thirdly, in context with the surrounding sentences, which are about having sexual relations, this sentence would likely be on the same topic. It is easily feasable that in the original language, their words for sexual intercourse may have been more limited and specific (including only male on female action) and did not include any similar male on male relations and they would need to use a comparison. It's also feasable that archaic English's words for sexual intercourse did not include those types of relations in it's definition or both.

I do have a predetermined motive when reading, to understand. There is no other definition of lie that would compare reasonably in the comparison "as with womankind." And even though there are other ones that could make sense without this comparison (or without the context), 22a doesn't. You are the only person I know who would say that any of the definitions I pointed out were inappropriate. But, I don't believe you have a problem understanding straight forward sentences, I think you have a problem with what this sentence conveys straight forwardly because it is against your predetermined motive.

Sure, the constitution does not allow a religion to directly implement it's laws into state law. I agree, but it does allow for laws to be made by the people who are governed through elected representatives. The idea is that the representatives would be representing their people and enact laws in relative alignment with the standards of those represented. If those people were primarily Muslim (as in the example), they would elect someone sympathetic to the Muslim cause and that person would promote Muslim compatible changes to the state law. The more people who were convicted to that standard, the more representatives would be pushing to implement the standard in state law. So, by design, the laws are flexible enough to reflect the standards of the governed and ones standards are determined primarily through their understanding and implementation of their religion. All this is really symantics anyways.

There are laws prohibiting public drunkenness and smoking in certain places. But the bible never says drinking is wrong anyways. Nor smoking. And you'd be siding with me against most everyone if you said the Bible says Christians shouldn't eat pork. But nonetheless, health insurance is increased for smokers. If there was a way for the health insurance companies to find out if people regularly drank excessively, they would adjust the premiums for that too. And all this is irrelevant because the logic is based on equating a righteous act with an unrighteous act. If the courts find that grounds of moral disapproval are insufficient to criminalize any one thing, then there are no laws criminalizing anything which have any basis.

You know, I knew I shouldn't have used those statistics when I did. Statistics are generally useless in my opinion and I shouldn't have. But then, there is the difference of 6 times greater the average for homosexuals verses a mere half times greater for dentists. And whether or not these problems are caused by society condemning them or is intrinsic to their lifestyles is up for debate, I'm sure (but not with me, I'm not a psycologist). I personally think homosexuality is a symptom of a bigger problem. Romans 1: 18-23 is relevant to this viewpoint of mine.

But society doesn't tell homosexuals they are bad people anymore. In fact, society does it's best to not only portray homosexuals in a good light, but homosexuality too. There's a handful of fanatics out there screaming that gays should be feared and hated. There's a lot of people out there saying that they should be given benifits awarded straight couples too. Not a whole lot of people are out there trying to help them control themselves and start living Gods word.

If they treated a widow who murdered her husband the same as a widow whose husband died naturally, I think you would be shocked. What it really comes down to is that you do not believe that homosexuality is wrong, thus homosexuality and heterosexuality activities are equally righteous. It appears that your main defense here against the argument that it is wrong is a feable critique of a single scripture passage. If there is any capacity for a human to understand the written word, the meaning of that verse is obvious. You can believe that the Bible is wrong. That is your perogative. But, if the Bible is wrong, there is no basis for Christianity. I believe the Bible is the true word of God, though I do understand that errors have accumulated through many copyings and translations, but those are systematically studied and even through them, the message shows through clearly to those who actually want to see it.

Mike L. said...

Josh,

Of course, you still avoided the central issue because you don't seem to have an answer. Should we grant gay couples the same rights and access to social security benefits, health insurance (currently you cannot add a "partner" as part of your company health plan), and other basic rights under our nations laws?

I've not once claimed the bible is wrong. I've not once claimed I don't believe it. I've not once claimed homosexuality is right or wrong. I've merely claimed that a gay person paying social security their whole life should have the right to allow their partner to claim those benefits after they die just as you and I do. They've paid into the system equality and if they cannot receive equal benefits, then that is a gross injustice. The same is true for health insurance benefits which are not allowed in to be granted for gay partners in most states.

Mike L. said...

Josh,

On the issue of interpretation, I agree wholeheartedly with your interpretation of that verse. I do think you've interpreted it correctly. I merely pointed out that what you and I have both done is an interpretation and their could be others, but I definitively agree that we have both come to the same correct conclusion about the text. It clearly articulates a ban on homosexuality. I agree with you that this is the author's intention.

However, that isn't the issue at hand. There are plenty of items that ancient Jews banned which we do not place into law in 21st century America. These are two different issues.

You'll need to answer these question if you wish to do justice to the conversation...

Should we ban (and remove civil rights of violators) smoking, getting drunk, over eating, eating pork, wearing clothes made of two different types of materials, w woman's right to divorce an abusive husband, women speaking or showing their heads in public, and all other issues spoken in Leviticus?


How about claiming Jesus as Lord (that is blaspheme per Leviticus)? If Jews can get a majority vote, should they be allowed to ban the worship of Jesus and strip Christians of our rights to social security benefits?

flobi said...

I did answer this, but you seem to want a simple yes or no answer. “Should we grant gay couples the same rights and access to social security benefits, health insurance, and other basic rights under our nations laws?” My answer is “no.” But the question solicits a misleading answer.

Yes or no questions share fundamental logic with true or false statements. If any part is false, the entire thing is false. Interpreting my “no” as an indication that I don’t think homosexuals should be allowed any social security benefits, health insurance or other basic rights whatsoever would be inaccurate. As I will explain, the benefits you speak of are a promotion for married people, not basic rights.

One thing you have not done is to take a stance on whether the Bible is right or wrong. I am glad that you can agree my interpretation is accurate to the intended meaning of the author, but you fail to comment on the accuracy of that meaning. I’m sure that we could agree the intended meaning is that those words were spoken directly by God himself. But do you believe the Bible can be trusted to be truthful? And why or why not?

For time sake, I’m not looking up all these laws (on diet, drunkenness, multi-material fabric, overeating), but one significant difference between the section on dietary laws and sexual relations laws is this: The sexual relations laws ends with a warning that any nation which does not follow these laws will be “vomited out” by the land, individuals who break these laws should be cut off from the people and they are called together detestable and practice of them defiling. The dietary laws have no such conclusion.

Even if the comparison with those laws is valid, it is irrelevant because I have not recommended making homosexuality illegal. I should clarify this, when I say that I think homosexual “marriage” should be banned, by “homosexual ‘marriage’” I am referring to the governmental sanctioning of homosexual partnerships in a way that equates it with or elevates it to the same status of heterosexual marriages. You can see it’s much easier to say the other way, mainly for the sake of brevity. Technically any union of homosexuals would fall under this by the dictionary definition. But if the issue was just finding a church to perform a unionizing ceremony, it would be moot because anyone can become an officially ordained minister in the ULC. They want government sanctioning.

Even without a religious basis, faithful marriage has been shown to have a positive effect on society. The government and society rightfully has seen fit to award certain benefits to couples who marry and remain married. There are also penalties for breaking this commitment. Some of the benefits you have mentioned are social security for the widow or widower and health insurance coverage for spouses. There are also tax benefits and a free name change for both spouses and all the children of a newly married couple among a wide range of other benefits. Marriage is heavily promoted by the government and society. These are not basic rights; otherwise they would be distributed freely independent of marriage.

There are absolutely no basic rights withheld from homosexuals. If what you are recommending is that homosexual partnerships fall under the definition of marriage and receive this same promotion from the government and society, I am against this emphatically. It is demeaning to marriage and directly promotional to homosexual lifestyle and homosexuality itself. Even from the secular view, homosexuality has not provided any relative value to society and from a Biblical point of view, it is abominable. There is no reason homosexuals should

And finally, claiming Jesus is Lord is only against Leviticus if Jesus is not God. Non-Messianic Jews do not believe he is God, so they would find this to be a blasphemous statement, yes. They would be allowed to make the laws you propose in the hypothetical you created, but they would have to change it in the constitution, which they would be allowed to do by the methods set therein provided they had the required majority.

By the way, Jesus IS Lord.

Mike L. said...

We agree Jesus is Lord!

How can you be true to God's command to seek justice and support laws that allow your wife to collect the social security money that YOU pay into the system, yet you would not allow that same access for a gay partner? You've both paid in the same money yet your wife is allowed to collect those benefits based on a legal agreement that is limited to heterosexuals. Its an agreement whereby your wife (and children) can collect from that fund, while a gay couple is not treated equally. That is clear injustice.

My personal stand on homosexuality is irrelevant to the legal issue. That is a key point in the constitution. Personal values and preferences are not allowed to be held over others.

In reference to the last paragraph of your last response. I believe you have admitted that the constitution would need to be modified in order for Jews to impose their moral laws on Christians. By doing that, you've also admitted that Christians would need the same constitutional changes to impose our values (forbidding gay marriage) on others. So, your own logic proves that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional and would require constitutional restructuring.

flobi said...

Actually, it is your logic that is at failure here. Part of your request was that Jews could force Christians to stop worshiping Jesus. That blatantly violates the constitution's provision that people would be able to participate in the religion of their choice. To change that, they would have to remove that provision from the constitution. The requirement of homosexual "marriage" is a not in any established religion.

I notice you continue to refuse to make a stand on your position. You also continue to claim that the governments benefits to married couples constitutes a basic right. This is an illogical conclusion. Is it right for the government to promote healthy activity like participating in a traditional family or quitting smoking and excessive drinking? Sure! Is it right for the government to promote questionable activity like homosexual "marriage", interspecies "marriage", or the pornography industry? No! It would be socially irresponsible.

Your logic would also, by the way, support government sanctioning of interspecies "marriage", even homosexual interspecies "marriage". One site says there are on the order of 1,400 benefits provided marriages, should these apply to these "marriages" also?

I could ask the same question of you, how can you claim that it is seeking justice to ask the government to promote socially questionable activity equally with demonstratively socially beneficial activity? Is it justice to use the tax money of honest Christians to support activity they view as deplorable when it hasn't even shown to be socially beneficial and equate that activity with something they view as positive and beneficial and is demonstratively so?

Let's get this out because I'm tired of pingponging this. You keep saying that government sanctioning of homosexual "marriage" and applying with it all the benefits (1,400ish) of traditional marriage are basic rights. I keep demonstrating that that is logically, socially and morally false. You offer no evidence to show that your position (i.e. homosexual partnerships deserve to be promoted equally with heterosexual marriages) is valid and no evidence to show my claim (heterosexual marriage is demonstratably beneficial and is validly promoted, while homosexual unions are at best socially questionable and at worse a morally deplorable perversion of a holy institution) is invalid. You claim the contradiction that it's seeking God's justice to ensure the promotion of homosexual "marriage," yet agree in the interpretation that the Bible indicates homosexuality itself is deplorable. Change your stance or provide reason or the conversation has no where to go. I am not going to fulfill your infinite loop.

flobi said...

I want to address directly something to make it perfectly clear. I noted while thinking about all this that you probably want me to acknowledge your playing of the sympathy card (again). I do sympathize with anyone in financial distress. I am having financial issues at the moment myself and I know how frustrating it can be. I also see the homeless people downtown (which I've never had the experience working near before here) and it touches my heart how much they must be suffering. However, I don't think that promoting homosexuality (or any other socially questionable activity) is a proper way to help solve these issues or help anyone in general. I have acknowledged this numerous times, but probably not quite so clearly as I am doing now.

Mike L. said...

Josh,

I don't need to provide anything other than to say that you and your wife have benefits that a gay couple do not. End of story. It is you who has to prove why that discrimination is permissible. When you pay into social security, you can pass those benefits on to your wife. That is a clear benefit (not a right) that you are using that gay couples cannot. We force those couples to pay into social security, but do not give them the same benefits or ability to use those resources. The only reason for this is the particular religious values of certain groups.

I support marriage. I think the Bible is correct to advocate marriage. Our government made a reasonable choice to promote it and provide incentive. The problem is that our constitution does not allow for those kinds of incentives to be applied to only one segment of the population on the basis of race or sexual orientation.

You've tried to draw analogies that are absurd. The constitution does not provide rights for animals so that trows out your inter species example. Ending bans on gay marriage does not "promote" gay marriage. It promotes marriage and recognizes that we can't discriminate.

Society benefits from gay marriages for the same reasons that it benefits from heterosexual marriages. It creates stable relationships and discourages promiscuity and all the problems that accompany promiscuity.

flobi said...

You have already provided that my wife and I have benefits that a gay couple do not. There's no disagreement here, but it isn't that it happens, it's why it happens that is in disagreement perhaps.

From the social standpoint, I have provided that those benefits are due to a policy promoting an institution which has been demonstrate as significantly profitable for society. I have accused that the gay couple's unholy union has not been demonstrated to be profitable (with or without the word significantly) for society and as such is not equatable from the point of justifying social promotions.

It has not been shown to create stable relationships or discourage promiscuity as you claim. It has been claimed to have the potential of doing so (you are not the only one making that claim), but not shown to do so at all. In fact, homosexual divorce in the countries that allow such unholy "marriages" is substantially higher than heterosexual divorce.

On a religious standpoint, it is deplorable that one would try to make equal one what is holy, with another that is evil. And unless you remove the Bible or the meaning of it's words from Christianity (at which point, that Christianity has no basis and is void), it is agreeable that marriage is holy and homosexuality is abominable.

The analogies I drew were not on the constitution, they were on the moral standards you are displaying in this conversation. The constitution mentions nothing on the topic of marriage. It is the same section of the Bible outlawing homosexuality that outlaws bestiality (the next verse). Our government is not a moral framework, it is a social framework designed specifically so that the moral convictions of the society (which currently claims to be predominantly Christian) can shine through.

All this is very reminiscent something from Romans, "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they ... approve of those who practice [these very things]." These people are referred to in the Bible as fools.

Socially and religiously, your claims against my stance (whether or not you actually personally hold to this opposing stance, I cannot be sure) are empty.