Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If you don't like your faith being ridiculed - don't support ridiculous arguments that presume upon your faith.

H/t Pam Spaulding, whom I adore for her delightfully tactical irreverence.

Andy at Eleventh Avenue South reports that the local anti-gay organization rounded up a group of religious zealots who fear catastrophic end times will result if gay and lesbian couples are able to marry in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Family Council says it will introduce an amendment banning same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in Minnesota in the next few days. The group announced the new amendment push at a press conference with fundamentalist religious leaders on Tuesday.

Those leaders put forward a multi-faith diatribe against gay and lesbian relationships stating that should gays marry, the world would end.

"If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years," said Ikram ul-Huq, the imam and religious director of the Muslim Community Center of Bloomington.

"Homosexual unions are forbidden and cannot be licensed with the term marriage," said Rabbi Moshe Feller, Shliach of the Rebbe to the Upper Midwest, a Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Hasidic Judaism.

"We see this as a pivotal issue to life, not just for our nation but the life we have known for 3,000 years," said Tom Parrish, administrative pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Parrish represents Hope Lutheran Church, whose senior pastor, Tom Brock, raised some eyebrows in 2003 when he insisted the 9/11 attacks were God's wake up call.

"That's a lifestyle that God says is sinful," Brock said of homosexuality in 2003.

The reason their collective panties are in a bunch is that there a bill has been introduced (by Sen. John Marty and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis), in both the Senate and House that if passed would make Minnesota's marriage laws gender neutral. According to the AP, it's unlikely the legislation will make it out of committee.

Digg Link for Pam's Post
The ridiculous part here is that a religion, properly speaking, teaches you how to live a better life. If, in order to achieve that, it must force other people to conform so that adherents can be unaware of workable counter-examples, it's not a religion - it's a sort of boutique government, a theocracy with neither sufficient power to produce good outcomes or the moral advantage needed to be genuinely persuasive.

That objection comes even before we address the merit of the proposition to be imposed from any more abstract angle, ethical, moral or scriptural.

Oh, and since all these fine religious leaders are using arguments from authority right out of the gate - you have every reason to be quite skeptical as to the merit of all moral and scriptural arguments. The utilitarian ones, I believe, are well disposed of already.

I'm perfectly capable of saying this while being a person with a strong preference against having sex with men. I'll go a step further - I'm an androphobe. I don't even want male friends. It takes me bad places in my head, places that I cannot help going when men are around, having to do with social dominance issues.

But, you see, this is MY issue. It colors MY relationships. It defines what sort of relationships will work for me and what ones cannot work, regardless of the quality of people involved. And it really doesn't matter whether I "should" be able to have this relationship or "shouldn't" be able to have that one. It makes far, FAR more sense to concentrate on the positive - a solid relationship built on the things that make me feel good and happy and make it possible to make someone else feel good about being in a relationship with me.

Having done that, and having that relationship prove it's mutual value every day in the face of being nothing like what people would assume, based as it is on mutual social needs and unfortunate experiences that to understand would require explanations of the TMI variety, it's perhaps somewhat simpler for me to see the unstated and deliberately unaccounted costs of forcing all human relationships into a few approved molds. It also tends to reveal to me the degree to which arguments against homosexual relationships are driven by outright phobic irrationality.

Now, phobic overreactions do not make those natural variations in affinity disappear. The irrational reaction forces them underground, where their manifestations will become unconscious or perverted to various degrees, which are then taken to be proof of inherent, rather than circumstantial depravity. To the degree homosexual unions are "sinful," (a mistake, in the Hebrew), it would be in large part due to the social and psychological costs imposed from outside and the difficulty, for most people, of living outside of cultural sanctions that guide and advantage most of us in our daily lives.

I could easily argue that the common, scriptural arguments against homosexuality and legal recognition of homosexual couples are at best tenuous, but that is to miss the more important point. Many religions do impose arbitrary restrictions upon the behavior of their adherents, and there is, arguable merit to making such voluntary sacrifices, if one can.

But whatever merit such voluntary sacrifice may have vanishes if they are imposed by fiat upon all, when an argued moral good becomes mere conformity imposed by law. Such moralisms inevitably and predictably lead to immoral actions in their imposition and outcomes, and inevitably also lead to a numbing of the moral and ethical sensibility of their advocates, for in order to argue the benefits of imposing them, they have to dissociate themselves from any responsibility for negative outcomes caused by their willful and unjust desire to interfere in the moral agency of others.

Violence is done - and not merely to those the religion decides to attack. Not even most significantly in this particular case, for regardless of the precise arrangement of laws, the recognition of committed homosexual marriage is a fact. That is to say, anyone who cares to investigate knows that it's as possible for homosexual couples to maintain a committed and stable relationship as it is for heterosexual couples - even in the significant absence of religious sanction and support.

A religion that finds itself in argument with both reality and the obvious human rights issues of deserves to be questioned in regards to it's actual substantive support OF human rights. It seems to me to be exceptionally questionable that one can support human rights in general while advocating particular exemptions.

And indeed, these moral absurdities long ago led me to question the reason and rationale of their justification, which in turn led me to study the foundations of the arguments for myself. And, as I've stated, I found the arguments to be, at best, questionable. When I raised that question - well, you may well imagine the answers I got.

Dismissive and disrespectful responses to questions of significant and personal moral uncertainty are not proper for any person claiming moral authority. Their authority must be founded in a clear mastery of the moral and ethical universe. They must be conversant with the full range of human nature, nor should their council tend toward the violent and abusive, for one can get that for free, simply by posing the same question to any randomly selected, culturally isolated ignoramus.

In other words - the arguments given by the "moral authorities" cited above are persuasive that they do not have any genuine, authoritative understanding of the moral and ethical dimensions of the foundation of their principles or the unsanitary and unsavory outcomes of their imposition over the last few hundred years.

You'd be better advised to read what text scriptures you like for your own benefit and come to your own conclusions than rely upon the advice of such fools as these. (allow me to commend unto your study the writings of St. Julian of Norwich.)

However, it's fair to state that these are exceptional fools, speaking to an issue that seems to provoke exceptional foolishness. There are fools in every profession. It's wise to cultivate the skills that make discernment between wisdom and foolishness possible, for all wise men are fools in spots.

Values Clarification and Update: The American Family Association has come out against a UN declaration condemning countries that put homosexuals to death, on the grounds that such a condemnation might cause a slippery slope toward tolerance.

Robert Wood, Acting Spokesman for the UN issued the following statement today:

The United States supports the UN Statement on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity,” and is pleased to join the other 66 UN member states who have declared their support of this Statement that condemns human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity wherever they occur.

The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world. As such, we join with the other supporters of this Statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora.

And the anti-gay religious organization AFA responded with the following:

The Obama administration and other proponents of a United Nations statement that calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality claim it merely targets the seven countries that put homosexuals to death. But one pro-family activist [that would be the AFA] warns the document elevates homosexual behavior to skin color and religious belief.

Yes, it's so very offensive to Christianity that one equate killing someone for their skin color or religion be compared to, say, beating a gay to death and claiming the right to celebrate it.

"Christians" like this bode fair to putting Hell into receivership, due to unfair competition.

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