Friday, July 01, 2005

Exploring unity

Thread preservation and commentary in which I will attempt to alienate everyone I'm happy to have had two readers - Jonathan and The Holy Fool - engage in a terrific discussion of the merits of SSM. Since Haloscan will eventually delete all their work, I'm posting it here in order to preserve it. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read it over. They do a fine job of outlining their views, smartly and civilly. Reading it over, I am of the opinion that Jonathan's view best describes why we are at the point that we are at. That is to say, his view explains the actions of a lot of people who know nothing of his Gnostic faith but unwittingly find themselves holding bits and pieces of it. To no one's surprise, my own views are in line with The Fool's, and also with a new blogger I discovered just today: Dreadnought. I have added a few more comments and observations of my own view at the end of this post. Here, now, is the preserved thread. In places in which it became difficult to tell who is speaking, I have used colour to try and clarify it.
If Canadians don't stay "worked up over it", they're not paying attention to the larger picture. "Gay Marriage" changes the worldview of marriage from a personal, loving and life-giving union between an consciousness-embodied man and woman into a mere social contract between two dis-integrated people. Such people have divorced their minds from their bodies instead of living in the reality that every person lives life in body and mind. To live otherwise is to devalue part of one's self; this diminishes a person as a whole. This diminished person then goes through life making important decisions based on nothing more than "What I want" instead of "What is right." How long will it take before such an attitude of convenience toward marriage results in spiking divorce rates and other destabilizing factors in society? Think any society can stand for long if it's founded on quicksand? Harm the family, and Society suffers. The widespread acceptance of the philosophical paradigm of which "gay marriage" is an example hurts the family. That's why conservatives, particularly of the Traditionalist bend, refuse to surrender. That's why conservatives in Canada, and the rest of the world, shouldn't either. A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.29.05 - 1:47 pm | #
"Gay Marriage" changes the worldview of marriage... On what planet? Seriously, this makes zero sense to me. Since the dawn of time, same sex couples have made loving, lifelong commitments and raised families. While it was done clandestinely, it was nevertheless done. Those who opposed homosexuality generally criticize gays for NOT making lifelong commitments ie promiscuity. So there's always been gay "marriages", just not gay "civil unions" - which is all a government, any government, can bestow. Just as in the eyes of the Roman church a "divorce" can dissolve a legal corporation but not a marriage, neither can the same government create marriage through the issuance of permits. The fact that we've had SSM here for a few years (and there's not been a stampede of gay couples getting married nor anybody suing the local Parish for not putting up streamers) makes chickenlittles out of SSM opponents. Yesterday's ruling does not in any way make MY marriage less. The government, Tories, Liberals, whoever, can issue all the decrees it wishes without diminishing my family. Anyway, I made a prediction on this site several months ago, and I believe SOMEBODY owes me a bazillion dollars. Blessings, Jordan Jordan Stratford+ | Homepage | 06.29.05 - 7:53 pm | #
"Evidence, please" A very soggy comeback. It's like saying "there's never been a happy milkman. Do I know one? Do you? How do you "really" know he's happy? Gets us nowhere. Are you suggesting that throughout history there have never been SS couples in committed, lifelong loving relationships who've raised kids together? This line of reasoning is just plain silly. "those people" I would say those people who criticize a Bishop for advocating "coercion" have a valid point. The objection is to the term, not his right to express his position. It was an appalling straw-man to suggest the objection was against his right to express Catholic Teaching (tm). Yes, a small minority wishes the Roman church would stop saying x. But overwhelmingly people in this country believe in free speech - but NOT to the point of advocating violence, or the threat of violence, which is the meaning of coercion. This does not to my understanding require a change in RC teaching, but if the Church actually does call for the use of violence against homosexuals that's a new on one me. "Sexual activity between two gay people can't be unitive or procreative." Not procreative, as is the case with millions of heterosexual couples, but how can you say it's not unitive? Two people, together, for better or worse etc. dying of old age surrounded by grandkids. This is not unitive? Now, you may disagree with me, but I affirm these people have souls, they have spirit, and such a loving committed family is a manifestation of spiritual unity, in my view. "There can be no mutual holistic act of self-giving between them" Respectfully, I have to dismiss this outright. On what possible grounds is this statement made? If we look at mutual, and holistic, and self-giving, each one of these terms can apply to the same-sex couples that I have known personally. One might equally say that vegetarian couples can't have a self-giving relationship, or that couples who own lawnmowers can't be "mutual". Please understand that I think it's completely fair for you to say that SSM is outside the Church's teachings, or even the will of God, or not natural. But I do object to the illogic of employing terms such as "self-giving" when it's demonstrable that gay couples are indeed capable of such relationships. It seems to me that THIS is the root of the cries of bigotry: when one claims that SSM is immoral, that's a fair comment, but when one claims that gay couples can't be unitive, that's easily construed as bigotry when run through the filter of logic and fairness, in my opinion. Jordan Stratford+ | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 11:32 am | #
Since the dawn of time, same sex couples have made loving, lifelong commitments and raised families. Evidence, please. Those who opposed homosexuality generally criticize gays for NOT making lifelong commitments ie promiscuity. Again, Evidence, please. By "homosexuality" are you referring to the orientation or activity? Catholic Teaching condemns the latter; the former it calls disordered because such an orientation does not lead to unitive and procreative sexual activity. This does not mean a person with such an orientation is evil. Just as in the eyes of the Roman church a "divorce" can dissolve a legal corporation but not a marriage, neither can the same government create marriage through the issuance of permits. True, the government does not "create" marriage. Governments do recognize marriages, however. By recognizing marriages, Government declares the public legitimacy of such unions because they benefit the social order. If government recognizes that two people in a relationship are married, when ontologically they're incapable of such a relationship, places rhetoric over reality. An homosexual relationship doesn't embody the complementarity of a marriage between a man and woman. The procreative and unitive sexual act within a marriage of a man and woman is the expression of the complete union of self-giving persons that marriage is. Sexual activity between two gay people can't be unitive or procreative. Any sexual relation between such people is an act that fundamentally puts such people's minds and bodies in opposition. There can be no mutual holistic act of self-giving between them. Thus, such a relationship between two persons can't be a marriage. To call any other type of relationship a marriage confuses society's understanding of marriage. Such confusion leads to a diminished respect for marriage, which results in disaster for society. The fact that we've had SSM here for a few years (and there's not been a stampede of gay couples getting married nor anybody suing the local Parish for not putting up streamers) makes chickenlittles out of SSM opponents. If opponents of "gay marriage" are such "chicken littles", then what would you call those people that have accused a Catholic Bishop up of human rights violations because he publicly addresses the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is a Bishop's primary role? Perhaps they're so concerned that Catholics would somehow stop the same-sex marriage bill that now has passed. Would this make those people the chicken littles in your opinion? A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 2:42 pm | #
"Evidence, please" A very soggy comeback. It's like saying "there's never been a happy milkman. Do I know one? Do you? How do you "really" know he's happy? Gets us nowhere. As apples and oranges as I've ever seen. Your example has nothing to do with the statement that I asked you to support. Are you suggesting that throughout history there have never been SS couples in committed, lifelong loving relationships who've raised kids together? This line of reasoning is just plain silly. Indeed, but that's not what I've suggested. You observation that "Since the dawn of time, same sex couples have made loving, lifelong commitments and raised families" implies a significant number of these people. That implied assertion calls for evidence. Can you point out any reliable evidence that shows significant numbers of these or not? "those people" I would say those people who criticize a Bishop for advocating "coercion" have a valid point. The objection is to the term, not his right to express his position. Coercion? What utter nonsense. ,a href="http://www.ccrl.ca/index.php?id=208">Here is the pastoral letter that Bishop Henry wrote. This is the sentence that appears to have caused the hand-wringing: Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good. The entire context of his letter it to oppose "gay marriage". His opponents conveniently interpret the "implications" of his letter to say that he calls on the State to "oppress" homosexuals. The bishops opponents don't like that he has used strong language to advocate the Catholic Church's opposition to a political goal they hold most dear. This is rank censorship if ever there was one. (cont.) A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 2:54 pm | #
It was an appalling straw-man to suggest the objection was against his right to express Catholic Teaching (tm). Wrong. The objection to Bishop Henry's letter is an objection to his instruction on a related principle of Catholic Social Teaching. You're characterization of this blatant tactic as an "appalling straw-men" suggests a regretable intellectual dishonesty that I'm sure you're better than. Yes, a small minority wishes the Roman church would stop saying x. True, only two plaintiffs lodged complaints against Henry Bishop. But the subsequent coverage by the Toronto Star and the CBC have overwhelmingly presented a one-sided view of the controversy. One can't help but wonder if they would rather the Bishop disappear from the public square. But overwhelmingly people in this country believe in free speech - but NOT to the point of advocating violence, or the threat of violence, which is the meaning of coercion. This is such a red herring that it's laughable. Where did Bishop Henry advocate violence? Unless you subscribe to the libertarian notion that all government intervention is "violent", this conclusion reeks of insanity. Or worse, politically correct posturing. This does not to my understanding require a change in RC teaching, but if the Church actually does call for the use of violence against homosexuals that's a new on one me. On the contrary, the Catholic Church condemns violence or visciousness of any kind, including actual discrimination. That's why Bishop Henry did not call for the commission any of these violations of Christian charity. He called on government to exercise it's proper role of regulating the rights of citizens in order to promote the common good, in this case to refuse to legalize marriage for active homosexual couples. (cont.) A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 3:19 pm | #
"Sexual activity between two gay people can't be unitive or procreative." Not procreative, as is the case with millions of heterosexual couples, but how can you say it's not unitive? Two people, together, for better or worse etc. dying of old age surrounded by grandkids. This is not unitive? In point of fact, it is not completely unitive, which is the whole point of sex being a unitive act. At no time can these two people unite physically in such an intimate way that they share the entire essence of their very lives: mental, emotional spiritual and physical. While they may share the first three, they can't share the final one. To suggest that physical union is not necessary for the sexual act to be unitive is to embrace a dualism that defies human experience and reasoning as old as classical antiquity. Now, you may disagree with me, but I affirm these people have souls, they have spirit, and such a loving committed family is a manifestation of spiritual unity, in my view. Of course I would not disagree with you as to whether or not people that engage in active homosexual activity have souls. They are people before they are gay people, after all. However, as I explained before, unitive sexuality requires more than just spiritual unity. We are embodied souls, not independent states of consciousness that ride a body the way a child rides a bike. "There can be no mutual holistic act of self-giving between them" Respectfully, I have to dismiss this outright. On what possible grounds is this statement made? If we look at mutual, and holistic, and self-giving, each one of these terms can apply to the same-sex couples that I have known personally. With respect, you have never known same-sex couples that have participated in homosexual activity that is at least open to procreativity. I have argued that if this is not the case, than the act can't be physically unitive, and therefore can't be unitive to the person as a whole. The unitive and procreative nature of sexual activity can't be separated without violating the sacredness of the gift and the dis-integration of those that participate in it. (cont.) A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 3:28 pm | #
One might equally say that vegetarian couples can't have a self-giving relationship, or that couples who own lawnmowers can't be "mutual". Non-sequitors now? Honestly, I expected more sound arguments from you. Please understand that I think it's completely fair for you to say that SSM is outside the Church's teachings, or even the will of God, or not natural. I appreciate your fairness regarding my acceptance of 2,000 years of Divinely revealed tradition. It's more than some that advocate "gay marriage" have afforded me. A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 3:32 pm | # But I do object to the illogic of employing terms such as "self-giving" when it's demonstrable that gay couples are indeed capable of such relationships. Ah, I see. So the very argument that rationally calls into question the morality of homosexual activity and "gay marriage"--without reference to sectarian doctrine of any kind--is the argument you object to as "illogical". Let's try it again, then, shall we? *People are made up of body, mind and spirit. *People live their lives as an integrated whole of body, mind and spirit. *A man and woman that truly love each other as themselves, or even greater than themselves, choose to unite themselves together in marriage. *This union is therefore one of body, mind and spirit. *The fundamental expression of this union, sexual intercourse, is therefore an expression that unites them physically, mentally and spiritually. (Note that I include the emotional under the term mental for simplicity's sake) *Physically, the sexual act provides for the couples mutual exchange of each others' essence. They share with one another their ability to participate in the procreation of new life. *Therefore, the sexual act in marriage expresses the unitive and procreative reality that is a marriage. *Only men and women are capable of such integrated union that ultimately unites them to each other and opens the way for new life to enter the world. *Thus, only a man and a woman can marry. A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 3:33 pm | #
it seems to me that THIS is the root of the cries of bigotry: I wondered when this inevitable accusation would come forth. when one claims that SSM is immoral, that's a fair comment, but when one claims that gay couples can't be unitive, that's easily construed as bigotry when run through the filter of logic and fairness, in my opinion. Your entitled to your opinion. To your concern that my argument is the "root of the cries of bigotry", I would say your concern is not with me. It's with the Fathers of Western Civilization. I've taken far too much of our host's bandwidth and comment space to respond further in this discussion. Please email me should you wish to continue. If you like, we could begin threads at our blogs to better facilitate the dialogue. Let me know what you decide. A Holy Fool | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 3:40 pm | #
Certainly, and I do appreciate the sincerity of your comments, although you do seem to misconstrue them quite easily. I would however leave this with one critical clarification: coercion: the use of express or implied threats of violence So yes, +Henry's choice of words was irresponsible, and worthy of criticism. I would of course be the first to acknowledge that the use of coercion goes *against* Catholic teaching - further reason why he should have retracted the document, in my opinion. Thank you so much Curt for hosting this exchange. It is only in the respectful and civil exchange of ideas that anything constructive be accomplished. Jordan Stratford+ | Homepage | 06.30.05 - 6:45 pm | #
[The host takes breath and plunges into the waters] The crucial difference in this exchange, it seems to be, is what constitutes "complete self giving" or "physical unity." Jordan's view, the one we heard so much about today, is that an SSM union is a complete and full union because "disembodied souls" or "selves" pledging union to each other is sufficient (this is why gay literature places so much emphasis on gender as a social construct). He might also be saying that a sexual union in which procreation is impossible counts as complete union. Like the Fool, I do not think we can dismiss the physical so easily. We are embodied souls. To deny that is to deny a very important part of reality. As Catholics we hold that the material world is not God, it is God's creation. It is God's hospital for sinners and we will never nurse ourselves back to health by ignoring the medicinal world in which we are placed. Thus, "I want" or "I believe" is insufficient for complete self giving to take place. That can only take place when the possibility of procreation is not excluded. If you want to make yourself incredibly unpopular at a party sometime, you can mention, as I am about to do, that this means that gays are right when they claim there is no immeadiate, logical difference between gay sex and male and female sex that is contraceptive. The difference is in the future tense; a man and a woman have the ability to stop using contraception and fully embrace their marriage, where a gay couple - no matter how well intentioned - cannot. That relationship can't leave the world of the ideal and become fully realized in the comingling of DNA. Now, if one wants to get into the abtruse, one can ask about people who are past childbearing age. Are their marriages now gay? Here we get into faith and theology. There are accounts of marriages such as this being fruitful in the Bible. Such events are very rare and fall in the realm of miraculous, but they are there nevertheless. A Christian is not being inconsistent or bigoted when he points to them as reasons to allow such couples to still claim married status. Ederly couples can also frequently point to the children they sired as evidence that the marriage was indeed fully realized, and that can't be taken away from them even on the death of the child. It remains fact that the fullest possible union took place. People who deny miracles will argue that such hocus pocus has no place in public policy. Doing so, however, is to argue that their religion must supplant all others. The possibility of miracles can't be disproven. I will not argue it now, but this view is a total assault on religious freedom, in which we allow the different faiths to comingle on all levels, including among our elected representatives. I have not had a chance to read Harold Bloom's book, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post Christian Nation but my initial reaction to this thread is that Bloom's thesis may have been prescient. This will not win me any points among my non Catholic Christian readers or secular liberal readers (which is to say, most of my readers). Nevertheless, I feel that rejection of sacramentalism (itself, the result of rejecting the Magesterium) make such a turn almost inevitable. Turning away from sacramentalism allows us to begin to disregard the physical world and begin a retreat into solipsism. It's an eternal temptation because it seems to offer us all that we want and nothing that we don't want.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3

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