Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Church, state, and where to draw the line.

What is the proper role of religious faith in the public sphere?

Our nation is not a theocracy, it is a secular representative democracy. There is no religious litmus test for office. On the other hand, the US is the most religious country in the industrialized West. Thus, it is inevitable that religion and politics intersect at multiple levels.

Each of us (whether atheist, deist, or something in between) uses our internal value system to make decisions. But a distinction needs to be made in using those values to make our own decisions vs. imposing them on others and right now, we aren't doing so well at that.

I wrote recently,
I believe that the knee-jerk response against religion in the political sphere is largely driven as a response to the conservative religionists who are attempting to force their view of morality on all others by "majority rules". (Just think: if "majority rules" ruled, then "activist judges" would never have de-segregated the South). This is because it is the conservatives who are most active in limiting the fundamental rights of others. How do we establish meaningful discourse and protect ALL our rights, when we have such profound disagreements?

Let's consider some examples of this. In the aftermath of Prop 8 in California, we can look at how different churches addressed the issue. The Episcopalians came out against the measure. They put banners in front of their churches and individual priests such as the estimable Susan Russell of All Saints Pasadena were vocal on the airwaves. But while the institution's view was clear, they did not insist that their parishioners donate or vote in any particular way and they did not make institutional donations.

Let's contrast this to the Catholics, who vigorously advocated a "Yes" vote--indeed, my wife on our wedding Sunday was the victim of a spittle-flecked hate sermon at a Catholic church near our wedding hotel which reduced her to tears. And then, of course, there are the Mormons, who bankrolled the pro-prop 8 campaign, and used their considerable social clout on their members to ensure donations and votes. Now, they are all complaining that they are being unfairly targeted for expressing their religious freedom of speech; several high profile pro-8 donors in the entertainment industry have found themselves unable to continue working because the gay people who work with them refuse to do further business.

I have mixed feelings about this, because I believe religious beliefs and votes are private and personal matters. Where does advocacy cross the line from a private act to a public one? Because it does.

John Aravosis writes,
When you use the power of the state to rip away my civil rights, and force me to live by your 'values,' you are no longer practicing your religion. You're practicing politics.
and Dan Savage convincingly agrees,
A donation to a political campaign is a public matter; and civil marriage rights for same-sex couples did not infringe upon the religious freedom of Mormons, devout or otherwise....If Raddon wanted to go to church and pray his little heart out against same-sex marriage, or proselytize on street corners against gay marriage, or counsel gay men to leave their husbands and marry nice Mormon girls instead, that could be viewed as an expression of his "privately held religious beliefs." Instead he helped fund a political campaign to strip a vulnerable minority group of its civil rights.
I myself find it gob-smackingly remarkable that a big argument of the Pro-8 campaigners is their religious freedom: if I marry, that impinges on their freedom to discriminate. I , the atheist, certainly have no objection to Catholics or Mormons opposing my marriage; my wife never would expect the Catholic church to perform our wedding. They are free to practice their faith as they see fit. But it crosses the line when they reach their religious values into the civil sphere and force ME to live them. I am not Catholic. I am not Mormon. I do not believe in God. It is wrong for them to insist that I live by "God's rules".

Let's turn away from Prop 8 to a related subject. The Bush administration want to give physicians, pharmacists and others expanded rights of "medical refusal".

The LA Times :
The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new "right of conscience" rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control.......The new rule would go further by making clear that healthcare workers also may refuse to provide information or advice to patients.
This isn't just about abortion. This is also about pharmacists providing birth control pills (BCP), for example. And let's remember that there are medical non-pregnancy related reasons for BCP; I had to use them myself for a while, and as a lesbian, I can assure you that pregnancy is not a concern! No matter, these protesting pharmacists would make the MEDICAL decision whether I as a woman should have them.

Or in vitro fertilization. There was a case in California where the physician refused to provide treatment to a lesbian couple. It's not that the doctor had a moral problem with the treatment, and therefore refused to perform it on anyone. No, the doctor had a problem with the patient. Let's take this to its logical conclusion and we could see a physician allowed to deny treatment to a Hispanic man, a black woman, or a child of two gay fathers because of "personal convictions".

Physicans, pharmacists and others are licensed by the state to provide care. They should not be allowed to insert their religious beliefs into who gets treated. If they refuse to provide a treatment (e.g., abortion) they must refuse it to all, and provide information on where the patient can go. If they are not able to do that, they do not deserve a medical license from the state.

The Republican party started all this by making their coalition with the Christian Right. Now the Catholics and the Mormons are in on it. We now are in the awkward position of holding the tiger by the tail and we need to put it back in the cage.

Cross posted at TPMCafe, Dailykos, and Friends of Jake.


Jase said...

The Mormons had two goals in their political involvement in the marriage issue in California. The first and primary reason was to be seen as "normal" Christians - to be accepted as mainstream instead of a fringe "weird religion." They accomplished that goal when the RCC pulled back the bed covers and said, "come, lie with us."

PseudoPiskie said...

I have no problem with health providers refusing to perform services which violate their religious beliefs. I do have a problem with providing any public funding such as Medicare to those who want to impose their religious beliefs on the public by refusing to provide the services.

Anyone who reads the BOM objectively and reads the true history of the LDS will soon realize they are not "Christian" in the usual sense. But who takes the time?

dr.primrose said...

For what it's worth Jonah Goldberg, the regular "conservative" Los Angeles Times columnist, has a column today -- An ugly attack on Mormons: The religious group has been the target of a campaign by liberal supporters of same-sex marriage.

I don't read Goldberg's columns. I've found that on every topic I already know what he's going to say. So what's the point in wasting five minutes reading it. I did skim this one -- it's utterly predictable.

IT said...

I was perfectly happy to leave the Mormons be. As far as I'm concerned THEY walked into MY life, and now they are whining that I am trying to throw them out.


(BTW it's very interesting to see the different sorts of comments this post gets at its 3 different post sites!)

FranIAm said...

You call it quite well- let the Mormons and Catholics and whoever else do their own thing, but why but into your civil marriage?

How is that ok in any way? It is not - as we know.

As you know IT, I am a Catholic and I am rather disgusted by this turn of events and all the hate attached to it.

It is too long a story and I have not even blogged about it, but someone sat in on our sacramental theology class the week we did matriomony as a sacrament. I would not say that my class is overly liberal, but I would say that people are just.

The visitor went off about LGBT marriage and it was a bit of a wonder to watch the entire class rise up against him.

He did not return this week.

It is really sad when people force this crap onto others. It is really seriously wrong when it has been done in this way.

Paul B said...

Hi, IT, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

You argue that conservative Christians should keep their opinions out of your life, letting you live as you please, but you want to dictate how they run their businesses, right down to the inventory that they stock and the services that they provide.

Just because one is licensed by the state, doesn't mean that one can not decide how to operate one's business. Do you also believe that a hamburger joint has to provide both fries AND onion rings? After all, THEY are licensed by the county to operate, and there is a licensed food service manager on duty.

In this day and age, in this "live and let live" world, do you really think that a pharmacist should not be allowed to post a little sign in the window that says "I don't stock birth control pills or condoms"? Do you really think a doctor should be forced to have a certain procedure, any procedure, on his list of things he does? Would you force an OB to perform circumcisions even if he/she thought they were wrong/not needed/disfiguring/mutilation?

And don't be so down on the Mormons. They are just defending that which the US Government FORCED on them in the 1800s. They were told that for Utah to become a state, they had to embrace one man one woman marriage.

rick allen said...

I am surprised that there is such interest all of a sudden in abrogating “conscience exceptions” for professionals, since I would have thought such respect for individual conscience axiomatic.

I understand, of course, that at least in certain quarters there is much hostility to the pro-life position, and those religions that most strenuously uphold it. Nevertheless, if the concern is to make “abortion services” more widely available, I don’t think that many who object to abortion can be so coerced into it. My own experience is that obstetricians are normally pro-life, for the understandable reason that much of their practice is pre-natal care, and it would be surprising if those whose day to day practice was promoting the health of the unborn would experience no dissonance in thinking such life terminable at will.

Obstetricians, I understand, are generally in short supply, especially in rural areas. Wholly apart from the intrinsic evil of trying to coerce consciences, I cannot imagine why anyone would think it good policy to further restrict their number by insisting that all perform procedures that at least some find abhorrent.

Nor do I find particularly persuasive the principle that those who are licensed by the State are thereby obliged to perform any act that the state deems lawful. If that principle were accepted, no physician could refuse to participate in executions. No psychologist could refuse to cooperate in supervising interrogations. It is a horrible fact that both capital punishment and torture have legal sanction in this country. Happily, many in the medical and psychological professions have given witness against such practices by publicly refusing to participate, and calling their colleagues to refuse to participate. Should such professionals be forced out of prison hospitals or the military because their consciences put limits to what they think is part of the moral practice of their professions?

I have never found persuasive the anti-gay-marriage argument that gay marriage will force churches to marry same-sex couples. But the reason I have always considered such argument bogus is my reliance on the notion that individual conscience on such matters cannot be coerced. If, in fact, our respect for conscience changes, and we truly accept the principle that State licensing to perform marriages implies State power to impose a definition of marriage, have you not provided your opponents with a valid basis to fear imposition of secular standards overriding the claims of conscience?

Grandmère Mimi said...

To me, the Bush administration's policies have moved the country far across the "wall of separation" between religion and the state. Fortunately, many of Bush's regulatory policies may be reversed by the next president. I hope that Obama quickly moves to do just that.

IT said...

AH, I wondered how long till the Catholic conservatives showed up!

I'd like to keep this off the abortion issue for a number of reasons, mainly that this is not about abortion. (So please, that's not the topic, and any posts hijacking the thread about the abortion issue per se will be deleted.)

Personally i have no problem with a physician choosing NOT to provide an abortion. It's the unwillingness to provide even information about a legal medical procedure that I find problematic. Sure, don't do abortions: but if you don't do them for one, you can't do them for anyone, and the minimum expectation of the state should be that a referral is provided. That is a compromise on both sides.

More useful to the point I am making is the case in CA where the IVF doctor refused a lesbian couple treatment. The problem isn't the procedure, which the doctor is happy to perform, it's who the doctor "approves" of for the treatment.

Now for IVF, at some level who cares? there are plenty of other doctors, and in this case a referral was given. BUT the point isn't that. The point HERE is that the logical extension of giving a doctor the right to choose whom to treat, is a doctor refusing to treat a smoker for emphysema, or an obese woman for diabetes, because the doctor "doesn't approve" of their "lifestyle"

How do we define the limit of a personal religious belief in a secular state.

Like Rick, I believe that there needs to be room for conscience, indeed I give it a wide latitude. I certainly have no desire to do business with someone who doesn't want to do business with me (for example I think that the case back east of a man suing a photographer for refusing a job photographing a gay wedding is as lunatic as suing McDonald's because the coffee was hot! I don't agree with those at all).

But once religion intrudes into the public square, it becomes just another political viewpoint, and the rights to practice it freely ends at the tip of my nose.

So where do we draw the line? How "bright" can that line be? Is healthcare different than other businesses (I think so)?


David |Dah • veed| said...

Some folks appear to be arguing with IT about things not apparent in her post.

She has not argued for regulating what pharmacies stock and sell. I think she is arguing for a consistency of service to customers.

If a privately owned corner pharmacy chooses not to sell a certain line of products and services, say birth control and condoms, that would be fine. And a sign on the door or in the front window respectfully stating so would be much appreciated by many.

But if this pharmacy is enrolled in a government assistance program and excepting tax dollars to operate, then no. They need to take a more neutral stance and not use government money to perpetuate their private religious beliefs on the general public.

If a chain pharmacy, such as Walgreens, (that is the one I see a lot when I go to Texas) normally in the course of their business sell birth control and condoms, then those products should be always available to all of their customers, not on a hit or miss basis based upon the personal beliefs of whichever of their employees is working. That would appear to me to be a best business practice, personal beliefs aside.

But if Walgreens chooses to respond to the personal beliefs of their employees, then they should also make sure that they can meet the needs of their customers. Either have another employee always available who can fill their customers needs, or a nearby store that can meet those needs through a carrier. A seamless service which does not set the customer apart to experience ridicule or judgement on the part of any company employee.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dahveed. A commenter on this post over at DailyKos said such referrals should be "seamless".

But I don't think it's easy to draw a bright line, regardless.


Paul B said...

IT said, "Now for IVF, at some level who cares? there are plenty of other doctors, and in this case a referral was given. BUT the point isn't that. The point HERE is that the logical extension of giving a doctor the right to choose whom to treat, is a doctor refusing to treat a smoker for emphysema, or an obese woman for diabetes, because the doctor "doesn't approve" of their "lifestyle""

In this case, IT, the doctor refused to perform IVF for any woman who was not married. He felt that the procedure (making a baby) and the result (caring for baby) were best achieved by a married couple.

Sort of like the doctor who would refuse to treat the emphysema patient who refused to stop smoking (even around the Os)or the obese woman who wanted bariatric surgery but refused to be compliant on the diet that would be needed afterward.

Doctors refuse treatment all the time. Sometimes they refer patients to other doctors they trust. But, if they don't believe in the procedure or trust any doctors who do it, to whom would they refer the patient?

Anonymous said...

That's a breathtaking statement, Paul B, absolutely breathtaking....because the next step is the emergency room doctor looking at a gunshot victim and saying, "I don't treat black people"-- or "I don't treat Catholics".

Paul B said...

Anonymous, please, A does not follow B. Don't you ever watch the Discovery Channel or TLC?

Gunshot victim in the ER - somehow throwing blood clots or something. Family member says that this drug they heard of would thin the blood and prevent the clots. Doctor refuses to use the drug, because the patient would bleed out, or the drug is risky in this situation or whatever. that's the analogy.

Anonymous said...

(Sorry, anon was me, IT)
DOn't be snarky, Paul.

No, the analogy is "I will deny care because I don't like who you are".

As in, I don't like lesbians. I will not perform IVF.

I don't like smokers. I iwill not treat your emphysema.

I don't like Catholics. I will not treat your heart condition.

THAT"S the analogy--which I know because I'm the one making it. ;-)

It would be like me saying, "I don't like the Mormon religion. Therefore I will not sit on the thesis committee of the Mormon science student down the hall."

Speaking of which, time to go enlighten some young minds.


Paul B said...

Who, me, snarky? :)

IT, I think you are stretching. The IVF incident was about a doctor who only wanted to do the procedures for married couples. He could be over the line on that. But the creation of human life is a huge responsibility and can't be compared to those other procedures.

But the procedure and the life situation are interrelated. In your examples they are not. And, of course, in all of your examples it would be wrong to deny treatment.

Anonymous said...

The point is, Paul B, that (1) the law as an institution is not good at fine distinctions and (2) the Bush plans would give far more sweeping powers for "opting out" than currently exist. Is it necessary or justifiable to do so?

I'd like to get us back to discussing more broadly how we can allow wide latitude to religious expression without forcing it upon those who do not share it.


dr.primrose said...

A comment about the California IVP case that has been discussed above since there seems to be some misunderstanding about the case.

The case was decided by the California Supreme Court this past August and is called North Coast Women's Care Medical Group, Inc. v. Superior Court.

The California Supreme Court case held that doctors could not refuse IVP to a lesbian on religious grounds because such a refusal was unlawful sexual orientation discrimination under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The court did not decide whether the doctors could refuse IVP to the women on the grounds that she was unmarried. That question was expressly reserved for another day.

The California Unruh Civil Rights Act, however, bars discrimination on the grounds of "marital status" as well as "sexual orientation." Since the California Supreme Court held that there was no religious exemption for the latter, I doubt if the courts would find that there's a religious exemption for the former.

MarkBrunson said...


I suspect you're wasting your time with that one. "A doesn't follow B" unless it's Paul's A and B.

See here for details.

This is a platform for complaining about his hurt little feelings, not listening nor convincing. Don't fall for it. Spend your time working to defeat the nonsense, instead.

IT said...

Yes, I've met Paul over there too, Markbrunson. I think he's a smart guy, I just wish he could see what he's doing.

David |Dah • veed| said...

I think there was another aspect to the case mentioned. This clinic had assisted this woman up to the point of the fertilization procedure. So they had taken her money, or her insurance company's money, whichever, to that point, and then dumped her.

Paul B said...

IT said, "I'd like to get us back to discussing more broadly how we can allow wide latitude to religious expression without forcing it upon those who do not share it."

Yes, that's it.

Is the correlation to "If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't get one" "if you want this procedure, don't go to this doctor"?

If there was an agreement that people of religion could decide what to treat and what not to treat, who to serve and who not to serve (as in the wedding photographer example), within the bounds of reason, and also that gay marriage would be allowed, would that make everyone happy?

IT said...

At some level, only if you're also happy with signs saying "no Irish need apply", limits on Jews attending Ivy League universities, segregated water fountains, and men-only country clubs.

The crux is defining "within the bounds of reason" . I generally like to give conscience a wide latitude (it's my libertarian tendency) but also recognize the overarching need to coexist in a community that may be outside our comfort zone (the liberal in me.)

Would you agree to mark such businesses with a sticker that says "Christianist bigot"? What about "Fag-free zone"? Always with the proviso that they provide a list of alternatives of course.

You really hate the idea of being contaminated by any association with gay folks, don't you PaulB? I wonder why.

Paul B said...

IT, who's being snarky now?

So, what is the middle ground? From your last post, I don't see that you think there is any.

Anonymous said...

Well, think of seeing your comments through my eyes.....! Do you really want to exist in a Christianist ghetto?

As I said: The crux is defining "within the bounds of reason" . I generally like to give conscience a wide latitude (it's my libertarian tendency) but also recognize the overarching need to coexist in a community that may be outside our comfort zone (the liberal in me.)

Still, i don't have an easy answer for resolving this.

Except that I am by nature an inclusivist, opposed to ghettos or segregation, whether self-selected or not. I generally find that exposure to others of very different views, even when uncomfortable, leads to bridge building and identification of common ground. It's harder to demonize the "other" when you can meet them face to face.


Paul B said...

Well, I think when neither side feels that they can comprimise, you are in for trouble.

Actually, I had a professor in college who used to remind us regularly that there are always more than two sides to any issue. For, against, in the middle, don't care, willing to comprimise, etc.

The question is how to pull the people on the ends closer to the middle.

If I am a photographer, for example, and I don't feel comfortable at a gay wedding (okay, I don't WANT to go, I think they are wrong), should I be able to politely refuse? What if I am the only photographer in town? It's not fair to you to not have a professional photographer at your wedding. It's not fair to me to force me to go.

So, where is our common ground?

Anonymous said...

Well, actually I don't WANT you to be my photographer if you don't want to do the job, think of the potential for disaster! Similarly the suit against e-harmony, STUPID. Like suing McDonald's for the hot coffee.

But we don't allow you as a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment to a black couple, either. Or if you manage public property for the city, you can't refuse to rent it to a tax-paying citizen because they're Hispanic. You can't insist that your child's public school fire a teacher who is an atheist.

The balance between private and public roles is complex and not easily given to bright line definitions. It's ambiguous, and involves shades of gray. That's why it's hard.

A starting point is distinguishing private interactions from interactions in which the state has an interest (and to which equal protection arguments apply) but even this is imperfect, as the property issue reveals.

If there were an easy answer we'd have sorted it out already and wouldn't have to use up the bandwidth to discuss it.


rick allen said...

"Do you really want to exist in a Christianist ghetto?"

I don't, but I don't think that's really the question. The question is whether people be free to choose to do so. Or, put another way, whether the law keep people from so choosing to live.

I think, overall, that we ought to tolerate it. Why should Amish communities, for example, reflect the pluralism that's generally found in most American communities?

Where I live there are various Indian pueblos in which, for all intents and purposes, there is an established religion. Their status as quasi-sovereign domestic nations prevents us from secularizing them. But even if I had the power to force them to "get with the program," I don't know if that's what I'd want to do.

The first amendment's Free Exercise Clause provides a limited basis for going against the flow. It is, in fact, a kind of privileging of religion. But it is a part of our current social compact, and I think it provides a useful counterweight to the homogenization implicit in democracy.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I agree in part, but I guess the question then becomes when does self-selection into a ghetto de facto ghettoize those outside it; do we as a society have any interest in opposing that result?


(....pause indicating pursuit of Drosophila across monitor....oh **** she got away)

....at least we got Paul B thinking about what compromise would be necessary for him to allow gay marriage. Progress of a sort? ;-)

But then I figure anything that keeps people talking is progress.


Paul B said...

Time flies like the wind, but fruit flies like bananas.

Anyway - I guess we all have the lines that we draw. I, for one, would never advance the idea that an apartment house could decide not to rent to anyone unless there was a good reason (like they are a circus fire eater and they practice at home). Black, Hispanic, gay, blue, whatever - I don't care. My next door neighbor of the last 20 years is gay. So what. The neighbor on the other side is Egyptian. Two doors down is a woman who is a Colonel in one of the military services.

Why do I bring that up? We agree on more than we sometimes want to admit. We live the same lives. We have the same hopes. We just want to live according to our beliefs and values.

When those conflict, when we are both intransigent, that is where the problem lies.

Anonymous said...

But Paul, the difference is in defining the conflict.

I don't think that there is nearly as much conflict as you do in our beliefs and values, at least the things that matter in our common lives.


JCF said...

When those conflict, when we are both intransigent, that is where the problem lies.

IT wants to be (remain) married.

You want IT, and her wife, to be (involuntarily made) NOT married.

Now, if IT remained married at the cost of you, PaulB, getting married (e.g., marriage licenses were awarded by lottery, like certain kinds of hunting licenses), then that would be a legitimate conflict: a competition.

You want to deny IT her marriage, when marriage licenses are an *unlimited* quantity.

That's not a legitimate conflict. That's an (your) abuse-of-power.

Asking you, the Irish-Catholic: is that Christ-like?

Paul B said...

JCF, how can telling the Mormons that marriage is between one man and one woman in the 1800s NOT abuse of power, if telling gay people that marriage is between one man and one woman in the 21st century IS abuse of power?

And, yes, JCF, if you want to bring Christ into this, he said that many are called but few are chosen. That must mean that we are supposed to come to Him on His terms, not ours.

IT said...

I find it grimly amusing that Paul B's defense of his viewpoint that gay marriage is wrong, is the purported 'abuse of power' that prevented the Mormons from practising polygamy!

Andrew Sullivan wrote an interesting essay on this.

But how do those who are ready to live in this modern world coexist with those who still believe that it is not only misguided but evil? And, of course, vice-versa? There is only one way.

That way is to agree that our civil order will mean less; that it will be a weaker set of more procedural agreements that try to avoid as much as possible deep statements about human nature. And that has a clear import for our current moment. The reason the marriage debate is so intense is because neither side seems able to accept that the word "marriage" requires a certain looseness of meaning if it is to remain as a universal, civil institution. This is not that new. Catholics, for example, accept the word marriage to describe civil marriages that are second marriages, even though their own faith teaches them that those marriages don't actually exist as such. But most Catholics are able to set theological beliefs to one side and accept a theological untruth as a civil fact. After all, a core, undebatable Catholic doctrine is that marriage is for life. Divorce is not the end of that marriage in the eyes of God. And yet Catholics can tolerate fellow citizens who are not Catholic calling their non-marriages marriages - because Catholics have already accepted a civil-religious distinction. They can wear both hats in the public square.

Rod believes that accepting my civil marriage as equal to his somehow erases the meaning of his own union. But it doesn't. He is free as a person of faith to regard my civil marriage as substantively void and his as substantively meaningful; he is simply required as a member of this disenchanted polis to accept my civil marriage as legally valid. That's all. Is that so hard? We can find a way forward to accommodate both our marriages in a public setting. I'm passionate, as every other defender of marriage equality that I know, in defending the rights of religious groups and churches to marry whosoever they want, according to whatever they believe, and to discriminate as religious groups in private contexts against those in their direct employ who violate those teachings. I defended the right to homophobia of both the Boy Scouts and the St Patrick's Day parade. Heck, I'm even against hate crime laws.

I have nothing against the voluntary and peaceful activities of any religious group, and regard these organizations as some of the greatest strengths of America. The idea that gay people somehow want to persecute these churches, that we're out to get you, and hurt you and punish you is preposterous.

In fact, my marriage has no effect on Paul B (I've been married nearly two months, and I doubt his union is cracking as a result!). My existence as a partnered gay person continues unchanged--BP and I have been together for many years and the externals of this have not changed. Our presence in the common society and such protections as same gender has, have not changed. In fact there is NO CHANGE in anything that remotely affects Paul B. Paul B is as free to disapprove of our marriage as he does of any divorcé. His church is free to preach against it.

It is only in the civil square, as Andrew calls it the polis, that Paul b has to find a modus vivendi. Gay marriage hasn't changed that, because we're already there.

But guess what, Paul B? I too have to find a way to co-exist with you in that same polis.

Paul B said...

It, it's interesting that to be socially conservative is to be cast as being against things, limiting freedom; and being liberal essentially means to be in favor of all things, and against limits.

From a purely human point of view, I guess it depends on whether you believe in limits or not.

I read Andrew Sullivan (in the full article), who believes that the increase of divorce is a good thing; who believes that woman's special place in the world as the nurturer of life is to be harshly rejected; that contraception, somehow gives women freedom, and my jaw drops to the floor.

It seems to me that women get the short end of the stick in each of these post-modern innovations. Divorce creates single mother households and sentences women and children to a life in poverty. Birth control largely removes mens' obligation to respect women and any offspring and allows women to become just as promiscuous and jaded as men.

That's an improvement? All of this denies that women have a special place in this world as the gender that carries babies and nurtures them. This special place should be protected.

A world without limits is not a friendly world. It sounds misogynistic.

And, yes, IT, I really do want to try to define a world where both you and I are treated with dignity.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Paul b,but I guess I am not surprised you are an anti-feminist as well. I think your watch is set to 1950!

Divorce gives women options away from abusive relationships. And even if no physical abuse, I dont think people should be sentenced to an emotionally sterile relationship at 40 for a decision made at 22. People change and grow in different ways. Meanwhile, want to reduce rates of divorce? Make it harder to get married. (10 shots of tequila and 70bucks in Vegas is probably too low a standard, don't you think?)

Contraception gives women the option of when to have a child, emotionally, economically, and physically. It makes control of her fertility her own decision. It makes it possible for her to have a career.

Indeed, you want to reduce abortion? Make contraception safe and available, and make a pill for men.

I have absolutely no problem with divorce or contraception.

Interesting that generally it's MEN who do.

Is your mantra Kinder kirche küche? Barefoot too, no doubt!

Oh my I am really everything you loathe: not only a married lesbian, but atheist, feminist, liberal AND a childless careerist "taking jobs from men".

Wow. My 81 year old father, bless him, is more modern than you!


Paul B said...

"Oh my I am really everything you loathe: not only a married lesbian, but atheist, feminist, liberal AND a childless careerist "taking jobs from men".

Hey, assuming facts not in evidence! Loathe?

We look at the same thing and see it in a totally different light.

Divorce is bad. Throws women into poverty - true. The easy availability of divorce makes marriages not all that serious - true. The prospect of easy divorce means women make bad choices in marriage - true? Men abuse women - true.

Contraception - gives women control of their body - true. Women in control mean that men have no responsibility - true. When men have no responsibility, they treat women badly - true.

Am I being a troglodyte by acknowledging that men treat women badly, and we should look at causes and advance solutions?

IT, I have daughters. I want them to be able to live full lives as women who are respected, not held down, who can have the life that they feel led to lead.

Equal pay, equal opportunity, be treated with the dignity that all people have; but also have options for maternity leave, flexible schedule, work at home, and be able to reach their full potential both at work and at home.

Is that really from the 1950s?

JCF said...

Like I said at T Haller's, IT: don't enter the delusion (which is just another way of saying "Don't Feed the Troll").

Pray for PaulB (well, I will!), and send him on his way...

IT said...

No, JCF, he has been civil in this conversation so I'll engage.

Paul B: Of course you want what's best for your daughters. So do I, want what's best for yours AND mine.

So here are some scenarios that can result from your views of divorce and contraception, each begins "Um, Daddy?"

1) "Daddy, I was stupid and got drunk at a frat party and slept with a boy and now I'm pregnant".

2) "Daddy, jeff lost his job and we're behind on the house payments and I've got a year left of school and we're pregnant."

3) "Daddy, bill hits me."

4) "Dad, Steve is sleeping with other women."

5) "Dad, Steve is sleeping with men--and he told me he's HIV positive."

6) "Dad, elliot and I have nothing left to say to each other and we're both miserable."

And let's think of that hard one,
6) "Daddy, I'm gay, and I've fallen in love with a wonderful woman and I want to marry her."

Just some things to think about.


Anonymous said...

Paul B has NO BUSINESS telling IT about fruit flies. She knows a thousand-fold more details about these little gems than Paul. ;)

Now I can attest to the fact that a "conscience clause" for doctors and operating room nurses, regarding elective surgical abortion, has been standard for 35 years. However, emergency procedures are another story - they are mandatory, if no other staff is available in short order (minutes). The Ob/Gyn on emergency call cannot refuse to deal with ruptured ectopic pregnancies (or let women with intact tubal pregnancies leave the ER without having had a drug to kill the embryo). Likewise, in the case of massive uterine bleeding, the Ob/Gyn must stop the bleeding by whatever means necessary, regardless of the effect on the then-not-yet-viable fetus. In the USA, failure to do so, with death of the mother, would result in a successful and very large lawsuit against the doctor, and an involuntary loss of hospital privileges for the doctor (not to mention state licensure, insurance, and other issues that tend to follow being kicked off staff for gross neglect). Catholic hospitals can give cover to docs who refuse to treat in situations where death is possible but not likely, but can't cover docs who refuse to treat in immediate life-threatening emergencies. The likelihood is that the Catholic hospital would be forking over millions for its part in obvious breach of standard of care.

Bush's rule is meant to strengthen cover for docs who don't provide minimal standard of care, and to provide cover for hospital pharmacists who don't want to provide emergency contraception or birth control pills for rape victims in the ER. It is also intended to allow individuals to refuse to treat or have any connection with transgendered people or out gays/lesbians - LPNs who don't want to bring and remove bedpans for transgendered patients, etc. I can imagine some lazy or cowardly Mormon or teetotaling conservative Protestant ER worker refusing to approach the more malodorous and dirty/infested street drunks or the drug dealer who has a host of rivals angry that they still have to finish him off. (Gang shootouts in urban ERs have made walking through metal detectors and getting frisked , then seeing armed hospital guards or police inside, standard.)

Needless to say, the main lobby association for hospitals is up in arms over this rule. They don't want doctors who raise lawsuit exposure, or lazy-ass low-level employees who cause scheduling and morale problems.


IT said...

Thank you NancyP for the reality check about REAL lives.

Yes, I know a lot about fruitflies, and I can indeed tell a male from a female. ;-)


IT said...

I should add that genetic changes can make fruitflies homosexual.


Anonymous said...

IT, I am not surprised you brought up that fly study.

My philosophy is that those holding health provider licenses from the state,and therefore assuming a part in oligopoly, must assume the responsibilities as well as the personal benefits of this "restriction of trade" concerning provision of services considered by most to be essential and to be as much a public good as water or lights. The state issues licenses to ensure that certain minimum competency standards are met by license holders; both the state* and the already-licensed M.D.s and D.O.s in the state have a vested interest in avoiding an "oversupply" of physicians in the state, and desirable states often add requirements in excess of those of average states.

What does this have to do with conscience clauses? In rural areas, the oligopoly effectively becomes a monopoly. One hospital within 30 miles. One ambulance service, run by that same hospital, covering 500-1000 sq. mile area. One obstetrician in the county. One pharmacy within 20 miles. Figure in that those miles are sometimes complicated by difficult road conditions, and that there is no public transportation available for poor rural residents, and that driving 100 miles to a hospital in an emergent condition, or to a pharmacist or physician willing to treat/prescribe, is simply not feasible for a large number of people, nor is it the kind of medical care Americans should receive.

An urbanite with private transportation or with decent public transportation can locate a cooperative pharmacist and doc for a time-limited prescription. They can choose doctors who admit to hospitals that permit the desired elective procedures. However, even the urbanite has situations where the conscience clause can interfere with care. If the patient is brought to an ER by ambulance, there is no choice of hospital - the patient is taken to the one with least overloaded ER at that moment, and tough shit if it's a Catholic hospital that won't prescribe or perform certain procedures for the condition.

Note that I haven't mentioned gender of the patients. The overwhelming percentage of situations where the "conscience clause" is invoked affect WOMEN patients (51% of US population). The only men likely to be affected are either gay (and can't pass) or transgender (3% of the US population), HIV-positive (from any activity), or poor isolated rural men desiring tubal ligation.


(* that is, assuming the state copays for medical care of indigent, and more such patients are sought out by docs who need even patients with poorly reimbursing state/fed insurance.)

Anonymous said...

I should correct the above: An urbanite USUALLY can find alternate pharmacy or doctor to prescribe or dispense a time-limited medication, specifically, emergency contraception. EC is now classified as over-the-counter medication for women over 18, after stonewalling by the Bush administration and with serious lobbying by women's and physicians' groups to give it OTC status. Minors are shit-outta-luck if they need it on a Friday evening - try getting affordable doctor's visit on the weekend, particularly when even the doc-in-a-box (aka urgent care center) may be reluctant or may be forbidden by company policy to prescribe EC to minors. (Remember, a fair number of doc-in-a-box units are located within and are owned by Walmart or other big-box store chains.)


MarkBrunson said...

I admire your graciousness, IT, and, perhaps I'm simply oversensitive. You have a cooler, far more analytical mind than mine, so you may be able to see what I can't in PaulB.

What I see is a person claiming to come to learn, but absolutely refusing to actually address any of the concerns/questions/points you've raised. Really look at your exchanges; has he really engaged with you in conversation, or simply expounded his own view? Has he responded? I see mere reaction, and that, to me, is not civil.

Here are questions for PaulB, one that I've asked all these armchair theologians and none has answered:

If God is what you posit, what good is He to us? What good is a God that can't save you unless you unless you bend to rules even He can't reasonably explain? What good, for that matter, is a God that can't convince you that these rules are worthwhile?
If that is God, why bother taking human form? What was the point? Why should I bother with Him, if your depiction of God is correct? How have you served the Great Commission if your depiction of God drives people from Him?

Paul B said...

Yes, IT, the real world is messy. People do not treat each other with the respect and dignity that they should.

We tell our kids that sex produces babies. If you don't want to have babies, don't have sex, because condoms break and the other methods aren't 100% effective either. We tell them that they are the masters of their bodies and that "no" is a valid answer. We tell them that they are not a slave to their bodily urges.

We tell them that the success of failure of their marriage is already cast when they walk down the aisle. Men should not hit women. Woman should not accept being hit by men. If you marry someone who does not believe that marriage is forever, then your marriage will not last forever. Talk to your intended about exceptions for marriage and your your life's goals. I tell my girls that, before I walk them down the aisle, I will ask them one last time if they are sure, and if they are not, then I will take the heat/blame/flack if they want to back out, although I hope they would back out before the actual day.


Should I try to answer each question?

So here are some scenarios that can result from your views of divorce and contraception, each begins "Um, Daddy?"

1) "Daddy, I was stupid and got drunk at a frat party and slept with a boy and now I'm pregnant".

Let's get you to a doctor to get your prenatal care started. Are you taking prenatal vitamins? Don't worry, everything will be alright.

2) "Daddy, jeff lost his job and we're behind on the house payments and I've got a year left of school and we're pregnant."

What help do you need? Money? Where's Jeff's resume? WAIT! YOU'RE PREGNANT? THAT'S AWESOME! You know, you never can afford a child. Your mom was pregnant every time I changed jobs. You'll pull through. Do you know if it's a boy or girl?

3) "Daddy, bill hits me."

Honey, get a TRO now. Do you and the kids needs to come home? I told you this is not normal, and not your fault. Get out NOW!

4) "Dad, Steve is sleeping with other women."

You need to get tested for STDs now. Is this going to stop? Do you need to come home?

5) "Dad, Steve is sleeping with men--and he told me he's HIV positive."

You need to get tested right away. Do you need to come home? What can I do for you?

6) "Dad, elliot and I have nothing left to say to each other and we're both miserable."

I'm so sorry. Have you had consoling? Do you need a little time apart? What can we do to help.

And let's think of that hard one,
6) "Daddy, I'm gay, and I've fallen in love with a wonderful woman and I want to marry her."

Yes, this is the hard one. Perhaps thinking about it now will help me with a response when the times comes. I hope I respond with the unconditional love a parent should always have for their children.

And, by the way, Catholics don't believe that civil divorce is bad, per se. We believe that there are some relationships that are not healthy for the participants and shouldn't be prolonged. The people involved can still participate in the sacraments and the life of the Church. They simply are always married in the eyes of the Church, so can't date or get married (even civilly) again.

Paul B said...

Aargh! I can't spell, and neither can Firefox.

Talk to your intended about expectations, not exceptions...

6)Have you had counseling...

IT said...

Of course you also realize that (1) and (2) are avoidable, with contraception -- because the follow up can be (1) "I have to give up school and a single mother can't go to medical school" and (2) "We're not prepared for a special-needs child" which can lead to (2) "Jeff can't handle Jonny's disability and has moved out."

Oh, and (5): "If only we had used condoms I might have avoided HIV infection. " Yes, that would be a hard one, don't you think? HIV is still a killer, and condoms definitley protect. And if only the husband had been able to be honest about his sexuality....and saw a possibility to marry the man of his dreams...

Of course, PaulB, we all want our children to marry wisely and behave well. Sure, condoms break, pills can be missed. But children don't always make the best or wisest decisions, in the arrogance and invicincibility of youth either.

I believe that no-fault divorce should remain. I don't think that miserable couples should be forced to stay together. And I don't think that decisions made at 22 should sentence one to a sterile and lonely life at 40, which I why I cannot fathom the RC policy on divorce.

But that's irrelevant, because your church is free to make its own rules. OUr discussion here is in the STATE which must accommodate YOUR views and MINE. So YOU are free to avoid contraception and teach your kids Catholic policies on divorce, which does not limit what my beloved and I teach her kids. You are equally free to tell your kids that you do not approve of gay marriage, but the point is you can co-exist with gay married folks the same way you co-exist with people on their 3rd or 4th civil marriage.

BTW I know that (7) was the hardest conversation I ever had with my parents, and they responded with all the unconditional love that a parent should have. So many gay people are rejected and cast out, but we are very blessed and my family have welcomed my beloved as their new daughter. And when my dear father walked me down the aisle on my wedding day 2 months ago, it was truly the happiest day of my 46 years.

I can tell you love your girls. I hope if conversation (7) ever happens in your house, you find that same strength.


Paul B said...

IT, yes, I know that there are condoms and contraception.

However, I don't think, as Obama says, that children are a 'punishment". He actually equated children with STDs. Can you believe it?

Children are the natural result of having sex. To stop the beating heart of that baby because it is inconvenient for the mother to take nine months out of her life to let that baby live (and be adopted)is truly sad.

As to using condoms within a marriage to prevent being infected by your partner (after being checked before the wedding) is just as sad - seeing your spouse as someone to be protected from. If people go into marriage thinking that, no wonder marriages fail.

We obviously have a different world view, don't we?

My oldest son died when he was three, many years ago. During a sonogram, we found out he had a terrible brain defect and would not live. At birth he had a higher APGAR than my older daughter - go figure. He was a fighter! Anyway, he was our son. How could we kill him because he wasn't perfect? None of us is perfect. Each of us is created with the same dignity as all human persons.

So, we took him home and cared for him for three years. He was a blessing. It was terribly hard. My wife is a saint.

We all make decisions as we go through life, and we always hope we make the right decisions. Decisions that reflect the dignity of all people and the love of our creator are the goal.

(That's food for thought)

IT said...

Paul, let's be clear that I am talking about contraception, NOT abortion. My examples were intended to consider the consequences of a contraception-free life. The fact is, that we all make mistakes and foolish decisions. I also prefer to wear a seatbelt when I drive, although as I try to be a careful driver I hope I will never "need" it. But bad stuff happens.

I am so sorry about your son. I would not have used those examples had I known it was so close to home. No parent should ever have to bury a child, and you and your wife have my sincere sympathy.

May I ask a different question? I am curious why you, as a conservative, traditional Roman Catholic, are hanging out here on a liberal, generally Episcopalian blog where one of the bloggers (me) is an atheist.


Paul B said...

IT, yes, the contraception versus abstinence issue is contentious. But, my point was that since contraception is not 100% effective, you still need to be aware that pregnancy could indeed occur.

So, an atheist and a Catholic walk into a Episcopalian bar ....

I am tired of the blogs that just consist of people with the same views clucking to each other about all the "other people" they disagree with. I do frequent Catholic Answers, but I come here to challenge my views, to expand my thinking. If one's views can't withstand a little prodding from other people, then they probably need to be thought out a little more deeply, don't you think?

It's not to antagonize. If I hadn't met you, I wouldn't have actually had to think about my response to one of my children coming out. That's a good thing, isn't it?

IT said...

Yes, Paul, that's a good thing.


JCF said...

We tell them that the success of failure of their marriage is already cast when they walk down the aisle.

Well, there's a Freudian typo if ever I saw one! ;-/

[But seriously, PaulB: may your son rest in peace, and rise in glory!]

My ex-husband was an ordained Baptist minister. I had EVERY reason to believe he thought that our marriage was forever . . . until he sued me for divorce, that is. :-/ (I'm able to see that for the best now, but I don't think I'll ever completely recover. That said...)

They simply are always married in the eyes of the Church, so can't date or get married (even civilly) again.

In other words, then they are ordered to behave as gay people are ALWAYS supposed to: a life-sentence of uncalled-to, involuntary celibacy.

PaulB, this is where I think you need to answer MarkBrunson's questions: what GOOD is a God with rules that cause such arbitrary, needless suffering?

(Just don't give me the "We'll understand [your marriage-banned suffering] better, by and by" excuse, Married Guy!)

Paul B said...

PaulB, this is where I think you need to answer MarkBrunson's questions: what GOOD is a God with rules that cause such arbitrary, needless suffering?

Well, I guess we're stuck with what Jesus himself said:


So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."
6 They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?"
He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery."

That's Jesus, in the red letters. How can we get around that? There isn't a translation error or an argument that he meant something other than marriage is for life.

I'm sorry. I know that we have a huge divorce problem in this country. I know a lot of divorced people. I thank God every day for my holy and loving wife.

That said, I guess I really do believe in the idea of "your immortal soul" being more important than our life here on earth. There must be a reason that God said many are called and few are chosen.

I'm so sorry about your divorce. People treat other people shamefully sometimes.

As to being called to a certain condition, such as celibacy, that is the thing that I don't understand about gay people. It really is unfair, from a human point of view, for that to have to happen. I agree totally. I struggle with that - why would God create people that out of the chute have to endure such pain?

Then, I think of my son. I think he felt pain. He was so innocent. It comes down to what Jesus said, above. Due to the fall of Adam and Eve, the world is not as God intended. Our free will caused a corruption of the world.

I don't know. I'm Catholic because I believe it's the Church that can be traced back to Christ, not because I understand or agree with everything they say.

JCF said...

While I respect the struggle you're clearly experiencing in your response,

I guess I really do believe in the idea of "your immortal soul" being more important than our life here on earth.

really is little more than the "We'll understand it better, by and by." No sale.

I'd be the atheist that IT is, **IF** I believed what you say is true (either that Jesus said what you quote him saying, and/or meant it as you interpret it---anymore than I do the same w/ "The Seven Clobber Verses").

Praise Christ, I don't! :-D

I believe in the Christ that is taught in the Episcopal Church (also "Catholic", also traced back to Christ, and I'll stand on THAT claim till the day I die), via (media!) Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

It's a Church that offers LIFE, whereas the RCC (in its present iteration: Holy John XXIII, pray for Rome!) only offers death. (Blathered "Culture of" dichotomies notwithstanding: welcome to BizarroWorld!)

Well, I've ranted enough. I'm going to pray to your innocent son, PaulB, for your conversion. If God wills it, it will come---pray for me, too?

Paul B said...

jcf, fundamental difference of views, huh? Not surprising or unexpected. But really - are we here on earth to achieve salvation and spend eternity with God, or are we here to have a good life?

I certainly would like to hear the alternate meaning to Matthew 19:9 "I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery."

As the which Church is the true church? We've each made our decisions. Please don't pray for my conversion - pray, as I will, that the Holy Spirit will guide both of us.

JCF said...

But really - are we here on earth to achieve salvation and spend eternity with God, or are we here to have a good life?

Yes. (!)

(i.e., false dichotomy: if one's concept of "salvation" is completely discontinuous from one's concept of "good life", one probably has a warped concept of BOTH)


Biblical interpretation is like humility: as sure as one thinks one has a SURE method of doing it, one has lost it.

Interpretation must always be provisional---subject to further reflection. With that as the caveat, I don't pretend to have sure Biblical interpretation, only the BEST one that my conscience allows, for now.

With regards to divorce, that MUST allow for the different conditions, that fall under the single heading, "Divorce." Ergo, I'm sure that SOME re-marriage after SOME divorces, constitutes "adultery". Probably in many others, it does not.

My view of Scripture is not "it's 100% accurate in its quotations of God/Jesus" (much less, in its translations), so I don't believe I'm contradicting Jesus . . . but as usual, that's only my provisional take! ;-)


I WILL pray for your conversion, PaulB---as I will pray for my own, as well. God bless!

Anonymous said...

...and of course you both do realize that NONE of this SHOULD have any bearing on whether I, the atheist, can have a civil marriage.

Keep the church stuff in the church. That's all I'm asking.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear, IT!

Whatever the theology of marriage may be now, the material conditions of life for women differed greatly in Jesus' and Moses' days. Divorced (and widowed) women didn't have many resources, and many such women were reduced to gleaning or begging. Jesus' statements against divorce may have been intended to be against abandonment and impoverishment of women who were infertile, older, or in-the-way (of financially advantageous marriage alliance with another family).


Paul B said...

NancyP, I am not a fundamentalist, but I have got to say that you can justify away anything Jesus said and anything the Church holds by saying "that was then, this is now."

A clear reading of Genesis and Matthew has to lead one to conclude that Jesus believed marriage was permanent. There is a theology behind that that interlocks with our view of Christ and his church. You can't break parts of it out because they are inconvenient, because then the parts don't fit properly together again to make a whole.

Following your logic, I could just as easily say that the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" was for those first century jews and gentiles that were trying to meld two different cultures together into one Christianity, and that it doesn't apply any more because we have been melded together and the Jew versus gentile versus roman conflict doesn't exist anymore.

Paul B said...

Hi, IT.

We've danced that dance already.

I understand your point but do not agree with it. Each of us can arrive at our political positions and civil views as we wish.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but I'm not saying it for you, Paul B. You aren't the only one here. I'm saying it for the lurkers who read this site (200-300 a day), to remind them that I as a gay Californian now live in a theocracy where I am forced to live under conservative Christianist doctrine regardless of my own beliefs or lack thereof.

If my rights can be voted away, so can a Jew's, a Muslim's, a Hispanic's, a Mormon's, or even a Catholic's. So much for equal protection.

But for you, Paul B, I want you to say nothing. Just do a thought experiment....go home and imagine telling your partner (formerly your wife whom I know you love beyond measure) that your legal marriage is now outlawed and you have been forcibly divorced by the voters for the sin of being Catholic. But you can marry a non-Catholic, just like everyone else, if you simply stop behaving this way.

Meanwhile, better hire a lawyer and get a good accountant. Because you just lost medical decision making rights, spousal health insurance (even if you have an employer who will offer partner insurance, it's taxable!), pension and inheritance benefits, property tax benefits, community property laws, and 1400+ rights. Hope you do it soon because if you die suddenly, she will probably lose the house because of the taxes, and so I hope the kids are out of school too. if your brother doesn't like your partner-ex-wife, he can probably find a lawyer to help him take the house from her entirely. You can try to protect yourself with trusts and powers of attorney but they don't have nearly the clout of "marriage". And of course you'd better be able to afford a good lawyer and keep affording him because all this keeps costing.

Don't count on some "civil union" protecting you because they are routinely ignored --expect to be told "we do't do that here" even in states that have them. So also careful where you travel, because your relationship of 20+ years will evaporate in many states, or in rural or conservative districts.

That car accident in a different state could lead to you sitting in the parking lot while your partner dies in the ER, because you have no standing despite your many years together.

And even if you make more $ than your wife, and contribute more than she to the household, y'all are liable for gift tax. Just on the mortgage or the utilities. But don't worry, your lawyer for a fee can probably draw up some documentation for a "forgiveable loan" to try to avoid that. Yes, simply for living with your partner-former-wife, you incur a tax burden.

But if you just recognize your sins and repent, you can rejoin society.


MarkBrunson said...


You absolutely did not address the issue: What good is that god that you preach?

Eternity? Who'd wish to spend eternity with such a being?

Your child suffered, undoubtedly. There is a difference between suffering that can be helped and suffering that cannot be. You draw a false parallel between that and the enforcement of celibacy on those not called to it.

There is also a false dichotomy in your assertion that we must choose between a good life here and eternity. Heaven and Earth are co-eternal, eternity being not some immortality or very long time but eternal Now. This is not a license to do everything and anything, obviously. All things are permissible but not all build up the Body.

Finally, you do not attain Salvation, nor can you. It is a free gift to all. I believe there are many "good christians" who, when faced finally, will refuse the gift, however unconsciously.

MarkBrunson said...

Matthew 23 also makes it clear that Jesus did not consider marriage permanent, but takes a rather dismissive tone toward something so "fleshly" as something quite impossible in Heaven.

Paul B said...

Mark, there is only one God. We are created in His image. Christians are all trying to figure out who He is, and how to do what He wants.

We want to be sure that we are worshiping the God who created us in His image, not a god that we created in our own image.

God is who He is. I believe I worship the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the God who came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.

Many are called, but few are chosen. That must be because it is hard to follow Jesus.

I think that Jesus was a pretty black and white kind of guy. He said it was hard for a rich man to enter heaven. We should not seek out suffering or bad times, and we should rejoice in everything.


Heaven and Earth are co-eternal? God is co-eternal with Himself, as Augustine said, but earth is a creation. I don't follow you on this.


And yes, through God's grace, a free gift, we attain salvation. Perhaps "attain salvation" is the Catholic equivalent to "become saved"? The free gift is available, but we must accept it, as you alluded to in your post.

Paul B said...

It, saying nothing and thinking...

The word verification for this post is 'disses". go figure.

IT said...

Oh, I forgot the final insult for the thought experiment, Paul:

everyone knows that it's only about sex and You People aren't capable of REAL commitment.

Since this thread has fallen off the front page, readers, please take further discussion to the "two bishops" thread.

MarkBrunson said...

Then what good is this god of yours?

You've given me, not God, but your construct of god, which is not the same, so what good is this god? Your construct of god is no different from those of "the nations" - just greedier for souls - every bit as selfish, demanding, and petty. What good is that god? What is the benefit of worshipping it? Keep in mind this construct you're offering is no more verifiable than mine, and you haven't convinced me it's real at all. Seems like a bad dream.

I'll answer your questions when you actually, finally answer mine.