Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boar's Head Tavern Smackdown

I usually visit, a Christian weblog discussion, every few months and only after I've trudged through my usual websites and found that I have a few more minutes to waste on the internet. All it takes is one occasional visit into that hive of religious cacophony before I'm ready to swear it all off again.

But during my latest visit, I discovered a wonderfully entertaining discussion ongoing between Mack Ramer and a small collection of nitwits on the topic of gay adoption rights. Mack's well-reasoned and concise arguments sound off like cannonballs blasting through the illogical, inept, and frequently inane arguments of his opposition. I would like to enshrine some of the exchange here for posterity and to offer my kudos once more for a job well done.

Fearsome, talking with you has given me reason to believe the old chestnut that Christians who advocate for the inequality of gays are “obsessed with sex”. Only one of us is talking about sex here, and that person can’t seem to get it off his mind!

siblings are family. Religious orders have always considered themselves quasi-familial, which is why they call each other “Brother” and “Sister.” Business partners aren’t family, either, but neither are homosexuals–that’s why the latter are lobbying to have “family” legally redefined.

But, as I said, these people do not commit themselves to one another with the purpose of creating a family: brothers don’t commit themselves to one another at all necessarily; nuns join together with the purpose of being brides of Christ; corporations join together to make money. While I am talking about the real world, you are off in a fantasy land where siblings, religious orders and corporations want to adopt children. These people are not committed in any way to each other for the purpose raising a family; if they were, their bond would not be as brothers or as nuns or as co-workers, but as a family. I’m curious what your justification is for the idea that “neither are homosexuals [family]” — where does that come from?

What is it about four homosexuals all living together that makes them a “family,” specially qualified to raise children in a way that two middle-aged sisters, living together for 20 years, are not?

Is there any evidence of the existence of a group of four homosexuals or two sisters committed together to each other to raise a family, who want to adopt? If not, it’s just another dispatch from your fantasy-land; try to stay with us here in reality. If so, I’d say the case would need to be looked at on its own; I would wonder how four people could commit themselves to one another exactly. But I don’t think there would be cause to dismiss it immediately just because the household does not consist of one man and one woman.

Adoption is a legal construct. You’re confusing not creating a legal construct with a ban.

Except that the legal construct of adoption is already created! You’re saying we ought to limit who can use this legal construct based on sexual preference; this is, indeed, banning those people from this institution, and unjustly, too.

By “loving household,” I’ll bet you mean “household in which there is sex.”

Let me clear up the misunderstanding: a loving household could consist of one parent (plenty of loving households are single-parent), or two parents, or even theoretically many parents, so long as they were committed to one another for the purpose of creating a family. There are fundamentalist Mormon households comprised of many parents, and I’m sure some of those households are good families in which there would not necessarily be an obstacle to placing a child for adoption (or maybe I’m just being optimistic — point is, their polyamory is not as such the reason they ought to be denied adoption privileges).

I’ve never seen any secular science indicating that either the mother or the father is dispensible, nor heard any argument for it that is anything more than begging the question.

The consensus is that sexual orientation has nothing to do with one’s ability to be a good parent: see here, here, here, here, and here. Go science!


Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro

For two thousand years the Catholic Church has taken a stance that has been overwhelmingly embraced by society, not just tolerated.

Wow, admitting that the Catholic Church has existed for two thousand years? Bob, are you feeling all right (sw)? Seriously, though, the fact that an idea is new is not sufficient cause to declare it untrue. The Catholic Church has supported a lot of things that it no longer does (the divine right of kings, the Crusades, the forced conversion of natives). The idea that for something to be true, it must have been believed by Christians 500 and 1000 and 1500 years ago, is simply untenable.

Now the bully state rushes in and FORCES the church agency to go not only against conscience, but against established practice…My sympathy is so 100% with the Catholic services I can’t even conceive of criticizing the bully state who wants to change thousands of years of precedent.

Well, as much as I hate to resort to this cliche, it remains true: the same was said in 1957 in Arkansas about a different issue. Now this is not to suggest that opponents of gay marriage are racists, no; but the idea that the state ought not to force people go to against their conscience and tradition is belied by the case of school integration in the South in the 1950s.


You need to understand that your view is on the fringe and that many will disagree with it.

Many with disagree with it? Undoubtably. Does that make it wrong? I’m not so sure. Fringe? Maybe for your generation; it depends on where you live, but it appears time is on my side.

Fearsome, I only see you reiterating your dogmatic statement:

[homosexual married couples] do not commit to each other for the purpose of creating the kind of family that produces children…Then arguing for “gay adoption” is just as absurd as arguing for “sibling adoption.”

You have yet to explain how not being in the category “kind of family that produces children” necessarily excludes a couple from being in the category “kind of family that ought to be able to adopt children”. I have called you out repeatedly for the unexplained jump in logic here; it seems the best you can do is give examples of groups (corporations, convents) who ought not to be in either category. Do you see why giving true examples does not prove the necessary exclusion? If I want to prove that Socrates is not a Greek because he did not speak Farsi, it is insufficient to simply point out that Otto von Bismarck and Zhuangzi were non-Greek non-Farsi speakers, and then jump to the idea that “all non-Farsi speakers are not Greeks, so Socrates is not a Greek”. Do you follow?

Furthermore, you also seem not to have read my links (I understand if you were too pressed for time to check them out):

I was asking for a consensus that mothers are dispensible in the raising of a child. You will likewise be hard-pressed to find any evidence that fatherlessness has a neutral impact on child-raising.

I wonder, then, is your concern with single-parent households (which would be a new topic distinct from what we’ve been discussing), or with same-sex parent households? “Fatherlessness” could mean a household headed by a single mother, or it could mean a household headed by two women. Regardless, my links from yesterday do address both cases:

A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.

Source, emphasis mine.

Children born to and raised by lesbian couples seem to develop in ways that are indistinguishable from children raised by heterosexual parents.


There are no data to suggest that children who have gay or lesbian parents are different in any aspects of psychological, social, and sexual development from children in heterosexual families.


So, if you want to argue that “fatherlessness” or “motherlessness” in the context of single-parent households is a hardship, you’re really not going to get any argument from me there. The economic hardship is obvious, although research above does seem to suggest that there is no psychological or emotional impact. However, first of all this has nothing to do with adoption by same-sex couples, and secondly in the context of adoption, the hardship imposed would have to be compared to the hardship imposed by living in an orphanage or in various foster homes.

In the context of homosexual marriage, however, the consensus is clear: there is no negative impact from being raised by a homosexual couple, as opposed to a heterosexual couple.

The foundational premise for my argument is that the purpose of adoption is to provide an orphan with a mother and a father.

So, in seeking to prove that homosexuals should not be able to adopt… your premise is that only heterosexuals should be able to adopt? Your premise is your conclusion? Brilliant! I’m in awe at your discovery of this elegant form of argument! I mean, I’ve been worrying about facts, figures, studies, and real people, while all along you’ve had the ability to just assume your conclusion… why didn’t I think of it first? (jn+)

I’ve also got to say, your ad hominem attack on the scientists involved — again, another stroke of brilliance. Rather than address their ideas, you can address their characters — and since humans have so many flaws, this way will probably be a much easier way to discredit someone than actually engaging with what they have to say. My hat is off to you, the King of Argument! (jn++)

I also find it fascinating that you’ve chosen to pick a fight with the very idea of the social sciences at the exact moment that you have discovered their consensus to be firmly against your claims. This is especially rich:

[Social scientists] can only tell us that they are more likely to be good liberals.

What part of “tolerant of diversity” and “nurturing toward younger children” is liberal, exactly? Should all who aren’t liberal partisans be opposing the development of tolerant and nurturing children? Is your idea of “a good child” one who is intolerant of diversity and destructive toward younger children? I’ve yet to see any of the definitions of mental health used in the papers which don’t clearly fit with an acceptable definition of an emotionally healthy child. Your hyperbolic examples of ACORN, etc. are funny only because they are so far away from what the authors actually say.

Lastly, I’m really on the edge of my seat waiting to see what I imagine are the MOUNDS of evidence you are sitting on which will prove that kids are far better off in shifting foster homes or orphanages than with a loving married gay couple. The ball is in your court on that one!

Mark W:

So you are saying that morality should have no impact whatsoever on the law?

No, of course not. I’m saying that “X is in our group’s religious texts” or “X is our group’s traditional religious belief” is never sufficient reason to conclude “X ought to be a guiding principle of law” or, worse, “X ought to be law outright.” To do so is to allow a tyranny of a religious majority. Perhaps the best example of why this is an especially bad idea is the fact that the Old and New Testaments contain many passages condoning the institution of slavery and no passages condemning the institution or suggesting a general abolition of slaves; and yet I don’t think anybody here would propose the elimination of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. So when someone suggests that because the book of Leviticus or St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans teach that homosexual relations are sinful, that we should therefore make homosexual relations a capital crime (as in Uganda) or write discriminatory legislation barring homosexuals from marriage as we have in the US, I think that argument ought to be rejected, or the person making that argument should be fighting just as hard against the 13th Amendment as they are against gay marriage, to at least be consistent.


1 Corinthians 7 talks about the partner who is deserted is not bound, and that is widely interpreted as free to remarry in the Lord

So the clear and explicit command of Jesus in all four Gospels is abrogated by an oblique comment of St. Paul? Since when does St. Paul outrank Jesus, anyway?

I would press the civil right of the orphan to have a mother and father, and not be traumatized by two daddies or two mommies.

What’s traumatic about that? Especially compared to foster homes or an orphanage.

The multiculturalists do not want anything but their view allowed.

Nobody wants anything but their view allowed. So we argue and argue and finally in exhaustion, compromise. That’s the way a democracy works.

the main priority is unrestrained sexual freedom

What part of asking not to be barred from the institution of committed monogamy suggests a crusade for unrestrained sexual freedom to you?

If the state requires me to perform same sex services I will not give in, and I will exercise civil disobedience in only solemnizing marriages that are true marriages

You can count on me to stand behind you 100% on this, so long as you’re talking about your performance a religious ceremony, and not the creation of a civil marriage.


I still assert that it is best if an adoption agency gives first priority to married moms and dads.

On what basis? Is there some study you can point to which demonstrates that same-sex couples are inferior parents to heterosexual couples?

Do you recognize that God’s desire is for children to be raised by a mother and father?

That may be so. It is quite explicitly God’s desire that I not take His name in vain, but I don’t favor making laws against that, and I don’t suppose you do, either.

I respect the freedom of religious groups to follow the tenets of their faith and not work with people in homosexual relationships.

I do too, so long as they aren’t taking public money or performing functions like civil marriages.


Mack Ramer said...

LOL, what an honor. I'm glad you've enjoyed the conversation as much as I have!

Jay said...

That Fearsome Tycoon guy (formerly Fearsome Comrade??) needed a good kick in the pants. Your exchange has been a wonderful catharsis for me lol

Mack Ramer said...

Yeah, it's been fun for me too. Only bad part is that as usual, even though it's a closed case at this point and his arguments for the past day have been only one step above "I know you are but what am I," he doesn't have the decency to admit he's wrong.