Home > Judicial Activism, Same Sex Marriage > Why the Iowa Judges Have to Go: Defining Marriage Down

Why the Iowa Judges Have to Go: Defining Marriage Down

September 15th, 2010

The judges in Varnum v Brien made very clear what some of us have been saying for a long time: same sex marriage doesnt’ just let more people join in to the existing institution of marriage. Same sex marriage redefines marriage, downgrading its essential public purposes and leaving nothing but inessential private purposes. The judges in Varnum demonstrated this point, unwittingly, I am sure. Here is what I wrote about the case when it came out:

if the purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another, then the dual gender requirement is perfectly permissible. Same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are not the same with respect to this purpose. The Court had to come up with a very limited understanding of the purposes of marriage in order to maintain that opposite-sex and same-sex couples are in fact similarly situated.

The Court enumerated several purposes directly. Marriage provides an institutional basis for defining relational rights and responsibilities; marriage allows people to pool their resources; marriage recognizes people’s commitments; marriage provides comfort and happiness; marriage is a status, not a contract.

But these reasons do not explain why we need marriage in particular. I have a relationship with my next-door neighbor. My family pools resources with other members of a boat club. I have commitments to my employees and business associates. A pet brings me comfort and happiness. We do not need the unique relationship called marriage for any of these purposes. ….
The Court does not seem to realize that if these purposes really exhaust the list of legitimate state purposes of marriage, then there is no reason to have marriage as a distinct legal structure in the first place. Moreover, these are all private purposes, not public purposes, of marriage.

The same-sex couples before the Court claim to be committed and to love each other. Why do we need marriage for that? I’m committed to my sister. I love my best friend. Are we second class citizens because we are not married to each other? There is no state purpose whatsoever to be served by my having some legal statement or affirmation attached to my love for my sister. Besides, who really wants the Court, or the state or anyone else saying that our love is important to the state? People’s feelings are none of the state’s business. …

By the time the opponents of conjugal marriage are finished with their redefinitions, marriage will be little more than a five-year renewable-term contract. The Institution Formerly Known as Marriage will be nothing but a couple of individuals, loosely stapled together by the state.

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  1. Alex
    September 15th, 2010 at 20:52 | #1

    Sigh. Same meaningless slogan over and over. Can you, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, family issues expert, please please PLEASE give an example of a feasible circumstance in which the ability of gay couples to marry will deprive a child WHO OTHERWISE WOULD BE ATTACHED TO HIS/HER BIOLOGICAL MOTHER AND FATHER of his/her biological mother and father. Will married gay couples snatch up married straight couples’ children? Will married gay couples cause married straight couples to not want to have children anymore? What exactly–in concrete, not metaphysical terms–will happen if gays are allowed to marry? Or, to put it another way, what catastrophes have happened in places like Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Iceland vis-a-vis those countries’ children? Are Canadian or Argentine heterosexual parents disadvantaged in some way now that they weren’t last year?

  2. Sean
    September 15th, 2010 at 21:10 | #2

    “By the time the opponents of conjugal marriage…”

    Who opposes conjugal marriage? Any couple is welcome to get married to tie themselves together. Parents are tied to their children whether they marry or not, and whether they co-parenting or not.

    Just wondering, why does the state let infertile couples marry, and childless couples stay married, if the prime (and evidently in your mind, only) function of marriage is to tie parents to each other and their children? Many non-parents are married.

    The judges didn’t say same-sex marriage downgrades marriage. Why imply that they did, while you’re plotting for revenge scheme against them?

    “The Court does not seem to realize that if these purposes really exhaust the list of legitimate state purposes of marriage, then there is no reason to have marriage as a distinct legal structure in the first place. Moreover, these are all private purposes, not public purposes, of marriage.”

    What seems to get lost in this discussion is that so long as marriage is optional for any couple, with or without children, it is a hard sell intellectually (at least) to say that marriage is solely for this or that purpose. Marriage has evolved to the point of having multiple purposes and couples get married for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with children. And as noted, infertile couples are free to marry.

    “By the time the opponents of conjugal marriage are finished with their redefinitions, marriage will be little more than a five-year renewable-term contract. The Institution Formerly Known as Marriage will be nothing but a couple of individuals, loosely stapled together by the state.”

    I don’t think same-sex marriage is to blame for the fleeting nature of today’s marriages. Blame that on easy divorce.

  3. Ruth
    September 16th, 2010 at 01:25 | #3

    @Alex
    Have you ever heard of yin yin?
    How about yang yang?
    What difference would it make in the world if, instead of an image of complementary white and black interlocking shapes, we decide to make two white shapes, or two black shapes?
    Male and female is what marriage is.
    Marriage between two sexual oppposites reflects biological reality and creates a context in which two opposites can move toward a lasting whole.

  4. Heidi
    September 16th, 2010 at 11:54 | #4

    How foolish to believe that a same-sex relationship cannot be complementary simply because they do not have opposing body parts! Wow. The significance that you folks place on penis and vagina sex is rather amusing. Guess what? My female partner and I are bound together in a lasting whole, even if we are sexually similar. Why? Because a marriage relationship is about something so much greater than the composition of body parts. And it’s rather silly to think that simply because we have similar secondary sex characteristics that we cannot be differing and complementary beings. Are all women the same? Are all men the same? NO. There is a wide diversity of that which constitutes “masculine” and “feminine.” A woman can be masculine and a man can be feminine. It’s just too bad that you are so centered on gender stereotypes. You miss out on the appreciation of the beauty of human diversity. I’m just glad that my daughters have more than one template for what it means to be a woman.

    Not to mention that your comments suggest that male-female marriage will disappear if we let the gays in. Being gay or bisexual isn’t contagious, you know. Everyone isn’t going to suddenly “turn gay” if LGBT people are given equal rights. Heterosexual kids aren’t going to suddenly want to marry someone of the same sex just because it’s legal. But homosexual kids will learn that they too are entitled to the same rights and respect as everyone else. Imagine that! A world in which people are allowed to be who they are without discrimination from the government. And we have almost reached it…we are so close.

  5. September 16th, 2010 at 13:07 | #5

    Last I checked, it also wasn’t the responsibility or prerogative of the government to enforce the “yin-yang” balance of the universe. Ruth, you are entitled to believe in a metaphysical reality in which “maleness” and “femaleness” are perfect, eternal, Scripturally-ordained complements that must be jealously guarded against the dreaded, freak-of-nature gays. You’re not entitled to have that view dictate state policy, especially since your asinine response didn’t even bother to answer my question: what exactly, in CONCRETE, SPECIFIC TERMS, will happen if gays are allowed to marry? Don’t give me yin-yang drivel. Give me real situations in which real children will be harmed.

  6. Ruth
    September 16th, 2010 at 15:07 | #6

    @Alex
    Children are harmed when adults teach them to believe things that are not true.
    Homosexual sex is perverse. It goes against the way we are designed, however much our hurts may lead us to self-medicate in that way.
    Children need to be supported in their aversion to homosexual sex, just as they need to be supported in their feeling that an alcoholic parent has taken the wrong path.

  7. Ruth
    September 16th, 2010 at 15:27 | #7

    @Heidi
    Men and women are very different, even without consideration of sexual organs.
    While there are hard-boiled women and effeminate men, they always seem like a caricature, not truly masculine or truly feminine.
    The person who is put into a position of having to act like a member of the opposite sex is giving up something very valuable in order to please someone else and/or to fit into their own damaged idea of what is OK to be.
    Nothing will ever make male-female marriage cease to be.
    It will be called by another name, and a new brass ring will have been created for those who experience the wages of sin.

  8. TAR
    September 16th, 2010 at 16:15 | #8

    @Heidi
    A devoted partnership of two similar individuals creates little more than the sum of the individuals.

    A devoted partnership of two dissimilar individuals creates much more than the sum of the individuals.

    Simple illustration: Three isolated islands each inhabited by a devoted couple. On island #1 both individuals are innate carpenters, island #2 both are innate gardeners, island #3 one is an innate carpenter and the other an innate gardener. Obviously, the couple on island #3 by virtue of their dissimilarity create the best environment in terms of having both a great shelter and adequate food supplies.

    The fact is males and females are naturally ordained complementary opposites, each holds exactly one half of the formula to create life and each has been formed with exactly what the other needs to bring the two halves together.

    Simply put, the union of male and female is perfect in physical form and procreative function. Neither of these things are true for same-sex unions.

    As much as males and females are each others complementary opposites in physical form, they are also in emotional/spiritual form. Testosterone and estrogen not only influence physical development but also psychological development.

    You write, “Are all women the same? Are all men the same? NO.”

    I ask you , is the most “masculine woman” ever a man or “feminine man” a woman? The answer is the same NO. So why do you believe that two women raising children can provide the same environment as one man and one woman. That is like saying the coupling of two innate carpenters or two innate gardeners can create the same environment as the coupling of an innate carpenter and an innate gardener. Your daughters do not need a second template for what it means to be a woman; they only need one template for that from their mother, the other template they need is the one that can only be provided by a man who loves their mother and them more than he loves any other–a man that meets the definition of husband and father.

    The facts are that females and males are different and it is the extent of our differences that make our unions greater than the sum of the individuals. Every single child has exactly one mother and one father and in a perfect world every child would know the stability and joy of being raised by the two whose loving union created him or her. Unfortunately, our world is far from perfect, but that does not mean society should stop recognizing and rewarding perfection.

    The lifelong monogamous union of one man and one woman, who are fully devoted to each other and any life their loving union creates, is perfection and should be recognized and rewarded as such by society. Thus, the title of “Marriage”and the special rights that come with it should be reserved for male and female unions.

  9. Betsy
    September 16th, 2010 at 17:01 | #9

    Very nicely articulated, TAR.

  10. Sean
    September 16th, 2010 at 17:17 | #10

    “Children are harmed when adults teach them to believe things that are not true.”

    Then outlaw Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, creationism, and a zillion other things some parents tell their kids. But don’t outlaw same-sex marriage, because homosexuality is real and true.

    “The lifelong monogamous union of one man and one woman, who are fully devoted to each other and any life their loving union creates, is perfection and should be recognized and rewarded as such by society.”

    Why does society need to reward two people who are devoted to each other? Isn’t this something people do with or without marriage? That’s what the other posters say when they point out that two brothers can be devoted and yet aren’t allowed to marry. So really, devotion doesn’t appear to be a part of why people get married. And if they don’t stay together for life anyhow, what’s the point?

  11. Heidi
    September 16th, 2010 at 19:05 | #11

    Oh TAR, that is SUCH hogwash! Your “complementarity” argument assumes some perfect blend of masculine and feminine that exists only in the make-believe world of gender stereotypes. Tell me, if Daddy is feminine and Mommy is masculine, does their child receive the same type of “education” as the child of masculine Daddy and feminine Mommy? What if the individuals in the couple are equally balanced in their male/female qualities? My partner looks more masculine on the outside but is more traditionally (psychologically) feminine, and I look feminine on the outside but I am more psychologically masculine. Imagine that. Two biological women who approach and perform the female gender very, very differently. Yet each of us acts according to our unique nature.

    Growing up in an evangelical/fundamentalist church, I spent YEARS trying to fit a mold of femininity that I was never intended to fit. Oh, the misery I went through! Until I finally decided that God made me the way that I am and that was exactly as intended. The fact is that both men and women have both masculine and feminine qualities in varying degrees, and we do a real disservice to the individual human being when we try to force him or her to fit into any particular mode of gendered behavior. Children are going to be who they were made to be–whether male or female, masculine or feminine. My two nephews are excellent examples of this. Both are biologically male, born within days of one another. One is your traditional boy–loud, rowdy, rough & tumble. The other is shy, introspective, sensitive, and not in the least bit interested in traditionally male activities. At six years old, it is far too early to determine the sexual orientations of these boys. But it is clear that they each perform their male identities differently. Simply because they each have male secondary sex characteristics does not mean that they are similar in any way beyond that.

    The fact is that not one single family environment is exactly like another. So your claim that a female-female parental home cannot provide the “same” environment as a male-female parental home is right. But the same can be said in terms of the diversity between ANY family. That is, even among households headed by heterosexual parents, there will be diverse experiences for children based on the diversity of their parents. Some will have good outcomes, and some will have poor outcomes, and the determination of either outcome will have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the sex or gender identity of those parents. Sorry, but that is just baloney. Your “simple illustration” is just that: simplistic.

    @Ruth: while you may think that a masculine woman or a feminine man is a “caricature,” that is only your bias for gender stereotypes showing. Because I have met, known and befriended butch women and effeminate men, and they are merely being who they were made by God to be. You want to talk caricature? Put a masculine-looking woman in a dress. Now THAT’S a caricature! Not everyone is meant to be the same. Look around you. Look at the incredible diversity in our world, in every aspect of nature. Why would human beings be any different?

    “The person who is put into a position of having to act like a member of the opposite sex is giving up something very valuable in order to please someone else and/or to fit into their own damaged idea of what is OK to be.” WRONG AGAIN. The person who is forced by society to fit into a gender model that is limiting and against his or her own nature is the one who gives up something valuable: his or her own unique individuality as God intended. Had I become the woman that my church told me that I should have been, I might as well have committed suicide, because I would have killed my soul and my individuality to fit their idea of femininity. Sorry, but you can keep your narrow concept of maleness and femaleness. I’ll stick with appreciating the wide array of human diversity without needing to fit people into neat and opposing little boxes.

  12. Betsy
    September 16th, 2010 at 20:00 | #12

    This applies to so much that is written on this blog, and I’ve thought to make this comment many times before. But finally here it is, in all its trite glory: There are exceptions to every rule.

    I’m not saying that to be specific to anything you’ve written in your comment, Heidi, but because it made me think of it once again. Not everybody fits into a cookie cutter mold. Yes, there are married couples where the man beats his wife. Yes, there are situations where the family may be better off without one of the parents. Yes, there are times when it is better for a couple not to have children. Yes, there are bound to be children raised by same sex couples who turn out just fine. I don’t think there’s a huge need to give specific examples that break the mold, so long as everyone can just agree that (say it with me, everyone) “there are exceptions to every rule.”

    Whether they know it or not, everyone on this blog is stating his or her opinion of what the ideal is. Nobody on this planet is perfect. No marriage is perfect. No parents are perfect. No children are perfect. All that we’re stating is, _____ is what I believe to be the best situation for marriage, children, etc. The end.

  13. Sean
    September 17th, 2010 at 06:12 | #13

    Andi it’s fine to have an opinion about marriage and who should participate. But there is an effort underway in this country to make it illegal for same-sex couples to get married, based largely on animosity or religious beliefs. Neither is an appropriate driver for legislation.

    If your ideal marriage is one man, one woman and two children, then marry someone of the opposite sex and have two children. But don’t deny others the security and benefits of marriage just because you don’t approve of their interpretation of marriage.

  14. Ruth
    September 17th, 2010 at 09:19 | #14

    @Sean
    Anyone who tries to make children acknowledge Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy should be vigorously opposed.
    Presenting Creationism as one theory of origins is educational integrity.
    Children should not have to hear about homosexual sex at all.

  15. Ruth
    September 17th, 2010 at 09:41 | #15

    @Heidi
    Everyone should conform only to the image of Messiah.
    One of my favorite passages from Scripture is Revelation 2:17
    “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it.”
    That is nothing that God calls “sin” that is worthwhile when compared to true nourishment, and that stone, and that name.

  16. Ruth
    September 17th, 2010 at 09:43 | #16

    Correction:
    “There” is nothing that God calls “sin” that is worthwhile…

  17. fuerte
    September 17th, 2010 at 10:06 | #17

    Awesome! There’s room for conversation on this post! Betsy, I’m glad you to hear you say that there are exceptions to every rule. You also agree, right, that there’s a difference between rules (like “Men and women complement each other”) and laws?

    One important difference is that while rules have exceptions, laws don’t. Or, to be more precise, exceptions to laws are written into the laws themselves. For example, the rule is that we can’t kill people, but the exception is self-defense. So the law says that we can’t kill people EXCEPT in self-defense. Similarly, no one can run a red light EXCEPT for those driving emergency vehicles. A simplified formula might be LAWS = RULES + EXCEPTIONS. In writing a law, the exceptions are (or should be) as carefully considered as the rule.

    The problem is, you’re trying to codify into law a number of rules without considering their exceptions. I guess you do it because you’re afraid that the exceptions will undermine the rules, but there’s no evidence that’s the case.

    “Whether they know it or not, everyone on this blog is stating his or her opinion of what the ideal is.”

    That’s not true. Have you ever heard the phrase “The ideal (or the perfect) is the enemy of the good? Heidi isn’t arguing that her view of marriage is the best way to raise kids; she and Sean are pointing out that your insistence on enforcing an ideal (unreachable, you admit, and not universally agreed on anyway) has real, negative consequences for real people, including lots of children.

  18. Betsy
    September 17th, 2010 at 12:23 | #18

    Of course I understand your side of this. Yes, it seems unfair. I don’t know what the majority of people’s reasons are for not wanting SSM to be legal. Maybe it is animosity and religious beliefs. But that’s not the case for me. And (here we go, I’m doing it again. Hasn’t this already been stated ad naseum on this site?) if we redefine marriage to include SS couples, where does it end? Yeah, yeah. Here comes all the stuff about roommates, relatives and animals that I’ve read too many times on here. I’m not saying that. That stuff is just ridiculous. But polyamory is already happening. I can’t think of any real way that THAT can be a good thing for anyone involved, including, yes, the children. That will be pushed for next; just you wait. You can’t say that the slippery slope approach won’t apply to marriage like it has to so many other things. Well, you can if you want to, but….

    But speaking of the children, while Prop 8 was making its first rounds in CA, teachers were taking their students on field trips to view their lesbian weddings. Someplace else kindergarteners were reading King and King. I am married to a man, I do have children, and one is in Kindergarten now. I’ll be darned if I’m sending her to a public school. People with their liberal “progressive” views can keep them to themselves when it comes to what my children are taught about the various reaches of human sexuality. That is not the place of public school teachers on young children, and it’s already happening thanks to even the mention of legalized gay marriage. I can’t imagine how widespread it will be if SSM is legal everywhere.
    I could go on with examples of what I think would come next, but it’s not worth it to just have each of those picked apart. Forget it.

    Listen, Sean. If you’re gay, good for you. I have nothing against you personally. I have a lesbian cousin and a lesbian former coworker whom I was friends with. Other people on this blog are all over the other aspects of why SSM is a bad idea. This is my take, and if you want to tell me I should change my mind because A. My kids won’t be indoctrinated, I say, “Ha! Yea right.” or that B. They should learn all that stuff, I say, “Over my dead body.” Go ahead and call me out on the slippery slope idea if you want, but I believe it will happen, and there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.

    Side note: This reminds me of the movie, Surrogates with Bruce Willis. Good flick. Great example of a seemingly good idea going very very bad over time.

  19. Sean
    September 17th, 2010 at 12:28 | #19

    Betsy, who is stopping you from teaching your kids your own values? Aren’t parents often at odds with what is taught in public schools, say, on issues of evolution, for example? To be clear, I think you are perfectly free to teach your kids that homosexuality is bad or same-sex marriage is bad. But you don’t have the right to impose that belief on everyone by trying to outlaw schools from talking about same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage. There are kids in public schools who are being raised by same-sex couples, married or otherwise. Why should those kids be marginalized by a bigoted majority?

  20. Betsy
    September 17th, 2010 at 12:40 | #20

    My, are we all sitting at our computers with baited breath today?

    Did I say anything about “trying to outlaw schools from talking about same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage”? I said, in essence, it’s not a good idea, and I think a lot of parents would agree with me. It’s just a side effect of what you want, and it’s a negative one. And how is NOT teaching kindergarteners about homosexuality marginalizing kids of SS couples? You’re putting words in my mouth. And bigoted, really? That’s a blanket statement. Do you think I’m a bigot now after I just did my best to affirm you, in a way. Really?

  21. Chairm
    September 17th, 2010 at 13:27 | #21

    What is the distintive reason for the distinctive status we have for marriage in our society? If that purpose does not fit the SSM idea, why is there not a distinct status that is taylored, very closely, to the SSM idea?

    Civilizations have had millennia to abolish the distintive status of marriage and yet it remains. SSMers can offer no explanation for this which would fit their newly concocted SSM idea.

    And they refuse to offer a distinctive reason for a distinctive status for their SSM idea.

  22. Sean
    September 18th, 2010 at 05:15 | #22

    I think the distinct status for marriage is to recognize a couple’s commitment to each other and to take care of each other. That takes a burden off of society if each person has someone else committed to taking care of them. It is the basis of forming a family, and provides a more secure environment for raising children (if children are desired). There’s no particular reason to give marriage rights only to opposite-sex couples, if same-sex couples are similarly committed and in many cases, also raising children.

  23. Chairm
    September 18th, 2010 at 13:57 | #23

    The distinctive status you seek for your SSM idea arises from something that applies to nonmarriage — including scenarios with children.

    * * *

    You’ve invoked the rule that for something to be a relevant basis for lawmaking, the Government must force people to do that ‘something’. However, government coercion would negate the criterion of consent.

    So we can discard that rule about forcing people to do this or that to become eligible. It also shows that Government force is not the basis of marriage law even in your own understanding. You do not really hold your SSM idea to the same (absurd) rule that you would hold the marriage idea.

    Consent is just another way of repeating your reference to commitment. The question still remains — what is the distinctive reason for the distinctive status of marriage in our society? It is not consent, nor commitment, alone.

    That to which consent, or commitment, is given is what makes marriage distinctive and this is what justifies the distinctive status of the social institution.

    What would people consent to, or commit to, when they show-up for a license to SSM? To merit a distinctive status, the SSM idea needs a distinctive reason other than the “me too-ism” of the SSM campaign. I say that because “me too-ism” does not show that the SSM idea is seperate and above the rest of the nonmarriage category. So special status would remain unjustified on the basis of the SSM idea.

  24. Sean
    September 18th, 2010 at 16:24 | #24

    I don’t see the government forcing couples to do anything when it comes to marriage. Despite insistence by some posters that procreation and children are an integral part of marriage, the government neither intrudes into the personal realm of fertility, nor forces married couples to have children as a condition of marriage. There’s little coercive about marriage, legally. The government is simply recognizing a committed relationship at the request of the committed couple.

    Actually I equate same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage and see the distinction as solely the difference in gender composition of the couple.

    I think the distinctive status of marriage in society, for however long marriage is around, is to recognize the value of two people agreeing to commit to each other, and take care of each other. Certainly there are other interpretations of what marriage is and they can all peacefully co-exist. I have yet to see, however, any interpretation that would preclude participation by same-sex couples.

    “What would people consent to, or commit to, when they show-up for a license to SSM?”

    The same things that people consent to, or commit to, when they show up for a license to OSM! I don’t think SSM needs or deserves special consideration, compared to OSM. Treat them both the same, and realize the different labels merely reflect the gender composition of the couple. Eventually, both terms will fall out of use, much as “male nurse” has fallen out of use with increased ubiquity of males who are nurses.

  25. TAR
    September 19th, 2010 at 05:22 | #25

    @Heidi
    The marriage of the most “masculine” woman and the most “effiminate” man is as valid as the marriage of any woman and man.

    Truth is most often found to be “simple.” It is an intellectual half-truth that needs complexity to obscure the truth.

    I should clarify that perfection is something humans strive for, but in reality never achieve because we are imperfect beings. This does not mean we should stop recognizing or striving for perfection. On average one who aims for perfection will get closer to it than one who aims for mediocrity.

    Every child deserves to be born and raised by the man and woman whose loving union created him or her. Will every child be born to a married couple or will every marriage be a loving and perfect union? No, but that does not mean society should stop aiming for this perfection.

  26. Sean
    September 19th, 2010 at 16:16 | #26

    How does outlawing same-sex marriage advance the purpose that every child should be raised by his biological parents? Will same-sex couples stop raising children? Will single people stop raising children? Will opposite-sex couples with fertility problems stop going outside their marriages for procreational assistance? Will unwed mothers stop giving their children up for adoption? Will unwanted pregnancies resulting in abortion stop happening?

    My guess is, all these things will continue to happen even when same-sex couples can legally marry.

  27. Mark
    September 20th, 2010 at 08:45 | #27

    Betsy: I disagree – public schools are exactly the place where differences should be presented and discussed. It reminds me of a patient I worked with who lost her arm in an industrial accident. Every year, she started her first class (elementary) by showing the kids her artificial arm. It got it out of the way, kids weren’t asking her about it and she taught them that not everyone always fits the mold. Until, one year, a mother complained that it was too “traumatic” for her child and the teacher was forbidden to discuss it with her class.

    In school, and life, we are presented with a variety of different beliefs and people. Parents can help guide their children through those experiences using their own beliefs. Uncomfortable? Sure. But more for the parent than the kid. If you don’t want to have to discuss stuff like homosexuality with your kids, home school them, lock them in a box and never let them out. But, you will have the same kind of success that parents a generation ago had by trying to keep their kids away from seeing blacks and whites together.

  28. Ruth
    September 20th, 2010 at 12:13 | #28

    Perhaps the teacher can also explain to her students why she is having an affair with the principal.

  29. Ruth
    September 20th, 2010 at 12:14 | #29

    Who can argue with love?

  30. Sean
    September 20th, 2010 at 13:06 | #30

    She’s having an affair with the principal?? That sux!

  31. Ruth
    September 20th, 2010 at 13:32 | #31

    @Sean
    and saying so is a correct judgment.

  32. Mark
    September 20th, 2010 at 17:05 | #32

    Ruth: “Perhaps the teacher can also explain to her students why she is having an affair with the principal.”
    Sigh, a straw man argument. But, maybe she should. Of course, it should be age appropriate.

    I guess Ruth is right: lie to kids, hide everything from them that a parent “might” object to – sort of defeats the purpose of education and learning.

    The teacher should also not share her love of music and art, her interest in math, or her favorite books. See Ruth? I can be just as silly as you.

  33. Ruth
    September 21st, 2010 at 11:45 | #33

    We can assume there is at least one teacher who is having an adulterous affair. There are teachers who are even having affairs with their students.
    They should not be in a position to explain their choices to students.
    Such teachers, if their actions are known, should be fired.
    Homosexual sex and adultery are not usually comparable with music, art, or one’s favorite books.

  34. Mark
    September 21st, 2010 at 14:45 | #34

    Ruth: Thou shall not judge.

    But that’s all you seem to know how to do. Homosexual sex is not equivalent to adultery (bearing false witness again).

    And, of course, a teacher having an affair with a student should be fired as most students are too young to give consent.

  35. Leland
    September 21st, 2010 at 21:26 | #35

    @Mark
    “Thou shall not judge.”

    Maybe you should go to your Bible so you can read that verse in context, Mark, then get back to us…

  36. Mark
    September 22nd, 2010 at 06:25 | #36

    Leland: I know EXACTLY the context.

  37. Leland
    September 22nd, 2010 at 18:02 | #37

    @Mark
    So then you know it is the heart (the core of our being; the soul; that part of us that can not be observed, except by God) that we are not supposed to judge.

    On the other hand, we are supposed to judge words and deeds

  38. Mark
    September 23rd, 2010 at 05:45 | #38

    Leland: So you admit the Bible can be interpreted, not taken verbatim. Glad you concede this point, its important.

  39. Leland
    September 23rd, 2010 at 14:30 | #39

    But before we can even have that discussion you need to at least get the quote correct, Mark.

    Could you please direct us to the verse of the Bible where we can find the words “thou shall not judge”?

    Forgive me for assuming that you were either referring to Matthew 7:1 (“Do not judge, or you too will be judged”) or Luke 6:37 (“Do not judge, and you will not be judged”).

    People often misquote those as “Thou shall not judge”, and then they usually forget the other places in the Bible where we are told that we actually should judge each others behavior – as opposed to judging the worth of the person we are criticizing.

    But maybe you had a different verse in mind.

    Would you care to share it with us?

  40. Mark
    September 23rd, 2010 at 17:24 | #40

    Leland:
    Sigh, guess you got me. “Thou shall not judge” is a common phrase usually referring to both verses you cite (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37), which are attributed to Jesus. Since they are in the middle of much of the same verbiage, it is reasonable to conclude that they are one and the same speech. However, instead of splitting hairs, I think the meaning is plain. Let me know if you want me to spell it out for you.

    And, please, tell me which verses you are referring to in the Bible that SPECIFICALLY and VERBATIM (since that seems so important to you) that we should judge others behavior.

  41. Leland
    September 24th, 2010 at 01:00 | #41

    OK, “gotcha” is a game that either of us could play on the other. My apologies.

    And actually, always quoting a verse verbatim is not essential as far as I’m concerned. You’d have to narrow it down to just one translation for that (unless one is competent in Koine Greek of course, and that excludes me for sure…) I just had to wonder after your last response if you had another verse in mind.

    Also, as far as the two passages that I quoted goes, I do in fact completely concur that “…it is reasonable to conclude that they are one and the same speech.” (And they’re not the same, verbatim…)

    As for verses that admonish us to judge the behavior of others:

    Even thought there are a number throughout the Bible, I think the best place to start would be in the passages we’re talking about already.

    Matthew 7:6 seems to require that judgment has already occurred, but I think verses 7:15-20 (Luke 6:43-45) explicitly tells us to judge people – on the basis of their behavior – even if the metaphor of the fruit that a tree bears is used to make the point.

    And since that is part of the same passage as Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37, I think it’s obvious that Christ was not prohibiting us from ever judging others in any way, but rather telling us that we should judge ourselves at least as harshly as we do others (“…take the plank out of your eye…”) and to do so on the basis of one’s words and deeds, being careful not to directly impute what is in another person’s heart. (Only God himself can look directly into our hearts and minds…)

  42. Mark
    October 2nd, 2010 at 11:27 | #42

    Leland: I appreciate your apology. However, I do not see, in the verses you cite, where we should judge others behavior. Every time I read these verses I get the same impression: Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. In other words, treat each other as you would want to be treated. As you said, only God Himself can look directly into our hearts and minds.

    My original comment to Ruth was in reference to her comparing homosexuality to the negative term adultery. I am convinced that sexuality is as inborn as hair color or height. It is an essential part of a persons being. To not express it, is to not acknowledge a gift from God, just as a gift for music or art.

  43. Mark
    October 3rd, 2010 at 21:25 | #43

    Leland: I do not know if you are still following this conversation but it has really got me thinking. I can only think of one area in the Bible that talks about judging other actions (perhaps there are others). Its John 8:3-7. Jesus could have said it was OK to judge the woman’s adultery, as long as they were not judging her. But he merely said, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone”. To me, this is Jesus’ answer to us judging others behaviors – if we are free from sin or wrong behaviors, we can judge. If not, don’t go there.

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