Elections held in Australia this weekend suggest dramatic gains for the conservative “Coalition” of the Liberal and National parties…. if not enough to form the government, at least enough to deny the Labour Party a majority.

Mostly unknown in the USA is the continuting influence of Distributist ideas on the Coalition Parties, a legacy of one of the great men of the 20th Century, the late B.A. (“Bob”) Santamaria. A “rural organizer” for the Catholic Church of Australia in the late 1930s, he was inspired by Belloc and Chesterton. During the next two decades, he successfull faced down Communist infiltration of Australia’s labor unions, through a Christian alternative called “The Movement.” He then went on to found The Independent Labour Party, a “third party” effort that kept a radicalized Labour Party out of office for over a decade. Its domestic agenda was a  “model” distributist progam.  He subsequently created The National Civic Council and the Australian Family Association, both of which remain influential players in Australian politics.

The speech which follows was delivered by yours truly to a large audience celebrating National Marriage Day in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday, August 12, 2010. The event memorialized a political agreement several years ago, by Left and Right, to fix a quite conventional definition of marriage in Australian Federal Law. Chief sponsors for the dinner were The National Civic Council and the Austrlain Family Association, joined by another dozen groups. Attendees included Cardinal Archbishop Pell, of Sydney, this Lutheran’s candidate for the next Papal vacancy.

In my part of the United States, the upper Midwest, one finds many descendants of immigrants from Sweden.  “Ole and Lena” are a mythical Swedish-American couple, probably residing somewhere in Minnesota, and notable for their remarkably dysfunctional marriage.  One story goes like this:

Ole and Lena had grown old, and one day Ole became very sick.  Eventually, he was confined to his upstairs bedroom, barely conscious, bedridden, and growing ever weaker.  After several weeks of this, the Doctor visits and tells Lena:  ‘Vell, Ole’s just about a goner.  I don’t tink he’ll survive the night.’

So Lena, being a practical woman, decides she had better start preparing for all the guests who would be coming to Ole’s funeral.  She begins to bake, starting with loaves of limpa, a Swedish sweet rye bread.  The pleasant smell of baking bread is soon wafting through the house.

Suddenly, upstairs, Ole’s nose twitches and his eyes bolt open.  “Limpa!” he says.  He jerks up into a sitting position, swings his legs around, and climbs out of bed.  It’s like a miracle!  Half walking, half stumbling, he crosses the room, enters the hallway, and starts working his way down the stairs.  “Limpa!” he says again.

He reaches the ground floor, stumbles across the kitchen, and pulls himself into a chair by a table where a loaf of freshly sliced bread sits.  He reaches over to take a slice.

“Stop that Ole!” shouts Lena, as she whaps his hand with her spatula.  “That limpa bread is for after the funeral.”

We can still laugh at Ole and Lena, even here in Sydney, Australia, because they are now out of time, characters from an earlier era of Swedish immigration into America.  Their “ideal type,” we might say, no longer exists.

More importantly, their dysfunctional marriage also belongs to another era.  Several generations ago, when there were real “Oles and Lenas,” divorce would have been rare in their community.  For better and worse, persons stayed in unhappy or troubled marriages, perhaps “for the sake of the children”; perhaps for religious reasons.

Successful jokes usually involve making fun of institutions that are strong and stable.  The “marriage joke,” a staple of comedians during the 1950’s and 1960’s, seems to be fading in our time.  Symbolically, Rodney Dangerfield, perhaps the last American master of the marriage joke, died last year.

Australia is, in many ways, a blessed country.  One recent blessing that you received was the 2004 agreement between your political leadership, left and right, to fix a solid definition of marriage within your nation’s Federal law, as involving [quote] “the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”  As a result, it seems, Australia has avoided the most contentious aspects of the “same-sex marriage” debate, an issue very much at “high boil” across the United States (as testified to by events last week in California).

All the same, Australia has not been immune from other legal changes over the last several decades, which taken together have weakened marriage as an institution.  These include:

  • The elimination of legal distinctions between births in- and out-of-wedlock;
  • Abortion laws that ignore the claims of the husband/father;
  • The acceptance of cohabitation as a legal status, providing some of the benefits of marriage without the corresponding duties;
  • The elimination of “fault” in divorce proceedings, which has had the effect of rewarding infidelity while ― in practice ― ending the community’s interest in marriage preservation;
  • And the broad leveling of gender roles specific to marriage and the rearing of children, which undercut in turn historic “family wage” regimes; while these systems were not perfect, they did commonly reinforce the best interests of children.

And so, in the year 2010, we in the Western world are left with a “social-biological” construct, no longer an “institution” admired by all, one that is ― in truth ― battered and bruised, and in some respects but a shadow of its former legal and cultural self.  It is important to remember that most of this change came before “same sex marriage” was an issue.

More oddly, for the first time in human history, natural marriage has to justify itself in democratic countries before the court of public opinion.  What had been obvious to most prior human societies, over the centuries and around the globe, is now “an issue.”  The main reason for this, I think, is the modern superstition that the past has nothing to teach us:  the assumption that our ancestors were all moral barbarians, ethical troglodytes full of prejudice and mainly devoted to attacks on human dignity and human differences.  This might be called the arrogance of Presentism.  For the same reason, religions resting on inherited dogma stand as particularly suspect.

There’s an old comment about truth claims:  in the 17th Century, any political leader seeking to support an opinion would quote Holy Scripture; in the 18th Century, he would quote Shakespeare; in the 19th Century, perhaps a philosopher such as Kant, Hegel, or Emerson; but in the 20th Century, he would quote a sociologist.  I am not sure if this is progress.  In any case, this preference for sociology still seems alive and well.

Three years ago, when several same-sex couples sued Polk County, Iowa (the place where I was born and grew up), arguing that the state of Iowa’s marriage law discriminated against them, county officials asked me to serve as an expert witness in court.  My task was to explain why it was rational for the State of Iowa to restrict legal marriage to opposite-sex couples, of proper age.  As an historian, I would explain why most human societies have understood the virtues of natural marriage and have given to such marriage extra-ordinary support and attention.  I filed an appropriate “Summary Report of my Relevant Opinions,” and went through a day-long deposition by opposing attorneys for the Lambda Legal Defense Association.  (As an aside, if you’ve never been deposed as a witness, I can report that it can be a grueling process.  For a writer, though, it’s actually a great thrill:  Lambda’s team of lawyers had clearly and carefully read everything I had ever written.  And while I knew they were looking solely for inconsistencies, contradictions, and errors, which they could use to attack my so-called “expertise,” such grand acts of reading are that of which authors dream!)

Back to the main story-line.  When the trial judge issued his bench ruling on the case the next year, he dismissed my testimony as irrelevant:  he said that history ― the record of human triumphs and tragedies, follies and successes ― history had nothing to teach the law about the issue of “same sex” marriage; only “number crunching” sociology would be allowed as evidence.  Partly for this reason, the judge in question found in favor of the plaintiffs.  The Iowa Supreme Court subsequently upheld the judge’s ruling, and my home state ― not so long ago a bastion of rural conservatism ― became the fifth American state to embrace same-sex marriage.

Actually, the judge was wrong here, in more than one sense.  Appealing to social science, he concluded that the evidence favored same-sex marriage.  The opposite is actually true.  So, in that judge’s somewhat tedious spirit, foreswearing history and embracing social science, I want to address the question at hand:  “Why Australia Needs a Renewed Culture of Natural Marriage.”

First, though, allow me to explain what I mean by “natural marriage.”  Actually, I simply agree here with Evan Wolfson, the acknowledge leader of the same-sex marriage movement in America, that there is something “natural” about the intimate relationship of a man a woman.  As Wolfson put it in his book, Why Marriage Matters:

At first glance, the “basic biology” argument seems to make some sense.  After all, it doesn’t take more than a fourth-grade health class education to know that men’s and women’s bodies in some sense “complement” each other “and that when a man and a woman come “together as one flesh” it often leads to procreation. (Why Marriage Matters, 2004).

Yes, indeed, albeit ― in my case ― this is true on the ‘second’ and ‘third’ glance, as well.

So:  First and foremost, Australia needs a culture of natural marriage for the good of the children. Thousands of recent research projects in the fields of sociology, psychology, anthropology, and medicine all testify to one truth:  children predictably do best when they are born into a married-couple home and raised by their two natural parents.  This might be the most unassailable truth in all social science.  Why?  According to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics Panel, “Marriage is beneficial in many ways” because people “behave differently when they are married.  They have healthier lifestyles, eat better, and mother each others health.”  Looking at the effects on children, the Panel stressed that this advantage is not found in step family households nor in households headed by unmarried cohabitating parents.  (Pediatrics, 2003)  Another research team found that the advantages given to children by intact marriages extend beyond the individual child:  the existence of such marriages also predicts the overall health of a school and a neighborhood → that is, intact families are essential for creating “a social world [that] is ordered in ways that generally favor young persons.”  (that from the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 2004)

This advantage of the natural parent, marriage-based home holds up when compared to sole-parent, step-parent, same-sex, cohabitating, or communal households.  Sometimes the advantage is extraordinary.  Regarding child sexual abuse, for example, data from Canada showed that preschool-age children living with their natural parents are forty times less likely to become abuse victims than are those children living in alternative arrangements.  (Ethology and Sociobiology, 1985)

The children from such homes are ― on balance ― also much healthier, in both mind and body, than those growing up in any other setting.  They earn higher marks in school; indeed, family structure is superior to all other competing theoretical explanations for differences in child achievement.  (Journal of Early Adolescence, 2000; Social Problems, 2000)

Over two hundred years ago, the French statesman Louis de Bonald ― also sometimes called the first social scientist ― explained why the state had a vital interest in each new marriage.  As he wrote in his 1801 book, On Divorce:

“Political power only intervenes in the spouse’s contract of union because it represents the unborn child, which is the sole object of marriage, and because it accepts the commitment made by the spouses … under its guarantee to bring that child into being [and to raise it well].”

Nothing of significance has changed since:  natural marriage is for the good of the children, which every healthy government need acknowledge.

The second reason Australia needs a renewed culture of natural marriage is because it is good for adults.

  • Natural marriage gives life. Researchers from Princeton University report that married men and women live longer ― on average ― than unmarried peers (be they never-married, divorced, or widowed).  (Demography, 1990)  Indeed, marital status is the most consistent predictor of longevity among women.  As the title of an article on women’s health, appearing in Social Biology, has put it:  “Perils of Single Life and the Benefits of Marriage” [1987].
  • Natural marriage gives health. A French study found that married mothers with children at home enjoyed significant improvement in their health.  (Social Science and Medicine, 2000)  Even in Sweden, where lone mothers receive generous welfare benefits, they experience important health disadvantages when compared to married mothers (Social Science and Medicine, 2000).  Indeed, single or lone mothers are three times more likely to have experienced “a major depressive disorder.”  (Journal of Marriage and Family, 1997)
  • Natural marriage creates greater wealth. This wealth-generating effect of wedlock crosses racial and gender lines.  As one study put it, “the power of marriage to deliver affluence for women is particularly strong.”  Married individuals, compared to the unmarried, gain nearly three times as much wealth over their lifetimes.  (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003)  Natural marriage accomplishes this because “it provides institutionalized protection, which generates economies of scale, task specialization, … access to work-related fringe benefits, … broader social networks and higher savings rates.” (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2002)
  • And natural marriage brings happiness.  Research shows that the optimal state of mental health, labeled “flourishing,” is more prevalent among the married than the unmarried, be the latter widowed, separated, divorced, or never-married.  “Deep depression” is rarest among the married.  (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 2002)  A survey of seventeen nations found married adults reporting significantly higher levels of personal happiness than their unmarried peers.  Contrary to feminist claims that wedlock benefits only men, the study showed that “marriage protects females just as much from unhappiness as it protects males.”  (Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1998)

The third reason that Australia needs a renewed culture of marriage is because it is good for the commonwealth, or the state.

The children of natural marriage are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or to enter the juvenile justice system.  This means in turn that they are much less likely to become expenses for the state, be it through rehabilitation programs or as prisoners.

To the contrary, the children issuing from natural marriage are more likely to do well in school, earn university degrees, be gainfully employed, and ―in consequence ― become taxpayers (rather than wards of the state).

Young mothers who are married are much less likely to require means-tested welfare benefits than their never-married or divorced counterparts.  As with their children, they are a net plus, a fiscal boost, for all levels of government.

As noted earlier, married adults are ― on average ― much wealthier than the unmarried and enjoy significantly higher lifetime earnings.  They, too, represent a gain ― rather than a net loss ― for governments at all levels, by providing a reliable tax revenue stream.

Well, I think you get the point.  The children and the adults found in homes built on natural marriage are far more likely to be or become responsible citizens, wealth creators, and taxpayers; those found in other arrangements are ― to varying degrees ― more likely to be or become dependents on government, and a net drain on the public treasury.  For this reason alone, the state has a compelling interest in raising to the maximum the number of children born into and growing up within natural parent, married couple homes.

However, there is another ― and more profound ― reason for seeking to renew a culture of natural marriage.  Briefly put, marriage ― as conventionally understood ― is a bulwark of liberty.  Here ― despite the bigotry of Iowa judges against the past ― I revert to history.  The telling reality is that every modern totalitarian movement ― every enemy of a free society ― has moved early and aggressively to disrupt or destroy the institution of natural marriage.

This began in the French Revolution, where the Jacobins first swept away the legal preference shown to births within marriage and then sought to weaken the marital bond through easy, unilateral divorce.

The Communists, who seized power in Russia through the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, immediately targeted marriage and the family for extinction.  As the Communist advocate Alexandra Kollontai explained at the time:  “the old type of family has had its day….  [T]he task of bringing up the children … is passing more and more into the hands of the collective.”  This occurred, she said, so that the child might “grow up a conscious communist who recognizes the need for solidarity, comradeship, mutual help and loyalty to the collective.”  Divorce could also now “be obtained at the [simple] request of either partner in a marriage”; all distinctions between cohabitation and marriage were abolished.

The National Socialists of Germany also worked to destroy the autonomous natural family.  As historian Claudia Koonz explains in her fine book, Mothers in the Fatherland:

“Far from honoring the family, …. Nazi policy aimed at eroding family ties among victims and its own “Aryan” followers.  In both cases, the goal was the same:  to break down individual identity and to render people susceptible to whatever plans Hitler announced:  eugenic breeding schemes for the chosen “Aryans” and genocide for the selected.”

In Communist China during the late 1950’s, authorities forced 90 percent of rural Chinese households into huge communes.  Relative to food, they also outlawed family gardens, family kitchens, and the family meal. The family woks were melted down; the law forbade home cooking; all must eat in communal halls.  The result was a wave of gluttony, followed by mass famine:  30 million deaths through starvation and an estimated 33 million lost or postponed births:  “the greatest politically inspired disaster in human history,” according to the journal Economic Development and Cultural Change (1997).

Even in the land of Sweden, during the so-called “Red” phase of Social Democratic rule in the 1970’s, the primary ideological target was natural marriage.  Policy there aimed in particular at eliminating the mother-at-home and the provider-role long held by husbands and fathers.  To achieve full equality, the socialists held that all citizens ― adult men and women as well as children ― must be made equally dependent on the welfare state.  Feminist Historian Yvonne Hirdman explains the result:

“New ideas of gender replaced old-fashioned ideas about the couple.  We witness [here] the birth of the androgynous [or ‘sexless’] individual (and I speak about the explicit ideal) and the death of the provider and his housewife.”  (The Importance of Gender in the Swedish Labor Movement, Or:  A Swedish Dilemma, 2002)

Why this common hostility by totalitarian and authoritarian regimes to natural marriage?  The great English journalist G.K. Chesterton explains the reason in his provocative 1920 pamphlet, The Superstition of Divorce:  He writes:

The ideal for which [marriage] stands in the state is liberty.  It stands for liberty for the very simple reason… [that] it is the only…institution that is at once necessary and voluntary. It is the only check on the state that is bound to renew itself as eternally as the state, and more naturally than the state….  This is the only way in which truth can ever find refuge from public persecution, and the good man survive the bad government.

Or, as Chesterton put it in his 1910 book, What’s Wrong with the World:

It may be said that this institution of the home is the one anarchist institution. That is to say, it is older than law, and stands outside the State….The State has no tool delicate enough to deracinate the rooted habits and tangled affections of the family; the two sexes, whether happy or unhappy, are glued together too tightly for us to get the blade of a legal penknife in between them.  The man and the woman are one flesh ― yes, even when they are not one spirit.  Man is a quadruped.

Chesterton, as usual for him, was an optimist about the future of marriage.  In the end, he held, the totalitarians ― the social engineers ― would always retreat before the inherent strength of the four-legged creature formed by natural marriage.  And so it has been in the past:  in the end, the French Revolutionaries failed; so did the Communists in Russia: so did the German National Socialists; and so did the Maoists in China.  In their time, each seemed to be unstoppable; each appeared to represent the inevitable future.  Yet in every case, they collapsed or retreated, because they violated human nature.

Those who seek to deconstruct marriage today are, it is true, more clever than their predecessors.  Using what might be called “the Swedish model,” their propaganda machine is much more effective.  Their promises are more seductive.  And they sometimes seem unstoppable.  However, I am confident that they too will fail, and for the same reason:  they misunderstand the nature of the human being.

So go forward with confidence as you work to rebuild in Australia a culture of natural marriage.  Human nature, innate human longings, human biology, and human history are all on your side.

This piece was originally given as an address for the National Marriage Day Dinner at the York Conference Center in Sydney, Australia on August 13, 2010.


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Allan Carlson is President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois and founder and International Secretary of The World Congress of Families. During the 2009/10 academic year, he is also Distinguished Visiting Professor of Political Science and History at Hillsdale College and Visiting Professor at The John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America. He holds his Ph.D. in Modern European History from The Ohio University. His ten books include: Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen created Family Centered Economies...and Why They Disappeared (2007); Conjugal America: On the Public Purposes of Marriage (2006); The 'American Way': Family and Community in the Shaping of the American Identity (2003); and The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in Twentieth Century America (2000). He is a contributing editor to Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity and Series Editor for Marriage and Family Studies at Transaction Books. He is currently writing a book on how Evangelical Protestants responded to the issue of birth control between 1873-1973. Dr. Carlson lives with his wife Betsy on her family farm in Owen Township, Winnebago County, Illinois, where he specializes in potatoes. They have four children. See books written by Allan Carlson.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Like so much else we discuss here, the problem is modern western culture’s complete dismissal of teleology. We are not allowed to ask what is the function of marriage and its end. We are only allowed to have autonomous monads seeking personal utility maximization.

  2. What is there in the research showing that “natural marriage” gives life, health, wealth, and happiness that indicates that the same would not be true of same-sex marriages? Could we be denying same-sex couples those benefits by legislating against SSM?

    (Case in point from history: so-called “Boston marriages,” an example of which I witnessed as a child. “The Sisters,” as the neighborhood called them, lived to a ripe old age in good health, were comfortably situated, and seemed quite happy.)

  3. “The elimination of legal distinctions between births in- and out-of-wedlock;”

    So what does the author propose, legal discrimination against children because of the actions of their parents? If that is the case, his arguments, and he, can be easily dismissed and whatever argument he makes can be safely, and quite properly, ignored.

  4. Responding to Dave Trowbridge: on one level, you may be right. Granting “marriage” to same sex couples might deliver some of the same benefits, some of the time. Yet, the real question is: What is “marriage”?

    The answer screamed out by history, religion, reputable anthropology, and biology is that marriage is heterosexual, by nature, and procreative (if always imperfectly so). At the most fundamental level, it’s not about the adults; it’s about the children (actual and potential).

    This is why “same sex marriage”–sterile by definition–does not compute.

  5. Dave conservatives tend to be quite skeptical or “research”, stats have their place when discussing society and humanity but it is a limited one. Those areas Allen mentions are far more important than mere statistics.

    Anyway excellent speech Allen, I particularly like the use of the liberal fetish for statistics and sociology against them.

    I think though you are a little optimistic about Australia. I’m half-Australian and currently live in Australia and I share little of that optimism either about distributism here or marriage/the family.

    Apparently opposition Tony Abbot is a disciple of B.A Santamaria but I’ve yet to notice him being anything but your usual neoliberal. He was certainly an advocate of the neoliberal “workchoices” and other such initiatives of the Howard government. He is perhaps one of the best candidates among the major political parties for distributism though, the rest are worse. Australia is peculiarly unsuited for distributism for the time being, its population being so concentrated in a few massive metropolises.

    When it comes to marriage and family I have almost as little a good opinion of Australian politics and society. Tony Abbot made the most minor socially conservative comments and he was laboured the mad-monk and all sorts of nonsense. The media and today’s youth have no interest in social conservatism, they are in fact more likely to support vague claims or more and more “equality” unfortunately. Tony Abbot, who played a very “safe” campaign did not even defend his views properly, I for one would have mentioned to the many who were clearly astounded at the mere existence of social conservatism that these views are those that have maintained Western civilisation for at least 1,500 years. With the way the youth and media “reason” about such issues as gay “marriages”(one of liberalism’s favourite contradiction.), which consists chiefly of wondering why there are ever blocks to what they consider complete “equality”, then I have little faith that even the 2004 alterations to the marriage laws will mean much pretty soon.

    Obviously Australia is hardly unique in its corrosive social liberalism and atomism but it is pretty virulent here for various reasons such as excessive urbanism, its lack of a deep heritage and identity of its own combined with contempt for its shared British and Western heritage and its “multiculturalism”(another of liberalism pet contradictions.) and secularism.

  6. Carlson: The answer screamed out by history, religion, reputable anthropology, and biology is that marriage is heterosexual, by nature, and procreative (if always imperfectly so). At the most fundamental level, it’s not about the adults; it’s about the children (actual and potential). This is why “same sex marriage”–sterile by definition–does not compute.

    First of all, let me say that we should support marriage. But there are some issues:

    1. History: I find that an imperfect teacher. We have a much longer history of slavery, government by royalty, and the fine sport of slaughtering all those who don’t belong to our group than we do of not having slaves, republics and living in peace. In fact, I’m not sure we have that long a history of one man-one woman marriage for life. Certainly there has been a long history of one man multiple women marriage for as long as it’s convenient. And, what does history teach us about things? You are Lutheran. What does history teach us about him? At the time, Matin Luther did not have history on his side when he broke with the Roman church. In addition, there is an argument to be made that had he stayed and worked for reform within the Church, Christianity would be far stronger today. We have to make distinctions between what is good and what isn’t and that’s why we rejected slavery, for example. I agree, but history does not argue for one man-one woman for life.

    2. Religion: Some religions accept multiple wives, SSM, and divorce.

    3. Biology: If by biology, you include sexual attraction, then one man-one woman is out. Within human biology, there are heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual attractions. There is also homosexuality among animals. And, you can hardly argue that among heterosexuals there is only one man-one woman attraction. SSM is not sterile by definition given modern medicine. Some heterosexual and lesbian couples can have children through artificial insemination.

    4. Who it’s about: It is about the adults as well. There are lots of marriages that will never…and some that should never…produce offspring. In addition, since some of the studies you cite are so old…some in the 80s…can they really say much about SSM?

    But what about the kids? While a “natural” mom and dad may be the ideal, does that mean that we should not support marriages that are not the ideal? Is it really better for the children to not support marriages involving a step parent? Or those where there is a single parent? Is it true that children are better off in orphanages than by being adopted by a loving heterosexual or homosexual couple?

  7. What is it with all the liberals here suddenly?

    1. All you are saying is that an intelligent use of history must be used while not using it intelligentally. Allen has used it intelligently, he has drawn inferences about human relationships from it. He has used history illuminated by intellect and reason to make excellent points about man’s relationships and social associations. Snide comments about slavery or suggesting some have not wanted to abide by these relationships are hardly a refutation. And Martin Luther was very historically minded.

    No traditionalist or conservative wants to accept the past traditions simply automatically, so suggesting such things hardly leaves an opening for your rabid anti-traditionalism.

    2. I have an interest in comparative religion and I know of no traditional religion that has accepted same-sex marriage and they all treat divorce with care when it is allowed, they hardly encourage it. Polygamy is more complex but those traditional faiths that have accepted it have generally not stressed it and monogamy has been the general norm. It has limited validity in certain settings and a certain symbolism but cannot match monogamy for general and symbolic validity from a metaphysical and cosmological position. S

    ame-sex marriage is an oxymoron, particularly religiously. Marriage is a sacrament, it carries certain spiritual and traditional meanings which are ripped apart by trying to make it more than heterosexual.

    3. SSM relationships are by definition sterile, only through artificial means can they be otherwise. This is quite simple. You can say this doesn’t mean anything, that the fact the biological norm is heterosexual relationships means nothing but that brings you back to the philosophical argument which we are engaged in.

    4. Of course, conservatives do not live on statistics, we can say much; religiously, historically, socially, culturally and in other ways and they all say that same-sex marriage is nonsense and negative.

    George he has given textbooks example of liberal and modernist confusions about norms, culture, society, man, nature, tradition and divergences. In a zeal to reject any sort of norms or view of human nature and virtue he has embarked on an orgy of support for an atomistic and individualist positions which if logically pursued would corrode the very foundations of society.

    We can support ideals while recognising that there will be diversions but the ideal remains what it is no matter how many self-indulgent modernist chaff under the very idea of an ideal.

  8. @Wessexman

    1. Yes, history does have to be used intelligently and just having a long history of something does not mean that that long history should be extended as shown by my examples.

    2. In terms of religion, my point was that you cannot simply say that religion is only accepting of the one-man one-women for life model. As far as SSM goes, it is my understanding that the following denominations accept it: Episcopal, Metropolitan Community Church, Unity School of Christianity. The acceptance varies in other denominations: Anglican, National Baptist Convention, Christian Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Pentecostal, Friends, Swedenborgian and the United Church of Christ. The Unitarian Universalist Association accpets SSM. I never said that “traditional” religions accepted it and have no idea if you think any of the above are traditional. It is hardly surprising that there are not more given the recent changes in the view of homosexuality. It was only relatively recently that psychiatric/psychological associations removed homosexuality as deviant behavior. Most religions over the most amount of time have said that SSM is not acceptable, but it cannot be said simply that religion condemns SSM or that no religions accept it. The same is true of polygamy as you admit above.

    I would like to reply to the last 2 paragraphs of your comments, but it seems like you wrote them in haste and while I think I understand them to be negative comments about me chaffing under the idea of an ideal, I’m not sure. The last paragraph of my post said that Carlson’s model may be the ideal but raised questions about the supposedly less than ideal situations.

    I am genuinely sorry that you don’t like to read posts by individuals you have views different than yours, given your complaints about it. Personally, I find it interesting to discuss topics with individuals with whom I disagree even if I can’t convince them of merit of my own.

  9. “1. Yes, history does have to be used intelligently and just having a long history of something does not mean that that long history should be extended as shown by my examples. ”

    Nonsense, that wasn’t Allen’s argument rather he showed it was something natural to humanity. Your examples were irrevlant to his argument.

    2. Those are modernist capitulations and not traditionally theologically and metaphysically minded religions. They do not accept “gay marriage” because of traditional metaphysical, theological or cosmological reasons but because they have given up on the primacy of these reasons and are bowing to the anti-religious and anti-theological forces of modernism and post-modernism. There is little point in talking about how religions view these issues unless we do only talk about traditional religions because they are the only ones who make the decisions based on traditional religious criteria.

    I admit that some religions have sanctioned polygamy, I admit from a purely symbolic and metaphysical perspective there is a limited validity in polygamy but I do not admit it is as valid as monogamy nor has been in traditional religions.

    And the Anglican church, or at least the church of England, does not accept “gay marriage”. That is my own church and it has yet to sink quite so low.

    My last two paragraphs were very accurate. I’m sorry you object to someone tracing the motivations and outcomes of the views you hold but, to me, that is perfectly valid. Your views are modernist and atomist. Your last paragraph implied the non-ideal situations should not be acknowledged as such. In typical social liberal fashion you suggest that not just should we recognise their are non-ideal families but imply that therefore holding up an ideal is a negative.

  10. @Wessexman

    1. My examples were quite relevant. He argued that one support for one-woman one man marriage for life is that it is the historical tradition, essentially that it’s valid because we’ve always done it that way. My examples showed that we have not always done it that way. My examples further showed that historical longevity does not necessarily mean that we should always do it that way. There are times when we reject what we have always done. Slavery is a very relevant example of that. You disagree. My own opinion is that heterosexual and homosexual marriages for life are the ideal. I also think that marriages which are less than ideal should be supported, which, by the way, are a heck of a lot of marriages given the divorce rate and the fact that there are remarriages after the death of a spouse.

    2. I stated that some religions have sanctioned marriages other than the stated ideal. You stated that no traditional religion has accepted SSM. You objected to my list of Christian denominations that accept SSM because they are not traditional religions. I am not sure you can classify Christianity as non-traditional. I bow to your knowledge of the Anglican church. Nonetheless, one cannot say that all religions condemn SSM. I fully concede that the ones you like do not support, for now, SSM. I don’t accept your analysis as to why the cited groups sanction SSM. I believe they have considered the issue, prayed over it and feel it is the right thing to do.

    As to your characterization of my views, you are fully free to say what you feel the outcome of my views are and I am fully free to disagree that the outcome will be the corrosion of the very foundations of society. I am not so sure you know my motivations.

    Suffice it to say we agree to disagree. I look forward to further discussions with you on a number of topics.

  11. 1. Nonsense. That is only part of the argument. The deeper argument is that history shows we have always done it for a reason. That is it is historic in itself only implies it is a good social arrangement, it takes analysis to show it is. Which Allen gave.

    2. The only point of talking about religions is if one has an idea of some metaphysical, cosmological and spiritual criteria with which to judge them. If one has little time for all religions, if one accepts them all including any sort of new age cult or Scientology or modernist farce or if one accepts only one faith then there is little point in even bringing up religion unless one wants to have a detailed argument about religion. You may not accept my analysis but you do not strike me as one who has the smallest idea about religion, metaphysics and theology. All those churches you quoted were modernist, they have decided to do all sorts of wacky modernist things, not because they can square it off with traditional scriptural interpretation, traditional doctrine, traditional authorities, traditional symbolism and traditional metaphysics and theology but because they have done away with such things and replaced them at best with loose, individual readings of scripture and at best and at worst they even ignore any sensible readings of the scripture.

    They start off in fundamentalism, which is a modernist position, but then don’t even stop that far in error, they retain the individualistic and narrow(in terms of symbolism and metaphysics.) readings of the text but allow it to be loose(which is not to say that they still aren’t narrow readings.), unlike fundamentalists, and finally to simply insert their own viewpoints that have no basis in scripture or tradition but are usually some modernist fad. There is no way a Christian for example could accept homosexuality as not being a sin, let alone endorse “gay marriage”.

    Disagreeing btw is not showing. I certainly do not agree to disagree. I would agree you are wrong though.

  12. @Wessexman: There is no way a Christian for example could accept homosexuality as not being a sin, let alone endorse “gay marriage”.

    As I understand it, the Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of Mexico, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa all support the ordination of non-celibate gays to the clergy and bless same-sex unions. In the Anglican Church of Canada in the Diocese of Westminster, some have chosen to bless same-sex unions. As I also understand it, in the Church of England lay homosexuals in civil partnerships are still eligible for baptism, confirmation and communion.

    Attitudes and beliefs about homosexuality are changing and will continue to change, just the way they have about other things, like slavery. Historically, slavery was accepted and there is no direct condemnation of it in the Bible, only regulation of how slaves were to be treated or how slaves were to act. Gradually, Christians reinterpreted the Bible to argue that slavery was wrong, apparently by the modernists of their time. My example still holds.

    In the US, in 1/09 a CBS poll found that 54% found nothing wrong with homosexuality, whereas in 1978 only 25% did so. The same trends exist in England, where only 36% feel homosexual acts are wrong or mostly wrong in 2010 whereas 62% thought so in 1983. Acceptance of homosexuality is also age related, with young people more accepting than older individuals which predicts further increases in accpetance. You may hate these trends, but in years to come homosexuality and eventually gay marriage will be accepted. Official church acceptance may take longer, but it too will come.

  13. George I’m unsure why you think I’ll be impressed by modernism and apostasy in my church(well I’m church of England, I’m not bothered about the rest.)?

    The synod of Westminister banned slavery in the UK in 1101AD and they did so for reasons that tally with traditional theology, doctrine and scriptural interpretation. Now you offer no such reasons to embrace homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sin in Christianity and always has been according to traditional scriptural interpretation, patristic authority, sacred tradition, Christian morality, traditional symbolism and metaphysics and so on. You do not just reinterpret the bible willy-nilly, particularly as you suggest based on public opinion. That is very nature of these modernist deviations and you are doing your case no good. If you could build a case worthy of St.Thomas Aquinas or St.Gregory Naziansus for why we should change the clear interpretation of scripture then I’d listen to that, I have less respect for such modernist random and individualistic changes than I do even for fundamentalists who remove the rich layers of symbolism in the scripture beyond the literal.

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