What’s Wrong with the World

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The zero-sum game, continued

A Catholic high school fired a teacher living in a lesbian relationship when the relationship became widely known, and now the lesbian is planning to file a complaint under a city ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of so-called "sexual orientation." (By the way, if any jurisdiction in which you have any lobbying interest is considering such a law, be notified: Such laws include, either tacitly or explicitly, sexual activity in sexual orientation. The word "orientation" is a smoke screen to confuse people who feel sorry for the poor, poor homosexuals who can't help the way they feel or the way they were born or what-not. Don't be misled.)

The ordinance allows a fine and even possible jail time for those in violation.

Apparently the school was just continuing business as usual with its "discriminatory" policy, in pretty evident violation of the city ordinance. I don't know if their legal eagles hadn't told them what was up, if they intended to be engaging in civil disobedience (and in this case, good for them if they were), or if they were just hoping the issue wouldn't come up. But there you have it. They fired her, and a city official or two could go to jail for it. The ordinance has no religious exemption.

Related story (HT Bill Luse): A Catholic diocese in Ohio has been socked with over $170k in damages after a lesbian teacher won a federal lawsuit for her firing when she became pregnant by artificial insemination. Her lawyer alleged that a woman can't be fired for being pregnant and unmarried; this is, he said, a violation of state and federal laws about non-discrimination against women. The Catholic school stated that it requires teachers under contract not to violate Catholic moral teaching in their lives, which of course was broken by her becoming pregnant by artificial insemination. (It was also broken by her living in a lesbian relationship, which she allegedly kept a secret for a time. The school was setting that aside in its defense and apparently wasn't bringing it up as a reason for the firing.)

The issue of whether the teacher was a ministerial employee, which has been addressed by SCOTUS, came up in this case and may come up in the other case as well.

So I have a question for the legal pundits among my readers. Which of the following (perhaps more than one) is or are true?

1) If there is a religious exemption written into some law, then that religious exemption will usually apply to any employees of the religious organization, whether or not they are deemed by a court or even by the employer to be ministerial.

2) The ministerial employee issue arises because of constitutional jurisprudence creating a limited religious exemption to all non-discrimination laws, even if no religious exemption is written into the law. This exemption applies only to those the court deems ministerial employees.

3) The ministerial employee issue arises because of a written, but limited, exemption to federal non-discrimination law that expressly applies only to ministerial employees.

Christian schools and all other Christian organizations, our leftist masters are determined that you will comply with their agenda, come what may. Definitely, go jurisdiction shopping when looking to open a Christian school. Until every single bit of this is fully federalized, it may make all the difference in the world.

Comments (115)

Numbers 1 and 2 are true. Number 1 doesn't come up much, so let's look at 2.

Number 2 is the so-called "ministerial exception," a rule that the federal courts of appeals developed over a number of decades and that was recently strongly endorsed by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna-Tabor case. It's premise is that the Free Exercise Clause prohibits the state from telling people how to run their religion, or what their religious beliefs mean. So, if an organization or entity retains individuals to provide religious instruction or to perform religious functions, the state cannot, consistently with the Free Exercise Clause, use anti-discrimination laws to short-circuit the organization's judgments about who is qualified to serve in those roles, when a person should serve, and what the terms of his service ought to be.

The tricky part is that the rule isn't a blanket exemption for religious organizations to enforce religious laws. It's an exemption of particular classes of employees (loosely termed "ministers"). So the burden on the putative defendant is to show that the person in question qualifies in some way as a "minister." Priests, pastors, and others performing sacerdotal functions clearly count. So too do college professors teaching expressly religious subjects, such as canon law. The Supreme Court in Hosanna Tabor established that an elementary school teacher in a religious school counted, even though she didn't teach religion, because she led some school religious services, was responsible for saying some prayers in the classroom, and maybe had some duty to reflect religious principles in the other subjects she taught.

Gym teachers and janitors are probably not going to be covered by the exception. At least, they aren't clearly within the rule articulated by the Supreme Court: you would need to identify some other angle to the principle. (If I recall correctly, one of these women was a gym teacher.) But classroom teachers at legitimately religious schools should not be winning cases like these after Hosanna Tabor, and I doubt they will survive appeals if they do.

Thanks. I will say that my own jurisdiction, my own town, did put in a religious exemption to its otherwise wholly objectionable "sexual orientation and gender identity." It was certainly understood at the time to cover all employees of religious organizations, though I haven't re-read the text in several years. I don't know how common this is (this would be #1) in local or state "sexual orientation" ordinances. Our city council was bound and determined to pass otherwise a quite radical ordinance (e.g., men in drag get to use the women's restrooms even if they haven't undergone surgery), but they also definitely seemed to want an explicit religious exemption in there to take some of the heat off.

No doubt a reader will point out that you shouldn't _have_ to be an explicitly religious organization to be exempt from these laws, that they are very destructive and tyrannical even if religious organizations are wholly exempt. I strongly agree with that statement but am simply trying to find out how and where religious organizations may have some small (and probably temporary) haven.

I hope the school in the second case above appeals, because as you say, Titus, after Hosanna Tabor, they have a strong case. That teacher taught, says the story, "computer classes."

The teacher in case 1, above, was a "physical education" teacher. If that makes as big a difference as that, I don't know whether the school will appeal on constitutional grounds, but if the city tries to throw one or more of its administrators in jail for 180 days, it might be worth a shot.

Given Hosanna Tabor, it sounds like religious organizations need to make some plan for getting all their employees involved in the religious life of the organization in an active way. Perhaps have a rotating Bible study that is part of the life of the organization and require each employee to lead it on a regular schedule, regularly feature employees' religious testimonies in organization literature, and so forth.

Myself, I don't think a gym teacher in a Christian school is at all obviously un-ministerial as compared with those teaching other subjects. For example:

--Phys. ed. involves issues of physical self-image and self-esteem, and students may need encouragement and counsel in this area.

--Sex education, whatever the school does with it, is sometimes taught as part of phys ed. (There's a thought.)

--Religious matters may well be related to good health and overall well-being, and phys. ed. teachers may teach "health and wellness" as well as running laps.

--Physical sports often involve emotion, sportsmanship, keeping one's temper, etc., all of which involve the Christian witness of the school. The phys. ed. teacher has to guide students in these touchy areas and in these potentially emotional situations.

--Related: The phys. ed. teacher may well be a coach for school sports teams. Christian school sports teams are usually heavily connected with the school's religious identity, praying before games, telling students to be a good testimony for Christ, and so forth.

--Sports-oriented students may well be drawn to the phys. ed. teacher as a personal mentor.

And finally and perhaps most controversially,

--When the school deliberately divides its phys. ed. by gender and has kids in immodest situations in locker rooms and showers, the phys. ed. teacher should be of the same gender as the students taught and should not be same-sex attracted.

Reading stories like this makes me see red. My friends, and I mean literally ALL of them, are pro-gay marriage. They're also almost all pro-life too. To them, gay marriage is as much a social justice issue as being pro-life is. They look at it like interracial marriage. I think it's my age range.

Anyway, when this original story came out I remember my friends passing it around on facebook. I was smart enough to watch from a distance and stay out of it. They were absolutely HORRIFIED at the story, and it was universally agreed among those discussing that there "really need to be discrimination laws against this."

Now, I remember having some misgivings about what the school did when that story came out, but that conversation annoyed me very much. What's happening now isn't even remotely a surprise.

"Christian schools and all other Christian organizations, our leftist masters are determined that you will comply with their agenda, come what may."

To comply or not to comply, that is the question.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's.

What to do?

What to do? Well, certainly not employ teachers in your Christian school who stand for and promote an entire worldview contrary to the one your school exists to inculcate. To do so is a betrayal of all the parents who are sacrificing to scrape up the money for the tuition so that their kids can get a truly different education from the one they would get in the public schools. If you're going to betray the school's entire raison d'etre, it would be less deceptive just to close up shop altogether.

MarcAnthony, were your friends passing around and moaning and groaning about both stories or just one of them?

Which one did you feel the school had mishandled?

As far as I'm concerned, the only problem I can think of is that it seems a little implausible that school administrators really didn't know how these women were living either when they hired them or shortly thereafter. It looks rather unfortunately like they were left to live their "lifestyle" unhindered until the scandal got too big to contain, and then they were fired. No doubt the legal issues would be the same had they fired them sooner, though it probably would have been easier simply quietly to have found out what's what and given the job to someone different in the first place. In fact, this is a very strong argument: If you want to run a Christian establishment, don't try to be Mr. Nice Guy and hire a lesbian to begin with, or it will come back to haunt you later when she causes a scandal and you actually have to fire her.

In any event, I certainly don't know of any way in which the schools mistreated the teachers.

Boy, that "wall of separation" sure seems like a good idea right about now doesn't it? Too bad the "Christian right" has been so busy tearing it down all these years!

On a practical level, my recommendation would be that churches and religious organizations band together in civil disobedience against such laws and ordinances on the grounds that the government is intruding into sacred and spiritual matters - which are out of its jurisdiction.

Well, I'm not sure where a "wall of separation" that the "Christian right" has been tearing down would be helpful here. If anything, it goes the other way. Here's how it goes: The secular left believes passionately that religion is strictly a private matter and has no place in the public square. They first set this up as a "wall of separation" which dictates that, say, teachers are forbidden to pray in public schools. Then the wall extends. Everyone who engages in any public activity whatsoever, including all businesses and all schools, comes to be regarded as also falling under the secular scrutiny, where they allegedly must operate according to secular standards of non-discrimination.

As to your second paragraph, that's exactly what the constitutional jurisprudence is about that Titus and I were discussing. It's an interesting con-law topic.

If you want to mix the secular and the sacred, then don't be surprised when the secular overruns the sacred. That's all I'm saying.

And it's not only "the left" that feels like there should be such a distinction. I am currently reading Roger Williams' "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience" and this wall of separation was argued for - by Christians - back in 1644.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bloudy_Tenent_of_Persecution_for_Cause_of_Conscience

May an employer place a ministerial clause in the contract of every employee, and require them to live a life that is consistent with catholic moral teaching?

MarcAnthony, were your friends passing around and moaning and groaning about both stories or just one of them?

Just the original story (About the teacher fired for being in a lesbian relationship).

My reservations were based on the idea that the only way the news got out was because an anonymous parent called the school after the woman's mother died and her partner ended up being mentioned in the obituary. No, I don't think she should have been hired in the first place. But if that's the first time a parent has cared to mention something after 19 years, and there hasn't been any reason to dismiss her before then, well...they shouldn't have been put in that position in the first place.

The interesting things was that it was more or less agreed that what the school did was legal; it was a matter of all of them agreeing that it should never be allowed to happen ever again in the future.

In fact, this is a very strong argument: If you want to run a Christian establishment, don't try to be Mr. Nice Guy and hire a lesbian to begin with, or it will come back to haunt you later when she causes a scandal and you actually have to fire her.

I couldn't agree more with this.

Thomas, I think that's a good question. My _perception_ is that a ministerial clause wouldn't solve the problem. For example, if the school had the janitor sign a ministerial clause, and if the school were later sued about some issue concerning the janitor, and if the law under which they were sued had no general religious exemption covering non-ministerial employees, then my understanding is that the court could throw out the contract. That seems to be what the court is attempting to do in the second case discussed (which went to a federal jury). The employee did sign a contract agreeing to live according to the moral teachings of the Catholic church, but she claims she didn't know that that ruled out her getting pregnant by artificial insemination. In finding for the plaintiff, the claim is evidently that she was a non-ministerial employee (in some objective sense) so the relevant constitutional jurisprudence doesn't apply to her, and she didn't have to live by her contract in this respect. I'm guessing they could do the same even if the contract expressly stated that all employees are ministerial.

MarcAnthony, I have no hesitations myself at all about the way that the scandal came out. To my mind it's a cut and dried matter. Now, myself, I strongly suspect that a ton of people had already known that she was living with a lesbian partner prior to the obituary and that everybody was just trying to be tolerant. How do you hide a thing like that? This is somebody you're living with. But the fact is that when it is known that you are living in a manner completely at odds with the moral expectations of the job, which you must _know_ is completely at odds with it, then that's it. I have no sympathy for her just because she'd gotten away with it all that time.

Think of it this way: Suppose that the married principal of a Christian school had been secretly keeping a mistress in another town for twenty years. They have several children together, say. It only comes out eventually in some indirect way, because he's been very successfully secretive. Of course you don't say, "Oh, well, he's been our principal with this mistress all this time, and this is the first time anyone has found out about it and complained, so it's just a shame we got into this situation in the first place, but we can't fire him now." !! No, you fire the guy when the scandal finally breaks. It's really just the same here.

Suppose we change the scenario so it's been a kind of open secret that this man is keeping this mistress and this is the first time a parent has "cared to complain." Does that mean that he shouldn't be fired later when both some parent and some administrator actually take _seriously_ the behavioral rules of Christianity? Of course not!

Actually, it's funny that your friends thought that what the school did in firing the lesbian teacher was legal and that more laws were needed. In fact, it was probably _illegal_ according to local ordinance because the town _does_ have non-discrimination laws.

Daniel Smith, unfortunately, as usual, you are speaking in cliches. I don't know _exactly_ what examples you are deploring of "mixing the secular and the sacred," but let's just pick one: Say, prayer in public schools. Contrary to what you have just said, there is _no_ causal connection between Christians' desire for a prayer at a public school football game and non-discrimination laws banning Christian schools from firing a lesbian. None. There is not some sort of law of the universe that says, "If you try to get a sacred prayer allowed in a secular public school, then laws will be passed preventing you from firing a lesbian from a Christian school." Nor anything remotely like it. You just want to tie everything back to your particular set of ideological preoccupations, even when it doesn't tie back in any plausible way. This is a case where it doesn't tie in any plausible way. The homosexual agenda is its own thing with its own energy and force. Its existence and its success are not to be blamed to any extent whatsoever on Christians who want prayer allowed in the public schools or Nativity scenes in public parks or whatever the ACLU has its knickers in a knot about this year.

Lydia, I've tried several times to reply to Daniel's remarks, but found I was so flustered by the blatant ideological shoe-horning going on that all I could do is sputter. Thanks for doing better than that.

Anyway, it's simply unimaginable what causal connection there could be between any activity of "the Christian right" and non-discrimination laws and ordinances of this kind. There just isn't one, at least not in the sense that the right has somehow torn down a wall of protection that was keeping the secular state out of their business. This "pox on all their houses" stuff is just a posture that certain kinds of people feel they have to adopt, mostly from fear of getting The Jesus Cooties.

I know this situation very well. The woman in question is hiding behind a stupid legal maneuver, I think. I suspect that she knew the teachings of the Church (otherwise, why be clandestine?), but chose to either ignore it or hope that she could change them. In either case, she did not have the integrity to recuse herself from working at the school and ask for recommendations so she could get a job at a secular school. The Columbus City ordinance does not bind on conscience, since it is an immoral law, in this circumstance. The bishop should explain this to the town council and politely tell then to stick it. Authority, ultimately, comes from God, not the state and the Church speaks for God, so their law trumps local politics.

Of course, then, the bishop should be prepared to follow Christ to jail, if necessary.

The Chicken

Daniel Smith, unfortunately, as usual, you are speaking in cliches. I don't know _exactly_ what examples you are deploring of "mixing the secular and the sacred," but let's just pick one: Say, prayer in public schools. Contrary to what you have just said, there is _no_ causal connection between Christians' desire for a prayer at a public school football game and non-discrimination laws banning Christian schools from firing a lesbian. None. There is not some sort of law of the universe that says, "If you try to get a sacred prayer allowed in a secular public school, then laws will be passed preventing you from firing a lesbian from a Christian school." Nor anything remotely like it. You just want to tie everything back to your particular set of ideological preoccupations, even when it doesn't tie back in any plausible way. This is a case where it doesn't tie in any plausible way. The homosexual agenda is its own thing with its own energy and force. Its existence and its success are not to be blamed to any extent whatsoever on Christians who want prayer allowed in the public schools or Nativity scenes in public parks or whatever the ACLU has its knickers in a knot about this year.

Well the connection is one of principle. You can't argue for separation of church and state on the one hand and against it on the other (at least not without being hypocritical).

I think Christians should be FOR separation of church and state in all instances on the principle that we want to keep the government completely out of our religion.

As for prayer in schools, the problem, as I see it, is Christians letting the government teach our kids and then expecting *it* to give them a religious education. I don't want a government employee leading my children in prayer. Nor do I want someone of another faith leading them in prayer. If having someone else lead my kids in prayer was that important to me, I would surely try to get them in a school that was of the same belief system as my own.

BTW, a strict separation of church and state would keep the government from interfering in religious activities by individuals no matter where they are. This would mean that, even at schools, the government could not step in and stop students from praying. It could not even keep government employees from private prayer. All it could do would be to stop government employees from leading children in prayer (from imposing religion) - which is fine with me.

So yes, if we want to keep the government from intervening in religious matters, we should push for a strict separation of church and state in every instance - even if that means no government sanctioned prayers.

Daniel, I think non-discrimination laws for sexual behavior are ridiculous and unjust, period. Naturally, I'm happy if religious organizations have exemptions from them, but as I made clear upthread, in this case this is simply because I think they are horrible laws and want as many people as possible to be exempt from them, not because I'm arguing from a premise of the "separation of church and state."

I think Christians should be FOR separation of church and state in all instances on the principle that we want to keep the government completely out of our religion.

It is literally impossible to have a government at all AND have it not even touch on religion in some fashion. When it deals with religion even in a remote sense, it must perforce be touch on it and therefore not separated by a wall. It's just completely silly to suppose it possible to have an absolutely complete wall of separation, the only pretense of doing that would be to completely do away with one of them, either the state or religion so there is no other party to be touched.

Given that, the only real question is: under what principles shall we regulate the interaction. In some places the Church ruled the state. IN others the state controls the religion outright. If we don't want either of these, then we have to identify something capable of a little nuance and interplay.

I don't think the government should force religious institutions to associate with homosexuals, but I do support revoking the tax exempt status of bigoted organization. I think this is an elegant solution to the problem, it allows the truly devout to do whatever they want and sends the message that the state does not approve of homophobic bigotry. I'm actually starting to wonder why religious organizations are tax exempt at all, as most of them aren't charitable in any meaningful sense, and the protections offered to religions protect shady organizations such as the Church of Scientology.

Sigh. Dunsany, if we're going to start having the government pull tax exempt status for *that kind* of ideological reason, then I might as well advocate pulling tax exempt status from all organizations that advocate homosexual activity and behavior on the grounds that they are contrary to good public health and morals. Including both liberal churches and also all "educational" organizations that teach children every sex act imaginable and unimaginable (which we aren't going to talk about here). We can try to put that ideological filter in place when and if "my guys" get to be in charge. In my opinion, that would make a lot more sense than your suggestion.

The alternative for many-a decade has been for the government to maintain at least some minimal pretense (recently called deeply into question by the IRS scandal) that tax exempt status is not doled out according to ideological conformity with the moral and political views of those who presently happen to be in power.

I will say, however, that your own bigoted comment makes my point quite clear: The homosexual lobby is determined on victory. This really is a zero-sum game. Your supposed "compromise" still amounts to a Scarlet Letter (and also concrete financial penalties) for dissent from your secular religion.

It's just completely silly to suppose it possible to have an absolutely complete wall of separation, the only pretense of doing that would be to completely do away with one of them, either the state or religion so there is no other party to be touched.

I vote do away with the state!

"I vote do away with the state!"

Nah, don't away with the Church or the State. Add Waffles...

The Chicken

I vote do away with the state!

Emphasis mine, for irony's sake.

If you want to mix the secular and the sacred, then don't be surprised when the secular overruns the sacred. That's all I'm saying.

The secular and sacred must overlap in some areas such as marriage. I've never met a "marriage privatizer" who truly wants to "get the government out of marriage." There is literally only one definition of that: making the government have literally no jurisdiction over the issues arising from marriage. The truth is, no one wants that. No one wants a court to tell a couple to piss off and stop wasting its time by litigating the divorce clause of their "marriage contract" there. By definition, if you can gain standing in a court, the government is involved. To that end, the government must also set limits on what contracts are enforceable thus someone's "sacred" will always get short-changed.

I vote do away with the state!

OK.

What will you do, Daniel, when your neighbor murders your children and puts you in chains, offering to feed you only if you will pump air for his forge? Doing away with "the state" simply means that in some places the strong will rule over the weak, with intent to improve only the condition of the strong.

What will you do when a church group sends its own soldiers to collect you when you fail to go to church on Sunday, as has happened in some places? Doing away with the state means that other entities will rule you in place of the state. You won't get away from being ruled, you will only change who does it.

I will say, however, that your own bigoted comment makes my point quite clear: The homosexual lobby is determined on victory. This really is a zero-sum game. Your supposed "compromise" still amounts to a Scarlet Letter (and also concrete financial penalties) for dissent from your secular religion.

Didn't we see this during that story about the APA and a Christian school's sexual behavior policy? That is, the liberal was willing to play along with the policy with the understanding that eventually all such policies would be condemned?

Correct, except that having tax-exempt status pulled is a bigger deal and will cost an even prettier penny than having an asterisk put next to your ad in Jobs For Philosophers.

In the case of the APA, allegedly universities are also not permitted to discriminate on the grounds of political opinion. Of course, I have yet to hear of any enforcement mechanism for that, whatsoever. I'm sure it is routinely violated with impunity.

In this situation, there is no non-discrimination law with regard to moral or political opinions. Not that I'm agitating for one. I think we have too many non-discrimination laws already. However, having a non-discrimination law which penalizes entities that discriminate on grounds of specially protected sexual acts but having no non-discrimination law that protects, say, those with traditional moral opinions does indeed put a particular net ratchet in place: If you discriminate against a person with perverted sexual behavior, the hammer comes down. If your corporation fires a moral traditionalist for refusing to positively affirm perverted sexual behavior, no problem. Unless the fired employee in the second case can argue religious discrimination, which will be an interesting test case, one of these days.

What will you do, Daniel, when your neighbor murders your children and puts you in chains, offering to feed you only if you will pump air for his forge? Doing away with "the state" simply means that in some places the strong will rule over the weak, with intent to improve only the condition of the strong.

Well, my comment was a bit tongue in cheek (you claimed that the only way to separate church from state was to have one of them go away and, since I don't want it to be the church, I chose the state). I don't really advocate doing away with the state.

I think it is possible to have a wall of separation between church and state without one entity having to go away. Sure, the two realms will cross paths, but if their boundaries are set in stone, they can coexist without encroaching on each other.

The boundary, as I see it, is civil vs. spiritual. The state cannot impose itself on the church in spiritual matters (cannot tell anyone what to believe, what to preach, and etc.) but can regulate church actions in the civil realm (contracts, property rights, etc.)

In this case, the state is telling a church who it must not fire and why. If the church hires and fires based on clearly defined spiritual criteria, then they have every right to do so. If they just chose to fire a homosexual, while at the same time tolerating adulterers, fornicators, tax cheats, and etc., then they may have a hard time convincing a judge or a jury that they have spiritual standards.

Masked Chicken touched on this a little bit, and I feel like turning away from the psychological standpoint of the Catholic officials and raising the issue again: From the psychological standpoint of the sexually active homosexuals, why do they even choose to interview for a job in a place that explicitly condemns their lifestyle? Surely they know what they're getting themselves into.

Is is that these people can't afford to pass up on any job opportunity when the country is in dire economic straits, or is their intent to seedily "Trojan Horse" the enemy?


I have my suspicions. I hope I'm wrong.


If the church hires and fires based on clearly defined spiritual criteria, then they have every right to do so. If they just chose to fire a homosexual, while at the same time tolerating adulterers, fornicators, tax cheats, and etc., then they may have a hard time convincing a judge or a jury that they have spiritual standards.

Um. What this amounts to, Daniel, is a recipe for _more_ state intrusion into the church's standards. Now a jury (a jury!!!!) is, in your ideal world, supposed to decide whether a church school's standards for its employees are sufficiently consistently Christian or "truly spiritual" or something like that? Maybe the jury would read the Bible or the Catholic Catechism and decide that the school has to treat x sin on a par with y sin? And this is your idea of leaving the church alone???

Please. Give me a broad ministerial employee exemption instead (which is already found in con law, as Titus pointed out), and then let the church org. make up its own standards, be they what they may, for the ministerial employees.

I think it is possible to have a wall of separation between church and state without one entity having to go away. Sure, the two realms will cross paths, but if their boundaries are set in stone, they can coexist without encroaching on each other.

Yeah, you think it is possible, and I don't. The matter isn't about whether the "boundaries" are set in stone or more fluid, the problem is that any stated "boundary" between them cannot even in principle work for all cases and scenarios. The reason is that both the civil and the spiritual encroach on each other in the human person, who is subject to both.

Christians generally believe that the human person is ordered to a civil order and also to a spiritual order, but that this bi-fold directedness is ITSELF ordered: the one is related to the other as superior to inferior. (If that weren't the case, there would be no guarantee that the two directions are mutually and universally compatible, there would logically be the possibility that one direction results in a fundamentally incompatible requirement compared to the other.) In particular, the spiritual end of man is his permanent, eternal end, whereas the civic end is for this life only, which leads to the eternal end, and so the latter is subservient to the former.

This ordering principle, however, is more integrated into man than merely referring to those actions that are about his final end(s). Man attains his spiritual good even in and amidst attaining his civic end, because ALL of his human acts are spiritual acts. To make a truly human voluntary choice is to act using the spiritual aspect of man, his reason and his free will, and to do so with some recognition (or moral failure thereof) to choose in reference to one's final goal - either comforming to the final goal of unity with God or in adhering ultimatelhy to some created which is incompatible with union with God alone. Thus, regulating one's daily civic life is, itself, a spiritual act.

This affects all of civic life, in little ways as well as big. For example: The state sees it as a common good that all citizens be educated. In order to be able to mandate this, the state sees it as necessary to have schools paid by the state. But (in our case) the state considers itself forbidden to actively promote any specific religion, and mandates that its schools refuse to promote any religious perspective at all. The net result, then, is promotion of an ANTI-religious perspective in state schools. It is literally impossible to have a complete educational system from grades k to 12 that fails to promote some perspective about human nature, and if it fails to promote one that says humans are ordered to an end with respect to God it will perforce promote the opposite.

More generally, civic life as a whole and laws in particular have to be molded to be in conformity with the ends that society and the government see as the ends for its human beings. Because humans are integrated, the ends for civic government must be made and maintained as compatible with the spiritual end of man, which requires constant reflection back and forth between the two to keep them working together.

Is is that these people can't afford to pass up on any job opportunity when the country is in dire economic straits, or is their intent to seedily "Trojan Horse" the enemy?


I have my suspicions. I hope I'm wrong.

Sam, there certainly are people who do the "Trojan horse" thing quite deliberately. There are also people who just think, "Nobody takes that kind of stuff seriously anymore" and treat a behavior contract from a Catholic school like a set of suggestions you're free to ignore. There is yet a third motive: Thinking that you're entitled to the job if you're "qualified" according to your own notions of what *should* be required, and therefore considering yourself justified in signing on in bad faith. These three aren't mutually exclusive. For example, the "Nobody takes that seriously" could mean, "Most of the parents and kids [except of a few bigots] don't take that stuff seriously." That is then compatible with, "And as for the rest of them, I'm a culture warrior bravely pushing the boundaries." Both of which are compatible with, "And anyway, I deserve this job." I imagine there are plenty of people who have a little bit of all three motives going at the same time.

"Is is that these people can't afford to pass up on any job opportunity when the country is in dire economic straits, or is their intent to seedily "Trojan Horse" the enemy?"

If I recall, correctly, she taught at the school for 19 years. Hardly a job taken due to economic pressure. In those 19 years, she had to have heard about the Catholic moral teaching. She has had a partner (if I recall, correctly) for 12 years.

She did nothing to make the situation right. She protested when she got caught. Clearly, she did not understand a thing about Catholicism or didn't care or thought that her church was right and that she was morally superior to what the Catholic Church taught. I any case, she has no excuse.

The Chicken

civic life as a whole and laws in particular have to be molded to be in conformity with the ends that society and the government see as the ends for its human beings.

Advanced political liberalism, though, explicitly denies that those ends are really knowable, and modern philosophy denies the existence of human "ends" full stop. So an official (but ultimately artificial) neutrality on such ultimate questions is thought to be not just useful, but necessary. The problem is just as you say, though. Any kind of tolerable social life is integrative, so ends like efficiency and the satisfaction of the individual will are made paramount instead, extending from public policy to the courts. The state must be "for" some purpose, and if that purpose is the eradication of barriers to the will and the elimination of rival sources of loyalty--which are organized on subrational lines and oriented to the unknowable, on its view--then there is little reason to believe private institutions will be "left alone" to interfere with the liberal state's raison d'etre, as it just isn't in the nature of civil institutions to be indifferent to the achievement of public policy goals.

What Masked Chicken has just said about the timing is a rather important point, and I want to make a point of my own based on it. This woman was hired while she evidently did _not_ have a live-in sexual partner. Seven years later that changed.

Now, people will push and push when I openly say that I believe in discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. They (and I'm afraid there is both a Catholic and a Protestant version of this, the Catholic version being based on some most unfortunate wording in the Catechism) will be shocked, shocked. Surely you wouldn't discriminate just on the basis of _orientation_, would you?

Well, yes, I would. And in multiple jobs and for multiple reasons. The present one is a case in point. Here was a person who wasn't _at the moment_ when she was hired violating the school's code of conduct, but who didn't really accept the school's code of conduct. It was evidently just chance that she didn't have a lover at the time. Her "orientation" in other words meant that she was just sitting around waiting to "find the right person." So what good did the act-orientation distinction do the school? No good at all. They just ended up with a prima facie case that they would keep this person on who had been with them for seven years already before she started pushing the envelope. It looks to me, I'm sorry to say, like someone or other deliberately turned a blind eye for a further twelve years, and then finally the scandal broke when a parent read the mother's obituary, and they felt they had to fire her. So, yeah, they would have been better off discriminating _just_ on the basis of orientation in the first place.

Of course, this is a big topic I'm introducing, and I can write the dialogue from here with someone who wants to take the contrary position. The shift then will be to a "person who accepts the teaching of the Church." But even there, there are definitely positions, such as a gym teacher, where SSA disorder is rightly disqualifying. A lot may also depend on whether the person who allegedly "accepts the teaching of the church" also goes around telling all and sundry about his problem, entirely unnecessarily, and portraying himself as constituted for the purpose of lecturing everyone on "not being mean" to people like himself. That is not someone appropriate for a mentor position in a school.

In any event, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this woman was hired out of fear of engaging in "unjust discrimination" (ahem), and the school got itself stabbed for its pains.

Of course, this is a big topic I'm introducing, and I can write the dialogue from here with someone who wants to take the contrary position. The shift then will be to a "person who accepts the teaching of the Church." But even there, there are definitely positions,

Wait, who just shifted in this imaginary dialogue? The situation was that of a teacher with same-sex attraction. Your argument was, apparently, that it was a mistake to hire someone with SSA in the first place. You correctly point out the response where the problem here wasn't the SSA, but adherence to or acceptance of Church teaching - and then, without missing a beat, you start in with 'but there are these particular positions...'

But that's too quick. What's your response to the hypothetical person in the contrary position who just replied to you? Or did you just grant them the point? Because I can certainly agree that there are prima facie problems with having a gay man overseeing the boys in the locker room, and that that's a situation where the SSA may be a disqualifying factor. But if you have no response to the 'accepts the teaching of the Church' view, well, then you have a problem on your hands.

In general, anyone who has the requisite education and experience can be a teacher. But you don't hire a teacher "in general", you always hire a specific person for a specific position, and the specifics can matter. For example, the Catholic Church on occasion, for good reason, will "laicize" a priest, relieve him of both his vows and of his duties for the priestly state, and he can licitly live as a layman (and licitly get married). However, the laicization ruling includes within it a specification that the he cannot teach in the Church. That includes, I believe, that he cannot be a teacher in a Catholic grade school or high school. The reason is that his condition itself constitutes either a direct or indirect opportunity to cause scandal, and he should not expose the students to that opportunity. It doesn't matter, for this requirement, whether he himself did something immoral or not, nor whether he is under any suspicion or doubts about his faith, his sincerity, his chastity, his morals.

It is entirely possible to argue that the same holds for a person who has same-sex attractions, especially with a teacher of children. The mere fact of the attraction itself could constitute an unnecessary (and undue) opportunity for scandal. As, for example, the current case. Even without suspicion of actual immorality, the attraction itself could be a disqualifying condition for the role of teacher. In the Bible Christ himself says that when he is done being taught, the disciple is "like" the teacher, the master. Thus this constitutes a fundamental, general rationale for attending to every aspect of the teacher, including the way she does or does not model normal sexuality.

It is entirely possible to argue that the same holds for a person who has same-sex attractions, especially with a teacher of children. The mere fact of the attraction itself could constitute an unnecessary (and undue) opportunity for scandal.

You say 'could'. Do you believe that is, in fact, the case? Keep in mind that it wouldn't be enough to imagine a hypothetical person for whom this would be a problem, because you could come up with hypothetical straight people - from married men to single women - for whom the opportunity for scandal was just a bit too great. So what would be needed here is an argument that the SSA, full stop, creates so much of an opportunity for scandal (and that would need to be explained too) to warrant teaching.

I think this is doubly more touchy in the Catholic tradition, where celibacy - even lay celibacy - is not regarded as some strange and horrible thing.

Could one in theory ever be justified in hiring a SSA person to be a computer science teacher (and only a computer science teacher) in a Christian school? Yes, in theory, one could. But if the person felt he had to tell me, as a hiring administrator, about his SSA, I would then put him through a lot of extra grilling, which he might not like. And the strictures put upon his subsequent actions, revelations, conversation, etc., would be such as he might not like, and such as Crude might not like. For example (remembering an earlier, interminable debate), I would tell him that we don't _want_ him to be a "voice" for this, that, or the other thing related to SSA. We want him to remain quiet about it and be a role model to the children in ways that have nothing to do with telling the world about his SSA. And if he's already such a "voice" before applying for the job, I almost certainly wouldn't hire him.

I would be astonished if the majority of Catholic schools would engage in half of the "discriminatory" questioning, investigation, and prior understanding-making with the teacher that they should under such circumstances.

And the strictures put upon his subsequent actions, revelations, conversation, etc., would be such as he might not like, and such as Crude might not like. For example (remembering an earlier, interminable debate), I would tell him that we don't _want_ him to be a "voice" for this, that, or the other thing related to SSA.

You seem to be painting the impression that I think any given person with SSA has to ceaselessly yammer on about their sexuality for everyone's own good. I don't think that at all. It's not always necessary, or a good thing. It can get pretty annoying or inappropriate both in principle and in fact. That's not the problem.

The problem is this:

I would tell him that we don't _want_ him to be a "voice" for this, that, or the other thing related to SSA.

Zero qualification, just 'never talk about this, period, end of story'. And this seems to stem vastly more from 'I, Lydia, don't EVER want to hear about this if I can help it' than anything else. There comes a point where particular Christians' reluctance to engage in certain frank conversations stops being prudential and starts being an anchor around the neck of the community.

Well, yeah, so we disagree. We also disagree about whether what I've said is based on legitimate prudential considerations of the common good, the good of the hypothetical Christian school and its students, or rather is based on some irrational and pointless personal distaste. You can attribute it to irrational personal distaste if you like, and that gets a big shrug from me. It has about as much point as a homosexual activist yelling "bigot and homophobe!" I think what I've just said is a legitimate way to approach the theoretical possibility of hiring a teacher with SSA in a Christian school, and you don't. This really doesn't faze me in the slightest.

In fact, your repeated insistence that not only would the Christian school have a duty not to discriminate against such a teacher but also to accept, along with his hiring, the onset of "certain frank conversations" and not putting an "anchor around the neck of the community" merely reinforces my argument, as far as I'm concerned. We're _not_ just talking about hiring a person who privately has this problem. We're talking about taking on a lot of other baggage, including a determination to make sure the "community" is able to have "certain frank conversations." Yeah, that's why I don't want to hire people with that problem! Because that's exactly how they usually think--that defensiveness, that "We need to be able to talk about this openly" attitude, that "I need to be a voice for my kind of people and teach you how to have a ministry to us" attitude, that "the church has been unkind and needs to apologize to people like me and learn how to treat us better" attitude, even when they are chaste and allegedly accept the requirement of chastity.

Why should we re-hash the entire debate we had on another thread, Crude? I really have much better things to do than re-create all the old pixels.

No, Crude, it doesn't stem from Lydia's not wanting to hear about it. It stems from her not wanting school children hearing about it. You completely mangle her remarks about being a "voice"--that is, a public voice, a representative of sorts--and re-state them as, "Never talk about this, period, even in a deep dark basement all by yourself somewhere." You insert words like :ceaselessly," "never," and "zero" in order to make it sound as though Lydia is making an extreme point, one that it's easy for you to tear down.

The reason her position is prudential is that it deals with the person's role as an exemplar to children and a face of Church authority. Looking back on Christian history, it would be hard to find a time when a school teacher's having florid public discussions about his temptation to sodomy and "what it all means" would have been considered appropriate behavior, just given his station and the invitation to scandal that that entails. That history carries considerable weight with any serious conservative. If he wants to have a discreet discussion with particular members of the Christian community of which he is a part--his priest, for example, or others who can be taken into counsel--that's one thing, and I don't see anything in Lydia's position that would preclude it.

And by the by, this whole Oprah-Winfrey-era notion that the absence of "frank discussion" is some kind of weight around the neck of the Christian community is certifiably nutty. Christianity managed to build a civilization in the absence of the kind of "frank discussion" you'd like to see. I really can't see how the community sinks and dies because it prefers not to have its school teachers explaining their desire for homosexual relations to the whole listening public.

No, Crude, it doesn't stem from Lydia's not wanting to hear about it. It stems from her not wanting school children hearing about it.

'School children' meaning what? Juniors in high school? I suppose we can shield them from that, along with knowledge of spirits and 'hard' drinks.

You insert words like :ceaselessly," "never," and "zero" in order to make it sound as though Lydia is making an extreme point, one that it's easy for you to tear down.

No, I merely had to quote her saying that someone being a 'voice' whatsoever, period, was impermissible in her view when it comes to this position. I don't need to twist anything Lydia's saying to criticize it - her words are quite capable of being criticized on their own merits, because she happens to be wrong about this.

Looking back on Christian history, it would be hard to find a time when a school teacher's having florid public discussions about his temptation to sodomy and "what it all means" would have been considered appropriate behavior, just given his station and the invitation to scandal that that entails. That history carries considerable weight with any serious conservative.

I have no doubt that the Confessions of Saint Augustine at the time were denounced by some Christians as pointlessly lurid. How dare he have a florid public discussion about his sins and temptations and mistakes of the past. Good God, why didn't he think of the children?

I don't buy the 'any serious conservative' schtick. If you want to say I'm not allowed in that particular clubhouse, go ahead and kick me out. I've noticed that people who pay way too much attention to being a True Conservative tend to judge their credentials in terms of how many people they alienate needlessly.

If he wants to have a discreet discussion with particular members of the Christian community of which he is a part--his priest, for example, or others who can be taken into counsel--that's one thing, and I don't see anything in Lydia's position that would preclude it.

We don't need that much discretion. In fact, that very commitment to discretion is, I am convinced, one of the very things killing us right now.

And by the by, this whole Oprah-Winfrey-era notion that the absence of "frank discussion" is some kind of weight around the neck of the Christian community is certifiably nutty. Christianity managed to build a civilization in the absence of the kind of "frank discussion" you'd like to see.

And Christianity is managing to die in the West, in part because of a variety of mistakes by people too concerned with circling the wagons around so-called "conservative" ideas than asking themselves what they're doing wrong. As I said in that previous thread, apparently something like 85% of the American youths are now sympathetic to gay marriage and LGBT nonsense in general. But I have no doubt that we can increase those numbers further if we just listen to certain "conservatives".

It might be worth it right now to point out that in the original story the teacher was living with her lesbian "partner", making this a lot more cut-and-dry than the situations we're discussing now.

You say 'could'. Do you believe that is, in fact, the case?

Probably. I could have said "gee, I don't know, I haven't thought about it sufficiently", but the fact is that I have thought about it some and within that consideration my tentative conclusion is that yes, the mere fact of SSA itself probably should be a disqualifying condition for a grade school or high school teacher.

My reasoning is made up of parts. One part is this: the administrator must take into account the probable effects if the teacher's SSA became widely known within the school, particularly to the kids. Even if it is not especially likely, it is possible. The root problem is that well-raised young children should not be forced to "understand" the very existence of SSA, and they certainly cannot grasp and process adequately the distinction between having the condition and being morally disordered without high risk of mistaken perceptions etc. The potential problems are all those of trying to do sex education in schools, a very big bad area. You cannot unravel the scandal problems without big discussions with the kids, and you cannot have those discussions with them safely. (This is why the school would legitimately have concern over the teacher ever becoming "a voice" for SSA issues - the inability of the school to have those needed clarifying discussions.)

Secondly, the teacher will have to think twice and three times about many of her actions that a normal person would not have to think about: Jane hurt herself, do I give her a hug? The teacher has to reflect repeatedly not only on what her motivations are but how they would be perceived by others who do (or might come to know) her SSA condition. This might make her unable to function normally.

Thirdly, as I said above, the teacher is not only employed to instruct the mind, but also to model the way a human being rightly lives. Without actually explaining the disorder of SSA, the teacher may not be able to clearly display the normative Christian way of behaving as a sexual being. The lesbian teacher cannot, for example, have a boyfriend, a fiance, or a husband as a backdrop in the students minds for her offhand comments about relationships. That's just on one level, there are many others that stand as backdrop to how a teacher makes impressions on the student. If the teacher cannot come off (in all the subconscious cues) the way a heterosexual teacher does in ALL of those ways, then the teacher will fail to be the model the school wants her to be.

Fourthly, as with some other disorders like alcoholism, there is such a high rate of SSA people not living morally, there is some basis for considering the teacher as likely to become unchaste in the future irrespective of her stated intentions and beliefs right now. This is debatable as a general standard for a hiring decision, but I believe it comes into play legitimately for teaching. The human person is made to be coherent in their actions and beliefs, so we find that people who give in to an immoral kind of action on a regular basis - a vice - tend to eventually warp their thinking to justify their actions as being acceptable, reasonable, even as good. We see this in the gay community all the time. Thus, if the SSA teacher does succumb to temptations toward homosexual relationships, she is likely to undergo a change in her attitude toward chastity and toward normalcy. And if that changes, so will what she says to and around her students.

I would submit that the SSA teacher is under the kind of handicap that precludes her being a good teacher of children and should not be in that profession, just as a surgeon who loses his hand in an accident must give his profession due to his handicap. Just as an attraction to pedophilia should be considered such a disqualifying condition.

My answer could be different for college teachers: there the students are presumably sexually mature, have (or should have) received enough instruction from parents to be able to function in an environment where a chaste SSA professor does not create as high a potential for scandal. I am at least open to seeing enough difference that a different conclusion would be reasonable.

Tony,

Alright, fair enough. I'll reply with some thoughts.

The root problem is that well-raised young children should not be forced to "understand" the very existence of SSA, and they certainly cannot grasp and process adequately the distinction between having the condition and being morally disordered without high risk of mistaken perceptions etc.

With grade school kids, I'm tempted to find your arguments on this particular front approaching persuasive for me. For high school? There I'm not convinced. Of course, I don't think sex ed should be mandatory in high school or anything. In fact, I'm not a fan of schools at all nowadays - I think home schooling should be the ideal.

That said, I have to ask you. Just when - especially in a culture where we're seeing this sort of thing being pushed into cartoons and the like - do you think it's appropriate for a young adult to start having all this explained to them? What do you do in a culture where these sorts of ideas have as much penetration as they currently do? I mean realistically rather than ideally.

Secondly, the teacher will have to think twice and three times about many of her actions that a normal person would not have to think about: Jane hurt herself, do I give her a hug? The teacher has to reflect repeatedly not only on what her motivations are but how they would be perceived by others who do (or might come to know) her SSA condition.

This one I don't find compelling. I think it's pretty easy to understand what normal and acceptable behavior is in situations like these, and if a hug were appropriate with a straight person, I fail to see how it'd be inappropriate with some SSA person - and if it's a 'well people may react poorly' situation, then I'm going to think the problem may lie with someone other than the SSA sort.

Thirdly, as I said above, the teacher is not only employed to instruct the mind, but also to model the way a human being rightly lives. Without actually explaining the disorder of SSA, the teacher may not be able to clearly display the normative Christian way of behaving as a sexual being.

Alright, two questions. First, how in the world is a teacher - straight or not - going to 'display the normative Christian way of behaving as a sexual being' except in the most incidental of ways? What if they're single? What if they're straight and celibate?

Second, what about - even though they're around 3-4%, supposedly - SSA students? What's the normative example for them? Hell, what do we do with them at all?

Fourthly, as with some other disorders like alcoholism, there is such a high rate of SSA people not living morally, there is some basis for considering the teacher as likely to become unchaste in the future irrespective of her stated intentions and beliefs right now.

I gotta ask - what exactly is the rate of non-SSA people 'living morally'? Last I checked, people in general did tend to sin quite a lot, sadly. Now, I understand where this is particularly problematic with the LGBT community - at least the male side of things, as far as I know. But the concerns you outlined here really do seem to be something that can be handled on a personal basis, with similar risks present for straight teachers.

My answer could be different for college teachers: there the students are presumably sexually mature, have (or should have) received enough instruction from parents to be able to function in an environment where a chaste SSA professor does not create as high a potential for scandal. I am at least open to seeing enough difference that a different conclusion would be reasonable.

Alright.

Just when - especially in a culture where we're seeing this sort of thing being pushed into cartoons and the like - do you think it's appropriate for a young adult to start having all this explained to them?

I have made sure that my 9 and 12 year olds know that there are people who have attractions to the same sex, and then I aggressively shut off conversations around them that explore the issue. I do the latter quite frequently. But they get a more full discussion by the time they are finished with high school. That's in this disordered society where they have to be able to protect themselves and deal with the culture.

First, how in the world is a teacher - straight or not - going to 'display the normative Christian way of behaving as a sexual being' except in the most incidental of ways? What if they're single? What if they're straight and celibate?

I am talking about just those incidental ways. If she is single, for the more obvious things: occasionally dressing nicely for a date with guy after school, or mentioning a such a date from the past, or having a gift from a guy on her desk, or ... If she is engaged (my second grade teacher was), having the guy's picture on her desk, mentioning the date of the wedding, etc. If she is a permanently celibate nun, it is obvious: she has given up the life of having a family "for the kingdom", and wearing a nun's habit, and NOT wearing makeup and NOT having jewelry, etc.

...my tentative conclusion is that yes, the mere fact of SSA itself probably should be a disqualifying condition for a grade school or high school teacher.

Part of the reason conservatives are so regularly portrayed as just hating gays is that they want to make these kinds of rules for gays and no one else. Should the mere fact of divorce, even one given an annulment (as we all know how bogus the annulments often are), be a disqualifying condition for a teacher? What about fornication, are we to require all single teachers to be virgins? And what about other non-sexual sins? There really are a lot of sins out there, and none of us are innocent.

And then you have the other issue, which is what other occupations ought gays not to have? At some point, these strictures are going to prevent gay people from actually taking part in normal society. Which leads me to ask, is that the intent? What is the endgame here?

Portrayed as just hating gays is that they want to make these kinds of rules for gays and no one else. Should the mere fact of divorce, even one given an annulment (as we all know how bogus the annulments often are), be a disqualifying condition for a teacher?

I would count it on the "con" side of an applicant, for many reasons. One of the biggies is the difficulty if the person wants to remarry. However, it would not be an _absolute_ con, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.

What about fornication, are we to require all single teachers to be virgins?

They'd darned well better be not sexually active now, and planning on continuing celibate forever and ever and ever, unless they get married. With a sufficiently risque past that is likely to come back to haunt them, and if this (somehow) is brought out in the interview process, that would definitely also be a con.

And what about other non-sexual sins? There really are a lot of sins out there, and none of us are innocent.

There I cry foul. I utterly reject the "all sins are equal, let's just talk about 'sins' in the generic" idea. It's entirely wrong-headed, and it bedevils conversations on this topic. It needs to be tossed out the window.

And then you have the other issue, which is what other occupations ought gays not to have? At some point, these strictures are going to prevent gay people from actually taking part in normal society. Which leads me to ask, is that the intent? What is the endgame here?

Call me any names you like, but my endgame is getting homosexuals to be a) chaste and b) in the closet. It bothers me not one whit if you don't like that. They can certainly seek counsel from those actually able to help them, but it's better for all concerned if the whole issue becomes invisible. And I do mean better for _all_ concerned, including the person suffering from SSA himself.

If we lived in that kind of society, hiring someone with an SSA disorder for many jobs would, paradoxically, actually be less of a problem. Our tell-all society encourages certain attitudes and intents in homosexual people--most obviously the intent to act upon their sexuality, but other intents and attitudes as well, such as the attitude that they have to be "out," that they have to be a "voice," that if they don't do so they are "not being true to themselves," and what-not. The high probability of all of those problems put together creates a kind of maximal demotivation for an employer who wants a certain atmosphere and certain standards in his business or organization ever to hire someone he knows to have this problem. In fact, the employer for many jobs need never know at all, the person would simply live out his life as a chaste bachelor, and the whole thing would be a non-issue. If people chose to gossip about someone living this way, that would be _their_ problem.

They'd darned well better be not sexually active now, and planning on continuing celibate forever and ever and ever, unless they get married.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that anywhere between 75% to 90% of young, unmarried teachers with boyfriends or girlfriends are sexually active, and almost certainly if engaged. And that NOBODY, save perhaps Priests or Nuns working in the school, would complain if they knew that. And I guarantee that 99% of them are contracepting - it's assumed. And in a Catholic school, contraception is a mortal sin.

But maybe that's just my cynicism, because I only have anecdotal evidence.

Then I guess we need a cleaning of the Augean Stables, don't we? Not more compromise on additional relevant issues.

Tony,

I have made sure that my 9 and 12 year olds know that there are people who have attractions to the same sex, and then I aggressively shut off conversations around them that explore the issue. I do the latter quite frequently. But they get a more full discussion by the time they are finished with high school. That's in this disordered society where they have to be able to protect themselves and deal with the culture.

Okay. Let's put aside your family for the moment, because I have another question to ask you. Related though.

How, exactly, do you describe the moral problems surrounding the gay issue with people? Pretend I don't already agree. Call me a fence-sitter - I'm not deeply invested in LGBT inanity, but I'm pretty skeptical of arguments against sodomy and same-sex sexual behavior. Regard me as a yutz who thinks 'it doesn't matter, so long as two people love each other'.

How do you deal with me at first intellectual contact?

If she is a permanently celibate nun, it is obvious: she has given up the life of having a family "for the kingdom", and wearing a nun's habit, and NOT wearing makeup and NOT having jewelry, etc.

What about non-non/clergy celibates, like Opus Dei sorts?

Honestly? I think if we get consistency with moral issues in Catholic schools it would be all but impossible to find teachers. The fact is sex while engaged and contraception simply aren't considered sins.

And frankly? I think I know what you'd say in response to this, but we'd lose a lot of good teachers.

When it comes to the teachers issue, I think it's simply impractical to try and find teachers who, say.. don't use contraception. Really, how do you even verify that? The best you can hope for is the upholding of the policy, even if the individuals personally screw up at times.

I think that's one particular problem that's partly but not entirely related to the LGBT thing. There seems to be this demand for near complete purity of anything smacking of 'leaders'. I find sincere intellectual assent more important than a pure life, and the standard seems kind of absurd to expect.

There comes a point where standards are way too low, but also a point where standards are too strict. Are people with failings or screwups allowed? I'm not sure there's a hard, fast rule available here.

"cleaning of the Augean Stables"

I haven't heard the idiom in years. :)

MarcAnthony, for the moment, let's set aside the contraception issue. I set it aside chiefly because it's not openly scandalous.

But if teachers are having sex outside of marriage and not repenting it, and it's just supposed to be "no big deal," that _absolutely_ needs to be cleared up. That's a true scandal. What sort of role models are these teachers to these kids? Good teacher? Good grief. When I went to Christian school (Protestant) many-a year ago a teacher would have been seriously risking his job if he was sleeping with his girlfriend. If fornication for teachers is "no big deal" in Catholic schools in America or any other Christian schools, we have a major problem.

As to contraception, I absolutely support the right of the schools to demand that their teachers agree to abide by Catholic teaching and hence not to use it. Whether it would be wise to do so provided it is kept strictly a private matter and not advocated to students, and especially if we are talking about Protestant teachers (Catholic schools do sometimes hire Protestants to teach), is a different question. I could easily imagine someone making a variety of reasonable responses to that question. I would respect someone's position to the effect that _all_ teachers should be required to agree not to do it. That probably wouldn't be how I would run a Christian school, myself, but then I would be running a Protestant rather than a Catholic Christian school.

Sex outside of marriage is a general matter of public scandal, and honestly, if schools don't enforce their rules on sex outside of marriage, then they _are_ going to have a difficult time holding the line on homosexual "relationships."

I think if we get consistency with moral issues in Catholic schools it would be all but impossible to find teachers. The fact is sex while engaged and contraception simply aren't considered sins.

And frankly? I think I know what you'd say in response to this, but we'd lose a lot of good teachers.

I know schools that attempt to live by this standard of selection, and expect virtue of their teachers, and more or less achieve it. That is to say, more or less, you can be pretty sure that parents with 8 to 12 kids probably are not contracepting much, right? But you can see that they are walking the walk in 100 other, more subtle ways as well.

If we lose the teachers that aren't living up to this standard, maybe, just possibly, we won't keep having new generations of kids out of Catholic schools who think contraception is OK. The mentality is coming from SOMEWHERE, dammit, and it isn't the bishops. If it is the wider (non-Catholic) culture, then the teachers are failing, in a dramatic way, in instilling in their students the difference between succumbing to temptation and losing your faith, between the siren song of the culture and the clarion bell of Truth, and failing to pass on the content of the faith properly... which is, again, probably due to the fact that they themselves are in the wrong place themselves here.

There seems to be this demand for near complete purity of anything smacking of 'leaders'. I find sincere intellectual assent more important than a pure life, and the standard seems kind of absurd to expect.

I have been arguing the opposite for a while now: part of the reason our culture continues to degrade is that we DON'T ask more of our leaders than we expect of the average Joe. Sure, we can be understanding, forgiving, accommodating to the next door neighbor who falls and repents and tries to get back up again, tries again to live virtuously. I know I myself sin often enough. What we cannot do, though, is pretend that there is no difference (in this regard) between sins of momentary weakness and sins that are premeditated, deliberate, designed, or between private sins and publicly heinous sins. An engaged couple who "go too far" commit a sin when they end up in the sack together, but that's a far cry from going out and getting an IUD (or buying a large package of condoms) to make sure your pre-marital sex doesn't result in a baby. A private woman who has an abortion after being abandoned by her father and being pressed into it by her boyfriend is a far cry from a politician who advocates abortion from policy. There is something wrong with a society that cannot find 1 in 10,000 men, both prudent and reasonably virtuous, to be rulers over them. I won't vote for repeat adulterers, for abortion promoters, etc. I DO expect leaders to be better: at least by and large, to have sufficient self-discipline to overcome most of the temptations most of the time that plague us, and ALL of the heinous ones that all men can overcome with ordinary grace. I don't expect heroic virtue of leaders, but I expect ordinary virtue of them, and by golly simple self-restraint from sex outside marriage is ORDINARY virtue, not heroic. While I will readily forgive a man who falls into such sins, that doesn't mean I will vote for him.

This isn't even a religious thing: how can we expect a leader to restrain himself from the temptations of office if he cannot restrain himself to live within the bounds of ordinary virtue? I want to be confident that my elected leaders have, for decades, done the ordinary thing and (just for example) honored his marriage vows to his wife. Is it really too much to ask that he keep his pants up outside the home (and his mind out of the sewer)? Is it really too much to ask that he honor his business contracts without waffling? No, it isn't.

Teachers are in a funny position: outside their classrooms, they are nobodies, private, unimportant. But within their classroom, they are vastly more important than the elected leaders, whose influence is remote. It is meet that we aim for teachers that model the best behavior we can get, not merely "as good as the average Joe." Admittedly the qualifier "that we can get" admits of variation. But since I know of schools that get virtuous teachers, I know it can be done here and now.

And Christianity is managing to die in the West, in part because of a variety of mistakes by people too concerned with circling the wagons around so-called "conservative" ideas than asking themselves what they're doing wrong. As I said in that previous thread, apparently something like 85% of the American youths are now sympathetic to gay marriage and LGBT nonsense in general. But I have no doubt that we can increase those numbers further if we just listen to certain "conservatives".

Just imagine if that vaguely sarcastic comment was backed up with some relevant content--man, it would be a real zinger.

I mean, some of this is my cynicism talking. How can I really know? But I do find it hard to believe that the engaged couples in my school (there were a couple) weren't sleeping together.

I think the difference is that being an engaged couple is looked at in a very different way then JUST a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Just imagine if that vaguely sarcastic comment was backed up with some relevant content--man, it would be a real zinger.

You thought that was vaguely sarcastic? You'll forgive me if I distrust your ability to identify "zingers" there, lil' buckaroo. As for relevant content, do you think the ~85% stat is made up? Try Google sometime, "Sage".

Wait, is that allowed inside the compound? ;)

Tony,

I have been arguing the opposite for a while now: part of the reason our culture continues to degrade is that we DON'T ask more of our leaders than we expect of the average Joe.

Teachers as "leaders"? You're lucky if they even have a mastery of the content they're communicating to students many times. And can you fathom the sheer number of "leaders" you're looking for if teachers are leaders?

We are far too lax in our expectations of the 'Average Joe' and often kind of ridiculous when it comes to our leaders, both in terms of being too forgiving in some directions, not forgiving enough in other directions. I won't pretend it's an uncomplicated situation. But I think when (as I see some do) we're looking for leaders who are basically sinless according to all inspection - especially what passes for inspection nowadays - we're often making a mistake.

Teachers are in a funny position: outside their classrooms, they are nobodies, private, unimportant. But within their classroom, they are vastly more important than the elected leaders, whose influence is remote. It is meet that we aim for teachers that model the best behavior we can get, not merely "as good as the average Joe."

I cannot endorse a project that I think is doomed to failure in way upon way, and this is one of them. Teachers should not be 'vastly more important than elected leaders'. In fact, we should be working at making them increasingly irrelevant.

Anyway, I'll ask again how you'd communicate the immorality and general wrongness of same-sex sexual behavior. First because you seem thoughtful, so I'd like to see your approach - maybe I'd learn something. Second, because it may illustrate part of the problem on this front. (My own experience? Quite a lot of the 'conservative' Christians will peel off the moment you argue that the problem is with sodomy, full stop. I see people interpret Hebrews 13:4 in some damn odd ways on that front.)

I mean, some of this is my cynicism talking. How can I really know? But I do find it hard to believe that the engaged couples in my school (there were a couple) weren't sleeping together.

If it's just your cynicism, MarcAnthony, and you can't really know, then you're gossiping altogether, which ain't so good. On the bright side, perhaps the picture I'd gotten from you before of all the Catholic schools in the U.S. (I hear they're pretty utterly secularized in Canada) full of known fornicators among their teachers and everyone shrugging it off is a false picture. I certainly hope so.

I took you to mean teachers, whereas here you seem to mean students. That's a separate subject, though in my opinion Christian schools, and colleges, should be pretty strict with their students as well.

Crude, though I have not always consistently enforced this in the past, especially years ago, I do enforce it consistently now: We keep graphic sexual discussions off this blog, so if you're trying to induce Tony to discuss the wrongness of homosexual behavior in graphic terms and compare it to this or that act which a heterosexual couple might engage in, it ain't gonna happen here.

And, Crude, bag the trollish behavior toward Sage, a valued colleague contributor here.

The 85% figure is just some stat hanging out in mid-air, Crude. Its relevance sort of depends on your making an explicit argument in connection with it, not just a sarcastic remark with some sneer quotes.

But seriously, if you're stooping to mocking my given name, of all things, then you're really not worth engaging any further, even if you do consider yourself a "thoughtful" conservative.

Oh no, I meant teachers. You say gossiping, but I've never discussed this with other students (or other people, really), and I'm not mentioning names. Just my own thoughts. It's just hard for me to believe that in today's world an engaged couple isn't sleeping together. This is something I simply don't see except in the conservative circles I read about online in blogs. It's very rare, and I think a large part of it is because when you're engaged people just tend to see it as "virtually married" anyway, so prohibitions with sex are more or less off the table.

Maybe I really am pretty jaded. Ah well. I hope I'm wrong, anyway.

I might also add, I went to what I consider a pretty good Catholic school. They were very actively pro-life, and they got a lot of chastity speakers the four years I was there. Why, some of them were even good. ;-) And probably the biggest reason I'm Catholic is because I had an awesome theology teacher who to this day I maintain is one of the smartest people I've ever met. He taught me more about Catholicism than all my years of CCD, and my Freshman year of High School, taught me combined.

It's just hard for me to believe that in today's world an engaged couple isn't sleeping together. This is something I simply don't see except in the conservative circles I read about online in blogs. It's very rare, and I think a large part of it is because when you're engaged people just tend to see it as "virtually married" anyway, so prohibitions with sex are more or less off the table.

I'm sure that's not what your school taught. :-) If they are a Catholic engaged couple, they're supposed to be going to some kind of premarital course and talking to the priest who is going to marry them, and this is also supposed to be a place where all this is being made quite clear.

Just for the record, I could cite numerous couples, students and faculty, who have not engaged in premarital sex while waiting for their wedding day. They are outspoken about their choice and urge their brothers and sisters to follow their example. One of our young professors discussed this choice with her students in class, in fact. I'm not naive; I know there are students on our campus who are not practicing chastity, but many are and they are open about its importance. I seriously doubt if any of our faculty or staff are not following the Scripture in this area, and they would assuredly lose their jobs if they were and that fact became known. (We have had instances of faculty being fired for immorality in the past, including use of pornography and inappropriate relationships with students, so there is zero tolerance for this.) Students *can* be expelled for this cause; we try to work with students redemptively, but will take action in the absence of repentance. I expect there are other small Christian colleges like us.

The only thing more tiresome than a person afflicted with SSA demanding that the rest of society talk non-stop about his SSA is a Christian who feels compelled to oblige that demand.

And, Crude, bag the trollish behavior toward Sage, a valued colleague contributor here.

I'll treat people with the same respect they treat me, Lydia. And if it turns into a 'can dish it out but can't take it' situation, well, I'll await the inevitable use of admin force to rectify the situation.

The citing of the statistic should be obvious, and I've already made it in the past: in this 'culture war', social conservatives are losing, badly. Not every error is theirs - they have the weight of the media against them, among other things - but there are a considerable number of conservatives for whom the response to every setback is 'Clearly we have to yell even LOUDER and that will solve everything! Any second-guessing of our past methods is traitor talk!'

We keep graphic sexual discussions off this blog, so if you're trying to induce Tony to discuss the wrongness of homosexual behavior in graphic terms and compare it to this or that act which a heterosexual couple might engage in, it ain't gonna happen here.

What, can he not even say 'sodomy'? Can we not even note that the sex acts that are wrong for homosexuals to engage in are also wrong for heterosexuals to engage in?

That attitude, by the way - the attempt to denounce the immorality of the LGBT groups, while at the same time wanting to avoid all 'graphic' talk - really strikes me as one of the various failures on the part of Christians. You end up speaking so delicately that you may as well sound like you're denouncing hand-holding. You talk about 'relationships' being the problem, when a mere 'relationship' doesn't BEGIN to describe what the actual problem is. Is it any wonder that so many people have bought the idea that mere SSA itself is sufficient to damn someone to hell?

Here's something to ponder: when the essential problems are sexual and sexually graphic in nature, forbidding discussion of the sexually graphic among adults is a move that promises to only confuse things.

We'll start to gain traction in these debates the moment the person who covers their ears and says 'Too graphic! TOO GRAPHIC!' is told, "Leave the room. Men are talking." rather than capitulated to.

MarcAnthony, you need to find a better circle of Catholics to hang out with. The notion that for engaged couples the rules just don't apply is grievously wrong, though much less wrong than many other errors out there. For the record, I know many couples who did not have sex until they were married - yes, in this day and age.

Crude, I am not going to go into "how you'd communicate the immorality and general wrongness of same-sex sexual behavior." In part because of what Lydia said, and in part because it would take a book: it starts in pre-school years in little ways by showing what married love is, and continues in 10,000 ways small and large throughout 15 years of child-rearing, some explicit and some not. You can't condense that into a couple of paragraphs to an agnostic on standard sexual morality. I don't intend to try. Nevertheless, elements of it can be found in my comments on homosexuality and sexual love in other threads, with relative ease.

And yes, acts that gay men do with each other are just as immoral when heterosexuals use them. As is clear from a vast treasury of sources.

The 85% figure is just some stat hanging out in mid-air, Crude. Its relevance sort of depends on your making an explicit argument in connection with it, not just a sarcastic remark with some sneer quotes.

85% speaks volumes all by its lonesome. If you'd never seen a rout before, now you have.

Honestly, I'm surprised it isn't higher. One thing that always gets me is how Christians/Conservatives approach these questions as though they were in a position of strength. Like, if we just clamped down on all the gay talk then we could push it all back in the closet and everything would go back to normal. It ain't happening. Christianity is on a lifeline and even in my generation (I'm 31) it's all but guaranteed that any random person you pick is pro gay rights, pro gay marriage, etc. Oh, and they don't care about Christianity. They don't even hate it, it's just a non-issue.

The culture war at this point is driven by two things, Conservative unwillingness or inability to comprehend the magnitude of their defeat, and the ability of Conservative movement institutions to make money by peddling the latest outrage.

Tony,

Crude, I am not going to go into "how you'd communicate the immorality and general wrongness of same-sex sexual behavior." In part because of what Lydia said, and in part because it would take a book: it starts in pre-school years in little ways by showing what married love is, and continues in 10,000 ways small and large throughout 15 years of child-rearing, some explicit and some not. You can't condense that into a couple of paragraphs to an agnostic on standard sexual morality. I don't intend to try.

You're wrong, and it's doubly wrong of you to not even intend to try. Maybe your problem is you haven't encountered either the arguments, the condensed statements or the approach that would allow you to make these attempts. But to not even try? Better yet, to say 'I can't try because people like Lydia think that kind of talk is yucky'?

No, it actually isn't the most complicated topic in the world. You really can communicate it without needing several years of constant experience. I suggest you've made a mistake.

And yes, acts that gay men do with each other are just as immoral when heterosexuals use them. As is clear from a vast treasury of sources.

I agree. But you need to argue that, because a good portion of your conservative 'allies' seem to disagree, at least in my anecdotal experience. And part of the reason their confusion reigns is because of this tiptoeing around.

Matt,

One thing that always gets me is how Christians/Conservatives approach these questions as though they were in a position of strength.

Intellectually, it broadly is. Rhetorically is another matter. Culturally and media-wise, yet another matter. But all of these are things that can change.

Christianity is on a lifeline and even in my generation (I'm 31) it's all but guaranteed that any random person you pick is pro gay rights, pro gay marriage, etc.

And if you ask them to explain why, most either shrug, or are going along with a current tide, or - at best - are in the position they are for the most shallow and emotional of reasons. To say the current situation represents a 'rout' is only accurate in the same way that, 10 years ago, the LGBT groups had experienced a 'rout'. If there's one lesson of the 'culture wars', it's that fortunes can change in a short amount of time, historically speaking.

Which is why LGBT activists are eternally trying to keep themselves on the cross (so to speak). Because they realize that their situation is ultimately fragile, and is going to stay fragile. Better yet, that same fragility that demands unceasing social sacrifices at that particular altar also runs the very real risk of ultimately stoking resentment.

The situation conservatives find themselves in right now is largely the result of self-inflicted wounds and stupidity on their own part. Not because everyone has been intellectually convinced of the merit of gay marriage and 'gay rights'.

It's the delusion of liberals to think that their pet issues of the moment, or the current blowing of the cultural winds, marks the Status Quo for All Time. I'm sure, on the eve of the original assault weapons ban, there was no shortage of liberals who thought that that particular 'culture war' was on a direct trajectory such that, by now, we'd be discussing how - not whether to, but how - to peacefully confiscate handguns. Instead, we see concealed carry legislation being introduced in the last holdout state, on the even of one of the most gargantuan (yet failed) pushes for federal level gun control.

Progress can be and will be made, but first conservatives have to put aside the well-meaning but ultimately clueless members of their movement, which is going to happen one way or the other. They can bar themselves up in the compound, intend on keeping their ears pure of dirty, dirty words that begin with a. The rest of us will actually engage the damn world.

85% speaks volumes all by its lonesome. If you'd never seen a rout before, now you have.

Well yes, but it doesn't just speak for itself. That was my point. There a great, big "Therefore, what?" hanging out there. It's not obvious that the number by itself proves anything about the present value of certain kinds of discretion.

I'll treat people with the same respect they treat me, Lydia. And if it turns into a 'can dish it out but can't take it' situation, well, I'll await the inevitable use of admin force to rectify the situation.

I really can't see anything I wrote that sinks to the level of your trolling, Crude, but say whatever you have to say to get through the night. Meantime, I suppose you'd welcome the "inevitable" use of administrative remedies, perhaps because you think it would prove something or other, but the reality is you have no cause to act like a jerk toward me or anyone else here, even if I did have the temerity to reject your characterization of Lydia's position in the strongest terms.

Crude, first I'll say the nice things: I agree with you that the traditional position on this is intellectually much stronger than the liberal one (obviously) and that the homosexual rights movement shows its own realization that it is fighting blatant reality by the very desperation, grievance mongering, and ultimately totalitarian nature of its movement. I agree with you that the latter will stoke resentment, though I have a rather gloomy feeling that that resentment will be able to be simply ground down by the sheer power of the opposition:

"Shut up and agree with us or we'll fire you and you won't be able to eat, or we'll sue you, or perhaps we'll even find a way to throw you in jail," are all pretty effective. The argumentum ad baculum has been "working" to control human thought off and on for most of human history.

Now I'll say the in-between things: The natural law theorists have been discussing in some detail the reasons for the wrongness of homosexual acts for some time. You can research that and verify it. The language has a combination of grave tone and technicality which, I would suppose, is the kind of thing you have in mind. On a more popular level, Jay Budziszewski has done the same thing, and is as you can imagine much hated by homosexual activists for doing so. It doesn't follow that that is what everyone has to do.

My own concern is chiefly with people, especially those in institutionally strategic positions, who allegedly *accept* the conservative position on these issues, whose problem is not one of intellectual assent, but who are in my opinion insufficiently vigorous in their application of what they understand either to public policy or (especially) to the ruling of their own institution. In a desire "not to be mean to the gays," they contribute to the impression given to the young people who are their special responsibility that this is no big deal or even that it is normal and that it is far more important that we "not be mean" than that we continue clearly to uphold those standards that are allegedly ours. This approach is absolutely fatal and will undermine the very bases (in the sense of military bases or supply bases) from which the conservative movement springs.

Sometimes this bending over backwards to be nice arises from the idea that some sort of compromise is possible on the political front. That fatal idea is gaining more and more traction. The idea is that we can retain some little hold on our own official principles while giving in in myriad practical and political ways, including loudly supporting "non-discrimination" in hiring and "public accommodation," even laws to that effect, supporting civil unions and adoption, and nowadays some are even trying to square the circle by "believing that homosexual acts are wrong" while supporting homosexual "marriage." This is all insanity. Hence, my series and idea of the zero-sum game, in which this article is an installment. That sort of retreat in the culture wars will not gain you any peace and quiet, because the demand is that you must _affirm_ the normalcy of homosexuality. Feeding the homosexual movement with success only emboldens it to demand more and more. This really is a zero-sum game.

For the purpose of pointing that out, the sort of discussion you demand is unnecessary, which is why I do continue to point it out on a blog where we don't have the kind of discussion you demand.

Now, for the not-so-nice things: I don't know who the heck you think you are, but this is the second thread of mine now where you've taken an extremely high-handed tone. If you aren't demanding, in repeated bullying comments, that I denounce some woman I've never heard of for some comments of hers (that was the previous thread), you are (in both threads) lecturing in a hectoring tone on what sort of words we must use and what sort of detailed discussion we must have.

To which you've added trolling against a contributor and then more or less saying a childish "Nah-nah-nah-nah, so ban me then" when warned to knock it off.

This is absurd. I don't have time for it, and you shouldn't have time for it either, and you should (because you're obviously not a dumb bunny) know that you don't have time for it and that you have better things to do. Grow up. You have your own blog on which you can say what you like, but if you behave like this here you may well get your wish and get banned. One more "I'll say whatever I want, and you should be dismissed from the room while the men talk" or whatever type of silly comment from you, and I'll save us both time by kicking you out of here. Then you won't be tempted to come around and waste my time telling me what I have to be saying instead of what I am saying. Good grief.

I agree. But you need to argue that, because a good portion of your conservative 'allies' seem to disagree, at least in my anecdotal experience. And part of the reason their confusion reigns is because of this tiptoeing around.

Crude, other than you I simply don't know anyone who thinks this is main the reason conservative 'allies' are having a tough time pushing standard Christian morality. And, like MarcAnthony, you need to find a lot more wholesome company to keep if you find that anecdotally the people you are around think this to be the issue. The basic cultural problem conservatives have in pushing their stance is that BOTH conservative allies AND mainstream middle-of-the-roaders don't want to admit what they were told as children, that lust even in thought is wrong, nor that sex outside marriage is wrong, nor that contraception is wrong, (which is most of the reason half of them stopped going to church, so they wouldn't have to listen to the Bible telling them the truth anymore). If they would return to publicly accepting the truth of these things, they would find it much easier to be forthright and honest about homosexual immorality.

Well, to weigh in a bit: In my generation I can tell you, as a fact, that gay marriage is considered a civil rights issue. And yeah, conservatives do a pretty bad job arguing it. It's like what you see with abortion and conservative politicians - they either use biblical arguments, or some sort of silly thing like "fetuses masturbate" (???), or make some type of comment like "legitimate rape".

Here you go. There's this: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x4289824

And you know what? It works as a rebuttal of arguments I've actually seen conservatives use, because I really think a lot of them don't know why they believe what they do.

Why do you think so many conservative politicians and activists are switching their stances on gay marriage, say, when their sons come out of the closet? It's because they didn't really realize why they were against gay marriage in the first place, so hey, to them it turns out liberals were right all along! Who knew! Because that silly list is really what liberals think of, and that list is the reason why so many people consider it a civil rights issue. Conservatives need to get smarter.

(My thoughts are kind of scattered here, so I hope what I said makes sense.)

Put a different way: If you thought those were the only arguments against gay marriage, you'd be for it too, right?

Well, MA, without having a lot of time right now, several of those arguments are just sarcastic ways of putting arguments that are actually good. Such as that children do need both a mother and a father, homosexuality _is_ unnatural (but the sarcastic commentator doesn't understand the very concept of the normativity of nature and hence makes a silly comparison to polyester), and so forth. I don't have time to go through and count up how many of these are just statements of good arguments in a sarcastic and childish fashion, but I saw several. So, I'm not impressed. These kinds of people among themselves will make fun of anything. They are not convincible. They are, in fact, very seriously messed up. (Such as not knowing what "natural" and "unnatural" mean.)

So, no, I don't see the existence of such a list as evidence that "we're doing it wrong."

And don't get me started on the Todd Akin issue. Just don't get me started.

In general, I'm very inclined to doubt the "we must be doing it wrong because people don't agree with us" argument. Even as sociology, it's poor. As a guide to strategy, it's worse.

Tony,

Crude, other than you I simply don't know anyone who thinks this is main the reason conservative 'allies' are having a tough time pushing standard Christian morality.

I didn't say it's THE main reason, if you meant that. I said it's one of the major reasons. And I'm saying something that you're not hearing other conservatives say? Alright - I admit, I come at these issues from a very different perspective than most. What, are you telling me that's evidence it's wrong? Because if there's one thing the 5-10 year train wreck of conservative performance on this issue tells us, it's that social conservatives have a brilliant plan that's been working excellently?

Maybe the fact that you haven't heard this analysis before is actually a reason you should at least evaluate it seriously, even if you ultimately reject it.

And, like MarcAnthony, you need to find a lot more wholesome company to keep if you find that anecdotally the people you are around think this to be the issue.

You keep saying this, and you know what? I think you're wrong. You keep talking about the need to 'find more wholesome company', but I want to change the minds of the people who are not already wholesome. By the way, it's not as if I'm completely pure either you know. Perhaps that's okay in your metric because I'm not a leader, and chances are I'm not going to become one. But the fact remains that this instinctive recoiling away from The Impure is a rotten idea, as is the implied suggestion that our goal is to reach out to and motivate The Wholesome. No, you shouldn't mire yourself in the thick of a horrible culture. But you should be asking yourself how to get The Impure rather than The Wholesome onboard with you - and 'Make them Wholesome!' shouldn't be Phase 1.

Like I said: I asked you to provide me with your arguments and logic. You basically told me, 'Not possible, it'd take years.' And you seemed proud of that! Like it's a good thing that you found yourself unable to even attempt to persuade someone who doesn't already largely agree with you because, I don't know, maybe you think it indicates that you take the issue more seriously and recognize the complexities and, etc, etc. Well, it's not a good thing. It's a liability, one you should actively try to get beyond - at least if 'convincing other people' or fixing 'What's Wrong With the World' really is a goal.

Maybe it's not, for you.

The basic cultural problem conservatives have in pushing their stance is that BOTH conservative allies AND mainstream middle-of-the-roaders don't want to admit what they were told as children, that lust even in thought is wrong, nor that sex outside marriage is wrong, nor that contraception is wrong, (which is most of the reason half of them stopped going to church, so they wouldn't have to listen to the Bible telling them the truth anymore).

They don't want to admit it because a good share of them don't even UNDERSTAND why these things are wrong anymore! And who can blame them when you assert that it takes a lifetime of experience, at least in one case, to effectively argue the point? I asked you to give me your argument and you couldn't, citing nuance and complexity. You don't think THAT is a factor among these cultural problems?

Have you considered expanding your rhetorical and intellectual arsenal beyond the Bible here? I mean, you didn't even mention Natural Law to me as one possible response - maybe that was an oversight on your part. But let me tell you - there are good arguments out there, good rhetoric, and it does not come down to an appeal to the Bible. (Which, by the by, your protestant allies are going to wildly diverge from on the topic of contraception - so be ready for that too.)

If they would return to publicly accepting the truth of these things, they would find it much easier to be forthright and honest about homosexual immorality.

And if they don't have good rhetoric or persuasive arguments, they may well end up self-destructing. Did the last major election cycle not drill that one in enough? Are we still playing the 'Mourdock and Akin didn't hurt their chances at all, at least what they said SHOULDN'T have mattered, so let's treat that as the reality' game?

Tony, I appreciate your tone with me. Seriously. You and I actually agree on a lot of these issues. My point here is that I think strong arguments can be made that conservatives themselves are partly responsible for the current cultural situation they find themselves in. It's not just that 'the liberals are too strong, too crafty!' It's that conservatives, at times, have done dumb things, not done smart things, and more. We need to address that. And chances are, addressing that is going to rile some of the Suicidally Conservative.

Yes, I'm sure Tony needed to be informed of the existence of Natural Law Theory and that an understanding of what is natural and unnatural "does not come down to the Bible." No, really? We "suicidally conservative" people all thought it did. That's why, you know, this "suicidally conservative" person has a couple lengthy articles out there about, inter alia, the perspicuity of the natural law, not to mention a few blog posts.

And don't get me started on the Todd Akin issue. Just don't get me started.

Heh, I can understand that.

Anyway, I kind of get what you mean. Some of those arguments are good. I'm just saying, and I've really seen this in person, people hear those rebuttals and just start going "Well, uh, yeah..." And I think that's the reason you get people who immediately "convert", for lack of a better word, to the pro-gay marriage side of the debate as soon as one of their kids say they're gay - because they didn't REALLY know why they were against gay marriage in the first place. Emotional arguments are powerful.

MA, I support a lot of worldview training. This might be done by groups like Summit Ministries and the like or by good home schooling parents or by good Christian schools. In general we need to teach Christians to think better and to rebut silly "rebuttals" of their positions. This is also true in Christian apologetics. You'll find a lot of young people leaving Christianity altogether because they don't know why they believe that Jesus is God, for example, and can't answer some Internet hack atheist who has about as much sophistication as that pro-homosexual hack on Democratic Underground. This is a general issue of the need for what I might call greater intellectualism and thoughtfulness in the church and a deliberate attempt to ward off the appeal to emotionalism rather than embracing emotionalism as "faith."

But I don't see this as in the slightest incompatible with an _exceedingly_ rampaging approach to the culture wars.

Nor do I think it's necessarily going to turn around this statistic or that statistic. It's just a matter of working one person at a time, one group at a time, teaching people to think. We do what we can. But we need to be careful of listening to voices that jeer because of some statistic that young people--most of whom are being subject to non-stop propaganda in the public schools from the other side, on everything from bioethics to religion to homosexuality--don't agree with our position, so we "aren't smart." I usually consider people who say that bad counselors.

Lydia,

Crude, first I'll say the nice things: I agree with you that the traditional position on this is intellectually much stronger than the liberal one (obviously) and that the homosexual rights movement shows its own realization that it is fighting blatant reality by the very desperation, grievance mongering, and ultimately totalitarian nature of its movement. I agree with you that the latter will stoke resentment, though I have a rather gloomy feeling that that resentment will be able to be simply ground down by the sheer power of the opposition:

I'm sure it will, in the short term. But you know what? I firmly believe that people have trouble Keeping Up the Outrage with this kind of thing. I think even the wildest of the LGBT reps have moments where they realize that - certainly in terms of grievance and outrage and passion - they're engaged in a game of believing five irrational things before breakfast, for the rest of their lives. As I said, the one thing the LGBT success has shown is that culture is volatile nowadays. 85% in polls today doesn't mean 85% or 90% in polls in a decade, or even five years.

More amusingly, people like this have a habit of eating their own once they're not challenged in a given sphere.

Now I'll say the in-between things: The natural law theorists have been discussing in some detail the reasons for the wrongness of homosexual acts for some time. You can research that and verify it. The language has a combination of grave tone and technicality which, I would suppose, is the kind of thing you have in mind. On a more popular level, Jay Budziszewski has done the same thing, and is as you can imagine much hated by homosexual activists for doing so. It doesn't follow that that is what everyone has to do.

Research it? Natural law is one of the things I rely on to communicate to people. Feser was fantastic in that regard - eye opening.

But 'grave tone and technicality'? Lord no. As much as I enjoy and value those deeper arguments, getting them spread still involves distilling them to be more easy to communicate. The change in rhetoric is arguably more important than a change in argument, since rhetoric nowadays is what really convinces most people. Arguments are part of that - obviously there's a non-rhetoric, intellectual side of that too.

Nor am I saying that everyone should be moving in lockstep. But I think the problems in this movement are widespread, and they need to be addressed. Some of this involves better rhetoric. Other aspects involve slicing off bad associations, or minimizing them.

In a desire "not to be mean to the gays," they contribute to the impression given to the young people who are their special responsibility that this is no big deal or even that it is normal and that it is far more important that we "not be mean" than that we continue clearly to uphold those standards that are allegedly ours. This approach is absolutely fatal and will undermine the very bases (in the sense of military bases or supply bases) from which the conservative movement springs.

And I am not suggesting that the problem is 'we're too mean to the gays', insofar as that is taken to mean 'anything that can be accused of 'being mean' should be dumped'. That's a recipe for disaster when going up against the eternally aggrieved. But you know what? It really is possible to treat people with SSA wrongly. It's absolutely possible to present an otherwise just and reasonable position as unreasonable and injust, and perception (at least to a point) matters, especially when the goal is persuasion.

One of the biggest problems here is that SoCons tend to, in approach and tone, blur the distinction between 'people with SSA' and 'LGBT groups'. It's a little like blurring the line between 'hardcore feminists' and 'women' - it's not only mistaken, but that association is going to be out and out counterproductive.

Hence, my series and idea of the zero-sum game, in which this article is an installment. That sort of retreat in the culture wars will not gain you any peace and quiet, because the demand is that you must _affirm_ the normalcy of homosexuality. Feeding the homosexual movement with success only emboldens it to demand more and more. This really is a zero-sum game.

And one problem with too many SoCons is that they seem to regard any care in rhetoric or rethinking of approach as out and out 'surrender' or some flavor of capitulation. It's not the case. Yes, I am well aware that the LGBT groups don't wish to merely 'live in peace' and they're okay with churches or such regarding same-sex sexual activity or various other things as 'immoral'. That doesn't mean I have to act stupid when opposing them, or that the most belligerent conservative is the one most likely to map a chart for success.

Now, for the not-so-nice things: I don't know who the heck you think you are, but this is the second thread of mine now where you've taken an extremely high-handed tone. If you aren't demanding, in repeated bullying comments, that I denounce some woman I've never heard of for some comments of hers (that was the previous thread), you are (in both threads) lecturing in a hectoring tone on what sort of words we must use and what sort of detailed discussion we must have.

High-handed? What - is it that only the admins can take such a tone around here? And you thought your performance last thread was what, the gentle victim to my furious aggressor? I'll stand by every moment of what I argued there, and I'll add on that my attitude was actually muted compared to yours and others.

Yes, I feel strongly about this and I disagree with the views of many here. I say you're wrong, I say why you're wrong, and I say what I think would be a better move or a factor we need to consider. Really, do you really think you're in a position to lecture other people about their aggressive tone? You of all people here?

This is absurd. I don't have time for it, and you shouldn't have time for it either, and you should (because you're obviously not a dumb bunny) know that you don't have time for it and that you have better things to do. Grow up.

Sage came at me mocking and sarcastic, so I blew him off. It's not like I did that unprovoked. When ban threats come in, I'm honest - I really don't care about them, especially if I get the sense that they're being leveled at me in a hypocritical 'We can mock you but don't you DARE respond in kind' fashion. Frankly, you'd do the same thing.

I'm not trolling here, just showing up to get a rise out of you all. Yes, my tone can be aggressive, and 9 out of 10 times I respond to mockery with mockery of my own. But I think my observations are valid, my arguments good, and our goals *in common* in large part. If you have a problem with how the tone of this conversation has been, you should really ask yourself if you or Sage have contributed to it. Tony disagrees with me strongly. Do you see me mocking him or trolling him? I may be forceful in my replies, but I make it clear I respect him even if I regard him as wrong. If that's the conversational tone you'd like, then maybe you need to alter some of the approach on your end, not just complain about my end.

Yes, I'm sure Tony needed to be informed of the existence of Natural Law Theory and that an understanding of what is natural and unnatural "does not come down to the Bible." No, really? We "suicidally conservative" people all thought it did. That's why, you know, this "suicidally conservative" person has a couple lengthy articles out there about, inter alia, the perspicuity of the natural law, not to mention a few blog posts.

I suggested that Tony's lack of reference there could have been an oversight. The fact remains that when I asked him what arguments he'd give, what reply he would have, where he would start, he basically said 'Nowhere, can't be done'. I think that's a problem. You disagree?

I've lurked on this site for literally years - I know my bringing up natural law wasn't an act of Prometheus.

Have you considered expanding your rhetorical and intellectual arsenal beyond the Bible here? I mean, you didn't even mention Natural Law to me as one possible response - maybe that was an oversight on your part.

Crude, I have presented the natural law position in other posts. I have also presented the fullsome Christian position, the one not based primarily on "thou shalt not", but the positive one that starts with "he made them male and female" and runs all the way through Jesus's "he who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery in his heart" to St. Paul's point that the relationship between a man and woman in marriage is like to Christ's relationship to the Church.

One of the problems is that someone who is hell-bent on not understanding the truth because it demands hard and uncomfortable things from him will ALWAYS come up with objections to the truth presented, no matter how right and suitable the presentation is. Where the will is in denial, the intellect cannot overcome on its own power. Argument alone will not do it for a person like that, grace must move their heart, God must take away their heart of stone and give them hearts to love. Saying that Republicans didn't convince people last election doesn't bother me in the least, first because _Republicans_ are, by and large, almost as guilty of the marry-and-divorce-and-remarry, contracepting, live with your boyfriend before marriage mentality as Democrats are - they are part of the problem, and second because even when their arguments ARE correct and are rightly presented they cannot choose to change hearts by an inward action of grace.

As GK Chesterton indicated, the fact that Christianity is not "winning" the public debate is proof only of man's sinfulness, not proof of the wrongness of Christianity or even proof of a bad presentation of it.

And part of my point about using years of training to prepare my children for the truth on the issue is that the training prepares the mind and heart for the truth. Aristotle said, rightly I believe, that in order for a man to grasp well the truth about virtue, he must be well disposed toward it - he must have a will that is ready to accept the truth when shown to him. This training and pre-disposing is part of child-rearing. Extraordinary grace can overcome the defect of a will disposed against the truth, but by definition this is going to be extraordinary rather than the normal way we come to receive the truth.

And you seemed proud of that!

Not even slightly, you are misreading my tone.

I have given lots of elements of the argument over time, try
here
and here
and here
and here.

Tony,

Crude, I have presented the natural law position in other posts. I have also presented the fullsome Christian position, the one not based primarily on "thou shalt not", but the positive one that starts with "he made them male and female" and runs all the way through Jesus's "he who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery in his heart" to St. Paul's point that the relationship between a man and woman in marriage is like to Christ's relationship to the Church.

Like I said, I realized that that may have been an oversight on your part. I didn't imagine you were ignorant of this 'natural law' concept. But the fact remains that when I asked you how you would try to convince a relatively ignorant fence-sitter who only has a caricatured understanding of these topics, you responded with basically, 'nothing' and talking about raising children to understand this through years.

I think even you would have to admit that your response indicated a problem, when we're talking about how to change the culture and gain ground on this particular point of debate.

One of the problems is that someone who is hell-bent on not understanding the truth because it demands hard and uncomfortable things from him will ALWAYS come up with objections to the truth presented, no matter how right and suitable the presentation is.

Absolutely, and it would be foolish of me to suggest that we try to think up arguments that would convince the most hardcore, emotionally invested, regularly-attends-LGBT-meetings-willfully person. I am the last person who embraces the fantasy of Perpetual Dialogue - when I am not arguing on here, I am arguing with other Christians elsewhere that their obsession of having 'dialogue' with people who actively despise them is absolutely absurd.

But you know what? There's a whole lot of people who aren't so invested in that, and who lean towards or support gay marriage. There are a lot of people who can be persuaded, or reached, or who at the very least can go 'you know what, your position is a lot better than I thought it was'. They should be focused on, not written off as The Enemy.

As GK Chesterton indicated, the fact that Christianity is not "winning" the public debate is proof only of man's sinfulness, not proof of the wrongness of Christianity or even proof of a bad presentation of it.

This sort of quote is easily, easily misunderstood to mean 'I can't possibly be making any mistakes, it must be everyone else who is at fault'. Do you deny that we can be doing better? Are you really telling me that the social conservatives have been operating at anything close to a rhetorical and intellectual 'ideal point', even now?

Sometimes, the problem is us. It's not 'retreat' to engage in self-analysis.

This training and pre-disposing is part of child-rearing. Extraordinary grace can overcome the defect of a will disposed against the truth, but by definition this is going to be extraordinary rather than the normal way we come to receive the truth.

You are making it sound almost as if the only way anyone ever changes their view towards regarding same-sex sexual behavior as wrong or gay marriage as inane is by an act of the Holy Spirit or a miracle. It's not the case. I keep using the NRA as an example, because they are a valid one - they have had tremendous success. This success did not come as a pure result of Grace. Other factors played in.

Not even slightly, you are misreading my tone.

I'm going by what you say and, I think, making reasonable interpretations.

Let me try asking the same question again, to see if you'll reply differently:

How, exactly, do you describe the moral problems surrounding the gay issue with people? Pretend I don't already agree. Call me a fence-sitter - I'm not deeply invested in LGBT inanity, but I'm pretty skeptical of arguments against sodomy and same-sex sexual behavior. Regard me as a yutz who thinks 'it doesn't matter, so long as two people love each other'.

How do you deal with me at first intellectual contact?

So, did you read any of my linked comments?

The fact that I didn't answer you question doesn't mean I overlooked it or that I was saying my answer is "basically nothing". I deemed not answeringat this moment to be at least as worthwhile as attempting to answer at this particular moment. Just possibly I have other irons in the fire. Just possibly I don't think THIS THREAD is the best location for it. Just possibly I am waiting for someone slightly more ambitious to take on an ambitious project. Just possibly 100 other things that have nothing to do with imagining that my answering your question was my most urgent duty.

Ed Feser wrote a 40-page essay on natural law and its application to social matters like marriage (among other things), that includes a pretty good base line analysis why natural law is valid to begin with. Without a good precursor discussion as the context to your question, I don't know (among many other things) whether you accept natural law but don't see why it holds the traditional view of gay sex, or whether you simply don't cotton to natural law, or any of 4 other attitudes about it. Hence I don't know whether I would have to re-tread the ground Ed already covered, start somewhere in the middle, start near the end, or what - just some ethereal "fence sitter" doesn't give me a clue WHICH fence they are sitting on. Why don't you show me, first, that you have read what has *already been written from Natural Law* on the subject, and then I will clear up any further questions you have that haven't been settled.

Why don't you show me, first, that you have read what has *already been written from Natural Law* on the subject, and then I will clear up any further questions you have that haven't been settled.

Would providing evidence that I've been a regular reader and commenter at Ed Feser's blog since 2009 at least do anything to help raise the odds that I'm familiar with Natural Law? Or my endorsement of Ed's TLS and Aquinas, repeatedly?

I'm not sure how you expect me to prove what I've read beyond that.

Also, wait. Are you implying I reject Natural Law, or don't think it provides intellectual support for opposing same-sex sexual behavior or what? Now I'm really confused.

I have the greatest respect for Ed and was sorry, though I quite understood, when he decided to devote his time to his award-winning personal blog rather than continue as a contributor here. I have great respect for what he and the other n.l. theorists do in this area.

Not everyone has to do all the same things all the time.

It's odd to me, Crude, that you should be so control-freakish on this issue. I mean, if you don't like my essentially news-y and editorial-ish posts on this subject, you don't have to comment on them.

And here you are trying to be nicey to Tony (he's the one reasonable man around here, evidently, in your view) while also being patronizing because he didn't say exactly the words you wanted at the moment you wanted them said.

I don't know exactly what your deal is, but you need to give it a rest, really. We aren't here to satisfy your demands, and it's hard to understand why you think we should be. Actually, I could make a guess at why, but I'll leave it unstated.

It's odd to me, Crude, that you should be so control-freakish on this issue. I mean, if you don't like my essentially news-y and editorial-ish posts on this subject, you don't have to comment on them.

Don't like? Where did I say 'Hey Lydia, don't post that!'? Am I violating some kind of code by showing up and disagreeing with what I see in the comments?

Arguing that someone is wrong, or that their approach is counter-productive, is not control-freakish. That'd be difficult, what with me having zero control over anything here.

And here you are trying to be nicey to Tony (he's the one reasonable man around here, evidently, in your view) while also being patronizing because he didn't say exactly the words you wanted at the moment you wanted them said.

I think plenty of people are reasonable here, yourself included. Are you making it easy to have a conversation with you? Not necessarily. And I didn't patronize Tony at all. I disagreed with him, I pointed out what I thought were problems with his response. He asked me to provide some evidence of my familiarity with things, I provided, then was honestly surprised at something I thought he was implying - I asked for clarification.

I pointed at Tony in that the conversation with him, despite our disagreements, has been civil and pleasant. So maybe it's not that I'm just going to be sarcastic and mocking anyone who doesn't agree with me immediately. Maybe, at times, I get provoked in part.

I don't know exactly what your deal is, but you need to give it a rest, really. We aren't here to satisfy your demands, and it's hard to understand why you think we should be. Actually, I could make a guess at why, but I'll leave it unstated.

Your decision on whether or not to state it, but that kind of quip seems awfully passive aggressive. And what demands? You're having a conversation with a person sympathetic to a lot of your goals and who happens to disagree with you. You think I'm under the impression I'm going to automatically convince all of you of what I think are your errors, or of what I think are important understandings you're missing? I am conversing, airing disagreements, and arguing - quite civilly, I'll even say. I have no 'demands'. I just have a perspective that I'm offering, and I think you may actually appreciate it and find it valuable, given some effort on my part.

Or maybe not. At which point, either I will have learned something, or we will have come to an impasse, in the most benevolent possibilities.

The point is, I asked Tony a fair question, he gave me an answer, and I pointed out what I think are problems with the answer. What exactly was wrong there? We shouldn't point out problems with each other's approaches? It's rude to say 'I think there's a better way, X, to achieve what we both want'?

Your decision on whether or not to state it, but that kind of quip seems awfully passive aggressive.

Yes, it was. I apologize. It's not my usual style. I really prefer aggressive aggressive.

Look, at this point, this is tiresome. Tony has demonstrated that he's talked about the natural law in relation to sexuality quite a lot, so your odd reference to just going back to the Bible and what-not was way off the mark. Not a single one of us has disagreed with you in general that natural law arguments are a good thing.

I think we do have some inkling as to what your strategic advice is. You've been fairly insistent and repetitious, while also getting in repeated quips about Todd Akin and what-not other only-semi-related matters. Some people also read the _previous_ never-ending threads with you, which I expressly said at the outset shouldn't be recreated here.

I would like you to give it a rest, now. This is enough of the "Let's engage in endless discussion about how I, Crude, think conservatives should approach global strategizing on the entire suite of issues surrounding the homosexual movement."

I just have a perspective that I'm offering, and I think you may actually appreciate it and find it valuable...

Maybe I lost it somewhere in all the self-righteous verbiage, but I still can't figure out what that perspective is. Lydia (and social conservatives generally) is told that she's "just wrong" and Tony is challenged repeatedly to make an argument that would convince a "fence-sitter," but I can't make out what Crude's own argument itself is, how he would convince that fence-sitter.

I should add that I deal with this on an almost daily basis: students who want to write papers glorifying same-sex marriage. They give all the standard reasons: the "love is all you need" reason, the equal rights reason, the accidental infertility of some heterosexual couples (and the intentional of the many) reason, and so on. I do my duty and ask some uncomfortable questions (sans religious underpinning) to probe their thinking, and it turns out most of them haven't thought that far. Some admit this ("I'll have to do more research"); some even admit that I'm right; others just look like deer in the headlights. But - virtually without exception - almost none change their minds. They don't have the arguments, but they know they're right. They're in the vanguard of a moral progress that extends liberty and equality to the previously oppressed. They know this and believe it with a nearly religious fervor. A lot of them believe in God, but the idea that sex might be sacred ground rather than a playground, that it ought to be made fruitful rather than barren by contraceptive pesticides, is completely alien to them. That the very concept of something like same-sex marriage is in its foundation irrational - a complete intellectual chimera - fazes them not in the least. So I await Crude's 'perspective,' his argument, his method of reasoning with those who embrace unreason, that we might (dare I say miraculously) convert that 85% to a more manageable 15.

William,

Lydia (and social conservatives generally) is told that she's "just wrong" and Tony is challenged repeatedly to make an argument that would convince a "fence-sitter," but I can't make out what Crude's own argument itself is, how he would convince that fence-sitter.

You throw "just wrong" in quotes, like I said "social conservatives are just wrong!" That never happened. Also what never happened: me 'challenging Tony repeatedly to make an argument that would convince a fence-sitter'. What happened was I asked Tony what arguments he would give to a particular sort of middle-of-the-road and typical person. This wasn't a "PROVIDE THIS OR YOU ARE TERRIBLE" moment - I wanted to know how he'd approach this, what thought he gave to it, to literally learn his approach. When he said basically, 'nothing', I pointed out that was a problem.

Nothing dramatic. Nothing insulting. Yet everyone's circling the wagons and getting so angry because what - you're being questioned? You're being asked to think about certain things? That someone who supports most of your aims isn't saying 'You're doing a great job and your arguments are all fantastic and you shouldn't second-guess anything you've done!'?

but I can't make out what Crude's own argument itself is, how he would convince that fence-sitter.

No one's asked! Lydia's been all "shut up shut up shut up", Sage just got snarky immediately, Tony's conversation was aimed elsewhere - you're the first one to even express interest, and even that isn't REAL interest so much as an attempt at a barb.

And I didn't say I HAD an argument that would convince a fence sitter guaranteed. A snake-oil salesman would say that. I do think I've had more success with some arguments and approaches than some of you have had with the same groups, and some of them I can't say here because it involves speaking frankly, which again yields Lydia saying 'shut up shut up shut up!' in essence. It's like the whole point of this blog is 'Angrily complain about something. Everyone agrees that this is bad. Some liberals disagree. A conservative suggesting the conservatives are doing something wrong disrupts the careful balance we have going on.'

So I await Crude's 'perspective,' his argument, his method of reasoning with those who embrace unreason, that we might (dare I say miraculously) convert that 85% to a more manageable 15.

Once again, nothing I'm saying has that kind of power, nor do I pretend it has. But I can tell you what success I've had, arguing with people iRL and online. Not every success has been 'people are convinced immediately and change their minds'. I've been able to do a little of that. I've been able to pull out concessions from opponents that I have a point, that they didn't consider something, that something was more complicated rather than as clear-cut as they expected. According to your testimony, you haven't managed that much.

So, since Lydia's both A) placed an explicit 'no' on my being able to speak frankly and graphically, and B) she's now telling me that she doesn't want this conversation to continue at all, my hands are tied. So unless she green-lights me there, what can I do? Would you like to come to my blog and we can discuss this directly? I control the comments, so we won't have to worry about interlopers. Do you have a blog of your own I can talk to you at? Maybe you'll point out errors I've made, problems with my approach. Maybe you'll agree that what I focus on has merit. Who knows.

I'm guessing you're not really interested and the question was more of a 'let's see what he says so we can disagree no matter WHAT he says' moment. But I'm being sincere, and I'd love to answer your question. If you're interested, you can ask me at my blog, or ask Lydia to reconsider.

and even that isn't REAL interest so much as an attempt at a barb.

Well, it might be both.

Also what never happened: me 'challenging Tony repeatedly to make an argument that would convince a fence-sitter'. What happened was I asked Tony what arguments he would give to a particular sort of middle-of-the-road and typical person.

There's a distinction without a difference if I ever saw one.

On challenging Tony:

How, exactly, do you describe the moral problems surrounding the gay issue with people? Pretend I don't already agree. Call me a fence-sitter
-Anyway, I'll ask again how you'd communicate the immorality and general wrongness of same-sex sexual behavior.
-You're wrong, and it's doubly wrong of you to not even intend to try.
-Like I said: I asked you to provide me with your arguments and logic. You basically told me, 'Not possible, it'd take years.' And you seemed proud of that!
-The fact remains that when I asked him what arguments he'd give, what reply he would have, where he would start, he basically said 'Nowhere, can't be done'.
-But the fact remains that when I asked you how you would try to convince a relatively ignorant fence-sitter
-Let me try asking the same question again, to see if you'll reply differently

Would you like to come to my blog and we can discuss this directly?

How sweet. First, I need to know whether you're afflicted with SSA.

If you're interested, you can ask me at my blog, or ask Lydia to reconsider.

That censorious Lydia. If you think these arguments can't be made with out graphic sexual descriptions, then you lack rhetorical imagination.

Your self-regard has become, not suddenly, but cumulatively, boring. I know you think you have something new and enlightening to say on this subject, but you don't. If you did, we'd have gotten an inkling by now.

William,

Well, it might be both.

Or it may not be. Again with the passive aggressive behavior - it seems to be the weapon of choice around here.

There's a distinction without a difference if I ever saw one.

Only if you can't tell the difference between 'Asking Tony what he would say to such a person out of sincere interest, and pointing out the problems with his response if some are found' and 'Demanding that Tony come up with a sure-fire way to convince fence-sitters, and then attacking him when he fails to deliver'.

Maybe it's too subtle for you, William.

How sweet. First, I need to know whether you're afflicted with SSA.

What does that matter? But no.

Again, this girlish, femme passive-aggressiveness on here is amazing.

That censorious Lydia. If you think these arguments can't be made with out graphic sexual descriptions, then you lack rhetorical imagination.

And if you think that effective rhetoric and even the force of an argument can be completely maintained while watering down language so that the most fragile among us won't be offended, then you are rhetorically naive. The fact that your attempt at authoritative lecturing me about your experience on this topic mostly melted down to 'Look at how I've utterly failed to convince my students of much of anything about this', you may want to think twice before you knock arguments and approaches you haven't even heard of.

Your self-regard has become, not suddenly, but cumulatively, boring.

He said, typing at his keyboard ringed with white lace, his favorite scented candle beside it.

I know you think you have something new and enlightening to say on this subject, but you don't. If you did, we'd have gotten an inkling by now.

I invited you to discuss this on your own terms, and you went all Liberace on me. Because at this point - and here's the important thing - the actual topic doesn't concern you. Any interest or concern about the LGBT issue has been pitched overboard, and all that matters is defending your friend. And hey, that's good to a point. Past a certain point, it becomes short-sightedness.

Did you ever think that, in your foppish desire to avoid *gasp* frankly talking about sodomy and sex - relying on words like 'homosexual relationships' and other beating around the bush - that maybe you were actually sabotaging yourself? That it may be a little like a hypothetical pro-lifer who talks about 'a woman's right to choose' and 'late term abortion procedures' instead of bluntly speaking about babies getting their skulls smashed in and their brains sucked out with a vacuum?

How offensive, that imagery! Think of the easily upset women we're disturbing by saying that! No, no, that won't do. Let's instead return to the most sterile, vague terms so as not to cause them distress. Then wonder why our arguments persuade fewer people, less understand the urgency with which we discuss the topic, and fewer care about the topic at all.

Of course, chances are you understand why being blunt with abortion is sometimes wise, and effective. If so, why in the world do you assume that nothing is lost by talking about sex (goodness gracious - I mean 'same-sex relationships') in weak, vague terms? That, by making sure the Church Lady can sit through your conversation without her heart going all aflutter, you're just confusing people, or making the topic seem like a joke to people who aren't already in your corner?

But hey, I'm too cocky. I'm just someone who's sick and tired of seeing what is, by all measures, year upon year of losses on this front of the culture war, and suggest that approaching things differently may help out - knowing full well that I may be wrong, but I at least think it's worth discussing openly. Pardon me for speaking out of turn! Please, tell us again how many years have passed with you as a teacher, engaging your students on these topics - and convincing next to none of them that you even have something worthwhile to contribute to the discussion. Clearly yours are the methods and approaches we should be relying on here. After all, the most important thing to do when people fail to react positively to our overtures is to bitch about it, and then keep doing the same damn thing until we die of old age.

After two or three loong thread discussions with Crude, I know that this "new approach" of his is:

--(As you can see by his complaints) Describe homosexual acts in detail,
--Discuss via natural law and using that detail why those are wrong
--Talk a lot about how heterosexual couples can do similar things (I guess this is supposed to be part of rounding out one's natural law approach)
--Make (this is from one of the other never-ending threads) a BIG DEAL about how very bad the comments are of some other people who appear to be hateful toward homosexuals, even if you have to run around and find somebody you never heard of before to condemn,
--Have several chaste homosexuals on hand to be a Voice on your side. Don't ask Christian homosexuals not to be "out" or suggest that they shouldn't be "out."
--Don't discriminate against homosexuals in hiring, provided you can find the chaste Christian ones to hire. (I forget whether employers running "secular" businesses have to hire non-chaste ones. I think this isn't required in Crude's world.)
--Make sure all of the above conversations can take place in your church, school, or community, and of course, any blog. Be sure to be a gadfly at any conservative blog where those conversations aren't taking place.
--Hate on Todd Akin at every possible opportunity. Richard Mourdock, too, if you get bored with hating on Todd Akin. (How _precisely_ this is related to the New Strategy for convincing people that homosexual acts are wrong is a bit obscure, but I guess it has to do with showing everyone that we're thinking smarter and are different from those who have gone before.) Perhaps find some other allegedly non-smart conservatives from whom you can distance yourself. It all helps.
--Find some way to look like you're _for_ stuff instead of _against_ stuff. The NRA (yes, really) has a lot to teach you there.

I may have left one or two things out, but this is what I can remember.

Why is this thread about this now? I have no idea. I guess because Crude chose to make it so and I'm not quite yet provoked enough to ban him. I guess my threads on this subject are just sort of blank tablets for Crude to give us his Grand Strategy on.

There's the brief summary. I give it because the new complaint (it being all about Crude) is that we don't know what this wisdom is which he wants to bestow upon us because I'm too mean to let him disseminate it on my every thread concerning the homosexual agenda.

Crude, what the hell? I can't for the life of me see why it is so all-fired important that we here and now provide the natural law argument that is likely to persuade a fence-sitter, when you cannot even help us out by defining the fence-sitter as one who does/does not understand natural law, or who does/does not accept the natural law principles for marriage itself, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum. What you are asking is impossible for someone who generally has already decided the natural law theory doesn't work, because the natural law is just the stated expression of the law that is written in our hearts, and a person who rejects the law written in the heart is already partially closed to the truth. If you are instead talking about a person who DOES accept and live by the law written in our hearts, then stating the natural law on the matter will be mostly a matter of stating clearly what they already know deep down but inchoately, and it will be convincing.

The argument (in a nutshell) is something like this: marriage is part of the natural law. Under the natural law, marriage is permanent, faithful, and ordered to fruitfulness. Moreover, each conjugal act is, like marriage itself, ordered both to the love between the spouses and to fruitfulness. Therefore, any use of the sexual faculties in complete acts which are intentionally designed to depart either from faithful love of spouses or from the orientation toward fruitfulness (i.e. having children) is against the natural law. Hence both sodomy and contracepted sex violates the natural law.

Does that argument convince a fence sitter who has no interior inclination to respect marriage, faithfulness, or fecundity? Probably not - each statement in it could use at least 10 to 20 pages of support, even AFTER the recipient agrees that there is such a thing as natural law.

Personally, I have strong questions on whether things are as contingent as some here (including Crude) seem to believe they are. I admit my understanding of society and history inclines me to believe that the actions we can undertake here are in fact determined to a large extent.

Indeed, I would contend that any large successful liberal/capitalist society will inevitably reject belief in God to a large degree, and support every kind of evil. I find little to contradict this, to be frank, and I will suggest that Crudes vision of reducing the large number of perverts in this country (or others) by political and rhetorical means to ring hollow in my ears. My distrust of politics and rhetoric, and my great respect for material factors leads me to believe that changing the latter is a more fruitful approach to pursue. It is certainly better than today's hamster wheel approach to moral issues, where every conversation is just like the last one, and no one's opinion is changed.

...the actual topic doesn't concern you...Did you ever think that, in your foppish desire to avoid *gasp* frankly talking about sodomy and sex...

God, you're funny. You know so little about the people you accuse. All you have to do is ask Lydia if I've ever written "frankly" on this subject. At great length, to boot.

Lydia: ...the new complaint (it being all about Crude) is that we don't know what this wisdom is which he wants to bestow upon us because I'm too mean to let him disseminate it on my every thread concerning the homosexual agenda.

That wisdom isn't available because it doesn't exist. The Grand Strategy is to point out that people like you are doing everything wrong.

Anonymouse,

Indeed, I would contend that any large successful liberal/capitalist society will inevitably reject belief in God to a large degree, and support every kind of evil.

Possible. I don't operate on the assumption that my approaches are guaranteed to work, or that I can even have a major effect on society at large. There are so many factors to be aware of when it comes to 'changing the culture' that anyone who's certain of outcomes is going out on a limb. On the other hand, that also goes for speculation like yours. Luckily I'm Christian, so the whole 'do your best, because it matters even if you fail' thing is legitimately in play.

I find little to contradict this, to be frank, and I will suggest that Crudes vision of reducing the large number of perverts in this country (or others) by political and rhetorical means to ring hollow in my ears.

Fair enough. Seriously - I can respect a certain amount of automatic cynicism. I don't think that's necessarily true, and thus here I am. Worst case, we try and fail. But it's rather important to try, in my view - for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we may try and succeed.

Tony,

Crude, what the hell? I can't for the life of me see why it is so all-fired important that we here and now provide the natural law argument that is likely to persuade a fence-sitter, when you cannot even help us out by defining the fence-sitter as one who does/does not understand natural law, or who does/does not accept the natural law principles for marriage itself, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum.

I thought I defined the "fence-sitter" pretty clearly. They're ignorant of Natural law, so how could they accept or not accept it explicitly? I didn't even know you were in the dark about this.

That's exactly why your 'if they DO accept it / if they DON'T accept it' question is largely irrelevant. How can they either accept it or not accept it if they're ignorant of it? Except in the most default 'well clearly if they haven't heard of it they don't accept it' case.

And it wasn't like I was chastizing you because 'Natural law itself can change minds!' - you could have gone in a completely different direction than that in your response for all I cared. I was just surprised that it didn't show up at all for you as an option, in part because your response used NO options. In fact, I'd regard trying to deeply educate someone about Natural Law as a means of trying to convince them - getting into detailed talk of formal and final causes immediately, or what 'natures' are in some intense way - as a mistake. Not because the intellectual force isn't there, but because most people have short attention spans and going that route is largely going to be unproductive.

I have a 'What the hell?' question for you too: why are you acting like my asking you this question, or being disappointed in your answer, is shocking and offensive? I'm not lambasting you. I'm pointing out what I think are problems. I wanted to know what your approach is so I could consider it - for all I knew you'd say something that would make me go 'That's a real good method.' or even 'Huh, I never thought of that one before.' It didn't work out that way, but so what?

Does that argument convince a fence sitter who has no interior inclination to respect marriage, faithfulness, or fecundity? Probably not - each statement in it could use at least 10 to 20 pages of support, even AFTER the recipient agrees that there is such a thing as natural law.

"Convincing the fence sitter immediately" isn't the only option, and I've already pointed this out. If you get someone to say "Huh, good point. I think you're wrong, but I can see where you're coming from" or "I'll have to think about that" or anything else, guess what? You've made progress. It's not a binary outcome. I've waltzed into LGBT forums and argued with people, and believe me, William's foppishly snide remarks and Lydia's frantic responses have got nothing on the sort of pushback I get there. But you know what? I've made progress with some of them. In fact, a huge chunk of that progress is informing people that neither natural law nor Christian teaching means 'Have SSA? Well it's hell for you one way or the other, no matter what you do!' Other progress is 'Okay, well, maybe some sexual desires, even if they don't result in physical harm, should not be pursued'. Oh, if you want to see people meltdown, watch it when a lesbian/bi/gay man gives even conditional assent to that view.

So I humbly suggest that your way of thinking about these discussions is in part mistaken. And hey, maybe I'm the mistaken one. But the difference is I've had, on a personal level, what seems an awful lot like 'legitimate progress' on this topic, with the most unlikely subjects. That's hard for me to discount.

Lydia,

After two or three loong thread discussions with Crude, I know that this "new approach" of his is:

You know parts of it. Let's go down your list.

--(As you can see by his complaints) Describe homosexual acts in detail,

Sexual acts, period. And not in lurid paragraphs such as you might find in one of the more fringe-y romance novels. But enough to drive home what we are in fact discussing.

--Discuss via natural law and using that detail why those are wrong

Yep, that's part of it. Not in the way anyone here would probably present natural law, or metaphysics generally.

--Talk a lot about how heterosexual couples can do similar things (I guess this is supposed to be part of rounding out one's natural law approach)

No, it's about pointing out that the problem in question isn't a 'THE GAYS' problem alone. In fact, it's pretty widespread among heterosexuals too. This happens to be where some Christians pipe up with 'no way! the marriage bed is undefiled - that means I can do whatever I want!'

--Have several chaste homosexuals on hand to be a Voice on your side. Don't ask Christian homosexuals not to be "out" or suggest that they shouldn't be "out."

Mangled rundown of what I said. I've agreed that some Christian homosexuals can be annoying and single-minded. I can certainly agree it's not always appropriate to be 'out'. ("Welcome to McDonalds, how can I help you? Also, I love to have sex with men!") You, on the other hand, came far closer to saying that being 'out' is NEVER okay and that chaste Christians should forever stay silent and never be visible because, apparently, 'eww eww eww'.

--Don't discriminate against homosexuals in hiring, provided you can find the chaste Christian ones to hire. (I forget whether employers running "secular" businesses have to hire non-chaste ones. I think this isn't required in Crude's world.)

Yes, there I am with that crazy 'you probably shouldn't fire someone generally just because you found out they have SSA' stance, whereas in Lydia's quasi-libertarian fantasy world Christians not only should one be able to fire homosexuals just for being homosexual, but if someone catches wind that they're gay this should be nigh-automatic, even in the most non-delicate of jobs.

I think that if your position is 'I don't want anyone with SSA working for me EVER, no matter HOW they act, if I know they have SSA!' you're pretty bonkers.

Make sure all of the above conversations can take place in your church, school, or community, and of course, any blog. Be sure to be a gadfly at any conservative blog where those conversations aren't taking place.

Nope, sometimes it's inappropriate. In the comments section of a blog that's discussing gay issues generally and approaches to the culture war? It's prima facie appropriate. It's not like you were discussing income tax here, you know. The fact that the conversation bothers you doesn't really speak much to whether it's appropriate except in the most basic 'I'm the admin' fashion.

--Hate on Todd Akin at every possible opportunity. Richard Mourdock, too, if you get bored with hating on Todd Akin.

'Hate on'? No. 'Point out they did something wrong, point out why it's wrong, and point out how it relates to the point at hand'. Good God, talk about summing up your real problem here. You're apparently locked in this mode where to point out, even strongly point out, the mistakes fellow SoCons have made is to 'hate on them'. So, we better not do that! And you snorted at the 'suicidally conservative' label?

--Find some way to look like you're _for_ stuff instead of _against_ stuff. The NRA (yes, really) has a lot to teach you there.

Yes! The NRA really has had some tremendous success with a controversial spread of issues. Dramatic success. Stupid me, I think we should look at their approach in what is ALSO a culture war territory, find out what they do right, what they do wrong, and try to translate some of the better lessons to our movement to implement it. This, to you, is unthinkable?

I guess my threads on this subject are just sort of blank tablets for Crude to give us his Grand Strategy on.

I'm sorry I took what would have otherwise been a ten-comment thread consisting of 'I sure agree!' 'Yeah, that's (good)/(bad)!' 'I'm a bored liberal here to comment! You guys are wrong!' 'You're wrong and ignorant, bored liberal!' and injected actual conversation into it. I'm sure you'll recover, and I promise that I won't disrupt the delicate balance you've got going on there in your next few posts. Really, I show up rarely here as it is.

Nor is this just me talking about my 'Grand Strategy'. I've asked questions. Apparently, those questions bug the heck out of people who, I don't know - just don't want to think about what I'm asking, maybe? Have resigned themselves to either defeat or a pointless cycle? How don't like being open to the possibility that perhaps efforts they supported and blessed in the past were bad ideas?

I give it because the new complaint (it being all about Crude) is that we don't know what this wisdom is which he wants to bestow upon us because I'm too mean to let him disseminate it on my every thread concerning the homosexual agenda.

Lady, when was the last time I commented here before showing up in this thread? Could you measure the length of time in months? I don't show up in your 'every thread' nor do I care to. Nor is your worry that I show up in 'every thread'. It's that I show up in ANY thread to talk about this. Because, I don't know, apparently this sort of conversation is supposed to be nothing but preaching to the choir, with some minor pushback against the more bored liberals who show up here.

The picture of Bill Luse, of all people, as foppish, not to mention unwilling to speak frankly, really leaves one gasping and at a loss for words. So I won't really try to respond to it except to say that the accusation and its surrounding verbiage (including Liberace, etc.) is another example of trolling.

Anymouse, I certainly wouldn't want to give in to despair based on anything like determinism. I'm afraid I'm rather inclined to think that "the tree grows as it's planted," though, and therefore to have little hope of changing minds after the age of twenty-five or thereabouts. However, that doesn't stop me from fighting, even in the political realm.

Mind must be the firmer,
Heart the more fierce,
Courage the greater
As our strength lessens.

(Anglo-Saxon poem--"Battle of Maldon")

Crude, you showed up _long_ after the tenth comment, and the discussion previously had ranged over:

--answering my legal questions in the main post (my thanks to Titus)
--discussing ways in which Christian/church organizations might avoid such problems in the future (my thanks to Thomas Yeutter and others)
--getting more information about the situation in the main post from a connected source (my thanks to the Masked Chicken)

and even

--dealing with a real die-hard libertarian who was trying to shoe-horn the incident in the main post into the paradigm of theocratic Christians who have brought this down upon themselves by inappropriately (somehow) mingling church and state. Frankly, Daniel seems preferable to you right now. He has some notion of when to stop.

That probably doesn't even cover all the ground we'd covered before you showed up.

Really, if you think I'm going to thank you for making life around here so interesting, you will wait long. The idea that we owe you for your relentless me-monster intrusions is really nuts.

William,

God, you're funny. You know so little about the people you accuse. All you have to do is ask Lydia if I've ever written "frankly" on this subject. At great length, to boot.

What Lydia considers to be 'frank' and what I consider to be 'frank' are worlds apart, considering the words she censored in the last thread. Go ahead, recommend me your writings - I'll actually read them.

What I do know is that, according to you yourself, you're pretty ineffectual when it comes to actually making progress with people who don't already agree with you. That you haven't regarded that as a problem that may need addressing - at least if your goal with all this is to actually change minds - just amazes me.

That wisdom isn't available because it doesn't exist. The Grand Strategy is to point out that people like you are doing everything wrong.

No, this "wisdom" - you know, an alternate experience, a different approach, a qualified suggestion that it may work better than your 'I convince no one and I know it' methods - does exist. You've just wimped out of wanting to discuss it, because you're more interested in being the ineffectual bodyguard to your friend than much else. Nor is it that 'everything Lydia is doing is wrong'. She's doing some things wrong, in my view. And I'll grant her the various good points she makes when she makes them, regardless of how crazy she may come off to me in other situations.

You, meanwhile, seem stuck in this 'you've upset my friend and I don't know you already so you must be wrong about EVERYTHING, sir'. Good luck with that!

The picture of Bill Luse, of all people, as foppish, not to mention unwilling to speak frankly, really leaves one gasping and at a loss for words. So I won't really try to respond to it except to say that the accusation and its surrounding verbiage (including Liberace, etc.) is another example of trolling.

And Bill's altogether snotty, mocking antics weren't trolling? Please. As I said with Bill, your definition of 'frank' and mine are worlds apart. I tried to accommodate your rules here and still have a conversation with Bill, at which point he wimped out and got all snide and yes, foppish about it. If either you or Bill are too delicate to take insults and mocking, you should probably do the internet equivalent of biting your tongues.

Crude, you showed up _long_ after the tenth comment,

I stand corrected! Rather like you stand corrected about my showing up in 'your every thread', which is a wild exaggeration to say the least. The difference being, I can actually admit being wrong.

The point remains: I'm not exactly interrupting anything grand here, nor am I crazily off-topic.

Really, if you think I'm going to thank you for making life around here so interesting, you will wait long.

I neither want nor expect a thank you out of here. I'm putting this in proper perspective.

In fact, a huge chunk of that progress is informing people that neither natural law nor Christian teaching means 'Have SSA? Well it's hell for you one way or the other, no matter what you do!'

It probably goes back to what Tony said earlier, "that lust even in thought is wrong", which blurs the line significantly between thought and action. It encourages a thought police attitude, which for some weird reason is called political correctness when liberals do it.

Also, your subtext is overwhelming. You might want to back off a little.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnBezIgA3ys

Go ahead, recommend me your writings - I'll actually read them.

Okay, Crude. Here's a connected series of posts:

http://wluse.blogspot.com/2012/06/gay-marriage-obama-his-conservative.html
http://wluse.blogspot.com/2012/06/gay-marriage-and-denigration-of-women.html
http://wluse.blogspot.com/2012/06/all-you-need-is-love.html

In that order. There's much more, but those should keep you busy for a couple of days and lighten the load on this thread.

Step2, I know you're in a hurry and really meant to say that "it encourages one to police one's own thoughts." Also, thoughts are actions. I'm pretty sure. Maybe. You can thank me later.

Step2,

It probably goes back to what Tony said earlier, "that lust even in thought is wrong", which blurs the line significantly between thought and action.

It's largely irrelevant to this topic specifically, since 'lust in thought' isn't some LGBT-specific issue.

It encourages a thought police attitude, which for some weird reason is called political correctness when liberals do it.

There's a gap there, since political correctness really cashes out to be actual thought policing, rather than merely encouraging it. I'm sure one could in principle take 'avoid evil thoughts' to the extreme of thought policing, but they're not equivalent out of the gates.

Though I suppose there's a point there to be made in the reverse - 'you can't legislate morality' and 'don't push your morality on me', coupled with support of political correctness, is inconsistent. But my experience is that consistency is the least of the concerns among those devoted to a PC mindset.

Also, your subtext is overwhelming. You might want to back off a little.

Why? Little progress is going to come out of this conversation directly - the wagons have been circled. Most of the lessons are going to be learned after the fact, if they're learned at all. Except for me - what I picked up here is that among some social conservatives, there's this casual acceptance of their inability to make any progress even with a relatively neutral party, or to have a hope of changing anyone's minds. And the idea that that may be due to their approach is an alien thought.

William,

In that order. There's much more, but those should keep you busy for a couple of days and lighten the load on this thread.

Three relatively medium-length blog entries are going to 'keep me busy for a couple of days'?

I've given them a read. Interesting points, much I agree with - and as I suspected, it's not 'frank'. (I know you say 'this is just crap' at one point in it, which no doubt elicits a gasp in some quarters. But again, our views of that standard differ.) It dances around the actual problems, the actual sins, to an incredible extent. I won't critique your writings further except to say that they come across as written for an audience that already agrees with you to begin with. That's appropriate to a point, even helpful. But it damn well shouldn't be the extent of the strategy.

Actually, lest William huff that I'm criticizing him but offering nothing in return, a few questions about his no doubt voluminous writings on these subjects.

Do you ever point out that LGBT groups are not the same as 'homosexuals'? That there's a difference between the devoted LGBT jackboot and the person who just plain happens to have SSA? Or do you just refer to 'homosexuals' as a monolithic group?

Do you ever talk about how LGBT groups *exploit* homosexuals? That they are, in many ways, victimizing them?

Do you talk about the LGBT sexual subcultures? How about the differences between lesbians and gay men, particularly in a social and culture context? Are you even aware of these differences?

Do you ever point out the positive, non-immoral aspects of those hypothetical, so-idealized 'gay relationships'? Or do you just blow past that and treat 'one guy caring for another guy' or 'one woman caring for another woman' as (even if stripped of sexual content) itself somehow immoral, as if that's just as big of a problem as (censored in advance to save mods the trouble)?

Do you ever advance secular arguments against SSM and the like? Are you even aware that this is possible to do effectively?

You talk about the "WBC or the KKK", as if they're the only ones who seem to "have an animus towards homosexuals". Are you serious? You really think it's limited to those groups?

I could ask more questions, and in a way they're rhetorical - I doubt you're going to deign to answer these. But at the very least, it shows the tip of the iceberg with what worries me about the typical socon approaches to these topics.

Do you ever point out the positive, non-immoral aspects of those hypothetical, so-idealized 'gay relationships'? Or do you just blow past that and treat 'one guy caring for another guy' or 'one woman caring for another woman' as (even if stripped of sexual content) itself somehow immoral, as if that's just as big of a problem as (censored in advance to save mods the trouble)?

This demonstrates an importantly confused tendency: What we should call non-immoral relationships between members of the same sex is just friendship. That's it. Friendship. Nothing sexual about it. (Hence the utter odiousness of the neologism "bromance," by the way.)

Jonathan Gonnerman and others have attempted to argue that there is something _distinctive_ and positive about homosexual relationships which ought to be okay in the eyes of Christians--some kind of heavily emotional, maybe in some sense erotic, interpersonal appreciation which is part of the tapestry of life. Or something like that.

In general, people who are strongly sexually attracted to one another and tempted to sin together should either get married (if this is feasible, moral, and otherwise advisable) or try to avoid each other as an "occasion of sin." Maintaining an emotionally heavy relationship with someone you can't marry but are sexually attracted to because of all of its "other positive aspects" is a recipe for disaster. Yet this common sense, which one would think is easily recognized as between a man and a woman, gets set aside sometimes when we're asked to accept homosexuals continuing, say, to "live together chastely" or continue to maintain a "chaste love relationship" or something of that kind because they have deep and allegedly entirely positive feelings towards one another and because we're supposed to affirm these "positive aspects of their relationships."

To tell the truth, I'm not much interested in whether Crude would say that that is what he means to encourage. It's what his words are _likely_ to encourage, whether he means it or not.

Now, Crude, we're done here.

You say you have no power around here, but actually (speaking of passive aggression) you have the passive aggressive's usual power: The power to make a nuisance of himself by simply refusing to take a hint and leave.

This is tedious beyond measure. I told you at the outset that I didn't want to recreate all the pixels we exchanged before (and in that thread I at least at first gave you a ton of rope, so you got to say a lot about all your advice and plans). Yet apparently nothing will satisfy you but recreating those pixels. That's pretty darned rude.

To tell the truth, I don't totally understand why I don't just ban you, because you're wasting my time, big-time. But what I'm going to do instead is to close comments on this thread. That's what I did the last time. Instead of banning you. You're welcome.

I'm going to do more. In a spirit of encouraging the free exchange of ideas, I'm going to point out to you, in case you've forgotten, that our archives are all available. Therefore, those who wish to hear more of your ideas and wisdom can go here

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2013/03/he_who_pays_the_piper_1.html

and here

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2013/03/crude_israel_gay_marriageoh_my.html

and get more Crude and more Crude. I wouldn't want to stifle you. You're welcome for that, too.

If you ever try this kind of relentless, unending threadjack again, you're very likely to get banned from here. Maybe that time I'll link all _three_ of these threads. Wouldn't want you to feel like W4 isn't doing enough to promote you and your ideas for conservative renewal and strategy, that being apparently one of the reasons for which we exist.