When i revise my same-sex marriage paper, i need to work in the response of my father (and many other people) to the "(un)natural-ness" argument. He wrote:
Since "Lawrence," Eugene Volokh has probably had 13 or 14 posts on gay marriage, almost all worthwhile, some exceptional. And very broad-ranging, e.g., a few that are essentially "what is 'natural' and why does it matter?"Andrew Sullivan is a gay Catholic and has been writing a lot recently with arguments about gay marriage (including parallels to the miscegenation debates of yesteryear, which i had forgotten about even though i said similar things in my high school essay) and also Catholic law. I would really not want to be a Catholic right now. the pope just called the love I have for my boyfriend "evil." That's a word he couldn't bring himself to use about Saddam Hussein.
That latter especially resonated with me because I think people are extremely (but unintentionally) dishonest about natural. Natural is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Natural is no books, no recorded music. Natural is deaths in childhood and deaths by menopause. Natural is hunger and infection. Unnatural is cutting you open to remove a tumor or an infected wisdom tooth. Unnatural is air conditioning and central heating. Unnatural is any culture that isn't handed down orally. Unnatural is dying in bed at 85.
We all say natural is good and unnatural is bad, but given the choice, we'd all refuse the natural things of the last paragraph and take the unnatural. Actually, we want a tamed nature, a nature our way, which isn't "natural" at all.
Unless you say that humans are a product of nature, a product that wants comfort, long life, and power--so that the pursuit of these is "only natural."
My father wrote:
Andrew Sullivan has some passages from Catholic canon law that I'm sure are shocking to many people. But the fact is that they have been there all along. The thing is, just about everyone in the Church in the "Anglosphere" and in western Europe is a "cafeteria Catholic," picking out what appears pleasing and leaving the rest. And the Church, which wouldn't have survived almost 2 millenia without being flexible, has pretty much looked the other way.After he wrote that, my father read an interview with Heather MacDonald and pulled out this quote:
But now some people in the hierarchy seem to have decided that too many Catholics are getting a dangerously inadequate diet. They are publicizing their food pyramid, and making some effort to get governments to put some of their weight behind it. Non-procreative sex is their fast food: easy, disarmingly pleasant to the untutored senses but hurtful in the long run, pushed by selfish forces who don't really care about what's best for people. I'm not sure what gay marriage is. Maybe super-high-fat ice cream in a niche market flavor.
"If people take religion seriously, I don't think you can have the religious tolerance we have. It's one or the other. In our culture now, tolerance has won out, which is a good thing for civil peace but may be a bad thing for religion."My father then wrote:
It has always seemed to me that if you really believe that people who accept Jesus as their Savior go on to a blissful eternal life and people who don't are condemned to at best some sort of suspended animation and at worst everlasting torture, well if you believe that, it's really hard not to be in favor of structuring society so that everyone gets a chance to make the right choice and is strongly encouraged to do so.I've thought for a while that while so many liberals condemn Christian fundamentalists for trying to blur the boundary between church and state, i can really see where said Christians are coming from and why it's so important to them, eternity being at stake there and all.
I suppose there's the libertarian objection: that God wants everyone to make a free choice. But as any lefty knows, "free choice" is never completely free; choice is affected strongly by circumstance. In some places, you'll never even encounter the good news, and in other places, it will just be assumed to be true. At death, does God tell someone who came from a very devout family and was always in a supportive environment, "you really didn't have a chance to make an up or down choice cause things were pushing you so strongly to say yes. I'll have to send you back for a do-over."
Which I suppose leads to the modern attitude of pretty much denying the premise, "I can't believe that God would condemn someone who never had a chance to accept Jesus, or condemn someone who led a good life just because they weren't religious." And some times, "I can't believe a loving God would condemn ANYONE."
Incidentally, i was pleased to see Virgina Postrel had the same issue as i did with Andrew Sullivan's comment that evangelical Protestants say their faith informs their political choices -- "If asked, they'd probably say their faith informs their business decisions and their choice of music." However, i'm not sure how i feel about her statement that "their religious traditions grew up assuming that their churches would have no direct secular power."
Two unrelated links:
My father says "My respect for the UN takes another hit." and also sends along this fascinating article (which i can forward in e-mail format to anyone who wants).