Monday, June 01, 2009

Dobson's case against gay marriage

I still have trouble getting around the idea that the state sanctions divorce and remarriage without restriction, and therefore sanctions what, according to the words of Jesus, are blatantly adulterous marriages. How can the government be the defender of traditional marriage when it comes to homosexuals, but completely bail out on biblical standards of traditional marriage when it comes to heterosexuals (standards that come straight from the words of Christ). If you run out on your wife and three kids and marry the centerfold, so long as you divorce your first wife before you marry your second, it's OK. Jesus says it's adultery. Now either the state has wrongly abdicated its responsibility to uphold marriage as a relation between one man and one woman for life, or else the church and state have different fish to fry, and the status of marriage as defined by the government is not as relevant as Dobson would have us believe to the status of marriage in the church or in society at large.


philip m said...

Ya but I thought God sanctioned divorce too?

Victor Reppert said...

Actually, Jesus uses divorce as an example of how the written law of the society, in the case the Mosaic law, held people to too low of a standard. Of course the Mosaic law would be far too stringent for modern society.

The overall lesson is that we can't expect to write the whole content of morality into the law, or look to the law as the primary supporter for moral institutions such as marriage. The law is designed to allow people in society to get along, and our society is largely secular. So the law has to reflect that.

There is a big difference between the "anything goes" divorce of today's law and the restricted divorce of the Bible.

philip m said...

So basically there's an equivocation in the term 'biblical standard.' I take biblical standard to be what was permissible in the bible - which divorce indeed was. Are you taking it to mean 'morality as it *fully* was meant to be'? That seems to me the only way you can mean it in order to call out the government for holding a double standard. But as long as the former is what is meant, there's no double standard; and it hardly seems the case that people against gay marriage think that we should also institute laws about giving people your clothes if they ask for them, like Jesus says. Your use of the phrase is not the principle being used.

I don't see a problem with *partially* using the government as a means to morality. You say we should only institute laws which prevent harm to other people, and as a by-product of that principle a certain amount of moral content will be codified in law. But evertything else is totally permissible. But what is the problem with keeping some things illegal which we know to be bad, just in the case that they are already illegal? I agree that "we can't expect to write the whole content of morality into the law," which would be going in the opposite direction, but it seems that there isn't anything wrong with defending the status quo if we can.

Do you want prostitution legalized too?

Gordon Knight said...

prostitution was legal in biblical times--but of course the analogy is absurd anyway.

If there is any content to Christian morality, it is found in the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps there is an argument for modifying some of what Jesus taught--but there is certainly NO reason to privledge any other part of the Bible over the sayings of Jesus.

So anyone who is willing to modify one of Jesus's moral claims has no "intellectual honesty" in condemning homosexualy (which Jesus did not discuss!)

Anonymous said...

So if jesus does not discuss a topic we can conclude that he thought it ok?

Gordon Knight said...

One cannot at the same time ignore an explicit command and yet get all bent out of shape about something jesus did not mention. yes, I think that is inconsistent.

Of course times change, and perhaps Jesus' position on divorce does not apply to our time. or maybe it applies, but ought not to be codified in secular law.

But the same sort of moves can be made with respect to gay marriage, with much more force. Divorce however justifiable, does weaken the family. Gay marriage, if anything, strengthens it (since it allows gay couples to commit in a legally semi-binding way.